AAA 100% Analogue This LP was Remastered using Pure Analogue Components Only, from the Master Tapes through to the Cutting Head
Pure Pleasure / United Artists - PPAN UAJS15003 - 180 Gram Virgin Vinyl -
AAA 100% Analogue - Limited Edition - UAJS 15003 United Artists
Mastered by Ron McMaster at Capitol Studios - Pressed at Pallas Germany
This reissue does an outstanding job of reducing noise from the master tapes — now well over fifty years old — without sacrificing musical detail. It gets you in the heart the way the original recording did. There have been a fair number of releases of Undercurrent on vinyl over the years, but Pure Pleasure’s 180 gram audiophile incarnation is the first to combine notably high quality sound with packaging that does justice to the eerie, enigmatic beauty of the original. The cover of the album doesn’t feature any names or even a title, just a mysterious black and white photograph of a woman floating, Ophelia-like, in dark water. At the time it was as distinctive as the record it contained, indicating — as far as jazz was concerned — we really were no longer in Kansas. They don’t make LP art — or music — like this anymore - London Jazz News
This is the first of two superb albums recorded by Bill Evans, and guitarist Jim Hall, and it was recorded over two sessions in April and May 1962. Arrangements simply for piano and guitar are rare in Jazz, and it is even more seldom that the results are truly inspiring and as musically worthwhile as in this case. It is usual for intuitive musical relationships to develop over a number of years, but here we find two musicians who clearly shared an immediate understanding.
Both men are on absolute top form here - Bill Evans was on fire throughout the early and mid sixties, and after the tragic death of his previous musical partner, virtuoso bass player Scott Le Faro (at the age of 23), he was searching for new directions. Jim Hall is a guitarist of tremendous skill and powerful technique, with a highly developed rhythmic and harmonic sense that shines through on this album. What is so special about the performances here is an almost telepathic anticipation of where the music is heading - both musicians contribute equally, and there is a constant exchange of ideas, each reacting to the other with apparent ease, whatever the mood.
This is a brilliant jazz album, of great depth and tremendous atmosphere, and both players express some exceptional ideas. Highly recommended.
No other version outside of this analog copy brings you face-to-face with these two jazz giants’ sonic communion, a kind of spiritual musical summit on which Evans’ deft keyboard touches and Hall’s reliably subtle phrasings seamlessly mesh and wonderfully dance, the compositions streaked with natural instrumental decay, full-frequency extensions, and poignant emotionalism that, on this LP, you can feel.
While Evans managed to sit down for a few one-off takes between LaFaro’s passing and these April-May 1962 dates, he largely remained on hiatus and abstained from recording. Whether it owes to the intimate pairing, he and Hall’s brotherly chemistry, or the exquisite selection of program material, the results consistently come across as the equivalent of a private meditation—such is the level of introspective depth and quietly shaded interplay throughout.
For Evans, the duet clearly functions as therapy, a healing episode in which his partner patiently lays back, shadowing moves and suggesting others, neither musician interested in the spotlight but each striving for (and achieving) transcendent beauty. In tackling standards such as Rodgers and Hart’s “My Funny Valentine” and the Broadway classic “Darn That Dream,” as well as the Hall original “Romain,” the pair traverses complex harmonies with the astute elegance of a figure skater. At times, Evans and Hall go for broke on a hard-swinging romps, yet it’s their implied melancholy and drifting, softly struck melodic refrains on waltzes and ballads that bestows Undercurrent with a nuanced romanticism and whispered atmosphere befitting the record’s title.
Indeed, even the album’s cover—an iconic photograph by Toni Frissell—exhibits the surreal, almost-hallucinogenic properties of the fare contained within.
What a perfectly delightful duo for listeners, like myself, who are not nuts about the drums in jazz trios and prefer just piano and bass, piano and sax, or in this case piano and guitar. In fact the fantastic jazz pianist Evans was at this time recovering from the loss of his duo partner on doublebass, Scott Le Faro, who had tragically died at only age 23. Jim Hall was a perfect replacement, and quickly developed a similar telepathic connection with Evans that resulted in two great duo LPs, of which this is one.
And this is not just guitar riffs ornamenting the piano, nor piano accompaniment for guitar improvisations. Each player is thoroughly equal in this endeavor, and their ideas and exchanges are something to hear. Having the clean and quiet vinyl background and the rich sound of each instrument aids a lot in appreciating the six shared creations of these two master jazzmen. My favorite track was John Lewis’ waltz-time “Skating in Central Park.” The gatefold double sleeve has nothing but the photo of the floating body on the front, and inside it has totally random nonsense liner notes titled “Wait Quickly.” I guess this was the sort of Dadaist thing that went over well in the ‘60s. The music isn’t nonsense.
- Bill Evans (piano)
- Jim Hall (guitar)
Recording: April & May 1962 at Sound Makers, New York, by Bill Schwartau
1. My Funny Valentine
2. I Hear A Rhapsody
3. Dream Gypsy
5. Skating In Central Park
6. Darn That Dream
ORIGINAL MASTER TAPES
AAA 100% ANALOGUE
We use the Original Tapes and work with only the Best Mastering Studios
Plated and Pressed at Pallas in Germany on 180 gram Virgin Vinyl
Highest Quality Jackets and Inner Sleeves
Low Numbers per Stamper Released in Limited Quantities
Pure Pleasure Records
The Restoration of the Art of Sound
180g Vinyl Mastered From The Best Available Sources
At the beginning of the 90s, in the early days of audiophile vinyl re-releases, the situation was fairly straightforward. Companies such as DCC, Mobile Fidelity, Classic Records and, of course, Pure Pleasure all maintained a mutual, unwritten ethical code: we would only use analogue tapes to manufacture records. During the course of the present vinyl hype, many others have jumped 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 to master from: CDs, LPs, digital files, MP3s – or employed existent tools from the 80s and 90s for manufacturing.
A digital delay is gladly used when cutting a lacquer disc because tape machines with an analogue delay have become quite rare and are therefore expensive. When cutting the lacquer, the audio signal is delayed by one LP revolution against the signal, which controls the cutter head, and for this a digital delay is very often employed. Of course, the resultant sound signal is completely digital and thus only as good as this delay.
We should like to emphasize that Pure Pleasure Records on principle only uses the original master tape as the basis for the entirely analogue cutting of lacquer discs. In addition, the pressing tool is newly manufactured as a matter of principle. We only employ existing tools for manufacturing if an improved result is not forthcoming, e.g. the title Elvis Is Back, which was mastered by Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray, or several titles from our Philips Classics series, which in any case Willem Makkee cut from the original masters at the Emil Berliner Studios in the 90s. It goes without saying that we only used the mother and that new tools were made for our production. To put it in a nutshell: we can ensure you that our releases are free from any kind of digital effects and that the lacquer discs are newly cut.
There really is nothing quite like it. It’s the touch, the feel, you have to stop and stare, the cover, the real thing, even the smell.
Its tangible, you can feel it, see it, study it, muse/dream over it, it’s real, someone has spent hours and hours over its construction and presentation. Pure Pleasure Records is just that, Pure Pleasure and that is what it has set out to be. The music and the physical record. Something to keep, treasure, admire and above all enjoy.Of course with vinyl it’s not just a record, it’s the cover, the sleeve notes, you are holding a unique package, produced by craftsmen.
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!