Top Artists – Bill Evans

Bill Evans – The Bill Evans Album

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  • Evans’ superb 1971 release makes its Hot Stamper debut here with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • An outstanding later recording for Bill Evans, superior to many of the albums he made around this time – it’s rich, smooth and Tubey Magical, with an especially musical quality, hence the solid grades
  • Balanced, clear and undistorted, this 30th Street recording shows just how good Columbia’s engineers were back then, even as late as 1971
  • 4 stars: “Although not as distinctive on the electric keyboard as he was on its acoustic counterpart, Evans sounds inspired by its possibilities and is heard in top creative form throughout the date.”

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Bill Evans – Quintessence

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  • Outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound can be found on both sides of this wonderful Bill Evans album, a Better Records favorite since we first heard it some years ago
  • Evans is joined by an all-star lineup of Harold Land, Kenny Burrell, Ray Brown and the great Philly Joe Jones
  • Sonic highlights include a breathy, full sax; a big, solid piano; well-defined acoustic bass; and guitar tone that’s tubey and warm
  • “Most of pianist Bill Evans’ recordings were in a trio format, making this quintet date a nice change of pace… the results are quite tasteful and explorative in a subtle way.”

There aren’t too many ’70s jazz records that sound like this. The music is wonderful as well, and Evans is joined by an all-star lineup of Harold Land, Kenny Burrell, Ray Brown and the great Philly Joe Jones.

We were shocked to hear how good this album can sound on the right pressing. It has that natural, realistic feel that you get on the best Contemporary recordings. We don’t know what more you could do to make this music sound any better than it does on our best copies.

The sax is breathy and full, the piano is big and solid, the acoustic bass is well-defined with real weight and the guitar tone is tubey and warm. Hard to imagine that there are too many audiophiles with a substantial number of jazz records in their collection that sound as good as this (our own Hot Stampers excluded of course)! (more…)

Bill Evans – You Must Believe In Spring

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  • This outstanding copy of Bill Evans’ posthumous release boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl for this title too
  • Both sides here are lively, dynamic and full-bodied – there’s real weight to the piano, always critically important on the piano recordings we play
  • An exceptionally well-recorded album, especially the piano, thanks to Al Schmitt
  • 4 stars: “This well-rounded set (released posthumously) features the highly influential pianist Bill Evans in a set of typically sensitive trio performances… It’s a solid example of the great pianist’s artistry.”

This relaxed piano trio outing has been one of our favorite Bill Evans releases for close to a decade, in no small part because the best copies have the potential for truly Demo Disc sound. This is one of those, and it demonstrates more than anything else how natural, balanced and real the sound of a good piano trio recording can be.

Most copies of this album lack the energy and drive to keep the music from getting sleepy, but both sides here are lively, dynamic and full-bodied. There’s real weight to the piano, always critically important on the piano recordings we play.

This is the last album Bill Evans made before he died. His playing is emotional and powerful, and the other members of the trio provide fine support. (more…)

Bill Evans – At Town Hall, Volume 1

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  • This superb Piano Trio recording has KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it throughout
  • Both sides are doing just about everything right — 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
  • “This LP is a superior effort by Bill Evans and his trio in early 1966… The most memorable piece is the 13-and-a-half-minute “Solo: In Memory of His Father,” an extensive unaccompanied exploration by Evans that partly uses a theme that became “Turn Out the Stars.” – All Music, 4 Stars

It is insanely difficult to find great sounding Bill Evans records. This copy has two sides that are nothing short of Demo Quality. It’s one of the better sounding Piano Trio records we’ll find this year (along of course with any killer copies of The Three that hit the site).

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 copy no matter what you did. (more…)

Bill Evans – Montreux II

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  • This epic live jazz recording finally returns to the site with two excellent Double Plus (A++) sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • A killer pressing, with a very strong bottom end, lovely richness and warmth, real space and separation between the instruments and wonderful immediacy throughout
  • Recorded at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, this 1970 release showcases Evans stylings alongside the brilliant talents of Eddie Gomez and Marty Morell
  • “Bill Evans’ second recording at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1970 was a highly anticipated concert, finding the pianist in peak form, accompanied by bassist Eddie Gómez and drummer Marty Morell.”

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Bill Evans – Symbiosis – A Very Good MPS Pressing

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  • Evans’ wonderful 1974 album accompanied by symphony orchestra makes its Hot Stamper debut here with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • We dropped the needle on a copy years ago and heard wonderful audiophile sound right from the get-go
  • Bigger, richer, more Tubey Magical, with more extension on both ends of the spectrum and more depth, width and height than any other other copy we played
  • “… a special and unique entry in Evans’ hugh catalog… Not your “typical” Bill Evans album–but that’s what makes SYMBIOSIS such a fine, gently challenging listen.”

On the best copies the strings have wonderful texture and sheen. If your system isn’t up to it (or you have a copy with a problem in this area), the strings might sound a little shrill and possibly grainy as well, but I’m here to tell you that the sound on the best copies is just fine with respect to string tone and timbre. You will need to look elsewhere for the problem. (more…)

Oliver Nelson and RVG – Mastering Better than the Master?

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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 pressing 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.

We tested this very proposition in our recent shootout, as well as in previous ones of course. It is our contention, based on the experience of hearing quite a number of copies over the years, that Rudy did not cut the original record as well as he should have. For those of you who would like to know who did, we proudly offer this copy to make the case.

Three words say it all: Hearing is believing.

(And if you own any modern Heavy Vinyl reissue we would love for you to be able to appreciate all the musical information that you’ve been missing when playing it. I remember the one from the ’90s on Impulse being nothing special, and the Speakers Corner pressing in the 2000s if memory serves was passable at best.) (more…)

Miles Davis – Jazz Track

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  • Davis’ superb 1959 release arrives on the site with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • Davis partners here with jazz greats, including John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Cannonball Adderley and others
  • “… it should become clear why ‘Jazz Track’ is a vital Miles album as well as a testimony to the importance of the movies to jazz–as a medium for improvised soundtracks and, more importantly, as a source of theme music potentially as rich as the music of Broadway…”
  • “It’s doubtful that “On Green Dolphin Street” and “Stella by Starlight” would have caught on without Bill [Evans’] artistry (which is not to take anything away from Red [Garland], whose ballads simply lacked the intricate, delicately shaded beauty of Bill’s pensive voicings on the slow ballads).”

We had a number of original pressings on hand, some costing a pretty penny, but this is the only one that did not have serious scratches or inner groove damage. The vinyl is not quiet, but the tics stay mainly underneath the music. If for any reason you are not happy with the sound or condition of the album we are of course happy to take it back for a full refund, including the domestic return postage.


The nine minute plus long Green Dolphin Street that opens side two is nothing short of amazing, some of the coolest jazz you will ever hear, on any record, at any price. With Stella by Starlight and Fran Dance on the same side, that gives you about 20 minutes of great sounding jazz by Miles’ classic Kind of Blue lineup. (more…)

Bill Evans – Conception

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  • With Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on three sides and an actual Triple Plus (A+++) side one, this copy is close to the BEST we have ever heard, right up there with our Shootout Winner
  • You’d be hard-pressed to find a copy that’s this well balanced, big and lively, with wonderful clarity in the mids and highs
  • 4 stars: “Even in 1956, Evans had his own chord voicings and a lyrical yet swinging style… A strong start to a significant career.”
  • “In addition, there is a full album of previously unreleased music: an alternate take of “No Cover, No Minimum,” an unaccompanied version of “Some Other Time” from 1958 and four solo pieces that Evans cut in 1962, his first recordings after the tragic death of his bassist Scott LaFaro.”

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Oliver Nelson – More Blues and the Abstract Truth

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  • Nelson’s 1965 release makes its Hot Stamper debut with stunning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – if you want to hear the Tubey Magic, size and energy of this wonderful album, a vintage pressing like this one is the only way to hear it
  • 4 stars: “… there are some strong moments from such all-stars as trumpeter Thad Jones, altoist Phil Woods, baritonist Pepper Adams, pianist Roger Kellaway and guest tenor Ben Webster (who is on two songs). The emphasis is on blues-based pieces and there are some strong moments even if the date falls short of its predecessor.” 

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