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Tone Poet Blue Notes

Discussion in 'music' started by poco a poco, Feb 26, 2019.

  1. mikechadwick

    mikechadwick pfm Member

    Just playing Lee Morgan - Cornbread. Another top quality pressing. Still got to listen to Dexter Gordon and Baby Face Willett. Did anyone else think the Lou Donaldson cut was a bit bass shy?
  2. poco a poco

    poco a poco pfm Member

    I don't have the Lou Donaldson, but that is part of what I feel about the Baby Face Willette - Face to Face. I find it rolled off a bit at both ends. The bass goes down to quite low frequencies, but at quite a low level and the top end lacks the 'air' especially round the cymbals that the Tone Poets usually have. It has a pretty good dynamic range, but I find it is another one where I want to turn the volume up a bit, but it is a fine line as Fred Jackson's Tenor can seem too loud in balance if you go even a little too far. Strangely it seem to make Van Gelder, Englewood Studio seem to sound like it has a 'warmer' somewhat more closed in acoustic than normal. There is quite a bit of bleed from Willette's centrally placed organ as well, mainly into the right channel, but sometimes the left.The pressing is excellent though and I expect the mastering accurately produces what is on the master tape.

    It didn't do much for me musically either to be honest although I liked the BN80 of Grant's First Stand that has the same line up, minus Fred Jackson and I thought the recording was better as well. To be honest I don't think I am much of a fan of the use of an organ in Jazz and this, or today's heat, may have influenced my judgement. I will give Face to Face another spin soon, but I feel I might be in a minority on this one.

    The Dexter Gordon is sonically excellent and if you are playing them back to back, compare the space and 'air' around the musicians on this one and the change in the ambient sound off Englewood Studio. Although it's pretty good, I don't think Dexter makes bad records even though he is very prolific, but with the exception of the two Ballards - 'I'm a fool to want you' and 'Jodi' I don't think it is up with his best work on record.

    I loved the Lee Morgan - Cornbread musically and this really excellent recording and mastering brings out the very best on it. All these three have been flat and very quiet pressings. I still love what the Tone Poet team are achieving with these records and long may it continue, but I don't expect to be overwhelmed by everyone.
    mikechadwick likes this.
  3. Graham H

    Graham H pfm Member

    There is no bass as such on Mr Shing a Ling, just organ bass pedals which I agree do tend to swell in and out of the mix. But I find that’s the nature of organ bass pedals. Same on the Grant’s First Stand LP. Although I think the drums are fantastic on Mr Shing a Ling.
    mikechadwick likes this.
  4. kjb

    kjb pfm Member

    I think that's one of the things with Blue Note - some of the music is decidedly average and I find I have to look quite hard for the real gems. I've used Qobuz to dip into the records on both the Tone Poets and at at 80 series that I wasn't already familiar with and really only found a few I'd want to have or would play regularly, lovely though they are as artifacts. Like ECM, there is a lovely aesthetic to the sound and design which its quite irresistible but the actual music underneath that can be a bit routine in places. Of the Tone Poets I'm not sure I'll want much beyond Shorter , Rivers and Hill. and while I bought 6-7 of the 75th anniversary vinyl (nearly all replacing RVG edition CDs) there's not much in the 80s that's I need to have.

    That said, I'll still check out the new Tone Poet list and the 85 anniversary vinyl to see if there's anything essential and I do like the way they take care over the reissues, not just knocking out job its as cheaply as they can.

    Incidentally, this is worth reading if you've not done so already:


    poco a poco and Graham H like this.
  5. Graham H

    Graham H pfm Member

    I’d tend to agree with you Kevin, except I’m going through a bit of light hearted soul jazz phase which both series are fulfilling at present. But I feel it will soon be time to move on ( besides, I see there is a new Horatio Radulescu recording on the horizon). I think the Tone Poet series is the more adventurous of the two, and it looks like Joe Harley is trying his best to delve a bit deeper than previous series ( there is talk of a double Andrew Hill kicking off series 2). I’ve said it before, but it seems criminal that no recent series has paid tribute to Herbie Nichols.

    Your link looks interesting. It’s a shame Richard Cook died so young, he gave Jazz criticism it’s much needed edge and depth of knowledge, making the Wire and Penguin Guide to Jazz much more interesting and wider in scope. Without him there would probably be no entries for people like Evan Parker, Derek Bailey and John Butcher et al.
  6. poco a poco

    poco a poco pfm Member

    I tend to agree as well Kevin, but perhaps I like and will want a few more in the pipeline of both series. With a lot of other good reissues, although not to the same high standards probably, I think I need to be more selective. Of the Blue Notes I'm certainly looking forward to see what the Tone Poet team do with Andrew Hill's Blackfire next month and some more Andrew Hill would be a bonus. My wish list would also include some Herbie Nichols (good call Graham), some of the less well known Jackie McClean albums, some Graham Mocur III and perhaps some Horace Parlan and Clifford Jordan, and Don Cherry's - 'Symphony for Improvisers'. :rolleyes:
    Graham H likes this.
  7. Graham H

    Graham H pfm Member

    Although Clifford Jordan was on one of the first jazz LPs I ever bought in my youth, (Charlie Mingus Town Hall Concert), it’s only recently that I really appreciated his playing when I bought Glass Bead Game. How would you say his BNs stand up against this? (I have Blowin’ In from Chicago).
    Hook likes this.
  8. poco a poco

    poco a poco pfm Member

    To be honest Graham I don't know which is why I said 'Perhaps'. I really only took notice of him with Charlie Mingus as well, but on 'Live in Paris 1964, Vol 2' that I have, where he plays alongside Eric Dolphy. I wanted to get the Glass Bead game reissue that you refer to as well, but was put off by it being a probable 'needle drop' as I mentioned elsewhere. Is it any good? There was a limited edition CD box set of all his stuff on Strata East, but I have never seen it. I think he is on the recently reissued Eric Dolphy - Musical Prophet sessions, but I don't have that either. So some good reissued Blue Note's by him would be worth exploring.
  9. hockman

    hockman pfm Member

    Both Cliff Craft and the s/t Clifford Jordan on Blue Note are excellent but more in the hard bop vein. I don't really care for Blowing' In from Chicago.

    The Clifford Jordan Mosaic box set contains all the Jordan produced sessions for Strata East and included a lot of music without Jordan, e.g. Ed Blackwell, Cecil Payne etc, some of which was never released. It went out of print a couple of years ago.

    I am still kicking myself for not picking up an original press of Glass Bead Games for very little money just a few years ago!
    Graham H likes this.
  10. Graham H

    Graham H pfm Member

    The Pure Pleasure LP set of Glass Bead Game is good, with caveats. There is a graininess to the tenor sound I’m perplexed about, which makes me suspect a needledrop, or less than mint tape copies. On side three there is constant right hand channel drop outs, with cymbals noticeably drifting over to the left. Only happens on side three, so I haven’t really a clue what is going on or what the source was. So I can only recommend it with these caveats in mind. The actual pressing itself is quiet, with nice centred hole, pressed at Pallas I believe. At £40 I’m still glad I purchased it as the music is so good, no hard bop on this one, more of a nod to John Coltrane, with some interesting group playing and beautiful lines from Jordan.

    I’m not into bop, hard bop or post bop, so thanks for the heads up on Jordan’s BN stuff. I have Blowin’ In as I wanted to hear as much as I could of what John Gilmore recorded outside Sun Ra’s orbit, but hardly ever listen to it.
  11. Elephantears

    Elephantears Trunkated Aesthete

    Hmm, I just ordered the Dexter Gordon but decided against Cornbread. Was this a mistake? I don't know either well, so a bit of streaming research suggested that Cornbread was a bit mainstream, whereas Clubhouse does have some fine tenor soloing. The Qobuz HiRes file of the latter sounds amazing, so it's another case where I feel I'm being very extravagant, but getting caught up in the whole reissue festival.
  12. poco a poco

    poco a poco pfm Member

    Andrew, I don't want to help deplete your finances even further. I'm having enough trouble keeping mine in check.:oops:
    Well this is mainstream Hard Bop, but just look at the line up and there are very fine solos from all, including those from Hank Mobley on tenor and I love Jackie McClean's alto although I guess his somewhat acerbic tone is not liked by everyone. Still the HIRes Qobus file should tell you if all this works for you and as you have this access thenmaybe that's enough? I thought the LP mastering of Cornbread was even better on the whole than Clubhouse, but I think I would need another listen to confirm this as I got caught up in the music and therefore was perhaps not too critical. It's a lovely gatefold sleeve with Francis Wolff session photos, but don't let that or me persuade you.;)
  13. Elephantears

    Elephantears Trunkated Aesthete

    Well, I don't suppose they are going to run out soon, so I'll give it another few listens before deciding. The Dexter Gordon is growing on me quickly though; the horn is amazingly holographic on the HiRes file; I can hardly imagine it being better. But the rhythm section is very recessed. I like this spotlighting technique in this case. It will be interesting to see how the Tone Poet version differs.
  14. mikechadwick

    mikechadwick pfm Member

    Just playing Face to Face and really enjoying it as much as Grant’s First Stand. I used to be a bit down on the whole Soul Jazz/ Acid Jazz vibe but I’m really starting to appreciate the relaxed groove. Face to Face seems to have more bass compared to Mr-Shing-A-Ling. Real foot tapping stuff.
  15. scotty38

    scotty38 pfm Member

    Just listening to the Kenny Burrell that's being released on the 26th and liking that a lot. Will listen to the Andrew Hill later so who's guessing I like that as well and end up pre-ordering both.....
  16. Elephantears

    Elephantears Trunkated Aesthete

    Dexter Gordon 'Clubhouse' arrived this morning. Amazing. I said I could hardly imagine the horn on the Qobuz HiRes being bettered. Me of little faith! I can't think of a more holographic and exquisite recording of a great horn solo than 'I'm a Fool to Want You' here.

    The quality of this reminds me of when I heard a Reel to Reel version of Sonny Rollins 'You Don't Know What Love Is' on S-Man's system at Scalford; his friend Mike had the master tape copy. I've written about that a few times on the hi-fi section of the forum, but really it is as much or more about source as the hi-fi chain downstream.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2019
    poco a poco likes this.
  17. poco a poco

    poco a poco pfm Member

    I had another spin of both the Dexter Gordon - 'Clubhouse' and Lee Morgan - 'Cornbread' this morning and I have to say they are both supberb. For me it's now not possible to say one is better than the other in terms of sound quality. There are differences though. There seems to be more front to back depth on Clubhouse and Dexter's tenor is well to the fore in the left channel of the mix and is wonderfully holographic. On Cornbread Hank's tenor is a little bit further back in the mix in the right channel (except on 'I'll Wind' where he is moved to the left) and all the muscians are a little closer with regard to depth, but I have noticed Van Gelder seems to do this with larger ensembles. A Sextet here over a Quintet on Clubhouse? Both recordings / masterings with great dynamics and instrumental 'presence'. Higgin's drums sound excellent on Clubhouse but seem to have even slightly more impact here on Corbread. In both cases beautifully captured drum sound and this is one of the most impressive aspects of all these Tone Poet issues. The real star for me on Cornbread is the recording of Herbie Hancock piano in comparison to Barry Harris on Clubhouse, which I think is about the best I have heard from Van Gelder in the context of a group recording. I also like how Van Gelder changes the sound to fit the intimacy of the ballad 'I'll Wind' where Lee Morgan plays with a mute and is now placed centrally. All the musician seems to be a bit closer together on this track and the sound is still clear and present but seems 'warmer' and though you are up close in a small 'smokey club.

    I'm loving the sound of Dexter's horn on 'I'm a fool to want you' as well, although hi-lighted it also sounds intimate and as I said before this is the real star of this album. Dexter is amazing in his ability to put so much emotion into this track. You feel the sense of sadness and loss and almost despair. A really great tenor solo(s) on this.

    So on balance these are both wonderful. These Tone Poet masterings are full of revelations that enhance the music. I even thought I had been a bit hard on Face to Face on a replay this morning. Well I did listen before on the hottest day of the year. :confused:

    Would Andrew or those of you with HIRes Qubos like to comment on which ways you think the sound quality is bettered by the LP's?
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2019
  18. Elephantears

    Elephantears Trunkated Aesthete

    Yes, I keep playing that Dexter solo. I took the LP around to a friend's house today. He has an amazing system (Devore Nines, powered by VTL 200, Audio Research PH8 phono stage, everything else great too), and he likes to listen loud. He cranked it up for that track and it wasn't just the holographic presence, it was the sheer weight of the tenor that was staggering. If anything though, I was even more blown away by how Freddie Hubbard sounds; the tenderness of his vibrato as well as his piercing intensity.

    This same friend imports Japanese Vinyl, and he gets some great stuff (I buy quite a bit from him), but we both agreed that this is as good a rendering of lyrical sax on vinyl as we've heard.

    I did mean to compare again with the HiRes Qobuz, but I'm too wrapped up in listening to the LPs. I'll try to get around to it eventually, but I think my initial impressions will stand.
  19. poco a poco

    poco a poco pfm Member

    Andrew it's interesting what you say here as clearly as you say a high quality source is apparent even on a modest system, but at the same time it challenges what you have if you get a little towards getting the best out of it. I was thinking as I was listening to these two that I was sure there was much more to be had if my system were better. Something I have not thought about for a long time. I had hoped I had long got off the box swapping merry go round. ;)
  20. poco a poco

    poco a poco pfm Member

    I had not intended to buy the Cassandra Wilson - Glamoured and I have hesitated on the Lou Donaldson - Mr Shing-a-Ling, but as the reports on sound quality on these, particularly on Glamoured, has been so good and at the moment they are sale on Dodax.co.uk as follows:
    Glamoured is £14.99
    Mr Shing-a-Ling is £26.78 both with free postage.
    So I have decided to go for them. The Donaldson is about the same as the link Theo posted when you take postage and exchange fees into account. The Glamoured is very low price for a double Tone Poet.



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