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)
- An outstanding copy of this excellent Wes Montgomery title with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
- Both sides here are superb, incredibly big, bold, clear, rich and dynamic - this is DEMO DISC Quality Big Production Guitar-led Jazz
- Credit goes to Rudy Van Gelder once again for the huge space that the superbly well-recorded group occupies
- Forget the critics, this is one of Wes's Best Albums of All Time I tell you!
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*NOTE: On side one, a mark makes 5 moderate to light ticks at the beginning of Track 2, Sun Down.
The sound here is so natural, transparent and clear. Listen to all the space around the guitar. (On the Cisco you might hear 20% of that space. That's Heavy Vinyl for you. What a load of crap.)
Beware any and all imitations (even the one I used to like somewhat, the Cisco version). They barely BEGIN to convey the qualities of the real master tape the way this pressing does. This pressing exhibits huge amounts of ambience and spaciousnesss, with far more energy and the kind of "see into the studio" quality that only the real thing ever seems to have.
This vintage Verve pressing has 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 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 California Dreaming 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 1966
- 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 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.
Wall to Wall
Note especially how so much musical information is coming from the far sides of the soundfield. The Cisco reissue makes a mockery of that wall to wall sound, sucking it into the middle and flattening it into a single plane. Ugh.
To be fair -- and I always am -- the Cisco did beat and will beat many of the copies you might run across. There is a very simple explanation for this: Verve is probably the most poorly mastered label in the history of the world. No other label produced so many wonderful sounding recordings that were turned into lousy sounding LPs -- I could list them for days.
Everything that's good about this era of RVG's recordings, Wes's music and those glorious Don Sebesky arrangements is here. For my part let me just say that this is the best sounding Wes Montgomery record I have ever played, and musically my personal favorite of his as well.
What We're Listening For on California Dreaming
- 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.
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.
Oh You Crazy Moon
More, More Amor
Winds of Barcelona
South of the Border
As Wes Montgomery sailed into ever-poppier waters towards the end of his career, two things remained constant: he kept writing and including original tunes on his albums, and he kept playing and including the blues in one shade or another.
Thus, on CALIFORNIA DREAMING, another big band-orchestrated Verve album, we get "Sun Down," a six-minute original blues, cut for the most part with just the first-call rhythm section of Herbie Hancock, Richard Davis, Grady Tate and Ray Baretto. The other original, "Mr. Walker," is just as cooking, and dates from Montgomery's second Riverside album, the aptly titled INCREDIBLE JAZZ GUITAR OF WES MONTGOMERY.
Recorded at Van Gelder Studios, Englewood Cliffs, New Jeresy on Sepetmber 14-16, 1966.
Personnel includes: Wes Montgomery (guitar); Don Sebesky (arranger, conductor); Jack Jennings (vibraphone, percussion); Herbie Hancock (piano); Al Casamenti, Buck Pizzarelli (guitar); Richard Davis (bass); Grady Tate (drums); Ray Baretto (percussion).
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