You know those late night conversations that happen among tape lovers, the ones that kick off with someone asking (usually after a few drinks), “if you could listen to absolutely any album on tape, what would it be?”… and you know how everyone then shares – with misty eyes – their list of ‘fantasy’ tapes, knowing full well that they’ll probably remain precisely that: a fantasy… and then, one day – KA-BOOM! – someone releases one of your absolute top, number one, all-time favourite albums on tape. Friends, that day has just come for this reel-to-reel rambler and, boy, it sure is a great feeling!
Kind of Blue
The album in question is Miles Davis’ 1959 masterpiece, Kind of Blue – widely regarded as the greatest ever jazz record, and also one of the best albums of all time in any genre.
And it’s just been released on tape by Italian Hemiolia Records, run by Claudio Valeri and Pietro Benini. The source is a first generation production master tape that was made in 1998.
As you can imagine, the minute I heard, I contacted Claudio to find out more. Understandably, he’s a busy man right now, but he kindly took some time to answer my barrage of questions, so I can share those answers with you now (having immediately put my name down for a copy!).
It turns out that the news is even bigger than I anticipated. Hold onto your hats tape lovers and jazz fans – and start saving up…
“We are talking about over two hundred titles…”
Claudio says, “We have signed a long-term collaboration agreement with an Anglo-French company that allows us, and will allow us, to have constant access to an important archive of rigorously analogue tapes that have been jealously and perfectly guarded for years in France, in Paris by Ermitage Distribution.”
“These are first generation production master tapes mostly in 1/4 “stereo format.”
“Hemiolia’s goal is to reach absolute reference levels of listening with its products and therefore we are not satisfied to carry out simple duplications but we actively intervene to achieve this goal. How? Thanks to the skilled hands of Pietro Benini, Hemiolia’s sound engineer, who with his personal and particular sensitivity and forty years of experience in the analogue domain undertakes the remastering of these titles.”
“It goes without saying that all the processes are strictly performed in a fully analogue domain with both contemporary and vintage production equipment, processes that are then guaranteed by our A4P (Analog Four Phases Certification) certificate that accompanies each Hemiolia master tape, every one of which is individually signed to indicate our total responsibility.”
“It goes without saying that obviously before starting any process, when we work with tapes that were not directly recorded by us, the first step is to ascertain in a scientific way the perfect analogue coherence of the original tapes in question.”
“This new project foresees the publication of at least one new title every month and we are talking about over two hundred titles to be published that best represent the golden era of jazz, as well as other very important ones of soul music and classical music!”
And the first three will be…
Well, I’ve already told you about number one, which is absolutely my number one!
Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue is out now – and my copy is on order. Listen to a preview and order your copy at www.hemioliarecords.com/en/home/41-kind-of-blue-miles-davis-stereo-version-2-reels.html
Next up is Charles Mingus’ Mingus Ah Um, which is due out this month. It is of course another jazz classic – and it was ranked number 380 of the Top 500 Albums of All-Time by Rolling Stone magazine in 2020.
The third title, scheduled for December release – and this is an exclusive, you read it here first, as Hemiolia hasn’t yet announced this one – Blue Train by John Coltrane. Holy moly!
For any jazz fan, these are all much-loved and much listened-to albums, in whatever format you happen to have to have been listening to date. You may well even be familiar with every passage, every note… but Claudio promises that there’s more to discover and you will not be disappointed.
“We’re sure that every title you discover will be a surprise for you and the many audiophiles who’ve been waiting for these releases on tape for years. What will surprise you the most will be the things that you hear for the first time… right now, I’m personally listening to remastering that Pietro gave me of Mingus Ah Hum. I know this album so well, having listened to it in almost every existing edition and format, and yet I was literally speechless when I heard it in tape. And it was the same for Kind of Blue. I’m discovering details that I had never heard and with every listen, there’s more and more. It is literally as if I have Miles or Charles in the house!”
Seriously, I can.. not.. wait!
A caveat for USA buyers
Most of the titles that will be released by Hemiolia have been negotiated on a worldwide licence basis. However, some titles – including these first three – are sadly not authorised for sale in the USA. Hemiolia advises US-based customers to check their website as and when each title is released, as each listing will specify whether it is licenced for worldwide distribution or if there are any restrictions for sales to the USA.