AAA 100% Analogue This LP was Remastered using Pure Analogue Components Only from the Master Tapes through to the Cutting Head
Speakers Corner / Atlantic 1260 - 180 Gram Virgin Vinyl - AAA 100% Analogue
AAA 100% Analogue - Mastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearant Audio
Pressed at Pallas - Limited Edition
Speakers Corner 25 Years pure Analogue
Charles Mingus’ ascension from bebop sideman through cool-school/Third Stream experimenter to his position as one of the greatest composer/leaders in the jazz pantheon had been completed by the time of this, his second session for Atlantic, in 1957. Here Mingus leads an excellent quintet of then-unknown players: Jimmy Knepper on trombone, Shafi Hadi (then Curtis Porter) on alto and tenor sax, Wade Legge on piano, and Danny Richmond on drums. Knepper stayed with Mingus for several years, and Richmond all the way until the end, but the other two had fairly brief recording careers, and never sounded as good in any other context as they did with Mingus. The call-and-response of “Haitian Fight Song” and Mingus’ first original blues on record, “Bee Cee,” are as rootsy as a swamp, despite chordal voicings that evoke Ellington and even Monk. We also get “Reincarnation of a Lovebird,” a kaleidoscopic homage to Charlie Parker, and, on the title track, one of those narratives with accompaniment Mingus used so effectively over the years. This classic date richly deserves the Speakers Corner deluxe production it gets with this reissue. - Music 4/5 Sound 4/5 Duck Baker The Absolute Sound
This was recorded by Tom Dowd and Larry Hiller and supervised by Nesuhi Ertegun. It is undoubtedly one of the great Mingus sessions, with excellent fidelity of all five instruments, and probably a must-have for all jazz collectors. 5/5 AudiophileAudition
A quite stunning album that has been well produced and mastered by the label which, it has to be repeated, keep a welcome hands off in terms of imposing the modern onto the reissue. That is, you won’t find any company logos on the sleeve, bar codes or other modern ephemera, this is a honest-to-goodness reissue and relic to boot.- Theaudiophileman
Who hasn't got an ancient, worn-out copy of "The Clown" on his shelf, with a tatty cover and torn inner sleeve? Or maybe one of the rare re-releases made of cheap, thin vinyl with dreadful graphic art? And if you haven't heard this gem for a long time, despite the flood of Mingus LPs, CDs and downloads on the market, then you really should seize this opportunity to do so. "The Clown" was, and still is, an absolute must-have for every jazz collector.
The small ensemble, only five musicians, came into the New York Atlantic Records studio in March 1957 to record music exclusively composed by the double bassist. Over the next 15 years, three of them were to be heard in numerous concerts with other ensembles. But the original recordings on this LP were the most deeply concentrated, the most versatile, and quite simply the best of all. The more so because the label attached great importance to optimal studio conditions and allowed the instrumentalists plenty of time to make the recordings.
In the present reissue "The Clown" can be enjoyed to the full from the very first note of "Haitian Fight Song" up until the words "William Morris Sends Regrets" in the title work.
It's a fact of life that some records get all the attention. We like masterpieces, the big statements; Kind of Blue, A Love Supreme, Bitches Brew. Records that seem to spring out of sudden flashes of inspiration. With Mingus, the albums generally considered as his best are the ones that are most consistent; Pithecanthropus Erectus, Blues & Roots, Black Saint and the Sinner Lady. While these are undoubtedly fantastic, that leaves a lot of other records that while not exactly having fallen by the wayside, are worthy of more attention.
The Clown is one of those. Recorded in 1957 (but unreleased till 1961), it's notable for the first appearance of three classic Mingus tunes; "Haitian Fight Song", "Reincarnation of a Lovebird" and (here on this newly expanded edition) "Tonight at Noon". Several regular Mingus alumni are featured - the ever present Dannie Richmond on drums, Jimmy Knepper on trombone, Shafi Hadi on alto and tenor saxophones, plus pianist Wade Legge.
Throughout his life, Mingus remained devoted to both the bop and the blues; distrustful of the avant garde and those who went electric, his music was a hard-won exploration of the possibilities left in both, delivered with passion and intensity. "Reincarnation of a Lovebird" proves that those who know history aren't necessarily doomed to repeat it. The opening collage of bop phrases and quotes sounds startlingly contemporary, while Hadi's soaring alto flights resonate with Bird's easy grace. Meanwhile, Mingus and Richmond lay down a fat, bluesy swing, or chop things up with a razor sharp precision that left most contemporary rhythm sections in the shade.
"Haitian Fight Song" opens in typical style with a solo statement from the bass, then proceeds to take the roof off in an urgent display of call-and-response riffing and dark, insistent rhythmic interplay.Jazz doesn't get much better than this. The inclusion of these two pieces plus the explosive, high speed swing of "Tonight At Noon" (from the same original sessions) make this an essential purchase.
The title track is one of Mingus' spoken word experiments - an improvised tragi-comic narrative from beat poet Jean Shepherd set to a lugubrious feature for Knepper. Your mileage may vary, as they say. "Blue Cee" is (guess what) a blues in C which goes nowhere much, but even at his patchiest, Mingus is always worthy of your time...highly recommended. BBC music
These four tracks were all composed and performed by the amazing bassist Mingus, and have been reissued on various poor discs (some with terrible cover art), so it is wonderful to finally have this Mingus masterpiece in a really good version that preserves everything that happened in that studio in March of 1957. The original packaging includes detailed notes on the back by Nat Hentoff. He spends a lot time on the volatile personality of Mingus. Mingus said, “Just because I’m playing jazz, I don’t forget about me…My music is alive and it’s about the living and the dead, about good and evil. It’s angry, yet it’s real because it knows it’s angry.”
The folk spirit of “Haitian Fight Song” open the first side. It also has a bit of the old black church in it. “Blue Cee” is a standard blues which Mingus feels has some Basie and church-like feelings in it. “Reincarnation of a Lovebird” on the second side recalls Mingus’ relationship with Charlie Parker, which was also volatile. It has a mournful sort of mood.
The last track, “The Clown,” (at 12 1/2 minutes) features the narration of the great monologist Jean Shepard. Mingus says he was playing a little tune on the piano that sounded happy. Then he hit a dissonance, and decided the piece had to have two parts. He told the story of the clown to Jean Shepard, about a character who tried to please people like most jazz musicians, but nobody liked him until he was dead. Every time the group performed it live, Shepard improvised and changed the story, just like a jazz improvisor. He even created an ending which leaves it up to the listener rather than explaining that the clown killed himself.
This was recorded by Tom Dowd and Larry Hiller and supervised by Nesuhi Ertegun. It is undoubtedly one of the great Mingus sessions, with excellent fidelity of all five instruments, and probably a must-have for all jazz collectors. 5/5 audiophileaudition
Charles Mingus, bass
Curtis Porter, alto saxophone
Jimmy Knepper, trombone
Wade Legge, piano
Dannie Richmond, drums
Jean Shepherd, vocals
1. Haitian Fight Song
2. Blue Cee
1. Reincarnation of A Lovebird
2. The Clown
Recorded February and March 1957 in New York City.
20 Years pure Analogue
This Speakers Corner LP was remastered using pure analogue components only, from the master tapes through to the cutting head
Are your records completely analogue?
Yes! This we guarantee!
As a matter of principle, only analogue masters are used, and the necessary cutting delay is also analogue. All our cutting engineers use only Neumann cutting consoles, and these too are analogue. The only exception is where a recording has been made – either partly or entirely – using digital technology, but we do not have such items in our catalogue at the present time
Are your records cut from the original masters?
In our re-releases it is our aim to faithfully reproduce the original intentions of the musicians and recording engineers which, however, could not be realised at the time due to technical limitations. Faithfulness to the original is our top priority, not the interpretation of the original: there is no such thing as a “Speakers Corner Sound”. Naturally, the best results are obtained when the original master is used. Therefore we always try to locate these and use them for cutting. Should this not be possible, – because the original tape is defective or has disappeared, for example – we do accept a first-generation copy. But this remains an absolute exception for us.
Who cuts the records?
In order to obtain the most faithful reproduction of the original, we have the lacquers cut on the spot, by engineers who, on the whole, have been dealing with such tapes for many years. Some are even cut by the very same engineer who cut the original lacquers of the first release. Over the years the following engineers have been and still are working for us: Tony Hawkins, Willem Makkee, Kevin Gray, Maarten de Boer, Scott Hull, and Ray Staff, to name but a few.
At the beginning of the ‘90s, in the early days of audiophile vinyl re-releases, the reissue policy was fairly straightforward. Companies such as DCC Compact Classics, Mobile Fidelity, Classic Records and others, including of course Speakers Corner, all maintained a mutual, unwritten code of ethics: we would manufacture records sourced only from analogue tapes.
Vinyl’s newfound popularity has led many other companies to jump on the bandwagon in the hope of securing a corner of the market. Very often they are not so ethical and use every imaginable source from which to master: CDs, LPs, digital files and even MP3s.
Even some who do use an analogue tape source employ a digital delay line, a misguided ’80s and ‘90s digital technology that replaces the analogue preview head originally used to “tell” the cutter head in advance what was about to happen musically, so it could adjust the groove “pitch” (the distance between the grooves) to make room for wide dynamic swings and large low frequency excursions. Over time analogue preview heads became more rare and thus expensive.
So while the low bit rate (less resolution than a 16 bit CD) digital delay line is less expensive and easier to use than an analogue “preview head”, its use, ironically, results in lacquers cut from the low bit rate digital signal instead of from the analogue source!
Speakers Corner wishes to make clear that it produces lacquers using only original master tapes and an entirely analogue cutting system. New metal stampers used to press records are produced from that lacquer. The only exceptions are when existing metal parts are superior to new ones that might be cut, which includes our release of “Elvis is Back”, which was cut by Stan Ricker or several titles from our Philips Classics series, where were cut in the 1990s using original master tapes by Willem Makkee at the Emil Berliner Studios. In those cases we used only the original “mother” to produce new stampers.
In addition, we admit to having one digital recording in our catalogue: Alan Parsons’ “Eye in the Sky”, which was recorded digitally but mixed to analogue tape that we used to cut lacquers.
In closing, we want to insure our loyal customers that, with but a few exceptions as noted, our releases are “AAA”— analogue tape, an all analogue cutting system, and newly cut lacquers.
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