The best copies such as this one demonstrate the big-as-life Fred Plaut Columbia Sound at its best (better than even Time Out in our opinion). These vintage recordings are full-bodied, spacious, three-dimensional, rich, sweet and warm in the best tradition of an All Tube Analog recording. If you want to hear big drums in a big room these Brubeck recordings will show you that sound better than practically any record we know of. The Engineering tab below has much more on that subject.
The one standout track on this album for audiophiles is surely Unsquare Dance, what with its uncannily real sounding handclaps in 7/4. The copies that did the best job of reproducing that “flesh on flesh” sound of actual human hands clapping scored very well in our shootout.
More to Listen For
For starters listen for a fat snare and rich piano on the first track of side one. When you hear that, assuming you do, you should know you are in for a treat. Our best copies captured those two sounds brilliantly.
On the second track the clarity of the brushed snare is key to how resolving and transparent any copy is. The rich, smooth sound of Desmond’s sax balanced against the clarity of the brushes will help you make sure that the overall sound is tonally correct from top to bottom.
On side two the first track has the Wall to Wall Big Drums in a Big Room sound that positively blows our minds.
Note that in some places it sounds like the piano is overdriving its mic. We heard that sound on practically every copy we played, so we’re pretty sure it’s on the tape that way.
If you own the Impex pressing from 2011 and would like to hear precisely what you’re missing we would love to send you one of our Hot Stampers. It has the spatial and musical information that no Impex reissue we’ve ever heard is capable of reproducing on vinyl.
Their LP will surely be quieter, but that’s small consolation in our book. The sense that you are in the studio with Brubeck, Desmond, Morello and Wright is something that the best vintage records such as ours do surprisingly well. In our experience modern records such as theirs do a much poorer job of conveying of transporting you into that space. If you own their LP we encourage you to give one of ours a try. The difference may shock you.
It’s a Raggy Waltz
Charles Matthew Hallelujah
Far More Blue
Far More Drums
Bru’s Boogie Woogie
Blue Shadows in the Street
Mono Vs. Stereo
The monos we played didn’t do much for us. They tended to be thin and hard sounding, and of course much of the space of the studio disappears completely. One side of one copy did well enough I suppose but my advice would be to avoid them if you’re looking for good sound.
AMG 4 1/2 Star Rave Review
The selections, which range in time signatures from 5/4 to 9/8, are handled with apparent ease (or at least not too much difficulty) by pianist Brubeck, altoist Paul Desmond, bassist Eugene Wright and drummer Joe Morello on this near-classic.
Time Further Out extends upon the concepts first enunciated on the Brubeck Quartet’s surprise hit Time Out, but in this case with the organizing principles involving the leader’s varied compositional treatments of the blues — traditional and otherwise.
Thus a darkly ruminative tune such as “Bluette” treats a fairly standard 12-bar form in a very non-standard manner, interpolating a variety of classical devices that suggest the melodic influence of Chopin and the contrapuntal devices of Bach in its treatment, with a yearning alto solo from saxophonist Paul Desmond that suggests the emotional content of a blues, without specifically referring to standard devices.
As if to italicize his band’s mastery of polymeter, pianist Brubeck treats the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth tunes in corresponding meters, to particular effect on the 7/4 hoedown of “Unsquare Dance,” the 8/8 barrelhouse changes of “Bru’s Boogie Woogie” and the engaging dissonances of his 9/8 mood piece “Blue Shadows in the Street.”
And on “Far More Drums,” drummer Joe Morello displays a mastery of 5/4 metric variations and African-styled polyrhythms that was unheard of for that time, save for percussive grandmasters such as Max Roach.
— Chip Stern
We could find no information about the venue for this recording. It might be the Columbia Studios known as “The Church” — that would explain the amazing sound quality of the album — but it may just be Fred Plaut’s engineering prowess in another location that makes this the best sounding Brubeck recording we know of.
Frederick “Fred” Plaut was a recording engineer and amateur photographer. He was employed by Columbia Records during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, eventually becoming the label’s chief engineer.
Plaut engineered sessions for what would result in many of Columbia’s famous albums, including the original cast recordings of South Pacific, My Fair Lady, and West Side Story, jazz LPs Kind of Blue and Sketches of Spain by Miles Davis, Time Out by Dave Brubeck, Mingus Ah Um and Mingus Dynasty by Charles Mingus.
Mark Wilder was interviewed about the recording of these Fred Plaut sessions..
Fred Plaut and Frank Laico were two of Brubeck’s recording engineers. Plaut is a true balance engineer; he’s my idol. I don’t know how he could pull off what he did in three hours.
It’s amazing how well-recorded the group was back then. The sound is so three-dimensional, bigger than life.
Yet it’s amazing how little the engineers did to get that sound. They just put one mic a few feet from each instrument, and mixed live to 3-track—for left, center, and right. Then they edited the tape and mixed down to 2-track.
The old stuff sounds better than what we’re doing now. We’ve been going in the wrong direction sound-wise for many years. The layout of the stereo stage was more realistic then, too. Drums were on the left, piano on the right, sax and bass in the middle.
It’s easy to hear what each musician was playing because they were separated spatially. These days, you hear each instrument in stereo, on top of each other. The drums spread all the way between the speakers, and so does the piano.
In one Brubeck recording (Castilian Drums, not on this set), the stereo perspective changes radically within the recording. It starts with drums hard left and piano hard right. But when the drum solo starts, there’s an edit and suddenly you hear the drum set spread out in stereo.
At the end of the solo, you’re back to drums left and piano right. These effects are on Brubeck’s albums Countdown (Columbia CS 8575) and Time Further Out (Columbia CS 8490).