Genre – Jazz – Big Band

Johnny Hodges – The Big Sound

xxxxx

  • Hodges’ superb and quite rare release arrives on the site with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it
  • Spacious and transparent, this mono copy has the big three-dimensional soundstage that makes an All Tube recording from 1957 such a joy to listen to
  • Featuring some of the swingingest cats from Duke Ellington’s band, all playing the music they love and performing at the peak of their powers
  • 4 stars: “No surprises, but the session was as good as one might hope. Gathered here was the Ellington band with Billy Strayhorn at the piano…This was an integrated unit, not some detached studio band for Hodges to blow over, under, around, and through. It was wonderful Hodges and fine Ellington.”

(more…)

Cannonball Adderley – Domination

xxxxx

  • A KILLER original stereo pressing with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it – exceptionally quiet vinyl too 
  • This is an AMAZINGLY well-recorded album – big, rich, and positively exploding with the fun jazz energy Adderley is known for
  • And don’t forget Oliver Nelson’s swinging arrangements for this group, surely a match made in Heaven
  • Why isn’t this LP better known? It’s one of the best jazz albums we’ve “discovered” recently, with the Big Sound we Big Speaker guys flip for
  • “Both Adderleys feature through a series of monumental sounding charts by Oliver Nelson on some very enterprising material.”

(more…)

Harry James & His Big Band – The King James Version

xxxxx

  • This KILLER Sheffield pressing has insanely good Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • Both sides here fulfill the promise of the direct to disc recording technology in a way that few – very, very few – direct to disc pressings can
  • Big Band energy and enthusiasm unlike any other copy we played, as well as the most natural sounding ambience of any copy in our shootout
  • This one has everything going for it from top to bottom, with big bass, dynamics, clarity, top end extension and more – it’s a real Demo Disc, make no mistake about it

On the best pressings, the horns are so lively and high-rez, not to mention full-bodied, this could easily become a favorite big band album to demo or test with — or just to enjoy the hell out of.

Unlike most Direct to Disc recordings, this album actually contains real music worth listening to — but only when the pressing lets the energy of the musicians through, with actual fidelity to the sounds of the real instruments. Brass without bite is boring. Drummers who are too delicate in their drumming will put you to sleep. (more…)

Glenn Miller – The Direct Disc Sound of the Glenn Miller Orchestra

xxxxx

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

One of the all time GREAT Direct to Disc recordings. For sound and music this one is hard to beat. And the vinyl is as quiet as any you will find. 

We went a bit overboard years ago when we wrote, “I don’t think you can find a better sounding big band record on the planet.” Well, we’ve heard plenty of amazing big band albums in the course of our Hot Stamper shootouts for the last five or ten years, albums by the likes of Basie, Zoot Sims, Ellington, Shorty Rogers, Ted Heath and others. (more…)

Duke Ellington – Newport Jazz Festival 1958 – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

xxxxx

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

If you are a fan, this record will be a thrill. If you’re unfamiliar with the Duke’s music, I can’t imagine a better introduction than this.

This LP also includes Gerry Mulligan’s only performance with the Ellington band. Paul Gonsalves’s saxophone performance is superb and worth the price of the album alone. The clarinet parts on Princess Blue are out of this world — Ellington at his best!

Duke Ellington – Ellington Indigos – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

More Duke Ellington

Ellington Indigos

xxxxx

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

AMAZINGLY TUBEY MAGICAL SOUND for this album of romantic jazz ballads. We just finished a shootout for this album and this Six Eye pressing was the winner in a landslide. The overall sound is richer, wamer, and fuller than any other. The brass is breathy with the proper amount of bite; the trumpets sound particularly good. We played about ten copies of this album this week and didn’t hear any with the kind of life and energy on BOTH sides of this record. The transparency is amazing and you won’t believe all the DEPTH to the soundfield — you can really hear INTO the music. (more…)

Thelonious Monk – Big Band and Quartet – Our Shootout Winner from 2015

More Thelonious Monk

More Big Band and Quartet

xxxxx

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

An amazingly well-recorded Big Band Concert from 1963, and these White Hot sides make the case like nothing you have ever heard. Our early pressing here is so rich, Tubey Magical, spacious and lively we simply could not fault the sound. Monk alternates between a 10 piece Big Band and his standard quartet, with magical results. 

Normally our notes for the sound of the records we are comparing in our shootout fall into two categories: what the record is doing right and what the record is doing wrong. In this case there was nothing wrong about the sound to write about.

I could have tried to pick some nits, but when a record is so clearly superior to its competition, what’s the point? (more…)

Bob and Ray – Throw a Stereo Spectacular – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

More Living Stereo

More Bob and Ray

xxxxx

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

It’s been nearly two years but the waiting is over — we’ve found another copy of the famous Bob and Ray on Living Stereo with DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND! Without a doubt this is the best sound I have ever heard for side one of this album. The sound here is so amazing I’m willing to go out on a limb and make the following recklessly bold statement. Buck Dance on this pressing has the most extended, natural and harmonically correct high frequencies I have ever heard from my speakers (or anyone else’s for that matter). 

And the crazy thing about it is, when played against an actual original pressing of Music for Bang, Baa-room and Harp, this copy, which one would assume is made from a dub, SOUNDS FAR BETTER. Now of course we don’t have ten copies (or even two copies) of LSP 1866 which would allow us to find one with an even better Buck Dance than the one heard here on Bob and Ray, which means we cannot be definitive in any way about the disparity in sound between the two albums. We can only judge the records we have in hand, not the ones we might have heard years ago or — even worse — speculate about the sound of records we have not actually played, recently or otherwise. (more…)

Duke Ellington – Yale Concert

More Duke Ellington

More Yale Concert

xxxxx

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

There is some interesting mic placement going on with this recording. Some of the instruments seem to be off-mic, creating an unusual effect that has its charms.

Only one song was actually recorded live, Boola Boola. The rest of the material was taped in the studio and an audience dubbed in. (more…)

Charles Mingus – Me Myself an Eye

More Charles Mingus

More Me Myself an Eye

xxxxx
xxxxx

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

If you hear something that sounds like Frank Zappa’s music circa Waka Jawaka don’t be surprised, we heard it too. Mingus and Zappa were both eccentric geniuses so it only makes sense that they arrived at some of the same musical ideas as they evolved as composers. 

Side one is big, rich, Tubey Magical and natural. The saxophone that solos is front and center and lively. Above all the music works on this side.

Side two is especially rich and tubey. It will sound thick and dark unless you get the volume up to the level it wants to be for the mix to work (which simply means that the album was balanced at louder levels to sound correct at louder levels). A little more top end extension would be nice but the music sounds right on the copy the way it is. (more…)