Illinois Jacquet – Bottoms Up

More Illinois Jacquet

Bottoms Up

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  • With outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last, this copy of Bottoms Up has much to recommend it
  • The sax is especially well recorded with just the right amount of bite and only the squawk of the real thing
  • Surprisingly transparent and dynamic, this recording highlights Jacquet’s soulful style
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Even in 1968 when the jazz avant-garde was becoming quite influential, tenor saxophonist Illinois Jacquet played in his own timeless style, performing in an idiom little changed during the previous 20 years.”

For big, full-bodied, bluesy, soulful saxophone jazz it’s hard to imagine you can do much better than the legendary Illinois Jacquet.

We had plenty of copies to play, with every era covered – Blue Label Prestige, Green Label Prestige and vintage OJCs. This vintage pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with this superb quartet, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the best sides of Bottom’s Up 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 1968
  • 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 qualities we discuss 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.

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 vintage pressings 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.

What We’re Listening For on Bottom’s Up

  • 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, 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 would have put them.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

The Players

Illinois Jacquet – tenor saxophone
Barry Harris – piano
Ben Tucker – bass
Alan Dawson – drums

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Bottoms Up 
Port of Rico 
You Left Me All Alone
Sassy

Side Two

Jivin` With Jack the Bellboy 
Ghost of a Chance 
Our Delight

AMG 4 1/2 Star Review

Even in 1968 when the jazz avant-garde was becoming quite influential, tenor saxophonist Illinois Jacquet played in his own timeless style, performing in an idiom little changed during the previous 20 years. With the assistance of pianist Barry Harris, bassist Ben Tucker, and drummer Alan Dawson, Jacquet is heard throughout swinging hard and generally expressing himself in a typically extroverted fashion. “Bottoms Up” (a relative of “Flying Home”), “Jivin’ with Jack the Bellboy,” and Jacquet’s excellent original ballad “You Left Me All Alone” are most memorable.

Bio

Although Illinois Jacquet may be best remembered as the tenor saxophonist who defined the screeching style of playing the instrument, his warm and sensitive tone may also be heard on countless jazz ballads and medium groove-tempo numbers since the mid 1940s.

Illinois Jacquet’s flashy playing, which worked countless crowds into a frenzy throughout his career, will likely be what the tenor great is remembered by most. However true jazz and swing fans will also take into account his numerous sides done at slower tempi that communicate the sensitive side of the last of the big toned swing tenor saxophonists.

Swing Music Net