The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus (often quieter than this grade)*
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus (often quieter than this grade)
- With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this vintage Columbia stereo pressing has Demo Disc sound - sound that's guaranteed to make you want to take all of your remastered pressings and dump them off at the Goodwill, accompanied by a heartfelt "Good riddance!"
- KOB is the embodiment of the big-as-life, spacious and timbrally accurate 30th Street Studio Sound Fred Plaut was justly famous for
- Space, clarity, transparency, and in-the-room immediacy are some of the qualities to be found on this pressing
- It's guaranteed to beat any copy you've ever played, and if you have the new MoFi pressing, please, please, please order this copy so that you can hear just how completely they defiled the sound
- 5 stars: "KOB isn't merely an artistic highlight for Miles Davis, it's an album that towers above its peers, a record generally considered as the definitive jazz album, a universally acknowledged standard of excellence."
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*NOTE: On side one, a mark makes 30 light ticks at the beginning of Track 1, So What.
Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in exceptionally clean shape. Most of them 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, and it will probably be VG+.
Scores of differently mastered versions have been cut over the years, but to find one that’s lively and dynamic yet still communicates the relaxed nature of this music is a trick that few of them can pull off. These sides did.
When the band really starts cutting loose on So What, you’re going to lose your mind! The sound is open and spacious with a wonderful three-dimensional quality that gives each musician a defined space. You can easily tune in to one member and follow their contributions as the band stretches out.
What the Best Sides of Kind of Blue 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.
Quick Listening Tests
This is an easy one. Just listen to the trumpet at the start of Freddie Freeloader. Most copies do not fully convey the transient information of Miles' horn, causing it to have an easily recognizable quality we talk about all the time on the site: smear. No two pressings will have precisely the same amount of smear on his trumpet, so look for the least smeary copy that does everything else right too. (Meaning simply that smear is important, but not all-important.)
On track one, side two, the drums in the right channel are key to evaluating the sound of the better copies. The snare should sound solid and fat -- like a real snare -- and if there is space in the recording on your copy you will have no trouble hearing the room around the kit.
Next check the cymbals. No two copies will get the cymbals to sound the same, so play a few and see which ones sound the most natural to you. The most natural will be the one with the best top end.
When Adderley comes in hard left, his alto should not be thin, squawky or stuck in the speaker. The best of the best copies have the instrument sounding full-bodied (for an alto) and reedy. The reedy quality tells you that your pressing is highly resolving and not smeared.
What We're Listening For on Kind of Blue
- 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 Giants Who Created Kind of Blue
- Bass – Paul Chambers
- Drums – Jimmy Cobb
- Piano – Bill Evans
- Piano – Wynton Kelly
- Tenor Saxophone – John Coltrane
- Alto Saxophone – Cannonball Adderley
Irving Townsend was the producer, Fred Plaut the engineer for these sessions that took place on various dates in March and April, 1959, in Columbia's glorious-sounding 30th Street Studio.
It's yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording.
Fred Plaut was a recording engineer and amateur photographer. He was employed by Columbia Records during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, eventually becoming the label's chief engineer.
Plaut engineered sessions for what would result in many of Columbia's famous albums, including the original cast recordings of South Pacific, My Fair Lady, and West Side Story, jazz LPs Kind of Blue and Sketches of Spain by Miles Davis, Time Out by Dave Brubeck, Mingus Ah Um and Mingus Dynasty by Charles Mingus.
CBS 30th Street Studio
CBS 30th Street Studio, also known as Columbia 30th Street Studio, and nicknamed "The Church", was an American recording studio operated by Columbia Records from 1949 to 1981 located at 207 East 30th Street, between Second and Third Avenues in Manhattan, New York City.
It was considered by some in the music industry to be the best sounding room in its time and others consider it to have been the greatest recording studio in history. A large number of recordings were made there in all genres, including Miles Davis' Kind of Blue (1959), Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story (Original Broadway Cast recording, 1957), Percy Faith's Theme from A Summer Place (1960), and Pink Floyd's The Wall (1979).
Having been a church for many years, it had been abandoned and empty for some time, and in 1949 it was transformed into a recording studio by Columbia Records.
"There was one big room, and no other place in which to record", wrote John Marks in an article in Stereophile magazine in 2002.
The recording studio had 100 foot high ceilings, a 100 foot floorspace for the recording area, and the control room was on the second floor being only 8 by 14 feet. Later, the control room was moved down to the ground floor.
"It was huge and the room sound was incredible," recalls Jim Reeves, a sound technician who had worked in it. "I was inspired," he continues "by the fact that, aside from the artistry, how clean the audio system was."
Many celebrated musical artists from all genres of music used the 30th Street Studio for some of their most famous recordings.
Bach: The Goldberg Variations, the 1955 debut album of the Canadian classical pianist Glenn Gould, was recorded in the 30th Street Studio. It was an interpretation of Johann Sebastian Bach's Goldberg Variations (BWV 988), the work launched Gould's career as a renowned international pianist, and became one of the most well-known piano recordings. On May 29, 1981, a second version of the Goldberg Variations by Glenn Gould was recorded in this studio, and would be the last production by the famous studio.
Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis recorded almost exclusively at the 30th Street Studio during his years under contract to Columbia, including his album Kind of Blue (1959). Other noteworthy jazz musicians having recorded in this place: Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck.
In 1964, Bob Dylan and record producer Tom Wilson were experimenting with their own fusion of rock and folk music. The first unsuccessful test involved overdubbing a "Fats Domino early rock & roll thing" over Dylan's earlier, recording of "House of the Rising Sun", using non-electric instruments, according to Wilson. This took place in the Columbia 30th Street Studio in December 1964. It was quickly discarded, though Wilson would more famously use the same technique of overdubbing an electric backing track to an existing acoustic recording with Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence".
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.
A Must Own Jazz Record
This Demo Disc Quality recording should be part of any serious Audiophile Jazz Collection. Others that belong in that category can be found here.
- So What
- Freddie Freeloader
- Blue in Green
- All Blues
- Flamenco Sketches
AMG 5 Star Rave Review
Kind of Blue isn't merely an artistic highlight for Miles Davis, it's an album that towers above its peers, a record generally considered as the definitive jazz album, a universally acknowledged standard of excellence.
Why does Kind of Blue posses such a mystique? Perhaps because this music never flaunts its genius. It lures listeners in with the slow, luxurious bassline and gentle piano chords of "So What." From that moment on, the record never really changes pace — each tune has a similar relaxed feel, as the music flows easily.
Yet Kind of Blue is more than easy listening. It's the pinnacle of modal jazz — tonality and solos build from the overall key, not chord changes, giving the music a subtly shifting quality. All of this doesn't quite explain why seasoned jazz fans return to this record even after they've memorized every nuance.
They return because this is an exceptional band — Miles, Coltrane, Bill Evans, Cannonball Adderley, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb — one of the greatest in history, playing at the peak of its power. As Evans said in the original liner notes for the record, the band did not play through any of these pieces prior to recording. Davis laid out the themes before the tape rolled, and then the band improvised.
The end results were wondrous and still crackle with vitality. Kind of Blue works on many different levels. It can be played as background music, yet it amply rewards close listening. It is advanced music that is extraordinarily enjoyable. It may be a stretch to say that if you don't like Kind of Blue, you don't like jazz — but it's hard to imagine it as anything other than a cornerstone of any jazz collection.
Jazziz Rave Review
As the painter needs his framework of parchment, the improvising musical group needs its framework in time," says Bill Evans in the liner notes to Kind of Blue. "Miles Davis presents here frameworks which are exquisite in their simplicity and yet contain all that is necessary to stimulate performance with a sure reference to the primary conception." Amen. During the past 40 years, the performances Davis' stimulated from Evans, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb, and Wynton Kelly have become some of the most storied in jazz, and all of them - classics such as "Freddie the Freeloader," "All Blues," "Blue in Green," and, of course, "So What" (featured) - are featured on the Columbia/Legacy reissue.
- JAZZIZ Magazine