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Positive Feedback ISSUE 61
may/june 2012


Ellington Indigos, Impex
by Robert H. Levi


ellington indigos

Just released, one of my favorite Duke Ellington LPs of all time, Ellington Indigos! Impex Records has re-mastered and pressed 2,500 Limited Edition stereo LPs from the masters at Sony/Columbia of this 1958 tour de force recording session. It was first released as Columbia CS 8053 in both stereo and mono, and was one of the first top jazz albums released in stereo at the time by Columbia. My friends, this Impex Records LP is absolutely a sonic masterpiece reissue of the first order!

The original was only mildly successful upon release, primarily because only four of the nie songs were written by the Duke. That should not slow you down, since the orchestra was in magnificent form with its tip-top musicians on board. Plus, the Duke played wonderful solo sections with intense feeling. The arrangements are first rate!

The LP has had two reissues from Columbia on LP, and three on CD. All are just good, though the two-eye Columbia is above average. The six-eye is very good, of course, but most are in poor condition when you find them. I have a clean six-eye, and find it an elegant and nicely quiet LP. None of these versions prepared me for the Impex.

Wax Time Records of Spain has recently reissued this album with all Columbia info deleted from the artwork. I have that LP and it is very poor. Probably it is just an LP reissue of the CD. Enough said.

The Impex LP was pressed by RTI and mastered from the bona fide master tapes with ultimate care. It does not say so, but it looks like a 180 gram LP. The original tapes were recorded on 1958 state-of-the-art Ampex 300 tape machines. The Ampex sound is rock solid, with oodles of soul. That is what the Impex reissue sounds like, too. The listener is bathed in the glorious sound of rich musical textures, warm delicious breezes, and sweet delicate airy highs, soaring trumpet tone, and velvety piano chords, developing waves of flowing notes all framed in silent grooves. You hear a soft tape hiss, which is very forgettable when you get into the melodies.

Interestingly, the producers at Columbia loved Ellington. Miles Davis and many other jazz high fliers got the B-team of producers and engineers. Ellington always got the A-team, which was the best Columbia had to offer. The Impex reissue reflects this superb effort by the label.

I am truly impressed how the Impex folks have preserved the authentic recorded sound and, from my personal experience with Ampex decks, added nothing. If you have a Grado Statement 1 Cartridge, a most neutral and fully fleshed out transducer, you will be in the studio with the Duke and the stellar band of great musicians with this reissue.

Hopefully, this 33 RPM album will be followed with a 45 RPM someday... but until then, you have to add this amazing Impex LP of Ellington Indigos to your collection right away! It is uniquely perfect, a paradigm of quality LP production, and is a phenomenal value when compared to a good used six-eye that will not hold a candle to this reissue for “you are there!” sound. With only 2500 made, you had better hurry.

Hugely recommended, and one of the best Ellington reissues to date!

For more information:

Impex Records