The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus
- This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on both sides - exceptionally quiet vinyl too, with a true Mint Minus side two!
- Both of these sides are textbook examples of the kind of rich, smooth, effortlessly natural Contemporary Jazz sound that Roy DuNann's All Tube Recording Chain was known for in 1958
- "The last of the classic Sonny Rollins albums prior to his unexpected three-year retirement features the great tenor with pianist Hampton Hawes, guitarist Barney Kessell, bassist Leroy Vinnegar and drummer Shelly Manne... Great music."
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*NOTE: The edge on sides one and two have a very light crackle.
This Contemporary Yellow Label LP has THE BIG SOUND -- rich and so full-bodied with amazing presence and immediacy. The bass is wonderful -- deep, rock-solid, and note-like. There’s lots of extension on the top end, letting Shelley Manne's fantastic work on the cymbals really come to life.
The clarity on this copy is outstanding -- just listen to those leading edge transients on Sonny's sax. The guitar has the tubey qualities that we love here at Better Records -- it's warm, rich, and sweet with lots of ambience.
Sonny is backed here by a heavy-hitting lineup of Barney Kessel, Shelley Manne, Leroy Vinnegar and Hampton Hawes -- all favorite players of ours here at Better Records.
What the best sides of Sonny Rollins And The Contemporary Leaders 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 1958
- 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.
This was Sonny's second Contemporary album and his second West Coast session, a year and a half after the historic Way Out West. Jazz labels acquire "personalities" not only from the musical tastes of the owner/recording director but also from the roster of musicians signed to the company. The "Contemporary Sound"–every bit as distinctive as the competing "Blue Note Sound," "Prestige Sound," and "Pacific Jazz Sound"–was largely a product of the work by Hampton Hawes, Barney Kessel, and Shelly Manne, all of whom had won Down Beat awards for their respective instruments and recorded as "The Poll Winners."
What We're Listening For on Sonny Rollins And The Contemporary Leaders
- 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 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.
- I've Told Ev'ry Little Star
- Rock-A-Bye Your Baby
- How High The Moon
- I've Found A New Baby
- Alone Together
- In The Chapel In The Moonlight
- The Song Is You
[Users rate the album 4 1/2 Stars by the way]
The last of the classic Sonny Rollins albums prior to his unexpected three-year retirement features the great tenor with pianist Hampton Hawes, guitarist Barney Kessell, bassist Leroy Vinnegar and drummer Shelly Manne...
Rollins creates explorative and often witty improvisations on such songs as "Rock-A-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody," "You," "In the Chapel in the Moonlight" and roaring versions of "I've Found a New Baby" and "The Song Is You." Great music.