- With Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides, we guarantee you’ve never heard Red Clay sound remotely as good as it does here
- It’s one of our Five Favorite CTI albums – Red Clay is Hubbard’s Soul Jazz Masterpiece, and it’s a record that belongs in every audiophile’s jazz collection
- Lenny White drums up a storm on this album – with sound this good, he is playing right in the room with you
- 5 Stars: “This may be Freddie Hubbard’s finest moment as a leader, in that it embodies and utilizes all of his strengths as a composer, soloist, and frontman. [It] places the trumpeter in the company of giants such as saxophonist Joe Henderson, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Lenny White… This is a classic, hands down.”
Hubbard was a master of funky jazz, and the song Red Clay is arguably the funkiest jazz track he ever committed to tape. At 12 minutes in length it is a transcendentally powerful experience — and the bigger your speakers and the louder you turn them up the more moving that experience is going to be!
The intro to Red Clay begins with a stylized free-form jam, sounding like a bop-jazz band of old, then takes form and solidifies into a groove of monstrous proportions. Ron Carter’s bass playing is stellar! We rated this side Single to Double Plus. It’s big and lively with tons of presence and energy.
Like many of our funky favorites, this one was eventually sampled for a popular hip-hop song. That may not mean much to you, but it definitely means that nice copies of this album get swiped up quickly by young DJs and producers.
What outstanding sides on Red Clay have to offer is not hard to hear:
- 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 1970
- 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 studio space
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
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.
Rudy Is The Man
The really good RVG pressings sound shockingly close to live music — uncompressed, present, full of energy, with the instruments clearly located and surrounded by the natural space of the studio. As the stereo has gotten better, and we’ve found better pressings and learned how to clean them better, his “you-are-there” live jazz sound has come to impress us more and more.
The early ’70s were a good time for Van Gelder. This album is from 1970, All the King’s Men from 1973, and both are amazing Demo Discs in their own right, one for quintet, one for large group. But only on the right pressings, another fact that may have eluded most jazz vinyl aficionados but is settled science to those of us who’ve heard Hot Stampers.
Rudy gets one hell of a lively trumpet sound in this period of his career. If you have a good pressing of one of his early ’70s jazz recordings, the sound can be positively EXPLOSIVE, with what feels like the power of live music.
What We’re Listening For on Red Clay
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The trumpet, sax and piano aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center whereany recording engineer –– Rudy Van Gelder in this case — would have put them.
- 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 so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also 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 instruments.
And watch out for smear. It’s by far the most common problem with the copies we played. When the transient bite of the trumpet is correctly reproduced, maintaining its full-bodied tone and harmonic structures, you know you have a very special copy of Red Clay (or Sky Dive, or First Light, etc., etc.).
When the sound is blurry, thick, veiled, dull or slow, you have what might be considered something more like the average copy. Or you might be listening to whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently available, as thick, veiled and closed-in are the hallmarks of the modern reissues being pumped out by the hundreds these days. We’re so glad we don’t sell that crap anymore, and haven’t since 2011.
The Intrepid Fox
This may be Freddie Hubbard’s finest moment as a leader, in that it embodies and utilizes all of his strengths as a composer, soloist, and frontman. On Red Clay, Hubbard combines hard bop’s glorious blues-out past with the soulful innovations of mainstream jazz in the 1960s, and reads them through the chunky groove innovations of 1970s jazz fusion. This session places the trumpeter in the company of giants such as tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Lenny White… This is a classic, hands down.