More Thelonious Monk
More Vintage Hot Stamper Pressings on Columbia
- An incredible 360 label pressing of It’s Monk’s Time, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it throughout
- The piano is clear with a solid bottom end — we’re crazy for that sound, and Columbia knew exactly how to give it to us on these vintage pressings
- 5 stars: “contains some of the best — if not arguably the best — studio sides that the pianist cut during his final years as a recording musician…”
There are three main elements that comprise the sound of a top quality It’s Monk’s Time: piano, sax and drums. You need all three to be balanced and correct. The mix is perfection on the best copies, with the piano, sax and drums clearly audible and in musically correct proportion to each other.
As we played the sides we noted how each of them fared.
- PIANO. Clear, present and lively. Very high-rez.
- SAX. Smooth, rich and tubey, with no RVG squawk to be found.
- DRUMS (and BASS). Big drums in a big room. Listen to how solid that kick is. The standup bass is tight and note-like.
On the top copies, this is a truly superb sounding Thelonious Monk album. We can thank the brilliant Columbia engineers for their service to one of the authentic geniuses of jazz.
And if you own the Speakers Corner Heavy Vinyl reissue, please buy this copy and hear what you’ve been missing.
What The Best Sides Of It’s Monk’s Time Have To Offer Is Not Hard To Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1964
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
What We’re Listening For on It’s Monk’s Time
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Mint Minus Minus is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.