First things first: one of the main bongo players is none other than Ray Barretto himself. You jazz guys out there will know exactly who that is, a man whose reputation for brilliant rhythmic contributions to some of the greatest classic jazz albums of the ’60s is beyond dispute. One listen to Midnight Blue will do the trick. The man had a gift. And he is here joined by two other top players.
And of course the guitarist has to be the incomparable Tony Mottola, the man behind one of our favorite jazz guitar records of all time: Warm, Wild and Wonderful.
Soundfield, Timbre and Dynamics
The spaciousness of the studio is reproduced with uncanny fidelity, with both huge depth and width, but there is another dimension that this record is operating in that Bang, Baa-room and Harp, just to take one example, does not — the instruments are capable of jumping out of your speakers, seemingly right into your listening room.
The effect is astonishing. I have never heard these instruments sound more real than they do here. The timbre is perfection. The dynamics are startling.
Add to those clearly unattenuated dynamics, high and low frequencies that are also not attenuated, and microphones capable of deadly accuracy, and you have yourself a recording of virtually unparalleled fidelity. We’ve played these kinds of records by the score but I have rarely heard one that can do what this one is doing.
No Reverb? Say What?
In discussing Robert Fine’s approach to this recording in the lengthy liner notes ( a full two pages worth!), the author notes that Fine does not tolerate added reverb or echo of any kind. He feels it distorts and degrades the clarity and timbral accuracy of the instruments.
The crazy thing is, this album is swimming in reverberation. The space is enormous, the presentation as three-dimensional as any you have ever heard, with clearly audible reflections bouncing off the walls of the studio deep into the soundstage.
If the notes are to be believed, it’s all REAL. And I have no trouble taking Fine at his word. As the engineer behind some of the greatest orchestral recordings in the history of the world for Mercury, his bona fides are fully in order.
White Hot, with so much energy and clarity it’s hard to imagine it could sound any better. Wall to wall, full-bodied, with Tubey Magic and energy like no record you have ever heard. The top on both sides is so extended; barely one in ten copies of Bang, Baa-room has a top end this open and correct and free of smear.
Nearly as good, this is live-to-tape sound like you would not hear on a multi-track rock record in a million years!
With so many elements, and so much energy and presence, this is a great disc with which to test your VTA and general arm setup. It’s quite a challenge for any system, even one as finely tuned as ours.
The Best Sound, Or Something Very Close to It
Two hundred bucks is a lot of money to pay for this kind of record. Let me make the case by saying that there is probably no better sounding record on the site right now.
It is my belief that no one with an up-to-date, highly tweaked big system, a properly setup front end (with the VTA adjusted specifically for this record), and a carefully treated listening room can fail to have his mind blown by the sonics of this pressing.
Music and Musicians
The arrangements of these mostly familiar songs are clever and innovative; the last thing this music could be called is boring or obvious.
As for the musicians, like Tony Mottola himself they’re all studio pros, top session men, the best of the best.
How High The Moon
C’est Si Bon
My Funny Valentine
Birth Of The Blues
East Of The Sun
By The River St. Marie
I Can Dream, Can’t I
AMG Rave Review
Los Admiradores were another of Enoch Light’s all-star studio creations, put together specifically to explore stereo recording techniques and exploit the large emerging market of fanatical audiophiles. Released a year after his massive hit “Persuasive Percussion,” the LP Bongos Flutes Guitars is not a collection of studio ploys and tricks designed to beguile the public with ping-pong sound effects or other stereo gimmickry, but a subtle and deft exploration of texture, color, and rhythm, with minimal accompaniment of muted horns, double bass, drums; a recording of superlative definition, minimal clutter, afloat in its own ambience.
Meticulous liner notes (Light is widely credited as the inventor of the gatefold cover) detail the musical goal of each piece and how it is achieved, duly crediting the musicians — including Doc Severinsen, Tommy Mottola, and Ray Barretto — while documenting such minutiae as microphone placement and tape editing specifications. Someday Light will be regarded as a studio innovator and pioneer in the same league as Les Paul, and then his considerable body of work will be reissued on CD or 180 gram vinyl for delighted musical historians everywhere; until then the aware audiophile will have to search record racks for such brilliant forgotten gems as Bongos Flutes Guitars.