Older Reviews – Jazz

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.

The 3 Sounds – Live At The Lighthouse

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This Minty Blue Note Liberty Label LP has EXCELLENT LIVE JAZZ SOUND. It’s very transparent, with plenty of deep bass. The piano sounds particularly nice — it has real WEIGHT to it. Both sides play quietly, Near Mint. I imagine you’d have quite a hard time finding a quieter, better sounding copy of this album. The music is wonderful as well — 4 stars in the AMG!

The selection of nine Three Sounds staples gives the group a chance to stretch out… they flourish. The music on Live at the Lighthouse is hotter than some of their studio recordings, pulsating with energy and good feelings, demonstrating that they had worked out any of the problems that hampered Vibrations. It’s their finest set since Black Orchid. — AMG (more…)

Gabor Szabo – Rambler

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Yet another brilliant pop jazz recording from RVG in 1973 – he was plenty hot in the ’70s too. 

We had this to say about another favorite RVG recording from 1973:

The really good RVG jazz pressings sound shockingly close to live music — uncompressed, present, full of energy, with the instruments clearly located and surrounded by the natural space of the studio. As our stereo has gotten better, and we’ve found better pressings and learned how to clean them better, his “you-are-there” live jazz sound has begun to impress us more and more.

For those of you who have not been on our site for long, the record we are referring to is Grover Washington Jr.’s All The King’s Horses, one of RVG’s triumphs and a record we have offered Hot Stamper pressings of practically from the start. On big speakers at loud volumes the sound is glorious. (more…)

This is Modern Jazz Vol. 2 – Japanese Pressed 2 LP Box Set

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This IMMACULATE Sony CBS Japanese Import 2 LP Box Set with Virtually No Sign of Play (VNSOP) has SHOCKINGLY GOOD sound! It’s the rare Japanese pressing that has any merit in our experience. Let’s be honest: most of them are just plain awful, having been poorly mastered from sub-generation tapes. (In this respect they seem to have a lot in common with the Heavy Vinyl reissues being produced today, wouldn’t you say?)

So you can imagine our surprise when every track we played sounded good — some very good indeed — with practically all of it classic jazz of the highest quality. With jazz greats such as Davis, Monk, Brubeck, Farmer, Blakey and Horace Silver, this set comes highly recommended to one and all.

Dave Brubeck – Adventures In Time

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This is a Minty looking Columbia Red Label Double LP with EXCELLENT sound and quiet vinyl. The tracks compiled here are live and studio versions of Brubeck and his quartet playing material composed in some non-traditional time signatures, such as the hit track Take Five (in 5/4).

We aren’t completely sure which tracks here are live versions and which are studio versions, but everything we played sounded great. There’s a version of Blue Rondo a la Turk that clocks in at over 12 minutes!

If you haven’t explored much of the music of Brubeck past Time Out, this would be an excellent addition to your collection.

“The huge success of Paul Desmond’s “Take Five” (1960) was followed by many songs played in “odd” time signatures such as 7/4 and 9/8; the high-quality soloing of the musicians kept these experiments from sounding like gimmicks.”

Jimmy Smith – Got My Mojo Workin’ – Reviewed in 2010

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Verve Stereo LP with RVG Stampers and very good sound. This album has that analog richness, warmth and smoothness that we prize so highly here at Better Records. Jimmy does some pop tunes, some Ellington and more on this one, which has a real funky feel to it, with Jimmy really getting into it and grunting along with the music in places.

This copy (especially on side one) was just plain bigger and richer and tubier, as well as more dynamic than the others we played. (more…)

Chet Baker – It Could Happen To You – Reviewed in 2010

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This is a very nice looking RARE original Riverside LP. Side one has good sound but side two really shows you how WONDERFUL this record is. The sound on side two is rich, full and transparent, with lots of tubey magic. Hard to imagine it could get much better. 

Horace Silver Quintet – Doin’ The Thing

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

This Minty Blue Note LP has EXCELLENT LIVE JAZZ SOUND! It’s rich, full, and tonally correct from top to bottom. Just listen to the cymbals on the track Doin’ The Thing — you’ll hear how wonderfully extended the top end is.

“This live set (recorded at the Village Gate) finds pianist/composer Horace Silver and his most acclaimed quintet (the one with trumpeter Blue Mitchell, tenor saxophonist Junior Cook, bassist Gene Taylor and drummer Roy Brooks) stretching out on four selections, including his new song Filthy McNasty… [An] enjoyable and always funky hard bop session.” (more…)

Eiji Kitamura – Swing Sessions – One of Our Favorite Direct Discs

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This is a SUPER RARE IMMACULATE RCA Japanese Import Direct-to-Disc LP with Virtually No Sign Of Play (VNSOP). If you’re a fan of clarinet-led swing jazz, you’ll have a hard time finding a better record than this. The music is absolutely wonderful. Not only that, but it has DEMO DISC sound as well.

Direct-to-Disc Recording recorded live at Iruma City Auditorium, Saitama, Japan on April 21, 1978. Eiji Kitamura and His Allstars include Eiji on clarinet, Ichiro Masuda on vibraphone, Yoshitaka Akimitsu on piano, Yukio Ikezawa on bass, Hiroshi Sunaga on drums and Judy Anton provides vocals on “What a Little Moonlight Can Do.”

This album was recorded by the Direct-to-Disc recording method, to capture the natural reverberation of 1,200 seat concert hall. Various kinds of recording equipment were brought in parts to the backstage of the hall for the recording then reassembled and adjusted. Two whole days were spent adjusting all the equipment. (more…)

Horace Silver – Horace-Scope

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

The really good RVG pressings (often on the later labels) sound shockingly close to live music — uncompressed, present, full of energy, with the instruments clearly located on a wide and often deep soundstage, surrounded by the natural space and cool air of his New Jersey studio. As our stereo has improved, and we’ve found better pressings and learned how to clean them better, his “you-are-there” live jazz sound has come to impress us more and more.

Side One

Present, clear, natural and balanced, with no smear on the piano (or anything else), this side was doing pretty much everything right. RVG has never had the best sounding piano in his studio but it sounds right on the Blue Note for a Blue Note.

Side Two

Perhaps even a bit better, this side is big, lively and clear. If you can bring a bit more Tubey Magic to the sound so much the better. (more…)