Labels We Love – Pablo

Zoot Sims – Passion Flower – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

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

One of the all time great Pablo sleepers. Why is no one else writing about records like these? The music is wonderful and the sound is top drawer on the best copies. If you’ve tried and failed with other Pablo Zoot Sims records, fear not: this title is one of his best, musically and sonically. 

If you want to hear the Duke’s music swing in top sound, get this album.

This is a big group, probably at least a dozen pieces at any given time, and all that energy is captured on the best copies with tremendous engineering skill. The lively arrangements are by none other than Benny Carter, a man who knows his jazz. His career started in the ’20s(!) and lasted into this century if you can believe it. I consider myself fortunate to have seen him play locally when he was more than 90 years old. He stlll had it, kind of. (more…)

Benny Carter – Meets Oscar Peterson – Reviewed in 2007

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

“Benny Carter had recorded with pianist Oscar Peterson back in the early ’50s for Norman Granz’s Verve label. More than 30 years, later he teamed up with Peterson again, this time for Granz’s Pablo company. There was no sign of decline or disillusionment in either of the co-leaders’ playing; in fact, if anything, they had improved with age. Joined by guitarist Joe Pass, bassist Dave Young and drummer Martin Drew, Carter and Peterson are both in a joyous mood and in typically swinging form on six standards and a blues.” — AMG  (more…)

Terry, Hubbard, Gillespie, & Peterson – The Alternate Blues – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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The Alternate Blues

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

With Hot Stamper sound on both sides, this Pablo disc shows you what three of the greatest trumpeters of the last fifty years can do given the opportunity, nay, the encouragement, to let loose on a handful of classic slow blues jams. Many of the tracks here run in excess of eight minutes, giving the players plenty of space to explore, yet practically all of them are taken at a fairly slow pace, what used to be called a “slow drag”, making them that much more involving and emotional. These are not your classic “blowing sessions” where the players try to outdo each other. No, this is something quite different.

Norman Granz revered the classic “jam session”, of which this is a prime example; he produced dozens for the various labels he owned over the years. Playing this album we can see why. The heart of the blues is here in every measure.

Clark Terry is joined here by Freddie Hubbard and Dizzy Gillespie on trumpet, with strong support from Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown, Joe Pass and Bobby Durham on drums.

The album was recorded in 1980 by Dennis Sands, one of my favorite Pablo recording engineers, the man behind the brilliant Farmer’s Market Barbecue and many others. (Soon enough he crossed over to films and has done the sound for more than 250 to date. He must be pretty good to get that much work, and you can be sure he makes a lot more money for his film work than he would for recording jazz dates.) (more…)

Passion Flower Is Better Than For Duke

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This is one of the all time great Pablo sleepers.

Why is no one else writing about records like these? The music is wonderful and the sound is top drawer on the best copies. If you’ve tried and failed with other Pablo Zoot Sims records, fear not: this title is one of the best we have ever played, musically and sonically.
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Count Basie & Oscar Peterson – Yessir, That’s My Baby – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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Side two of this wonderful Basie Peterson record has nearly White Hot Stamper Demo Disc sound — jazz records don’t get a whole lot bigger, clearer or more full-bodied. Man, that is the sound of glorious ANALOG. A++ to A+++ is our conservative grade. It might be worth the full Three Pluses but we just can’t find enough copies to know if this side could get any better. There is not a single critical comment of any kind in the notes, so that ought to tell you that you are in for a real sonic treat with this side two.  (more…)

Count Basie And His Orchestra – I Told You So

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I Told You So

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  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this copy was one of the best we played in our recent shootout – fairly quiet vinyl too 
  • A Top Basie Big Band title in every way – musically, sonically, you name it, this album has got it going on!
  • This is the way it must have sounded in 1976, in the New York studios where the famous RCA engineer Bob Simpson was still behind the board
  • 4 stars: “This is one of Count Basie’s best big-band studio recordings for Norman Granz during his Pablo years. The arrangements by Bill Holman are both challenging and swinging, containing enough surprises to make this session a real standout.”

On the best pressings, the horns are so present and high-rez, not to mention full-bodied, this could easily become a favorite big band album to demo or test with — or just to enjoy the hell out of.

I never noticed until just now that the album cover picture for Farmer’s Market Barbecue and this album are exactly the same! Wow, Pablo, that takes balls. (more…)

Count Basie – Me and You

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Me and You

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  • An excellent sounding copy of Basie’s 1983 release, with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – if you want to hear the Tubey Magic, size and energy of this wonderful session from 1983, this is the only way to go 
  • This is the Basie Big Band album that came out right after 88 Basie Street, a hard act to follow – top engineering by Dennis Sands
  • “… recorded only a little more than a year before his death. However, the spirit of this music (helped out by some Ernie Wilkins) arrangements) make Count Basie seem ageless.”

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Sarah Vaughan – Send In The Clowns

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  • This outstanding pressing, only the second copy to EVER hit the site, boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • Huge and powerful, Basie’s horns are really blastin’ on this copy
  • Sassy’s remarkable vocal range and flexibility are on full display here, singing favorites including “I Got A Right To Sing The Blues,” “When Your Lover Has Gone,” and, of course, the title track 
  • “Sarah Vaughan is accompanied by her regular rhythm section of the early ’80s, guitarist Freddie Green, and the Count Basie horn sections on this enjoyable date… Sassy is in superb form…” – Allmusic

A wonderful recording by one of our favorite engineers, Dennis Sands, the man behind the amazing Basie album, Farmers Market Barbecue. (more…)

Count Basie – Kansas City 5

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

Another amazingly well recorded Count Basie album, and this one is killer with Triple Triple grades. It’s bigger, more solid and rich, with extension on both ends of the frequency spectrum that no other copy could match. First time on the site – a great session with a fresh sound for Basie, with Milt Jackson on vibes and Joe Pass on guitar.

I was not familiar with this record until recently. We pick up all the Pablo Basie titles we can get our hands on, and when we needle dropped a copy of this album we were amazed at the sound. Don’t know much about the engineer but he did a great job at Kendun for this session. 

This was the first of a series of smaller ensemble recordings under the heading of Kansas City. We have more coming, including the superb Kansas City piano trio album entitled “For the Second Time” with Louis Bellson and Ray Brown, a record that can have superb sound on the Pablo pressing (but steer clear of the OJC which is thin and opaque, the opposite of the sound you want). (more…)