Top Artists – Sonny Rollins

Sonny Rollins – The Bridge

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The Bridge

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  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this was one of the better copies we played in our recent shootout
  • The 1962 sound is wonderfully Tubey Magical, full-bodied and solid, the bass note-like and clear
  • The brilliant Ray Hall was able to engineer this Demo Disc quality recording using nothing but tubes back in 1962, and it’s glorious to hear that sound in 2019 on modern hi-rez equipment
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The interplay between Rollins and Jim Hall [on guitar] is consistently impressive, making this a near-classic and a very successful comeback.”

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

This pressing is super spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience. Talk about Tubey Magic, the liquidity of the sound here is positively uncanny. 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.

This IS the sound of Tubey Magic. No recordings will ever be made like this again, and no CD will ever capture what is in the grooves of this record. There is of course a CD of this album, but those of us who possess a working turntable and a good collection of vintage vinyl could care less.

The reproduction of the sax is just right — played good and loud it’s almost as if you’re hearing the real instrument and not just a recording. That’s why we call it a Hot Stamper – it has that sound! (more…)

Sonny Rollins – On Impulse

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On Impulse

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  • Superb Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish on this outstanding copy of Sonny’s Impulse! label debut
  • Some of the best Sonny Rollins sax sound we’ve heard – both sides are super big, full and lively with a huge bottom end
  • 4 stars: “This date is significant for the manner in which Rollins attacks five standards with a quartet that included pianist Ray Bryant, bassist Walter Booker and drummer Mickey Roker.”

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Sonny Rollins – Now’s The Time

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  • A superb sounding copy with Double Plus (A++) sound or better throughout
  • Both sides here are super rich, Tubey Magical and present with plenty of energy
  • Features performances by Rollins with Herbie Hancock, Thad Jones, Ron Carter, Bob Cranshaw and Roy McCurdy on several bebop tunes

This vintage RCA pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely 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 the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

Sonny Rollins & Coleman Hawkins – Sonny Meets Hawk

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  • With a Triple Plus (A+++) shootout winning side one and a Double Plus (A++) side two, this copy is practically as good as it gets
  • Exceptionally big, rich and Tubey Magical, here is the natural tonality that’s a hallmark of Living Stereo in 1963
  • Amazing music from two saxophone masters on one of the most exciting jazz records we’ve heard in some time
  • 4 stars: “Coleman Hawkins and Sonny Rollins each virtually defined the tenor saxophone for his respective generation. To hear the two of them interacting freely is a deliciously exciting experience. Hawkins is able to cut loose like never before. “

For us audiophiles both the sound and the music here are enchanting. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good 1963 All Tube Analog sound can be, this copy will do the trick. (more…)

Sonny Rollins – The Standard Sonny Rollins

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The Standard Sonny Rollins

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  • 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

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More Sonny Rollins & the Contemporary Leaders

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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

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More Rollins Plays For Bird

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  • 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

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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

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  • 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?

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More Plus 4

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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…)