Jazz at the Pawnshop, 30th Anniversary Package – 3 4.0-channel SACDs plus bonus video DVD interview with two of the musicians – Prophone/Proprius

by | May 10, 2007 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Jazz at the Pawnshop, 30th Anniversary Package – 3 4.0-channel SACDs plus bonus video DVD interview with two of the musicians – Prophone/Proprius CPRO 7879 **** [Distr. by May Audio]:

This is the legendary audiophile jazz recording which has become one of the most popular audiophile titles ever released.  In Japan it’s probably the most-owned disc by audio buffs.  We’ve covered two of its reissue iterations in recent years. It’s also been a gold CD and an xrcd.  One of our reviews was the first release of the disc that has become Disc 1 of this Anniversary Package, and the other was a similar effort from First Impression Music, but without the third SACD and the video DVD.

About 20 minutes of previously unreleased tracks from the original sessions are included in the new Prophone/Proprius set, plus an interesting interview (with English subtitles) of two of the original players in the quintet. As with both of the previous reissues we have received, the original O.R.T.F.-miked stereo two-channel master tapes were used to derive difference information which was fed to the two surround channels to make a 4.0 surround SACD.  It puts you in the midst of the rather noisy Stockholm club during the two December nights in l976 when the original recordings were made by engineer Gert Palmcrantz. Little did he know these recordings were going to become a cult album with audiophiles worldwide, and that the musicians would actually be surprised that they received considerable royalty payments (for a jazz recording, anyway) from Proprius.

The original recording was a double LP and one track – Lady Be Good – became a popular test track for tweaking the stylus angle for the best fidelity on turntables. According to the background given by vibist Lars Erstrand and bassist Georg Riedel, the quintet had played together for many years and thus were very comfortable with improvising together. Arne Domnerus was the lead voice on alto sax and clarinet, and the pianist was Bengt Hallberg. The players were extremely cramped on a tiny stage in the hot and crowded Stampen jazz club.  They didn’t have any rehearsal or mike setup for the recording – they just started playing and somehow Palmcrantz captured everything perfectly – with amazing presence and realism. He used Neumann mikes and a Nagra IV portable, which he held in his lap for most of the recordings! The first selections on the second nite featuring the vibes always sounded to me rather dulled and more like a marimba.  Erstrand explains in the video interview the reason: he always kept a heavy cover on his instrument since in the club it provided a handy place for customers to park their drinks. They started playing so quickly that he didn’t get around to removing the cover and just played his vibes thru it!

I don’t feel this is the greatest mainstream jazz ever recorded, and I don’t think anyone is claiming that.  But everyone is clearly skilled at what they’re doing, and everyone on the stage and in the club is having such a great time, the recording just seems to capture the feeling of being there! The 30th Anniversary box set was digitally remastered and only 3000 copies have been pressed. The four-disc set retails for $90.

Limehouse Blues
I’m Confessin’
High Life
Jeep’s Blues
Lady be Good
Take Five
Everything Happens To Me
Over The Rainbow
Now’s The Time
Out Of Nowhere
Take The Train
Here Is That Rainy Day
Struttin’ With Some Barbeque
Poor Butterfly
Exactly Like You
Jeepers Creepers
How High The Moon
Things Aren’t What They Used To Be
In A Mellotone
Gubben och Kallingen
Nancy With The Laughing Face
Struttin’ With Some Barbeque
It Don’t Mean A Thing
Mood Indigo
Jeep’s Blues 
High Life (take 2)

— John Henry

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