Top Artists – Chet Baker

Gerry Mulligan Quartet – Reunion With Chet Baker

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  • This outstanding copy of Mulligan’s superb collaboration with Chet Baker boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • Remarkable Tubey Magical richness, as well as the kind of immediacy and transparency that few copies have – all qualities essential to reproducing both the trumpet and the baritone sax with exceptional fidelity
  • The sound of a vintage Pacific Jazz recording from 1957, on the rare stereo pressing no less, is really something to hear – you can be sure that no reissue can hold a candle to this LP
  • 4 stars: “The Gerry Mulligan Quartet of 1952-53 was one of the best-loved jazz groups of the decade and it made stars out of both the leader and trumpeter Chet Baker… the music is quite enjoyable and the interplay between the two horns is still special.”

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Chet Baker / Jim Hall / Hubert Laws – Studio Trieste

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  • This surprisingly good sounding collaboration finally arrives on the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
  • Three-dimensional space and ambience, with Tubey Magic by the boatload – guaranteed to be one of the better sounding Chet Baker albums you’ve heard, and probably the best of his later period
  • Another triumph for Rudy Van Gelder and his “live-in-the-studio” jazz sound – like most of his recordings (at least those from the ’60s on), this album still sounds fresh today, even after 38 years
  • 4 stars: “For what would be his final CTI date, he was matched with guitarist Jim Hall, flutist Hubert Laws and a fine rhythm section for two jazz standards… Throughout, Sebesky’s charts favorably showcase Baker’s lyrical trumpet, making this a recommended LP…”

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Picture Of Heath – Pure Pleasure Reviewed and Found Wanting

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Sonic Grade: D

Remastered from the original analogue master tapes (or say they would have you believe) by that notorious hack Ron McMaster at Capitol Studios, this pressing is dramatically flatter and less musical than any original pressing (or Japanese pressing!) that we have ever played. The CD may very well be better.

Check out our Heavy Vinyl Scorecard to read all about the latest winners and losers.

Since we here at Better Records never tire of beating long-dead horses, let’s lay into a couple of our favorites: Heavy Vinyl reissues and CDs. When we play these “Shadows of the Real Thing”, so lacking in life and the analog magic of the best pressings, the one thing we can say about them consistently is that they’re a drag. They’re just no fun. They don’t give you the thrill this wonderful music is supposed to give you — can give you and does give you — if you have the right vinyl pressing. 

Jack Sheldon – Jack Sheldon And His All-Star Band Comes with Many Covers

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If you like the sound of relaxed, tube-mastered jazz — and what red-blooded audiophile doesn’t — you can’t do much better than Jack Sheldon And His All-Star Band. The warmth and immediacy of the sound here are guaranteed to blow practically any Big Band record you own right out of the water.

This is a wonderful example of the kind of record that makes record collecting FUN.

If you large group swinging West Coast Jazz is your thing — think Art Pepper Plus Eleven — you should get a big kick out of this one.

Both sides of this very special 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. (more…)

Chet Baker – It Could Happen To You – Reviewed in 2010

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This is a very nice looking RARE original Riverside LP. Side one has good sound but side two really shows you how WONDERFUL this record is. The sound on side two is rich, full and transparent, with lots of tubey magic. Hard to imagine it could get much better. 

Chet Baker – She Was Too Good To Me

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame

We guarantee you have never heard this album — or any later Chet Baker album — sound as good as this one does.

There’s so much life in these grooves. The sound jumps out of the speakers right into your lap. This kind of warm, rich, Tubey Magical analog sound is gone forever. You have to go back to 1974 to find it!

The early ’70s were a good time for Van Gelder, the engineer for these sessions. Grover Washington Jr.’s All the King’s Horses from 1973 is an amazing Demo Disc for large group. We could easily name-check a dozen others on CTI recorded by RVG that we’ve done shootouts for. 

But any album only sounds good on the copies that it sounds good on, on the pressings that were mastered, pressed and cleaned right, a fact that seems to have eluded most jazz vinyl aficionados interested in good sound but axiomatic (if not tautological) here at Better Records.

The extended song structures, ranging from four to seven minutes in length, leave plenty of room for the band to stretch out.

And of course Chet sings the title track beautifully. (more…)

Chet Baker – Chet

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame

Chet is one of the best sounding Chet Baker records we’ve ever played, although that’s not saying much because finding good Chet Baker records is like finding hen’s teeth these days. The albums he did for Pacific Jazz in the ’50s can be wonderful but few have survived in audiophile playing condition. The Mariachi Brass albums are as awful as everyone says — we know, we’ve played them too. The album he recorded for CTI in 1974, She Was Too Good To M, is excellent and will be coming to the site again soon I hope.

We’ve never heard the record sound better than in our most recent shootout, and that’s coming from someone who’s been playing the album since it was first reissued in the ’80s.

These guys are playing live in the studio and you can really feel their presence on every track — assuming you have a copy that sounds like this one. (more…)

Chet Baker – You Can’t Go Home Again

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  • With a nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) side one and a seriously good Double Plus (A++) side two, this copy will be very hard to beat – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • If you like the kind of music Grover Washington was making around the time of Mister Magic, this is the album for you 
  • This kind of funky Soul Jazz is not for everyone but Chet is such a great player he makes it work
  • “…one of Baker’s most important latter-day albums.” — Allmusic

Top players as you can see from the list below.

This copy on side two was simply more clear, bigger, richer and more natural than any other. Side one was excellent as well — very rich and full-bodied — but lacked a bit of the size that made side one stand out from the crowd of copies we played. (more…)

Chet Baker & Art Pepper – Playboys – Our Shootout Winner from 2015

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame

Side one is White Hot, side two nearly so, and both contain swingin’ West Coast Jazz from 1956. These 1983 reissues on Boplicity are dynamic and lively, perfectly suited to the energy of the music. The 1956 All Tube mono recording here has this Hot/Cool jazz sounding the way it should.

The 1983 version we are offering here says stereo on the label, but the sound is pure mono, a good reason not to trust labels!  (more…)

Chet Baker, Art Pepper, Phil Urso – Picture Of Heath – A Killer Copy from 2005

More Chet Baker / More Art Pepper

More Picture Of Heath

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame

This is an exceptionally nice original Pacific Jazz Black Label Mono LP with SUPERB SOUND. Pure Pleasure just did a 180g reissue of this album, but the real thing is THE REAL THING! This copy has the PRESENCE, the DYNAMICS and the LIFE of real jazz. I can’t think of a more fun west coast jazz session that sounds as good outside of the best Contemporary records. This one gets a top recommendation.