One Reissue, Two Mastering Engineers
We’ve seen how one engineer remastered the work of Dave Brubeck. Let’s turn to another set of reissues with an interesting twist: they give you a choice of remastering engineer!
In an unprecedented move, Analogue Productions released two CD versions of Art Pepper’s 50’s classic, Art Pepper meets The Rhythm Section. One version was mastered by Doug Sax; the other by Bernie Grundman—two of the most respected engineers in the business.
Doug Sax masters all of Analogue Productions’ reissues, so why was Grundman chosen? It’s a story of who knows who.
The original recordings were done on the Contemporary Records label. Grundman was once an engineer at Contemporary; he knew Pepper’s album intimately as a fan and as an LP mastering engineer.
Since the album was one of his favorites, Grundman had always wanted to master the LP reissue.
Lester Koenig produced the original session, and his son, John Koenig, recommended Grundman to Chad Kassem, president of Analogue Productions.
Kassem decided to release two versions, one mastered by Sax, the other by Grundman, and both under John Koenig’s supervision. Kassem is letting audiophiles make up their own minds about which sounds better!
From the same company, another reissue with a choice of remastering engineers is Sonny Rollins’ 50’s jazz classic, Way Out West. Both Pepper’s and Rollins’ reissues are on 24 karat gold, limited-edition CDs, pressed in Japan by Superior.
Legendary engineer Roy DuNann recorded the original 1957 sessions at Contemporary’s studio in Los Angeles. DuNann used AKG C-12 and Neumann U 47 condenser microphones, which fed an Ampex 350 2-track tape recorder running at 15 ips.
In remastering, Grundman used his own custom electronics in the mastering console and in the Studer tape transport. He chose an Apogee A/D converter with a Harmonica Mundi redithering module. Grundman added reverberation to the dry master tapes using an EMT 250 plate and Ocean Way’s live chamber.
In his version, Sax used a Mastering Labs (TML) console, MCI tape machine with TML tube electroincs, and a custom TML A/D converter. Sax added reverb with a Lexicon 480L.
Thanks to the careful work of Wilder, Sax and Grundman, jazz lovers and audio technophiles alike can savor the quality of these pioneering recordings, whose musicality has yet to be surpassed.
Acknowledgements: The author gratefully acknowledges Mark Wilder, Joanne Sloane, Iola Brubeck and Dave Brubeck for their help with the Brubeck part of this article.
Sonny Rollins LP, Way Out West was originally Contemporary Stereo S7530. Sax’s remastered reissue is CAPJS 008, Grundman’s version is CAPJG 008.
Art Pepper meets the Rhythm Section was originally Contemporary Stereo S7532. Sax’s remastered reissue is CAPJS 010, Grundman’s version is CAPJS 010.
(This is a re-issue of an article originally written for the July, 1994 issue of Audio magazine.)
AES and SynAudCon member Bruce Bartlett is a recording engineer, microphone engineer and audio journalist. His latest books are Practical Recording Techniques (5th Ed.) and Recording Music On Location.