Top Engineers – Dave Sanders

Gary McFarland – Does The Sun Really Shine On The Moon?

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Look at the track listing — these are pop tunes by The Beatles and The Beach Boys set to jazzy arrangements, perfect for your bachelor pad. Enjoy this one for what it is — enchanting pop tunes without the vocals, superbly well recorded and well played by jazz guys who know how to have fun with these kinds of songs. 

DCC did this title on CD and if you want one just drop us a note and we will include one with your order gratis.

This copy is dramatically more open and spacious than any of the other copies we’ve heard. The organ and bass are especially well recorded.

Drop the needle on God Only Knows to get a taste of how good side one sounds. (more…)

Gabor Szabo – 1969

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  • A KILLER sounding copy and the first to hit the site in many years — Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it throughout
  • Both sides here are incredibly rich and full-bodied yet still clean, clear and spacious with a HUGE three-dimensional soundfield that really allows you to hear into the music
  • Superb choice of material, with a heavy emphasis on Beatles tunes — “Dear Prudence”, “I’ve Just Seen A Face”, “In My Life” and “You Won’t See Me”, all make an appearance here
  • “Szabo acknowledges that worthwhile popular music didn’t die with George Gershwin… [he] deserves credit for bringing a jazz perspective to songs that so many other improvisers were ignoring.” – All Music

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Gabor Szabo 1969 – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

Superb choice of material, with a heavy emphasis on Beatles tunes. Now how can you go wrong with Beatles tunes? Those four Beatles tunes are the highlights of this album: “Dear Prudence”, “I’ve Just Seen A Face”, “In My Life” and “You Won’t See Me”, as well as two folkie tracks by Joni Mitchell: “Both Sides Now” and “Michael From Mountains”. A heartfelt ballad is handled with quiet and warm intimacy: Buffy Saint-Marie’s “Until It’s Time For You To Go”. More uptempo pop classics like Bobby Hyland’s “Sealed With A Kiss”, The Classics IV’s “Stormy” and The Left Banke’s “Walk Away Renee” round out the best of the rest.

That’s an awful lot of good material to work with! This is not Jazz Jazz, this is Pop Jazz: pop tunes played in a jazzy style. I love the stuff.

Ornette Coleman – Love Call – Reviewed in 2013

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

EXCELLENT A++ SOUND and QUIET VINYL for both sides of this great Ornette Coleman Blue Note album. Ornette’s music clearly isn’t for everyone, but you’ve got to hand it to the guy when it comes to getting good sound on his records. We’ve heard a number of Ornette records that had excellent sound, the trick is finding the ones that sound good and aren’t so crazy musically that there’s still appeal to the average audiophile. This one’s a bit out there for sure, but we enjoyed it — the excellent sound throughout helped the music make sense.  

Of course, good recordings don’t always get you good sounding records, and this 2-pack helps prove that point. Each of these copies had one great sounding side backed with a flip that was much more typical. Fortunately, we ended up with an A++ side one and an A++ side two, which allowed us to pair them up. If you want to see just what the Super Hot Stampers give you that the average copy lacks, it’s as easy as flipping either record over and playing the side that didn’t earn a Hot Stamper grade. And as always, if you want to leave the tedium of playing mediocre sounding vinyl to the guys who sit through stacks of it every day (that’s us, natch), don’t worry — there won’t be a quiz at the end!

The sound on the A++ sides is bigger and livelier with more presence, better clarity and more extension up top. You get tighter bass with more weight, and more air and texture to the brass. If you’ve got a taste for free jazz, I think you’ll be very impressed with the winning sides. (more…)

Astrud Gilberto – Windy

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  • A stunning sounding copy with Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout, making this one of the best copies to ever hit the site
  • Forget whatever Heavy Vinyl imposter is in print – this vintage Verve stereo pressing has the kind of High-Rez Tubey-Magical Midrange that will bring Astrud’s soft samba music to life in your very own listening room
  • “… Windy nevertheless proves one of Astrud Gilberto’s most consistent and sublime efforts, artfully straddling the division between Brazilian bossa nova and American sunshine pop.” 

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Paul Desmond – Bridge Over Troubled Water

More Paul Desmond

More Bridge Over Troubled Water

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  • Stunning sound throughout with both sides of this very well recorded Desmond album from 1970 earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades
  • This pressing was noticeably richer, smoother and more natural than the competition – it’s also a big step up over many of the other CTI pressings of the man’s albums we’ve played
  • Desmond’s sax is wonderfully present and breathy, and a copy with top grades like these is surely the best way to hear Don Sebesky’s wonderful strings with all their satiny sheen intact
  • “Desmond finds something beautiful, wistful, and/or sly to say in each of these ten tunes, backed by Herbie Hancock’s Rhodes electric piano and a set of ravishing, occasionally overstated (as in “America”) orchestrations by Don Sebesky.” (more…)

Lena Horne & Gabor Szabo – Lena & Gabor

Some sections on our site are hard to find. Here’s one with lots of cool records in it:

Forgotten Vocal Classics

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Lena Horne & Gabor Szabo – Lena & Gabor

Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the album.

This is the most realistic drum kit I have heard on a non-jazz album in my life. The drum sound on the first track is exactly the sound we all know from hanging around small clubs and our friends’ garage bands. There is simply no audible processing on any part of the kit. The drums are centered behind the vocals and lead instruments, with what sounds like to me the barest of miking, surrounded by just the right amount of unbaffled studio space.

See all of our Gabor Szabo albums in stock

When the drums come in on the first track on side one you will hear immediately what I mean. The third track on side two has especially good drums as well. The vocals on that third track, Message to Michael, are some of the most natural on the album as well. Lena can strain a bit on some songs in the loudest passages, but on others she can belt it out and stay clean all the way to the top. Listen track by track to hear how well she holds up when the bigger choruses come in.

As music lovers and audiophiles this was a truly marvelous discovery for us years ago. True, we’ve known about the album for a long time, but as a practical matter it’s been impossible to find enough clean copies to do a shootout — until now of course.

Dave Sanders, a name I — and no doubt most audiophiles — was not familiar with, brilliantly engineered the album as well as other favorites of ours, including Szabo’s 1969, Gilberto’s Windy and McFarland’s Does The Sun Really Shine On The Moon? It’s hard to find a recording he did that isn’t full of Tubey Magic, huge studio space and right-on-the-money instrumental timbres. (more…)