The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- Superb Double Plus (A++) sound throughout this vintage copy of Evans' wonderful 1974 album in which he is accompanied by symphony orchestra
- On the best copies the strings have wonderful texture and sheen, something that cannot be said for the similar album he recorded for Verve in 1966, which you can find in our Hall of Shame on the blog
- Bigger, richer, more Tubey Magical, with more extension on both ends of the spectrum and more depth, width and height than most other copies we played
- "... a special and unique entry in Evans' huge catalog... Not your 'typical' Bill Evans album - but that's what makes SYMBIOSIS such a fine, gently challenging listen."
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On the best copies the strings have wonderful texture and sheen. If your system isn't up to it (or you have a copy with a problem in this area), the strings might sound a little shrill and possibly grainy as well, but I'm here to tell you that the sound on the best copies is just fine with respect to string tone and timbre. You will need to look elsewhere for the problem.
This vintage MPS pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn't showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to "see" the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It's what vintage all analog recordings are known for -- this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it -- not often, and certainly not always -- but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What The Best Sides Of Symbiosis 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 tapes in 1974
- 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 studio space
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 qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
If you have full-range speakers, some of the qualities you may recognize in the sound of the piano are WEIGHT and WARMTH. The piano is not hard, brittle or tinkly. Instead the best copies show you a wonderfully full-bodied, warm, rich, smooth piano, one which sounds remarkably like the ones we've all heard countless times in piano bars and restaurants.
In other words, like a real piano -- not a recorded one.
This is what we look for in a good piano recording. Bad mastering can ruin the sound, and often does, along with worn out stampers and bad vinyl and five gram needles that scrape off the high frequencies.
But a few -- a very few -- copies survive all such hazards. They manage to reproduce the full spectrum of the piano's wide range (and of course the wonderful performance of the pianist) on vintage vinyl, showing us the kind of sound we simply cannot find any other way.
What We're Listening For On Symbiosis
- 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, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass -- which ties in with good transient information, also 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 instruments.
- Then: presence and immediacy. The piano isn't "back there" somewhere, lost in the mix. It's front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt -- Frank Laico in this case -- would put it.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Mint Minus Minus 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 other 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 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.
- Symbiosis 1st Movement (Moderato, Various Tempi)
- Symbiosis 2nd Movement (Largo - Andante - Maestoso - Largo)
Legendary jazz pianist Bill Evans is most often thought of as a "trio" player, as most of his albums have been piano/bass/drums, with the occasional solo or duo album. But he did record a select few albums with orchestras, and that's what makes SYMBIOSIS a special and unique entry in Evans' huge catalog.
Recorded in 1974... this albums contains no standards or Evans originals--the title piece is a multi-part suite composed, arranged and conducted by Claus Ogerman (who also collaborated with Stan Getz and Frank Sinatra, among many others). The album runs the stylistic gamut: there are moments of Philip Glass-like minimalism (!), samba-flavored big-band passages, echoes of the early 20th century Russian composers, Third Stream jazz, lush yet slightly ominous string arrangements and '70s film music.
Throughout, Evans, alternating between acoustic and electric pianos, shimmers and entrances with his inventively lyrical solos. Not your "typical" Bill Evans album--but that's what makes SYMBIOSIS such a fine, gently challenging listen.