AAA 100% Analogue This LP was Remastered using Pure Analogue Components Only from the Master Tapes through to the Cutting Head
Speakers Corner / RCA CS- 8346 - 180 Gram Virgin Vinyl - AAA 100% Analogue
Limited Edition - Audiophile Mastering - Pressed at Pallas
Speakers Corner 25 Years pure Analogue
The mastering is just superb here with the orchestra sounding relaxed and flowing in how they approach each piece of music. They swing like crazy and sound like they’re having a great time, always a good indication that the mastering is spot on. There is just enough air in an around the midrange to provide room for dynamic extension for saxes and trumpets, from the likes of Johnny Hodges an Ray Nance giving them as much elbow room as they need to provide punch when required and a sweet tone if necessary but with texture that adds a swathe of detail to boot.Treble is highlighted around the cymbals, providing space to push out delicate reverb tails and a fragility that contrasts well with the power of Sam Woodyard’s drums. - Theaudiophileman
Piano in the Background will be enjoyed equally by specialists and general listeners alike. Sound 4/5 Music 4/5 The Absolute Sound
The early stereo is well balanced and enhanced with well mastered 180 gram vinyl. This would make a good all round Ellington disc for a newcomer to his music. Jazzjournal
Big band fans, take note! These nine numbers, in precisely this version, belong in every collection. We are talking about the year 1960, and the 17 musicians involved have probably performed this very repertoire every night in a different venue all over the globe. But in the studio it all sounds fresh and new, well practised but never dull, cool, groovy and intoxicating. The difference to a great number of other Ellington LPs is that here not a single wind soloist stands in the foreground but the whole body of musicians. The arrangements are all new and some of them are even quite unusual, but Sam Woodyard on the drums has everything well under control - sometimes not at all 'Ellington-like'.
Snapping the fingers is automatic, and tapping your foot is also not to be frowned on; however this recording demands careful listening! If you have the first version of these numbers in your collection then it would be a good idea to compare them with this recording.
Everyone who loves jazz surely knows of Duke Ellington the bandleader; many, however, forget about Ellington the pianist. The two recordings reviewed here, Piano in the Background and Piano in the Foreground showcase both sides of the Duke and, as the album titles imply, feature Ellington on Piano in every tune. Recorded in 1960, Piano in the Background gives us elegant Ellington as we've always known him, moving between his roles as "the executive" and the piano player. Here Ellington is at his absolute finest, opening and closing every tune (except one) on piano with a full and ferocious band in between. And while every number on Background is large-scale jazz at its finest, there are definitely some standouts, like "Kinda Dukish" and "Rockin' in Rhythm." Ellington uses the former as a tension-building, piano intro to the latter, where the band lets loose and completely brings down the house. Solos here are first rate, and the orchestral colors and sonorities are nothing short of amazing. Background closes with arguably one of the top three recorded versions of "Take the A Train" with every band member swingin' like it's nobody's business.
The upright bass sounds full and juicy, piano sounds clean and punchy, and horns have a timbral honesty that's accurate yet never piercing, bright nor etched. Special nod goes to the expansive and positively huge soundstage on Background, with horn sections well outside of the speakers' edges.
No doubt, Piano in the Background and Piano in the Foreground are timeless jazz albums of the highest order. If you love Sir Duke and don't yet have these albums, get them: you'll love the music and the sound and will listen to them many times over. Or, even if you do already own previously released versions, buy these anyway: letting you soak in all of what made Mr. Ellington so legendary. fine pair of musically and sonically splendid albums. Well done!
The Duke Ellington Orchestra remains young, dynamic and varied thanks to a continually changing ensemble. And the 'Piano Man', as the best 'pause-filling' pianist ironically called himself, sat full of vigour before the 88 keys of the keyboard at the age of 60.
Not only jazz fans will be saying a big thank you that this recording - made in the early days of stereophony - is available once again on virgin vinyl with superb sound.
This Speakers Corner LP was remastered using pure analogue components only, from the master tapes through to the cutting head. All royalties and mechanical rights have been paid.
Recording: May and June 1960 at Radio Recorders, Los Angeles
Production: Henri Renaud
Duke Ellington, piano
Johnny Hodges, saxophone
Harry Carney, saxophone
Russell Procope, saxophone
Ray Nance, trumpet
Willie Cook, trumpet
Lawrence Brown, trombone
'Booty' Wood, trombone
Aaron Bell, bass
Sam Woodyard, drums
1. Happy Go Lucky Local
2. What Am I Here For
3. Kinda Dukish / Rockin' In Rhythm
1. I'm Beginning To See the Light
3. It Don't Mean A Thing
4. Main Stem
5. Take the "A" Train
ORIGINAL MASTER TAPES
AAA 100% ANALOGUE
We use the Original Tapes and work with only the Best Mastering Studios
Plated and Pressed at PALLAS germany
Released in Limited Quantities
20 Years pure Analogue
This Speakers Corner LP was remastered using pure analogue components only, from the master tapes through to the cutting head 25 Years pure Analogue
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.
60 Years Pallas
Audiophile Vinyl - Made in Germany For over 60 years the family business in the third generation of the special personal service and quality "Made by Pallas" is known worldwide. Our custom PVC formulation produces consistently high pressing quality with the lowest surface noise in the industry. Our PVC complies with 2015 European environmental standards and does not contain toxic materials such as Lead, Cadmium or Toluene. Our vinyl is both audiophile and eco-grade!