Speakers Corner records vinyl package

A perfect day

New package from Kai Seemann Speakers Corner Records just came in. Eight vinyls of pure analog pleasure with such a highlights as Decca Pjotr Tchaikovsky: "The Sleeping Beauty" - Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and "The Art Of The Primadonna" - Joan Sutherland sings arias from operas. Nothing came close to the vinyl done right. With Decca releases Kai Seemann went all the way. Check here what makes those Decca releases so special.

Below are the albums that came in for a review. Stay tuned for the updated review comments and an exclusive interview with  Speakers Corner Records Kai Seemann. We're continuing our special collaboration with Speakers Corner in presenting and keeping the analog where it belongs. On front!

Limelight LS 86006
"In A New Setting" - Jimmy Heath (ts); Milt Jackson (vib); McCoy Tyner (p); Bob Cranshaw (b); Connie Kay (dr)

Format: 1LP 33rpm
Status: in stock
Release date: 17.05.2013
Configuration: gatefold sleeve, booklet

The vibraphonist presents himself in a new setting in this recording from 1964. Clearly Milt Jackson wanted to free himself occasionally from the straightjacket of the Modern Jazz Quartet. "Sonny's Blues" is proof of this: it is percussive and swinging, and without the eagle eyes of John Lewis in the background. This time the young McCoy Tyner, who had worked with John Coltrane ("A Love Supreme" was recorded in the same month), was at the piano. Jimmy Heath, responsible for the drive not only as a composer but also as instrumentalist, and Bob Cranshaw on the bass, contribute important impetus to the short blues, ballad-like and bop themes. None of the twelve numbers became a real jazz hit, but each has kept its own individual charm to this day.

If you set value on an excellent product being excellently packaged then you are well advised to purchase this LP. Unlike the CD version in its jewel case, this album is now being re-released with its original gatefold cover from the truly beautiful Limelight series, for which the designer alone should have received a Grammy.

Recording: December 1964
Production: Luchi De Jesus

Mercury SRM 1-631
"The Chuck Mangione Quartet" - Chuck Mangione (flh, el-p, perc); Gerry Niewood (fl, ss, tu, guiro); Joel Di Bartolo (b); Ron Davis (dr, cga, perc)

Format: 1LP 33rpm
Status: in stock
Release date: 21.01.2013
Configuration: standard sleeve

Now – in which pigeonhole that the innumerable self-proclaimed jazz critics like to create does this release from 1971 fit? Jazz-rock, jazz-fusion, soul-jazz-rock-fusion, electro-fusion-pop? Perhaps we can all agree that we should just enjoy these quartet recordings!

These recordings, all of them absolutely fantastic numbers, have been made by flugelhornist Chuck Mangione with his marvellous quartet without a piano in a sort of 'jam session'. The band members are absolutely top notch with Ron Davis on drums, Joel DiBartolo on the double bass, and Gerry Niewood (still underestimated and mostly known as a sideman) on the soprano saxophone and flute (which is his foremost instrument although the more hushed one). On this LP, which has long been out of print, Chuck Mangione comes into the limelight in wonderfully melodic and mellow solos such as "Land Of Make Believe" and "Little Sunflower" – and the latter certainly needs not fear a comparison with the original by Freddie Hubbard! And "Manha De Carnival", composed by guitarist Luis Bonfá is especially worth listening to for the amazing improvisations which have been set down for all times. Mercury’s recording technology was of the very best in the Seventies, and that makes itself heard when listening to this recording on a new high-end vinyl LP instead of the original pressing.

Recording: 1971 at Mercury Sound Studio, New York, by Chuck Irwin
Production: Chuck Mangione

Philips B 07373 L
"Legrand Jazz" - Michel Legrand (arr, cond); John Coltrane, Ben Webster (ts); Phil Woods (as); Miles Davis, Donald Byrd (tp); Jimmy Cleveland (tb); Herbie Mann (fl); Bill Evans, Nat Pierce (p); Paul Chambers (b); Osie Johnson (dr), a.o.

Format: 1LP 33rpm
Status: in stock
Release date: 09.05.2012
Configuration: standard sleeve

Michel Legrand, just 26 years old in 1958, already had a number of distinguished trophies on his shelves, among them the "Grand Prix du Disque", and could thus entice New York’s top musicians into the recording studio. Three large ensembles with stars ranging from Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Ben Webster, Phil Woods and Bill Evans performed his new arrangements of famous numbers from the annals of jazz history. Michel Legrand breathed a touch of film music into zany Fats Waller’s "The Jitterbug Waltz", the serious Modern Jazz Quartet’s "Django", Bix Beiderbecke’s legendary "In A Mist" and Earl Fatha Hines’s portrait of "Rosetta". The fresh arrangements cast a new light on the old evergreens, and the solos are absolutely top class - the new arrangements seem to have been tailor-made for Miles Davis and Ben Webster.

Even though these recordings have slumbered in the archives for many, many years, they are not the least lethargic!

Recording: June 1958 in New York City

Decca SXL 2160-62
Pjotr Tchaikovsky: "The Sleeping Beauty" - Orchestre de la Suisse Romande conducted by Ernest Ansermet

Format: 3LPs 33rpm
Status: in stock
Release date: 27.10.2011
Configuration: Box, booklet

»His symphonies are ballets, his ballets are symphonies«; such has often been said about Tchaikovsky’s lengthy dance compositions. This opinion is not entirely due to the fact that these works had to please the audience without being danced to after Diaghilev’s legendary ballet company was dissolved. Rather more, Tchaikovsky’s instrumental and incidental music is pervaded by movement and dance rhythms that act as a musical scaffolding.

Almost as legendary as the incomparable heritage of Russian music is the reputation of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, whose recordings are famed for their lush and saturated sound colouring. Ansermet transforms the score into a veritable firework of sound, without ever straining after cheap effects by means of a thunderous sound; the strings are clean and warm in all registers, the brass volleys blare out keenly, and the percussion is dauntlessly resolute. This performance and Decca’s customary excellent sound recording render great homage to this music. All the more reason to be glad that this particular "Sleeping Beauty" has been awakened at long last.

Recording: March and April 1959 at Victoria Hall, Geneva (Switzerland), by Roy Wallace
Production: James Walker

Decca SXL 2256/7
"The Art Of The Primadonna" - Joan Sutherland sings arias from operas by Thomas Arne, Vincenzo Bellini, Leo Delibes, Charles Gounod, Georg Friedrich Händel, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Gioachino Rossini, Giuseppe Verdi, a.o.

Format: 2LPs 33rpm
Status: in stock
Release date: 02.03.2013
Configuration: standard sleeve

The 'art of the prima donna' stands out like a shining star in the firmament of virtuoso song repertoire and the world of grand opera. And this double LP pays homage to this cult. It is of little importance that the majority of the divas who are praised in the cover text celebrated their success long before the days of the phonograph and that therefore no recordings of them exist. After all, Joan Sutherland with her wonderfully supple and artistically flexible soprano voice is more than compensation, and she gives us an idea of how these works would have sounded in the salons of the 18th and 19th century. 

Joan Sutherland is wonderfully British in her poised rendering of the opening work, Thomas Arne’s coloratura aria "The Soldier Tir’d", and in Handel’s jubilatory "Let The Bright Seraphim". But she earned her honorary title 'La Stupenda' by singing Italian repertoire. With utmost ease, agility and remarkable clarity in the top register, her voice gets right to the heart of bel canto. One of the most exquisite and beautiful roles is demonstrated in the demanding aria "Casta Diva" from Bellini’s "Norma", here sung in the original key. How lucky we are not to have to imagine how this great singer might have sounded, but can listen to her amazing voice over and over again.

Recording: July and August 1960 in Kingsway Hall, London, by Kenneth Wilkinson
Production: Michael Bremner and Ray Minshull


Matej Isak. Mono and Stereo ultra high end audio magazine. All rights reserved. 2006-2013. www.monoandstereo.com. ..:: None of the original text, pictures, that were taken by me, links or my original files can be re-printed or used in any way without prior permission! ::..