Barney Kessel – Some Like It Hot

More Barney Kessel

More Art Pepper

More Some Like It Hot

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  • This superb pressing of Kessel’s brilliant 1959 larger group outing has a shootout-winning Triple Plus (A+++) side one and an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side two
  • With Tubey Magic, richness, sweetness, and dead on tonality from top to bottom, this is a textbook example of Contemporary’s sound at its best
  • An All Star West Coast lineup came together for this one: Art Pepper (on sax and claritnet!), Shelly Manne, Joe Gordon and others
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Such tunes as “I Wanna Be Loved by You,” “Runnin’ Wild,” “Down Among the Sheltering Palms,” and “By the Beautiful Sea” are given fairly modern arrangements…”

This copy is spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience. The liquidity of the sound here is positively uncanny. This is vintage analog at its best, so full-bodied and relaxed you’ll wonder how it ever came to be that anyone seriously contemplated trying to improve it.

This is absolutely the right sound for this music. There was simply nothing that could beat the Triple Plus side, in any area of reproduction. If you like the sound of relaxed, All Tube jazz recordings, you can’t do much better than Some Like It Hot. Many of the copies we played suffered from blubbery bass and transient smearing, but the clarity and bass definition here are surprisingly good.

One of our original pressings had an amazing side two but side one was just a dull, thick, blubbery mess. We may try to sell it someday because even half of an amazing sounding record is worth owning, in my opinion anyway. (Considering that most audiophiles don’t seem to pay much attention to the sonic variations in the sound of their records from side to side, you can be sure that most collectors have plenty of records with only one good side. They just never noticed.)

What do the best Hot Stamper pressings give you?

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks for the guitar, horns and piano, not the smear and thickness so common to most LPs.
  • Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians aren’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt — Howard Holzer in this case — would have put them.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

This is the sound of Tubey Magic. No recordings will ever be made like this again, and no CD will ever capture what is in the grooves of this record. Someday there may well be a CD of this album, but those of us in possession of a working turntable could care less.

For those of you who appreciate the sound that Roy DuNann and, in this case, Howard Holzer, were able to achieve in the ’50s at Contemporary Records, this LP will be a Must-Buy (unless you already have it).

You may remember that Steve Hoffman had Benny Carter’s Swingin’ The ’20s album scheduled for DCC. (In fact, it even shows up on Amazon as a title that’s out of stock! There will be a very long wait before it becomes available I’m guessing.) This album has much in common with that one musically and sonically — it’s a toss up which one you might prefer. I’d recommend them both of course.

The Players

Barney Kessel – guitar
Joe Gordon – trumpet (tracks 1, 2, 4-10 & 12)
Art Pepper – alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, clarinet (tracks 1, 2, 4-10 & 12)
Jimmy Rowles – piano (tracks 1, 2, 4-10 & 12)
Jack Marshall – guitar (tracks 1, 2, 4-10 & 12)
Monty Budwig – bass
Shelly Manne – drums (tracks 1, 2, 4-10 & 12)

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Some Like It Hot 
I Wanna Be Loved By You 
Stairway To The Stars 
Sweet Sue 
Runnin’ Wild

Side Two

Sweet Georgia Brown 
Down Among The Sheltering Palms 
Sugar Blues 
I’m Thru With Love 
By The Beautiful Sea

AMG 4.5-Star Review

The release of the movie Some Like It Hot served as a good excuse for guitarist Kessel to join together with Art Pepper (switching between alto, clarinet, and tenor), trumpeter Joe Gordon, pianist Jimmy Rowles, rhythm guitarist Jack Marshall, bassist Monty Budwig, and drummer Shelly Manne to interpret a variety of vintage numbers, most of which dated from the 1920s.

Such tunes as “I Wanna Be Loved by You,” “Runnin’ Wild,” “Down Among the Sheltering Palms,” and “By the Beautiful Sea” are given fairly modern arrangements but still retain the flavor of the 1920s, and it’s particularly interesting to hear Gordon and Pepper soloing on these ancient songs.

What To Listen For

What are the criteria by which a record like this should be judged? Pretty much the ones we discuss in most of our Hot Stamper listings: energy, frequency extension (on both ends), transparency, harmonic textures (freedom from smear is key), rhythmic drive, tonal correctness, fullness, richness, and on and on down through the list.

When we can get all, or most all, of the qualities above to come together on any given side we provisionally award it a grade of “contender.” Once we’ve been through all our copies on one side we then play the best of the best against each other and arrive at a winner for that side. Repeat the process for the other side and the shootout is officially over. All that’s left is to see how the sides matched up.

It may not be rocket science, but it is a science of a kind, one with strict protocols that we’ve developed over the course of many years to ensure that the results we arrive at are as accurate as we can make them.

The result of all our work speaks for itself, on this very record in fact. We guarantee you have never heard this music sound better than it does on our Hot Stamper pressing — or your money back.