It's quite sad that you intend to avoid great art because the frame that it is presented in is not to your liking.
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In regards to this issue, a friend and I who trade great jazz and blues all of the time say to each other "it's the music stupid". So while I appreciate your pain when trying to listen through bad recordings as we all suffer, sometimes one does have to look beyond.
Many of the great performers had little or no financial means to control recording quality, mastering and final pressing. Many died near penniless. These circumstances framed many legends.
Nobody appreciates a great performance, recording and mastering than myself, however the reality is oft less than optimal.
The OJC's are kid of a crap shoot but they are generally about $10.00 so even if you have a dud its not a huge loss. I have quite a few of them and most are very listenable. If its something I really love (waltz for debbie) Then Im also on the lookout for a better copy (ap fantasy 45 ) but the OJC serves me fine in the meantime and gives me a copy I can play on my "B" system when Im not listening critically. Ive never heard of the scorpio bootlegs, how do you identify them? I buy many "audiophile" pressings and find the reject ratio about the same with the difference being that at $30 to $50 bucks I return those.
Fair enough. The first thing to say is that most of the Riverside/Prestige recordings are very good as concerns frequency balance and clarity. The stereo recordings are not very good as concerns image, with insturments typically panned hard left and hard right. Many listeners push the mono button on the preamp or use a mono cartridge. The original issues of these, if you have the dosh to afford them, are almost uniformly great. Which brings us to the reissues. The Milestone/Fantasy reissues are the steal of the century and most are just fantastic; far superior, on the whole, to the OJCs. Some of the material was released as double gatefold albums called "twofers". Later, these were reissued by OJC, which are quite variable, as you have found, many sounding fuzzy, for wont of a better word. The Scorpio reissues, mentioned above, can be identified because they are new and shrink wrapped but have no bar code. They suck. Virtually everything Atlantic did was just great, save for some live stuff. The MJQ recordings are a model of their kind. Both original and reissue Atlantics tend to sound great. Same for the Blue Notes, though avoid anything reprocessed for stereo, from digial masters, or Scorpio. Classic records has done a nice job with most of their reissues, the warping issues not withstanding. You can always look for Rudy Van Gelder as the engineer/mastering engineer and his recordings are great with the exception of the ping-pong stereo effect mentioned above. Most of the Japanese reissues of the material are quite good though perhaps a bit light, the French reissues are great and the Italian are variable. Happy hunting.
I sure agree about cutting from digital - ugh!
Yes, it's true, at $10/each you can afford to risk and 3 out of 5 good recordings is not bad at all. I don't know if I should send back the other two or not. Hardly worth the shipping.
My copy of Waltz for Deb is Riverside and boy is it just a great recording, just like Village Vanguard. Quiet, dynamic, extended, lovely. Also a $10 record. When I listen to something like that, I always ask myself why the hell we need $50 heavy vinyl/45s.
Milestone re-released Waltz For Debby and Sunday At The Village Vangard, which is from the same sessions, as a two LP set, with a couple of added tracks in the twofer series called The Village Vangard Sessions, and the sonics are quite good, as well. I think that a lot of bird gets whipped abour Scott LaFaro as the bassist that had the psychic connection with Evans. All this heightened by his untimely death, in a car accident, right after the two records were recorded. But, for my money, Eddie Gomez blows my mind. Try Bill Evans At The Montreux Jazz Festival, on Verve!
Without a doubt the OJC catalog was the bargain of the century. Hundreds of great performances and a great price to boot. Ah the good old days (2 years ago) when they could be purchased for less than ten bucks. Then along comes Concorde Music Group who buys the total catalog. Now we have no more cheap OJC's as the powers that be don't want to dabble with the lunatic fringe and waste money on what must have been a break even endeavor for Fantasy. More money to be made by reissuing "remastered" compilation CD's. Ah but wait. Why not address the needs of the lunatic fringe by having an audiophile label pay big $$ to manufacture heavyweight remastered virgin vinyl blessed by angels? Make it a limited numbered production run with certificates and make it expensive (if you don't they will think its CRAP!!).
Then have a shrill at one of the magazines ramble on about sound stage depth and height and before you can say audiophile--- another remaster of a 40 year old album enters the sales charts at you know where.... as number 1.
Consider yourself lucky to have found some OJC's. Some dealers still have a few but the really good ones are long gone.
the 'performances' are the reward, not the sonics, when it comes to collecting old or reissued recordings. even audiophile pressings(which the ojc's are not), are all over the place in terms on sound. many of the analogue releases use the most updated digital masters....the ones from the late 80's and early 90's aren't the greatest.....referencing the last or latest cd release sometimes offers clues to the quality of the most recent lp. not always...but often.
FYI Mosaic Records' True Blue Music is selling a handful of OJC's for $5.98 . These are limited, but there are some pretty swell titles some of which are "Bud Freeman - All Stars ", "Tommy Flanagan - Something Borrowed, Something Blue " "Hampton Hawes - The Séance" and "Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All Stars - In The Solo Spotlight ".
Really can't go wrong for that price.
I do know that the Concord Music Group laid off (or otherwise dispensed of the services of) Stuart Kremsky as tape archivist and re-issue producer at Fantasy. Stuart is a big time record collector and self-described "jazz nut" (as well as reviewer for Cadence and other jazz magazines.) Exactly the kind of guy fellow music lovers would like to have working in the trenches of a huge and rich back catalog. But serving the music community is not part of the corporate agenda, apparently.