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Art Blakey' Jazz Messengers with Thelonious Monk

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albumcoverArtBlakeysJazzMessengersWithTh

I've just received a CD of the latest Japanese re-issue of this album and see that it is in mono. As with the other Atlantic Japanese re-issues I've bought recently, the sound is terrific and surpasses all other versions I've heard.

I've always had a problem with the way this particular album sounded; other versions I've heard have the instruments split into the left and right channels as though a mono recording had been re-mastered into a stereo version. Does anyone know whether it has ever been released on ether vinyl or CD in true stereo?

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There was a stereo CD, but it was awkward to listen to - I wished for a mono switch. Since my amp didn't have one, I waited for another reissue,which sounded better.

The original stereo LP had Monk on one channel and the rest of the band on the other. I reckon the original mono mix cannot but sound better.


There are several early stereo Atlantic LPs which sound beautifully in mono, but the original stereo mixes are, as Michael Cuscuna once wrote when we corresponded on some alternate takes of the Modern Jazz Quartet's first Atlantic sessions, "a sonic disaster".

Rudy Van Gelder, too, has admitted that the mono mixes were made with much more care in those days. They had to learn how to do it.

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There was a stereo CD, but it was awkward to listen to - I wished for a mono switch. Since my amp didn't have one, I waited for another reissue,which sounded better.

The original stereo LP had Monk on one channel and the rest of the band on the other. I reckon the original mono mix cannot but sound better.

There are several early stereo Atlantic LPs which sound beautifully in mono, but the original stereo mixes are, as Michael Cuscuna once wrote when we corresponded on some alternate takes of the Modern Jazz Quartet's first Atlantic sessions, "a sonic disaster".

Rudy Van Gelder, too, has admitted that the mono mixes were made with much more care in those days. They had to learn how to do it.

Ah, so it wasn't my ears then...!

Thanks very much for the detailed explanation, Mike.

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The first US cd was that awful stereo with Monk in one channel, the band in the other. Then Rhino reissued it in mono and that cd sounds very good. I agree that the new Japanese Warner cd sounds best of all.

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The mono mix might be fine, but the new remaster is shit (hot treble). My two cents.

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The mono mix might be fine, but the new remaster is shit (hot treble). My two cents.

I don't hear that. Perhaps I'm just pleased to have it in a decent mix.

BTW do you have the Rhino remaster to compare it with?

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I don't hear it either, but then I've adjusted my system to tame hot treble. And I don't use headphones at all. Love the new remaster.

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Yes, I have the Rhino.
82462aac06b55f79ca367fdf5cb2a912.jpg

By the way, there are more alternate takes available on Dimeadozen.

Quote from info text file:

Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers with Thelonious Monk
Atlantic Studios
New York, NY
May 14-15, 1957

Art Blakey, drums
Thelonious Monk, piano
Johnny Griffin, tenor saxophone
Bill Hardman, trumpet
Spanky DeBrest, bass

Source: Master tapes
Unknown lineage

Disc 1 = May 14, 1957
Disc 2 = May 15, 1957

Disc 1 (59:40)
01. <Studio intro> - 0:21
02. Blue Monk (take 1) - 0:10
03. Blue Monk (take 2) - 2:36
04. Blue Monk (take 3) - 0:50
05. Blue Monk (take 4) - 7:50
06. Blue Monk (take 5) - 1:42
07. Blue Monk (take 6) - 7:51
08. Blue Monk (take 7) - 1:26
09. Blue Monk (take 8) - 7:12
10. Blue Monk (take 9) - 7:11
11. Blue Monk (take 10) - 0:10 - ISSUED ALTERNATE TAKE - REMOVED
12. Evidence (take 2) - 0:29
13. Evidence (take 3) - 5:34
14. Evidence (take 4) - 0:09 - ISSUED ALTERNATE TAKE - REMOVED
15. Evidence (take 5) - 1:00
16. Evidence (false start) - 0:21
17. Evidence (take 7) - 6:06
18. Evidence (take 8) - 0:42
19. Evidence (take 10) - 1:25
20. Evidence (false start) - 0:14
21. Evidence (take 11) - 6:11

Disc 2 (23:44)
01. <Studio intro> - 0:10
02. I Mean You (take 1) - 0:14
03. I Mean You (take 2) - 1:21
04. I Mean You (take 3) - 0:07 - ISSUED ALTERNATE TAKE - REMOVED
05. I Mean You (false start) - 0:33
06. I Mean You (take 4) - 1:26
07. I Mean You (take 5) - 1:16
08. Evidence (take 1) - 0:23
09. Evidence (take 2) - 6:29
10. Evidence (take 3) - 1:03
11. Evidence (take 4) - 6:58
12. Evidence (take 5) - 0:25
13. <Studio intro> - 0:10
14. Blue Monk (take 1) - 0:46
15. Blue Monk (take 2) - 0:40
16. Blue Monk (take 3) - 0:48
17. Blue Monk (take 4) - 0:47

Total time = 1 hour 23 minutes 24 seconds

Notes:
- According to the CD liner notes, "I Mean You" was recorded on May 14. However, Robin D.G. Kelley's Monk biography states the band attempted only two songs on May 14 ("Blue Monk" and "Evidence");
- Some take numbers are my designation, not the recording engineer's, but I generally follow the number identified before the track. Additionally, during the May 14 session, the recording engineer--Earl Brown, I assume--loses track of the take number and says "take 6" a second time. One might assume that during a frustrating studio session (Wilbur Ware showed up drunk and was replaced by DeBrest, plus Griffin and Hardman were struggling with the music) the engineer lost track of where they were at; and
- For the official tracks, I have removed the music and left the studio chatter that follows (which was NOT on the Atlantic Records official release).

-----------

The track times for the deleted officially released alternate takes make no sense, but the other times seem to correspond with what's on my hard drive.

Edited by erwbol

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Yes, I have the Rhino.

82462aac06b55f79ca367fdf5cb2a912.jpg

..so, do you think the Rhino sounds different/better?

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Yes, I have the Rhino.

82462aac06b55f79ca367fdf5cb2a912.jpg

..so, do you think the Rhino sounds different/better?

For one thing, the Rhino Blakey, like the Mingus Passions of a Man box, lacks the hot treble found on these new Japanese CDs.

However, I might have given my opinion on the new Japanese discs a few times too many now, and I don't wish to spoil your fun. ;)

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Yes, I have the Rhino.

82462aac06b55f79ca367fdf5cb2a912.jpg

..so, do you think the Rhino sounds different/better?

For one thing, the Rhino Blakey, like the Mingus Passions of a Man box, lacks the hot treble found on these new Japanese CDs.

However, I might have given my opinion on the new Japanese discs a few times too many now, and I don't wish to spoil your fun. ;)

No, it's OK you won't spoil my fun...I'm interested.

You see, this album would be one of my "Desert Island" picks and I'm keen to hear it at it's best.

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My reissue is from the Atlantic Jazz Masters series, it dates fom 2002 and is based on the Rhino reissue pictured above, mono, with three alternates. Sound is okay, but not overly bright. Good enough for me, it's not my favourite Monk session. It's probably the worst take of Evidence Monk ever recorded, too fast, and kind of messed up.

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Holy crap, i have the first CD version and blindingly obvious as it is i was never conscious of the band in one speaker/Monk in the other thing :blush: . Never listened on headphones and maybe it wasn't as obvious on my old set up... anyway, can't un-hear it now! Mental note made to pick up one of the mono releases.

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Thank goodness I have the Rhino version.

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Got both the Rhino and earlier Atlantic stereo version, and aside from the lame gimmick of the Messengers in one channel and Monk in the other (with Monk not actually playing for long periods, as was his wont) there's much better bass on the Rhino. Spanky DeBrest (!) sounds like he was playing in the corridor outside the studio on the stereo mix.

The sound on the stereo Atlantics of that period is often problematic, though the Blakey/ Monk is one of the worst offenders. Have any Coltrane or Ornette albums from the late 50s/ early 60s been issued in (presumably superior) mono versions?

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Ornette's The Shape Of Jazz To Come and Coltrane's My Favourite Things have been re-issued in 2013 as superior stereo hybrid SACDs by ORG Music (ORGM-1080 & 1081). Get them while you can, as their SACD program has been shelved. Only three jazz titles were released, the third being Rollins' The Bridge. All three titles were mastered by Bernie Grundman.

The Bridge

Shape Of Jazz To Come

My Favorite Things

The vinyl program was not halted, so there are 45 rpm LPs of This Is Our Music, Free Jazz, Ole, Bags & Trane.

I believe there are some mono Coltranes among the new Japanese discs, but they must suffer from hot treble as well.

Edited by erwbol

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I recently got from Japan the mono Coltrane My Favorite Things and Giant Steps, and am very happy with them. I'm hoping for mono Coltrane Impulses, which I think are even worse offenders in stereo.

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Which Impulse albums in particular? Early albums like Coltrane and Ballads? (Didn't Rudy Van Gelder turn those into something very close to mono on the deluxe editions a decade plus ago? :crazy: )

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Which Impulse albums in particular? Early albums like Coltrane and Ballads? (Didn't Rudy Van Gelder turn those into something very close to mono on the deluxe editions a decade plus ago? :crazy: )

The one that stands out in my mind is Africa/Brass.

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All of the Impulse mono issues are fold downs.

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All of the Impulse mono issues are fold downs.

sorry, but what's a fold down? (creation of mono track from stereo recording??)

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I have the Rhino edition also.

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