With the recent rise in interest in Japanese SHM releases from the Blue Note catalogue by Universal Japan, I've returned to an earlier idea to start a thread dedicated to Japanese John Coltrane Impulse SHMs. When I posted earlier about these discs I never got the impression that anyone else here had added but one of these to their collection.
As far as I'm aware there have been three waves of Coltrane Impulse SHMs. The second is redundant for people in the US & EU, while the third is of most interest. (In 2013 there was also a Coltrane release on Platinum SHM-CD which I will keep out of consideration in this first post.)
The first wave consisted of a few titles including Crescent (UCCU-9613, release date 2008-06-25). This disc features the same mastering as UCCU-5153, an earlier (non-SHM) 24bit remaster from 2003. The number UCCU-5153 is actually printed inside the matrix ring of UCCU-9613, while the label for the disc gives the code UCCU-9613. I like the sound of this one because it is not as hard on the ears as the Impulse Orginals Crescent in terms of annoying peaks.
What I call the second the second wave have catalogue numbers starting with UCCU. The four discs I've heard feature the exact same mastering by Kevin Reeves as the US/EU Impulse Originals series. See my post So, there are two different SHMs of Crescent, the second being UCCU-6133 released in 2011. The other titles I've imported are Live at the Village Vanguard, Impressions, Live at Birdland. All have the same 'Jazz The Best' OBI strip as the Crescent disc in the image above.
The third wave was released in late 2011 and feature catalogue numbers starting with UCCI. The OBIs I've seen look like the one in the image of Live in Seattle above, except for Live In Japan Deluxe Edition.
According to CDJapan it was a series consisting of 17 titles (including the Temple University set that was in the end never released). (Coltrane, Ballads and A Love Supreme from this wave are the 2 disc Deluxe Editions from a decade ago. I have no idea if they have the same mastering.)
The 11 albums I have from this third wave are imo sonically excellent/superior and worth the effort of importing with perhaps one exception.
UCCI-9191/5, Live in Japan Deluxe Edition, 5 discs. The exception. Sonically the same as(?) or very close to the 4 disc US GRP release. Features a fifth disc with the well known two interviews and press conference (see for instance Chris DeVito's Coltrane on Coltrane).
UCCI-9203, Living Space (including bonus track The Last Blues from 20bit US/EU digipak).
UCCI-9204, Sun Ship.
UCCI-9205, First Meditations. 1 bonus track, Joy (second version).
UCCI-9206/7, Live in Seattle. 2 discs, complete concert, but different mastering from the early nineties GRP set.
UCCI-9210, Cosmic Music.
UCCI-9211, Jupiter Variation. Different tracks from three different sessions translates to sonic differences per track (especially Peace on Earth).
UCCI-9212, Stellar Regions. All tracks from the US/EU digipak in improved sound.
UCCI-9213, Interstellar Space. The two bonus tracks from the US/EU digipak are now included in UCCI-9211, Jupiter Variation.
Albums like Meditations now have a beautiful spacious & dynamic sound superior to the 20bit digipak and Originals issue. More about the sound later, perhaps.
The whole point of mentioning what I called above 'the second wave' is to warn people about those discs.
The late 2011 titles from the 'third wave' might possibly be of interest to others. Different people sharing actual experiences with these discs might create some clarity about them.
Some of the 20bit K2 remasters (by Shigeo Miyata & supervised by Tamaki Beck at JVC) are still in print as regular CDs. Titles include: UCCI-9142, The Coltrane Quartet Plays, UCCI-9143, Kulu Sé Mama; UCCI-9144, Live at the Village Vanguard Again; UCCI-9145, Expression.
These sound compressed. The 'third wave' of SHMs do not reproduce this sound.
The sound of the 'third wave' is also different from the 24bit remasters like Crescent (UCCU-5153, SHM UCCU-9613) from a decade ago. That discs sounds more closed, compressed. I primarily like it because it is not as hard on the ears as the Impulse Orginals Crescent in terms of annoying peaks.
My conclusion is that the 'third wave' must feature different mastering from what came before (both in Japan and the US/EU).