Top Arrangers – Marty Paich

The Hi-Lo’s – A Demo Disc for Tubey Magic

More Pop and Jazz Vocals

  • Superb sound throughout this early 6-Eye Stereo pressing, with both sides earning excellent Double Plus (A++) grades – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • On the right system, the better copies of this All Tube Chain Demo Disc from 1958 will demonstrate the superiority of both the analog medium and the vintage pressing (not to mention the concept of Hot Stampers)
  • With a copy this good, The Hi-Lo’s will appear as living, breathing (albeit disembodied) persons right in your very own listening room – we call that “the breath of life,” and there is plenty to be found on this record
  • “The Hi-Los weren’t really a jazz unit, but more of a pop band that knew how to incorporate jazz’s harmonic sensibilities. This was among their better albums, complete with catchy title.”
  • More records with exceptionally Tubey Magical Sound
  • More reviews of our most Tubey Magical Demo Discs


Helen Humes – Getting the Balance Right on Mean to Me

More Pop and Jazz Vocal Albums

Reviews of Some of Our Favorite Albums by Female Vocalists

Mean to Me is a favorite test track for side one, with real Demo Disc quality sound. Roy DuNann at Contemporary was able to get all his brass players together in one room, sounding right as a group as well as individual voices. The piano, bass, and drums that accompany them are perfectly woven into the fabric of the arrangement. What makes this song so good is that when the brass really starts to let loose later in the song, with the right equipment and the right room you can get the kind of sound that is so powerful you would almost swear it’s live.

Helen was recorded in a booth for this album, and her voice is slightly veiled relative to the other musicians playing in the much larger room required for so many players. When you get the brass correct, the trick is to get her voice to become as transparent and palpable as possible without screwing up the tonality of the brass instruments.

The natural inclination is to brighten the sound up to make her voice more clear. But you will be made painfully aware that brighter is not better when the brass gets too “hot” and practically tears your head off. The balance between voice and brass is key to the proper reproduction of this album.

Once you have achieved that balance, tweak for transparency while guarding against too much upper midrange or top end. (Which means watch out for audiophile wires that can fool you!)

Art Pepper + Eleven – Modern Jazz Classics

Contemporary Jazz Records Available Now

Reviews and Commentaries for Contemporary Jazz

  • A superb vintage Contemporary stereo pressing of this exceptional Art Pepper release from 1960 with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • If you buy only one Large Group Hot Stamper jazz record from us, make it this one – the music is swingin’ fun and the sound is going to blow your mind
  • And that’s doubly true if you own any modern reissue (really, almost any reissue at all to be honest) – this is the kind of sound no later pressing from ANY era can compete with
  • Here is the Tubey Magic of the originals without the problems that too often cause the originals to be opaque and uninvolving
  • A personal favorite – 5 stars: “This is a true classic. Essential music for all serious jazz collections.”


Carly Simon / Torch – Surprisingly Rich, Natural Analog Sound for the Eighties

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  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Surprisingly rich, natural and analog considering the recording date – very little sound of the sound of the day — the kind that ruined most of what was made in the ’80s — is on display here, and thank god for that
  • “Carly Simon’s Torch is a gorgeous throwback to the Fifties and early Sixties… By blending old and new material, and by incorporating a hint of jazz-fusion music into a studio-orchestra sound, Simon and her producer, Mike Mainieri, begin to suggest a continuity between Fifties torch and Eighties pop.”
  • If you’re a fan of Carly’s, this is a Top Title from 1981 that belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1981 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.


Neil Diamond / Stones – His Best Sounding Studio Album?

More of the Music of Neil Diamond

More Singer Songwriter Albums

I can’t say for sure that this is the best sounding Neil Diamond album, we haven’t been through all of them yet, but it’s certainly the best sounding album of his that we’ve critically auditioned in large numbers. Good luck finding another copy of Stones out in the bins that deliver top quality sonics the likes of these — we went through a TON of copies and not many held our interest.

Problems to Watch For

Some of the more common problems we ran into during our shootouts were slightly veiled, slightly smeary sound, with not all the top end extension that the best copies showed us.

You can easily hear that smear on the guitar transients. Usually they’re a tad blunted and the guitar harmonics don’t ring the way they should.

Smeary, veiled, top end-challenged pressings were regularly produced over the years. They are the rule, not the exception.

Good cleaning techniques can help, but bad vinyl and worn stampers limit the encoding of the highs, and bad mastering or the use of sub-generation tapes both can work plenty of mischief on their own.


On the Hot Stamper copies that do have sweet and rich ANALOG sound, credit naturally belongs with Neil’s go-to engineer, ARMIN STEINER. He was one of the engineers on Spirit’s first album (a truly phenomenal recording from 1968), assisted on Ram, recorded some of the best sounding, most Tubey Magical Chart-Topping Pop Rock for Bread in the early ’70s, and, if that’s not enough, has more than a hundred other engineering credits. He’s also the reason that Hot August Night is one of the best sounding live albums ever recorded.

When you find his name in the credits there’s at least a chance, and probably a pretty good one, that the sound will be excellent. You need the right pressing of course, but the potential for good sound should be your working hypothesis at that point. Now, all it takes is some serious digging in the bins, cleaning, and listening to determine if you’ve lucked into a “diamond in the rough.”

Michael McDonald – One of the All Time Great Jeff Porcaro Drum Exhibition Records

Let us not forget that this is also one of the All Time Great Jeff Porcaro Drum Exhibition Records. His work here is pure genius. Play this album next to Katy Lied: I think you will find the comparison instructive. If That’s What It Takes and Katy Lied are the pinnacle of achievement for Jeff on the drums.

I’m proud to count Michael McDonald among my favorite recording artists. He made this Desert Island Disc and single-handedly turned the Doobie Brothers into a band I could enjoy and even respect.

This is a Must Own if you like the later Doobies and the kind of highly-polished but heartfelt and intelligent pop records that band excelled at in the ’70s.

More Michael McDonald

More Blue Eyed Soul

More of The Doobie Brothers

Desert Island Discs Available Now


Shelly Manne & His Men – The West Coast Sound, Vol. 1

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More Contemporary Label Jazz


  • Killer Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Contemporary in 1956 was making some awfully good jazz records, with room-filling, natural and realistic mono sound, the kind of sound that still holds up today and doesn’t need a lot of “mastering” to do it
  • 5 stars: “The music has plenty of variety yet defines the era… Highly recommended and proof (if any is really needed) that West Coast jazz was far from bloodless.”
  • If you’re a fan of West Coast Jazz, this is a Top Title from 1956, and one that certainly belongs in any right-thinking audiophile’s collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1956 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.


Marty Paich Is One of Our Favorite Arrangers

MARTY PAICH is one of our favorite arrangers.

Some of the better albums showcasing Marty’s arrangements are Spirit’s first release (1967), Art Pepper Plus Eleven (1959), Ella Swings Lightly (1958) and Whisper Not (1966), and the amazing The Hi-Lo’s And All That Jazz (1958).

Copies or commentaries for all of them can be found on our site. 

Marty Paich Arranged Art Pepper’s Modern Jazz Classics Album

Marty Paich did the arrangements for this group of top musicians. As far as big band goes it doesn’t get much better than this. If I had to pick one big band album to take to my desert island it might very well be this one. The arrangements are lively and everyone seems to be having a good time in the studio.

Marty was one of the most sought-after arrangers back in the day. In discogs there are currently 512 listings under his name for writing and arranging.

Art Pepper + Eleven – Modern Jazz Classics

Many consider this to be the best record Art Pepper ever made, along with Art Pepper Meets The Rhythm Section, and it’s hard to argue with either title as both are superb and deserve a place in any audiophile’s collection. I would add Art Pepper Today to that list.

More Top Arrangers

Top Arrangers – Billy May 

Top Arrangers – Claus Ogerman 

Top Arrangers – Dave Grusin 

Top Arrangers – Deodato 

Top Arrangers – Don Sebesky 

Top Arrangers – Gary McFarland 

Top Arrangers – Gordon Jenkins 

Top Arrangers – Marty Paich 

Top Arrangers – Neal Hefti 

Top Arrangers – Nelson Riddle 

Top Arrangers – Oliver Nelson 

Top Arrangers – Paul Buckmaster

Top Arrangers – Quincy Jones 

Top Arrangers – Russell Garcia 

Top Arrangers – Don Costa 

Mel Torme – Songs of New York

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Mel Torme Albums We’ve Reviewed

  • This surprisingly good sounding pressing of Mel Tormé’s 1963 album boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • Like many of the best Mel Tormé recordings from the ’50s and early-’60s, the sound here is rich, warm and smooth, with Vintage Analog Tubey Magic to die for
  • Turn it up and The Velvet Fog will be standing right between your speakers, putting his heart and soul into these American standards
  • We freely admit that the originals are potentially better sounding — the only ones we ever find on the early label are much too noisy to enjoy
  • However, the best of them make great reference copies, so we keep them around and compare them to these reasonably quiet and very good sounding reissues
  • “This thematic recording, with songs all relating to New York City, has vocalist Mel Tormé singing in fine fashion… done with the heartfelt passion of a man who has lived in the Big Apple and has many tales to tell.”
  • A Male Vocal Classic from 1963 that should appeal to any fan of Mel Torme in his prime
  • The complete list of titles from 1963 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

Need a refresher course in Tubey Magic after playing too many modern recordings or remasterings? These Atlantic pressings are overflowing with it. Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead-on correct tonality — everything that we listen for in a great record is here.

This vintage stereo pressing has the kind of Midrange Magic that modern records barely begin to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it ain’t coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with Mel, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage Analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

Marty Paich Big Band – Why Can’t Anybody Nowadays Remaster As Well As Dave Ellsworth?

If you large group swinging West Coast Jazz is your thing – think Art Pepper Plus Eleven – you will really get a kick out of this one.

Albert Marx was the producer of the original sessions back in 1957. Fast-forward to the ’80s and Marx is now the owner of his very own jazz label, Discovery Records. Who would know the sound of the original tapes better than he? Working with Dave Ellsworth at KM, Marx has here produced one of the best jazz reissues we’ve heard in years.

We finally got hold of an original, and sure enough, it had some of the qualities we might have guessed it would have.

It was big and rich, as expected, but it was also crude and gritty, like a lot of old jazz and pop vocal records from the ’50s are.

The reissue not only got rid of those problems, but because it was cut properly on much better mastering equipment, it was also more open and resolving of studio space and detail.

If you want to know what a properly remastered record sounds like, this pressing will show you. It should also make clear that the second-rate pressings being made today are a disgrace, pure and simple, a drum we have been beating on for at least the last fifteen years.

If only these modern engineers could put together the quality mastering chain that Albert Marx had available, as well as Dave Ellsworth and his team, not to mention the knowledge of how to use it, and the critical listening skills required to get it right and to recognize when it was right.

Practically all of the qualities missing from modern records are found right here on this budget Discovery pressing. If more reissues sounded like this, we seriously might have to rethink our business model.

But modern reissues don’t sound like this. They practically never do. Which makes the service we offer more necessary than ever.

And if you can’t afford our records, we tell you how to find your own Hot Stampers.