The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus*
Side Three: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
Side Four: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
- Two rare Donald Byrd albums in one, both with stunning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on one side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on the other
- The Tubey Magic is fully intact, making these two albums sound just the way a pair of classic All Tube 1956 Rudy Van Gelder jazz albums should
- Composed of two superb LPs - 2 Trumpets and The Young Bloods - these wonderful pressings capture some of Byrd's best music and sound
- "Art and Donald are in fine form, and if there is any competition it serves only to increase the musical yield."
- "... These blowing sessions (typical of Prestige's albums of the 1950s) have their enjoyable moments with Farmer and Woods taking overall solo honors.
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*NOTE: A mark makes five very soft ticks near the end of track one, The Third.
This reissue is spacious, open, transparent, rich and sweet. It's yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording Technology, with the added benefit of mastering using the more modern cutting equipment of the '70s in this case. We are of course here referring to the good modern mastering of 40+ years ago, not the generally opaque, veiled and lifeless mastering so common today.
The combination of old and new works wonders on this title as you will surely hear for yourself on both of these superb sides.
We were impressed with the fact that these pressings excel in so many areas of reproduction. What was odd about it -- odd to most audiophiles but not necessarily to us -- was just how rich and Tubey Magical the reissue can be on the right pressing.
This leads me to think that most of the natural, full-bodied, lively, clear, rich sound of the recording was still on the tape decades later, and that all that was needed to get that vintage sound on to a record was simply to thread up the tape on the right machine and hit play. The fact that practically nobody seems to be able to make a record nowadays that sounds remotely this good tells me that I'm wrong to think that such an approach tends to work, if our experience with hundreds of mediocre Heavy Vinyl reissues is relevant.
What the best sides of House of Byrd have to offer is not hard to hear:
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the original tapes in 1956
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange -- with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio
No doubt there's more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the above.
Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren't veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we've heard them all.
Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.
Tube smear is common to most vintage pressings and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.
What We're Listening For on House of Byrd
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- The Big Sound comes next -- wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information -- fast, clear, sharp attacks for the piano, horns and drums, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
- Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering -- which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency -- the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
- Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians aren't "back there" somewhere, way behind the speakers. They're front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt -- Rudy Van Gelder in the case -- would have put them.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
The Players - Sides One and Two
Trumpet – Art Farmer, Donald Byrd Alto Saxophone – Jackie McLean Bass – Doug Watkins Drums – Arthur Taylor Piano – Barry Harris (2)
The Players - Sides Three and Four
Trumpet – Donald Byrd Alto Saxophone – Phil Woods Bass – Teddy Kotick Drums – Charlie Persip Piano – Al Haig
Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of later pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don't have the vintage analog magic that is a key part of the appeal of these wonderful recordings.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that's certainly your prerogative, but we can't imagine losing what's good about this music -- the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight -- just to hear it with less background noise.
When Your Lover Has Gone
House of Chan
In Walked George
This two-LP set combines together the music from Two Trumpets and The Young Bloods. The former session has both Donald Byrd and Art Farmer on trumpets in a sextet with altoist Jackie McLean and pianist Barry Harris.
...These blowing sessions (typical of Prestige's albums of the 1950s) have their enjoyable moments with Farmer and Woods taking overall solo honors.
Rave Review for Two Trumpets
Art and Donald are in fine form, and if there is any competition it serves only to increase the musical yield. Jackie Mclean adds just the right note of astringency and variety of tone. Barrie Harris provides solid foundations for the improvisations while Doug Watkins and Art Taylor maintain impeccable pace. An excellent bop session and two trumpets is just the right number when its Farmer and Byrd.
4 Star AMG Review for The Young Bloods
For this early hard bop date, altoist Phil Woods and trumpeter Donald Byrd were co-leaders. In fact, the music had at one point earlier on been released with Byrd getting first billing.
Since the spirited altoist contributed four of the six tunes (including "House of Chan" and "In Walked George") and consistently takes solo honors, it is only right that the date finally appeared under Woods' name. With pianist Al Haig(who did not record that extensively during this period), bassist Teddy Kotick, and drummer Charlie Persip offering stimulating accompaniment, this is an easily recommended release (despite its brief LP length) for straight-ahead jazz collectors.
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