Top Artists – Oscar Peterson

Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong – Ella and Louis

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  • Stunning sound on this early Verve Mono LP with both sides rating a Triple Plus (A+++) and playing reasonably quietly
  • As Good As It Gets – no modern pressing can hope to put Ella and Louis right in the room with you the way this one from 1956 can
  • One of the greatest duet albums of all time, if not THE GREATEST – a Desert Island Disc to beat them all
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Ella and Louis is an inspired collaboration, masterminded by producer Norman Granz… Gentle and sincere, this is deserving of a place in every home.”

Click and pop counters might want to give this one a miss. It’s not as quiet as a modern pressing would be, but it’s as quiet as this title can be found on vintage ’50s Verve vinyl. If you have a top quality, heavily tweaked front end and a quiet cartridge, you might be good to go, but if you are picky about your surfaces, we recommend you give this one a miss.

Those of you looking for a cheaper, quieter alternative to spending hundreds of dollars on one of our Hot Stampers should look into the original Speakers Corner pressing or the CD, both of which we’ve played and both of which are quite good. (more…)

Count Basie & Oscar Peterson – Yessir, That’s My Baby

More Count Basie

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  • Both sides of this wonderful Basie/Peterson record boast outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Jazz records don’t get a whole lot bigger, clearer or more full-bodied – man, this is the glorious sound of ANALOG
  • “The two pianists (backed by bassist John Heard and drummer Louis Bellson) play five standards and three blues with predictable swing, finding much more in common with each other than one might have originally suspected.”

Another in the series of collaborations between Basie and Peterson, this time along with Louis Bellson & John Heard. There were four as I recall, some involving electric as well as acoustic pianos as this one does.

There was not a trace of smear on the piano, which is unusual in our experience, although no one ever seems to talk about smeary pianos in the audiophile world (except for us of course). (more…)

Oscar Peterson + Harry Edison + Eddie Cleanhead Vinson

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UPDATE 10/2020

The last time I played this album in preparation for the shootout, sometime in early 2020, I was not thrilled with either the sound or the music.

I found the lack of ambience and overall artificiality of the recording not to my liking. In the old days — the review below was probably from the early 2000s — my system was not remotely as good as it is now. Now I can play the space in a recording much better than I could then, and the lack of natural space now bothers me when before it did not.

Live and Learn we say!

Take the following with a very large grain of salt and don’t pay too much for this album if you see one around.

This is a long out of print Pablo LP with AMAZING sound and music. It’s one of those superb Allan Sides engineered recordings at Ocean Way, like Basie 88 Street. Demo disc quality sound is the result! With players like these, the music is every bit as good as any jazz record I know of. In other words, I really like this album.

Oscar Peterson Trio with Milt Jackson / Very Tall and Very Awful on MFSL Anadisq

If you made the mistake of buying the atrocious Anadisq pressing MoFi put out in the ’90s, our Hot Stamper pressings will let you hear what a wonderful recording Val Valentin cooked up with these cats back in the day. (more…)

Billie Holiday – The First Verve Sessions

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  • Excellent sound throughout with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from the first note to the last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • All four sides here are clear and full-bodied with wonderfully breathy vocals and the kind of vintage analog sound you won’t hear from any modern reissue or CD, that’s for sure
  • This double LP set captures some of Billie’s best music from the years 1952 to 1954 and features Oscar Peterson, Barney Kessel, Ray Brown, Flip Phillips, Freddie Green, Charlie Shavers and more

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Ben Webster – Soulville

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  • Outstanding sound throughout for this Verve Two-Fer set with Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on all four sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Unlike the Speakers Corner version from a few years back, this is the real thing, mastered by real pros, not audiophiles
  • This reissue combines the albums Soulville and Ben Webster Meets Oscar Peterson
  • With rave reviews for both albums, AMG lauds Soulville is, “one of the highlights of that golden ’50s run,” and notes the collaboration as “one of the jazz legend’s all-time great records.”

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Oscar Peterson – Plays The Jimmy McHugh Song Book

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  • This superb Oscar Peterson album boasts a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side one and an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side two – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The piano has heft, the drums are big, and everything is relaxed and natural – this copy is doing pretty much what we want a top quality ’50s Peterson album to do
  • Songs you know well – I’m In The Mood For Love; On The Sunny Side Of The Street; I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, etc.
  • The last in the “Oscar Peterson Plays” series – Oscar puts his sublime touches to these timeless Jimmy McHugh classics
  • “[Peterson’s] sound was consistently classy and first rate here, as it was for his entire career… impeccable taste and technique and the best songs out there…”

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Benny Carter – Meets Oscar Peterson – Reviewed in 2007

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More Meets Oscar Peterson

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

“Benny Carter had recorded with pianist Oscar Peterson back in the early ’50s for Norman Granz’s Verve label. More than 30 years, later he teamed up with Peterson again, this time for Granz’s Pablo company. There was no sign of decline or disillusionment in either of the co-leaders’ playing; in fact, if anything, they had improved with age. Joined by guitarist Joe Pass, bassist Dave Young and drummer Martin Drew, Carter and Peterson are both in a joyous mood and in typically swinging form on six standards and a blues.” — AMG  (more…)

Oscar Peterson – A Tribute To My Friends – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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A Tribute To My Friends

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

This is one of the best Peterson records. It got rave reviews in the old catalog when we actually had sealed copies to sell. (Those days are long gone.) 

Oscar Peterson Trio – The Trio – Live From Chicago – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

Boy, these original Strobe Label (and T label) Verve pressings are sure all over the map. If there’s one jazz label that gets an F for consistency, it’s Verve. And they typically get an F (or at best a D) for mastering as well, since good sounding Verve pressings are few and far between. I guess that should not come as much of a surprise to many of our long time customers, but to hear how bad some of these pressings are mastered is nevertheless pretty shocking. One of the Strobe label copies we played had such a boosted top end it was positively distorted. (The RIAA curve does not allow that kind of top end boost without causing serious problems.)  

Lucky for you, dear reader, we found a copy that had the tubey magic and transparency that really lets this live jazz album transport you back in time to a small club in Chicago in the ’60s. (Some of the talking patrons won’t even shut up for the likes of Oscar Peterson!)

As we mentioned above, some copies are poorly mastered, so poorly that Ray Brown’s bass all but disappears from the trio! Other copies made Thigpen’s snare sound hard and too forward in the mix. This is obviously just a mastering EQ problem, since the good copies, such as this one, get all those elements to balance beautifully. (more…)