- Monk’s live 1958 release makes its Hot Stamper debut, with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- Big, lively, open and clear with Tubey Magical richness – just the right sound for this masterful quartet
- Recorded live at the Five Spot Cafe in New York City, the energy here is palpable – according to Orrin Keepnews, Monk “played more distinctly here than on his studio albums in response to the audience’s enthusiasm during the performance”
- 5 stars: “[The quartet’s] overwhelming and instinctual capacities directly contribute to the powerful swingin’ and cohesive sound they could continually reinvent.”
This stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting live in the audience at Five Spot Cafe in New York City, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What the best sides of Misterioso have to offer is not hard to hear:
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1958
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the cafe
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
These guys are playing live in a club and you can really feel their presence on every track — assuming you have a copy that sounds like this one.
Based on what I’m hearing my feeling is that most of the natural, full-bodied, smooth, sweet sound of the album is on the master tape, and that all that was needed to transfer that vintage sound correctly on to vinyl disc was simply to thread up the tape on a high quality machine and hit play.
The fact that practically no one seems to be able to make an especially good sounding record these days — certainly not as good sounding as this one — tells me that in fact I’m wrong to think that such an approach would work. In our experience it is extremely rare that a newly remastered record is any good at all, and unfortunately that has been true for decades.
What We’re Listening For on Misterioso
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
- Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
- Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt — Ray Fowler in this case — would have put them.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Original Vs. Reissue
The original Riverside pressings are the best, right?
Not in our experience. We think that’s just another record myth.
Some of you may have discovered that the original Monk records on Riverside are mostly awful sounding — I can’t recall ever hearing one sound better than mediocre [we have since found some that do sound good, some good enough to win shootouts] — so we are not the least bit worried that this OJC won’t beat the pants off of the original, any reissue you may have, and of course whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently available.
George Horn was doing brilliant work for Fantasy all through the ’80s (although to be sure, some of his work is not to our taste). This album is proof that his sound is the right sound for this album.
Blues Five Spot
Let’s Cool One
In Walked Bud
Just A Gigolo
AMG 5 Star Rave Review
This is the second long-player to be taken from the same August 1958 Five Spot recordings that had yielded the similarly brilliant Thelonious in Action The quartet heard on these sets includes Monk(piano), Johnny Griffin (tenor sax), Roy Haynes (drums), and Ahmed Abdul-Malik (bass). Their overwhelming and instinctual capacities directly contribute to the powerful swingin’ and cohesive sound they could continually reinvent.
While these are Monk’s tunes, arrangements, and band, it is Griffin who consistently liberates the performances. During “Nutty,” his flurry of activity — which adeptly incorporates several lines from “Surrey With the Fringe on Top” — has a maniacal swing that is highlighted by some definitive counterplay from both Haynes and Monk. Additionally, the transition between Haynes and Monk is organic and seemingly psychic. “Blues Five Spot” — a 12-bar blues homage to their current residence — features solos from each band member. Griffin and Monk again display the seemingly innate ability to instantly recalculate chord structures as well as transmute melodies.
The show-stopping solo vamp from Griffin hurls the rhythm along while simultaneously dropping in quotes from other tunes — such as the theme for the animated Popeye cinematic shorts. Malik’s brief solo, like his band interaction, is underrated yet precisely executed.
The title track is given an exploratory performance. While Griffin aptly seizes the reins to blow his bop onslaught, Haynes’ natural and subdued agility perfectly supports the extended tenor solo, creating some unique passages. Ironically, the one Monk solo performance, “Just a Gigolo,” is the only composition not by Monk.