Verve / Speakers Corner - MGVS-6056 - 180 Gram Virgin Vinyl - 4260019713599
AAA 100% Analogue - Limited Edition - Verve MG VS-6056
Pure Analogue Audiophile Mastering - Pressed at Pallas Germany
The concept of two tenor saxophone soloists performing in tandem, an approach that highlighted the contrasting textures of their styles, had its popular origins in the swing era. When the great tenors of that time had the chance to stretch out together in the LP format, the results showed not just how rich and individual soloists' voices were but how deep a mutual affinity they could display.
Behold, then, this end-of-the-decade summit to end all summits: not just Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins, the two greatest surviving exponents of the tenor saxophone, but a third master, the tragically under-recorded Budd Johnson. The three saxophone masters, joined by the indefatigable Roy Eldridge, stretch out luxuriantly on the marathon "In a Mellow Tone" with spectacular results.
On this 1959 release, we hear Ben Webster with his idol Coleman Hawkins and legends Roy Eldridge (trumpet), Ray Brown (bass), and Jo Jones (drums). Tenor great Budd Johnson also appears here with the only other swing era tenor giant who is missing from this session being the inimitable Lester Young.
This famous release is a celebration of the saxophone and the jam session, which are staples in jazz. These musicians embark on a musical journey that is as exciting as it is adventurous. While the music sticks pretty much within the boundaries of mainstream jazz, it is apparent that these players are all inspired by their surroundings.
Much of the set showcases a blowing competition between the horns. They sometimes spurn each other on; other times, they act as foil. The result is a batch of tunes (five total) that really swing. Highlights include the intense "Young Bean" and "De-Dar." On the ballad, "Time After Time" Johnson and Coleman sit out, leaving Webster to break our hearts all by himself.
If ever there was an LP to study the perfect art of swing tenor sax playing, then this must be it! In the '60s, fans of a rich, full sound coupled with a flowing style must have been thrilled when this LP by Ben Webster and his associates appeared on the market. Leonard Feather called the trio "heavy weights" and their massive sound certainly matches their corpulence. While it is difficult to single out just one of the musicians, it is easy to distinguish them: Ben (called "The Brute") plays with a raspy, vibrating sound; Coleman (known as "The Bear") is a master of flowing swing; and Budd has an earthy, resonant bluesy sound. The five numbers reflect the jam-like spontaneity of the 1959 session; an Ellington classic by the three in a masterful, inspirational new interpretation; three pieces which are intrinsically and hoc improvisations; and a classical ballad in which Ben Webster breathes warmth and sentiment into his instrument.
Ben Webster and Associates is a 1959 session that took full advantage of the long-playing LP format. Highlighted by the 20-minute version of Ellington's "In a Mellow Tone" in which tenor titans Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, and Budd Johnson plus trumpeter Roy Eldridge stretch out, not so much in a cutting contest as a laid-back jam session amongst friends. This summit meeting turned out to be a tribute to another tenor master of the same generation, Lester Young, who had died less than four weeks before this session. The chosen rhythm section of Jimmy Jones on piano, Les Spann on guitar, Ray Brown on bass, and Jo Jones on drums equally matches the performance of the featured horns. Also tackled for this session were three Webster originals: "De-Dar," "Young Bean," and "Budd Johnson" and the standard "Time After Time." the excellent sound more than makes up for it.
Ben Webster, tenor saxophone
Coleman Hawkins, tenor saxophone
Budd Johnson, tenor saxophone
Roy Eldridge, trumpet
Ray Brown, bass
Jo Jones, drums
Ben Webster Ben Webster And Associates
1. In a Mellow Tone
2. Young Bean
3. Budd Johnson
4. Time After Time
20 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.
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!