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Newbie Jazz Question

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Just picked up my first official Jazz album, Kind of Blue.
I love it; its everything i expected and more.

However, when using headphones, why am I hearing certain instruments only in the left ear while hearing others on the right? Is this par for the course with Jazz recordings?

I find listening to a 3 minute horn solo, solely through the right channel a little fatiguing (for example).

I can imagine this type of instrument separation sounding incredible on a proper surround sound system.
post #2 of 16
I don't know which pressing you're listening to, but it's like listening to many Beatles albums, early stereo wanted to show off through EXTREME separation. Often making headphone listening difficult (even more so with Grados). This is not a unique to Jazz or Jazz related issue.
post #3 of 16
Kind of Blue is pretty special huh? Great album (understatement). That hard separation isn't so bad with speakers, since both ears still hear what's coming out of one speaker.

For some more modern jazz that is well recorded, try "Diana Krall - Live in Paris", "Patricia Barber - Nightclub", "Pat Metheny - The Road to You", and of course "the Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique"
post #4 of 16
Keep in mind that Kind Of Blue was recorded in 1959 and while it was state of the art at the time, it actually was recorded on 3 tracks and mixed down to a stereo pair.........I still think the sound quality is some of the best ever recorded....a lot of this is owed to quality of the performances and the quality of the microphones used.

But if you're looking for audiophile reference jazz you will probably be interested in something from 1990 forward.....

Try Dave Holland's Prime Directive or Branford Marsalis Contemporary Jaz or Keith Jarrett's My Foolish Heart.

I mean....these releases are not the prestige, or rather do not possess the prestige of Kind Of Blue but will probably be more what you're looking for when it comes to merely a sonic evaluation. That said, try to listen to the music only if you can and never let the mix really interfere with your enjoyment....

Jazz's greatest soloist (Charlie Parker in my opinion) never recorded anything audiophile quality, but his records are my most frequently played jazz cds.
post #5 of 16
Nearly all of the early Blue Note releases were recorded with a single-point stereo mic, and they sound amazing, even on CD.

A good place to start would be Jimmy Smith's "Back at the Chicken Shack," a classic of funky soul-jazz featuring, besides the leader, Kenny Burrell and Stanley Turrentine.
post #6 of 16
Have you given any thought to crossfeed? A lot of the early stereo recordings have extreme channel separation and hard pans. Crossfeed takes the edge off and the Cross-I is pretty much mandatory for me when I listen to recordings like this on headphones.

On the other hand, this might be a good opportunity to venture into Speaker-Fi. A nice pair of dipoles really evens out these kinds of recordings. Have you heard that saying about your wallet?

P.S. Keep exploring jazz. Kind of Blue is just one of many recordings that will knock your socks off. I got into jazz about three years ago and it is hugely rewarding. Keep going!
post #7 of 16
Kind of Blue is already not that bad when it comes to stereo panning.... Bitches Blew and Jack Johnson are far worse and the stereo panning will drive you absolutely nuts. Blame it on the fact that most of the best Jazz albums came from the 50's and 60's, where all the stereo panning issues come up from.
post #8 of 16
Hard panning is less common overall in jazz than in rock, because jazz groups tend to record quickly (live or quasi-live) and also consequently have more bleed between microphones. This is why, for sound quality alone, Jazz and Classical have tended to appeal to audiophiles.

The bad news is that you're sort of starting at the top with Kind of Blue. I can't begin to tell you how much really awful-sounding music you have to listen to before you can become an "educated" jazz fan!
post #9 of 16
It's too bad that we do have so much of that in early jazz, but it does get better with time and you'll find lots of live recordings that don't have that problem. BTW try "to diz with love" which is a fantastic recording shortly before his death which includes several seminal jazz musicians in a very raw, live recording at the Blue Note.
post #10 of 16
Early stereo jazz recordings do appreciate a little (or a lot) of crossfeed - or even mono if your inclined.
I find Bitches Brew, Jack Johnson and even On the Corner absolutely mind-blowing with my DV332 and HD650's. I find that Kind of Blue is a jazz statement lp - its the final word in jazz - after that Miles explores other avenues and jazz was changed forever.
post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Wow; I had no idea this was the norm and to be honest, didnt even put two and two together with regard to the correlation between the time period and lack of audiophile type recording

That said, I am starting to get very excited about this Jazz thing.

Jazz has always been the "final frontier" for me; the remaining piece in my musical taste puzzle. However, much like delving into classical for the first time, its quite the daunting task.

That said, where to next for me?
post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by kwitel View Post
Wow; I had no idea this was the norm and to be honest, didnt even put two and two together with regard to the correlation between the time period and lack of audiophile type recording

That said, I am starting to get very excited about this Jazz thing.

Jazz has always been the "final frontier" for me; the remaining piece in my musical taste puzzle. However, much like delving into classical for the first time, its quite the daunting task.

That said, where to next for me?
early essentials:
Dave Brubeck Quartet - Time Out
John Coltrane - Blue Train, Giant Steps & A Love Supreme
Sonny Rollins - Saxophone Colossus
Charles Mingus - Mingus Ah Um

post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by hayste View Post
early essentials:
Dave Brubeck Quartet - Time Out
John Coltrane - Blue Train, Giant Steps & A Love Supreme
Sonny Rollins - Saxophone Colossus
Charles Mingus - Mingus Ah Um

All excellent suggestions. I would add the Louis Armstrong Hot Fives and Hot Sevens. Sound quality is not great by modern standards, but these are some of the greatest recordings ever made, in any genre.
post #14 of 16
Sometimes the answer to Miles Davis is simply more Miles Davis. Seeing as you've also just gotten into classical, what I'd suggest is Sketches Of Spain, which is kind of a blend of the two. The centerpiece is orchestrator Gil Evans' beautiful arrangement of Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez for jazz orchestra and soloist.
post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by hayste View Post
early essentials:
Dave Brubeck Quartet - Time Out
John Coltrane - Blue Train, Giant Steps & A Love Supreme
Sonny Rollins - Saxophone Colossus
Charles Mingus - Mingus Ah Um

x2 on all the above! Dave Brubeck Quartet's Time Out blew me away the first time I heard it. It had the same effect on me that Kind Of Blue did the first time I heard it.

Get it....you will thank us later!!

Roger
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