Top Artists – Miles Davis

Avoid Making this Rookie Record Collecting Mistake

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Record Shopping Day Video!

Not sure how much of this video you can stand — nothing could interest me less than a couple of audiophile / vinyl enthusiasts spouting off on what they think about some random records sitting in a local store’s bins — but one or two bits caught my eye. I thought it might possibly be of service to share them with you.

Is there any value to the comments of these two collectors? If you care about what music they like, perhaps.  Anything about what to look for on the label or jacket that might correspond to better sound?  If it’s there I sure didn’t see it, but I admit to speeding through most of it so I can’t say for sure.

The first bit I refer to above is at 18:42.  The album in question is the legendary Kind of Blue. At this point the unseen helmet-cammed audiophile picks up the record, recognizes the original cover, and proceeds to pull the record out to see what era the pressing is from.

Drat! The disappointment in this audiophile’s voice is palpable as he drops the record back in the bin with his dismissive comment that  “it’s a later pressing.”

But we here at Better Records would be falling all over ourselves to get our hands on that later pressing. Those late pressings can and often do win shootouts. We would never look down our noses at a Red Label Columbia jazz LP, and neither should you.

Our intrepid audiophile explorer does much the same thing about 23 minutes in. It seems pretty clear to us that he has no respect for such reissues, another example of one of the most common myths in record collecting land, the myth that the  original pressing is always, or to be fair, usually better. (more…)

Miles Davis – Nefertiti

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

This Columbia 360 Label pressing has excellent sound on both sides and unusually quiet vinyl throughout. The music is wonderful too — Miles and his late ’60s quintet featuring Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Tony Williams are all in top form here, slowly working their way towards the electric fusion sounds that would be coming shortly. Many copies lack the kind of transparency and clarity you need to make sense of what each player is doing, but this Super Hot pressing gives you those qualities on both sides. (more…)

Miles Davis – Thelonious Monk – Miles & Monk at Newport

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

This Columbia 360 LP has EXCEPTIONALLY GOOD LIVE JAZZ SOUND, but only on the Monk side. It sounds, to my mind, probably as good as this record can sound. It’s very rich and full-bodied with a very strong bottom end. The energy and presence are WONDERFUL! Monk’s piano has real weight and the brass sounds just right. We played this against a few other copies and none of them came close. We give side two an A++ — I don’t think you can find one that sounds any better.

Of special note is the excellent work of Frankie Dunlap on drums, and of course Charlie Rouse is always interesting. Add to those top players somone you wouldn’t normally associate with Monk — Pee Wee Russell on clarinet, here proving that he’s every bit the bop jazz musician that these other guys are.

The Miles side sounds like what you’d expect from an old jazz concert recording — somewhat thin, flat, and lifeless. We didn’t give it a grade, and we’ve never heard one that sounded very good. I just don’t think Hot Stampers for the Miles side are in the cards.  (more…)

Miles Davis – Kind of Blue – Our First Hot Stamper – June 2005

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

This Columbia Red Label LP has DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND!

Call me crazy, but I DON’T THINK YOU CAN CUT A BETTER SOUNDING KIND OF BLUE THAN THIS ONE!

I’m fully aware of how outrageous a statement that is, considering the fact that this is a ’70s Red Label reissue. But I’ve long known of amazing sounding Kind Of Blue reissues.

Having played dozens of different pressings of this record over the years, I think I know this recording about as well as anyone. The tube mastered original Six Eye Stereo copies have wonderful, lush, sweet sound. I’ve heard many of them. The 360s from the ’60s often split the difference — less tubey magical, but cleaner and more correct. (more…)

Miles Davis – In A Silent Way – Our Shootout Winner from 2016

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

Sit down with this record, draw the blinds, and you’ll hear why AMG gave it 5 Stars. Perhaps it’s the extended solos from John McLaughlin, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock Wayne Shorter, and Davis himself. Perhaps it’s the slippery, spiraling nature of these signature jazz fusion epic pieces. Perhaps it’s the grooves that Tony Williams and Dave Holland spin, slowly at first, building later in each of the LP’s mesmerizing tracks.

This is one of the most important jazz-fusion records of all time and it sounds AMAZING on this pressing. Hearing music this important on a killer pressing is a treat to say the least! You can turn this one up good and loud and really immerse yourself in the sound.

We could talk about this music all day, but if you’re in the market for a Super Hot Stamper pressing I’m guessing it’s safe to assume you already know how good this album is. It’s worth mentioning how much more we appreciate this music after hearing it on Hot Stamper copies. If you’re stuck with a weak pressing, you’re missing a lot of magic. When you get a copy with real transparency and clarity there are numerous small details and subtle textures revealed in the mix that basically don’t exist on the standard LP. A copy like this lets you hear it all.

Superb transparency, amazing presence and immediacy, complete freedom from any kind of phony, hyped-up sound — you’re not going to find one like this lying around in the bins, that’s for sure. This album never comes cheap, is very rarely clean, and you need a pretty good sized stack to have a realistic chance on finding one with sound like this. If you’re up for the challenge, more power to you, but it’s probably a lot easier to let us tackle the hard work of unearthing the truly magical copies that are still to be found like this one. (more…)

Miles Davis – Seven Steps to Heaven

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

This Original Miles Davis record has DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND! Columbia jazz records from this period are some of the best sounding jazz records ever made, and this is a perfect example of what is right with their recordings. The sound is rich, full, sweet, tonally right on the money, and lively as can be. 

This is an interesting album because half of it is recorded in Hollywood and half of it in New York, with the songs in each location interpersed on the sides. Victor Feldman handles the piano duties in California; Herbie Hancock in New York. I actually prefer Victor Feldman’s playing on this record. We don’t get to hear his piano work often — he’s really quite good. (Cal Tjader started out on the drums but it’s tough to find records with him drumming.)

Anyway, one of the thoughts that occurred to me when I was playing this record is this: Why is there no audiophile reissue on any label that sounds like this? There’s something about the sound of these old records, these original pressings, that’s impossible to recapture with modern equipment. It may not be impossible, but until somebody manages to do it, it might as well be.

When you drop the needle at the beginning of side one and hear Miles’ muted trumpet come jumping out of your speakers, I guarantee you will be amazed or your money back!

Miles Davis – E.S.P.

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  • This pressing boasts insanely good Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides, a huge step up from most copies
  • There’s plenty of 1965 Columbia 360 Label Tubey Magic in Stereo – the analog sound is real, tonally correct, and above all, natural
  • Miles fronts his second classic quintet here – saxophonist Wayne Shorter, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Tony Williams
  • “They created a unique sound that came to define the very sound of modern jazz … ESP remains one of their very best albums.” — 4 1/2 stars

This Columbia 360 Label pressing is one of the better copies of E.S.P. we’ve  heard.

It’s richer and fuller, with more ambience, and the trumpet and piano are just amazing sounding. You’re going to have a fairly tough time finding a copy that is anywhere near as impressive as this one. Trust me — we know whereof we speak. We’re always trying and all too often coming up short. Not here though!  (more…)

Miles Davis – Basic Miles

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  • Insanely good Classic Jazz sound for this wonderful Miles Davis collection, with both sides rating Triple Plus (A+++) 
  • The nine minute plus Green Dolphin Street that opens side two has some of the coolest jazz you will ever hear, on any record, at any price
  • If you want to know what the best copies of Kind of Blue sound like, this pressing will tell you, because it has that sound
  • We’re talking Bill Evans, John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley in their prime, 1958, with top 1958 sound to match

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. (more…)

Miles Davis and Gil Evans – Porgy and Bess

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  • Outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – you will have a very hard time finding a better Porgy and Bess
  • This 30th Street recording shows just how good Columbia’s legendary engineers were back then
  • If you’re looking for a stunningly natural, lifelike large group jazz recording, you can’t do much better than this album 
  • 5 stars: “The musical and social impact of Miles Davis, his collaborative efforts with Gil Evans, and in particular their reinvention of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess are indeed profound… It was Evans’ intimate knowledge of the composition that allowed him to so definitively capture the essence… No collection of American jazz can be deemed complete without this recording…” 

The music is a classic example of the partnership between Davis and arranger Gil Evans, and a must-own for serious jazz fans. Those of you who have marveled at the sound of our Hot Stamper copies of Sketches Of Spain are sure to get a lot out of this one. (more…)

Miles Davis – Green Haze (‘The Musings of Miles’ and ‘Miles’)

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  • A superb sounding Mono pressing with Double Plus (A++) sound or better on all four sides; mostly quiet vinyl too
  • The sound is spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience – talk about Tubey Magic, the liquidity of the sound here is positively uncanny
  • This Prestige Two-Fer simply combines two complete Miles Davis titles recorded by Rudy Van Gelder in 1955 – ‘The Musings of Miles’ and ‘Miles’
  • “… it is for the excellent rhythm sections and the playing of Miles Davis that this two-fer is highly recommended.” – All Music

This is vintage analog at its best, so full-bodied and relaxed you’ll wonder how it ever came to be that anyone seriously contemplated trying to improve it. (more…)