Needledrop Of The Day 1/11/2012 - Dexter Gordon - Soy Califa
OK gang...today it's time to delve into the wonderful world of old jazz albums. I have been transferring a lot of vinyl for a friend who was left a very large and very valuable jazz record collection. He has a massive amount of old Blue Note, Prestige, Verve, and Riverside albums as well as countless others. I'm relatively certain there are many recordings he has that have never been released digitally and have not been heard by anyone for quite a long time. It's a jazz/vinyl lover's dream come true.
The other nice thing is that for many of these recordings, the original vinyl sounds MUCH MUCH better than the versions on CD. Consider this: when these albums were originally pressed the master tapes they used were brand spanking new. No tape degradation, nobody having to splice or bake tape due to age...etc.
Also, Blue Note several years ago decided to start releasing "RVG editions" which are remasters from Rudy Van Gelder...the man who originally engineered most of these recordings. Sounds great right? Not so fast. Rudy, for reasons that no jazz fan understands, EQ-ed these CDs much differently than the original albums. In addition he applied compression AND worst of all, he often narrowed the stereo field to the point of almost being mono. Most jazz lovers are fairly appaled at what happened here.
So like the Iron Maiden I posted earlier...you have some choices if you like these recordings. First you can hunt down an original. Be prepared to pay AT LEAST $100 per pressing and in many cases...much much more. These are 50+ year old albums and they don't come easily or cheaply. Or, you can find the original CDs that came out before the "RVG editions". In some cases this is pretty cheap and simple...others not so much.
So here is one of my absolute favorite Blue Notes. Dexter Gordon (possibly my favorite sax player ever) recorded the "A Swingin' Affair" album in the same sessions that he recorded the more popular "GO!" album. However, I personally like "Swingin'" more than Go! The "RVG" edition of this title, for lack of a better word, is shameful. Much of the bass and more importantly the mids have been neutered. The stereo field was narrowed greatly and compression was applied. I was very happy to hear this piece of vinyl...it was like hearing the proper recording for the first time.
Those of you that have Spotify or something similar...compare this version to what you find on Spotify. You WILL hear what I'm talking about.
Here's Dexter Gordon - Soy Califa from "A Swingin' Affair". This one took a bit of software cleanup during the drum solo, but I think the results are still nice.