Sonny Rollins – Now’s The Time

  • An outstanding copy with Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on side two mated to a very good side one
  • Ray Hall once again engineered brilliantly for RCA – the Tubey Magical richness and dynamic energy of the sessions are captured with audiophile quality sound
  • Forget the Classic Records reissue from the ’90s and whatever Heavy Vinyl they’re making now – it sure won’t sound like this!
  • Features performances by Rollins with Herbie Hancock, Thad Jones, Ron Carter, Bob Cranshaw and Roy McCurdy on several bebop tunes

This vintage RCA pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely 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 the band, 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 Now’s the Time 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 1965
  • 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.


Ray Hall handled the engineering duties for this album and a host of other great albums for RCA, albums we know were brilliantly recorded because we’ve done shootouts for them and heard the best copies sound amazing with our own two ears.

Some of the better titles that come to mind include:

  • Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington – Recording Together For The First Time (1961)
  • Ray Brown / Cannonball Adderley – With The All-Star Big Band (1962)
  • Paul Desmond – Take Ten (1963)
  • Paul Desmond & Gerry Mulligan – Two Of A Mind (1962)
  • Stan Getz – Jazz Samba Encore (1963)
  • Sonny Rollins – The Bridge (1962)
  • Sonny Rollins and Coleman Hawkins – Sonny Meets Hawk (1963)

And too many more to list!

What We’re Listening For on Now’s The Time

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The players aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would 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.

Golden Age Living Stereo

What do we love about LIVING STEREO pressings? The timbre of every instrument is Hi-Fi in the best sense of the word. The instruments on this vintage recording are reproduced with remarkable fidelity.

Now that’s what we at Better Records mean by “Hi-Fi,” not the kind of Audiophile Phony BS Sound that passes for Hi-Fidelity these days. There’s no boosted top, there’s no bloated bottom, there’s no sucked-out midrange. There’s no added digital reverb (Patricia Barber, Diana Krall, et al.). The microphones are not fifty feet away from the musicians (Water Lily) nor are they inches away (Three Blind Mice).

This is Hi-Fidelity for those who recognize The Real Thing when they hear it. I’m pretty sure our customers do, and whoever picks this one up is guaranteed to get a real kick out of it.

Here is a list of Living Stereo titles we have on the site at this time.

Vinyl Condition

Mint Minus Minus is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)

Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.

If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.


Side One

Now’s The Time 
Blue ‘N’ Boogie 
I Remember Clifford 
Fifty-Second Street Theme

Side Two

St. Thomas
Round Midnight
Afternoon In Paris 

Amazon 4 Star Review

Not too long before he left this RCA, Sonny Rollins took a look backward and decided to devote himself to the great jazz standards such as the title tune, “I Remember Clifford”, “Four”, “An Afternoon in Paris”, “Round Midnight” and his own “St Thomas”.

Rollins is in great virtuosic form here and he’s ably backed by Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Bob Cranshaw, and Roy McCurdy plus on “52nd St Theme (Monk), Thad Jones on trumpet joins Sonny in a battle royal. The only reason I’m giving this 4 stars instead of 5 is because of the brevity of the cuts–I’d would’ve liked to have heard more of Sonny’s virtuosity-but I still recommend for all you Sonnyphiles!!

Dennis W. Wong