Top Artists – Ray Brown

Milt Jackson with Oscar Peterson – Ain’t But a Few of Us Left

More Milt Jackson

A Top Pablo Recording

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  • An outstanding Pablo pressing, boasting Double Plus (A++) sound throughout and playing about as quietly as these LPs ever do
  • Both sides here are rich and full-bodied with tons of energy and a nice extended top end – this is the sound of ANALOG, and Pablo knew how to get it on tape and from there on to vinyl
  • “The music is unsurprising but still quite enjoyable and virtuosic as Bags and Co. perform blues, standards and ballads with their usual swing and bop-based creativity. Highlights include the title cut, “Stuffy,” “What Am I Here For” and a vibes-piano duo version of “A Time for Love.”” – 4 Stars

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Ben Webster – Ben Webster and Associates

Hot Stamper Jazz Recordings Featuring the Saxophone

Reviews and Commentaries for the Recordings of Ben Webster

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This Mono Black Label Verve LP from 1959 gets 4 1/2 Stars from AMG!

The sound quality is nothing special but the music is classic Webster.

“This summit meeting turned out to be a tribute to another tenor master of the same generation, Lester Young, who had died less than four weeks before this session. The chosen rhythm section of Jimmy Jones on piano, Les Spann on guitar, Ray Brown on bass, and Jo Jones on drums equally matches the performance of the featured horns… ” — AMG

FURTHER READING

We have four categories of sound for the thousands of records we’ve auditioned over the years.

The Ben Webster record above went into our Middling Sound Quality section. It’s not a bad sounding record, but not a very good one either. Although music lovers will be pleased, audiophiles looking for top quality sound are advised to look elsewhere.

These categories are not quite as definitive as they sound, as there could be a Hot Stamper pressing — perhaps a reissue of some kind — of the album that would better fit in the Excellent Sound Quality category.

Pressings with Mind-Blowing Sound Quality

Pressings with Excellent Sound Quality 

Pressings with Middling Sound Quality 

Pressings with Weak Sound Quality or Music 

The Poll Winners – Straight Ahead

More Shelly Manne

More Ray Brown

More Barney Kessel

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  • This superb collaboration has KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides
  • Musically, this is by far our favorite Poll Winners record – these guys got back together after 15 years and were eager to prove that they still had their youthful exuberance, and even better chops, which they did have and did prove!
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Kessel in particular is heard in excellent form… Overall this is the best all-around recording by The Poll Winners and is easily recommended to bop fans.”

These guys play with more spunk here than on any other album of theirs I’ve heard. And you have to love those ’70s leisure suits they’re wearing on the cover. I remember my commentary when this record was around, mentioning that Roy DuNann had lost none of his engineering skills in the intervening years either.

This is a very dynamic recording, one of his best. You almost never hear cymbals sound this good on an RVG Blue Note, that’s for sure. The bass definition on this record is amazing — you can really hear Ray Brown pulling and bending the strings of the instrument. He’s tearing it up. (more…)

The LA 4 / Going Home

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Many, many years ago we reviewed a copy of this album, reproduced here:

East Wind Japanese Direct to Disc LP.

Number 1 in rarity and demand! The sound is stunning! You won’t find many records as transparent as this one, if you can find even one!

The band really comes alive on side two.

That’s where the real jazz is. The star of this record is Shelly Manne, who really plays up a storm. Bud shank is also fairly lively. Some of the LA 4 records can really put you to sleep. Side one of this album has a little bit of that quality, but side two shows how good this band can be.

This copy plays m-. It’s lightly ticky, but that’s not unusual for this record. For whatever reason, the Japanese vinyl on these East Wind direct discs is always a little ticky. Copies quieter than this one are very hard to come by.


FURTHER READING

Record Collecting for Audiophiles – A Guide to Understanding The Fundamentals

Record Collecting for Audiophiles – Audiophile Pressings

Record Collecting for Audiophiles – Direct to Disc Recordings

Record Collecting for Audiophiles – Japanese Pressings

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…)

Gerry Mulligan – Gerry Mulligan Meets Stan Getz

More Gerry Mulligan

More Stan Getz

Mulligan, Gerry - Gerry Mulligan Meets Stan Getz - Nearly White Hot Stamper 2-Pak

  • Mulligan and Getz’s 1957 collaboration arrives on the site with this superb 2-pack offering Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on both sides – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • Full, rich, and spacious with tons of Tubey Magic and, better yet, not the least bit dry, hard or transistory
  • Practically impossible to find in stereo with audiophile playing surfaces – it took two different pressings to get two good sides, and they are very good indeed
  • “Produced by [Norman] Granz, Getz And Mulligan In Hi-Fi captures the two saxophone giants as they showcase a world class duet which provided them with a superb rhythm section featuring Lou Levy, proud member of The Stan Getz Quartet at the piano who play with impeccable style and well-conceived ideas that swing with unique vitality, while Ray Brown’s bass solidify the combo’s edge.”

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Ray Brown – And The All-Stars Band – Cannonball Adderley

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

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These two sides offer bigger brass, more transparency and more presence than any other sides we played! This may become one of your favorite big band albums to demo or test with. Or you can just enjoy the hell out of it if you prefer. So transparent and tonally correct, this is a killer sounding copy. We put this one right up there with the best of the Verve jazz titles we’ve done to date.

This is the kind of HUGE, RICH sound that Ray Hall engineered with tubes back in 1962, and it’s glorious to hear in 2017.

This album sounds like a big room full of musicians playing live, which it surely was. The Tubey Magical richness of the 1962 recording is breathtaking – no modern record can touch it.

The best copies recreate a live studio space the size of which you will not believe.

The Sound

Both sides are tonally correct, Tubey Magical and above all natural. The timbre of each and every instrument is right and it doesn’t take a pair of golden ears to hear it.

It’s also big, clear and balanced, with an especially sweet, rich, tubey sax for Cannonball’s solos — what a sound! So high-resolution too. The top extends beautifully on this copy, and that was not true for most of what we played.

If you love ’50s and ’60s jazz you cannot go wrong here. (more…)

Bellson Brown Smith / Intensive Care – A Killer Direct to Disc Recording on Discwasher

More Jazz Recordings Featuring the Piano

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

This Discwasher Direct-to-Disc LP pressed in Japan is one of my all time favorite Direct-to-Discs. Piano trio doesn’t get much better than this.

This is an outstanding recording, comparable to my favorite piano trio of all time: The Three. The playing is extremely energetic and involving. The sound is some of the best I’ve heard. The engineering is by Phil Schier, who also recorded another favorite direct disc of mine, Friendship.

This record probably doesn’t have the reputation it deserves because it came out on the Discwasher label, which to my knowledge, only made one good record, this one. The same metalwork would have been used to make the version Pausa released, and that fairly common pressing may be virtually identical to this Discwasher pressing.

If you want a good jazz Direct to Disc, you would be hard pressed to find one better than this.

Includes Paul Smith on piano, Ray Brown on bass and Louie Bellson on drums.


FURTHER READING

Record Collecting for Audiophiles – A Guide to Understanding The Fundamentals

Record Collecting for Audiophiles – 45 RPM Pressings

Record Collecting for Audiophiles – Audiophile Pressings

Record Collecting for Audiophiles – Direct to Disc Recordings

Record Collecting for Audiophiles – Japanese Pressings

Record Collecting Myths

 

Count Basie / Kansas City 3 – For The Second Time

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Super Hot Stamper sound on both sides of this killer piano trio recording. 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. (more…)

The Ray Brown Trio – Soular Energy

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This Concord Jazz LP has excellent sound. There is a half-speed mastered audiophile version of this record cut by Stan Ricker himself.

Now hold on: half-speed mastering by its very nature causes a dramatic loss of bass definition, not to mention the fact that much of the deep bass usually goes completely missing. This is a record built around the sound of Ray Brown’s double bass. Do you really want the lowest octave of bass to disappear and the bass above it to turn to mud on a record that features a bass player as its leader? It’s crazy, right?

I’ve never heard the half-speed and don’t plan to track one down in order to audition, but I guarantee you that this “full-speed” mastered version will blow the doors off any version mastered by Stan Ricker.

There is plenty of commentary on the website about his incompetent mastering and I recommend you take a moment to read some of it before you buy any half-speed mastered record. (We of course do not offer such records, with the exception of John Klemmer’s Touch, which is a half-speed mastered record that actually does sound good, superb in fact.)

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