November 19, 2007

Music Matters 45s: The First Word

I've seen the future, and you'll see it too if you go to CES in a couple of months. No, I'm not referring to some new digital goody, but what I predict will be the story for analog-loving audiophiles. The initial half-dozen Music Matters Blue Note reissues will be available by CES, all remastered with the utmost care and pressed as 45s on 180-gram vinyl. The first six titles are among the most famous from Blue Note: Art Blakey's The Big Beat, Horace Parlan's Speakin' My Piece and Us Three, Kenny Drew's Undercurrent, Lou Donaldson's LD+3, and Hank Mobley's Soul Station.

I received test pressings of each, along with the jacket for The Big Beat, and I can report that everything lives up to advanced billing. The very first test pressings identified a substandard batch of vinyl pellets that produced higher-than-expected noise. They've been jettisoned. The noise was low to my ears, but it's nonexistent now. The gatefold packaging is glossy and gorgeous, trumping the original covers by the inclusion of original session photos.

200711_the_big_beat.jpg (30990 bytes)

What about the sound? I've heard a few Blue Note originals and admired the very immediate presentation. The Music Matters 45s have all immediacy and add a free-flowing naturalness that is surprising at first but very easy to get used to. The only blemish is one that can't be avoided: each side holds only about ten minutes of music. Hey, the highest fidelity has always come at some sort of price.

Speaking of price, $49.95 is the one set for each two-LP set. There will eventually be 63 Music Matters reissues, but the availability of the first batch is a future that can't get here fast enough. Expect to see them for sale within the next couple of weeks.

...Marc Mickelson

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