Masterpieces of Jazz

The Poll Winners – Straight Ahead

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  • This superb collaboration has KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides
  • Musically, this is by far our favorite Poll Winners record – these guys got back together after 15 years and were eager to prove that they still had their youthful exuberance, and even better chops, which they did have and did prove!
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Kessel in particular is heard in excellent form… Overall this is the best all-around recording by The Poll Winners and is easily recommended to bop fans.”

These guys play with more spunk here than on any other album of theirs I’ve ever heard. And you have to love those ’70s leisure suits they’re wearing on the cover. I remember my commentary when this record was around, mentioning that Roy DuNann had lost none of his engineering skills in the intervening years either.

This is a very dynamic recording, one of his best. You almost never hear cymbals sound this good on an RVG Blue Note, that’s for sure. The bass definition on this record is amazing — you can really hear Ray Brown pulling and bending the strings of the instrument. He’s tearing it up. (more…)

Return to Forever – A Masterpiece of Jazz/Rock Fusion

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Romantic Warrior is my favorite JAZZ/ROCK FUSION album of all time. As good as the music is, the sound is even better. This is the Jazz/Rock Demo Disc that stands head and shoulders above the rest. In my experience, no record of this kind is more DYNAMIC or has better BASS. Not one. Demo Disc doesn’t begin to do this kind of sound justice.

Simply put, not only is this one of the greatest musical statements of all time, it’s one of the great recording statements. Few albums in the history of the world can lay claim to this kind of POWER and ENERGY.

But the Super Sound has a purpose, a raison d’etre. This is the kind of music that requires it; better yet, DEMANDS it. In truth, the sound is not only up to the challenge of expressing the life of the music on this album, it positively ENHANCES it.

Those monster Lenny White drum rolls that run across the soundstage from wall to wall may be a recording studio trick, but they’re there to draw your attention to his amazing powers, and it works! The drums are EVERYWHERE on this album, constantly jumping out of the soundfield and taking the music into the stratosphere where it belongs.
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Weather Report – Heavy Weather – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

TWO AMAZING SIDES ON QUIET VINYL, including an A+++ side one! The sound was positively jumping out of the speakers and dynamic as all get out. The grit, grain and grunge of the typical pressing was nowhere to be found on EITHER side of this copy, and that alone puts it in a very special league. Drop the needle on either side and get ready for some of the most dynamic, wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling jam-packed sound ever committed to vinyl.

As we noted on previous Hot Stamper listings of Heavy Weather, we’ve discovered that the key to the hot sounding pressings is a fairly simple one: the copies with high frequency extension and the tremendous energy that results from it are consistently the best sounding. You may have read elsewhere on the site that what separates many of the best Columbia LPs from their competition is an open, extended top end. For some reason, Columbia, more than any other label, seems to have a bad habit of making slightly dull records. Slightly dull does not work on this album. (more…)

Sonny Rollins – Saxophone Colossus

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  • KILLER sound for this Prestige Gold Label Mono pressing with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or very close to it
  • This one has been a long time coming but boy was it worth the wait — full-bodied, Tubey Magical and super dynamic with tight note-like bass, this is by far the best copy we have ever played  
  • About as quiet a vintage copy as we are ever likely to find – this pressing plays Mint Minus Minus, which in our experience is practically a miracle
  • 5 Stars: “Sonny Rollins recorded many memorable sessions during 1954-1958, but Saxophone Colossus is arguably his finest all-around set… Essential music”

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Horace Silver – Song For My Father

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  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on this Blue Note Jazz classic
  • The piano is clear and clean here, with much more weight and solidity than one would expect from an RVG recording
  • This copy was obviously cut with super-low distortion mastering equipment, and boy does it help the sound
  • 5 Stars: “Horace Silver’s signature LP and the peak of a discography already studded with classics. Silver was always a master at balancing jumping rhythms with complex harmonies for a unique blend of earthiness and sophistication, and Song for My Father has perhaps the most sophisticated air of all his albums…”

The leading edge transients on the horns here are excellent, with the pinched quality you hear on some tracks kept to a minimum. The whole of the ensemble is transparently clear. (more…)

Oliver Nelson – The Blues and the Abstract Truth

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  • Oliver Nelson’s masterpiece returns to the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • Clean, clear and present with a solid bass foundation, as well as the big stage this big group of musicians needs
  • If all you know is Van Gelder’s original cutting, you will surely have your eyes and ears opened by this wonderful Hot Stamper
  • Allmusic calls this album “…his triumph as a musician for the aspects of not only defining the sound of an era… but on this recording, assembling one of the most potent modern jazz sextets ever.” 5 Stars (of course)

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.

For those record lovers who still cling to the idea that the originals are better, this record will hopefully set you straight.

Yes, we can all agree that Rudy Van Gelder recorded it, brilliantly as a matter of fact. Shouldn’t he be the most natural choice to transfer the tape to disc, knowing, as we must assume he does, exactly what to fix and what to leave alone in the mix?

Maybe he should be; it’s a point worth arguing.

But ideas such as this are only of value once they have been tested empirically and found to be true. (more…)

Kenny Burrell – Midnight Blue

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Midnight Blue

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  • An outstanding copy of this amazing RVG recording with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
  • One of our All Time Favorite Blue Note albums for music and sound – is there a better bluesy Jazz Guitar album?
  • Both sides are rich, full and Tubey Magical with excellent clarity and a lovely bottom end
  • AMG 5 Stars – if there were a Top 100 Jazz List on our site, Midnight Blue would be right up at the top of it
  • Jazz Improv Magazine puts the album among its Top Five recommended recordings for Burrell, indicating that “[i]f you need to know ‘the Blue Note sound’, here it is.”

Midnight Blue is our favorite Kenny Burrell album of all time, at least in part because it’s one of the All Time best sounding Blue Notes. 

If you already own a copy of Midnight Blue and you don’t consider it one of the best sounding jazz guitar records in your collection, then you don’t have a copy that sounds the way this one does! In other words, you don’t know what you’re missing. (And if you own the Classic Records release, or any other Heavy Vinyl pressing from the modern era, then you really don’t know what you are missing.) (more…)

The Dave Brubeck Quartet – Time Out – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More Dave Brubeck

More Time Out

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

STUNNING A+++ SOUND AND QUIET VINYL ON BOTH SIDES! Breathtakingly spacious and transparent, this copy has the big three-dimensional soundstage that makes this record such a joy to listen to. The piano has weight and heft, the drums are big and dynamic, and everything is relaxed and sweet — in short, this copy does everything we want it to.

Listen to the drums on Everybody’s Jumpin’ . This album was recorded on a big sound stage and there is a HUGE room which can clearly be heard surrounding the drum kit. Add to that that some of the drums are in the left channel and some of the drums are in the right channel and you have one big drum kit — exactly the way it was intended to sound. (more…)

Eric Dolphy – Out To Lunch

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A SUPERB JAZZ DEMO DISC on unusually QUIET vinyl! Blue Note fans, take notice — this is a VERY special pressing!

Folks, Out To Lunch is one of the ultimate Blue Note titles for both music and stereo sound, and I don’t think you could find another pressing of the album that sounds this good and plays this quietly no matter how many you played, realistically speaking of course. If you’ve been watching our better Blue Note offerings, you probably know that this is the first Hot copy to ever make it to the site. And what a way to start off — both sides earned A+++ grades.

Dolphy’s debut for Blue Note is an absolute KNOCKOUT musically, and the quality of the sound on this pressing was everything we could have ever hoped for — more, really — (which is not a bad definition of a White Hot Stamper LP when you come to think about it). It’s 100% guaranteed to blow your mind.

This is an amazing album — All Music Guide calls it “Dolphy’s magnum opus, an absolute pinnacle of avant-garde jazz in any form or era” and we think that hits it right on the head.

Thankfully, for us audiophiles the sound on the better pressings can be stunning. The trick of course is finding those copies, and it’s a tough enough job that we’ve never been able to get any Hot Stamper copy up on the site until now. For the fellow who snaps this bad boy up, I am positive this White Hot Stamper will prove well worth the wait. (more…)

Herbie Mann – Live At The Village Gate



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  • A killer Triple Plus (A+++) side one backed with a solid Double Plus (A++) side two for what is probably the most well known album Herbie Mann ever made
  • Both sides here are full-bodied, open, spacious and balanced with plenty of bottom end weight
  • One of the better flute jazz albums we’ve heard, both in terms of sonics and music
  • 4 1/2 stars on Allmusic: “In addition to “Comin’ Home Baby,” Mann and his men perform memorable versions of “Summertime” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So”; the latter is 20 minutes long. Recommended.”

We’ve been trying to track down top pressings of this one for ages, but they are tough to come by and often noisy.

Both sides really shine with a meaty bottom end, lots of energy, an extended top and wonderful transparency. The soundstage is big and open with lots of depth, giving room to all the various players and their instruments.

Would you believe a song from this album was sampled and turned into a big hit in the ’90s? The great version of Gershwin’s Summertime on side one provided the backbone for the band Sublime’s 1997 single Doin’ Time. Maybe not of much interest to most of us baby boomer audiophiles, but the younger guys around here all had a good laugh when they recognized the break. Maybe your kids will too? (more…)