- Bola Sete’s superb 1963 release makes its Hot Stamper debut here with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last
- Exceptionally spacious and three-dimensional, as well as relaxed and full-bodied sound that blew away every other copy we played
- A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame and my favorite Latin jazz guitar record of all time
- 4 1/2 stars: “[Tour de Force] tilts a little to the mellower, more sentimental side than more driving sessions such as the one he did the previous year for Bossa Nova. It’s still quality by-the-fire jazz bossa nova music, Sete’s playing a lesson in both skill and discreet economy.”
This pressing is tonally correct from top to bottom. As the old saying goes, it wasn’t broke so don’t try to fix it. Aficionados of the guitar or Latin music will find this record very satisfying in all respects.
This vintage Fantasy 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 Tour de Force 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 1963
- 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.
Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we’ve heard them all.
Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.
Tube smear is common to most vintage pressings and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.
What We’re Listening For on Tour de Force
Then: presence and immediacy. The guitar isn’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. It’s centered and placed correctly in relation to all the other musical elements, where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put it.
- 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.
- 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?
Half-Speed Mastering and Its Discontents
Acoustic Sounds had Stan Ricker remaster this record a number of years ago, and of course they (he) ruined it. A twinkly top end and flabby bass were just two of the major shortcomings of their version. Nothing surprising there, as Stan Ricker is famous for his “smile” curve, boosting both ends of the audio spectrum whether they need boosting or not.
When you add too much top end to a guitar record and ruin the sound of the guitar, what exactly are you left with?
Please note that not a single title from the Analog Revival series is any good, to the best of my knowledge, and all should be avoided. The same is true for all the 180 gram jazz titles on Analogue Productions mastered by Doug Sax, as you may have read elsewhere on the site. Those records received rave reviews in the audiophile press when they came out, but you won’t find too many audiophile reviewers sticking up for them now, as they are, without exception, murky, compressed disasters of the worst kind. I guess these reviewers eventually acquired equipment accurate enough to notice how bad those pressings are, which I guess goes to show there is hope for practically anyone.
Bola Sete – guitar
Johnny Rae – drums
Freddie Schreiber – bass guitar
Céu e Mar
Samba de Orpheus
Tour de Force
A Noite do Meu Bem
AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
Sete led a trio on this mid-1963 date, backed by Fred Schrieber on bass and John Rae on drums. It tilts a little to the mellower, more sentimental side than more driving sessions such as the one he did the previous year for Bossa Nova. It’s still quality by-the-fire jazz bossa nova music, Sete’s playing a lesson in both skill and discreet economy.
While he wrote three of the ten songs, his repertoire of cover selections is fairly wide ranging, taking in “Moon River,” Dizzy Gillespie’s “Tour de Force,” and, as a special highlight, his version of Isaac Albeinz’s “Asturias,” the mournful flamenco-influenced song familiar to any student of Spanish-style guitar. There’s also a samba that Luiz Bonfa had a hand in writing (“Sambe de Orfeu”), and as one of the niftier detours from the usual, a solo interpretation of J.S. Bach’s “Bourree.”