The Turn On Vinyl Worth Its Weight in Kickstarter Gold

Jerome Sabbagh's The Turn puts his long-running jazz quartet in New York's famed Sear Sound with veteran engineer James Farber at the board. The musicians managed to record to two-track analog tape the more than an hour's worth of music spread over the four sides of this double 180g LP set. That's getting you money's worth from a single studio session.

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.

COMMENTS
bkinthebk's picture

which i got because of reading about it here. quick question ... can you explain this a little more:

"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."

i don't fully understand why the 192/24 files would require another conversion. also, was this sax's last work?

thanks.

deaconblue66's picture
Michael Fremer's picture
My understanding is that the 192/24 bit file was an up-conversion of the 88.2/24 original file, made for the hi-rez download.
saxman73's picture

My post on audiogon referenced in this thread is more detailed but let me try to explain the process.

We recorded to tape, then bounced immediately to digital at 88.2/24 (at Sear Sound). However, the digital files were converted back to analog by Doug Sax in mastering and the music was mastered in analog (EQ, limiting).

Then, Doug converted that analog signal to digital (separate passes: one at 192/24 for the high res download, one at 44.1/24, to which dither was applied to make it 16 bits, for the CD version). So the 192/24 is not upsampled from the 88.2/24 digitally. Rather, it was converted to analog, mastered in analog, and captured digitally at 192/24 (which Doug felt would be the best digital capture of that analog signal, even though the original files were "just" 88.2/24).

For the LP, EQs were recreated and the same analog signal (converted from the 88/2/24 files and mastered in analog) was simply sent to the cutting lacquer, saving two additional conversions, compared to if we had we used the 192/24 to cut the LP and avoiding the one final conversion necessary to make the CD or 192/24 download. I personally think that avoiding that last conversion is a factor in the LP sounding better than the files. And it was indeed Doug's idea, and something he felt strongly about. I think he was right.

I hope this clears it up.

Thanks to everyone here for their support and thanks to Michael for reviewing this!

Jerome Sabbagh

marmaduke's picture

Just bought mine on Jerome's web site $30.00 including shipping.

Michael Fremer's picture
You will thoroughly enjoy both the music and the sound...
janpmincarelli's picture

Glad to have been turned onto this project by this website; really enjoy the vinyl, it does kill the digital files and sounds really good even if it's not entirely all analog.

audiof001's picture

It was a fun ride,my first Kickstarter backing, and Jerome was wonderful throughout the process with his frequent updates - even giving us vinyl guys the high res files early on to whet our appetites. btw: Ben Monder played at our local jazz festival earlier this month and I was clearly star struck after hearing 'The Turn.' I fought to let him drink his beer after the set in peace. I soooo wanted to gush about this Kickstarter.

mraudioguru's picture

I just bought mine from his website also. Better hurry...

mraudioguru's picture

If anyone orders a LP, I just got an email from Jerome stating that he is in Europe and will be back around July 16th and can't ship anything out until he gets back.

Just a heads up...

isaacrivera's picture

The whole waiting process was a saga of its own and Jerome was honest and gracious in his frequent and unedited updates. He pushed for the highest quality product and rejected test records, defective jackets, etc. I felt like I was, albeit in some small way, part of the production and privy to its details. The record arrived and it's wonderful and very much worth the wait. But even if it had been just "ok", I would have been happy to be part of it and help a local artist get a quality LP out.

AnalogJ's picture

To paraphrase, I nabbed one of these. About the cost of a couple of sets at a NYC club, not including drinks. :-)

bkinthebk's picture

thanks for the explanation. you were definitely on point throughout this entire process.

soundman45's picture

I'll have to give this one a listen. I've recorded Ted Poor many times when he was a fledgling undergrad student drummer at the Eastman School of Music. I used to be the recording studio's manager there. Congrats to A great guy and fantastic drummer.

my new username's picture

From the initial LP campaign to the communications from Mr. Sabbagh's throughout the process and progression ... I wish all artists could be this involved with not only their craft (all aspects) but also their audience. Music, and hence all of us, are the better for it.

Thanks!

Analog Aecad's picture

None available.

saxman73's picture

A quick update: I sold out of the LPs on my website. I have a few with me to sell in Europe (I am playing the Paris Jazz Festival on July 5), I will bring some back with me if they don't sell. I also might have a few more back home, but I won't be sure until I get back on July 16.

However, Sunnyside was allocated some copies and they are going for sale through their distributor eOne on July 24. They will be available on Amazon, MusicDirect and likely other outlets. Acoustic Sounds reached out to me yesterday and I know they are trying to get some of these copies as well, as I didn't have anything to sell them.

You can preorder on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keyw...

Quantities are limited.

Thank you!

Jerome Sabbagh

saxman73's picture

I have a few more copies available. They are for sale through my website. I've updated the count on Paypal. Quantities are very limited. Thank you!

Jerome

saxman73's picture

Another quick update: I have sold the few copies I knew I had left. At this point, the best way to buy the LP is likely the Amazon link, which is not administered by me in any way. Just to clear things up, as I've received questions about this: all orders that went through on my website will absolutely be honored and are guaranteed. I know how any LPs I had left for these orders.

If I find a few more LPs when I get back home,
I will update this thread.

Thanks!

Jerome

Analog Aecad's picture

Pre-ordered at Amazon, available July 24. I'm looking forward to this. :-)

saxman73's picture

Hi everyone,

I am back in NY, packing LPs to send, and I found an extra box of LPs. There are 30 copies. I've updated the Paypal count and the 30 copies are on sale on my website again. These are the last ones.

Thanks!

Jerome

Jazzfan62's picture

Acoustic Sounds has limited stock of this album. Just ordered and shipped today.

saxman73's picture

The first pressing of "The Turn" is completely sold out everywhere, as far as I know. However, I have ordered a second pressing. It will be pressed at QRP, just like the first pressing. Everything will be the same, except it will not be numbered. I am pressing another 500 copies. They are on pre-order on my website. Delivery time should be about 6 weeks, maybe less, but it's not sure, so I put 6 to 8 weeks on my website, to be conservative.

Jerome Sabbagh