Phineas Newborn, Jr. Trio – The Newborn Touch

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  • Newborn’s wonderful 1966 release makes its Hot Stamper debut with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • The timbre of the instruments in this brilliant jazz trio is so spot-on it makes all the hard work and money you’ve put into your stereo more than pay off
  • This vintage Contemporary pressing boasts exceptionally natural piano sound (courtesy of Howard Holzer) and live-in-the-studio jazz energy
  • 4 1/2 stars: “As is usual on his Contemporary recordings, the pianist explores superior jazz compositions… Newborn’s remarkable control of the piano was still unimpaired, and he is heard giving Oscar Peterson a run for his money.”

This vintage Contemporary 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 in the studio with the trio, 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 The Newborn Touch 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 1966
  • 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 studio

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.

The Piano

There was virtually no trace of smear on the piano, which is unusual in our experience, although no one ever seems to talk about smeary pianos in the audiophile world (except us of course).

If you have full-range speakers, some of the qualities you may recognize in the sound of the piano are WEIGHT and WARMTH. The piano is not hard, brittle or tinkly. Instead, the best copies show you a wonderfully full-bodied, rich, smooth piano, one which sounds remarkably like the ones we’ve all heard countless times in piano bars and restaurants.

In other words, like a real piano, not a recorded one. This is what we look for in a good piano recording. Bad mastering can ruin the sound, and often does, along with worn out stampers and bad vinyl and five gram needles that scrape off the high frequencies. But a few — a very few — copies survive all such hazards. They manage to reproduce the full spectrum of the piano’s wide range (and of course the wonderful performance of the pianist) on vintage vinyl, showing us the kind of sound we simply cannot find any other way.

What We’re Listening For on The Newborn Touch

  • 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 piano isn’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. It’s front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put them.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

The Players

Phineas Newborn Jr. – piano
Leroy Vinnegar – bass
Frank Butler – drums

TRACK LISTING

Side One

A Walkin’ Thing
Double Play
The Sermon
Diane
The Blessing

Side Two

Grooveyard
Blue Daniel
Pazmuerte
Be Deedle Dee Do

AMG 4 1/2 Star Review

Pianist Phineas Newborn’s only recording of the 1963-1968 period, the trio outing with bassist Leroy Vinnegar and drummer Frank Butler, finds Newborn’s virtuosic style unchanged from the late ’50s. As is usual on his Contemporary recordings, the pianist explores superior jazz compositions, in this case interpreting a song apiece by Benny Carter, Russ Freeman, Hampton Hawes, Art Pepper, Ornette Coleman (“The Blessing”), Carl Perkins, Frank Rosolino, Leroy Vinnegar, Jimmy Woods and Barney Kessel. Newborn’s remarkable control of the piano was still unimpaired, and he is heard giving Oscar Peterson a run for his money.

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