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paul secor

Sound Quality of Ellington's New Orleans Suite

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I'd appreciate any feedback I can get on this. I have an LP copy of Ellington's New Orleans Suite, and have never been able to completely get into the music because of what sounds to me like inferior recording quality. There seems to be a muddy/murky quality to the sound on my LP.

On Sunday, I was listening to it again in the hope that what I'd heard previously was all wrong., but it sounded the same. I was listening to Harold Ashby solo on "Thanks for the Beautiful Land on the Delta", when my wife came into the room and said, "Hey, that sounds like a 40's big band." I replied, "Yeah, they were around in the 40's. From the 20's to the 70's, actually. This is from later years." Then she said, "But there's something wrong with the way that record sounds." My wife isn't in any way a music or sound freak, so I knew that if she heard something wrong, there was something wrong.

My LP is from the early/mid 80's, so it could be a problem that occurred in later LP pressings. I'm wondering if anyone has an early pressing that has a cleaner sound, or if any of the CD versions - I see that at least two are currently in print - sound cleaner. I love the music, but I have a hard time listening to my LP.

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I have a factory-sealed, QuadraDisc (4 Channel Discrete) LP sitting on my shelves: Atlantic QD 1580. I never had a setup to play the 4 channels, so I never opened it.

The cover says "This Four-Channel Discrete QUADRADISC is fully compatible. All rear channel information will sound the front speakers when played in stereo"

Whaddaya think? Should I 'run it up the flagpole and see if anybody salutes'? :rolleyes:

What would it get on eBay, do you think?

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I should say, I have a 1971-issued stereo LP of it and it sounds okay to my ears. I haven't heard the CD, as Jim Alfredson has. For both versions, credits are for Roger Rhodes as recording engineer at National Recording Studios, NYC; and mixing, editing, sequencing by Ilhan Mimaroglu at Atlantic Recording Studios, NYC. Producer is Duke Ellington himself, so I guess it sounds the way he wanted it to...

Interesting that the stereo jacket is a nice fold-out, but the 1974-issued QuadraDisc just a sleeve.

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I'd appreciate any feedback I can get on this. I have an LP copy of Ellington's New Orleans Suite, and have never been able to completely get into the music because of what sounds to me like inferior recording quality. There seems to be a muddy/murky quality to the sound on my LP.

On Sunday, I was listening to it again in the hope that what I'd heard previously was all wrong., but it sounded the same. I was listening to Harold Ashby solo on "Thanks for the Beautiful Land on the Delta", when my wife came into the room and said, "Hey, that sounds like a 40's big band." I replied, "Yeah, they were around in the 40's. From the 20's to the 70's, actually. This is from later years." Then she said, "But there's something wrong with the way that record sounds." My wife isn't in any way a music or sound freak, so I knew that if she heard something wrong, there was something wrong.

My LP is from the early/mid 80's, so it could be a problem that occurred in later LP pressings. I'm wondering if anyone has an early pressing that has a cleaner sound, or if any of the CD versions - I see that at least two are currently in print - sound cleaner. I love the music, but I have a hard time listening to my LP.

I bought a copy of this record the year it was published, and I never liked the mix that Atlantic used. In particular I hated that Julian Priester's trombone could barely be heard on Portrait of Mahalia Jackson. I've been flirting with the idea a buying the CD, but haven't jumped because I'm afraid they haven't bothered to improve the sound with a remastering facelift.

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I have a 1970s pressing of the LP, and a CD reissue. I have never noticed anything "off" about the sound.

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I bought the LP when it came out - never had a problem with the sound. Got the CD when it came out, and also had no problems. I wonder if there may have been different mixes avaialable at different times?

This is one of the last great Ellington albums, IMO.

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Paul Secor: " I have an LP copy of Ellington's New Orleans Suite, and have never been able to completely get into the music because of what sounds to me like inferior recording quality. There seems to be a muddy/murky quality to the sound on my LP."

Could that be the Phil Schaap reissue? The one he updated by bringing Katrina into the mix? Does it also have applause from a 1937 Bucharest concert...and Hodges coughing at an unspecified, but different, location?

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I'd appreciate any feedback I can get on this. I have an LP copy of Ellington's New Orleans Suite, and have never been able to completely get into the music because of what sounds to me like inferior recording quality. There seems to be a muddy/murky quality to the sound on my LP.

On Sunday, I was listening to it again in the hope that what I'd heard previously was all wrong., but it sounded the same. I was listening to Harold Ashby solo on "Thanks for the Beautiful Land on the Delta", when my wife came into the room and said, "Hey, that sounds like a 40's big band." I replied, "Yeah, they were around in the 40's. From the 20's to the 70's, actually. This is from later years." Then she said, "But there's something wrong with the way that record sounds." My wife isn't in any way a music or sound freak, so I knew that if she heard something wrong, there was something wrong.

My LP is from the early/mid 80's, so it could be a problem that occurred in later LP pressings. I'm wondering if anyone has an early pressing that has a cleaner sound, or if any of the CD versions - I see that at least two are currently in print - sound cleaner. I love the music, but I have a hard time listening to my LP.

I always thought the LP sounded crappy - I always chalked it up to the pressing rather than the mix ('70's era vinyl was notoriously inferior). The CD sounds much better. I'd recommend that you get it. The music is way too good for you not to enjoy it because of lousy vinyl.

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I lo ve this album, never let the sound quality bother me. I cna hear the band, that's all I know. ;)

What might need to be understood is that at this time of his career, Ellington was without a contract proper, and was recording everything on his own time and on his own dime. He would then shop it to whomever would take it. So maybe sometimes the recording was not quite up to the standards of Columbia. RCA, etc. Or maybe each label would do their own tweaking during mastering - compare NOS to, say, Afro-Eurasian Eclipse, another Ellington-produced/recorded album made shortly thereafter, or the "workshop" sessions on Pablo. None are exactly "slick" in their basic recorded sound, if you know waht I mean.

It was kind of an act of defiant heroism that all this stuff got recorded and preserved anyway. Duke put damn near everything he made on royalties and performance fees back into the band, either for salaries or recording expenses. If he hadn't we might well not have an album like NOS, and that means no "Blues For New Orleans" and that is would be a world in which I would definitely not care to live.

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The fact that Atlantic studios were involved is probably part of the problem.

As Hans said the other day about the Trane Atlantics, they were not sonic marvels in the first place.

It's sad, because the Atlantic catalog includes a lot of fantastic albums.

(Of course, the sub-standard sound doesn't stop us enjoying the albums.)

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I love this album too. I have a CD from the European Atlantic Masters series, it sounds fine to me.

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The fact that Atlantic studios were involved is probably part of the problem.

As Hans said the other day about the Trane Atlantics, they were not sonic marvels in the first place.

It's sad, because the Atlantic catalog includes a lot of fantastic albums.

(Of course, the sub-standard sound doesn't stop us enjoying the albums.)

Ummm. . . this was a Duke Ellington, not an Atlantic, production. It was NOT RECORDED at Atlantic Studios. Ellington had it recorded at National Recording Studios, New York, New York on April 27, 1970 and May 13, 1970

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If he hadn't we might well not have an album like NOS, and that means no "Blues For New Orleans" and that is would be a world in which I would definitely not care to live.

Here, here. It's one of those performances that still sends a lovely tingle up the spine. When Hodges comes in with his trademark gliss...damn.

greg mo

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Thanks for all the replies. I'm going for a CD version and hoping for the best.

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The fact that Atlantic studios were involved is probably part of the problem.

As Hans said the other day about the Trane Atlantics, they were not sonic marvels in the first place.

It's sad, because the Atlantic catalog includes a lot of fantastic albums.

(Of course, the sub-standard sound doesn't stop us enjoying the albums.)

Ummm. . . this was a Duke Ellington, not an Atlantic, production. It was NOT RECORDED at Atlantic Studios. Ellington had it recorded at National Recording Studios, New York, New York on April 27, 1970 and May 13, 1970

I would guess the problem was the Atlantic "remix"/mastering.

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BTW, Joe Benjamin plays great on "New Orleans Suite" -- really orchestral thinking/understanding; he's like a section all by himself. And Rufus Jones is in fine form, too, not indulging in his "speediness."

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Personal update:

Picked up the Atlantic CD reissue of N.O. Suite. Sounds very similar to the LP, but the CD clears up some of the muddiness I heard when I listened to the LP. Bottom line is that I can listen to the entire CD without a problem. Listening fatigue set in midway through one side of the LP. Sound still isn't the greatest, but the CD works for me.

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Ummm. . . this was a Duke Ellington, not an Atlantic, production. It was NOT RECORDED at Atlantic Studios. Ellington had it recorded at National Recording Studios, New York, New York on April 27, 1970 and May 13, 1970

Aww, sorry, Lon. I didn't know where it was recorded.

I got the LP when it first came out, and didn't like it a lot. Johnny Hodges died halfway through the making of it, and that has an effect in two ways: his absence from the sax section is really noticeable, and then there's the sadness about losing him. With the exception of the Far East Suite, I never did like Duke's suites and tone poems a lot. He could get a bit pompous at times. That's why Johnny left the band for awhile in 1951 - so I am not alone with this view.

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He could get a bit pompous at times. That's why Johnny left the band for awhile in 1951 - so I am not alone with this view.

Where'd you hear this? James Lincoln Collier? Hodges left because he had a hit record (Castle Rock), and figured it was time to go out on his own. He was back within five years.

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I like almost all the suites. Maybe they WERE pompous, but they set Ellington apart and I love the way he/Billy/both voiced the sections.

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One man's 'pompous/pretentious' is another man's 'aspiration/unique vision'.

I like some of the suites better than others; but I'd go for the latter characterisation for all the ones I've heard.

Edited by Bev Stapleton

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I always thought that among the albums by Ellington with the word "suite" in the title, "New Orleans Suite" was the least like an extended work. It always seemed to me like a collection of individual songs, bound together only by the title of the album and the titles of the songs.

I have always liked it a great deal.

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Pompous is a word one might associate with Stan Kenton, but Duke? Never.

I really enjoy most of the suites.

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