- Superb Double Plus (A++) sound throughout this wonderful Elektra pressing – fairly quiet vinyl too
- Both sides here are rich, full-bodied and musical – this is the sound of Analog that we fell in love with all those years ago (57 and counting in my case)
- We’ve called this album a Demo Disc for Bass and any Hot Stamper copy will show you why
- 4 1/2 stars: “Winelight is one of his finest albums, and not primarily because of the Bill Withers hit “Just the Two of Us.” It is the five instrumentals that find Washington (on soprano, alto, and tenor) really stretching out…”
This vintage Elektra 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 Winelight 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 even as late as 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
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.
A True Demo Disc For Bass
We just put up a superb copy of Chuck Mangione’s Children of Sanchez, noting how exceptional the bass reproduction can be on the best copies. Here is that same paragraph with the names of the albums switched. The reason we can do that is that the bass is phenomenal on both of these albums, and in the same way.
What’s unusual about this album — shocking really — is how MEATY the bottom end is. I don’t know of a pop jazz recording with beefier, more articulate or weightier bass. The only record I can think of in this genre of jazz with comparable bass is Mangione’s Children of Sanchez. We played some copies of that album recently and were just knocked out with how well recorded the bass is, just the way we were knocked out by the best copies of Grover Washington’s Winelight from a recent shootout. Both of these albums really set the standard for recording this kind of music.
This is a classic Grover Washington album containing the hit “Just The Two Of Us.” I happen to like this record for what it is: good pop jazz. If that ain’t your thing this record is unlikely to change your mind, but if you’re a fan of the genre I imagine you’ll be delighted with the sound and music here.
And I can’t end without mentioning the amazing steel drums on “Just the Two of Us,” complete with the incredibly talented Ralph McDonald on percussion. When that song hit big, overnight Ralph McDonald’s session dates were booked up for years in advance, and on this copy you will hear exactly why. The energy of the song just explodes when he gets going on whatever the hell he is banging on.
What We’re Listening For On Winelight
- 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.
- Then: presence and immediacy. The saxophone isn’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. It’s front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put it.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
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 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.
Let It Flow (For “Dr. J”)
In the Name of Love
Take Me There
Just the Two of Us
Make Me a Memory (Sad Samba)
Grover Washington, Jr., has long been one of the leaders in what could be called rhythm & jazz, essentially R&B-influenced jazz. Winelight is one of his finest albums, and not primarily because of the Bill Withers hit “Just the Two of Us.” It is the five instrumentals that find Washington (on soprano, alto, and tenor) really stretching out…
A memorable set of high-quality and danceable soul-jazz.