Count Basie – Basie Big Band

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  • An insanely good copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side one married with an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side two
  • Basie Big Band is a Top Basie Big Band title in every way — musically, sonically, you name it, this album has got it going on
  • Guaranteed to be dramatically livelier and more dynamic than any Basie title you’ve heard – if you like your brass big, rich and powerful, you came to the right place
  • Lots of tight, deep, note-like bass and unerringly correct timbre for the brass throughout

*NOTE: On side one, a mark on the edge makes 10 light to very light ticks during the intro to Track 1, Front Burner. On side two, a mark makes 9 light to moderate pops in the middle of Track 2, Give ‘M Time.

More Basie Big Band ANALOG Magic, this time from his 1975 debut for Pablo.

With 18 pieces in the studio (five trumpets!, four trombones!, five saxes!) this album can be a real powerhouse — if you have the right copy, and both sides here show you just how lively and dynamic this music can be. It’s got real Demo Disc qualities, no doubt about it.

When you get this record home, pay special attention to how natural and correct the timbre of the brass is. This is the hallmark of a well recorded album — it sounds right.

What the best sides of Basie Big Band 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 1975
  • 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 studio

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.

Cool Sounds on Side Two

Check out the triple flutes on the first track – on a copy like this you will hear some shockingly Tubey Magical, breathy, sweet, natural flutes. And there are three of them! Even large classical orchestras rarely have three flutes. The sound is to die for.

Play any number of copies and listen for the tri-flute sound – some copies are tubier and a bit smeary, some are breathier and a bit thin, some are recessed, some are more present. On a resolving system no two pressings will have those flutes sounding exactly the same.

Don’t judge the whole side by just the flutes, they are only one element in a complex array. But they are a very strong clue as to what the rest of the sound is doing better or worse – one might even go so far as to say right or wrong.

What We’re Listening For on Basie Big Band Albums (in General)

  • 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 –– Howard Holzer and Roy DuNann 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.

Hi-Fidelity

What do we love about these vintage pressings? The timbre of every instrument is Hi-Fi in the best sense of the word. The unique sounds of the instruments are reproduced with remarkable fidelity. 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.

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.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Front Burner
Freckle Face
Orange Sherbet
Soft as Velvet
The Heat’s On

Side Two

Midnight Freight
Give ‘M Time
The Wind Machine
Tall Cotton

Heavy Vinyl

Acoustic Sounds did three or four Basie titles on 45, but not this one as far as I can tell. We have yet to hear a single Heavy Vinyl 45 that sounds any good to us, judged against the real Pablo pressings we’ve played.

We guarantee that none of them can hold a candle to this very record or your money back. If you have one of the new pressings and don’t know what’s wrong with it, or don’t think that anything is wrong with it, try this copy. It will show you just how much better a real record can sound, with more space, more transparency, more energy, more presence, more drive, more ambience — more of everything that’s good about the sound of music on an old ANALOG LP.

It is our contention that no one alive today makes records that sound as good as the ones we sell. Once you hear this Hot Stamper, those 180 gram records you bought may not ever sound right to you again. They sure don’t sound right to us, but we have the good fortune of being able to play the best older pressings (reissues included) side by side with the new ones, where the faults of the current reissues become much more audible, even obvious. When you can hear them that way, head to head, there really is no comparison.

What To Listen For

General guidelines as to what we listen for when playing these Pablo Basie Big Band recordings and what the better pressings do well that the lesser ones do not do as well.

Transparency

What typically separates the killer copies from the merely good ones are two qualities that we often look for in the records we play: transparency and lack of smear. Transparency allows you to hear into the recording, reproducing the ambience and subtle musical cues and details that high-resolution analog is known for.

(Note that most Heavy Vinyl pressings being produced these days seem to be quite Transparency Challenged. Lots of important musical information — the kind we hear on even second-rate regular pressings — is simply nowhere to be found. That audiophiles as a whole — including those that pass themselves off as the champions of analog in the audio press — do not notice these failings does not speak well for either their equipment or their critical listening skills.)

Richness & Lack of Smear

Lack of smear is also important, especially on a recording with this many horns, where the reproduction of leading edge transients is critical to their sound. If the sharply different characters of the various horns (trumpet, trombone, and three kinds of saxes) smear together into an amorphous blob, as if the sound were being fed through ’50s vintage tube amps (for those of you who know that sound), half the fun goes right out of the music.

Richness is important — horns need to be full-bodied if they are to sound like the real thing — but so are speed and clarity, two qualities that insure that all the horns have the proper bite and timbre.

Tight Bass

A problem we noted on many copies in addition to smear and opacity was blurry bass. Most copies are rich and full-bodied, with plenty of bottom end. So far so good. However, when the bottom is not well-defined you don’t hear Freddie Green strumming along nearly as well as on the copies where the bass is tight and note-like.

Same with the baritone sax; it got lost in the murky depths of some of the copies we played. And of course the way we know that is when we drop the needle on a randomly chosen copy and suddenly there it is! We’re finally hearing the instrument clearly and correctly; who knew it could sound like that? Only on these very special copies are we given the opportunity to appreciate the baritone’s contribution to the music.

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