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Discussion Starter #1
I've been listening to Hank Mobley a lot lately, and as much as I enjoy Roll Call, I sometimes have trouble listening to it because of its rather extreme use of stereo--Mobley is stuck completely in the right channel, with Freddie Hubbard assigned to the left. I listen primarily with headphones, so when only one of them is playing, the effect is odd...I end up feeling like I can't hear either one of them as clearly as I'd like.

Of course plenty of other recordings employ variations on this--it's just not usually so exaggerated. If I recall, I think Joe Henderson & Kenny Dorham are each biased toward their own channels on Page One, but they're both a little more centered in the mix than Mobley & Hubbard are here.

For me, the weirdest moment on Roll Call comes toward the end of "The More I See You." Mobley is in the middle of playing the head (alone) and he suddenly jumps from the right channel to the left channel. No idea why this happens...I picture him leaping across the studio to play into a different mic.

Any thoughts on why Roll Call was recorded/mixed this way? Were they just experimenting with super-wide stereo? I can imagine that it doesn't sound quite so strange when you're listening on regular speakers from a good distance.
 

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I'm not familiar with this particular recording. However, many recordings in early stereo did some pretty strange things, imagewise.

Lps had a bit of crosstalk between the channels, and so the effect wasn't quite as strong as it is in digital recordings.It's especially obvious on headphones.

The one that bothers me is during Curtis Fuller's Bone solo on Blue trane. He's not right or left, but the reverb gets more and more, and then suddenly gets less. It's obviously the engineer deciding on more reverb, dialiing it in, and then backing it off.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I'd noticed that about Fuller's Blue Train solo, but hadn't thought much about it. I bet the original engineer (RVG?) cringes every time he hears it though.

I'm guessing that what you say about the differences between LPs and digital formats is a big part of the issue. When they recorded Roll Call in 1960, they certainly weren't envisioning me listening to a digitized version of it on my iPod ear buds fifty years later.

Most of the time, I just end up listening to Soul Station instead. I love Mobley's sound, and that's part of what seems to get lost on Roll Call.
 

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dagnabbit said:
For me, the weirdest moment on Roll Call comes toward the end of "The More I See You." Mobley is in the middle of playing the head (alone) and he suddenly jumps from the right channel to the left channel. No idea why this happens...I picture him leaping across the studio to play into a different mic.
Yeah, I listen to this a lot and I keep thinking there's something wrong with my equipment when this happens...
 

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Discussion Starter #5
hgiles said:
Yeah, I listen to this a lot and I keep thinking there's something wrong with my equipment when this happens...
Exactly--the first time I heard it, I thought I had a loose connection somewhere.
 

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Mobley Roll Call

I think its a drop in because he made a mistake and its on the other track.
I think he was great.
 

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baylistenor said:
I think its a drop in because he made a mistake and its on the other track.
I think he was great.
Makes sense, except it was probably an edit, not a drop in, in 1960.
I hate bad edits.
 

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hakukani said:
Makes sense, except it was probably an edit, not a drop in, in 1960.
I hate bad edits.
yeah thats it, there are other bluenotes with things like this.........an Ike Quebec one has a "ghost note" - echo of a note that is not played on the record.
 

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The other thing to bear in mind is that headphones don't give a normal stereo experience because one ear hears an entirely different signal to the other with little or no cross talk. Obviously this doesn't replicate what music does live, where the left ear will receive much the same information as the right ear, only quieter and with some frequency changes. This is why engineers are taught not to mix on phones.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
docformat said:
The other thing to bear in mind is that headphones don't give a normal stereo experience because one ear hears an entirely different signal to the other with little or no cross talk. Obviously this doesn't replicate what music does live, where the left ear will receive much the same information as the right ear, only quieter and with some frequency changes. This is why engineers are taught not to mix on phones.
That makes sense. But having listened to a lot of Blue Note albums from this period on headphones, I'd still say they tried something a little unusual with Roll Call. Even on my regular speakers, Mobley and Hubbard sound a little distant...which is too bad, because the playing itself is great.

It's almost like they recorded it as a "band" album, with no one player being featured. Perhaps they should've put Art Blakey's name on it--you can hear him & Wynton Kelly better than anyone else.
 
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