Top Artists – Joe Pass

Oscar Peterson – A Tribute To My Friends

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  • A superb copy with Double Plus (A++) sound throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Mastered by Joe Gastwirt at the JVC cutting center, this has the punchy, lively sound that some of the better Pablos are known for
  • The piano reproduction is especially clean, clear and lively, with solid weight down low, just the way we like it
  • 4 stars: “With the assistance of guitarist Joe Pass, bassist Niels Pedersen and drummer Martin Drew, Peterson sounds inspired on such themes as “Blueberry Hill,” “Stuffy,” “Cottontail” and even “A Tisket, a Tasket.”

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Duke Ellington – Duke’s Big 4

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More Pablo LPs

  • An outstanding Pablo pressing with Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from the first note to the last
  • Both sides here are clean, clear, full-bodied and present with plenty of bottom end weight
  • “One of Duke Ellington’s finest small group sessions from his final decade… [his] percussive style always sounded modern and he comes up with consistently strong solos on such numbers as “Love You Madly,” “The Hawk Talks” and especially “Cotton Tail,” easily keeping up with his younger sidemen. Highly recommended.”

It’s incredibly hard to find a Pablo recording of the Duke from this era that has such big, open, clear, solid sound. Val Valentin did the engineering, and as he has so often did the course of his storied career, he knocked it out of the park.

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Count Basie – 88 Basie Street

  • With KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last, this copy was getting the sound of this big band right
  • This is a Top Basie Big Band title in every way — musically, sonically, you name it, 88 Basie Street has got it going on!
  • With 18 pieces in the studio this is a real powerhouse – the sound is is rich, full and HUGE
  • 4 stars: “One of Basie’s final albums, the very appealing title cut seems to sum up his career, a lightly swinging groove with a strong melody. Two small-group performances with guest Joe Pass on guitar add variety to a particularly strong set.”
  • If you’re a Count Basie fan, and what audiophile wouldn’t be?, this title from 1983 is surely a Must Own
  • The complete list of titles from 1980 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

This album can be a real powerhouse — if you have the right copy — and this killer pressing can show you just how lively and dynamic this music can be. It’s a true Demo Disc, no doubt about it.

Both sides here have real strength down low, nice extension up top, and incredible clarity and transparency. Play this one good and loud and put yourself front and center for a rip-roarin’ performance led by the king Bill (The Count) Basie.

We’ve become huge fans of these Basie Big Band records. Allen Sides knew just how to record this stuff by the time Basie came around to Pablo — on the best pressings you can hear that this is big band music recorded just right. The sound is clean and clear with excellent transparency and the kind of separation between the instruments that lets you appreciate the contributions of each player. (more…)

Oscar Peterson – If You Could See Me Now

Reviews and Commentaries for the Recordings of Oscar Peterson

A Top Pablo Recording

This is a SUPERB set from Oscar Peterson’s sometimes underwhelming Pablo period. This one is from 1986 and includes the estimable Joe Pass on guitar.

Side one has the kind of sound one associates with late-’70s jazz, jazz that often seems to be recorded in dead studios.

Side two sounds much better somehow — more clear, present and lively.

The liner notes tell us it’s the same studio, even the same day, but there is simply no mistaking the better sound quality. Such are the vagaries of the vinyl record.

If you’re in the market for a top quality Oscar Peterson piano trio recording (with bonus guitar), this side two should be just the ticket.

Milt Jackson / Joe Pass / Ray Brown – The Big 3

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  • A superb sounding Pablo recording from 1976 – this copy gives you outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or better from start to finish  
  • We found the sound superb, but even better is the fact that with only three instruments – vibes, guitar (Joe Pass) and bass (Ray Brown) – each of the players has plenty of room to stretch out and have fun with the tunes
  • 5 Stars: “The colorful repertoire — ranging from “The Pink Panther” and “Blue Bossa” to “Nuages” and “Come Sunday” — acts as a device for the musicians to construct some brilliant bop-based solos.”

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Joe Pass / For Django

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Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Joe Pass

White Hot Stamper sound on both sides — this is some killer jazz guitar “trio” sound. There are actually two guitarists on this record, John Pisano being the other one, plus bass and drums. We’re big fans of Pacific Jazz recordings from this era, with 1964 live in the studio Tubey Magic to die for. 

We’ve played quite a few of these early jazz guitar records by the likes of Kenny Burrell, Joe Pass, Charlie Byrd, Grant Green, Wes Montgomery and others. Can’t say I’ve ever heard a better sounding one than this.

The All Tube live in the studio approach to the recording results in natural, open, rich, clear, spacious, dynamic sound the likes of which you may have never experienced. The exceptionally clear, tight, note-like bass is an added bonus — not many tube recordings get the bass to sound that way! (more…)

The Stones Jazz with Joe Pass and Bruce Botnick

Yet Another Audiophile Quality Pressing “Discovered”

Brought to you by the folks at Better Records.  We know a good sounding record when we hear one.

That’s how we came to have a website full of them

xxx

And the music is interesting and fun from first song to last. With Joe Pass on guitar how could it not be – the guy’s a very talented player.

With two Triple Plus (A+++) shootout winning sides, this original stereo World Pacific copy simply could not be beat

  • Huge and rich, here is the kind of Tubey Magical presentation that lets this big group of musicians (four trombones!) come alive
  • The engineering by none other than Bruce Botnick is brilliant in all respects, as good as his work with The Doors
  • This is FUN West Coast Pop Jazz built around the superb arrangements of Bob Florence and the great songs of the Stones
  • We’re so sure you’ll like this music that if for any reason you are unhappy the domestic return shipping is on us!

Engineering by Bruce Botnick

Botnick is of course the man behind the superb recordings of The Doors, Love and others too numerous to mention.

More recordings by Bruce Botnick

He also recorded another of our favorite West Coast jazz ensemble records, Bud Shank And the Sax Section. That undiscovered gem — well known to us but heretofore undiscovered by the audiophile public as far as we can tell — has a lot in common with this album. Top players, smart arrangements, superb sound, the album is as fun as Fun West Coast Jazz gets.

This copy is spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience. Talk about Tubey Magic, the liquidity of the sound here is positively uncanny. This is vintage analog at its best, so full-bodied and relaxed you’ll wonder how it ever came to be that anyone seriously contemplated trying to improve it. (more…)

Count Basie – Kansas City 5

  • Presenting yet another amazingly well recorded Count Basie album, with STUNNING Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout
  • It’s bigger, richer, more Tubey Magical, with more extension on both ends of the spectrum than every other other copy we played
  • A different sound for Basie, a small group setting with two of his favorite players at his side: Milt Jackson on vibes and Joe Pass on guitar
  • “The predictably excellent group performs spirited versions of some of Basie’s “hits” (including “Jive at Five” and “One O’Clock Jump”), some blues and a few standards. It is always interesting to hear Basie in a hornless setting like this one where he gets opportunities to stretch out on the piano.”

Only recently did I become familiar with this record, released in 1981 from sessions recorded in 1977. We pick up all the Pablo Basie titles we can get our hands on these days. When we dropped the needle on a copy of the album we were amazed at the sound. Don’t know much about the engineer — Geoff Sykes — but he did a great job working at Kendun for this session.

This was the first of a series of smaller ensemble recordings under the heading of Kansas City. We have more coming, including the superb Kansas City piano trio album entitled “For the Second Time” with Louis Bellson and Ray Brown, a record that can have superb sound on the Pablo pressing (but steer clear of the OJC which is thin and opaque, the opposite of the sound you want).

With such a small group and no horn players there is much more room for interplay between Basie and either Pass or Jackson. As the liner notes make clear, both vets quickly adapted their playing styles to the laidback Count Basie approach to the blues. If you are in the market for some smooth Basie grooves with exceptionally good sound, this one should be right up your alley. (more…)

Dizzy Gillespie – Dizzy Gillespie’s Big 4

Hot Stamper Pablo Recordings Available Now

More Reviews and Commentaries for Pablo Recordings

  • Dizzie Gillespie’s Big 4 makes its Hot Stamper debut here, with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The size, clarity, presence and energy of this obviously live-in-the-studio recording are off the charts – plenty of Tubey Magic to boot
  • AMG 4 1/2 stars – on a copy this natural, clean and clear, the spontaneous interplay among these four jazz luminaries is laid out for all to hear
  • “…one of [Gillespie’s] best ensemble performances… his playing is superb and he is in command of the material… the musicians play off each other well and do a great job of supporting Gillespie. A big 4, indeed.”

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Joe Pass – Portraits Of Duke Ellington

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Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Joe Pass

Maybe it’s the fact that there are only three instruments playing, live in the studio, that accounts for the amazing recording quality. Nobody knows, certainly not us, but the one thing we can say for sure is that you will have a very hard time finding a guitar trio album that sounds remotely as good as this one does.

And the music is by The Duke himself. How great is that? Can’t fault the song choices in any way; they’re all classics: Satin Doll; Sophisticated Lady; I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good); In A Mellowtone; Don’t Get Around Much Anymore; Do Nothin’ ‘Till You Hear From Me and more.

Watch for more Joe Pass albums coming to the site. After hearing this album, and enjoying the hell out of it, we’re hunting down everything we can get our hands on to audition. I’d be surprised if we find another album with sound this good, but in the land of records you just never know.