Bill Berry and His Ellington All-Stars – For Duke

  • For Duke makes its Hot Stamper debut here with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the second side mated with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on the first of this original M&K Real Time pressing – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Tubier, more present, more alive, with more of that “jumpin’ right out of the speakers” quality that only The Real Thing (The Real Thing being An Old Record) ever has
  • “. . . this album features a true all-star lineup. Each artist solos in this heartfelt tribute session. . . one of those rare albums that you can enjoy over and over without losing your smile.”

This original M&K Real Time Records 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 For Duke 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 1978
  • 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 For Duke

  • 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.

The Players

  • Bill Berry- cornet
  • Britt Woodman- trombone
  • Marshal Royal- alto saxophone
  • Scott Hamilton- tenor saxophone
  • Nat Pierce- piano
  • Ray Brown- bass
  • Frankie Capp- drums

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Take The “A” Train
Mood Indigo
Things Ain’t What They Used To Be
Perdido

Side Two

Satin Doll
I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good)
I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart
Cotton Tail

All About Jazz Review

By JIM SANTELLA

Originally released on LP when it was recorded in 1978, this album features a true all-star lineup. Each artist solos in this heartfelt tribute session. The harmony of “Mood Indigo” serves as a strong reminder of how each member of Duke Ellington’s orchestra was allowed his own say.

Marshal Royal lifts spirits with his bouncing alto attitude. His presence was always “just what the doctor ordered.” Nat Pierce adds his own radiant view of harmonic interpretation. Embellishing alongside Royal on “I Got it Bad,” the pianist creates an aural landscape suitable for framing. Ray Brown and Frank Capp provide a natural rhythmic complement for the session and stretch out a little. Scott Hamilton’s suave tenor voice pervades with a relaxed compassion. He and Bill Berry offer individual interpretations, but firmly within the scope of familiar Ellington territory

All except Hamilton had worked with Duke Ellington; Berry, Woodman and Royal had been members of the famed orchestra. These all-stars understood the music on a personal level. . . it’s one of those rare albums that you can enjoy over and over without losing your smile.


FURTHER READING

Record Collecting for Audiophiles – A Guide to Understanding The Fundamentals

Record Collecting for Audiophiles – Audiophile Pressings

Record Collecting for Audiophiles – Direct to Disc Recordings

Record Collecting for Audiophiles – Japanese Pressings

Record Collecting Myths

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