Genre – Jazz – Guitar

Al Di Meola et al. – Friday Night in San Francisco

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A KILLER copy of this Columbia red label pressing with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades.

“… a meeting of three of the greatest guitarists in the world for an acoustic summit the likes of which the guitar-playing community rarely sees… All in all, Friday Night in San Francisco is a fantastic album and one of the best entries in all of these guitarists’ fine discographies.” (more…)

Al Di Meola – Casino

Dear Reader,

We have just recently moved our record business to our new Shopify store. None of the links to the old site will work anymore. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope to be able to rectify the situation soon. For now please check out Better Records, Mach II, home of the ultimate vinyl pressing, the White Hot Stamper.

Tom Port – Better Records

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Di Meola’s 1978 release finally makes it to the site, with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too. A fusion classic featuring the stunning technique and superb improvisations that keep us on the hunt for great Di Meola pressings like this one.   (more…)

Gabor Szabo – Blowin’ Some Old Smoke – Our Shootout Winner from 2006

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

This Buddah Records LP has got the energy and presence that were missing in action from the other copies we played. The sound is richer and sweeter than we’ve heard before for this fun compilation. You may find better sound on the best originals, but here’s a great way to get some of the best tracks in one place, with better than average sound. It’s quite difficult to find Szabo’s albums in clean condition, let alone ones that sound any good. 

This excellent sounding LP features a selection of tracks from Gabor Szabo’s late 1960’s sessions for Skye Records, including his great version of Dear Prudence. Since many of Szabo’s albums can be a bit tedious, this compilation is probably the best way to go for most people who want to get into his cool guitar groove. Check out the cool rendition of Donovan’s Sunshine Superman!

Charlie Byrd – Brazilian Byrd

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  • Brazilian Byrd makes its Hot Stamper debut here with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it throughout
  • Big, balanced, lively and musical, these two sides had the best sound we heard in our most recent shootout
  • 4 stars: “Acoustic guitarist Charlie Byrd always had a strong affinity for Brazilian jazz, and he sticks exclusively to Antonio Carlos Jobim songs (including ‘Só Danço Samba,’ ‘Corcovado,’ ‘Dindi,’ and ‘The Girl from Ipanema’) during this tasteful and melodic effort. Truly beautiful music.”

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Bola Sete – Autentico!

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  • Bola Sete’s wonderful 1966 release finally makes its Hot Stamper debut with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last
  • This LP was bigger, richer and clearer, with less smear and distortion, and more Tubey Magic, than every other pressing we played
  • We have a devil of a time finding early pressings of this album in audiophile playing condition – the music is so good, but the surfaces of his records almost always have some issues…
  • 4 stars: “With the solid classical technique of Sete leading the way, this is a gently swinging set of mostly low-key Brazilian jazz (with a few livelier exceptions), as played by Sete’s New Brazilian Trio.”

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Stephane Grappeli/David Grisman – Live

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  • This superb live album finally arrives on the site, earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or close to them from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • These sides are exceptionally low-distortion, lively, solid and dynamic – just what this music needs
  • Stephane Grappelli’s jazz violin stylings and David Grisman’s “Dawg music” fuse into a magical, swinging acoustic combo
  • “One of the most exciting of the many Stephane Grappelli recordings, this live session… teams the veteran violinist with mandolist David Grisman’s band, an ensemble that (in addition to its leader) boasts hot solos from Mike Marshall on violin, guitarist Mark O’Connor (who switches to violin to battle Grappelli on a memorable “Tiger Rag”), and bassist Rob Wasserman.”

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Lee Ritenour – Friendship on JVC Direct Disc

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

This is one of my all time favorite audiophile discs because it’s actually real music.

The song Woody Creek is wonderful and reason enough to own this excellent album. The guitar of Lee Ritenour and the saxophone of Ernie Watts double up during a substantial portion of this song and the effect is just amazing. 

Special kudos should go to Ernie Watts on sax, who blows some mean lines. But everybody is good on this album, especially the leader, Lee Ritenour. I saw these guys live and they put on a great show.

By the way, looking in the dead wax I see this record was cut by none other than Stan Ricker of Mobile Fidelity fame himself!

Stan Getz – Getz with Almeida

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  • With two nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sides, this copy is close to the BEST we have ever heard, right up there with our Shootout Winner – reasonably quiet vinyl too
  • Another Getz Bossa Nova Classic, recorded immediately after Getz/Gilberto, with comparable sound quality from Val Valentin’s All Tube Recording Chain
  • “Continuing his practice of running through one star guitarist after another, this time Getz has Laurindo Almeida as the designated rhythm man, featured composer, and solo foil. Jobim’s “Outra Vez” is a particularly lovely example of Getz’s freedom and effortless lyricism contrasted against Almeida’s anchored embroidering. [I]n the long view, one should be thankful that these musicians were recording so much cherishable material.”

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We Don’t Need an Analog Revival If It Means Sound As Wrong As This

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Acoustic Sounds had Stan Ricker remaster this record a number of years ago, and of course they (he) ruined it. A twinkly top end and flabby bass were just two of the major shortcomings of their version.

Nothing surprising there, as Stan Ricker is famous for his “smile” curve, boosting both ends of the audio spectrum whether they need boosting or not. 

And half-speed mastered bass is almost always bloated and ill-defined.

If you add too much top end to a guitar record and ruin the sound of the guitar, how can anyone take you seriously?

Please note that not a single title from the Analog Revival series is any good, to the best of my knowledge, and all should be avoided. The same is true for all the 180 gram jazz titles on Analogue Productions mastered by Doug Sax, as you may have read elsewhere on the site.

Those records received rave reviews in the audiophile press when they came out, but you won’t find too many audiophile reviewers sticking up for them now, as they are, without exception, murky, compressed disasters of the worst kind.

I guess these reviewers eventually acquired equipment accurate enough to notice how bad those pressings are, which I guess goes to show there is hope for practically anyone!

Gabor Szabo with Gary McFarland – Gypsy ’66 on Speakers Corner Heavy Vinyl

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Speakers Corner did a very good version of this album on Heavy Vinyl back in 2002, which we recommended at the time.

Our Hot Stamper pressings will of course be dramatically more transparent, open, clear and just plain REAL sounding, because these are all the areas in which heavy vinyl pressings fall short, with very few exceptions. (more…)