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Reviews and Commentaries for Kind of Blue
- Demo Disc Jazz sound for this wonderful collection, with both sides earning outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades
- Opening side two, the 9 plus minutes of On Green Dolphin Street has some of the coolest jazz you will ever hear, on any record, at any price
- If you want to know what the better copies of Kind of Blue sound like, this pressing will tell you, because it has that sound
- And that means it is absolutely NOTHING like the MoFi 45 RPM 2 LP pressing that some audiophiles (and the reviewers who cater to them) seem to like so much
- We’re talking Bill Evans, John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley in their prime, 1958, with top 1958 sound to match
Want to know how good our Hot Stamper Kind of Blue pressings sound? Listen to this very record. If you play the tracks that were recorded in 1958, the year before Kind of Blue, you will hear practically the same lineup of musicians.
That means Stella By Starlight and Little Melonae on side one, and Green Dolphin Street and Fran-Dance (Put Your Little Foot Right Out) on side two. We’re talking Bill Evans, John Coltrane, and Cannonball Adderley in their prime, 1958, with top 1958 sound to match.
The nine-minute plus Green Dolphin Street that opens side two is nothing short of amazing, some of the coolest jazz you will ever hear. With Fran Dance on the same side, that gives you about 17 minutes of great-sounding jazz by Miles’ classic Kind of Blue lineup.
Side one has the same cats playing for more than 12 minutes. By my calculation, that’s close to another album’s worth of material from the group. The rest of the material on this compilation is best seen as gravy; maybe not essential, but never less than interesting.
What the Best Sides of Basic Miles 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 1973
- 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.
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 Basic Miles
- 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.
- Alto Saxophone – Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, Lee Konitz
- Bass – Paul Chambers
- Bass Clarinet – Danny Bank
- Drums – “Philly” Joe Jones, Art Taylor, Jimmy Cobb
- Flugelhorn – Miles Davis
- Piano – Bill Evans (tracks: A2, B1), Red Garland, Wynton Kelly
- Tenor Saxophone – John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter
- Trombone – Frank Rehak, Jimmy Cleveland, Joe Bennett
- Trombone [Bass] – Tom Mitchell
- Trumpet – Bernie Glow, Ernie Royal, John Carisi, Louis R. Mucci, Miles Davis, Taft Jordan
- Tuba – Bill Barber
Kind of Blue on the Red Label
It is our considered opinion that many of the best-sounding copies are pressed on the rather common domestic plain Red Label from the ’70s. We’re fully aware of just how outrageous a statement that may be to you jazz collectors out there, and even more outrageous to the audiophiles reading this, the ones who are still holding on to the idea that Originals Have the Best Sound.
But we’ve known about these amazing sounding Kind Of Blue reissues for more than two decades, and in all of those years, played back on many different stereo systems, we have yet to hear any early pressing that would make us change our minds.
Unimpeachable Audiophile Credentials
We know we’re asking a lot of money for a record that any jazz record dealer would be embarrassed to charge more than $25 for. (Actually, these are starting to sell for $40+ pretty regularly on eBay and elsewhere. Apparently, the word got out that these can sound incredible. Blame us!)
However, with all due respect, jazz record dealers don’t know anything about sound. They know about collectability. They know about price guides. They know their market — jazz collectors — and I know mine: audiophiles. This record has unimpeachable audiophile credentials. It has the sound in the grooves like you have never heard before.
And who else but your friends at Better Records are going to be able to tell you that?
Quick Listening Test
This is an easy one. Just listen to the trumpet. Most copies do not fully convey the transient information of Miles’ horn, causing it to have an easily recognizable quality we talk about all the time on the site: smear. No two pressings will have precisely the same amount of smear on his trumpet, so look for the least smeary copy that does everything else right too. (Meaning simply that smear is important, but not all-important.)
Stella By Starlight
Sweet Sue, Just You
On Green Dolphin Street
Fran-Dance (Put Your Little Foot Right Out)
Devil May Care
Basic Concepts and Realities Explained
Record Collecting for Audiophiles – A Guide to the Fundamentals
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Important Lessons We Learned from Record Experiments
Key Tracks for Critical Listening