One of the first “Blue Note’s” I bought and liked was Grant Green’s great 1963 album Idle Moments. Up to that point most Blue Notes I had heard I thought were pretty insipid and wondered what all the fuss was about. And to be fair, at that time, I was just dipping my toes into the Jazz pond and hadn’t quite got it.
The copy I bought was one of a well meaning and good value series “mastered from the original tapes” by Blue Note (US), cut at Capitol Mastering. That must be some 15 years ago now. In the intervening years the Blue Note catalogue has been mined by three of the biggest and best vinyl re-issue lables in the history of Vinyl – Classic Records, Analogue Productions and Music Matters.
And so we find ourselves in 2014 with two HQ variations readily available – both I believe cut by Kevin Gray from the original master tapes. One, an Analogue Productions issue, sees the recording split over 4 sides and cut at 45 rpm (c 2009). While the new kid on the block was cut last year at 33.33 rpm and is on the Music Matters label. The word was that Kevin G has recently rewired his Mastering Cutting Complex and this had made a great improvement in the resulting output. Having been a believer in effect of different cables for over 30 years and more recently exposed to the benefits of (home made) silver cables last year I thought it was worth a comparison of these two versions of Idle Moments.
And yes there is quite a difference – however I am struggling to explain it – for at the end of the day I would be quite happy to live with either version. Just a few seconds after swopping over the records I stopped analysing and just listened to the music. What can I say? The MM version is crisper, the detail in say Joe Henderson’s Sax is much clearer and dynamic but at the expense of it sounding like the instruments as opposed to a band performance in a club. By comparison the AP 45 is more muted but atmospheric and I found it easier to listen to the whole. As to which is more faithful to the recording I have no idea – gut feel says you should take the best bits of both. I think a further listening session is required just to check my conclusion tho’. Oh and both records have been cleaned – but with the AP version having the benefit of a Walker Audio Prelude clean, which has the sort of effect of opening out the recording more than Disc Doctor MRC which tends to give sharper sound – writing this now I am questioning my sanity but what the ……
Also I am sure I read that Blue Note are also re-entering the vinyl market and righting the wrongs of these recent audiophile reissues – whatever that means.
Bottom line is that Idle Moments is, for me, a great early ’60’s Guitar led Jazz lp and am grateful of the re-issue boys bringing it to my attention. As for the numerous versions – there are so many great deserving recording still to be re-discovered that it would be nice to move on a bit – how about the Cecil Taylor Blue Note’s or Ornette’s Stockholm excursions? or even better move out of Blue Note for a while – and help ORG dig the Atlantic catalogue – Oh Yeah, Blues & Roots, The Clown????????????? just for starters.