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🎷 AotW: CTI Astrud Gilberto: Gilberto with Turrentine (CTI Records CTI 6008)

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1673467526761.pngAstrud Gilberto: Gilberto with Turrentine

CTI Records CTI 6008
Released 1971
  • A1: Wanting Things 2:35
  • A2: Brazilian Tapestry 5:10
  • A3: To A Flame 3:17
  • A4: Solo El Fin (For All We Know) 3:10
  • A5: Zazueira 3:40
  • B1: Ponteio 3:35
  • B2: Travelling Light 3:25
  • B3: Vera Cruz 5:05
  • B4: Historia De Amor (Love Story) 3:29
  • B5: Where There's A Heartache 3:10
Arranged By – Deodato*
Bass – Ron Carter, Russell George
Cello – George Ricci
Conductor – Deodato*
Drums – Airto Moreira, Dennis Seiwell*, Dom Um Romao, Joao Palma*
Electric Piano – Eumir Deodato
Engineer – Rudy Van Gelder
Flute – George Marge, Hubert Laws, Jerome Richardson, Romeo Penque
Guitar – Gene Bertoncini, Sam Brown (2), Sivouca*
Harmonica – Toots Thielemans
Percussion – Airto Moreira, Dennis Seiwell*, Dom Um Romao, Joao Palma*
Producer – Creed Taylor
Soloist [All Solos], Guitar – Bob Mann
Tenor Saxophone – Stanley Turrentine
Viola – Harold Coletta
Violin – Emanuel Green, Gene Orloff, Harry Katzman, Joe Malin, Julie Held, Paul Gershman

Recorded at Van Gelder Studios
January, February, March, April 1971

Amazon product ASIN B0000026IV

An interesting album, for sure. Although it seems like an awkward mismatch (Gilberto's softer vocals, Turrentine's out-front tenor), it works better than you might think. Turrentine provides some much-needed spice to keep this album interesting, without being "sqwauky" like Getz could be on some of his records. The original album running order is bookened by two Bacharach/David tunes, and I find the renditions to be rather lukewarm, and "Solo El Fin" is kind of a bland arrangement--she doesn't seem comfortable in a role of singing pop standards. Things get more interesting when Astrud is in her element on songs like "Brazilian Tapestry," "Zazueira," "Ponteio," and "Vera Cruz," which are all equally excellent. (Hearing Toots Thielemans' harmonica on "Ponteio" is a welcome treat.) Having Gilberto and Turrentine sit out for "To a Flame, is an interesting touch, with solos by the ever-present Hubert Laws (flute) and Bob Mann (guitar).

Deodato arranged the album, and the drums and percussion are handled by Airto Moreira, Dom Um Romao, Joao Palma, and Dennis Seiwell. Creed Taylor was no stranger to this music--remember, he was the producer behind all of those classic Verve albums that brought the bossa nova to the USA and took it up the charts. This is a more laid-back project from the post-bossa years. A good listen!
Agreed: pairing with Stan works (he was the leader on Blue Note's first major pop crossover LP in '68 entitled, you guessed it, The Look Of Love, and also cut a few bossas here and there). I have this one and enjoy it fine alongside her '60s Verve releases.
Having Gilberto and Turrentine sit out for "To a Flame, is an interesting touch, with solos by the ever-present Hubert Laws (flute) and Bob Mann (guitar).
Listening to this a few times on the recent vinyl reissue, I am trying to understand why they bothered adding this filler track. Surely they could have had Turrentine at least drop an 8-bar solo in it somewhere. It's probably the one dud on the album, the melody forgettable.
I seem to have two copies of this album, both on CD. The first is an old CBS Jazz disc, the second is a Blu-spec CD from Japan. Wow. Talk about mix differences!

Just the opening track of "Wanting Things" is totally different in the mixing. The CBS disc starts out with the instrumental part in near total mono, then slowly adds stereo elements as the vocal begins about 30 seconds later. The King Records Blu-spec CD has a full stereo spread to start the track.

A few other tracks have their openings centered on the CBS disc, but those instruments are in wide stereo on the Blu-spec.

Without any original vinyl, I can only guess that the CBS disc is the "remixed" version, as that series tended to remix everything. That would mean that the Blu-spec is the original mix. Right?
No idea--I don't usually compare versions, but gave a quick listen to them just now. I have the SACD rip on my server, and it looks as though I have the older CD reissue with the banner across the top (that's the CBS version, I'm guessing). Qobuz has that one also, plus a more recent release with 13 tracks.


I'm betting YouTube Music has the same two versions if anyone else wants to play along with the home version.

I'm not hearing a different mix, but I can see why it appears that way. What I am hearing is a crap ton of digital noise reduction--the sound is very dull, and has a weird "garbled" digital quality to it. (Hear how the violins sound like they are "fighting" to claw their way out of the murk?) If you cut way back on the treble and upper mids on a properly mastered version, you would get a similar result. On the SACD version (which mirrors your observation with the Blu-Spec CD), the high frequency information in those opening bars (spread across the channels) is faint, so dumping noise reduction on those high frequencies is squashing them out, and making all the music appear as it's coming from the middle...sort of. I still hear some mids and mid-bass not quite centered in the old CD version, and they appear in about the same place with the SACD.

It also doesn't make sense they would remix for a series of midline CD reissues either. So there's that. Labels were just grabbing any tape they could find at that point to cash in on the new gold rush of the CD market.

I would need to look through what I have on the server to see if I have any others in that series. I suspect they were all mastered similarly, with heavy noise reduction. That era of CD history was a bit panicky in that the labels were afraid of tape hiss, as they apparently didn't want consumers to think that their "dead quiet" CD format could actually have tape hiss in it.

Some of the early CD releases in the Columbia Jazz Masterpieces series had a similar heavy-handed approach to noise reduction--I'll admit I was suckered into the quiet background but not too much later I realized that the opening notes of "So What" from Kind of Blue obscured all the detail of the upright bass. It became a bass thumping in the background, as opposed to being a wooden instrument with wound-metal strings being plucked. Dreadful. As these CDs probably arrive on the scene around the time as those first CTI CDs, it makes sense. Seems lilke it was a "house sound" of Columbia-related reissues back then.
A few of the differences I've found between the CBS and the Blu-spec disc.

CBS Wanting Things - all sounds mono until around :30 when guitar sounds on left, light percussion and bass on the right.
Blu Wanting Things - full stereo opening. Guitar is still on left and percussion is still on right, more defined than the CBS.

CBS Solo El Fin - Here the CBS disc sounds more wide stereo.
Blu Solo El Fin - At the start, the Blu stereo sounds mushed together, widening after about a minute.

CBS Zazuiera - CBS opens with mainly centered sounds, spreading out at about 20 seconds in. While Astrud is singing the first chorus, the sax is off to the left, the centers for the solo.
Blu Zazuiera - Blu guitar in hard left, keyboard in right to open. Sax is centered for that first chorus of Astrud singing, stays centered during solo.

CBS Ponteio - CBS stereo is there at open but sounds mushier than the Blu.
Blu Ponteio - much more defined stereo soundstage.

CBS Traveling Light - opening keyboard is centered.
Blu Traveling Light - opening keyboard hard left.

CBS Vera Cruz - opening guitar sounds more centered.
Blu Vera Cruz - opening guitar is definitely left channel.
🤷‍♂️ I'd rather just listen to the newer version and not waste time nitpicking an old, inferior version that sounds horrible. There's so much noise reduction on that first track that I won't waste my time on it.

Or the short version--if anyone owns this version...


...chuck it straight into the trash and buy one that sounds like the actual master tape.
Which I would have done, but never having heard the original, how would I know which is which?
Which I would have done, but never having heard the original, how would I know which is which?
I know, right? That is why this CTI thing has been so dang frustrating to sort through!

I've had good original pressings, and I've had originals that were highly compressed. You'd think early CD versions might be better, yet so many were doctored with back in the day, like some of these CTIs having a boatload of noise reduction. I doubt different mixes, yet who's to say Columbia thought it was a good idea to mix down a multitrack again and load up on noise reduction to "modernize" it?

Creed Taylor and Van Gelder did some nice work, but as you've seen (and heard), leave it to record companies to botch it up somehow. And that leaves a flippin' mess for all of us to try to figure out after the fact.

I think the easiest path for all of this is to find the most recent masterings, and even better if you can find a 180g vinyl remaster where someone has knowingly gone back to the original two-track tapes. At least for comparison purposes. Without access to Qobuz, YouTube Music is probably the best way to see what's on the streamers, and honestly, most of those recent remasterings even in digital sound better than some of the early records or CDs. The "40th Anniversary" series seems to be OK from what I've heard, and anything more recent than that seems to be legit.

But on those early CDs again...Columbia was doctoring up some of their most classic jazz recordings early on in the Columbia Jazz Masterpieces series, so it's not a surprise that around the same time, those flawed CTI CDs came out.

I'll try to post some samples in a separate thread of what I've found, and I may refer back to this Astrud CD to make some examples as well. I think my goal in this is just to point listeners to the best-sounding (or at least a good-sounding) version of these albums, which haven't been futzed with.
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