Side One: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
- A vintage Contemporary pressing that was doing just about everything right, with both sides earning seriously good Double Plus (A++) grades - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- Many consider this to be the best record Art Pepper ever made, along with Art Pepper + Eleven, and I agree completely
- The Contemporary stereo sound here is completely natural in all respects – rich, warm, and smooth, in short, the sound we love
- Recorded in 1957 (the same year as Way Out West) by the legendary Roy DuNann, the sound of the better pressings is absolutely superb
- 5 stars: "... this recording convinced [Pepper] that emotion was the paramount impulse of jazz performance... a diamond of recorded jazz history."
100% Money Back Guarantee on all Hot Stampers
FREE Domestic Shipping on all LP orders over $150
This one has many of the qualities of the better black label originals, without their bad vinyl and bloated bass. We get black label original Contemporary pressings in from time to time, but few of them are mastered right and most never make it to the site.
Some are pure muck. Some have bloated bass that is hard to believe. Don’t buy into that record collecting slash audiophile canard that Original Equals Better. That's pure BS. It just doesn't work that way, and anyone with two good ears, two good speakers and a decent-sized record collection should know better.
What The Best Sides Of Meets The Rhythm Section 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 1957
- 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.
Standard Operating Procedures
What are sonic qualities by which a record -- any record -- should be judged? Pretty much the ones we discuss in most of our Hot Stamper listings: energy, frequency extension (on both ends), transparency, spaciousness, harmonic textures (freedom from smear is key), rhythmic drive, tonal correctness, fullness, richness, three-dimensionality, and on and on down the list.
When we can get a number of these qualities to come together on the side we’re playing, we provisionally give it a ballpark Hot Stamper grade, a grade that is often revised during the shootout as we hear what the other copies are doing, both good and bad.
Once we’ve been through all the side ones, we play the best of the best against each other and arrive at a winner for that side. Other copies from earlier in the shootout will frequently have their grades raised or lowered based on how they sounded compared to the eventual shootout winner. If we’re not sure about any pressing, perhaps because we played it early on in the shootout before we had learned what to listen for, we take the time to play it again.
Repeat the process for side two and the shootout is officially over. All that’s left is to see how the sides of each pressing match up.
It may not be rocket science, but it’s a science of a kind, one with strict protocols that we’ve developed over the course of many years to insure that the results we arrive at are as accurate as we can make them.
The result of all our work speaks for itself, on this very record in fact. We guarantee you have never heard this music sound better than it does on our Hot Stamper pressing -- or your money back.
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 Jazz Record
We consider this Art Pepper album a Masterpiece. It's a recording that should be part of any serious Jazz Collection.
Others that belong in that category can be found here.
- You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To
- Red Pepper Blues
- Waltz Me Blues
- Straight Life
- Jazz Me Blues
- Tin Tin Deo
- Star Eyes
- Birk's Works
AMG 5 Star Rave Review
Widely accepted as a singular landmark in a career built of singular landmarks, Pepper said he felt as though this recording convinced him that emotion was the paramount impulse of jazz performance...
The knowledge that they play all the songs for the first and only time together, in the order you hear them on the record, suggests a kind of jazz narrative genius on behalf of the man behind the plan, Contemporary president Les Koenig. A diamond of recorded jazz history.