- This original Six Eye boasts superb Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side one – this is As Good As It Gets, folks, and that’s very good indeed
- Full-bodied and warm, exactly the way you want your vintage analog to sound
- The piano is surprisingly real here, solid and dynamic
- Classic Records remastered this title in the 2000s, as has Speakers Corner, but if you think either one of those pressings can hold a candle to the real thing from 1960, let us send you this record and disabuse you of that notion
- 4 stars: “One of Ellington’s rarer studio sessions… Ellington’s solo abilities were always a bit underrated due to his brilliance in other areas, but this set shows just how modern he remained through the years as a player.”
This vintage Columbia 6 Eye Stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even 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 this Classic Album of Ellingtonia from 1960 have to offer is clear for all 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 1960
- 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.
If you have full-range speakers some of the qualities you may recognize in the sound of the piano are WEIGHT and WARMTH. The piano is not hard, brittle or tinkly. Instead the best copies show you a wonderfully full-bodied, warm, rich, smooth piano, one which sounds remarkably like the ones we’ve all heard countless times in piano bars and restaurants.
In other words like a real piano, not a recorded one. This is what we look for in a good piano recording. Bad mastering can ruin the sound, and often does, along with worn out stampers and bad vinyl and five gram needles that scrape off the high frequencies. But a few — a very few — copies survive all such hazards. They manage to reproduce the full spectrum of the piano’s wide range (and of course the wonderful performance of the pianist) on vintage vinyl, showing us the kind of sound we simply cannot find any other way.
What We’re Listening For on Piano In The Background
- 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 piano, horns and drums, 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 would have put them.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Duke Ellington – piano
Willie Cook, Fats Ford, Eddie Mullins, Ray Nance – trumpet
Lawrence Brown, Booty Wood, Britt Woodman – trombone
Juan Tizol – valve trombone
Jimmy Hamilton – clarinet, tenor saxophone
Johnny Hodges – alto saxophone
Russell Procope – alto saxophone, clarinet
Paul Gonsalves – tenor saxophone
Harry Carney – baritone saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet
Aaron Bell – bass
Sam Woodyard – drums
Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better 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 later 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 that is a key part of the appeal of these wonderful original 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.
Happy Go Lucky Local
What Am I Here For
Kinda Dukish / Rockin’ In Rhythm
I’m Beginning To See The Light
It Doesn’t Mean A Thing
Take The “A” Train
AMG 4 Star Review
One of Ellington’s rarer studio sessions and last out on a French CD, the main plot behind this runthrough of his standards is that the leader’s piano is featured at some point in every song. His sidemen are also heard from and everyone is in fine form. Ellington’s solo abilities were always a bit underrated due to his brilliance in other areas, but this set shows just how modern he remained through the years as a player.
The great sleeper album of the period. It compares well to “Ellington Uptown” and “Blues in Orbit.” The standards are re-arranged and made newly fresh. And yet, they capture the essential beauty and spirit of the originals. Sublime example: “Main Stem.” “It Ain’t Got That Swing” is nearly a new composition entirely.
One superb number after another… And don’t worry: the piano is hardly in the background! The keyboard intros are genius. The never before released “Harlem Air Shaft” is especially infectious. What a find.