Jul 042015

My friend Leo sent me a message yesterday saying, “I found some Johnny Smith albums, I thought I’d drop them by if you’re around.”

Johnny Smith Quintet Jazz at NBC Series with Stan Getz

Johnny Smith Quintet remaster from Fresh Sound Records in Madrid, Spain (Roost Records RLP 410). It’s in glorious mono!

What a great guy! My friend Leo knows how much I love those old Johnny Smith albums on the Roost Records label, and when he’s out and about he picks them up for me when he sees them. Many thanks, Leo!

Johnny Smith In a Mellow Mood

Johnny Smith’s In A Mellow Mood (Roost Records RLP 421) is an import remaster by Toshiba EMI in mono.

The Johnny Smith Quintet album is from the “Jazz at NBC” series (Roost Records RLP 410), and is an import remaster from Fresh Sound Records in Madrid Spain, and it’s mono.

Johnny Smith’s In A Mellow Mood (Roost Records RLP 421) is an import remaster by Toshiba EMI, and it too is mono.

Johnny Smith In a Mellow Mood back & insert

Johnny Smith’s In A Mellow Mood from Toshiba EMI.

I’ve been saying for a long time that the Roost Records label is a gold mine of good music for remasters, and I’m delighted to see that Fresh Sounds Records and Toshiba EMI are making them available to a wider audience.

In the Toshiba EMI insert, not only are there Johnny Smith albums featured in the liner notes, but there’s also some Chet Baker albums that I’ve never come across before, both of which are among my favorite jazz artists. Good news for sure!

I’m getting ahead of myself though, as Leo also suggested he’d give Ron a call, and we could do a little impromptu listening session too – awesome idea!

WE16GA in Duelund XO Collings closeup

Duelund CAST external crossovers for WRSEs rewired with vintage Western Electric WE16GA.

As you know from my posts (1, 2) about the vintage Western Electric WE16GA rewiring I did of my Duelund CAST external crossovers for my Westminster Royal loudspeakers, and the NOS Haltron 5U4G rectifiers & NOS Mullard ECC83 drivers Mr. Yazaki-san sent me to try in my vintage McIntosh MC30s monaural amplifiers that are subject of the Capacitor Adventure, my system is moving ever closer to Mr. Yazaki-san’s ‘real sound’ vision, and my system has never sounded better, so I was looking forward to having Leo and Ron hear the result.

MC30s with Haltron & Mullard

NOS Haltron 5U4G rectifiers & NOS Mullard ECC83 drivers in the Mac MC30s – the British fineness of tone!

After I had finished going gaga over the Johnny Smith albums Leo brought over; Ron, Leo, and I spent a little time looking over my system, the vintage Western Electric WE16GA wiring I’d done, the Belden 8402 microphone cable interconnects, the NOS Haltron 5U4G rectifiers & NOS Mullard ECC83 drivers in the Mac MC30s, and talking about the upcoming “Resistor Adventure” (more to come on this topic), we settled in to listen to a little music.

Ella & Louis

Ella and Louis, and Ella and Louis Again, in 45-RPM from Analogue Productions, both in glorious original mono for your listening pleasure.

Since the Johnny Smith albums Leo brought over were in mono, it seemed reasonable to start our little listening session with some mono albums, played back with the Ortofon SPU Mono CG 25 Di MkII & Schick tonearm combination. For a familiar baseline we started with Ella and Louis (above left), then listened to the new Johnny Smith’s In a Mellow Mood, and I have to say they were both stunning, with presence, immediacy, gorgeous tone color, truth of timbre, and sheer beauty, that seems to be the norm for mono playback with the Ortofon (or Miyajima) mono cartridges.

Ortofon Classic with SPU Woody

Prototype Woody SPU with Ortofon SPU. Yum.

After our little mono session, it was time for a stereo session with the Ortofon SPU Classic GM MkII stereo phono cartridge on the prototype Woody SPU tonearm (above).

First we listened to Gene Ammons’ Boss Tenor 45-RPM remaster on the Analogue Productions label, then to a pristine original copy of Led Zeppelin IV’s Stairway to Heaven that my friend Cindy had given me, and finished up with Neil Young’s superb Live at the Cellar Door.

Neil Young Live at the Cellar Door

Neil Young’s Live at the Cellar Door.

I’ll tell you what, those albums sounded freaky good with the combination of the Ortofon SPU Classic GM MkII stereo phono cartridge, the prototype Woody SPU tonearm, and Intact Audio SUTs. Tons of presence, rich, smooth, colorful, and deeply stirring, we were nearly speechless listening to these albums.

After our listening session, we got into a discussion of how much in awe we were of Mr. Yazaki-san’s ability to voice a system so superbly from a distance. The choices Mr. Yazaki-san suggested, the vintage Western Electric WE16GA wiring, the Belden 8402 microphone cable interconnects, the modifications to the vintage McIntosh MC30 monaural amplifiers in the “Capacitor Adventure” (and the “British fineness of tone” from the NOS Haltron 5U4G rectifiers & NOS Mullard ECC83 drivers), have all added up to produce an extremely musical result in my system. I believe we are approaching Mr. Yazaki-san’s vision of “real sound” and it is beautiful!

That’s Mr. Yazaki-san in the photo below (middle) with his friends during a recent listening session in Tokyo.

Yazaki-san and friends

Mr. Yazaki-san (center) and friends.

A huge”Thank you!” to Mr. Yazaki-san for all his great suggestions, and making it possible to hear them here at Jeff’s Place, it has been a true revelation. Thank you Mr. Yazaki-san!

I’ll also tell you more about those mono Johnny Smith albums in a future post, and I also want to tell you about Leo’s Garrard project.

Leo’s doing a Garrard Project similar to the one I did with Ray & Christopher, but he’s going for Ray Clark’s full brass CNC machined chassis, a new deluxe bearing Ray developed, and an outboard power supply, that was inspired by some custom orders that Ray got from recording studios. Ray told me that Leo’s is the nicest one he’s ever done, so it should be pretty sweet. Christopher at Artisan Fidelity is doing up one of his gorgeous plinths for it now, so before too long we should have more news. Stay tuned on that front.

Also, we have all the parts in hand we need for phase 2 of the vintage MC30 adventure, the “Resistor Adventure”, and Ron-san & I are excited to get started on that! I’ll have a bunch more to say about that before long too.

There’s lots of exciting developments here at Jeff’s Place, and it sure is great to spend time with my friends Ron, Leo, Mr. Yazaki-san, and you!

Thanks for stopping by, and unlike one of James Bond’s martinis, may you be both shaken & stirred by the ‘real sound’ of music!

 Posted by at 7:50 am

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