Friday, February 21, 2014

Review: Charles Mingus - Mingus Ah Um - ORG Original Recordings Group 2LP 45rpm

(Original Recordings Group reissue spinning at 45rpm on my Rega P9)

Probably the highest point of the Charles Mingus Jazz Workshop achievements during the 50's, Mingus Ah Um was the first Charles Mingus album for Columbia Records, recorded in New York at Columbia 30th Street Studio in May 1959 and released later that year. Certainly one of the best if not the best Charles Mingus album, this is a wonderfully engineered recording with incredibly powerful and detailed micro and macro dynamics, large holographic sound stage and explosive transients, that perfectly conveys a true musical masterpiece and unsurpassed performance by a group of amazing musicians.

(Original cover art by S. Neil Fujita)

This reissue does it justice allowing all of these qualities to come through effortlessly out of the deep dark and silent background, just like the vinyl surface, with incredible and realistic presence served with faithful and natural tonality. You'll suddenly find your room filled with the ghosts of Mingus, Parlan, Ervin and his pairs, as well as the masters he evokes in some of the tracks of this album (Lester Young, Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton), echoing their timeless music in your soul... "Better git it in" there!

This double LP cut at 45rpm comes housed in a lovely thick  and solid gatefold cover with faithful artwork reproduction that is a pleasure to feel and look at, and it's a limited numbered edition pressed at RTI in the USA expertly mastered from the Original Master Tapes by Bernie Grundman whose vast experience and tasteful engineering options guarantee we listen to the best possible sound.

(Charles Mingus, New York 1959 - Columbia 30th Street Studios - Photo by Don Hunstein)

For this review I've extensively compared this new reissue to Bernie Grundman's 1995 cut for the now defunct Classic Records label on 33rpm 200gr vinyl to find out that the new mastering sounds marginally brighter (probably more like the Original Master Tape actually sounds), but the added transient response, tighter and more focused bass and increased dynamic range, all contribute to a much better experience and overall higher fidelity sound presentation. One thing that is really improved on this latest ORG 45rpm reissue is that you can really hear and feel Mingus playing with so much more resolution and focus because the bass now sounds like there are bass strings being played, it's not all over the room with "boomy" effect and diffuse sound. This is mostly the result of the 45rpm cut added clarity and faster transients, and also because Bernie Grundman studio completely renewed and improved its analog mastering chain gear between these two releases, resulting in much increased transparency.

A true audiophile delight, this is the type of vinyl release to answer all questions, that makes it all worth while. For the music, for the performance, and for this absolutely perfect reissue, Mingus Ah Um is a must have album in any collection and a definitive Vinyl Gourmet Audiophile TOP 100 record.

(the music and sound combine for a truly memorable audiophile experience)

Vinyl Gourmet Rating: Music (0-10): 9   Sound (0-10): 9   Product Value (0-10): 10

Charles Mingus "Mingus Ah Um" (originally released in 1959)
ORG Original Recordings Group (2012 reissue)
Made in USA 45rpm 180gr Vinyl RTI pressing
Numbered Limited Edition - Bernie Grundman Mastering
Catalog Number: ORG 130 (CS 8171)
Matrix Side A: ORG 130-A45   Bernie Grundman   20400.1(3)
Matrix Side B: ORG 130-B45   Bernie Grundman   20400.2(3)

Review by Sérgio Redondo
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  1. Thanks for the helpful review

  2. How do you rate it comparing to the 1993 Phil DeLancie or Mark Wilder mastered CD versions? Much better?

    1. I meant Mark Wilder mastered CD, thinking about other disc ;-)

    2. Hi Krzysztof, I had a CD, think it was a deluxe edition remastered by Wilder, I know I preferred the ORG LP but it was a long time ago so I can't really remember exactly how the comparison went. This LP is definitely great :)

    3. Thanks. Now decisions, decisions...


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