Side One: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
- The Mastersounds' 1960 release finally arrives on the site with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side two and an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side one - exceptionally quiet Red Vinyl too
- These sides are doing everything right -- full, clear, and solid, with the Tubey Magical Midrange that can only be found on recordings from this era
- If you're a fan of the Modern Jazz Quartet, you may feel as I do that the Mastersounds' Montgomery brothers on vibes and bass play this kind of smooth jazz much better than the often-sleepy MJQ
- "Swinging With the Mastersounds is accurately titled; its six tracks are all standards, and all are taken at a gentle, loping tempo and spin out sweetly..."
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This reissue is spacious, open, transparent, rich and sweet. It's yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording Technology, with the added benefit of mastering using the more modern cutting equipment of the '70s and '80s. We are of course here referring to the good modern mastering of 35+ years ago, not the generally opaque, veiled and lifeless mastering so common today.
The combination of old and new works wonders on this title as you will surely hear for yourself on these superb sides.
We were impressed with the fact that these pressings excel in so many areas of reproduction. What was odd about it -- odd to most audiophiles but not necessarily to us -- was just how rich and Tubey Magical the reissue can be on the right pressing.
This leads me to think that most of the natural, full-bodied, lively, clear, rich sound of the recording was still on the tape decades later, and that all that was needed to get that vintage sound on to a record was simply to thread up the tape on the right machine and hit play. The fact that practically nobody seems to be able to make a record nowadays that sounds remotely this good tells me that I'm wrong to think that such an approach tends to work, if our experience with hundreds of mediocre Heavy Vinyl reissues is relevant.
What the best sides of Swinging With The Mastersounds 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 1960
- 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.
What We're Listening For on Swinging With The Mastersounds
- 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.
- Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians aren't "back there" somewhere, way behind the speakers. They're front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put them.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Bass – Monk Montgomery Drums – Benny Barth Piano – Richie Crabtree Vibraphone – Buddy Montgomery
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.
People Will Say We're In Love
There Is No Greater Love
West Coast Blues
I've Never Been In Love Before/Don't Blame Me
I Could Write A Book
...the quartet's gentle sound invited you to relax and think about other things while they played. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that; not all jazz has to grab you by the collar and force you to listen closely. Swinging With the Mastersounds is accurately titled; its six tracks are all standards, and all are taken at a gentle, loping tempo and spin out sweetly over the course of anywhere from five to ten minutes.
The Mastersounds' take on Wes Montgomery's "West Coast Blues" has a hint of muscle to it and the group's version of "I Could Write a Book" trips along nicely, but the remainder of the tunes are quiet love ballads that drift slowly and prettily along. Very nice.
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