Genre – Jazz – Soul/Funk Jazz

Gene Ammons – Blue Gene – Soulful Jazz at Its Best

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  • This wonderful Prestige jazz classic boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too 
  • One of the best sounding Ammons records we know of – it’s huge, rich and Tubey Magical, with a solid bottom end and energy to beat them all
  • Clean and clear and open are nice qualities to have, but rich and full are harder to come by on this record – this pressing has it all
  • “Some ballad performances in his oeuvre are a testament to an exceptional sense of intonation and melodic symmetry, powerful lyrical expressiveness, and mastery both of the blues and the bebop vernacular that can now be described as, in its own way, ‘classical.'”

For us audiophiles both the sound and the music here are wonderful. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good a 1958 All Tube Analog Prestige recording by Rudy Van Gelder can sound, this killer copy will do the trick.

This pressing is super 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. (more…)

Grover Washington – Winelight – A Demo Disc for Bass (on the Right Copy)

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Another in our series of Demo Discs for Bass.

What’s unusual about this album — shocking really — is how MEATY the bottom end is. I don’t know of a pop jazz recording with beefier, more articulate or weightier bass. The only record I can think of in this genre of jazz with comparable bass is Mangione’s Children of Sanchez. We played some copies of that album recently and were just knocked out with how well recorded the bass is, just the way we were knocked out by the best copies of Grover Washington’s Winelight from a recent shootout. Both of these albums really set the standard for recording this kind of music.  (more…)

Stanley Turrentine – Another Story – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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

A very dynamic recording by Rudy Van Gelder that really jumps on a copy like this. Needless to say, you will have a very hard time finding a better sounding funky Soul Jazz record. (more…)

Miles Davis – Live-Evil

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  • A STUNNING copy of Davis’ superb 1971 release, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on all four sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Exceptionally spacious and three-dimensional, as well as relaxed and full-bodied sound that blew away every other copy we played
  • A wonderful double album of both live and studio-recorded music, featuring numerous jazz greats, including Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette
  • Pitchfork’s Ryan Schreiber believed it was “easily the most accessible of Miles Davis’ late-’70s electric releases,” describing its music as “at once both sexually steamy and unsettling.” He said the live recordings “run the gamut from barroom brawl action-funk to sensual bedroom jazz magic, creating two hours of charged eccentricity you’ll never forget.”

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Steve Miller Band – Born 2 B Blue – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame

Steve Miller’s foray into Smooth Jazz Pop got him nowhere in the marketplace, but did result in my becoming a fan back in the late ’80s. Let’s be clear — this is not a record for everyone. If you don’t like at least some Smooth Jazz, you probably won’t like this album. It’s Steve Miller crossing over into that territory, and doing it better than anyone else I know (although that’s not saying much. I’m no expert by any stretch and don’t claim to be.) 

What it is is Steve Miller doing a batch of cool, classic songs in a hip, fun way. AMG has it right, “…his taste in material is quite nice…”

This is certainly nothing like Fly Like An Eagle. He already made that record; we don’t need him to make it again. (He actually made it twice as Book of Dreams is from the same sessions!) (more…)

Grover Washington Jr. – Inner City Blues – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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

TWO A+++ SIDES ON QUIET VINYL, making this the best copy of Inner City Blues we’ve found! This copy trounced the other ones we played, giving us the kind of open, transparent sound that brings out the best in this music. The overall sound is very clean and clear with lots of weight down low and extension up top. I don’t think you could find a better sounding copy no matter what you did. 

The lineup here is absolutely stellar, with players including Ron Carter, Idris Muhammed, Richard Tee, Airto and Eric Gale, among many others.

Yer Average Copy

The typical sound we find on most pressings is full of heavy compression as well as the kind of high frequency restriction that prevents the top end from extending naturally. The result: Grover’s horn takes on a slightly sour quality — not a fun way to hear this kind of music. (more…)

Grover Washington – Mister Magic – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

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

The typical pressing is murky, overly smooth and lacks energy. Many copies also suffer from serious congestion and veiling. No such problems here! You get tons of space and energy, along with balanced tonality and great presence.

A 4 1/2 star album in the All Music Guide. Washington is backed here by excellent players including Bob James, Phil Upchurch, Harvey Mason, Ralph MacDonald, Eric Gale and many more. (more…)

Gene Ammons – Goodbye – Reviewed in 2010

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame

If you want to know why Gene Ammons is considered one of the greats, skip the jam that starts out side one and go right to the ballad Alone Again (Naturally). Nobody played with more emotion than Gene Ammons. 

More recordings engineered by Rudy Van Gelder

Miles Davis – Filles de Kilimanjaro – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

More Miles Davis

More Filles de Kilimanjaro

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

SURPRISINGLY GOOD SOUND on this ’70s Red Label pressing! This one even knocked out a handful of 360 Label Originals in a recent shootout. It’s richer and fuller with superior clarity compared to most of the copies we’ve heard. The overall sound on both sides is airy, open and spacious with excellent clarity. Most of the Red Label pressings we played were too dry and sterile to enjoy, but this one has some serious analog magic. (more…)

Herbie Hancock – Man-Child – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

More Herbie Hancock

More Man-Child

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

This Columbia Red Label pressing was a MAJOR step up just about everything we could throw at it in a recent shootout, with side one earning an A++ grade and side two coming out even better! If you enjoy Herbie’s funky work in the ’70s (think Head Hunters, natch) then you’re going to love hearing this music really come to life on a Super Hot Stamper copy. Most copies we played were dry and grainy, but this one was richer and smoother by a good amount.

Side one is very rich and full-bodied with some seriously punchy bass. There’s tons of energy, major presence and real weight to the bottom. This one’s got the warm, sweet sound of ’70s analog, and that puts well it ahead of the average pressing.

Side two is even better, adding an amazing three-dimensional quality to the soundfield that we just didn’t get on most copies. It’s dramatically more open, spacious, and transparent than we expected after hearing so many pressings with “closed-in” sound. (more…)