Top Artists – Bill Evans

Bill Evans – The Paris Concert: Edition One

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  • An outstanding copy of this live album, with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – reasonably quiet vinyl for this kind of quiet piano music
  • These sides are doing pretty much everything right – as befits a live concert, there’s an overall unprocessed quality to the sound and good space around all three players
  • 4 1/2 stars: “With bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joe La Barbera, Evans had one of the strongest trios of his career… The close communication between the players is reminiscent of Evans’ 1961 unit with Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian.”

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Bill Evans – At The Montreux Jazz Festival

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  • Evan’s Classic Live album from the Montreux Jazz Festival returns to the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from first note to last
  • A killer Verve stereo pressing, with lovely richness and warmth, real space and wonderful immediacy throughout
  • Recorded live in 1968, this superb release pairs Evans’ unique piano improvisations with bandmates Eddie Gomez and Jack DeJohnette
  • 4 stars: “Evans, famous for a soft-spoken pianistic touch, seems driven to new vistas on this album. He experiments more with harmonic dissonance and striking rhythmical contrasts, making this his most extroverted playing since his freshman release, New Jazz Conceptions.”

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Bill Evans – At Town Hall, Vol. 1 – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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

STUNNING SOUND ON SIDE ONE! It is insanely difficult to find great sounding Bill Evans records, which is why you almost never see any of his albums up on our side. This copy has a side one that is nothing short of Demo Quality. It’s one of the better sounding sides of Piano Trio music we’ll find this year (along of course with the killer copies of The Three that hit the site). The best music on this album is found on the first side, so this is a very special pressing to say the least.

Side one is KILLER. Everything you could ask for from this music is here. You get real weight to the piano, tons of energy, incredible immediacy, real separation between the instruments and natural live imaging — you really get a sense of where each of the players is on the stage. The sound is cleaner and clearer than we heard elsewhere, with more extension up top and more weight down low. The bass sounds JUST RIGHT. Most copies we’ve played weren’t nearly this rich, warm and full-bodied. I don’t think you could find a better sounding side one no matter what you did. We gave it our top grade of A+++, any Bill Evans fan is going to be very impressed.

Side two was also very good but not quite as impressive. The sound is rich and full with a strong bottom, but it doesn’t have all the top extension of the first side. Most of the side is taken up by a 13 minute solo piano piece. The playing is nice, but even on the very best side twos the sound of this piece does not quite live up to what you get from the full trio. (more…)

Cannonball Adderley – Jump For Joy

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  • An incredible sounding copy – this early stereo pressing boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish 
  • We were knocked out by the Tubey Magical midrange of this killer original, with all the saxophone’s breath and bite you would expect to hear on an All Tube affair from 1958
  • This is precisely what is sure to be missing from whatever reissue has been made from the tapes (or, to be clear, a modern digital master copied from who-knows-what-tapes)
  • “Jump for Joy is Adderley’s reinterpretation of a Duke Ellington stage musical from 1941… Hearing Adderley’s often thrilling, always well-constructed alto sax improvisations over tunes like “I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good” is reason enough for the album to exist…”

With Bill Evans on piano no less! (more…)

Oliver Nelson – The Blues and the Abstract Truth

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  • Oliver Nelson’s masterpiece returns to the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • Clean, clear and present with a solid bass foundation, as well as the big stage this big group of musicians needs
  • If all you know is Van Gelder’s original cutting, you will surely have your eyes and ears opened by this wonderful Hot Stamper
  • Allmusic calls this album “…his triumph as a musician for the aspects of not only defining the sound of an era… but on this recording, assembling one of the most potent modern jazz sextets ever.” 5 Stars (of course)

The sound is tonally correct, Tubey Magical and above all natural. The timbre of each and every instrument is right and it doesn’t take a pair of golden ears to hear it. So high-resolution too. If you love ’50s and ’60s jazz you cannot go wrong here.

For those record lovers who still cling to the idea that the originals are better, this record will hopefully set you straight.

Yes, we can all agree that Rudy Van Gelder recorded it, brilliantly as a matter of fact. Shouldn’t he be the most natural choice to transfer the tape to disc, knowing, as we must assume he does, exactly what to fix and what to leave alone in the mix?

Maybe he should be; it’s a point worth arguing.

But ideas such as this are only of value once they have been tested empirically and found to be true. (more…)

Bennett & Evans – The Tony Bennett / Bill Evans Album – More Mistaken MoFi EQ

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Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked. 

That weird boost around 10k that Stan Ricker liked to add to practically every record he mastered wreaks havoc on the sound of Tony Bennett’s voice. I would be very surprised if the current in-print CD doesn’t sound more tonally natural, and for us audiophile record lovers – not lovers of audiophile records, but guys who love records with audiophile sound – that’s simply another nail in the coffin for one of the most laughably inept remastering labels in the history of that sad enterprise. (more…)

Bill Evans – California Here I Come

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California Here I Come

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  • This wonderful live double album boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it from start to finish 
  • You’d be hard-pressed to find a copy that’s this well balanced, yet big and lively, with such wonderful clarity in the mids and highs
  • Recorded live at Village Vanguard in New York City in August of 1967, this LP captures this stellar trio’s superb sound
  • 4 1/2 stars: “[Evans] trades introspection for upbeat on this entertaining live set featuring the propulsive drumming of ‘Philly’ Joe Jones and Evans’ new young bassist Eddie Gomez… This trio swings and sparkles through a varied song-list that includes show tunes, some jazz standards and a few originals.”

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Bill Evans – Montreux II

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

Both sides here have the kind of solid, full-bodied tonality that’s really crucial to making sense of this music. There’s plenty of space and ambience here as well! (more…)

Bill Evans – Everybody Digs Bill Evans

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

Everybody Digs Bill Evans is one of the better sounding Bill Evans records we’ve played lately. Both sides are Tubey Magical, rich, open, spacious and tonally correct.

These three guys — Sam Jones is on the bass and Philly Joe Jones on the drums — are playing live in the studio and you can really feel their presence on every track — assuming you have a copy that sounds like this one. (more…)

Miles Davis – Basic Miles – Our Four Plus Shootout Winner from 2018

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

We award this copy’s side two our very special Four Plus A++++ grade, which is strictly limited to pressings (really, individual sides of pressings) that take a recording to a level never experienced by us before, a level we had no idea even existed.

We estimate that less than one per cent of the Hot Stamper pressings we come across in our shootouts earn this grade. As I write this there is not a single other record on the site that earned that grade on either side. You can’t get much more rare than that.

Kind of Blue

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 it, on any record, at any price. 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…)