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Cecil Payne: Zodiac'
Zodiac (Pure Pleasure)It's impossible to talk about this album without acknowledging the spectre of death that hangs over it - not only is it the third entry in Strata-East Records' Dolphy Series, a collection of archival recordings from some of the label's close associates honoring the recently deceased multi-instrumentalist, but it is actually dedicated to two members of the band, Wynton Kelly and Kenny Dorham, who died in between the recording sessions and its release. The point is driven home even further by the fact that the album begins with a tribute from Payne to the fallen Martin Luther King, Jr., a piece that acts as a de facto solo for Dorham - his playing all rosy elegance and regal warmth - before shifting into the lighter (though equally coolly-paced) I Know Love, a showcase for Payne's sax. While not the most somber jazz track ever recorded, this opening suite is a low-key and mournful way to open the affair, but thankfully the album really picks off and shows these musicians more in their element the rest of the way.
Girl, You Got a Home is a funky piece, beginning very soulfully with some tight interplay among the rhythm section of Kelly, bassist Wilbur Ware and drummer Albert Heath. Ware is in especially fine form on this track, tying together the disparate passages of the piece by grounding the more ponderous moments in a deep funk, while Kelly's playing is especially ear catching in the way he stabs at his piano like it's an organ. After the first two tracks take up nearly twenty minutes, the four-minute Slide Hampton feels almost impossibly brief, a feeling that's enhanced by its quick, jittery, and infectious rhythm, driven by some really dexterous work from Kelly. The final track, Flying Fish, may be the album's highlight, a Caribbean-inspired composition that casts the rhythm section as flighty ground for both Payne and Dorham to vamp on. The track is oddly danceable for something released on Strata-East, maybe the most fun moment ever for the label, and relentlessly uptempo. Though this release may be in part defined by the deaths that preceded it, it's clear that the recording process was actually a lot of fun for everybody, as their enthusiasm and energy jumps right out of the speakers. This is one of the first Strata East records I really got into and is still one of my favorites, a must-hear for any fans of the flightier moments of Dorham or Kelly's career, and a fitting tribute for both master musicians.
- Kenny Dorham (trumpet)
- Cecil Payne (bassoon, alto saxophone)
- Wynton Kelly (piano)
- Wilbur Ware (bass)
- Albert Kuumba Heath (drums)
About Pure Pleasure
At the beginning of the 90s, in the early days of audiophile vinyl re-releases, the situation was fairly straightforward. Companies such as DCC, Mobile Fidelity, Classic Records and, of course, Pure Pleasure all maintained a mutual, unwritten ethical code: we would only use analogue tapes to manufacture records.
During the course of the present vinyl hype, many others have jumped on the bandwagon in the hope of securing a corner of the market. Very often they are not so ethical and use every imaginable source to master from: CDs, LPs, digital files, MP3s - or employed existent tools from the 80s and 90s for manufacturing.
A digital delay is gladly used when cutting a lacquer disc because tape machines with an analogue delay have become quite rare and are therefore expensive. When cutting the lacquer, the audio signal is delayed by one LP revolution against the signal, which controls the cutter head, and for this a digital delay is very often employed. Of course, the resultant sound signal is completely digital and thus only as good as this delay.
We should like to emphasize that Pure Pleasure Records on principle only uses the original master tape as the basis for the entirely analogue cutting of lacquer discs. In addition, the pressing tool is newly manufactured as a matter of principle.
We only employ existing tools for manufacturing if an improved result is not forthcoming, e.g. the title Elvis Is Back, which was mastered by Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray, or several titles from our Philips Classics series, which in any case Willem Makkee cut from the original masters at the Emil Berliner Studios in the 90s. It goes without saying that we only used the mother and that new tools were made for our production.
To put it in a nutshell: we can ensure you that our releases are free from any kind of digital effects and that the lacquer discs are newly cut.1. Martin Luther King, Jr. / I Know Love
2. Girl, You Got A Home
3. Slide Hampton
4. Follow Me
5. Flying Fish$34.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now