Top Artists – Wynton Kelly

Wynton Kelly Trio & Sextet – Kelly Blue

xxxxx

  • Wynton Kelly’s hard-to-find second album finally makes its debut, with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • A superb pressing, with lovely richness and warmth, good space and separation between the instruments and real immediacy throughout
  • Kelly brings in jazz greats Nat Adderley, Bobby Jaspar, and Benny Golson, as well as several of his bandmates from Miles Davis’ sextet, including Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Kelly was renowned as an accompanist, but as he shows on a set including three of his originals and four familiar standards… A fine example of his talents.”
  • “Wynton Kelly demonstrates once again why he has been a major influence in the history of jazz piano.”

Jack Higgins was the engineer for these sessions. He recorded Chet Baker’s brilliant Chet album the same year, as well as many other albums for Riverside in New York in the ’50s and ’60s. (more…)

Blue Mitchell – Blue’s Moods

xxxxx

  • A superb copy of Blue Mitchell’s 1960 Riverside classic with solid Double Plus (A++) sound – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording, with the added benefit of mastering using more modern cutting equipment from the ’70s and ’80s
  • (We are of course here referring to the good modern mastering of 35+ years ago, not the typically opaque, veiled and lifeless mastering of today)
  • “Of trumpeter Blue Mitchell’s seven Riverside recordings, only this set — along with three numbers on Blue Soul — feature Mitchell as the only horn. Joined by pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Sam Jones, and drummer Roy Brooks, the trumpeter is typically distinctive, swinging, and inventive within the hard bop genre.”

(more…)

Benny Golson – Groovin’ with Golson

xxxxx

  • Benny Golson makes his debut on the site with this STUNNING pressing of his 1959 release, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • These sides show off Rudy Van Gelder’s engineering chops to full effect – they’re big, full-bodied and lively, with good studio space around all the players
  • “In this ’59 session, he stretches out on some simple blues patterns and one standard ballad. It’s all done at a swinging tempo that allows Fuller to shine on trombone with near perfect solos; the underrated Ray Bryant adds his impeccable piano touch (he’s as great as Kelly or Clark); Paul Chambers was never better on bass than here, both as accompanist and soloist; and the irrepressible drummer, Art Blakey, makes the whole session sparkle. Backed by this band, Golson is as smooth as butter in tone, and as dazzling in his virtuosity as any tenor player of the times.”

(more…)

Cannonball Adderley and His Orchestra – African Waltz

xxxxx

A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame

This copy of Cannonball’s crazy-fun 1961 album offers outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or better. ALIVE with musical energy, there’s also plenty of space for the players to occupy, a quality vital to this big group’s big sound.

This vintage pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot begin to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back.

Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). The music is not so much about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate a solid, palpable, real Cannonball Adderley and his orchestra playing live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that. (more…)

Miles Davis – In Person – Friday Night – Our Shootout Winner from 2015

More Miles Davis

More In Person – Friday Night

xxxxx

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

Normally our notes for the sound of the records we are shooting out against each other fall into two categories: what the record is doing right and what the record is doing wrong. You’ll note that in this case there was nothing wrong about the sound to write about.

The secret is TUBES – they work their magic on this music like nothing else can.

I could have picked some nits, but when a specific pressing is so clearly superior to its competition, what’s the point?

Allow me to transcribe my notes:

Side One

The right sound — big, rich, tubey and real. No need to pick nits.

Side Two

Transparent. Rich, smooth, balanced. Horn gets huge and loud the right way. Piano is full. Solid bass.

Over and out. (more…)

Miles Davis – Someday My Prince Will Come – Our Outstanding Reissue from 2014

More Miles Davis

More Someday My Prince Will Come

xxxxx

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

The first Hot copy of this classic to hit the site in over five years! Side one rates A++ to A+++ — super open and transparent with amazing immediacy.

This Red Label reissue DESTROYED the similar copies we played it against, and was also surprisingly competitive with our Super Hot (and Super Noisy) Six Eye ref copy. Most of these later pressings have superior clarity (compared to the earlier ones) but lack nearly all of the tubey magic. This one’s amazingly clean and clear, but still delivers on the tubey qualities — it’s richer, warmer, and sweeter than any other Red Label pressing we played. (more…)

Wes Montgomery – Goin’ Out of My Head

More Wes Montgomery

Goin’ Out of My Head

xxxxx

  • Incredible Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides, this early stereo copy blew the competition away with its size, Tubey Magical richness and vibrant jazz energy 
  • Once again Oliver Nelson’s Big Band arrangements take the music to another level – the guy’s a genius
  • “…it’s a classic big-band album, with smart charts by Nelson and stolen moments of Montgomery’s guitar grandeur and romantic truth scattered throughout.”

This White Hot Stamper Shootout Winner has the REAL Wes Montgomery/ Creed Taylor/ Rudy Van Gelder MAGIC in its grooves. You will not believe how big, rich and full-bodied this pressing is on both sides. Since this is one of Wes’s better albums, hearing these sides was a THRILL for us and we’re hoping it will be as big a thrill for you too.

Everything that’s good about this era of RVG’s recordings, Wes’s music and those glorious Oliver Nelson arrangements is here. For my part let me just say that this is clearly the best sound I have ever heard for Goin’ Out of My Head. (more…)

Miles Davis – Kind of Blue – Our A++++ Shootout Winner from 2013

More Miles Davis

More Kind of Blue

xxxxx

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

This Shootout Champion and Hall Of Fame pressing has TWO AMAZING SIDES. Side one was so mindblowingly good that we awarded it our extra-special Four Plus (A++++)rating, and side two was almost as good, earning our standard top grade of A+++! This is one of the very best copies we’ve ever heard, and we have literally played more than a HUNDRED copies of this album over just the last five years.

If you want to hear what a top pressing of Kind Of Blue can do on an audiophile system, this baby right here is your ticket to ride. (more…)

Miles Davis – My Funny Valentine

More Miles Davis

More My Funny Valentine

xxxxx

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

1965 Live Analog at its best. Present and lively with solid, full-bodied tonality, thanks to the engineering of the legendary Fred Plaut. A wonderful live performance, showcasing the more lyrical side of Miles.

Superb sound for this Columbia pressing. The bottom end is strong and full-bodied, there’s plenty of space and presence, and the tonality of the horns is right on.

The lineup on this record is fantastic, featuring George Coleman, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. (more…)

Miles Davis – Basic Miles – Our Four Plus Shootout Winner from 2018

More Miles Davis

More Basic Miles

xxxxx

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

We award this copy’s side two our very special Four Plus A++++ grade, which is strictly limited to pressings (really, individual sides of pressings) that take a recording to a level never experienced by us before, a level we had no idea even existed.

We estimate that less than one per cent of the Hot Stamper pressings we come across in our shootouts earn this grade. As I write this there is not a single other record on the site that earned that grade on either side. You can’t get much more rare than that.

Kind of Blue

Want to know how good our Hot Stamper Kind of Blue pressings sound? Listen to this very record. If you play the tracks that were recorded in 1958, the year before Kind of Blue, you will hear practically the same lineup of musicians.

That means Stella By Starlight and Little Melonae on side one, and Green Dolphin Street and Fran-Dance (Put Your Little Foot Right Out) on side two. We’re talking Bill Evans, John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley in their prime, 1958, with top 1958 sound to match.

The nine minute plus Green Dolphin Street that opens side two is nothing short of amazing, some of the coolest jazz you will ever hear it, on any record, at any price. With Fran Dance on the same side, that gives you about 17 minutes of great sounding jazz by Miles’ classic Kind of Blue lineup.

Side one has the same cats playing for more than 12 minutes. By my calculation that’s close to another album’s worth of material from the group. The rest of the material on this compilation is best seen as gravy; maybe not essential, but never less than interesting. (more…)