Sonny Rollins – What’s New? from 1962

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  • Two insanely good sounding sides with each rating a shootout winning Triple Plus (A+++)
  • The sound here is vintage 1962 Living Stereo at its best – big, rich, relaxed, tonally correct and full of Tubey Magic
  • This copy is unusually quiet for a Black Label stereo original – it’s Mint Minus Minus with no audible marks of any kind 
  • 4 1/2 Stars: “Rollins’ characteristically huge tone, relentless harmonic and rhythmic inventiveness, and fierce solos were consistently impressive. Not only did he state the melody clearly and superbly, but his ideas and pacing were remarkable; no solo rambled and his phrases were lean, thick and furious.”

For us audiophiles both the sound and the music here are wonderful. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good 1962 All Tube Analog sound can be, this killer copy will do the trick.

This pressing is super spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience. Talk about Tubey Magic, 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 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. There is of course a CD of this album, but those of us who possess a working turntable and a good collection of vintage vinyl could care less.

This record is LIVING STEREO at its best. The full range of instrumental colors are here presented with remarkable clarity, dynamic contrast, spaciousness, sweetness, and timbral accuracy. If you want to demonstrate to a novice listener why modern recordings are unsatisfactory, all you have to do is play this 56 year old record for them. No modern LP pressing or CD ever sounded like this.

What to Listen For (WTLF)

Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we’ve heard them all.

Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.

Tube smear is common to most pressings from the ’50s and ’60s and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.

Sixties Jazz – How Can You Go Wrong?

What the best sides of this Classic Jazz Album from 1962 have to offer is clear for all to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl domestic pressings like this one offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1962
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied double bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with the guitar and drums having the correct sound for this kind of recording
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

The Players

Sonny Rollins – tenor saxophone
Jim Hall – guitar (tracks 1, 4 & 5)
Bob Cranshaw – bass
Ben Riley – drums (tracks 1, 4 & 5)
Denis Charles, Frank Charles, Willie Rodriguez – percussion (tracks 1, 4 & 5)
Candido – percussion (tracks 2 & 3)

Engineering

Ray Hall handled the engineering duties for this album and a host of other great albums for RCA, albums we know were brilliantly recorded because we’ve done shootouts for them and heard the best copies sound amazing with our own two ears.

Some of the better titles that come to mind include:

Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington – Recording Together For The First Time (1961)
Ray Brown / Cannonball Adderley – With The All-Star Big Band (1962)
Paul Desmond – Take Ten (1963)
Paul Desmond & Gerry Mulligan – Two Of A Mind (1962)
Stan Getz – Jazz Samba Encore (1963)
Della Reese ?– Della (1960)
Sonny Rollins – The Bridge (1962)
Sonny Rollins and Coleman Hawkins – Sonny Meets Hawk (1963)

And too many more to list!

TRACK LISTING

Side One

If Ever I Would Leave You 
Jungoso

Side Two

Bluesongo 
The Night Has A Thousand Eyes 
Brownskin Girl

AMG 4 1/2 Star Review

Tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins returned from a self-imposed two-year sabbatical in 1962 with a fury, recording prolifically and exploring various directions from outside to inside. The five cuts on this LP were originally recorded in New York, with Rollins mixing standards and originals and providing his take on what was then an exploding trend, the bossa nova.

Rollins’ characteristically huge tone, relentless harmonic and rhythmic inventiveness, and fierce solos were consistently impressive. Not only did he state the melody clearly and superbly, but his ideas and pacing were remarkable; no solo rambled and his phrases were lean, thick and furious.