The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- Boasting incredible Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) grades from top to bottom, this vintage Contemporary pressing is close to the BEST we have ever heard, right up there with our Shootout Winner
- These sides are bigger and more open, with more bass and energy, than practically all others we played - 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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These Nearly White Hot Stamper pressings have top-quality sound that's often surprisingly close to our White Hots, but they sell at substantial discounts to our Shootout Winners, making them a relative bargain in the world of Hot Stampers ("relative" meaning relative considering the prices we charge). We feel you get what you pay for here at Better Records, and if ever you don't agree, please feel free to return the record for a full refund, no questions asked.
For us audiophiles both the sound and the music here are enchanting. If you're looking to demonstrate just how good a 1959 All Tube Analog recording can sound, this killer copy will do the trick.
This pressing is super spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience. Talk about Tubey Magic, the liquidity of the sound here is positively uncanny. This is vintage analog at its best, so full-bodied and relaxed you'll wonder how it ever came to be that anyone seriously contemplated trying to improve it.
This is the sound of Tubey Magic. No recordings will ever be made like this again, and no CD will ever capture what is in the grooves of this record. There may well be a CD of this album, but those of us in possession of a working turntable and a good collection of vintage vinyl could care less.
What The Best Sides of Swingin' the 20s 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. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.
The sound of the muted trumpet on side two is out of this world! It's exactly the sonic signature of good tube equipment -- making some elements of a recording sound shockingly real.
The trumpet is also a very good test for turntable setup, tracking, as well as arm and cartridge compatibility. You've got to be set up properly for every aspect for a difficult-to-reproduce instrument like the trumpet to sound right.
Benny, by the way, plays both sax and trumpet on this album. I saw him a while back when he was touring at the age of 90 years old. And he still had it.
Skip the OJC
This album is fairly common on the OJC pressing from 1988, but we found the sound of the OJC pressings we played seriously wanting. They have the kind of bad reissue sound that that plays right into the prejudices of most record collectors and audiophiles for whom nothing but an original will do. They were dramatically smaller, flatter, more recessed and more lifeless than just about every other copy we played.
The lesson? Not all reissues are created equal. Some OJC pressings are great -- including even some of the new ones -- some are awful, and the only way to judge them fairly is to judge them individually, which requires actually playing a large sample. Since virtually no record collectors or audiophiles like doing that, they make faulty judgments based on their biases and inadequate sample sizes.
You can find those who subscribe to this approach on every audiophile forum there is. Their methods do not produce good results, but as long as they stick to them they will never have to worry about finding out about that inconvenient truth.
What We're Listening For On Swingin' the 20s
- 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 common to most LPs.
- Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering -- which ties in with good transient information, as well as 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 players.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
This is one of the all time great Contemporary recordings. DCC was going to do this on CD at one time; I loaned Steve Hoffman an OJC LP back in the 90s which he promptly fell in love with. Unfortunately DCC went out of business, and Acoustic Sounds, the people doing the new jazz reissue series on 45 RPM heavy vinyl, wouldn't recognize a great title like this if it bit them in the ass.
And if they did it their version wouldn't sound good anyway -- none of their stuff ever does.
The Players and Personnel
- Alto Saxophone, Trumpet – Benny Carter
- Bass – Leroy Vinnegar
- Drums – Shelly Manne
- Piano – Earl Hines
- Producer – Lester Koenig
- Recorded By – Roy DuNann
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.
- Thou Swell
- My Blue Heaven
- Just Imagine
- If I Could Be with You (One Hour Tonight)
- Sweet Lorraine
- Who's Sorry Now?
- Laugh, Clown, Laugh
- All Alone
- Mary Lou
- In a Little Spanish Town
- Someone to Watch over Me
- A Monday Date
About the Album
Some things never change. When this CD was released in 1988, Benny Carter was as active as when this album was recorded 30 years earlier. And the eleven standards herein are as fresh as when they were written in the Twenties. Benny is joined by Earl Hines (whose great 1928 composition "A Monday Date" is included here), along with Shelly Manne and bassist Leroy Vinnegar of "Friends" fame. 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. . . ."
Benny Carter Mini-Bio
Bennett Lester Carter (August 8, 1907 – July 12, 2003) was an American jazz saxophonist, clarinetist, trumpeter, composer, arranger, and bandleader. With Johnny Hodges, he was a pioneer on the alto saxophone. From the beginning of his career in the 1920s, he worked as an arranger including written charts for Fletcher Henderson's big band that shaped the swing style. He had an unusually long career that lasted into the 1990s. During the 1980s and 1990s, he was nominated for eight Grammy Awards, which included receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award.