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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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Lee Herschberg

One of Our Favorite Engineers

  (Item #: allleeherschberg) 



LEE HERSCHBERG is one of our favorite producers and recording / mixing engineers. Click on the link to find more of the albums he engineered or produced, along with plenty of our famous commentaries.

One of the top guys at Warners, you'll find his name in the credits for many of the best releases by the Randy Newman, Gordon Lightfoot, The Doobie Brothers, Ry Cooder and Frank Sinatra, albums we know to have outstanding sound (potentially anyway; you have to have an outstanding pressing to hear outstanding sound of course).

See more entries in our Favorite Engineers series


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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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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.

More Benny Carter


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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

Analogue Productions Debunked

  (Item #: cartejazzg_ap_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame Pressing and another Analogue Productions LP debunked.

You may remember that Acoustic Sounds did a version back in the '90s, which was a complete disaster. I haven't heard the new 45 RPM version, but I seriously doubt that it sounds like this. We have yet to hear a single Heavy Vinyl 45 that sounds any good to us, judged by the standards we set in our shootouts. (Actually the records themselves set the standards; we simply grade them on the curve they establish.)

More Benny Carter


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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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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.

More Benny Carter


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White Hot Stamper

June Christy
Fair And Warmer!

  (Item #: chrisfaira_1907) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • An incredible sounding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from the first note to the last - reasonably quiet vinyl too
  • If you want to hear just how good an All Tube Capitol recording, in mono, from 1957 can sound, this record is guaranteed to do the trick
  • All the top West Coast Cool School jazz vets are here: Shelly Manne, Bud Shank, Bob Cooper, and the arrangements are by the wonderfully talented Pete Rugolo
  • "... the cool-toned singer is the main star. Highlights include a definitive "I Want to Be Happy," "Imagination," "When Sunny Gets Blue," and "It's Always You." All of June Christy's Capitol dates are well worth picking up."
See all of our June Christy albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

June Christy
Fair And Warmer!

  (Item #: chrisfaira_1907_1) 

Our Price: $119.99

  • A superb sounding copy with solid Double Plus (A++) grades or BETTER from the first note to the last - reasonably quiet vinyl too
  • If you want to hear just how good an All Tube Capitol recording, in mono, from 1957 can sound, this record is guaranteed to do the trick
  • All the top West Coast Cool School jazz vets are here: Shelly Manne, Bud Shank, Bob Cooper, and the arrangements are by the wonderfully talented Pete Rugolo
  • "... the cool-toned singer is the main star. Highlights include a definitive "I Want to Be Happy," "Imagination," "When Sunny Gets Blue," and "It's Always You." All of June Christy's Capitol dates are well worth picking up."
See all of our June Christy albums in stock


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Hot Stamper

June Christy
Gone For The Day

  (Item #: chrisgonef_1804_1807) 

Our Price: $59.99

  • This very good sounding original Turquoise Capitol pressing boasts Hot Stampers on both sides
  • Musically, this album is right up there with the best female vocal records we have ever played
  • The best of these original monos from 1957 have all the TUBEY MAGIC these vintage Capitol pressings are famous for
  • Allmusic reviewers give it Four Stars and we would give it at least that many
See all of our June Christy albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

June Christy
Gone For The Day

  (Item #: chrisgonef_1805_1906) 

Our Price: $89.99

  • With a nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) side one and a seriously good Double Plus (A++) side two, this Capitol Turquoise label original will be very hard to beat
  • This 1957 mono has all the TUBEY MAGIC these vintage Capitol pressings are famous for - fairly quiet vinyl too
  • It's balanced and natural, with the kind of rich, full-bodied sound that no one seems to know how to record anymore
  • Allmusic reviewers give it Four Stars and we would give it at least that many - we love the unique sound of June Christy's breathy, sweet voice
See all of our June Christy albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

June Christy
The Misty Miss Christy

  (Item #: chrismisty_1805_1903) 

Our Price: $59.99

  • A superb sounding copy of this original Turquoise Label Capitol Mono LP with Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • Both sides here are rich, sweet and Tubey Magical, with Miss Christy's breathy vocals nicely staged front and center
  • All the top West Coast jazz guys are here: Shelly Manne, Bud Shank, Bob Cooper, and the arrangements are by the wonderfully talented Pete Rugolo
  • 4 1/2 stars: "Christy shows her swinging savvy on breezy gems like "Sing Something Simple," "There's No You," and "A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening." Both an essential Christy title and one of the best vocal albums from the '50s."
See all of our June Christy albums in stock


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June Christy - This Is June Christy

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: christhisi_2016) 



This wonderful recording from 1958 is a distinguished member of the Better Records Popular Hall of Fame.

It's very rare that a Shootout Winning copy of a June Christy album from the late '50s would have vinyl this quiet. Can't recall the last time that happened, or if it ever has.

Both sides of this '50s All Tube Recorded and Mastered record are just as rich and relaxed as you would expect. The balance is correct, which means the top is there as well as the bottom, with good vocal presence throughout.

More June Christy


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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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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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Nearly White Hot Stamper

Ry Cooder
Paradise and Lunch

  (Item #: coodeparad_1904_1908) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • A STUNNING pressing with nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from start to finish
  • You'll feel like you are right in the studio with Ry and his top-notch crew as they kick out the jams -- present, rich, full-bodied and transparent
  • I can’t think of another Ry Cooder album with such consistently good material, or better sound
  • "Eclectic, intelligent, and thoroughly entertaining, Paradise and Lunch remains Ry Cooder's masterpiece." -- Allmusic, 4 1/2 stars
See all of our Ry Cooder albums in stock


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Ry Cooder - Paradise and Lunch

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: coodeparad_2010) 



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

This copy does almost everything you could ask for from this music -- good energy, tons of richness and clarity and lots of texture to all of the instruments. You'll feel like you are right in the studio with Ry and his top-notch crew as they kick out these fun, eccentric jams. LEE HERSCHBERG engineered this one as well as a great many others for Ry Cooder.

More Ry Cooder


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Super Hot Stamper

Ry Cooder
Ry Cooder

  (Item #: cooderycoo_1903) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • You'll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this vintage Reprise pressing of Cooder's debut album from 1970
  • If you want to hear the brilliant Lee Herschberg's All Analog Recording skills brought to bear on so many different instruments serving an assortment of sonic textures, this is the copy that will let you do it
  • 4 stars: "Cooder's debut creates an intriguing fusion of blues, folk, rock & roll, and pop, filtered through his own intricate, syncopated guitar; Van Dyke Parks and Lenny Waronker's idiosyncratic production... Cooder puts this unique blend across with a combination of terrific songs, virtuosic playing, and quirky, yet imaginative, arrangements."
See all of our Ry Cooder albums in stock


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Ry Cooder - Ry Cooder

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: cooderycoo_2014) 



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

The music reminds me a lot of early Little Feat, which is a good thing. The sound is somewhat similar as well, which is to say that it is natural and musical, nothing like the hyped-up hi-fi sound of his TAS-listed album Jazz -- and that's a good thing as well.

There are some great songs here, including My Old Kentucky Home, One Meat Ball and How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live. It may even be his best album.

More Ry Cooder


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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 Doobie Brothers - What Were Once Vices...

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: doobiwhatw_2011) 



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

This quiet Palm Tree Label pressing is one of the best sounding copies of this album we've ever played! We had a massive shootout for this fun album recently and this was the big winner, earning an A+++ grade for the first side and a strong A++ for the second. Drop the needle anywhere on side one; you won't believe how open, clear and dynamic the sound is. It's also big, present and spacious with unusually high resolution. No other side one we played came close. Black Water sounds KILLER here!

More Doobie Brothers


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Ella Fitzgerald - Whisper Not

Our Shootout Winner from 2006

  (Item #: fitzgwhisp_2006) 



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

THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST ELLA FITZGERALD RECORDS I’ve heard in a very long time! I’m telling you, this is Ella at her best! Having just played a lovely sounding copy of Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie, an album that tends to err on the bright side, I now realize that this album has the opposite problem -- it's a little bit smoother in places than it should be. Of course that's a much more tolerable problem than the reverse.

More Ella Fitzgerald


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Ella Fitzgerald - Whisper Not

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: fitzgwhisp_2016) 



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

Both sides of this original stereo pressing are White Hot - Triple Plus all the way! Breathy, tubey, big and clear, this is the best sound we have ever heard for Whisper Not. Superb engineering from the man behind so many great sounding Verve records, Val Valentin. "These fine-tuned arrangements also provide the perfect launching pad for Fitzgerald to place her own stamp on material associated with other singers."

More Ella Fitzgerald


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White Hot Stamper

Arlo Guthrie
Alice’s Restaurant

  (Item #: guthralice_1908) 

Our Price: $499.99

  • For the first time in almost two years -- a "Triple Triple" (A+++) copy of Arlo Guthrie's classic debut
  • The 18 minute plus title song sounds wonderful here - natural, Tubey Magical, and tonally correct, as befits any top quality vintage pressing
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl throughout -- Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • 4 stars: "... provide[s] an insight into his uniformly outstanding — yet astoundingly overlooked — early sides on Warner Bros."
More Arlo Guthrie


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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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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.

More Hampton Hawes


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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.

More Hampton Hawes


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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 - 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

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.

More Helen Humes


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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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Super Hot Stamper

Milt Jackson Quintet
That's The Way It Is

  (Item #: jacksthats_1904_1906) 

Our Price: $119.99

  • You'll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound and fairly quiet vinyl on both sides of this is a killer live jazz album from Shelly's Manne-Hole
  • Big, rich and real, with the kind of relaxed Tubey Magical sound that not many live albums achieve
  • Wally Heider engineered and he knocked it out of the park - You Are There, and even better, it's 1969
  • "This is not experimental jazz. It's beyond that, or as they say in New York, outside that. This is solid, rooted, sweet-smelling earth of an enduring style, as played by masters."
More Milt Jackson / More Ray Brown


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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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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 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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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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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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The L.A. 4 - Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte

Reviewed in 2008

  (Item #: lafou_pavan_dd) 



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

This is a Near Mint East Wind Japanese Import Direct-To-Disc LP with SUPERB SOUND. Most copies we come across are quite ticky. Thankfully that ain't the case here. This is an EXCEPTIONALLY QUIET copy!

More recordings engineered by Lee Herschberg


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The L.A. Four - Going Home

Reviewed in 2005

  (Item #: lafougoing_dd) 



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

This Minty looking East Wind Japanese Direct-to-Disc LP has AMAZING SOUND. The boys do a fantastic version of Greensleeves here, flawlessing switching idioms from swing to bossa nova to bop.

More recordings engineered by Lee Herschberg


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Gordon Lightfoot - If You Could Read My Mind

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: lightifyou_2014) 



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

Exceptionally good sound -- the best we have yet to hear on a Lightfoot album. We were certainly surprised and quite pleased with the sound of the better copies, so watch for more of Gordon Lightfoot's music coming to the site as we work through his classic catalog from the '70s.

One of the top guys at Warners, LEE HERSCHBERG recorded (with Gary Brandt) and mixed the album, along with a number of others by Gordon Lightfoot.

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Nearly White Hot Stamper

Julie London
About The Blues

  (Item #: londoabout_1908_1) 

Our Price: $249.99

  • About The Blues with nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from first note to last, this copy of London's 1957 release will be very hard to beat
  • Julie's lilting vocals are clear, breathy, Tubey Magical, and sweet, like practically nothing you've ever heard
  • Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead-on correct tonality - everything that we listen for in a great record is here
  • 4 stars: "About the Blues ... may just be her best orchestral session. Since downbeat torch songs were London's specialty, the album features an excellent selection of nocturnal but classy blues songs that play to her subtle strengths..."
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Julie London - About The Blues

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: londoabout_2018) 



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

Julie's lilting vocals are clear, breathy, Tubey Magical, and sweet, like practically nothing you've ever heard. This copy is about as quiet as we can find these 1957 Turquoise original mono pressings, Mint Minus Minus* throughout.

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White Hot Stamper

Junior Mance
Get Ready, Set, Jump!!!

  (Item #: mancegetre_1907) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • This outstanding copy of Mance's 1964 release boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • Wonderfully big, rich and LIVELY, with boatloads of Tubey Magic and three-dimensional space
  • This vintage stereo pressing boasts exceptionally natural piano sound and the live-in-the-studio energy of a swingin' group of veteran horn players
  • 4 stars: "Mance is joined by some of the cream of the West Coast studio and jazz players for a session that features Mance doing his blues thing on piano while the band swings at various tempi... resembling somewhat the style of the Count Basie Orchestra."
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Super Hot Stamper

Junior Mance
Get Ready, Set, Jump!!!

  (Item #: mancegetre_1907_1) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • This outstanding copy of the Mance's 1964 release boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides
  • Wonderfully big, rich and LIVELY, with boatloads of Tubey Magic and three-dimensional space
  • This vintage stereo pressing boasts exceptionally natural piano sound and the live-in-the-studio energy of a swingin' group of veteran horn players
  • 4 stars: "Mance is joined by some of the cream of the West Coast studio and jazz players for a session that features Mance doing his blues thing on piano while the band swings at various tempi... The synergy between piano player and band is apparent on all the tracks, and is especially telling on all-time big-band favorite "Moten Swing" and the up-tempo 12-bar theme on "Running Upstairs.""
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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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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.

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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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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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White Hot Stamper

Shelly Manne
Manne - That's Gershwin!

  (Item #: mannemanne_1904_1) 

Our Price: $249.99

  • KILLER sound from start to finish with each side earning a Triple Plus (A+++) or very close to it
  • Both sides here are incredibly big, clean, clear and present with plenty of bottom end weight
  • "The Gershwin program includes some of the typical familiar standards but also versions of the lesser-known "By Strauss," "The Real American Folk Song," "Prelude #2" and "Theme from Concert in F... this music generally swings, leaves space for concise solos and is fairly fresh." - All Music
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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.)

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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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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!

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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!

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Shelly Manne - Sounds Unheard Of!

Analogue Productions Debunked

  (Item #: mannesound_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame Pressing and another Analogue Productions LP debunked.

Remember the '90s Acoustic Sounds Analog Revival series mastered by Stan Ricker? This was one of the titles they did, and completely ruined of course. Ricker boosted the hell out of the top end, as is his wont, so all the percussion had the phony MoFi exaggerated spit and tizzyiness that we dislike so much around here at Better Records, the phony top that many audiophiles do not seem bothered by to this day.

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Michael McDonald - If That's What It Takes

Great Sounding Soulful Pop

  (Item #: mcdoniftha_2016) 



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

For soulful pop it doesn’t get much better than a Hot Stamper pressing of Michael McDonald's first album. The bottom end has real weight, the top is extended and sweet, the vocals are breathy and present, and the energy is off the charts. Just listen to how rich and full-bodied the midrange is!

With the right pressing the highs open up and his vocals JUMP out of the speakers. He's RIGHT THERE.

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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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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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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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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
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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.

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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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Andre Previn & His Pals - West Side Story

MoFi Reviewed

  (Item #: previwests_mofi) 



Sonic Grade: B-

Another MoFi LP reviewed.

I played this record a while back -- it's one of the Mobile Fidelity's I remember liking from the old days -- and sure enough it still sounds good. It does not have the phony boosted bottom and top that most MoFis do. Since it's such a well recorded album, the sound is very impressive. Also the music is great. This is one of Previn's best piano trio records. And Shelly Manne drums up a storm here.

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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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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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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!

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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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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"
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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.

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Bola Sete - The Incomparable Bola Sete

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: sete_incom_2010) 



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

This is a Minty looking Fantasy LP with EXCELLENT SOUND. Bola Sete is one of my favorite guitarists, Latin or otherwise. Here he is joined by a very talented percussionist who brings authentic Brazilian feeling to this music. The real surprise here is Paul Horne on flute -- the music comes alive on the tracks on which he guests, such as 'Lamento De Negro'. If you like Latin guitar music, you can't go wrong here.

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Super Hot Stamper

Frank Sinatra - Duke Ellington
Francis A. & Edward K.

  (Item #: sinatfranc_1708_1904-) 

Our Price: $99.99

  • One of the better copies of this top quality recording to hit the site, with superb Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Sinatra is both natural and present - he actually sounds like he is standing on the same stage as Ellington's band
  • Outstanding size and weight with rich, clear brass and good space up top, thanks to Lee Herschberg's engineering skills
  • "... this collaboration between America's most popular singing icon and pre-eminent jazz composer still endures as one of Sinatra's most enjoyable Reprise-era albums."
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Hot Stamper

Frank Sinatra - Duke Ellington
Francis A. & Edward K.

  (Item #: sinatfranc_1803_1905-) 

Our Price: $59.99

  • This pressing boasts very respectable Hot Stamper sound from first note to last
  • Sinatra is both natural and present - on the best pressings, he actually sounds like he is standing on the same stage as Ellington's band
  • This copy plays on relatively quiet vinyl, Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus throughout
  • "Recorded on Sinatra's birthday in 1967, this collaboration between America's most popular singing icon and pre-eminent jazz composer still endures as one of Sinatra's most enjoyable Reprise-era albums." - Amazon
See all of our Frank Sinatra albums as well as our Duke Ellington albums in stock


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Frank Sinatra / Duke Ellington - Francis A. & Edward K.

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: sinatfranc_2014) 



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

An amazing pressing of a superb recording, this White Hot Stamper really gets this music right!

Recorded one year after the remarkable Sinatra-Jobim record that we treasure here at Better Records, Sinatra takes the opportunity to work with one of the greatest bandleaders in the history of jazz, the Duke himself.

More Frank Sinatra / More Duke Ellington


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Frank Sinatra - Duke Ellington - Francis A. & Edward K.

What to Listen For

  (Item #: sinatfranc_wtlf) 



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

Notice that, at least for most of the material, and perhaps all of it, Sinatra does not seem to be stuck in a vocal booth. He sounds like he is actually standing on the same stage as Ellington's band.

More Frank Sinatra / More Duke Ellington


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Super Hot Stamper

Frank Sinatra
Francis A. Sinatra & Antonio C. Jobim

  (Item #: sinatjobim_1907) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • This outstanding original stereo pressing of Sinatra and Jobim's sublime collaboration earned solid Double Plus (A++) grades for sound on both sides and plays about as quietly as any copy ever does
  • The Tubey Magical space, ambience and richness of the sound here is the only way we know of to bring the Chairman of the Board and his Brazilian buddy into your listening room
  • This is a magical album from start to finish, one of a handful of a Must Own Sinatra releases, and my personal favorite of all his recordings
  • 4 1/2 stars: "After a few plays, the album begins to slowly work its way underneath a listener's skin, and it emerges as one of his most rewarding albums of the '60s."
See all of our Frank Sinatra albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Frank Sinatra
Strangers In The Night

  (Item #: sinatstran_1906_1) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • With excellent Double Plus (A++) grades or BETTER on both sides, this Sinatra title surprised us with its DEMO DISC sound
  • Clearly one of the best sounding Reprise-era Sinatra pressings we have ever played
  • Credit must given to the extraordinarily inventive arrangements of Nelson Riddle and the All Tube engineering of Lee Herschberg
  • "Sinatra's singing is relaxed, confident, and surprisingly jazzy, as he plays with the melody of "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" and delivers a knockout punch with the assured, breathtaking "Summer Wind."
See all of our Frank Sinatra albums in stock


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Frank Sinatra - Strangers In The Night

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: sinatstran_2013) 



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

Folks, for The Best Sound on a Frank Sinatra record it simply does not get any better than Strangers In The Night. It's a real treat to be in the presence of the Chairman Of The Board, in his prime, working his magic -- but only an exceptional copy like this one has the power to put him right in the room with you.

1966 was a very good year indeed for Frank Sinatra -- he recorded Live at the Sands with Count Basie that year as well.

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Frank Sinatra - Strangers In The Night

What to Listen For

  (Item #: sinatstran_wtlf) 



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

What to listen for you ask? The superb engineering of LEE HERSCHBERG and EDDIE BRACKETT! The sound is, in a word, luscious.

More Frank Sinatra


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James Taylor - In The Pocket

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: taylointhe_2016) 



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

The quality of the songwriting is what makes this album such a moving listening experience. These songs are superb, individually and collectively, and can hold their own up against those found on Gorilla, an album with which In the Pocket has much in common.

Just as they did on Gorilla, Taylor and his multi-talented, multi-tracking production team polish these songs into three and four minute gems of popcraft, and they do so without ever compromising the emotional heart of the material. I've searched and I honestly cannot find a bad song on the album. Better than that, not even a weak one.

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Super Hot Stamper

The Three
The Three
(33 RPM)

  (Item #: threethree_33_1906_1) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • A true Demo Disc of this wonderful recording, with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The transients are uncannily lifelike - listen for the huge amounts of kinetic energy produced when Shelly whacks the hell out of his cymbals
  • My favorite Piano Trio Jazz Album of All Time; every one of those six tracks is brilliantly arranged and performed (if you have the right takes of course; more about that later)
  • 4 Stars: "One of Joe Sample's finest sessions as a leader" - with Shelly Manne and Ray Brown, we would say it's clearly his finest session, as a leader or simply as the piano player in a killer trio
More Shelly Manne /

 
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Nearly White Hot Stamper

The Three
The Three
(33 RPM)

  (Item #: threethree_33_1906_2) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • A superb copy of this 1976 release with nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from first note to last - just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • Clean and clear and open are nice qualities to have, but rich and smooth are harder to come by on this record - and here they are!
  • My favorite Piano Trio Jazz Album of All Time; every one of those six tracks is brilliantly arranged and performed (if you have the right takes of course; more about that later)
  • 4 Stars: "One of Joe Sample's finest sessions as a leader" - with Shelly Manne and Ray Brown, we would say it's clearly his finest session, as a leader or simply as the piano player in a killer trio
More Shelly Manne

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The Three - The Three (33 RPM)

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: threethree_33_2012) 



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

This White Hot stamper side two was either the equal of, or BEAT, three out of the four 45 RPM Japanese pressings in our shootout, and all the Direct Disc pressings as well. There was a time when this Demonstration Quality sound would have easily have won our shootout. We know now that it's possible for the sound to get even better, on 45, but at the cost of two out of the six tracks.

Which simply means that if you want to hear all six songs that recorded that day by The Three, this is the best way to go. The album as a whole is so good that I would not want to live with less than the complete album, that's for sure.

More of The Three


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The Three - The Three (45 RPM)

Our Four Plus Copy from 2013

  (Item #: threethree_45_2013) 



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

We had six (yes, six!) of these 45 RPM pressings (and five Inner City's and a couple of Eastwind 33's -- it was a big shootout), and this side one had the most ENERGY of any of them. This is a quality no one seems to be writing about, other than us of course, but what could possibly be more important? On this record, it took the performances of the players to a level beyond all expectations.

More of The Three


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The Three - The Three (33 RPM)

Our Direct Disc Copy from 2009

  (Item #: threethree_dd_2009) 



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

DEMO QUALITY, MASTER TAPE SOUND (!) on BOTH SIDES! Hey, wait a minute, this is the direct to disc version, there is no Master Tape. How can it have Master Tape Sound?

Simple. It's the RARE copy that actually sounds like this one. Most Eastwind pressings -- like pressings on any label -- do not convey all the information of the master tape that you know must exist because you HEAR it on some copies. Some Direct Discs have much more of the sound that was cut live directly onto the acetate than others. This is one of those, one of the ones with MUCH MORE SOUND!

More of The Three


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White Hot Stamper

Tom Waits
Small Change

  (Item #: waitssmall_1907) 

Our Price: $299.99

  • A KILLER sounding copy of this Tom Waits classic with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades
  • Recorded LIVE to 2-track by Bones Howe, no wonder it's so big, full-bodied, clean and clear
  • A tough record to find in the bins these days - nobody wants to part with it - so this is one of only a handful of copies to hit the site in the last few years
  • 4 1/2 stars: "Small Change proves to be the archetypal album of his '70s work. A jazz trio comprising tenor sax player Lew Tabackin, bassist Jim Hughart and drummer Shelly Manne, plus an occasional string section, back Waits and his piano on songs steeped in whiskey and atmosphere..."
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Super Hot Stamper

Tom Waits
Small Change

  (Item #: waitssmall_1907_1) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • An outstanding early Asylum pressing which earned excellent Double Plus (A++) sonic grades on both sides
  • Recorded LIVE to 2-track by audio legend Bones Howe in 1976, no wonder the sound is so big, full-bodied, clean and clear
  • A tough record to find in the bins these days - Tom Waits still has plenty of die-hard fans here in L.A. and nobody wants to part with their copy
  • 4 1/2 stars: "Small Change proves to be the archetypal album of his '70s work. A jazz trio comprising tenor sax player Lew Tabackin, bassist Jim Hughart and drummer Shelly Manne, plus an occasional string section, back Waits and his piano on songs steeped in whiskey and atmosphere..."
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Tom Waits - Small Change

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: waitssmall_2017) 



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

This is a wonderful album, considered by many to be Waits's masterpiece. He's backed with a real jazz combo here, including Lew Tabackin on sax and the great Shelley Manne on drums. Bones Howe does a great job gettin the kind of beatnik-jazz sound out of these songs that they need. On a copy like this, the presence and clarity are absolutely stunning!

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