Labels We Love – Impulse

John Coltrane – A Love Supreme

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More Jazz Recordings Featuring the Saxophone

  • This vintage Impulse Stereo copy is close to the BEST we have ever heard, with two STUNNING Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sides, just shy of our Shootout Winner – remarkably quiet vinyl too
  • One quality that stood out to us on this reissue pressing was just how ENERGETIC the best of them can be, and this one clearly qualifies as one of the best copies we have ever played
  • Tubier, more transparent and more dynamic than practically all other copies, with plenty of that “jumpin’ out of the speakers” quality that only The Real Thing (an old record) ever has – thanks RVG!
  • Full-bodied and tonally correct from top to bottom – this copy IS guaranteed to bring Coltrane’s music to life in a way few pressings can
  • 5 stars: “One of the most important records ever made, John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme was his pinnacle studio outing, that at once compiled all of the innovations from his past, spoke to the current of deep spirituality that liberated him from addictions to drugs and alcohol, and glimpsed at the future innovations of his final two and a half years.”
  • If you’re a Coltrane fan, this Impulse title from 1965 is clearly one of his best, and one of his best sounding
  • The complete list of titles from 1965 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

The original Impulse pressings on the brown and orange label are the best, right?

Not in our experience. We think that plays into one of the biggest canards in all of record collecting, that the first pressings are always the best sounding.

For this album, having sampled a large group of pressings from every era, we found the originals to be inferior to the best reissues we played. Naturally the ones we offer here as Hot Stampers will be the best of those reissue pressings. We are not the least bit worried that this vintage Impulse LP won’t beat the pants off of any original as well as any reissue you may have heard. And of course it is guaranteed to be dramatically better sounding than any Heavy Vinyl pressing produced by anyone, anywhere, at any time.

The Sound

This record is ALIVE! When you hear a record like this, you don’t need to play the 180 gram reissue to know that an early pressing such as this one is just going to murder it.

If you know anything about this music, you know that Coltrane is blasting away here and it is a thrill to hear him playing with such passion to be sure.

The clarity you will hear on this pressing does not come at the expense of brightness or thinness of any kind. In fact, just the opposite is the case, the sound is so rich and tubey you will be practically bowled over by it.

The extension on both ends of the frequency spectrum is one of the qualities that often sets the better copies apart from the pack. All the top end and the deep bottom end weight and fullness that are so essential to the sound are simply not to be found on most pressings — but here they are.

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Charles Mingus – Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus

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More Jazz Recordings Featuring the Piano

  • This original Impulse Stereo pressing boasts INCREDIBLE Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from the first note to the last – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • Impulse released a Heavy Vinyl pressing in 1995, as did Speakers Corner in 2003, but neither can hold a candle to the real thing
  • Mingus was a genius and the original music on this record is just one more album’s worth of proof of the undeniability of that assertion
  • 5 stars: “It closes out the most productive and significant chapter of his career, and one of the most fertile, inventive hot streaks of any composer in jazz history.”

The sound is tonally correct, Tubey Magical and above all natural. The timbre of each and every instrument is right and it doesn’t take a pair of golden ears to hear it. So high-resolution too.

If you love ’50s and ’60s jazz you cannot go wrong here. Mingus was a genius and the original music on this record is just one more album’s worth of proof of the undeniability of that fact. (more…)

John Coltrane Quartet – Ballads

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Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of John Coltrane

  • Ballads makes its Hot Stamper debut with outstanding solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout this vintage Impulse Stereo copy
  • Full-bodied, energetic, and tonally correct from top to bottom, this pressing is guaranteed to bring Coltrane’s music to life – it’s possible that you would not own any Coltrane record that sounds as good as this one
  • The sound is everything that’s good about Rudy Van Gelder’s recordings – it’s present, spacious, full-bodied, Tubey Magical, dynamic and, most importantly, ALIVE in the way that modern pressings never are
  • 4 stars: “[A] perfectly fine album of Coltrane doing what he always did — exploring new avenues and modes in an inexhaustible search for personal and artistic enlightenment. [H]e’s introspective and at times even predictable, but that is precisely Ballads’ draw.”

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Sonny Rollins / Alfie – Rollins and Nelson Are Hard to Beat in ’66

More of the Music of Sonny Rollins

More Music and Arrangements by Oliver Nelson

More Recordings by Rudy Van Gelder

A triumph for Rudy Van Gelder, a Top Impulse title, and as much a showcase for Oliver Nelson (+11) as it is for Sonny Rollins. 

This album is on the TAS Superdisc list, which is probably what first alerted me to it. I know I was listening to this album 25 years ago, just from the memory of hearing it in the condo I used to live in. It sounded great back then and it sounds even better now! You will have a hard time finding a better Sonny Rollins record, sonically or musically. It may just be my personal favorite of all his work.

Great players of course. Kenny Burrell is wonderful as always. Interestingly I never realized that Roger Kellaway is the pianist on these sessions. I saw him live years ago with Benny Carter (who was 90 at the time) and he put on one of the most amazing performances at the piano I have ever seen. For some reason he was never able to make it as a recording artist, but the guy is a genius at the keyboard.

Of course any orchestration by Oliver Nelson is going to be top flight and this is no exception. Two of his records are Must Owns in my book: Jimmy Smith’s Bashin’ and his own The Blues and the Abstract Truth. No jazz collection without them can be taken seriously.

For audiophiles who are looking for one of the best sounding jazz recordings ever made, this is it. (more…)

Gabor Szabo – The Best of Gabor Szabo

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More Jazz Recordings Featuring the Guitar

  • This Impulse pressing boasts superb Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • Clean, clear, full-bodied and present with tons of Tubey Magic and right-on-the-money instrumental timbres, the originals may be a bit better sounding, but both are they expensive these days and rarely can be found in audiophile playing condition
  • For some reason, the guitar sound from this era of recording seems to have died out with the times – it can only be found on the better copies of these vintage pressings

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Clark Terry – The Happy Horns of Clark Terry

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More Jazz Recordings

  • Clark Terry’s three horn lineup album returns to the site with superb Double (A++) sound on both sides of this Impulse LP
  • It’s simply bigger, more transparent, less distorted, more three-dimensional and more REAL than most of what we played
  • Credit goes to Rudy Van Gelder once again for the huge space this superbly well-recorded ensemble occupies
  • 4 stars: “This all-star LP has plenty of memorable moments… The lively music is quite enjoyable.”

We dropped the needle on a copy of the album a couple of years ago and immediately we knew it would be a record worthy of a shootout — the sound was big and lively in the best tradition of Rudy Van Gelder’s recordings from the mid-’60s. His sound is the right sound for this style of music, that’s for damn sure.

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Pee Wee Russell and Oliver Nelson – The Spirit of ’67

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More Jazz Recordings

  • This vintage Impulse! / ABC pressing boasts excellent Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • Both sides here are big and lively, key elements for any album arranged by the-bigger-the-better Oliver Nelson
  • This is fun, swinging Sixties Jazz with top quality sound (from an unknown engineer) — we knew as soon as we dropped the needle on a copy a few years back that this was a record that deserved a shootout, and finally, here it is
  • Problems in the vinyl is sometimes the nature of the beast with these early pressings – there simply is no way around it if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
  • 4 Stars: “…joined by a big band arranged by Oliver Nelson…the charts are colorful and complement Russell well during what would be his swan song.”

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Duke Ellington – Duke Ellington Meets Coleman Hawkins

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  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A+++) sound on both sides of this Impulse stereo pressing
  • Once again Rudy Van Gelder delivers the sound that audiophiles and jazz fans alike thrill to
  • Impulse took it upon themselves to reissue this title on Heavy Vinyl many years ago — (I admit I used to sell them, mea culpa) — and it was as mediocre as you might expect, with little of the magic of The Real Thing found on the vintage pressings we offer in Hot Stamper form
  • 5 stars: “This set documents a historic occasion. Although Coleman Hawkins had been an admirer of Duke Ellington’s music for at least 35 years at this point and Ellington had suggested they record together at least 20 years prior to their actual meeting in 1962, this was their first (and only) meeting on record. High points include an exuberant “The Jeep Is Jumpin’,” an interesting remake of “Mood Indigo,” and a few new Ellington pieces. This delightful music is recommended…”
  • A Jazz Classic from 1963 that should appeal to any fan of the work of Ellington or Hawkins
  • The complete list of titles from 1963 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

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Johnny Hartman / I Just Dropped By To Say Hello – A Forgotten Vocal Classic

More Pop and Jazz Vocals

Reviews and Commentaries for More Male Vocal Albums

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Folks, the later Stereo Impulse pressing of this classic Hartman album we dropped the needle on recently was so Tubey Magical, RICH yet CLEAR, and above all shockingly natural, it would be hard to imagine a Male Vocal record produced in the last thirty years that could hold a candle to it (outside of the Coltrane-Hartman record from the year before of course).

The Bennett-Evans record we love so much here at Better Records would qualify as a contender, but that album was recorded in 1975. And it doesn’t have half the Tubey Magic this Hartman album from 1963 does.

RVG Knocks Another One Out of the Park

Our hats are off to Rudy Van Gelder once again! Here’s an album that justifies his reputation. If only more of them did…

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Chico Hamilton – The Further Adventures of El Chico

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More of Our Favorite Records on Impulse

  • Insanely good Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish and the first copy to ever hit the site! 
  • These sides, recorded brilliantly by one of our favorite engineers, Bob Simpson, are big, full-bodied and present, with plenty of Tubey Magic and set on a a huge, three-dimensional soundstage
  • The record features the amazing Gabor Szabo along with other top players like Clark Terry and Ron Carter
  • Great pop jazz with excellent sound; if you’re a fan of Gabor Szabo, this music will be right up your alley

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