The next in the series of Mosaic boxes. Sorry, no 24/192 this time..
From the Mosaic Records website:
In 1954, months before the Jazz Messengers, spearheaded by Art Blakey and Horace Silver, formed serendipitously at a Blue Note recordings session, Max Roach was forming his own quintet with Clifford Brown in Los Angeles. It would become the first defining group in the music that would soon be known as hard bop.
There was some trial and error in landing on the perfect combination of players. But by August, the group’s line-up with Harold Land, Richie Powell and George Morrow and a major label deal with Emarcy Records were secured. Four marathon sessions that month yielded “Brown And Roach Incorporated” and most of the second album “Clifford Brown And Max Roach.”
What was immediately striking was the fresh sound of the quintet. The remarkable empathy within the group, the careful selection of material and the exciting arrangements by Powell all contributed mightily to that sound. Clifford Brown had come into his own as a composer as “Sweet Clifford,” “Joy Spring” and “Daahoud” demonstrate. It didn’t hurt that Roach and Brown were complete originals and among the greatest performers on their instruments.
Six months later, the ensemble went into the studio to cut 11 gems, two of which were used to complete “Clifford Brown And Max Roach” while the rest formed the third album “Study In Brown.” Their growth as a band was evident and, by this time, Powell and Land were also composing for the group.
In late 1955, Harold Land left the quintet for personal reasons. Roach recruited Sonny Rollins, who was at the top of his game. The chemistry between Rollins and Brown was immediate. In January and February 1956, they cut the quintet’s final album “At Basin Street”, a stunning studio album from any point of view.
On June 26, 1956, a car accident took the life of Brown and Powell, bringing this brilliant ensemble’s legacy to a close. Brown had done many side projects for Emarcy in those two years, but it is the four albums by the quintet that have had the most enduring influence on successive generations of jazz artists. In the words of liner note writer Bob Blumenthal, “the Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet created one of the very greatest string of small-group recordings in jazz history, worthy of consideration alongside the Hot Fives and Sevens of Louis Armstrong and the quintets of Charlie Parker and Miles Davis.”
Mosaic has returned to the original analog masters of these four seminal albums and remastered them and pressed them on 180-gram vinyl at the renowned Record Technology Inc. plant in Camarillo, California. The booklet boasts a great essay by Bob Blumenthal and a wealth of photographs by Chuck Stewart and Francis Wolff.
The death of a gifted musical prodigy at a very young age is a blow that many times takes generations to recover from. When the artist was not self destructive, and passes away through no fault of his own, it makes the loss even more wrenching. Clifford Brown left us on June 26, 1956 from a car accident that also took the life of Bud Powell’s brother, Richie. Time stood still in the jazz community at that time and many could argue that the loss to jazz trumpetry can still be felt today in a historical sense. Could Clifford have had the same effect on jazz that Miles Davis later did? What direction would his playing have taken? Would he have explored fusion and electronic jazz? We’ll never know, but one thing is certain — Clifford Brown put together in a brief three to four year period enough music and legendary potential that he is still mentioned as a jazz genius, whose discography is studied and tone envied by subsequent generations of trumpeters.
Clifford had the firepower of Dizzy Gillespie and Roy Eldridge, coupled with the lyricism of the best of the trumpet balladeers. Young trumpet players of early promise since have been mentioned as the latest potential Clifford Brown. The reality is that it is too much of a burden to take on to be compared to the master.
Clifford recorded briefly for Blue Note and Prestige, but he is most noted for his recordings for Emarcy, a subsidiary of Mercury Records. Through their later Japanese import division, his entire EmArcy recordings were issued in a prized (and now hard to come by) box set, Brownie. Also the individual albums from his Emarcy years have been issued on CD.
However, this holiday season, the collectors’ label Mosaic Records has chosen to re-issue the Clifford Brown/Max Roach quintet sessions, recorded between 1954-1956 at both the Capitol Records studios in New York and Los Angeles. They have returned to the original analog masters and remastered them, pressing them on 180 gram vinyl at the Record Technology Inc. plant in California. The mastering was done by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound, in New York City.
As one who owns the Brownie box set as well as the individual CDs, I was curious to see if this possibly could be the definitive issue of this material both for audiophile quality, but also for the historical value that the liner notes by Bob Blumenthal, and the booklet photos from legendary photographers, Francis Wolff and Chuck Stewart, might provide.
Upon listening to the pristine vinyl, I came away convinced that once again for the warmth and soundstage that LPs provide, that I could swear that I was hearing Brownie’s power and lyricism, and Max’s inimitable stick work with “new ears.” The keyboard strike of Richie Powell, the steady woody pluck of George Morrow, and either the cool blowing of Harold Land, or the mature hard bop tone of Sonny Rollins at the age of 26, are all there in stunning acoustics. To hear seminal music recorded well over a half century ago, sounding even more fresh and vibrant today, is a real aural treat.
The albums covered in this set – Brown and Roach, Inc., Clifford Brown & Max Roach, Study in Brown, and Clifford Brown & Max Roach at Basin Street – helped bring out the birth of hard bop, and are among the best small group recordings one can own. They include the masterpieces, “Joy Spring,” “Daahoud,” “Jordu,” and “Delilah,” for which Clifford is most celebrated, as well as treatment of standards of the day. You will also find less well known compositions from pianist Richie Powell, (“Powell’s Prances,” “Time,” and “Jacqui”) that show the maturity and swing of Richie at that young stage of his life, and the sadness today that we could not have heard the direction his music would have taken due to his death in the auto accident with Brown.
Luckily for jazz lovers, we still have Sonny Rollins to savor, and Max Roach and Harold Land had long and distinguished careers. However, for their brief time period together, we still can marvel at the craftsmanship and flair that Clifford, Max, and company brought out that helped change the direction of jazz well into the future. With the timely purchase of this piece of jazz history (only 2500 pressings will be made), jazz lovers can experience the original analog mono masters brought up to today’s exacting audiophile standards in a gorgeous box set with liner notes and period photos to enhance the aural bliss that this box set will bring to your home. It is certain to bring much listening pleasure for years to come. — Jeff Krow, AudAud.com
01. Sweet Clifford
02. (I Don’t Stand A) Ghost Of A Chance With You
03. Stompin’ At The Savoy
04. I’ll String Along With You
06. Darn That Dream
07. I Get A Kick Out Of You
09. Parisian Thoroughfare
10. The Blues Walk
12. Joy Spring
14. What Am I Here For?
18. Land’s End
19. George’s Dilemma
21. Gerkin For Perkin
22. If I Love Again
23. Take The “A” Train
24. What Is This Thing Called Love?
25. Love Is A Many Splendored Thing
26. I’ll Remember April
27. Powell’s Prances
29. The Scene Is Clean
30. Gertrude’s Bounce
All tracks were mastered from the original analog tapes by Ryan Smith, Sterling Sound, New York City
Detailed info for the box set can be found here.
Clifford Brown – trumpet
Harold Land – tenor sax (tracks 1-23)
Sonny Rollins – tenor sax (tracks 24-30)
Richie Powell – piano
George Morrow – bass
Max Roach – drums
All vinyl is cleaned on a VPI 16.5
Technics SL1200-MK5 (modified)
– Rega RB300 arm with RB700 wiring
– Michell Tecnoweight
– SoundSupports armboard
– Trans-Fi Audio Reso-Mat
Shure V15VxMR (with Jico stylus)
SimAudio Moon 110LP preamp
Native Instruments Audio4DJ USB interface
Processing: Sound Forge 10, ClickRepair (manual mode only)
These are unfolded mono recordings. If you want to fold them yourself, feel free.
The tracks in this collection make up the following albums:
Emarcy MG36008 – Brown and Roach, Incorporated
Emarcy MG36036 – Clifford Brown and Max Roach
Emarcy MG36037 – Study in Brown
Emarcy MG36070 – Clifford Brown and Max Roach at Basin Street
None of the alternate takes were included.
Tracks 7, 14, 23 and 30 fade to zero at the end of each track. This was done to preserve the “feel” of each album in the box.
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