The unusually full and brilliantly realistic quality of this Grand Award record is the result of a remarkable new development in stereophonic recording. It is called Spectacular Stereophonic Sound.
Grand Award's Spectacular Stereophonic Sound includes a key element that is not found in other two channel recording systems - the newly developed Grand Award "Phase X" process. "Phase X" is an engineering achievement which creates a complete panorama of sound and eliminates the "hole in the middle" effect which gives the impression that unrelated sound is coming from two separate side sources.
The world's greatest artists possess an ability to achieve exciting musical interpretations. Grand Award's Spectacular Stereophonic Sound with "Phase X" assists the great artists, who record for them, to bring to you the priceless beauty, individuality and "definition" of their performances in true Spectacular Stereophonic Sound.»
[from the liner notes of "Brass, Bongos, Flutes and Guitars"]
Hey, this place is called Stereo Candies, so it's time to post something that really - and literally - fits this concept. I think that "Brass, Bongos, Flutes and Guitars" by The Grand Award All Stars will do the job excellently.
The Grand Award record label was formed in 1955; its president was Enoch Light, who later formed Command in 1959 with the specific aim of capitalizing on the emerging market of stereo fanatics.
Light was a classical violinist, bandleader and recording engineer. He is credited with being one of the first musicians to go to extreme lengths to create high-quality recordings that took full advantage of the technical capabilities of home audio equipment of the late '50s and early '60s, particularly stereo effects that bounced the sounds between the right and left channels.
He was a meticulous engineer and put as much effort into the quality of his recording equipment and production systems as into the music itself. He was the first to arrange the musicians in the studio to suit the audio effects he wanted to achieve. He devoted a considerable amount of prose to describe the acoustic aspects of each number, to the point that he popularized a new LP packaging format, the gatefold, to fit it all in!
"Brass, Bongos, Flutes and Guitars" was released in May 1961; the album features twelve numbers that stock up on popular repertoire from the previous decades, but also include a rendition of "Scheherazade" by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.
The Grand Award All Stars members on this record include top session-men and musicians like percussionists Phil Kraus and Bob Rosengarden, trumpeter Doc Severinsen, guitarist Tony Mottola, double bassist Jack Lesberg, accordionist Dominic Cortese, saxophonist Phil Bodner and many, many more.
An advertisement promoting Grand Award Records stereo catalogue taken from an early 1960 issue of Billboards
"Brass, Bongos, Flutes and Guitars" contains the following tracks:
01. This Can't Be Love (2:44)
02. Scheherazade (3:17)
03. The Breeze and I (2:35)
04. Organ Grinder's Swing (2:21)
05. Now Is the Hour (3:39)
06. Harbor Lights (3:03)
07. Heartaches (2:22)
08. Moonlight On the Ganges (3:21)
09. Once In Love With Amy (2:56)
10. You Go To My Head (2:24)
11. Miss Otis Regrets (3:01)
12. Indian Summer (3:22)
All tracks were remastered from the original vinyl in February 2013 and are available in FLAC lossless format or high-quality 320 Kbps MP3 files. Both formats include complete printable artwork as PDF files. Please have a look at the comments for the download links.
Here's another long excerpt from the original liner notes that appear on the back cover of "Brass, Bongos, Flutes and Guitars":
«The brilliance and excitement and sheer magnificence of the musical sounds that have been brought to records by steadily advancing techniques in recording engineering have turned the spotlight on several instruments that used to be given little consideration: bongos, flutes and guitars.
We didn't hear much of them before because they were so hard to record. The sharp, angular transients of the guitars and bongos were muffled and diluted in old-fashioned recordings and the gentle, elusive sound of the flute could not be captured in all its fascinating richness.
But engineering geniuses have advanced sound recording to such a point of honest, full value reproduction that the challenge of reproducing on records every last nuance of these delightful instruments has brought them right to the center of the modern musical picture. This sudden interest in them has opened up all sorts of new possibilities for really inventive musical arrangers - possibilities that they had to bypass in the past because they knew that the recording techniques of that day were not capable of giving a complete, honest reproduction of the sounds of these instruments.
And now the Grand Award All Stars have reached a new peak of musical beauty and excitement in their use of brilliantly recorded bongos, flutes and guitars along with the added body of a brass section that also takes full advantage of the tremendous range of recorded sound that has been achieved by Grand Award's miraculous engineers.
The unmatched skill of these engineers has won for Grand Award Records citations from the United States Department of Commerce for two successive years for the superb quality of their sound reproduction. During these two years, 1959 and 1960, the Department of Commerce selected Grand Award Records to be displayed at exhibits in foreign countries where the United States Government was showing the outstanding products manufactured in America.»
«Only the brilliant full value of Grand Award's world-famous sound reproduction could bring to you - in your own home - such superb reproduction of the tremendously exciting and richly beautiful music that you will find in these unusual arrangements of carefully chosen tunes.
You'll hear an amazing succession of subtly changing, high, rippling sounds as a Chinese bell tree, a triangle and a tambourine follow one another - each reproduced with complete distinction and clarity - to introduce an exotic interpretation of "Scheherazade".
The dark warmth of two alto flutes creates a breathtaking sound on "Now Is the Hour". The amazing sonic contrast of deep, gruff trombones and high, piping piccolos adds some surprising accents to the sandpaper soft-shoe effect in "Once In Love With Amy".
And no trumpet has ever sung out more beautifully, more clearly or with such a full-bodied, sweeping tone as Doc Severinsen shows in this glorious version of "You Go to My Head" which is climaxed by one of the most delicate bongo passages ever caught on a record.
Each of these selections piles musical surprise on musical surprise, brilliance on brilliance, beauty on beauty. There is the startling exchange between perky piccolos and a subterranean baritone saxophone in "Miss Otis Regrets" and, in this same piece, the interweaving of a brooding string bass with a unison passage by xylophone and piccolo, a remarkable blend of sound coloring. There is a lazy flute duet on "Indian Summer" followed by the rising, soaring, irresistible brilliance of a fiery trumpet section. And there is the remarkable organ grinder effect created by guitar and xylophone that sets the tone for "Organ Grinder's Swing".
But half the fun is making these discoveries yourself - these and all the other imaginative uses to which brass, bongos, flutes and guitars have been put by the Grand Award All Stars as they give these unforgettable tunes the most vividly alive performances they have ever received.»
Here's the complete personnel list of "Brass, Bongos, Flutes and Guitars":
Percussion: Don Lamond, Bob Rosengarden, Phil Kraus, Cliff Leman
Trumpet: Doc Severinsen, Mel Davis, Bernie Glow
Reeds: Stanley Webb, Phil Bodner, Ezelle Watson
Trombone: Bobby Byrne, Urbie Green
Bass Trombone: Dick Hixon
Guitar: Tony Mottola, Al Casamenti
Bass: Jack Lesberg, Bob Haggart
Piano: Moe Wechsler, Billy Rowland
Accordion: Dominic Cortese
Originated and Produced by Enoch Light
An iconic picture of Enoch Light
The following videos offer a preview of the remastered album; for this purpose I chose some of my favourite tracks: "This Can't Be Love", "Moonlight On the Ganges" and "Heartaches", enjoy!
A few more information about Enoch Light and Grand Award Records is available here:
If you have any other useful information about Enoch Light and "Brass, Bongos, Flutes and Guitars" - especially corrections and improvements to this post - or if you spot any dead links, please get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you!