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GA Russell

AOTW - Monk with Trane - Complete 1957 Riversides

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I think it was Tranemonk who started a thread about this, but I couldn't find it, so I'm starting another.

I received the following email press release from Concord/Fantasy today. You will note that it will be a 2-CD set taken from four sessions, with two previously unissued alternate takes.

Pianist/composer THELONIOUS MONK and tenor saxophonist JOHN COLTRANE--genius mentor and budding genius--joined forces in a fabled Monk-led quartet that worked steadily at New York's Five Spot Café for a five-month period, between July and December 1957. And in the spring and summer of that year, they met in the recording studio on four occasions for the Riverside label, with producer Orrin Keepnews and a varying supporting cast.

The results of those sessions, which comprise the sum total of the music Monk and Coltrane created together in a recording-studio setting, have been collected in a new 2-CD Riverside set aptly titled The Complete 1957 Riverside Recordings. Due for release June 27, the package was compiled by original producer Keepnews, who also wrote a revealing essay about the making of the music. Two previously unissued alternate takes--"Crepuscule with Nellie," from the June 25 septet date with Coleman Hawkins and Art Blakey; and take 1 of the 19th-century William Monk-penned hymn "Abide with Me," recorded the following evening--are included, as is the first stereo release of "Blues for Tomorrow," which was previously issued only in mono. http://concordmusicgroup.com/artists/album/?id=4335

Sequenced chronologically, the set commences with the ballad "Monk's Mood," with Coltrane and bassist Wilbur Ware, recorded in April 1957 for the otherwise-solo album Thelonious Himself.

On two late-June evenings, Keepnews assembled a Monk septet (with trumpeter Ray Copeland and alto saxist Gigi Gryce in addition to Coltrane, Hawkins, Ware, and Blakey) that produced the classic Monk's Music album.

The final session took place in July, with Monk, Coltrane, Ware, and drummer Shadow Wilson--the original Five Spot quartet--cutting three tracks ("Ruby, My Dear," "Nutty," "Trinkle, Tinkle"). In his notes, Keepnews explains how it happened that the group was never captured live during their extended Five Spot engagement: Coltrane had just been signed to a Prestige contract, and though Prestige's Bob Weinstock would have permitted reciprocal use of his artist to Riverside, former Prestige artist Monk--who'd had a less than amicable parting with the label--would have none of it.

At the time of the July session, the quartet had just begun their Five Spot run, the impact of which Keepnews describes as "unexpected and amazing. Somehow," he writes, "Coltrane, now becoming thoroughly compatible with (and actually enhancing) the Monk idiom, was reaching listeners in a way he had never previously achieved with Miles Davis. What I found most impressive was how immediately jazz fans with a sense of history were making comparisons to an event a quarter-century earlier, when the major New Orleans cornetist of that era had summoned his protege--twenty-two-year-old Louis Armstrong--to join his band at a club in Chicago. (To extend that parallel further, both Armstrong and Coltrane remained with their mentors for something less than half a year, but both pairings are probably permanently ranked among the most meaningful collaborations in the history of jazz.)"

============

In another nod to history, the cover image--Monk and Coltrane on a postage stamp--recalls the postage-stamp likeness of Monk that appeared on his Unique album. Riverside publicist Billie Wallington famously had perforated sheets of the "stamps" created and distributed, and, to the chagrin of the U.S. Postal Service, some of these pseudo-stamps, when affixed to letters, managed to get at least a few of those letters delivered.

6/24 edit title and subtitle

7/15 edit subtitle

Edited by GA Russell

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This implies the Monk's Music session will be issued from the stereo masters. If this is correct, it is a huge friggin' mistake. The mono tapes sound MUCH better. If you care to hear Wilbur Ware (amongst other things) forget it. Those of you with K2s of this date, hang onto them.

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This implies the Monk's Music session will be issued from the stereo masters. If this is correct, it is a huge friggin' mistake. The mono tapes sound MUCH better. If you care to hear Wilbur Ware (amongst other things) forget it. Those of you with K2s of this date, hang onto them.

I read the same somewhere on a thread here about the session with Hawk and Trane - stereo fetishism.

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I don't think that's what he meant.

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I don't think that's what he meant.

I think GA was replying to himself (see first sentence of this thread), not to the previous poster.

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This implies the Monk's Music session will be issued from the stereo masters. If this is correct, it is a huge friggin' mistake. The mono tapes sound MUCH better. If you care to hear Wilbur Ware (amongst other things) forget it. Those of you with K2s of this date, hang onto them.

I read the same somewhere on a thread here about the session with Hawk and Trane - stereo fetishism.

Just to present an alternative point of view - I prefer the stereo masters. I had the mono LP for years, and it was from it that I became familiar with the music. I didn't even know that the session had been recorded in stereo until I picked up a Japanese pressing of the LP in the late 1970's. Of course, this is just a matter of taste, but after all, my nickname is............ :w

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Jack, just compare the stereo and K2 versions of Crepuscule and come back to defend your name. :P

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Well this is interesting. For this 2-CD set, CD Universe says: List Price $19.98; Their Price $16.89; Pre-Order Price $13.99.

For the K2 Monk's Music that Chuck is recommending, CDU says their price is $13.49.

So for the next month, you get the 2-CD stereo mix for 50 cents more than the single CD Chuck recommends.

CDU is also selling the "remastered" (K2?) Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane for the same $13.49.

So even if everyone agrees with Chuck that the mono mix is better than the stereo, the K2 price for the music is $26.98 versus $13.99 for this new set with the two bonus alternate takes.

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Jack, just compare the stereo and K2 versions of Crepuscule and come back to defend your name. :P

Admittedly, I've never heard the K2 release. I long ago stopped falling for the "remaster" hustle. In most instances, the original LP is best, and all the CD upgrades are just trying to get back to that. :cool:

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Stereojack said:

In most instances, the original LP is best, and all the CD upgrades are just trying to get back to that. :cool:

 

I've been discussing this at length with a musician friend who also does his own engineering, and tried to do my own LP transfers with his Alesis Masterlink recorder. The results sounded fresher and more "dynamic" in most cases and my playback equipment is not topgrade. I put the word "dynamic" in parentheses because an anlogue LP which was was transferred from analogue tape, has a relatively narrow dynamic range - physically dynamics are defined differently. A very important component are the so called transients, the characteristics of the attack of a sound - these are always affected by using noise reduction and equalizing, maybe even by the simple digitalization if this isn't done at the highest possible resolution. I came to think this is one of the most important factors why many find that the LPs sound better than any more recent transfer.

It also has a lot to do with recording technique - how many microphones you use and how close you place them, to control phasing errors.

The obsession with avoiding tape hiss and phasing anomalies are, in my belief, the most important factors which shape modern mastering esthetics.

I personally would accept some tape hiss and have the original transients intact, but I observe many remastering engineers and/or producers must suffer from hiss phobia.

Edited by mikeweil

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Two previously unissued alternate takes--"Crepuscule with Nellie," from the June 25 septet date with Coleman Hawkins and Art Blakey; and take 1 of the 19th-century William Monk-penned hymn "Abide with Me," recorded the following evening--are included

Wow.

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I actually doubt than any of the remastering of the Riversides or Prestiges have used any noise reduction/hiss reduction, as they were working from open-reel masters that were very good to begin with and relatively quiet - the only time I have ever heard this done was with the Collectables Atlantics, which are really F'd up -

as for transfers to digital, I have done a ton of LP to CD work using good converters to 16 bit CD/CDR, and the copies are indistinguishable from the orginals - one of the keys is not to process but to transfer, and not to go through more than one conversion stage (though I have used CEDAR on occasion with good results) - even direct to DAT sounds great if the machine is good and has decent built-in converters (like the Panasonic 3800 DAT)

Edited by AllenLowe

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.... one of the keys is not to process but to transfer, and not to go through more than one conversion stage .....

That's exactly what I wanted to say: Keep it simple. But show me the engineer who can resist using the many toys at his disposal ....

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Jack, just compare the stereo and K2 versions of Crepuscule and come back to defend your name. :P

Admittedly, I've never heard the K2 release. I long ago stopped falling for the "remaster" hustle. In most instances, the original LP is best, and all the CD upgrades are just trying to get back to that. :cool:

In most cases I agree with you but this is one of the very first dates that made a heavy "imprint" on my musical tastes and I'll probably try every variation. In this case the K2 remastering beats the original lp.

Fewer than 100 titles make me search for remasters.

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I'm going to wait for the Quadrophonic mix -

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Jack, just compare the stereo and K2 versions of Crepuscule and come back to defend your name. :P

Admittedly, I've never heard the K2 release. I long ago stopped falling for the "remaster" hustle. In most instances, the original LP is best, and all the CD upgrades are just trying to get back to that. :cool:

If your original LP is the mono version, it should be ok.

In this case it is not just a question of different remastering of the same tapes.

The K2 CD comes from the mono tapes, which used different microphone positions than the stereo recording. To me, the stereo version sounds odd, very distant and diffuse, whereas the mono recording sounds as immediate and dynamic as one is used to with Riverside recordings (both mono and stereo).

In my view the mono recording should be the standard version, but it's the stereo recording that gets reissued all the time (OJC CD, Riverside set, SACD, now the new set). I recommend everyone to get the K2 CD while it's still around.

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Jack, just compare the stereo and K2 versions of Crepuscule and come back to defend your name. :P

Admittedly, I've never heard the K2 release. I long ago stopped falling for the "remaster" hustle. In most instances, the original LP is best, and all the CD upgrades are just trying to get back to that. :cool:

If your original LP is the mono version, it should be ok.

In this case it is not just a question of different remastering of the same tapes.

The K2 CD comes from the mono tapes, which used different microphone positions than the stereo recording. To me, the stereo version sounds odd, very distant and diffuse, whereas the mono recording sounds as immediate and dynamic as one is used to with Riverside recordings (both mono and stereo).

In my view the mono recording should be the standard version, but it's the stereo recording that gets reissued all the time (OJC CD, Riverside set, SACD, now the new set). I recommend everyone to get the K2 CD while it's still around.

I'm pretty sure that my regular OJC ( pre ZXY- German issue) release is mono and not stereo.

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Jack, just compare the stereo and K2 versions of Crepuscule and come back to defend your name. :P

Admittedly, I've never heard the K2 release. I long ago stopped falling for the "remaster" hustle. In most instances, the original LP is best, and all the CD upgrades are just trying to get back to that. :cool:

If your original LP is the mono version, it should be ok.

In this case it is not just a question of different remastering of the same tapes.

The K2 CD comes from the mono tapes, which used different microphone positions than the stereo recording. To me, the stereo version sounds odd, very distant and diffuse, whereas the mono recording sounds as immediate and dynamic as one is used to with Riverside recordings (both mono and stereo).

In my view the mono recording should be the standard version, but it's the stereo recording that gets reissued all the time (OJC CD, Riverside set, SACD, now the new set). I recommend everyone to get the K2 CD while it's still around.

I'm pretty sure that my regular OJC ( pre ZXY- German issue) release is mono and not stereo.

I like both the mono and stereo takes. The most recent release of the stereo tape on SACD sounds pretty good to me. I like this sort of recessed sound fine. I know. . . I'm different.

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I informed my contact in the Fantasy PR Dept. about this discussion regarding the mono vs. the stereo, and she arranged for the engineer of this 2-CD box Joe Tarantino to step up to the plate.

Here is what he wrote me today:

Hi Mr Moon

I worked with Orrin Keepnews on the Monk Coltrane Box set. Orrin wanted to

use the stereo tracks carefully transfered from the original masters. He

explained how the stereo recording was done by a completely different

company. Since Stereo was not very popular at the time, there was actually

a separate 'make shift' control room set up and separate mics for stereo.

Although the Mono recordings are more have more prescience, the stereo

gives you the perception of being in the room with the musicians. Having

Orrin share stories about the sessions while we were working was a real

treat! Mono /Stereo? Enjoy the music.

Thanks

Joe

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What I said earlier! MONO! No way those stereo tapes can be made to sound better than the mono.

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This set goes on sale Tuesday. Since so many of us already have Monk's Music and With John Coltrane, let's make them both this week's Albums of the Week.

One comment about With John Coltrane: You will recall that this was recorded at the beginning of Coltrane's time with Monk, and Carnegie Hall was recorded at the end. I got the impression reading between the lines of the Carnegie Hall thread that some here think that With John Coltrane isn't very good.

I'll grant that Carnegie Hall is even better, but I think that With John Coltrane is an excellent album in its own right.

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Guy has suggested that we make this the AOTW for next week, July 2-8, so that's what we'll do.

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I couldn't resist buying this, since my copies are all crappy old cassettes. :cool::P:party:

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