Amid the analog record boom, being so particular about their sound quality, there are many records pursuing the reality and high-quality sound only achievable by analog media. Indescribable texture and warm sound are a bit different from those created by CDs. I’d like to introduce you three albums, which get to the heart of attractiveness, only achievable by analog media. Even though they are more expensive than CDs, these carefully-made records justify the cost. Since the CD version has also been released, it may be interesting to compare the two.
Susumu Morikawa, the producer of King Records, is also a bassist. “The bass series” are the outstanding plan generated due to Morikawa’s meticulous tastes, and many superb pieces were developed from the end of 90s to 2000s. Among them “THE BASIST” by Richard Davis, the great master of modern bass, was released as a 45rpm analog double LPs. What was most surprising when I listened to it once was the outstanding presence of the bass instrument. It was as if the player showed up right in front of me playing the actual instrument. Davis’s bass tone extends toward the lower pitch endlessly. As the catch phrase of the record says “splattering pine resin, moaning, weltering, creaking, a bow cutting through the air, very heavy pizzicato,” the various aspects of the bass popes up with reality. Especially, I was once again deeply impressed by the sound of bowing bass in <ECCLES SONATA>, which I had been listening to a number of times on CD. When I listened to it on CD, I thought it was the excellent recording, but this vivid sound can be described to have totally different dimension. It seems that even the feeling Davis has toward bass instruments has been communicated to us together with minute nuances.
If you can enjoy “the best sound quality” on CD, I bet you can be “impressed most” by the 45rpm LP# While the technological innovation of high sound quality of CDs was outstanding, I was, whether willing or not, reminded once again that this kind of sound could only be achievable thorough the analog records. It may be interesting to compare listening to the record version with CD version. I feel it is quite rare that the difference between analog and digital appeared so clearly.
A number of masterpieces left in Atlantic Label, which led the era of modern jazz, have been reproduced on analog LP by Warner Music in Japan. “PITHECANTHROPUS ERECTUS” was lined up together with masterpieces such as John Coltrane’s “GIANT STEPS” and “MY FAVORITE THINGS.” This is one of the classics by Charlie Mingus, who was called “an angry bassist.” He plays not only the bass but also fully shows us his aggressive leadership. Jackie McLean and J.R. Monterose respond to him by emotionally playing two saxophones, and Mal Waldron’s piano full of passion generates rhythmical phrases.
Mingus called his own band “Jazz Workshop” and tried various performances. In addition to the title track, there are other performances sublimated his adventurous spirit into his unique expressive beauty such as <A FOGGY DAY>, which should be called a tone poem. They are all worth listening. In addition to the state-of-the art mastering from the original master, carful cuttings are provided with a special focus on the texture of horn instruments for this analog version. I may be able to say that the lively sax tone and Mingus’s muscular bass tone supersedes the original disk.
Advocating “HYPER MAGNUM SOUND,” VENUS RECORDS has been aiming for creating sounds which directly express the enthusiasm and guts the jazz possesses. Its feature is the direct communication of player’s passionate feeling, and I feel that unique sound characteristics are well preserved in analog LP records.
“Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise,” released this past October is literally for audio fans. Massimo Farao, the pianist, takes the core roll in VENUS, and as the name, “Super Trio,” suggests, great veteran musicians, i.e., Ron Carter, the bassist, and Jimmy Cobb, the drummer, playing the supportive role. Compared with the past Massimo’s album, we can even feel the greater scale in a number of performances. Massimo loves the hard bop piano so much, and the chemistry among 3 musicians is by far the best as expected. Especially, I was strongly impressed by Ron Carter taking the leading role performing the music as a trio with full of drive. The LP weighs 180g and I bet you will be able to fully enjoy the outstanding presence of analog LP.
Surrounded by various kinds of music from his childhood, Masamichi Okazaki joined Waseda University Modern Jazz Club. He started contributing articles to music magazines when he was a student. He covers wide range of music not only trad, modern and contemporary jazz, but also from pops to classics. He writes liner notes for CDs and LPs, and is a regular contributor to JAZZ JAPAN, STEREO, and others. He joined a big band, Shiny Stockings, as a saxophone player. He is a director of The Music Pen Club Japan (MPCJ).