Earl “Fatha” Hines – Plays Hits He Missed (M&K Records)

We, music listeners and collectors, love to dig out there searching for good records. Sometimes we find a record that is much more than a good record, and this is the case of the work I present to you here.
Earl Hines, was a brilliant American pianist that started his career on the 20’s and had a strong left hand delivering a lot of energy to the music. He is almost an unknown guy nowadays and I hope to contribute to keep his name alive through this review.
When you listen to music recorded here you feel all the energy that Earl was capable of on the piano. In the solo track “Humoresque”, you can listen him playing like for fun (and it makes sense since it is a real time recording, commented in the following lines). The track “Birdland” is a classic standard from Zawinul, known by Weather Report and Jaco Pastorius fans and starts with a perfectly recorded Tuba in the center of the speakers, followed by Bill Douglas drums a Earl Hines keys.
This is a typical album that I don’t get satisfied with having only one version. In the above picture, you see the original cover of the LP from M&K Realtime records.
I owned a unit some years ago. I was looking for some records in the used music stores in my big city and I found a funny guy smiling to me. I was about to ignore it when the word “direct to disc” almost said: “yes, you want me”. I didn’t concern about the music quality (since it was my first contact with this musician) because I knew that there was (and is) high quality inside. When I put it to play in my Thorens turntable with ortofon MC cartridge, I got totally amazed with the quality of the music and also the so important quality recording.
Direct To Disc, in LP, is the technique to capture a live recording, usually inside a studio, and use the direct signal to cut a master disc. It is a totally unprocessed and lossless signal, with extremely high and natural quality.
Earl Hines, when started to record it, was a bit confused about this kind of recording technique. He had to play each side of the record without a break, like if he was in a live show. That’s one of the additional features of this work. You can really feel the liveliness of the session.
After I sold my Thorens turntable, I sold it also for a friend collector, but I started to search out for CD versions, and I found a compilation of 2 M&K Records: For Duke and Earl “Fatha” Hines

This is a very interesting remaster of the original LP version. It was done by the M&K owner Ken Kreisel. This is a very clean reissue and very important since joined two great records in only one.
In my opinion, this is not the best CD version. There is another one, released by Drive Archive:

The former CD here (gold) is very nice and has an incredible sound, but it seems that a filter was applied to minimize some noise from the original master disc and, then, make a more clear sound. For me it also removed some magic and some analog taste from the original issue, that are fully present in the latter CD version I presented (Drive Archive), which is my favorite.
Don’t worry. These differences between the CDs are subtle and you will have true state of the art recording of a great musician playing great musics.

Thank you
Leonardo

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6 Responses to “Earl “Fatha” Hines – Plays Hits He Missed (M&K Records)”

  1. Colleen Newvine Tebeau Says:

    I’m a beginner pianist with the goal of learning enough to be able to make some jazz piano music myself. This sounds like a good addition to my collection, to inspire me when I need a little nudge to practice.

    Thanks!

  2. Paul Says:

    Hi Leonard, I have the original 1978 collectors edition vinyl edition which has been in my record collection for may years, in fact it happens to be playing on my Thorens TD160 turntable now! I love the album and have contemplated seeking out a cd version so thanks for your info. Best Paul.

    • Will i am Says:

      Paul
      I had both of these M&K recodrings I was a M&K subwoofer dealer. If you are interested, I restore or LP I could master your M&K Real Time disks to 24/192 khz files that you could play on DVD or CD format or file on your music server Best Will i am

  3. Mark Says:

    Hi Leonardo,

    this page of your blog is one of very few to report some info about M&K recordings. In the gold age of the vinyl I was lucky to get two of the not so numerous issues from the M&K catalogue… Bill Berry’s and the Encore album; unfortunately I’ve not more a turntable to play them so it’s a couple of years I’ve been trying to find CD versions or, better, liquid versions (rips) of M&K titles. Until now I’ve found just Berry’s title and ‘Fatha’ too (both on CD bought at a vinyl show/market)… but my favorites were and are Flamenco Fever and Hot Stix by Ed Graham.
    In this regard I’d like to ask you if you have some news/info about these two titles… maybe you know of some location where to get rips or buy CD versions (AFAIK Flamenco Fever and Hot Stix havent ever been issued as CD at least until now) .

    Thanks for let me know.

    Mark

    • Leonardo Pedrosa Says:

      Mark,
      You suggested very interesting titles from M&K here. Unfortunately after 5 min googleing I realized that they are indeed rare and it requires a more deep scan. I will keep them in my radar and once I have something I let you know.

      Leonardo

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