The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
- Big, rich, smooth, open, natural, with plenty of note-like bass - what's not to like? This copy is killin' it
- Some of the best jazz guys of the day back up Chet on this one: Zoot Sims, Pepper Adams, Bill Evans, Herbie Mann and more
- "...the timelessness of the melodies, coupled with the assembled backing aggregate, make Chet Baker Plays the Best of Lerner and Loewe (1959) a memorable concept album."
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This is a wonderful Chet Baker record that doesn't seem to be getting the respect it deserves in the wider jazz world. You may just like it every bit as much as the Chet album, and that is one helluva record to compare any album to, in our estimation about as good as it gets in most respects.
Finding good Chet Baker records is like finding hen's teeth these days. The albums he did for Pacific Jazz in the '50s can be wonderful but few have survived in audiophile playing condition. The Mariachi Brass albums are as awful as everyone says -- we know, we've played them too.
The Old Paradigm, Not Really a Paradigm At All
Both sides here are Tubey Magical, rich, open, spacious and tonally correct. We've never heard the record sound better than in our most recent shootout, and that's coming from someone who's been playing the album since it was first reissued in the '80s.
I used to sell these very records in the '90s -- we retailed them for ten bucks back then -- but we had no clue just how good they could be back in those days. We couldn't clean them right, or even play them right, and it would never have occurred to us to listen to a big pile of them one after another in order to pick out the best sounding copies.
What outstanding sides such as these 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 1959
- 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.
What We're Listening for on Chet Baker Plays The Best Of Lerner And Loewe
- 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 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
- Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone – Zoot Sims
- Baritone Saxophone – Pepper Adams
- Bass – Earl May
- Drums – Clifford Jarvis
- Flute – Herbie Mann
- Piano – Bill Evans (tracks: A1, B2 to B4), Piano – Bob Corwin (tracks: A2 to A4, B1)
- Producer – Orrin Keepnews
- Engineer – Roy Friedman
Mint Minus Minus 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.
- I've Grown Accustomed To Your Face
- I Could Have Danced All Night
- The Heather On The Hill
- On The Street Where You Live
- Almost Like Being In Love
- Thank Heaven For Little Girls
- I Talk To The Trees
- Show Me
This is one of the last Chet Baker (trumpet) long players recorded in the States prior to the artist relocating to Europe in the early '60s. Likewise, the eight-tune collection was the final effort issued during his brief association with the Riverside Records imprint.
The project was undoubtedly spurred on by the overwhelming success of the Shelly Manne-led combo that interpreted titles taken from the score to My Fair Lady (1956). In addition to becoming an instant classic, Manne's LP was also among of the best-selling jazz platters of all time.
While Baker and crew may have gained their inspiration from Manne, these readings are comparatively understated. That said, the timelessness of the melodies, coupled with the assembled backing aggregate, make Chet Baker Plays the Best of Lerner and Loewe (1959) a memorable concept album.