Music Matters Definitive Blue Note 45 RPM and 33 & 1/3 RPM vinyl series (pt7)

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by MilesSmiles, Jun 13, 2014.

  1. AnalogJ

    AnalogJ CMO (Chief Musical Officer)

    Location:
    Salem, MA
    I might sell mine. I only played it a couple of times, but the album didn't grab me. I should give it another chance.
     
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  2. GentleSenator

    GentleSenator what if

    Location:
    Aloha, OR
    ah, it's one of my absolute favorites! MMJ keeps tricking me into thinking they might have it but the "buy" button only returns an error :(
     
  3. Tim1954

    Tim1954 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cincinnati, OH
    Wow. I thought it was back in stock hence my “wake up” reference.:winkgrin:
     
  4. Tim1954

    Tim1954 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cincinnati, OH
    So now having heard over 100 Music Matters releases, allow me to offer up what is just my own opinion on how they rank sonically. I am not going to bother considering 33 or 45 because to me this is very minor compared to the time period, the mastering location and approach.

    1. KG & RR @ CA. These are the absolute best sounding Blue Notes ever released, IMO. Whether on 45, 33 or SRX, this team hits it out of the park nearly every single time.

    2. KG @ CA. Right up there with #1. Just incredible sounding records.

    3. KG @ ATM. Nicely balanced, really great sounding records. A step below the above two.

    4. KG&SH @ ATM. Being honest here, these are sonically my least favorite MM titles. They run from about 2007-2010 and I can see why they made a change in approach. The low bass tends to be a bit too much and the top end seems dialed back. I am NOT a treble nut, but I think the effort being made here to help the horns sound better was at the expense of the air and sense of the room that is on these tapes. By no means are these anything less than really good, but they are typically a significant step below the above three. Anything released during this period that was redone later whether on 45 or 33 was beaten when reissued, IMO.

    Bottom line is they these are the best jazz reissues of all time, IMO. And the above is how I think they shake out.
     
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  5. Bobsblkwax

    Bobsblkwax Forum Resident

    Location:
    NorCal

    Very good rankings, although there will be disagreement about the KG & SH being on the bottom.

    I would add that the more recent masterings, where Ron was involved, brought the "spirit" of the old Blue Note sound back again.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2019
  6. Clucking

    Clucking Elixer of Life

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    Apologies for the newbie question: How can I figure out which of the above any given MM release is? Or, rather, is there a way to understand which of the above applies to which group? For instance, if I want to understand what all of the "KG & RR @ CA" releases are, how do I figure that out?
     
  7. mike_c

    mike_c Forum Resident

    Location:
    Houston, TX USA
    I’m curious where you might rank the Analogue Production 45s that were mastered by KG/SH at the same time as the original MMJ’s? I find the top end to be even more dialed back on these than the early MMJ’s. Thoughts?
     
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  8. mike_c

    mike_c Forum Resident

    Location:
    Houston, TX USA
    Discogs is a good resource for this type of info...although, it is not complete.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2019
  9. Clucking

    Clucking Elixer of Life

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    Yeah, I'm not sure how to sort the MM releases on Discogs so I only see the KG & RR @ CA.
     
  10. periclimenes

    periclimenes Hears the tape speed issues

    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    You have to do a little digging within this list, but this is a good start: Ron Rambach
     
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  11. NorthNY Mark

    NorthNY Mark Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canton, NY, USA
    Interesting--I would rank them in the reverse order. I guess I prefer what sounds to me like a warmer, more refined, natural, and dynamic sound of the earlier titles.
     
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  12. Tim1954

    Tim1954 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cincinnati, OH
    I find them very similar.

    My main “issue” (I don’t even like to use that word because these are really good but just not as good as the others, IMO) with the KG/SH masterings is the deep bass. I think it is often a bit much. Particularly on the mono titles.
     
  13. Tim1954

    Tim1954 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cincinnati, OH
    I would have agreed with you a few years ago, but these days I hear the opposite. Especially the dynamics but also the naturalness of the titles starting around 2011 just gets better and better.

    As Steve himself has written about regarding working with RVG tapes, they were trying to “undo” some things and I’ve read some reports that later when MM started working with just Kevin Gray it was in part so there could be less questioning of RVG’s recordings and they could let them pretty much shine.

    Now, this doesn’t always work. One of my least favorite 33s is Empyrean Isles because Hubbard is standing so damned close to the mic that the left channel just burns my ears even thinking about it. Ironic that the cornet is supposed to be “warmer” than trumpet but that thing is just a buzz cut square wave half the time he plays. So in this case I prefer the 45 done in 2012. I can’t remember off hand if the 45 was CA or AT but I suspect Gray rolled off some top and made it more tolerable. But however it came to be this is one where I like the earlier version. In most every other case I find the redos justified and better than what they did before.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2019
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  14. Briskit

    Briskit “I don’t know karate, but I know ka-razy!”

    Location:
    St Kilda
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  15. Gabe Walters

    Gabe Walters Forum Resident

    Music Matters Definitive Blue Note 45 RPM and 33 & 1/3 RPM vinyl series (pt7)
     
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  16. Tom Campbell

    Tom Campbell Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston, MA
    The fly in the ointment in trying to do a ranking of this type is that KG wasn't thinking of posterity when he inscribed the dead wax on these records, and he wasn't consistent in how he did so.

    There were quite a few ATM sessions where SH was present and a full participant, but where KG only put his initials in the wax. Ron Rambach was present for all or almost all of the mastering sessions, whether or not his initials are there -- as the founder/owner of Music Matters, he was the "customer" and KG and SH were the contractors. And Joe Harley was likewise present, and by all accounts a very assertive editorial voice, for all or almost all of the sessions even though he never got his initials in the wax.

    I do agree that there is a distinct sonic difference between the ATM and CA locations, due to the differing equipment and cabling. And the mastering approach definitely "evolved" over time: the earliest cuts are warm and a bit plummy, then the later KG/SH cuts dial that back; after Steve left, the mastering on the later 45s and early 33s started getting really aggressive, then the later 33s dial back that aggressiveness and arrive at what some may consider a "just right" approach.

    But, as I understand it, there were only two mastering teams: KG, SH, RR, and JH; and then KG, RR, and JH.
     
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  17. timzigs

    timzigs Forum Resident

    Ahhh, so now I know why One Step Beyond sounds sooooo fabulous...both Ron and Joe were involved at CA.

    I would agree, in general, that they improved with time and personnel, but there are some older ones that sound great to my ears...Leapin' & Lopin', Shades of Redd, and Round About Midnight to name a few. I just picked up the Dorham live disc and was amazed how clean it sounded -- you aren't in the front row, you're on the stage with the boys!
     
  18. timzigs

    timzigs Forum Resident

    Is the jury still out on the preference for Afro-Cuban, 45 or SRX? I couldn't find much info searching the thread.
     
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  19. recstar24

    recstar24 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glen Ellyn, IL
    Finished horace parlan happy frame of mind. KPG/RR in deadwax. Killer title - probably a little more out and modal with some post bop elements for parlan, which with the horns plus grant green is a very sophisticated listen. Sonics are in upper tier for MM too.

    Checked the discogs deadwax info for RR and also saw horace silver finger poppin was on it, great quintet with blue Mitchell and junior cook. MM is OOS but snagged on ED for retail, and added Paul Chambers Quintet for free shipping threshold.

    just when you think you are out of the MM game...
     
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  20. Tim1954

    Tim1954 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cincinnati, OH
    My intention was not so much to try to understand the inner workings of these releases but to simply reference them in a manner that is tangible to us, the buyers.

    Personally, I am inclined to doubt that Steve participated in many sessions where he didn’t get his initials in the deadwax, but it doesn’t really matter.

    Starting in 2011 there was a clear improvement to my ears. By 2012 and 2013 they were totally dialed in and for the most part that continues through all of the 33s barring a couple of exceptions.

    The SRX masterings are the most consistently beautiful yet, and I hope for more. Although I do worry that they could be problematic like so many of the Tone Poets and BN80s.
     
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  21. Admerr

    Admerr Forum Resident

    Every time I place a new MM order I think it’s my last. I’ve come to terms that I’ll never be finished unless I scoop up every title.

    That Paul Chambers has slowly creeped into my top 10 MM list. I’m a huge fan of Byrd and I absolutely love his playing on that record. One of my favorite Blue Note covers as well.
     
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  22. timzigs

    timzigs Forum Resident

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  23. johnt23

    johnt23 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Oregon
    I couldn't agree more. From 2012 on through the completion of the MM 45 series, the mastering hit its apex. The combination of KG and RR along with what I call the "4 lane highway with no traffic" for the needle to travel along, made these final years of the 45rpm series the best. And when they were released, they were all at the standard $50 price. Some of these are still available for that $50 non-premium price. Grab them!







     
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  24. recstar24

    recstar24 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glen Ellyn, IL
    same. I’ve passed on the chambers a number of times but streaming more recently has gotten my interest increased. The band is stellar - Flanagan has a very subtle lyrical approach that contrasts with elvin, really tight combo.
     
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  25. NorthNY Mark

    NorthNY Mark Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canton, NY, USA
    Yep--I think we're (mainly) in agreement about the sonic differences, but just disagree on what we prefer. I tend to agree with Steve that certain things RVG did in mastering (rather than recording) sound better "undone." What's "natural" is obviously subjective, but I'm pretty sure that RVG was known for adding a fair amount of compression in mastering/cutting, and that is one of the things Steve and Kevin "undid," making their versions more dynamic (I don't have the means to prove it, but dynamics, unlike naturalness, are an objective rather than subjective factor). But I think you're correct that the later, post-Steve MM mastering approach moves closer to the RVG direction, and some folks will prefer that. I'm just not one of them. Which isn't to say I think they're bad by any stretch--just that I prefer the earlier approach.
     
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