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Billie Holiday/Buddy DeFranco Quartet, Duke Ellington, Carole King Musical, Cat Stevens Records Review

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Billie Holiday/Buddy DeFranco Quartet Live in Cologne 1954 180g 2LP

Billie Holiday/Buddy DeFranco Quartet “Live In Cologne 1954”

Billie Holiday, vocals
Buddy DeFranco, clarinet
Carl Drinkard, piano
Sonny Clark, piano
Red Mitchell, bass
Gene Wright, bass
Elaine Leighton, drums
Bobby White, drums


I am so thrilled that more and more people are getting into mono recordings. I discovered how great mono could sound almost 15 years ago when Sony started bringing out SACDs of great mono jazz. For a long time, I felt I was one of a few who had a separate cartridge for mono, and I loved it as much as I love stereo.

Live in Cologne 1954 was unreleased, so it is an original concert recording! The vinyl includes two bonus tracks not found on the CD. The recording information tells us that “In January 1954, twelve American musicians traveled to Europe under the tour title “Jazz Club USA,” named after Leonard Feather’s radio show. Feather also sent his own mini-festival on tour: a trio with singing pianist Beryl Brooker, another trio led by Red Norvo, the quartet of Buddy DeFranco, and singer Billie Holiday.”

Well, let me tell you this LP makes the case for giving us recordings of great performances even if they were recorded in mono. The numbers without Billie seemed to sound a little better, because her mic is just a little hot.

Truth is side B and C is some of the best jazz you could want to hear. Sonny Clark’s arrangement and performance of “Over the Rainbow”piano is one of the best I’ve ever heard and no one even sings. Since these cuts don’t have the slightly hot mic, you can crank them up and they are just superb. The bass and drum work is simply incredible on these cuts. I could not recommend an album more.


LP 1 - Side A:
1.  Billie's Blues
2.  All of Me
3.  I Cover the Waterfront
4.  Them There Eyes
5.  My Man
6.  What a Little Moonlight Can Do

LP 1 - Side B:
1.  I'll Remember April
2.  Over the Rainbow
3.  Bass Solo
LP 2 - Side C:
1.  Now’s the Time
2.  Sweet Georgia Brown
LP 2 - Side D:
1.  Skittish
2.  Rifftide




Duke Ellington Blues In Orbit Numbered Limited Edition 180g 45rpm 2LP

Duke Ellington Blues In Orbit Numbered Limited Edition 180g 45rpm 2LP

This famous Ellington LP is brought to us on 180g vinyl at 45 rpm by ORG. It is a numbered one of 2,500 limited edition double LP, pressed at RTI and mastered by Bernie Grundman from the original analog master tapes.

Duke Ellington is joined on this jazz masterpiece by the likes of Clark Terry, Johnny Hodges and more for this recording from multiple sessions spreading from February 1958 to December 1959.

The music is incredible and it sounds great on this new 45 rpm reissue. I like it better than any LP of this recording that I have heard, but still I wish the vinyl had been quieter. It was not noisy enough to keep me from wanting it, but I had expected more from ORG. Still, I don’t know where you can get a better sounding version of this great LP.


Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (Original Broadway Cast Recording) 2LP

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (Original Broadway Cast Recording) 2LP

Let’s get the good news out of the way:

  1. The legendary songwriting teams of Goffin/King and Mann/Weil scaled the charts, writing hits for such acts as The Drifters (“On Broadway”), The Shirelles (“One Fine Day”), The Righteous Brothers (“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling”), and The Monkees (“Pleasant Valley Sunday”). These classic songs and many more–including five from Carole King’s landmark solo album Tapestry–are presented here with new arrangements and orchestrations written especially for the stage. I mean this double LP is full of great music.
  2. These two LPs are a great chronicle of one of American pop’s most popular times.
  3. The LPs were flat and the surfaces were dead quiet on three of the four sides, just a little noise on side one.
  4. It came with a free digital download.
  5. The musical itself was incredible.


The problem with this LP is that it proves the point that a great Broadway Musical, with great songs and great performances does not always translate into great music to listen to at home. None of the energy, electricity and wonderfulness of the musical itself, which Becky and I both thought was just incredible, comes through.

I don’t know how much of this has to do with point 5, by that I mean this recording literally sound like Sony took a MP3 download and put it on vinyl. There is no soundstage, it’s flat, two-dimensional and sounds more digital than the majority of red book CDs I own.

Come on, Sony, you can do better than this. I have SACDs that prove it. Heck, I even got the ACT version of the inner sleeve for both Act 1 and Act 2. The only time I can imagine listening to this recording again is in the car on a road trip with Becky. If I want to listen to Carole King, I’ll get out her LPs. That’s no slap at the performers in the musical; they were great, but the recording treats them terribly.


Cat Stevens/ Mona Bone Jakon

Cat Stevens/ Mona Bone Jakon

  1. Laddy D'Arbanville
  2. Maybe You're Right
  3. Pop Star
  4. I Think I See The Light
  5. Trouble
  6. Mona Bone Jakon
  7. I Wish I Wish
  8. Katmandu
  9. Time
  10. Fill My Eyes
  11. Lillywhite


Mona Bone Jakon is Cat Stevens’ most underrated album. Because of tuberculosis he all but disappeared from the British pop scene in 1968. In 1970, a much more mature 22-year-old returned with this LP of a group of simple, heartfelt songs played in simple arrangements on acoustic guitars, keyboards and a rhythm section.

I picked up this copy from Acoustic Sounds and it is a very nice sounding reissue of this early Cat Stevens recording. If you like Cat and don’t have a mint early copy of this LP, don’t over look this LP of well recorded simple songs. I really enjoy it!

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