1958

Cannonball Adderley / Somethin’ Else

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Reviews and Commentaries for Somethin’ Else

  • A triumph for Rudy Van Gelder, a Top Blue Note title, and as much a showcase for Miles Davis as it is for Cannonball
  • The best sides of this album had as much energy, presence, dynamics and three-dimensional studio space as any jazz recording we have ever played
  • 5 stars: “Both horn players are at their peak of lyrical invention, crafting gorgeous, flowing blues lines.”
  • “…signs of Milesian influence are the calm, conversational delivery of the title track and the newfound lyricism in Adderley’s playing that followed from his nightly experience at the trumpeter’s side.”

The music here is simply amazing, but the good news for us audiophiles is that it’s also one of the BEST SOUNDING BLUE NOTE ALBUMS we know of, if not The Best. (more…)

Mendelssohn / A Midsummer Night’s Dream / Maag

More of the music of Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)

More music conducted by Peter Maag

  • A spectacular Demo Disc Quality Orchestral recording – big, clear, rich, dynamic, transparent and energetic
  • The combination of sound and performance on the best of the Maag-led Londons simply cannot be equaled
  • Maag’s performance here is famous, and widely considered definitive

Audiophiles have known of this record’s sublime sonic qualities for decades. As our stereos get better, so do amazingly natural recordings such as this one.

Speakers Corner did a reissue of this record on heavy vinyl, which was quite good — too fat in the mid-bass but otherwise acceptable. It sure doesn’t sound like this though!

This is the real thing. You won’t find too many 180 gram records that sound like this one, if you can find any. (more…)

Carlos Montoya – From St. Lous to Seville

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Living Stereo Titles Available Now

  • . A stunning Triple Plus side one backed with a better than Double Plus side two
    . Flamenco Meets Jazz in this extraordinary recording, and it works
    . The Three-Dimensional space and Tubey Magic are jaw-dropping on this copy
    . An amazing Webster Hall Living Stereo All Analog recording from 1958 – nothing else sounds like it

Ed Begley is the engineer here and he knocked this one out of the park. What an amazing sounding Living Stereo recording. Need a refresher course in tubey magic after playing too many modern recordings or remasterings? This record is overflowing with it. Rich, clear, natural, sweet, overflowing with space and ambience, absolutely correct tonality — it’s all here.

The Rhythm Accompaniment is made up of three top players from New York. Sally Montoya noted at the time: “Carlos just recorded the first Flamenco jazz record for Victor, with Osie Johnson and Milt Hinton and Barry Galbraith on electric guitar. A most relaxed and informal session. The other musicians said it was unique in their experience.”

It’s certainly a unique record in my experience, with mind-blowingly good sound and engaging music. (more…)

Esquivel – Other Worlds, Other Sounds

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More Easy Listening

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  • This early Living Stereo pressing has wonderful Double Plus (A+++) or BETTER sound from first note to last- fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Both sides are spacious and open, yet rich and and oh-so-Tubey Magical, with brass that has little to none of the “blarey” quality that plagues so many copies
  • Folks, I can tell you right now, most original Living Stereo Popular (LSP) pressings, of this or any other LSP title, do not begin to recreate the Studio Wizardry found on this 1958 album
  • “Its real significance is as the moment where Esquivel takes control of his production and develops his signature sound… This is the promise of the future.” – All Music, 4 Stars

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Ray Charles – Soul Meeting

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  • This killer pressing of Ray Charles and Milt Jackson’s 1958 collaboration boasts Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – fairly quiet vinyl for this title too
  • Full-bodied, warm and natural with plenty of space around all of the players, this is the sound of vintage analog – accept no substitutes
  • Kenny Burrell lends his innovative guitar stylings to this soulful jazz collaboration
  • 4 1/2 stars: “With Oscar Pettiford, Connie Kay, and Kenny Burrell in the various lineups, this is bluesy jazz in a laid-back manner; it surprised many hardcore R&B fans when these albums were originally issued.”

This wonderful pressing has superb sound throughout! It’s EXTREMELY rare to find a stereo copy of this title in anything but beat condition. (more…)

Big Speakers, Loud Levels and More Power to the Orchestra

Pressings that Need to Be Reproduced on Big Speakers at Loud Levels

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Recordings that Sound Their Best on Big Speakers at Loud Levels 

More Exceptionally Dynamic Demo Disc Recordings 

The darker brass instruments like tubas, trombones and french horns are superb here. Other Golden Age recordings of the work, as enjoyable as they may be in other respects, do not fully reproduce the weighty quality of the brass, probably because of compression, limiting, tube smear, or some combination of the three.

The brass on this record has a power like practically no other. It’s also tonally correct. It’s not aggressive. It’s not irritating. It’s just immediate and powerful the way the real thing is when you hear it live. That’s what really caught my ear when I first played the recording.

There is a blast of brass at the end of Catacombs that is so big and real, it makes you forget you’re listening to a recording. You hear every brass instrument, full size, full weight. I still remember the night I was playing that album, good and loud of course, when that part of the work played through. It was truly startling in its power. (Back then I had the Legacy Whisper speaker system, the one with eight 15″ woofers. They moved air like nobody’s business. If you want to reproduce the power of the trombone, the loudest instrument in the orchestra, they’re your man.)
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Ella Fitzgerald / Ella Swings Lightly – Skip the Mono with Two Extra Songs Per Side

Exceptionally lovely All Tube sound from 1958, with a huge, rich orchestra conducted by our man, Marty Paich. Grammy Award for Best Improvised Jazz Solo – these were the days when Ella was on top of the world.

When you are lucky enough to find a album that sounds as good as this one, full of standards from the Great American Songbook, you cannot help but recognize that this era for Ella will never be equaled, by her or anyone else.

The recording is outstanding, with huge amounts of space and the kind of midrange richness that might just take your breath away.

Skip the Mono

Like other albums from the ’50s, this one is much more common in mono than stereo, and, somewhat surprisingly, actually has two more songs per side. We found the sound of the mono pressings we played seriously wanting, with way too much compressor distortion when Marty Paich’s band gets going — or should we say tries to get going, because the constricted sound won’t let the band open up and swing the way it wants to.

We’re glad to say that this is a problem the best stereo copies did not have. The mono can be rich and full-bodied; on a mid-fi system it would probably sound just fine, because mid-fi stereos are rarely any good at projecting huge, three-dimensional, life-size images of a musical group this large.

On today’s modern stereos it leaves a lot to be desired, and for that reason, we say Skip the Mono.

For records that we think sound best in mono, click here. (more…)

Rossini / Overtures / Maag

More of the music of Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868)

More of Our Favorite Performances with Top Quality Sound

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  • With superb Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from start to finish, the orchestral power on display here is positively breathtaking – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • Wilkie’s Decca Tree recording is overflowing with the kind of rich, spacious, Tubey Magical sound that can only be found on vintage vinyl
  • Performances and sound like no other – Maag’s Rossini is in a league of its own
  • “You’d think Maag would approach the scores the way most conductors do: gung-ho and hell bent for leather. He doesn’t. In fact, Maag displays a good deal of reserve, calculating his interpretations for the biggest payoff. For instance, in William Tell he keeps the opening sections in check, and then he builds the final segment into a most-exciting whirlwind, the conclusion carrying you away.”

Maag breathes life into these works as only he can and the Decca engineering team led by Kenneth Wilkinson do him proud.

Everyone needs a good Rossini Overtures – the music is exciting and fun, not to mention Demonstration Quality on a pressing such as this. The combination of sound and performance on the best of the Maag-led Londons could not be equaled. Gamba on London was much too sleepy for our tastes, and the famous Reiner on RCA left a lot to be desired. It’s mid-hall perspective and dynamic compression took all the fun out of this music. After hearing the killer Maag pressings, nothing else would do!

Note that the orchestra is none other than the Paris Conservatoire, whose playing of the famously demanding Stravinsky Rite of Spring, under Monteux (LSC 2085), is absolutely stunning as well. (more…)

Billie Holiday – All Or Nothing At All

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More Titles that Sound Best in Mono

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  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound on all four sides – reasonably quiet vinyl too
  • This 2 LP set features most of the tracks from the original release plus another handful of recordings from the same period (1955-1956)
  • It’s one of the better sounding Billie Holiday records we’ve heard, any guaranteed to beat any Heavy Vinyl reissue you’ve wasted your money on
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… features some of Billie Holiday’s top Verve performances from the mid-’50s… she runs the emotional gamut from summery optimism to pathos-rich musings. Befitting her perennial after-hours mood, the majority of songs here feature Holiday in a low-down mood of the highest order.”

Naturally, the highest quality vocal reproduction has to be the main focus on a Hot Stamper pressing for any Billie Holiday record we would offer. Her voice should be rich and tubey, yet clear, breathy and present.

In addition to being tonally correct and natural, the pressings we offer must also be highly resolving. With the right room and the right equipment, properly setup and adjusted of course, you will hear everything that these vintage recordings have to offer, including the three-dimensional space of the studios in which the various sessions were recorded, under the auspices of Norman Granz.

The Sound of the Original

The original Trumpet Player Verve mono we had on hand to play suffered from an EQ problem we frequently run into during our shootouts for vintage vocal albums. Actually, to be clear, there were two main problems in the case of All or Nothing At All: a boosted midrange and occasional quite serious sibilance issues.

Ella Fitzgerald’s albums can suffer from these same two problems. It’s a trick to find the copies that are tonally correct in the midrange and do not have the kind of cutter head distortions that result in excessive sibilance. (more…)