Labels We Love – Impulse

Oliver Nelson – The Blues and the Abstract Truth

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  • Oliver Nelson’s masterpiece returns to the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • Clean, clear and present with a solid bass foundation, as well as the big stage this big group of musicians needs
  • If all you know is Van Gelder’s original cutting, you will surely have your eyes and ears opened by this wonderful Hot Stamper
  • Allmusic calls this album “…his triumph as a musician for the aspects of not only defining the sound of an era… but on this recording, assembling one of the most potent modern jazz sextets ever.” 5 Stars (of course)

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.

For those record lovers who still cling to the idea that the originals are better, this record will hopefully set you straight.

Yes, we can all agree that Rudy Van Gelder recorded it, brilliantly as a matter of fact. Shouldn’t he be the most natural choice to transfer the tape to disc, knowing, as we must assume he does, exactly what to fix and what to leave alone in the mix?

Maybe he should be; it’s a point worth arguing.

But ideas such as this are only of value once they have been tested empirically and found to be true. (more…)

Freddie Hubbard – Goin’ Up – Reviewed in 2011

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

Good sound and some straight ahead Blue Note jazz. The second track on side one, ’The Changing Scene,’ is a wonderful ballad reminiscent of ’Round Midnight. It’s the best material on the album in my opinion. 

AMG Review

For his second recording as a leader, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard (22-years-old at the time) performs two compositions apiece by Kenny Dorham and Hank Mobley, the obscure “I Wished I Knew” and his own “Blues for Brenda.”

Hubbard (featured in a quintet with tenor-saxophonist Mobley, pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Jones) takes quite a few outstanding solos, playing lyrically on the ballads and building his own sound out of the Clifford Brown/Lee Morgan tradition. Goin’ Up is an excellent set of advanced hard bop…

Art Blakey Quartet – A Jazz Message

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A Jazz Message

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  • This original Impulse stereo pressing has stunning nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from start to finish 
  • Both sides here are superb — big, full-bodied and super dynamic with a huge bottom end and lots of space around all of the players
  • “Although this session was under Blakey’s leadership, Stitt (on both tenor and alto) emerges as the main soloist, playing his trademark bebop lines with creativity and typical enthusiasm.” – All Music

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McCoy Tyner – Plays Ellington

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Plays Ellington

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  • Superb sound throughout with both sides earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades; exceptionally quiet vinyl too! 
  • With a lively and present piano, clarity, space and timbral accuracy, this is guaranteed to be one of the better sounding jazz records you’ve heard
  • Credit goes to Rudy Van Gelder once again for the huge space this superbly well-recorded ensemble occupies (the ensemble being a piano trio with two percussionists, but it works!)
  • 4 stars: “An interesting project that works quite well… This is an excellent outing that displays both Tyner’s debt to the jazz tradition and his increasingly original style.”

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Oliver Nelson – The Blues and the Abstract Truth

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

Oliver Nelson’s masterpiece debuts at Better Records with at least White Hot Stamper sound on both sides. Side one was so HUGE and Tubey Magical we called it at least White Hot – it’s out of this world. If all you know is the Van Gelder original cutting, you will surely have your mind blown by this Hot Stamper LP.   (more…)

Chico Hamilton – The Further Adventures of El Chico

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The Further Adventures of El Chico

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  • Insanely good Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish and the first copy to ever hit the site! 
  • These sides, recorded brilliantly by one of our favorite engineers, Bob Simpson, are big, full-bodied and present, with plenty of Tubey Magic and set on a a huge, three-dimensional soundstage
  • The record features the amazing Gabor Szabo along with other top players like Clark Terry and Ron Carter
  • Great pop jazz with excellent sound; if you’re a fan of Gabor Szabo, this music will be right up your alley

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Sonny Rollins – Alfie (Original Music From The Score)

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Alfie

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

A stunning Triple Triple Plus (A+++) pressing that is sure to beat any Sonny Rollins record you own (for sound anyway). Even though I’ve been playing this album for more than 25 years, for some reason this is the first truly killer copy to ever hit the site. A triumph for Rudy Van Gelder, a Top Impulse title, and as much a showcase for Oliver Nelson (+11) as it is for Sonny Rollins. 

This album is on the TAS Superdisc list, which is probably what first alerted me to it. I know I was listening to this album 25 years ago, just from the memory of hearing it in the condo I used to live in. It sounded great back then and it sounds even better now! You will have a hard time finding a better Sonny Rollins record, sonically or musically. It may just be my personal favorite of all his work.

Great players of course. Kenny Burrell is wonderful as always. Interestingly I never realized that Roger Kellaway is the pianist on these sessions. I saw him live years ago with Benny Carter (who was 90 at the time) and he put on one of the most amazing performances at the piano I have ever seen. For some reason he was never able to make it as a recording artist, but the guy is a genius at the keyboard.

Of course any orchestration by Oliver Nelson is going to be top flight and this is no exception. Two of his records are Must Owns in my book: Jimmy Smith’s Bashin’ and his own The Blues and the Abstract Truth. No jazz collection without them can be taken seriously.

For audiophiles who are looking for one of the best sounding jazz recordings ever made, this is it. (more…)

Paul Gonsalves – Tell It The Way It Is!

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Tell It The Way It Is!

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  • This killer Gonsalves release makes its debut on the site with Shooutout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The sound is huge and spacious with richness and Tubey Magic like nothing you’ve heard
  • Engineered by the great Bob Simpson, this album has got it going on – musically, sonically, you name it
  • Gonsalves was Ellington’s tenor man, and his wonderfully expressive tone is what makes many of Ellington’s recordings the joy they are to this day

This vintage Impulse LP has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even 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. (more…)

Oliver Nelson’s Big Band – Live From Los Angeles

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  • An incredible sounding copy and the first to ever hit the site; Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side, Double Plus (A++) on the second
  • If you love the swinging sounds of Oliver Nelson’s Big Band arrangements behind Jimmy Smith, Frank Sinatra, Monk and others, you can’t go wrong here
  • Fairly quiet throughout with both sides playing Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • “Here’s a driving high flying record from start to finish. It’s jazz at it’s exciting best as Nelson’s arranging conducting and zippy sax work lead real quality playing…” – Billboard 

What do we love about these vintage pressings? The timbre of every instrument is Hi-Fi in the best sense of the word. The unique sound of every instrument is reproduced with remarkable fidelity. That’s what we at Better Records mean by “Hi-Fi,” not the kind of Audiophile Phony BS Sound that passes for Hi-Fidelity these days. There’s no boosted top, there’s no bloated bottom, there’s no sucked-out midrange.

This is Hi-Fidelity for those who recognize The Real Thing when they hear it. I’m pretty sure our customers do, and whoever picks this record up is guaranteed to get a real kick out of it. (more…)

Clark Terry – The Happy Horns of Clark Terry

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  • Clark Terry’s three horn lineup album finally arrives on the site with stunning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from beginning to end AND exceptionally quiet vinyl 
  • Big and lively, rich and full, no other copy in our shootout impressed us the way this killer pressing did
  • Credit goes to Rudy Van Gelder once again for the huge space this superbly well-recorded ensemble occupies
  • 4 stars: “This all-star LP has plenty of memorable moments… The lively music is quite enjoyable.”

We dropped the needle on a copy of the album a few months back and immediately we knew it would be a record worthy of a shootout – the sound was big and lively in the best tradition of Rudy Van Gelder’s recordings from the mid-’60s. His sound is the right sound for this style of music, that’s for damn sure. (more…)