Top Engineers – Rudy Van Gelder

Horace Silver Quintet – The Tokyo Blues

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  • Stunning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish making this the best copy to hit the site in years
  • Both sides here are rich, Tubey Magical and present with a huge three-dimensional soundstage and tons of bottom end weight
  • “Silver’s Tokyo-influenced compositions fit right in with the subtle cross-cultural but very American hard bop he’d been doing all along… [his] compositions have a light, airy feel, with plenty of space, and no one used that space better at these sessions than Cook, whose tenor sax lines are simply wonderful, adding a sturdy, reliable brightness.” – All Music, 4 Stars

This Blue Note LP has PHENOMENAL Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout We’ve played quite a few of these over the years, and both sides here are as good as we’ve ever heard. It is an excellent recording, but it’s NOT easy to find a properly-mastered copy. Both sides here are out of this world, with the kind of of space and musicality this music demands! (more…)

John Coltrane – The Stardust Session

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

Superb sound quality courtesy of Rudy van Gelder (1958) and the brilliant mastering of David Turner (1972). The combination of old and new works wonders on this title as you will surely hear for yourself on these incredibly Hot sides.

We were impressed with the fact that these pressings excel in so many areas of reproduction. What was odd about it — odd to most audiophiles but not necessarily to us — was just how rich and Tubey Magical the reissue can be on the right pressing.

The record takes its material from three John Coltrane albums: ‘Bahia’, ‘Stardust’ and ‘Standard Coltrane.’ We would be surprised if the originals of any of them can beat the sound of this reissue. (more…)

Sonny Rollins – Alfie (Original Music From The Score)

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Alfie

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

A stunning Triple Triple Plus (A+++) pressing that is sure to beat any Sonny Rollins record you own (for sound anyway). Even though I’ve been playing this album for more than 25 years, for some reason this is the first truly killer copy to ever hit the site. A triumph for Rudy Van Gelder, a Top Impulse title, and as much a showcase for Oliver Nelson (+11) as it is for Sonny Rollins. 

This album is on the TAS Superdisc list, which is probably what first alerted me to it. I know I was listening to this album 25 years ago, just from the memory of hearing it in the condo I used to live in. It sounded great back then and it sounds even better now! You will have a hard time finding a better Sonny Rollins record, sonically or musically. It may just be my personal favorite of all his work.

Great players of course. Kenny Burrell is wonderful as always. Interestingly I never realized that Roger Kellaway is the pianist on these sessions. I saw him live years ago with Benny Carter (who was 90 at the time) and he put on one of the most amazing performances at the piano I have ever seen. For some reason he was never able to make it as a recording artist, but the guy is a genius at the keyboard.

Of course any orchestration by Oliver Nelson is going to be top flight and this is no exception. Two of his records are Must Owns in my book: Jimmy Smith’s Bashin’ and his own The Blues and the Abstract Truth. No jazz collection without them can be taken seriously.

For audiophiles who are looking for one of the best sounding jazz recordings ever made, this is it. (more…)

Rudy Van Gelder – One of Our Favorite Engineers (A Continuing Series)

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RUDY VAN GELDER is one of our favorite recording and mastering engineers. Click on the link to find our in-stock Rudy Van Gelder engineered albums, along with plenty of our famous commentary.

The really good RVG pressings (often on the later labels) sound shockingly close to live music — uncompressed, present, full of energy, with the instruments clearly located on a wide and often deep soundstage, surrounded by the natural space and cool air of his New Jersey studio. As our stereo has improved, and we’ve found better pressings and learned how to clean them better, his “you-are-there” live jazz sound has come to impress us more and more. (more…)

Gene Ammons – Blue Gene

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  • This wonderful Prestige jazz classic boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too 
  • One of the best sounding Ammons records we know of – it’s huge, rich and Tubey Magical, with a solid bottom end and energy to beat them all
  • Clean and clear and open are nice qualities to have, but rich and full are harder to come by on this record – this pressing has it all
  • “Some ballad performances in his oeuvre are a testament to an exceptional sense of intonation and melodic symmetry, powerful lyrical expressiveness, and mastery both of the blues and the bebop vernacular that can now be described as, in its own way, ‘classical.'”

For us audiophiles both the sound and the music here are wonderful. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good a 1958 All Tube Analog Prestige recording by Rudy Van Gelder can sound, this killer copy will do the trick.

This pressing is super spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience. Talk about Tubey Magic, the liquidity of the sound here is positively uncanny. This is vintage analog at its best, so full-bodied and relaxed you’ll wonder how it ever came to be that anyone seriously contemplated trying to improve it. (more…)

Airto – Free – Reviewed in 2006

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

This is a Minty looking CTI LP with VERY GOOD SOUND. 

We’re on a winning streak with RVG these days (September 2006), three in a row, in fact: Chet Baker (She Was Too Good To Me), Freddie Hubbard (Red Clay), and now this wonderful Airto record. The best music is found on side two, especially the last two tracks.

AMG 4 1/2 Star Rave Review!

Other than a couple of obscure efforts for Buddah in 1970, this was percussionist Airto’s debut as a leader, and this is still his most famous record. A brass section arranged by Don Sebesky is heard on two tracks, and such all-stars as keyboardist Chick Corea, flutist Hubert Laws, the reeds of Joe Farrell, and even pianist Keith Jarrett and guitarist George Benson make worthwhile appearances. Flora Purim joins Airto in the one vocal piece (“Free”), and “Return to Forever” receives an early recording. The music combines together jazz, Brazilian music, and aspects of fusion and funk quite successfully.

Coleman Hawkins – Night Hawk

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Night Hawk

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  • An outstanding copy with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • With a nearly perfect balance of analog richness and high-res clarity and space, this reissue showed us once again just how good an engineer Rudy Van Gelder could be back in 1961    
  • “This [album] has many fine moments from these two highly competitive jazzmen, particularly the lengthy title cut and a heated tradeoff on “In a Mellow Tone,” on which Davis goes higher but Hawkins wins on ideas.”

For us audiophiles both the sound and the music here are wonderful. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good an 1961 All Tube Analog recording can be, this killer copy will do the trick. (more…)

Kenny Burrell – Out Of This World

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Out Of This World

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  • This outstanding copy of Out Of This World boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound – exceptionally quiet vinyl too  
  • This superb RVG recording comes to life on this pressing – it’s full-bodied and above all, lively (Rudy’s trademark sound) 
  • This collaboration between Burrell and Coleman Hawkins highlights the blues roots of these two jazz greats, veterans who can swing with the best of them (which is why their discographies run for pages)
  • “Bluesy Burrell combines the finest elements of blues and bebop jazz into a blend that demonstrates just how well the styles fit together and proves that blues need not be minimalist in nature, and jazz can be a bit less rigid, allowing breathing space amidst perfect chord work and superb rhythm.”

This vintage Prestige Stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely begin to reproduce. Folks, that sound is pretty much gone and sure doesn’t seem to be 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. (more…)

Lee Morgan – The Rumproller

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

No copy we played against it nor any copy we can remember ever hearing sounded any better to us. Both musically and sonically, this is Blue Note at its best!  

There’s LIFE and PRESENCE the likes of which you almost never hear on ANY jazz record. The sound is rich and full, from the extended top end all the way down to the deepest bass.

The trumpet on this album is NEAR PERFECTION! It sounds just right to us — tonally correct with lots of texture and wonderful leading edge transients. The drums, played superbly by Billy Higgins, sound amazing as well. Just listen to the ride cymbal to hear how extended the top end is. The bottom end is Right On The Money as well — deep, punchy, and well-defined. (more…)

Jimmy Smith – Christmas Cookin’ (2008)

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

This HOT STAMPER copy of the swingingest Christmas record ever made has SWINGING SOUND to match. It’s relaxed and musical, with lovely 3D openness. 

Mostly gone is the dull, smeary blare of RVG’s horns, replaced by real leading edge transients and air going through brass, while mostly avoiding the grit and grain that all too often passes for detail. Good extension on both ends helps a lot. Harmonics up top keep the sound open and airy, and plenty of bottom end lets the solid rhythm section come through the mix like gangbusters. (more…)