Sugar Cane’s Got The Blues — I Don’t!!!

The two CDs I ordered from the German label, Promising Music, on April 20th, arrived this afternoon. Talk about speedy delivery. I was expecting 4 to 6 weeks. I was pleasantly surprised to say the least.

To start, everything they say about their reissues is correct: the CD packaging does resemble the gatefold albums of the era, right down to the grooves in the CD, and the vinyl record sleeve itself. Even the liner notes have been recreated and translated from the original German into English for us uni-lingual folks. In the final analysis, though, it’s not what they look like that matters, but how they sound.

Promising Music explains their re-mastering philosophy as such:

Restauration of the basic material as close to the original as possible. We give the integrity of the original sound top priority. By that we rather turn down an extreme reduction of tape noises (e.g. we feel, in case of doubt, leftovers of tape hiss less disturbing than a limitation of the sound transparency), and we edit the acoustic patterns carefully on the basis of original aesthetics (i.e. no “pseudo stereo” sound, no artificial reverbs, no additional compression, no superimposed “modern” sound scapes).

We remastered the original MPS master tapes digitally on a 24bit/88,2kHz level. By this we feel to reach, in comparison to a sampling rate of 96kHz, a more transparent and smooth sound, as the down sampling to the regular 44,1kHz Compact Disc standard runs much more plain and straight.

By this we produce pristine, true-to-original listening pleasure of these precious recordings at highest possible quality — not high tech sterility.

While neither are vinyl records, I use the same test with these CDs as I do with all the vinyl records I purchase: do they possess a deep, warm enveloping sound as opposed to a sound which is harder and more artificial?

Both CDs are excellent remasterings of these early MPS titles. While, admittedly, this was my first listen to Don ‘Sugarcane’ HarrisSugar Cane’s Got the Blues, the electrifying performances recorded at Berlin’s Philharmonic Hall from November, 1971, were rendered richly and vibrantly. I have heard digital copies of vinyl rips of George Duke’s Faces In Reflection, though, and this CD blows those mp3s out of the water. It’s like listening to a brand new album (which it is, in many respects). A joy in any language.

9 Responses to “Sugar Cane’s Got The Blues — I Don’t!!!”

  1. Bálint says:

    recorded in Berlin, in the Philharmonie? My favourite building, from the sixties! Made by Hans Scharoun, the great architect!

  2. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Bálint:

    recorded in Berlin, in the Philharmonie? My favourite building, from the sixties! Made by Hans Scharoun, the great architect!

    What a wonderful building. I wish we had more buildings like that here in Canada, instead of just hockey arenas and football stadiums (which are about as conducive to good sound as an opera in a telephone booth).

  3. bernard says:

    We should talk about mmusic. However there are Concert Halls. Thanks for that link.
    I’ve often been in Berlin, and no I didn’t visit the Philharmonie. It seems as if it was narrow minded to limit myself to the gorgeous hypermodern buildings ( great architecture) at the borders of the Spree.
    Again : FZ & buildings related. In L.A. / Ca / US there’s the Walt Disney Concert Hall, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walt_Disney_Concert_Hall
    I visited it last year during the summer. Everything was fine. However no trace of FZ left whatsoever.
    The future of FZ world is in Europe and possibly Canada.

  4. P-Rip says:

    I bought every George Duke album through the early eighties. Definitely look for “Feel” on MPS. FZ plays a guitar solo on one track. He is credited as Obdewl X. Any of his MPS releases are good. The first two Epic releases, “From Me, To You” and “Reach For It” are also good but get a bit disco-y in places. I haven’t found “From me To You” in any digital format. On iTunes you can find a great jazz album called “Polyrythmn” by drummer Pete Magadini. It has GD on keys and Don Menza on tenor sax and is very good! After “Reach For It” things got pretty pop/disco.

  5. urbangraffito says:

    I am definitely going to order ‘Feel’ and ‘Liberated Fantasies’ from Promising Music as they become available. If ‘Faces In Reflection’ is any indication, they’ll be well worth the 15 Euros each plus 12 Euros shipping and handling.

  6. schlarb says:

    I too picked up “Faces In Reflection” (via Amazon) the other day and I agree: incredible packaging, great remastering job. They didn’t over compress or mess with a bunch of noise reduction. Sounds like restoration, slight eq’ing, etc.

    Highly recommended.

  7. braxtophiliac says:

    Not to forget the Jean-Luc Ponties! ‘Sunday Walk’ and ‘Open Strings’ (with Kühn & Courbois) especially are phantastic! Don’t miss the Association P.C.s (Pierre Courbois, again), either. Or how about the ‘New Violin Summit’ (1971) with Sugarcane, Ponty and Michal UrbaniaK, doesn’t that make you wet your pants?
    (Absolutely agree with Balint on the Berlin Philharmonie)

  8. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from braxtophiliac:

    Not to forget the Jean-Luc Ponties! ‘Sunday Walk’ and ‘Open Strings’ (with Kühn & Courbois) especially are phantastic! Don’t miss the Association P.C.s (Pierre Courbois, again), either. Or how about the ‘New Violin Summit’ (1971) with Sugarcane, Ponty and Michal UrbaniaK, doesn’t that make you wet your pants?
    (Absolutely agree with Balint on the Berlin Philharmonie)

    Yes. Pants officially wet. Must go change them (how embarassing…)

  9. braxtophiliac says:

    Besides that, Ponty can be found on Wolfgang Dauner’s ‘FREE ACTION’, which also got a Promising remaster treatment (betcha noticed!) And as if that weren’t enough, this one, again, features some really GROOVY ardwergk !

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