- An outstanding copy of this amazing RVG recording
- One of our All Time Favorite Blue Note albums for music and sound – is there a better bluesy Jazz Guitar album?
- AMG 5 Stars – if there were a Top 100 Jazz List on our site, Midnight Blue would be right up at the top of it
- Jazz Improv Magazine puts the album among its Top Five recommended recordings for Burrell, indicating that “[i]f you need to know ‘the Blue Note sound’, here it is.”
Midnight Blue is our favorite Kenny Burrell album of all time, at least in part because it’s one of the All Time Best Sounding Blue Notes.
If you already own a copy of Midnight Blue and you don’t consider it one of the best sounding jazz guitar records in your collection, then you surely don’t have a copy that sounds the way this one does! In other words, you don’t know what you’re missing. (And if you own the Classic Records release, or any other Heavy Vinyl pressing from the modern era, then you really don’t know what you are missing.)
Top 100 Jazz?
Don’t think this is just another ’60s jazz guitar album. With Stanley Turrentine on sax and Ray Baretto on congas, this music will move you like practically no other. When Turrentine (a shockingly underrated player) rips into his first big solo, you’ll swear he’s right there in the room with you.
And if you do have one of our better Hot Stampers and it still isn’t the best sounding jazz guitar album in your collection, then you have one helluva jazz collection. Drop us a line and tell us what record you like the sound of better than Midnight Blue. We’re at a loss to think of what it could possibly be.
What outstanding sides such as these 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 1963
- 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 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 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.
Originals Vs Reissues
The reason this copy has such amazing transparency and such an extended top end compared to other copies is obviously due, to some degree, to the better cutting equipment used to master it. I’ve never heard an original Blue Note pressing with this kind of resolution, leading edge transients, articulate bass definition, and big, bold but shockingly REAL sound.
Collectors routinely pay hundreds of dollars for original copies that don’t sound remotely as good as this one. Which is fine by us. We’re not in that business. We’re not selling the right labels; we’re selling the right sound. There is a difference. Collecting original pressings is easy (albeit expensive). Collecting good sounding pressings is hard; in fact, nothing in the record collecting world is harder. But if you actually like playing your records as opposed to just collecting them, then the best possible sound should be right at the top of your list and the rarity of the label somewhat nearer the bottom.
What We’re Listening For on Midnight Blue
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians aren’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer — Rudy Van Gelder in this case — would have put them.
- 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 so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also 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 instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Chitlins con Carne
Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good to You
Saturday Night Blues
This album is one of guitarist Kenny Burrell’s best-known sessions for the Blue Note label. Burrell is matched with tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine, bassist Major Holley, drummer Bill English, and Ray Barretto on conga for a blues-oriented date highlighted by Chitlins Con Carne, Midnight Blue, Saturday Night Blues, and the lone standard Gee Baby Ain’t I Good to You.
You would never understand why audiophiles rave about this recording by listening to the Classic Records pressing.
We played it up against our best, and as expected it was nothing to write home about. Since Rudy has remastered and ruined practically all the Blue Note CDs by now, you will have your work cut out for you if you want to find a good sounding version of Midnight Blue. The Classic sure ain’t one.
Since the Classic conveys very little of what the musicians were up to whilst recording the album, our advice is to cross it off your list of records of interest. It’s thirty bucks down the drain.
One of our good customers had this to say about his Hot Stamper pressing:
By the way side 2 of Midnight Blue bested every other copy I played including the 45 RPM Blue Note [Analogue Productions] reissue. The 45 RPM is very good. You know that technically it is right, but at the same time it’s missing something. When I listened to the [Hot] stamper copy you dug up for me I found it a little noisy at first and wasn’t sure if I could live with it. However after returning to the 45 RPM there was no enjoyment, so I dropped the needle on the stamper one more time, and then I heard it…
I know what you mean about these modern reissues “missing something”. No matter how well mastered they may be, they’re almost always missing whatever it is that makes the analog record such a special listening experience. I hear that “analog” sound practically nowhere else outside of the live event.
Thanks for your letter.