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Bennie Wallace

Review by Dave Glackin
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Bennie Wallace Moodsville

LP Stock Number: Groove Note Records GRV1010-1


  Ying Tan continues to issue some of the best-packaged LPs in the business. His habit of including a 12-inch 45 rpm LP with the 33 1/3 rpm record is always appreciated by this writer. And it's hard to find a better producer than Joe Harley, who appears to have formed a very effective partnership with Ying Tan. This particular release is pressed on gorgeous blue vinyl. There's a reason for this other than looks - blue vinyl captures the high frequencies better than does black vinyl, as I have found in a recent head-to-head comparison.

Moodsville features tenor saxophonist Bennie Wallace leading a classic quartet of piano, bass and drums. Although this is a multi-mic'ed studio recording, Joe Harley and recording engineer Joe Marciano have done a credible job of creating a very plausible soundstage. The recording has good dynamics and presence, and does an excellent job of capturing Wallace's big tenor sax tone. And the blue vinyl surfaces are dead quiet, which indicates excellent quality control - blue vinyl is very hard to QC. This is a direct-to-two-track-Direct-Stream-Digital (DSD) recording. Much as I have been blown away lately by SACD, in my opinion, this particular recording would have benefited from the use of tubes. This recording has a bit of a solid-state signature, which is especially evident on the piano and drums, which to my trained ear sound a tad bright.

This is a recording of ballads alternating with more up-tempo numbers, in classic jazz tradition. It's a great late-night listening disc of standards by Billy Strayhorn, Cole Porter, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and others, including I'll Never Smile Again and April in Paris. It's not an album that will knock your socks off with technical pyrotechnics or gimmicks, and it's unlikely to become a classic of the genre. Moodsville is an album of straight ahead jazz that will make your quiet evening at home with the lights turned low much more pleasurable. The 45 rpm disc (also pressed on blue vinyl) will increase that pleasure. Listen to "I'll Never Smile Again" on the 33 1/3 rpm LP, then go to the 45, and you will understand what people have been saying for years about the higher speed. Everything gets better. (I'd love it if my entire collection were in this format, except then it wouldn't fit in my listening room.)

I always look forward to reviewing a Groove Note release, and this one is no exception. Ying Tan and company are a class act, and I applaud their efforts to make the jazz music world a better place. Keep it up, guys.

[While I have the floor, I wanted to mention that I have finally been able to hear the Groove Note release of Luqman Hamza With This Voice, which was released some time ago. This is an absolutely stunning recording of a unique, phenomenal jazz balladeer. Run, do not walk, to wherever you can buy this recording. It's an instant classic that has my highest recommendation.]



Enjoyment: 80

Sound Quality: 85












































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