Michael Fremer Rated 10/11 Music, 10/11 Sonics!
MPS was a mecca for Oscar Peterson, George Duke, the Singers Unlimited, and a host of talented young European discoveries. Situated in Villingen, in Germany's Black Forest region, for some two decades MPS Records and studios wrote pioneering jazz history through its high-level recording technique and unmistakable aesthetic. Today the "most perfect sound made in the Black Forest" continues to light up the ears of analogue fans worldwide. A historical sketch.
The label's actual birth was in 1968, but it had a colorful prelude that entails the famous initials HGBS. As co-owner of the electronics manufacturer SABA, Industrialist Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer (HGBS) was not only an ardent audio engineer; he was also an amateur pianist who was crazy about music. In 1958 he built a recording studio above the living room in his villa. It contained the most sophisticated audio equipment available at that time. When Oscar Peterson came to Zurich to perform a concert in 1961, Brunner-Schwer lured Peterson to his villa, and the first house concert in the Black Forest. The Canadian was so impressed by HGBS's recording of the concert ("I never heard myself like this before..."), that he decided to come back every year for a another living room session. Meanwhile, starting in 1963 HGBS began to produce records under the label name SABA. The recordings included pianists Wolfgang Dauner and Horst Jankowski. George Duke also appeared as guest for the first time in 1966. When Brunner-Schwer left SABA in 1968, he founded MPS (Musik Produktion Schwarzwald (Black Forest)) Records. The Peterson recordings were the first release under the new name - this became possible since Peterson had finished his contract with Verve. It was the beginning of an illustrious catalog which contained over 500 releases by 1982.
MPS evolved a vault of recordings filled with treasures from virtually every musical direction. The recording no longer took place solely in Villingen; there were now New York studio sessions and live recordings at the Berlin Jazz Festival. Close teamwork with such masterful sound engineers as Willi Fruth and Rolph Donner guaranteed that the demand for a high-quality sound-aesthetic would be met, and many new talents were brought into the MPS fold through the mediations of the reigning high priest of jazz, Joachim-Ernst Berendt, who was working at the nearby Südwestfunk (Southwest Broadcasting) station.
Exclusively For My Friends is generally regarded as the heart of every Oscar Peterson collection. Peterson even raved that the MPS recordings, mainly due to the intimate atmosphere of inclusion in Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer's living room and its perfection and sensitivity as a sound engineer and producer, brought out Peterson's best.
The resulting 1963-1968 private concert recordings are the impressive result of the long friendship between the exceptional Canadian pianist and the Black Forest label owners. The recordings serve to document Peterson's exquisite playing style in high profile trios as well as Brunner-Schwer's keenness to create best possible sound characteristics. The AAA pressing of the complete audiophile edition is carried out on 180-gram virgin-vinyl. The sound of the original master-tapes was carefully optimized in a pure analogue mastering process to free them from their traces of aging. As a result MPS succeeds in meeting the highest audiophile standard found today.
180-gram individual pressings include Action, Girl Talk, The Way I Really Play, My Favorite Instrument, Mellow Mood and Travelin' On.
What's most appealing here is that you get the spontaneity and excitement of a 'live' performance minus the nightclub chatter. When the songs end, you hear but a few hands clapping...Peterson passed away December 23, 2007 at age 82. Had he lived a few years longer he probably would have enjoyed listening to this box set in his 'hi-fi room filled with all the latest stereo equipment.' He can't but happily you can.
- 6LP Deluxe Box Set
- 180g Virgin Vinyl
- Pure Analog Mastering Process
- Removal of all traces of aging from original MPS tapes
- Meticulous analog optimizing of the tapes
- Faithfulness to the original recording
- Analog lacquer cutting from the remastered tapes
- Records in first edition style of MPS
- Adaptation of the original gatefolds
- Including all additional pages and accompanying texts
- Vinyl labels modeled from the originals
- Gatefolds with glossy varnish finish
- Slipcase with debossed text
- Made in Germany
|bass (Action, Girl Talk)
|bass (Girl Talk, The Way I Really Play, Mellow Mood, Travelin' On)
|drums (Girl Talk)
|drums (Girl Talk, The Way I Really Play, Mellow Mood, Travelin' On)
Vol. I - Action
- At Long Last Love
- Easy Walker
- Tin Tin Deo
- I've Got a Crush On You
- Foggy Day
- Like Someone In Love
Vol. II - Girl Talk
- On A Clear Day
- I'm In the Mood For Love
- Girl Talk
- Medley: Concentrate On You/Moon River
- Robbins Nest
Vol. III - The Way I Really Play
- Waltzing Is Hip
- Satin Doll
- Love Is Here To Stay
- Sandy's Blues
- Alice In Wonderland
- Noreen's Nocturne
Vol. IV - My Favorite Instrument (solo)
- Someone To Watch Over Me
- Body And Soul
- Who Can I Turn To
- Bye, Bye Blackbird
- I Should Care
- Lulu's Back In Town
- Little Girl Blue
- Take The "A" Train
Vol. V - Mellow Mood
- In A Mellotone
- Nica's Dream
- Green Dolphin Street
- Sometimes I'm Happy
- Who Can I Turn To
Vol. VI - Travelin' On
- Travelin' On
- Quiet Nights
- Sax No End
- When Lights Are Low