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White Hot Stamper

The Poll Winners
Straight Ahead

  (Item #: pollwstrai_1909) 

Our Price: $299.99

  • This superb collaboration returns with KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides
  • Both of these amazing sides are rich, full-bodied and Tubey Magical with a big punchy bottom end
  • Musically, this is by far my favorite Poll Winners record - these guys got back together after 15 years and were eager to prove that they still had their youthful exuberance, and even better chops, which they did!
  • 4 1/2 stars: "Kessel in particular is heard in excellent form... Overall this is the best all-around recording by The Poll Winners and is easily recommended to bop fans."
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White Hot Stamper

Tom Waits
Foreign Affairs

  (Item #: waitsforei_1910) 

Our Price: $249.99

  • With a Triple Plus (A+++) Shootout Winning side one and a Double Plus (A++) side two, this copy had some of the best sound we have ever heard for the album
  • This early pressing was hard to fault - it will put Tom Waits right between your speakers, with a batch of great session players behind and to the side, all playing live in the studio
  • "The album contains more ballads than most of his records do, but they were the most effective vehicles for the kind of storytelling he was trying to get to. Produced and engineered by Bones Howe, Foreign Affairs was recorded live in studio by a quintet that included West Coast jazzmen Jack Sheldon on trumpet, saxophonist Frank Vicari, bassist Jim Hughart, and drummer Shelly Manne."
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White Hot Stamper

Tom Waits
Small Change

  (Item #: waitssmall_1907_10) 

Our Price: $249.99

  • 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

Shelly Manne
2-3-4

  (Item #: manne234_1910_1) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • This superb 1962 release boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) stereo sound from first note to last
  • Huge, Tubey Magical and lively, with solid weight for Manne's kick and lots of space around all the other instruments, this Van Gelder recording is guaranteed to fill your listening room with brilliant modern jazz music
  • Shelly Manne is one of our favorite drummers - here he reunites with the great Coleman Hawkins, as well as Hank Jones, Eddie Costa and George Duvivier
  • 4 stars: "This unusual set has five selections from a date featuring the great tenor Coleman Hawkins, pianist Hank Jones, bassist George Duvivier, and drummer Shelly Manne... A very interesting set with more than its share of surprises."
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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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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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White Hot Stamper

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

  (Item #: manneatthe3_1903_1907) 

Our Price: $199.99

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


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White Hot Stamper

Sonny Rollins
Alternate Takes

  (Item #: rollialter_1901_5_9) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • 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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Super Hot Stamper

Shelly Manne & His Friends
My Fair Lady

  (Item #: mannemyfai_1904_6_9) 

Our Price: $169.99

  • This early Black Label Stereo pressing earned solid Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides and offers 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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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."
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Super Hot Stamper

Benny Carter
Swingin' the '20s

  (Item #: carteswing_1907_1_1910_1) 

Our Price: $149.99

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


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Super Hot Stamper

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

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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White Hot Stamper

Shelly Manne
Manne - That's Gershwin!

  (Item #: mannemanne_1904_9ex) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • KILLER sound from start to finish with each side earning a Triple Plus (A+++) grade for its Shootout Winning sound, or one very close to it
  • "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
See all of our Shelly Manne albums in stock


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White Hot Stamper

Shorty Rogers
Bossa Nova Exciting Jazz Samba Rhythms

  (Item #: rogerbossa_1910) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • Shorty's 1961 Bossa Nova exploration finally makes its Hot Stamper debut with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades on both sides
  • Rich, smooth, sweet, and wonderfully natural, this is the sound we love here at Better Records
  • This is swingin’ West Coast jazz at its best - a highly recommended jazz album for those of you who care to explore artists out of the jazz mainstream
  • Rogers assembled a top-notch ensemble for this wonderful Bossa Nova album, including Bud Shank and Shelly Manne
More Shorty Rogers


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Super Hot Stamper

Hampton Hawes
At The Piano

  (Item #: hawesatthe_1906_10) 

Our Price: $129.99

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


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Super Hot Stamper

Sonny Rollins
Way Out West

  (Item #: rolliwayou_1901_5_11) 

Our Price: $129.99

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


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Super Hot Stamper

Tom Waits
Small Change

  (Item #: waitssmall_1907_1) 

Our Price: $129.99

  • 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..."
See all of our Tom Waits albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Andre Previn & His Pals
Pal Joey

  (Item #: previpaljo_1902_1908) 

Our Price: $119.99

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


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Super Hot Stamper

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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Super Hot Stamper

Ornette Coleman
Tomorrow Is The Question

  (Item #: colemtomor_1812_1903_1908) 

Our Price: $119.99

  • 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."
More Ornette Coleman


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Super Hot Stamper

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

  (Item #: manneatthe1_1903_1908) 

Our Price: $119.99

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


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Super Hot Stamper

Sonny Rollins
Alternate Takes

  (Item #: rollialter_1901_1908) 

Our Price: $119.99

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


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Super Hot Stamper

The Poll Winners
Straight Ahead

  (Item #: pollwstrai_1909_1) 

Our Price: $119.99

  • This superb collaboration returns with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • One of the better copies from our recent shootout - big, bold and lively with a punchy bottom end
  • Musically, this is by far my favorite Poll Winners record - these guys got back together after 15 years and were eager to prove that they still had their youthful exuberance, and even better chops, which they did!
  • 4 1/2 stars: "Kessel in particular is heard in excellent form... Overall this is the best all-around recording by The Poll Winners and is easily recommended to bop fans."
Shelly Manne / Ray Brown /

 
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Nearly White Hot Stamper

The Three
The Three
(33 RPM)

  (Item #: threethree_33_1906_11ex) 

Our Price: $99.99

  • 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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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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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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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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Barney Kessel - Barney Kessel Plays Carmen (Stereo)

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: kessebarne_stereo_2014) 



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

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

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

More Barney Kessel


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Barney Kessel - Let's Cook

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: kesseletsc_2012) 



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

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

More Barney Kessel


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Barney Kessel - Music to Listen to Barney Kessel By

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: kessemusic_2008) 



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

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

More Barney Kessel


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Barney Kessel - Music to Listen to Barney Kessel By

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: kessemusic_2017) 



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

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

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

More Barney Kessel


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Barney Kessel - Some Like It Hot

Our Shootout Winner from 2005

  (Item #: kessesomel_2005) 



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

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

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

More Barney Kessel


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Barney Kessel - Some Like It Hot

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: kessesomel_2018_) 



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

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

More Barney Kessel


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

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: kessetoswi_2017) 



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

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

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

More Barney Kessel


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Barney Kessell - Easy Like

Reviewed in 2005

  (Item #: kesseeasyl_2005) 



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

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

More Contemporary jazz


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Benny Carter - Jazz Giant

Analogue Productions Debunked

  (Item #: cartejazzg_ap_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

You may remember this Acoustic Sounds' version from 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 our good pressings. 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.)

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Benny Carter - Jazz Giant

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: cartejazzg_2011) 



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

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

More Benny Carter


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Benny Carter - Jazz Giant

The Amazing Sounding Mono Copy We Played in 2005

  (Item #: cartejazzg_2005) 



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

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

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

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Benny Carter - Swingin’ The ’20s

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: carteswing_2012) 



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

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

More Benny Carter


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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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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 Black Label Shootout Winner

  (Item #: humessongs_blk_2007) 



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

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

More Helen Humes


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Helen Humes - Songs I Like to Sing

Our Yellow Label Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: humessongs_2008) 



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

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

More Helen Humes


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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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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.

More Julie London


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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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Shelly Manne & His Friends - Bells Are Ringing

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: mannebells_2016) 



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

Side One

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

Side Two

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

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

More Shelly Manne / More Andre Previn


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Shelly Manne & His Friends - Bells Are Ringing

What to Listen For

  (Item #: mannebells_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

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

More Shelly Manne / More Andre Previn


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

Reviewed in 2008

  (Item #: manneatthe2_2008) 



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

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

More Shelly Manne


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Shelly Manne & His Men - More Swinging Sounds

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: mannemores_2011) 



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

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

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

More Shelly Manne


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Shelly Manne - Sounds Unheard Of!

Reviewed in 2009

  (Item #: mannesound_2009) 



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

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

More Shelly Manne


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Shelly Manne - 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.

More Shelly Manne


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Shelly Manne and Friends - My Fair Lady

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: mannemyfai_2012) 



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

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

More Shelly Manne


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Sonny Rollins - Alternate Takes

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: rollialter_2015) 



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

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

More Sonny Rollins


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Sonny Rollins - Sonny Rollins & the Contemporary Leaders

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: rolliconte_2013) 



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

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

More Sonny Rollins


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Sonny Rollins - Way Out West

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: rolliwayou_2014) 



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

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

More Sonny Rollins


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The 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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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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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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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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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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