The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- Boasting solid Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides, this Prestige not-very-stereo pressing will be very hard to beat
- Like many other Prestige "stereo" reissues, if there is any left-right information, you would never know it without checking it on a pair of headphones
- In other words, this '50s mono recording has been mastered in the '60s to sound like it's supposed to sound - there's absolutely nothing artificial or modern here, which makes this a very special pressing indeed
- Again and again the notes read "solid, big and rich," and that's the kind of sound fifty year old records give you, in spades
- 4 1/2 stars: "Tenor Madness was the recording that, once and for all, established Newk as one of the premier tenor saxophonists, an accolade that in retrospect, has continued through six full decades and gives an indication why a young Rollins was so well liked, as his fluency, whimsical nature, and solid construct of melodies and solos gave him the title of the next Coleman Hawkins or Lester Young of mainstream jazz."
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Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in exceptionally clean shape. Most of the will have at least some amount of ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG
This vintage Prestige Blue Trident Label 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 Tenor Madness 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 1956
- 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.
Learning the Record
For our shootout for Tenor Madness, we had at our disposal a variety of pressings that had the potential for Hot Stamper sound. We cleaned them carefully, then unplugged everything in the house we could, warmed up the system, Talisman'd it, found the right VTA for our Triplanar arm (by ear of course) and proceeded to spend the next hour or so playing copy after copy on side one, after which we repeated the process for side two.
If you have five or more copies of a record and play them over and over against each other, the process itself teaches you what's right and what's wrong with the sound of the album. Once your ears are completely tuned to what the best pressings do well that the other pressings do not do as well, using a few carefully chosen passages of music, it quickly becomes obvious how well a given copy can reproduce those passages. You'll hear what's better and worse -- right and wrong would be another way of putting it -- about the sound.
This approach is simplicity itself. First, you go deep into the sound. There you find a critically important passage in the music, one which most copies struggle -- or fail -- to reproduce as well as the best. Now, with the hard-won knowledge of precisely what to listen for, you are perfectly positioned to critique any and all pressings that come your way.
It may be a lot of work but it sure ain't rocket science, and we've never pretended otherwise. Just the opposite: from day one we've explained step by step precisely how to go about finding the Hot Stampers in your own collection. Not the good sounding pressings you happen to own -- those may or may not have Hot Stampers -- but the records you actually cleaned, shot out, and declared victorious.
What We're Listening For On Tenor Madness
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- 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 costreo reissue mmon to these LPs.
- Tight, full-bodied 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.
- Bass - Paul Chambers
- Drums - "Philly" Joe Jones
- Piano - Red Garland
- Tenor Sax (title track) - John Coltrane
- Tenor Sax - Sonny Rollins
- Engineer - Rudy Van Gelder
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.
- Tenor Madness
- When Your Lover Has Gone
- Paul's Pal
- My Reverie
- The Most Beautiful Girl In The World
AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
At a time when he was a member of the legendary Clifford Brown/Max Roach sextet, Sonny Rollins was still the apple fallen not too far from the tree of Miles Davis. Tenor Madness was the recording that, once and for all, established Newk as one of the premier tenor saxophonists, an accolade that in retrospect, has continued through six full decades and gives an indication why a young Rollins was so well liked, as his fluency, whimsical nature, and solid construct of melodies and solos gave him the title of the next Coleman Hawkins or Lester Young of mainstream jazz.
With the team of pianist Red Garland, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Philly Joe Jones, staples of that era's Miles Davis combos, Rollins has all the rhythmic ammunition to cut loose, be free, and extrapolate on themes as only he could, and still can. This is most evident on his version of "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World," started in its normal choppy waltz time, followed by a sax/drums prelude, a drum solo from Jones, and steamed from there on in, a hot 4/4 romp.
Garland is particularly outstanding for keeping up the pace, depth and placement on this one. A bluesy version of "When Your Lover Has Gone," again enlivened by Jones, and the legendary title track with Rollins and John Coltrane trading long solos, and fours with Jones, are tunes that in the mid-'50s defined the parlance "blowing session." "Paul's Pal," in tribute to Chambers, has become a standard in its own right with a bright, memorable melody showing the good humor of Rollins, especially on the second time through, while the saxophonist's ability to sing vocal like tones through his horn is no better evinced as during the light ballad "My Reverie."
A recording that should stand proudly alongside Saxophone Colossus as some of the best work of Sonny Rollins in his early years, it's also a testament to the validity, vibrancy, and depth of modern jazz in the post-World War era. It belongs on everybody's shelf.