Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- KILLER sound throughout for this Contemporary pressing with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades
- Intensity is right -- this is some SERIOUSLY GOOD SOUNDING alto saxophone led quartet jazz
- AMG was right to give this one 4 1/2 stars -- the musicianship is top notch and Pepper’s playing is INSPIRED throughout.
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TWO AMAZING SOUNDING SIDES on very quiet vinyl! This copy destroyed the others we played it against and reminded us just how great this album can be when you have a copy like this one!
I can't recall a more DYNAMIC Contemporary. Pepper's sax gets seriously LOUD in some passages. This is very much a good thing. Not only is he totally committed to the music, but the engineers are getting that energy onto the record so that we at home can feel the moment to moment raw power of his expression. (Pepper was famous for saying that his playing is best when he just plays whatever he feels in the moment, and this record is the best kind of evidence for the truth of that statement.)
Of course, since this is a Roy Dunann recording, all the tubey magical richness and sweetness are here as well, but what is surprising is how transparent, spacious and clear the sound is. Some of Roy's recordings can sound a bit dead (recording in your stockroom is not always the best for spaciousness) and sometimes are a bit thick as well. Not so here. But it should be pointed out that we liked what we heard from a previous shootout too.
Last time around we wrote:
"This record has superb sound: you can actually hear the keys clacking on the man's alto. And that sort of detail does not come at the expense of phony brightness as it would with your typical audiophile recording. The tonality of the sax, drums, and bass are right on the money, exactly the way we expect Roy DuNann's recording to be."
Both sides here were among the VERY BEST we have ever heard for this album. It was a thrill to hear that kind of MASTER TAPE SOUND for a classic Pepper session. By the time this LP was released Pepper was serving a long prison sentence due to his addiction to heroin.
What We're Listening For on Intensity
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The instruments aren't "back there" somewhere, lost in the mix. They're front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
- 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 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 originals.
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.
- I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me
- I Love You
- Come Rain Or Come Shine
- Long Ago (And Far Away)
- Gone With The Wind
- I Wished On The Moon
- Too Close For Comfort
AMG 4 ½ Star Rave Review!
Intensity was the final album of altoist Art Pepper's early period and was released when he was already serving a long prison sentence due to his addiction to heroin. Assisted by pianist Dolo Coker, bassist Jimmy Bond, and drummer Frank Butler, Pepper was just starting to show the influence of John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman in his style, freeing up his playing and displaying a greater intensity during his improvisations.
Ironically, Pepper sticks to swinging standards such as "I Can't Believe That You're in Love with Me," "Gone with the Wind," and "I Wished on the Moon" as points of departure on this interesting and largely enjoyable set. Excluding a 1973 recording with Mike Vax's big band, it would be 15 years before Art Pepper led another record date in the studios.