Craft Recordings announced plans to create the highest quality vinyl reissues of legendary recordings from their vast catalog. Each album selected for the series will undergo all-analog mastering and then is pressed on 180-gram vinyl in a one-step lacquer process—as opposed to the standard three-step process—allowing for the highest level of musical detail, clarity, and dynamics while reducing the amount of surface noise on the record. The company says, “The limited nature of these pressings guarantees that each record is a true representation of the original lacquer and is as close as the listener can get to the original recording.”
Each Small Batch pressing, as it’s being called, is only being produced in quantities of 1000, priced at $99.99 and only available at CraftRecordings.com. Each record will be individually numbered and housed in a foil-stamped, linen-wrapped slipcase featuring an acrylic inset of the original artwork. The vinyl disc—extractable through a unique frictionless ribbon pull tab—will be housed in a reproduction of the original album jacket, complete with tip-on jacket, and protected by an archival-quality, anti-static, non-scratching inner sleeve. New liner notes from some of music’s best educators, historians, and journalists will accompany each title.
The first Small Batch pressing to be released will be John Coltrane’s Lush Life. For this reissue, the original analog tapes—recorded at Rudy Van Gelder’s Hackensack, NJ studios—were sent to GRAMMY®-Award winning mastering engineer Bernie Grundman, who utilized a custom tube pre-amp and analog mixing console with discrete electronics—both made in-house—as well as a Scully solid-state lathe with custom electronics. Grundman’s lacquers were then sent to Record Technology Incorporated (RTI) for plating using the plant’s one-step process, where the lacquers are used to create a “convert” that becomes the record stamper. Utilizing Neotech’s VR900 compound, Lush Life was then pressed on to 180-gram vinyl.
“When it comes to jazz, all you want to do is present the music in a good way. No gimmicks. No extra compression. Just the pure instruments,” explains Grundman. “We’re taking these old tapes and playing them off of equipment that’s similar to what they were recorded on. We want to preserve the sound as much as we can. My goal is to do all of this by hand as it’s playing. It takes a lot of preparation. It takes choreographing.” In the end, Grundman says, “It’s all about trying to optimize the experience for the listener.”
Recorded in three sessions over 1957 and 1958, Lush Life finds Coltrane on the verge of a career breakout. Though he was still a few years away from emerging as an influential and boundary-pushing bandleader, the saxophonist’s mature and complex sound was beginning to grab ears and sell records. Here, he’s accompanied by an all-star lineup of talent, including Red Garland on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, Donald Byrd on trumpet, and Art Taylor on drums. The tracklist, comprised of standards and popular tunes of the day, offers a wide range of moods. Highlights include Cole Porter’s “I Love You,” the Jimmy Van Heusen/Johnny Burke hit “Like Someone in Love,” and one original—“Trane’s Slo Blues.” In the package’s new liner notes, GRAMMY® Award-winning writer Ashley Kahn points out that the Billy Strayhorn-penned title track—now a jazz standard—was an unusual choice at the time.
In the late ‘50s, Lush Life was “more of a specialty tune…known primarily by a coterie of jazz players and dedicated fans.” Kahn adds, “One could not with any confidence call it a jam session, hoping that all the players would know the changes and the singer would have a handle on the lyric. Its harmony was complex and unusual, and it did not fit the 32-bar structure most songs followed… How bold it must have been for a John Coltrane album to not only bear the title of Strayhorn’s off-center song, but feature a fourteen-minute interpretation as its centerpiece. This is truly a band version of Lush Life—arguably the first—that builds steadily in intensity and offers a variety of textures through its free-wheeling duration.”
Tracklist – Lush Life:
- Like Someone in Love
- I Love You
- Trane’s Slo Blues
- Lush Life
- I Hear a Rhapsody
Price & Availability
The Lush Life reissue (pressing of 1,000 worldwide and sold for $99.99) sold out in just a couple hours after the pre-order launched on January 14, 2021. The record will start shipping February 19, 2021.
If you missed this one, Craft Recordings is planning on releasing two or three more titles this year from the series and continuing it in 2022.
For more information: craftrecordings.com/pages/small-batch