Another in our ongoing series of Random Thoughts on issues concerning music and recordings.
On this record, more than most, the tubes potentially make all the difference.
Keep in mind that we are referring specifically to 1963 tubes, not the stuff that engineers are using today to make “tube-mastered” records. Today’s modern records barely hint at the Tubey Magical sound of a record like this, if our experience with hundreds of them is any guide. We, unlike so many of the audiophile reviewers of today, have a very hard time taking any of the new pressings seriously. We think our position is pretty clear, and we have yet to hear more than a stray record or two that would make us want to change our minds.
If you’ve ever heard a pressing that sounds as good as this one you know there hasn’t been a record manufactured in the last forty years that has this kind of sound. Right, wrong or otherwise, this sound is simply not part of the modern world we live in. If you want to be transported back to Philharmonic Hall in New York circa 1963, you will need a record like this to do it.
Skip the Mono
Stick with stereo on this title; the mono we played was a disaster and not worth anybody’s time (scratch that: any audiophile’s time). If you see one for a buck at a garage sale, pick it up for the music, and then be on the lookout for a nice stereo original to enjoy for the sound.
Skip This One Too
The Thelonious Monk Orchestra at Town Hall on Riverside (1959). Never heard a good one. Same arranger, Hal Overton, but much poorer sound.
I Mean You
(When It’s) Darkness on the Delta
Four in One
This is one of pianist-composer Thelonious Monk’s greatest recordings and represents a high point in his career. Performing at Philharmonic Hall in New York, Monk is heard taking an unaccompanied solo on “Darkness on the Delta” and jamming with his quartet (which had Charlie Rouse on tenor, bassist Butch Warren, and drummer Frank Dunlop) on a fine version of “Played Twice”… Most remarkable is “Four in One,” which after one of Monk’s happiest (and very rhythmic) solos features the orchestra playing a Hal Overton transcription of a complex and rather exuberant Monk solo taken from his original record.