Pristine Jazz Collection Vol. 1 - PABX010

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Pristine Jazz Collection Vol. 1 - PABX010

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PRISTINE JAZZ: 11 albums over 13 CDs of classic remastered Jazz, featuring:

Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus, Max Roach, Miles Davis, Art Tatum, Duke Ellington, Jean Sablon, Wardell Gray, The Modern Jazz Quartet, Louis Armstrong et al

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This set contains the following albums:

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CHARLIE PARKER with Strings, the XR Remasters (1949-52) - PAJZ001

Charlie Parker's legendary recordings with string orchestra

Newly restored using XR remastering technology

Charlie Parker's three studio sessions with strings came at a time of great ongoing improvements in recording quality, with the innovations of both tape recording and the commercial vinyl record both being contemporary developments.

Hence the first six tracks here were cut directly to disc, in the traditional manner, and with the traditional problems for a restorater to contend with! By contrast I'm pretty certain that both the 1950 and 1952 sessions were taped.

This was a time where recordings were being issued on both the 78rpm shellac and new 33/45rpm vinyl microgroove formats. Each of these performances is timed to fit a single 78rpm side, though the first ten-inch LP, consisting of tracks 1-14, was released in the USA as early as 1950. The four tracks which complete this release found their initial vinyl issue on a 7" 45rpm EP.

So why go back and remaster these recordings, when there's a perfectly well-loved Verve CD on the market? Well personally I've never been 100% happy with the sound - and I've always felt that it's one of those recordings which is tantalisingly close to sounding so much better. Therefore I was fascinated to find out how it would respond to my continuing experimentation in widening the application of XR remastering beyond the realm of classical music.

The effect of the remastering for the listener is to remove what is at times quite a heavy veil over the music, as well as greatly improving on what was at times a pretty poor tonal balance. What the remastering revealed to me, especially with the earlier cuts, was in some instances some really quite flawed originals, which then required a considerable degree of pretty advanced further restoration. Some of damage this is still just about audible in Summertime - you may just notice a slight 'waa-waa' effect in the upper treble at times, a problem previously buried under the murk and one that's particularly time-consuming and tricky to correct. Elsewhere, on I Didn't Know What Time It Was, a small amount of occasional disc-surface noise may be apparent if you're listening closely for it.

Those earliest tracks were also the most unruly with regard to the overall sound balance, with the strings tending to get quite shrieky if given too much free rein in the upper treble registers. I think I've managed to contain them effectively, and it's been a real delight to hear these recordings as if for the first time. I hope you'll enjoy listening to them as much as I've enjoyed working on them!

Andrew Rose

THE QUINTET Massey Hall, Toronto (1953) - PAJZ002

Widely considered the greatest jazz concert ever...

...finally in sound quality that does justice to the playing.
The complete recording without overdubs, newly XR-remastered:

In assembling this release I've tried to bring together all of the available tracks of this historic concert, which has resulted, in the case of the Trio section, in some variation in sound quality. On this recording you will hear only the original recordings, with the bass part as originally played and restored to something closer to an appropriate level by the XR remastering process.

One may ask as to why this concert needs another release? My answer is that, for such a historic recording, all of the previous issues have failed to convey, through their sonic flaws, the full impact of the playing and overall sound. That five men, who'd never rehearsed together or played together as a group, could arrive at a two-thirds-empty hall, missing a saxophone (so playing a plastic one bought that day), half drunk (and more drunk after the interval) with one member on release from a psychiatric hospital, with the two lead players apparently not speaking to each other and conjure up such magic, is incredible. To finally hear it in this quality of sound more than justifies the hours of painstaking work it's taken me to bring this project to fruition. Despite owning copies of this recording for many years, I've heard it anew over the last few weeks, and since its completion it has rarely left my CD player. I hope you'll find similar inspiration from it!

Andrew Rose

JEAN SABLON Songs of a Boulevardier (1952, 1933-39) - PAJZ003

Three Jean Sablon albums in one!

Songs of a Boulevardier - rare 1952 US LP
Sablon with Django Reinhardt - eight 1933-36 small group recordings
Sablon with Wal-Berg - eight 1936-39 big band & orchestral recordings

Jean Sablon
has long been a favourite of mine, going back to a set of 78rpm discs which came with my first wind-up gramophone, a 1929 HMV free-standing model that had a selection of discs in its storage compartment when I bought it. The songs which stuck in my head were Vous Qui Passez Sans Me Voir, winner of the 1937 Paris Gold Medal for disc of the year, and its flip side, La Chanson Des Rues, both of which feature here.

I later tracked down a large number of Sablon discs, including the rare 1952 LP "Songs of a Boulevardier", an American release which seems to have been ignored by the many compilations of Sablon's material since (a possible sighting of the final track, Ave Maria No Morro, on a nicely presented but poor-sounding Universal double-CD, The French Troubadour, is both mis-labelled and mis-credited). The songs on this LP form the first part of this issue.

We then head back to the 1930's and Sablon's pre-war heyday. Rather than pull together the usual mish-mash of hits I wanted to concentrate on two very important parts of Sablon's work. First we have the small ensemble material with Django Reinhardt, who Sablon had helped to get his first Paris booking, and the earliest recordings of which pre-date the formation of Reinhardt's famous and influential Quintette du Hot Club de France. In the tracks selected here we hear Reinhardt both as soloist and accompanist as the arrangements demand, his distinctive style always clearly evident.

The other key player in the Sablon success story was Wal-Berg, an immigrant of Russian-Jewish descent, born in Constantinople, and one of the foremost arranger-conductors of the era. A musician as equally at home with Jazz and Swing music as he was with the Classical canon, his employment with Sablon's record company in the mid-late 1930's ensured absolutely top-rate arrangements, as heard to great effect on our sample recording Paris Tu N'as Pas Changé, which brilliantly evokes in music and scoring the train journey into the city for the 40 seconds of the song's introduction.

For the first time, these 1930's selections can be heard in sound quality that does them real justice - so many of the re-issues currently available of Sablon's material from this era are characterised by a thick, heavy and dull sound which entirely misrepresents the actual recordings. Thanks to the use of XR remastering we can finally hear the songs as they should have sounded!

Andrew Rose

MILES DAVIS Miles in Paris (1949) - PAJZ004

A milestone in Jazz finally rescued from sonic oblivion!

Festival International de Jazz, Paris, May 1949

These live recordings, taken from French radio broadcasts, have always suffered from pretty dreadful sound quality. In their original Columbia issue the quality is akin to a particularly poor and crackly telephone line. As such, any remastering work presents huge challenges, and outcomes are limited by the frequency and dynamic ranges of the original AM broadcasts, as well as poor microphone placement and acoustics.

The listener to this remastered recording may feel that my priority was Miles Davis' trumpet. Well, yes and no. Of all the musicians here it is of course Miles who we wish to hear as clearly as possible. But we are fortunate that it is his soloing, and that of saxophonist James Moody, which was best picked up by the microphone, and which best cuts through the murk of the original recording. Dameron's piano is much further back, and whilst I've been able to round out the deep double bass notes, the drums remain thudding rather than bright.

Yet these are perhaps secondary concerns. With a recording such as this we want to hear the young Miles cutting loose and free, in front of an adoring audience and effectively leading his own small group for the first time - and just before he succumbed to a drug addiction that would keep him out of the public eye for several years.

So excuse a little hiss and occasional crackle, live with the fluttery sound on Embraceable You (on which a lot of wayward pitch correction has been possible), and listen at long last to this vital moment in modern jazz history, now sounding hugely better than any other issue since those May nights in 1949.

Andrew Rose

DUKE ELLINGTON Live at Carnegie Hall (1944) - PAJZ005

Duke Ellington's major breakthrough - sounds amazing!

This excellent recording from mainly clean acetate discs has really opened out thanks to the application of the XR remastering system. I took several modern recordings of music by Ellington as starting reference points with the aim of finding as much authentic fidelity as possible in the older recording. I was also able to deal with the mild surface noise, scratches etc., as well as correcting pitch thanks to the detection of residual 60Hz mains hum in the original - previous issues of this recording ran slightly fast.

Andrew Rose

LOUIS ARMSTRONG The Early Years (1923-40) - PAJZ006

An amazing new approach to acoustic and early electric recordings

"An excellent album, and one I can recommend highly ... We’re bound to want more after hearing such fabulous results" - Fanfare

This collection represents the first outing of a new 'variant' of the XR remastering process, tailored particularly for acoustic 78rpm recordings but also very useful in restoring the earliest electric recordings. In this collection we present ten [*see note below]recordings from the pre-microphone era - recorded directly into a horn - and ten from the so-called 'electric' era of microphone recordings.

By using a specially adapted 'double pass' XR approach I've been able to get much closer to the cleaner finished sound I want using equalisation alone, before bringing in digital noise reduction, whilst simultaneously tackling the problems of horn resonances and very uneven tonal response. Where noise is a huge problem, as on acoustic recordings, this is a real step forward - it allows much better preservation of the musical signal and reduces the risk of producing audible digital noise artefacts in the finished recording.

What's been particularly fascinating about the Armstrong tracks is the realisation that, thanks to the sheer energy and harmonic richness of the brass instruments used, there's much, much more on some of these recordings than one might have expected to find. Normally we see acoustic recordings petering out somewhere between 3500 and 4500Hz, yet in occasional instances of particularly high notes I've detected harmonics right up to 19kHz.

The achievement of the new aspects of XR used for this restoration is to preserve these high harmonics much more effectively than before. Sadly they do generally only exist in the really high-energy instruments when they're playing loudly - we're not suddenly going to unearth CD quality from acoustic horn recordings - but the fact that they're not only possible but clearly audible does suggest that a lot of traditional equalisation of acoustic recordings may have been throwing valuable music content away.

*NB. We've listed four recordings by Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five as acoustic recordings in our CD booklet, though they fall into the period of time when the electrical recording process was being introduced by record companies during and after 1925. This assumption is based on tonal analysis of the recordings, which display the distinctive bass cut-off and the harmonic irregularities typical of horn recordings. The difference in this bass response can be heard most clearly between tracks 10 and 11 in the sound of the tuba, which suddenly has a depth and resonance not previously captured.

However, the treble response of tracks 8-10 is particularly surprising for an acoustic recording and, following restoration with the XR remastering process, the sound has an added clarity more usually associated with microphone recordings. Thus it is possible that these were poor electric recordings rather than good acoustics. Although 1925 is generally regarded as the start of the electric era, some recording companies continued with the old acoustic system into at least 1927, hence the slight uncertainty expressed here.

Andrew Rose

DUKE ELLINGTON Live at Carnegie Hall (1946) - PAJZ007

Duke Ellington in '46 - clear, clean and compelling!

"I must recommend it. The critics hated it at the time, but this was a helluva concert" - Fanfare

I found considerable variation in quality between the various sections of this recording, which would have been cut directly to acetate discs, and in preparing this remastering have endeavoured to eradicate these differences. This involved greater and lesser applications of noise reduction, often targetted at specific frequency bands, following a general re-equalisation to bring out as much of a natural and clear sound as possible. At times there was also a degree of reconstruction and acetate swish removal required, but on the whole this was a well-preserved set of recordings, with good extension in both treble and bass.

Andrew Rose