More Blue Note "Tone Poet" All-Analog Reissues Coming in 2020!

Blue Note Records just announced the 2020 continuation of the acclaimed Tone Poet Audiophile Vinyl Reissue Series. "Tone Poet" Joe Harley (so named by jazz great Charles Lloyd) produces the series, originally launched in 2019 to honor the label's 80th anniversary. The all-analog 180g series mastered directly from the original master tapes by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio and pressed at Camarillo, CA-based RTI features deluxe Stoughton Printing "Old Style" Gatefold Tip-On Jackets.

Harley again handpicked the titles, which cover the label's "créme de la créme output along with underrated classics, modern era standouts and releases from other labels under the Blue Note umbrella including Pacific Jazz and United Artists Records. The January 24th release of Hank Mobley's Poppin' (1957) and Stanley Turrentine's Comin' Your Way (1961), both available now for pre-order, will begin next year's offerings. Explore the Tone Poet Audiophile Vinyl Reissue Series on the Blue Note Store.

Tone Poet Audiophile Vinyl Reissue Series – 2020 Release Schedule:

January 24

Hank Mobley – Poppin’ (Blue Note, 1957)
Stanley Turrentine – Comin’ Your Way (Blue Note, 1961)

February 28

Chet Baker – Chet Baker Sings (Pacific Jazz, 1954-56)
Grant Green – Nigeria (Blue Note, 1962)

March 27

Duke Ellington – Money Jungle (United Artists, 1962)
Herbie Hancock – The Prisoner (Blue Note, 1969)

April 24

Lee Morgan – The Cooker (Blue Note, 1957)
Dr. Lonnie Smith – All In My Mind (Blue Note, 2017)

May 22

Stanley Turrentine – That’s Where It's At (Blue Note, 1962)
Joe Henderson – The State of the Tenor: Live at the Village Vanguard, Volume 1 (Blue Note, 1985)

June 26

Bobby Hutcherson – The Kicker (Blue Note, 1963)
Jackie McLean – It’s Time (Blue Note, 1964)

July 24

Horace Silver – Further Explorations (Blue Note, 1958)
Jimmy Smith – Prayer Meetin’ (Blue Note, 1963)

August 28

Herbie Hancock – My Point of View (Blue Note, 1963)
Duke Pearson – The Phantom (Blue Note, 1968)

September 25

Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers – Roots & Herbs (Blue Note, 1961)
Bobby Hutcherson – Oblique (Blue Note, 1967)

October 23

Tina Brooks – The Waiting Game (Blue Note, 1961)
McCoy Tyner – Tender Moments (Blue Note, 1967)

November 20

Donald Byrd – Byrd In Flight (Blue Note, 1960)
Lee Morgan – The Rajah (Blue Note, 1966)

December 11

Paul Chambers – Bass On Top (Blue Note, 1957)
John Scofield & Pat Metheny – I Can See Your House From Here (Blue Note, 1993)

Tone Poet Audiophile Vinyl Reissue Series – 2019 Releases:

Wayne Shorter – Etcetera (Blue Note, 1965)
Chick Corea – Now He Sings, Now He Sobs (Solid State, 1968)
Sam Rivers – Contours (Blue Note, 1965)
Gil Evans – New Bottle Old Wine (World Pacific, 1958)
Cassandra Wilson – Glamoured (Blue Note, 2003)
Joe Henderson – The State of the Tenor: Live at the Village Vanguard, Volume 2 (Blue Note, 1985)
Lou Donaldson – Mr. Shing-A-Ling (Blue Note, 1967)
Lee Morgan – Cornbread (Blue Note, 1965)
Baby Face Willette – Face To Face (Blue Note, 1961)
Dexter Gordon – Clubhouse (Blue Note, 1965)
Kenny Burrell – Introducing Kenny Burrell (Blue Note, 1956)
Andrew Hill – Black Fire (Blue Note, 1963)
Donald Byrd – Chant (Blue Note, 1961)
Stanley Turrentine – Hustlin’ (Blue Note, 1964)
Grant Green – Born to Be Blue (Blue Note, 1962)
Tina Brooks – Minor Move (Blue Note, 1958)

doak's picture

BN & MM = MMH (Marriage Made in Heaven)
Luuved the vid.

Don's picture

Hey Michael,
I hope the Xmas season is treating you well.
I was a huge champion of both the Tone Poets and BN80 series when they kicked off. I have a bunch from both, and many are first rate. As the year went along though, I found a number of these reissues have significant pitch stability problems. It can be particularly heard in sustained piano chords. Blue note have dismissed the problem despite multiple people noticing it. I would be very interested to hear your thoughts. Black Fire by Andrew Hill and Inventions and Dimensions by Herbie Hancock (side B) were some of the worst culprits if you'd care to take a listen.
All the best,

Michael Fremer's picture
MF says: "There are a few fetishists on the SHF making a big issue out of this but please remember the tape machines of the 50s and 60s were seriously compromised devices! We know that! Speed could be off by as much as a few percent FROM DAY TO DAY...not to mention pitch stability in the micro sense. This is nothing new. These are other "defects" in the original tapes like HISS. We can probably get rid of them in the digital domain so perhaps the solution to satisfy these fetishists is called a COMPACT DISC. The people who blame Kevin Gray's playback machine or "QC issues" really do not know what they are talking about. These are very old tapes! There's no doubt that over time some may be breaking down in ways that create greater "scrape flutter" than was present when they were transferred in the 1970s, which believe it or not was around FORTY FIVE YEARS AGO!!!! The choice is to listen to and enjoy the great records being made from these 50 year old and older imperfect vessels or put a magnifying glass on the defects.


Wow and Flutter on Blue Notes: Scotch (3M) 111 was the very first U.S. recording tape formulation produced in quantity in the U.S. It was released in 1948 and was about all there was in the U.S. until 1964. About 90 percent of the recordings I master from that period are recorded on 111. All the RVG Blue Notes from that period are on 111. It is a red/orange iron oxide basically glued to clear acetate. It bears no resemblance to modern tape. Acetate is very unstable over time. It becomes extremely brittle. You can pull on it slightly and it breaks. This tape never wound totally smooth on the reel, but that has also gotten much much worse over time. The biggest problem occurs when the tape was wound off at high speed, as opposed to being played though. This might occur when a tape was perhaps wound to the head to copy one song. Then the rest of the tape is wound off in “Fast Forward”. The result is that the tape cinches slightly and if left that way develops a permanent curl or ruffle. This is very common on 111. Once this has happened the tape does not wrap smoothly over the playback head and tends to wander slightly. This is clearly visible as the video shows. Another problem is that NONE of the recorders from the 50s and early 60s had constant tape tension, which all modern tape recorders have. The tension would be higher at the end of the reel than the beginning. This also took a toll on tape. The 2nd generation 3M tape was Scotch 201. Although the oxide changed (dark brown), the base was still acetate, and the same problems exist. Around 1965, 202 was released, which was on modern mylar/polyester. But RVG used both 111 and 201 for several more years. So the tape wandering over the heads as opposed to staying flat does introduce speed anomalies. How could it not? And it isn’t consistent from tape to tape. Some wind smoother than others. Fast winding, as mentioned before, things like temperature and humidity in storage, and age have taken a toll. There are other factors effecting speed, such as sticking splices. The adhesive in the splicing tape oozes with age. It can’t be cleaned off very effectively because of the brittleness of the tape. Someone said “The Japanese CD from 2014 didn’t have the problem.” This would have been made from the copy in Japan’s Blue Note archive made in the 1980s. The masters are not sent to Japan for any reason and the master was 30 years younger then. I’m not surprised. And the CD doesn’t have the issue of stamper centering, like the LP does. I hope I have cleared up this issue for you. Best, Kevin Gray Cohearent Audio, LLC

AnalogJ's picture

To call those who are complaining about the pitch stability issues as "a few fetishists" is sort of insulting, and the very least dismissive. There are a couple of things wrong about that statement, anyway. For one, there are more than a few people who have cited these issues. There are more than 34 pages worth of citations in ONE THREAD on the Steve Hoffman Music Forum dedicated to just this issue.

Secondly, NO ONE is relishing the thought or prospect of having a record with speed stability issues. It's not slight.

The odd thing is that this problem wasn't a regular occurrence at ALL during the heyday of Music Matters and Analogue Productions' releases. In fact, no one seems to be able to cite an example of this pitch warbling that occurred on one of those releases.

It wasn't until this year, with the Tone Poet and 80th Anniversary series that this problem has cropped up. And one of the worst culprits, the aforementioned Inventions & Dimensions by Herbie Hancock, released as part of the 80th Blue Note series, was done to perfection just 7 years ago by Music Matters, released at 45rpm.

So why suddenly this year, and with these two series? Why has this not occurred until this year?

It's not like us plebeians necessarily have the answer. But it has occurred often enough, and sometimes egregiously, that we're asking, in the immortal words of Marvin Gaye, What's Going On?

Big Star's picture

I’m not saying don’t do these - they are amazing. But don’t take 300 bucks from me and not tell me when they will be delivered. Kinda lame.

zenjazz's picture

AnalogJ, for the example you've noted, seven years has passed. In addition to the releases noted, Blue Note also did a transfer for the 75th anniversary, and who knows how many times there were other use of the tapes. Possibly each mastering is adding damage to the tapes.

The problem with some folks at SH is they cannot accept the tapes may be the issue, and implicitly/explicitly suggest it's the fault of KG or his equipment.

Why can't you accept it may be tape issues?

AnalogJ's picture

It's not that I WON'T accept that tapes address the issue. In fact, it seems perfectly acceptable as an explanation.

Here's the problem. No one involved in producing the records that exhibit three issues acknowledges the issue on the actual record. They're giving a generic response, but they don't acknowledge, for example, that the Tone Poet reissue of Black Fire has this problem to begin with. This is an album that probably shouldn't have been released to begin with, if the tapes were in bad shape, at least without some attempt at fixing the problem digitally if needed (something that Music Matters did with the title track on Song For My Father).

I question what happened in the 7 years between a brilliant reissue of Inventions & Dimensions 7 years ago and this one. If it was a matter of the tapes being mishandled when rewound, who was responsible for that? But again, who allowed it to be released in that bad a shape?

Buyers count on records being well produced. We all understand that the pressing process is not 100% always perfect. Non-fill, warps, surface noise do happen. Better pressing plants offer better odds of a good pressing. Individual copy defects do occur, nonetheless.

But before they get to the pressing plants, test pressings are made. The pitch fluctuation issues would/should be heard on those. How are these records being released with those defects?

Big Star's picture

Good news excerpt for the fact they are a month late from shipping current Tone Poet orders and have zero date on when they will be available but continue to take orders online. Vinyl Me Please is more than a month behind some shipments also....but will take your money.
Blue Note should note that these current titles are on back order.

Mazzy's picture

There was an announcement several months ago that the November Tone Poets would be delayed...

Big Star's picture

I just didn’t see it when I purchased or in before my cart. Appreciate that.

rl1856's picture

Will the BN80 series continue ? Also AAA, and also excellent. Packaging is less sumptuous and price point is lower, but sonic quality is comparable to TP releases. I've been happy with both.

audioholic63's picture

Mike, how do these compare to the Music Matters Jazz BN reissues?

Michael Fremer's picture
Essentially identical! Watch the video
tounsand's picture

To echo Don's comment, I've enjoyed these releases as well but this piano flutter issue is a real deal breaker for some titles. I'm worried about the next batch still exhibiting the same problem due to apparent lack of ability of the QC people to even hear the pitch instability. There is no way that this issue would be tolerated for a Bill Evans series...

Michael Fremer's picture
These are issues in the recording or in the tape's current condition. It has nothing to do with QC and there's nothing to be done about it—at least in the analog domain.
Jim Tavegia's picture

There is no pitch correction that can fix this. Even with this said, many of us still enjoy b&w movies for the content. You will have to do the same here.

tounsand's picture

I have about 50 MMJ titles and 10TPs. I find them to be almost exactly as good as each other EXCEPT the piano flutter that is now consistent in various degrees on the TPs (as well as Blue Note 80th anniversary releases). It is the strangest phenomenon that I have ever encountered in my 30+ years of jazz record collecting.

Michael Fremer's picture
Give me an example of an older record that doesn't exhibit the issue and a newer one that does and where on the record you hear it on the TP reissue?
tounsand's picture

The MMJ 45 issue of Herbie Hancock's "Taking Off" and the 80th BN issue of it.
I had a 70 blue label of Andrew Hill's "Black Fire" that did not have any pitch/flutter issues. I sold that off in anticipation of the TP which Side 2 of which will give some people motion sickness. I think that's the one Steve H. commented on.

tounsand's picture

The best example on Black Fire is ‘McNeil Island’ - if you have an older copy play that track back to back with the TP.

Michael Fremer's picture
About 40 and 50 year old tapes breaking down for one reason or another.
tounsand's picture

Thanks for putting Kevin’s explanation about the tapes here. I think I had seen that earlier and if that’s the last word on it then I can accept these anomalies being with us for posterity. Depending on the amount and type of piano playing (Sonny Clark’s staccato style does give the flutter a chance to show) I can still buy more TPs gladly. Anyone should give these a try and hear with their own ears, cuz that’s all that matters in the end. The all
analog process is priceless in its essence and these TPs are the last word in this amazing BN catalog.
For me personally, the Chet Baker Sings TP next year will be very interesting to hear as Russ Freeman’s style on ballads will test my ears intensely. I read an account of the recent RSD issue of Chet’s Riverside lp “It Could Happen To You” and they heard the flutter on it too. I’m awaiting the Craft box set and will assess that title myself. I have OJC copies of these Chet lps from the 80s I know like the back of my hand. If tapes
from 3 different labels all exhibit the exact same wear, then I’ll be glad that I haven’t sold those off for newer and fancier reissues because I personally can’t tolerate that particular effect of aging on tapes.

tounsand's picture

BTW - I started a separate issue on SHF to quarantine this divisive issue to its own thread. Steve Hoffman has commented on the issue and hears it as well. These issues are exhibiting themselves on sessions that were reissued within 5-10 years ago WITHOUT the issue before. I don't enough about how or why it is happening and would not lay blame on anyone. Remember that some people can't even detect the differences.

Michael Fremer's picture
But get back to us in 10 years and tell us if you've not "broken down" in one way or another!
tounsand's picture

Hahahahaha! I just turned 50 and started breaking down at 45, but I feel 33&1/3 inside!

Rashers's picture

they are not the same product: although Kevin Gray mastered and lacquered the albums - TP is pressed at RTI (universally good) and BN 80 in larger quantities at Optimal. So far, I have had to send back 3 BN80s where the sound quality was so bad that I can only assume that my copy came from the end of a stamper run. It is easy to assume that historic recordings may be a little lo fi - but thanks to lossless streaming it was easy to identify poor pressings. How many LPs do they press per stamper at Optimal?

Michael Fremer's picture
Is a very high quality pressing plant. No doubt the BN80 series are pressed in far higher numbers, which might account for what you are hearing. Of course the price is lower as well.
Anton D's picture

Many Grateful dead tapes have been well served by the Plangent Process.

I wonder if these issues would be good candidate? Piano wow/flutter is a deal killer for me, as well. (It's like trying to listen to Eddie Vedder hold a note.)

dminches's picture

That would only work if you were making a digital transfer. Plangent is not used when everything remains in the analog domain.

bkinthebk's picture

Cheap shot at my main man!

jon9091's picture

I've purchased about a dozen of these Tone Poet / BN 80 and had to return half because of the warbly piano phenomenon. Obviously, it affects some people more than others...that certainly doesn't make them "fetishists".
What a ridiculous thing to say....especially coming from the self proclaimed king of vinyl. In 50 years of buying and listening to records, even when I owned my own record store...I've never heard anything like this.

TimThomas's picture

The notion that all of these tapes just happen to all be going south in 2019 and just happen to all be mastered at Cohearent is a level of wishful thinking that attains epic proportions.

We have apples to apples comparisons to override such “logic.” One needn’t even reference originals, later Japanese copy tape reissues and certainly not CDs.

Instead, the reference Should be albums like Art Blakey’s Indestructible, which done by Kevin Gray in 2017. Freddie Hubbard’s Hub-Tones in 2015. And there are more examples. These reissues exhibited none of these problems.

Both the BN80 and Tone Poet series have basically been cranking out one

TimThomas's picture

Both the BN80 and Tone Poet series have been cranking out one flutter-drenched mess after another. Anything with piano aside from the very first reissue (Shorter’s Etc.) is just a question of how many Dramamine wiil be required.

Here is a list of confirmed testing we have done at the Hoffman site. Samples are often still available in the “Tone Poet/Blue Note 80 Speed Problems” thread. Note that this only the titles previously done by Kevin Gray. Apparently we are supposed to believe that all of these tapes simultaneously went bad between the last time he mastered them and now.

Kenny Dorham - 'Una Mas' - 2011 Music Matters (Mastered by Kevin Gray at AcousTech): No speed problems.
Kenny Dorham - 'Una Mas' - 2019 Blue Note (Mastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearant): Speed problems.

Freddie Hubbard - 'Hub-Tones' Music Matters 2015 (Mastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearant): No speed problems.
Freddie Hubbard - 'Hub-Tones' Blue Note 2019 (Mastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearant): Speed problems.

Art Blakey - 'Indestructable ' 2012 Music Matters (Mastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearant): No speed problems.
Art Blakey - 'Indestructable ' 2017 Music Matters (Mastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearant): No speed problems.
Art Blakey - 'Indestructable ' 2019 Blue Note (Mastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearant): Speed problems.

Herbie Hancock - 'Inventions & Dimensions' 2012 Music Matters (Mastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearant): No speed problems.
Herbie Hancock - 'Inventions & Dimensions' 2019 Blue Note (Mastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearant) Speed problems.

Dexter Gordon - 'Doin' Allright' 2009 Music Matters (Mastered by Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray at AcousTech): No speed problems.
Dexter Gordon - 'Doin' Allright' 2019 Blue Note (Mastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearant): Speed problems.

Joe Henderson - 'In 'n' Out' 2012 Music Matters (Mastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearant) No speed problems.
Joe Henderson - 'In 'n' Out' 2019 Blue Note (Mastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearant) Speed problems.

bkinthebk's picture

If it's the tapes (and perhaps it is), could things go south for this many albums in just 2-3 years time in some cases? I could see a tape going bad from 1970 to 2019, but from 2017 to 2019? I think people are fetishizing because (a) they're audiophiles; and (b) there's an issue with their favorite music by trusted and loved producer/mastering guys and there isn't a solid response as to why things got weird with multiple tapes in such a short period of time.

Anyway ... i'd still rather have these releases with a wee bit of funkiness than not have them at all.

Trevor_Bartram's picture

because I havn't bought an LP in 35 years but:
1. Wern't the original BN tapes copied to a more stable (or user friendly) tape at some point in the 60s or 70s? Or are truly original master tapes available for these releases?
2. If the tapes have degraded in last few years (I realize that still has to be proven) why not at least try Plangent? Perhaps because if the result is an improvement, digital replacements will be required (that might not satisfy the picky consumer) at huge expense to BN?

Jim Tavegia's picture

If it were me and I had to make copies of these tapes it would not be to another reel of tape and more loss, but to DSD for archiving purposes. THAT would make sense to me.

Someone might also argue that 24/192 would be enough, but my experience as well as others who record have found that they, and I prefer 2496 over 24/192, but you might think that the math would say 24/192 has to be better. I have a tendency to think that the stability of a master clock becomes more critical as you up the sample rate. I could be wrong about that, but I know what my old ears tell me. I love 2496.

That said, I would be doing all archiving in DSD and not have to worry about deterioration, even though it is easier to manipulate PCM.

nobonemovies's picture

30% off and free shipping.

volvic's picture

I ordered quite a few, will see how the wow and flutter sounds. But they won't get shipped until Jan 02/2020. I do though hope the wow isn't as bad as it is made out to be.

DaveyF's picture

If the master tape is basically ruined or has significant problems, one might ask why bother with a reissue of the piece in the first place? Perhaps one could argue that the music is so valuable that it needs to be reissued- and that there is a large enough audience to accept it in the condition that it now presents itself, BUT the counter to that would surely be...are there NOT enough alternatives in the catalog (in this instance Blue Note jazz ) that would present as better candidates for reissue work...and that do NOT have worn out master tapes??? If Kevin is saying that ALL of the Blue Note pieces are now so old and the master tapes are so damaged and worn that this is the best one can get--which is what I think he seems to be saying, then maybe this is justification for the result...BUT is it justification enough for the choice of these particular TP releases...that is the ??

Jim Tavegia's picture

This is a business, the reissue business, and it is knowing that people will by reissues, regardless. The only way one would know that the quality is less than good is my this site and your comments by owners.

I would like to think that any entity that has R2R masters in storage that they are getting them transferred to DSD as soon as possible. If not the deterioration will continue and let buyers beware.

The fact that the 30% discount is out there is interesting, but shipping in Jan of 2020 is odd. I would cancel that order, regardless of the discount. There is other good music to be bought that is in good condition.

Rashers's picture

Joe Harley/Chad Kassem and co. have kept the metal parts for all of their MM/AP Blue Note reissues - these may well be the best analog representation of the original recordings still in existance (if the master tapes are degenerating at such a fast rate). I presume, particularly after the Universal fire, that record companies have been scouring the world (i.e. Japan) for the best surviving copies of the original masters.

cdlp4578's picture

Hasn't MM admitted to digital manipulation on some of their releases? Even if/when justifiable, it no longer counts as fully analog.

Also, there are posters on the SH forums claiming they hear the flutter issues on Tidal. That suggests to me that these tapes are getting handled quite a bit, and not simply for audiophile vinyl remasterings/reissues.

dminches's picture

MMJ and the Tone Poet releases are up front about what is AAA and what is not. For example, Henderson's State of the Tenor, Vol 2 is from a digital master and the release is very clear about that. I don't think any other 2019 Tone Poet's weren't AAA. It is possible there may have been another 1 or 2.

I am not sure what your point is.

isaacrivera's picture

MMJ has disclosed to have digitally manipulated only one track: "Song For My Father" of same album on their original 45 RPM reissue because the master tape had flutter. On their most recent 33 1/3 SRX release of same, they used a newly discovered safety copy tape which did not have flutter and it is therefore 100% AAA. I have both. To my ears, on my system, the 33 SRX track sounds more substantial and has clearer phrasing and finger work on all three piano, sax and trumpet. The piano is more liquid. Cymbals have more clear attack and more textured sustain. These are not night and day differences, they are subtle, but repeated playing confirmed these impressions every time.

mrl1957's picture

Not sure if you got word, Mikey, but just in case...

...Skippy White's legendary record shop in Boston is going away at the end of this year (or when his existing inventory is sold).

volvic's picture

Ordered a Presley Mo-fi cd from him today. Sad, was a great store.

volvic's picture

Turns out even though I paid through ebay for this Mo-Fi Presley CD, I never go it. Tonight I get an email from him that ebay inadvertently relisted it and he sold it...again. Load of bollocks. The price for that rare CD was $75 - a good deal, but I suspect he realized he could get double - then turned around and sold it for double and emailed me this lame excuse. For once in my life I am glad a record store is closing, underhanded sellers like that have no place in our hobby.

mkrzych's picture

First of all I'd like to chime in and say that's a fantastic news that Tone Poet will continue! Really fantastic! It will allow all of us who wants to get to analog and BN catalogue with affordable price - much more affordable than MM in my humble opinion. Second thing is that complaining about some hiss or imperfections on the masters which are 40-more years old it's ridiculous. You can remove most of the hiss as Michael Fremer said, but this process in intrusive to the overall tonal balance and will remove that "magic" Joe was saying. What I would like to say is just thank you again for these re-issues, amen.

jon9091's picture

The complaints are about acoustic pianos that sound like they are attached to a vibrato pedal. Many of these very same recordings had no such defects when released a little as 3 or 4 years the very same mastering the very same studio. Get it now? Amen! The supposed audiophile vinyl fetishist who runs this site is too busy casting false accusations around about The Beatles box....and then having to eat his words...yeah he's too busy to sit down and really figure out what's going on here.