Ted Heath – Swing Session

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Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Ted Heath

  • Ted Heath Swing Session makes its Hot Stamper debut with KILLER Triple Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This pressing is bigger, bolder and richer, as well as more clean, clear and open than any copy we played (which is of course the way it earned those Triple Plus grades)
  • These original pressings are ridiculously hard to come by with this kind of superb sound AND quiet vinyl – this one has it all!  
  • “… the sound is open and airy with great separation of instruments and very much alive. The band is tight and the music is energetic.”

Unlike some of the American big band leaders who were well past their prime by the advent of the LP era, Heath is able to play with all the energy and verve required for this music. He really does swing in high stereo.

Ted Heath was a giant in the world of Big Band and everybody who was anybody knew it.

Count Basie:

You’ve got a band… Ted Heath… He scares me to death… When they sent those first Heath records over to the States they really knocked everybody out… For me I think Ted is the best precision band and so very entertaining…I mean so far as I’m concerned I think Ted is the most.

Stan Kenton:

Your music has become such an institution it seems that we have always had it… I do know that without you, big band music and jazz would not be as it is today… Your taste and integrity in guiding your arrangers, composers and musicians has always been of the highest order… You’ve done more than your share in exposing the best grade of music to those hungry for it all over the world…

Woody Herman:

I saw the band and was incredibly impressed……one of the cleanest and swingiest of the big bands of the era… Always rated at the top of the list… You would hear more Ted Heath records than ours, Basie or Ellington…

This original London Stereo 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 live in the audience, 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 Swing Session 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 1959
  • 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 venue

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 Ted Heath Swing Session

  • 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.


Side One

The Champ 
Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me 
Pick Yourself Up 
Blues For Moderns 
Fourth Dimension

Side Two

Dark Eyes 
The Hawk Talks 
I Got It Bad 
Rhapsody For Drums

Amazon Review

More of an audiophile’s review, but this was recorded in 1959 in England according to my research and the sound is open and airy with great separation of instruments and very much alive. The band is tight and the music is energetic. Good LP to show off your vinyl equipment with some British swing done well from back in the day.

-Albert Taylor