The A&M CTi Records

Bobberman

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My copy of SOUL FLUTES appears to be a later reissue on the silver/tan label. This is the Discogs picture.

View attachment 6107


I like the track "Trust In Me", and also the "Bachianas Brasileiras #5". That piece tends to be operatic in its original form which is not me cuppa, but a nice vocalise version is done by Jackie & Roy on the TIME AND LOVE CTi album.
I looked at the discogs site often I noticed almost all the CTI/A&Ms got at least one Silver tan reissue which leads me to believe they were available until the mid to late 70s at the latest just a guess on my part
 

Rudy

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That's the version I got also--the newer label. A bit disappointed as I prefer the original tan label, but I'm not complaining since it was sealed. "Day-O" is a bit strange, but probably because the Belafonte version is burned into my genetic code. (I played the heck out of Calypso when I was a kid.)

I ordered a Richard Barbary LP last night--it should be here within the week. To add another title to the order, I found some rare Mancini soundtrack on MCA ('W.C. Fields and Me'), sealed, for only $2.99.

I have a Tamiko Jones in my cart but can't seem to press the Checkout button just yet...what little I've heard I don't really care for, but given its rarity and a shot at completing the set, I'm thinking I should get one. And who knows? It might grow on me.

The original version of "Trust in Me" from the soundtrack has a flute shadowing Sterling Holloway's vocals on that part. So before I heard the Soul Flutes record, I was hoping it was the same tune--in fact, I thought it probably would be.

 

Rudy

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I looked at the discogs site often I noticed almost all the CTI/A&Ms got at least one Silver tan reissue which leads me to believe they were available until the mid to late 70s at the latest just a guess on my part
That's actually good since if there are more reissues of a record, that makes it easier to find today, especially sealed. I've had good luck so far in that my two recent additions were both sealed when I bought them.

I'm debating finding LPs of the titles I already have on CD or download. They would be nice to have but I'm concentrating on the titles that never had a digital release.
 

Rudy

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Who has You, Baby? Me, baby! It arrived today. Looks a bit dirty (couldn't find a sealed AM+ but found a NM copy), but plays cleanly, far as I can tell. Listening to it, it's yet another album using the Varitone, this time on Nat's cornet. Same oddball sound that I have on the Chico O'Farrill Married Well LP via the sax section. One feature I hear being used is the sub-octave feature that creates an additional tone one octave below the fundamental.

The Varitone was a woodwind pickup and effects unit, allowing direct amplification of the instrument (i.e. without a standard microphone) and the introduction of various electronic effects. It was marketed in 1967 by the Selmer Company, which developed units for flute, saxophone, and clarinet. The system included an integrated pickup microphone and a control box which allowed the player to use effects such as tremolo, basic EQ ("bright" and "dark"), simultaneous sub-octaves and echo in conjunction with a purpose built amplifier. The ceramic microphone was developed to withstand high sound pressure and moisture levels, and built into the head joint of the flute, the neck-joint of the saxophone, and the barrel joint of the clarinet. The pickup was wired to a preamplifier and control box which was either mounted to the bottom key guard, clipped to the player's belt, or hung on a cord around the players neck.

Similar products included the Hammond Condor, the Conn Multi-vider and the Maestro series of analogue effects boxes marketed by Chicago Musical Instruments.

Notable Varitone players were Eddie Harris,[1] Lou Donaldson, Moe Koffman, and Sonny Stitt. Michael Brecker also used a Varitone extensively during his time in the Brecker Bros. Band.

The Varitone could also be used with brass instruments by soldering a pick-up onto the lead pipe. Jazz trumpeter Clark Terry used it to good effect on a 1967 recording for Impulse! called "It's What Happenin' The Varitone Sound Of Clark Terry" (Terry was a Selmer endorser at the time).

Varitone is also the name of a device used for changing the sounds of an electric guitar, featured on Gibson's BB King "Lucille" signature ES-355.

One thing that sometimes bothers me is how muddy some of these recordings are. Nat's cornet is buried beneath the muck here, even on the tunes without the Varitone.
 

Harry

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I was working on CALLING OUT LOUD by Nat about a week ago. I want one more pass through for final manual cleanup. I think this one's less muddy than YOU, BABY.

No, for the record, I wasn't calling you muddy, just the record...well, you know what I mean...
 

Rudy

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I'll make my way down to that record soon, I'm sure--I have a couple more headed my way at the moment.

I'm listening to the Burtie Antler Artie Butler at the moment, and I realized what bothers me a little about it. I got to the last track of side one and realized that the tracks are about the same tempo with the same rhythm. There's no variation in tempo, rhythm or mood between the tunes, and with the instrumentation being essentially the same on all of them, none of the tracks really stand out. On top of it, one can only listen to a flute/vibraphone (or flute/ondioline?) melody a few times in a row before it gets old.

Side two fares much better as it has variety from track to track. If the rest of the album were like side two it would have been a more engaging listen.
 

Harry

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Speaking of Artie Butler, I find that album quite a fun listen. It's light in spirit and is reminiscent of the feel I get from a Tijuana Brass record - or Baja Marimba which it's often compared to. So the fact that it's a little "samey" doesn't really bother me.

Just yesterday, I received another copy of the LP in the mail. This one was one of the WLP mono issues. I'm not certain if the mix is dedicated or a folddown, but it's a bit brighter in sound than the stereo mix. It's in a standard stereo gatefold jacket with a "MonauralStickerGray.jpg" (monaural) sticker attached to it.

This is the second A&M/CTi where I've gotten a mono version. The first was a copy of Tamba 4's SAMBA BLIM that I found without a cover. It was just housed in a plain cardboard jacket.
 

Rudy

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This arrived two days ago:

1607652495386.png

Not sealed, but other than a scuff on side one which doesn't affect play, it looks as though the record was hardly ever played. A trip through the record cleaning ritual and it'll be in good shape.

It's not a long-lost groundbreaking record but it's a rather nice soul album. A nice companion to the Tamiko Jones record, which was sealed.

I found a Japanese pressing of Nat Adderley's Calling Out Loud, and it's on the way to me. That one is hard to come by, and the US copies I saw were not offered in the best condition. It was released on CD in 1987 (Digipak) and 1992 (Pony Canyon mini-LP), but good luck ever finding one unless you were lucky enough to get one in Japan. These might have reproduced the original foil jackets.

DigiPak (not sure what's up with the terrible scan):

1607653282178.png

Mini LP:

1607653312568.png

The album was also called Comin' Out of the Shadows in a few non-US markets like UK, France and South Africa. The France release, though, does not give an album title.

UK/South Africa:

1607653144562.png

France:

1607653202784.png
 

Harry

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DigiPak (not sure what's up with the terrible scan):

1607653282178.png
Ah, I think I know. The diagonal watermarks say "VueScan", which is a scanner software company. I had to deal with them when I borrowed my neighbor's Nikon slide and film scanner. Nikon stopped making and supporting their own scanners as they just wanted out of the film business as quickly as possible. The scanner itself was a wonderful product and still does a great job - IF you can get it to work. It was last supported on Windows XP and the software to run the scanner no longer works on Windows 10 or other modern OS'es.

VueScan was a company that claimed to work with the old scanners - and it does, but it costs a one-time license fee. My neighbor, the owner of the scanner decided to buy the software and let me in as one of the licensees while I was scanning my slides and negatives. In the "trial phase", VueScan puts that watermark on your results. I guess whoever owned the Adderley album needed to use a trial version of VueScan. (?)
 

Rudy

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I couldn't see the watermark good enough to read what it said, but it did remind me of something a trial version would produce. It's such a poor quality scan though--that's why I'm thinking it might have had the foil treatment.

I've used VueScan for a long time and it works as advertised, plus it fixed an issue with my film/slide scanner that I thought was a mechanical problem. It also levels of adjustment and cleanup in advanced mode that no standard scanner drivers can accomplish.
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
Who has You, Baby? Me, baby! It arrived today. Looks a bit dirty (couldn't find a sealed AM+ but found a NM copy), but plays cleanly, far as I can tell. Listening to it, it's yet another album using the Varitone, this time on Nat's cornet. Same oddball sound that I have on the Chico O'Farrill Married Well LP via the sax section. One feature I hear being used is the sub-octave feature that creates an additional tone one octave below the fundamental.



One thing that sometimes bothers me is how muddy some of these recordings are. Nat's cornet is buried beneath the muck here, even on the tunes without the Varitone.
Hello Rudy! I was lucky enough to find a sealed copy of one of those early '80s AM+ pressings ($19) a few months back. Haven't yet played it as I'm a bit behind with auditioning / cataloguing at this time, but should be able to finally get a good listen in during the coming week. I bought it replace my vintage copy, which was a radio station copy; it was OK (visual = VG+), but had the usual surface noise common to '60s DJ LPs. In any event, I'm hoping it's not as muddy as my original '68 copy (notwithstanding that muddiness was a hallmark of "the Van Gelder sound").
-James
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
Hello Rudy! I was lucky enough to find a sealed copy of one of those early '80s AM+ pressings ($19) a few months back. Haven't yet played it as I'm a bit behind with auditioning / cataloguing at this time, but should be able to finally get a good listen in during the coming week. I bought it replace my vintage copy, which was a radio station copy; it was OK (visual = VG+), but had the usual surface noise common to '60s DJ LPs. In any event, I'm hoping it's not as muddy as my original '68 copy (notwithstanding that muddiness was a hallmark of "the Van Gelder sound").
-James
 

Rudy

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That's a great score, @JOv2! I'm always watching for sealed LPs in that series. You, Baby is still somewhat muddy, and that's not helped by the Varitone that Nat Adderley uses on his cornet...but it certainly would sound a little clearer than the stock A&M LP, and if the vinyl was properly stored, it should be flat and quiet. My only noisy copies were the ones I purchased used, and most of that noise cleaned up in the record vacuum.
 

Rudy

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In case anyone thought A&M/CTi had a lock on weird cover photos (the Tamiko Jones and Richard Barbary covers specifically), Blue Note also had a dubious entry in that series:

1609167304688.png

Without seeing the liner notes, I don't know who the photographer is. (I don't know if Pete Turner did any covers for Blue Note....but that idea certainly was the same!)

I still can't look at that Tamiko Jones cover without it creeping me out! It looks like she's bent in half, backwards...until you open the gatefold to see the entire photo.
 

Michael Hagerty

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In case anyone thought A&M/CTi had a lock on weird cover photos (the Tamiko Jones and Richard Barbary covers specifically), Blue Note also had a dubious entry in that series:

View attachment 6254

Without seeing the liner notes, I don't know who the photographer is. (I don't know if Pete Turner did any covers for Blue Note....but that idea certainly was the same!)

I still can't look at that Tamiko Jones cover without it creeping me out! It looks like she's bent in half, backwards...until you open the gatefold to see the entire photo.
You got me curious enough to look it up, Rudy. Reid Miles did both the photgraphy and the design for the Lou Donaldson LP. There is one link though—-Rudy Van Gelder was the engineer.

The Donaldson LP was one year before Tamiko—-1967.
 

Michael Hagerty

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...and I’m embarrassed to say I had not heard of Reid Miles. But now that I’ve looked him up, he’s a legend:

 

JOv2

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That's a great score, @JOv2! I'm always watching for sealed LPs in that series. You, Baby is still somewhat muddy, and that's not helped by the Varitone that Nat Adderley uses on his cornet...but it certainly would sound a little clearer than the stock A&M LP, and if the vinyl was properly stored, it should be flat and quiet. My only noisy copies were the ones I purchased used, and most of that noise cleaned up in the record vacuum.
Here's another recent AM+ score to replace a stock LP. Advertised as M ($16) but not SS (which is always a dubious circumstance; once the seal is broken the LP should be downgraded to NM). Nevertheless, it's a winner: not as much as a fingerprint noticed!



I know nothing of the features of the Varitone attachment, but given Nat had the attachment playing an octave below him surely contributed to the overall muddiness (he also used it on the follow-up, Calling Out Loud). Regarding the Varitone attachment, do you fancy Eddie Harris? A few of his Atlantic LPs from the '67-'69 period utilized the Varitione attachment as well.
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
You got me curious enough to look it up, Rudy. Reid Miles did both the photgraphy and the design for the Lou Donaldson LP. There is one link though—-Rudy Van Gelder was the engineer.

The Donaldson LP was one year before Tamiko—-1967.
Reid Miles was the graphic artist at Blue Note (approx. 1958-1967) and designed nearly all their LP jackets (once Blue Note was sold to Liberty in '65, some of the covers were from Liberty, which was based in LA). Al Lion, the original co-owner, permanently left Blue Note in JUL 1967, and Reid also appears to have left a couple months after that. Most of the Blue Note cover photos were taken by Francis Wolff (the other co-owner...), which are some of the well known photos of Miles, Trane, Monk, Blakey, etc; however, when Reid wanted a staged shot (typically with models), he was normally the photographer. For the Donaldson LP cover, he utilized a double exposure -- flipping the film holder (or camera!) 180 deg for the second exposure. Back in the '90s, during the '50s/'60s jazz CD reissue boom, a number of nice coffeetable books were produced featuring both Francis' photographs and Reid's LP jackets.
 

Michael Hagerty

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Reid went on to make one million dollars a year as the photographer of that series of Coca-Cola ads in the 1960s and 1970s that looked like real-life Norman Rockwell paintings. Other ad business put him well over that.

Reid also did album covers, but moved beyond jazz. Chicago IX (Greatest Hits) is his:

4wxfE5r.jpg

As was Harry Chapin's LIVING ROOM SUITE:

81GRjZOSk8L._SL1380_.jpg

And Bob Dylan and the Band's BASEMENT TAPES:

basement_tapes_coverjpg.jpg

...which, it turns out was shot in the basement. Not the basement where the tapes were recorded-----but the basement of the YMCA in Hollywood.
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
One last find that I'd like to share...well, two actually. I've had three copies of Soul Machine: the requisite late '70s (what is this thing?) find priced at 50-cents in a used LP store in the far back mixed in with a bunch of Conniff and Billy Vaughn (you know -- in a water-damaged box and where half the overhead lights are burnt out...). The LP wasn't too worn, but exhibited a dull sound. I replaced it in the mid '90s with a nicer looking LP, but the sound was still below average -- I chalked it up to a less-than-optimal pressing. This past summer I decided that before I die, I best get my A&M house in order so that I have something of value to pass on to the next carrier of the flame (the avatar). In any event, I broke down and bought an SS Soul Machine (reasonably priced to boot!). Though an improvement -- not as muddy as the others -- the pressing was again below average. Just my luck. In addition, I found a promo copy of Richard on e-bay, as well. (Quite a photogenic fella -- if only his LP performance matched his good looks!)

 

Rudy

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The Barbary LP I found was used, but in NM condition. I have yet to run it through the cleaner, but it sounded fairly average and about the same as other from that period. I did notice when comparing the From The Hot Afternoon LP my mother owned to my AM+ version, the original was a bit veiled in comparison (a little stuffy on top, and slightly more muddy down lower). I didn't want to do a needle drop until I clean this and the others I have, but I might do a temporary one just so I can have something to listen to while working.

One thing I noticed many years ago is that if I used a parametric equalizer to nudge the mid-bass down by only -1.5dB or so, it really helps clean up the "mud" that many of these records have. It's a very subtle change, but you notice it over more long-term listening. After some earlier mishaps, I've always followed two classic rules of applying EQ that many engineers follow--subtract (never add) EQ, and once settled on the values, cut the amount of EQ in half. (So above, I'd probably had a -3dB level change, and revised it to -1.5dB before committing it to disc.)

As for Van Gelder's, I've been listening to an excellent album as of late: Horace Silver's Song For My Father. I find the sound of it to be lacking, though--there is a lot of pitch wavering on the first track, and the piano always sounds like it's buried in the background. Horace's piano has that same subdued quality throughout, which is curious since it's his own album. The wavering pitch could be a problem with the unit the album was recorded on, or tape stretch (unlikely, as it's not at the ends of the song). I have the hi-res version I'm listening to now, but a Blue Note reissue series LP is being released in mid January and I have one on preorder. I may see if someone has a first pressing and can verify if these issues are present there.

As another Blue Note example, I followed this up with Jimmy Smith's Prayer Meetin' which features Stanley Turrentine. It's more forward sounding (brighter), yet there's some weirdness in the bass. Smith plays the bass on this recording with the bass pedals on the Hammond, and while the fundamental bass notes are not strong, the lowest notes (down around 32Hz, which is low C) are a bit overbearing and come across more as a rumble than a solid note.

I feel that Van Gelder's work is usually good, but it can be inconsistent at times.
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
That's a great score, @JOv2! I'm always watching for sealed LPs in that series. You, Baby is still somewhat muddy, and that's not helped by the Varitone that Nat Adderley uses on his cornet...but it certainly would sound a little clearer than the stock A&M LP, and if the vinyl was properly stored, it should be flat and quiet. My only noisy copies were the ones I purchased used, and most of that noise cleaned up in the record vacuum.
Finally auditioned this AM+ version. Definitely a sonic improvement; but you're absolutely correct in that the Varitone running 8vb muddies the waters -- in addition to all those brooding bass flutes, but which is a cornerstone of the A&M/CTi sound. I forgot how straight he played it on By the Time I Get to Phoenix.
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
The Barbary LP I found was used, but in NM condition. I have yet to run it through the cleaner, but it sounded fairly average and about the same as other from that period. I did notice when comparing the From The Hot Afternoon LP my mother owned to my AM+ version, the original was a bit veiled in comparison (a little stuffy on top, and slightly more muddy down lower). I didn't want to do a needle drop until I clean this and the others I have, but I might do a temporary one just so I can have something to listen to while working.

One thing I noticed many years ago is that if I used a parametric equalizer to nudge the mid-bass down by only -1.5dB or so, it really helps clean up the "mud" that many of these records have. It's a very subtle change, but you notice it over more long-term listening. After some earlier mishaps, I've always followed two classic rules of applying EQ that many engineers follow--subtract (never add) EQ, and once settled on the values, cut the amount of EQ in half. (So above, I'd probably had a -3dB level change, and revised it to -1.5dB before committing it to disc.)

As for Van Gelder's, I've been listening to an excellent album as of late: Horace Silver's Song For My Father. I find the sound of it to be lacking, though--there is a lot of pitch wavering on the first track, and the piano always sounds like it's buried in the background. Horace's piano has that same subdued quality throughout, which is curious since it's his own album. The wavering pitch could be a problem with the unit the album was recorded on, or tape stretch (unlikely, as it's not at the ends of the song). I have the hi-res version I'm listening to now, but a Blue Note reissue series LP is being released in mid January and I have one on preorder. I may see if someone has a first pressing and can verify if these issues are present there.

As another Blue Note example, I followed this up with Jimmy Smith's Prayer Meetin' which features Stanley Turrentine. It's more forward sounding (brighter), yet there's some weirdness in the bass. Smith plays the bass on this recording with the bass pedals on the Hammond, and while the fundamental bass notes are not strong, the lowest notes (down around 32Hz, which is low C) are a bit overbearing and come across more as a rumble than a solid note.

I feel that Van Gelder's work is usually good, but it can be inconsistent at times.
Thank you for the EQ info. Down the road, I'll dump it into Logic Pro and employ your suggestions.

As for Song For My Father -- Have you ever heard the 1964 LP? I'm not sure what the source material is for the contemporary releases, but I'll hazard a guess that despite of the RVG shorcomings, those initially issued Blue Note LPs (and RtRs) were probably the best sounding of the lot.
 

Rudy

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I just got in a copy of Calling Out Loud, but it wasn't as described (it wasn't sealed, like I usually buy). But I have to give it a spin and see if I'll keep it--the seller agreed to take it back. It was supposed to be a Japanese pressing, but this is a stock A&M. The plus side is that the front foil cover is in excellent shape for its age.
 

Rudy

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Thank you for the EQ info. Down the road, I'll dump it into Logic Pro and employ your suggestions.

As for Song For My Father -- Have you ever heard the 1964 LP? I'm not sure what the source material is for the contemporary releases, but I'll hazard a guess that despite of the RVG shorcomings, those initially issued Blue Note LPs (and RtRs) were probably the best sounding of the lot.
I doubt I could find a clean 1964 copy for a reasonable price at this point--some of those fetch a high price these days. But the upcoming Classic Vinyl series reissue, due out on the 15th, was mastered from the original analog tapes by Kevin Gray, so I'll see how that one sounds. This current version I'm playing at the moment is a hi-res download, so it shouldn't be too far off the mark. (Or, at least I'd hope they would have used the original tape for this version.)

It's kind of a secondary issue with this album, though--the music's so good on it that I kind of put it out of my mind after a minute or two.
 
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