Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus*
Side Three: Mint Minus Minus
Side Four: Mint Minus Minus
- With Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on three sides and an actual Triple Plus (A+++) side one, this copy is close to the BEST we have ever heard, right up there with our Shootout Winner
- You'd be hard-pressed to find a copy that's this well balanced, big and lively, with wonderful clarity in the mids and highs
- 4 stars: "Even in 1956, Evans had his own chord voicings and a lyrical yet swinging style... A strong start to a significant career."
- "In addition, there is a full album of previously unreleased music: an alternate take of "No Cover, No Minimum," an unaccompanied version of "Some Other Time" from 1958 and four solo pieces that Evans cut in 1962, his first recordings after the tragic death of his bassist Scott LaFaro."
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NOTE: *A bubble on track five makes eight light to very light thumps.
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" being 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.
Many of the early Bill Evans that we have auditioned over the years left a lot to be desired sonically. Waltz for Debby is a good example; every original pressing we have ever played was just awful. Those sell to jazz collectors, not audiophiles, at least not to audiophiles with two working ears.
Every copy we could get our hands on of Bill Evans' debut, New Jazz Conceptions, was also mediocre at best. Until we discovered this wonderful two-fer, we had more or less given up on finding something worthy of a serious Audiophile Jazz Lover's time and money. Well, here it is, and it won our shootout on all four sides.
These Milestone pressings have the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even 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 there, live at Village Vanguard in New York City 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 Conception 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 1981
- 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 space of the studio
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 above.
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 Conception
- 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 for the piano and drums, 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.
- Then: presence and immediacy. The piano isn't "back there" somewhere, way behind the speakers. It's front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put it.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
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 later 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 that is a key part of the appeal 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.
A1 I Love You Written-By – Cole Porter 3:52 A2 Five Written-By – Bill Evans 4:01 A3 I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good Written-By – Ellington*, Webster* 1:36 A4 Conception Written-By – George Shearing 4:43 A5 Easy Living Written-By – Robin*, Rainger* 3:49 A6 Displacement Written-By – Bill Evans 2:33
B1 Speak Low Written-By – Weill*, Nash* 5:06 B2 Waltz For Debby Written-By – Bill Evans 1:16 B3 Our Delight Written-By – Tadd Dameron 4:42 B4 My Romance Written-By – Hart-Rodgers* 1:54 B5 No Cover, No Minimum (Take 2) Written-By – Bill Evans 7:30
C1 No Cover, No Minimum (Take 1; Previously Unissued) Written-By – Bill Evans 8:09 C2 Some Other Time Written-By – Green*, Comden*, Bernstein* 6:13 C3 Easy To Love Written-By – Porter* 4:40
D1 Danny Boy Written-By – Trad.* 10:37 D2 Like Someone In Love Written-By – Burtke, Van Heusen* 6:25 D3 In Your Own Sweet Way Written-By – Dave Brubeck 2:54
Although all of Bill Evans's Riverside recordings have been reissued on a massive box set, those listeners who have not invested in that may very well be satisfied to pick up a few of his Milestone two-fers. This particular one reissues the influential pianist's very first session as a leader (which was originally on an LP titled New Jazz Conceptions), a trio date with bassist Teddy Kotick and drummer Paul Motian that also includes three unaccompanied piano solos (highlighted by the original version of Evans's most famous composition, "Waltz for Debby").
In addition, there is a full album of previously unreleased music: an alternate take of "No Cover, No Minimum," an unaccompanied version of "Some Other Time" from 1958 and four solo pieces that Evans cut in 1962, his first recordings after the tragic death of his bassist Scott LaFaro.
REVIEW OF THE ORIGINAL RELEASE
Bill Evans' debut as a leader found the 27-year-old pianist already sounding much different than the usual Bud Powell-influenced keyboardists of the time. Even in 1956 (more than a year before he joined the Miles Davis Sextet), Evans had his own chord voicings and a lyrical yet swinging style. Three selections here are taken solo (including the original version of his classic "Waltz for Debby"), while the other eight are performed in a trio with bassist Teddy Kotick and drummer Paul Motian (including his future theme "Five," "Speak Low" and "No Cover, No Minimum"). A strong start to a significant career.
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