- STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides of this vintage pressing put the living, breathing Divine One right between our speakers
- With simple arrangements, featuring Mundell Lowe’s guitar and George Duvivier’s double bass, Vaughan’s soulful voice can take center stage
- “…a quiet and intimate affair, with Vaughan more subtle than she sometimes was… some fine jazz singing.”
- If you’re a fan of Sarah’s, or Live Jazz Club Recordings in general, this Top Title from 1961 belongs in your collection.
This early Emus Stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot 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, this is the record for you. It’s what Vintage Records 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.
Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). The music is not so much about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate a solid, palpable, real Sarah Vaughan singing live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.
What The Best Sides Of After Hours 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 1961
- 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.
Sarah in Her Prime
We’ve been fortunate to have a number of excellent sounding Sarah Vaughan records find their way onto our turntable over the course of the last few years, but not all that many of them have made it to the site.
Most of the reason for this sorry state of affairs can be attributed to the paucity of clean copies of her prime albums for Mercury (Emarcy being Mercury’s jazz subsidiary) in local record stores. Most of the time her best albums are either missing or scratched. Plenty of Pablos and Mainstreams, sure, but we have never been all that impressed with either label’s recordings of female vocalists.
Finding decades-old pressings in audiophile playing condition is not easy, but if you hit the records shops in Los Angeles often enough, a copy or two per year is bound to come your way, and eventually there will be enough LPs to do a shootout. Case in point: This very pressing is the result of years of digging through the bins. And when the sound and music are this good, we feel that the time and money that went into finding such a wonderful record were well spent indeed.
What We’re Listening For On After Hours
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
- 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 note-like 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.
Old and New Work Well Together
This reissue is spacious, open, transparent, rich and sweet. It’s yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording Technology, with the added benefit of mastering using the more modern cutting equipment of the ’60s and ’70s. We are of course here referring to the good modern mastering of 40+ years ago, not the dubious modern mastering of today.
The combination of old and new works wonders on this title as you will surely hear for yourself on these superb sides.
We were impressed with the fact that these pressings excel in so many areas of reproduction. What was odd about it — odd to most audiophiles but not necessarily to us — was just how rich and Tubey Magical the reissue can be on the right pressing.
This leads me to think that most of the natural, full-bodied, lively, clear, rich sound of the album is on the tape, and that all one has to do to get that vintage sound on to a record is simply to thread up the tape on the right machine and hit play.
The fact that practically nobody seems to be able to make a record that sounds this good nowadays tells me that I’m wrong to think that such an approach would work. In our experience that is rarely the case in the modern world of vinyl reissues, and has been that way for many years.
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.
My Favorite Things
Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye
Easy To Love
If Love Is Good To Me
In A Sentimental Mood
From 1961-1962, Sarah Vaughan recorded two albums while accompanied by just guitar and bass. Her 1962 outing for the obscure Reactivation label (with guitarist Barney Kessel and bassist Joe Comfort) is hard to find, as is her earlier set with guitarist Mundell Lowe and bassist George Duvivier. Surprisingly, Lowe only has one solo, so the emphasis throughout is exclusively on Vaughan’s magnificent voice.
The program mostly sticks to ballads, with a couple of exceptions (most notably “Great Day”), and is a quiet and intimate affair, with Vaughan more subtle than she sometimes was.
…this is an excellent if brief set (34-and-a-half minutes) with some fine jazz singing.