Labels We Love – Verve

Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto – Getz-Gilberto – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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

We have been trying to find great sound (on reasonable surfaces) for this album for YEARS — I kid you not — but this 2-pack is the first Hot Stamper version to ever hit the site. We have fired up this shootout multiple times since 2006 and been left empty-handed each and every time until the last go-around. We have sunk an insane amount of dough into trying to get a few killer copies because we love the music so much, but we just haven’t had much to show for it. If you love this Brazilian-flavored cool jazz as much as we do, you might want to snap this one up because who knows when or if we’ll find another one.

Stan Getz is a truly great tenor saxophonist, the cool school’s most popular player. This LP is all the evidence you need. Side one has those wonderfully relaxed Brazilian tempos and the smooth sax stylings of Stan Getz.

Side two for me is even more magical. Getz fires up and lets loose some of his most emotionally intense playing. These sad, poetic songs are about feeling more than anything else and Getz communicates that so completely you don’t have to speak Portugese to know what Jobim is saying. Call it cool jazz with feeling.

Side one here has good bass, wonderful transparency and more presence than we heard elsewhere. The female vocals sound excellent and the sax is full bodied with clear leading-edge transients.

The side two of this set is even better, more extended up top and incredibly smooth and sweet overall. It’s got the impressive presence of the first side but could stand to be a bit fuller.

Both sides are a bit noisy as is pretty much always the case with this record — a big reason why we’ve struggled so hard with this album. The other big reason is that most copies just plain sound mediocre or worse, which you can find out for yourself by flipping over either of the Hot sides in this set.

This is an all-time jazz classic and it’s a shame we can’t find more great copies. This one isn’t going to be a top Demo Disc for any of you but it will give you two sides that show you how lovely this music sounds when you’re lucky enough to get a hold of a copy that’s not poorly mastered and obscured by seriously noisy vinyl.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

The Girl From Ipanema
Doralice
P’ra Machucar Meu Coracao
Desafinado

Side Two

Corvocado
So Danco Samba
O Grande Amor
Vivo Sohando

AMG Review

One of the biggest-selling jazz albums of all time, not to mention bossa nova’s finest moment, Getz/Gilberto trumped Jazz Samba by bringing two of bossa nova’s greatest innovators — guitarist/singer João Gilberto and composer/pianist Antonio Carlos Jobim — to New York to record with Stan Getz. The results were magic. Ever since Jazz Samba, the jazz marketplace had been flooded with bossa nova albums, and the overexposure was beginning to make the music seem like a fad. Getz/Gilberto made bossa nova a permanent part of the jazz landscape not just with its unassailable beauty, but with one of the biggest smash hit singles in jazz history — “The Girl From Ipanema,” a Jobim classic sung by João’s wife, Astrud Gilberto, who had never performed outside of her own home prior to the recording session…

This music has nearly universal appeal; it’s one of those rare jazz records about which the purist elite and the buying public are in total agreement. Beyond essential.

Getz Au Go Go on the 1987 Reissue – Isn’t This Record Supposed to Be Stereo?

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As part of our recent shootout for the album we played what turned out to be a later reissue. According to my research it’s most likely from the late ’70s or early ’80s.   

As a general rule we make a point to go out of our way to play practically any copy we can get our hands on, in the off chance that a reissue will beat the original. It’s happened plenty of times. Those of you with White Hot Stamper shootout winning copies of some of our favorite titles know what I’m talkin’ about.

Imagine our surprise when this pressing — in a stereo jacket with the label you see in the picture with the word “stereo” printed right on it — turned out to be dead MONO!

The sound was godawful — small, flat, and bereft of the ambience that makes this recording so enjoyable. The same would probably be true for the mono originals but since I haven’t played one of those in decades I will just say that that would be no more than a guess, to be taken for what it’s worth

Yet another reason not to believe a word you read on an album jacket or label.

A public service from your record loving audiophile friends here at Better Records.

Cool Jazz

I’ve gotten more enjoyment out of this Getz album than any other, including those that are much more famous such as Getz/Gilberto (which doesn’t sound as good by the way). This one is (mostly) live in a nightclub and it immediately puts you in the right mood to hear this kind of jazz.

Listening to side one I’m struck with the idea that this is the coolest jazz record of cool jazz ever recorded. Getz’s take on Summertime is a perfect example of his “feel” during these sessions. His playing is pure emotion; every note seems to come directly from his heart.

What really sets these performances apart is the relaxed quality of the playing. He seems to be almost nonchalant, but it’s not a bored or disinterested sound he’s making. It’s more of a man completely comfortable in this live setting, surrounded by like-minded musicians, all communicating the same vibe. Perhaps they all got hold of some really good grass that day. That’s the feeling one gets from their playing. As one is listening, there’s a certain euphoria that seems to be part of the music. This is definitely one of those albums to get lost in.

AMG Review

… this recording hails from the venerable Greenwich Village venue, the Café Au Go Go, in mid-August of 1964 — two months after “Girl From Ipanema” became a Top Five pop single. However, the focus of Getz Au Go Go steers away from the Brazilian flavored fare, bringing Astrud Gilberto into the realm of a decidedly more North American style. That said, there are a few Antonio Carlos Jobim compositions — “Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars)” and “One Note Samba” — both of which would be considered as jazz standards in years to follow — as well as the lesser-circulated “Eu E Voce.” Getz and crew gather behind Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s “It Might as Well Be Spring,” and the scintillating instrumental “Summertime,” from Porgy & Bess. Other equally engaging cuts include affective vocal readings of “Only Trust Your Heart,” and the diminutive, yet catchy “Telephone Song.” There is also some great interaction between Getz and Burton on “Here’s to That Rainy Day.” Getz Au Go Go is highly recommended for all dimensions of jazz enthusiasts.

 

 

Oscar Peterson Trio – West Side Story

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West Side Story

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  • A superb copy with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish 
  • Rich, solid bass; you-are-there immediacy; sound that’s just jumping out of the speakers, this copy had the sound we were looking for
  • Which wouldn’t mean much if the music wasn’t swingin,’ but it is – this could very well be the best record Oscar Peterson ever made
  • Credit engineer Bob Simpson, the man behind the legendary Belafonte at Carnegie Hall recording from a couple of years before
  • An absolute Must Own – for sound and music this is our pick for The Best Oscar Peterson album of All Time

I’ve known this was a well recorded album since I first heard the DCC gold CD back in the ’90s. It sounded great to me at the time — I had nothing to compare it to — but it sure didn’t sound like this. (more…)

Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong – Porgy & Bess

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

WOW! Triple Plus (A+++) sound on ALL FOUR SIDES for this Ella & Louis classic. This copy sold for $850 and we think it was worth every penny — it blew our minds! 

The sound is big, open, rich and full, with the performers front and center. Ella and Louis are no longer representations — they’re living, breathing persons. We call that “the breath of life,” and this original stereo pressing has it in spades. 

Their voices are so rich, sweet, and free of any artificiality, you immediately find yourself lost in the music, because there’s no “sound” to distract you. (more…)

Ella Fitzgerald – Ella Swings Lightly

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

Exceptionally lovely All Tube sound from 1958, with a huge, rich orchestra conducted by our man, Marty Paich. Grammy Award for Best Improvised Jazz Solo – these were the days when Ella was on top of the world.

When you are lucky enough to find a album that sounds as good as this one, full of standards from the Great American Songbook, you cannot help but recognize that this era for Ella will never be equaled, by her or anyone else. (more…)

Ella Fitzgerald – Sings the Harold Arlen Song Book #2

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

The first Harold Arlen Song Book to hit the site, and with sound like this it’s going to be very hard to beat. White Hot on side two, Super Hot on side one, Ella is especially rich, Tubey Magical and breathy throughout. Look at the great songs on Volume 2: Come Rain Or Come Shine, It’s Only A Paper Moon, One For My Baby, Get Happy, I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues, Over The Rainbow and more.  

The vinyl is about as quiet and scratch-free as we ever come across on these early stereo pressings. Even with us hitting multiple stores every week we have trouble finding even one clean copy of an album like this a year.

But we found this one, and it won our shootout. (more…)

Oscar Peterson Trio w/ Milt Jackson – Very Tall

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  • An excellent copy which earned Double Plus (A++) grades for sound on both sides – there’s plenty of rich, Tubey Magic from 1962 to be found on this vintage stereo pressing
  • If you made the mistake of buying the atrocious Anadisq pressing MoFi put out in the ’90s, here is your chance to hear what a wonderful recording Val Valentin cooked up with these cats in their prime
  • “This first matchup on records between pianist Oscar Peterson and vibraphonist Milt Jackson was so logical that it is surprising it did not occur five years earlier… this first effort is a particularly strong set.”

For us audiophiles both the sound and the music here are wonderful. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good 1961-62 All Tube Analog sound can be, this killer copy will do the trick. (more…)

The Oscar Peterson Trio – Put On A Happy Face

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  • Excellent Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • On a live jazz club recording such as this, the transparency of this killer analog pressing has the power to transport you to the front row of a small jazz club circa 1962 – what a thrill!
  • Peterson’s live album from 1962 was recorded at the London House jazz club in Chicago and features Ray Brown on bass and Ed Thigpen on drums

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Ella Fitzgerald – The Johnny Mercer Song Book

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

The huge, rich orchestral sound captured so beautifully by Val Valentin is always one of the many highlights to be found on the songbook series. By the time this album came out in 1964 Ella had already recorded 18 LPs worth of songbooks – this was the last, going out on a high note. Some of the Mercer Classics here are Too Marvelous For Words, Day In – Day Out, Laura, Skylark, Midnight Sun, I Remember You.  

When you are lucky enough to find a album that sounds as good as this one, full of standards from the Great American Songbook, you cannot help but recognize that this era for Ella will never be equaled, by her or anyone else.

The recording is outstanding, with huge amounts of space and midrange richness that might just take your breath away. (more…)

Oscar Peterson – We Get Requests

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We Get Requests

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

This is the way it must have sounded inside the RCA Studios in New York way back in 1964, not the club shown on the cover. The legendary RCA engineer BOB SIMPSON was behind the board.  (more…)