Duke Ellington – Duke’s Big 4

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

I don’t know of any other Pablo recording of the Duke from this era that has such big, open, clear, solid sound. VAL VALENTIN did the engineering, and as he has so often over the course of his storied career, he knocked it out of the park.

What both sides of this exceptionally good sounding Pablo pressing 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 1974
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments of this stellar jazz combo having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

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 qualities we describe above, and for that you will need to take this copy of the record home and throw it on your table.

Heavy Vinyl

Analogue Productions remastered quite a number of Ellington titles on 45, including this one. No matter: we have yet to hear a single Heavy Vinyl 45 that sounds especially good to us, judged by the standards we set for the records in our shootouts. (Actually the records themselves set the standards; we simply grade them on the curve they establish.)

We guarantee that none of their Heavy Vinyl LPs can hold a candle to this very record or your money back. If you have one of the new pressings and don’t know what’s wrong with it, or don’t think that anything is wrong with it, try this copy. It will show you just how much better a real record can sound, with more space, more transparency, more energy, more presence, more drive, more ambience — more of everything that’s good about the sound of music on ANALOG LP.

It is our contention that no one alive today makes records that sound as good as the ones we sell. Once you hear this Hot Stamper, those 180 gram records you own may never sound right to you again. They sure don’t sound right to us, but we have the good fortune of being able to play the best older pressings (reissues included) side by side with the new ones, where the faults of the current reissues become much more audible — so audible in fact that they are nothing less than glaringly obvious.

When you can hear them that way, head to head, there really is no comparison.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Cottontail 
The Blues 
The Hawk Talks 
Prelude to a Kiss

Side Two

Love You Madly 
Just Squeeze Me (But Don’t Tease Me) 
Everything But You

AMG Review

One of Duke Ellington’s finest small group sessions from his final decade was this frequently exciting quartet date with guitarist Joe Pass, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Louie Bellson. Ellington’s percussive style always sounded modern and he comes up with consistently strong solos on such numbers as “Love You Madly,” “The Hawk Talks” and especially “Cotton Tail,” easily keeping up with his younger sidemen. Highly recommended.