25th Anniversary Special Feature!
I met Steven Rochlin in the Cisco Music suite at the Winter CES in 1995. He walked in all decked out in Louis Vuitton and sporting dreadlocks. I looked like a boring banker. At first, I thought we couldn't be more different. He had a big personality — very warm, outgoing, and friendly — that was matched by a friendly smile. We struck up a conversation and that was the beginning of our long friendship. As long as I've known him, Steven worked tirelessly to create the publication Enjoy the Music.com.
It wasn't easy for him; Steven was unique and ahead of their time. One example of this is how he would videotape the shows and post same-day show reviews on Enjoy the Music.com and later, he began live-streaming trade shows, giving audiophiles and music lovers who couldn't get to a show the opportunity to experience at least a portion of it.
Enjoy the Music.com celebrating twenty-five years in this fickle industry is a reflection of Steven R. Rochlin and his team’s dedication to elevating everyone who creates impassioned work in our industry. This commitment is something I genuinely celebrate and hope everyone touched by his vision prizes as well.
This same commitment drives everything we do at Impex. In the 200 plus titles that Cisco Music and Impex Records released in the last twenty-five years, I can confidently say all but a dozen-plus were cut using original analog master tapes. Sometimes the recordings are not in great condition, where baking the tapes plus lots of TLC cannot make it usable for mastering. Some reels were not returned to the owner after a re-issue production. Many more were lost to high-profile warehouse fires (a tragedy). The scarcity of original sources is becoming more common in the audiophile industry.
Practically everyone in the audiophile re-issue business goes to the same record labels to get the most significant recordings that would appeal to ourselves and our customers. To keep pushing for excellent music, we have increasingly used our network of friends, musicians, managers, and producers to find releases. Negotiations are often challenging in the best way to guarantee success for all parties and to make the best records possible we possibly can.
Kevin Gray in action.
We try like hell to get original masters — even refusing potentially lucrative titles because we can't get them. We use pressing plants like RTI, who take what we do with the same intense scrutiny as we do. We work with the most reputable engineers, Bernie Grundman, Kevin Gray, Chris Bellman, and the late George Marino. We personally attend every mastering session, not to tell these masters of their craft how to do their job, but because there may be issues with the source that must be addressed immediately to guarantee the best audio quality. Plus, sometimes, a particular tape will sound better on a tube cutting lathe, while other times, a solid-state machine gives the best representation of the music's intent. In all honesty, we love experiencing the energy of classic sessions on analog tape in a state-of-the-art listening environment. What can we say? We're fans of great music and classic sound at Impex Records.
Impex's team is always present and proactive in mastering. Seen here is Chris Bellman and Bob Donnelly in discussion.
We cut a test reference disc after every session. We evaluate each ref on multiple systems, and if we find an anomaly, we re-cut it at our expense. Only when we are satisfied, do we have test pressings made. Even then, we're lucky to sign off on either the first or second set. There have been LPs we made that required more than six sets of test pressings before we were happy with the quality.
Our super cool packaging of LeGrand Jazz 45rpm double-LP set.
We never exceed 1000 vinyl pressings per stamper since they begin to wear out over repeated use and degrade the sound of the finished LP. We spend extra for the best vinyl formulations that facilitate quieter surfaces and better groove integrity. Our goal is to allow the vinyl lover who bought the last pressing to have the same excellent listening experience as the one who bought the first.
Robert Sliger signing off the LP jacket and book for LeGrand Jazz 45rpm at Stoughton.
When a vinyl re-issue matches an original record's format, we reproduce it as precisely as possible, with a few notable exceptions (like the gatefold jacket on Legrand Jazz). Everything down to the spacing of original print typography, the specificity of color, the gloss or matte finish, and the reproduction of the original's graphic details. Special edition pressings (45-rpm and 1STEP) are always value-added, with supplementary photographic, story-telling, and more purposeful visual content that produces a more luxurious and immersive experience.
Impex's upcoming release, the definitive version of Café Blue!
Our production team consist a tight-knit group. We are more like a family than a work team. I run day-to-day operations, negotiations, production co-ordination, and finances. Robert Sliger handles creative and marketing duties, including designing all of our products and assets. Robert and I just celebrated our 20th anniversary working together and have become entirely in sync. Bob Donnelly is part of our mastering team and is the ear behind our quality control and title selection for 13 years. There is no way we could do the level of work we do without my Impex family, and I'm grateful for them every day. But our family does not end there. Our extended family at Elusive Disc, our exclusive distributor, is also critical to our success. Kevin Berg, Jason Marcum, and James Bantz to name a few are among our wonderful teammates that help with marketing, ordering, shipping, and great customer service possible.
Impex receiving the award of ARYA Award for best reissue album of 2019 (Michel LeGrand's LeGrand Jazz on 45rpm).
I know Steven understands our intense devotion to every detail in a complex chain of processes, each fraught with a dozen things that can go wrong. This shared commitment to excellence is part of the reason Steven has been such a good friend to Impex Records.
Thank you, Steven R. Rochlin and everyone at Enjoy the Music.com!