Genre – Jazz – Guitar

Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd – Jazz Samba

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

TWO INCREDIBLE SIDES on unusually quiet vinyl! We just finished a big shootout for this great album and this copy was a KNOCKOUT. The sound is rich and full with good size to the soundfield. It’s very tough to find good sounding Stan Getz records, so if you’re a fan I think you’ll be quite impressed with the sonics on this pressing. As for the music, it’s top notch; All Music Guide gave it a Five Star rating and we agree wholeheartedly!

It’s not easy to find good sounding, quiet Stan Getz records, so if you’re a fan I think you’ll be blown away by the sonics and the surfaces on this vintage pressing.

It’s vintage all right, but probably not the vintage pressing you think it is, a little secret we learned about the album a year or two ago, information we have been able to capitalize on quite successfully, this being but the latest clean, wonderful sounding copy to make it to the site.

And of course, it handily beats the the DCC pressing. How could it not? (more…)

Barney Kessel – Vol. 3: To Swing Or Not To Swing

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This Early Contemporary Yellow Label Mono LP sure has AMAZING SOUND!

Man, this music is a blast when it sounds this good. I don’t think there’s a whole lot you could do to make this music sound any better! It’s one of the best early mono Contemporary LP I’ve ever played. It’s so tubey magical and Kessel’s guitar sound is out of this world. 

The music here matches the sound for excellence. The whole band just swings. There’s a real old rag-timey feel to the songs. Look at this list of all-star players: Harry Edison, Jimmy Rowles, Red Mitchell and Shelly Manne — this is some serious jazz talent. (more…)

Wes Montgomery – While We’re Young – Reviewed in 2010

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This Minty Milestone Two-Fer Promo Double LP set features material from two Wes Montgomery albums: The Incredible Jazz Guitar and So Much Guitar.

There’s a reason Steve Hoffman chose So Much Guitar to do on Gold CD. It’s a superb recording, and it sounds great here.

Bola Sete – The Incomparable Bola Sete – Reviewed in 2010

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This is a Minty looking Fantasy LP with EXCELLENT SOUND. Bola Sete is one of my favorite guitarists, Latin or otherwise. Here he is joined by a very talented percussionist who brings authentic Brazilian feeling to this music. The real surprise here is Paul Horne on flute — the music comes alive on the tracks on which he guests, such as ‘Lamento De Negro’. If you like Latin guitar music, you can’t go wrong here.

“There are some performers in jazz, as in other fields, who everybody digs, regardless of style, regardless of preferences, regardless of anything. Bole Sete is that kind of performer. Whether he was playing for the society audiences in the swank Sheraton Palace, the jazz audiences at the Monterey Festival, the night club audiences (with Vince Guaraldi) at El Matador or Shelly’s Manne Hole, Bola Sete captured the people. He always does.” – Liner Notes

Barney Kessel – Workin’ Out – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This is a 2-pack set of original pressings that gives you wonderful sound for both sides of this great Contemporary album, A++ for the first and A+++ for the second. There is a catch, however, one that won’t bother some of you at all but will drive a few of you crazy: the side one pressing is in mono and the side two is in stereo. All that mattered to us was that they both sounded great, and a quick flip to the not-so-hot side of either pressing will quickly show you why we paired these up.    

I imagine there are both mono and stereo copies that sound great on both sides, but we sure haven’t been able to find one! Obviously this is not an easy record to come by these days. (more…)

Gabor Szabo – Gabor Szabo 1969 – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

Superb choice of material, with a heavy emphasis on Beatles tunes. Now how can you go wrong with Beatles tunes? Those four Beatles tunes are the highlights of this album: “Dear Prudence”, “I’ve Just Seen A Face”, “In My Life” and “You Won’t See Me”, as well as two folkie tracks by Joni Mitchell: “Both Sides Now” and “Michael From Mountains”. A heartfelt ballad is handled with quiet and warm intimacy: Buffy Saint-Marie’s “Until It’s Time For You To Go”. More uptempo pop classics like Bobby Hyland’s “Sealed With A Kiss”, The Classics IV’s “Stormy” and The Left Banke’s “Walk Away Renee” round out the best of the rest.

That’s an awful lot of good material to work with! This is not Jazz Jazz, this is Pop Jazz: pop tunes played in a jazzy style. I love the stuff.

Charlie Byrd – Byrd at the Gate – MoFi Debunked

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Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

This is a title Mobile Fidelity ruined, and having just played an early Riverside LP I can see how their mastering approach was — as is so often the case — misguided to say the least.

First off, the guitar and the drums on the original are tonally right on the money. They sound like bass and drums should. They sound, in a word, correct. Mobile Fidelity felt it necessary to brighten up both and the results are a phony sounding guitar and phony sounding drums, with tizzy cymbals thrown in for good measure.

(The Wes Montgomery MoFi title has many of the same faults, but it’s not quite as bad as this one. We’ve had Hot Stamper copies of the originals so we know they can sound superb, some of RVG’s best work.)

The old Mobile Fidelity — the pre-RTI Mobile Fidelity — rarely met a master tape they didn’t think needed a healthy dose of top end boost. They also never understood what an acoustic guitar sounds like. They blew it on every last one of the Cat Stevens albums, brightening up the guitars, which, as we all know from playing with the treble controls on our receivers way back when, emphasizes the “picking” of the strings at the expense of the resonating guitar body and vibrating string harmonics. What makes Byrd At The Gate a good record is the natural acoustic guitar tone. Once you screw that up, what’s left?

An audiophile record, for audiophiles who like phony sounding guitars. (Chesky anyone?)

Another reason the Mobile Fidelity is such a joke is that this recording inherently has a lot of ill-defined bass. Since Half-Speed mastering causes a loss of bass definition, their pressing is even WORSE in this respect. Bad guitars, bad drums and bad bass — that pretty much covers everybody in the trio. Resulting score: 0 for 3.

AMG Review

This is a listening pleasure to the first degree. Unlike any other, Charlie Byrd sincerely knows how to make his instrument speak, sending graceful chords and melodies to this attentive audience… Cheers to the Charlie Byrd Trio for a dynamic effort during this May 1963 gig. Applause, applause.

Wes Montgomery – California Dreaming – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This White Hot Stamper Shootout Winner has the REAL Wes Montgomery/ Creed Taylor/ Rudy Van Gelder MAGIC in its grooves. You will not believe how big, rich and full-bodied this pressing is on side one! Since this is one of Wes’s best albums, hearing this side one was a THRILL for us and will no doubt be as big a thrill for you too.   

Beware any and all imitations (even the one I like somewhat, the Cisco version). They barely BEGIN to convey the qualities of the real master tape the way this pressing does. This White Hot Stamper exhibits huge amounts of ambience and spaciousnesss, with far more energy and the kind of “see into the studio” quality that only the real thing ever seems to have. 

Wall to Wall

Note especially how so much musical information is coming from the far sides of the soundfield. The Cisco reissue makes a mockery of that wall to wall sound, sucking it into the middle and flattening it into a single plane. Ugh.

To be fair — and I always am — the Cisco did beat and will beat the pants off of practically any copy you run across. There is a very simple explanation for this: Verve is probably the most poorly mastered label in the history of the world. No other label produced so many wonderful sounding recordings that were turned into lousy sounding LPs — I could list them for days. We rarely even pick up most Verves, having been burned so many times we just can’t face another badly mastered noisy LP. (more…)

George Benson – Other Side of Abbey Road

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

An A++ side one backed with an A+++ side two! We just shot out a bunch of these and this copy finished way ahead of the pack. George Benson and a top-notch backing crew (Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Ray Baretto, Freddie Hubbard and many more) knock these jazzy Abbey Road covers out of the park, and Rudy Van Gelder did a great job putting it to tape. Of course not every pressing sounds good, but the best copies like this one are killer!  (more…)

Barney Kessel – Barney Kessel Plays Carmen (Stereo) – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This original Black Label Contemporary stereo LP has a STUNNING side two! Barney Kessel Plays Carmen is one of our favorite jazz guitar recordings of all time, and on a copy like this the sound is absolutely KILLER. 

As you can see from looking at the condition notes, this copy is quieter than any other we have listed to from our recent shootout. Fifties jazz doesn’t play much better than this copy right here. (more…)