Top Artists – Gabor Szabo

Lena Horne & Gabor Szabo – Now That’s What a Real Drum Kit Sounds Like!

Another Record We’ve Discovered with (Potentially) Excellent Sound…

and One We Will Probably Never Shootout Again

Some records are just too consistently noisy for us to offer to our audiophile customers no matter how good they sound.

We have a section for records that tend to be noisy, and it can be found here.

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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.

When the drums come in on the first track on side one you will hear immediately what I mean. The third track on side two has especially good drums as well. The vocals on that third track, Message to Michael, are some of the most natural on the album as well. Lena can strain a bit on some songs in the loudest passages, but on others she can belt it out and stay clean all the way to the top. Listen track by track to hear how well she holds up when the bigger choruses come in.

As music lovers and audiophiles this was a truly marvelous discovery for us years ago. True, we’ve known about the album for a long time, but as a practical matter it’s been impossible to find enough clean copies to do a shootout — until now of course.

Dave Sanders, a name I — and no doubt most audiophiles — 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. (more…)

Gabor Szabo with Gary McFarland – Gypsy ’66

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  • With excellent Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on both sides, this copy is getting the sound of Gabor Szabo’s music right from first note to last
  • This copy plays on exceptionally quiet Impulse vinyl, Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus throughout
  • The credit must go to one of, if not THE Greatest Jazz Engineers of all time, Mr. Rudy Van Gelder
  • “Szabo’s original sound, the unusual instrumentation (two or three guitars, Sadao Watanabe on flute, Gary McFarland on marimba, bass, drums and percussion) and McFarland’s clever arrangements uplift the music.”

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Gabor Szabo – The Sorcerer

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  • With two nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sides, this original Impulse pressing is close to the BEST we’ve ever heard, right up there with our Shootout Winner – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Szabo’s best albums are full of Tubey Magic and dead-on-the-money instrumental timbres – this live one puts you smack dab in the middle of an intimate jazz club in 1967, your very own time machine
  • If you want to hear the warmth, size and energy of the tape, this vintage LP is the way to go
  • “Gabor Szabo’s quintet featuring Jimmy Stewart was one of the guitarist’s very best units. Live performances like this, recorded at Boston’s Jazz Workshop, document some of the excitement the group stirred in 1967-1968. The playing seems inspired, and the interplay within the group is something to behold…”

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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

More Jazz Recordings Featuring the Guitar

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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

More Pop and Jazz Vocal Albums

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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.