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  1. #1

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    The Mosaic 7-CD box set, Paul Desmond--The Complete 1975 Toronto Recordings--arrived last week and I have been listening to it almost continuously. Desmond was the headliner for this club date and the Mosaic marketing puts him front and centre, but for me most of the magic is in the stellar Toronto rhythm section and Ed Bickert in particular. The quartet recorded several familiar standards and a couple of Desmond originals. It is remarkable to watch the performances evolve through the group's interactions over the several nights of the club engagement. Ed improvises introductions to many of the tracks, takes extended solos on most if not all of them and comps brilliantly throughout, most noticeably behind Don Thompson's bass solos. (And I had forgotten how tasty a drummer the late Jerry Fuller could be in a small group setting.) The recording quality is outstanding (thanks Don!). This is some of the best live Ed we have had on record. It should not be missed.

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  3. #2

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    All of the Desmond-Canadian Quartet recordings seem to put Desmond front and center, much louder than the rest of the band. I haven't heard these yet, my box set hasn't been shipped (I managed to miss the first batch by a few hours), but going by the other previously released albums. It might just be how that band sounded- they were backing up Desmond and that was that. Ed seemingly did not usually play loudly behind others when comping, it seems- he is often very quiet on recordings where he isn't the leader.

  4. #3

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    Glad to here that the recordings have been mailed out. Can't wait for my copy.

    As we all know, recordings by Ed Bickert are few and far between. These recordings are a valuable addition to Ed Bickert's legacy.

    Doug

  5. #4

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    The previously-released Bickert-Desmond live recordings sound well-balanced as far as guitar and bass goes, maybe a little less for the drums, but they do sound good.

  6. #5

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    Just wondering if the Mosaic booklet contains any cool Bickert photographs or interesting details about the recordings?

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by BMoore View Post
    Just wondering if the Mosaic booklet contains any cool Bickert photographs or interesting details about the recordings?
    I have the CDs with me but left the booklet at home. Mosaic notes are typically informative and well-illustrated. More in a couple of weeks if anything stands out when I get to reading it.

  8. #7

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    I have been listening to my set and am totally thrilled to have all this unreleased material. Big THANKS to Don Thompson. IMO this is one of the best concerts/club dates in Canadian jazz. I've been a fan of Desmond for many years but there is lots of his recordings so to hear Bickert, Thompson and Fuller is priceless.

    The Mosaic booklet is full of lots of info and a few photos as is typical so there is a good read while you are listening to this release as well. My one and only very small quibble is that there is no photo of Rob McConnell. Yes, he's on a few tunes while Ed had to head back to Vancouver. I'm listening to that CD just now 'cause I wanted to hear the interaction between the sax and trombone. Reminded me of the Gerry Mulligan piano-less quartets. Remarkable!

    So, for those of you who are fans of Ed, this is a remarkably good release that is well worth having. If you happen to like Paul Desmond as well, there's no question. The bonus is that you also get Don Thompson, Jerry Fuller and Rob McConnell in a well produced release. If the 'desert island disc' list allowed a box set, this would be on my list.

    I was thrilled when I got the notice from Mosaic about this release, I'm even more enthused now that I'm listening. [If you can't tell]

  9. #8

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    Did Bickert have a humbucker or single coil pickup on his Tele on these new recordings?

  10. #9

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    This piece seems to be saying Ed changed to the humbucker in 1978 (after Desmond's death):
    ❌SOLD❌ Legendary Ed Bickert Tribute Fender Telecaster – The Twelfth Fret • Guitarists' Pro Shop

    It doesn't explicitly say the humbucker replaced a single coil, just that the shop installed a new pickup in Ed's guitar, but Ed wasn't a gearhead who was constantly tweaking his axe. I'd bet this is the point he went from single coil to humbucker.

  11. #10

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    . double posted deleted

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by 44lombard View Post
    This piece seems to be saying Ed changed to the humbucker in 1978 (after Desmond's death):
    ?SOLD? Legendary Ed Bickert Tribute Fender Telecaster – The Twelfth Fret • Guitarists' Pro Shop

    It doesn't explicitly say the humbucker replaced a single coil, just that the shop installed a new pickup in Ed's guitar, but Ed wasn't a gearhead who was constantly tweaking his axe. I'd bet this is the point he went from single coil to humbucker.
    Nice guitar! Too bad they didn't relic it like Ed's guitar!

  13. #12

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    My box set arrived yesterday. The booklet is informative although nothing groundbreaking about any of the band members. There's a few photos of Desmond, who is naturally the focus of the set, one large good photo of Ed which shows him playing with the single coil neck pickup and another on stage behind Desmond with his Standel amp. There's some discussion with Don Thompson, the only member of the quartet still living, about the gigs and the recordings. I haven't had a chance to hear any of the CDs yet (the stereo is in the space in which my wife is working from home, so impatiently trying to be polite).

    As an aside I also bought a copy of Ed's double CD with Frank Rosalino. Great playing, in some ways in the same vein as the Desmond group. Rosalino's story is unbelievably tragic, but the music was amazing.

    I've never heard specifically when Ed changed to the humbucker, but it was apparently shortly after the Desmond gigs so post-1976. I think he barely sounds any different with the single coil or the humbucker pup, I think the amps he's using make more difference (the Standel, the Cube, etc.).

    And what am amazing career Don Thompson has had in terms of who he has played with.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDaddyLoveHandles View Post
    Nice guitar! Too bad they didn't relic it like Ed's guitar!
    They'd have had to put it in a smoker for a week to get the color.

  15. #14

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    Thanks for the replies. A guy on another forum was on the fence about buying the new Mosaic Desmond/Bickert, and he heard some cuts of it somewhere that made him decide not to buy it, because he didn't like Bickert's sound on the recording. He said he didn't want to spend that kind of money for a record with a guitarist whose sound is like Bill Frisell's!

  16. #15

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    I was able to resist the set, I have plenty of their stuff already and if I get enough of that I can always revisit the Hall recordings.
    But I can see how the completists would still want it.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgcim View Post
    ... A guy on another forum was on the fence about buying the new Mosaic Desmond/Bickert, and he heard some cuts of it somewhere that made him decide not to buy it, because he didn't like Bickert's sound on the recording. He said he didn't want to spend that kind of money for a record with a guitarist whose sound is like Bill Frisell's!
    don't see how bickert with tele thru standel custom 15 (similar to amp wes used) and no effects (besides maybe amps reverb), can sound like frisell..without bill's digi delays, loopers and freeze pedals...makes no sense

    nor does it sound similar to me




    cheers

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic View Post
    don't see how bickert with tele thru standel custom 15 (similar to amp wes used) and no effects (besides maybe amps reverb), can sound like frisell..without bill's digi delays, loopers and freeze pedals...makes no sense

    nor does it sound similar to me




    cheers
    He mentioned that he already had the Desmond set with Jim Hall, and asked why he should he spend that kind of money for something he was never going to listen to. I think he was upset about the bread, and the lack of Hall.
    He's from the Netherlands, it's probably a Netherlands thing.

  19. #18

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  20. #19

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    Just got my box set in the mail minutes ago.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulD View Post
    Just got my box set in the mail minutes ago.
    Where are you located, PaulD? I'm in Vancouver, BC, Canada and my set has been stuck in Folcroft Pa. for 7 days now!

    Doug

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug B View Post
    Where are you located, PaulD? I'm in Vancouver, BC, Canada and my set has been stuck in Folcroft Pa. for 7 days now!

    Doug
    I'm in Chicago.

  23. #22

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    I am really torn on the Desmond/Bickert pairing. Paul is probably my favorite horn player by far, and in sax players I prefer him to usual suspects like Coltrane, Parker, Rollins etc. You can take that to the bank.

    The thing is, he was at his best playing with rhythm sections that challenged him IMO. Those pushed him to a level where he combined his fabulous melodicism with white fire intensity. To me, that's where its at. The Oberlin album is amazing.





    I know he has this reputation with his relaxed dry martini sound and I like that too. Apparently he disliked the appearance of Joe Morello initially into the Brubeck combo. Barring personal differences, to me that's incredible considering how musical Morello was. So that gives me the impression that he liked when the rhythm are easy and swinging. No rocking the boat or adventurous rhythm terrorism.

    But the Desmond/Bickert stuff is an example of the dry martini style. Really good, but sometimes it feels like too much of a good thing. And obviously Ed is a great musician.

  24. #23

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    I’m listening to it mostly for Ed, who is consistently intriguing and sometimes spectacular. Desmond gives him lots of room and absent piano he can really stretch out the harmonies.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara View Post
    All of the Desmond-Canadian Quartet recordings seem to put Desmond front and center, much louder than the rest of the band .... It might just be how that band sounded- they were backing up Desmond and that was that. Ed seemingly did not usually play loudly behind others when comping, it seems- he is often very quiet on recordings where he isn't the leader.
    I think the mix on the Mosaic is...pretty amazing. The Telarc and Verve CDs sound boxy, small, and dead to me in comparison. These source tapes weren't pristine, and there's still some murk, and less dynamic range than you'd like--but I can hear the bass sounding like a 3-dimensional vibrating wooden box, and the cymbals and brushwork pop out in a good way. With headphones, it sounds like you are in the club, not listening to a boombox.
    Most importantly, Bickert isn't shoved off to the far right of the sound stage, sounding like he's banished to the corner. The guitar is spread more evenly across the center and is more of a "floor" over which Desmond can do his Fred Astaire. I don't know if Mosaic did any signal processing or digital trickery to shift things around the sound stage, but I'm down with the end result. Makes me wonder why the Telarc and Verve engineers couldn't do better with the same tapes.

  26. #25

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    44lombard, I agree 100%. I am just now- as I write this- listening to the third CD in the set for the first time. The second tune on that CD is "Wendy," and quite frankly that is as good as small combo jazz can get. The interplay between the bandmembers is just stellar. The mix and mastering is so much better than any other album I've heard of Desmond and Bickert together, studio or live. And the previous Desmond/Bickert live albums used some of these same tapes! I've never liked the mix on "Pure Desmond" and now I think I will like it even less, hearing how good this combination of players can be when properly mixed and balanced. It's like having them in your living room.

    There are a couple of different things I've read about Ed recently; one of them was recommending his album with Frank Rosalino and the comment being made that that was some of the best Ed Bickert playing you'd ever hear. And I think that's true; despite the terrible tragedy involving Rosalino, the music is absolutely stellar. This set, however, is another notch or three up as far as that goes. I don't think there is anything I have heard Ed play that is as good as his playing on these CDs (and I love pretty much everything else he has done that I have ever heard). His comping, his solos, his rhythmic drive, his taste, his tone, the way he bridges the bass and horn... Sorry to be sounding like a fanboy but I guess I am! This particular rendition of "Wendy" was so beautiful it made me weep.

    Jerry Fuller's drumming is understated and masterful throughout. His time is impeccable, he's always present but never overbearing. Don Thompson is playing some of the best that I have heard him do with some particularly lyrical and beautiful solos. That he has a superb bass sound doesn't hurt matters. Many of these cuts are 10 to 12 minutes long, giving the musicians a lot of time to stretch out and develop themes.

    I have the Mosaic Tal Farlow, Johnny Smith and Joe Pass sets in addition to these. What superb listening experiences they are, but this one is really grabbing me with it's sonic immediacy. What I am hearing here is exactly why Mr. Ed was so respected by the musicians who played with him.

    They need to do a Jim Hall boxed set, too.
    Last edited by Cunamara; 07-05-2020 at 10:17 PM.

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara View Post
    I've never liked the mix on "Pure Desmond" and now I think I will like it even less, hearing how good this combination of players can be when properly mixed and balanced. It's like having them in your living room.
    I was barely alive when Pure Desmond was released on LP, but I've had it on CD since the late 80s, and that first Columbia CD release from around 1987 blows the doors off of the CTI 40th anniversary edition CD that came out around 2011. Maybe you aren't a fan of any of the CD or LP editions, but they really screwed that album up on the "deluxe" CD remastering...very compressed and wearying sound. The re-release also uses the same take of Nuages for both "master" and "alternate", and on each version, the track is missing part of the opening section (something like 8 bars in one case, and 16 in another). It's such a hack job, literally and figuratively...I guess that's to be expected from a giant conglomerate like Sony Music that just wants to re-sell the album to meet some quarterly sales goal.

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by 44lombard View Post
    I was barely alive when Pure Desmond was released on LP, but I've had it on CD since the late 80s, and that first Columbia CD release from around 1987 blows the doors off of the CTI 40th anniversary edition CD that came out around 2011. Maybe you aren't a fan of any of the CD or LP editions, but they really screwed that album up on the "deluxe" CD remastering...very compressed and wearying sound. The re-release also uses the same take of Nuages for both "master" and "alternate", and on each version, the track is missing part of the opening section (something like 8 bars in one case, and 16 in another). It's such a hack job, literally and figuratively...I guess that's to be expected from a giant conglomerate like Sony Music that just wants to re-sell the album to meet some quarterly sales goal.
    I've read that before (perhaps from you!), but unfortunately I have the anniversary edition. I tried buying the prior edition off of eBay, based on the photographs presented in the auction, and it turned out to be the same one so that was disappointing. I now have two copies of a sucky-mastered CD. I have never heard the original vinyl version. The CD I have not only is compressed to death, Desmond is mixed far forward and everybody else is mixed so far back as to be barely audible. It seems quite out of step with the liner notes in which Desmond says he thinks of the album as being as much Ed's as his. So to me the sound balance on the boxed set is a revelation.