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 outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades or close to them from top to bottom, this Riverside Japanese import pressing will be very hard to beat - fairly quiet vinyl too
- This side two is surprisingly clear, spacious, relaxed, and full-bodied, with Tubey Magical richness and analog smoothness that we did not expect to hear
- The vast majority of Japanese pressings we've played over the last ten to twenty years didn't pass the laugh test, so when this one came our way sounding pretty darn good, we knew it had to go in a shootout so that we could find out what it was really made of
- "During 1961-1962...pianist Red Garland recorded four LPs for the Jazzland label. [T]his trio set with bassist Sam Jones and drummer Charlie Persip…is very much up to par. An enjoyable straight-ahead session."
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*NOTE: Track 1 on side 2, "What’s New,"" plays a little noisier than Mint Minus Minus.
This vintage Riverside import 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 Bright and Breezy 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 1961
- 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 Piano Is Key
If you have full-range speakers some of the qualities you may recognize in the sound of the piano are weight and warmth. The piano is not hard, brittle or tinkly. Instead the better copies show you a wonderfully full-bodied, warm, rich, smooth piano, one which sounds remarkably like the ones we’ve all heard countless times in piano bars and restaurants.
In other words like a real piano, not a recorded one. This is what we look for in a good piano recording. Bad mastering can ruin the sound, and often does, along with worn out stampers and bad vinyl and five gram needles that scrape off the high frequencies. But a few -- a very few -- copies survive all such hazards. They manage to reproduce the full spectrum sound of the piano (and of course the wonderful performances of the musicians) on vintage vinyl, showing us the kind of sound we never expected from a fairly unprepossessing early 60s jazz piano trio record such as this.
What We're Listening For On Bright and Breezy
- 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, 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.
- 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 -- Ray Fowler in this case -- would have put it.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Talk About Timbre
Man, when you play a Hot Stamper copy of an amazing recording such as this, the timbre of the instruments is so spot-on it makes all the hard work and money you’ve put into your stereo more than pay off. To paraphrase The Hollies, you get paid back with interest. If you hear anything funny in the mids and highs of this record, don’t blame the record. (This is the kind of record that shows up audiophile BS equipment for what it is: Audiophile BS. If you are checking for richness, Tubey Magic and freedom from artificiality, I can’t think of a better test disc. It has loads of the first two and none of the last.)
Warning: Stereo Editorial Follows
The same is true for audio equipment, as I’m sure you’ve experienced first-hand. Some stereos can bore you to tears with their dead-as-a-doornail sound and freedom from dynamic contrasts. Other stereos are overly-detailed and fatiguing; they wear out their welcome pretty quickly with their hyped-up extremes. As Goldilocks will gladly tell you, some stereos are just right; they have the uncanny ability to get out of the way of the music. Some equipment doesn’t call attention to itself, and that tends to be the kind of equipment we prefer around here at Better Records. After forty plus years in this hobby, I’ve had my share of both. 90% or more of the stuff I hear around town makes me appreciate what I have at home. I’m sure you feel the same way.
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.
A Must Own Record
Bright and Breezy is a recording that belongs in any serious Jazz Collection. Others that belong in that category can be found here.
- On Green Dolphin Street
- I Ain’t Got Nobody
- You’ll Never Know
- Blues In The Closet
- What’s New
- Lil’ Darlin’
- What Is There To Say?
- So Sorry Please
During 1961-1962, following a long series of recordings for Prestige, pianist Red Garland recorded four LPs for the Jazzland label. His style was unchanged from a few years earlier, and this trio set with bassist Sam Jones and drummer Charlie Persip…is very much up to par. Highlights include Garland’s interpretations of “I Ain’t Got Nobody,” “Blues in the Closet,” and “Lil’ Darlin’.” An enjoyable straight-ahead session.
Red Garland mixed together the usual influences of his generation (Nat Cole, Bud Powell, and Ahmad Jamal) into his own distinctive approach; Garland’s block chords themselves became influential on the players of the 1960s.
During 1946-1955, he worked steadily in New York and Philadelphia, backing such major players as Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, and Roy Eldridge, but still remaining fairly obscure. That changed when he became a member of the classic Miles Davis Quintet (1955-1958), heading a rhythm section that also included Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones.
After leaving Miles, Garland had his own popular trio and recorded very frequently for Prestige, Jazzland, and Moodsville during 1956-1962 (the majority of which are available in the Original Jazz Classics series).