Top Arrangers – Gil Evans

Miles Davis / Sketches of Spain – On the ’70s Red Label?

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More Columbia 30th Street Studio Recordings

  • This excellent Columbia Red Label stereo pressing boasts Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • When you get a properly mastered, properly pressed ’70s copy of the album, it may not do everything right, but it does so much right that we have no problem awarding it a sonic grade of Double Plus
  • The good copies capture the realistic sound of Davis’s horn, the body, the breath and the bite (and not a little of the squawk as well)
  • Balanced, clear and undistorted, this 30th Street recording shows just how good Columbia’s engineers were back then
  • 5 stars: “Sketches of Spain is the most luxuriant and stridently romantic recording Davis ever made. To listen to it in the 21st century is still a spine-tingling experience…”
  • If you’re a fan of Classic Jazz, this Columbia from 1960 belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1960 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

We talk a fair bit about the Tubey Magic of the original pressings below, and those looking for that very rich, very tubey sound may prefer to pass on this copy.

Only the best originals – cleaned properly of course – will give you every last ounce of that sound.

This copy is balanced, open, clear and undistorted. With Double Plus (A++) sound  it has to be excellent, but super Tubey Magical it is not.

Those with very tubey equipment may actually prefer it to the originals. Either way, your satisfaction is guaranteed.

On the best pressings of this masterpiece, the sound is truly magical. (AMG has that dead right in their review.) It is lively but never strained. Davis’s horn has breath and bite, just like the real thing. What more can you ask for?

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Miles Davis – Porgy and Bess

More Vintage Columbia Pressings

More Miles Davis / More Gil Evans

  • Insanely good sound on both sides of this original Columbia Six-Eye pressing with each earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades
  • Both sides are full of that old-school Columbia jazz tubey magic – the brass is full-bodied with lots of air, the bass is surprisingly well-defined, the top end is extended and sweet, and the soundfield is HUGE and three-dimensional
  • The music is a classic example of the partnership between Davis and arranger Gil Evans, and a must-own for serious jazz fans
  • “It was Evans’ intimate knowledge of the composition as well as the performer that allowed him to so definitively capture the essence of both… No observation or collection of American jazz can be deemed complete without this recording.” 5 Stars
  • If you’re a fan of the collaborations of Davis and Evans circa 1959, this album belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1959 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

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Miles Davis / Basic Miles – Here Is the Hot Stamper Sound of Kind of Blue

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Reviews and Commentaries for Kind of Blue

  • Demo Disc Jazz sound for this wonderful collection, with both sides earning outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades
  • Opening side two, the 9 plus minutes of On Green Dolphin Street has some of the coolest jazz you will ever hear, on any record, at any price
  • If you want to know what the better copies of Kind of Blue sound like, this pressing will tell you, because it has that sound
  • And that means it is absolutely NOTHING like the MoFi 45 RPM 2 LP pressing that some audiophiles (and the reviewers who cater to them) seem to like so much
  • We’re talking Bill Evans, John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley in their prime, 1958, with top 1958 sound to match

Want to know how good our Hot Stamper Kind of Blue pressings sound? Listen to this very record. If you play the tracks that were recorded in 1958, the year before Kind of Blue, you will hear practically the same lineup of musicians.

That means Stella By Starlight and Little Melonae on side one, and Green Dolphin Street and Fran-Dance (Put Your Little Foot Right Out) on side two. We’re talking Bill Evans, John Coltrane, and Cannonball Adderley in their prime, 1958, with top 1958 sound to match.

The nine-minute plus Green Dolphin Street that opens side two is nothing short of amazing, some of the coolest jazz you will ever hear. With Fran Dance on the same side, that gives you about 17 minutes of great-sounding jazz by Miles’ classic Kind of Blue lineup.

Side one has the same cats playing for more than 12 minutes. By my calculation, that’s close to another album’s worth of material from the group. The rest of the material on this compilation is best seen as gravy; maybe not essential, but never less than interesting. (more…)

Kenny Burrell with Gil Evans – Guitar Forms

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More Gil Evans

  • This STUNNING pressing offers Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from start to finish
  • Gil Evans wrote the superb orchestral arrangements and Rudy Van Gelder captured them on lovely analog tape – what’s not to like? 
  • We’ve really been digging these Creed Taylor productions for years now – it may not be serious jazz, but it’s no less interesting and captivating for it
  • “His landmark 1965 collaboration with Gil Evans, Guitar Forms rivals anything the arranger did with Miles Davis. Indeed, the track “Lotus Land” has a bolero form very reminiscent of Sketches of Spain. Throughout, Burrell takes thoughtful, concise, and utterly musical solos, and even switches to acoustic classical guitar on “Prelude #2” and “Loie.””

For us audiophiles both the sound and the music here are wonderful. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good 1965 All Tube Analog sound can be, this killer copy will do the trick.

This pressing is super spacious, sweet, and positively dripping with ambience. Talk about Tubey Magic, the liquidity of the sound here is positively uncanny. This is vintage analog at its best, so full-bodied and relaxed you’ll wonder how it ever came to be that anyone seriously contemplated trying to improve it. (more…)

Gil Evans – Out Of The Cool

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  • Insanely good Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it throughout
  • 4 stars on Allmusic: “The music here is of a wondrous variety, bookended by two stellar Evans compositions in “La Nevada,” and “Sunken Treasure”… This set is not only brilliant, it’s fun.”

This is an incredibly well-recorded big band jazz album from 1961 with excellent music, and copy like this one gives you WONDERFUL SOUND. We’ve been collecting these for ages trying to get this shootout going, but it’s difficult to find reasonably quiet copies that sound like this!

Both sides have big punchy bass, loads of tubey magic, amazing transparency and lots of space and openness. There’s real depth to the instruments and space around the players, so it’s easy to make sense of everything that happens. The clarity is wonderful as well, and you can clearly hear the transients to the horns.

Big band jazz records are almost always difficult to record and master properly. We’ve struggled through a number of shootouts for large jazz groups and found that most of the time it’s just not worth the trouble. This album is an entirely different story, however. These guys did a great job of capturing all the various instruments and giving them their own sense of space. Peek inside the gatefold cover and you’ll find a key to where each player and microphone was located. On a copy as transparent and open-sounding as this one, you can really get a sense of how everything unfolds, and it’s easy to picture the studio setup as the music plays. (more…)

Miles Davis – Sketches of Spain

More Miles Davis

More Columbia 30th Street Studio Recordings

  • The good copies capture the realistic sound of Davis’s horn, the body, the breath and the bite (and not a little of the squawk as well)
  • Balanced, clear and undistorted, this 30th Street recording shows just how good Columbia’s engineers were back then
  • A couple of marks play, so this copy is being offered at a much lower price than it otherwise would have been for those of you who can tolerate the pops
  • 5 stars: “Sketches of Spain is the most luxuriant and stridently romantic recording Davis ever made. To listen to it in the 21st century is still a spine-tingling experience…”

*NOTE: On side two, two marks make 24 moderate pops one-quarter inch from the end of Track 2, Saeta, and 15 moderate pops one-quarter inch into Track 3, Solea.

On the best pressings of this masterpiece, the sound is truly magical. (AMG has that dead right in their review.) It is lively but never strained. Davis’s horn has breath and bite, just like the real thing. What more can you ask for? (more…)

Gil Evans Orchestra / Out Of The Cool – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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This is an incredibly well-recorded big band jazz album from 1961 with excellent music, and a Hot Stamper pressing like this one gives you WONDERFUL SOUND. We’ve been collecting these for ages trying to get this shootout going, but it’s difficult to find copies that sound like this. We went through a ton of expensive copies and only found a few that were fit to list on the site. This one fared very well, earning an A++ for side one and an A+ on side two.

Big band jazz records are almost always difficult to record and master properly. We’ve struggled through a number of shootouts for large jazz groups and found that most of them time, it’s just not worth the trouble. This album is an entirely different story, however. These guys did a great job of capturing all the various instruments and giving them their own sense of space. Peek inside the gatefold cover and you’ll find a key to where each player and microphone was located. On a copy as transparent and open-sounding as this one, you can really get a sense of how everything unfolds, and it’s easy to picture the studio setup as the music plays.

Side one has big punchy bass, loads of tubey magic, amazing transparency and lots of space and openness. There’s real depth to the instruments and space around the players, so it’s easy to make sense of everything that happens. The clarity is wonderful as well, and you can clearly hear the transients to the horns. We gave side one an A++.

Side two, at A+, has some of that tubey quality but doesn’t have all side one’s clarity and spaciousness. (more…)

Miles Davis – Quiet Nights

  • You’ll find excellent Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this oh-so-spacious Miles Davis-Gil Evans classic
  • Fred Plaut engineered the sessions, and on this amazing early pressing the sound is rich, warm, smooth and clear
  • This copy plays about as quiet as we can find these early pressings, Mint Minus Minus throughout
  • In the Saturday Review, Quiet Nights received praise for Davis’ “wonderfully songful trumpet in a Latin-American vein”, set against “piercingly lustrous curtains of tone and discreet Caribbean rhythms.”

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Astrud Gilberto – Look To The Rainbow

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More Bossa Nova

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  • An outstanding copy with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from first note to last
  • This kind of spacious, warm, rich, Tubey Magical analog sound is gone forever – you have to go back to 1966 to find it
  • Creed Taylor (the CTI man) produced, Gil Evans did most of the arrangements, Rudy Van Gelder and Val Valentin engineered – what’s not to like?
  • 4 1/2 stars: “This was a beautiful bossa nova record of Astrud Gilberto’s vocal stylings…”

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Miles Davis – Miles Ahead in Glorious 1957 Mono

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More of Our Best Jazz Trumpet Recordings

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  • Miles Ahead finally arrives on the site with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout – exceptionally clean condition too
  • A nearly impossible record to find in this condition, it’s the quietest, best sounding copy by far we have ever played
  • This album forged the dynamic collaboration between Davis and Gil Evans that eventually led to Porgy and Bess and Sketches of Spain
  • 5 stars: ” Evans’ arrangements in particular are well-suited to the format, and he and Davis formed a deep and close partnership where ideas were swapped back and forth, nurtured, and developed long before they were expressed in the studio… an album that gave a hint of the greatness that would come as Evans and Davis fine-tuned their partnership over the course of the next several years.”

Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in clean shape. Most of them will have at least some amount of ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG, and it will probably be VG+. If you are picky about your covers please let us know in advance so that we can be sure we have a nice cover for you.


Quick Notes for Side One

Track three is super dynamic, horns have bite and body, textured and lively, tons of space!

Quick Notes for Side Two

The first three tracks are big, solid and open, with great space, tubey and musical.

That’s hitting all the right notes in our book. (more…)