Ahmad Jamal Trio at the Pershing (2020 Analogue Productions 33) - Mastering

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by YEX 750-1, Jun 1, 2020.

  1. YEX 750-1

    YEX 750-1 Long-winded Brother Thread Starter

    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Just picked up my copy of the new Ahmad Jamal title from Analogue Productions, and it sounds lovely. I'm curious if anybody has a backstory on this mastering, plating, and pressing process? Because here's what I'm gathering:

    I figured this was mastered by Ryan K Smith (Acoustic Sounds website says "Mastering took place at Sterling Sound" but the promo video for the release makes no mention of mastering). However, looking at the deadwax has revealed a fun surprise for a vinyl collector. It reads:

    Runout side A: CH-8302 A TR(in a circle) CR 12/83 ▣-G-▣ (stamped) G APJ 128
    Runout side B: CH-8302 B TR(in a circle) CR 12/83 ▣-G-▣ (stamped) G APJ-128

    CH-8302 is the Chess Records catalog number assigned to this title once Chess took over the Argo catalog in the 80s. TR = Trutone Mastering; CR = Carl Rowatti; 12/83 is a mastering month. ▣-G-▣ is the old Gloversville MCA plant. The final "G" is inscribed.

    I have two other titles -- one a Cadet reissue ("My Main Man") and the other a Chess Records reissue (Muddy Waters "Folk Singer") -- that feature similar markings and an inscribed mastering date from Trutone Mastering. So my first thought was, "hey they're copying the deadwax of a 1980s reissue for fun"... but then I realized the obvious and much less stupid answer:

    This AP release is a repress of the Trutone cut from 1983.

    For reference, here is the Discogs listing of the 2020 AP reissue:
    Ahmad Jamal Trio - Ahmad Jamal At The Pershing

    And a Chess 1984 reissue:
    Ahmad Jamal Trio - At The Pershing / But Not For Me

    Some people might be upset it's not a new mastering... but considering that many Argo tapes are said to have been lost in the 2008 Universal fire, I'm curious if "At the Pershing" is one of those, and AP has gone to the effort to unearth and properly repress an old AAA mastering (I assume they got the mothers, as this is said to have been plated at QRP) so people can discover this title again, on clean quiet vinyl.

    If there are mothers or stampers sitting around for other old tapes that have since been lost to time or fire (assuming that's what's happened here), it would be cool to see other titles repressed similarly.

    As I said- the Acoustic Sounds listing kind of dances around the topic: "The Analogue Productions reissue LP you hold has matchless listenability, employing steps calculated to extract the highest-quality transfer and playback from the original master tape. Mastering took place at Sterling Sound, while plating and 200-gram pressing is by our own Quality Record Pressings, where the best-sounding LPs with dead-quiet surfaces are produced. A Stoughton Printing old-style tip-on jacket completes the package."

    If anybody has more info on this, would love to know.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2020
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  2. ultron9

    ultron9 Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    Great info and detective work...definitely brings up some intriguing questions, hopefully AP will be forthcoming about this in future...I'm considering getting this as well.
     
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  3. kt66brooklyn

    kt66brooklyn Senior Member

    Location:
    brooklyn, ny
    Might be worth picking up! It's a clever way around the mastertape problems, if true.
     
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  4. Crush87

    Crush87 Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York
    Great post OP. I'm assuming youre pleased?

    Would love to hear others chime in as well.
     
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  5. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    Strange. I wouldn't mind buying an older cut that's been repressed but at least give credit to the correct engineer. I wonder why they are giving credit to Ryan/Sterling? Did he actually master the title and they decided not to use his cut at the last minute? Weird situation.
     
  6. Crush87

    Crush87 Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York
    I'm having a similar thought and wondering if I should just pick up the 80s Chess issue for a fraction of the price if it's from the same mother?
     
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  7. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    Those 80s Chess/Cadet pressings are fine IME. The only thing you have to watch for is warps, because sometimes they were pressed on very thin vinyl that warps easily. Same thing with some 70s Cadet reissues.
     
  8. vinylkid58

    vinylkid58 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Victoria, B.C.
    Same here, as I've tried several original Argo pressings that turned out to be really beat up, and not worth playing. Not sure I want to flip the coin again thou.

    jeff
     
  9. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    Old Argo pressings in excellent shape are a tough find, even if they look good on the surface.
     
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  10. culabula

    culabula Unread author.

    Location:
    Belfast, Ireland
    The very recent DeAgostini pressing sounds magnificent and can be picked up for around 10-12€.
     
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  11. Crush87

    Crush87 Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York
    No copies for sale on Discogs currently, but I’m in the States anyway
     
  12. YEX 750-1

    YEX 750-1 Long-winded Brother Thread Starter

    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Thank you- this is some of the fun of vinyl collecting for me, studying deadwax and through it the history of how music finds its way to the people. I’m very happy with the record- I hadn’t actually heard this title prior to taking the plunge but it’s pretty excellent musically and I’ve put it through a couple of listens now. Sonically it’s not the greatest recording ever, but the mastering is very clean and balanced to my ears.

    They can indeed be on pretty thin vinyl, and in my few experiences they can be noisy even when they look clean and go through an ultrasonic bath. Not super surprising for late 70s/80s pressings. Of course YMMV and my experiences are anecdotal, but I’d bank on the QRP vinyl being far better than a used 80s copy.

    My copy of the AP release was dead quiet and centered so I’m satisfied with having spent $30 on it versus if I found a clean 80s copy for, say, $15 to $20.

    I’m not sure if they ever actually mentioned Ryan, but given his consistent work for AP I had assumed that’s what Sterling meant. Though Sterling has been around for generations now... so I wonder if it was a situation back in the 80s where Sterling mastered a copy tape for Trutone to then cut flat to vinyl, like some digital vinyl cuts today are mastered by one person then “lacquer cut by” somebody else. That would be a bit bizarre, but outside of that I can’t imagine how Sterling would possibly be credited... unless it’s what you mentioned, Ryan did a cut and AP went another way. Or AP just made a mistake somewhere in communication.
     
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  13. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    Checked the ad copy and they do mention Sterling but not Ryan currently on the Acoustic Sounds website. I guess it is worth noting that AS/AP often announce releases far in advance for preorders and such so maybe that's where things got screwed up. Either Sterling couldn't do the work by a certain deadline or they decided it was better to go with the old Trutone cut. Then the original info from the preorder phase stayed online by mistake...just a guess. Whatever the reason I do wish they would correct the wording. I may buy this release eventually notwithstanding who really cut it.
     
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  14. brucej4

    brucej4 Forum Resident

    Yesterday's AS Back in Stock e-mail still says that the Jamal was "Mastered at Sterling Sound from the original tapes!"

    So, are they still lying, or was it eventually recut at Sterling?

    My copy, which was ordered long after initial availability, is the Trutone cut.
     
  15. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    I find it hard to believe that they would lie. More likely it is human error. Someone should email them and get that corrected. There's no reason to be using incorrect info this late in the game.
     
  16. I'm doing a shootout of 3 copies of this amazing album:
    Original stereo, original mono, and 1983 mono remaster by Jack Skinner at Sterling.

    Discogs listing for the Analogue Productions version suggests those stampers were used for the latest pressing, and were indeed mastered at Sterling from the original tapes, so only somewhat misleading.

    Typically I prefer Argo records in stereo, which when engineered by Ron Malo or Van Gelder can be a natural-sounding wide soundstage with precisely placed instruments. In this case, the mono has more energy but less a sense of the Pershing venue. The band sound like they're playing from a a phantom center speaker, placed tight together with audience chatter, and not how I expect they actually would be in the hotel's performance space. I looked for images of how players were arranged but came up empty, so this assumption is based on the stereo recording. That said, I'm struggling to place the players in the stereo. It sounds reprocessed with the trio in the left speaker, and echoed in the right. Remasterings of this LP are mostly mono, so perhaps the consensus was this was the preferable way to hear it.

    The engineer is Malcolm Chisholm recording in January 1958, early stereo, and stereo was relatively novel for live recordings. Chisholm would record Marian McPartland live later that year, and engineered many outstanding Argo LPs, and I wonder if he was still getting oriented in stereo.

    Initial feeling is the original mono is my preferred version for a richer, warmer tubey, bass-heavy presentation than the more detailed Skinner mastering, and more rhythmic drive than the stereo. Finding clean originals takes some patience. These 3 LPs took many years to acquire, though the original I'm now going to keep was from a dollar bin this year, so patience can pay off. I expect the AP version is also a good choice. FWIW: I've had good luck with mid-80s Chess reissues being flat and clean, and inexpensive, if the Skinner version is of interest.

    I've recently passed over several Argo mono LPs, and may be revisiting these at local stores following this analysis (barring the Van Gelders where I'm pretty confident I'll prefer his stereo).

    What version of the Jamal recording are others preferring?
     
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  17. ultron9

    ultron9 Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    I hadn't believed there was a true stereo version of this album... possibly rechanneled for a later release.
     
  18. Hmm. I have the first pressing 'Argo Stereo Odyssey' US LP from 1958 which is marketed as true stereo (see Discogs listing), and was recorded at a time when Argo was releasing proper stereo. But it sounds wonky, like reprocessed stereo that I've heard, or perhaps just made with odd mic-ing or mixing choices.

    [​IMG]

    Anyone else heard this version?
     
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  19. Tommyboy

    Tommyboy Senior Member

    Location:
    New York
    I like Carl Rowatti’s work. He’s underrated. Not much talk about him.
     

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