"Soular Energy" Sounding Better Than Ever!

The late Carl E. Jefferson's Concord Records, (now owned by Concord Music Group, which owns Fantasy, Prestige, Riverside, Stax, Specialty, Telarc, Hear Music etc.), founded in 1972 at a time when the pioneering jazz "majors" Blue Note and the above mentioned Prestige, Riverside, etc. had all been bought and turned into catalog to be "asset managed" with little or no forward direction, remains, like Norman Granz's Pablo Records, among the most underrated and undervalued labels in the used LP market.

There are exceptions in both the Concord and Pablo catalogs, but for the most part you can buy for chump change superb musical and sonic treasures on both labels. For instance on Concord, you can get for not much scratch last time I looked, Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers' 1981 release Straight Aheadfeaturing an older Blakey but a very young Wynton Marsalis, Bobby Watson and others and 1982's Jazz Messengers album Keystone 3 featuring Wynton and Branford (his recorded debut) and others. These are terrific records musically and sonically!

Soular Energy with the Ray Brown Trio, originally issued on Concord in 1985, has long been considered both great straight ahead jazz and an audiophile treasure. It was reissued in 1991 by the German Bellaphon International Sound Service in an edition limited to 3000 copies (probably optimistic given the state of vinyl in 1991!) 1/2 speed mastered from the original tapes by an unidentified mastering engineer, and yet again by King Records "Super Analogue" in Japan and still again half-speed mastered by Stan Ricker in the 2000s and issued along with four "bonus tracks" as a double 180g 33 1/3 LP set on Pure Audiophile Records, but with bonus tracks I always wonder if the cutting source wasn't digital.

Whatever the source it sounded very good as did the Bellaphon and King Records edition, but none of them come even remotely close to this new double 45rpm edition mastered by Kevin Gray at his Cohearent Mastering and pressed on 200g vinyl at QRP.

The music is straight ahead stuff—nothing ground breaking—but that's just fine. The legendary, late Ray Brown, who surely needs no introduction, is joined by pianist Gene Harris, who from the mid 1950s through the '70s was a member of the "soul/jazz" trio The Three Sounds. Harris then retired to Boise, Idaho where he continued playing in a hotel lounge (!) until Brown coaxed him out of retirement in the early 1980s to join his new group. I believe this record marks Harris' return to recording, after which he fronted his own group and recorded mostly on Concord until he passed away in 2000 at 66 years of age in Boise.

The late Gerryck King, a former member of Joe Williams' trio is on drums. The late tenor saxophonist Red Holloway and the late guitarist Emily Remler (once married for a short time to pianist Monty Alexander who is still alive!) join the trio on one tune.

They run through standards "Exactly LIke You," "Cry Me A River," "Teach Me Tonight", "Take the 'A' Train," "That's All," "Easy Does It", and "Sweet Georgia Brown," plus "Mistreated but Undefeated Blues"—a Brown original— with tremendous energy and drive throughout. Harris's playing pushes everything along and of course Brown takes center stage throughout. Not much else needs to be said about the music or the performances: it's all straight ahead, good humored, bop/soul infused music making of the highest order.

The recording at Coast Recorders in San Francisco. Coast was built by the late great Bill Putnam more than 40 years ago and the main studio remains untouched as it should be!

The mastering room includes a cutting lathe where Paul Stubblebine cuts and where, I believe, The Tape Project's commercially available 15IPS reel to reel tapes are produced one at a time. The room features giant Focal Grand Utopia speakers, so these folks are about the sound! Of course this record was recorded in 1984 so at this point I'm blathering. I visited a few years ago and...sorry blathering again.

In any case, this is a sensational sounding, classic, straight ahead jazz record that continues to bring pleasure to new generations of jazz fans. It has never sounded better than it does on this double 45. The room is small, the miking close, the sonic excitement intense!

The longevity of this record's popularity and so many others on Concord proves that while Carl E Jefferson was a used car salesman turned record company owner, he did not sell lemons!

Very highly recommended!

Music Direct Buy It Now

markp's picture

Or a single pocket sleeve?  

Thank you,



Michael Fremer's picture

Not sure. Have only test pressing but will get jacket soon and let you know here.

Rayman's picture

"and lastly we redesigned the artwork for this deluxe gatefold jacket presentation."

vangg's picture

I am now listening to PAs LP. The back cover states the original analog master tapes as the source.

No particular mention about the source used for the bonus tracks though.

sonnenwender's picture

Given the very high price of the LPs (especially here in Germany) I wonder why the album hasn't been released as a High Res downlad so far given that you can order a DVD with 24/96 or 24/192 resolution at Hiresmusic. If a High Res digitalization and remastering already exist they should make it available in a more convenient form in my opinion

Steve Edwards's picture

and one that Richard Vandersteen suggests, as a good test, in the set up section of his Quatros owner's manual.
Play on