Genre – Jazz – Bassist Led

The Curtis Counce Group – Vol. 2: Counceltation

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  • Insanely good sound throughout for this Contemporary Yellow Label pressing with both sides earning nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) grades, just shy of our Shootout Winner 
  • These sides are superb — clean, clear, full-bodied and dynamic with tons of energy
  • Counce is a wonderful bassist and here he’s joined by Jack Sheldon, Harold Land, Carl Perkins and Frank Butler; I think you’ll be very impressed with how good this music from the late ’50s still sounds today
  • “Bassist Curtis Counce led one of the finer West Coast-based groups of the 1950s, a quintet that was greatly underrated… This excellent music falls somewhere between hard bop and cool jazz.” – All Music, 4 1/2 Stars

These Nearly White Hot Stamper pressings have top quality sound that’s often surprisingly close to our White Hots, but they sell at substantial discounts to our Shootout Winners, making them a relative bargain in the world of Hot Stampers (“relative” being relative considering the prices we charge). We feel you get what you pay for here at Better Records, and if ever you don’t agree, please feel free to return the record for a full refund, no questions asked.

This vintage Contemporary Yellow Label pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What amazing sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1957
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What We Listen For on Vol 2: Counceltation

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The instruments aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Complete
How Deep Is The Ocean
Too Close For Comfort
Mean To Me

Side Two

Stranger In Paradise
Counceltation
Big Foot

 

The Curtis Counce Group – Carl’s Blues

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  • A superb sounding copy on the real Contemporary label, boasting outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – fairly quiet vinyl throughout
  • This vintage pressing has the studio space, presence, driving energy, and midrange magic that’s almost always missing from whatever 180g reissue (at 33 or 45, don’t fall for that BS) has been made from the 59 year old tapes
  • “Although the Curtis Counce Quintet was not a commercial success, their four Contemporary albums were all timeless in their own way, undated examples of high-quality hard bop from the late ’50s. Excellent music that still sounds fresh four decades later.”

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Charles Mingus – Me Myself an Eye

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More Me Myself an Eye

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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…)

Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um

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

This freakishly good 360 beat our best 6 Eye Stereo original, not to mention every other pressing in our shootout as well – darn quiet too. Another amazing 30th Street Studio recording by the legendary Fred Plaut – if you like Kind of Blue, here’s another album with that sound (same year, same studio, same engineer).

This is one of the better sounding copies from our most recent shootout. We were lucky enough to acquire a few clean LPs over the course of the last year, and this was far and away better than most copies. (more…)

Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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

This Columbia Six Eye pressing is THE BEST COPY OF THIS ALBUM WE’VE EVER HEARD! We were lucky enough to acquire a few clean copies over the last few months, and this was the best sounding of them all. It’s got that tubey magical late-’50s jazz sound: the brass is incredibly full-bodied, the bottom end has real weight, and the overall sound is amazingly rich and warm. Clean early pressings of this album go for big bucks in stores and on eBay these days with no guarantee whatsover of good sound. This one isn’t cheap either but at least you know that it’s going to sound wonderful. (more…)

Leroy Vinnegar Sextet – Leroy Walks!

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  • Leroy Vinnegar’s debut album finally arrives on the site with a KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side two and a truly oustanding Double Plus (A++) side one 
  • The Contemporary LP stereo sound here is completely natural in every respect, yet still rich, warm and smooth
  • Roy DuNann and Howard Holzer engineered some of the best sounding records we have ever heard – here’s a textbook example of what the audiophiles at Contemporary were able to achieve in the studio
  • 4 stars: “…Vinnegar generously features his talented sidemen… A fine, straight-ahead session.”

For us audiophiles both the sound and the music here are wonderful. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good an 1958 All Tube Analog Contemporary recording can sound, this killer copy will do the trick. (more…)

Rob Wasserman – Duets

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  • This rare and wonderful album from 1988 on the original MCA label offers outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound throughout 
  • In-the-room vocal presence (Jennifer Warnes is stunning on Leonard Cohen’s Ballad Of The Runaway Horse) and tight, note-like bass are key to the best pressings
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl throughout – Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus – they don’t come quieter in our experience
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Some amazing duets and a great lineup that includes Aaron Neville (v), Stephane Grappelli (violin), Dan Hicks (v, g), and so on. The jazz community missed this one.” [But the audiophile community loved it.)

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Charles Mingus – Tijuana Moods

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  • This stunning sounding original copy has amazing Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides – it’s guaranteed to blow your mind
  • The sound here is vintage Living Stereo at its best – big, rich and Tubey Magical like you will not believe
  • These Black Label originals can rarely be found any quieter than this one – it plays Mint Minus Minus for the most part
  • 5 stars: “Mingus at the time said that this was his greatest recording, and it certainly ranks near the top.”

NOTE: There are a few very light, barely audible marks on side one that play intermittently. There are four light pops at the start of track one and three light pops at the end of the track. There are also seven very soft pops near the middle of track 2.

This is the way it must have sounded in 1957, when legendary RCA engineers BOB SIMPSON and RAY HALL were sitting behind the board in the New York studios where it was recorded. (more…)

Charles Mingus – Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus

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Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus

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  • This outstanding vintage stereo copy boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound, or close to it, from start to finish
  • Impulse released a Heavy Vinyl pressing in 1995, as did Speakers Corner in 2003, but neither can hold a candle to the real thing
  • Mingus was a genius and the original music on this record is just one more album’s worth of proof of the undeniability of that fact
  • 5 stars: “It closes out the most productive and significant chapter of his career, and one of the most fertile, inventive hot streaks of any composer in jazz history.”

The sound is tonally correct, Tubey Magical and above all natural. The timbre of each and every instrument is right and it doesn’t take a pair of golden ears to hear it. So high-resolution too.

If you love ’50s and ’60s jazz you cannot go wrong here. Mingus was a genius and the original music on this record is just one more album’s worth of proof of the undeniability of that fact. (more…)

Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um

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  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this was one of the better copies we played in our recent shootout
  • Another amazing 30th Street Studio recording by the legendary Fred Plaut – if you like Kind of Blue, here’s another album with that sound (same year, same studio, same engineer)
  • The rich, sweet, spacious sound of the vintage tubes used to record the session is reproduced faithfully here
  • 5 stars: “Mingus Ah Um is a stunning summation of the bassist’s talents and probably the best reference point for beginners… Mingus’ compositions and arrangements were always extremely focused, assimilating individual spontaneity into a firm consistency of mood, and that approach reaches an ultra-tight zenith on Mingus Ah Um”

This is one of the better sounding copies from our most recent shootout. We were lucky enough to acquire a few clean LPs over the course of the last year, and this was far and away better than most copies.

That Vintage Jazz sound is on the tape, and I know that because the mastering for this copy is modern, no doubt from the early ’70s, long after tubes had been banished from the chain. In this case, you get the best of both worlds, with the tonal correctness, clarity, presence and energy of modern cutting equipment as well as the richness and sweetness of the vintage tubes used to record the sessions. (more…)