Art Pepper – Winter Moon

More Art Pepper

More Jazz Recordings Featuring the Saxophone

  • Winter Moon debuts on the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades or BETTER on both sides of this original Galaxy pressing
  • The sound here is rich and Tubey Magical, which is the only way this music makes any sense on record
  • You’d be hard-pressed to find a copy that’s this well balanced, big and lively, with wonderful clarity in the mids and highs and Pepper’s sax front and center
  • Rosiny string texture is key to the best pressings — the ones that have the highest-resolution strings with the most sheen tend to do the best in our shootouts
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Pepper sounds quite inspired performing seven strong compositions highlighted by Hoagy Carmichael’s ‘Winter Moon,’ ‘When the Sun Comes Out’ and a clarinet feature on ‘Blues in the Night.'”
  • If you’re a fan of Art’s, this is an excellent title from 1981 that belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1981 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

This vintage Galaxy 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 Winter Moon 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 even as late as 1981
  • 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.

Smear is common to most vintage pressings. 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 Winter Moon

  • 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.
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The saxophone isn’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. It’s front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put it.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

Size and Space

One of the qualities that we don’t talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record’s presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small — they don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy in the center.

Other copies — my notes for these copies often read “BIG and BOLD” — create a huge soundfield, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They’re not brighter, they’re not more aggressive, they’re not hyped-up in any way, they’re just bigger and clearer.

And most of the time those very special pressings are just plain more involving. When you hear a copy that does all that — a copy like this one — it’s an entirely different listening experience.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Our Song
Here’s That Rainy Day
That’s Love
Winter Moon

Side Two

When The Sun Comes Out
Blues In The Night
The Prisoner (Love Theme From “The Eyes Of Laura Mars”)

AMG 4 1/2 Star Review

Ever since Artie Shaw and Charlie Parker, most jazz musicians have had a desire to record at least once in their lives with strings, often considering it a prestigious honor. Altoist Art Pepper finally had his chance on this album and fortunately the string arrangements (by Bill Holman and Jimmy Bond) do not weigh down the proceedings. Pepper sounds quite inspired performing seven strong compositions highlighted by Hoagy Carmichael’s “Winter Moon,” “When the Sun Comes Out” and a clarinet feature on “Blues in the Night.”

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