A Tale of Two CTI's (Part 1) - JazzWax

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September 30, 2010


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Bill Kirchner

Virtually all analog tapes contain more sonic information than could be put into an LP. The compression used on LPs limited their dynamic range. So when CDs came out, that opened up new sonic vistas that have gradually been realized over the past 25 years--when the remastering is done right, of course.


Where can one obtain the King CDs?

Ed Leimbacher

Love that headline, and your essay ain't too CTI either: a story with much complexity carefully and finely delineated. Kudos to the writer, editor, poster and publisher, a man of many parts and hats and dedicated fans. I belong to that last group, and I anticipate in particular tomorrow's parallel parable--peremptory and imperishable as ever.

Jason Crane | The Jazz Session

Hi Marc: I interviewed Don Sebesky this weekend about his experience at CTI and about the new boxed set of CTI recordings. His episode of The Jazz Session will be posted October 11 and that's when the giveaway will happen, too. As always, you'll find it at:


John P. Cooper

I always like record biz stories!

We moved a lot of CTI product in the black community covered by VIP Records in Los Angeles.

Not too many returns, either.


From the first two paragraphs it almost sounds like the big media vultures were conspiring to kill off the label. There's no question that CTI watered down and muzaked up the music of artists like Wes Montgomery. However they managed to vastly increase the audience for some of those artists, and it was done in a relatively tasteful way. They also did some artistically adventurous, and some just plain off-the-wall stuff. Even for a purist, it's hard to criticize the commercialism of a label that goes bankrupt trying to help jazz musicians earn a living.


I believe this Masterworks CTI reissue program will be using the original master-tapes whereas the currently available Legacy CTI reissues are nearly all digital remixes made from the multi-track tapes.

It isn't surprising that using the original master tapes won't sound as good as the remixed versions because the analog mixing technology was a lot different to what can be done now in the digital domain. Of course a benefit of this reissue program will be that you get to hear what the albums originally sounded like can't be perfectly replicated decades after the fact.

Personally I think the Legacy remixes are over all improvements, but perhaps that is a matter of taste. My guess is a lot of the King reissues are remixes too, thus you aren't just hearing a difference in mastering, you are also listening to different mixes.

I don't have much faith in RVG as a mastering engineer anymore. Too many of his Blue Note CD reissues have an unnecessarily harsh and loud (digitally limited) sound that sometimes even features the channels folded in. Compare RVG's SACD of Blue Train with the Analogue Productions version. It is a night and day difference, the RVG version is so compressed and with such a jacked up high end (at the expense of the bass and mid-range) that it is un-listenable.

Bill Byam

Why can't the Joe Farrell material be released ?


I just compared the CTI Legacy version of Milt Jackson's Sunflower with the new CTI Masterworks version. The CTI Masterworks version is not only remastered, it is also remixed and re-edited. Just a couple of examples.

The guitar intro on the Legacy version of For Someone in Love continues once the band enters. On the Masterworks version the guitar drops out as soon as the band enters.

The Legacy version of Sunflower is 11:04 long (not 10:01 as indicated in the liner notes) versus an 8:51 long version on the Masterworks release. The main difference is that the Legacy version has a long coda.

I don't have the original album any more so I don't know which mix/edit is consistent with the original album. I can say that overall the new Masterworks version is more muffled than the Legacy and has less detail in the percussion and leading edge of notes. The Masterworks version has more reverb on the trumpet and a fuller sound on the drums, especially on the toms.

Overall I was surprised to find that I preferred the older Legacy version. I was expecting the Masterworks to be much better since there have been so many good remasters released in recent years.


Excellent article thank you!!! Regarding CTI vinyls, is there a difference in quality between the US and Japan pressings? Thank you in advance.

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of a Song" (Grove) and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's best blog award.

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