Top Artists – Art Pepper

Art Pepper – Landscape – Reviewed in 2007

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Landscape

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

Recorded in Japan in 1979, this is a really interesting album. There are a lot of stinkers in the Art Pepper catalog from this era. (Acoustic Sounds released a few of them on 180 gram as a matter of fact. What a waste of good vinyl.)  

But this album is actually quite good. Art plays in an energetic staccato style, which is counterbalanced by the long flowing lines of George Cables at the piano. Cables is actually pretty amazing on this record: this is the best I’ve ever heard him play. He’s not very good as a leader, at least on the records I’ve heard, but he and Art get along very well together.

The ten minute long Over The Rainbow is interesting because that was the solo that started his career back in the ’40s.

Art Pepper + Eleven – Modern Jazz Classics (2015)

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Modern Jazz Classics (2015)

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

On a great copy such as this one, you can really pick out each of the musicians and follow them throughout the course of each song. When you’re able to appreciate everyone’s contributions, you can really get a better sense of how much work went into making this album. It’s nothing short of epic! 

This is one DYNAMIC jazz record — drop the needle on any track and prepare yourself to be very impressed. The sound is full-bodied and energetic with tight bass, breathy brass, and lots of ambience.

This one has all the Tubey Magic of the best Black Label Contemporary originals, with none of the problems that make the average Black Label copy uninvolving. (more…)

Art Pepper – Meets The Rhythm Section – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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Meets The Rhythm Section


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

This LP has AMAZING SOUND on both sides with each rating A+++ or something very close to it. This one has all the tubey magic of the best black label originals, without their bad vinyl and bloated bass. I get black label original Contemporary pressings in all the time, but few of them are mastered right and most never make it to the site. Some are pure muck. Some have bloated bass that is hard to believe. Don’t buy into that record collecting slash audiophile canard that Original Equals Better. It’s BS. 

Records just don’t work that way, and anyone with two good ears, two good speakers and a decent-sized record collection should know better.

(The fact that relatively few audiophiles or record collectors understand these things is a sad commentary on the state of reproduction in the home. But that’s another story for another day.) (more…)

Art Pepper + Eleven – Modern Jazz Classics – Black Label Original with Very Good Sound from Long Ago

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Modern Jazz Classics

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

SURPRISINGLY GOOD SOUND AND QUIET VINYL ON THIS BLACK LABEL ORIGINAL! Clean early copies like these don’t grow on trees, and ones that actually sound good are even more difficult to find. The sound is full-bodied and energetic with more tubey magic than the average later copies. 

As tends to be the case with these Black Label copies, the bass could stand to be tighter. The later copies offer an extra degree of resolution, but we know some people prefer these early copies for their richness and sweetness (which, as we’ve written about extensively, comes at price).

Mel Torme With The Marty Paich Dek-tette

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More With The Marty Paich Dek-tette

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  • A KILLER copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the second; exceptionally quiet vinyl too!
  • Both sides here are incredibly rich and smooth with wonderfully breathy vocals and a solid bottom end
  • “Mel Tormé with the Marty Paich Dek-tette is a vocal masterpiece, an extremely satisfying record achieved only by a fusion of an excellent voice, an excellent band, and excellent material.” – All Music, 5 Stars

This vintage Bethlehem pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of 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 the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

Art Pepper – Landscape

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Most Landscape

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  • You’ll find excellent Double Plus (A++) grades, or close to them, on this 1979 Art Pepper classic 
  • One of the few copies of Landscape to hit the site in a very long time – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • George Cables, Art’s longtime collaborator on piano, is nothing less than amazing on this record – this is the best I’ve ever heard him play
  • 4 1/2 Stars: “Altoist Art Pepper was in inspired form during this Tokyo concert. This particular LP features Pepper on memorable versions of “True Blues,” “Sometime” (during which Pepper switches to clarinet), “Landscape” and “Over the Rainbow.” Pepper’s intensity and go-for-broke style are exhilarating throughout.”

Recorded in Japan in 1979, this is a really interesting album for Art Pepper. If you know much about his body of work, you know there are a lot of stinkers in the Art Pepper catalog from this era. Acoustic Sounds released a few of them on 180 gram as a matter of fact, with their notoriously bad sound (notorious around these parts anyway). What a waste of good vinyl. (more…)

Dinah Washington – Unforgettable

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  • An outstanding vintage mono pressing with Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • Big, rich and full-bodied with lovely breathy vocals – this All Tube Mastered pressing has the right sound for this music
  • Although this is a stereo recording, the goofy stereo mix sticks Dinah way out in one channel, ruining any sense of being in her presence as a performer, so our early mono here is the only way to go
  • “The songs focus on love, and they’re distinguished by Washington’s ability to mingle loss and resignation with the promise of the future and a steely determination to make it happen. Ultimately Washington’s art is the romance of experience itself, its enduring truths and possibilities etched in her unforgettable voice. — Stuart Broomer

This ’60s LP has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back. (more…)

Art Pepper + Eleven – The Originals Are Better, Right?

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Nope. It’s just another Record Myth.

We used to get the original Contemporary pressings in all the time, but so few are mastered right practically none ever make it to the site. Some are pure muck; others have bass that’s so bloated it’s hard to tell if it’s electric or acoustic. And where’s the presence? We dropped the needle on a few Black Label copies of this title and were entirely  

Don’t buy into that record collecting / audiophile canard that Original Equals Better. It’s complete bullshit. Records just don’t work that way, and anyone with two good ears, two good speakers and a decent-sized record collection should know better. (The fact that a minority of audiophiles or record collectors do understand these things is a sad commentary on the state of reproduction in the home. But that’s a subject we’ve discussed at some length on the site already and see no need to belabor further here.) (more…)

Art Pepper – Today – Phil DeLancie Digital or George Horn Analog?

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Art Pepper Today

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Another in our ongoing series of Random Thoughts on issues concerning (usually old) records.

We’ve wanted to do Art Pepper Today for more than a decade, but the original Galaxy pressings were just too thick and dark to earn anything approaching a top sonic grade. Thirty years ago on a very different system I had one and liked it a lot, but there was no way I could get past the opaque sound I was now hearing on the more than half-dozen originals piled in front of me.

So, almost in desperation we tried an OJC reissue from the ’90s. You know, the ones that all the audiophiles on the web will tell you to steer clear of because it had been mastered by Phil DeLancie and might be sourced from digital tapes.

Or digitally remastered, or somehow was infected with something digital somehow.

Well, immediately the sound opened up dramatically, with presence, space, clarity and top end extension we simply could not hear on the originals. Moreover, the good news was that the richness and solidity of the originals was every bit as good. Some of the originals were less murky and veiled than others, so we culled the worst of them for trade and put the rest into the shootout with all the OJCs we could get our hands on. (more…)

Art Pepper – Smack Up

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More Smack Up

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  • You’ll find Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on both sides of this Contemporary Stereo Pressing – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Rich, smooth and Tubey Magical, this pressing has a lovely musical quality that’s missing from most copies
  • This is a classic from Pepper – all the songs were written by saxophonists and he tears into them with gusto and naked emotion (the two hallmarks of his playing style)
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Pepper is very much on top of his game throughout, ably demonstrating a capacity for precision and intimidating passion. Nowhere is proof more readily available than on these sides, which project Pepper at the peak of his craft.”

The horns are really jumpin’ out of the speakers here, but they never get hard or squawky like they do on some pressings. This combination of clarity and fullness is not easy to come by, but it lets the music flow in glorious waves of All Tube 1960 analog. With the always wonderful Jack Sheldon on trumpet, this is a great date from the Golden Age of Jazz Recordings. (more…)