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Blues For The Fisherman & True Blues, Today And Now, Eric Clapton Unplugged

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The Complete Art Pepper at Ronnie Scott’s Club, London June 1980 “Blues For The Fisherman & True Blues”

The Complete Art Pepper at Ronnie Scott’s Club, London June 1980“Blues For The Fisherman & True Blues”
7-LP Boxed Set by Pure Pleasure Records

Let’s just say it right off the back these LPs were to me a total surprise and a sheer delight. Art Pepper was one of the great alto saxophonists of his era. In the early 1950s’ Downbeat polls he was only outranked by Charlie Parker. Pepper spent most of the sixties on drugs and in jail and sadly died in 1982 at the age of only 56.

After getting his life pretty much back together he spent the last six years of his life touring and recored more than 40 albums. It seems that a few years ago, his widow, Laurie Pepper started putting out previously unreleased live sessions on her own label, Widow’s Taste. Then she unearthed the complete master tapes of four sets that Pepper and his quartet played in 1980 at Ronnie Scott’s in London. The quartet consisted of Art along with the classically trained Milcho Leviev on piano, Tony Dumas on bass and Carl Burnett on drums. These sets were recorded by the long departed Mole Jazz label. The multi-mike analogue recording was mixed live to two track stereo without any noise reduction, limiting, compression or equalization. Mole released 8 of the 25 songs on two albums, “Blues for the Fisherman” and “True Blues”.

Now, thanks to Laurie and Pure Pleasure Records we have the complete four sets on 7 LPs. This is a magnificent collection. The music is incredible for four live sets, and for a really added bonus it was all recorded on just two tracks with no compression, noise-reduction, or equalization. The sound is simply stunning, way better than I would have ever hoped for. The bass and the drums are so detailed and dynamic that they just come alive in my room. Art Pepper’s horn is simply alive in the room. It has an incredible reach-out-and-touch-it dimensionality that is simple unbelievable. In my system the pace and rhythm of the music simply pours out of the speakers.

Yes, this set is a bit pricy, but you get seven of the most incredible disc of Jazz that you can imagine. My Highest Recommendation!

Coleman Hawkins: Today And Now

Coleman Hawkins: Today And Now
Label: Analogue Productions (Impulse)

45 RPM Vinyl Record
Two 180 gram discs:

Tracks:
1. Go Li’l Liza
2. Quintessence
3. Don’t Love Me
4. Love Song from ‘Apache’
5. Put on Your Old Grey Bonnett
6. Swinging Scotch
7. Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree

I’ve found every Colman Hawkins LP I have to be very emotionally involving. Today and Now falls into that category, but it also falls into the “just plain fun” category. Coleman Hawkins and his quartet did this recording for Impulse Records in the early to 60s; it was released in 1962. I think Today And Now is the most fun and maybe the most involving of all his recordings I have heard.

Maybe it’s the choice of songs that sets this album apart. I love this version of the traditional song “Go Li’l Liza”. Then there is the way the quartet takes off on a song as simple as “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree” and makes it a great Jazz number. The quartet also gives us a very creative and exhilarating rendition of the Quincy Jones ballad “Quintessence”.

Of course it’s not just the songs; it’s also the exceptional quartet Hawkins had assembled. He plays a killer tenor sax with reckless abandonment on this recording. Tommy Flanagan’s piano is also a standout on this LP, as well as Eddie Locke’s drums. For me though, it is the bass of Major Holley that makes this recording. It underlays the whole recording in a way that is powerful, involving, and has impeccable pace and timing.

Last but not least is the quality of the recording itself. It is very alive, very quiet, with great bass and a very lifelike soundstage. This LP is highly recommended.

Eric Clapton Unplugged

Eric Clapton Unplugged
180g 2LP
Pressed at Pallas in Germany
Two Pocket Direct-to-Board Gatefold Jacket
Bernie Grundman Mastering

Tracks:

Side A:
1. Signe
2. Before You Accuse Me
3. Hey Hey
4. Tears In Heaven

Side B:
1. Lonely Stranger
2. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out
3. Layla
4. Running On Faith

Side C:
1. Walkin’ Blues
2. Alberta
3. San Francisco Bay Blues

Side D:
1. Malted Milk
2. Old Love
3. Rollin’ & Tumblin’

I was really excited to hear that Eric Clapton’s Unplugged was coming out on vinyl. I have long felt Clapton is one of the most genuine, heartfelt guitarist ever, and this is my favorite of his albums. I think I have had this recording on every format it has been released. Without a doubt my favorite was an old Laser Disc I purchased when it was first released. In many ways this recording was responsible for making the “unplugged” albums and concerts such a hot trend in the early nineties. The album sold more than 10 million copies in the U.S. and won the Grammy for “Album Of The Year.” It has such great songs as “Tears In Heaven”, “Layla”, and maybe my favorite, “Running On Faith”.

I just finished listening to it and all I can say is Wow! I don’t know what I expected, but this wasn’t it. I basically purchased this LP just so I could listen to one of my favorite recordings on my downstairs vinyl system, not because I thought it would sound that much better, but it simply sounded incredible. Clapton and his guitar sound so alive, the tone is rich, his voice is right there in the room with you. What more can you say about the music. I love this recording and this is the best version I have heard so far. If you have a vinyl setup, buy it!

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