Pure Audiophile is Born

It's a brave group of souls who run today's audiophile music labels. Sane business minds would likely deem it foolhardy to start a new specialty label these days, but sometimes one's passion for music overrides the rational impulse to try something a little bit more secure (like perhaps an Internet company?).

Such is the case with start-up Pure Audiophile, which is releasing its first LPs this month. The two-disc set is called Ballads: Remembering John Coltrane and features vocalist Karrin Allyson with James Williams on piano, John Patitucci on acoustic bass, Lewis Nash on drums, and Bob Berg, James Carter, and Steve Wilson taking turns on saxophone. Retail price is $49.50 for the 2-LP, set with $5 shipping added if you order direct from the company.

Label founder Dennis Cassidy notes that the original CD release of Ballads last May, on the Concord Jazz label, has recently garnered two nominations for the upcoming Grammy Awards: "Best Jazz Vocal Album" and "Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical." "To my knowledge it is the only audiophile re-master ever to come before the nominations or awards were presented, " says Cassidy.

The discs are high-quality 180 gram blue vinyl and were plated and pressed by Record Technology (RTI). Cassidy says that the lathe used to cut the lacquers at half-speed was built by Stan Ricker (who also cut the masters) and "Prof." Keith Johnson of Reference Recordings fame. "Of course he's up for a Grammy this year also. We congratulate him, and like most Stereophile readers, we have our fingers crossed for him on the 27th."

Cassidy says, "Karrin Allyson makes the world a better place to live. I know it sounds corny (and I think I owe Pepsi or Coke a penny for plagiarizing a stupid '70's commercial) but it's true. Karrin uses her voice as an instrument, not a weapon. It doesn't try to beat you into submission, it slowly seduces you. We considered including a corkscrew with the packaging."

Cassidy won't comment on Pure Audiophile's next release except to say: "We have very diverse tastes and grew up in the late '60s and early '70s. The common thread will be performance quality, and there will be some very pleasant surprises. We ask our customers to be patient—expect about a new release every six months. Also expect it to be worth the wait. And please feel free to send suggestions and opinions, for we, like Stereophile readers, are trying to be good listeners."