— Top Arrangers / Artists – Gil Evans

Gil Evans Orchestra / Out Of The Cool – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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This is an incredibly well-recorded big band jazz album from 1961 with excellent music, and a Hot Stamper pressing like this one gives you WONDERFUL SOUND. We’ve been collecting these for ages trying to get this shootout going, but it’s difficult to find copies that sound like this. We went through a ton of expensive copies and only found a few that were fit to list on the site. This one fared very well, earning an A++ for side one and an A+ on side two.

Big band jazz records are almost always difficult to record and master properly. We’ve struggled through a number of shootouts for large jazz groups and found that most of them time, it’s just not worth the trouble. This album is an entirely different story, however. These guys did a great job of capturing all the various instruments and giving them their own sense of space. Peek inside the gatefold cover and you’ll find a key to where each player and microphone was located. On a copy as transparent and open-sounding as this one, you can really get a sense of how everything unfolds, and it’s easy to picture the studio setup as the music plays.

Side one has big punchy bass, loads of tubey magic, amazing transparency and lots of space and openness. There’s real depth to the instruments and space around the players, so it’s easy to make sense of everything that happens. The clarity is wonderful as well, and you can clearly hear the transients to the horns. We gave side one an A++.

Side two, at A+, has some of that tubey quality but doesn’t have all side one’s clarity and spaciousness. (more…)

Miles Davis – Basic Miles

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  • Demo Disc Jazz sound for this wonderful collection, with both sides earning outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades
  • Opening side two, the 9 plus minutes of On Green Dolphin Street has some of the coolest jazz you will ever hear, on any record, at any price
  • If you want to know what the better copies of Kind of Blue sound like, this pressing will tell you, because it has that sound
  • And that means it is absolutely NOTHING like the MoFi 45 RPM 2 LP pressing that some audiophiles (and the reviewers who cater to them) seem to like so much
  • We’re talking Bill Evans, John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley in their prime, 1958, with top 1958 sound to match

*NOTE: On side two, a mark makes light to moderate repeating pops on the first 20 seconds of Track 1, On Green Dolphin Street.

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.

That means Stella By Starlight and Little Melonae on side one, and Green Dolphin Street and Fran-Dance (Put Your Little Foot Right Out) on side two. We’re talking Bill Evans, John Coltrane, and Cannonball Adderley in their prime, 1958, with top 1958 sound to match.

The nine-minute plus Green Dolphin Street that opens side two is nothing short of amazing, some of the coolest jazz you will ever hear. With Fran Dance on the same side, that gives you about 17 minutes of great-sounding jazz by Miles’ classic Kind of Blue lineup.

Side one has the same cats playing for more than 12 minutes. By my calculation, that’s close to another album’s worth of material from the group. The rest of the material on this compilation is best seen as gravy; maybe not essential, but never less than interesting. (more…)

Miles Davis – Quiet Nights

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  • You’ll find excellent Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this oh-so-spacious Miles Davis-Gil Evans classic
  • Fred Plaut engineered the sessions, and on this amazing early pressing the sound is rich, warm, smooth and clear
  • This copy plays about as quiet as we can find these early pressings, Mint Minus Minus throughout
  • In the Saturday Review, Quiet Nights received praise for Davis’ “wonderfully songful trumpet in a Latin-American vein”, set against “piercingly lustrous curtains of tone and discreet Caribbean rhythms.”

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Astrud Gilberto – Look To The Rainbow

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  • An outstanding copy with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from first note to last
  • This kind of spacious, warm, rich, Tubey Magical analog sound is gone forever – you have to go back to 1966 to find it
  • Creed Taylor (the CTI man) produced, Gil Evans did most of the arrangements, Rudy Van Gelder and Val Valentin engineered – what’s not to like?
  • 4 1/2 stars: “This was a beautiful bossa nova record of Astrud Gilberto’s vocal stylings…”

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Miles Davis – Sketches of Spain

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  • This outstanding Columbia 360 Stereo pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • The good copies capture the realistic sound of Davis’s horn, the body, the breath and the bite (and not a little of the squawk as well)
  • Balanced, clear and undistorted, this 30th Street recording shows just how good Columbia’s engineers were back then
  • A couple of marks play, so this copy is being offered at a much lower price than it otherwise would have been for those of you who can tolerate the pops
  • 5 stars: “Sketches of Spain is the most luxuriant and stridently romantic recording Davis ever made. To listen to it in the 21st century is still a spine-tingling experience…”

*NOTE: On side two, two marks make 24 moderate pops one-quarter inch from the end of Track 2, Saeta, and 15 moderate pops one-quarter inch into Track 3, Solea.

On the best pressings of this masterpiece, the sound is truly magical. (AMG has that dead right in their review.) It is lively but never strained. Davis’s horn has breath and bite, just like the real thing. What more can you ask for? (more…)

Kenny Burrell with Gil Evans – Guitar Forms

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  • A superb sounding original stereo pressing with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • Gil Evans wrote the superb orchestral arrangements and Rudy Van Gelder captured them on lovely analog tape – what’s not to like? 
  • We’ve really been digging these Creed Taylor productions for years now – it may not be serious jazz, but it’s no less interesting and captivating for it
  • “His landmark 1965 collaboration with Gil Evans, Guitar Forms rivals anything the arranger did with Miles Davis. Indeed, the track “Lotus Land” has a bolero form very reminiscent of Sketches of Spain. Throughout, Burrell takes thoughtful, concise, and utterly musical solos, and even switches to acoustic classical guitar on “Prelude #2” and “Loie.””

For us audiophiles both the sound and the music here are wonderful. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good 1965 All Tube Analog sound can be, this killer copy will do the trick. (more…)

Miles Davis – Miles Ahead in Glorious 1957 Mono

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  • Miles Ahead finally arrives on the site with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout – exceptionally clean condition too
  • A nearly impossible record to find in this condition, it’s the quietest, best sounding copy by far we have ever played
  • This album forged the dynamic collaboration between Davis and Gil Evans that eventually led to Porgy and Bess and Sketches of Spain
  • 5 stars: ” Evans’ arrangements in particular are well-suited to the format, and he and Davis formed a deep and close partnership where ideas were swapped back and forth, nurtured, and developed long before they were expressed in the studio… an album that gave a hint of the greatness that would come as Evans and Davis fine-tuned their partnership over the course of the next several years.”

Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in clean shape. Most of them will have at least some amount of ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG, and it will probably be VG+. If you are picky about your covers please let us know in advance so that we can be sure we have a nice cover for you.


Quick Notes for Side One

Track three is super dynamic, horns have bite and body, textured and lively, tons of space!

Quick Notes for Side Two

The first three tracks are big, solid and open, with great space, tubey and musical.

That’s hitting all the right notes in our book. (more…)

Miles Davis – Sketches of Spain – Mono Shootout Winner in 2008

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

This Mono Six Eye Columbia original pressing is the WINNER and [not-at-all] CURRENT CHAMPION of our Sketches of Spain shootouts. This record always sounded so thin and aggressive, with Miles’ horn always somewhat pinched and sour, but now it sounds wonderful. Who knew this record could sound so good?

Harry Pearson put this record on his TAS List of Super Discs.

Let’s talk about this mono copy. It is clearly more transparent, with less distortion, than any other copy we heard (and this means out of more than twenty!) There may be better sounding pressings out there, but I would be surprised to find one that would be more than a marginal improvement over what I’m hearing on this copy — and that goes for both sides. (more…)

Miles Davis – Sketches of Spain – Our Shootout Winner in 2016

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

The first White Hot copy to hit the site in nearly EIGHT years! Both sides were stunning, knocking us out and earning our top Triple Plus (A+++) grade.

When you get a Hot Stamper like this one the sound is truly MAGICAL. (AMG has that dead right in their review.) Tons of ambience, tubey magic all over the place; let’s face it, this is one of those famous Columbia recordings that shows just how good the Columbia engineers were back then. The sound is lively but never strained. Davis’s horn has breath and bite just like the real thing. What more can you ask for?

Harry Pearson added this record to his TAS List of Super Discs a few years back, not exactly a tough call it seems to us. Who can’t hear that this is an amazing sounding recording?

Of course you can be quite sure that he would have been listening exclusively to the earliest pressings on the Six Eye label. Which simply means that he probably never heard a copy with the clarity, transparency and freedom from distortion that these later label pressings offer.

The Six Eyes are full of Tubey Magic, don’t get me wrong; Davis’s trumpet can be and usually is wonderful sounding. It’s everything else that tends to suffer, especially the strings, which are shrill and smeary on most copies: Six Eyes, 360s and Red Labels included. (more…)

Miles Davis – Birth of the Cool

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Birth of the Cool

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  • An incredible pressing of this Groundbreaking Jazz Classic, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and Double Plus (A++) on the second
  • This vintage mono pressing will show you just how well-recorded these 1949-50 sessions were 
  • It’s the records they made from these tapes (more often from the dubs of them) that have given everybody the wrong idea about these wonderful sounding recordings
  • 5 stars: “So dubbed because these three sessions are where the sound known as cool jazz essentially formed, Birth of the Cool remains one of the defining, pivotal moments in jazz. This is where the elasticity of bop was married with skillful, big-band arrangements and a relaxed, subdued mood that made it all seem easy, even at its most intricate.”

NOTE: This is not the quietest copy we’ve ever heard, so we’re keeping the price down. If you want to hear how amazing the album can sound and can put up with less than-ideal surfaces, this is the copy to get.

If for any reason you are not happy with the sound or condition of the album we are of course happy to take it back for a full refund, including the domestic return postage.


We’ve been trying to find copies of this classic music from 1949-1950 that really delivered the audiophile goods, but it took us years to track down the right pressings from the right era with the right stampers. We went through Monos, Stereos, Originals, Reissues of every kind… basically everything we could get our hands on.

It sure wasn’t easy and it sure wasn’t cheap, but after about ten years of digging we’re pretty sure we’ve got The Birth of the Cool’s number. This copy is proof positive. We guarantee you have never heard a version of this music that sounds remotely as good as this very record. (more…)