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White Hot Stamper

Art Pepper
Meets The Rhythm Section

  (Item #: peppemeets_1908) 

Our Price: $499.99

  • Amazing Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and solid Double Plus (A++) on the second, this is the best copy to hit the site this year!
  • The stereo sound is incredibly rich and full with wonderful immediacy, a lovely breathy sax sound and none of the bloated bass and murky mids of the originals
  • Many consider this to be the best record Art Pepper ever made. It is truly "a diamond of recorded jazz history." Allmusic, 5 stars
See all of our Art Pepper albums in stock


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White Hot Stamper

Andre Previn & His Pals
Gigi

  (Item #: previgigi_1904_1907) 

Our Price: $249.99

  • A KILLER sounding original Black Label Stereo pressing with Triple Plus (A+++) sound from the first note to the last
  • If you have never heard an All Tube Analog piano trio recording by Roy DuNann from the Golden Age of Tape, you are really in for a treat with this phenomenal sounding LP
  • Exceptionally (I'm tempted to write impossibly) quiet vinyl throughout - Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • "André Previn's ten records for Contemporary during 1957-1960 were among the finest jazz recordings of his career... Best known among the songs are "I Remember It Well" and "Thank Heaven for Little Girls," but the trio also uplifts and swings the other lesser-known tunes."
See all of our Andre Previn albums in stock


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White Hot Stamper

Hampton Hawes
Everybody Likes Hampton Hawes...

  (Item #: hawesevery_volume_3_1904_1906) 

Our Price: $249.99

  • Insanely good sound throughout for this Contemporary Yellow Label stereo pressing with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades
  • Note how correct the sound of the instruments is on these sides. Dead-on instrumental timbre is unquestionably the hallmark of any Contemporary recording, and this one is as right sounding as any we have ever played
  • "The third of three Hampton Hawes trio dates with bassist Red Mitchell and drummer Chuck Thompson is on the same high level as his first two... [he] comes up with consistently creative ideas throughout this swinging bop date."
See all of our Hampton Hawes albums in stock


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White Hot Stamper

Leroy Vinnegar Sextet
Leroy Walks!

  (Item #: vinneleroy_1904) 

Our Price: $249.99

  • Leroy Vinnegar's debut album finally arrives on the site with a KILLER Triple Plus (A+++) on side two and an outstanding Double Plus (A++) on side one
  • The Contemporary stereo sound here is completely natural in all respects - rich, warm and smooth, the sound we love
  • I had no idea this record was a Top Contemporary Title, but I sure know it now. After playing this bad boy's side two, I would put it up against practically any jazz record from the era
  • Roy DuNann and Howard Holzer engineered some of the best sounding records we have ever heard - here's a textbook example of what the audiophiles at Contemporary were able to achieve in the studio
  • 4 stars: ...Vinnegar generously features his talented sidemen... A fine, straight-ahead session.
More Leroy Vinnegar


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White Hot Stamper

Shelly Manne & His Men
At The Black Hawk, Vol. 3

  (Item #: manneatthe3_1903_1907) 

Our Price: $249.99
Sale Price: $199.00 (You save $50.99 / 20%)


  • A stunning sounding copy with a shootout winning Triple Plus (A+++) side one backed with a solid Double Plus (A++) side two
  • Both sides here are super rich, full-bodied and dynamic with a lovely smooth sax sound and none of the smear that plagues most copies
  • "Considering how much music was documented, it is fortunate that trumpeter Joe Gordon, tenorman Richie Kamuca, pianist Victor Feldman, bassist Monty Budwig and drummer Shelly Manne were in top form for this enjoyable gig. The music is high-quality straightforward and uncomplicated bebop." - All Music, 4 Stars
See all of our Shelly Manne albums in stock


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White Hot Stamper

Sonny Rollins
Alternate Takes

  (Item #: rollialter_1901_1905) 

Our Price: $249.99

  • A stunning sounding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • One of our favorite Sonny Rollins records for sound - both sides here are incredibly big, full-bodied and Tubey Magical
  • 4 1/2 stars: "This LP contains alternate versions of selections from two famous Sonny Rollins albums: Way out West and Sonny Rollins and the Contemporary Leaders. These "new" renditions of "I'm an Old Cowhand," "Come, Gone," "Way out West" "The Song Is You," "You" and "I've Found a New Baby" hold their own against the classic versions. ...the music is hard-swinging and frequently superb."
More Sonny Rollins / More Shelly Manne


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Nearly White Hot Stamper

The Curtis Counce Group
Vol 2: Counceltation

  (Item #: counccounc_1907) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • Insanely good sound throughout for this Contemporary Yellow Label pressing with both sides earning nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) grades, just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • These sides are superb -- clean, clear, full-bodied and dynamic with tons of energy
  • Counce is a wonderful bassist and here he's joined by Jack Sheldon, Harold Land, Carl Perkins and Frank Butler; I think you'll be very impressed with how good this music from the late '50s still sounds today
  • "Bassist Curtis Counce led one of the finer West Coast-based groups of the 1950s, a quintet that was greatly underrated... This excellent music falls somewhere between hard bop and cool jazz." - All Music, 4 1/2 Stars
More Curtis Counce


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Super Hot Stamper

Benny Carter
Jazz Giant

  (Item #: cartejazzg_1907_1) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • With two excellent sides each rating a solid Double Plus (A++) or BETTER, this was one of the better copies from our recent shootout; super quiet vinyl too!
  • If you still think that Analogue Productions is remastering records properly, you have definitely never heard a real Contemporary that sounds like this(!)
  • The sound of Contemporary Records is alive on this copy, with space, size, clarity and richness that no other pressing can match
  • "Benny Carter had already been a major jazz musician for nearly 30 years when he recorded this particularly strong septet session for Contemporary ... This timeless music is beyond the simple categories of "swing" or "bop" and should just be called "classic."
See all of our Benny Carter albums in stock


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White Hot Stamper

Art Pepper + Eleven
Modern Jazz Classics

  (Item #: peppemoder_1907) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • A big, bold, lively stereo copy of this exceptional Art Pepper release from 1960 - Triple Plus (A+++) on side one and Double Plus (A++) on two - reasonably quiet vinyl too
  • If you buy only one Large Group Hot Stamper jazz record from us, make it this one - the music is swingin' fun and the sound is going to be very impressive, especially if you own any modern reissue
  • Rich, warm and full-bodied, the brass is phenomenal on this pressing - here is the Tubey Magic of the originals without the problems that cause many originals to be opaque and uninvolving
  • A personal favorite - 5 stars: "This is a true classic. Essential music for all serious jazz collections."
See all of our Art Pepper albums in stock


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White Hot Stamper

Hampton Hawes
All Night Session, Vol. 2

  (Item #: hawesall_night_2_1902_1907) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • A stunning sounding copy with Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it throughout
  • Both sides here are rich, full and Tubey Magical with tons of bottom end weight and an energy level that's off the charts
  • 4 1/2 Stars: "Although Hampton Hawes spontaneously created five original tunes at this extraordinarily inspired date, everything on Vol. 2 comes directly out of the standard bop musician's working repertoire."
  • "It's hard to put into words how good it feels to play jazz when it's really swinging...I've reached a point where the music fills you up so much emotionally that you feel like shouting hallelujah -- like people do in church when they're converted to God. That's the way I was feeling the night we recorded All Night Session!""
More Hampton Hawes


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Super Hot Stamper

Benny Carter
Swingin' the '20s

  (Item #: carteswing_1907_1) 

Our Price: $169.99

  • With two superb sides each rating a Double Plus (A++) or BETTER, this Contemporary pressing was one of the better we played in our recent shootout
  • These excellent sides are so much bigger and more open, with more bass and energy - the saxes and trumpets are immediate and lively
  • Mr. Earl Hines himself showed up, a man who knows this music like nobody's business - Leroy Vinnegar and Shelly Manne round out the quartet
  • "Great musicians produce great results, and most of the LP's tracks were done in one or two takes. The result is 'a spontaneous, swinging record of what happened' when Carter met Hines 'for the first time. . . .'"


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Super Hot Stamper

Shelly Manne & His Friends
My Fair Lady

  (Item #: mannemyfai_1904_1906) 

Our Price: $169.99

  • This early Black Label Stereo pressing earned solid Double Plus (A++) grades from start to finish - practically unheard of quiet vinyl for an original!
  • This Contemporary pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce
  • Recorded entirely in one session, this album was the first jazz recording comprised entirely of songs from a Broadway musical - the results are decidedly provocative
  • 5 stars: "This trio set by Shelly Manne & His Friends... was a surprise best-seller and is now considered a classic...The result is a very appealing set that is easily recommended."
More Shelly Manne / More Andre Previn


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Nearly White Hot Stamper

Hampton Hawes
Vol 2: The Trio

  (Item #: hawesvol2t_1901_1904) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • This Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) pressing from '55/'56 mono tapes is EVERYTHING that's good about mono
  • Finishing right behind our Shootout Winner, here is the size, the weight, the solidity, the clarity, the energy, the rhythmic drive, and more!
  • Some of the best sound and the best music we have ever heard on any Hampton Hawes album
  • 4 1/2 Stars [but we give it 5]: "... this Hampton Hawes date would certainly make good company for any other top jazz piano trio records in your collection."
See all of our Hampton Hawes albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Andre Previn & His Pals
Gigi

  (Item #: previgigi_1904_1) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • A superb sounding Contemporary Yellow Label Stereo pressing with Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from the first note to the last
  • If you have never heard an All Tube Analog piano trio recording by Roy DuNann from the Golden Age of Tape, you are really in for a treat with this phenomenal sounding LP
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl throughout - Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • "André Previn's ten records for Contemporary during 1957-1960 were among the finest jazz recordings of his career... Best known among the songs are "I Remember It Well" and "Thank Heaven for Little Girls," but the trio also uplifts and swings the other lesser-known tunes."
See all of our Andre Previn albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Andre Previn & His Pals
Pal Joey

  (Item #: previpaljo_1902x) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • Superb Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides - this copy is truly a knockout Piano Trio record
  • Our best Hot Stamper copies will show you just how good Fifties All Tube Analog can sound
  • Yet another Demo Disc for Contemporary, the brilliant work of the engineering team of Dunann and Holzer
  • One of Andre Previn's better jazz performances on record - his pals Manne and Mitchell are no slouches either
More Andre Previn / More Shelly Manne


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Super Hot Stamper

Art Pepper + Eleven
Modern Jazz Classics

  (Item #: peppemoder_1903_1904) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • Both sides of this Art Pepper Must Own album earned outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades for sound - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • If you buy only one Large Group Hot Stamper jazz record from us, make it this one - the music is swingin' fun and the sound is going to be very impressive, especially compared to any modern reissue
  • Rich, warm and full-bodied, the brass is phenomenal on this pressing - here is the Tubey Magic of the originals without the problems that cause many originals to be opaque and uninvolving
  • A personal favorite - 5 stars: "This is a true classic. Essential music for all serious jazz collections."
See all of our Art Pepper albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Art Pepper
Gettin' Together

  (Item #: peppegetti_1907) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • This outstanding copy of Art Pepper's 1960 release boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • We love the amazingly natural, uncolored, un-hyped sound Roy DuNann and Howard Holzer were able to achieve at Contemporary back in the day
  • You will hear as we did playing this very copy that there's simply nothing between you and the musicians
  • 4 1/2 stars: "Pepper utilizes Davis' sidemen on this 1960 near-classic... as usual, Pepper brings something very personal and unique to his playing; he sounds like no one else."
See all of our Art Pepper albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Barney Kessel
Let's Cook

  (Item #: kesseletsc_1907) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • We were impressed with this Contemporary stereo pressing - we gave it outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades in our shootout - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The transparency and clarity are SUPERB - there's plenty of Tubey Magic, and good bottom end weight as well
  • If you like guitar jazz, do not miss out on this album. I guarantee you will be absolutely knocked out by the sound of this pressing, not to mention the wonderful music
  • Ben Webster on sax, Hampton Hawes on the piano, Victor Feldman on vibes, Shelly Manne on drums - they're all here and havin' a good time
  • "This is an excellent session from guitarist Barney Kessel... [he] keeps up with the other all-stars, swinging hard while paying tribute to the legacy of Charlie Christian."
More Barney Kessel


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Super Hot Stamper

Hampton Hawes
All Night Session!, Vol. 3

  (Item #: hawesall_night_3_1903) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • Hampton Hawes Quartet's third All Night Session! album finally arrives on the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from first note to last
  • Clean, clear, spacious and present yet still super rich and full - just the right sound for this wonderful quartet
  • 4 1/2 Stars: "... more than two hours of exceptionally fine quartet jazz. "
  • "From gently swinging to more uptempo songs this group plays almost telepathically... When people speak of jazz -- this is what should come to mind."
  • See all of our Hampton Hawes albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Hampton Hawes
At The Piano

  (Item #: hawesatthe_1906) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • This vintage Contemporary pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Huge, Tubey Magical and dynamic, with solid weight down low and lots of space around the instruments, this copy is guaranteed to fill your listening room with truly brilliant jazz music
  • "Hampton Hawes' final recording found him returning not only to the acoustic piano after having dabbled in electric keyboards from 1972-74, but to producer Lester Koenig and his Contemporary label, where Hawes recorded most of his classic gems of the 1950s... Teamed up with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Shelly Manne, Hawes shows that he was still in prime form."
See all of our Hampton Hawes albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Hampton Hawes
Everybody Likes Hampton Hawes...

  (Item #: hawesevery_volume_3_1904_1) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • Superb sound throughout for this Contemporary Yellow Label stereo pressing with both sides earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades or BETTER
  • Note how correct the sound of the instruments is on these sides. Dead-on instrumental timbre is unquestionably the hallmark of any Contemporary recording, and this one is as right sounding as any we have ever played
  • "The third of three Hampton Hawes trio dates with bassist Red Mitchell and drummer Chuck Thompson is on the same high level as his first two... [he] comes up with consistently creative ideas throughout this swinging bop date." -- All Music
See all of our Hampton Hawes albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Leroy Vinnegar Sextet
Leroy Walks!

  (Item #: vinneleroy_1905) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • This outstanding pressing of Leroy Vinnegar's debut album has solid Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides- exceptionally quiet too
  • The Contemporary LP stereo sound here is completely natural in every respect - rich, warm and smooth
  • Roy DuNann and Howard Holzer engineered some of the best sounding records we have ever heard - here's a textbook example of what the audiophiles at Contemporary were able to achieve in the studio
  • 4 stars: "...Vinnegar generously features his talented sidemen... A fine, straight-ahead session."
See all of our Leroy Vinnegar albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Ornette Coleman
Tomorrow Is The Question

  (Item #: colemtomor_1812_1903) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • An outstanding copy of Coleman's sophomore release, with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last - reasonably quiet vinyl too
  • Our Contemporary Yellow Label Stereo LP here has have breathy, full-bodied brass and lots of tight, well-defined bass
  • The top end is nicely extended, which results in excellent space, transparency and clarity
  • 4 stars: "...this is one of the things that came to define Ornette -- his willingness to let simplicity and its bright colors and textures confound not only other players and listeners, but also him too."
See all of our Ornette Coleman albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Shelly Manne & His Men
At The Black Hawk, Vol. 1

  (Item #: manneatthe1_1903_1) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • An excellent sounding vintage stereo copy with Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish
  • This is West Coast Jazz at its best, and if anyone can capture the realism of a live jazz club, it's the engineers and producers at Contemporary
  • The sound is clean, clear and lively with tons of detail and a huge bottom end
  • Each instrument here sounds right - weighty, percussive piano; punchy drums; and lovely leading edge transients on the brass
See all of our Shelly Manne albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Sonny Rollins
Alternate Takes

  (Item #: rollialter_1901_1) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • An outstanding vintage pressing which earned solid Double Plus (A++) grades from start to finish - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • If you want to know just how amazing some of the tracks recorded during the Way Out West sessions can sound, this is the album that can show you
  • Big, rich and Tubey Magical, here is the natural tonality that's the hallmark of the best Contemporary recordings by Roy DuNann in the '50s
  • 4 1/2 stars in the AMG: "Hard-swinging and frequently superb."
More Sonny Rollins / More Shelly Manne / More Ray Brown


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Super Hot Stamper

Sonny Rollins
Way Out West

  (Item #: rolliwayou_1901_1905) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • An excellent copy, earning Double Plus (A++) grades, or close to them, on both sides
  • This stereo pressing has superb 1957 Contemporary sound - big, open and natural throughout
  • The Contemporary 1957 sax sound is so smooth and tubey it will have you drooling
  • One of our favorite Rollins records, this copy will show you why we love the recordings of Roy DuNann
  • 5 Stars: "The timeless Way out West established Sonny Rollins as jazz's top tenor saxophonist"
See all of our Sonny Rollins albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Art Pepper
Smack Up

  (Item #: peppesmack_1803_1905) 

Our Price: $99.99

  • An outstanding Contemporary stereo pressing boasting Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This is a classic from Pepper - all the songs were written by saxophonists and he tears into them with gusto and naked emotion (the two hallmarks of his playing style)
  • One of the best Contemporary titles for sound quality - as usual you can thank the brilliant engineering of Roy DuNann
  • "Pepper is very much on top of his game throughout, ably demonstrating a capacity for precision and intimidating passion. Nowhere is proof more readily available than on these sides, which project Pepper at the peak of his craft."
See all of our Art Pepper albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Hampton Hawes
Vol 2: The Trio

  (Item #: hawesvol2t_1812_1906) 

Our Price: $99.99

  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this was one of the better copies we played in our recent shootout
  • Made from '55/'56 mono tapes, this is everything that's good about '50s mono recordings - exceptionally QUIET vinyl too
  • Some of the best sound and the best music we have heard on any Hampton Hawes album - fairly quiet vinyl too
  • 4 1/2 Stars [but we give it 5]: "... this Hampton Hawes date would certainly make good company for any other top jazz piano trio records in your collection."
See all of our Hampton Hawes albums in stock


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Hot Stamper

Art Pepper
Smack Up

  (Item #: peppesmack_1811) 

Our Price: $59.99

  • An outstanding Contemporary-mastered stereo pressing boasting Hot Stamper sound on both sides - fairly quiet vinyl too
  • This is a classic from Pepper - all the songs were written by saxophonists and he tears into them with gusto and naked emotion (the two hallmarks of his playing style)
  • One of the best Contemporary titles for sound quality - as usual you can thank the brilliant engineering of Roy DuNann
  • "Pepper is very much on top of his game throughout, ably demonstrating a capacity for precision and intimidating passion. Nowhere is proof more readily available than on these sides, which project Pepper at the peak of his craft."
See all of our Art Pepper albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Ornette Coleman
Something Else!

  (Item #: colemsomet_1811_1902) 

Our Price: $49.99

  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this copy was one of the best we played in our recent shootout
  • With its presence, clarity, space and timbral accuracy, this is sure to be one of the best sounding jazz records you've heard
  • Not quite as 'out there' as some others - those of you with a taste for adventurous jazz will still find much to love
  • 4 1/2 stars:"... the most important thing about Something Else! was that, in its angular, almost totally oppositional way, it swung and still does; like a finger-poppin' daddy on a Saturday night, this record swings from the rafters of the human heart with the most unusually gifted, emotional, and lyrical line since Bill Evans first hit the scene."
More Ornette Coleman


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Andre Previn & His Pals - Pal Joey

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: previpaljo_2016) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

The piano sounds uncannily lifelike right from the start, a beautiful instrument in a natural space, tonally correct from top to bottom. I can't think of many records off the top of my head that get a better piano sound than this one.

ROY DUNANN and HOWARD HOLZER in 1957 are hard to beat.

More Andre Previn


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Andre Previn & His Pals - West Side Story

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: previwests_2016) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This superb sounding Black Label Stereo Contemporary pressing has close to Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on side two. Side one earned a Double Plus, which makes this by far the best copy to ever hit the site and a great way to hear this classic piano trio swingin' in 1959. This is yet another Demo Disc for Contemporary, more brilliant work from house engineer Roy Dunann.

More Andre Previn / More Shelly Manne


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Art Pepper + Eleven - Modern Jazz Classics

Black Label Original with Very Good Sound (!)

  (Item #: peppemoder_2008) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

SURPRISINGLY GOOD SOUND AND QUIET VINYL ON THIS BLACK LABEL ORIGINAL! Clean early copies like these don’t grow on trees, and ones that actually sound good are even more difficult to find. The sound is full-bodied and energetic with more tubey magic than the average later copies.

As tends to be the case with these Black Label copies, the bass could stand to be tighter. The later copies offer an extra degree of resolution, but we know some people prefer these early copies for their richness and sweetness (which, as we've written about extensively, comes at price).

More Art Pepper


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Art Pepper + Eleven - Modern Jazz Classics

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: peppemoder_yellow_2008) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

Oh Yeah! This Contemporary Yellow Label LP DESTROYED the competition in our big shootout this week, rating ABOVE A++ on BOTH SIDES. We didn’t hear better sound for either side on any other copy we played. Drop the needle on any track and prepare yourself to be BLOWN AWAY! The sound is full-bodied and energetic with tight bass, breathy brass, and lots of ambience.

More Art Pepper


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Art Pepper + Eleven - Modern Jazz Classics

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: peppemoder_2015) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

On a great copy such as this one, you can really pick out each of the musicians and follow them throughout the course of each song. When you're able to appreciate everyone's contributions, you can really get a better sense of how much work went into making this album. It's nothing short of epic!

This is one DYNAMIC jazz record -- drop the needle on any track and prepare yourself to be very impressed. The sound is full-bodied and energetic with tight bass, breathy brass, and lots of ambience.

More Art Pepper


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Art Pepper + Eleven

The Originals Are Better, Right?

  (Item #: peppemoder_original) 



Nope. It’s just another Record Myth.

We used to get the original Contemporary pressings in all the time, but so few are mastered right practically none ever make it to the site. Some are pure muck; others have bass that's so bloated it's hard to tell if it's electric or acoustic. And where's the presence? We dropped the needle on a few Black Label copies of this title and were entirely underwhelmed.

More Art Pepper


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Art Pepper - ... The Way It Was

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: peppethewa_2013) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This Contemporary Yellow Label 2-pack has WONDERFUL SOUND AND MUSIC and QUIET VINYL ON BOTH SIDES! It’s airy, open, and spacious with superb clarity and an extended top end. The beautiful reading of Autumn Leaves on side two is DEMO DISC QUALITY! Both of the copies in this White Hot 2-pack have one side rated A+++ and one side that just didn't meet our standards, so we combined them to give you excellent sound for the entire album.

More Art Pepper


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Art Pepper - ...The Way It Was

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: peppeitwas_2010) 


BAD ID
A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This Contemporary Yellow Label LP has WONDERFUL SOUND AND MUSIC ON BOTH SIDES! It’s airy, open, and spacious with superb clarity and an extended top end. The beautiful reading of Autumn Leaves on side two is DEMO DISC QUALITY!

More Art Pepper


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Art Pepper - At The Village Vanguard Vol. 4

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: peppeatthe_2007) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This Minty Contemporary Demo LP has WONDERFUL SOUND AND MUSIC! The highlight of this pressing is the well-defined DEEP bass -- all the intricacies really come to life. The sound is rich and sweet! And holy crap, that piano sounds really nice. On More for Les, Pepper switches from sax to clarinet and the result is a wonderful, bluesy track that is completely original. The clarinet sounds like it is in the room with you.

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Art Pepper - Friday Night At The Village Vanguard

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: peppefrida_2007) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This Original Contemporary LP has EXCELLENT MUSIC AND SOUND! The real highligh of this volume is the version of Caravan -- just listen to Art playing both alto AND tenor! There’s also a great version of Pepper’s bossa-influenced track Labyrinth. The sound is rich and full-bodied. Listen to the cymbal crashes to hear how extended the top end is. The piano has real weight to it, but the sax sounds a little bit compressed and the bass could be a bit tighter.

More Art Pepper


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Art Pepper - Gettin’ Together

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: peppegetti_2011) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

TWO GREAT SIDES on VERY QUIET vinyl, including an As Good As It Gets A+++ side two! This album, and this copy in particular, deliver some serious Art Pepper Contemporary Magic. We're big fans of Pepper and this label, and we love the sound Roy DuNann was able to get out of these guys. On the best pressings, such as this one, there's just nothing between you and the music! You will have a very hard time finding a much better sounding jazz record than side two of this copy -- anywhere.

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Art Pepper - Intensity

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: peppeinten_2008) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

Intensity is right -- this is some SERIOUSLY GOOD SOUNDING alto saxophone led quartet jazz. AMG was right to give this one 4 1/2 stars -- the musicianship is top notch and Pepper’s playing is INSPIRED throughout.

The real surprise was how well recorded this album from 1963 is. I can't recall a more DYNAMIC Contemporary. Pepper's sax gets seriously LOUD in some passages. This is very much a good thing. Not only is he totally committed to the music, but the engineers are getting that energy onto the record so that we at home can feel the moment to moment raw power of his expression.

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Art Pepper - Living Legend

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: peppelivin_2010) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

SUPERB SOUND AND MUSIC! Art Pepper’s saxophone sound is Right On The Money, breathy and airy with clearly audible leading edge transients. The lineup on this LP is stellar, with Hampton Hawes on piano and keys, Shelly Manne on drums, and the great Charlie Haden on bass guitar.

We've mentioned plenty of times what big fans we are of Contemporary Label Jazz LP's and this record is another sonic triumph for engineer Roy DuNann. The sound is warm and lively, with superb clarity and virtually no distortion. The top end is wonderfully extended, allowing you to really appreciate some fantastic cymbal work by Shelly Manne.

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Art Pepper - Saturday Night At The Village Vanguard

Reviewed in 2007

  (Item #: peppesatur_2007) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This very nice looking Contemporary LP has pretty good sound and excellent music. We played all four volumes of Art Pepper’s Village Vanguard series recently, and this copy was our favorite of the bunch. It features an intense live version of Pepper’s tune The Trip, from the wonderful album of the same title, as well as extended versions of the tunes You Go To My Head and Cherokee.

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Art Pepper - Smack Up

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: peppesmack_2009) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

WOW -- the first Smack Up Hot Stamper to hit the site in over two years! We love this album and wish we could find more great copies, but it sure ain't easy. Here's a Contemporary Yellow Label pressing that's very good on side one and INCREDIBLE on side two. The first track on side one doesn't sound quite as good as the rest of the material, but by the second track this thing is SMOKIN'.

More Smack Up / More Art Pepper


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Art Pepper - The Trip

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: peppetrip_2007) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This Autographed copy of The Trip has WONDERFUL SOUND AND MUSIC! The title ain’t lying -- this album is a TRIP! We dropped the needle on this Contemporary Yellow Label pressing and immediately stopped listening critically and began just enjoying the music and the sonics. That’s the sign of a truly exceptional album. The sound on this album is so alive and so real, you’ll feel like there’s a West Coast Jazz quartet in your living room.

The key word here is NATURAL. No phony boosted top, just smooth sweet sound everywhere you listen.

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Barney Kessel - Barney Kessel Plays Carmen (Stereo)

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: kessebarne_stereo_2014) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This original Black Label Contemporary stereo LP has a STUNNING side two! Barney Kessel Plays Carmen is one of our favorite jazz guitar recordings of all time, and on a copy like this the sound is absolutely KILLER.

As you can see from looking at the condition notes, this copy is quieter than any other we have listed to from our recent shootout. Fifties jazz doesn't play much better than this copy right here.

More Barney Kessel


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Barney Kessel - Carmen

Transparency Is Key

  (Item #: kessebarne_transparency) 



The best Hot Stamper Original Yellow Label Mono pressings have the Tubey Magic we've come to expect from Contemporary circa 1958, with that warm, rich, full-bodied sound that most engineers can't begin to understand. However, some pressings in our shootout managed to give us an extra level of transparency and ambience that the original pressings rarely do.

There's a room around this drum kit. So many copies don't show you that room, not if they have the full sound that a copy like this does. (It's amazing all the detail you can hear in a leaned-out record, but what good is that? The sound is leaned out! If you like that sound buy the OJC or the CD. Leave these wonderful originals to those of us who know the sound we're after.)

More Contemporary jazz


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Barney Kessel - Let's Cook

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: kesseletsc_2012) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

We were simply blown away by this Yellow Label pressing, which earned an A+++ for side one and an A++ for side two in a recent shootout. The transparency and clarity are SUPERB, and the amount of tubey magic is unbelievable! Folks, if you like guitar jazz, do not miss out on this album. I guarantee you will be absolutely knocked out by the sound of this pressing, not to mention the fantastic music!

More Barney Kessel


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Barney Kessel - Music to Listen to Barney Kessel By

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: kessemusic_2008) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This Minty Original Black Label Contemporary Stereo LP from 1957 has DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND! No other copy we played was in a class with this bad boy -- it does it ALL. For those of you who appreciate the sound that Roy DuNann (and Howard Holzer on other sessions) were able to achieve in the '50s at Contemporary Records, this LP is a Must-Own (unless you already have it, which is doubtful considering how hard it is to find a copy in clean condition).

More Barney Kessel


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Barney Kessel - Music to Listen to Barney Kessel By

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: kessemusic_2017) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This Triple Triple (A+++) mono pressing blew everything else out of the water - nothing could touch it! How can you beat a Roy DuNann recording of five reeds, piano, guitar and a rhythm section that includes Shelly Manne and Red Mitchell? The timbre of the instruments is so spot-on it makes all the hard work and money you've put into your stereo more than pay off.

The Demo Disc sound on this copy is really something to hear - all tube, live-to-two-track direct from the Contemporary studio.

More Barney Kessel


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Barney Kessel - Some Like It Hot

Our Shootout Winner from 2005

  (Item #: kessesomel_2005) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

Original Contemporary Black Label Stereo LP from 1959 with DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND!

For those of you who appreciate the sound that Roy DuNann and, in this case, Howard Holzer, were able to achieve in the ’50s at Contemporary Records, this LP will be a Must-Own unless you already have it. Their stuff just doesn't get any better than this. Tubey magic, richness, sweetness, dead on timbres from top to bottom -- this is a textbook example of their sound at its best.

More Barney Kessel


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Barney Kessel - Some Like It Hot

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: kessesomel_2018_) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This is absolutely the right sound for this music. There was simply nothing that could beat the Triple Plus side, in any area of reproduction. If you like the sound of relaxed, All Tube jazz recordings, you can't do much better than Some Like It Hot. Many of the copies we played suffered from blubbery bass and transient smearing, but the clarity and bass definition here are surprisingly good.

More Barney Kessel


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Barney Kessel - Vol. 3: To Swing Or Not To Swing

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: kessetoswi_2017) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This Early Contemporary Yellow Label Mono LP sure has AMAZING SOUND!

Man, this music is a blast when it sounds this good. I don’t think there’s a whole lot you could do to make this music sound any better! It’s one of the best early mono Contemporary LP I’ve ever played. It's so tubey magical and Kessel's guitar sound is out of this world.

More Barney Kessel


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Barney Kessel - Workin' Out

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: kesseworki_2013) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This is a 2-pack set of original pressings that gives you wonderful sound for both sides of this great Contemporary album, A++ for the first and A+++ for the second. There is a catch, however, one that won't bother some of you at all but will drive a few of you crazy: the side one pressing is in mono and the side two is in stereo. All that mattered to us was that they both sounded great, and a quick flip to the not-so-hot side of either pressing will quickly show you why we paired these up.

More Barney Kessel


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Barney Kessell - Easy Like

Reviewed in 2005

  (Item #: kesseeasyl_2005) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This is an original Mono Contemporary Yellow Label DEMO LP. If you can stand some surface noise this is a very good sounding LP. The sound is good; however, it's almost impossible to find quiet pressings of these old Contemporary albums. This is about as quiet as they get.

More Contemporary jazz


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Benny Carter - Jazz Giant

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: cartejazzg_2011) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

HUGE DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! This Contemporary LP sounds AMAZING -- it has a wide and open soundfield that really allows you to hear into the music. Drop the needle on track three (Carter’s Own ’A Walkin’ Thing’) to hear these guys really swinging! The sound is so natural, and it really jumps out of the speakers. This knocked our original Stereo Records pressing out of the ballpark -- it wasn't even close.

More Benny Carter


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Benny Carter - Jazz Giant

The Amazing Sounding Mono Copy We Played in 2005

  (Item #: cartejazzg_2005) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This Contemporary Yellow Label Mono LP has DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND! If you like the sound of Contemporary Records, you won’t find a better example than this! Midrange magic doesn’t get anymore magical. I don’t care who remasters this record, I don't think they can do it as well as it was done in 1958.

I haven't heard the new 45 RPM version, but I seriously doubt that it sounds like this. It wouldn't be done on vintage tube cutting equipment, and that sound is the sound we love here at Better Records.

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Benny Carter - Swingin’ The ’20s

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: carteswing_2012) 



STUNNING SOUND ON BOTH SIDES -- we've never played a better copy! The immediacy and presence of this copy will BLOW YOU AWAY -- it’ll put a swingin’ jazz quarter right in your living room. There’s plenty of extension on the top end anchored by some nice deep bass. The tonality is Right On The Money, and the overall sound is open and spacious with lots of room around the instruments.

We finally built up enough copies of this great album to do a shootout, our first since March 2008 which ought to tell you something about the used record market these days, and this one was the White Hot champion on BOTH sides. This copy had most of the Tubey Magic of the originals we played, with all of the amazing clarity and freedom from distortion of the later pressings -- the best of both worlds.

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Benny Carter on Contemporary

Tube Versus Transistor Tradeoffs

  (Item #: carteswing_original) 



In some ways yes, in some ways no, and we are happy to lay it all out for you based on the critical listening we undertook recently. Here's how we weighed the tradeoffs in the sound of the originals versus that of the reissues, with VTA advice to follow.

This superb sounding ORIGINAL Black Label Contemporary pressing of Benny Carter's swingin’ jazz quartet is the very definition of a top jazz stereo recording from the late '50s mastered through an all tube chain.
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Black, Green, Yellow...

Which Color Sounds the Best?

  (Item #: contemporary) 



Our Hot Stamper commentary from a recent shootout we did for the wonderful Helen Humes album Songs I Like to Sing discusses the sonic characteristics we find most commonly associated with the various Contemporary.

This Contemporary Black Label Original LP has that classic tube-mastered sound -- warmer, smoother, and sweeter than the later pressings, with more breath of life. Overall the sound is well-balanced and tonally correct from top to bottom, which is rare for a black label Contemporary, as they are usually dull and bass-heavy.
More Contemporary jazz


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Contemporary Jazz

One of Our Favorite Jazz Labels for Truly Audiophile Sound

  (Item #: allcontemporary) 



Contemporary did not always have the best jazz music, but it's rare to find a recording of theirs with less than top quality sound.

Click HERE to see the Contemporary records (including Fantasy reissues) we currently have on the site for sale.

And HERE to see the Contemporary records we've reviewed to date.

Finally, click HERE to see a comprehensive alphabetical listing for all the Contemporary records we have reviewed in the past as well as those currently available,


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Hampton Hawes - At The Piano

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: hawesatthe_2008) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This Contemporary Yellow Label LP has THE BEST SOUND and THE BEST MUSIC I have EVER heard on a Hampton Hawes album! When we dropped the needle on this one we could not believe our ears -- it’s got The Big Sound, that’s for sure.

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Hampton Hawes - Everybody Likes Hampton Hawes

Reviewed in 2013

  (Item #: hawesevery_volume_3_2013) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This hard-to-find '70s Contemporary reissue pressing of the 1956 mono recording has EXCELLENT sound, with both sides earning grades of A+ to A++. We don't run into Hawes' LPs the way we used to, so it was indeed a delight to find enough copies of this album to do a shootout.

Note how correct the sound of the instruments is on both sides. This is the unquestionably the hallmark of any Contemporary recording: correct instrumental timbre.

More Jazz on Contemporary


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Hampton Hawes - Four!

Our Shootout Winner from 2019

  (Item #: hawesfour_2019) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

Four! finally makes its Hot Stamper debut with stellar Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from first note to last. The timbre of the instruments in this brilliant jazz quartet is so spot-on it makes all the hard work and money you've put into your stereo more than pay off. Roy DuNann engineered some of the best sounding records we have ever heard - here's a textbook example of what the audiophiles at Contemporary were able to achieve in the studio.

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Hampton Hawes - The Green Leaves of Summer

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: hawesgreen_2018) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This Contemporary Yellow Label LP has wonderful Contemporary All Tube sound, courtesy of the amazing engineering of Howard Holzer. The piano is right -- weighty and percussive with a full-bodied tone. The bass definition is superb. The clarity and transparency here are nothing short of breathtaking.

See all of our Hampton Hawes albums in stock


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Hampton Hawes - Vol 2: The Trio

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: hawesvol2t_2016) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This Triple Plus (+++) pressing from '55/'56 mono tapes is EVERYTHING that's good about mono. The size, the weight, the solidity, the clarity, the energy, the rhythmic drive - it's all here and more. This killer pressing has the best sound and the best music we have ever heard on any Hampton Hawes album.

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Helen Humes - ’Tain’t Nobody’s Biz-ness If I Do

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: humestaint_2013) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This EXCEPTIONALLY QUIET Contemporary Recording has wonderful sound on both sides. It’s got SHOCKINGLY DYNAMIC VOCALS -- just listen to Miss Humes really belting it out on a great reading of Stardust! The sound is really rich and full with a BIG punchy bottom end. The clarity and transparency are superb, and you can really hear the leading edge transients on the various horns (Carter on trumpet, Rosolino on trombone).

You Can Depend On Me, the opening track, has an exceptionally weighty piano; it's as if Andre Previn himself were pounding on a baby grand right there in your living room!

More Contemporary jazz


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Helen Humes - Songs I Like to Sing

Our Black Label Shootout Winner

  (Item #: humessongs_blk_2007) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This Contemporary Black Label Original LP has AMAZING SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! It has that classic tube-mastered sound -- warmer, smoother, and sweeter than the later pressings with more breath of life.

More Helen Humes


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Helen Humes - Songs I Like to Sing

Our Yellow Label Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: humessongs_2008) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

Side one has OFF THE CHARTS, A+++ Master Tape Sound. It's amazingly tubey magical, yet incredibly clean and clear -- something you can't get from the tube-mastered originals. Helen's voice is PERFECTION -- breathy, full, and sweet. The orchestra sounds JUST RIGHT -- just listen to the nice bite of the brass. The overall sound is super full-bodied and rich and very transparent.

More Helen Humes


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Helen Humes - Swingin’ With Humes

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: humesswing_2008) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

SUPERB SOUND AND MUSIC! We’ve been finding great copies of Helen’s Songs I Like To Sing! for some time, but this is the first knockout copy we’ve ever found of this great title from 1961. Both sides have A+++ sound, As Good As It Gets (AGAIG).

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Helen Humes

Getting the Balance Right on Mean to Me

  (Item #: humessongs_exercise) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

Mean to Me is a favorite test track for side one, with real Demo Disc quality sound. Roy DuNann at Contemporary was able to get all his brass players together in one room, sounding right as a group as well as individual voices. The piano, bass, and drums that accompany them are perfectly woven into the fabric of the arrangement. What makes this song so good is that when the brass really starts to let loose later in the song, with the right equipment and the right room you can get the kind of sound that is so powerful you would almost swear it's live.

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Howard McGhee - Maggie’s Back In Town

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: mcghemaggi_2007) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This Contemporary LP has WONDERFUL SOUND AND MUSIC! It’s rich and full a very extended, very natural top end. The cymbals on this record sound AMAZING! Roy DuNann sure knew how to record this kind of jazz. Just listen to the leading edge transients of the trumpet or the punchiness of the drums. There's no trace of phony EQ or bad mastering whatsoever.

The lineup on this album is stellar, with Phineas Newborn, LeRoy Vinnegar and the great Shelly Manne backing McGhee. The best sounding tracks on this record are "Sunset Eyes" on side one and "Brownie Speaks" on side two.

1961 - It Was a Very Good Year


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Joe Gordon - Lookin’ Good!

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: gordolooki_2009) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This Super Hot Stamper pressing has the Contemporary Jazz Sound we LOVE here at Better Records. If you want to know what’s wrong with the sound of your Rudy Van Gelder Squakfest Records, play this LP and bathe in the kind of relaxed, NATURAL tonality that Roy DuNann is justly famous for.

More Contemporary label jazz


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Ornette Coleman - Something Else!!!!

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: colemsomet_2018) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

For us audiophiles the sound is shockingly good. If you're looking to demonstrate just how good 1958 All Tube Analog sound can be, this killer copy will do the trick.

It's not quite as 'out there' as some of his better known material, but those of you with a taste for adventurous jazz will still find much to love here.

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Red Mitchell Quartet - Red Mitchell Quartet

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: mitchredmi_2010) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

TWO SUPERB SIDES on quiet vinyl. This stunning copy of this Better Records fave has some of the best upright bass sound we've heard; it's welll-defined with texture and weight. It's also unbelievable dynamic and lively. The clarity and transparency are mindblowing here. We went crazy over the huge soundfield on this copy -- wall to wall, floor to ceiling, and then some.

More Red Mitchell


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Shelly Manne & His Friends - Bells Are Ringing

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: mannebells_2016) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

Side One

Rich and Tubey Magical in the best way, because it's still clear and spacious.

Side Two

Tight, deep bass and an extended top, with a solid piano in between, this side is hard to fault.

Better Than a Dream, the second track on this side, has one of the best sounding jazz pianos I have ever heard. My notes say "you cannot record a piano any better" and I stand behind that statement one hundred percent.

More Shelly Manne / More Andre Previn


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Shelly Manne & His Friends - Bells Are Ringing

What to Listen For

  (Item #: mannebells_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

I have a very long history with this album, dating back close to twenty years. My friend Robert Pincus first turned me on to the CD, which, happily for all concerned was mastered beautifully. We used it to test and tweak my stereo and many of those that were owned by friends.

More Shelly Manne / More Andre Previn


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Shelly Manne & His Men - At The Blackhawk Vol. 2

Reviewed in 2008

  (Item #: manneatthe2_2008) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

WONDERFUL SOUND AND MUSIC! This Contemporary Yellow Label LP is West Coast Jazz at its best! The sound is SUPERB -- airy, open, and spacious with an STUNNINGLY GOOD bottom end. You won’t believe how ALIVE the bass sounds -- the depth and definition are OUT OF THIS WORLD! Each instrument here sounds just right -- weighty, percussive piano; punchy drums; and lovely leading edge transients on the brass. Contemporary got live nightclub jazz sound down to a T here.

More Shelly Manne


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Shelly Manne & His Men - More Swinging Sounds

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: mannemores_2011) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This Contemporary Yellow Label MONO LP is West Coast Jazz at its best!

One quality of this side one that really took us by surprise was how DYNAMIC it is. The second track gets loud in a way that only one or two out of a hundred records does. (This is about the number of records we play in a week and I would have to say that no other record this week was more dynamic, hence the rough estimate above.)

More Shelly Manne


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Shelly Manne - Sounds Unheard Of!

Reviewed in 2009

  (Item #: mannesound_2009) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This Super Hot Stamper Black Label Original Contemporary pressing has SUPERB sound on BOTH sides. All that stuff we tend to say about the original tube-mastered Contemporary pressings being fat and dull does not apply here whatsoever. This record is mastered beautifully, we real transient attacks to all the percussion. When Shelly bangs on the bass drum it goes Ka-Boom and really rattles the walls. As a Demo Disc this one is pretty hard to beat!

More Shelly Manne


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Shelly Manne and Friends - My Fair Lady

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: mannemyfai_2012) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This Contemporary Black Label LP is FULL OF TUBEY MAGIC! The sound is lively and dynamic with tighter bass than the typical old Contemporary pressing. Five big stars in the All Music Guide!

More Shelly Manne


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Sonny Rollins - Alternate Takes

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: rollialter_2015) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

An absolutely killer pressing of one of our favorite jazz albums! The album is comprised of alternate takes from the Way Out West and Sonny Rollins and the Contemporary Leaders sessions, and as such there is a bit of sonic variation between these tracks and the ones on the actual albums. The best-sounding songs here, particularly the material from Way Out West, sound amazing!

More Sonny Rollins


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Sonny Rollins - Sonny Rollins & the Contemporary Leaders

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: rolliconte_2013) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

SUPERB SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! This Contemporary Green Label LP has THE BIG SOUND -- rich and so full-bodied with amazing presence and immediacy. The bass is PERFECTION -- deep, rock solid, and note-like. There’s lots of extension on the top end, letting Shelley Manne's fantastic work on the cymbals really come to life. The clarity on this copy is superb -- just listen to those leading edge transients on Sonny's sax. The guitar has the tubey qualities that we love here at Better Records -- it's warm, rich, and sweet with lots of ambience.

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Sonny Rollins - Way Out West

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: rolliwayou_2014) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

The Contemporary 1957 sax sound is so smooth and tubey it will have you drooling. All Music Guide gives it 5 Stars and so do we. Such a classic album. If you don't own a top quality Sonny Rollins album this would be a great place to start.

More Sonny Rollins


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The Curtis Counce Group - Landslide

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: counclands_2008) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This very nice looking Contemporary Yellow Label LP has the BREATH OF LIFE! Both the sax and the trumpet sound superb - you can really hear the air moving through the instruments. The clarity and transparency are superb, and the tonality is Right On The Money. The generous extension up top lets the cymbals really come to life.

More Contemporary jazz


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The Poll Winners - Straight Ahead

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: pollwstrai_2008) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This is a Minty looking Contemporary Records LP with SUPERB MUSIC AND SOUND! We pulled together enough copies to do a small shootout, and this copy was the champion for BOTH SIDES! The sound is very clean and clear, yet tubey magical.

Shelly Manne / Ray Brown / Barney Kessel


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What We Listen For

Timbre, Richness, Tubey Magic and Freedom from Artificiality

  (Item #: kessebarne_listen) 



This Home Audio Exercise entry was inspired by the wonderful qualities of the Contemporary recording you see pictured, qualities brought to our attention while doing a shootout of various pressings of the album in early 2009.

We addressed a number of issues in our commentary: first and foremost what we were listening for on the album (and what we were hearing). A bit of mono versus stereo (in this case both can be good). This is followed by some Audiophile Equipment bashing.

More Contemporary jazz


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