The Turn On Vinyl Worth Its Weight in Kickstarter Gold
Clearly for Sabbagh money was an issue throughout the production process, though at the same time, no expense was spared in the pursuit of a sonically impeccable recording done "the way records used to be made."
That included no headphones and recording to analog tape, but as Mr. Sabbagh wrote me, the cost of ten or so reels of tape was prohibitive, so the choice was made to record, bounce to high resolution digital and re-use the tape. Thus there is no analog master tape of the entire record.
Frustrating to some reading this and probably to Mr. Sabbagh as well, but that's how it went down.
The music was mastered for digital release by Doug Sax at The Mastering Lab and issued on CD and download in America on Sunnyside and in Europe on Bee Jazz.
But Mr. Sabbagh thought the record worthy of a limited edition vinyl release so to get that done, he initiated a Kickstarter campaign. Within short order 229 backers provided $10,570 dollars and production commenced of the 500 LP limited edition double LP.
Doug Sax mastered at The Mastering Lab and Quality Record Pressings pressed and the records shipped at the end of May. Retail price: $20.00. In between, Sax advised saving an additional D/A step by cutting from unEQ'd 88.2k/24 bit files rather than using previously created 192/24 bit EQ'd files that would require yet another D/A and A/D conversion before lacquer cutting. Sax also convinced Sabbagh to spread the music over four sides.
Then he applied his mastering magic to the lacquers because having heard the high resolution files numerous times, I was not prepared for what Sax and the vinyl playback process had produced: a far more palpable "you are there" sensation, superior transparency and believability (the first rim shot over on the right channel never before set me back in my chair) and especially the sensation of Sabbagh's sax floating in three=dimensional space between the speakers. It might not to as good as it might have been had no digits gotten in the way, but for whatever reason or reasons, the LP version produced in abundance the colors, textures, natural decay and musical flow the files only hinted at.
The commenters under the original story, after finding out about the digital source, said "no thanks" they'll just go with the files are making a serious mistake passing on this record. I don't know how many copies are left now but I'd pick one up if I were you not only because this the kind of record for which good sound systems are made, but because the moody music, reminiscent of early Impulse era Coltrane when Sabbagh dominates and Miles/McLaughlin fusion taken to the top of the highest musical mountain when veteran guitarist Ben Monder has a go at it as he does on "The Cult", flouts majestically, even through difficult, slow moving passages none of which appear to be anchored to chords (and if they are, they are well-hidden!).
On that track the two manage to disappear in each other's musical wake, with the saxophone somehow hiding in the guitar's jagged feedback. It's an unusual act of musical camouflage. You'd know this quartet has been together for quite some time, even if the liner notes didn't say so.
Drummer Ted Poor dominates the right channel with busy yet delicately rendered time-keeping that on occasion feels as if it's going to break free of the tune's moorings but never does, while bassist Joe Martin maintains a low, but essential profile.
The sneaky, shadowy "The Turn" is certainly a worthy opener but if you quickly want to wrap yourself in this group's musical cushion, consider first playing "Ascent", which in places seems to channel Coltrane's Village Vanguard recordings. It's a tune that will appeal to the most experienced and sophisticated jazz aficionado as well as to a novice as will the cover of Paul Motian's more conventional "Once Around the Park". I don't pretend to be qualified to further analyze the music. That's best left to a seasoned jazz critic, which I don't claim to be.
I'll close by just saying this is a record you'll not quickly retire, both for the music and the transparent, three-dimensional instrumental presentation. All attempted to produce one "the way records used to be made" and all succeeded.
I don't know how many vinyl copies (if any) remain but my advice would be to get one even if you bought the files figuring vinyl would be pointless. "Addictive distortions" or Doug Sax's mastering genius or both, listening to Jerome Sabbagh's The Turn on vinyl is a special experience musically and sonically.