Top Artists – Sonny Rollins

Sonny Rollins – The Standard Sonny Rollins

More Sonny Rollins

The Standard Sonny Rollins

xxxxx

  • This superb original stereo pressing of The Standard Sonny Rollins from 1965 boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • Once again the brilliant engineering of Ray Hall for RCA conveys the vitality of live music for these sessions (which were undoubtedly recorded live)
  • Includes superstars like Herbie Hancock, Jim Hall, and Bob Cranshaw, who’ve lent their talents to some of the greatest jazz recordings of all time
  • Allmusic user rating: 4 stars – “Like The Sound Of Sonny some eight years ago, here’s another classic standard album from The Saxophone Colossus that will remain as bright and timeless as ever.”

This original stereo RCA pressing from 1965 has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock, and the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

Sonny Rollins and the Contemporary Leaders

More Sonny Rollins

More Sonny Rollins & the Contemporary Leaders

xxxxx

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

SUPERB SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! This Contemporary Green Label LP has THE BIG SOUND — rich and so full-bodied with amazing presence and immediacy. The bass is PERFECTION — deep, rock solid, and note-like. There’s lots of extension on the top end, letting Shelley Manne’s fantastic work on the cymbals really come to life. The clarity on this copy is superb — just listen to those leading edge transients on Sonny’s sax. The guitar has the tubey qualities that we love here at Better Records — it’s warm, rich, and sweet with lots of ambience. 

This copy has big time presence and immediacy that makes it seem as if this all-star quintet was swingin’ in your living room! Both sides have A++ sound — it’s transparent and dynamic with just the right amount of bite to the sax. I don’t think there’s anything you could do to this music to make it sound any better than this.

Sonny is backed here by a heavy-hitting lineup of Barney Kessel, Shelley Manne, LeRoy Vinnegar and Hampton Hawes — all favorites here at Better Records.

Sonny Rollins – Rollins Plays For Bird

More Sonny Rollins

More Rollins Plays For Bird

xxxxx

  • Stunning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it throughout – this is the first copy to hit site in many years and it is as good a pressing as we have ever heard
  • These Blue Label Prestige stereo pressings from the ’60s put everything else we played to shame – this is the Real Sound of Sonny Rollins at his peak in 1957
  • It’s beyond difficult to find good sound for the music of Charlie Parker, but this Sonny Rollins Hot Stamper LP gives you just that for some of Bird’s most famous tunes, backed with excellent performances from the likes of Kenny Dorham and Max Roach

This album is Rollins at his BEST. Allmusic gives it Four Stars and the Users rate it even higher, Four and a Half. The album released before this one was the legendary Saxophone Collossus, an album we would love to do a shootout for, but we have yet to hear any pressing sound good enough to pursue. (more…)

Sonny Rollins – Alternate Takes – It’s a Long Story

More Sonny Rollins

More Alternate Takes

xxxxx

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

An absolutely killer pressing of one of our favorite jazz albums! The album is comprised of alternate takes from the Way Out West and Sonny Rollins and the Contemporary Leaders sessions, and as such there is a bit of sonic variation between these tracks and the ones on the actual albums. The best-sounding songs here, particularly the material from Way Out West, sound amazing!  (more…)

Sonny Rollins – What’s New? from 1962

More Sonny Rollins

More What’s New?

xxxxx

  • Two insanely good sounding sides with each rating a shootout winning Triple Plus (A+++)
  • The sound here is vintage 1962 Living Stereo at its best – big, rich, relaxed, tonally correct and full of Tubey Magic
  • This copy is unusually quiet for a Black Label stereo original – it’s Mint Minus Minus with no audible marks of any kind 
  • 4 1/2 Stars: “Rollins’ characteristically huge tone, relentless harmonic and rhythmic inventiveness, and fierce solos were consistently impressive. Not only did he state the melody clearly and superbly, but his ideas and pacing were remarkable; no solo rambled and his phrases were lean, thick and furious.”

For us audiophiles both the sound and the music here are wonderful. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good 1962 All Tube Analog sound can be, this killer copy will do the trick. (more…)

Sonny Rollins Plus 4 – How on Earth Did This Pressing Get Approved?

More Sonny Rollins

More Plus 4

xxxxx

Plus 4 on Two Slabs of 45 RPM Analogue Productions Heavy Vinyl

Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame Heavy Vinyl Pressing

I cannot recall hearing a more ridiculously thick, opaque and unnatural sounding audiophile record than this, and I’ve heard a ton of them. 

As I noted in another commentary “Today’s audiophile seems to be making the same mistakes I was making as a budding audiophile more than thirty years ago. Heavy Vinyl, the 45 RPM 2 LP pressing, the Half-Speed Limited Edition — aren’t these all just the latest audiophile fads each with a track record more dismal than the next?” (more…)

Sonny Rollins – Alfie

More Sonny Rollins

More Alfie

xxxxx

  • This Sonny Rollins classic boasts killer Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • Though I’ve been playing this album for more than 25 years, for some reason this is only the third copy to ever hit the site 
  • A triumph for Rudy Van Gelder, a Top Impulse title, and as much a showcase for Oliver Nelson (+11) as it is for Sonny Rollins
  • 4 1/2 Stars: “Rollins attempts to capture the textures of life through his incisive and energetic playing, his coherent improvisations, and variations on musical themes.”

This album is on the TAS Superdisc list, which is probably what first alerted me to it. I know I was listening to this album 25 years ago, just from the memory of hearing it in the condo I used to live in. It sounded great back then and it sounds even better now! It may just be my personal favorite of all his work.

What makes this album so great? For starters, great players. Kenny Burrell is wonderful as always. Interestingly, I never realized that Roger Kellaway is the pianist on these sessions. I saw him live years ago with Benny Carter (who was 90 at the time) and he put on one of the most amazing performances at the piano I have ever seen. For some reason, he was never able to make it as a recording artist, but the guy is a genius at the keyboard.

Of course, any orchestration by Oliver Nelson is going to be top flight and this is no exception. Two of his records are Must Owns, in my book: Jimmy Smith’s Bashin’ and his own The Blues and the Abstract Truth. No jazz collection without them can be taken seriously. (more…)

The Awful Sound of the Heavy Vinyl Reissues Doug Sax Mastered in the ’90s

More Sonny Rollins

More Analogue Productions

xxxxx

Longstanding customers know that we have been relentlessly critical of most audiophile LPs for years, especially in the case of these Analogue Productions releases from back in the early ’90s. A well-known reviewer loved them, I hated them, and he and I haven’t seen eye to eye on much since.

Newflash!

Just dug up part of my old commentary discussing the faults with the orginal series that Doug Sax cut for Acoustic Sounds. Check it out!

In the listing for the OJC pressing of Way Out West we wrote:

Guaranteed better than any 33 rpm 180 gram version ever made, or your money back! (Of course I’m referring to a certain pressing from the early ’90s mastered by Doug Sax, which is a textbook example of murky, tubby, flabby sound. (Too many bad tubes in the chain? Who knows?)

This OJC version also has its problems, but at least the shortcomings of the OJC are tolerable. Who can sit through a pressing that’s so thick and lifeless it communicates none of the player’s love for the music? If you have midrangy bad transistor equipment, go with the 180 gram version (at twice the price). If you have good equipment, go with this one.

The following commentary comes from our catalog from the mid- to late-’90s, back when I could still find great jazz records like Alternate Takes. Note also that the AP records were in print at the time. (more…)