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White Hot Stamper

Freddie Hubbard
Sky Dive

  (Item #: hubbaskydi_1803) 

Our Price: $299.99

  • Off the charts "Triple Triple" (A+++) sound for this classic Freddie Hubbard CTI album - both sides won our shootout, earning our top grade of Triple Plus
  • This is the kind of spacious, low-distortion, dynamic and energetic sound Rudy Van Gelder was getting in the early '70s
  • Hubbard got together a great group of Funky Jazz players to support him here, with Don Sebesky doing his usual inventive arrangements
  • 4 Stars: "Freddie Hubbard's fourth CTI recording certainly has a diverse repertoire. The charts for the brass and woodwinds are colorful; there is a fine supporting cast that includes guitarist George Benson, Keith Jarrett on keyboards, and flutist Hubert Laws; and Hubbard takes several outstanding trumpet solos."
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Super Hot Stamper

Freddie Hubbard
Sky Dive

  (Item #: hubbaskydi_1802_2) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • Excellent sound for both sides of this classic Freddie Hubbard CTI album with each side rating a Double Plus (A++) or BETTER
  • This is the kind of spacious, low-distortion, dynamic and energetic sound Rudy Van Gelder was getting in the early '70s
  • Hubbard got together a great group of Funky Jazz players to support him here, with Don Sebesky doing his usual inventive arrangements
  • 4 Stars: "Freddie Hubbard's fourth CTI recording certainly has a diverse repertoire. The charts for the brass and woodwinds are colorful; there is a fine supporting cast that includes guitarist George Benson, Keith Jarrett on keyboards, and flutist Hubert Laws; and Hubbard takes several outstanding trumpet solos."
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Super Hot Stamper

Deodato
Prelude

  (Item #: deodaprelu_1712_1804) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • This killer pressing earned solid Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides
  • The brass and percussion are amazing on 2001 (and every other track) - thanks RVG
  • We had no idea there was space this huge in the recording until we heard the best copies
  • "Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)," won the 1974 Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance
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Super Hot Stamper

Kenny Burrell
God Bless The Child

  (Item #: burregodbl_1711) 

Our Price: $129.99

  • Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on side one and solid Double Plus (A++) grades on side two make this one of the better copies we've found
  • One of our favorite CTI albums, and surely one of the best sounding, especially on this pressing
  • Credit goes to RVG once again for the huge space that the superbly well recorded orchestra occupies
  • AMG raves, "This is Burrell at his level best as a player to be sure, but also as a composer and as a bandleader. Magnificent."
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Super Hot Stamper

Airto
Fingers

  (Item #: airtofinge_1710) 

Our Price: $119.99

  • Excellent from first note to last - Double Plus sound (A++) or BETTER on both sides, on fairly quiet vinyl
  • Great bass, solid weight to the all the drums, clarity and presence, and most important of all, energy
  • Sonically impressive funky Brazilian jazz sound with tons of lifelike percussion - thanks RVG!
  • 4 1/2 stars in the All Music Guide; a longtime Better Records favorite and Desert Island Disc
More or our albums with Airto


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Airto - Fingers

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: airtofinge_depth) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series.

At times this record really sounds like what it is: a bunch of guys in a big room beating the hell out of their drums and singing at the the top of their lungs. You gotta give RVG credit for capturing so much of that energy on tape and transferring that energy onto a slab of vinyl.

Of course this assumes that the record in question actually does have the energy of the best copies. It's also hard to know who or what is to blame when it doesn't, since even the good stampers sound mediocre most of the time. Bad vinyl, worn out stampers, poor pressing cycle, it could be practically anything.

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Airto - Fingers

Top End Extension Is Key to the Best Pressings

  (Item #: airtofinge_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of Fingers.

The best copies have the highs that are missing from so many of the CTI originals. When you play them against most copies there is an extension to the top end that you won't hear elsewhere. Since this album is heavy on percussion, that difference is critical. The HARMONICS of the percussion are critically important to the music. When they go missing it's as if the music seems to slow down, a strange effect but a fairly common one with rhythmically dense arrangements such as these.

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Airto - Fingers

Truly a Desert Island Disc

  (Item #: airtofinge_obsess) 



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

Fingers is one of our all time favorite records, a Desert Island disc to be sure. I've been playing this album for more than thirty years and it just keeps getting better and better. Truthfully it's the only Airto record I like. I can't stand Dafos, and most of the other Airto titles leave me cold. I think a lot of the credit for the brilliance of this album has to go to the Fattoruso brothers, who play keyboards, drums, and take part in the large vocal groupings that sing along with Airto.

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Airto - Free

Reviewed in 2006

  (Item #: airtofree_2006) 



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

This is a Minty looking CTI LP with VERY GOOD SOUND.

We're on a winning streak with RVG these days (September 2006), three in a row, in fact: Chet Baker (She Was Too Good To Me), Freddie Hubbard (Red Clay), and now this wonderful Airto record. The best music is found on side two, especially the last two tracks.

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Astrud Gilberto - Gilberto With Turrentine

Reviewed in 2009

  (Item #: gilbegilbe_2009) 



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

This is a CTI LP with No Bar Code on the fold-open cover. The music and sound on side two are OFF THE CHARTS! If you’re a fan of Sergio Mendes or Jobim you’re likely to really enjoy this music.

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Deodato - Prelude

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: deodaprelu_2017) 



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

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.

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Freddie Hubbard - First Light

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: hubbafirst_2011) 



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

This Super Hot Stamper original CTI pressing has a truly SUPERB side two that just put to shame most of what we played. Smeary blurred trumpet blasts? Not here. Nope, the transient bite and energy of the trumpet is as REAL as it gets.

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.

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Freddie Hubbard - Sky Dive

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: hubbaskydi_2011) 



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

With a sonic grade of A+++ this White Hot Stamper original CTI pressing has a side two that won Top Honors in our recent shootout. It's CLEARLY the best sounding side we have ever offered of this funky jazz classic, but it has serious condition issues, including a mark that plays at the end of track one all the way into track two. If you can live with that mark you will hear some amazing sound and music on side two. And if you buy this copy and realize you can't, feel free to send it back for a full refund.

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Freddie Hubbard - Sky Dive

What to Listen For

  (Item #: hubbaskydi_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on what you should be listening for when critically evaluating your copy (or ours) of the album.

Smear is by far the most common problem with the copies we played. When the transient bite of the trumpet is correctly reproduced, maintaining its full-bodied tone and harmonic structures, you know you have a very special copy of Sky Dive (or First Light or Red Clay, etc., etc.). When the sound is blurry, thick, veiled, dull or slow, you have what might be considered something more like the average copy.

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Freddie Hubbard - The Baddest Hubbard

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: hubbabadde_2008) 



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

This is the baddest copy of Baddest Hubbard we heard in our shootout. And by baddest, I mean THE BEST! It’s got tons of energy, a meaty bottom end, and amazing songs to boot. Red Clay, an AMAZING cut, sounds OUT OF THIS WORLD! The overall sound is HUGE and SPACIOUS. Hubbard was a master of funky jazz, and this pressing has the mastering that does his unique style justice.

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George Benson - White Rabbit

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: bensowhite_2015) 



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

We recently conducted another extensive shootout for White Rabbit and it was a BLAST. It always is. Benson and his funky jazz all-stars buds (Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock and Airto to name a few) tear through some great material here, and on both sides of this copy the sound as KILLER.

If you want to hear the best George Benson record we know of, this is the one. The Grammy-winning Breezin' from 1976 is a perfectly good album but it's quite a bit more commercial than the earlier White Rabbit here from 1972, his first album to make the top ten on the jazz charts.

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Grover Washington Jr. - Inner City Blues

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: washiinner_2012) 



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

TWO A+++ SIDES ON QUIET VINYL, making this the best copy of Inner City Blues we've found! This copy trounced the other ones we played, giving us the kind of open, transparent sound that brings out the best in this music. The overall sound is very clean and clear with lots of weight down low and extension up top. I don't think you could find a better sounding copy no matter what you did.

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Kenny Burrell - God Bless The Child

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: burregodbl_2015) 



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

This is one of our favorite orchestra-backed jazz records here at Better Records. A few others off the top of my head would be Wes Montgomery's California Dreaming (1966, and also Sebesky-arranged), Grover Washington's All the King's Horses (1973) and Deodato's Prelude (also 1973, with brilliant arrangements by the man himself).

On a killer copy like this the sound is out of this world. Rich and full, open and transparent, this one defeated all comers in our shootout, taking the Top Prize for sound and earning all Three Pluses.

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Miles Davis - Bitches Brew

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: davisbitch_2009) 



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

STUNNING MASTER TAPE A+++ SOUND ON SIDES ONE AND FOUR. We had no idea this music could sound anywhere near this good; every Hot Stamper shootout we had tried before this week was a complete bust. It’s not an easy album to find in clean condition, let alone a copy that sounds like this and plays quietly throughout! If jazz-fusion is your bag, sides one and four of this copy will take you on a trip like few other records could. You can hear right in to the soundfield, and you can be sure that there’s a whole lot going on in there.

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