- With a KILLER Shootout Winning Triple (A+++) side one mated to a solid Double Plus (A++) side two, this copy of Leroy Vinnegar’s debut album is one of the BEST we have ever heard – fairly quiet vinyl too
- 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.”
- Fans of exceptionally well-recorded West Coast jazz will find much to like on this recording from 1958.
- The complete list of titles from 1958 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.
- An original 6-Eye Stereo copy with superb Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
- Exceptionally quiet vinyl for an early stereo pressing – unscratched, well-cared-for copies such as this one are getting awfully hard to find nowadays
- This pressing is rich and tubey, yet still clear and spacious, with a notably solid and articulate bottom end that does a superb job of capturing the beauty of Mingus’s double bass
- Bucketfuls of studio ambience, and Tubey Magic to die for – this 30th Street recording shows just how good Columbia’s engineers were back then
- Best be warned – a Demo Disc such as this mayl make all your Heavy Vinyl pressings sound as lo-rez, lifeless and veiled as we know them to be, a reality you may not want to confront, but a reality all the same
- 4 1/2 stars: “Mingus Dynasty is still an excellent album; in fact, it’s a testament to just how high a level Mingus was working on that an album of this caliber could have gotten lost in the shuffle.”
- If you’re a fan of jazz from the Golden Age of the ’50s and ’60s, this Columbia from 1960 undoubtedly belongs in your collection
This is a wonderful example of the kind of record that makes record collecting FUN.
If innovative Large Group Jazz is your thing, you should get a big kick out of this one. If you like the sound of relaxed, tube-mastered jazz — and what red blooded audiophile doesn’t? — you can’t do much better than the Mingus recordings on Columbia from this era. (We’ve now done shootouts for the album before this one and the one to follow. Both are amazing, musically and sonically.) The warmth and immediacy of the sound here are guaranteed to blow practically any record of this kind you own right out of the water.
Both sides of this very special pressing are huge, rich, tubey and clear. As soon as the band got going we knew that this was absolutely the right sound for this music.
Amazing Tubey Magic
For we audiophiles, both the sound and the music here are enchanting. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good 1960 All Tube Analog sound can be, this killer copy should be just the record for you.
It’s spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience. Talk about Tubey Magic, the liquidity of the sound here is positively uncanny. This is vintage analog at its best, so full-bodied and relaxed you’ll wonder how it ever came to be that anyone seriously contemplated trying to improve it.
This is the sound of Tubey Magic. No recordings will ever be made like this again, and no CD will ever capture what is in the grooves of this record. There is of course a CD of the album, but those of us in possession of a working turntable could care less.
We played a handful of later pressings that didn’t really do it for us. They offer improved clarity, but can’t deliver the tubey goodness that you’ll hear on the best early pressings. We won’t be bothering with them anymore. It’s tubes or nothing on this album.
- An original copy with excellent Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last on reasonably quiet Rounder vinyl
- Remarkably spacious and three-dimensional, as well as relaxed and full-bodied – this pressing was a solid step up over most of what we played
- “…a superior work in terms of showcasing Wasserman’s attributes, which include a huge tone, excellent compatibility and versatility, and tremendous overall skills. His talents were well displayed; he covers all the bases from bop to light fusion.”
This copy blew our minds with the quality of its sound. I don’t know when I’ve heard the bass reproduced with this kind of speed and authority. A Demo Disc par excellence.
As for the music, solo bass is surely not everyone’s cup of tea, but you can’t argue with the sonics. Wasserman is as gifted a player as I’ve ever heard (and I’ve heard Ray Brown live — that guy was pretty damn gifted too!).
- Boasting two superb Double Plus (A++) sides, this vintage Stereo Atlantic pressing of Mingus’s brilliant Oh Yeah will be very hard to beat
- Tubey Magical, lively and clear, with three-dimensionality that will fill your listening room from wall to wall
- Phil Iehle and Tom Dowd made up the engineering team for these sessions, which explains why the better copies of the album sound so damn good
- A raucous (and rockin’) deviation from traditional jazz, this compilation incorporates R&B and soul influences – Mingus even lends his rich vocal stylings to a few songs
- 5 stars: “Oh Yeah is probably the most offbeat Mingus album ever, and that’s what makes it so vital.”
- It’s hard to imagine that any list of the Best Jazz Albums of 1962 would not have this record on it
- You’ll find excellent sound on this original Limelight LP – both sides play exceptionally quietly too
- We used to think the early Limelight pressing here was impossible to beat, but the original Mercury showed us just how wrong we were – it takes the recording to another level
- A classic case of Compared to What? – who knew the recording could sound any better than this Limelight pressing?
- This copy sounds like a big room full of musicians (25 in all!) playing live, which is exactly what it was
- The Tubey Magical richness of this 1960 recording (released in 1961) is breathtaking – no modern record can touch it
- Allmusic gives it 4 stars and we think it’s maybe even a bit better than that
- Two tracks are contrapuntal arrangements of two swing era pieces, whereby “Take the “A” Train” (left channel) is paired with a simultaneous “Exactly Like You” (right channel), and likewise “Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me” with “I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart”.
The better copies recreate a live studio space the size of which you will not believe (assuming your room can do a good job of recreating their room). 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.
The sound of the OJC pressings of Carl’s Blues that we’ve played recently left a great deal to be desired.
They are thinner and brighter than even the worst of the ’70s and ’80s LPs we’ve auditioned. That is decidedly not our sound. It’s not the sound Roy DuNann was famous for, and we don’t like it either, although we have to admit that we did find the sound of many of these OJC pressings more tolerable in the past.
Our old system from the ’80s and ’90s was tubier, tonally darker and dramatically less revealing, which strongly worked to the advantage of leaner, brighter, less Tubey Magical titles such as this one. Pretty much everybody I knew had a system that suffered from those same afflictions. Like most audiophiles, I thought my stereo sounded great.
And the reality is that no matter how hard I worked or how much money I spent, I would never have been able to achieve much better sound for one simple reason: most of the critically important revolutions in audio had not yet come to pass. It would take many technological improvements and decades of effort until I would have anything like the system I do now.
Some OJC pressings are great — including even some of the new ones — some are awful, and the only way to judge them fairly is to judge them individually, which requires actually playing a large enough sample.
Since virtually no record collectors or audiophiles like doing that, they make faulty judgments – OJC’s are cheap reissues sourced from digital tapes, run for the hills! – based on their lack of rigor, among other things, when comparing pressings.
Those who fail to approach the problem of finding top quality pressings with an utter lacks of seriousness can be found on every audiophile forum there is. The youtubers are the worst, but are the self-identified aristocrats of audio any better? I see no evidence to support the proposition.
The methods that all of these folks have adopted do not produce good results, but as long as they stick to them, they will never have to worry about coming to grips with that inconvenient truth.
Reviews R Us
We’ve easily played more than a hundred OJC pressings, and here are reviews for some of the ones we’ve auditioned to date:
- Here Are the Potentially Good Sounding OJC Pressings
- Here Are the Not Very Good Sounding OJC Pressings
To be fair, we may have only had one copy of some of the OJC pressings we reviewed. Perhaps another copy would have sounded better, but we are so familiar with the sonic shortcomings of this series that one bad sounding copy was all we cared to bother with.
It would be hard to justify the time and expense of chasing after records that are unlikely to be much better than the copy we already know to have bad sound. That’s just the reality of the record business. There are so many good records that need auditioning, why bother with the second- and third-rate ones? (We’ve actually played less than 1% of all the newer Heavy Vinyl reissues for the same reason.)
- This rare and wonderful album from 1988 on the original MCA label offers outstanding 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.]
- Our old friend Bernie Grundman handled the mastering for Duets, back when he was still making good sounding records. Everything changed when he started working for Classic Records in the ’90s. Based on the scores we’ve played, the vast majority of his remastered pressings leave a lot to be desired. You can read more about them here.
- With excellent Double Plus (A++) grades throughout, you’ll have a hard time finding a copy that sounds remotely as good as this vintage Contemporary pressing
- Another Classic Roy DuNann recording, this one is from 1957 and it is going to be very hard to beat for audiophile sound
- 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
- 4 1/2 Stars: “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.”
- If you’re a fan of Mr. Counce, this is a Top Jazz Title from 1957 that surely belongs in your collection.
- The complete list of titles from 1957 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.
- Boasting seriously good Double Plus (A++) grades or BETTER on both sides, this 6 Eye Stereo pressing is doing just about everything right
- Teo Macero was the producer and Fred Plaut was the engineer for these sessions in Columbia’s glorious-sounding 30th Street Studio. It’s yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording.
- 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 – without that sound, it would just not be Ah Um
- Marks and problems in the vinyl are sometimes the nature of the beast with these early pressings – there simply is no way around them if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
- 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 vintage Columbia 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 the Best Sides of Ah Um 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 1959
- 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.
Production and Engineering
Teo Macero was the producer, Fred Plaut the engineer for these sessions in Columbia’s glorious-sounding 30th Street Studio. It’s yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording.
- This original Impulse Stereo pressing boasts supeb sound from the first note to the last
- Exceptionally spacious sound is a hallmark of any classic Mingus album, and this one does not disappoint — in fact, with Shootout Winning sound, it excels in its recreation of the three-dimensional space of the studio (and in practically every other area of reproduction too)
- 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 undeniably one of the Giants of Jazz — the originality of the music on this record is simply more proof of his genius
- 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.”
- We’ve recently compiled a list of records we think every audiophile should get to know better, along the lines of “the 1001 records you need to hear before you die,” but with less of an accent on morbidity and more on the joy these amazing audiophile-quality recordings can bring to your life. Mingus’ 1964 release is a good example of a record many audiophiles may not know well but should.
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. (more…)