Thursday, October 22, 2009

Esther Satterfield "The Need To Be" 1976

I was introduced to Esther Satterfield's smooth and velvety vocals through listening to a Chuck Mangione "Live" recording as she performed "Chase The Clouds Away".  And then over 10 years later, a local jazz radio DJ started to regulalry play a version of  "If You Knew Me Any Longer Than Tomorrow".  For many years, this was one of my favorite jazz songs (as performed by Chuck Mangione), and to hear lyrics attached to this piece, I was immediately hooked ! I called the station, and learned to find out that this was only available on LP and out of print.  So I purchased this LP from eBay many years ago.  I just recently re-archived it for this blog.

As it turns out, her music career was very short, she released just two albums under her name ("The Need To Be" and "Once I Loved") and appears on Chuck Mangione's "Land of Make Believe".  Chuck Mangione produced both of her albums, and so its not surprinsing to see original Mangione tunes here.  She now lives in Maryland under her married name of Esther Jordan.  It was rumored that she was disenchanted by the music industry in general.  Too bad, this was all that ever produced, I hope you enjoy.

Bass - Chip Jackson
Concert Master - Gerald Vinci
Drums - Joe La Barbera
Guitar - Don Potter
Orchestra - Kai Winding
Percussion - Gerry Niewood
Piano - Chuck Mangione
Producer - Chuck Mangione

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Gino Vannelli "Crazy Life" 1973

I discovered the power of Gino Vannelli's music around 1985.  It is clear from his early works that his roots are in jazz and most of his albums clearly reveal that. Over the years, I have collected all of his recordings that I could with the exception of this one.  This LP "Crazy Life" was his first release and was produced by Herb Alpert.  It did get released to CD, however it has been 'out-of-print' and discontinued by the manufacturer for sometime now.  I purchased the LP from eBay two weeks ago, and this was my first listen, and it is clearly GV's style that many know and can appreciate.  I looked up Gino Vannelli on and there was an interesting bit of trivia that Pope John Paul II requested a performance by him (sometime in the 90's), and he complied.  It turns out that the Pope was impressed by the CD Canto and became an instant fan.  My favs on this are "Crazy Life" and "There's No Time".   My other favorite albums are "Storm At Sunup" and "Brother to Brother" and "Powerful People"....Enjoy and hopefully you can purchase some of his other commercially available CD's.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ramsey Lewis "Love Notes" 1977

This album was one of my first jazz LP's I bought, back in 1977 when it was released.   I was introduced to this LP by an R and B radio station in the Washington DC area called WKYS (93Kiss), and they played a mix of jazz and soul and  disco (of course this is era appropriate).  They would play the title cut "Love Notes" at exactly 5:55 AM practically every morning.  However, they would never say the artist and title, so it took many frustrated mornings till I could get through to the DJ to get the answer.  The rest is history.  My favorite tracks here  are "Love Notes", "The Messenger" and "Spring High".

I have come to enjoy many of Ramsey Lewis' works over the years.  Other favorite albums from RL are Sun Goddess, Tequila Mockingbird and Funky Serenity.  I checked with Amazon, and it looks like they are getting ready (finally!) after 32 years to release this on CD.  It is only in pre-order status.  When this becomes available, I will get the CD version to get a clean recording of this timeless work.  This LP rip was done on my original 1977 album, sonically it still sounds pretty amazing!  If you enjoy this LP, I encourage you to go purchase the CD when it becomes available in November.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

O'Donel Levy - "Through A Song" - 1982

This LP seems to be rare or at least some of his more obscure work.  Although I feel it is carries on some of his late 70's work..  Discogs does not even list this LP in his discography.  The LP I have I purchased through eBay.  It is a signed copy from O'Donel Levy himself. I have edited out the signature (photo post-processing) for the cover art.  This LP "Through A Song" is a melodic work that features 100% vocal tracks.  Vocalists include O'Donel himself, Aleta Green (has appeared on other works by OL) and a local artist Rebecca Anderson.  The fidelity is suprisingly good.  The arrangements are cleanly recorded and are relatively uncluttered and clean.  It is produced by O'Donel Levy and shows ILM productions ILM-002, so this must be the second album release from ILM.  My favorite tracks are "I Am, I Am" and "Through A Song". Enjoy.

  1. I Am, I Am (in two parts on 1 track) - 8:39
  2. A Ship For Two - 6:50
  3. Through A Song - 4:47
  4. Love This Spring - 5:30
  5. Love Is Calling You - 6:49

The album notes that track 4 utilizes local artists, and track 5 is a composition from a friend writer Pansye S. Atkinson and Fred Hord.

 O'Donel Levy - Vocals, Guitar, Synthesizer, Bass
Dennis Chambers - Drums
Aleta Green - Vocals
Rebecca Anderson - Vocals (Track 4)
Gary Richardson - Bass
Robert Butta - Piano (Track 4)
Charles Covington - Piano (Track 5)
Morris Dow - Harmonica (Track 1)
David E. Smith - Flute, Synthesizer (Track 3)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Equipment Used for Digital Archival

Since the master tapes of these performances may never be released, I wanted to be able to archive these analog pressings in the best possible methods I can afford.  Back in the 1990's I was considered by some to be somewhat of an 'audiophile' so much of my equipment was already available to use.  I'll start in the order of the music:

1. Cartridge - Sumiko Blue Point (this cartridge has seen many, many hours of use, so it is ready to be retired.  My cartridge on my wish-list is the Grado Reference.  I have heard many very positive comments from other users.  But it will have to wait a while, till the budget $$$ comes up to speed.

2. Tonearm - SME Series III, I picked up this tonearm in the 'used' market and got a great deal on it. It is finicky to setup and to set VTA.  It is wired with 99.999% Mogami OFC wiring.
3.  Turntable - SOTA Star Sapphire with vacuum hold-down system.  This is a classic set-up that dates back to the mid-'80s.  It is belt-drive with a very heavy platter (15 lb aluminum) that rests on a single sapphire bearing (hence the name). The vacuum hold-down is the unique feature that that reduces 'LP induced rumble' via an external vacuum pump.  After the LP is held down, the vinyl feels like it is a part of the platter, very solid and thus very good low-end to the recording.  The platter is part of a 22 lb sub-chassis that floats and uses lead-shot for ballast.  All total this table weighs in at almost 50 pounds.

4.  Interconnect cables - Basically using Esoteric Audio throughout. Not sure of the type, it has been so long since it was purchased.  Cable manufacturers are not know for labeling their cables very well.
5.  RIAA Preamplifier - Using a B&K Sonata MC-101 preamp.  This preamp  uses Tiffany connectors throughout and a discrete JFET preamp for the phono stage.
6.  CDR Recorder - A Pioneer PDR-509 recorder set-up in a Tape Loop within the MC-101 preamp. This recorder has to use the CD-Music blanks where a small royalty is embedded in each blank CDR-Music sold.

The CD is recorded as Track 1 for Side A and Track 2 for Side B.  Then the CD is finalized and brought to a PC for editing.  The CDA files are converted to two large WAV files usually around 250MB a piece.

Then I use 'ClickRepair' to remove the pops and crackles that may be in the recording.  I have tried several different types of software for this, and this seems to do the best job and at the same time not affect the audio quality. For 'MINT' quality LP's I use a setting of 35, and de-crackle setting of 2. For very bad LP's, I use 50 or more and de-crackle setting of 5.  In my opinion, this is the 'secret sauce' that makes these LP's sound so great.  There is another application called 'DeNoise' which can reduce the hiss in the recordings, but for the most part, these recordings have minimal amount of hiss, and I do not find the hiss objectionable. 

Then I use "Cool Edit Pro" (now a part of Adobe Audition), to parse the 'click-repaired' files.  Divide them in to separate tracks and check for any large pops that may have been missed.  Then normalize the WAV file to maximize the 16 bit dynamic range for the format.  Then each track is converted to 320kbps MP3 or 192kbps WMA, and ID3 tags are added and album art is embedded if possible.  Then they are compressed into ZIP or RAR format and uploaded to Rapidshare.  That is the complete process that I use for digital archival of LP's. 

O'Donel Levy - "Windows" 1976

Welcome to my first post.  There is a lot for me to learn for this blogging stuff, so hopefully my posts will get better as time goes on.  I will also try to offer the best album art available (use flatbed scanner plus post photo-processing)

I became aware of this album several years after it was released.  I am not sure why it was never released on CD or digital media.  In my opinion, I consider this album to be one of his best works.  It was released by Groove Merchant, and produced by Sonny Lester.  I have noticed that slowly Groove Merchant has been releasing some works to MP3 downloads, so keep your fingers crossed for more releases.  This album contains that classic jazz-funk sound that originated in the '70's.  You also get the melodic vocal phrasings from O'Donel himself.  My favorite cuts from this LP are: "I Believe In Miracles" and "I'll Sing From My Window".  "Moisturizer" is also a worthy mention. Please enjoy and comments are welcome...

Drums - Stafford Levy
Engineer - Tony Bongiovi
Guitar, Written-By - O'Donel Levy
Piano, Synthesizer - Charles Covington
Producer - Sonny Lester
Saxophone, Flute - David E. Smith
Trumpets - Jimmy Wilson, Randy Brecker, Lewis M. Soloff
Vocals - Aleta Greene