Top Artists – Shelly Manne

The Poll Winners – Straight Ahead

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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…)

Benny Carter / Jazz Giant – Analogue Productions Fails Spectacularly Right Out of the Gate

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Sonic Grade: F

You may remember what a disaster the Acoustic Sounds‘ version from back in the ’90s was. (Or maybe you agree with Michael Fremer that they were god’s gift to the audiophile record lovers of the world. We thought they were crap right from the get go and were not the least bit shy about saying so,)

I haven’t heard the new 45 RPM version and don’t intend to, but I seriously doubt that it sounds like our good Hot Stamper pressings. We have yet to hear a single Heavy Vinyl 45 that sounds any good to us, judged by the standards we set in our shootouts.

Actually, to run the risk of sounding overly pedantic, the records themselves set the standards. We simply grade them on the curve they establish.

We guarantee that none of their LPs can hold a candle to our records or your money back. If you have one of the new pressings and don’t know what’s wrong with it, or don’t think that anything is wrong with it, try ours. It will show you just how much better a real record can sound, with more space, more transparency, more energy, more presence, more drive, more ambience –more of everything that’s good about the sound of music on vinyl.

It is our contention that no one alive today makes records that sound as good as the ones we sell. Once you hear our Hot Stamper pressing, those Heavy Vinyl records you bought might not ever sound right to you again.

They sure don’t sound right to us, but we have the good fortune of being able to play the best older pressings (reissues included) side by side with the new ones, where the faults of the current reissues become much more audible — in fact, exceedingly obvious. When you can hear them that way, head to head, there really is no comparison. 


More Heavy Vinyl Reviews

Here are some of our reviews and commentaries concerning the many Heavy Vinyl pressings we’ve played over the years, well over 200 at this stage of the game. Feel free to pick your poison. (more…)

Hampton Hawes – Four!

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More Barney Kessel

More Shelly Manne

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More Contemporary Label Jazz

  • Four! finally makes its Hot Stamper debut with stellar Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from first note to last
  • The timbre of the instruments in this brilliant jazz quartet is so spot-on it makes all the hard work and money you’ve put into your stereo more than pay off
  • Roy DuNann engineered some of the best sounding records we have ever heard – here’s a textbook example of what the audiophiles at Contemporary were able to achieve in the studio
  • 5 stars: “Pianist Hampton Hawes’ 1950s recordings for the Contemporary label are at such a high level that they could all be given five stars.”

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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

The Curtis Counce Group – Volume 1 – Landslide

More Contemporary Label Jazz

More Jack Sheldon

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  • A STUNNING copy of the group’s 1956 release with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • The clarity and transparency on this vintage pressing are wonderful, but more importantly it’s the unerringly correct tonality that’s most impressive when you play these real Contemporary pressings against the competition
  • Yet another amazing All Tube Contemporary recording from Roy DuNann and Lester Koenig at the beginning of the stereo era
  • 4 1/2 stars: “During 1956-1957, bassist Curtis Counce led an excellent Los Angeles-based hard bop quintet… All of Counce’s recordings are well-worth getting by collectors [and especially audiophiles] interested in 1950s straight-ahead jazz [with top quality sound].”

Jack Sheldon is absolutely amazing and completely original on trumpet here. Check out his stellar work on the first track, Landslide. Not only that, but the sound of his instrument is wonderful — you’ll never hear a trumpet sound so rich and full on a Rudy Van Gelder recording, that’s for sure!

Both sides are over twenty minutes, giving you a lot of well-played West Coast Jazz for your money. (more…)

Shelly Manne – 2-3-4

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  • This superb 1962 release boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) stereo sound from first note to last
  • Huge, Tubey Magical and lively, with solid weight for Manne’s kick and lots of space around all the other instruments, this Van Gelder recording is guaranteed to fill your listening room with brilliant modern jazz music
  • Shelly Manne is one of our favorite drummers – here he reunites with the great Coleman Hawkins, as well as Hank Jones, Eddie Costa and George Duvivier
  • 4 stars: “This unusual set has five selections from a date featuring the great tenor Coleman Hawkins, pianist Hank Jones, bassist George Duvivier, and drummer Shelly Manne… A very interesting set with more than its share of surprises.”

For us audiophiles both the sound and the music here are wonderful. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good a 1962 All Tube Analog Impulse recording can sound, this killer copy will do the trick. (more…)

Shelly Manne / Bill Evans – Empathy

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  • With two Triple Plus (A+++) shootout winning sides, there is nothing that could touch this original stereo copy
  • This outstanding Jazz Piano Trio album is truly a Forgotten Classic with DEMO DISC audiophile quality sound – on this copy anyway
  • So big, so rich, so transparent, so open, so musical – this copy showed us that this album can compete with any recording by Bill or Shelly
  • Allmusic 4 Stars: “Evans was freed from the musical parameters he had set for his then-current trio. The result is that his playing seemed lighter, freer, and more relaxed than it had for a while. “

There is practically nothing to fault in the sound of either side of this pressing – what a record!

Both sides are Tubey Magical, rich, open, spacious and tonally correct. We’ve never heard the record sound better, and that’s coming from someone who’s been playing the album for at least ten years. (more…)

Laurindo Almeida and The Bossa Nova All Stars – It’s A Bossa Nova World

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More Bossa Nova Recordings

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  • This superb bossa-nova classic finally makes its Hot Stamper debut with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last on this original Capitol stereo pressing
  • Here is the Tubey Magical richness, size and space that only the best vintage pressings are capable of conveying to the critical listener
  • The brilliance of this All Tube Chain recording from Capitol in their heyday makes all the hard work you’ve put into your system pay off

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Barney Kessel / Music to Listen to Barney Kessel By

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More Jazz Featuring the Guitar

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  • Music To Listen To Barney Kessel By finally returns to the site with KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) Contemporary Stereo sound on both sides
  • Their stuff just doesn’t get any better than this. Tubey Magic, richness, sweetness, dead-on timbres from top to bottom — this is a textbook example of Contemporary sound at its best
  • For those of you who appreciate what Roy DuNann (and Howard Holzer on other sessions) were able to achieve in the ’50s at Contemporary Records, this LP is a Must-Own
  • Unless you already have it, which is doubtful considering how hard it is to find a copy in clean condition
  • Barney Kessel and his five reed players take these standards and make magic with them — for fun, relaxing jazz it’s hard not to love this one

This vintage Black Label Contemporary Stereo LP from has DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND. No other copy we played was in a class with this bad boy — it does it ALL.

How can you beat a Roy DuNann recording of five reeds, piano, guitar and a rhythm section that includes Shelly Manne and Red Mitchell? The timbre of the instruments is so spot-on it makes all the hard work and money you’ve put into your stereo more than pay off.

The Demo Disc sound on this copy is really something to hear – all tube, live-to-two-track direct from the Contemporary studio. It’s pretty much everything you want in a recording from this era. I’d love to keep it but when would I have time to play it? I can assure you I will sleep very well knowing that it’s going to a good home. (more…)

Shelly Manne & His Men – At The Black Hawk, Vol. 3

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  • A stunning sounding copy with a shootout winning Triple Plus (A+++) side one backed with a solid Double Plus (A++) side two
  • This is West Coast Jazz at its best, and if anyone can capture the feeling of hearing jazz in a small club, it’s the engineers and producers at Contemporary
  • The sound is SUPERB – airy, open, and spacious with a solid bottom end – the depth and definition are out of this world
  • “Considering how much music was documented, it is fortunate that trumpeter Joe Gordon, tenorman Richie Kamuca, pianist Victor Feldman, bassist Monty Budwig and drummer Shelly Manne were in top form for this enjoyable gig. The music is high-quality straightforward and uncomplicated bebop.”

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