J & K - Stonebone: Record Store Day LP, and now available in digital format *

Harry

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Michael, the fonts pretty closely match the original King Records Japan labels.

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Harry

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It appears on Discogs that this release got a gatefold. Can anyone confirm that?

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Rudy

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I wouldn't see why not, if it's a new photo posted. Any 50 year old copies won't be that clean.
 

Harry

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I've had confirmation that the new STONEBONE is, in fact, a gatefold. Mine's supposedly arriving on Monday, but with the slowness of the US Snail Mail, you never know.
 

Rudy

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I haven't listened at too high of a volume yet, but my copy doesn't seem to be very noisy at all. The few things I'm hearing might possibly be dirt, and I would need to run this through the ultrasonic and vacuum process to get it out. (I have a stack I need to clean one of these days.) Musically it's more like the post-A&M recordings on CTi, getting more into that soul jazz mode. Seems to be mastered well. Not bad for a 50 year old record, but thankfully it's been reissued as it certainly isn't anything I'd spend more than $25 on, let alone $500 for some rare copy.
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
Well, how about this! A&M/CTi pulls a Blue Note!

1968 was The Year for A&M/CTi. According to Doug Payne’s CTi website, all 1968 Creed / Van Gelder LP sessions saw release — which essentially covers 15 LPs (SP-3005 to SP-3019) of the 27 that actually saw release during the 1967-70 A&M/CTi period. The slew of 1968 sessions probably occurred given the good fortune with the first three releases (Wes, Jobim, and Mann). Of course, sometime in early 1969 the A&M—CTi (or, speculating, the Creed Taylor—Jerry Moss) relationship may have headed south (…of more than just the border) given that, with the exception of Wes, the 1968 batch of 15 LPs did not sustain the financial rewards consistent with the first three releases that kicked-off the enterprise.

From the start, A&M/CTi LPs were probably too jazzy for the majority of the TJB/BMB pop crowd while they were obviously too "pop" by far for the majority of the Coltrane/Mingus crowd. Both Wes Montgomery and Herbie Mann were commercially successful at walking that mid-'60s pop—jazz tightrope, but most jazz artists' similar attempts did not yield the same fortune; as a result, with the exception of Wes (and later, Benson) most A&M/CTi LPs probably didn’t sell in the hoped quantities. The expensive packaging also didn’t help financial matters.

To further muddy the water, some of the A&M/CTi LPs were outright straight-ahead pop outings (Wanderley, Tamiko Jones, Barbary, and Artie Butler), which, arguably, may have found wider appeal as outright A&M releases.

By 1969, jazz musicians were finding it necessary to adapt the straight-time feel of rock music to remain relevant (i.e., to be with it) and 1968 essentially marked the year that mainstream jazz crossed what may be its single most ideological threshold: moving from swing time to straight time.

Recorded in SEP1969, Stonebone, which according to Doug Payne would have been assigned "SP-3027", continues the feel of Betwixt & Between minus the "CTi trimmings": no overdubbed strings and horns; no top-40 covers; no horn ensemble interludes… Also absent is the "rock" guitar of Joe Beck — rather, we have the smooth, tasty stylings of George Benson. The very musical drummer, Grady Tate, is at this session as is Herbie Hancock — bringing along some of his remarkably singular In A Silent Way sensibilities.

Of the four songs on the LP, three would be best classified as straight-time one-chord excursions while one piece was fully arranged. Of course these are not your run-of-the-mill R&B organ trio one-chord jams; rather, these are in the spirit of Miles’ In A Silent Way / Filles De Killimanjaro — replete with a myriad of choral inversions, inventive voicings, endless rhythmic interplay and soloing that borrows a great deal from the melodic pacesetting of Sam Rivers and Marion Brown.

The first number carries a So What vibe with its ½ step-up-and-back modulation. Hancock clearly outclasses James (his In A Silent Way electric piano sensibilities are light years ahead of Bob James’ Farfisa-sounding organ…which sounds more akin to something you’d hear at a Turtles tracking session. Benson lays out or is otherwise subdued. (James lays out during Benson’s and Herbie’s solos…thank God.)

The second number is a beautiful J.J. soundscape — something the baritone-voiced trombone excels at — particularly with J.J.’s and Kai’s unique sonic-matching skills.

The final selection can be essentially classified as a one-chord vamp, I suppose. James arranged this one — the inclusion of the 3rd keyboard shows the In A Silent Way influence (itself released, 30JUL1969 — a few weeks prior to these sessions).

Overall, it’s a decent sounding LP with passable double bass (particularly so for Van Gelder). The electronic keyboards have a lot more bite (given they were probably miked from their loudspeakers) relative to traditional piano. The fat, twin-trombone sound that characterizes the previous two J.J. and Kai LPs is not emphasized here and the bones are not as full and wide-bodied as on the two previous LPs. Nevertheless, the overall sound is very good and Van Gelder’s specialty — creating larger-than-life horns — is solid.

The absence of Kai from songwriting or arrangement credits may suggest the session is more akin to a J.J. solo outing; indeed the liner notes focus squarely on J.J. There are no accolades one can bestow upon J.J.’s or Kai’s performance as both are masterful, creative musicians.

Had this LP seen a proper 1970 release it’s doubtful A&M/CTi fortunes would have changed — but to Creed’s credit, at least there is now one A&M/CTi LP documenting a solid jazz excursion; and for this we should be grateful.

As for future A&M/CTi releases from the vaults… While Doug Payne’s sessionography indicates numerous unreleased selections from various released sessions (as well as dates limited to 45 releases), Stonebone appears to be the final documented unreleased session, intended for LP release, from the coveted 1967-70 A&M/CTi period.
 

Rudy

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Great news: Stonebone is now available digitally.

Download from Qobuz, at $12.09 US (remember--it's lossless, unlike other streaming services, so pure CD-quality digital without any proprietary BS or apps to install):


Amazon also has it as lossy MP3s:


Other services likely have this as well.

About time!

Note for Qobuz downloads--they now offer them packed as TAR files. If you run Windows, download the 7Zip application, which will allow you to unpack them. Other OSes likely have similar utilities.

(Over a fiber connection, Stonebone downloaded in about 12 seconds. 😁)
 

Rudy

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Having just given it a listen, it's not the greatest sounding version out there--it sounds a little bit stuffy compared to the vinyl, which on my system sounds more open and a little bit more dynamic (and more like the later CTI albums that would follow). That is opposed to the Tamba 4 release--the digital version is very, very close to the sound of the vinyl release.

But for those who want a digital version, at least there is something available now.
 

Michael Hagerty

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Contributor
Great news: Stonebone is now available digitally.

Download from Qobuz, at $12.09 US (remember--it's lossless, unlike other streaming services, so pure CD-quality digital without any proprietary BS or apps to install):


Amazon also has it as lossy MP3s:


Other services likely have this as well.

About time!

Note for Qobuz downloads--they now offer them packed as TAR files. If you run Windows, download the 7Zip application, which will allow you to unpack them. Other OSes likely have similar utilities.

(Over a fiber connection, Stonebone downloaded in about 12 seconds. 😁)
It’s on Apple Music as a lossless album.

With that, the only A&M/CTI albums still MIA in streaming are Artie Butler, Richard Barbary, Tamiko Jones and, inexplicably , K&JJ’s BETWIXT AND BETWEEN. Hopefully STONEBONE means we might get that.
 
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Rudy

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I could see the remaining J&K title getting reissued at some point, probably as another RSD title before it hits digital release. It's a solid album, IMHO. The others are so inconsequential to the record buying public that it's not worth dusting those off for the dozen or so who would ever buy them. (I own the LPs and probably will never listen to them again. At least they were cheap.)

Tamiko Jones is probably the only one who had just a little traction in her career outside of A&M--she had the album with Herbie Mann--A Mann and A Woman--around the same time on Atlantic (which is superior to the record Creed Taylor produced--he had no clue what to do with her), and an R&B/dance single in the 70s. She had a sweet voice!

Johnson and Winding go way back with Creed Taylor, though--he produced one of their albums way back when he started working in the record industry at Bethlehem Records.
 

Rudy

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know nothing about TAR files.

Can I convert to FLAC and run on Foobar 2000?
In a sense, yes.

You choose which format to download (FLAC, etc.) and the TAR file is what they are all packaged into so you only have to download one file. I believe you can also download each file individually in FLAC (or whichever format you choose). TAR is an archive format long used in Unix/Linux operating systems for distributing files, so it probably predates most of the others out there. 7Zip will easily unpack ZIP, TAR, GZ, BZ2, and even 7Z (which is 7Zip's own compression format).

They probably wanted to use the popular ZIP format, but it had licensing issues.
 

Rudy

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I may re-download the file to make sure mine isn't corrupt. I doubt it is, especially since the streamed version is the same as the set of files I downloaded.

I'm hearing ticks throughout the digital download. Listen, especially, to the first two minutes of "Mojo" where it seems to be the worst. Times here are give or take a second or two in either direction. I hear a random tick nearly hidden by the percussion around 0:06. At 0:33, I hear a series of faint clicks in the background, some weirdness at 0:40-0:42, light ticks around 0:56, a big one around 1:49. There are random ticks throughout the album, although not that many.

It could be ticks on the master tape. Not a big deal if it is, but it could easily have been cleaned up.

But it could also be a needle drop, something I don't expect from a major label. Especially since they allegedly had a master tape for Kevin Gray to cut the LP from. I just hope they didn't give Gray a needle drop transferred to a 15 ips reel and pass it off as a "master tape"!

I would compare to my needle drop but I ran it through the SugarCube, which would have removed most of them. Giving it a cursory listen, though, there is too much other noise on this record to make a determination--this is the reason I don't like colored vinyl pressings. As a rule they are generally more noisy than their black counterparts.

Looking in Sound Forge, here's a sample at about the 1:49 mark--very obvious ...

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The faint noise around 0:33.6 ...

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Around 0:58 ...

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I don't know what to make of it. This probably wouldn't bother most, but I fully expect that when I download a digital file or buy a CD/SACD, that they used something other than a needle drop to make it with! I can do that at home, and usually better than they can. (Who knows what cheap equipment they use? I've heard horrible needle drops even as bonus tracks on legit CDs!)
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
With that, the only A&M/CTI albums still MIA in streaming are Artie Butler, Richard Barbary, Tamiko Jones and, inexplicably , K&JJ’s BETWIXT AND BETWEEN. Hopefully STONEBONE means we might get that.
Agreed: In the context of Jones and Barbary, aside from availability issues I fail to understand why Betwixt & Between is a download hold out. That said, it would be great to have the Jones and Barbary releases available -- I keep hoping and thanks...and thanks Rudy and Michael for monitoring this stuff.
 

Rudy

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I'm not a fan of Record Store Day (as it's primarily bottom-scrapings and a major label money-grab more than anything), but always check the list to see if any "lost" favorites get a vinyl reissue. With the Tamba 4 and J&K records getting a vinyl and digital release, Betwixt might at some point finally get unearthed. That is, if the master tapes weren't destroyed in the Universal BBQ of 2008. Van Gelder's place was on the east coast, but there's no telling if/when the masters might have been moved around for storage...

Stonebone was a direct Universal release, where California Soul was a licensed project by a boutique label. It would probably take a similar label to get Betwixt out there.
 

Rudy

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I have to say that I am impressed with Qobuz. I reported the album to bring it to their attention, and just now got a reply from one of their representatives in France (where they are headquartered). They agree with my assessment--the file from Universal is flawed, as they only pass along whatever the label sends them without any alteration or processing. So if Qobuz has a flawed set of files, all the other streaming services will have the same files.

I would say that the ticks on this release are minor but, they are there. It's still a recommended download primarily due to its rarity. In the event that Universal ever provides a better set of files, I will post an update here. I kind of doubt it, but who knows?

I honestly can't recall if the LP came with a download card for a digital version. (I'm not near the collection right now to look at the hype sticker.) But I know on a couple of vinyl releases I have seen, the label provided an MP3 needle drop as the download bonus. Odd, but whatever.
 

Rudy

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BTW, I wonder if the EU pressing is any better than the US. I may locate one and compare it.
 
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