Vinyl Corner is a feature where we take a look at vinyl pressings of various albums and weigh them up to see just how good they sound, how well they’re pressed and what sort of packaging to expect – as well as giving a brief overview of the music itself. Today’s instalment comes fresh from the imaginative world of Scandinavian jazz, with a collaboration between Danish drummer Terkel Nørgaard and American trumpeter Ralph Alessi.
Copenhagen’s Terkel Nørgaard is drummer and bandleader on the latest release from Finnish label We Jazz Records. Despite being a self-titled collaboration between Nørgaard and American trumpeter Ralph Alessi, this is actually a quartet album with piano and bass rounding off the group. Nørgaard proves himself an adept bandleader across a selection of seven compositions, written with a fluidity and ease matched only by the confident performances from all players involved. It’s a varied set, with the mood swaying from that of a creepingly melancholic dirges to a flighty, anxious flurries of improvisational energy. We Jazz have an intriguing and varied discography behind them at this point and ‘Terkel Norgaard With Ralph Alessi’ proves to be one of their most interesting titles yet.
The version that we’re reviewing here has been pressed in a fresh, popping shade of mint green which looks really beautiful. This isn’t a colour variant we’ve seen all that often and that’s a shame, as it’s a far more appealing shade than certain more common colour variants. As with all the previous We Jazz releases we’ve reviewed on Vinyl Corner, pressing quality is really solid and a definite attention to detail has been put into the quality control of the release. Indeed, we’d go so far as to call this the best sounding title that the label have released so far. The cleanliness of the playback is amazing, especially considering the plentiful quiet portions found across the album. We heard barely a crackle anywhere on the LP – and certainly nothing approaching a pop or click. The noise floor was likewise minimal enough to be practically inaudible and fidelity is without fault throughout. The album is very well recorded – again, perhaps the best engineered release the label has put out – and this vinyl pressing does real justice to this. Vinyl weight is roughly 140 grams by our best guess; it may possibly be a little more, but it’s certainly not 180 grams. This doesn’t matter in the slightest, however, as the quality of the audio is self-evident here.
We’ve noted We Jazz’s sharp sense of style in previous Vinyl Corner instalments, and their signature style of presentation is once again apparent with this album. The art direction itself errs on the side of minimalism, but it fits the aesthetic of the album like a glove. The cover itself is a non-gatefold, standard-width design, manufactured from textured card which feels great when being handled despite the cardstock itself being fairly lightweight. Print definition is excellent here, with both text and imagery boasting sharp clarity. The label have also been considerate enough to place the barcode on a hype sticker rather than the sleeve itself, which is very much appreciated considering the negative impact it would have on the art direction. This slick presentation continues onto the printed inner sleeve, which includes an explanatory essay on one side and a photographic portrait of Nørgaard on the other. This is a really nice addition to the package, but the heavy paper stock used to produce the inner sleeve is not polylined. As such, we’d recommend slipping the record into something more protective for everyday use. The package is rounded off by the inclusion of a download code; it’s redeemable through Bandcamp which means that you have a veritable smorgasbord of different file types to choose from, including multiple lossless options.
This is a great release across the board. Sound quality is excellent, as is that of the vinyl pressing itself. Presentation is both tasteful and ably executed, making for a title as attractively presented as it is sonically rewarding.
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