Blue Note Announces 100 Classic Jazz Titles on 180 Gram Vinyl

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of Blue Note Records, the label will be reissuing in 2014 100 classic Blue Notes on 180 gram vinyl beginning with five on March 25th: Art Blakey's Free For All, Coltrane's Blue Train, Eric Dolphy's Out to Lunch, Wayne Shorter's Speak No Evil and Larry Young's Unity.

In addition, the label will issue on vinyl many modern Blue Note releases including Joe Lovano's Quartets: Live at the Village Vanguard, Jason Moran's Soundtrack To Human Motion , Terence Blanchard's Flow, Medeski, Martin & Wood's Combustication and Cassandra Wilson's Traveling Miles.

An EMI contact recently told me that Blue Note label president Don Was was working on a new cutting chain at Capitol Studios, intent upon re-capturing the original Blue Note "sound", which he felt was not being properly presented in the spate of Blue Note reissues done by other labels (i.e.: Music Matters and Analogue Productions). The reissues, probably pressed at Rainbo, will sell for $19.95—considerably less than any of the other reissues, though surely they won't feature their deluxe packaging.

The second part of Mr. Was's statement to the press announcing the reissue series said:

"Ultimately, we decided that our goal would be to protect the original intentions of the artists, producers and engineers who made these records and that, in the case of pre-digital-era albums, these intentions were best represented by the sound and feel of their first-edition vinyl releases. Working with a team of dedicated and groovy engineers, we found a sound that both captured the feel of the original records while maintaining the depth and transparency of the master tapes... the new remasters are really cool!"

However, the first part of his statement said:

“Two years ago, we began remastering the jewels of the Blue Note catalog in hi-def resolutions of 96k and 192k. In order to develop a guiding artistic philosophy for this delicate endeavor, we donned our lab coats, ran dozens of sonic experiments and carefully referenced every generation of our reissues."

Of course the more recent Blue Note titles issued on vinyl must, by definition, be digitally sourced, but considering that the old tapes are in very good shape and transfer well from analog tape, what is the point of issuing vinyl from digital? Reminds me of another recent EMI project.

Obviously the Blue Note team is convinced that its digital transfers are transparent to the source. It will be interesting to compare, say, the digitally sourced version of Larry Young's Unity with the double 45 issued a few years ago my Music Matters. I hope these new, more affordable reissues sound great. More than hearing how transparent and "non-digital" they sound I'm curious to hear if they truly do better mirror the original Blue Note "sound" than do the superb-sounding "audiophile" reissues.

BliggigtyBlah's picture

If these versions are better than the all analog versions, will that signal the death of vinyl??

Real shame if these are poor quality. Hell of a lineup they're releasing. 

MicallefK's picture

The publicist told me these were pressed at United. 

sennj's picture

...doesn't instill me with great confidence... 

Michael Fremer's picture

Who told you United will be pressing?

MicallefK's picture

she also said these were all mastered by  Alan Yoshida and Bernie Grundman, and are sourced from both files and tape.   

dconsmack's picture

Great! I can finally pick up my semiannual remaster of Blue Train.

my new username's picture

Yeah, I was getting worried, too.

iyke's picture

I don't know who Don Was is but something tells me he is a big honcho at Universal music group. In either case for him to proclaim to the world that in honor of Blue Note's 75th anniversary he is going to issue 100 Blue Note titles sourced from digital files on vinyl  is embarrassing and pathetic. Donned their "lab coats" he tells us, and "ran dozens of experiments" (please!) and all him and those geniuses working with him can come up with are "96K" and "192K" is the most cynical thing I've ever heard. This just about the most dishonorable thing anyone has done to the most fabled record label in the world.

Somehow Mr. Was wants us to believe that the intention of Alfred Lion, Francis Wolff, the talented musicians and RVG is for listener's to experience their records as compressed digital files. Really? Say it ain't so!

Thanks to the all analog reissues by Music Matters and Analogue Productions I will never have to hear Mr. Was' Blasphemous 96K files. Blue Note is a religion people, and non believers like Mr. Was and his army of lab coated hacks need to stop besmirching on my faith.

RobWynn's picture

Ever heard of Was (Not Was)?  

Whatever it was that "told you" he is a big honcho at UMG was wrong.  It only takes 5 seconds to do a search at Wikipedia to see that he is a musician and producer.

Doesn't mean you have to agree with what he is saying or like what he has produced, but the story doesn't follow the traditional boogey man of corporate suits and bean-counters.

I hope the series is of good quality so that more of the general public will get into jazz vinyl, as it is cheaper than MM 45RPM or 33RPM (of which I subscribe to both). Not everyone needs audiophile level vinyl

However, I'm impressed to see both Cecil Taylor's and some Bobby Hutcherson. I was hoping MM would tackle Taylor in the 33RPM series due to the lengthy tracks but it seems unlikely now.

iyke's picture

they're better off buying the CDs. You are right that not everyone wants to buy an audiophile vinyl, but everyone expects vinyl to sound fresher than CDs.

Then the suggestion that these compressed files are the way the music was meant to be heard is  troubling.

dconsmack's picture


StonedBeatles1's picture

The previous post beat me to it but I've listened to Don Was's work since he recorded Out Come The Freaks and Where Did Your Heart Go from the 1st Was Not Was LP. I'm curious to see how this pans out since it's obvious that

1-He knows and understands analog sound quality and is a tube guy himself.


2-Jazz lovers and enthusiasts won't purchase sub par sounding re releases especially when hi bitrate files can be obtained (for free) online.

I really hope these sound decent for many many reasons not that I need to mention each and every one.

iyke's picture

Right now there are digital versions of Blue Note records on vinyl and they come with CD copies of the same record. Guess what? they sound about as lively as my doormat.

the day that bitrate files start sounding better than anologue xfers from tape is the day we've all lost our hearing.

you are right though, Jazz lovers will never buy "sub par releases".

MicallefK's picture

The publicist at EMI which owns BLue Note states that the reissues come from digital sources and TAPE.


I agree wwith StonedBeatles, Was is an old school dude, with analog not digital tastes. This could be good.   

Vinylspinner's picture

As an unintended consequence, MMJ reissue will become more valuable.

Thank you, Mr. Was.  



Michael Fremer's picture

I have just heard from another source that "some" will be from tape others from digital files but these will be hi-rez not "compressed" files. On the other hand if URP is pressing, who cares? 


URP uses a few different facilities, but all my jobs cut by Welcome To 1979 ( have come out great, so I feel like they're coming around quality-wise (especially compared to Rainbo). Are you saying that Don Was is using a lathe at Capitol Studios, or just doing the mastering there? 

Michael Fremer's picture

They are a large integrated pressing plant with their own mediocre plating facility. I still regularly get URP pressings and they continue to be mediocre to awful. 


As I linked above, they send my releases to the "Welcome to 1979" studio, which as far as someone who's not based in TN can tell is a different, stand-alone facility; this was dictated to me as a different facility via my customer service rep, so maybe it is hidden somewhere in the basement of URP (doubtful considering it states it is its own recording studio as well)... Granted, I've never sent my Rudy Van Gelder reels to them, but what I have sent and that has been cut by W21979 is spot on through my humble VPI set up to a certain person's DVD specs... What are some bad releases URP has done that I can use as comparison (not playing Devil's Advocate, just wondering if I can pick one up cheap vs an original release and look into the issues from a mastering perspective)?

Michael T's picture

I have been buying lots of new music releases lately.  Most are pressed at URP (you can tell because the inscription has a U inside a circle.  At best, they sound clean as far as plating (especially the Sterling stampers) but still have they type of noise you would hear on Ktel or TV offer records.  At worst (especially the ones from WG/NRP), they sound flat and dull.

iyke's picture

I have to say I don't believe your source Mikey.

There's no way anyone is going to go thru the hard work of extracting music from those fifty year old tapes and sell them for $20

Why do people keep referring to these digital files as "hi-rez"? To my knowledge there's really only one high resolution media for listening to music and that is...? You guessed it! 

Michael Fremer's picture

Blue Note committed to archiving the entire catalog at high resolution of from 192/24 bit to 96/24 bit and I'm sure they did the work carefully. I am certain that Don Was understands the value of the catalog. If they can produce good results for $20 and interest a new generation of vinyl fans in Blue Note, I'm all for it. As I wrote, I hope they are good and I will reserve judgment until I hear for myself. I will even remain optimistic about the URP pressings. 

planarhead's picture

While these reissues aren't of interest to me (and probably many other audiophiles). I can promise you guys that there are lots of younger people (grouchy audiophiles may refer to them as hipsters) that are interested in buying jazz on vinyl, but find $35 or $50 for an album way too expensive when they are used to buying indie rock vinyl for $15-20. Sound quality really isn't the last word for them, and they are just happy to have the music on vinyl. I think Blue Note will do ok selling some of these at $20.

iyke's picture

I agree with your reasoning to a certain extent but anyone who hears the AP & MMJ records and decide that the way to own these masterpieces is thru what Don Was is doing is going to quit sooner than later because they won't get the same enjoyment they got from the AP & MMJ records.

Now there are probably people who won't know better who are going to think that these records are it. For those folks, all I can say is ignorance is bliss.

planarhead's picture

Of course, the AP and MM releases are exceptional; I own around 150 of them combined. However I also have close to 5 figures invested in just my analog front end. I am talking about the younger crowd that play their records on turntables that cost as much as 3 or 4 of the the MM45 reissues.

Who do you think instantly met the Kickstarter goals for the U-Turn turntable? I'm sure some older audiophiles were in the small minority picking them up for second or third systems, but the vast majority of those TTs went to people who were upgrading from even cheaper turntables.

They are used to buying new vinyl reissues from for example Merge Records, where you can buy a new album on vinyl for $16 shipped which also includes a download code for the album.

You don't have to believe what I am saying. Visit A highly active message board for mostly new music on vinyl. People discuss the price of vinyl there all the time, most of them do not want to pay more than $25 for an album. This is the generation that is used to geting their music free from illegal downloads. None of them are buying CDs which are seen as worthless.

iyke's picture

what you say is tru I don't doubt for one sec.

But let me tell you about those guys on vinylcollective; lots of them are eventually gonna turn to audiophile vinyl when they grow up and wise up. 

Lots of those guys are me when I first started to drink wine. I went for Franzia box cuz I thought I can cheap my way into quality, but I eventually had to go for the real thing in bottle

Michael Fremer's picture

They will do well IF they ride herd on URP to get acceptable pressings.

MicallefK's picture the price says PR.  

MicallefK's picture

EMI is a major company, they want to sell records. these will probably be priced around $15.99. i dont think the publicist made anything up, it makes sense.

Michael also confirms his source says that both files and tape are being used.  But the great Guberanko is all knowing and all seeing!

Michael T's picture

I have been buying lots of new music releases lately, and about 75% are pressed at URP.  Most don't sound that great.  Even if they don't have noise or ticks, they sound flat and dull.  And these are releases mastered at Sterling and Grundman Mastering so it's not the mastering engineers, something is not done well in the plating/pressing.

Who knows, maybe URP will give Blue Note special treatment like they do to Jack White/Third Man Records (they seem to always press great vinyl for them).

On the other hand, I guess at $15.99, the URP pressed digitally sourced Blue Notes will be fine for the 'hip' crowd who think that playing the LP's on their Crosley turntable with a ceramic cartridge makes them part of the 'vinyl comeback.'

CCFK's picture

"On the other hand, I guess at $15.99, the URP pressed digitally sourced Blue Notes will be fine for the 'hip' crowd who think that playing the LP's on their Crosley turntable with a ceramic cartridge makes them part of the 'vinyl comeback.'"

Sheesh.  Condescend much?  For the vast majority of people not blessed with golden ears, these releases will be great.  For the people who like to think they have golden ears, there is always someone willing to extract more than $15.99 from them.  God bless them both.

hitforhit's picture

Does anyone seriously think any of the Bluenote re-isssues over the last 15 years compare to the original pressings.  I'll take a liberty new york pressing or a 1970's liberty west coast pressing anyday over a re-issue.  There are no re-issues that sound good compared to any Blue Note pressing pre 1972. I own the mid 90's Cusina verisons, 2nd generation Classic 200 gram pressings, analog productions and music matters.  Nothing has come close to the real thing. I'd rather pay $25-$30 for a good NYC or west coast liberty pressing.

Michael please stop bashing United, especially over Rainbow.  I have had records pressed at both and although United  makes mistakes on pressing, it is up to the label to catch those in the test pressings.  United has always re-pressed at no charge for me and picked up the shipping.  That just happens with records.  Rainbow has messed up more things then I can list, and they mess up just as much if not more then United, but don't give a shit about the sound.  Heck, wasn't it Rainbow that messed up the Beatles re-issues??? How can you mess up an authorized Beatles release.  

Michael Fremer's picture

I have many, many Libertys with RVG on them and I have a good number of BN originals. I disagree completely with your blanket dismissal but everyone is entitled to his or her opinion.

As for United, I go by what I get in that was pressed there. A young reader into dance/electronic asked me to check out Zedd's "Clarity Deluxe Edition", wondering if that was the quality I was used to (he didn't say what he meant by that).

So I went out and bought the double LP that was pressed at United. It's an awful pressing. I'm used to "orange peel" but these records looked like they had been frosted like cake frosting and not pressed. The vinyl is all wavy and it causes the stylus to chatter in the grooves. 

I have gotten a few okay United pressings, though even the best are noisy. When they are good I say so in the reviews. I am not out to "get" them. 

My Rainbo Beatles box (bought by me) was virtually perfect though I know that's not been everyone's experience.

planarhead's picture

Original Plastylite pressed Blue Note are superior to Liberty in every way. Liberty RVG can not touch the 45 rpm reissues. The originals on Plastylite however is a case by case basis.

And URP is a junk pressing plant. On a resolving system you can HEAR the groove wall noise. Remember how Bob Weinstock used to cut corners pressing Prestige vinyl at the cheapest pressing plants and you could hear the groove wall noise and static? Same thing with URP.

iyke's picture

Dear Sir,

I am quite aware from your statement that you don't like Music Matters and AP reissues. You are entitled to your prerogative, but be aware you are in the minority on this regard.

You are partly wrong about what killed the beatles reissues, it's not just pressing plant issues, the real culprit is the idiotic decision to put CD files on vinyl. While I don't subscribe to the school of thought that CDs are just plain evil, I do however feel that nothing sounds as bad as CD files imprinted on vinyl. The Beatles reissues was DOA because it was simply insulting for a record label put that in front of consumers and ask them buy that garbage.

But I suppose I should expect that from an industry (music) that hasn't cared about it's consumers in a very long time.

And yes, "SERIOUSLY" I do think the Music Matters 45rpms wipe the floor with the Liberty reissues and the original Blue Notes, but I don't hold it against the Liberty reissues or the originals. They do hold a certain pedigree as historical artifacts. It's high time we quit assuming that because something is older or outrageously expensive that means it is superior in quality to all else.

hitforhit's picture

It's only my opinion, I understand everyone has different ears and different stereo systems, but I can't tell if the 45rpms (which I have) sound better on any system less then $10,000 (which I also have).  I know they do not sound better on my system to my ears.  And there; maybe..... is the problem.  Besides, I hate changing the damn record every 8 minutes.  We all have different ears and different systems, so maybe it doesn't really matter. I like some of the early (1966-69) liberty bluenote pressings because they are cheap and easy to find without shelling out thousands of dollars for the real thing.  I suppose the same could be said about the music matters re-issues, but they sound so far away from the originals. Maybe some sound better, but some peopel like me find the sound annoying to the ears. The point is they sound different, kind of like the A/B cable test Michael did a couple months back. 

The one woman poster had it right, younger kids these days don't care about what plant records are pressed at, they want a $15 decent sounding vinyl copy, and I think that's great as long as it will keep them away from the scorpio relases. 

And the Beatles releases were totally Rainbow's fault, maybe some blame should go to Apple because they didn't care enough to verify enough pressing.  There were pressing errors, not mastering or transfer errors.  I won't be buying any bluenote re-issues, but I hope they sell a lot,  because the music that label put out is timeless. 

iyke's picture

the scorpio do sound atrocious. I practically begged the used record stores to take them off my hand. Horrible stuff!

Michael Fremer's picture

My Rainbo box sounded fine in terms of pressing quality. 

my new username's picture

The recent Beatles LPs were cut from 24/48 files, not "CD files" and I believe the files had less dynamic compresssion than the CD release, if not also less compresson than the 24/48 USB stick. Somewhere on this and other sites all of that was sussed out.

iyke's picture

I call them CD files becuause at the back of the jackets it tells you that they were sourced from the same material as the Beatles' CD reissues.

Sure, some CD files come with less compression, but no matter they're still CD files. It the game the music industry plays on us they switch the initials and they designate new numerals next it and put em out and tell you and me these are the ultimate digital versions of so and so. At the end of the day, they're still 1 and 0s.

my new username's picture

The CD and everything else was originally sourced from the master tapes. The Beatles recordings were all analog tape recordings ...

At the moment analog tape was transfered to digital for this most recent endevour (2008 or so? I forget) , some kind of 24-bit file was made--standard practice. 24/96? 24-192?

Then, a 24/48 digital master was made. That's where the Apple USB stick came from. That's what the LPs were later cut from. 

You may either do your own research, which will comfirm this, or simply (but erroneously) continue to assert they are "CD files." The choice is yours, but the truth won't change.

iyke's picture

Yes I do know that The Beatles recorded on tape as they would have had to undergo some mind boggling tme travel to be able to do their recordings in digital. 

1s and 0s

An apple is still an apple either way you cut it.

"digital master" that's a good one.

my new username's picture

Imagine if PCM digital files could be created from analog at a variety of different resolutions. Not all of them would be a so-called "CD master" (i.e. a 16/44 file, to use your shorthand descriptor.)

I understand that to some people, all digital is the same quality, mainly because it's not analog. My appologies if that's not what you meant but I gotta tell ya it sure comes across that way.

iyke's picture

To some people all digital equates to 1s and 0s. Sure some 1s and 0s are bigger than others but nevetheless...

Anytime you take a digital signal and reverse engineer it back into analog you are regressing and the end result is inevitably atrocious as a result of loss.

CD files for me is a universal phrase that encompasses any kind of digital music format you can think of, SACD, DVD-A, Hi-rez, MP3, DSD, Bluray, DVD, CD, I mean the whole pot of gumbo.

A more analoguos comparison to the topic of digital vs analog music would be photography. Most photography and cinematography today are done on digital cameras, yet if you asked any body how you could get the best possible picture, they'll tell you film. Celluloid film is the photographic equivalent of audio magnetic tapes. There is analog and there is everything else, hence my propensity for lobbing all digital formats into the same boat.

It's certainly possible that 50 years from now digital will exceed analog's superiority, and when that happens there won't be any need for competing versions of digital--there'll be just digital.

Furthermore, the cynic in me believes that all these various competing forms of digital music at some level is simply a marketing means of making reluctant buyers go out and buy the same things over and over. 

Michael Fremer's picture


Michael Fremer's picture

The USB stick is 24 bit/44.1K resolution and the LPs were sourced from 24 bit 44.1 files too, with perhaps a bit less compression but too much in my opinion. Bit depth is more important these days than sampling rates, but still.....

my new username's picture

I knew they weren't cut from "CD files" and I agree with you, not all digital is the same.

Mendo's picture

The other day in the hardware store I heard "Everybody Walk the Dinosaur" and thought as I have many times before, this is the worst song ever. Why would you want anything Don Was is part of? Seriously, that song is just awful. 

noodles's picture

I have bought the Out of Lunch + Speak No Evil.
Vinyl is quiet, with some clicks, looks perfectly pressed. Sound is O.K.

deadwax info Out of Lunch says:
3771413 and BE43535-01 MK

Vinyl is in an european poly inner sleeve.
big blue sticker on front that says: back to Blue vinyl
Is this the same pressing as the US ones?
Many thanks for any info.

e.s.'s picture

A friend in the UK bought a couple of these and they're apparently 180g LPs pressed at Optimal. Mastered by Bernie Grundman and according to the sticker on front, they're from "the original analog tape." Seems like the Optimal pressings would be a step up, no?

Michael Fremer's picture
The are "from the original analog tape" in the sense that the original analog tape was used to produce a DIGITAL MASTER at 192/24 bit. The DIGITAL MASTER was used to press the record. Yes, an Optimal pressing would be a huge step up from United in Nashville but what do these cost? I will have to try to get one to hear if the mediocre sound from the domestic versions is a result of the plating and pressing.
e.s.'s picture

You're probably right, but after poking around a bit, it looks like the European pressings have different stickers. Some say they're from the tapes, some don't. For the first wave, only one in five boasted the analog sticker. Current wave is the same -- one out of the four classic albums has the has the analog sticker. In between, there are some waves with most are all stickered that way. Looks around 20 total that have the "new remaster from the original analog tape" sticker.

They are definitely more expensive -- apparently the equivalent of around $48 in the UK. Same lackluster sleeves, but 180g vinyl pressed at Optimal.

conjotter's picture

Hi Michael.

Purchased a copy of Bobby Hutcherson's wonderful "Total Eclipse" reissue from the Blue Note 75 series and the second side was badly marred by non-fill.

When I returned it at my dealer I wanted to exchange it for Art Blakey's "Free For All". The dealer opened and played two copies of this reissue and found the same problem - lots of non-fill that made a wonderful album sound like crap.

Blue Note should spend less money on promoting its 75 anniversary and more on basic quality control.

I won't be buying any more titles from this series.