Top Engineers – Ray Moore

Miles Davis – Porgy and Bess on the 360 Label

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  • Superb Double Plus (A++) sound throughout this vintage Columbia 360 Stereo pressing
  • The 360 label pressings don’t win shootouts, but they can sound very good, and are guaranteed to beat anything you have ever heard — from any era — at any price
  • Both sides are full of that old-school 30th Street Studio Tubey Magic – the brass is full-bodied and airy, the bass is surprisingly well-defined, the top end is extended and sweet, and the soundfield is HUGE and three-dimensional
  • The music is a classic example of the brilliant partnership between Davis and arranger Gil Evans, and a Must Own for serious jazz fans
  • 5 stars: “It was Evans’ intimate knowledge of the composition as well as the performer that allowed him to so definitively
  • If you’re a fan of the collaborations of Davis and Evans circa 1959, this album belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1959 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

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Miles Davis – Sorcerer

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  • Sorcerer demonstrates the big-as-life, spacious and unerringly accurate 30th Street Studio Sound Fred Plaut was justly famous for
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The emphasis is as much on complex, interweaving chords and a coolly relaxed sound as it is on sheer improvisation, though each member tears off thoroughly compelling solos. Still, the individual flights aren’t placed at the forefront the way they were on the two predecessors — it all merges together, pointing toward the dense soundscapes of Miles’ later ’60s work.”

Drop the needle anywhere and listen to how open, transparent and spacious this early pressing is. The soundfield is HUGE — big, wide and deep.

Everything sounds natural, balanced and correct. The bass has good tone, the piano has weight, the brass has the right amount of bite, and so on.

We had a big stack of copies for this shootout, including a bunch of 360 originals and some later Red Label pressings. You can find great sound on either label but it will probably take you quite a few copies to get there, and you’d need a serious stack to have any hope of finding two sides this good on vinyl that plays well.

And by the way, copies of classic Miles Davis albums from the ’60s are neither easy to find nor are they cheap. Hit the jazz bins at your local store and I’m sure you’ll have the same experience we’ve been having — tons of pricey modern reissues but not too many clean vintage pressings. (more…)

Miles Davis / Bitches Brew

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  • Stunning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on sides two and four with solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the other two sides
  • These sides are clean, clear, lively and present with tons of space around all of the players; you can hear right in to the soundfield, and you can be sure that there’s a whole lot going on in there
  • It’s not an easy album to find in clean condition, let alone a copy that sounds like this and plays mostly quietly throughout!
  • If jazz-fusion is your bag, sides two and four of this copy will take you on a trip like few other records could
  • “Thought by many to be the most revolutionary album in jazz history, having virtually created the genre known as jazz-rock fusion (for better or worse) and being the jazz album to most influence rock and funk musicians, Bitches Brew is, by its very nature, mercurial.”” – All Music, 5 Stars

The incredible musicianship and Teo Macero’s innovative production each help take these jazz-fusion soundscapes to places most folks had never imagined before. And a copy like this one takes the entire production to a whole new level. I can’t begin to tell you how many crappy copies have hit our table over the years, but after finding this one I’m really glad we never gave up on this album.

I remember buying this record when I was in college and I had a hell of a time trying to make any sense of it. I also bought the first two Weather Report albums and had a hell of a time with those. But then when Sweetnighter came out, which was angular but still accessible, this kind of music started to make sense to me. This is music for those who want to be challenged. It’s as true today as it was 39 years ago when this record came out.

Our favorite track on this album, Miles Runs The Voodoo Down, is found on the A+++ side four, which means the sound for it is OFF THE CHARTS. (more…)

Miles Davis – Live-Evil

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  • A STUNNING copy of Davis’ superb 1971 release, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on all four sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Exceptionally spacious and three-dimensional, as well as relaxed and full-bodied sound that blew away every other copy we played
  • A wonderful double album of both live and studio-recorded music, featuring numerous jazz greats, including Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette
  • Pitchfork’s Ryan Schreiber believed it was “easily the most accessible of Miles Davis’ late-’70s electric releases,” describing its music as “at once both sexually steamy and unsettling.” He said the live recordings “run the gamut from barroom brawl action-funk to sensual bedroom jazz magic, creating two hours of charged eccentricity you’ll never forget.”

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Gershwin / Rhapsody In Blue / Thomas

  • Gershwin’s rendition of his stunning Masterpiece makes its Hot Stamper debut with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last 
  • Lively, dynamic, transparent, spacious and musical throughout – you won’t believe how good this copy sounds
  • Using the piano roll capturing the performance of the composer himself, Gershwin’s take on the Rhapsody is spirited and jazzy, performed at a thrilling pace
  • This performance and arrangement is sure to give its audience a new perspective on what Gershwin was trying to accomplish with his “experiment for piano and jazz band.”

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Miles Davis / Bitches Brew – Not My Thing

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More Albums Whose Music We Don’t Like

I remember buying this record when I was in college and I had a hell of a time trying to make any sense of it. I also bought the first two Weather Report albums and had a hell of a time with those. But then when Sweetnighter came out, which was angular but still accessible, this kind of music started to make more sense to me.

This is music for those who want to be challenged. That’s as true today as it was 51 years ago when this record came out.

I still don’t care for it though. In my defense: de gustibus non est disputandum.

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Miles Davis – Nefertiti

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This Columbia 360 Label pressing has excellent sound on both sides and unusually quiet vinyl throughout. The music is wonderful too — Miles and his late ’60s quintet featuring Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Tony Williams are all in top form here, slowly working their way towards the electric fusion sounds that would be coming shortly. Many copies lack the kind of transparency and clarity you need to make sense of what each player is doing, but this Super Hot pressing gives you those qualities on both sides. (more…)