Various Artists All Night Long
John Coltrane Coltrane
eplica reissues" describes Analogue Productions' latest series of jazz LPs -- twenty-five mono and twenty-five stereo titles from the Prestige catalogue. While they are reissues of a well-known jazz titles (and a pair of blues titles) from the golden age of jazz recording and one of the most important labels, they also attempt to be as faithful to the original LPs as possible. They are remastered from the original mono or stereo tapes, come in authentic glossy "tip-on" jackets, retain the flat edge of original pressings, and even have the "deep groove" from the stamper in the label area. What they don't have is the cost of original pressings. So many of the titles in the series fall into the several-hundred-dollar range in near-mint condition, a few topping out in the thousands, making the $30 price of each Analogue Productions LP seem like a bargain if they deliver sonically, which they do in abundance.
Coltrane is John Coltrane's first recording as a leader, and it bristles with urgent playing from an accomplished lineup that includes Sahib Shihab on baritone sax, a rhythm section of Paul Chambers on bass and "Tootie" Heath on drums, and a pair of pianists: Mal Waldron and Red Garland. Coltrane's tenor-sax voice is arguably the most recognizable in jazz history. He didn't play notes as much as run-on clusters of them. "Bakai," with its chugging baritone line, is the album's most recognizable number, but two Coltrane originals, "Straight Street" and "Chronic Blues," give the first-time leader space to roam and foreshadow his emerging style.
Most often credited to guitarist Kenny Burrell, All Night Long features a youthful lineup of soon-to-be stars, including Donald Byrd on trumpet, Hank Mobley on tenor sax, and Art Taylor on drums. These three would help form Blue Note's backbone for more than a decade. The title track is a seventeen-minute Burrell-led workout, and it's followed by, among others, a ten-minute version of "Body and Soul" on which Byrd turns in a performance that manages to be both charming and intense -- and a highlight of what is a loose jam session. While Coltrane would be right at home on Blue Note, All Night Long lacks the tight playing that marks so many of the label's sessions, or more specifically the pre-recording practice that Alfred Lion insisted on.
Rudy Van Gelder recorded both of these sessions in his Hackensack, New Jersey, studio, which took over his parents' living room. It's peculiar, therefore, that they sound rather different. Coltrane has all the resounding scale and immediacy of the best-sounding Blue Note sessions of the period, while All Night Long is more diminutive and distant. The records make this plain, Coltrane having exceptional mono sound and All Night Long merely very good. Both were pressed at Quality Record Pressings (QRP) and continue the excellence for which this newest pressing plant has become known: nonexistent surface and groove noise and the sharp delineation of musical detail.
Eleven of the mono titles in the Prestige series are available now, comprising some well-known and not-so-well-known music, all of which is worthy of this royal treatment. A few years ago, Analogue Productions released a number of the upcoming titles as 45rpm sets, but those LPs were pressed before QRP existed, and they come in thin, utilitarian jackets. They are some great-sounding records, however, so replacement with these "replica reissues" is more a luxury than a necessity. No matter -- with these latest Prestige LPs, Analogue Productions has attained a rare trifecta: authentic look, authentic sound, and authentic manufacturing.
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