Labels We Love – Impulse

John Coltrane – Sun Ship

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  • Coltrane’s final album finally arrives on the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Huge space, size and clarity, with Tubey Magical richness befitting the 1965 recording date of this session at RCA studios
  • Released posthumously, this superb release captures one of the last recording dates for the Classic Quartet: drummer Elvin Jones, pianist McCoy Tyner, and bassist Jimmy Garrison
  • 4 stars: “While a summation for this quartet, Sun Ship is also an exciting if unfinished prelude to Coltrane’s final period of transformation.”

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Gabor Szabo with Gary McFarland – Gypsy ’66

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  • With excellent Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on both sides, this copy is getting the sound of Gabor Szabo’s music right from first note to last
  • This copy plays on exceptionally quiet Impulse vinyl, Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus throughout
  • The credit must go to one of, if not THE Greatest Jazz Engineers of all time, Mr. Rudy Van Gelder
  • “Szabo’s original sound, the unusual instrumentation (two or three guitars, Sadao Watanabe on flute, Gary McFarland on marimba, bass, drums and percussion) and McFarland’s clever arrangements uplift the music.”

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Gabor Szabo – The Sorcerer

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  • With two nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sides, this original Impulse pressing is close to the BEST we’ve ever heard, right up there with our Shootout Winner – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Szabo’s best albums are full of Tubey Magic and dead-on-the-money instrumental timbres – this live one puts you smack dab in the middle of an intimate jazz club in 1967, your very own time machine
  • If you want to hear the warmth, size and energy of the tape, this vintage LP is the way to go
  • “Gabor Szabo’s quintet featuring Jimmy Stewart was one of the guitarist’s very best units. Live performances like this, recorded at Boston’s Jazz Workshop, document some of the excitement the group stirred in 1967-1968. The playing seems inspired, and the interplay within the group is something to behold…”

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Pharoah Sanders – Thembi

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  • Pharoha Sanders makes his Hot Stamper debut here with STUNNING Triple Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more richness, fullness, and performance energy on this copy than others you’ve heard, and that’s especially true if you made the mistake of buying whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently on the market
  • 4 stars: “Recorded with two different ensembles, Thembi was a departure from the slowly developing, side-long, mantra-like grooves Pharoah Sanders had been pursuing for most of his solo career… it’s rare to have this many different sides of Sanders coexisting in one place, and that’s what makes the album such an interesting listen.”

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Gabor Szabo – Wind Sky and Diamonds – A Weak Effort

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Music Grade: F

Not recommended, a weak effort by Impulse in 1967, with silly background vocals no less. Neither the music nor the sound, at least on the copies we played, will likely be worth your time.

This has been a public service review from the record loving audiophiles here at Better Records.

John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman – Nothing Special on Heavy Vinyl

 

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Sonic Grade: C (at best)

We were only slightly impressed with both the Speakers Corner pressing of this album and the earlier Impulse Heavy Vinyl edition from the ’90s. In our opinion neither one is worth pursuing.

This could very well be the greatest collaboration between a horn player and a singer in the history of music. I honestly cannot think of another to rank with it. Ella and Louis has the same feel — too giants who work together so sympathetically it’s close to magic, producing definitive performances of enduring standards that have not been equaled in the fifty plus years since they were recorded. And, on the better copies, or should we say the better sides of the better copies, RVG’s sound is stunning.

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They Say It’s Wonderful: Hartman and Coltrane, an Appreciation (more…)

Gabor Szabo – The Best of Gabor Szabo – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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This Minty looking Impulse LP has GREAT SOUND on both sides. We put this one through our extensive cleaning process and gave it a listen. Side one is clean and clear with lots of tubey magic and it’s not as drenched in echo as most of the originals. Side two is very lively with lots of presence and wonderfully silky highs. The originals from which these tracks are taken are practically impossible to find in anything resembling audiophile playing condition.

Gabor Szabo with Gary McFarland – Gypsy ’66

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One of the qualities that we don’t talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record’s presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small — they don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy for the instruments or vocals in the center.

Other copies — my notes for these copies often read “BIG and BOLD” — create a huge soundfield, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They’re not brighter, they’re not more aggressive, they’re not hyped-up in any way, they’re just bigger and clearer.

And most of the time those very special pressings have much more energy. When you hear a copy that does all that, it’s an entirely different listening experience.

Heavy Vinyl

Speakers Corner did a very good version of this album on Heavy Vinyl back in 2002, which we recommended at the time.

Our Hot Stamper pressings will of course be dramatically more transparent, open, clear and just plain REAL sounding, because these are all the areas in which heavy vinyl pressings fall short, with very few exceptions. (more…)

Gabor Szabo – More Sorcery – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

This is a Minty looking Original Impulse Stereo LP with EXCELLENT sound and quiet vinyl.

This is a live recording that’s got that small jazz club feel. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds runs almost ten minutes and gives everybody involved a chance to stretch out. People is also exceptionally good here.

It’s hard to find a recording Szabo did that isn’t full of Tubey Magic, huge studio space and right-on-the-money instrumental timbres. This album is right up there with the best of his recordings, courtesy of the two top engineers noted below. (more…)

Oliver Nelson – More Blues and the Abstract Truth

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  • Nelson’s 1965 release makes its Hot Stamper debut with stunning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout – 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 album, a vintage pressing like this one is the only way to hear it
  • 4 stars: “… there are some strong moments from such all-stars as trumpeter Thad Jones, altoist Phil Woods, baritonist Pepper Adams, pianist Roger Kellaway and guest tenor Ben Webster (who is on two songs). The emphasis is on blues-based pieces and there are some strong moments even if the date falls short of its predecessor.” 

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