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Sete, Bola - At The Monterey Jazz Festival - Super Hot Stamper

The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.

Super Hot Stamper

Bola Sete
At The Monterey Jazz Festival

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Sonic Grade

Side One:

Side Two:

Vinyl Grade

Side One: Mint Minus Minus (closer to M-- to EX++ in parts)*

Side Two: Mint Minus Minus (closer to M-- to EX++ in parts)*

  • Sete’s superb trio album from 1967 (one of only a handful of copies to hit the site in two years), here with solid Double Plus (A++) grades or close to them throughout this vintage Stereo Verve pressing
  • We are big fans of Bola Sete here – his Tour De Force has been a favorite of ours for more than twenty years (if only we could find clean, good sounding copies to sell)
  • This is always the problem with acoustic guitar jazz – there are just too many quiet passages where the surface noise will be audible
  • This copy not only sounds great, but it is reasonably quiet for a vintage Verve pressing
  • Recorded in 1966, this side one boasts remarkably natural guitar sound, as well as note-like bass and the kind of energy you rarely get outside of a live performance, and side two is not far behind in all those areas

More Bola Sete / More Bossa Nova

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*NOTE: This record was not noisy enough to rate our M-- to EX++ grade, but it's not quite up to our standards for Mint Minus Minus either. If you're looking for quiet vinyl, this is probably not the best copy for you.

Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in exceptionally clean shape. Most of the will have at least some amount of ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG

This vintage Verve T-Label Stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely 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 audience, live at the Monterey Jazz Fesitival, 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 Bola Sete At The Monterey Jazz Festival 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 1967
  • 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.

Brilliant Engineering

Val Valentin did an amazing job with the recording of Bola Sete’s Live at Montreux album. His list of engineering credits runs for days. Some high points are of course Ella and Louis, followed by Getz/Gilberto, two records that belong in any right-thinking audiophile’s collection.

We played a copy of We Get Requests by the Oscar Peterson Trio not long ago that blew our minds. And we have been big fans of Mel Tormé Swings Shubert Alley for more than a decade.

Pull up his credits on Allmusic. No one I am familiar with other than Rudy Van Gelder recorded more great jazz, and in our opinion Valentin’s recordings are quite a bit more natural sounding than Rudy’s.

What We're Listening For On Bola Sete At The Monterey Jazz Festival

  • 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, full-bodied 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.

The Players

  • Bass – Sebastian Neto
  • Drums – Paulinho
  • Guitar – Bola Sete

Digging Creed Taylor Inc.

We’ve been really digging these Creed Taylor productions for years now. On the better albums such as this one, the players tend to sound carefree and loose -- you can tell they’re enjoying the hell out of these songs. Don’t get me wrong -- we still love the Blue Note and Contemporary label stuff for our more “hard core” jazz needs, but it’s a kick to hear top jazz musicians laying down these grooves and not taking themselves so seriously...especially when it sounds as good as this copy does.

Vinyl Condition

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.

Side One

  • Medley
  • Manha De Carnaval
    A Felicidade
    Samba De Orfeu

Side Two

  • Soul Samba
  • Flamenco

‘I was transformed’: The Power of Brazilian Jazz Legend Bola Sete

San Francisco, early 1962. For Brazilian guitarist Bola Sete – who would have turned 100 last month – a night would hardly go by without a gig in the Tudor Room of the Sheraton Palace hotel. Bossa nova, seen as a classy background music in hotel dining rooms, was in high demand – but hired to play at cocktail hour, Sete would often go ignored by the audience of thirsty diners. Things changed when trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie recognised Sete and his guitar, the pair having met in Rio de Janeiro a few years earlier.

Gillespie was astonished, so much so that he would return to the Tudor Room with pianist Lalo Schifrin to witness what this little-known musician was capable of. “He was sending a message. It was a message very intense,” Schifrin later said.

Sete would soon play on Gillespie’s iconic album New Wave! and shone at the Monterey jazz festival, but he went further still. Now considered a forefather of New Age music, Sete also stood out for his hypnotic performance style, unparalleled guitar technique, and ability to translate the music of the world (from Brazil to India) to his singular jazz language.

The late John Fahey, visionary American folk and blues guitarist, said listening to Sete for the first time was “a turning point … I couldn’t sit still. I’d never heard anything like it since Charley Patton, and this was better. I was transformed, purged – I was not the same.” Carlos Santana, meanwhile, affirmed that the “holy trinity” of guitar playing consisted of Wes Montgomery, Gábor Szabó, and Bola Sete. In a testimonial for a posthumous Sete album, Samba in Seattle, Santana said that the Brazilian musician was “an orchestra by himself.”

During his professional years in Brazil in the 1940s, Sete played choro with masters including Dilermando Reis, Garoto, and Radamés Gnatalli; learned folk music elements from his time spent in Rio’s countryside; and got inspired by foreigners such as Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian. After years of performing with different ensembles across Europe and South America, he settled in San Francisco in 1959. Having played with pianist Vince Guaraldi from 1963 to 1966, he was named guitarist of the year by jazz bible DownBeat magazine and “one of the most innovative and eclectic guitarists in jazz history” by Leonard Feather’s Encyclopedia of Jazz in the Sixties.

“He was ascending in prominence among jazz critics and lovers, while the rest of the Brazilian musicians [who then resided in the US] were quickly falling in prestige,” says ethnomusicologist Kaleb E Goldschmitt. “He’s the one who escaped the ‘fad’ discourse.”

This fad was the 1962-3 period when bossa nova broke out of the upper middle-class bubble in those high class hotels and reached a much wider public. By 1964, most Brazilian bossa nova-related musicians were no longer considered cool, but jazz fans and the media were still raving about Sete – “[jazz guitarist] Charlie Byrd was able to identify his sound with a blindfold on,” says Goldschmitt – long before bossa nova’s second wave came with the Getz/Gilberto album and The Girl from Ipanema hit.

“He used fingerstyle technique, which allowed him to play very independent lines, like a piano player,” says jazz guitarist Scott Hesse, also a music professor at DePaul University in Chicago. “His pianistic approach just wasn’t something that a lot of guitar players were doing to that level at that time.”

He gave that technique (a result of studying his Ramírez guitar in front of the mirror for many hours) a powerful expressiveness, particularly on stage. “He could actually read a room and understand how to make it a meaningful experience,” says Hesse, recalling that 1966 Monterey jazz festival performance. “From the first note, he had the people in the palm of his hand and then took them on a journey throughout the entire set.”

According to his widow, Anne Sete, “he was quiet most of the time, but had a magnetic presence that attracted others. Sometimes he would walk out on stage with his guitar and the audience would give him a standing ovation.” Anne and Sete met in 1965 when they became neighbors in Sausalito: “He radiated a sense of peace and love.”

Having played numerous gigs with Sete in the late 1960s, Brazilian drummer Chico Batera recalls how their shows always went beyond “mere” bossa nova and jazz repertoire. “There was a moment when the bassist and I would leave the stage, and Sete stayed to solo [Brazilian composer and classical guitarist] Villa-Lobos on his guitar.” Batera, who also played with Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, adds: “Sete made history, increasing the prestige of Brazilian music among jazz lovers.”

Sete’s aim to expand music boundaries became even more sophisticated after the 1970s, when, dedicated to solo guitar studies, he opened dialogues with cultures as diverse as Spanish folk music, samba, north-eastern Brazilian baião, blues, and Indian music. Ocean (1975) pre-empts “a lot of what happened in the New Age music from the 1980s and 1990s,” Hesse says.

Before his death in 1987, Sete’s last works reveal a highly spiritual musician, inspired by the philosophy of yoga. “After Bola mastered the full lotus position, he told me that musical information could come in without any obstructions. Music, he said, required him to get out of the way,” says Anne, recalling that they loved going to the Marin County beaches and practising yoga on the sand.

Today, Bola Sete is unfamiliar to most North American and even Brazilian audiences. “People didn’t really know how to categorise him because he brought in so many different influences,” Hesse argues, while Goldschmitt affirms that guitarists have never really been acclaimed throughout jazz history: “Pianists are the most respected, and then brass players. The flute is way down at the bottom. And the guitar? Way, way lower.”

Nevertheless, Sete is present in ways people do not always realise. According to Hesse, “there are things Bola did that, at this point, are a part of every guitarist’s technical repertoire. He was way ahead of his time.”

- Beatriz Miranda, The Guardian, August 14, 2023