Max Roach – Conversations (aka Deeds, Not words)

More Jazz

  • Roach’s wonderful 1958 release makes its Hot Stamper debut here with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides
  • You’d be hard-pressed to find a copy that’s this well balanced, yet big and lively, with such wonderful clarity in the mids and highs
  • Unusually quiet for a record of its vintage – it’s hard to picture us finding another copy with top quality sound and surfaces remotely this clean
  • 4 1/2 stars: “This Max Roach Riverside date is notable for featuring the great young trumpeter Booker Little and for utilizing Ray Draper’s tuba as a melody instrument… This is fine music from a group that was trying to stretch themselves beyond hard bop.”

This vintage Jazzland 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 Amazing Sides Such as These 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 1958
  • 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.

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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 Conversations

  • 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.

Personnel

  • Max Roach – drums
  • Booker Little – trumpet
  • Ray Draper – tuba
  • George Coleman – tenor saxophone
  • Art Davis – bass
  • Oscar Pettiford – bass

TRACK LISTING

Side One

You Stepped Out Of A Dream
Filide
It’s You Or No On

Side Two

Jodie’s Cha-Cha
Deeds, Not Words
Larry-Larue
Conversation

AMG 4 1/2 Star Review

This Max Roach Riverside date is notable for featuring the great young trumpeter Booker Little and for utilizing Ray Draper’s tuba as a melody instrument; tenor saxophonist George Coleman and bassist Art Davis complete the excellent quintet. Highlights include “It’s You or No One,” “You Stepped Out of a Dream,” and Roach’s unaccompanied drum piece “Conversation.” This is fine music from a group that was trying to stretch themselves beyond hard bop.

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