Speakers Corner / Columbia - CS 8964 - 180 Gram Virgin Vinyl - 4260019715067
AAA 100% Analogue - Audiophile Mastering - Pressed at Pallas - Limited Edition
The Absolute Sound Top 10 Records of 2016
The master is superb, giving room for as much dynamic extension as the music requires. Because of this, the fine arrangement and the solos simply soar. - Audio Review
The sound, if not “audiophile,” is plenty good enough: clean and crisp, with a nice weight to the brass and percussion, and a real sense of rhythm and drive. Thank you Speakers Corner for this splendid reissue. Sound 5/5 WG The Absolute Sound
This is one of pianist-composer Thelonious Monk's greatest recordings and represents a high point in his career. Performing at Philharmonic Hall in New York, Monk is heard taking an unaccompanied solo on "Darkness on the Delta" and jamming with his quartet (which had Charlie Rouse on tenor, bassist Butch Warren, and drummer Frank Dunlop) on fine versions of "Played Twice"
This set has its most memorable moments during the six full-length performances by a ten-piece group. Monk's quartet was joined by cornetist Thad Jones, trumpeter Nick Travis, Steve Lacy on soprano, altoist Phil Woods, baritonist Gene Allen, and trombonist Eddie Bert. Jones and Woods have plenty of solos and, although Lacy surprisingly does not have any individual spots, his soprano is a major part of some of the ensembles. Most remarkable is "Four in One," which after one of Monk's happiest (and very rhythmic) solos features the orchestra playing a Hal Overton transcription of a complex and rather exuberant Monk solo taken from his original record.
Thelonious Monk could walk from his flat to New York’s famous Philharmonic Hall on the corner of 64th Street and Broadway when he made his very first appearance there with his Big Band in December 1963. And the other musicians could get there on the underground: Phil Woods, Steve Lacy, Thad Jones – all of them were members of Monk’s closest circle of collaborators. It is no wonder then that the well-known themes were highly agreeable and harmonious. "I Mean You", "Four In One" and "Epistrophy" resounded through the auditorium, the audience was thrilled, Thelonious laughed and danced and a short while later fans could listen to parts of the concert on a recording released by Columbia Records. In a break for a smoke, Monk sat himself down at the piano and played "Darkness On The Delta" – nocturnal atmosphere pure.
I own a lot of Monk LPs, but this excellent live set had previously eluded me. Recorded in 1963 at New York’s Philharmonic Hall, the concert mixed sets featuring a 10-piece band with one utilizing Monk’s quartet of the day. As he had in Monk’s 1959 Town Hall concert with orchestra, Hall Overton wrote the band arrangements. “I Mean You” begins with an electric jolt of energy before Thad Jones’ fine cornet solo, and the rest of the brass section—featuring Monk anchor Charlie Rouse, Steve Lacy on soprano, and Phil Woods on alto—adds slashing, almost percussive accents to the theme. “Evidence” swings just as hard, and includes fine solos by Rouse (who seems energized by his fellow horn players), Jones, Woods, and Monk. Monk plays unaccompanied on “Darkness on the Delta,” a ballad given a loping stride treatment. The flip side features three more big band numbers, “Oska T.,” “Four in One,” and “Epistrophy,” with the quartet on “Played Twice.” The sound, if not “audiophile,” is plenty good enough: clean and crisp, with a nice weight to the brass and percussion, and a real sense of rhythm and drive. Thank you Speakers Corner for this splendid reissue. Sound 5/5 Music 5/5 The Absolute Sound
Does it bear the patina of times long past? Absolutely not! Thelonious Monk is as red-hot as he ever was.
Recording: December 1963 at Lincoln Center, Philharmonic Hall, New York
Production: Teo Macero
Thelonious Monk, piano
Charlie Rouse, tenor saxophone
Steve Lacy, soprano saxophone
Phil Woods, alto saxophone, clarinet
Gene Allen, bass clarinet, clarinet
Eddie Bert, trombone
Thad Jones, cornet
Nick Travis, trumpet
Butch Warren, bass
Frank Dunlop, drums
1. I Mean You
3. (When It’s) Darkness On The Delta
4. Oska T.
5. Played Twice
6. Four In One
20 Years pure Analogue
Are your records completely analogue?
Yes! This we guarantee!
As a matter of principle, only analogue masters are used, and the necessary cutting delay is also analogue. All our cutting engineers use only Neumann cutting consoles, and these too are analogue. The only exception is where a recording has been made – either partly or entirely – using digital technology, but we do not have such items in our catalogue at the present time
Are your records cut from the original masters?
In our re-releases it is our aim to faithfully reproduce the original intentions of the musicians and recording engineers which, however, could not be realised at the time due to technical limitations. Faithfulness to the original is our top priority, not the interpretation of the original: there is no such thing as a “Speakers Corner Sound”. Naturally, the best results are obtained when the original master is used. Therefore we always try to locate these and use them for cutting. Should this not be possible, – because the original tape is defective or has disappeared, for example – we do accept a first-generation copy. But this remains an absolute exception for us.
Who cuts the records?
In order to obtain the most faithful reproduction of the original, we have the lacquers cut on the spot, by engineers who, on the whole, have been dealing with such tapes for many years. Some are even cut by the very same engineer who cut the original lacquers of the first release. Over the years the following engineers have been and still are working for us: Tony Hawkins, Willem Makkee, Kevin Gray, Maarten de Boer, Scott Hull, and Ray Staff, to name but a few.
At the beginning of the ‘90s, in the early days of audiophile vinyl re-releases, the reissue policy was fairly straightforward. Companies such as DCC Compact Classics, Mobile Fidelity, Classic Records and others, including of course Speakers Corner, all maintained a mutual, unwritten code of ethics: we would manufacture records sourced only from analogue tapes.
Vinyl’s newfound popularity has led many other companies to jump on the bandwagon in the hope of securing a corner of the market. Very often they are not so ethical and use every imaginable source from which to master: CDs, LPs, digital files and even MP3s.
Even some who do use an analogue tape source employ a digital delay line, a misguided ’80s and ‘90s digital technology that replaces the analogue preview head originally used to “tell” the cutter head in advance what was about to happen musically, so it could adjust the groove “pitch” (the distance between the grooves) to make room for wide dynamic swings and large low frequency excursions. Over time analogue preview heads became more rare and thus expensive.
So while the low bit rate (less resolution than a 16 bit CD) digital delay line is less expensive and easier to use than an analogue “preview head”, its use, ironically, results in lacquers cut from the low bit rate digital signal instead of from the analogue source!
Speakers Corner wishes to make clear that it produces lacquers using only original master tapes and an entirely analogue cutting system. New metal stampers used to press records are produced from that lacquer. The only exceptions are when existing metal parts are superior to new ones that might be cut, which includes our release of “Elvis is Back”, which was cut by Stan Ricker or several titles from our Philips Classics series, where were cut in the 1990s using original master tapes by Willem Makkee at the Emil Berliner Studios. In those cases we used only the original “mother” to produce new stampers.
In addition, we admit to having one digital recording in our catalogue: Alan Parsons’ “Eye in the Sky”, which was recorded digitally but mixed to analogue tape that we used to cut lacquers.
In closing, we want to insure our loyal customers that, with but a few exceptions as noted, our releases are “AAA”— analogue tape, an all analogue cutting system, and newly cut lacquers.
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