Top Artists – Jimmy Smith

Jimmy Smith – Back at the Chicken Shack

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  • Back at the Chicken Shack makes its Hot Stamper debut here with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on this New York label mono pressing
  • Joining Jimmy Smith is one of our favorite bluesy sax players, Stanley Turrentine – just play Kenny Burrell’s Midnight Blue to hear him at this best, and Burrell is especially good here too
  • Credit must go to Rudy Van Gelder once again for the huge space this superbly well-recorded quartet occupies
  • 5 stars: “Recorded in 1960 with Kenny Burrell on guitar, Donald Bailey on drums, and Turrentine, the group reaches the peak of funky soul jazz that all other challengers of the genre would have to live up to.”

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Jimmy Smith – Got My Mojo Workin’ – Reviewed in 2010

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Verve Stereo LP with RVG Stampers and very good sound. This album has that analog richness, warmth and smoothness that we prize so highly here at Better Records. Jimmy does some pop tunes, some Ellington and more on this one, which has a real funky feel to it, with Jimmy really getting into it and grunting along with the music in places.

This copy (especially on side one) was just plain bigger and richer and tubier, as well as more dynamic than the others we played. (more…)

Letter of the Week – Stanley Turrentine and Jimmy Smith

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom,  

About the only good thing I can say during the time of “COVID” is that I have been listening to a lot of music. Well today I ran my first shootout. I was listening to The Incredible Jimmy Smith, Back At The Chicken Shack.

First, I played the title track from side one on the LP I have had in my collection for about 5 years. I know every note and just love this record. Then, I played my Better Records copy, same track.

To anyone who does not understand what a hot stamper actually is, I feel sorry for you. Those folks are missing out.

First, the immediacy or the presence of the music on the disk I bought from you was an order of magnitude better than my library version. It was also just flat out louder.

Stanley Turrentine’s playing was alive in way I’ve never truly heard before. Jimmy Smith’s solo’s were absolutely stunning. As I said, I know every note and yet it was like a new listening experience.

I think about all the thousands of dollars people spend on gear but ultimately what’s the point if your source material is compromised ? I know I am preaching to the choir with you but I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate what you’ve figured out and made available to people like me.

Thanks so much and take care.

Art


Stanley Turrentine

Jimmy Smith

Jimmy Smith – Prayer Meetin’

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  • The wonderful Prayer Meetin’ makes its Hot Stamper debut here with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from first note to last
  • Rich, smooth and Tubey Magical, this pressing was simply more ALIVE and musically involving than the others we played
  • Turrentine is one of our favorite bluesy sax players – just play Kenny Burrell’s Midnight Blue to hear him at this best, and he is especially good here too
  • Credit must go to Rudy Van Gelder once again for the huge space this superbly well-recorded quartet occupies
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Prayer Meetin’ is a delight from start to finish. Forming a perfect closure to Smith’s trio of albums with Turrentine… The blues roots are obvious here, and the Smith-penned title track might even be called jazz-gospel…

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Jimmy Smith – Any Number Can Win – Reviewed in 2010

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

This is one of Rudy Van Gelder’s TRIUMPHS and one of the best Jimmy Smith album I’ve ever heard. All of side one and the last cut of side two sound STUNNING! This is dynamic, big speaker sound.

Lots of old Verve’s weren’t mastered right, but this one was. It’s as good as it gets — it’s right up there with Bashin’.

RVG did not record this entire album. Some songs are recorded by other engineers and don’t have the dynamic slam that his do but the best tracks are amazing. (more…)

Jimmy Smith & Wes Montgomery – The Dynamic Duo

More Jimmy Smith

More Wes Montgomery

More The Dynamic Duo

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  • KILLER Triple Plus (A+++) grades or very close to it on both sides, this is a wonderful vintage stereo pressing of a classic jazz collaboration from 1966
  • Big, rich and lively, thanks to Oliver Nelson’s arrangements (and RVG’s engineering), this big group of top players is having a blast and we think you will too
  • 5 stars: “The romping, aggressive big band charts [represent] Oliver Nelson at his best… The results are incendiary — a near-ideal meeting of yin and yang… They are an amazing pair, complementing each other, driving each other, using their bop and blues taproots to fuse together a sound.”

The sound of this Verve stereo pressing is tonally correct and 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 ’60s jazz you cannot go wrong here. (more…)

Jimmy Smith – Christmas Cookin’ (2008)

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

This HOT STAMPER copy of the swingingest Christmas record ever made has SWINGING SOUND to match. It’s relaxed and musical, with lovely 3D openness. 

Mostly gone is the dull, smeary blare of RVG’s horns, replaced by real leading edge transients and air going through brass, while mostly avoiding the grit and grain that all too often passes for detail. Good extension on both ends helps a lot. Harmonics up top keep the sound open and airy, and plenty of bottom end lets the solid rhythm section come through the mix like gangbusters. (more…)

Jimmy Smith – Bashin’ Is a Masterpiece

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

Bashin’ is back after a two and a half year hiatus, and it’s back with a vengence — both sides here are Super Hot, with some of the best sound we have ever heard for the album. In the past we’ve complained about “Rudy Van Gelder’s somewhat over the top echo-drenched brass”, but on a copy such as this there is nothing to complain about!

All that reverb on the brass sounds RIGHT. If you have a top quality front end (and the system that goes with it), this recording will be amazingly spacious, three-dimensional, transparent, dynamic, and open.

With a bit more weight and whomp down low this copy would have been competitive with the best we played. Everything above two hundred cycles is here!

Copies of this album are sometimes so SOUR or dull (or both) that they go right in the trade pile. Add to that the difficulty of finding copies that are scratch-free and not too noisy and you have one tough shootout. Inner Groove Distortion caused by the non-anti-skate-equipped turntables of the day is a chronic problem with vintage jazz records, and this title is typically no exception — except in this case! The record has no IGD and plays mostly Mint Minus, as quiet an original as we have ever heard. (more…)

Jimmy Smith – Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf

More Jimmy Smith

More Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf

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  • Excellent Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides and one of the better copies from our most recent shootout
  • If you dig Oliver’s Nelson’s swingin’ BIG BRASS as much as we do you are in for a treat with this stereo pressing
  • The best sides have the kind of analog richness, warmth, and smoothness that make listening to records so involving 
  • Slaughter On Tenth Avenue is the monster track leading off here, and it swings the way Walk on the Wild Side does – like crazy, man!

This is some of the BEST SOUND we have ever heard for any RVG recording of Jimmy Smith with arrangements by Oliver Nelson (Claus Ogerman also took on some of the arranging duties; his work with Antonio Carlos Jobim is superb in all respects). (more…)

Jimmy Smith – Hobo Flats

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More Hobo Flats

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  • Incredible Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from the first note to the last
  • Both sides are wonderfully big, rich and LIVELY, with boatloads of Tubey Magic and the kind of three-dimendional space that’s a hallmark of Bob Simpson’s engineering
  • “Smith bubbles and bounces through all of it at the B-3 while Nelson proceeds to fill every available corner with huge, sweeping orchestral washes and crescendos. The clear highlight, though, is the lead and title track, “Hobo Flats,” which moves at a languid but wonderfully funky pace and establishes a groove as wide as the Mississippi River.”

Both sides of this very special early stereo pressing are huge, rich, tubey and clear. As soon as the band got going we knew that this was absolutely the right sound for this music. There was practically nothing that could beat it, in any area of reproduction.

In the past we’ve complained about “echo-drenched brass” on some of these Oliver Nelson / Jimmy Smith collaborations, but on a killer copy such as this there is nothing to complain about. If you have a top quality front end (and the kind of system that goes with it), this recording will be amazingly spacious, three-dimensional, transparent, dynamic, and open. (more…)