I ran across this listing for Cannonball Adderley’s Somethin’ Else today, a record we raved about after doing a shootout for it years ago. Notice the careful hedging in the phrases with newly added italics:
The music here is amazing — as I’m sure most of you know, this is as much a showcase for Miles Davis as it is for Cannonball himself — but the good news for audiophiles is that it’s also one of the BEST SOUNDING BLUE NOTE ALBUMS we know of. When you hear it on a copy like this, it’s just about As Good As It Gets.
After doing this shootout in 2015 I would like to amend the above remarks for being much too conservative. The current consensus here at Better Records is that this album deserves to hold three — count ’em, three — somewhat related titles:
One, The Best Sounding Blue Note record we have ever played.
Two, The Best Sounding Jazz Record we have ever played.
Three, Rudy Van Gelder’s Best Engineering (based on the copies we played).
Our shootout winners had more energy, presence, dynamics and three-dimensional studio space than any jazz recording we have ever heard. The sound was as BIG and BOLD as anything in our audio experience.
Add to that a perfectly balanced mix, with tonality that’s correct from top to bottom for every instrument in the soundfield and you may begin to see why we feel that the best copies of this album set a standard that no other jazz record we’re aware of can meet.
Have we played every Blue Note, every RVG recording, every jazz record?
Of course not. We would never make such a claim.
All Well and Good, But Bear This in Mind
In our defense, who could possibly claim to have critically evaluated the sound of more jazz records than we have?
There are multitudes of music experts in the world of jazz. For jazz sound quality the numbers must surely be orders of magnitude smaller, and here is where we’re [pretty sure we have more than a few critically valuable advantages, to wit:
- better playback equipment,
- better record cleaning technologies,
- stacks of pressings of the same title,
- a scientifically blinded approach and, most importantly of all,
- a single-minded purpose.
All our efforts are in service to only one end, to find the pressing with the ultimate in analog sound.
(Naturally we leave the sound of CDs and other digital formats to others. Although CDs often outperform their modern Heavy Vinyl pressing equivalent — here is a case in point — we know our lane and and are happy to stay within it.) (more…)