Top Artists – Duke Ellington

Frank Sinatra / Duke Ellington – Francis A. & Edward K. – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

An amazing pressing of a superb recording, this White Hot Stamper really gets this music right!

Recorded one year after the remarkable Sinatra-Jobim record that we treasure here at Better Records, Sinatra takes the opportunity to work with one of the greatest bandleaders in the history of jazz, the Duke himself.

We had good luck with the stereo originals on the lovely Blue and Green Reprise labels — they can be as big, rich and warm as Sinatra’s legendary Capitol recordings when you find the right pressing, and that’s really saying something. (more…)

Duke Ellington – Newport Jazz Festival 1958 – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

If you are a fan, this record will be a thrill. If you’re unfamiliar with the Duke’s music, I can’t imagine a better introduction than this.

This LP also includes Gerry Mulligan’s only performance with the Ellington band. Paul Gonsalves’s saxophone performance is superb and worth the price of the album alone. The clarinet parts on Princess Blue are out of this world — Ellington at his best!

Duke Ellington – Ellington Indigos – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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Ellington Indigos

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

AMAZINGLY TUBEY MAGICAL SOUND for this album of romantic jazz ballads. We just finished a shootout for this album and this Six Eye pressing was the winner in a landslide. The overall sound is richer, wamer, and fuller than any other. The brass is breathy with the proper amount of bite; the trumpets sound particularly good. We played about ten copies of this album this week and didn’t hear any with the kind of life and energy on BOTH sides of this record. The transparency is amazing and you won’t believe all the DEPTH to the soundfield — you can really hear INTO the music. (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…)

Duke Ellington – Yale Concert

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More Yale Concert

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

There is some interesting mic placement going on with this recording. Some of the instruments seem to be off-mic, creating an unusual effect that has its charms.

Only one song was actually recorded live, Boola Boola. The rest of the material was taped in the studio and an audience dubbed in. (more…)

Duke Ellington & Johnny Hodges – Back to Back – A Classic Records Winner

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

As I recall this was one of the better sounding Classic titles from their Verve series, and the music is excellent. Finding a clean original is no mean feat as I’m sure you can imagine.

Duke Ellington – Piano In The Background

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Piano In The Background

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  • Two KILLER sides: Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the second 
  • Ellington was inspired on this date and clearly playing his heart out – eleven of the twelve tracks were recorded in one session (at Radio Recorders right here in L.A.)
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl for a vintage 360 stereo Columbia LP – this copy played well beyond our expectations, with Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus surfaces
  • “This 1961 trio recording, with his orchestra’s rhythm section of drummer Sam Woodyard and Aaron Bell, clearly unveils the maestro’s powerful touch, black-and-tan chords, and unstoppable swing, all often overshadowed in the work of his bigger bands.” – Amazon

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McCoy Tyner – Plays Ellington

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Plays Ellington

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  • Superb sound throughout with both sides earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades; exceptionally quiet vinyl too! 
  • With a lively and present piano, clarity, space and timbral accuracy, this is guaranteed to be one of the better sounding jazz records you’ve heard
  • Credit goes to Rudy Van Gelder once again for the huge space this superbly well-recorded ensemble occupies (the ensemble being a piano trio with two percussionists, but it works!)
  • 4 stars: “An interesting project that works quite well… This is an excellent outing that displays both Tyner’s debt to the jazz tradition and his increasingly original style.”

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Duke Ellington – Piano In The Background

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Piano In The Background

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  • This original Six Eye has a nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) side one and a seriously good Double Plus (A++) side two – exceptionally quiet vinyl too  
  • Full-bodied and warm, exactly the way you want your vintage analog to sound – the piano is surprisingly real here, solid and dynamic
  • Classic Records remastered the album in the 2000s, as has Speakers Corner, but if you think either one of those versions can hold a candle to the real thing from 1960, let us send you this record and disabuse you of that notion
  • 4 stars: “One of Ellington’s rarer studio sessions… Ellington’s solo abilities were always a bit underrated due to his brilliance in other areas, but this set shows just how modern he remained through the years as a player.”

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Duke Ellington – Ellington ’66

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Ellington ’66

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  • Insanely good shootout winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout and the first copy to ever hit the site!
  • This Grammy award winning title features Ellington performing some of the biggest pop hits of the day: Red Roses For a Blue Lady, I Want to Hold Your Hand, All My Loving, and more 

The album won a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Jazz Performance – Large Group or Soloist with Large Group. (more…)