- This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
- Big, rich and full-bodied sound was not that easy to find on the album, but this copy managed to pull it off
- Full of classic material by the likes of Monk and Cole Porter, finally finishing with a very emotional rendition of Stardust
- “…Pepper is in excellent form throughout the album, giving these songs heart-wrenching interpretations.”
This vintage Art House 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 So In Love Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear
- 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 1980
- 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
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic 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.
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 So In Love
- 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 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.
Engineers and Players
Baker Bigsby, one of our favorite engineers, recorded about half the album at Kendun right here in LA, specifically the songs Blues For Blanche, So In Love and Stardust. Is there a difference in the sound of those tracks compared to the others on the album? We’ll leave that little game to be played by those of you who are so inclined.
Only the most talented veteran jazz players were invited to play on these sessions, the likes of:
- Charlie Haden, Ron Carter: bass
- Al Foster, Billy Higgins: drums
- George Cables, Hank Jones: piano
Straight No Chaser
Blues For Blanche
So In Love
This deluxe release from the classy (but long defunct) Artists House label, as with all of Art Pepper’s recordings of his comeback years, is easily recommended.
The original LP has lengthy versions of “So in Love,” “Stardust,” “Straight No Chaser” and two Pepper originals (“Diane” and “Blues for Blanche”).
Assisted by two equally talented rhythm sections (pianists Hank Jones and George Cables, bassists Ron Carter and Charlie Haden, and drummers Al Foster and Billy Higgins), Pepper is in excellent form throughout the album, giving these songs heart-wrenching interpretations.