Music Matters Returns to 33 1/3 and Some Mono For New Blue Note Reissues

Music Matters, Ltd. the jazz reissue label best known for its beautifully packaged, superb-sounding double 45rpm stereo jazz reissues cut by Kevin Gray from original analog master tapes recently announced a new 33 1/3 Blue Note series. While this may sound like "old news" to some, please listen up!

This is news for a few reasons. For one, if double 45s were a pain for you, now you can get some of the greatest Blue Notes cut at 33 1/3. Secondly, Music Matters has chosen to continue its top quality gatefold packaging, with laminated covers and inside, high quality Blue Note session photos.

But most significant of all are the sonics. I haven't received any of these, but visited my friend and TAS reviewer Jacob Heilbrunn who has. We compared the double 45rpm edition of Kenny Burrell's "Midnight Blue" issued by Analogue Productions a few years ago cut by Kevin Gray at Acous-Tech, his old mastering facility, with this new Music Matters version cut at 33 1/3 by Kevin Gray at Cohearent, his new mastering facility and the sonic differences were startling and that's not hyperbole.

The new 33 1/3 sounds more vibrant, more "live", faster, more dynamic, more three-dimensional and just plain more of everything you'd want. We also played the mono 33 1/3 of Coltrane's classic Blue Train and it was startlingly good, though we didn't compare it to any other versions.

So what accounts for the enormous sonic improvement? Gray is using a new tape playback deck and console, new analog electronics, and new Audioquest Wild Blue interconnects throughout the lacquer chain.

The sound and packaging of the two $34.95 reissues I heard was stunning.

Titles are the aforementioned Burrell and Coltranes, Cannonball Adderley's Somethin' Else (really a MIles session but couldn't be called one because of contractual issues), Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Tina Brooks's True Blue, Sonny Clark's Cool Struttin', Kenny Drew's Undercurrent, Dexter Gordon's Go, Grant Green's Idle Moments, Joe Henderson's Page One, Hank Mobley's Soul Station and Lee Morgan's The Sidewinder.

These are, of course, among the cream of the Blue Note crop and if they all sound as spectacular as the Burrell and Coltrane reissues, get these while you can, would be my advice.

Rick Tomaszewicz's picture

...when such confidence-crushers are re-released!  I wonder if anyone back then thought Parker, Miles, Trane, Mingus and all the others were mere derivative poseurs?  I suspect not.  Everyone was more serious then; as if what they were doing really mattered...mattered more than the recording company accountants.  Maybe that's why I collect old vinyl.  The stuff on it is often riskier, more talented, more interesting and more enduring.  Perhaps they had more time and space to develop their craft.

Jim Tavegia's picture

I'm 66 and feeling older and love vinyl, but tend to not want to get up as often just to turn over a 45rpm disc no matter how good it sounds. Probably bad of me for saying that. These 33.3 will interest me.  Thanks for sharing. 

If I still had my stacking spindle and my first Dual 1209 I would not be stacking records at these prices anymore just to keep from getting up and down. 78's are out of the question. 

ravenacustic's picture

I am happy to pick up some of these reissues with only one record and two sides to negotiate. Even some of my most die hard analog enthusiast friends have grown tired of the 45s and jumping up to flip sides every 8 minutes. I am particularly happy to see a new and more vibrant version of Midnight Blue since the first 45 reissue was bland and limp in spite of the world class musicianship demonstrated. I am not enthused about more gatefolds. Oh sure, they are nice with great photos, but I am running out of shelf space and these will not make that better.

Michael Fremer's picture

That is what the double 45 sounded like compared to this new one at 33 1/3

wao62's picture

I love the meticulous attention Music Matters puts into recreating the original graphics.  There's so much more clarity in the reproduction of the cover art than the reissues  by other companies.  The quality is top notch, and vinyl is always completely flat! No disappointment with paying $50 for dished discs.    I've collected every one of their 45 series (and not too many of the double 45s offered from  other companies).

I wonder if these will be pressed on 180 or 200 gram vinyl?

Michael Fremer's picture

180g. I agree with your comments about Music Matters packaging. However, Analogue Productions is now producing equally superb graphics and equally fine pressings. Once Music Matters showed the way with graphics, AP had to match the quality since they were charging the same amount for equivalent quality records mastered by the same team at the same mastering facility.

markp's picture

It is inevitable, if the new 33 RPM sound better than the previous 45 RPM's from Music Matters due to Kevin Gray's new mastering set-up, I skip this 33 RPM series and wait for the upcoming 45 RPM series on KG's new mastering set-up.

planarhead's picture

These last 12 titles are the last Blue Note reissues from Music Matters. There will be no more 45 rpm reissues.

Personally I do not understand this American mentality that I can't walk 10 feet to a turntable to flip a record. I jog 2 miles every morning because my doc told me to exercise and eat better or I'm visiting the big man. 10 feet is nothing.

It's probably why those heart docs are making close to 7 figures... all the stents and ballons they're sticking in peoples hearts since they're too lazy to take care of themselves.

planarhead's picture

And I intend to get about half of these 75th anniversary reissues. But I too really wished they were 45 rpm. On my setup the differences are pretty big.

Michael Fremer's picture

Not even close. Might a new 45 cut using the same new chain sound even better? Maybe/probably but these are silly-good.

atomlow's picture

I think you are missing the point on how some of us listen to music. Sometimes I will sit with my eyes closed, 50% of the time and listen to my records. 45RPM is fine in this senario, but if I'm reading a book while listening or surfing the internet, researching records or countless other things a 45RPM record is a pain in the ass. We Americans are unhealthy but don't think a 45RPM record is really going to un-clog our hearts.

I'm more than happy with the sound quality of 33rpm records and honestly it's closer to the original package anyway. For example, Kind of Blue Mono Black Friday release is almost a replica (except the cover) of the orignal record. I feel no need to own 4 sides of the record. Too each his own but I'm happy they are going with 33rpm and the price is better.

planarhead's picture

I can see your point. I don't want to put wear on my records so I only play them when I am "in the zone" listening like you described. I play music (CDs ripped) off my computer to my DAC when I'm in casual listening mode. Plus no flipping at the 20 minute mark.

atomlow's picture

As much as I want to always listen to records when I'm home sometimes it's just easier to play my 30 days of music in my itunes library especially while cooking. Cheers

DLKG's picture

I do like how 45's sounds but I want my music trance to last more than 10 minutes. Getting up and down is no problem but getting back into the flow of the music after flipping the record is sometimes a problem.  

Rudy's picture

I agree. The LPs were also originally sequenced to have side breaks, and the 45RPM sets throw that all off.  It reminds me of my days of buying a lot of 12" singles--I pretty much stood up the entire time having to flip or change records that were five to ten minutes long.

The 45RPMs do indeed sound good, but the interruption in listening is unacceptable to me.  I only own one; I'll never own another.

Rudy's picture

Double post. 

Ryan L.'s picture

I'm of a similar opinion; 45 RPM is great, but too inconvenient for an LP. Plus, if the original album configuration was a single 33 1/3 disc then that's what I prefer in a reissue. I'm a bit of a purist when it comes to packaging, too. I even winced a bit at the gatefold thing. I would prefer a single cardboard tip-on jacket, the same as the original. If you need to include the pictures then a nice insert would do the trick. I can live with gatefolds, though. 

I'm sure these will all sound stellar. I love the Prestige 33 1/3 Analogue Productions discs. Nice to see others following suit. 

iyke's picture



It matters not to me. Sound is everything and music matters has been cleaning the competition's clock when it comes to sound.

I seriously don't get how anyone can complain about the Music Matters Gatefold. Everytime I buy one of those Analogue Productions Blue Note 45s I curse at the flimsy cheaply made covers that grace those magnificent recordings. Not to mention the photos that come with those Music Matters jackets are worth the price of admission.

As for getting up to change 45s. I'll freely admit that I need all the exercise I can get. There was a time when folks had to get up to change channels on TV. America's wasteline used to be thinner then. I say it's time to bring that back.

Ryan L.'s picture

...I don't think anyone is longing for a return to "flimsy cheaply made covers". I just like the way the jackets were in their original release. 

iyke's picture

the original covers are nice but you have to admit in terms of graphics construction the Music Matters' jackets raised the bar. The quality and detail put into those jackets are amazing.

elliotdrum's picture

To me the 45's on Music Matters sound fantastic very similar to the original Blue Notes of the 50's. My first Blue Note I purchased was The Further Explorations by the Horace Silver Quintet. A great recording that seems to slip through the cracks. The sound of that  record in mono in 1959 played on my fathers hifi was alive and there. The hifi was a JBL speaker with a 15in woofer a 7'' mid and a very large glass type tweeter. A Harmon Kardon tube receiver and a Bogen record changer. The room was about 20x25 with linoleum floors and high ceilings and the sound of that heavy Blue Note was very real. Why write this? I have hope's that they would reissue this title.

Bring em on...............Thank you !

iyke's picture

You should put in a request. Who knows they might include it in their 33s. I've never heard the record before but your description has got me all curious. Personally, I'm a Blue Note junky and I'll buy any well done blue note reissue since I can't afford an original.

iyke's picture

Speaking of nice covers that are not gatefold has anyone seen the cover Impex did for their reissue of Davis' E.S.P.? If all standard jackets will match that kind of quality and the gatefold jackets all met the Music Matters quality we'd all be sitting at a sweet spot.

Impex is clearly picked up where Cisco left behind and are excelling in every way

Ryan L.'s picture

I held the Jazz Messengers LP that Impex put out. It was gorgeous. That's exactly what I'm talking about. 

homersoddishe's picture

Cohearent's new stuff?  For instance, is the new deck a Tim de Paravicini mod?  Other?  Thanks.



supersuser's picture

it was the defenitve version of this album: "smooth, details.." 9/10 and now it is

" bland and limp" ..of course compare to the new one.

I am afraid I will have to spend more money on this title, and on the others..

I have compared the 45 rpm to the Classic Records 33 1/3 rpm stereo (BG) and from my point of view the 45 is  better, more dynamics, more precise, a "feeling of ease" and smooth ( this last is controversial) 

I beleive the 45 rpm allows to deliver more informations and more dynamics.

I know it is difficult to remember exactly all the details, but could you be more precise regarding to the difference between the 45 rpm and the new one mastered at 33 1/3 by KG.

Thank you!

Jazzwallah's picture

Ron Rambach sent me 4 test pressings of this series. They were amazingly quiet pressings and the recordings were superb. I compared them with my Japanese and the DMM pressings ( yes it's an addiction). In each case the Music Matters reissues sounded better. The bass and even the piano sounded coherent. I called over two friends with golden ears and tested these on them in a blind listening session and in each case they picked the new reissues as superior to the various pressing I played for them.

Get them while you can and I hope Ron presses more titles. My request is for Kenny Clarke's "The Golden Eight"  BST 4092 an overlooked record that has great music and sonics too.

spatafore's picture

I wait for this day long time ago! becuase I want this titles in 33 rpm and dont pay $50... the new 33 rpm art are exactly the same than 45rpms? same quality with glossy papers photos etc...? only difference is one disc vs 2 ... inside? what about the other titles? just 12? please release ALL!! and also: Fantasy Jazz Impulse and Verve please all in 33

jpvisual's picture

I hope Music Matters Jazz releases more of their 45 RPM on to 33 1/3 in 2018.

I have nothing against 45s, but I prefer 33 1/3. I find I spin my 33s a lot more than my 45s.