What makes this vintage piano trio album in mono so special? Allow me to quote a review from a few years back for a pair of recordings that Red Garland made with Miles Davis back in the mid-’50s: Workin’ And Steamin’.
To the Jazz Fans of the World, we here present one of the BEST sounding jazz recordings we have ever had the PRIVILEGE to place on a turntable. I cannot ever recall hearing a better sounding Rudy Van Gelder recording, and I have a theory as to why this tape is as good as it is: it’s MONO. It also sounds like it’s recorded completely LIVE in the studio, direct to one track you might say. As good a recording as Kind of Blue is, I think the best parts of this album are more immediate and more real than anything on KOB.
The size, the weight, the solidity, the clarity, the energy, the rhythmic drive – it’s all here and more. We’ve never heard the record sound better, and that’s coming from someone who’s been playing the album since the ’80s.
These guys are playing live in the studio and you can really feel their presence on every track — assuming you have a copy that sounds like this one.
Based on what I’m hearing my feeling is that most of the natural, full-bodied, smooth, sweet sound of the album is on the master tape, and that all that was needed to transfer that vintage sound correctly onto vinyl disc was simply to thread up the tape on a high quality machine and hit play.
The fact that nobody seems to be able to make an especially good sounding record these days — certainly not as good sounding as this one — tells me that in fact I’m wrong to think that such an approach would work. Somebody should have been able to figure out how to do it by now. In our experience that is simply not the case today, and has not been for many years, if not decades.
George Horn was doing brilliant work on scores of Rudy Van Gelder’s recordings all through the ’80s. This album is proof that his sound is the right sound for this music.
Talk About Timbre
Man, when you play a Hot Stamper copy of an amazing recording such as this, the timbre of the instruments is so spot-on it makes all the hard work and money you’ve put into your stereo more than pay off. To paraphrase The Hollies, you get paid back with interest. If you hear anything funny in the mids and highs of this record, don’t blame the record. (This is the kind of record that shows up audiophile BS equipment for what it is: Audiophile BS. If you are checking for richness, Tubey Magic and freedom from artificiality, I can’t think of a better test disc. It has loads of the first two and none of the last.)
Warning: Stereo Editorial Follows
The same is true for audio equipment as I’m sure you’ve experienced first-hand. Some stereos can bore you to tears with their dead-as-a-doornail sound and freedom from dynamic contrasts. Other stereos are overly-detailed and fatiguing; they wear out their welcome pretty quickly with their hyped-up extremes. As Goldilocks will gladly tell you, some stereos are just right; they have the uncanny ability to get out of the way of the music. Some equipment doesn’t call attention to itself, and that tends to be the kind of equipment we prefer around here at Better Records. After forty plus years in this hobby I’ve had my share of both. 90% or more of the stuff I hear around town makes me appreciate what I have at home. I’m sure you feel the same way.
AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
(Down Beat gives the album Five Stars by the way.)
Red Garland’s third recording as a leader has him playing very well, somewhat energetic and more inclusive in his direction to span the mainstream jazz palate beyond the cool exterior he emanates. The title might be a bit deceptive, for this is not a project where soul-jazz or early boogaloo influences turned jazzmen into groovemeisters — it’s a swinging groove.
With bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Art Taylor, Garland has all the support he needs to wing it in a variety of directions. Recorded in that most legendary year of jazz, 1957, Garland is coming into his own in a more confident way, buoyed by his association at the time with Miles Davis. Chambers is flawless in his support role, and on this recording deserves a close listen, especially for students of the acoustic upright.
All About Jazz Review
This trio was known as the rhythm section when Groovy was made. Pianist Red Garland (1923-84), bassist Paul Chambers (1935-69) and drummer Art Taylor (1929-95) were in the midst of a long tenure with Miles Davis and stayed busy in studios backing one horn player after another. The unit’s simpatico refinement never wavers in doubt. They were made for each other, honed in night-after-night of performances in a variety of settings. Consider the way Garland balances his chunky block chords on the left with a dancer’s lightness on the right. Or the kinetic way Chambers and Taylor interact to trade rhythm and musicality among each other.
Consider, too, this is the same unit that ably bridged the spheres between the romantic Miles Davis and the more protean John Coltrane. Surely, this is a combination, or partnership, of truly compelling proportions. The program on Groovy is a warm, sultry mix of jazz standards (“C Jam Blues,” “Willow Weep For Me”), then-popular fare (“Gone Again,” “What Can I Say,” “Will You Still Be Mine”) and a de rigueur Garland blues (“Hey Now”).
This was Garland’s third Prestige release, the result of two sessions on December 14, 1956 (not May 24, 1957 as the disc indicates) and August 9, 1957. It is typical of the many trio recordings Garland made. But it is grand and easy to enjoy over and over again. Groovy is, well, totally groovy.