Labels We Love – Verve

Wes Montgomery – California Dreaming – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

This White Hot Stamper Shootout Winner has the REAL Wes Montgomery/ Creed Taylor/ Rudy Van Gelder MAGIC in its grooves. You will not believe how big, rich and full-bodied this pressing is on side one! Since this is one of Wes’s best albums, hearing this side one was a THRILL for us and will no doubt be as big a thrill for you too.   

Beware any and all imitations (even the one I like somewhat, the Cisco version). They barely BEGIN to convey the qualities of the real master tape the way this pressing does. This White Hot Stamper exhibits huge amounts of ambience and spaciousnesss, with far more energy and the kind of “see into the studio” quality that only the real thing ever seems to have. 

Wall to Wall

Note especially how so much musical information is coming from the far sides of the soundfield. The Cisco reissue makes a mockery of that wall to wall sound, sucking it into the middle and flattening it into a single plane. Ugh.

To be fair — and I always am — the Cisco did beat and will beat the pants off of practically any copy you run across. There is a very simple explanation for this: Verve is probably the most poorly mastered label in the history of the world. No other label produced so many wonderful sounding recordings that were turned into lousy sounding LPs — I could list them for days. We rarely even pick up most Verves, having been burned so many times we just can’t face another badly mastered noisy LP. (more…)

Astrud Gilberto – The Astrud Gilberto Album

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The Astrud Gilberto Album

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

This Minty looking Verve LP has DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND. It’s airy, open and spacious with a big wide soundfield and excellent clarity. The sound is smooth and sweet with wonderfully textured strings and a killer top end. Sonically this copy is Right On The Money (ROTM) and I can’t imagine it sounding a whole lot better than it does here. (more…)

Astrud Gilberto – Beach Samba

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  • An outstanding copy of Beach Samba, with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from top to bottom 
  • The soundstage is huge, and the overall quality of the recording is big and bold like you will not believe
  • Creed Taylor (the CTI man) produced, Don Sebesky and Deodato did the arrangements, and Val Valentin engineered – what’s not to like?
  • “This 1967 Verve LP has the breezy bossa novas and sambas Astrud was famed for, but also a Lovin’ Spoonful duet with her young son and some seriously impressive scatting, too.” – Amazon

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Wes Montgomery – Bumpin’ – Reviewed in 2009

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

This Minty looking Verve LP really sounds GOOD! It’s transparent, as well as tonally correct from top to bottom. This is THE copy to have — we guarantee it will CRUSH the MoFi pressing. 

Ella Fitzgerald – Sings The George Gershwin Song Book

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

White Hot sound on side two of this original copy – shockingly good. Ella sounds rich, Tubey Magical and breathy — this is a real Demo Disc. Side one is very good as well, nicely warm and rich by track two. Nelson Riddle’s arrangements are especially interesting and artful throughout. 

It is our opinion that the mono takes all the fun out of the Nelson Riddle’s deliberately wide, spacious orchestral presentation surrounding Ella. Which is too bad: the mono pressings are five times as common as the stereo ones. (more…)

Astrud Gilberto – Windy

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  • A stunning sounding copy with Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout, making this one of the best copies to ever hit the site
  • Forget whatever Heavy Vinyl imposter is in print – this vintage Verve stereo pressing has the kind of High-Rez Tubey-Magical Midrange that will bring Astrud’s soft samba music to life in your very own listening room
  • “… Windy nevertheless proves one of Astrud Gilberto’s most consistent and sublime efforts, artfully straddling the division between Brazilian bossa nova and American sunshine pop.” 

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Bill Evans – At The Montreux Jazz Festival

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  • Evan’s Classic Live album from the Montreux Jazz Festival returns to the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from first note to last
  • A killer Verve stereo pressing, with lovely richness and warmth, real space and wonderful immediacy throughout
  • Recorded live in 1968, this superb release pairs Evans’ unique piano improvisations with bandmates Eddie Gomez and Jack DeJohnette
  • 4 stars: “Evans, famous for a soft-spoken pianistic touch, seems driven to new vistas on this album. He experiments more with harmonic dissonance and striking rhythmical contrasts, making this his most extroverted playing since his freshman release, New Jazz Conceptions.”

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Bill Evans – At Town Hall, Vol. 1 – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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

STUNNING SOUND ON SIDE ONE! It is insanely difficult to find great sounding Bill Evans records, which is why you almost never see any of his albums up on our side. This copy has a side one that is nothing short of Demo Quality. It’s one of the better sounding sides of Piano Trio music we’ll find this year (along of course with the killer copies of The Three that hit the site). The best music on this album is found on the first side, so this is a very special pressing to say the least.

Side one is KILLER. Everything you could ask for from this music is here. You get real weight to the piano, tons of energy, incredible immediacy, real separation between the instruments and natural live imaging — you really get a sense of where each of the players is on the stage. The sound is cleaner and clearer than we heard elsewhere, with more extension up top and more weight down low. The bass sounds JUST RIGHT. Most copies we’ve played weren’t nearly this rich, warm and full-bodied. I don’t think you could find a better sounding side one no matter what you did. We gave it our top grade of A+++, any Bill Evans fan is going to be very impressed.

Side two was also very good but not quite as impressive. The sound is rich and full with a strong bottom, but it doesn’t have all the top extension of the first side. Most of the side is taken up by a 13 minute solo piano piece. The playing is nice, but even on the very best side twos the sound of this piece does not quite live up to what you get from the full trio. (more…)

Gerry Mulligan & Stan Getz – Gerry Mulligan Meets Stan Getz – Reviewed in 2011

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

This is a very nice looking Verve Trumpeter Label Mono LP from 1957. Side one is wonderful and has the better sound here. It has more extension up top; the baritone sax is especially well reproduced.

Both sides of course have somewhat tubby bass, the type that characterizes all tube recordings from the ’50s and ’60s. Side two is a bit more veiled. The midrange is as musical as it is on side one but has less top end and therefore comes across as kind of dull. Musical and involving, but not as lively as it could be.

Supposedly the stereo pressings of this album are full of added echo, which is the reason Steve Hoffman chose to release the mono version of the album on gold CD for DCC back in the day. It’s one of our favorite DCC CDs; Steve did his usual top quality mastering on it.