Sarah Vaughan - Live At The Berlin Philharmonie 1969 - Lost Recordings Double LP Cut From High Resolution Digital Files

(Update: I was wrong. These were cut from files and not from tape. The information I received was not clear. Some of the commenters are correct and I was wrong. I am always happy to end up with egg on my face to get correct facts published. These digital transfers are the best I've heard. I'm leaving the review "as is".. Brief and to the point: This is a previously unreleased Sarah Vaughan fan “must have” double LP set recorded at the Berlin Philharmonie November 9th, 1969 with Vaughan sympathetically backed by a trio of relative unknowns: Johnny Veith on piano, Gus Mancuso on bass and Eddy Pucci on drums. Mancuso’s story is fascinating and worth a read. You’ll have to fend online for yourself for more about the others.

Sam Records’ Fred Thomas kindly sent this record. The Lost Recordings is an audiophile label belonging to Mr. Thomas’s friend Frederic D’Oria-Nicolas. The label specializes in releasing limited to 2000 copy editions of unreleased live sessions recorded in Europe by classical and jazz greats. Packaging is deluxe gatefold and includes an AIFF CD resolution download card. Since there wasn’t an original release, there’s no artwork to re-use.

This is an absolutely mesmerizing Vaughan performance of 20 smartly chosen and sequenced tunes—some standards in 1969 and some then new and now standards— intimately mic’d that puts her startlingly and transparently in front of you between the speakers.

Vaughan opens with “A Lot of Livin’ to Do” from the 1960 Broadway Show “Bye Bye Birdie” sung in the show by the lead character Conrad Birdie. It’s an oft covered opener that the then 45 year old Vaughan makes her own and lets the audience know she’s still got the vocal goods.

She moves from there to a re-worded Beatles song “And I Love Him”, and later in the evening does “By the Time I Get to Phoenix”—all strained through Vaughan’s dark, sultry, meticulous filter. She also covers “real” standards like “Misty”, “My Funny Valentine” and “Tenderly”. Few will be unfamiliar but totally recast by the great Vaughan they get a new lease on life.

I didn’t read credits or anything before playing but when it was over I told myself “This was obviously recorded to tape, but what are the odds it was cut from tape? Long shot at best.

Then I thought “If this is the state of digital transfers, so transparent, vivid, three-dimensional and tell-tale digital artifact-free is the presentation (and this was before I knew it was a mono recording—so ideal is the hall/vocal balance) I have to admit that A/D conversion has finally gotten “there.”

Then I read the credits: cut by Kevin Gray using the original master tapes, lacquers processed at QRP and pressed in Germany (at Optimal) on 180g vinyl. And that’s how it sounds!

Highly recommended and available at Acoustic Sounds and Elusive Disc. Sometimes these never before released projects feature second or third rate sound but are musically worthwhile. This one offers first rate sound and music and don't let the MONO scare you away.

jazz's picture

this is a musically surprising „lost recording“. A rarity they are that good. Sound is also surprising, but I still wouldn’t rate it on par with very good analog recordings. But below a certain sound quality level it’s hard to differentiate if that’s due to the basic recording quality or digital processing.

Audiobill's picture

How you are able to respond in such detail about this recording at 14:12 on the same day as Mikey’s post? By the time we people with varied interests are able to order this limited set it is sold out. It’s not available from Elusive Disc and on backorder at Acoustic Sounds (if that is even possible on this limited run), as noted below.

jazz's picture

It was released way before Michaels article.

volvic's picture

They even have recordings of my favorite pianist Emil Gilels. Thanks for this.

orthobiz's picture

Loves Sarah Vaughn. If I'm lucky, this record will entice her to come into my listening room. Will keep you posted...


fbny71's picture

I buy recordings to play that I know will pique her interest and sometimes we end up in my listening room. Unfortunately, more often than not we end up in hers! Still, result is the same - we’re together listening to music!

PeterPani's picture

or remastered from the mastertapes.... still possible that it was AD-converted, mastered and digital cut. I would wish the credits would be more accurate with informations (best simply saying AAA or in that case maybe ADA). Still I am happy when it is done in a good way. The DAC of a professional mastering chain for sure is better than mine at home. So I am thankful, when I got delivered an analog carrier, because my anaolg devices are state of the art. My digital devices are as chaotic in quality as the market delivers.

ChrisM's picture

"Remastered from the original analog tapes" says the website, period.

These insinuations show to what extent European audiophile labels are systematically suspected of fraud by American jazz lovers. There is no more information given by The Lost Recordings than by Blue Note for the Tone Poet or BN 80 series, about which one NEVER reads this kind of suspicious comments.
I sometimes wonder if it's not just an expression of a dumb chauvinism, or a stupid cultural protectionism. In any case it is inappropriate: these concerts of Vaughan, Blakey etc were recorded in Europe, the tapes are not kept in the US, and the only way to listen to these recordings is given by these labels (Sam, Lost Recordings) who do an extraordinary research work.
Good day to all.

shawnwes's picture

The BN80, Classic & Tone Poet were all taken from the original masters which of course were all analogue except for some of the more recent recording sessions some of which were digital. They've been very open about it in multiple interviews. Remastered from the original tapes doesn't tell you anything about whether or not it was digitized in the process. The company often uses a digital process to clean up it's tapes so it's wouldn't be beyond the realm of possibility they did so here as well. It can sound quite good if used properly as noted in the recent Bill Evans Trio "On a Friday Evening". It's a different digitizing system but the effect was excellent. There's no chauvanism about it.

ChrisM's picture

I didn't know that some of the Tone Poets or Classic were produced in a digital process that may not be clear to the consumer, but basically it doesn't change the fact that these records are beautiful to listen to. Chauvinism, angry protectionism are fortunately not the mindset of labels or people working to spread music culture.
It remains important for the audiophile community to be fully informed by the record companies about the way these vinyls are made, and not to be misled by false advertising. From this point of view, both on the label and the consumer side, there is indeed no local or geographical particularity.
From a listening perspective the "full analog" mention is not a guarantee of an absolute quality. There's no reason to doubt that Kevin chose the best technical option to offer the best possible mastering.
It is in any case my conclusion while listening to this magnificent Sarah Vaughan.

PeterPani's picture

I live in Vienna. So I know the European way of trickery by some European lables from a close view.

ChrisM's picture

Here we go

Michael Fremer's picture
is at cross-purposes with itself. Tapes are sent overseas all the time back and forth. Blue Note doesn't, but Concord does. That's how ERC got Riversides, Prestiges etc. These "Lost" title are cut from tape unless someone is really obfuscating..
ChrisM's picture

Clarification: my comment was about the mindset of distrust of European labels that has become a norm among a fringe of jazz music lovers, it was not a criticism of the record industry.

Michael Fremer's picture
I'm checking with the company. Not happy about how they word it because it's unclear and possibly misleading...
bkinthebk's picture

This seems a bit over the top, especially since the initial skepticism about this being AAA proved true. A good sport would make a retraction of your dumb chauvinism/nationalistic, etc. comment. I think the primary goal of everyone I’ve ever come across in the collecting/buying/listening world just wants the best and could give two effs about the nationality of the mastering engineer or label or anyone else involved. What a strange comment.

Michael Fremer's picture
May be correct.
jazz's picture

The description you mentioned is the same for the previous Diavalet/Fondamenta releases where they were more clear, that their mastering seems Phoenix digital processing after the tape source generally (they also don’t sound as good, flatter, also top end), while the newer Lost recordings releases cut by KG are hopefully AAA (at least from their sound quality it would have to be an unusually good digital transfer otherwise). But I agree with you, the cited text alone leaves every option open, including their complete digital Phoenix remastering between tape and LP cut. Unfortunately such nebulous information is not only a European audiophile label problem.

Michael Fremer's picture
For sure... I mean, why bother having KG cut from digital files and processed at QRP when there are many great cutting guys right there in the E.U. or U.K.?
jazz's picture

The only other case quickly coming into my mind where folks outside the US contracted him cutting from something inferior than the original masters was Disc Union Japan for the Blue Note Monos.

Toptip's picture

I am listening to this on Amazon Music. It definitely sounds stereo with a gloriously wide stage, piano on the left, percussion on the right. Not sure why an LP version would be produced in mono?

jazz's picture

So it seems this label group really always digitizes the analog sources.

arcman67's picture

Kevin Gray is a brand name so to speak. Kevin is a masterful engineer no matter what the source is. Kevin and Bernie have a great reputation among audiophiles, who generally purchase these type of releases. Ryan Smith is close. Half Speed mastered at Abbey Road is a brand in itself. Most could not tell you who the actual engineers are on those releases.

Seraphim's picture

Love Sarah Vaughn, but it's already sold out. Too bad!

robertaich's picture

...with so few copies pressed, it's nearly always too late. Sigh

AnalogJ's picture

Recorded in the same year, I believe, I'm wondering how this compares to her double album, Live In Japan?

Tom L's picture

when labels aren't up front about the source and process for this kind of release. The people buying a Sarah Vaughan LP really do care about these things. At least we can depend on Michael to be honest with us when he learns the real story.

jazz's picture

companies like Diavalet/Fondamenta are not even trying to hide something like that, I’m quite sure, they are proud in case they digitally „restore“ things with complex processes, which no one bothered about from start (audience noise from live recordings, snare drum vibrations and such stuff). I think a more exact description of AAA or ADA just wasn’t a priority for them. Diavalet’s whole story is about digital processing (in HW, even speakers and associated music media). But however it ends, this is a great record even for those like me who just need a manageable selection of her work.

PeterPani's picture

if it sounds good it sounds good.
But I like when they are totally transparent about analog/digital. Otherwise they give the impression that even they by themselves think, all analog might have been better than ADA.

aneumayr's picture
bkinthebk's picture

Would love to see more info about provenance as well as reviews of the music.