Top Artists – Ray Brown

Count Basie / Kansas City 3 – For The Second Time

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More Jazz Recordings Featuring the Piano

  • A KILLER piano trio recording with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides of this original Pablo LP
  • It’s bigger, richer, more Tubey Magical, and has more extension on both ends of the spectrum than the other copies we played
  • A different, more compact sound for Basie, joined here as he is by two of the most sympathetic sidemen in jazz: Ray Brown on bass and Louis Bellson on drums
  • “[T]he main joy of this set is hearing Basie stretch out on such numbers as ‘If I Could Be with You,’ ‘On the Sunny Side of the Street’ and ‘The One I Love,’ tunes he did not play much with his orchestra in this later period.”
  • Steer clear of the OJC of this title – it’s thin and opaque, the opposite of the sound you want

It’s a joy to hear Basie perform as a frontman, stretching out on tunes that were no doubt dear to him. Veterans of hundreds of sessions, Ray Brown and Louis Bellson are just as interesting as Basie, high praise. Recorded by the legendary engineer Ed Greene (Stan Getz/Charlie Byrd – Jazz Samba) — that accounts for the exceptional sound.

Naturally we pick up all the Pablo Basie titles we can get our hands on these days, having had very good luck with a great many of them. When we dropped the needle on a copy of this one a few years back we were amazed at the sound. My post-it, still on the record, reads “SUPERB DEMO DISC.” It certainly is.

This album was part of a series of smaller ensemble recordings under the heading of Kansas City that Pablo undertook with Basie later in his career. Basie had recorded a piano trio record with the same gents the year before For the First Time and must have enjoyed himself enough to give it another go.

The best copies are big and rich, and present you with a solid, weight, clear piano like few piano trio recordings you have ever heard.

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Oscar Peterson / The Trio – Live From Chicago

Reviews and Commentaries for the Recordings of Oscar Peterson

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  • Tonally correct from top to bottom and as transparent as any vintage recording you’ve heard, the combination of clarity and Tubey Magic here is hard to beat
  • The Trio, including Ray Brown and Ed Thigpen, are in fine form on these live recordings from the London House in Chicago; if you want to hear one of the great jazz trios at the height of their powers, this is the ticket!
  • “…[Peterson] was generally in peak form during this era. He sticks to standards on this live [album] (a good example of the Trio’s playing), stretching out ‘Sometimes I’m Happy’ creatively for over 11 minutes and uplifting such songs as ‘In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning,’ ‘Chicago’ and ‘The Night We Called It a Day.'”
  • If you’re a fan of Oscar’s, this Top Title from 1961 belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1961 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

Peterson really puts on a great show. He’s made an awful lot of records during his career and most of them aren’t especially noteworthy. This album is clearly an exception to that rule. (If You Could See Me Now is another one.)

This pressing was a HUGE step up from the other copies we played in our recent shootout. This killer copy has the immediacy that puts you front and center at The London House for a great jazz show. Ray Brown is his usual incredible self on bass.

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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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Letter of the Week – “I have many killer jazz records but this might be the best recorded of all of them.”

More of the Music of Shelly Manne

More of the Music of Ray Brown

More Jazz Recordings Featuring the Piano

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

  Hey Tom, 

Just received the White Hot Stamper copy of “The Three” 45 rpm with Joe Sample, Ray Brown and Shelly Manne.

I have many killer jazz records but this might be the best recorded of all of them.

This is not a record for anyone who doesn’t have world class equipment because the dynamics and transients on the record will be too much for anything less than a very top tier system!

Amazing sound!!!

Brad

Agreed! It’s so good it’s my Favorite Jazz Piano Trio Recording of All Time!

Even though it might not be the most natural or realistic recording of a piano trio — Shelly’s arms stretch at least 12 feet across on my system, something I think he would have a hard time pulling off live — it is one of the most powerful and exciting recordings I’ve heard, and that’s good enough for me.

Thanks for your letter,

TP

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The Poll Winners – Self-Titled

More of The Poll Winners

More Contemporary Label Recordings

  • A Contemporary stereo pressing with INSANELY GOOD Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides
  • Roy DuNann always seems to get The Real Sound out of the sessions he recorded — amazingly realistic drums in a big room; Tubey Magical guitar tone; deep, note-like bass, and on and on
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The choice of material, the interplay between the three players, and the lead work all meld together beautifully on The Poll Winners, making it a classic guitar album in a small-group setting.”

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The Three / Self-Titled (45 RPM)

More Shelly Manne

More Jazz Recordings Featuring the Piano

  • The transients are uncannily lifelike – listen for the huge amounts of kinetic energy produced when Shelly whacks the hell out of his cymbals
  • My favorite Piano Trio Jazz Album of All Time; every one of those six tracks is brilliantly arranged and performed (if you have the right takes of course; more about that later)
  • 4 stars: “One of Joe Sample’s finest sessions as a leader” – with Shelly Manne and Ray Brown, we would say it’s clearly his finest session, as a leader or simply as the piano player in a killer trio

If you want to hear the full six tunes recorded by The Three at that famous Hollywood session (which ran all day and long into the night, 4 AM to be exact), our 33 RPM pressings are your best bet.

If you want absolutely amazing, mind-blowing, you-are-there sound, a Hot Stamper 45 is the only way to go.

The music is so good that I personally would not want to live without the complete album. The Three is, in fact, my favorite Piano Trio Jazz Album of All Time; every one of those six tracks is brilliantly arranged and performed (if you have the right takes of course; more about that later). (more…)

Ben Webster – Soulville

  • 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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L.A. 4 – Pavane Pour Une Infante Défunte (45 RPM)

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More Audiophile Records

  • An INSANELY GOOD East Wind 45 RPM Japanese import pressing with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • Lee Herschberg recorded these sessions direct to disc — he’s the guy behind the most amazing piano trio recording I have ever heard, a little album called The Three
  • Transparency: absolute freedom from smear and distortion; clarity; presence; frequency extension high and low; correct tonality — everything you want in an audiophile recording is here!
  • This 45 RPM version is shorter than the original album, with five of the original’s seven tracks, and of course is not technically a direct disc – these 45s are made from the session tapes
  • And it sounded better than any of the Direct to Disc pressings we had on hand, which is exactly what happened when they mastered The Three at 45 RPM from the backup tapes — pretty wild, don’t you think?

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Ella Fitzgerald – The Duke Ellington Songbook, Vol. 2

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Ella Fitzgerald Albums We’ve Reviewed

  • A stunning sounding copy with Triple Plus (A+++) sound on ALL FOUR SIDES!
  • Forget the originals – like so many of the early songbook pressings, they suffer from painfully hard and honky mastering EQ (and gritty sounding vinyl)
  • We know whereof we speak when it comes to early Ella records – we’ve played plenty of them and found that most just don’t sound very good
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl throughout* — Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • “Duke’s spectacular catalog dazzles, and his sprightly, lush textures are transfigured under Fitzgerald’s warm-timbred voice and elegant, precise delivery… each tune as familiar as it is delightful to hear in this new context.”

This mono reissue is the only way to find the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s missing from modern records. As good as the best of those pressings may be, this record is going to be dramatically more REAL sounding.

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Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong – Ella and Louis on Import

  • Outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound and some remarkably quiet vinyl can be found on both sides of this mono import
  • Anyone with two working ears can tell that this superb sounding import LP was mastered from the real tapes — you know, the ones that are locked away in Verve’s vaults
  • And that means that only digital copies of the tapes are being made available to mastering engineers who want to recut the record, sad but true (or likely to be true anyway)
  • 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.”
  • If you’re a fan of Ella’s, Louis’s, or vintage Pop and Jazz Vocals in general, this is The Top Title from 1956, and one that certainly belongs in any right-thinking audiophile’s collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1956 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

The sound is big, open, rich and full, with the performers front and center. Ella and Louis are no longer representations — they’re living, breathing persons. We call that “the breath of life,” and this record has it in spades. Their voices are so rich, sweet, and free of any artificiality, you immediately find yourself lost in the music, because there’s no “sound” to distract you.

This Verve import (from a country whose records we rarely offer as Hot Stampers, almost never in fact) has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

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