Genre – Jazz – Trumpet

Donald Byrd – Electric Byrd

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  • Incredible sound throughout for this later Blue Note pressing with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades
  • Both of these sides are clean, clear and natural sounding with a lovely bottom end and lots of space around all of the players
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl throughout — Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • Donald Byrd’s transitional sessions from 1969-1971 are actually some of the trumpeter’s most intriguing work, balancing accessible, funky, Davis-style fusion with legitimate jazz improvisation. Electric Byrd, from 1970, is the best of the bunch, as Byrd absorbs the innovations of Bitches Brew and comes up with one of his most consistent fusion sets of any flavor… indisputably challenging, high-quality fusion.” – 4 1/2 Stars

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Donald Byrd – Royal Flush

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  • A superb sounding copy of Royal Flush, with both sides earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades or very close to them 
  • Remarkable Tubey Magical richness, as well as the kind of immediacy and transparency that few copies have – all qualities essential to reproducing both the trumpet and the baritone sax with exceptional fidelity
  • Byrd’s trumpet sounds wonderful here, with just the right amount of bite
  • “Donald Byrd was at his peak as a straight-ahead hard bop band leader in the early ’60s, turning a series of remarkably solid, enjoyable sessions for Blue Note. Royal Flush is no exception to the rule.”

If you like your jazz to sound BIG, BOLD and DYNAMIC, this is the record for you my friend. This one’s got that jumpin’-outta-the-speakers quality — but never in a forced or phony way — that we love so much about the better copies of Dexter Gordon’s One Flight Up.

Play Shangri-La on side two and prepare to be blown away. Billy Higgins is busting out some seriously heavy staccato snare drum work, and on a copy with superb presence like this one, those big snare thwacks are gonna hit you right in the gut and leave you begging for mercy.

I defy anyone to find a Heavy Vinyl Blue Note reissue with this kind of life and energy. (more…)

Donald Byrd – The Cat Walk

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  • This pressing of Donald Byrd’s brilliant 1962 release boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Credit must go to Rudy Van Gelder once again for capturing the jazz energy of this superbly sympathetic ensemble
  • These sides are lively and fun, with the kind of sound RVG managed pretty consistently to get on tape
  • 4 stars: “Donald Byrd and baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams worked together on several recordings between 1958 and 1961, and The Cat Walk (released on LP in 1962) is among the best. Byrd’s playing throughout is typically sleek and lyrical, and Adams’ sturdy, husky baritone sound is the perfect counterbalance, making The Cat Walk an essential Byrd purchase.”

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Freddie Hubbard – Sky Dive – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

With a sonic grade of A+++ this White Hot Stamper original CTI pressing has a side two that won Top Honors in our recent shootout. It’s CLEARLY the best sounding side we have ever offered of this funky jazz classic, but it has serious condition issues, including a mark that plays at the end of track one all the way into track two. If you can live with that mark you will hear some amazing sound and music on side two. And if you buy this copy and realize you can’t, feel free to send it back for a full refund.

We ran into lots of condition problems with this album; perhaps your experience has been the same. Not many played anything close to Mint Minus, including this one. (more…)

Miles Davis – Quiet Nights

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Please excuse the mono cover art.

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

A Miles Davis – Gil Evans classic, and only the second to hit the site in five years. Fred Plaut engineered the sessions, which here sound rich, warm, and smooth, with excellent presence. Gil Evans conducts the orchestra, adding a lovely feel reminiscent of Sketches Of Spain.

We recently shot out a short stack of these — not an easy record to find in clean condition, in stereo, on the earlier labels at affordable prices these days — and found that the music on Quiet Nights only really comes to life when you have a good pressing like this one.

The music is very much in the style of Sketches Of Spain and the sound is comparable to that album as well. This is Davis’ final official collaboration with arranger and conductor Gil Evans. The quintet on this album includes Miles Davis on the trumpet, George Coleman on tenor sax, Victor Feldman on piano, Ron Carter on bass and Frank Butler on drums. (more…)

Miles Davis – Sorcerer – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

STUNNING, TOP QUALITY SOUND on this A+++ side two! We played a bunch of these recently and didn’t hear any other side twos quite like this one! It’s got more energy, more presence, and more body than we heard anywhere else. Drop the needle anywhere and listen to how open, transparent and spacious it is. The soundfield is HUGE — bigger, wider, and deeper than on any other copy we played. Everything sounds natural, balanced and correct. The bass has texture, the piano has weight, the brass has the right amount of bite and so on.

Side one is nice but not amazing. The bass is a bit bloated and the soundfield doesn’t fully open up. Play the sides against each other to understand what A+++ White Hot Stampers give you that A+ Hot Stampers don’t. This side is also very ticky, so we’ve based the price solely on the killer side two. (Thankfully the A+++ side is quiet.) (more…)

Freddie Hubbard – Sky Dive – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

With a sonic grade of A+++ this White Hot Stamper original CTI pressing has a side two that won Top Honors in our recent shootout. It’s CLEARLY the best sounding side we have ever offered of this funky jazz classic, but it has serious condition issues, including a mark that plays at the end of track one all the way into track two. If you can live with that mark you will hear some amazing sound and music on side two. And if you buy this copy and realize you can’t, feel free to send it back for a full refund.

We ran into lots of condition problems with this album; perhaps your experience has been the same. Not many played anything close to Mint Minus, including this one. (more…)

Freddie Hubbard – Ready For Freddie – Reviewed in 2006

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

This is a QUIET Blue Note ’70s pressing with wonderful music and pretty good sound. The trumpet here sounds excellent with lots of breath and just the right amount of bite. The track Crisis on side two should particularly appeal to audiophiles — just check out that well-recorded bass and all the cool little drum breaks.  

We hardly ever see clean copies of this album, so we don’t imagine we’ll ever have the resources to do a proper shootout. I don’t imagine that you’ll find a much better sounding copy of this album that plays this quietly.

The reproduction of the trumpet on practically every track is nothing less than superb. It jumps out of the speakers front and center and forces you to listen to it. (more…)

Miles Davis – A Tribute To Jack Johnson

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

Two White Hot Stamper sides on quiet vinyl for this 5-Star Jazz/Rock Fusion classic! If you love the crazy music that Miles was making with John McLaughlin in the early ’70s, I’m sure you’re already a fan of this album, but I bet you’ve never heard it sound like this.

Check out the especially insightful Five Star All Music Guide Review linked above to get a better feel of what this album is all about. We’ve been trying to track down a good copy for ages, so it was a treat to hear this crazy, progressive jazz finally sound right. (more…)

Miles Davis – In Person – Friday Night – Our Shootout Winner from 2015

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

Normally our notes for the sound of the records we are shooting out against each other fall into two categories: what the record is doing right and what the record is doing wrong. You’ll note that in this case there was nothing wrong about the sound to write about.

The secret is TUBES – they work their magic on this music like nothing else can.

I could have picked some nits, but when a specific pressing is so clearly superior to its competition, what’s the point?

Allow me to transcribe my notes:

Side One

The right sound — big, rich, tubey and real. No need to pick nits.

Side Two

Transparent. Rich, smooth, balanced. Horn gets huge and loud the right way. Piano is full. Solid bass.

Over and out. (more…)