Dick Hyman & Octet – From the Age of Swing – Reference Recording 200-gr. 45 rpm (2 discs)

by | Jan 25, 2012 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

Dick Hyman & Octet – From the Age of Swing [TrackList follows] – Reference Recording Mastercuts 200-gr. audiophile 45 rpm (2 discs) RM-2501 *****:
This collection of music from small and large instrumental groups from the late 1930s was originally released on CD by Reference Recording in 1994. It’s great now to have it on the ultimate analog format of 45 rpm vinyl—well worth the expense for those of us with high-quality turntable systems. The lineup of players returning to their pre-bop roots around pianist Dick Hyman are: Urbie Green, Milt Hinton, Bucky Pizzarelli, Frank Wess, Joe Wilder, Phil Bodner, Butch Miles and Joe Temperly.
Of course the original tapes are the very best, from engineer Keith O. Johnson – recorded originally in the Concert Hall of SUNY in Purchase, New York. They were transferred to 176.4K/24-bit digital to cut the master for the vinyl. Paul Stubblebine did the expert half-speed mastering and the pressings  were made at the same plant used by Analogue Productions n Salina, Kansas – onto 200-gram virgin vinyl.
Dick Hyman – who has made several other recordings for this label – is not only a leading jazz pianist and student of jazz piano history, but also a composer, conductor, arranger and organist. He probably selected most of the 13 tracks here, and they provide a great survey of the swing period. The opening and title tune is, however, an original he put together with three other members of the band. Hyman’s Baldwin piano comes thru cleanly on all the tracks, and the sometimes five-strong front line of reeds and brass often creates a larger sound than one would expect from just nine players. It’s not a slavish imitation of the small groups of the swing era, but a contemporary look at the legacy of the period.
Musically and conceptually, the album reminded me of the excellent Chesky SACD from Bucky Piazzarelli: Swing Live, though From the Age of Swing has an aggregation of performers almost double the size.  Sonics are, of course, fabulous, and getting up frequently to change sides didn’t seem as annoying as with classical material at 45 rpm. Part of this was due to Reference Recordings putting a bit more time on each side than the only seven or eight minutes on most audiophile 45 rpm 12-inchers.
1: From the Age of Swing, You’re Driving My Crazy/Moten Swing, Topsy
2: Dooji Wooji, Them There Eyes, Moonglow
3: Soft Winds, ‘Deed I Do, What Is There to Say?
4: I Know What You Do, Rose Room, Mean to Me, I’m Getting Sentimental Over You
—John Henry

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