Top Engineers – Rudy Van Gelder

Miles Davis – Workin’ And Steamin’

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  • An outstanding Double Album with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on all four sides
  • The best sounding tracks here can hold their own with ANY Miles Davis vinyl we’ve ever heard, and that’s a whole lot of Mile Davis albums
  • 5 Stars: “This two-LP set combines a pair of classic albums by the Miles Davis Quintet of 1956, the group that also featured John Coltrane, Red Garland, Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones. …the music has plenty of variety and does not sound rushed. Davis’s beautiful muted statements made these two of his most popular albums.”

*NOTE: On sides one and two, a bubble makes 6 very soft thumps on Track 1, It Never Entered My Mind (side one), and Trane’s Blues (side two). On side four, a mark makes 15 light stitches at the beginning of Track 3, When I Fall In Love.

You might be surprised that a reissue can beat the originals, but one play of this pressing should be enough to remove all doubt.

To the Jazz Fans of the World, we here present one of the BEST sounding jazz recordings we have ever had the PRIVILEGE to place on a turntable. I cannot ever recall hearing a better sounding Rudy Van Gelder recording, and I have a theory as to why this tape is as good as it is: it’s MONO. It also sounds like it’s recorded completely LIVE in the studio, direct to one track you might say. As good a recording as Kind of Blue is, I think the best parts of this album are more immediate and more real than anything on KOB. (more…)

The Original Jazz Classics Series Got Off to a Bad Start with Sonny’s Worktime Album

The Music of Sonny Rollins Available Now

OJC 007, the first Sonny Rollins title they picked to remaster. Too bad they didn’t do a very good job with it.

The copy we auditioned did not impress us sonically, so don’t expect to see Hot Stampers of this title on OJC coming to the Better Records website any time soon.

The music might be wonderful — we unreservedly follow the maxim de gustibus non est disputandum — but the sound of this pressing is unlikely to ever be of audiophile quality.

There may be great sounding pressings of the album – how could we possibly know there aren’t without playing every version ever pressed? — but we’re pretty sure the OJC will always fall short of the mark.

We created two sections for the OJC label: one for the (potentially, it’s what Hot Stampers are all about) good sounding OJC pressings and one for the (probably, see the paragraph above) bad sounding ones.

If you know of a great sounding pressing of the album, feel free to let us in on what pressing you have and we might just pick one up and give it a listen.

We’ve auditioned countless pressings like this one in the 33 years we’ve been in business — buying, cleaning and playing them by the thousands. This is how we find the best sounding vinyl pressings ever made.

Not the ones that should sound the best. The ones that actually do sound the best. (more…)

Kenny Burrell and Jimmy Smith – Blue Bash!

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  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) grades from start to finish
  • With richness, clarity, space and timbral accuracy, this is guaranteed to be one of the best sounding bluesy jazz records you’ve heard in a while
  • Val Valentin, Phil Ramone and Rudy Van Gelder engineered, and the results are every bit as good as you would expect from these pros, assuming you have a vintage stereo copy that sounds like this one
  • 5 stars: “Kenny Burrell’s smooth, tasteful guitar greatness and Jimmy Smith’s intense, fire breathing approach on the Hammond B-3 had been complementing in sheer harmony between each other since the two jazz masters first recorded together in 1957, until they decided to record this superb duet album in July of 1963.”

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George Benson – White Rabbit

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  • You’ll find SUPERB nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on both sides of this CTI pressing of Benson’s Must Own Masterpiece – just shy of our Shootout Winner – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Open and transparent throughout, with wonderfully full-bodied guitars, solid bass and huge amounts of swingin’ jazz energy
  • Superb engineering by Rudy Van Gelder – White Rabbit features jazz legends Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Billy Cobham, Airto, and more
  • 4 stars: “For George Benson’s second CTI project, producer Creed Taylor and arranger Don Sebesky successfully place the guitarist in a Spanish-flavored setting full of flamenco flourishes, brass fanfares, moody woodwinds and such… In this prime sample of the CTI idiom, everyone wins.”

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Horace Silver – Horace-Scope

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  • This superb pressing boasts nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from start to finish – just shy of our Shootout Winner, with fairly quiet vinyl for a vintage Blue Note pressing
  • This shootout was years in the making – few copies survived in this kind of audiophile playing condition, and fewer still – far fewer still – sound as good as this one does (thanks RVG!), so Silver fans should get while the gettin’ is good
  • 4 stars: “…every selection is full of soulful grooves and well-honed group interplay, the qualities that made this band perhaps the top hard bop outfit of the early ’60s. Silver was in the midst of a hot streak that wouldn’t let up for another few years, and Horace-Scope is another eminently satisfying effort from that period.”

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John Coltrane – Soul Trane

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  • This Prestige “stereo” pressing boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides – reasonably quiet vinyl too
  • It may say stereo on the cover, but this album is pure, glorious MONO, with sound that is full-bodied, relaxed, Tubey Magical and tonally correct
  • Here is the palpable jazz energy, the life of the music, that’s sure to be missing from whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl pressing is being stamped out these days
  • “… a classic of the 20th century jazz canon and an essential point of reference in Coltrane’s own tumultuous career…. this is the album on which Coltrane first emerged as the primary innovator of the jazz world, wielding an astonishing technical virtuosity and a blinding vision of the possibilities of the tenor sax.”

Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in clean shape. Most of them will have at least some amount of ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG, and it will probably be VG+. If you are picky about your covers please let us know in advance so that we can be sure we have a nice cover for you.


This is a mono recording that has supposedly been reprocessed into stereo. Rudy Van Gelder did the mastering, and my guess is he decided to leave the sound mono and simply not tell anyone. Who can blame him? He engineered it in mono, so why fix what ain’t broke because they printed the cover and the label with the word “stereo” on them in order to generate more sales?

We’re lucky he did. The OJC reissues of this title are awful, and whatever Heavy Vinyl they’re churning out these days is probably every bit as bad. Without these excellent ’60s and ’70s reissues, all that we would have available to do our shootouts with would be the originals. At one to three thousand dollars each for clean copies, few of which could ever be found anyway, that makes for a shootout whose costs could simply never be justified.

So our thanks go to Rudy for doing a good job! (more…)

John Coltrane – More Lasting Than Bronze

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  • This superb Prestige Two-Fer offer outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from top to bottom – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Compiled from two nearly complete Classic albums, Lush Life and Coltrane, this collection boasts masterful sound – thanks RVG!
  • Full-bodied, energetic, and tonally correct from top to bottom and, these pressings are guaranteed to bring Coltrane’s music to life
  • “Rarely does a single performance uncover the essence of an artist with such aptness. The well-crafted melody is treated above all with dignity, which may be part of the reason it remains flawless.”

The jackets for these Two-Fers tend to have some ringwear. We will of course put these two discs in the nicest cover we have available.

This is the kind of recording that makes people respect Rudy Van Gelder. Believe me, most of his stuff doesn’t sound this good! And since he mastered these pressings, we have to give him even more credit for doing the transfer exceptionally well. I am on record as saying that many of his own transfers are problematical. Not this one! Since this has two of Coltrane’s greatest albums together, I can’t recommend this record any more highly. (more…)

Freddie Hubbard – Red Clay

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  • With Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides, we guarantee you’ve never heard Red Clay sound remotely as good as it does here
  • It’s one of our Five Favorite CTI albums – Red Clay is Hubbard’s Soul Jazz Masterpiece, and it’s a record that belongs in every audiophile’s jazz collection
  • Lenny White drums up a storm on this album – with sound this good, he is playing right in the room with you
  • 5 Stars: “This may be Freddie Hubbard’s finest moment as a leader, in that it embodies and utilizes all of his strengths as a composer, soloist, and frontman. [It] places the trumpeter in the company of giants such as saxophonist Joe Henderson, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Lenny White… This is a classic, hands down.”

Hubbard was a master of funky jazz, and the song Red Clay is arguably the funkiest jazz track he ever committed to tape. At 12 minutes in length it is a transcendentally powerful experience — and the bigger your speakers and the louder you turn them up the more moving that experience is going to be!

The intro to Red Clay begins with a stylized free-form jam, sounding like a bop-jazz band of old, then takes form and solidifies into a groove of monstrous proportions. Ron Carter’s bass playing is stellar! We rated this side Single to Double Plus. It’s big and lively with tons of presence and energy.

Like many of our funky favorites, this one was eventually sampled for a popular hip-hop song. That may not mean much to you, but it definitely means that nice copies of this album get swiped up quickly by young DJs and producers. (more…)

Bobby Timmons / Johnny Lytle- Workin’ Out

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  • Workin’ Out makes its Hot Stamper debut here with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • This superb recording is huge and lively with startling dynamics and in-the-room-presence
  • Credit goes to Rudy Van Gelder once again for the huge space that the superbly well-recorded group occupies
  • 4 stars: “This 1964 date was one of pianist Bobby Timmons’ most advanced recordings of the decade… filled with subtle surprises.”

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Stan Getz / Getz Au Go Go – Live and Learn

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A classic case of We Was Wrong. Many years ago we had written:

Of course, you would never know this is a good recording by playing the average domestic copy. This Japanese LP is one of the few pressings that can show you that this wonderful smoky night club jazz LP really can have Demo Disc sound.

Ridiculous, right? Well, at the time we believed it. Now our understanding is quite a bit more sophisticated, in the sense that the Japanese pressing is clearly better than most originals, not all of them.

More importantly, there are amazing sounding domestic reissues of the album that we’ve auditioned over the last ten years or so that really blew our minds and helped to set an even higher standard for the sound of Getz Au Go Go.

Our old story: (more…)