Verve/UMe-Acoustic Sounds Series Launches Impulse! 60th Anniversary May 14th With Two Essential Titles, Announces More 2021 Impulse!/Verve Greats

Los Angeles—April 26, 2021 — Verve/UMe’s Acoustic Sounds series celebrates Impulse!’s 60th anniversary, releasing May 14 two of the four titles that originally launched the iconic orange and black label:

• Ray Charles – Genius + Soul = Jazz
• Gil Evans Orchestra – Out Of The Cool

Ray Charles’s classic soul/jazz album was last in print a decade ago on a dazzling sounding all-analog edition from Analogue Productions with Kevin Gray cuttings lacquers using the original master tapes. For those who missed that one, the metal parts will again be used to produce this QRP pressed 180g edition. It’s Ray trading piano for Hammond B3 performing a jazz/soul mix backed by a big band featuring members of Count Basie’s orchestra fueled by Quincy Jones and Ralph Burns arrangements.

Perhaps even more exciting is the newly mastered Out of the Cool cut by Ryan K. Smith at Sterling Sound Nashville also using the original analog master tapes.

To the best of my knowledge the last time these tapes were used was for the mind-blowing 1997 Alto-Analogue edition.

The long thought “lost tapes” clearly exist because I’ve seen a recent box photo, but hearing is believing and I’ve got a test pressing that backs up the image. This is the real deal and an absolutely essential sonically and musically mind-blowing album.

Gil Evans groundbreaking composing and arranging masterpiece arrived following three classic Miles Davis collaborations including the meditative Sketches of Spain. Here, with an all-star rhythm section of Charlie Persip, Elvin Jones and Ron Carter plus guitarist Ray Crawford anchoring a ten piece horn section, Evans delivers on “La Nevada”, the opening 15 minute track, a churning mix of musical colors, gritty, aggressive textures and explosive dynamics on an enormously wide, deep and airy soundstage that impresses more with each play. The road from here to Miles’ In a Silent Way almost a decade later will be clear.

Pre-Order Ray Charles Genius+Soul=Jazz.

Pre-Order Gil Evans Orchestra Out of the Cool.

The rest of the year’s offerings cut by Ryan K. Smith from original analog tapes are no less impressive and 21st Century essential.

Now, before we get to the rest of the release details, it’s time to clear up the many misconceptions about the 2008 NBC Universal fire (some of which I regrettably spread based upon what I thought were accurate and well-researched newspaper stories) and the faux sacrosanct “original master tape” mantra when applied to 60 year old tapes.

For instance, the source for the stunning sounding A Love Supreme that kicked off this Verve/UMe-Acoustic Sounds Series was a flat transfer from England that recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder had years ago chosen as the best available source when compared to the original master tape. Which would you prefer be used? The “original master tape” or “the best available” tape?

Let’s go one step further: here’s a statement from UMG’s head archivist Pat Kraus:
“Working closely with Verve, UMe and Acoustic Sounds, each tape from UMG’s archives was individually selected to ensure that only the very best all-analog audio sources were used for this celebration of Verve and Impulse!’s storied legacy. Contrary to the flat-out inaccurate claims by The New York Times Magazine, not one of the master tapes for these albums were lost in the 2008 NBC Universal fire — in fact, none of those tapes were even in that vault.”

Where were they? At the time of the fire, UMG was in the process of moving all of the tapes to “Iron Mountain” where they now are stored. AnalogPlanet hopes to visit “Iron Mountain” outside of Pittsburgh, PA and if protocol allows, produce videos.

Skeptics should consider this: The New York Times story claimed that the Buddy Holly tapes were lost in the fire. Anyone who bought the Analogue Productions reissues of Buddy Holly and The Chirping Crickets both cut by Kevin Gray can easily hear that these were cut, as claimed, from the original master tapes, probably bullet-proof Scotch 111.

More to the point of this series, ORG released post fire produced, now out of print editions of Coltrane’s Crescent, Live at the Village Vanguard and Ballads—the other Verve/UMe-Acoustic Sounds Series lead title. Those out of print editions now sell for hundreds of dollars each. Now, you have the opportunity to again get these albums all remastered from the same great sounding masters for $35 pressed at QRP on 180 gram vinyl.

All titles in the series are housed in Stoughton Printing Co. high-quality tip-on gatefold jackets, replicating the original Impulse or Verve packaging. Like all Acoustic Sounds titles, CEO Chad Kassem will be supervising these reissues and Quality Record Pressing will do the biscuit-squeezing on their highly customized presses.

Following the May releases, the Impulse titles will include Oliver Nelson’s post-bop classic, The Blues And The Abstract Truth (1961) and Sonny Rollins’ first of three albums recorded for Impulse, the electrifying On Impulse! (1965) on June 25followed by Charles Mingus’ back-to-back masterpieces, The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (1963) and Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus (1964) on August 20.

I have test pressings of The Blues And The Abstract Truth and On Impulse! and there’s no mistaking the quality of the source tapes or the mastering or the pressing. I have originals too. These too are “the real deal”.

Representing “The House that Trane built” will be four John Coltrane titles: the legendary “Live” At The Village Vanguard (1962) and the epic, meditative Crescent (1964) on October 22, followed by his sublime collaborations with big band legend Duke Ellington and singer Johnny Hartman, on the albums Duke Ellington & John Coltrane (1963) and John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman respectively, on December 10. Also due that day: Roy Haynes’ adventurous Out Of The Afternoon (1962). Additionally, Ellington’s impeccable pairing with Coleman Hawkins on the aptly titled Duke Ellington Meets Coleman Hawkins (1963) will come on November 19.

The Verve titles will include Bill Evans’ excellent duo of trio platters, Trio 64 (1964) and Trio 65 (1965) on July 30 followed by his elegant live album, At Town Hall, Volume 1 on October 22. Ella Fitzgerald’s enduring Christmas classic Ella Wishes You A Swinging Christmas will bow on September 10 in time to get folks ready for the holidays and will be succeeded a couple weeks later by her immortal duets albums with Louis Armstrong, Ella & Louis (1956) and Ella & Louis Again (1957) on September 24. Oscar Peterson’s blues and R&B-laden Night Train (1963) and his final Verve effort, We Get Requests (1964), featuring inspired interpretations of some of the era’s popular songs, will hit on November 19, ending with a musical and sonic bang the year’s Verve/UMe-Acoustic Sounds Series offerings.

Here’s the release schedule June through December:

June 25

• Oliver Nelson – The Blues and the Abstract Truth (Impulse!, 1961)
• Sonny Rollins – On Impulse! (Impulse!, 1965)

July 30

• Bill Evans – Trio 64 (Verve, 1964)
• Bill Evans – Trio 65 (Verve, 1965)

August 20

• Charles Mingus – The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (Impulse!, 1963)
• Charles Mingus – Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus (Impulse!, 1964)

September 10

• Ella Fitzgerald – Ella Wishes You A Swinging Christmas (Verve, 1960)

September 24

• Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong – Ella & Louis (Verve, 1956)
• Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong – Ella & Louis Again (Verve, 1957)

October 22

• Bill Evans – At Town Hall, Volume 1 (Verve, 1966)
• John Coltrane – “Live” At The Village Vanguard (Impulse!, 1962)
• John Coltrane – Crescent (Impulse!, 1964)

November 19

• Duke Ellington & Coleman Hawkins – Duke Ellington Meets Coleman Hawkins (Impulse!, 1963)
• Oscar Peterson – Night Train (Verve, 1963)
• Oscar Peterson – We Get Requests (Verve, 1964)

December 10

• Duke Ellington & John Coltrane – Duke Ellington & John Coltrane (Impulse!, 1963)
• John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman – John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman (Impulse!, 1963)
• Roy Haynes – Out Of The Afternoon (Impulse!, 1962)

These are peak analog times!

jazz's picture

and a great chance to get better versions than those ORG Grundman releases mostly slightly bright and artificial sounding on top end

Michael Fremer's picture
Your SRA is off? Bright and artificial on top is not a Bernie Grundman sonic trademark.Tell you what: I'm going to compare those with these...
jazz's picture

I have many great Grundman releases on various labels. I find his work strongly varying, sometimes among labels he works for, sometimes within a series. His Oscar Peterson Night train on ORG is not favorable imo (I much prefer the Kevin Gray mastering on the Speakers Corner even in case it should be a generation down and not the most revealing, I expect the Smith remaster to be the best of the three) and I think also the Evans Trio 65 from R.K. Smith will sound better on top than his on ORG.

Leonthepro's picture

Just mentioned how I dislike my ORG Night Train. Im really hoping the new RKS cut will be better and I also think it might be. Otherwise Ill take your advice on Kevins SC cut.
I dont recall much about my Trio 65 but I definitely want to get this new one and compare, if the 33 is better its an easy choice on what to keep.

Leonthepro's picture

My ORG Hartman is quite perfectly EQd while supposedly the Ah Um and definitely my Night Train are a bit overemphasized in the cymbals which makes it a bit bright overall sounding.
By the way Michael, so you mention this 33 Out of the Cool is good, I assume its then a big improvement over the old 45 which you didnt like so much? Any thoughts why this might be?

Michael Fremer's picture
I played my ORG "Ah Um" and it killed my original "6 Eye" in every way. I don't find it bright. We are all judging these things based on what our speakers are doing and then 'blaming' the mastering. It's a tough call. To me, the big issue is overall transparency and clarity first (master or one off) and EQ choices second because every speaker's HF response is different. I think at the time Chad did his double 45 "Out of the Cool" it was after the fire when the company's tapes were being moved to Iron Mountain and at the time Analogue Productions was supplied with "the best available tape" and it clearly wasn't as "best" as the actual master now being used because I saw it and heard the results.
Leonthepro's picture

I dont have that ORG but the complaints about cymbals being overly emphasized is definitely how I would describe my ORG Night Train. I digress.
That may be so regarding the Impulse 45s, although one of their media spokes personnel did suggest that both the old 45 and new 33 used the same tape. Ill look forward to comparing my 45s vs the new Verve 33s in any case.

Michael Fremer's picture
Then Kevin was having a really bad few days.....because those 45rpm Impulses are definitely "off"
jazz's picture

the new 33 RPM sound better than Kevin Gray’s 45 RPM AP versions, although (just as the 45 RPM ORG Ballads) they must be from the same sources? Did you compare the Abstract truth of the two? Or do you have info from Chad that the 45 RPM I pulses had worse sources?

jazz's picture

it’s not our setup, as not all reissues sound like that but in my experience mainly several of Grundman‘s ORG, the newly recut AP, done for Classic Records before (Mingus, Brubeck, Stravinsky Firebird etc.). I also hear their superior transparency towards the old Classic Records, but the balance is off imo and Grundman‘s treble here and there (not always) sounds tweaked.

Take the ORG Music releases (Monk collection), a totally different picture and nothing but fabulous.

At least for me, Grundman‘s masterings are incalculable. Often fantastic, sometimes surprisingly off compared to (nearly all) other very consistent mastering engineers in their kind of work.

jazz's picture

is a great example of Bernie this time mastering in the exact opposite direction than usual for his Blue Notes (rather bright on Classic Records). His takin’ off and maiden voyage now on VMP sound very natural on top end and even a little recessed in treble compared to Kevin Gray’s remasterings (was always the opposite so far).
Simply unpredictable how his individual remastering will sound compared to those of others which usually stay in their mastering style.

jazz's picture

he speaks right out of my heart regarding the difference between Grundman”s incalculable masterings in top end brightness and the more natural presentation of his Classic Records remasterings than the ORG )or as well the later for AP of the same albums). Here he speaks about the Mingus Ah Um, but in my experience the difference is valid for most which can be compared.

I’m in agreement with most you write, it’s just always a miracle to me you’re one of very few who don’t or hardly hear a difference between the treble boost (or not) of those releases and even prefer the ORG where for many even his Classic Records releases are too bright. Strange.

jazz's picture
Leonthepro's picture

we now have reviews coming in regarding the Out of the Cool 33. Seems like a lot of people are loving it so far. Some compared to the old Alto and say even that one is inferior. Im looking forward to hearing mine next week and to see what people say regarding it and the 45 when compared.

AnalogJ's picture

I have the 2-disc, ORG 45rpm of Hartman/Coltrane and it is absolutely SUBLIME! It's warm, deep, musical, velvety, and subtly dynamic, with greater presence than my original mono and my 2nd press stereo. It's jaw-dropping as to how incredible this release is. And no brightness in sight.

Yes, Grundman could be prone to brightness. Those Classic Records classical releases, and his earlier pop work are on the bright side. But it could have been the speakers through which he used to master. I don't find his later works to be bright.

jazz's picture

and also the Ballads is fine, others, especially those with more prominent cymbals not. A very mixed bag which doesn’t happen with Gray, Sterling, and many other engineers

jazz's picture

later Dire Straits Love over gold remaster, it’s one of the brightest.

Others are the opposite. He can do from gorgeous to quite unlistenable, also in the newer series…you just never know.

garyalex's picture

Based strictly on sonics I think "Crescent" is John Coltrane's finest album. That's not to denigrate the music in any way. It's one of my favorites, as is "Live at the Village Vanguard". I'll be looking out for those as well as the Gil Evans and Oliver Nelson albums.

I have an original copy of "Ella and Louis". I also have a copy of a 1972 Verve double album re-release of "Ella And Louis" and "Ella and Louis Again" which in my opinion compete very well with the originals. Do I need another copy? Probably. Then there are the two Oscar Peterson albums and the Bill Evans albums. This is going to get expensive. But music at this level deserves the best releases possible.

Michael Fremer's picture
I'll buy a few or maybe later and then they're gone and we kick ourselves.
Jack Gilvey's picture

I am all over this lineup. I’ve never been this excited by one of these announcements.

volvic's picture

I better start saving, look at those magnificent titles. Great to be alive and listening to vinyl.

reading- riding -rocking's picture

"Out of the Afternoon" is an excellent example of bright moments

jazz's picture

but other than several Grundman remasterings, they just sound a little louder in the whole treble band, not also tweaked within that band.

I think among the worst in treble peak are the newer AP Ah Um or Time Out or most other former Classic Records new remasters.

xtcfan80's picture

Great discussion on different releases/pressings of titles that have been reissued multiple times. Michael's point that different systems may be more responsible for our experiences of each issue make a lot of sense to me. My main system's preamp does not have tone controls but sometimes wish I did have to tweak a bit. I know the idea of EQ tone controls can be considered blasphemy in some circles but WTF.

Mr. Jones's picture

Any chance the Ray Charles reissue actually sounds good? I’ve got the Rhino and a couple of old pressings and they are all a little lacking even though the music is fantastic.

Leonthepro's picture

Its from the original tape by Kevin Gray, it can hardly be better.

bkinthebk's picture

Michael, very much appreciate that you addressed this. The whole master tape situation, however, seems far from clear. There’s a tape box from Out of the Cool, but what about all of the others? Why should we trust anything Universal says? They’ve proven willing and able to go to great lengths to be as opaque as possible on the status of the masters that burned/didn’t burn. Can’t get any sketchier than Universal has been thus far ... but we do want to trust you and Chad. Is there anything else you think he might be able to reveal to convince his customers that these sources are truly and beyond any doubt the original master tapes? It’s actually news to me that the analogue productions Out of the Cool is from a copy — it was my understanding that everything on that label is 100% analog kosher unless clearly stated. Perhaps I missed that one. Would love to scoop up most if not all of these, but need more proof. Right now it just feels like too much of a coincidence that all of the prime Impulse! titles *just happened* to elude the fire. Isn’t that something we would’ve known before now if true?

Anyone else concerned/curious about this? I hope that these concerns are unfounded as I’m rooting for this series.

Leonthepro's picture

Im sure the old Out of the Cool 45 was AAA, just perhaps not from the very original tape. At least A Love Supreme from the start of the series was not from the original tape and I think some other non Impulse titles like Study in Brown might also not have been.
Currently, I dont really see the issue of providing more reassurance, I mean showing photos and such for each release would only be great marketing Im sure. The only problem I could see is that if this is done all the time, people might ask questions for those times they dont have an original tape for show and they might be forced to advertise worse sources. Maybe its better to just say almost all are from first tapes from a marketing point of view.

jazz's picture

the ORG 45 RPM Love supreme is not AAA. How do you know?

Leonthepro's picture

the AP45? I dont think there is an ORG Love Supreme.
The AP45 Love Supreme is AAA, just not from the original master tape, it either used the US Bell copy tape or the UK dub just like the Verve 33 ALS did.
You can read about it on APs site:
Although the 45s page does not exist anymore. Also, I think they are mistaken in the writing that the original tape does exist, they likely just assume the US Bell dub is the original which it is not.

jazz's picture

confused it with the Ballads 45 RPM from ORG.

So both Kevin Gray‘s 45RPM and the new Ryan Smith 33 RPM are from the same copy of the master? And Kevin Gray‘s Speakers Corner, too?

Leonthepro's picture

yes. The SC and Verve 33 certainly sound comparable sound wise, of course slightly different in the mastering.
The only existing tape is the UK dub and whatever the unusable original is, Im guessing the Bell copy, not actually the very original tape.

xtcfan80's picture

Not me...I purchase titles done by Chad/AP and know they are the best they can be for that title at the time of reissue. All other considerations/nit-picking are BS to me...
1. Like title?
2. Purchase LP
3. Listen to music

garyalex's picture

I pre-ordered the Gil Evans release. As Michael has said more than once, these records won't be around forever. They're reasonably priced and aren't being released all at once so it's a little easier for me to get what I want, which is just about all of them.

Audiobill's picture

Amazon selling the pre-order of the May 14th releases for $26.99 (linked from this web page). All other outlets priced at $34.99. Amazon lists an original release date of Jan 12, 2021. The titles are listed as Verve Acoustic Sounds Series LPs. Any idea what they are selling?