_Composers – Gershwin

Sarah Vaughan – Sings George Gershwin, Volume One

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  • No other copy could touch this original Black Label Stereo Mercury pressing for warmth, richness, and, most especially, in-the-room presence and intimacy
  • If all you know are Heavy Vinyl reissues of The Divine One’s album, our Shootout Winner here should be a sonic treat the likes of which you may never have experienced before
  • An original Mercury pressing that has no audible marks and plays as quietly as this one does is a rare find indeed – it seems to be the quietest copy from our shootout, and even better, no other copy earned higher grades
  • 4 stars: “Since these 15 selections are fairly concise, the emphasis is on the melody and the original lyrics… Vaughan, who had a wondrous voice, is in excellent form on the superior material.

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Willie Nelson – Stardust

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  • With Triple Plus (A+++) grades on both sides of this exceptionally well-recorded album, this copy surely qualifies as an Audiophile Demo Disc, the best copy to hit the site in years!
  • From the first few moments of the title track you’ll be blown away by the in-the-room immediacy of The Man himself
  • This copy is hi-res without sacrificing the Analog warmth that makes the recording so exceptional, especially for one from 1978
  • 5 stars: “Stardust showcases Nelson’s skills as a musician and his entire aesthetic — where there is nothing separating classic American musical forms, it can all be played together — perhaps better than any other album…”

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Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong – Porgy and Bess

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  • STUNNING sound throughout this Ella & Louis classic with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades on three sides matched with outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades on the fourth
  • Spacious, full-bodied and Tubey Magical, with Ella and Louis front and center, this is the sound you want for their brilliant collaboration from 1958
  • Two vocal giants came together to perform Gershwin’s timeless opera, revered by both music lovers and audiophiles to this day
  • 4 1/2 stars: “What’s really great about the Ella and Louis version is Ella, who handles each aria with disarming delicacy, clarion intensity, or usually a blend of both.”

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Gershwin – Rhapsody In Blue / An American In Paris – Bernstein

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  • This outstanding 6 Eye pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • Here is sound that is both tubey and real, with much more space and a much bigger and more realistic presentation of the hall than most of the other copies we played
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Paired with his buoyant 1958 performance of An American in Paris with the New York Philharmonic, Bernstein’s rendition of Rhapsody is lively, flashy, bluesy, and intensely romantic in feeling, and these positive characteristics no doubt contributed to keeping this album in print for many years as one of Columbia’s great successes.”

*NOTE On side one, a mark makes 6 moderately-loud pops about two and one-half inches into Rhapsody In Blue.

Here is the sound we’ve been searching for – rich, tubey and real, with nicely textured strings. The piano is solid, rich, high-rez and percussive — there is hardly any Old School smear to be heard, always important to proper piano reproduction. (more…)

Unreleased UHQR Test Pressing

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Near Mint UHQR JVC Test Record in a white generic jacket.

The RAREST of the RARE! I’ve never even seen one offered for sale!

For those of you who do not know the complete story, basically the UHQR — the ultra high quality record — was invented by JVC as a test to see how good the ultimate vinyl pressing could sound. It was thicker, had a longer pressing cycle, and other technological improvements, all with the goal of making the ultimate lp.

Mobile Fidelity produced limited editions of eight titles on UHQR, and both Reference and Telarc produced one each.

Apparently tests were done by others as well, because here we have some m&k recordings on UHQR. I believe they are not known to exist — until now. I bought them from m&k myself a few years back, along with some flamenco fevers and a box full of unplayed for dukes. That was a good day for better records!

Anyway, obviously the price you see reflects the collectability of such a unique pressing, not necessarily the musical or sonic qualities it may possess. If you want to be not just the first but the only person to own such a pressing, this is your opportunity to do so. (more…)

Shelly Manne – Manne – That’s Gershwin!

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  • KILLER sound from start to finish with each side earning a Triple Plus (A+++) grade for its Shootout Winning sound, or one very close to it 
  • “The Gershwin program includes some of the typical familiar standards but also versions of the lesser-known “By Strauss,” “The Real American Folk Song,” “Prelude #2” and “Theme from Concert in F… this music generally swings, leaves space for concise solos and is fairly fresh.” – All Music

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Gershwin / Rhapsody In Blue / Thomas

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  • Gershwin’s rendition of his stunning Masterpiece makes its Hot Stamper debut with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last 
  • Lively, dynamic, transparent, spacious and musical throughout – you won’t believe how good this copy sounds
  • Using the piano roll capturing the performance of the composer himself, Gershwin’s take on the Rhapsody is spirited and jazzy – the work is performed at a thrilling pace
  • This performance and arrangement is sure to give its audience a new perspective on what Gershwin was trying to accomplish with his “experiment for piano and jazz band”

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Gershwin / Concerto In F & Rhapsody In Blue / Previn / Kostelanetz

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  • This Columbia Six Eye has Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound for the Rhapsody in Blue on side two – reasonably quiet vinyl too, especially for an early stereo LP
  • As would be expected, both sides are exceptionally rich and Tubey Magical, but the clarity, deep bass and powerful, dynamic sound of side two surprised the hell out of us – we’ve never heard the work reproduced with this kind of authority or fidelity
  • The first two movements of the Concerto in F found on side one earned a solid grade of Double Plus (A++) for their full brass and especially clear, solid, present piano, one with practically no trace of vintage analog tube smear
  • Performed with consummate skill and attention to detail – the results are magnificent!

Finally, the sound we’ve been searching for – rich, tubey and real, with nicely textured strings. The piano is solid, rich, high-rez and percussive — there is hardly any Old School smear or hardness to be heard, always important to the proper reproduction of any piano recording, whether the music is jazz, classical or rock. (We talk about smeary, hard pianos on many of our listings for those of you who take the time to read them.) (more…)

Ella Fitzgerald – Sings The George Gershwin Song Book

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

White Hot sound on side two of this original copy – shockingly good. Ella sounds rich, Tubey Magical and breathy — this is a real Demo Disc. Side one is very good as well, nicely warm and rich by track two. Nelson Riddle’s arrangements are especially interesting and artful throughout. 

It is our opinion that the mono takes all the fun out of the Nelson Riddle’s deliberately wide, spacious orchestral presentation surrounding Ella. Which is too bad: the mono pressings are five times as common as the stereo ones. (more…)

Gershwin / All the Works for Orchestra / Slatkin / Siegel – This Set Was on the TAS List?

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A Hall of Shame 3 Record set that had us asking: Why would anyone want to own this awful set?

TAS List or no TAS List, the performances are much too slow to be taken seriously. (more…)