Barney Kessel – Some Like It Hot

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

This is absolutely the right sound for this music. There was simply nothing that could beat the Triple Plus side, in any area of reproduction. If you like the sound of relaxed, All Tube jazz recordings, you can’t do much better than Some Like It Hot. Many of the copies we played suffered from blubbery bass and transient smearing, but the clarity and bass definition here are surprisingly good. 

This copy is spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience. The liquidity of the sound here is positively uncanny. This is vintage analog at its best, so full-bodied and relaxed you’ll wonder how it ever came to be that anyone seriously contemplated trying to improve it.

One of our original pressings had an amazing side two but side one was just a dull, thick, blubbery mess. We may try to sell it someday because even half of an amazing sounding record is worth owning, in my opinion anyway. (Considering that most audiophiles don’t seem to pay much attention to the sonic variations in the sound of their records from side to side, you can be sure that most collectors have plenty of records with only one good side. They just never noticed.)

What do the best Hot Stamper pressings give you?

  • 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 for the guitar, horns and piano, not the smear and thickness so 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 — Howard Holzer in this case — would have put them.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

This is the sound of Tubey Magic. No recordings will ever be made like this again, and no CD will ever capture what is in the grooves of this record. Someday there may well be a CD of this album, but those of us in possession of a working turntable could care less.

For those of you who appreciate the sound that Roy DuNann and, in this case, Howard Holzer, were able to achieve in the ’50s at Contemporary Records, this LP will be a Must-Buy (unless you already have it).

You may remember that Steve Hoffman had Benny Carter’s Swingin’ The ’20s album scheduled for DCC. (In fact, it even shows up on Amazon as a title that’s out of stock! There will be a very long wait before it becomes available I’m guessing.) This album has much in common with that one musically and sonically — it’s a toss up which one you might prefer. I’d recommend them both of course.

The Players

Barney Kessel – guitar
Joe Gordon – trumpet (tracks 1, 2, 4-10 & 12)
Art Pepper – alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, clarinet (tracks 1, 2, 4-10 & 12)
Jimmy Rowles – piano (tracks 1, 2, 4-10 & 12)
Jack Marshall – guitar (tracks 1, 2, 4-10 & 12)
Monty Budwig – bass
Shelly Manne – drums (tracks 1, 2, 4-10 & 12)