The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus*
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- This outstanding CTI pressing of Benson's Must Own Masterpiece boasts Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides - fairly quiet vinyl too
- Open and transparent throughout, with wonderfully full-bodied guitars, solid bass and huge amounts of swingin' jazz energy
- Superb engineering by Rudy Van Gelder - White Rabbit features jazz legends Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Billy Cobham, Airto, and more
- 4 stars: "For George Benson's second CTI project, producer Creed Taylor and arranger Don Sebesky successfully place the guitarist in a Spanish-flavored setting full of flamenco flourishes, brass fanfares, moody woodwinds and such... In this prime sample of the CTI idiom, everyone wins."
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*NOTE: On side one, a noisy edge clears up one-eighth of an inch into the first track.
We recently conducted another extensive shootout for White Rabbit and it was a BLAST. It always is. Benson and his funky jazz all-stars buds (Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock and Airto to name a few) tear through some great material here, and on both sides of this copy the sound is outstanding.
If you want to hear the best George Benson record we know of, this is the one. The Grammy-winning Breezin' from 1976 is a perfectly good album but it's quite a bit more commercial than our White Rabbit here from 1972, his first album to make the top ten on the jazz charts.
This vintage CTI pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn't showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to "see" the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It's what vintage all analog recordings are known for -- this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it -- not often, and certainly not always -- but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What the best sides of White Rabbit have to offer is not hard to hear:
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1972
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange -- with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there's more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren't veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we've heard them all.
Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.
Tube smear is common to most vintage pressings and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.
Digging Creed Taylor Inc.
We've been really digging this CTI jazz stuff for years. On the better albums such as this one, the players tend to sound carefree and loose -- you can tell they're having a heck of a time with the material. Don't get me wrong -- we still love the Blue Note and Contemporary label stuff for our more "hard core" jazz needs, but it's a kick to hear top jazz musicians laying down these grooves and not taking themselves so seriously...especially when it sounds this good!
Give some credit to Don Sebesky. His arrangements are brilliant. He also did the arrangements for another one of our favorite jazz guitar albums, Wes Montgomery's California Dreaming. We love what Sebesky is doing on both albums, and both can have amazing sound on the best pressings.
What We Listen For on White Rabbit
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians aren't "back there" somewhere, way behind the speakers. They're front and center where any recording engineer -- Rudy Van Gelder in this case -- would have put them.
- The Big Sound comes next -- wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information -- fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass -- which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency -- the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
The Players and Personnel
- Electric Piano – Herbie Hancock
- Bass – Ron Carter
- Drums – Billy Cobham
- Percussion, Vocals – Airto Moreira
- Arranged By – Don Sebesky
- Producer – Creed Taylor
Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don't have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that's certainly your prerogative, but we can't imagine losing what's good about this music -- the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight -- just to hear it with less background noise.
- White Rabbit
- Theme From Summer of '42
- Little Train
- California Dreaming
- El Mar
AMG 4 Star Review
For George Benson's second CTI project, producer Creed Taylor and arranger Don Sebesky successfully place the guitarist in a Spanish-flavored setting full of flamenco flourishes, brass fanfares, moody woodwinds and such...
Herbie Hancock gets plenty of nimble solo space on Rhodes electric piano, Airto Moreira contributes percussion and atmospheric wordless vocals, and Ron Carter and Billy Cobham complete the high-energy rhythm section.
In this prime sample of the CTI idiom, everyone wins.