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White Hot Stamper

Stan Getz
Getz Au Go Go

  (Item #: getz_getza_1803_1) 

Our Price: $499.99

  • Truly superb sound for this incredible recording, Triple Plus (A+++) on the second side and Double Plus (A++) on the first
  • Amazingly present, immediate and REAL -- musically and sonically, this is one of our favorite jazz albums
  • This is an incredibly tough album to find with the right sound and decent surfaces, which is the main reason it's been years since we did the shootout
  • 4 stars on Allmusic: "Highly recommended for all dimensions of jazz enthusiasts." [We would of course give it the full 5 Stars]
More Stan Getz / More Kenny Burrell


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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."
More Freddie Hubbard in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Cannonball Adderley
Somethin' Else

  (Item #: addersomet_1803x) 

Our Price: $249.99

  • Outstanding sound throughout with both sides rating a solid Double Plus (A++) and playing reasonably quietly
  • A triumph for Rudy Van Gelder, a Top Blue Note title, and as much a showcase for Miles Davis as it is for Cannonball
  • Tonally correct from top to bottom, the best copies of this album set a standard that no other jazz record we're aware of can meet
  • 5 stars: "Both horn players are at their peak of lyrical invention, crafting gorgeous, flowing blues lines."
More Cannonball Adderley / More Miles Davis


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Super Hot Stamper

Johnny Hartman
I Just Dropped By To Say Hello

  (Item #: hartmijust_1802_) 

Our Price: $249.99

  • This classic Male Vocal album from the Golden Age of Recording (in this case 1963) boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • Rudy Van Gelder worked his engineering magic here - the sound is full-bodied, spacious and present, with gobs of Tubey Magic
  • If you want to hear a living, breathing Johnny Hartmann singing live in your listening room, this album can make that happen
  • 4 1/2 stars:"Hartman is heard in peak form throughout these 11 pieces... This is one of his finest recordings."
See all of our Johnny Hartman albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Sonny Rollins
Alfie (Original Music From The Score)

  (Item #: rollialfie_1801) 

Our Price: $229.99

  • This Sonny Rollins classic boasts killer Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • Though I've been playing this album for more than 25 years, for some reason this is only the third copy to ever hit the site
  • A triumph for Rudy Van Gelder, a Top Impulse title, and as much a showcase for Oliver Nelson (+11) as it is for Sonny Rollins
  • 4 1/2 Stars: "Rollins attempts to capture the textures of life through his incisive and energetic playing, his coherent improvisations, and variations on musical themes."
See all of our Sonny Rollins albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Coleman Hawkins Sextet
Desafinado

  (Item #: hawkidesaf_1802x) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • Amazing sound throughout this Impulse stereo pressing, with sides that rate a solid Double Plus (A++) or better
  • Another knockout recording from Rudy Van Gelder - he captures the preternaturally breathy quality of Hawkins' sax like nobody can
  • Pretty damn quiet on both sides - Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus - you won't find one that plays any better
  • "There have been some gimmicky bossa nova albums issued recently, but this one features music of high and enduring quality." Down Beat (1963)
See all of our Coleman Hawkins albums in stock


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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

John Coltrane
John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman

  (Item #: coltrjohnc_1802) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • An outstanding copy of this classic Jazz Vocal album, with superb Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • The sound is huge and spacious with richness and Tubey Magic like nothing you've heard
  • I defy you to find a Male Vocal record produced in the last thirty years that can hold a candle to this one, sonically or musically
  • A wonderful collaboration between a horn player and a singer, perhaps the greatest example of all time
  • "John Coltrane's matchup with singer Johnny Hartman works extremely well. Hartman was in prime form on the six ballads, and his versions of "Lush Life" and "My One and Only Love" have never been topped. Classic, essential for all jazz collections" - 5 stars
See all of our Coltrane albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Lee Morgan
The Sidewinder

  (Item #: morgasidew_1804) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • This wonderful copy of this Blue Note classic earned Double Plus (A++) grades or close to it on both sides and plays on relatively quiet vinyl
  • Unusually rich, full-bodied, lively and present sound which brings out the best in this music
  • It's nearly impossible to find clean vintage pressings of Blue Notes these days, let alone copies that sound as good as this one does
  • 5 stars: "Carried by its almost impossibly infectious eponymous opening track, The Sidewinder helped foreshadow the sounds of boogaloo and soul-jazz with its healthy R&B influence and Latin tinge... The group works together seamlessly to create an album that crackles with energy while maintaining a stylish flow."
See all of our Lee Morgan albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Stan Getz
Getz Au Go Go

  (Item #: getz_getza_1803) 

Our Price: $179.99

  • Excellent sound for this incredible recording with both sides rating a Double Plus (A++) or very close to it
  • Musically and sonically, this is one of our favorite jazz albums
  • This is an incredibly tough album to find with the right sound and decent surfaces, which is the main reason it's been years since we did the shootout
  • 4 stars on Allmusic: "Highly recommended for all dimensions of jazz enthusiasts." [We would of course give it the full 5 Stars]
More Stan Getz / More Kenny Burrell


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Super Hot Stamper

Stanley Turrentine
Sugar

  (Item #: turresugar_1801) 

Our Price: $169.99

  • With nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound, or close to it, on both sides, this copy is rich, musical and enjoyable
  • A dynamic and energetic recording by Rudy Van Gelder that really jumps on a copy like this
  • With top talent like Freddie Hubbard and George Benson, you will have a hard time finding a funkier Soul Jazz record
  • AMG raves: " If jazz fans are interested in Turrentine beyond the Blue Note period — and they should be — this is a heck of a place to listen for satisfaction."
See all of our Stanley Turrentine albums in stock


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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
See all of our Deodato albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Jimmy Smith
Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf

  (Item #: smithwhosa_1710) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • Excellent Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides and one of the better copies from our most recent shootout
  • If you dig Oliver's Nelson's swingin' BIG BRASS as much as we do you are in for a treat with this stereo pressing
  • The best sides have the kind of analog richness, warmth, and smoothness that make listening to records so involving
  • Slaughter On Tenth Avenue is the monster track leading off here, and it swings the way Walk on the Wild Side does - like crazy, man!
More Jimmy Smith / More Oliver Nelson


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Super Hot Stamper

John Coltrane
The Stardust Session

  (Item #: coltrstard_1802) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • An excellent copy of this Coltrane double album - recorded in one day! - with all four sides rating Double Plus (A++) or close to it
  • Spacious, open, transparent, rich and sweet, it's a remarkable disc from the Golden Age with the added benefit of mastering using the more modern cutting equipment of the '70s.
  • Superb sound quality courtesy of Rudy van Gelder's engineering (1958/1963) and the superior mastering of David Turner (1972)
  • 4 Stars: "...Coltrane is heard near the end of his 'sheets of sound' period, perfecting his distinctive style and taking colorful and aggressive solos."
See all of our John Coltrane albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Kenny Burrell
Midnight Blue

  (Item #: burremidni_1801_1) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • An outstanding copy of this amazing RVG recording, offering Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it from first note to last
  • One of our All Time Favorite Blue Note albums for music and sound - is there a better bluesy Jazz Guitar album?
  • AMG 5 Stars - if there were a Top 100 Jazz List on our site, Midnight Blue would be right up at the top of it
  • Jazz Improv Magazine puts the album among its Top Five recommended recordings for Burrell, indicating that "[i]f you need to know 'the Blue Note sound', here it is."
See all of our Kenny Burrell albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Paul Quinichette
On The Sunny Side

  (Item #: quinionthe_1708_1804) 

Our Price: $149.99
Sale Price: $99.00 (You save $50.99 / 34%)


  • Both sides of this long out of print OJC title boast lively, big and clear Double Plus (A++) sound quality
  • With three saxophones and a trombone, this is a fresh combination that really brings out the best in all the players during this Prestige jam session, a format for which they are justly famous
  • I raved about this album when it was in print many years ago - it's solidly swinging jazz that belongs in your collection
  • Allmusic 4 Stars: "Waldron's three originals (highlighted by "Cool-Lypso") allow plenty of room for swinging, and Quinichette (who also performs "On the Sunny Side of the Street") sounds comfortable interacting with the younger musicians. An enjoyable and underrated release."
See all of our Paul Quinichette albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Stan Getz
What The World Needs Now

  (Item #: getz_whatt_1803) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • This 1968 jazz classic boasts excellent Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it from first note to last
  • Stan interprets these songs beautifully - for those who don't mind a bit of easy listening from time to time, this is music worth playing
  • Another top jazz recording from Rudy Van Gelder - big, bold and lively, just the right sound for this music
  • "Forget those snobs who dismiss this album, Getz does a wonderful job interpreting some of Bacharach's hits. He "jazzes" up A House is not a Home" with a nice upbeat tempo and "Alfie" is lush with his wonderful tenor sax."
See all of our Stan Getz albums in stock


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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."
See all of our Kenny Burrell albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Milt Jacskon
Sunflower

  (Item #: jackssunfl_1801) 

Our Price: $129.99

  • Superb Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides - this copy of Sunflower is exceptionally musical and enjoyable
  • So open, with an extended top end, not gritty or crude, always resolving the musical information in a natural way - we loved it
  • These superstars guarantee this is real jazz: Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Billy Cobham, Freddie Hubbard et al.
  • 4 1/2 Stars: "Recorded over two days in December of 1972 at Rudy Van Gelder's home studio, vibraphonist Milt Jackson's Sunflower is the first - and best - of his three albums for Creed Taylor's CTI imprint. (And one of the finest offerings on the label.)"
See all of our Milt Jackson albums in stock


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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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Super Hot Stamper

Gabor Szabo with Gary McFarland
Gypsy ’66

  (Item #: szabogypsy_1802) 

Our Price: $119.99

  • With excellent Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on both sides this copy is superb from first note to last
  • This copy plays on relatively quiet vinyl, Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus throughout
  • The credit must go to one of, if not THE Greatest Jazz Engineers of all time, Mr. Rudy Van Gelder
  • "Szabo's original sound, the unusual instrumentation (two or three guitars, Sadao Watanabe on flute, Gary McFarland on marimba, bass, drums and percussion) and McFarland's clever arrangements uplift the music."
See all of our Gabor Szabo albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Coleman Hawkins
Hawk Eyes!

  (Item #: hawkihawke_1702s_) 

Our Price: $99.99

  • Excellent Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish and fairly quiet vinyl too
  • A wonderful ballad session from 1959 that has to be seen as yet another triumph for Rudy Van Gelder
  • Miles Davis once said: "When I heard Hawk, I learned to play ballads." He clearly learned that lesson well
  • "With such superior songs as "Through for the Night," "I Never Knew" and "La Rosita," in addition to long jams, plenty of fireworks occur during this frequently exciting session."
See all of our Coleman Hawkins albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Freddie Hubbard
Straight Life

  (Item #: hubbastrai_1801) 

Our Price: $99.99

  • Excellent Double Plus (A++) sound, or close to it, for this 1971 Five Star Freddie Hubbard album on CTI
  • The best pressings are big, clear and lively - they're like live music when the levels are way up (and we mean way up)
  • A prime example of the kind of spacious, low-distortion, dynamic and energetic sound Rudy Van Gelder was getting in the early '70s
  • 5 Stars: "Straight Life is actually arguably Hubbard's greatest recording ... Hubbard is frequently astounding on "Straight Life" (check out that introduction) and "Mr. Clean," constructing classic solos."
See all of our Freddie Hubbard albums in stock


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White Hot Stamper

Grover Washington
Feels So Good

  (Item #: washifeels_1611_1803) 

Our Price: $99.99

  • Killer Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side one and Double Plus (A++) on side two - who knew this was such a well recorded album?
  • So much like live music -- uncompressed, present, full of energy, with the instruments clearly located and surrounded by the natural space of the studio
  • An RVG recording (and mastering) from 1975 that is a KNOCKOUT on a copy like this
  • "Its shimmering, soulful grooves refute the argument that smooth jazz is little more than mere ambience, combining expert playing and intricate songwriting to create music that is both compelling and comforting." Allmusic 4 Stars
See all of our Grover Washington albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Wes Montgomery
A Day In The Life

  (Item #: montgdayin_1801x) 

Our Price: $79.99

  • You'll find excellent Double Plus (A++) sound, or close to it, on both sides of this jazz favorite
  • Another triumph for Rudy Van Gelder and his unerring skill at getting all the musical elements to work together
  • The first album Creed Taylor produced for A&M was A Day in the Life with Wes Montgomery, just days after the release of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper (and which Wes never heard before recording this album!)
  • "There is a notable quality that each Wes recording seems to retain - they just seem to be getting better as the years go by." Pat Metheny
See all of our Wes Montgomery albums in stock


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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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Antonio Carlos Jobim - Tide

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: jobimtide_2008) 



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

GREAT SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! We’ve been trying our hardest to find a Jobim record with Hot sound, because we love the music so much. It’s taken some time, but we’ve finally found a few magnificent copies of Tide -- and this one’s the champ!

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Antonio Carlos Jobim - Wave

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: jobimwave_2011) 



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

This A&M / CTI Brown Label LP is the first Hot Stamper copy to hit the site in many years! It’s noticeably more TRANSPARENT than most copies. You really HEAR INTO THE MUSIC on this LP in a way that just doesn't happen on the typical pressing. Side one is tonally correct and natural with good size and big bass -- we gave it an A++.

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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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Astrud Gilberto / Walter Wanderley - A Certain Sadness...

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: gilbeacert_2010) 



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

LOVELY SOUND AND EXCELLENT MUSIC on this unusually quiet, exceptionally good sounding Verve T-Label LP. We compiled enough of these to do a shootout and this was one of the better copies, earning A++ grades for both sides. It's full of energy with big time immediacy and wonderfully breathy female vocals. The organ sounds gorgeous!

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Bill Evans - Montreux II

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: evansmontr_2014) 



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

Both sides here have the kind of solid, full-bodied tonality that's really crucial to making sense of this music. There's plenty of space and ambience here as well!

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Cannonball Adderley - Somethin’ Else

Classic Records Reviewed

  (Item #: addersomet_classic) 



Sonic Grade: C

Another Classic Records LP reviewed.

There are certainly some incredible sounding original pressings of this album out there, but who has the resources it takes to find one? Most of the original Blue Notes we come across these days turn out to have mediocre sound, and many of them have severely damaged inner grooves. Even the mintiest looking copies often turn out to be too noisy for most audiophiles, Blue Note vinyl being what it is.

More Cannonball Adderley / More Miles Davis


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Cannonball Adderley - Somethin’ Else

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: addersomet_2013) 



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

A+++ SOUND, giving you a KILLER copy of one of the most beloved Blue Note albums ever! The music here is stunning -- as I'm sure most of you know, this is as much a showcase for Miles Davis as it is for Cannonball himself -- but the good news for audiophiles is that it's also one of the BEST SOUNDING BLUE NOTE ALBUMS we know of! When you hear it on a copy like this, it's just about As Good As It Gets.

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Cannonball Adderley - Somethin’ Else

Rudy Van Gelder Outdoes Himself

  (Item #: addersomet_setting_the_record) 



After doing this shootout, the current consensus here at Better Records is that this album deserves to hold three -- count 'em, three -- somewhat related titles:

One, The Best Sounding Blue Note record we have ever played.

Two, The Best Sounding Jazz Record we have ever played.

Three, Rudy Van Gelder's Best Engineering (based on the copies we played).

More Cannonball Adderley / More Miles Davis


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Chet Baker - She Was Too Good To Me

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: bakershewa_2017) 



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

We guarantee you have never heard this album -- or any later Chet Baker album -- sound as good as this one does.

There's so much life in these grooves. The sound jumps out of the speakers right into your lap. This kind of warm, rich, Tubey Magical analog sound is gone forever. You have to go back to 1974 to find it!

See all of our Chet Baker albums in stock


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Coleman Hawkins - At Ease With Coleman Hawkins

Our OJC Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: hawkiateas_2016) 



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

This 1960 Saxophone Ballad session has to be seen as yet another recording triumph for Rudy Van Gelder. The best pressings of these OJC reissues from 1989 sound like the vintage jazz albums they emulate, and sometimes they even beat the originals at their own Tubey Magical game. They can be every bit as rich, sweet and spacious as their earlier-pressed brethren in our experience.

In the case of At Ease with Coleman Hawkins, we simply have never seen an original copy clean enough to buy, so we have no reference for what an original would sound like.

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Coleman Hawkins - Hawk Eyes

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: hawkihawke_2016) 



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

This 1960 Saxophone Ballad session from 1960 has to be seen as yet another recording triumph for Rudy Van Gelder

The best pressings of these OJC and Prestige reissues from the '70s and '80s sound like the vintage jazz albums they emulate, and sometimes they even beat the originals at their own Tubey Magical game. They can be every bit as rich, sweet and spacious as their earlier-pressed brethren in our experience.

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Coleman Hawkins - Today and Now

Reviewed in 2015

  (Item #: hawkitoday_2015) 



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

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.

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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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Eric Dolphy - Out To Lunch

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: dolphoutto_2013) 



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

A SUPERB JAZZ DEMO DISC on unusually QUIET vinyl! Blue Note fans, take notice -- this is a VERY special pressing!

Folks, Out To Lunch is one of the ultimate Blue Note titles for both music and stereo sound, and I don't think you could find another pressing of the album that sounds this good and plays this quietly no matter how many you played, realistically speaking of course. If you've been watching our better Blue Note offerings, you probably know that this is the first Hot copy to ever make it to the site. And what a way to start off -- both sides earned A+++ grades.

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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 - Goin’ Up

Reviewed in 2006

  (Item #: hubbagoinu_2011) 



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

This very nice looking Blue Note LP has good sound and some straight ahead Blue Note jazz, the kind that Blue Note jazz fans love. The second track on side one, ’The Changing Scene’, is a wonderful ballad reminiscent of ’Round Midnight. It's the best material on the album in my opinion.

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Freddie Hubbard - Hub-Tones

Reviewed in 2007

  (Item #: hubbahubto_2007) 



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

This Blue Note reissue LP has SUPERB SOUND AND QUIET VINYL! Freddie’s trumpet sounds Right On The Money -- breathy and full-bodied with clearly audible leading edge transients. The overall sound is tonally correct with extended highs and super low distortion. It's open and spacious and wonderfully dynamic. I don't think there's anything you could do to this music to make it sound much better than this!

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Freddie Hubbard - Polar AC

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: hubbapolar_2013) 



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

We're big fans of Hubbard's CTI material around here and this album has a lot of the qualities we love about this stuff. All the usual faces are here -- Ron Carter, Billy Cobham, George Benson, Airto -- and Rudy Van Gelder does a great job capturing their performances. (We used to criticize RVG pretty harshly, but in recent years we've found more and more pressings of his stuff that really work.)

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Freddie Hubbard - Ready For Freddie

Reviewed in 2006

  (Item #: hubbaready_2006) 



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

This is a QUIET Blue Note ’70s pressing with wonderful music and pretty good sound. The trumpet here sounds excellent with lots of breath and just the right amount of bite. The track Crisis on side two should particularly appeal to audiophiles -- just check out that well-recorded bass and all the cool little drum breaks.

We hardly ever see clean copies of this album, so we don't imagine we'll ever have the resources to do a proper shootout. I don't imagine that you'll find a much better sounding copy of this album that plays this quietly.

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Freddie Hubbard - Red Clay

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: hubbaredcl_2012) 



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

This original CTI pressing has two wonderful sides, including an AMAZING A+++ SIDE TWO! This side two has amazingly good Demo Disc sound. RVG knocked this one out of the park, that's for damn sure.

Hubbard was a master of funky jazz, and the song Red Clay is possibly the funkiest jazz track he ever got down on tape. At 12 minutes in length it is a transcendentally powerful experience -- and the bigger your speakers and the louder you turn them up the more moving that experience is going to be!

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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 - Straight Life

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: hubbastrai_2017) 



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

Straight Life is a great album for anyone who wants to hear some well recorded, seriously adventurous jazz. We freely admit that side one is fairly "out there," but side two balances it out with much more accessible, melodic material. A wonderfully sensitive and emotional version of Here's That Rainy Day closes out the side with George Benson proving to be an especially sympathetic accompanist on guitar.

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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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Freddie Hubbard - The Body and Soul of Freddie Hubbard

Speakers Corner Reviewed

  (Item #: hubbabodya_speakers_corner) 



Sonic Grade: B

An outstanding Freddie Hubbard straight ahead jazz album on Speakers Corner vinyl that belongs in any jazz lover's collection.

Check out our Heavy Vinyl Scorecard to read all about the latest winners and losers.

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Freddie Hubbard - The Body and Soul of Freddie Hubbard

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: hubbabodya_2017) 



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

The bluesy version of Willow Weep For Me on side one is WONDERFUL. The rich, full-bodied sax sound is Right On The Money. The overall sound is totally transparent with superb clarity. Scrapple From The Apple (also on side one) has a silky top end anchored with deep, well-defined bass.

We had good success with both '60s originals and later copies pressed in the '70s.

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Gabor Szabo - Mizrab

Not Recommended

  (Item #: szabomizra) 



Music Grade: D (at best)

Not recommended, a weak effort from CTI in 1972. Neither the music nor the sound, at least on the copies we played, is worth your time.

This has been a public service review from the record loving audiophiles here at Better Records.

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Gabor Szabo with Gary McFarland - Gypsy ’66

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: szabogypsy_2016) 



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

One of the qualities that we don't talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record's presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small -- they don't extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don't seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy for the instruments or vocals in the center.

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Gene Ammons - Goodbye

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: ammongoodb_2010) 



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

If you want to know why Gene Ammons is considered one of the greats, skip the jam that starts out side one and go right to the ballad Alone Again (Naturally). Nobody played with more emotion than Gene Ammons.

More recordings engineered by Rudy Van Gelder


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George Benson - Bad Benson

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: bensobadbe_2012) 



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

White Hot Stamper sound on side two, which means this copy has the power to show you just how well-recorded the album really is, and how much energy and drive there is to both the sound and the music. No other side of any copy earned the full Three Plus White Hot grade, so this is a very special side indeed.

We didn't run into any awful CTI originals the way we do with the typical rock record from the '70s, but it's the rare copy that has a real top end, or much in the way of transparency, or freedom from smear. This copy has all three, without any sacrifice in richness or Tubey Magic.

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George Benson - Other Side of Abbey Road

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: bensoother_2013) 



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

An A++ side one backed with an A+++ side two! We just shot out a bunch of these and this copy finished way ahead of the pack. George Benson and a top-notch backing crew (Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Ray Baretto, Freddie Hubbard and many more) knock these jazzy Abbey Road covers out of the park, and Rudy Van Gelder did a great job putting it to tape. Of course not every pressing sounds good, but the best copies like this one are killer!

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George Benson - Tell It Like It Is

A&M Half-Speed Debunked

  (Item #: bensotellit_debunk_) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Half-Speed Mastered Audiophile Pressing Debunked.

The Half-Speed is pretty -- pretty lifeless if you ask me, in the way that so many Half-Speed mastered records are. It’s cut very clean, but until you play a good A&M pressing, you don’t know how much meat has been stripped from the bones. The best A&M pressings sound like a Rudy Van Gelder recording, which, of course, they are.

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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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Gil Evans Orchestra - Out Of The Cool

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: evansoutof_2011) 



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

This is an incredibly well-recorded big band jazz album from 1961 with excellent music, and a Hot Stamper pressing like this one gives you WONDERFUL SOUND. We've been collecting these for ages trying to get this shootout going, but it's difficult to find copies that sound like this. We went through a ton of expensive copies and only found a few that were fit to list on the site. This one fared very well, earning an A++ for side one and an A+ on side two.

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Grover Washington - Feels So Good

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: washifeels_2016) 



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

Top A+++ sound on side one and Double Plus on side two - who knew this was such a well recorded album? So much like live music -- uncompressed, present, full of energy, with the instruments clearly located and surrounded by the natural space of the studio. An RVG recording (and mastering) from 1975 that is a KNOCKOUT on a copy like this.

See all of our Grover Washington albums in stock


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Grover Washington - Mister Magic

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: washimiste_2014) 



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

The typical pressing is murky, overly smooth and lacks energy. Many copies also suffer from serious congestion and veiling. No such problems here! You get tons of space and energy, along with balanced tonality and great presence.

A 4 1/2 star album in the All Music Guide. Washington is backed here by excellent players including Bob James, Phil Upchurch, Harvey Mason, Ralph MacDonald, Eric Gale and many more.

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Grover Washington Jr. - All The King’s Horses

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: washiallth_2012) 



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

Side one of this original Kudu pressing is OUT OF THIS WORLD. The sweetness and transparency of Grover Washington Jr.’s breathy sax went beyond any copy we’ve ever played. Who knew it could sound like this? We sure didn’t!

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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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Herbie Hancock - Maiden Voyage

Keeping the Players Together

  (Item #: hancomaide_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

Freddie Hubbard on this album is nothing short of astonishing. I remember playing around with the stereo one day, listening for different effects as I made minor changes to the tracking weight, the VTA, adjustments to the Hallographs and the like, and at one point I noticed that the ensemble seemed to be really coherently connected, each of the players balanced with all the others.

It was a striking effect and it made me realize that musical values can often be overlooked while chasing after audiophile effects of one kind or another. Hearing the ensemble come together made me appreciate this album even more.

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Herbie Hancock - Maiden Voyage

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: hancomaide_2008) 



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

We just finished a big Maiden Voyage shootout, and while we didn’t come up with too many winners, we did manage to find this one KILLER copy. Side two has A+++ MASTER TAPE SOUND -- it can't be beat! You won't believe how clean, clear, open, and transparent it is. Most importantly, the energy factor is OFF THE CHARTS, and the dynamics are INCREDIBLE. Too many copies we played left us cold and bored; this one kept us engaged throughout. It's got the silkiest highs and the breathiest brass we've ever heard for this album. Most copies we played this against couldn't even come close to the richness, sweetness, and warmth we heard here.

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Herbie Hancock - My Point of View

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: hancomypoi_2017) 



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

TWO KILLER SIDES, dramatically better sounding than the other copies we played it against. Both sides here are incredible -- rich and warm with a huge bottom end and lots of space around the instruments. About as quiet as they come, Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus throughout.

See all of our Herbie Hancock albums in stock


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Herbie Hancock - Takin’ Off

A Cisco Record We Recommend

  (Item #: hancotakin_84109) 



Sonic Grade: B-

The sound is SUPERB overall, with correct tonal balance and plenty of life. I was WAY TOO HARD on this album when it first came in. It’s playing right now and really swinging!

I just learned the secret to getting this one to sound right, and I am happy to share it with you. TURN IT UP!. When you get some volume going, the musicians really come to life on this album. It may sound crazy, but you need to play this one as loud as you would play your average rock record.

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Horace Silver - Horace-Scope

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: silvehorac_2015) 



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

The really good RVG pressings (often on the later labels) sound shockingly close to live music -- uncompressed, present, full of energy, with the instruments clearly located on a wide and often deep soundstage, surrounded by the natural space and cool air of his New Jersey studio. As our stereo has improved, and we've found better pressings and learned how to clean them better, his "you-are-there" live jazz sound has come to impress us more and more.

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Horace Silver - Song For My Father

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: silvesongf_2008) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame from 1965.

This White Hot Stamper reissue pressing has the BEST SOUND WE HAVE EVER HEARD for this album -- on either side! This copy has the kind of sound and quiet vinyl we have been trying to find for years, and now it is here!

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Horace Silver Quintet - Doin’ The Thing

Reviewed in 2006

  (Item #: silvedoint_2006) 



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

This Minty Blue Note LP has EXCELLENT LIVE JAZZ SOUND! It’s rich, full, and tonally correct from top to bottom. Just listen to the cymbals on the track Doin’ The Thing -- you’ll hear how wonderfully extended the top end is.

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Horace Silver Quintet - Serenade To A Soul Sister

Reviewed in 2006

  (Item #: silveseren_2006) 



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

This very nice looking Blue Note LP has WONDERFUL SOUND! It has an extended top end which is not commonly found on most Blue Note pressings. Both the drums and piano sound correct. You can really hear the leading edge transients on the sax.

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Horace Silver Quintet - The Tokyo Blues

Reviewed in 2009

  (Item #: silvetokyo_2009) 



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

This QUIET Blue Note ’70s issue LP has a PHENOMENAL SIDE ONE and a GREAT SIDE TWO! It's one of the better sounding Blue Notes we've heard over the last few months.

I've played quite a few of these over the years and I've NEVER heard a side one this good. (We did hear a slightly better side two earlier this year.) The sound is super full-bodied and shockingly transparent with real depth to the soundfield. The brass has a nice bite and the piano sound is superb -- you can very clearly hear the sound of the little hammers hitting the strings inside! Piano jazz almost never sounds this good.

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Jimmy Smith - Any Number Can Win

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: smithanynu_2010) 



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

This is one of Rudy Van Gelder’s TRIUMPHS and one of the best Jimmy Smith album I’ve ever heard. All of side one and the last cut of side two sound STUNNING! This is dynamic, big speaker sound.

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Jimmy Smith - Bashin'

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: smithbashi_2012) 



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

Bashin' is back after a two and a half year hiatus, and it's back with a vengence -- both sides here are Super Hot, with some of the best sound we have ever heard for the album. In the past we've complained about "Rudy Van Gelder’s somewhat over the top echo-drenched brass", but on a copy such as this there is nothing to complain about!

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Jimmy Smith - Christmas Cookin’

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: smithchris_2008) 



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

This HOT STAMPER copy of the swingingest Christmas record ever made has SWINGING SOUND to match. It's relaxed and musical, with lovely 3D openness.

Mostly gone is the dull, smeary blare of RVG's horns, replaced by real leading edge transients and air going through brass, while mostly avoiding the grit and grain that all too often passes for detail. Good extension on both ends helps a lot. Harmonics up top keep the sound open and airy, and plenty of bottom end lets the solid rhythm section come through the mix like gangbusters.

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Jimmy Smith - Got My Mojo Workin’

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: smithgotmy_2010) 



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

Verve LP with RVG Stampers and very good sound. This album has that analog richness, warmth and smoothness that we prize so highly here at Better Records. Jimmy does some pop tunes, some Ellington and more on this one, which has a real funky feel to it, with Jimmy really getting into it and grunting along with the music in places.

More Jimmy Smith / More Oliver Nelson


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Joe Henderson - Page One

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: hendepageo_2009) 



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

EXCELLENT SOUND ON SIDE ONE of this Highly Recommended Blue Note classic! This ’70s pressing has sound that’s sure to beat the pants off most other copies out there. Just listen to the sound of the percussion; on the earlier pressings it tends to be smeary, but that’s certainly not the case here! The overall sound is open and transparent with incredible presence. Turn up the volume and you’ll have a smokin’ jazz quintet tearing it up right there in your living room! I don’t think Henderson made a better album than this one, and I doubt it’ll be easy tol find another copy that sounds this good!


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John Coltrane - A Love Supreme

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: coltrloves_2010) 



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

This is an original 1964 Impulse LP in superb condition. This record is ALIVE! WHen you hear a record like this, you don’t need to play the 180 gram reissue to know that the original KILLS IT. The sound here is right on the money and as good as I've ever heard it. It also plays fairly quiet, about M-, which is unusual for an original of this vintage.

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John Coltrane - Blue Train

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: coltrbluet_2011) 



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

This Blue Note pressing has THE BEST SIDE TWO we've ever heard or expect to hear! It does EVERYTHING right, giving you the kind of Blue Train sound that most jazz fans have dreamed of forever but certainly have never heard before. The sound is absolutely KILLER, sounding dramatically more like live music than any copy we've played. It's full-bodied and rich with tons of energy, YOU ARE THERE immediacy and wonderful clarity. There's also a ton of tubey magic and an unbelievably strong bottom end, making this the kind of record that's going to BLOW YOU AWAY. I bet you never believed Blue Train could sound like this -- heck, we sure didn't!

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John Coltrane - Impressions

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: coltrimpre_2012) 



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

BIG, BOLD JOHN COLTRANE SOUND -- ain't that something?! We had a big stack of pressings to compare and this one just blew us away, earning our top grade of A+++ for the first side and a strong A++ for the second. The clarity and transparency on this copy are mind-boggling, and the immediacy puts early '60s Coltrane blowing his brains out right there in your listening room!

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John Coltrane - John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: coltrjohnc_2016) 



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

An outstanding copy of this classic Jazz Vocal album, with superb sound throughout. The sound is huge and spacious with richness and Tubey Magic like nothing you've heard. I defy you to find a Male Vocal record produced in the last thirty years that can hold a candle to this one sonically or musically. A wonderful collaboration between a horn player and a singer, perhaps the greatest of all time.

More John Coltrane / More Johnny Hartman


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John Coltrane - Lush Life

DCC and OJC Reviewed

  (Item #: coltrlushl_dcc) 



Sonic Grade: B or so (DCC)
Sonic Grade: C or so (OJC)

The DCC heavy vinyl pressing is a nice record; I remember liking it back in the day. I'm guessing it's a bit better than the '80s OJC, which is, like most OJC pressings, typically thin and hard. Neither one of them can hold a candle to the pressings we offer on the site. If for some reason we could not find copies of the album that substantially beat the sound of either of these two remastered LPs, we simply would not have anything to offer, since neither of these versions could be considered Hot Stampers. Nice records, sure, but Hot Stampers? Not a chance.

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John Coltrane - Lush Life

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: coltrlushl_2016) 



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

We've been searching for years trying to find just what kind of Lush Life pressing -- what era, what label, what stampers, mono or stereo, import or domestic -- had the potential for good sound.

No, scratch that. We should have said excellent sound. Exceptional sound. We've played plenty of copies that sounded pretty good, even very good, but exceptional? A pressing of that caliber had eluded us -- until 2016.

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John Coltrane - Standard Coltrane

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: coltrstand_2015) 



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

As you may have guessed by now, remastered is a bit of a dirty word around these parts. Most remastered records we play, from The Beatles to John Coltrane to ZZ Top, sound to us like pale imitations of the real thing, whether the real thing is an original or a reissue from back in the day.

But only a fool could fail to appreciate how correct and lively the best copies of this remastered record sound, and we're no fools here at Better Records. We judge records by one and only one criterion: how they sound. We pay no mind to labels, record thicknesses, playback speeds, mastering speeds or anything else you can read about on audiophile websites.

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John Coltrane - The Stardust Session

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: coltrstard_2016) 



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

Superb sound quality courtesy of Rudy van Gelder (1958) and the brilliant mastering of David Turner (1972). The combination of old and new works wonders on this title as you will surely hear for yourself on these incredibly Hot sides.

We were impressed with the fact that these pressings excel in so many areas of reproduction. What was odd about it -- odd to most audiophiles but not necessarily to us -- was just how rich and Tubey Magical the reissue can be on the right pressing.

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Johnny Hartman - I Just Dropped By To Say Hello

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: hartmijust_2013) 



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

Folks, the best Stereo Impulse pressings are so Tubey Magical, RICH yet CLEAR, and above all shockingly natural, I defy you to find a Male Vocal record produced in the last thirty years that can hold a candle to it (outside of the Coltrane-Hartman record from the year before of course).

The Bennett-Evans record we love so much here at Better Records would qualify as a contender, but that album was recorded in 1975. And it doesn't have half the Tubey Magic this Hartman album from 1963 does.

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Johnny Hartman - I Just Dropped By To Say Hello

What to Listen For

  (Item #: hartmijust_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with specific advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of I Just Dropped By To Say Hello.

What to listen for you ask? Simple -- smooth, sweet, relaxed vocals. Many pressings -- especially the early ones, as counterintuitive as that may be -- tend to have spitty vocals. The best pressings are easy to spot. When Johnny sounds full, rich, tubey and grit-free, you have yourself a Hot Stamper.

See all of our Johnny Hartman albums in stock


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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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Kenny Burrell - Midnight Blue

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: burremidni_2007) 



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

Both sides have that Midnight Blue magic -- superb transparency, plenty of deep bass, silky highs, and TONS of energy. The sound of the congas on this copy is wonderful -- so punchy with clearly audible transients and so much ambience, it sounded to us like Ray Barretto was right there in the room with us, over by the left speaker. The ultimate copies have a degree of clarity that can BLOW YOU AWAY.

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Kenny Burrell - Midnight Blue

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: burremidni_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: D

Pretty flat and lifeless. You would never understand why audiophiles rave about this recording by listening to the Classic Records pressing.

We played it up against our best, and as expected it was nothing to write home about. Since Rudy has remastered and ruined practically all the Blue Note CDs by now, you will have your work cut out for you if you want to find a good sounding version of Midnight Blue. This sure ain’t one.

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Kenny Burrell - Midnight Blue

One Customer's Take on the 45

  (Item #: burremidni_letter) 



A good customer had this to say about a recent shootout:

"By the way side 2 of Midnight Blue bested every other copy I played including the 45 RPM Blue Note [Analogue Productions] reissue. The 45 RPM is very good. You know that technically it is right, but at the same time it’s missing something. When I listened to the [Hot] stamper copy you dug up for me I found it a little noisy at first and wasn’t sure if I could live with it. However after returning to the 45 RPM there was no enjoyment, so I dropped the needle on the stamper one more time, and then I heard it..."



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Kenny Dorham - Una Mas

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: dorhaunama_2016) 



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

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.

More recordings by Rudy Van Gelder


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Lee Morgan - Search For The New Land

Reviewed in 2008

  (Item #: morgasearc) 



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

This QUIET, hard-to-find Blue Note Blue Label LP has EXCELLENT SOUND AND MUSIC! It’s transparent, open and spacious with deep, tight bass. The piano has nice weight to it and the trumpet has the right amount of bite. We never have enough of these around to do a full shootout, but based on my experience with this album I’m going to rate side one between solid A and A+ and side two A+. There may be a better copy out there somewhere, but good luck tracking it down.

More Lee Morgan


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Lee Morgan - The Cooker

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: morgacooke_2015) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame from 1957(!)

Both sides are open, spacious and transparent, with a lovely and quite extended top end.

Just listen to the trumpet solo on ’A Night In Tunisia’; you can really hear the leading edge transients. The baritone sax played by the estimable Pepper Adams also sounds particularly nice throughout the record.

More Lee Morgan


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Lee Morgan - The Sidewinder

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: morgasidew_2011) 



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

This SHOCKINGLY QUIET Blue Note NYC Label Stereo pressing is the one of the VERY BEST SOUNDING COPIES OF THE SIDEWINDER WE’VE EVER HEARD! When we dropped the needle on this one, we immediately stopped listening critically and just began enjoying the album. That’s the sign of an exceptional copy -- the sound gets out of the way and the music becomes the point.

More Lee Morgan


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McCoy Tyner - Expansions

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: tynerexpan_2013) 



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

Both sonically and musically, this is THE BEST McCoy Tyner album that we can recall ever playing! Expansions has long been a favorite around here -- it's got a great lineup (including Wayne Shorter and Ron Carter) and the most interesting set of songs that we've heard on a Tyner album.

Drop the needle on the last song, I Thought I'd Let You Know, for the best sound on the album. It's rich and sweet with a BIG bottom end and a wonderful sounding cello. McCoy's playing a lot like Bill Evans at his best on this song.

More McCoy Tyner


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