Genre – Jazz – Saxophone

Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto – Getz-Gilberto – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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

We have been trying to find great sound (on reasonable surfaces) for this album for YEARS — I kid you not — but this 2-pack is the first Hot Stamper version to ever hit the site. We have fired up this shootout multiple times since 2006 and been left empty-handed each and every time until the last go-around. We have sunk an insane amount of dough into trying to get a few killer copies because we love the music so much, but we just haven’t had much to show for it. If you love this Brazilian-flavored cool jazz as much as we do, you might want to snap this one up because who knows when or if we’ll find another one.

Stan Getz is a truly great tenor saxophonist, the cool school’s most popular player. This LP is all the evidence you need. Side one has those wonderfully relaxed Brazilian tempos and the smooth sax stylings of Stan Getz.

Side two for me is even more magical. Getz fires up and lets loose some of his most emotionally intense playing. These sad, poetic songs are about feeling more than anything else and Getz communicates that so completely you don’t have to speak Portugese to know what Jobim is saying. Call it cool jazz with feeling.

Side one here has good bass, wonderful transparency and more presence than we heard elsewhere. The female vocals sound excellent and the sax is full bodied with clear leading-edge transients.

The side two of this set is even better, more extended up top and incredibly smooth and sweet overall. It’s got the impressive presence of the first side but could stand to be a bit fuller.

Both sides are a bit noisy as is pretty much always the case with this record — a big reason why we’ve struggled so hard with this album. The other big reason is that most copies just plain sound mediocre or worse, which you can find out for yourself by flipping over either of the Hot sides in this set.

This is an all-time jazz classic and it’s a shame we can’t find more great copies. This one isn’t going to be a top Demo Disc for any of you but it will give you two sides that show you how lovely this music sounds when you’re lucky enough to get a hold of a copy that’s not poorly mastered and obscured by seriously noisy vinyl.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

The Girl From Ipanema
Doralice
P’ra Machucar Meu Coracao
Desafinado

Side Two

Corvocado
So Danco Samba
O Grande Amor
Vivo Sohando

AMG Review

One of the biggest-selling jazz albums of all time, not to mention bossa nova’s finest moment, Getz/Gilberto trumped Jazz Samba by bringing two of bossa nova’s greatest innovators — guitarist/singer João Gilberto and composer/pianist Antonio Carlos Jobim — to New York to record with Stan Getz. The results were magic. Ever since Jazz Samba, the jazz marketplace had been flooded with bossa nova albums, and the overexposure was beginning to make the music seem like a fad. Getz/Gilberto made bossa nova a permanent part of the jazz landscape not just with its unassailable beauty, but with one of the biggest smash hit singles in jazz history — “The Girl From Ipanema,” a Jobim classic sung by João’s wife, Astrud Gilberto, who had never performed outside of her own home prior to the recording session…

This music has nearly universal appeal; it’s one of those rare jazz records about which the purist elite and the buying public are in total agreement. Beyond essential.

John Coltrane – Blue Train – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

This Blue Note pressing has THE BEST SIDE TWO we’ve ever heard or expect to hear! It does EVERYTHING right, giving you the kind of Blue Train sound that most jazz fans have dreamed of forever but certainly have never heard before. The sound is absolutely KILLER, sounding dramatically more like live music than any copy we’ve played. It’s full-bodied and rich with tons of energy, YOU ARE THERE immediacy and wonderful clarity. There’s also a ton of tubey magic and an unbelievably strong bottom end, making this the kind of record that’s going to BLOW YOU AWAY. I bet you never believed Blue Train could sound like this — heck, we sure didn’t! (more…)

Getz Au Go Go on the 1987 Reissue – Isn’t This Record Supposed to Be Stereo?

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As part of our recent shootout for the album we played what turned out to be a later reissue. According to my research it’s most likely from the late ’70s or early ’80s.   

As a general rule we make a point to go out of our way to play practically any copy we can get our hands on, in the off chance that a reissue will beat the original. It’s happened plenty of times. Those of you with White Hot Stamper shootout winning copies of some of our favorite titles know what I’m talkin’ about.

Imagine our surprise when this pressing — in a stereo jacket with the label you see in the picture with the word “stereo” printed right on it — turned out to be dead MONO!

The sound was godawful — small, flat, and bereft of the ambience that makes this recording so enjoyable. The same would probably be true for the mono originals but since I haven’t played one of those in decades I will just say that that would be no more than a guess, to be taken for what it’s worth

Yet another reason not to believe a word you read on an album jacket or label.

A public service from your record loving audiophile friends here at Better Records.

Cool Jazz

I’ve gotten more enjoyment out of this Getz album than any other, including those that are much more famous such as Getz/Gilberto (which doesn’t sound as good by the way). This one is (mostly) live in a nightclub and it immediately puts you in the right mood to hear this kind of jazz.

Listening to side one I’m struck with the idea that this is the coolest jazz record of cool jazz ever recorded. Getz’s take on Summertime is a perfect example of his “feel” during these sessions. His playing is pure emotion; every note seems to come directly from his heart.

What really sets these performances apart is the relaxed quality of the playing. He seems to be almost nonchalant, but it’s not a bored or disinterested sound he’s making. It’s more of a man completely comfortable in this live setting, surrounded by like-minded musicians, all communicating the same vibe. Perhaps they all got hold of some really good grass that day. That’s the feeling one gets from their playing. As one is listening, there’s a certain euphoria that seems to be part of the music. This is definitely one of those albums to get lost in.

AMG Review

… this recording hails from the venerable Greenwich Village venue, the Café Au Go Go, in mid-August of 1964 — two months after “Girl From Ipanema” became a Top Five pop single. However, the focus of Getz Au Go Go steers away from the Brazilian flavored fare, bringing Astrud Gilberto into the realm of a decidedly more North American style. That said, there are a few Antonio Carlos Jobim compositions — “Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars)” and “One Note Samba” — both of which would be considered as jazz standards in years to follow — as well as the lesser-circulated “Eu E Voce.” Getz and crew gather behind Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s “It Might as Well Be Spring,” and the scintillating instrumental “Summertime,” from Porgy & Bess. Other equally engaging cuts include affective vocal readings of “Only Trust Your Heart,” and the diminutive, yet catchy “Telephone Song.” There is also some great interaction between Getz and Burton on “Here’s to That Rainy Day.” Getz Au Go Go is highly recommended for all dimensions of jazz enthusiasts.

 

 

Coleman Hawkins and Clark Terry – Back In Bean’s Bag – Reviewed in 2006

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

Columbia 360 Label. A Jazz Primer if there ever was one! If you don’t get jazz this album will get it for you. There is simply not a false step or false note to be found anywhere on this recording.

This record has a magical midrange, like so many Columbias. It’s a little rolled off on the extreme highs. If you have any way of boosting your top end, you can make this record really sing. As it is now, it’s still quite good, just a bit more mellow than I know it should be.

 

 

Art Pepper – Intensity – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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Intensity

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

Intensity is right — this is some SERIOUSLY GOOD SOUNDING alto saxophone led quartet jazz. AMG was right to give this one 4 1/2 stars — the musicianship is top notch and Pepper’s playing is INSPIRED throughout. 

The real surprise was how well recorded this album from 1963 is. I can’t recall a more DYNAMIC Contemporary. Pepper’s sax gets seriously LOUD in some passages. This is very much a good thing. Not only is he totally committed to the music, but the engineers are getting that energy onto the record so that we at home can feel the moment to moment raw power of his expression. (more…)

John Coltrane – Plays For Lovers

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Plays For Lovers

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  • This superb compilation has Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side one and outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound for side two – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • It’s rich, warm and natural, with loads of ambience and the Tubey Magic that was still on the tapes fifty years ago (and is surely long gone by now)
  • 4 stars: “… these half-dozen selections provide evidence of his tremendous facility and musical sensitivity… For anyone who is even nominally curious about Coltrane, or simply wants an excellent anthology of the man at his most alluring, John Coltrane Plays for Lovers pretty much says it all. Included are nearly 40 minutes of examples that acknowledge his remarkable capacity for naturally exquisite balladry.”  

We were pleasantly surprised to find that the remastering into stereo for this title from the mono tapes carried out in 1969 was done delicately, with an ear to keeping the tonal balance correct and the spread of stereo information to a minimum.

As proof, note that this pressing actually beat our true mono pressings on side one. If we had twenty mono copies no doubt one of them would have beaten even this side one. Getting five or six clean copies of this album, mono, stereo or otherwise, is hard enough these days. Twenty is out of the question.

Readers may wish to check out the especially insightful Allmusic review to gain a better understanding of this very special group of ballads. (more…)

Duke Ellington & Johnny Hodges – Back to Back – A Classic Records Winner

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Back to Back

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

As I recall this was one of the better sounding Classic titles from their Verve series, and the music is excellent. Finding a clean original is no mean feat as I’m sure you can imagine.

Illinois Jacquet – Bottoms Up

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Bottoms Up

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  • With outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last, this copy of Bottoms Up has much to recommend it
  • The sax is especially well recorded with just the right amount of bite and only the squawk of the real thing
  • Surprisingly transparent and dynamic, this recording highlights Jacquet’s soulful style
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Even in 1968 when the jazz avant-garde was becoming quite influential, tenor saxophonist Illinois Jacquet played in his own timeless style, performing in an idiom little changed during the previous 20 years.”

For big, full-bodied, bluesy, soulful saxophone jazz it’s hard to imagine you can do much better than the legendary Illinois Jacquet. (more…)

Art Pepper – Saturday Night At The Village Vanguard – Reviewed in 2007

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Saturday Night At The Village Vanguard

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

This very nice looking Contemporary LP has pretty good sound and excellent music. We played all four volumes of Art Pepper’s Village Vanguard series recently, and this copy was our favorite of the bunch. It features an intense live version of Pepper’s tune The Trip, from the wonderful album of the same title, as well as extended versions of the tunes You Go To My Head and Cherokee.  (more…)

Art Pepper – …The Way It Was – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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…The Way It Was (2013)

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

This Contemporary Yellow Label 2-pack has WONDERFUL SOUND AND MUSIC and QUIET VINYL ON BOTH SIDES! It’s airy, open, and spacious with superb clarity and an extended top end. The beautiful reading of Autumn Leaves on side two is DEMO DISC QUALITY! Both of the copies in this White Hot 2-pack have one side rated A+++ and one side that just didn’t meet our standards, so we combined them to give you excellent sound for the entire album.

The piano sounds Right On The Money — it’s weighty and full-bodied, just like a real piano sounds. That’s something we’ve come to expect from these Contemporary recordings that we almost never hear on anything but the best Blue Notes. The horns are airy and breathy with the proper amount of bite. All The Things You Are sounds lovely here — relaxed and musical. (more…)