Thursday, July 21, 2016

Monty Alexander Live At Montreux MPS 2016... Improving a Jazz Audiophile Classic!

In the last few years legendary label MPS from Germany has been reissuing some of its famous recordings, and few can be more important, well known and even over-played than Montreux Alexander from 1977, one of the best piano jazz trio recordings ever made in a live setting, and definitely one of the best performances with impressive rhythm and constant excitement, not a dull second on this LP, with a gracious blend of creativity, spontaneity and virtuosity that are not easy to repeat, at least not sounding this good!

I've had my original Germany first pressing release for a while, played it many times at home and audio events, always a show stopper for the sound energy and awe inspiring performances. Clearly an LP engineered to sound larger than life, with a huge "you are there" factor, I've always loved its sound and it never failed to impress me, even if I could tell that it was somewhat exaggerated...

Come 2016, and MPS released a new Montreux Alexander vinyl LP remastered by Dirk Sommer from the Original Analog Master Tapes as part of MPS AAA reissues program featuring all analog mastering chain and 180 Gram Vinyl pressings. I just couldn't resist buying this one and making a serious comparison with my original pressing. I was curious, expecting it to be really good, but what I found was much more than just good, it was a complete paradigm change, from impressive sound, to real sound!

It takes a lot of courage to do this with such an audiophile classic, but they did it. There are huge differences and all for the better, first of all the overall volume is much lower on the reissue, I had to really crank it up a few notches to match the db volume of the original pressing. Then, the second thing that strikes you after the "loudness" is removed, is the natural EQ, the natural sound of all instruments, specially the piano that now makes the original appear a little "glassy", where the original had a pinching quality, the new reissue presents a vivid piano sound with fast transients but not really hammered and with an organic quality that was somehow missing on the original pressing. The third wave of changes comes in the form of present and tonal bass, something that was clearly recessed on the original but now the bass is there, it blooms and helps to recreate the live setting atmosphere with a pneumatic effect and expanded scale. How's that for making a classic sound better than ever?

The piano notes always sounded articulate with impressive transient response, but the decays were always a little tucked in by the pinch of the notes percussion, that has been corrected with the piano sounding more organic and integrated with the rest of the trio. The drums, probably the area where less was changed in terms of sound presentation, retain the same sonic signature with clean extended cymbals and very nice attack to keep the music charging forward with the same energy as before.

So this was a big surprise, because the new remaster brings life back to this recording, what before sounded edgy and intrusive, now sounds natural and real, keeping the original recording spirit untouched, but making it much more a classic live jazz performance. This reissue is where the goods really show, the deep sounds, the breathe of life, a perfect choice to let yourself become immersed in these impressive performances sounding better than ever before.

Overall it can be said that this new reissue presents this amazing and popular performance with a much more balanced EQ, less compression and more resolution, for a more natural and realistic sound, exactly like you'd expect to hear in a live setting. The contrast between slow lower level moments, and the higher paced large volume bursts is now much more obvious with increased dynamics and a sense of crescendos that makes the performance and musicians real, in the room with an expanded view of the live set. The pressing on perfectly silent vinyl is the cherry on top, absolutely highly recommended!

Find it here, at Vinyl Gourmet Online Store:

Monday, June 6, 2016

Bill Evans ‎Some Other Time 2LP 180 Gram Vinyl The Lost Session From The Black Forest

Never before released 1968 studio album by legendary pianist Bill Evans with Eddie Gomez and Jack DeJohnette. Recorded by Georg Brunner-Schwer and Joachim-Ernst Berendt at MPS Studios, Villingen, in The Black Forest in Germany. Special limited edition, exclusive Record Store Day 2016 hand-numbered 2LP set mastered by Bernie Grundman and pressed on 180 Gram vinyl at RTI, USA.

Now out of print, a couple of units available at Vinyl Gourmet online store, here:

  • Limited Edition (4000 units worldwide)
  • Numbered Edition (hand-numbered)
  • Exclusive Record Store Day 2016 Relesase
  • Recording Never Released Before
  • 2LP 180 Gram Audiophile Vinyl
  • Pressed at RTI, USA
  • Mastered by Bernie Grundman
  • 8 Page Insert with exclusive interviews, essays and rare photos
  • Gatefold Cover

Newly unearthed studio session from the iconic pianist Bill Evans, Some Other Time: The Lost Session from The Black Forest is a landmark discovery for jazz listeners around the world. Unique studio recording made on June 20, 1968, five days after the Bill Evans Trio's triumphant performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Only the second album — and the only studio album to feature the Bill Evans in trio, duo and solo configurations with brilliant drummer, Jack DeJohnette, and great bassist and Evans Trio veteran, Eddie Gomez.

8 page booklet features interviews with Bill Evans Trio members Eddie Gomez and Jack DeJohnette and essays by celebrated author and critic Marc Myers, producer Zev Feldman and MPS Studios engineer and studio manager and German jazz authority Friedhelm Schulz, along with extraordinary rare and previously unpublished photographs by David Redfern, Giuseppe Pino, Jan Persson and Hans Harzheim, including two images by German Hasenfratz taken at the June 20, 1968 session.

These recordings were only recently discovered in the Brunner-Schwer family archives. Bill Evans Some Other Time: The Lost Session From the Black Forest, a previously unknown and extremely rare studio album by the Bill Evans Trio recorded on June 20, 1968 by legendary German jazz producers Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer and Joachim-Ernst Berendt. Resonance will release this album — which has never before been issued in any form — on Saturday April 16, 2016 in a special limited-edition hand-numbered two-LP set on Record Store Day.

Track Listing:

LP 1 Side A
01. You Go To My Head
02. Very Early
03. What Kind Of Fool Am I?
04. I'll Remember April
05. My Funny Valentine

LP 1 Side B
06. Baubles, Bangles and Beads
07. Turn Out The Stars
08. It Could Happen To You
09. In A Sentimental Mood
10. These Foolish Things
11. Some Other Time

LP 2 Side C
01. You're Gonna Hear From Me
02. Walkin' Up
03. Baubles, Bangles and Beads
04. It's All Right With Me (Incomplete)
05. What Kind Of Fool Am I?

LP 2 Side D
06. How About You?
07. On Green Dolphin Street
08. Wonder Why
09. Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be?)
10. You're Gonna Hear From Me (Alternate Take)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Return of Vinyl Records indeed... from Fashion to Confirmed Reality in 2016!

By the end of 2015 and now at the beginning of 2016, the world has witnessed three major facts that really mark the turning point of the Vinyl Resurgence, from Fashion Statement to confirmed format comeback into the homes and stores everywhere in the world.

These are not small things, we're talking major changes or happenings that are unquestionable signs that Vinyl Records are back and here to stay, with significant growth expected in the next decade.

1 - Turntables selling like crazy at HMV and Amazon for Christmas 2015!

This was all over the news, with HMV selling one turntable per minute during the week before Christmas, and Amazon Best Selling Home Audio product during that period being also a turntable. And this of course doesn't take into account all the other major stores across the globe selling turntables like hot cakes in 2015 and now in 2016, with manufacturers like Pro-Ject reporting huge increases in their numbers for the new year. This is a very strong sign of how things have changed in the last few years and how far vinyl records are really going into more and more homes.

2 - Vinyl was King at CES 2016 Las Vegas, Sony and Panasonic highlights!

Nothing stood out and made more headlines than Vinyl at CES 2016. Most importantly, industry GIANTS Sony and Panasonic made Vinyl and Turntables the major highlights of the show, with Sony's CEO introducing a new Sony turntable to enter the market and talking about vinyl playback quality and how it appeals to newer generations, and Panasonic storming the show with the announcement of the return of the famous Technics SL1200-GA Turntable, now even better with many improvements to celebrate the brand's 50th Anniversary. Basically, the biggest and most important Audio/Video Technology event in the World, was dominated by vinyl records and turntables, and two of the major manufacturers in the World made vinyl their main thing for this event.

3 - Brand new Pressing Machines in Europe and America in 2016!

This is by far the biggest sign that Vinyl Records are really back and the future of Vinyl growing is certain. Right now, Viryl Technologies in Canada and Newbilt Machinery in Germany, are making brand new and updated vinyl pressing machines. This is HUGE, pressing plants now can rely on new equipment with reduced maintenance costs, new businesses can plan their strategy without the uncertainty of having to find and rebuild old presses, speed and quality are also expected to reach a better balance in the next few years because we now have new machines. This would never happen if there wasn't already a huge vinyl market and real confidence in the future of vinyl, it takes a lot of time, money and other resources to make these new pressing equipments a reality, we all knew this would only happen when the vinyl resurgence was not just a fad, but a full steaming reality with a very optimistic future ahead. Well, it just happened!

So now we know, and can all rest assured, that vinyl is truly back and it's here to stay, and that is great news for the music loving public, it's not just Vinyl making a strong and sustained comeback, it's music and music culture making a huge and significant comeback to the top position it used to be in our society and in our lives as individuals. Vinyl represents the best of the Music Industry and watching vinyl going back into people's lives, in their homes, is really something special. 

Enjoy the ride!