Genre – Jazz – Piano & Vibes

Milt Jackson – Bags & Flutes

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  • This original Atlantic stereo pressing has Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days (as well as the early mono pressings) – if you want to hear the Tubey Magic, size and energy of this wonderful album from 1959, a vintage pressing like this one is the only way to go
  • “Jackson is partnered alternately with Frank Wess and Bobby Jaspar — two of the leading pioneers that helped bring the flute into the mainstream of jazz. For these performances, the rhythm section blends and balances superbly, creating supple, meaty, hard bopping grooves for Jackson’s limitless capacity for invention and for the stellar, swinging performances of Jaspar and Wess.”

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Milt Jackson Quintet – That’s The Way It Is

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  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound and fairly quiet vinyl on both sides of this is a killer live jazz album from Shelly’s Manne-Hole
  • Big, rich and real, with the kind of relaxed Tubey Magical sound that not many live albums achieve
  • Wally Heider engineered and he knocked it out of the park – You Are There, and even better, it’s 1969
  • “This is not experimental jazz. It’s beyond that, or as they say in New York, outside that. This is solid, rooted, sweet-smelling earth of an enduring style, as played by masters.”

We dropped the needle on a copy of this record last year and could hardly believe how good it sounded. So rich, so tubey, so big and clear – this is one of the best Impulse records we have played in a very long time. It’s clearly another “sleeper” discovered by your friends here at Better Records. Who else is finding vintage albums with this kind of sound and music? (more…)

Count Basie – Kansas City 5

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

Another amazingly well recorded Count Basie album, and this one is killer with Triple Triple grades. It’s bigger, more solid and rich, with extension on both ends of the frequency spectrum that no other copy could match. First time on the site – a great session with a fresh sound for Basie, with Milt Jackson on vibes and Joe Pass on guitar.

I was not familiar with this record until recently. We pick up all the Pablo Basie titles we can get our hands on, and when we needle dropped a copy of this album we were amazed at the sound. Don’t know much about the engineer but he did a great job at Kendun for this session. 

This was the first of a series of smaller ensemble recordings under the heading of Kansas City. We have more coming, including the superb Kansas City piano trio album entitled “For the Second Time” with Louis Bellson and Ray Brown, a record that can have superb sound on the Pablo pressing (but steer clear of the OJC which is thin and opaque, the opposite of the sound you want). (more…)

Dave Brubeck Trio w/ Gerry Mulligan – Blues Roots

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More Blues Roots

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

A very different quartet appears on this record, with Mulligan’s baritone sax replacing Desmond’s alto and a whole new rhythm section behind both of these veteran leaders.

We’ve been surprised how good these mid- to late-’60s Brubeck recordings can sound. There’s still plenty of Tubey Magical richness on the best pressings of these records, a quality that is especially important when trying to reproduce the full-bodied sound of a baritone sax.  (more…)

Bill Evans & Toots Thielemans – Affinity

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

This is a unique jazz album (in my experience, anyway) with very good sound. Piano with harmonica accompaniment is something I’ve never heard before, and most of the time it actually works. Both of these guys are top flight musicians, and their ability to communicate in order to create this wonderful improvisational jazz is a joy to experience.

Side Two

White Hot — nothing could touch it. The sound is especially lively and clear, with highly resolving sound that lets you hear all the nuances and harmonics of every instrument.

Exceptionally open and spacious. Love that studio!

Side One

Nearly as good in every way, perhaps falling short a bit in the realm of resolution, but clearly superior to almost every other copy we played. (more…)

Bill Evans – Village Vanguard Sessions – Live and Learn

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A classic case of Live and Learn. Many years ago we had played copies of the record and thought the sound was fine, shootout material in fact. Flash forward to 2015 or 2016. Now it sounds thin, flat and opaque. Worse, it’s actually in MONO.

A stereo recording reissued in mono for no apparent reason? What were they smoking over there at Milestone?  (more…)

John Lewis – The Wonderful World Of Jazz – Reviewed in 2005

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

This is an OUTSTANDING Jazz LP that I used to sell by the dozens. Those days are gone, and now it’s very hard to find this title. A Top Recommendation from Better Records.   (more…)

McCoy Tyner – Expansions – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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Expansions

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

Both sonically and musically, this is THE BEST McCoy Tyner album that we can recall ever playing! Expansions has long been a favorite around here — it’s got a great lineup (including Wayne Shorter and Ron Carter) and the most interesting set of songs that we’ve heard on a Tyner album.

Drop the needle on the last song, I Thought I’d Let You Know, for the best sound on the album. It’s rich and sweet with a BIG bottom end and a wonderful sounding cello. McCoy’s playing a lot like Bill Evans at his best on this song.

This is another album that’s frequently scooped right out of the bins by DJs and producers who like to sample the funky grooves. We almost never see this one and when we do they don’t usually sound like this, so if you like this kind of music you should jump on it! (more…)