John Klemmer – Straight from the Heart

More John Klemmer

Audiophile Recordings with Surprisingly Good Sound

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  • An outstanding copy with solid Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides, an Audiophile Jazz Demo Disc of the highest quality – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Tubey Magical, lively and clear, with three-dimensionality that will fill your listening room from wall to wall
  • A record that fulfills the promise of the Direct to Disc recording technology
  • Real jazz music make this a Must Own Audiophile disc

This is one of the best Direct-to-Disc recordings we know of, and it’s actually REAL JAZZ — a remarkably unusual combination in the World of Audiophile Records, if my experience over the last thirty-five years can serve as a guide.

Both sides here really get this music right. They’ve got big, full bottom ends and great top end extension, along with a surprising amount of transparency — you can really hear back to the piano behind the horns.

This vintage Nautilus pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely 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 band, 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.

Records Are Records

No matter how good you think your Straight From the Heart sounds, unless you’ve gone through a number of them to find the one you kept, this one is guaranteed to beat the one you own by a wide margin, and blow your mind in the process. (Even if you went through a pile we can make that guarantee. Cleaning them the way we do gives our copies a substantial advantage over the competition.)

What the best sides of Straight From The Heart 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 1979
  • 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

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 Live Event

The best copies give you dynamics and immediacy that you rarely hear outside of the live event. Hell, this record IS live; it’s live in the studio. It’s a direct to disc recording, what else could it be?

The dynamics of the saxophone have to be heard to be believed. No matter how dynamic you think the horn leads on your favorite jazz records are, this record will show you a dramatically more dynamic horn sound than any of them.

On the right copies there is simply nothing in the way of the music. If you have the system for it — the bigger the better but any size will do — you can recreate the live sound of a jazz session in a way that few other recordings will ever allow you to.

What We’re Listening For on Straight From The Heart

  • 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 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.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

More of What To Listen For

Some copies were slightly lean, making the sax a bit aggressive and hard at times. The killer copies fill out Klemmer’s horn sound, giving it the needed weight and body that the real instrument would have, without adding a euphonically artificial richness that the real instrument wouldn’t.

One key instrument to listen for on this recording is the piano. It’s normally fairly far back in the mix, which is why it’s a good instrument to listen for. On the best copies the piano is clear, with the kind of weight and smoothness one hears live (which in many ways is exactly what this record is: live music). On some copies it was much harder to follow than on others.

The same was true of the amazing bass work by Bob Magnusson. He can easily get lost if the pressing is nothing special. With a Hot Copy like this one, everyone is right there.

Real Jazz

This is actually the only real jazz record that I have ever heard by John Klemmer. He improvises beautifully throughout the album just as if he were fronting a live quartet. Because this session was recorded Direct to Disc, everyone had to be “in the moment,” precisely the way real jazz musicians have to be. Perhaps that’s how he’s finding the inspiration for his brilliant playing here.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Ararbesque

Wow! On the best copies the opening sax solo for this song will BLOW YOUR MIND! This is Demo Disc Sound and then some.

Love Affair
Paradise

Side Two

Tropical Snowflakes

This track opens with a super-transparent solo guitar to rival anything found on the great L.A. 4 direct to disc recordings. This means that the surfaces will be problematical on even the best copies, as there is nothing to for the vinyl to hide behind.

The fret buzz is a bit much, but fun I suppose. On the better copies, listen for the guitarist’s subtle breathing. It’s hard to hear on most copies, but it’s definitely there.

Touch
Summertime

Klemmer really pours his heart into this one. I had never really appreciated how good his performance of this old warhorse is until this shootout. It’s not surprising; Klemmer is one of the most emotionally powerful sax players I’ve ever had the pleasure to hear.