Art Pepper + Eleven – Modern Jazz Classics – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

More Art Pepper

Modern Jazz Classics (2008)


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

Oh Yeah! This Contemporary Yellow Label LP DESTROYED the competition in our big shootout this week, rating ABOVE A++ on BOTH SIDES. We didn’t hear better sound for either side on any other copy we played. Drop the needle on any track and prepare yourself to be BLOWN AWAY! The sound is full-bodied and energetic with tight bass, breathy brass, and lots of ambience.  

Side two has MASTER TAPE SOUND with shocking transparency and clarity. The bass is PERFECTION — deep, tight, and punchy — and the piano has the kind of weight that really allows you to appreciate the percussive qualities of the instrument. The brass is Right On The Money — full-bodied and breathy with just the right amount of bite.

Side one is nearly as amazing, but lacks just a tiny bit of extension up top on Groovin’ High. The sound is still wonderful throughout though, and as always, we guarantee that you’ll love it or your money back.

On a super transparent copy such as this one, you can really pick out each of the musicians and follow them throughout the course of each song. When you’re able to appreciate everyone’s contributions, you can really get a better sense of how much work went into making this album. It’s nothing short of epic!

This one has all the tubey magic of the best Black Label Contemporary originals, with none of the problems that make the average Black Label copy unenjoyable.

I used to get those original Contemporary pressings in all the time, but few of them are mastered right and most never make it to the site. Some are pure muck. Some have bloated bass that is hard to believe. And where’s the presence? We dropped the needle on a few Black Label copies, and were entirely underwhelmed.

Don’t buy into that record collecting slash audiophile canard that Original Equals Better. That’s bullshit. It just doesn’t work that way, and anyone with two good ears, two good speakers and a decent-sized record collection should know better. (The fact that few audiophiles or record collectors do understand these things is a sad commentary on the state of reproduction in the home. But that’s another story for another day.)

Here’s the real question though: is this copy better than the 45 Hoffman and Grey cut for Chad?

Can’t say for sure. Never heard their version. But I will make this self-serving comment: the kind of tubey magic this record is overflowing with is difficult to capture with modern transistor driven cutting equipment. I would be very surprised to hear the kind of sound this record has on any LP made in the last thirty years. Very surprised.

Many consider this to be the best record Art Pepper ever made, along with Art Pepper Meets The Rhythm Section, and I agree completely.