Tamba 4

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
Thread Starter
I had occasion the last few days to listen to the three Tamba 4 albums that were on A&M/CTi or at least supposed to be.
- We and The Sea
- Samba Blim
- California Soul

I'd placed them on a CD-R for in-car listening. I sourced WE AND THE SEA from the better-sounding Verve re-release on CD. SAMBA BLIM came from the only CD I had, a Japanese issue from the 90s, and CALIFORNIA SOUL came from the Record Store Day LP.

It was quite a shock when WE AND THE SEA finished and SAMBA BLIM started up. The volume dropped a good bit, and the sound went way down in the mud. I had to crank up the treble in the car player to even begin to approach the way WE AND THE SEA sounded.

Then came CALIFORNIA SOUL, blaring away brightly, both louder and brighter than either of the two that preceded it. And I also found CALIFORNIA SOUL to be much more listenable content-wise than the bland SAMBA BLIM.

Still, these three would make a nice little box set, if remastered properly and consistently.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
All three are on Qobuz but I have not had a chance to compare them sound-wise against the others. I know they probably used the most recent Verve issue of We and the Sea, and California Soul is obviously mastered very recently. But I don't know what they would have used for the source of Samba Blim, unless it were that Japan reissue, or a more recent release we haven't encountered yet.

Interesting contrast between albums, though. I believe three of the WATS tracks were recorded for Philips originally, then padded with an overdubbed guitar for the CTi version, where the rest were recorded at Van Gelder's. Musically though, and especially the earlier recorded tracks, Creed Taylor let Tamba 4 be Tamba 4, with extended tracks where they could stretch out as they saw fit.

SB introduced shorter songs, which were typical of the pop/jazz approach of CTi at the time, but the muddy Van Gelder recording and low energy of many of the tracks kind of doomed it from the start. By Tamba Trio standards, this sleepy outing didn't have much of the energy of any of their earlier albums--they were always a lively and brisk trio.

CS sticks to the short tracks but adds back the energy, and even most the pop song covers are quite good. (As much as I despise The Doors, they even pulled off a decent "Light My Fire." Yet the obligatory and completely unnecessary Beatles cover is disposable.) If this album had followed WATS, though, I bet it would have sold much better. The one reason it sounds so much different, too, is that Luiz's plays the Fender Rhodes rather than a piano. I don't know if Kevin Gray mastered the digital version also, but it is nearly identical to his vinyl mastering. That may account for why it sounds less muddy than other Van Gelders.

The irony of WATS? The long tracks. Which Taylor would do away with on most recordings at CTi, until very late in the A&M run when an album like Stonebone had only four tracks total, and then the post-A&M version of CTi where there were numerous albums with lengthy tracks. Makes me wonder about the outcome if Tamba Trio or Tamba 4 had ever made later CTi albums, what they would have come up with.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
Thread Starter
But I don't know what they would have used for the source of Samba Blim, unless it were that Japan reissue, or a more recent release we haven't encountered yet.
The track "Samba Blim" up on YouTube, allegedly the official version, sounds and looks liked it came from POCM-5054, which was the first Japanese release, so I'll bet that no further masterings have happened.

 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
There are six Japanese releases over the past 24 years, two of them being those questionable SHM CDs (2009 and 2017). So without buying all of them, it's impossible to tell if it has ever been remastered since its first CD appearance in 1998.


Samba Blim ‎(CD, Album, RE, RM)A&M Records, CTI RecordsPOCM-5054Japan1998
Samba Blim ‎(CD, Album, Ltd, RE, RM, Pap)A&M RecordsUCCV-9003Japan2001
Samba Blim ‎(CD, Album, Ltd, RE, RM, SHM)A&M Records, A&M RecordsUCCU-9699, SP-3013Japan2009
Samba Blim ‎(CD, Album, RE, RM)A&M RecordsUCCU-90049Japan2014
Samba Blim ‎(CD, Album, Ltd, RE)Universal Music, Universal MusicUCCU-90174, UCCU-9216Japan2015
Samba Blim ‎(CD, Album, Ltd, RE, RM, SHM)A&M RecordsUCCU-90268Japan2017
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
Thread Starter
I guess my point was that Universal's "Tamba 4-Topic" user allowed that video to go to YouTube in 2018, well after all of the other releases were made in Japan. If they even pay attention to such things (doubtful, as it's probably loaded by bots), then perhaps all of those Japan releases are essentially the same dull mastering.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
You know, just listening to a couple of quick comparisons between the two versions, I think the version on Qobuz might be slightly less dull (sometimes it sounds the same, sometimes it seems brighter), although it still has that muddy mid-bass hump to it. Volume level seems about the same. My ears are a bit off this evening, and this is over the KEF LS50s/PS Audio Sprout100 in the desktop system; I can compare it tomorrow on fresh ears on the big system.
 

JMK

Well-Known Member
Contributor
My friend Zev Feldman was behind the wonderful release of California Soul. He puts out some absolutely amazing "lost" albums.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
Thread Starter
My friend Zev Feldman was behind the wonderful release of California Soul. He puts out some absolutely amazing "lost" albums.
And we thank him for this one for sure. Would love an official CD.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
I guess my point was that Universal's "Tamba 4-Topic" user allowed that video to go to YouTube in 2018, well after all of the other releases were made in Japan. If they even pay attention to such things (doubtful, as it's probably loaded by bots), then perhaps all of those Japan releases are essentially the same dull mastering.
I finally had a chance to knock out a couple of tracks on the main system, now that my ears have settled a bit. I still feel the version on Qobuz is slightly different, yet so close that you'd really have to dig deep to hear the differences. I don't want to say it is brighter, but I find that small details like the raspy quality of the flute in a track like "Salvador" is a bit clearer and cleaner. The track timings are different by a second or two throughout the album (at least based on my ripped version) so it's a different "physical" mastering, but it's possible that the same master tape was used for both as the tonal balance and volume seem to be the same. (ZZ Top had Rio Grande Mud; CTi had Van Gelder Mud.)
 

Moritat

Well-Known Member
I believe "We & The Sea" to be right up there with the very best jazz lps on A&M. It's an lp I listen to several times every year as I find it very creative and interesting. On the other hand, "Samba Blim" was a huge disappointment. Harry stated the lp was bland. That sums it up well.
 
Top Bottom