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Larry Kart

Dire sound quality of C. Baker Prestige reissues

18 posts in this topic

Recently bought all three CD reissues of the mid-1960s Chet Baker Prestige dates with George Coleman, Kirk Lightsey, et al. Don't have the old LPs any more, which is why I bought this material on CDs, so I can't perform an A/B test, but my memory is that the old LPs had perfectly reasonable sound (were they even RVG dates, I don't recall), but these CDs sound like garbage. In particular, Lightsey is made to sound horribly brittle, as is drummer Roy Brooks at  times, and the balance between Baker and Coleman wavers from track to track and even within tracks. The music itself still has value (some of Brooks' solo spots bring Wilbur Campbell to mind), but someone sure screwed this up. Perhaps the ghost of Richard Carpenter was at the controls.

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If you are talking about the German ZYX CDs from the late 90's, they were almost universally panned for their poor sound. The only CD versions of "Smokin'" I could find were one on Roulette, which also wasn't known for issuing the best-sounding CDs and a recent Italian release, which I've never heard.

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I think Larry is referring to the 3 two-fers below. I wonder if the fact that these sessions were produced by Baker's manager, Richard Carpenter, had anything to do with the subpar sound?

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51BGw3Od0vL._SX522_.jpg

Edited by sonnymax

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Yes, those are the ones. But as I said above, my memory is that the original LPs sounded just fine, may even have been engineered by RVG.

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The US cds put out by Fantasy sound fine as I remember (they have been in storage about four years).

Edited by jazzbo

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3 hours ago, bresna said:

If you are talking about the German ZYX CDs from the late 90's, they were almost universally panned for their poor sound. The only CD versions of "Smokin'" I could find were one on Roulette, which also wasn't known for issuing the best-sounding CDs and a recent Italian release, which I've never heard.

Only the 20 bit & 24 bit remasters in digipacks. ZYX did the mastering themselves. The front cover images had a small black border. I think they managed to make the Eric Dolphy/Booker Little Five Spot albums sound completely different between vol. 1 and 2. Atrocious every one of them.

All other (16 bit) ZYX OJCs have the same mastering as the US discs (and came in jewel cases).

This is what they looked like:

ojc20133cd1-2046x900.jpg

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Leveraging threadistical synergies with no hope of a deliverable actually being provisioned...

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I recall the original LPs as sounding fine, though I always thought that Baker's playing was a bit sub-par on them; not horribly so, but just not quite settled.

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30 minutes ago, AllenLowe said:

I recall the original LPs as sounding fine, though I always thought that Baker's playing was a bit sub-par on them; not horribly so, but just not quite settled.

I agree; like the band is in one league, and Baker is a lot more tentative (and different stylistically, too).

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5 hours ago, erwbol said:

Only the 20 bit & 24 bit remasters in digipacks. ZYX did the mastering themselves. The front cover images had a small black border. I think they managed to make the Eric Dolphy/Booker Little Five Spot albums sound completely different between vol. 1 and 2. Atrocious every one of them.

All other (16 bit) ZYX OJCs have the same mastering as the US discs (and came in jewel cases).

This is what they looked like:

ojc20133cd1-2046x900.jpg

They sold truckloads of those digipaks here in Australia at the time, many ending up on the throwout/el cheapo tables - must have been a dumping ground down here

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8 hours ago, romualdo said:

They sold truckloads of those digipaks here in Australia at the time, many ending up on the throwout/el cheapo tables - must have been a dumping ground down here

Was that perhaps after Fantasy was taken over by Concord and Universal started reissuing OJCs in Europe?

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15 hours ago, erwbol said:

ojc20133cd1-2046x900.jpg

Agree, they were cheap over here and sound cheap too, unfortunately. I sold them over the time, still have a couple I think.

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Strange ... I cannot recall having ever seen those XYZ-reissued OJC digipacks over here. And even though I did not browse the CD racks THAT attentively during the past 15 or so years anymore they would have been candidates for the jazz bins in the Zweitausendeins shops, for example. And these I DID check out regularly (while our local shop lasted).

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1 minute ago, Big Beat Steve said:

Strange ... I cannot recall having ever seen those XYZ-reissued OJC digipacks over here. And even though I did not browse the CD racks THAT attentively during the past 15 or so years anymore they would have been candidates for the jazz bins in the Zweitausendeins shops, for example. And these I DID check out regularly (while our local shop lasted).

Steve, they were released between about 1999 and 2004. After that Universal took over. So more than 15 years ago.

Count yourself lucky!

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Actually the turn of the milennium was a period when I was flooded with collectible vinyl purchasing opportunities so my CD purchases at that time certainly were limited to items I KNEW one THOUSAND % sure to be unavailable or unaffordable to me in ANY vinyl format. Which is why I may have missed most of these. Actually on checking my CDs now I see that whatever OJC CDs I purchased were jewel case items except one which is a 20-bit digipack:
Hal Gaylor/Walter Norris/Billy Bean - "The Trio", an "obscurity" item bought from the cut-price racks at 2001.
I remember being sort of surprised at the time that OPJC had gone the digipack route too (a couple of other items i bought at 2001 at that time all came in jewel cases so apparently were earlier reissues)
And this one sounds OK to me (of course I have never seen or heard the original vinyl to compare). The fine print says it was remastered by Kirk Felton at Fantasy Studios, Berkeley. (Whatever that would indicate to the experts ... ;))

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14 minutes ago, Big Beat Steve said:

And this one sounds OK to me (of course I have never seen or heard the original vinyl to compare). The fine print says it was remastered by Kirk Felton at Fantasy Studios, Berkeley. (Whatever that would indicate to the experts ... ;))

R-495313-1123359891.jpg

That Kirk Felton credit is likely just a reproduction of the original mastering credits of the earlier OJC CD. Later ZYX digipacks like the one in the picture above shows double credits. ZYX remastered them themselves at their own "Music Studios" from who knows what sources. Japanese CDs sometimes also reproduce the original OJC booklet including mastering credits when the CD in question is clearly a later mastering, like for the Fantasy catalogue DSD remasters from around 2007/8 (which actually are good).

Edited by erwbol

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That may have been a procedure with this series but I really don't know about the "Trio" CD I mentioned. The Kirk Felton remastering is dated 1999 and so is the (C) date (which would coincide with the beginning of the reissue period of this digipack series you mentioned) and there are NO other (later) remastering credits anywhere on that reissue (contrary to your example above). Did the practice with indicating credits vary THAT widely?

Edited by Big Beat Steve

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OK, then they probably used the latest US mastering.

They also issued the Bill Evans Complete Village Vanguard 1961 recordings 3CD set in 2003. That set was conceptualised by the Japanese and I believe there were some Japanese characters visible on the bottom (backside?) of the ZYX box. I guess they didn't use their own mastering there either, because they couldn't possibly have had access to any previous release. After 2005 the US edition of that set was imported into the EU rather than it being produced locally. I used to own the ZYX, which got damaged, and now have the Concord set, so I can't compare.

Edited by erwbol

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