Labels We Love – Prestige

John Coltrane – Plays For Lovers

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Plays For Lovers

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  • This superb compilation has Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side one and outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound for side two – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • It’s rich, warm and natural, with loads of ambience and the Tubey Magic that was still on the tapes fifty years ago (and is surely long gone by now)
  • 4 stars: “… these half-dozen selections provide evidence of his tremendous facility and musical sensitivity… For anyone who is even nominally curious about Coltrane, or simply wants an excellent anthology of the man at his most alluring, John Coltrane Plays for Lovers pretty much says it all. Included are nearly 40 minutes of examples that acknowledge his remarkable capacity for naturally exquisite balladry.”  

We were pleasantly surprised to find that the remastering into stereo for this title from the mono tapes carried out in 1969 was done delicately, with an ear to keeping the tonal balance correct and the spread of stereo information to a minimum.

As proof, note that this pressing actually beat our true mono pressings on side one. If we had twenty mono copies no doubt one of them would have beaten even this side one. Getting five or six clean copies of this album, mono, stereo or otherwise, is hard enough these days. Twenty is out of the question.

Readers may wish to check out the especially insightful Allmusic review to gain a better understanding of this very special group of ballads. (more…)

Illinois Jacquet – Bottoms Up

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Bottoms Up

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  • With outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last, this copy of Bottoms Up has much to recommend it
  • The sax is especially well recorded with just the right amount of bite and only the squawk of the real thing
  • Surprisingly transparent and dynamic, this recording highlights Jacquet’s soulful style
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Even in 1968 when the jazz avant-garde was becoming quite influential, tenor saxophonist Illinois Jacquet played in his own timeless style, performing in an idiom little changed during the previous 20 years.”

For big, full-bodied, bluesy, soulful saxophone jazz it’s hard to imagine you can do much better than the legendary Illinois Jacquet. (more…)

Miles Davis – Workin’ And Steamin’ – Our Shootout Winning Mono

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More Workin’ And Steamin’

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

A MONSTER Double Album that simply could not be beat – three of the four sides earned our highest sonic grade of Triple Plus (A+++). The best sounding tracks here can hold their own with ANY Miles Davis vinyl we’ve ever heard, and that’s a whole lot of Mile Davis albums. You might be surprised that a reissue can beat the originals, but one play of this pressing should be enough to remove all doubt.

This pressing is WAY off the charts. You will find Demo Disc Quality Sound of the Highest Order on the best tracks, of which there are many. The extension high and low sets these sides apart. The presence of the instruments and the space around them just cannot be beat.

To the Jazz Fans of the World, we here present one of the BEST sounding jazz recordings we have ever had the PRIVILEGE to place on a turntable. I cannot ever recall hearing a better sounding Rudy Van Gelder recording, and I have a theory as to why this tape is as good as it is: it’s MONO. It also sounds like it’s recorded completely LIVE in the studio, direct to one track you might say. As good a recording as Kind of Blue is, I think the best parts of this album are more immediate and more real than anything on KOB. (more…)

Miles Davis – Miles Davis

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More Miles Davis – Miles Davis

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

To the Jazz Fans of the World, we here present one of the best sounding jazz recordings we have ever had the privilege to place on a turntable. I cannot ever recall hearing a better sounding Rudy Van Gelder recording, and I have a theory as to why this tape is as good as it is: it’s MONO.

WAY off the charts. Demo Disc Quality Sound of the Highest Order on the best tracks. The extension high and low sets these sides apart. The presence of the instruments and the space around them just cannot be beaten.

It also sounds like it’s recorded completely LIVE in the studio, direct to one track you might say. As good a recording as Kind of Blue is, I think the best parts of this album are more immediate and more real than anything on KOB.

Talk About Timbre

Man, when you play a Hot Stamper copy of an amazing recording such as this, the timbre of the instruments is so spot-on it makes all the hard work and money you’ve put into your stereo more than pay off. To paraphrase The Hollies, you get paid back with interest. If you hear anything funny in the mids and highs of this record, don’t blame the record.

This is the kind of record that shows up audiophile BS equipment for what it is: Audiophile BS. If you are checking for richness, Tubey magic and freedom from artificiality, I can’t think of a better test disc. It has loads of the first two and none of the last.

Better than the Originals?

The record combines two Miles Davis albums recorded in 1956: Cookin’ and Relaxin’. The ’70s remastering here by Rudy Van Gelder is excellent. Since RVG probably would have mastered these tapes himself for the original pressings, I’m going to guess that this album sounds better than any original, for two reasons.

One, modern cutting equipment did not exist in 1956. As good as the best tube cutting equipment may have been, not many records from the era do not suffer from bloated bass and a lack of extension on the top end. Starting in the ’70s record mastering equipment got a whole lot better. Most of the best sounding pressings in our Top 100 for example were cut on these modern cutters. The sound is dynamic with very low distortion, with higher highs and lower lows, as well as transparency and openness far beyond anything that had come before.

Don’t get us wrong, we love that classic tube-mastered sound — warmer, smoother, and sweeter than the pressings that would come later, with wonderful breath of life. But, sometime, like all colorations it comes at a price. That’s not what’s on the tape. What’s on the tape is what you hear on this amazing reissue, on the best of the four sides anyway. (more…)

Paul Quinichette – On The Sunny Side

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On The Sunny Side

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

With three saxophones and a trombone, this is a fresh combination that really brings out the best in all the players during this Prestige jam session, a format for which they are justly famous . I raved about this album when it was in print many years ago – it’s solidly swinging jazz that belong in your collection.  

As I wrote years ago, back in the days when we regularly sent out catalog mailings:

When we discover a record like this, a record with no reputation either in the jazz world or the audiophie world, we try to bring it to people’s attention, usually with some success. Some of my customers called me up to tell me what a great record this is.

Based on what I’m hearing my feeling is that most of the lively, natural, full-bodied, sound of the album is on the master tape, and that all that was needed to get that vintage sound correctly on to disc was simply to thread up that tape on a reasonably good machine and hit play. (more…)

John Coltrane – The Stardust Session

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

Superb sound quality courtesy of Rudy van Gelder (1958) and the brilliant mastering of David Turner (1972). The combination of old and new works wonders on this title as you will surely hear for yourself on these incredibly Hot sides.

We were impressed with the fact that these pressings excel in so many areas of reproduction. What was odd about it — odd to most audiophiles but not necessarily to us — was just how rich and Tubey Magical the reissue can be on the right pressing.

The record takes its material from three John Coltrane albums: ‘Bahia’, ‘Stardust’ and ‘Standard Coltrane.’ We would be surprised if the originals of any of them can beat the sound of this reissue. (more…)

Gene Ammons – Blue Gene

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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…)

Coleman Hawkins – Night Hawk

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Night Hawk

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  • An outstanding copy with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • With a nearly perfect balance of analog richness and high-res clarity and space, this reissue showed us once again just how good an engineer Rudy Van Gelder could be back in 1961    
  • “This [album] has many fine moments from these two highly competitive jazzmen, particularly the lengthy title cut and a heated tradeoff on “In a Mellow Tone,” on which Davis goes higher but Hawkins wins on ideas.”

For us audiophiles both the sound and the music here are wonderful. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good an 1961 All Tube Analog recording can be, this killer copy will do the trick. (more…)

Kenny Burrell – Out Of This World

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Out Of This World

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  • This outstanding copy of Out Of This World boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound – exceptionally quiet vinyl too  
  • This superb RVG recording comes to life on this pressing – it’s full-bodied and above all, lively (Rudy’s trademark sound) 
  • This collaboration between Burrell and Coleman Hawkins highlights the blues roots of these two jazz greats, veterans who can swing with the best of them (which is why their discographies run for pages)
  • “Bluesy Burrell combines the finest elements of blues and bebop jazz into a blend that demonstrates just how well the styles fit together and proves that blues need not be minimalist in nature, and jazz can be a bit less rigid, allowing breathing space amidst perfect chord work and superb rhythm.”

This vintage Prestige Stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely begin to reproduce. Folks, that sound is pretty much gone and sure doesn’t seem to be 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…)

Sonny Rollins – Rollins Plays For Bird

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More Rollins Plays For Bird

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  • Stunning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it throughout – this is the first copy to hit site in many years and it is as good a pressing as we have ever heard
  • These Blue Label Prestige stereo pressings from the ’60s put everything else we played to shame – this is the Real Sound of Sonny Rollins at his peak in 1957
  • It’s beyond difficult to find good sound for the music of Charlie Parker, but this Sonny Rollins Hot Stamper LP gives you just that for some of Bird’s most famous tunes, backed with excellent performances from the likes of Kenny Dorham and Max Roach

This album is Rollins at his BEST. Allmusic gives it Four Stars and the Users rate it even higher, Four and a Half. The album released before this one was the legendary Saxophone Collossus, an album we would love to do a shootout for, but we have yet to hear any pressing sound good enough to pursue. (more…)