Cannonball Adderley – What I Mean

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  • An outstanding copy of Adderley’s superb double album from 1979 with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on all FOUR sides – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • With outstanding presence, clarity, space and right on the money timbral accuracy, this pressing is guaranteed to be one of the best sounding jazz records you’ve heard in a long, long time
  • This is surely the best sound we have ever heard for this exceptional Golden Age ’60s recording, and that is really saying something
  • 4 stars: “This two-LP set combines two fine sessions from 1961. The great altoist is heard with his quintet in 1961 (featuring cornetist Nat Adderley, Victor Feldman on vibes and piano and guest pianist Wynton Kelly) and in a quartet date with pianist Bill Evans.”

Sides one and two of this double LP were originally issued as The Cannonball Adderley Quintet Plus, while sides three and four were originally released as Know What I Mean?

All four sides boast excellent mastering and very good sound. The cymbals have that just right “tap” followed by an open and sweet “shimmer.”

The piano and sax, the heart of the music of course, are rendered as accurately as can be expected.

As good as the OJC sounds, and it can sound very good indeed, this Milestone reissue from the decade before is even better. It has more of a “vintage analog pressing” sound, the kind you would expect to hear on a recording from 1962.

This is the best sound we have ever heard for this superb recording, and that is really saying something.

This vintage Milestone 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.

What the best sides of What I Mean 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.

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 What I Mean

  • 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.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Arriving Soon
Well You Needn’t
New Delhi

Side Two

Winetone
Star Eyes
Lisa

Side Three

Waltz For Debby
Goodbye
Who Cares?
Elsa

Side Four

Toy
Nancy (With The Laughing Face)
Venice
Know What I Mean
Know What I Mean (Previously Unissued Take)

4 Star AMG Review

This two-LP set combines two fine sessions from 1961. The great altoist is heard with his quintet in 1961 (featuring cornetist Nat Adderley, Victor Feldman on vibes and piano and guest pianist Wynton Kelly) and in a quartet date with pianist Bill Evans. The former has some nice music but it is the latter session (which is highlighted by “Waltz for Debby,” “Who Cares,” “Nancy (With the Laughing Face)” and two versions of “Know What I Mean?” that is the main reason to acquire this excellent two-fer.


FURTHER READING

Records that sound best this way:

Mono or Stereo? Both Can Be Good

Mono or Stereo? Mono! 

Mono or Stereo? Stereo! 

Records that Sound Best on Big Speakers at Loud Levels 

Records that Sound Best on the Right Domestic Pressing 

Records that Sound Best on the Right Early Pressing 

Records that Sound Best on the Right Import Pressing 

Records that Sound Best on the Right Reissue Pressing 

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