You are here: Home > Critics Corner > Listener Comments

Here's what the critics are saying about our releases.

Dave's Listener's Comments 12/25/15:

Thank you for a great year of releases and hopefully more in the future. All of you are putting out the BEST product in the industry and you deserve recognition for that. Just wanted express my gratitude to the work you guys do. I have only gotten into blue notes just over a year ago and I am hooked, just wish my wife felt the same way, but she is slowly becoming converted.
Looking forward to a great 2016 with music matters


Author Paul Harding's Comments 12/17/15:

Ron -

Just got back to Massachusetts, just got the vinyl rig set back up, just got the TPs forwarded from Iowa, and for the last two days have been listening nonstop to sides 1-6 of that famous triple album, Indestructable Magnificent Candy. It's the kind of rabbit hole I never want to come out of. Let the trash pile up, let the bills go unpaid, let the emails go unanswered, let the books go unwritten. Dinner may go uncooked, but I'll feed the children's souls with a feast of Morgan, Jones, Blakey, and Roach, Fuller, and Taylor. Turn down the lights and cue up any side and it feels like you're sitting on Van Gelder's Mom's couch while a session's going down.

I got to thinking about the shit these guys had to take, for being black, for being jazz cats, for all of it, and their response to all the bullshit was to put some of the most sophisticated, musical beauty this country has and will ever see into the world. It's worth meditating on. Preferably from deep inside these practically four dimensional 33 1/3 remaster test pressings you sent. I'm knocked out by your generosity and enthusiasm and dedication to this body of music. Man, you and Gray and Harley and Cuscuna et. al. are the stewards of the state of the art -

Muchas, muchas gracias for all this truth and beauty, once again,


Author Paul Harding's Comments 12/1/15:


I finally hacked my way through the line at the post office and signed for the Candy.

You were not kidding, man. The sound is so utterly present and dynamic and immersive it's almost unnerving. You can actually hear Art Taylor's hi-hat pedal squeaking in the opening track, his kit is so cleanly resolved.

Eventually, I'll get to all the other stuff, but right now, between the tone of the horn and those fucking brushes on the snare head, and that bass that sounds like you're inside the thing, like way down inside some bottomless old oak tree, I just plain got the whammy put on me.

Congratulations on this. It's ridiculous how you just keep fetching treasure after treasure after treasure from those vaults and laying them out there for everyone to hear. I hereby nominate you for a new, "Reissue" Pulitzer, and Kevin Gray for a "Mastering" Pulitzer. Wait - don't they make Grammys for those things? They should. And give them to you.

The actual copy you sent is flawless. Silent vinyl, nothing but the sweets, baby.

Many, many thanks for the generosity. It's very cool, contemplating my kids playing this for their kids someday, telling them the whole story, about BN, RVG, MM, RR....A fine tale, for sure.

Let's talk sometime about what you might be thinking for blog-like stuff.

All best,

Listener from Singapore: Ian's Videos

My first 6 Music Matters Jazz best reissues of the classic Blue Note series albums, recorded by Rudy Van Gelder at Hackensack, NJ in the 1960s.
Watch The Full Video Here:

Hi Vinyl Community friends, here is the look into all the 6 Music Matters Jazz Blue Note reissue albums within the gatefold covers. I can't show you how good they sound over YouTube, but they do!
Watch The Full Video Here:

Listener from Germany: Armien's Video

This is my latest Jazz update. I did a big order from the United States and bought at the Acoustic Sounds store.
Watch The Full Video Here:

Listener Paul's Video

Breakdown of Music Matters Jazz and the importance of reissuing Blue Notes.
Watch The Full Video Here:

Joe Henderson: Mode For Joe (2013)

Musically, Mode for Joe is as solid a record as is likely to be found, and the first-rate reissue package really does it justice. There's a lot going on here and the exceptional sound quality just makes it easier to appreciate. Add to that a fine, heavyweight gate-fold cover and extra session photos and this is a truly compelling package

Read The Full Article here:

All about Jazz Reviews Ike Quebec: Easy Living

As with all of the Music Matters Blue Note reissues, the goal is to create an all- analog record with the best possible sonics. ...Some recordings are timeless, and this is one of them. Easy Living is a record always worth hearing and appreciating.

Read The Full Article here:

All About Jazz Reviews Hank Mobley: The Feelin's Good

Music Matters has built a little niche for itself reissuing classic Blue Note records of the 1950s and '60s on 45rpm vinyl. This time they've gotten their mitts on something really extraordinary: a complete session by tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley that's never been released as a single album. These people at Music Matters, they're pretty smart folks. If you get your hands on something like that there's really only one thing to do with it: press a record...Buried treasure like this doesn't show up all that often, so when it does, people should pay attention. It really is that good.

Read The Full Article here:

All About Jazz Reviews Larry Young: Into Something

...Full of relaxed grooves, great melodies and strong performances...The Music Matters pressings are all about wringing the most sonic information from the original master tapes. The series has been wildly successful at presenting these old Blue Note titles with better fidelity to the master tapes than they've ever exhibited before. Into Something upholds the series' standards nicely, with dead quiet vinyl and exemplary sound quality. A Hammond B3 has rarely sounded this smooth.

Read The Full Article here:

All About Jazz Reviews Pete La Roca’s: Basra

Again exhibiting his willingness to dig deep into the Blue Note vaults, Ron Rambach at Music Matters has remastered Basra from the original two-track tapes and pressed it onto two 45RPM vinyl records. Like everything else in the series the sound quality is exceptional and really does justice to this unique and underappreciated music.

Read The Full Article here:

Reviews Of Music Matters Jazz Reissue Series

These old Blue Note records are classics, comprising music that every serious jazz fan should hear, and the Music Matters vinyl pressings help jazz fans to hear more of that music.

Read The Full Article here::

All About Jazz on Herbie Hancock’s Inventions and Dimensions - “Recorded in August of 1963, pianist Herbie Hancock's Inventions and Dimensions puts pulsing, grooving rhythms at the center of the music, with Latin percussive elements and—in the best jazz tradition of the times—lots of blues...the sound is simply glorious. As usual with the Music Matters series, these pressing blow away any CD version of the same record with detail, scale, and dynamics to beat the band. The ultimate issue of a classic Hancock date, this is likely to be the best that will ever be pressed.”

Read The Full Article here:

Analog Planet Reviews "A Blowing Session" by Johnny Griffin - this aptly named one cuts to the heart of the matter, and its high speed, relentless intensity will make for exciting listening every play.

Read The Full Article Here:

Audiobeat take a look ahead - “For nearly four years -- 44 months to be exact -- Ron Rambach and Joe Harley of Music Matters have religiously churned out standard-setting reissues of Blue Note recordings that they've shipped in pairs each month. These 88 LPs comprise a library of consequential jazz from arguably jazz's most consequential label...”

Read The Full Article here:

Affordable $$ Audio Reviews Wayne Shorter’s Night Dreamer (See Page 25 of PDF)

Read The Full Article here:

Robertmusic Reviews four Music Matters Releases - Herbie Hancock's "Empyrean Isles" has never been a record I could get into...until this one. This shows the geniius of Ron and Joe in selecting Blue Note titles not to cater to the warhorse audiophile crowd, but to bring titles that have both massive musical value and are masterpieces - either minor or major - as well as being unique in the Blue Note catalog.

Read The Full Article here:

Stereophile - Reviews a trio of New Releases from Music Matters

Read The Full Article here:

All about Jazz - Music Matters and the Blue Note Oddballs

All About Jazz reviews Herbie Hancock’s Empyrean Isles: “A masterpiece like Empyrean Isles deserves a first-class reissue, and the good folks at Music Matters have undertaken to press the ultimate vinyl version.”

Read The Full Article here:

Tone Magazine - Art Blakey’s “Indestructible” - “Damn! This record is what bop is all about...The sonics are larger than life...Music Matters continues to set the standard for aural bliss. Jeff Dorgay

Read The Full Article here: View Review here

All About Jazz Reviews Eric Dolphy’s Out To Lunch -”The vinyl is flawless, and the sound quality is exceptional. The clarity is so enhanced that the keys on Dolphy's horn can be heard under his playing. Bobby Hutcherson's vibes have a full ringing tone, and Freddie Hubbard's trumpet reveals his prized burnished bronze tone in all its glory.

Read The Full Article here:

All About Jazz Reviews Andrew Hill’s Point Of Departure -” This album includes some of the fiercest, high density writing of the era, with each track featuring tight, byzantine written statements and full-throated blending of timbres.”
that rewards with great music and the ultimate in sound.

Read The Full Article here:

All About Jazz Reviews Horace Silver: Song For My Father - But for a serious lover of Horace Silver, this Music Matters reissue is likely the highest quality pressing that will ever be seen. Song For My Father is a masterpiece worthy of such high-minded treatment that rewards with great music and the ultimate in sound.

Read The Full Article here:

All About Jazz: “Music Matters has been reissuing classic Blue Note jazz records since 2007. It has dug deep into the catalog, remastering lesser known, infrequently heard titles, and done so with passionate attention to presenting the highest possible sound quality. Offering an analog solution in a digital age, this exceptional series is available on 45rpm vinyl records only. It is an extraordinary collection of music.”

Read The Full Article here:

Select Reviews from Hi Fi Magazine:
- Jackie McLean - Destination Out
- Johnny Griffin - The Congregation
- Grachan Moncur - Evolution
- Sonny Rollins - Newk’s Time

Review of Una Mas - A classic and essential recording, the perfectionist sonic qualities of Music Matters' reissue of Una Mas just makes it that much more compelling.

Read The Full Article here:

Review of Sam Rivers - Fuchsia Swing Song - “The Music Matters reissue of saxophonist Sam Rivers' Fuchsia Swing Song is likely the finest pressing of this record ever produced. Remastered from the original two- track tapes, and pressed on two 180 gram 45 rpm LPs, this vinyl is dead quiet, and sonically stunning.

Read The Full Article here:

The Audio Beat Select Reviews of Joe Henderson, Blue Mitchell & Horace Silver

Read The Full Article here:

Review of Unity by Music Angle - This is an exceptional Blue Note musically and sonically. The quartet is on fire and Rudy Van Gelder put the mikes close and the reverb in the background. Way recommended.

Read The Full Article here:

Review of Night Dreamer - Rudy Van Gelder cooperated too, producing one of his most sonically consistent recordings. Every instrument including the piano is well recorded with the microphones placed sufficiently far from the instruments to produce a great sense of depth, space and transparency. A superb Music Matters reissue.

Read The Full Article here:

Review of Sony’s Crib
- Sonny Clark: “Another LP reissue by the jazz-loving audiophiles at Music Matters Jazz: mastered at 45rpm, with the widened grooves spread out across two slabs of 180g virgin vinyl. It makes the instruments on the CD sound like paper puppets on a flat backdrop by comparison.

Read The Full Article here:

Review of Newk’s Time - Possibly the premier US remastering shop, Music Matters continues to reissue Blue Note albums of the 1950s and 1960s on premium 180 gram, 45rpm vinyl. These recordings are at the heart of the jazz canon and should be heard by any serious student of the music. Now, one of the finest performances in the Blue Note catalogue, tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins' 1957 date Newk's Time, has hit the street.

Read The Full Article here:

Review of Newk’s Time - “ Music Matters Jazz, the audiophile house that does up the Blue Note classics right...”

Read The Full Article here:

“Musically and sonically, Destination Out is a gem...”

Read The Full Article here:

A Tale of two Turrentines - Mintons on Music Matters vs. Analogue Productions 45 vinyl

I have previously commented that the sound on the Music Matters 45 rpm vinyl series is somewhat better on average than the Blue Note 45 vinyl from Analogue Productions, which has caused some minor consternation over at the Hoffman board (at least, until any mention of it gets censored there).

Finally, we have a perfect opportunity to see if that's a figment of my imagination or not, by comparing the Analogue Productions 45 of Up AtMinton's Volume 1 to the Music Matters 45 of Up At Minton's Volume 2 - both recorded at exactly the same time on the same equipment by the same Rudy Van Gelder. Both remastered by the same team of Kevin Grey andHuf-huf-huffmann.

Should sound the same, right? Remastered by the same guys at the same studio on the same equipment. Same master tapes. How could they be different?

Well...they are, and that's just a fact. The AP sounds wimpier, Turrentine is a bit muted and further back, the top end is just a touch rolled back, and the bass is very softly pleasant.

Now turn to the Music Matters and Turrentine is punching out front and center, the bass has more punch and presence, and there is a snap on top. Not that the AP is bad - it's not. It's just much more nice. You know, it's more pleasant as in dinner party pleasant, nice and inoffensive, nice and easy to listen to, easy on the ears. The Music Matters is nice too - but it sounds more like a jazz record should, and how Stanley Turrentine should - more heft and punch to Turrentine, he cuts when he shouts and is far more out front, as he was on the bandstand the night this was recorded.

The Music Matters is up at Minton’s. The AP is around the corner fromMinton’s, or maybe in the bathroom at Minton’s.

Why the difference?

It's really pretty simple. Analogue Productions doesn't use a producer for their reissues. Chad Kassem gets the tapes shipped to whatever remastering engineer he is using and relies on that person's judgement. Music Matters has RonRambach and Joe Harley, the former and expert on Blue Note and the latter a renowned producer, in the mastering studio supervising.

That's the difference. The production team. That's why all other things being equal, as they are with Turrentine’s "Minton" recordings, the Music Matters sound better.

Music review - Destination Out - Jackie McLean - A Perfect 10

Read The Full Article here: Download PDF

“Now add this to the list of treasures” - Sam Rivers Fuchsia Swing Song

Read The Full Article here:

Audiobeat reviews Hill’s Point of Departure and Silver’s Song For My Father - The Music Matters gang didn't stop with the music on Song For My Father. There was no original artwork available, so they scanned the cover of a mint first pressing, painstakingly correcting issues with it until it looked better than the original. This care underscores the label's commitment to offering only the finest Blue Note recordings. They succeed with each release.

Read The Full Article here::

- The latest two offerings from Music Matters Jazz—Lee Morgan's Indeed! and Jackie McLean's Destination Out!—are the company's best in a while: most worthy of the exclamation points.”

Read The Full Article here::

The Audio Beat:
TAB's other area of emphasis -- for obvious reasons -- is music, but our process for picking a winner here is not like that used at publications that only cover music. While the newest CD from some hot band may be deserving of a Recording of the Year award, we chose instead the music that we've been listening to and treasuring, and it happens to be a half-century old.

Music Matters has reissued nearly 60 historic Blue Note titles on a pair of 45rpm LPs. Each has been exemplary -- and many have been essential. With the care it takes both in terms of the LPs themselves and the sleeves -- which are gorgeously rendered and include unpublished session photos -- the label has set a very high standard by which recordings reissued on LP will be measured.

For these reasons, the Music Matters Blue Note series is our choice for Recordings of the Year 2010. And with more Music Matters releases still to come, this is one musical well that will continue to produce black gold.”

Stereophile: “I want to pay tribute to Music Matters Jazz, the audiophile company that reissues limited editions of classic Blue Note jazz titles, each on two slabs of pristinely quiet 180-gram vinyl, mastered at 45 rpm, tucked inside gatefold covers adorned with high-rez reproductions of session photographs. It’s a tough pick, but the three best MMJs of 2010, on musical grounds (almost all the releases sound really good): Andrew Hill, Point of Departure; Lee Morgan, Volume3; and Clifford Brown, Memorial Album. “

“Listening to Dorham's masterpiece is like walking into a hot jaz club and being swept into a Fantasia like musical adventure...Another legitimate masterpiece from Music Matters.” - Dennis Davis, Hi Fi Magazine, Issue 76, Page 88

Jackie McLean / Sam Rivers: “The Music Matters sound has come to define Blue Note recordings in the new millennium. It's more contemporary, more high-res, than that of original LPs and especially the RVG-series CDs. Dynamics are freewheeling, and the bottom end is extended and enhanced. The stereo soundstage unfolds with great lateral spread, and everything pops out of the noise floor due to the very quiet pressings. The gatefold sleeves continue to set the standard for heft and pizzazz.”

Read The Full Article here:

Andrew Hill, Point Of Departure - Music Matters Jazz—the L.A.-based audiophile label that reissues classic Blue Note titles, each on twin slabs of thick, quiet vinyl, mastered at 45 rpm and eased into gorgeous gatefold packages—keeps churning them out....One of their latest, and greatest, is Andrew Hill’s Point of Departure, a jaw-dropper from 1964 that sounds as fresh as tomorrow. ..much better (fuller, more detailed, dynamic, dimensional, and tonally true) than either Blue Note’s RVG-edition CD or Mosaic’s Andrew Hill LP boxed-set from several years ago (which is out of print in any event). It’s a vital album, in the best sound that I’ve heard.

Read The Full Article here:

Review of Jenkins / Burrell - Less bluesy and more high speed bop than Blue Notes to come, this six tune set ignites upon take off and doesn't come down for a moment. Even the ballad "Everything I Have is Your" has an electric elegance going for it, with Jenkins managing to cast long, pleasing lead lines, while following up with staccato stabs that give the piece lift.

Read The Full Article here:

Review of Henderson / Inner Urge - This 45 RPM pressing from Music Matters richly presents all of the emotion of Henderson's horn, from the fiercely distorted opening squawks of El Barrio, to his buttery-smooth tenor tones--and does so with a dynamic range, extended tonal palatte, and clarity that has come to be expected from the Music Matters jazz series.
Read The Full Article here::

Review of Song For My Father
- This Music Matters 45 RPM reissue has an overall weightier sound and lacks the top end boost and compression that was favored by Van Gelder. What results is a smoother tone, that is full of detail and dynamics, and an ambience created by the natural decay of notes that seem to hang in the air before you. If you're a fan of this record, you won't find a better sounding version. And if you're not a subscriber to the Music Matters series, get this one while you can
Read The Full Article here:

Michael Fremer Reviews Grant Green - Matador: “The sound here, remixed from the original Van Gelder recording is remarkably good and sounds more modern in the best sense of that word than some other albums of the time. It sounds nothing like a “typical” Blue Note, being drier, more detailed and punchier than usual. Being able to hear Green pick notes from an intimate perspective adds to the pleasure. The piano and drums too are very well recorded. An easy album to recommend.”

Read The Full Article here:

Fred Kaplan, NY Times: Back in the Groove: Jazz Reissues on Vinyl ...these reissues sound better than originals costing 10 to 100 times as much (when you can find them). Fred blogs about this article here.

Read The Full Article here:

Review Of Freddie Hubbard - Open Sesame:

Still, you can’t beat this beautifully packaged, sonically rich, double 45rpm set. I don’t claim to be a Blue Note scholar but this is one of my favorites, however the experts rate it. “

Read The Full Article here:

These are the quietest pressings I have ever heard (or not heard). Second, the sound is superior to the original 1964 pressing in every way (I’ve long owned a copy that’s in excellent condition). Bobby Hutcherson’s vibes ring and reverberate; Tony Williams’ drumkit makes you blink; Dolphy and Freddie Hubbard’s horns are spot-on; and Richard Davis’ bass plucks and strums like a wood upright bass... So my sensors are switched on now to the Music Matters Jazz schedule, and so should yours be.

Read The Full Article here:

Review of Curtis Fuller: The Opener and Sonny Rollins: Volume 1

Joe Harley of Music Matters coined the term "primal purity" to describe mono y mono playback, and it fits the sound of these LPs perfectly. There is an unfettered authenticity, the sense that you're going back in time and hearing every bit of the musical information the master tapes have to offer. The Opener has a thoroughly contemporary sonic balance, but Vol.1 eclipses it, offering rich tone and texture to both horns and a no-apologies-needed bottom end. The Music Matters team seems to have discovered bass tracks on the master tape that no one else knew existed... There is everything to admire about these releases, right down to the sleeves, which are gorgeously rendered -- crisp and glossy. They would look as great hung on the wall as the LPs will sound on your turntable.

Read The Full Article here:

Review of Lee Morgan: Search for the New Land

"Search for the New Land" opens with an outer-dimensional trill from Grant Green's guitar and drummer Billy Higgins' cymbals, a duet that resurfaces throughout the piece. The tragic, anthemic, yet exhilarating, horn theme blown by Morgan and saxophonist Wayne Shorter adds purpose to Green's and Higgins' echoing waves, setting the intelligence, longing and desire of humanity's drive atop the waves to reach toward unknown, distant possibilities.”

Read The Full Article here:

Review of Kenny Dorham, 'Round About Midnight at the Cafe Bohemia

How rare and collectible is this record? A mint original sold for $678.00 back in 2004. I doubt it sounds as good as this double 45rpm of the Music Matters “must haves.” ...It’s hard to believe this set is from 1956. It sounds fresh and contemporary today both musically and sonically and it confirms Dorham’s status as among the most underrated players of his generation. Miles Davis aficionados unfamiliar with Dorham would be well served buying this gem of a time capsule. Of course Music Matters' packaging is first class as is the mastering and pressing.

Read The Full Article here:

Review of Sonny Rollins, Volume 1 - by Matt Marshall

Often lost and forgotten in the mix of spectacular albums saxophonist Sonny Rollins made... Sonny Rollins Vol. 1 is nevertheless an indelible piece of work. It would stand out in almost any other musician's canon (or even in a different era of Rollins' career)... Vol. 1 would make a worthy addition to any jazz collection on the strength of "Decision" and "Glocca Morra" alone. Throw in the three additional Rollins compositions, the saxophonist's inspired interpretations throughout and the full, warm sound of this mono vinyl reissue and you got a piece that could well be a collection standout.

Read The Full Article here:

Review of Shades Of Redd, Freddie Redd Quintet - by Michael Fremer of Musicangle

This is far from the most famous or sought after Blue Notes, but in my book its among the best and it epitomizes all that was truly great about the Blue Note label. Perhaps it’s a bit off the (well) beaten Blue Note path, but Shades of Redd got great balladry, up-tempo romps and consistently superb playing, making it one easy to recommend Blue Note ... if I had to pick just one Blue Note to add to my collection, this record just might be it.

Read The Full Article here:

With its entrance into the jazz vinyl arena two years ago, Music Matters has single handedly changed the definition of what constitutes an ultra-premium audiophile product. Team leaders Joe Harley and Ron Rambach have done everything right in this series. They're picking superb Blue Note titles--with few, if any duds in the bunch so far. They're using the original analog master tapes. The mastering and cutting of these double 45 RPM sets is being done by the veteran team of Kevin Gray and Steve Hoffman, resulting in consistently spectacular sound.

Read The Full Article here:

Review of Grant Green: Matador

This may be the reissue of 2009: a resplendent vinyl pressing of guitarist Grant Green's Matador on two 180-gram, 45-rpm records from Music Matters. This May 1964 recording was, like many Blue Note sets, not released until many years later (November 1979 in Japan in this case) and only reached the U.S. on CD in 1990. It has not been remastered since. The record teams Green with two-thirds of saxophonist John Coltrane's rhythm section of the time—pianist McCoy Tyner and drummer Elvin Jones—plus bassist Bob Cranshaw. The result is nothing less than Green's best album.

Read The Full Article here:

Review of John Jenkins with Kenny Burrell and Wayne Shorter ? JuJu

Here is obviously a guiding hand behind the choice of Blue Note titles that Music Matters releases each month...As with all of the Music Matters releases, the sound -- mono for John Jenkins with Kenny Burrell, stereo for JuJu -- achieves tonal balance and low-end weight that are appropriate to modern wide-bandwidth audio equipment, while original pressings will sound brighter and leaner in comparison. Also typical are the quiet pressings and gorgeous high-gloss sleeves. John Jenkins with Kenny Burrell has one of Blue Note's most famous covers, and the Reid Miles design is reproduced with crispness and eye-popping color.

Review of Eric Dolphy: Out To Lunch!

An excerpt from Matt Marshall's October 2009 article on
...This Music Matters reissue proves the music is just as vital today. The brilliant sound and the necessity of flipping the vinyl, engage the listener physically, in addition to emotionally and intellectually. In every way, it's a thrilling, rewarding escape that, like the best of art, is more a going into life than away from it.

Read the full article here -

The Music Really Matters

An excerpt from John Crossett's September 2009 article on

...And they’ve now been reissued by a company that puts the music first and makes sure every aspect of these LPs is the best it can be, from cover stock, artwork, and inner sleeves to the pressings themselves. If you love jazz, this is the series to own. There’s never been a better reissue series than the Music Matters Blue Notes.

Read the full article here -

Review of Tina Brooks: Back To The Tracks

An excerpt from Matt Marshall's July 2009 article on

...The stereo sound of this vinyl reissue is impeccable. Play it next to the True Blue CD and you'll hear the difference—a warm, live tone that sacrifices none of the stereo separation nor chisels it into a series of conjoined instrumental cubicles; the group dynamic is never lost. You can almost smell the smoke swirling up from a cigarette abandoned in an ashtray at the Van Gelder Studio. The year is 1960 and the music of an extremely talented young saxophonist is blowing with all the promise of a bright future.

Read the full article here -

Review of Lee Morgan: Tom Cat

An excerpt from Matt Marshall's June 2009 article on

...Adding to the splendor of this reissue is its freshly designed cover art. Since the initial release of albums like Tom Cat was so long delayed, none had an "original" Blue Note cover per se. So, with full access to all of Francis Wolff's photos from these sessions, Patrick Roques at Music Matters has created his own, boldly expressive covers, modeled after the look of those classic Blue Note covers. The orange-tinged trumpeter that graces the front of this album gives fair warning of the musical heat contained within.

Read the full article here -

Jazz Vinyl Makes A Comeback

An excerpt from Bob Gendron's May 2009 article in Downbeat Magazine:

...Music Matters is among the labels leading the way. Producer Joe Harley said the reasons he and partner Ron Rambach launched the series in 2007 are all about sound and feel. ...

Read the full article here - Article on Page 21

Review of Hank Mobley: Hank Mobley

An excerpt from Matt Marshall's May 2009 article on

...The second disk opens with Hardman's spirited trumpet solo on Mobley's "Double Exposure." Mobley and Porter then resume their rolling/slashing dual, backed by comping from Clark that truly sounds a couple of feet deeper in the mix. Later, Art Taylor bursts in with a solo that allows you to sense the physical range of his drum set. (The full-bodied, three-dimensional sound on this track alone might have you considering a lawsuit against the marketers who sold us on digital back in the 1980s.) ...the album as a whole embodies a musical indulgence that never felt so essential.

Read the full article here -

Review of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers - A Night In Tunisia

An excerpt from John Crossett's July 2008 article on

...It's the sound that generates the greatest interest with this new version. Never have I heard Blakey’s drum set reproduced with such accuracy. Blakey was noted for his explosiveness, and this album demonstrates why he earned that reputation. Every snap, crackle, and cymbal crash comes blasting out of the right speaker (which is a neat trick, because Wayne Shorter’s tenor sax is very definitely in front of Blakey’s drums). ...

Read the full article here -

Review of Lou Donaldson With the 3 Sounds - LD+3

An excerpt from Michael Fremer's July 2008 article on

...This day (or days) Rudy was in fine form, particularly in how he managed to capture wide dynamic range and pleasing harmonic colors from Harris’s piano and a big, transparent, wet picture of Donaldson’s horn. The pleasures are both musical and visceral. Outstanding gatefold packing, including stunning session photos from Lion. A highest recommendation. ....

Read the full article here -

Review of Gil Melle - Patterns in Jazz

An excerpt from Marc Mickelson's June 2008 article on

...With a Dynavector DRT XV-1s Mono mounted on a second Graham Phantom armwand, Patterns in Jazz positively leaped to life. The music sounded direct and pure, with overtones more finely drawn, and there was an obvious decline in noise of all kinds, a byproduct of that reduced vertical compliance. Patterns in Jazz was literally CD quiet. On sides one and two, I heard not one tick or pop. Some beat-up mono LPs I have were transformed from dross to nearly demo material. Everything I was hearing -- and not hearing -- easily justified the cost and trouble of having a second cartridge....

Read the full article here -

Review of Lou Donaldson with the Three Sounds - LD+3

An excerpt from John Crossett's April 2008 article on

...The Music Matters LPs -- a pair of beautifully pressed 45s -- take that great Blue Note sound and ratchets it up a notch or two, while the Acoustic Sounds 45s seem to spit-shine the master tape with the technological advances engineers enjoy today. Which are better? I give the nod to the Music Matters LPs, as they offer a greater sense of space along with more organic wholeness to go with the clean, clear sound. The Acoustic Sounds LPs are very fine, as long as you like the original Blue Note sound but with a cleaner signature. They seem to spotlight the individual instruments a bit more too, almost as if the musicians were recorded in sound booths. (They weren’t, of course.) And when you toss in the packaging, well, it’s no contest: Music Matters gives you a product that makes you happy you spent the $50 entry fee (if that’s possible)...

Read the full article here -

Review of Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers - The Big Beat, and Horace Parlan Quintet - Speakin' My Piece

An excerpt from Marc Mickelson's February 2008 article on

...The sound? An update of classic Blue Note immediacy that adds the sort of naturalness and in-the-room presence the originals can't muster. And there's bass weight you won't hear on any version of this music, even the remastered CDs. This isn't original Blue Note sound -- it's better, and it's in stereo, which is how the sessions were laid to tape....

Read the full article here -

Music Matters' Stunning Blue Note Vinyl Reissues

An excerpt from Wayne Garcia's January 2008 article in Playback Magazine: exceptionally transparent and airy Blue Note sound, one with a great deal of spatial definition around instruments, and a dynamic life I had never thought possible. Wayne Shorter's tenor sax virtually jumps out of the speaker with its reedy warmth, and Blakey's snare and cymbal crashes all but explode from somewhere behind and to the left of him...

Read the full article here (begins on page 104) -

ALBUM REVIEW: Horace Parlan Quintet (reissue) - Speakin' My Piece

There’s nothing groundbreaking on this 1960 Parlan-lead session, but that’s okay. The lure here isn’t the musical construction, since it covers familiar grooves and doesn’t move jazz forward. In fact, you’ll hear familiar gestures, some gleaned from Miles’ modal Kind of Blue issued a few years earlier, others from common blues.

The tunes, beginning with pianist Parlan’s “Wadin’” will also ring familiar. The gospel inflected “Wadin’” sounds like Duke Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If it Ain’t Got That Swing”). “Up In Cynthia’s Room,” another Parlan composition, has an archetypal “Blue Note” swing that in retrospect hints at famed Basie arranger Neal Hefti’s later “Odd Couple” theme.

None of the other compositions particularly stand out either, though they all dig deep, pleasing, toe-tapping grooves. The allure, instead, is Parlan’s compacted, crisp, energetic playing, the tight, nimble George Tucker (bass), Al Harewood (drums) rhythm section and especially the Turrentine brothers, Stanley and Tommy, on tenor sax and trumpet. These two snake and swing their way through the melodic thickets with a mellow swagger and cool bravado that’s endlessly pleasing.

If your first jazz record was 1963’s Herbie Mann Live at the Village Gate, the opening bass line of Tommy Turrentine’s “Rastus” will give you a start. It set’s the same groove as Ben Tucker’s “Comin’ Home Baby” that opens the Mann set.

The other lure here, of course, is the superb packaging and sound presented on this Music Matter release, thanks to Kevin Gray and Steve Hoffman’s 45rpm Acoustic mastering, the ever improving quality of RTI’s pressing and the gatefold jacket featuring luxuriously reproduced Francis Wolff black and white shots taken during these sessions.

Check out the air, grit and subtle reverb around Stanley Turrentine’s sax on the smoky “Oh So Blue.” While Rudy Van Gelder’s piano sound was never exemplary back in those days, he managed here to avoid the boxy, overmodulated mess that afflicted some of his other recordings of the period, which is a good thing since the session leader was on keyboards!

I have never heard an original of this, but based on the comparisons I’ve made between some “deep groove” originals I do have, and some Music Matters test pressings, I am confident that this reissues beats the original and by a considerable margin, especially dynamically—if you don’t mind getting up to swap sides and discs.

While there is some controversy surround MM's choice to reissue these in "stereo" (the monos are more coveted by Blue Note collectors who think they represent the "purest" presentation), forensic evidence (tape box notes) indicates that these were recorded in stereo, with the much coveted mono versions being simply "fold-downs" from the stereo tapes. Meaning, if you want the mono, all you have to do is hit the "mono" button (if you have one). Skeptics say that electrically summing the output of a stereo cartridge is not the same as having a mono cut played back by a mono cartridge, but considering that those who want the stereo can't derive it in any way from a mono cut, this seems like a reasonable compromise, especially considering that mono records aren't well received in the audiofool community for reasons that escape me.

That said, the "stereo" you will hear here, is not really stereo, but a fairly isolated spread, with the sax and trumpet on opposite channels, the bass and drums similarly isolated and the piano located midway between the two. Rudy dials in sufficient reverb to congeal the picture effectively, creating a more than pleasing, spacious presentation.

Right now, 2008, is the second golden age of vinyl. These limited edition reissues, already showing signs of selling out as they hit the market, will surely be coveted by future analog fans, so consider them investments in your current pleasure and future economic well-being!

Michael Fremer,

Positive Feedback Online Awards for 2007

I have only two nominations for product of the year, but these were the easiest choices I’ve made since I began with PFO.

The first goes to Air Tight for their PC-1 moving coil cartridge...

...What value is a great cartridge or a great audio system without software? You know the answer, and that’s why my second award goes to Music Matters for their new Blue Note 45 RPM Reissue Series.

We are a very young country and our musical history is equally young but we are responsible for one of the most creative forces in the history of music. The venue I’m referring to is Jazz, the only truly American art form and in my opinion Blue Note defines American Jazz like no other label.

Original Blue Note titles have become very scarce, and what remains is either worn out or unaffordable because music lovers in Asia and Europe have been quietly acquiring our Blue Note records for the last 20 years.

Over the years there have been many reissues of the Blue Note titles and some have been quite good, but what if one company set aside all the boundaries and decided that they would produce THE definitive Blue Note releases.

Music Matters is that team and they represent of some of the most talented people in the music business. Ron Rambach, Joe Harley, Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray.

Ron Rambach has been acquiring rare records for music collectors for more than 29 years. He’s the founder of Music Matters Ltd and during that time, also served in an advisory position to leaders at Atlantic and Verve. Ron also managed the largest collection of Jazz music in the United States, an amazing 300,000 plus titles. Obviously Ron is a music lover of the highest degree.

Joe Harley is a long time friend; he and I go back to his early days at Audioquest when we were kids (at least it seem like that now). Joe is now Vice President of Audioquest and probably the person most responsible for my Miles Davis addiction. Joe’s list of recording credits includes a Grammy nomination as well as serving as creative director for the JVC XRCD project for 6 years.

Steve Hoffman is the mastering engineer; this man has the uncanny ability to totally please me with every reissue he’s been involved with, from Ray Charles to Art Pepper. I have some of his early DCC releases and his touch was as obvious then as it is now.

Kevin Gray is probably best known for his work at AcousTech but his hand has been in almost every genre of music. He has the tenacity to insist that everything be perfect and if that requires upgrading all the hardware in the studio, he presses for that as well. Doing everything necessary to make the record perfect is what Kevin is known for.

Why am I so positive about this group of guys and the upcoming Blue Note releases? I have the first two releases as RTI test pressings.

Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers “The Big Beat” and Horace Parlan, “Speakin’ My Piece.” And if this is any indication of what’s to come, I advise you to get on the list now, before this collection is sold out.

As much as the originals are wonderful and a piece of history that cannot be replaced, musically this reissue is it’s equal in many ways. I’m not referring to just the super quiet surfaces that are to be expected with new vinyl, the two samples I have show increased dynamics and high frequency clarity missing on all my other Blue Note issues, including the Japanese versions, the Mosaic box set and even good quality USA Blue Note original’s.

If you’ve never owned Blue Note Jazz, this is your chance to have some of the most important music of our time, in a format that presents the artist in an almost perfect way.

Music Matters 45s: The First Word

I've seen the future, and you'll see it too if you go to CES in a couple of months. No, I'm not referring to some new digital goody, but what I predict will be the story for analog-loving audiophiles. The initial half-dozen Music Matters Blue Note reissues will be available by CES, all remastered with the utmost care and pressed as 45s on 180-gram vinyl. The first six titles are among the most famous from Blue Note: Art Blakey's The Big Beat, Horace Parlan's Speakin' My Piece and Us Three, Kenny Drew's Undercurrent, Lou Donaldson's LD+3, and Hank Mobley's Soul Station.

I received test pressings of each, along with the jacket for The Big Beat, and I can report that everything lives up to advanced billing. The very first test pressings identified a substandard batch of vinyl pellets that produced higher-than-expected noise. They've been jettisoned. The noise was low to my ears, but it's nonexistent now. The gatefold packaging is glossy and gorgeous, trumping the original covers by the inclusion of original session photos.

What about the sound? I've heard a few Blue Note originals and admired the very immediate presentation. The Music Matters 45s have all immediacy and add a free-flowing naturalness that is surprising at first but very easy to get used to. The only blemish is one that can't be avoided: each side holds only about ten minutes of music. Hey, the highest fidelity has always come at some sort of price.

Speaking of price, $49.95 is the one set for each two-LP set. There will eventually be 63 Music Matters reissues, but the availability of the first batch is a future that can't get here fast enough. Expect to see them for sale within the next couple of weeks.

Marc Mickelson, editor
November 19, 2007

I’ve heard a lot of Blue Note originals and myriad reissues over the years, but based on the sample test pressings heard so far, none—and I mean none—convey the intensity of living, breathing music-making the way the Music Matter’s Blue Note series does. The sense of air, texture, and dynamic pop in these grooves is astonishing. The music, of course, speaks for itself—and bravo to Music Matters for realizing that the original graphics and Francis Wolff photos are an equally important part of the Blue Note vibe. I can’t wait to see the finished products.

Wayne Garcia,
The Absolute Sound

They’re BIG and open and definitely work in stereo because they’re not hard left/right stereo. The cymbals are so "chimey" and the skins so open! Even Rudy's typical boxy piano isn't too bad. These are going to be really good....!!!! (Real time reaction after hearing his first test pressing of Horace Parlan’s Speakin’ My Piece LP.)

Michael Fremer,

As nice as they are, the RVG editions of the Blue Note catalog are about to be blown out of the water. A couple of long-time record industry jazz experts — a producer and a prodigious collector — have teamed up to release several dozen classic Blue Note sessions in definitive 2-disc 180-gram 45 rpm LP limited editions via their new company, Music Matters, Ltd. ( “We’ve found some real gems combing through the catalog,” says producer Joe Harley. So don’t expect the expected, but look for many overlooked titles in this series. Each gatefold package will contain two LPs — they need double the vinyl real estate at 45 rpm — and will be lavishly and generously decorated with dramatic Francis Wolff photos from the sessions, acquired with the assistance of producer Michael Cuscuna of Mosaic Records. “We’ve brought in Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray to do the mastering and we are working with the original stereo mixes. By the way, these are the masters that were used to mix down one generation to make the mono versions.”

Knowing that all the figures involved in this project are incapable of performing at less than 1000 percent, these Blue Notes, with first-batch titles by Art Blakey, Lou Donaldson and Horace Parlan arriving at retailers as you read this, should provide new insight into the way this music was originally intended to be heard. It’s as though the Holy Grail of jazz has finally been presented in high definition Technicolor. Examples I’ve heard live up to the hype: the sound is jaw-droppingly dynamic, alive and holographic with none of the high-frequency tilt many have complained about in regards to the RVG remastered CDs, but rather, a satisfying balance from top to bottom, and an unbelievable soundstage, such that I could swear the musicians were playing several feet past the limits of the two speakers themselves. These allow you to actually hear INTO the music, as well as be enveloped by it. After hearing your first of these, you’ll develop the Lay’s Potato Chip Syndrome — you won’t be able to stop at just one.

Mike Quinn
JazzTimes, November ‘07

Music Matters to These Guys

The buried treasure for those who frequent garage sales in search of LPs are jazz titles from the '50s and '60s, especially from Blue Note Records. Some Blue Note LPs command big money on the used market because their sound quality is considered definitive. But a new music label is working to challenge this notion, reissuing classic Blue Note titles on super-quiet 180-gram vinyl in the most authentic way possible.

Music Matters is the creation of industry veterans Steve Hoffman, Kevin Gray, Joe Harley, Ron Rambach and Michael Cuscuna. Not satisfied with producing just another series of reissues, the Music Matters team decided to create LPs that would improve upon the originals in terms of musical fidelity, pressing noise, and packaging quality. Each will be a 45 spread over four sides, and the gatefold packaging will use the original cover artwork and include unpublished pictures from the recording sessions. Such attention to detail doesn't come cheap -- $50 per title -- but once you see what an original mint copy of Hank Mobley's Soul Station or Dexter Gordon's A Swingin' Affair costs, you'll think these two-LP sets are more than reasonable.

The product of first-generation analog master tapes, the Music Matters reissues have a refined sonic pedigree. Collectors and audiophiles prize the mono versions of Blue Note LPs for their supposed sonic authenticity, but, as the Music Matters team discovered, the mono tapes were often derived from the stereo masters. Therefore, many of the reissues will be in stereo, not mono. From the Music Matters website: "To our collective surprise, when listening to the master tape, the stereo was greatly preferred to the (summed) mono." The audio equipment used for mastering and playback is some of the finest available, right down to the isolation products, which come from Silent Running Audio.

Music Matters has an ambitious schedule planned: six initial releases, then two titles each month through 2009. There will be 63 titles in all, and they comprise a cross-section of the most important music from the golden age of jazz.

Look for the first six titles -- Art Blakey's The Big Beat, Horace Parlan's Speakin' My Piece and Us Three, Kenny Drew's Undercurrent, Lou Donaldson's LD+3, and Hank Mobley's Soul Station -- later this year and in early 2008. Only listening will tell for sure, but the Music Matters reissues have all the outward signs of being the finest LPs available and becoming collector's items themselves. Maybe it's time to hold a garage sale of your own....

Marc Mickelson, editor
September 19, 2007