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Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section - new Pure DSD256 Transfer from HDTT

05-05-2024 | By Rushton Paul | Issue 133

Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section, with Red Garland, Paul Chambers, Philly Joe Jones, HDTT 1957 2024 (Pure DSD256) HERE

This is such a great album, it is wonderful to now have it in my digital music library in the best quality sound. My standard for this album has always been the excellent 45rpm vinyl incarnation from Analogue Productions. Of digital releases, I have the SACDs from Analogue Productions and Contemporary, but they just never had that "alive" sound of the 45rmp vinyl. This new DSD256 transfer from a 15ips tape brings that life back to my ears. Sure, my sonic memory may be faulty, so I make no effort to compare this in absolute terms to the 45rpm. But I have directly compared this new DSD256 to the two digital releases (both files from the SACDs) and this new HDTT stands head and shoulders above them in definition, "jump factor" and pure sense life in the instruments. (The AP is at a lower overall volume level, so I adjusted for that.)

The tape transfer is absolutely pristine: clean, quiet, no background noise. Plus it has the fully dynamic range we hear with 15ips tape. No compression. No futzing with the frequency balance. Just a joyful, immensely engaging album once again! Great work, HDTT.

Recorded January 19, 1957 at Contemporary Studios, Los Angeles by Roy DuNann, the title of the album comes from the fact that Garland, Chambers and Jones were the rhythm section for the Miles Davis band at that time. Michael G. Nastos of AllMusic called the recording "a classic east meets west, cool plus hot but never lukewarm combination that provides many bright moments for the quartet during this exceptional date from that great year in music, 1957."

For me, this album has always been my north star for great jazz. It has an energy that is infectious. The performers are masterful technicians and great musicians. And the synergy with Art Pepper, who'd never played with these musicians before, is simply remarkable. The stories about this recording session vary. But what seems clear is that the opportunity to make this recording came suddenly. Pepper says that he first learned of the recording session the morning he was due in the studio. Whether he had been performing recently is unclear. But what is clear just from listening to the album is that he pulled out all the stops to meet the challenge of performing with these three greats.

If you enjoy classic jazz from the 50s you most likely are well acquainted with this album. If you don't know the album, this is a great time to get to know it. And there is no better digital version of this album than this Pure DSD256 release from HDTT. Highly recommended.