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In A Sentimental Mood

Record label: AC Records | ACR 009
Date of release: 13th December 2018

Contact details:
AD DRUM Adam Czerwiński
Al. Zwycięstwa 10
83-320 Sulęczyno | POLAND


The album In a Sentimental Mood by leading jazzmen: WOJTEK KAROLAK and ADAM CZERWIŃSKI is one of the best vinyl records of recent years – both when it comes to music and sound. The text below is about how it was recorded and released, as well as what it sounds like.

t is extremely easy to release a vinyl record nowadays. By a curious paradox, technological innovations have brought vinyl to the verge of extinction. On the other hand, it has been blooming thanks to DJ culture and some audiophiles claiming that analogue sound can simply be referential. A vinyl disc today is not only a medium for storing music but also the culture code – it is fashionable.

Adam Czerwiński with the In a Sentimental Mood album, paying a visit to “High Fidelity”

There is a world of difference, however, between releasing a vinyl record and releasing a good vinyl record. The difference is almost as big as the one between plonk and nice Barolo or tasty Rioja. A vinyl disc can be pressed by almost anyone who somehow manages to arrange an appointment at any overburdened pressing plant. It is because vinyl records are now being kind of mass-produced – just like in the 1970s, when quality was no longer that important. It is similar now – quality is important, but only up to a point.

In order to release a vinyl record the way it deserves, one has to be prepared to spend much more money, but mostly to change the way of thinking. It is because almost all new vinyl discs are pressed from digital files and these files come either from digital remasters – if it is a reissue, or digital master files – if it is a new release. It is due to the fact that digital recordings are cheaper, easier and safer. The Analogue is a completely different world that is understood by almost nobody today.

So, those who know what vinyl is about are really wanted, indeed. That is why Adam Czerwiński’s initiative that we wrote about in this month’s editorial is so valuable. This jazzman – musician, producer and publisher has decided to release vinyl discs. He is planning both to reissue older albums that were still digitally recorded and new fully analogue recordings. One of the latter is the In a Sentimental Mood album released exactly on 13th December 2018, by Wojciech Karolak and Adam Czerwiński himself. This is the album that I would like to tell you about.

Although these two people are the front men of the album, they also cooperated with other fantastic musicians: Tomasz Grzegorski (tenor saxophone), Robert Majewski (flugelhorn) and Marcin Wądołowski (electric guitar). There are eight pieces on the album, including compositions of both musicians, but also jazz evergreens, e.g. by Duke Ellington, Slide Hampton and Sonny Rollins. The final piece on the album is an instrumental version of Jeremi Przybora’s and Jerzy Wasowski’s standard entitled Już czas na sen (Dobranoc).


Strona A
1. Blues zajęczy
2. Daddy James
3. Wyszłam za mąż, zaraz wracam
4. Old Folks / That's All

Strona B
1. In A Sentimental Mood
2. A Frame For The Blues
3. Eight Plus Four-Karolinka
4. Już czas na sen (Dobranoc)


In a Sentimental Mood is an extraordinary album. First of all, 100% of the material was recorded in one take. Secondly, it was recorded and mixed in the analogue domain. Thirdly, final mastering was made at the Abbey Road Studios, together with cutting the copper master disc in DMM technology. It is the first album released as part of the AC Records Vinyl Club that is under the patronage of our magazine. On this occasion, Adam Czerwiński visited me and we were able to talk freely about everything, as reported below.

WOJCIECH PACUŁA: Tell me when the Club was established, please.
ADAM CZERWIŃSKI: The Club was established exactly on the 13th December 2018 (laughs). Though it is a fatal date for Poland, I hope it will be lucky for us.

Why do you need such a club at all, what is its objective?
You know what, I am a person who cannot just sit down and do nothing, and I always do a lot of different things. I mostly play and record a lot, and I have been organizing the jazz festival called “Jazz w lesie” for the last twenty-four years. Now I have come up with the idea to deal with vinyl. It is because I became a vinyl fan about five years ago, I fell in love with its sound. There was a short way to go from that point to a record label – why not do it yourself? Why not do it as well as possible?

It is not all about vinyl, but generally about the analogue, isn’t it?
Yes, it is not only about vinyl, but also analogue tapes. I have an idea to release my albums on tapes as well.

The analogue that we are talking about also includes the recording system…
Yes, In a Sentimental Mood is the first album that I have recorded totally in the analogue domain, from the beginning to the end, starting with tube microphones, through an analogue table, finishing with an analogue tape recorder.

In a Sentimental Mood was released in a red (transparent) and a black version

Does such a fully analogue session artistically differ from a digital one?
Definitely! You have to face other challenges, especially considering the fact that all the material on this album was recorded 100% in one take, as if we were giving a concert, but at a studio. I will say more – it was a 200% performance, as our Studer multitrack tape recorder controller broke down just before the session, so we had to perform continuously, one side at once. We recorded one take of each track and then determined their order.

When you perform like that, all the production “halo” that we deal with while making a standard digital recording is gone. A digital recording which leaves such a studio sounds as if everything in it has been recorded together and this is how it will be listened to on an album. And the reality is that these are fully “produced” albums where almost every sound was played and recorded separately, and musicians often did not even meet one another. Everything is live and true on our album – the way it really was.

It must be a very stressful situation for a musician...
You know what, Wojtek has been performing for 50 years and I – for 35 years, so what could be stressful about performing live? It is a normal concert situation for us :)

So, how did you manage to persuade Wojtek Karolak to take part in such a session?
(Laughs) I must say I am probably a world champion, as Wojtek is totally lazy and he would most willingly do nothing, sit at home, process photos on his computer and deal with various other things, but surely not with performing, not to mention recording…

However, as we have known each other for many years and have gone through a lot together – we have been performing and doing a lot of various things – I managed to drag him to the studio for this session. He complained a lot and he did not like anything – he never does, anyway. It was so until I played him the final product, i.e. the finished recordings. By the way, let me tell you that I had to “disconnect” him a little from action, as he wanted to change and replace everything, acting more like a grumbler than a producer.

Fortunately, I had known it would be like that and I discouraged him from coming to the studio once again, so I did all the mixes and the rest of the work with the recording director. That was a blessing, as when Wojtek heard the final product, his jaw dropped. And he was totally bought into it when we had a presentation at the Audio Video Show 2018 exhibition with Elins Audio electronics and Acoustique Quality speakers, where I had the test pressing of that vinyl recording. I could see that he was very pleased, which rarely happens.

You master your albums at the Abbey Road where the Beatles used to record – how did you manage to get there?
When I was recording the album Friends. Music of Jarek Śmietana, a tribute to Jarek which I released five years ago (“High Fidelity” was one of the media sponsors of the album), I fought my way to get there. I was determined because Jarek had always been a fan of the Beatles and dreamt of recording an album there one day. I wanted to honour him that way.

As I was performing with Nagel Kennedy then and I often visited London, I knew some people there, including managers. It is not easy to get to the Abbey Road Studios, as the studio does your background check three generations back in order to get to know who you are and what you have to offer. However, we did manage to do the first mastering there. When I call them now, I do it in through more private channels and I do not have to arrange anything officially. It is a very pleasant studio with nice atmosphere and wonderful open people. When you are there, music simply looks a little different than anywhere else.

Does the mastering professional who prepares a tape for the needs of an LP cut the DMM disc straight away?
Yes, he does it straight away, at one go. We cut the first two albums using the DMM technology, so using a copper disc. The Abbey Road Studios is one of the four or five places in the world where this is still being done. One machine is also located at the pressing plant where we press our albums, i.e. at DMS Vinyl Ltd. in Plymouth. It is a very interesting process – I would even say it is sublime. Looking through a microscope, one can see how music changes into grooves – it is something incredible and very touching!

What are your plans concerning the next album?
I am flying to London, literally in a moment, where I am having a mastering session on January 28th. It is my first solo album that I recorded about 18 years ago in Hollywood, featuring Larry Goldings, an outstanding pianist and organ player, Darek Oleszkiewicz (double bass) and me (drums) – a classic piano trio.

When is this album going to be released?
In mid April – such is the release calendar. It will be the third album released as part of the AC Records Vinyl Club. The second one has just been released – it is a reissue of the Story of Polish Jazz, Jarek Śmietana’s famous album, with rapped history of Polish jazz. In the original version it was Polish rap, while in this version we have English rap performed by Steve Logan who died in 2007. This version is being released for the first time.

So, there will be three “Club” albums. I know that they will appear at all Denon showrooms, won’t they?
Yes, we are starting the promotion of this very album on February 14th. Our plans are that all my albums will be present at these showrooms. There will surely be some promotions connected with them, e.g. when someone buys a turntable, etc.

Before we say goodbye to each other, as you need to get your plane in a moment, let us return to tapes for a while – you would like to prepare master tape copies for complete madmen.
Yes, indeed. A few people have even already demanded them. I will surely offer tapes, but I would also like to sell high-resolution files with the material, as parallel to analogue recording we also record onto a computer – it is the so-called “safe”, i.e. a safety recording. So far, nothing bad has happened, but it is always worth having it. So, I also have high-resolution files that I would like to share with Club members.

Thank you very much for the interview and I wish you a safe journey!
Thank you, I will contact you as soon as I come back – “High Fidelity” readers will have firsthand information :)


You can find some information on the album In a Sentimental Mood in the already mentioned editorial from the February edition of “High Fidelity” (HF | No. 178). However, I will bring the pieces together once again for those who have not had an opportunity to read about it yet.

It is the first album that has been released as part of the AC Records Vinyl Club established by Adam Czerwiński. It is a strictly limited edition – only 500 discs have been pressed. All of them are numbered and the first 150 are red (half-transparent), while the remaining 350 are black. The discs are put in anti-static envelopes that are placed in one of the parts of a double gatefold cover. The graphic design is excellent, thanks to photos taken by Mr Paweł Wyszomirski and the design studio from Gdańsk.

This is an AAA album, i.e. recorded, mixed and mastered in the analogue domain. The recording, mix and pre-mastering were done at the same studio – Custom 34 and by the same sound engineer – Mr Piotr Łukaszewski. Recording was done in one take onto the 24-track analogue Studer Studer A 827 tape recorder with 2” tape, through the Neve Custom Series analogue console.

As Adam Czerwiński said, each of the recordings was made on the first attempt, except for one that was attempted twice. Four pieces were recorded at one go and then they were mixed and mastered in the same order. At the same time, they were recorded onto 1/4” tape on the Studer A807 mkII tape recorder and cut, and then arranged in pre-planned order. So, the order in which the tracks were recorded does not correspond to their order on the album.

The copper DMM disc, i.e. the “master” of the In a Sentimental Mood album cut by a mastering specialist

Having been prepared this way, the tape was then taken to London, to the Abbey Road Studios. The mastering engineer who used it to cut a copper disc in DMM technology was Alex Warton. He was responsible, among others, for the analogue reissues of the monophonic versions of The Beatles albums from the year 2014. The copper disc was cut using a Neumann cutter with the VMS-82 DMM head and then sent to the pressing plant in Plymouth. Each of the records weighs 180 g.

“High Fidelity” is the AC Records Vinyl Club’s main partner.


Adam Czerwiński’s album has a very specific sound character. It is low, dense, warm and incredibly (I have to say this!) “analogue” sound. It is analogue in the sense that it is smooth, saturated, filled up and characterized by very, very good resolution. While listening to the previous Czerwiński’s album (Kiedy byłem), one may appreciate its sound precision, selectivity, attack and speed. It is a cool album. However, one instantly knows that In a Sentimental Mood is something totally different.

First of all, this is sound with incredible feeling and at ease. There is neither pressure, nor diva-like acting. When Karolak comes to the foreground, he does not do it in order to cover the rest of the musicians, but simply because he has found space for himself at the given moment – space left by the other performers. It is similar with Adam and the remaining musicians. They wonderfully complement one another, feeling as one body performing together. If this is not improvisation and jazz, what is?

As I have already stated, it is filled up and warm sound. It resembles the analogue sound of the 1950s, but with better saturated bass and a little less emphasised attack. While listening to, for example, Roy DuNann’s recordings for the Prestige record label we will hear instruments close to us, almost coming out of the speakers. It is sound imposed by recording conditions – a small part of a publisher’s warehouse. Yet, with time, it was accepted as some kind of a sound standard.

Recordings from the album I a Sentimental Mood sound more like those by Rudy Van Gelder, made at his studio in Hackensack. They are a little bit more distanced and, additionally, have long added reverberation. Considerable sound “departure” is very characteristic for this album. On the one hand, there are intimate, closely set colours and, on the other hand, there is a lot of air behind the performers.

The listening session was conducted using the Kuzma Stabi R turntable (30,500 PLN) with the 4Point 9 arm (15,300 PLN) and the Etsuro Urushi Bordeaux cartridge (32,000 PLN); HERE

The musicians are placed within small space characterized by great depth, though. The foreground is not very close, but we get the impression of having intimate contact with the musicians. There are very short pauses between tracks, as if someone had wanted to highlight the character of the recording – a “live” one, in a sense. The sound of the percussion is dense, the plates have their weight and are wonderfully differentiated, and yet they sound warm. What is interesting, the leader and his instrument have not dominated the album, leaving space for other people present at the studio.

It is because this is such “analogue” or analogue-tube sound, one might say – the exact opposite of the stereotypical sound of DMM discs. The vinyl produces virtually no noise, there is very little crackling noise and the “mechanics” of the disc never attracts anyone’s attention to itself. The “red” version sounds a little bit different – it does not have as high resolution as the black one and the higher midrange is a little more audible. The differences are not big, as these are small changes, but a colour pigment added to vinyl always has an effect on sound – it is simple mechanics. ■

Sound quality: 10/10
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