Michael Fremer Rated 8/11 Music, 8/11 Sonics!
Louis Armstrong Meets Oscar Peterson is a brilliant undertaking in which Verve's legendary "house pianist" encountered one of jazz's most revered giants. Backed by the Oscar Peterson Trio - bassist Ray Brown, guitarist Herb Ellis and frequent fourth member Louis Bellson on drums - the heavyweights created an album that is utterly compelling, radiantly jubilant and consummate in artistry.
Seeking to offer definitive audiophile grade versions of some of the most historic and best jazz records ever recorded, Verve Label Group and Universal Music Enterprises' new audiophile Acoustic Sounds vinyl reissue series utilizes the skills of top mastering engineers and the unsurpassed production craft of Quality Record Pressings. All titles are mastered from the original analog tapes, pressed on 180-gram vinyl and packaged by Stoughton Printing Co. in high-quality gatefold sleeves with tip-on jackets.
"We are excited to launch our Acoustic Sounds series," said Bruce Resnikoff, President & CEO of UMe. "Verve and UMe have one of the richest jazz catalogs ever recorded and our goal is to give vinyl and music lovers the best possible versions of classic albums. The Acoustic Sounds series is designed to appeal to today's most discriminating fans, and those discovering this treasured legacy for the first time, looking for the very finest in both artistic content and audio quality."
"The early stereo recording puts Peterson in the left channel, Ellis, Brown and Bellson in the right and Armstrong and his horn dead center unadorned by echo or any effects whatsoever. The mix lays back the accompaniment while spotlighting the vocalist-star who is 'in your room' singing just to you. Unfortunately, Armstrong sings too close to the microphone and on a few vocal punctuations oversaturates the tape, which produces some genuinely nasty, though fleeting distortion (it's not mistracking). Despite engineer Val Valentin's screw-up, Granz must have been a forgiving soul. Valentin became Verve's Chief Engineer whose name appeared on many if not most Verve releases whether or not he engineered them including the electronically reprocessed albums labeled 'Sounds Great in Stereo' (translation: probably would sound great in stereo, unfortunately this was a mono recording so we'll ruin it with electronic games and not tell you about it, but you'll hear it!). However, it would be your loss if an occasional sonic blemish dissuades you from purchasing this buoyant, thoroughly enjoyable and otherwise well-recorded Armstrong set." - Michael Fremer, Analog Planet, Music 8/11, Sound 8/11
"A sonic standout this month - despite some issues - is Louis Armstrong Meets Oscar Peterson, part of Acoustic Sounds' Verve reissue series... The sound here is rich, full, rounded. The soundstage is wide, with good depth. Louis's voice and trumpet are very palpable and natural-sounding - but the voice is quite forward, even aggressive. I experienced distortion ranging from barely noticeable to seriously distracting on vocal peaks. Was it my setup? I went back, and checked: tracking force, antiskating, cartridge geometry. I cleaned my stylus and the record. The distortion did not go away. Was it a playback error, or was the distortion on the recording? I checked in with colleagues. Michael Fremer and Ken Micallef both had copies of this record. They both heard the distortion... Then Fremer remembered that he had a copy of the 2001 Speakers Corner reissue, cut by Kevin Gray. Does it have the same issues? If it does, that would let us know whether it's on the original recording - or whether Analogue Productions screwed up. The Speakers Corner has the same distortion. Plus, Michael told me, overall, the Speakers Corner version sounded much worse. Acoustic Sounds, then, can't be faulted, unless it's for deciding to reissue a flawed recording. I almost feel like it should come with a warning label... This isn't the audio-show demonstration record I was expecting, but it's still worth owning." - Jim Austin, Stereophile, November 2020
Louis Armstrong Meets Oscar Peterson provides a guaranteed emotional pick-up in genuinely dreary times. The sealed review copy was perfectly pressed at QRP and 100% silent, with the super-black backgrounds that QRP manages when all goes well in their presses.
Despite the distortion, this record is in some ways a sonic standout, with some remarkable qualities. It checks all the audiophile boxes - full, rich, wide, deep - and at moments it gets inside Louis's well-polished rasp. You can hear his fallibility, a wavering, human core, in that famous voice.
The Armstrong/Peterson collaboration is spotless, with a presence that makes it feel like drummer Louis Bellson is playing in the same room, and a clarity that lets little details and noises from these 60+ year old sessions float to the surface.
- Acoustic Sounds Series reissue from Verve/Universal Music Enterprises
- 180g Vinyl LP
- Mastered by Ryan K. Smith at Sterling Sound From Original Analog Tapes!
- Pressed at Quality Record Pressings
- Stoughton Printing gatefold old-style tip-on jackets
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