Edmundo Ros – Ros On Broadway – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame

Edmundo Ros and his orchestra don’t command much respect these days from the general record buying public. As for audiophiles, it’s doubtful that many even know who he or they is/are. But we at Better Records are going to change that, starting with this very record, because it’s one of the best sounding records we have ever heard. Stampers just do not get any HOTTER than these! 

From the perspective of a level playing field, I cannot think of a single rock record that sounds as BIG and DYNAMIC, nor one that is as spacious and clear, as is the side two of this London Blueback. As good as the best German pressings of Dark Side of the Moon may be, shockingly good in fact, this recording is clearly more exciting and lifelike, with instrumental timbres that are uncannily accurate.

Over the years we’ve played a lot of Edmundo Ros records on London — you name it, Blueback, Whiteback, Phase 4 — but I sure never heard one sound like this until we did this shootout!

We’ve played a lot of Ted Heath records too; few know or care who he is anymore either. And, like Ros on Broadway, there is a Ted Heath title on London that has mind-blowingly good sound, comparable to this amazing Ros record. Watch for it down the road because it’s coming. It’s another Demo Disc destined to give the rest of your Demo Discs a run for their money.

Side Two

A+++. We cannot recall hearing a record that was this big and full-bodied, yet this clear, dynamic and energetic. The brass is never “blary” the way is on so many Big Band or Dance Band records from the ’50s and ’60s (Basie’s records tend to have a bad case of blary brass as a rule).

Lovely warmth, Tubey Magic, lack of smear, correct tonality, unerringly correct timbres, rich strings — everything you want is here!

Side One

A++, and clearly not as good as side two due to the fact that it is a bit thinner and has a touch of blare to the brass. That said, it’s big, lively, clear and dynamic, with no smear, and, let’s be clear, still quite full-bodied compared to most records. A bit more warmth and Tubey Magic and this side would have been right up there with side two. Which means it’s a Demo Disc in its own right.

Quiet Vinyl

Mint Minus, how about that!

Audio Issues

It’s clear our stereo system loves this record. Let’s talk about why that might be the case.

Our system is fast, accurate and uncolored. We like to think of our speakers as the audiophile equivalent of studio monitors, showing us exactly what is on the record, no more and no less.

When we play a modern record, it should sound modern. When we play a vintage Tubey Magical Decca pressing such as this, we want to hear all the Tubey Magic, but we don’t want to hear more Tubey Magic than what is actually on the record. We don’t want to do what some audiophiles like to do, which is to make all their records sound the way they like their records to sound. They do that by having their system add in all their favorite colorations.

If our system was more colored, slower and tubier, this record would not sound as good as it does. It’s already got plenty of richness, warmth, sweetness and Tubey Magic.

To take an obvious example, playing the average dry and grainy Joe Walsh record on our system is fairly unpleasant. Some added warmth and richness would make the experience much more enjoyable, but then how would we know which Joe Walsh pressings aren’t too dry and grainy for others to enjoy?

We discussed some of these issues in another commentary:

Our Approach

We have put literally thousands of hours into our system and room in order to extract the maximum amount of information, musical and otherwise, from the records we play, or as close to the maximum as we can manage. Ours is as big and open as any system in an 18 by 20 by 8 room I’ve ever heard.

It’s also as free from colorations of any kind as we can possibly make it. We want to hear the record in its naked form; not the way we want it to sound, but the way it actually does sound. That way, when you get it home and play it yourself, it should sound very much like we described it.

If too much of the sound we hear is what our stereo is doing, not what the record is doing, how can we know what it will sound like on your system? We try to be as truthful and as critical as we can when describing the records we sell. Too much coloration in the system makes those tasks much more difficult, if not practically impossible.

If your system is rich, tubey and maybe just a bit slow, full of vintage tubes, this record may be a bit thick and overly rich. It may still sound great to you, all things considered.

We think it has a near-perfect blend of Tubey Magic and clarity, because that’s what we hear when we play it on our system. We are of the opinion that the more time and energy you’ve put into your stereo over the years, decades even,the more likely it is that you will hear this wonderful record sound the way we heard it. And that will make it one helluva Demo Disc in your home too.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

I Could Have Danced All Night
Some Enchanted Evening
Bewitched
Stranger In Paradise
June Is Bustin’ Out All Over
I Whistle A Happy Tune

Side Two

Hernando’s Hideaway
Almost Like Being In Love
I Love Paris
I Talk To The Trees
I’ve Never Been In Love Before
So In Love

All Music Guide

Bandleader Edmundo Ros was the living embodiment of Latin music in World War II-era Britain. The toast of London’s high society, he effectively introduced the rhumba and samba to the U.K. shores.

Born December 7, 1910, in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, to a Scottish father and an African-Venezuelan mother, Ros spent much of his childhood in military school, playing percussion in the military band. The experience was otherwise miserable, however, and at 17 he ran away to Caracas, where he served as tympanist in the Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela. A decade later Ros migrated to London, where he briefly studied classical music before pursuing popular music full-time, backing Fats Waller and singing with Don Marino Barreto’s Cuban band prior to forming his own five-piece rhumba outfit in 1940.

After scoring a hit with 1941’s Parlophone release “Los Hijos de Buda,” Ros became a sensation, attracting the cream of London society to his appearances at the lavish Coconut Grove. When the defendant in a high-profile divorce case implicated Ros as a catalyst for his marriage’s demise, the bandleader made national headlines, and the sex scandal only made him more popular, and he even taught then-Princess Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret to dance.

After a long residency at the West End club the Bagatelle, Ros in 1951 acquired the former Coconut Grove site on Regent Street and renamed the venue Edmundo Ros’ Dinner and Supper Club. He also made regular appearances on BBC radio, and his albums for the London label’s Phase 4 imprint (including the space age pop classics Rhythms of the South and Arriba!) sold briskly.

His biggest hit, “The Wedding Samba,” even crossed over to the U.S. Top Five, selling three million copies in the process. After Parliament legalized gambling in 1965, attendance at Ros’ club quickly nosedived, and he sold the business as soon as possible. He retired to Alicante, Spain, a decade later, returning to London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall on January 8, 1994, for one final farewell performance leading the BBC Big Band with Strings. Ros was also awarded the Order of the British Empire in the 2000 New Year’s Honours List.

From the Edmundo Ros website

In 1951 Edmundo Ros bought a club in Regent Street, the Coconut Grove, which was very popular during the war. The address, 100 Regent Street was not quite right because the in-clubs at that time were in Mayfair. Ros changed names , and when it was finally Edmundo Ros’ Dinner and Supper Club, the stream of the right people and the Rolls-Royces turned there. Along came the BBC and the club became world famous.

Standards at the club were kept extremely high. Edmundo’s notebook included all the names of the British Royal Family, the nobility, the counts, the pears and dukes. These people and those mentioned in “Who’s Who” could get membership in to the club. The guests had also to be properly dressed. The Ladies coming from the tea party in Buckingham Palace were not allowed to wear their broad hats. When women began to wear trousers like men, Ros decided not to accept them

“Once a very well-known madame, the wife of Sir Cecil Hardwick, tried to enter the club dressed in pants. My reception had their orders, and she went to another night club very cross and hurt. She told everybody what an idiot Edmundo Ros was! There was a newspaper reporter listening and I got the biggest publicity you can think of:: a photo of her and the words: “Edmundo did not allow in…..marvellous! ” King Hussein of Jordan, a Latin music aficionado, with his party was denied entrance because one of his party, film star Peter O’Toole, was not properly dressed and did not accept the tie offered to him.”

Regular royal guests during the Club Era were Princess Margaret, Monaco’s Prince Rainier and Prince Bertil of Sweden.

The club had 24 musicians and 53 employees, one of which had polishing the silver as his sole job. Ros says that all those details–you could not smoke the pipe before twelve o’clock–made the difference, and it was terribly important in England. The business was excellent until 1965 when gambling became legal in England. Ros noticed the difference immediately in the takings and sold the club.