Top Engineers – Rudy Van Gelder

Kenny Dorham – Una Mas

Hot Stamper Blue Note Albums Available Now

More recordings by Rudy Van Gelder

xxxxx

  • Side one was the best we heard in our shootout, earning a grade of nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++)
  • It’s clear yet rich- the horns are full-bodied and warm, and the top is fairly extended
  • Side two earned a Double Plus (A++) grade – by track two it’s full, smooth and natural
  • Both sides are exceptionally quiet, playing a true Mint Minus – for Blue Note that’s rare!

A fun and lively Blue Note, presented here with two especially hot sides and quiet vinyl!

After hearing a copy that blew us away a few years back, we went on the hunt for enough pressings to get this shootout off the ground. It wasn’t easy — run across many clean Kenny Dorham LPs recently? — but we finally pulled it off and this copy really impressed the hell out of us compared to the others we had on hand to play.

Dorham is backed by a killer lineup here — Joe Henderson, Herbire Hancock, Butch Warren and Anthony Williams. AMG calls the music “explorative yet swinging music” that “lives up to its potential”. I’d say it’s one of the better “lesser-known” Blue Note titles, a real sleeper in their catalog. (more…)

Wes Montgomery – Movin’ Wes

More Wes Montgomery

xxxxx

  • Movin’ Wes finally arrives on the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more richness, fullness and presence on this copy than anything you have ever heard, and that’s especially true if you made the mistake of buying whatever godawful Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently on the market
  • Credit goes to Rudy Van Gelder once again for the huge space this superbly well-recorded group occupies
  • “The guitarist is in excellent form here, playing a nimble solo on the up-tempo waltz ‘Senza Fine’, as well on old favourites from previous albums like ‘Born To Blue’ and ‘West Coast Blues.”

(more…)

Deodato / Prelude – Our Shootout Winner from 2017

More Deodato

Yet Another Well Recorded Album that Should Be More Popular with Audiophiles

xxx

Listen to the trumpet on the second track on side one — it’s so immediate, it’s practically JUMPING out of the soundfield, just bursting with energy. Rudy can really pull off these big productions on occasion, and this session was clearly one of them. If you have the kind of stereo that’s right for this music (the bigger the better) you could easily find yourself using this record as a demonstration disc. It’s very unlikely your audiophile friends have ever heard anything like it.

Both sides are especially full and rich. The congas are present in the mix and very full-bodied — this allow them to really drive the rhythmic energy of the music. We know this because the copies with congas that were veiled or thin never seemed to get up go. The bass on these two sides was some of the best we heard as well.

The top is most often the problem with these CTI pressings. Both sides here seem to give you all the top end that was on the tape.

There is wonderful transparency and openness to the soundstage, as well as less congestion in the loudest parts. Also Sprach (2001) is on side one of the album and it is KILLER here.

Both sides are also surprisingly sweet and Tubey Magical, nice qualities for a CTI record to have since so many of them are aggressive and edgy to the point of distraction. (more…)

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

Hot Stamper Pressings of Sonny Rollins’s Albums Available Now

OJC 007, the first Sonny Rollins title they picked to remaster. Too bad they did such a poor 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…)

Astrud Gilberto – Look To The Rainbow

More Astrud Gilberto

More Bossa Nova

xxxxx

  • An outstanding copy with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from first note to last
  • This kind of spacious, warm, rich, Tubey Magical analog sound is gone forever – you have to go back to 1966 to find it
  • Creed Taylor (the CTI man) produced, Gil Evans did most of the arrangements, Rudy Van Gelder and Val Valentin engineered – what’s not to like?
  • 4 1/2 stars: “This was a beautiful bossa nova record of Astrud Gilberto’s vocal stylings…”

(more…)

Freddie Hubbard – First Light

More Freddie Hubbard

More Jazz featuring the Trumpet

xxxxx

  • This vintage pressing of First Light has outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Features an outstanding lineup including Herbie Hancock on keys, Ron Carter on bass, George Benson on guitar, Airto on percussion, and Jack DeJohnette on the drums.
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The result is a masterpiece of textured sound, gorgeously far-flung charts, sweet, tight grooves, a subtle mystic feel, and some of Hubbard’s most exciting playing ever. While Red Clay [a Better Records favorite] and Straight Life are both fine albums, First Light is the one that connects on all levels — and it did with the jazz-buying public as well. A masterpiece.”

This is more of a mainstream jazz record than Red Clay or Straight Life. Hubbard was a master of funky jazz, and this pressing was one of the few in our shootout with the kind of high quality mastering that can do justice to his uniquely energetic, lightning fast jazz style. (more…)

Coleman Hawkins – Today and Now

More Coleman Hawkins

xxxxx

  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last on this superbly engineered recording by Rudy Van Gelder
  • This vintage Impulse stereo LP has plenty of Tubey Magic and driving energy – we expect nothing less from RVG in 1962, and this pressing delivers
  • Tommy Flanagan on piano provides fine support for Mr. Hawkins’ breathy stylings – both Down Beat and Allmusic awarded Today and Now 4 Stars!

We love the Tubey Magical breathy/reedy style of Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster. It seems that only the best early vinyl pressings manage to reproduce it properly. The CDs we’ve played over the years have had a tough time finding the richness in the sound; they end up being at least somewhat dry and hard, and that is simply not the right sound for this music.

Although we have a tough time finding clean copies of their 50+ year old albums (this is the first copy we’ve offered in more than 3 years), the sound Rudy Van Gelder managed to get on tape almost always makes it more than worth our while to play their records. There are literally hundreds of classic jazz records from the early ’60s that are as good as this one, if only we could find them in audiophile playing condition. We’re certainly glad we found this one. There’s not a false note or a bad track on it.

This is one of the better sounding Hawkins albums we’ve played in a while. Some of the reasons why:

Note the clear, extended top end right from the get-go on side one. The second track, a ballad, is where Coleman Hawkins really shines. (more…)

Wes Montgomery – Road Song

More Wes Montgomery

xxxxx

  • Wes Montgomery’s final album makes its Hot Stamper debut with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it throughout
  • Full-bodied, musical, warm and smooth – this should sound far better than any copy you’ve heard
  • Features the limitless talents of Herbie Hancock, Ed Shaughnessy, Richard Davis, and more
  • “These songs are short, sweet, and supported by classical-tinged string and woodwind arrangements. This is not heavy jazz in any sense. Wes sounds to be just relaxing and having fun with it…”

(more…)

Jimmy Smith – Bashin’

More Jimmy Smith

More Oliver Nelson

xxxxx

  • An outstanding copy of this Big Band Jazz classic led by Jimmy Smith with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
  • If you own only one Jimmy Smith album, make it this one – with Oliver Nelson’s arrangements ferociously blasting away, at good loud levels the first side here has the power to swing like you will not believe
  • 5 stars: “On the first half of the program, Smith was for the first time joined by a big band. Oliver Nelson provided the arrangements, trumpeter Joe Newman and altoist Phil Woods have a solo apiece, and “Walk on the Wild Side” became Smith’s biggest hit up to that point.”

*NOTE On side one, a mark makes very light intermittent ticks through Track 3, Should I Stay or Should I Go.

This is tube mastering at its finest. Not many vintage tube-mastered records manage to balance all the sonic elements as correctly as this copy does.

For us audiophiles both the sound and the music here are enchanting. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good 1962 All Tube Analog sound can be, this killer copy will do the trick. (more…)

Benny Golson – Groovin’ with Golson

More Benny Golson

More Recordings by Rudy Van Gelder

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…)