blue note records' transition from mono to stereo recording
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  1. #1
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    blue note records' transition from mono to stereo recording

    i have recently been revisiting some of the classic blue note titles from the late 1950s...

    in particular, i was listening to a hi-res version via qobuz of john coltrane | blue train and noticed it was clearly a stereo release which was somewhat of a surprise as i had always thought this was a mono recording.

    my first thought was that it was one of those artificially re-channeled faux-stereo releases which, as i understand it, takes a mono recording and applies some "time adjustments" for each channel to create a sort of stereo effect. but, i decided to do a little more research and ran across this LondonJazzCollector article which details the history of blue note / RVG transitioning from mono to stereo. turns out both mono and stereo recordings were made of these sessions; however, the stereo LPs were not released until several years later.

    i found it an absolutely fascinating read which in addition to the historical information also details some of the recording and mic placement techniques used by RVG which really gives one an informed perspective when listening to these early recordings.

    anyway, i thought i would post the link for anyone interested to learn more.
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  3. #2
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    Re: blue note records' transition from mono to stereo recording

    Thanks for posting this. I look forward to reading it!
    Your post made me check my digital versions of Blue Train and head over to Discogs to see if it's been released in mono, digitally. Unless I missed one, it looks like the officially released digital versions of Blue Train have all been stereo. There's a public domain release in mono but I'm not counting that one.
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  4. #3
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    Re: blue note records' transition from mono to stereo recording

    Thanks for the very interesting article, particularly the change of placement of instruments to allow for easier blending of bass in the two channels. I have several 15ips 2 track tape Blue Note albums from that era, all stereo. Several are safety masters, including Blue Train. My favorite is Somethin' Else which is one of my 1/2" safety masters.

    Larry
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  5. #4
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    Re: blue note records' transition from mono to stereo recording

    another LondonJazzCollector article which further discusses the various aspects of mono and stereo recording at blue note.

    also provided is a listing of all blue note releases during this transition period and the formats released: mono, stereo and/or psudo-stereo. i found this a nice quick reference when going over my collection of purchased hi-res digital files -- all of which i find are true stereo except those for where no stereo recordings were made in the studio, such as sonny clark | cool struttin'
    kanjiroba yak + roon rock > t+a dac8 dsd > almarro a318b > viking acoustics berlin r mk2 | alp-tone audio analog cables

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  7. #5
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    Re: blue note records' transition from mono to stereo recording

    Thanks again. I checked the mono, fake stereo and stereo list. For those issued in mono and fake stereo (ps), I just have two - Art Blakey and Jazz Messengers at Birdland Volume 2 - recorded in 1954. My safety master tape is mono. My Tape Project tape of Clifford Brown Memorial Album from 1953 is also in mono.

    To me, the most interesting part of the second article is some of the releases by Liberty, UA and King Japan (it says about a dozen from the 4000 series) which say electronic stereo (ps) but are really true stereo recordings from Van Gelder 2 track tapes. However, I don't see where they list the titles.

    My understanding is that the original Blue Note monos in vinyl are highly sought after by collectors. I am not a jazz vinyl collector, but do have one mono Blue Note - 1586: Jimmy Smith, Groovin’ at Small’s Paradise, Volume 2 (1957) m.

    Larry
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  8. #6
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    Re: blue note records' transition from mono to stereo recording

    Quote Originally Posted by aKnyght View Post
    another LondonJazzCollector article which further discusses the various aspects of mono and stereo recording at blue note.

    also provided is a listing of all blue note releases during this transition period and the formats released: mono, stereo and/or psudo-stereo. i found this a nice quick reference when going over my collection of purchased hi-res digital files -- all of which i find are true stereo except those for where no stereo recordings were made in the studio, such as sonny clark | cool struttin'
    ***correction: apparently there was a stereo recording made of cool struttin' ...the mono version was released in 1958 while the stereo version was not released until 1967. also, the 2014 music matters release is in stereo.

    interesting that there is not the hard-left / hard-right instrument "placement" that is characteristic of the early blue note stereo releases -- which is partly why i thought it was only recorded in mono.

    anyway, it has been quite a lot of fun doing this blue note archaeology.
    kanjiroba yak + roon rock > t+a dac8 dsd > almarro a318b > viking acoustics berlin r mk2 | alp-tone audio analog cables

  9. #7
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    Re: blue note records' transition from mono to stereo recording

    RVG made a very nice change when he moved the bass to the center with the piano and split the trumpet and sax (in a quintet).
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