Top Artists – Gabor Szabo

Gabor Szabo – Blowin’ Some Old Smoke – Our Shootout Winner from 2006

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

This Buddah Records LP has got the energy and presence that were missing in action from the other copies we played. The sound is richer and sweeter than we’ve heard before for this fun compilation. You may find better sound on the best originals, but here’s a great way to get some of the best tracks in one place, with better than average sound. It’s quite difficult to find Szabo’s albums in clean condition, let alone ones that sound any good. 

This excellent sounding LP features a selection of tracks from Gabor Szabo’s late 1960’s sessions for Skye Records, including his great version of Dear Prudence. Since many of Szabo’s albums can be a bit tedious, this compilation is probably the best way to go for most people who want to get into his cool guitar groove. Check out the cool rendition of Donovan’s Sunshine Superman!

Gabor Szabo – Wind Sky and Diamonds – A Weak Effort

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Music Grade: F

Not recommended, a weak effort by Impulse in 1967, with silly background vocals no less. Neither the music nor the sound, at least on the copies we played, will likely be worth your time.

This has been a public service review from the record loving audiophiles here at Better Records.

Lena Horne & Gabor Szabo – Lena & Gabor

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  • With outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides this copy sounds right from top to bottom
  • Some of the most UNPROCESSED and REAL sounding jazzy pop we have ever played
  • A True Sleeper from 1968 – love the choice of material, love the players, love Lena, love the album!
  • “The contrast of Horne’s full-throated voice and Szabo’s unconventional, modal guitar playing is mesmerizing…”

As music lovers and audiophiles this was a truly marvelous discovery for us years ago. True, we had known about the album for a long time, but as a practical matter it had been all but impossible to find enough clean copies to do a shootout — until now of course. We had a big pile to work with, a pile that took about five years to acquire, and one that includes both Buddah and Skye pressings.

Dave Sanders, a name I was not familiar with, brilliantly engineered the album as well as other favorites of ours, including Szabo’s 1969, Gilberto’s Windy and McFarland’s Does The Sun Really Shine On The Moon? It’s hard to find a recording he did that isn’t full of Tubey Magic, huge studio space and right-on-the-money instrumental timbres.

What to Listen For (WTLF)

This is the most realistic drum kit I have heard on a non-jazz album in my life. The drum sound on the first track is exactly the sound we all know from hanging around small clubs and our friends’ garage bands. There is simply no audible processing on any part of the kit. The drums are centered behind the vocals and lead instruments, with what sounds like to me the barest of miking, surrounded by just the right amount of unbaffled studio space. (more…)

Gabor Szabo – The Best of Gabor Szabo – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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This Minty looking Impulse LP has GREAT SOUND on both sides. We put this one through our extensive cleaning process and gave it a listen. Side one is clean and clear with lots of tubey magic and it’s not as drenched in echo as most of the originals. Side two is very lively with lots of presence and wonderfully silky highs. The originals from which these tracks are taken are practically impossible to find in anything resembling audiophile playing condition.

Gabor Szabo with Gary McFarland – Gypsy ’66 on Speakers Corner Heavy Vinyl

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Speakers Corner did a very good version of this album on Heavy Vinyl back in 2002, which we recommended at the time.

Our Hot Stamper pressings will of course be dramatically more transparent, open, clear and just plain REAL sounding, because these are all the areas in which heavy vinyl pressings fall short, with very few exceptions. (more…)

Gabor Szabo – Rambler

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Yet another brilliant pop jazz recording from RVG in 1973 – he was plenty hot in the ’70s too. 

We had this to say about another favorite RVG recording from 1973:

The really good RVG jazz pressings sound shockingly close to live music — uncompressed, present, full of energy, with the instruments clearly located and surrounded by the natural space of the studio. As our stereo has gotten better, and we’ve found better pressings and learned how to clean them better, his “you-are-there” live jazz sound has begun to impress us more and more.

For those of you who have not been on our site for long, the record we are referring to is Grover Washington Jr.’s All The King’s Horses, one of RVG’s triumphs and a record we have offered Hot Stamper pressings of practically from the start. On big speakers at loud volumes the sound is glorious. (more…)

Gabor Szabo – Mizrab – Not Recommended

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Music Grade: D (at best)

Not recommended, a weak effort from CTI in 1972. Neither the music nor the sound, at least on the copies we played, is worth your time. 

This has been a public service review from the record loving audiophiles here at Better Records.

Gabor Szabo with Gary McFarland – Gypsy ’66

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One of the qualities that we don’t talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record’s presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small — they don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy for the instruments or vocals in the center.

Other copies — my notes for these copies often read “BIG and BOLD” — create a huge soundfield, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They’re not brighter, they’re not more aggressive, they’re not hyped-up in any way, they’re just bigger and clearer.

And most of the time those very special pressings have much more energy. When you hear a copy that does all that, it’s an entirely different listening experience.

Heavy Vinyl

Speakers Corner did a very good version of this album on Heavy Vinyl back in 2002, which we recommended at the time.

Our Hot Stamper pressings will of course be dramatically more transparent, open, clear and just plain REAL sounding, because these are all the areas in which heavy vinyl pressings fall short, with very few exceptions. (more…)

Gabor Szabo – Dreams – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

This original Black Label Skye LP has an EXCELLENT SIDE TWO backed with a pretty good side one.

Szabo has made a number of mediocre albums, some of which are poorly recorded, but thankfully this is not one of them. In fact, this is some of the best sound and music he produced for Skye. Side two is open and spacious with a HUGE three-dimensional soundfield that really allows you to hear into the music.

Side one is pretty darn good as well. While not quite as three-dimensional as side two it still retains some of that quality. Listen to all the crazy studio recording effects on the first track. (more…)

Gabor Szabo – More Sorcery – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

This is a Minty looking Original Impulse Stereo LP with EXCELLENT sound and quiet vinyl.

This is a live recording that’s got that small jazz club feel. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds runs almost ten minutes and gives everybody involved a chance to stretch out. People is also exceptionally good here.

It’s hard to find a recording Szabo did that isn’t full of Tubey Magic, huge studio space and right-on-the-money instrumental timbres. This album is right up there with the best of his recordings, courtesy of the two top engineers noted below. (more…)