Genre – Jazz – Trumpet

Clark Terry – The Happy Horns of Clark Terry

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  • Clark Terry’s three horn lineup album finally arrives on the site with stunning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from beginning to end AND exceptionally quiet vinyl 
  • Big and lively, rich and full, no other copy in our shootout impressed us the way this killer pressing did
  • Credit goes to Rudy Van Gelder once again for the huge space this superbly well-recorded ensemble occupies
  • 4 stars: “This all-star LP has plenty of memorable moments… The lively music is quite enjoyable.”

We dropped the needle on a copy of the album a few months back and immediately we knew it would be a record worthy of a shootout – the sound was big and lively in the best tradition of Rudy Van Gelder’s recordings from the mid-’60s. His sound is the right sound for this style of music, that’s for damn sure. (more…)

Avoid Making this Rookie Record Collecting Mistake

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Record Shopping Day Video!

Not sure how much of this video you can stand — nothing could interest me less than a couple of audiophile / vinyl enthusiasts spouting off on what they think about some random records sitting in a local store’s bins — but one or two bits caught my eye. I thought it might possibly be of service to share them with you.

Is there any value to the comments of these two collectors? If you care about what music they like, perhaps.  Anything about what to look for on the label or jacket that might correspond to better sound?  If it’s there I sure didn’t see it, but I admit to speeding through most of it so I can’t say for sure.

The first bit I refer to above is at 18:42.  The album in question is the legendary Kind of Blue. At this point the unseen helmet-cammed audiophile picks up the record, recognizes the original cover, and proceeds to pull the record out to see what era the pressing is from.

Drat! The disappointment in this audiophile’s voice is palpable as he drops the record back in the bin with his dismissive comment that  “it’s a later pressing.”

But we here at Better Records would be falling all over ourselves to get our hands on that later pressing. Those late pressings can and often do win shootouts. We would never look down our noses at a Red Label Columbia jazz LP, and neither should you.

Our intrepid audiophile explorer does much the same thing about 23 minutes in. It seems pretty clear to us that he has no respect for such reissues, another example of one of the most common myths in record collecting land, the myth that the  original pressing is always, or to be fair, usually better. (more…)

Freddie Hubbard – The Baddest Hubbard

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The Baddest Hubbard

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

This is the baddest copy of Baddest Hubbard we heard in our shootout. And by baddest, I mean THE BEST! It’s got tons of energy, a meaty bottom end, and amazing songs to boot. Red Clay, an AMAZING cut, sounds OUT OF THIS WORLD! The overall sound is HUGE and SPACIOUS. Hubbard was a master of funky jazz, and this pressing has the mastering that does his unique style justice. 

Side one starts off with the perennial favorite Red Clay. The immediacy and texture are noticeable right away. For those of you who don’t know, this is one of the best (or is it “baddest”?) Hubbard tracks. The intro starts off with a stylized free-form jam, sounding like a bop-jazz band of old, then takes form and solidifies into a groove of mammoth proportions. Ron Carter’s bass playing is stellar and that fingers-on-frets sound is great on this copy. All of the horns are textured with plenty of bite and breath. There is fluffy tape-hiss which is a dead give-away for top end extension. Like many of our funky favorites, this one was eventually sampled for a popular hip-hop song. That may not mean much to you, but it definitely means that nice copies of this album get swiped up quickly by young DJs and producers. (more…)

Freddie Hubbard – The Best Of… Live And In Studio

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

This is a Minty looking Pablo LP with Virtually No Sign Of Play (VNSOP). 

This album has selected tracks from his 2 LP set ’Live at the North Sea Jazz Festival’ which are excellent. On the other side are three tracks recorded at Ocean Way which are equally good. All in all, this is some of the best later Hubbard work around.

Freddie Hubbard – The Body and Soul of Freddie Hubbard

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The Body and Soul of Freddie Hubbard

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

The bluesy version of Willow Weep For Me on side one is WONDERFUL. The rich, full-bodied sax sound is Right On The Money. The overall sound is totally transparent with superb clarity. Scrapple From The Apple (also on side one) has a silky top end anchored with deep, well-defined bass.

We had good success with both ’60s originals and later copies pressed in the ’70s. (more…)

Miles Davis – Nefertiti

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

This Columbia 360 Label pressing has excellent sound on both sides and unusually quiet vinyl throughout. The music is wonderful too — Miles and his late ’60s quintet featuring Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Tony Williams are all in top form here, slowly working their way towards the electric fusion sounds that would be coming shortly. Many copies lack the kind of transparency and clarity you need to make sense of what each player is doing, but this Super Hot pressing gives you those qualities on both sides. (more…)

Joe Newman Quintet Jive At Five – Killer Trumpet Jazz from 1960

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  • Jive At Five arrives on the site with killer Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This hard to find Prestige Swingville LP is big, spacious, swinging with energy and absolutely jumping out of the speakers
  • 4 stars: “…[this music] is very much in the Count Basie vein. That fact is not too surprising when one considers that the quintet includes three members of Basie’s men: trumpeter Joe Newman, tenor saxophonist Frank Wess and bassist Eddie Jones. Joined by the complementary pianist Tommy Flanagan and drummer Oliver Jackson, Newman and his friends swing their way through four vintage standards and a couple of the leader’s original blues…”

Jive at Five is one of my all-time favorite jazz trumpet albums. This Shootout Winning Prestige reissue might very well turn you into a big fan as well.

I highly recommended this album back in the day. Hearing it now as a much older man, having played thousands of jazz records in the ensuing decades, and thankfully being able to hear it on much better equipment than I had back then, I realize both the music and sound (can’t forget that!) have stood the test of time very well indeed.

This is what a good jazz trumpet album should sound like, miles from the squawky, muted microphone-distorted horn sound so many audiophiles seem to revere. I’m guessing you know who I’m referring to. Miles Davis was surely a genius and a brilliant innovator, but his horn sound from the sixties on was never as relaxed, smooth and natural as it is on this wonderful Joe Newman Quintet album from 1960.

Joe was one of Basie’s long-time band members, a fiery soloist with an unerring sense of swing. This album ably demonstrates those qualities. The guy is passionate but he never gets lost in his own solos; he keeps the melodies and the swing front and center. (more…)

Miles Davis – Seven Steps to Heaven

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

This Original Miles Davis record has DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND! Columbia jazz records from this period are some of the best sounding jazz records ever made, and this is a perfect example of what is right with their recordings. The sound is rich, full, sweet, tonally right on the money, and lively as can be. 

This is an interesting album because half of it is recorded in Hollywood and half of it in New York, with the songs in each location interpersed on the sides. Victor Feldman handles the piano duties in California; Herbie Hancock in New York. I actually prefer Victor Feldman’s playing on this record. We don’t get to hear his piano work often — he’s really quite good. (Cal Tjader started out on the drums but it’s tough to find records with him drumming.)

Anyway, one of the thoughts that occurred to me when I was playing this record is this: Why is there no audiophile reissue on any label that sounds like this? There’s something about the sound of these old records, these original pressings, that’s impossible to recapture with modern equipment. It may not be impossible, but until somebody manages to do it, it might as well be.

When you drop the needle at the beginning of side one and hear Miles’ muted trumpet come jumping out of your speakers, I guarantee you will be amazed or your money back!

Miles Davis – E.S.P.

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  • This pressing boasts insanely good Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides, a huge step up from most copies
  • There’s plenty of 1965 Columbia 360 Label Tubey Magic in Stereo – the analog sound is real, tonally correct, and above all, natural
  • Miles fronts his second classic quintet here – saxophonist Wayne Shorter, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Tony Williams
  • “They created a unique sound that came to define the very sound of modern jazz … ESP remains one of their very best albums.” — 4 1/2 stars

This Columbia 360 Label pressing is one of the better copies of E.S.P. we’ve  heard.

It’s richer and fuller, with more ambience, and the trumpet and piano are just amazing sounding. You’re going to have a fairly tough time finding a copy that is anywhere near as impressive as this one. Trust me — we know whereof we speak. We’re always trying and all too often coming up short. Not here though!  (more…)

The Body and Soul of Freddie Hubbard – Speakers Corner Reviewed

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Sonic Grade: B

An outstanding Freddie Hubbard straight ahead jazz album on Speakers Corner vinyl that belongs in any jazz lover’s collection. 

Check out our Heavy Vinyl Scorecard to read all about the latest winners and losers.