Genre – Jazz – Saxophone

Art Pepper – Friday Night At The Village Vanguard – Our Shootout Winner from 2007

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Friday Night At The Village Vanguard

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

This Original Contemporary LP has EXCELLENT MUSIC AND SOUND! The real highligh of this volume is the version of Caravan — just listen to Art playing both alto AND tenor! There’s also a great version of Pepper’s bossa-influenced track Labyrinth. The sound is rich and full-bodied. Listen to the cymbal crashes to hear how extended the top end is. The piano has real weight to it, but the sax sounds a little bit compressed and the bass could be a bit tighter.

Zoot Sims – Passion Flower – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

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

One of the all time great Pablo sleepers. Why is no one else writing about records like these? The music is wonderful and the sound is top drawer on the best copies. If you’ve tried and failed with other Pablo Zoot Sims records, fear not: this title is one of his best, musically and sonically. 

If you want to hear the Duke’s music swing in top sound, get this album.

This is a big group, probably at least a dozen pieces at any given time, and all that energy is captured on the best copies with tremendous engineering skill. The lively arrangements are by none other than Benny Carter, a man who knows his jazz. His career started in the ’20s(!) and lasted into this century if you can believe it. I consider myself fortunate to have seen him play locally when he was more than 90 years old. He stlll had it, kind of. (more…)

Ornette Coleman – Tomorrow Is The Question

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  • An outstanding copy of Coleman’s sophomore release, with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – reasonably quiet vinyl too
  • Our Contemporary Yellow Label Stereo LP here has have breathy, full-bodied brass and lots of tight, well-defined bass 
  • The top end is nicely extended, which results in excellent space, transparency and clarity
  • 4 stars: “…this is one of the things that came to define Ornette — his willingness to let simplicity and its bright colors and textures confound not only other players and listeners, but also him too.”

The drum sound is OUT OF THIS WORLD — Roy Du Nann always seems to get amazing sound out of Shelley Manne’s kit. Listen to the interplay between Ornette and Don Cherry — they really drive each other to insane levels over the course of the album. (more…)

Benny Carter – Meets Oscar Peterson – Reviewed in 2007

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More Meets Oscar Peterson

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

“Benny Carter had recorded with pianist Oscar Peterson back in the early ’50s for Norman Granz’s Verve label. More than 30 years, later he teamed up with Peterson again, this time for Granz’s Pablo company. There was no sign of decline or disillusionment in either of the co-leaders’ playing; in fact, if anything, they had improved with age. Joined by guitarist Joe Pass, bassist Dave Young and drummer Martin Drew, Carter and Peterson are both in a joyous mood and in typically swinging form on six standards and a blues.” — AMG  (more…)

Benny Carter – Further Definitions – Reviewed in 2009

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More Further Definitions

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This is an original Minty looking Impulse LP. What I played of this album sounded nice and smooth. There may be livelier copies out there — who can say? I just don’t come acoss enough clean ones to know what the potential for this album is. I prefer smooth to aggressive, that’s for sure. Top players on this album include Coleman Hawkins, Philly Jo Jones, Phil Woods, Charles Rouse and others.   

TRACK LISTING

Honeysuckle Rose 
The Midnight Sun Will Never Set 
Crazy Rhythm 
Blue Star 
Cotton Tail 
Body and Soul 
Cherry 
Doozy

AMG Review

The band was gathered from jazzmen then working in the L.A. studios, including Carter and Bud Shank on altos, and tenors Teddy Edwards and either Buddy Collette or Bill Perkins. Although Benny Carter was not actively playing much at the time, he is heard in typically prime form. Very highly recommended. 

Gerry Mulligan – The Gerry Mulligan Songbook Vol. 1 – Reviewed in 2009

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More The Gerry Mulligan Songbook Vol. 1

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

This original COLLECTOR QUALITY World Pacific Jazz LP has VERY GOOD sound and is EXCEPTIONALLY QUIET. Zoot Sims, Al Cohen, Lee Konitz and Allan Eager all play on this record. A pretty hot lineup if I do say so!

Ornette Coleman – Ornette On Tenor

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  • A KILLER sounding Atlantic pressing with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it throughout
  • Both sides here are super rich and Tubey Magical yet still clean and clear with tons of energy and plenty of extension on both ends
  • “It’s an understatement to say that Ornette Coleman’s stint with Atlantic altered the jazz world forever, and Ornette on Tenor was the last of his six LPs (not counting outtakes compilations) for the label, wrapping up one of the most controversial and free-thinking series of recordings in jazz history… far ahead of its time.” – All Music

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John Coltrane – Coltrane Plays the Blues – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

ONE OF THE VERY BEST COPIES WE’VE EVER HEARD of this phenomenal album! This is PURE GOLD for the jazz-loving audiophile. I can count the number of jazz records we’ve played this year in a league with this one both sonically and musically on one hand. Both sides here are AMAZINGLY GOOD — exceptionally rich and full-bodied with superb transparency. Coltrane’s sax sounds OUT OF THIS WORLD with the lots of that airy, breathy quaility that we just love here. The immediacy is OFF THE CHARTS! (more…)

Ornette Coleman – Love Call – Reviewed in 2013

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

EXCELLENT A++ SOUND and QUIET VINYL for both sides of this great Ornette Coleman Blue Note album. Ornette’s music clearly isn’t for everyone, but you’ve got to hand it to the guy when it comes to getting good sound on his records. We’ve heard a number of Ornette records that had excellent sound, the trick is finding the ones that sound good and aren’t so crazy musically that there’s still appeal to the average audiophile. This one’s a bit out there for sure, but we enjoyed it — the excellent sound throughout helped the music make sense.  

Of course, good recordings don’t always get you good sounding records, and this 2-pack helps prove that point. Each of these copies had one great sounding side backed with a flip that was much more typical. Fortunately, we ended up with an A++ side one and an A++ side two, which allowed us to pair them up. If you want to see just what the Super Hot Stampers give you that the average copy lacks, it’s as easy as flipping either record over and playing the side that didn’t earn a Hot Stamper grade. And as always, if you want to leave the tedium of playing mediocre sounding vinyl to the guys who sit through stacks of it every day (that’s us, natch), don’t worry — there won’t be a quiz at the end!

The sound on the A++ sides is bigger and livelier with more presence, better clarity and more extension up top. You get tighter bass with more weight, and more air and texture to the brass. If you’ve got a taste for free jazz, I think you’ll be very impressed with the winning sides. (more…)

Art Pepper – Smack Up – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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Smack Up

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

WOW — the first Smack Up Hot Stamper to hit the site in over two years! We love this album and wish we could find more great copies, but it sure ain’t easy. Here’s a Contemporary Yellow Label pressing that’s very good on side one and INCREDIBLE on side two. The first track on side one doesn’t sound quite as good as the rest of the material, but by the second track this thing is SMOKIN’.

You’re going to flip out over this side two, mark my words. The sound is lively and dynamic with a powerful bottom end. The saxophone sounds just right — breathy, full-bodied and realistic. This side has all the tubey magic of the best black label originals, without their bad vinyl and bloated bass. I get black label original Contemporary pressings in all the time, but few of them are mastered right and most never make it to the site. Some are pure muck. Some have bloated bass that is hard to believe.  (more…)