Older Reviews – Jazz

Duke Ellington – Ellington Indigos – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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Ellington Indigos

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

AMAZINGLY TUBEY MAGICAL SOUND for this album of romantic jazz ballads. We just finished a shootout for this album and this Six Eye pressing was the winner in a landslide. The overall sound is richer, wamer, and fuller than any other. The brass is breathy with the proper amount of bite; the trumpets sound particularly good. We played about ten copies of this album this week and didn’t hear any with the kind of life and energy on BOTH sides of this record. The transparency is amazing and you won’t believe all the DEPTH to the soundfield — you can really hear INTO the music. (more…)

Barney Kessel – Vol. 3: To Swing Or Not To Swing

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

This Early Contemporary Yellow Label Mono LP sure has AMAZING SOUND!

Man, this music is a blast when it sounds this good. I don’t think there’s a whole lot you could do to make this music sound any better! It’s one of the best early mono Contemporary LP I’ve ever played. It’s so tubey magical and Kessel’s guitar sound is out of this world. 

The music here matches the sound for excellence. The whole band just swings. There’s a real old rag-timey feel to the songs. Look at this list of all-star players: Harry Edison, Jimmy Rowles, Red Mitchell and Shelly Manne — this is some serious jazz talent. (more…)

Wes Montgomery – While We’re Young – Reviewed in 2010

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

This Minty Milestone Two-Fer Promo Double LP set features material from two Wes Montgomery albums: The Incredible Jazz Guitar and So Much Guitar.

There’s a reason Steve Hoffman chose So Much Guitar to do on Gold CD. It’s a superb recording, and it sounds great here.

Jimmy Smith – Any Number Can Win – Reviewed in 2010

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

This is one of Rudy Van Gelder’s TRIUMPHS and one of the best Jimmy Smith album I’ve ever heard. All of side one and the last cut of side two sound STUNNING! This is dynamic, big speaker sound.

Lots of old Verve’s weren’t mastered right, but this one was. It’s as good as it gets — it’s right up there with Bashin’.

RVG did not record this entire album. Some songs are recorded by other engineers and don’t have the dynamic slam that his do but the best tracks are amazing. (more…)

Bola Sete – The Incomparable Bola Sete – Reviewed in 2010

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

This is a Minty looking Fantasy LP with EXCELLENT SOUND. Bola Sete is one of my favorite guitarists, Latin or otherwise. Here he is joined by a very talented percussionist who brings authentic Brazilian feeling to this music. The real surprise here is Paul Horne on flute — the music comes alive on the tracks on which he guests, such as ‘Lamento De Negro’. If you like Latin guitar music, you can’t go wrong here.

“There are some performers in jazz, as in other fields, who everybody digs, regardless of style, regardless of preferences, regardless of anything. Bole Sete is that kind of performer. Whether he was playing for the society audiences in the swank Sheraton Palace, the jazz audiences at the Monterey Festival, the night club audiences (with Vince Guaraldi) at El Matador or Shelly’s Manne Hole, Bola Sete captured the people. He always does.” – Liner Notes

Ornette Coleman – The Shape of Jazz to Come – Reviewed in 2005

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

This minty avant-garde jazz record has AMAZING SOUND! The recording is by the famous engineer Bones Howe, the man behind some of the greatest pop and jazz recordings of all time. He gets some of that Rudy Van Gelder bite that we love, but with less distortion and more dynamic contrasts. Whether you’ll like the music or not is another question — this is free form jazz; not everybody’s into it, that’s for sure.

Ornette Coleman’s Atlantic debut, The Shape of Jazz to Come, was a watershed event in the genesis of avant-garde jazz, profoundly steering its future course and throwing down a gauntlet that some still haven’t come to grips with. The record shattered traditional concepts of harmony in jazz, getting rid of not only the piano player but the whole idea of concretely outlined chord changes.” — AMG

Dave Brubeck Trio w/ Gerry Mulligan – Blues Roots

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More Blues Roots

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

A very different quartet appears on this record, with Mulligan’s baritone sax replacing Desmond’s alto and a whole new rhythm section behind both of these veteran leaders.

We’ve been surprised how good these mid- to late-’60s Brubeck recordings can sound. There’s still plenty of Tubey Magical richness on the best pressings of these records, a quality that is especially important when trying to reproduce the full-bodied sound of a baritone sax.  (more…)

Art Pepper – The Trip – Our Shootout Winner from 2007

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

This Autographed copy of The Trip has WONDERFUL SOUND AND MUSIC! The title ain’t lying — this album is a TRIP! We dropped the needle on this Contemporary Yellow Label pressing and immediately stopped listening critically and began just enjoying the music and the sonics. That’s the sign of a truly exceptional album. The sound on this album is so alive and so real, you’ll feel like there’s a West Coast Jazz quartet in your living room. (more…)

Gabor Szabo – Gabor Szabo 1969 – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

Superb choice of material, with a heavy emphasis on Beatles tunes. Now how can you go wrong with Beatles tunes? Those four Beatles tunes are the highlights of this album: “Dear Prudence”, “I’ve Just Seen A Face”, “In My Life” and “You Won’t See Me”, as well as two folkie tracks by Joni Mitchell: “Both Sides Now” and “Michael From Mountains”. A heartfelt ballad is handled with quiet and warm intimacy: Buffy Saint-Marie’s “Until It’s Time For You To Go”. More uptempo pop classics like Bobby Hyland’s “Sealed With A Kiss”, The Classics IV’s “Stormy” and The Left Banke’s “Walk Away Renee” round out the best of the rest.

That’s an awful lot of good material to work with! This is not Jazz Jazz, this is Pop Jazz: pop tunes played in a jazzy style. I love the stuff.

Sonny Stitt – Plays Arrangements From the Pen Of Quincy Jones – Reviewed in 2004

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

Outstanding mainstream jazz at its best! Stitt is absolutely phenomenal on this album. His solo work on My Funny Valentine alone is worth the price of the album! The real jazz guys know that his lines are completely fresh and unique. This record is all the proof you need to know what a giant of jazz Sonny Stitt was. He’s also joined by great players such as Hank Jones, Freddy Green, Oscar Pettiford and Philly Joe Jones.

There is a larger group that joins him on some numbers, but the real star of this album is Stitt when he is soloing. Very good sound as well.