- Superb Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish on this outstanding copy of Sonny’s Impulse! label debut
- Some of the best Sonny Rollins sax sound we’ve heard – both sides are super big, full and lively with a huge bottom end
- 4 stars: “This date is significant for the manner in which Rollins attacks five standards with a quartet that included pianist Ray Bryant, bassist Walter Booker and drummer Mickey Roker.”
Another triumph for Rudy Van Gelder! For us audiophiles both the sound and the music here are enchanting. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good 1965 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 may well be a CD of this album, but those of us in possession of a working turntable and a good collection of vintage vinyl couldn’t care less.
What the best sides of this vintage Impulse stereo pressing from 1965 have to offer is not hard 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 pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1965
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- 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.
What We’re Listening For on Impulse!
- 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 piano, saxophne and drums, not the smear and thickness 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 – Rudy Van Gelder 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.
Finding The Best Pressings
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.
On Green Dolphin Street
Eveything Happens To Me
Hold ‘Em Joe
Three Little Words
AMG 4 Star Review
In 1965 and 1966 tenor giant Sonny Rollins issued three albums for the Impulse label. They would be his last until 1972 when he re-emerged on the scene from a self-imposed retirement. This date is significant for the manner in which Rollins attacks five standards with a quartet that included pianist Ray Bryant, bassist Walter Booker and drummer Mickey Roker.
Rollins, who’s been recording for RCA and its Bluebird subsidiary, had spent the previous three years (after emerging from his first retirement) concentrating on standards and focusing deeply on intimate, intricate aspects of melody and harmony. He inverts the approach here, and digs deeply into pulse and rhythm and leaving melody to take care of itself. This is not a “new thing” date but instead focuses on playing according to the dictates of the rhythm section and on interchanging with Booker and Roker, leaving much of the melodic aspect of these tunes to Bryant.