Genre – Jazz – Saxophone/Clarinet

Eric Dolphy – Caribé

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  • KILLER sound on both sides of this later Prestige pressing with each earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades
  • Not knowing much about the album, we were shocked at how well recorded Caribé is – RVG in 1960 is hard to beat for ENERGY and the sense of immediacy you get from being right in the room with these exciting musicians
  • “This record is the equivalent of throwing a stick of dynamite into a sedate, well-ordered dinner party, having the dynamite go off with a bang, and somehow leaving everything in its place. Such is the volatile Eric Dolphy, a serious wailer on the alto sax and even more idiosyncratic and radical on the bass clarinet, who barges into the lair of Juan Amalbert’s Latin Jazz Quintet and doesn’t perturb them in the least… fascinating without a doubt.”

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Jimmy Heath – Swamp Seed

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  • Jimmy Heath makes his site debut here with this superb Riverside Black Label stereo pressing of his 1963 album, which boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • With Donald Byrd on trumpet and Herbie Hancock on piano (as well as French horns and a tuba!), this is a fun session with top players 
  • Based on what we’re heard, this is an outstanding recording – the top opens up nicely and there’s plenty of space in the studio, giving all the players room to breathe
  • “This is a delightful if underrated set… The multi-talented Jimmy Heath has many consistently rewarding and distinctive tenor saxophone solos..

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John Coltrane – Coltrane’s Sound – Forget the Reissues

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This is yet another superb Tom Dowd recording of Coltrane in his prime, with support from the brilliant McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones.

Advice

Forget the later Red and Green Atlantic pressings. Every one we’ve ever played was flat, dry, and thin. They sound like the cheap reissues that Atlantic churned out in the ’70s. Don’t get me wrong; there are some good sounding records on the Red and Green label, but you really have to know what you are doing — or be really lucky — to find them.

We’ve played them by the score, and found relatively few winners among a slough of losers. If you want to take your chances on some, knock yourself out, more power to you, but expect to come up with nothing to show for your time and money almost every time. That’s been our experience anyway.

And be very thankful if you happen to run into one of these early Atlantic stereo pressings, especially if it plays as quietly as this one does. Few Classic Coltrane albums survived the jazz lovers of the day and their awful turntables

The Players

John Coltrane — tenor saxophone on all except “Central Park West” soprano saxophone on “Central Park West” and “26-2”
McCoy Tyner — piano
Steve Davis — bass
Elvin Jones — drums (more…)

Dexter Gordon – Our Man In Paris

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  • Both sides of this vintage RVG-mastered Deep Groove pressing earned Shootout Winning Triple Plus grades (A+++) on this Dexter Gordon classic from 1963
  • The sound of the saxophone is so full-bodied and Tubey Magical you won’t believe it – where is that sound today?
  • The top opens up nicely and there is plenty of space in the studio, giving all the players room to breathe
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Gordon is at the very top of his game here. His playing is crisp, tight, and full of playful fury. Powell, who at this stage of his life was almost continually plagued by personal problems, never sounded better than he does in this session.”

The cover is exceptionally nice on this copy by the way.

The sound here is lively and energetic with plenty of low end weight. These sides have the whomp that you don’t hear on too many Blue Note LPs! The sound of the saxophone is captured beautifully – it’s breathy with clearly audible leading-edge transients.

The bluesy version of Willow Weep For Me on side one is wonderful. Scrapple From The Apple (also on side one) has a silky top end anchored by deep, well-defined bass.

It was not that many years ago that we didn’t care a fig about Dexter Gordon. After finding Crazy Hot copies of One Flight Up and now this amazing record, we’re counting ourselves ardent members of his fan club.

If you’re looking for an original stereo pressing — and good luck finding one in audiophile playing condition — this is not the copy for you. If you’re looking for an exceptionally good sounding stereo pressing, regardless of label, one that plays reasonably quietly for a 50+ year old record, this simply cannot do better than this very LP. (more…)

Lou Donaldson – Sophisticated Lou

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  • Lou Donaldson’s 1973 release makes its Hot Stamper debut with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last 
  • Punchy and present, open and transparent – only the best Blue Note pressings let Donaldson’s soulful energy come through the way it did here
  • “Supported by a lush string section, Donaldson plays sensitive, pretty versions of such familiar items as ‘Stella By Starlight,’ ‘What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life,’ ‘Autumn in New York’ and ‘Time After Time,’ plus a new reading of his ‘Blues Walk’ and a cover of Stevie Wonder’s ‘You Are the Sunshine of My Life.’ … a nice change of pace after several albums of funky soul-jazz.”

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Benny Goodman – The Benny Goodman Story – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

This is a SUPERB SOUNDING Benny Goodman Mono album from 1955, here reissued with, in some ways, even better sound. Benny Goodman still had it in 1955, and he and his band really punch some life into this music that they had been playing for 20 years. The Capitol engineers really capture the power of his band, with correct tonality throughout. The originals (which are very hard to find) have a little more midrange magic but less punch. Each is good in its own way. This may be a reissue but it’s a damn fine one.

Out of the half dozen copies we listened to, this is the second best sounding. It’s a little smoother and easier on the ears. We give it a sonic grade of ‘A-‘.

One interesting quality to practically every copy is the fact that the first bit of brass at the opening of side one sounds smeared, but quickly the transients come into the picture and restore the correctness of the brass. I have no idea why that should be; it must be on the tape.

Cannonball Adderley – Domination

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  • 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.”

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Woody Herman – Swing Low, Sweet Clarinet

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  • A stunning Hot Stamper original stereo pressing of Woody Herman’s highly regarded 1962 Philips release, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it
  • The Tubey Magical richness of some of the better Philips pressings from this era have really taken us by surprise – these are some amazingly good recordings!
  • Exceptionally spacious and three-dimensional, as well as relaxed and full-bodied, this is by far the best sounding Woody Herman record we have ever run acrossl
  • “Sticking exclusively to clarinet, he shows himself to be a fine improviser and an expressive player who gives fresh interpretations to a variety of standards, some closely associated with Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw [whose good records we never seem to find]. …[an] out-of-print but worthy LP.”

For us audiophiles both the sound and the music here are wonderful. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good a 1962 All Tube Analog Philips recording can sound, this killer copy will do the trick. (more…)

Booker Ervin – The In Between

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  • Booker Ervin makes his long-awaited site debut with this 1968 release, boasting a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side two and an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side one – exceptionally quiet vinyl too 
  • The sound here is wonderful – big, lively, textured, open and clear with Tubey Magical richness that brings out the best in this jazzy hard bop sound
  • Credit must go to Rudy Van Gelder once again for the huge space this superbly well-recorded quintet occupies
  • 4 stars: “Every song on The In Between is an Ervin original designed to challenge the musicians… it’s edgy, volatile hard bop that comes from the mind as much as the soul… The result is a satisfying, cerebral set of adventurous hard bop that finds Booker Ervin at a creative peak.

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Cannonball Adderley and His Orchestra – African Waltz

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame

This copy of Cannonball’s crazy-fun 1961 album offers outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or better. ALIVE with musical energy, there’s also plenty of space for the players to occupy, a quality vital to this big group’s big sound.

This vintage pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot begin to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back.

Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). The music is not so much about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate a solid, palpable, real Cannonball Adderley and his orchestra playing live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that. (more…)