Side One: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus*
- This Must Own album by Art Pepper earned outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides - fairly quiet vinyl too
- If you buy only one Large Group Hot Stamper jazz record from us, make it this one - the music is swingin' fun and the sound is going to be very impressive, especially compared to any modern reissue
- Rich, warm and full-bodied, the brass is phenomenal on this pressing - here is the Tubey Magic of the originals without the problems that cause many originals to be opaque and uninvolving
- A personal favorite - 5 stars: "This is a true classic. Essential music for all serious jazz collections."
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*NOTE: On side two, a mark makes 15 very light intermittent ticks during Track 5, Walkin'.
This vintage Contemporary stereo pressing has got plenty of Modern Jazz Classics Magic. On a copy such as this you can really pick out each of the musicians and follow them throughout the course of the track. Being able to appreciate everyone's contributions really gives you a sense of how much work went into the making of this album. It's nothing short of epic.
This is one DYNAMIC jazz record -- drop the needle on any track and prepare yourself to be very impressed. The sound is full-bodied and energetic with breathy brass and lots of ambience. Thanks Howard Holzer and Roy DuNann!
What the best sides of Modern Jazz Classics 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 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.
I used to get original Black Label Contemporary pressings in all the time, but few of them are mastered right and most never make it to the site. Some are pure muck. Some have bass so bloated it defies description. And where's the presence? Over the years we've dropped the needle on more than a few Black Label original copies and were entirely underwhelmed every time.
Marty Paich, Brilliant Arranger
The amazing Marty Paich did the arrangements for this group of top musicians. As far as big band goes it doesn't get much better than this. If I had to pick one big band album to take to my desert island it might very well be this one. The arrangements are lively and everyone seems to be having a good time in the studio.
Marty was one of the most sought-after arrangers back in the day. In discogs there are currently 512 listings under his name for writing and arranging.
Many consider this to be the best record Art Pepper ever made, along with Art Pepper Meets The Rhythm Section, and it's hard to argue with either title as both are superb and deserve a place in any audiophile's collection. I would add Art Pepper Today to that list, and fortunately we do get copies in from time to time.
What We're Listening For on Modern Jazz Classics
- 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 -- Howard Holzer and Roy DuNann in this case -- would have put them.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Art Pepper — alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, clarinet Pete Candoli — trumpet Al Porcino — trumpet Jack Sheldon — trumpet Dick Nash — trombone Bob Enevoldsen — valve trombone, tenor saxophone Vince DeRosa — French horn Herb Geller — alto saxophone Bud Shank — alto saxophone Charlie Kennedy — alto saxophone Bill Perkins — tenor saxophone Richie Kamuca — tenor saxophone Med Flory — baritone saxophone Russ Freeman — piano Joe Mondragon — bass Mel Lewis — drums Marty Paich — arranger, conductor
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.
Opus de Funk
This is a true classic. Altoist Art Pepper is joined by an 11-piece band playing Marty Paich arrangements of a dozen jazz standards from the bop and cool jazz era.
Trumpeter Jack Sheldon has a few solos, but the focus is very much on the altoist who is in peak form for this period. Throughout, Pepper sounds quite inspired by Paich's charts which feature the band as an active part of the music rather than just in the background.
Highlights of this highly enjoyable set include "Move," "Four Brothers," "Shaw Nuff," "Anthropology," and "Donna Lee," but there is not a single throwaway track to be heard. Essential music for all serious jazz collections.
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