Vinyl Spotlight: The Cats (New Jazz 8217)

February 14, 2017 /
  • Original Jazz Classics reissue circa 1983 (OJC-079; mono)
  • “GH” etched in dead wax

Personnel:

  • Idrees Sulieman, trumpet
  • John Coltrane, tenor saxophone
  • Tommy Flanagan, piano
  • Doug Watkins, bass
  • Louis Hayes, drums

Recorded April 18, 1957 at Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey
Originally released in 1959

When I lived in Albany, New York, the East Greenbush library had a killer selection of classic jazz CDs, and the 1989 Original Jazz Classics reissue of this album was one of them. Flipping through the racks, this album piqued my interest because of its super-hip cover and the name “John Coltrane”. I became more familiar with this album over the years and finally acquired the Original Jazz Classics LP a couple years ago through Discogs. No doubt, this is a shining example of just how great OJC vinyl can sound.

You may have noticed my note above that the dead wax for this pressing contains the initials “GH”. These are the initials of George Horn, one of the first mastering engineers to cut lacquers for Original Jazz Classics in the early 1980s. There is some debate in the audiophile community about the point in time where OJC vinyl began to be sourced from digital files instead of the original analog tapes, and what has come to be accepted is that Horn’s initials being etched into the dead wax of an OJC vinyl reissue guarantees that it is an all-analog pressing (see this Steve Hoffman Music Forum thread for more information). Rest assured though, most collectors will agree that OJC vinyl is generally of the highest quality regardless of dead wax info and regardless of when a record was pressed.

Recorded in the spring of 1957, we hear John Coltrane in a less adventurous but more accessible mood characteristic of the saxophonist before he began his ferocious onslaught of scales later that year with the release of Blue Train (Blue Note 1577). “Minor Mishap” and “Eclypso” are two favorites here, but the ultimate mood-setter is “Solacium”, a somber, quiet tune that will perfectly complement a rainy afternoon spent indoors. Available in bold, straight-down-the-middle Hackensack mono only — no stereo option here.