This Contemporary Yellow Label LP has THE BEST SOUND and THE BEST MUSIC I have EVER heard on a Hampton Hawes album! When we dropped the needle on this one we could not believe our ears — it’s got The Big Sound, that’s for sure.
The piano has real weight, the bass is deep and tight, and the drums sound correct. The overall sound is rich, sweet, and tonally correct from top to bottom. It’s incredibly open and transparent — you hear tons of ambience.
This is my favorite Hampton Hawes record of all time. He died less than a year after these sessions. Looking at the cover, you can almost see in his face his acceptance of the end he knew was coming. He plays with deep emotion here.
As good as The Three may be, it is not remotely as natural sounding as this Contemporary recording by Roy DuNann. Due to the multi-miking approach Lee Herschberg took for the session, Shelly Manne’s drums on The Three stretch from speaker to speaker, presenting us with a drummer whose arms are impossibly long. On this Contemporary recording the drummer is placed in the soundfield in one fixed location and his drum kit is the size of a standard jazz kit of the ’50s. I’m good with either approach, but there’s no question which one is more natural.
Drop the needle on “Blue In Green” on side two — the sound of the bowed bass is WONDERFUL. The version of “Killing Me Softly With His Song” that opens the album is especially lovely. (One high point of this album is the interview that Lester Koenig conducts with Hampton Hawes on the back cover. Lester died soon thereafter himself.)
We consider this final album from Hampton Hawes to be a Masterpiece. It’s a recording that belongs in any serious Jazz Collection.
Others that belong in that category can be found here.
Lately we have been writing quite a bit about how good pianos are for testing your system, room, tweaks, electricity and all the rest, not to mention turntable setup and adjustment.
- We like our pianos to sound natural (however one chooses to define the term)
- We like them to be solidly weighted
- We like them to be free of smear, a quality that is rarely mentioned in the audiophile reviews we read
- Here are some other jazz records with Top Quality Piano Sound
Other records that we have found to be good for testing and improving your playback can be found here.