Shelly Manne & His Friends – Bells Are Ringing – What to Listen For

More Shelly Manne/More Andre Previn

More Bells Are Ringing

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

I have a very long history with this album, dating back close to twenty years. My friend Robert Pincus first turned me on to the CD, which, happily for all concerned was mastered beautifully. We used it to test and tweak my stereo and many of those that were owned by friends. 

Playing the original stereo record, which I assumed must never have been reissued due to its rarity (I have since learned otherwise), all I could hear on my ’90s all tube system was blurred mids, lack of transient attack, sloppy bass, lack of space and transparency, and other shortcomings too numerous to mention that I simply attributed at the time to vintage jazz vinyl.

Wellthings have certainly changed.

I have virtually none of the equipment I had back then, and I hear none of the problems with this copy that I heard back then on pressing I owned. This is clearly a different LP, I sold the old one off years ago, but I have to think that much of the change in the sound was a change in cleaning, equipment, tweaks and room treatments, all the stuff we prattle on about endlessly on the site.

In other words, if you have a highly-resolving modern system and a good room, you are should be knocked out by the sound of this record. I sure was.

Tambourine and Piano

The piano sounds uncannily lifelike right from the start, a beautiful instrument in a natural space, tonally correct from top to bottom. I can’t think of any record off the top of my head that gets a better piano sound than this one.

Listen to the tambourine on the third track on side one. Shelly Manne messes about with lots of percussion instruments on this album and all of them are recorded to perfection.

Not to leave Red Mitchell out, check out the bass; it’s deep and note-like throughout the album.

Better Than a Dream, the second track on side two, has one of the best sounding jazz pianos I have ever heard. My notes say “you cannot record a piano any better” and I stand behind that statement one hundred percent.

There is not a modern reissue on the face of the earth that can hold a candle to the sound of this record. For any of you out there who doubt my words please take this record home and play it against the best piano jazz recordings you own. If it doesn’t beat them all we are happy to pay the domestic shipping back. Even our much vaunted 45 RPM pressing of The Three does not present the listener with a piano that sounds as real as the one on this side two.



Further Reading

…along these lines can be found below. This listing will help you to get The Most Out Of Your Records .

Here’s a link with advice for setting up your Table, Arm and Cartridge that can be found in a section containing Audio Advice of all kinds.

You can find your very own Hot Stamper pressings by using the techniques we lay out in The Four Pillars of Success.

Record shootouts are the fastest and easiest way to hone your listening skills, a subject we discuss often on the site and directly address in this commentary from way back in 2005.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

I Met a Girl 
Just in Time 
Independent (On My Own)
The Party’s Over (Ballad Version)
It’s a Perfect Relationship

Side Two

Is It a Crime? 
Better Than a Dream 
Mu-Cha-Cha 
Long Before I Knew You
The Party’s Over (Up-Tempo Version)

AMG Review

When Shelly Manne and His Friends (a trio starring pianist André Previn) had a surprise hit with their interpretations of melodies from My Fair Lady, it started a trend toward recording jazz versions of scores from plays.

For this LP, Manne’s trio (with Previn and bassist Red Mitchell) perform nine songs from the play Bells Are Ringing. Although seven of the pieces remained obscure, “The Party’s Over” (which is heard twice) and particularly “Just in Time” caught on.

As is always the case with this group, Previn’s piano is the lead voice and his virtuosity, good taste, melodic improvising, and solid sense of swing are chiefly responsible for the music’s success.