Previously we had written: “The music here is amazing — as on Kind of Blue, both Miles and Cannonball are at the top of their games — but the good news for audiophiles is that it’s also one of the best sounding Blue Note albums we know of.”
After doing this shootout in 2015 I would like to amend the above much-too-conservative remarks. The current consensus here at Better Records is that this album deserves to hold three — count ’em, three — somewhat related titles:
One, The Best Sounding Blue Note record we have ever played.
Two, The Best Sounding Jazz Record we have ever played.
Three, Rudy Van Gelder’s Best Engineering (based on the copies we played).
Our shootout winners had more energy, presence, dynamics and three-dimensional studio space than any jazz recording we have ever heard. The sound was as BIG and BOLD as anything in our experience
Add to that a perfectly balanced mix, with tonality that’s correct from top to bottom for every instrument in the soundfield and you may begin to see why we feel that the best copies of this album set a standard that no other jazz record we’re aware of can meet.
Have we played every Blue Note, every RVG recording, every jazz record? We would never say such a thing (nor should anyone else).
However, in our defense, who could possibly claim to have critically evaluated the sound of more jazz records than we? There are multitudes of music experts in the world of jazz.
For jazz sound quality the numbers must surely be orders of magnitude smaller, and here is where we’re quite sure we have a number of critically valuable advantages: better playback equipment, better record cleaning, stacks of copies of the same title, a scientifically blinded approach and, most importantly of all, a single minded purpose — all our efforts serve but one goal, to find the ultimate in analog sound. (Naturally we leave the sound of CDs and other digital formats to others.)