Top Artists – Herbie Hancock

Herbie Hancock – Empyrean Isles

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  • With excellent Double Plus (A++) grades throughout, this vintage Blue Note stereo pressing will be very hard to beat
  • Once again Rudy Van Gelder delivers the sound that audiophiles and jazz fans alike thrill to
  • These sides are lively, dynamic and full-bodied, and there’s real weight to the piano, always critically important to the piano recordings we play
  • 5 stars: “Working with cornetist Freddie Hubbard, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Tony Williams — a trio just as young and adventurous as he was — Hancock pushes at the borders of hard bop, finding a brilliantly evocative balance between traditional bop, soul-injected grooves, and experimental, post-modal jazz.”
  • If you’re a fan of the music of Herbie Hancock, this title from 1964 is surely one of his best, and one of his best sounding
  • The complete list of titles from 1964 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

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Herbie Hancock – Maiden Voyage

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More Jazz Recordings Featuring the Piano

We just finished a big Maiden Voyage shootout, and while we didn’t come up with too many winners, we did manage to find this one KILLER copy. Side two has A+++ MASTER TAPE SOUND — it can’t be beat!

You won’t believe how clean, clear, open, and transparent it is. Most importantly, the energy factor is OFF THE CHARTS, and the dynamics are INCREDIBLE.

Too many copies we played left us cold and bored; this one kept us engaged throughout. It’s got the silkiest highs and the breathiest brass we’ve ever heard for this album. Most copies we played this against couldn’t even come close to the richness, sweetness, and warmth we heard here.

Side one is wonderful as well, the best we played this time around at A++. The piano has real weight, the sax has a nice bite, and the trumpet sounds great. The top end is smooth and sweet but lacks just a bit of extension compared to side two.

One Of The Great Blue Notes

This is one of the greatest Blue Note jazz records of all time — 5 big stars in the All Music Guide, which should surprise no one. Freddie Hubbard on this album is nothing short of astonishing. I remember one time playing around with the stereo, listening for different effects as I made minor changes in the tracking weight, the VTA, adjustments to the Hallographs, and the like, and at one point, I noticed that the ensemble seemed to be really coherently connected. Each of the players was balanced with the others. It was a striking effect and it made me realize that musical values can often be overlooked while chasing after audiophile effects of one kind or another. When I heard the ensemble come together, it made me appreciate this album even more. Tony Williams on drums deserves a special nod. His cymbal work on the first track is completely original and spontaneous in the best jazz tradition.

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Donald Byrd – A New Perspective

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More Hot Stamper Pressings on Blue Note

Reviews and Commentaries for Blue Note Records

  • An STUNNING stereo pressing of one of our all-time favorite Blue Note albums with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout
  • The gospel vocals are amazingly well recorded (thanks RVG!) – with the transparency of this copy, you can easily pick out and follow each voice
  • To hear the real RVG magic, play Beast of Burden on side one – that’s some real audiophile DEMO DISC sound
  • 5 stars: “One of the most successful uses of a gospel choir in a jazz context. This is a memorable effort that is innovative in its own way, a milestone in Donald Byrd’s career.”

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Wes Montgomery – California Dreaming

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  • This excellent Wes Montgomery title returns to the site for the first time in two years with a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side one and outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on side two
  • Both sides here are OUT OF THIS WORLD, incredibly big, bold, clear, rich and dynamic – this is DEMO DISC Quality Big Production Guitar-led Jazz
  • Credit goes to Rudy Van Gelder once again for the huge space that the superbly well-recorded group occupies
  • Forget the critics, this is one of Wes’s Best Albums of All Time I tell you!

This White Hot Stamper has the REAL Wes Montgomery/ Creed Taylor/ Rudy Van Gelder MAGIC in its grooves. You will not believe how big, rich and full-bodied this pressing is. Since this is one of Wes’s best albums, hearing this incredible White Hot copy was a THRILL for us and we’re sure it will be as big a thrill for you too.

As Good As It Gets Sound

So natural, transparent and clear. Listen to all the space around the guitar. (On the Cisco you might hear 20% of that space. That’s Heavy Vinyl for you. What a load of crap.)

Beware any and all imitations (even the one I used to like somewhat, the Cisco version). They barely BEGIN to convey the qualities of the real master tape the way this pressing does. This White Hot Stamper exhibits huge amounts of ambience and spaciousness, with far more energy and the kind of “see into the studio” quality that only the real thing ever seems to have. (more…)

Miles Davis – Water Babies

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  • This superb compilation album makes its Hot Stamper debut here with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it throughout
  • Tubier, more transparent, more dynamic, with that “jumpin’ out of the speakers” quality that only The Real Thing (an old record) ever has
  • Huge amounts of three-dimensional space and ambience, along with boatloads of Tubey Magic – here’s a 30th Street recording from 1967 and 1968 that demonstrates just how good Columbia’s engineers were back then
  • “Time has revealed this band to be as daring and fascinating as any in the long Davis career, and Water Babies contains some of its best music. There is simply so much happening here; hear it.”

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Freddie Hubbard / Hub-Tones

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More Jazz Recordings Featuring the Trumpet

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  • This vintage Blue Note pressing boasts Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on both sides – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • Freddie’s trumpet sounds Right On The Money — it’s breathy and full-bodied with clearly audible leading edge transients
  • Credit must go to Rudy Van Gelder once again for the huge space this superbly well-recorded ensemble occupies
  • 4 1/2 stars: “John Coltrane’s modal music was starting to influence Hubbard’s conception and his own playing was pushing the modern mainstream ahead without really entering the avant-garde.”

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Sonny Rollins – Now’s The Time

  • An outstanding copy with Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on side two mated to a very good side one
  • Ray Hall once again engineered brilliantly for RCA – the Tubey Magical richness and dynamic energy of the sessions are captured with audiophile quality sound
  • Forget the Classic Records reissue from the ’90s and whatever Heavy Vinyl they’re making now – it sure won’t sound like this!
  • Features performances by Rollins with Herbie Hancock, Thad Jones, Ron Carter, Bob Cranshaw and Roy McCurdy on several bebop tunes

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Ed Thigpen – Out Of The Storm

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  • Ed Thigpen arrives on the site with this STUNNING copy of his debut album, boasting Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from start to finish
  • Lively, dynamic, transparent, spacious and musical throughout – you won’t believe how good this Jazz Classic from 1966 sounds
  • Superb engineering by Rudy Van Gelder – Out of the Storm features jazz legends Clark Terry, Kenny Burrell, Herbie Hancock, and Ron Carter
  • 4 stars: “Drummer Ed Thigpen’s first album as a leader… Although not soloing much, Thigpen wrote three of the seven selections and occasionally played tuned drums, which sound a little bit like timbales… the performances are enjoyable.”  

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Herbie Hancock – Thrust

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  • Thrust makes its Hot Stamper debut here with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides – reasonably quiet vinyl too
  • This vintage pressing is well balanced, big and lively, with wonderful clarity in the mids and highs, as well the bass foundation critical to Hancock’s funky jazz
  • 4 stars: “… an earthy, funky, yet often harmonically and rhythmically sophisticated tour de force… Hancock continues to reach into the rapidly changing high-tech world for new sounds, most notably the metallic sheen of the then-new ARP string synthesizer which was already becoming a staple item on pop and jazz-rock records… This supertight jazz-funk quintet album still sounds invigorating a quarter of a century later. “

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Bob Brookmeyer – Bob Brookmeyer And Friends

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

More Vintage Hot Stamper Pressings on Columbia

  • This original Black Print 360 pressing was one of the best we played in our recent shootout
  • Stan Getz is the real standout on this album, a very pleasant surprise since exceptionally good recordings of his music are so hard to find
  • Another example of the phenomenal sound quality found on so many recordings made at CBS’s 30th Street Studios in New York
  • Wikipedia notes: “Another way to view this all-star rhythm section would be as Miles Davis’ piano and bass player, Stan Getz’ vibraphonist, and John Coltrane’s drummer.”
  • “Stan Getz, known for his ‘lyrical’ style, is in top form throughout and brings out the best of his cohorts, including two young musicians, Gary Burton on vibes and Herbie Hancock on keyboards…” 

If you like the sound of relaxed, tube-mastered jazz — and what red blooded audiophile doesn’t — you can’t do much better than Bob Brookmeyer And Friends. The warmth and immediacy of the sound here are guaranteed to blow practically any jazz septet record you own right out of the water.

Getz and Burton have always been magical together. Their work on Getz Au Go Go is legendary. Every time I play that record I am astonished at how good it is, one of those very special jazz recordings that are easy to get lost in. (more…)