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Notes on Recent Finds, No. 2 (All Jazz! From HDTT)

09-01-2022 | By Rushton Paul | Issue 123

Time for another article about recent finds that I think you may enjoy. These are once again albums from HDTT and this time they're all jazz—hope you don't mind. Many are Pure DSD256 transfers, so the sound quality is pure, clean and transparent. You'll find my earlier Notes on Recent Finds article HERE.

Today we're discussing the following HDTT jazz releases:

Satchmo Plays King Oliver, Louis Armstrong. HDTT 1959, 2022 (DSD256, DXD) HERE

Recorded by Audio Fidelity 1959, this is one of the GREAT Louis Armstrong recordings. Armstrong gathered his All-Stars for a session paying homage to King Oliver -- his earliest musical hero and the man who enabled two of his breakout gigs (first in 1918, when he took over Oliver's spot in Kid Ory's band, and later, in 1922, when Oliver summoned him to Chicago to join his own group). The songs are tunes either written by King Oliver, or tunes that Oliver played. The first track, "St. James Infirmary," is taken at an incredibly slow and eerie pace, and when Louis comes back to repeat the main theme at the end, the effect is breathtaking. The 45rpm reissue on vinyl, cut by Bernie Grundman and issued as an EP by Classic Records, held pride of place on my demonstration discs shelf in my vinyl days: "St. James Infirmary" on one side and "I Ain't Got Nobody" on the other. The sound quality was mind-blowing. This transfer in DSD256 with some gentle post-processing in DXD (and presumably not from the master tape) sounds just as terrific as my memory of that 45rpm reissue. The rest of the album sounds equally good.

This is a must have release. It sounds amazing in DSD256. Just get it!

Eric Dolphy, Conversations (Pure DSD256). HDTT 1963, 2020 HERE

One of the most innovative studio sessions in Eric Dolphy's musical career, this is a terrific album if you're willing to be challenged in your ideas around jazz. The other, in my opinion, is "Out to Lunch!" which HDTT has not yet been able to release (and I so wish they would).

The improvisational creativity of this album is astonishing. The soundscapes are ever intriguing, ever surprising. Dolphy's experimental energy gives this entire album a unique place in his all-to-limited discography. And Dolphy's facility on flute, bass clarinet, and alto saxophone is astonishing. Losing this monstrously great talent at the age of 36 was such a tremendous loss.

The sound quality is superb. Rich, highly detailed, tremendous frequency extension, excellent dynamics—it is a terrific studio recording and HDTT's DSD256 transfers captures it all with a transparency to treasure.

And, if you like Eric Dolphy, you can also find several additional Dolphy albums from HDTT HERE.

Sonny Rollins, Way Out West. HDTT 1957, 2022 (DXD, DSD256) HERE

Sonny at his best, with some excellent drumming by Shelly Manne that nearly steals the show. Combine with Ray Brown's bass and you have a trio for the ages. Way Out West deserves its reputation alongside Saxophone Colossus as the two best albums from Sonny Rollins in the 1950s. This transfer by HDTT in both DSD256 and DXD is clean, open and virtually noise free on my headphones. While not quite as open-sounding as my memory of the 45rpm AP reissue on vinyl, this is still simply marvelous sonically. There is no hype to the sound—it is just pure natural, well-balanced, analog sound. In other words, it's terrific!

Max Roach, Deeds, Not Words. HDTT 1958, 2022 (DXD) HERE

This is a great, possibly "landmark" album. There are so many innovative things happening in this album, it would be a challenge to list them here. Suffice to say, here you have five excellent musicians pushing the edges. Ray Draper's tuba is a superb addition to the sounds and textures, Booker Little demonstrates why his early death was such a musical loss, and Max Roach demonstrates why so many admire his work.

The recording is excellent and the transfer is top notch. Another great addition from HDTT.

Monk's Dream, Thelonious Monk Quartet. HDTT 1962, 2022 (Pure DSD256) HERE

This is one of Monk's greatest albums, he's just totally alive and driving the entire group forward. And what a really nice group of musicians are gathered here! The sound is open, airy, and detailed, with good resolution of the piano. And did I say this is a pure DSD256 transfer? Oh, yeah!

This is as nice a release as I've heard, possibly the best of the various releases I've heard over the years. It is certainly dramatically better sounding (more open, more live, more extended) than the SACD that I have. A terrific release from HDTT!

For more Thelonious Monk albums from HDTT, see HERE.

Hank Mobley, Soul Station. HDTT 1960, 2019 (Pure DSD256). HERE

A beautiful Pure DSD256 transfer of perhaps my favorite Hank Mobley album. It is wonderfully transparent, with excellent definition and accurate instrumental timbre. The soundstage is captured terrifically well—you can point to each member of the quartet and the image stays rock solid. A great recording from Rudy van Gelder. Released by Blue Note Records in 1960, it is generally considered to be his finest album. And with Wynton Kelly on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Art Blakey on drums, you have a dream team lineup. Jazz critic Bob Blumenthal comments that this album is understood to be, for Mobley, what Saxophone Colossus or Giant Steps were for Sonny Rollins or John Coltrane respectively.

In my vinyl days, I enjoyed playing the Music Matters 45 rpm vinyl reissue and it was gorgeous. With this DSD256 transfer from a 2-track 15ips tape, I don't pine for the vinyl any longer. It's a good 'un.

Hank Mobley, Dippin'. HDTT 1966, 2019 (Pure DSD256) HERE

Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan, Billy Higgins, Harold Mabern... What a great lineup! Very fine straight-ahead jazz, with the players having a lot of fun. Perhaps not at the level of Soul Station, but a truly great album in it's own right. And it has great sound in this Pure DSD256 transfer from HDTT.

Gerry Mulligan Meets Ben Webster. HDTT 1959, 2022 (DXD) HERE

This is a great recording and the sound quality of this transfer is superb. In my vinyl days, I had both the ORG 45rpm mastered by Bernie Grundman and the AP reissue mastered by Kevin Gray. They were both great vinyl releases. Well, I think this release from a tape transfer is every bit as good, if not better. I can no longer make a direct comparison, but I have NO reservations about the superb sound quality HDTT is giving us in this DXD transfer. If you enjoy Gerry Mulligan or Ben Webster, you need to hear this new release from HDTT. It is outstanding.

For alternate digital transfers of this album, I only have the CD release to compare. And there's just no comparison. The HDTT release has all the texture, complex harmonic overtones and frequency extension that the CD misses. The CD is simply a pale imitation of what is to be heard on this DXD transfer from HDTT.

For more Gerry Mulligan albums from HDTT, see HERE

For more Ben Webster albums, see HERE

For my article on Gerry Mulligan at the 1958 New York Jazz Festival, see HERE

Oscar Peterson Trio, 17 March 1962, Paris, France. HDTT-IPI 1962, 2022 (Pure DSD256). HERE

Not to be missed! If you enjoy Oscar Peterson and his trio as much as I do, this live performance recording for broadcast is not to be missed. The performances are top drawer Oscar Peterson Trio. Don't mistake Peterson's vocalizations in the low level background for audience chatter, it's just him vocalizing with his playing.

Recorded 17 March 1962 at the Olympia Theatre, Paris France onto a Telefunken MS tape recorder, this is a monophonic recording. And it sounds terrific. This is a product of HDTT's collaboration with International Phonograph, Inc. (IPI), a small independent label that specializes in jazz. IPI has done a very nice job transferring this tape. Very clean, very low noise floor. The DSD256 transfer sounds like its giving us everything the tape has to offer.

The Incredible Jimmy Smith, Home Cookin'. HDTT 1959, 2022 (DSD256, DXD) HERE

You don't have to be a Jimmy Smith fan to enjoy this album. Great lineup of artists supporting the masterful Hammond organ player, with Kenny Burrell on guitar, Percy France on tenor sax, and Don Bailey on drums, this is an all-star lineup. Rudy Van Gelder has his studio mikes dialed in to perfection to capture a wonderfully nice airy overall acoustic sound. It is all a musical and sonic treat.

The HDTT transfer is clean, open and detailed—just a real pleasure to hear. If you've not listened to Jimmy Smith before, this album is a great introduction. If you know Jimmy Smith, you will want this new release in your library.

That's all for this issue! Hope to have another before too long.

Postscript: Why are each of these reviews so short?!? These are all well known, well loved, classic jazz albums. For in-depth information, a simple internet search will return lots of information about each. My goal in these "snippets" is to confirm the audio quality of HDTT's release, not provide a discourse on the musicians, the recording engineers, or the music. I figure that most readers will know these albums. The main question will be: "Is it worth purchasing yet another reissue?" That's the question I'm hoping to answer here. And, if an album appears here, then more than likely I consider it a better digital format release that any I've been able to hear. So, is that a fair deal to not waste your time as a reader? Hope so.