The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- This stellar copy of Bud Shank's 1966 release boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides - open, lively and dynamic throughout
- Full, rich, and spacious with tons of Tubey Magic and, better yet, never dry, hard or transistory -- true DEMO DISC QUALITY sound
- An absolutely amazing recording engineered by none other than Bruce Botnick - the sound of multiple saxes playing these lively arrangements is music to our ears
- "... the album works, largely because of Bob Florence's arrangements and the shrewd doubling of the baritone and bass sax parts, which give the charts heft at the bottom... The overall sound remains wonderfully reedy and flighty."
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Bruce Botnick sure knew what he was doing on this session. He succeeded brilliantly in capturing the unique sound of each of the saxes. The album is really more of a West Coast pop jazz record than it is a "real" jazz record. The arrangements are very tight, the songs are quite short -- none exceed three and a half minutes -- so there is not a lot of classic jazz saxophone improvisational blowing going on.
Spacious and transparent with plenty of analog Tubey Magic to go around, this is a really wonderful way to hear the music. The sax sound is excellent -- rich and full, with none of the hard, edgy quality we heard on the less than stellar pressings. For richness and Tubey Magic -- with no sacrifice in clarity or dynamics -- these sides just could not be beat.
This vintage pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even 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 studio with the band, 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 Bud Shank And The Sax 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 1966
- 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.
The Bass Sax -- What a Sound!
The reason this album is so appealing to us audiophiles is that the sound of each of the saxophones is clearly recognizable as they weave in and around these arrangements. On the back cover you can see a fellow holding a bass saxophone, an instrument you don't hear too often, perhaps it's fallen from favor. (It solos at the beginning of Sidewinder on side one. Once you hear it you will be dying to play that song for your audiophile buddies, I guarantee it. What a sound!)
Even the baritone working off of the tenors and the altos is exciting and fun on this album. These guys are swinging big-time in the West Coast style we love here at Better Records. They're not angry. They're not out to prove anything. What they have going for them is lots of musical chops (being studio guys who can read and play anything you care to throw at them) and some very clever, very interesting arrangements by the amazingly talented Bob Florence, who worked out variations for all the sounds that a saxophone can make, or in this case, the sounds six saxophones can make. These guys are having a lot of fun in the studio with these tunes and the feeling is contagious.
What We're Listening For on Bud Shank And The Sax Section
- 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 -- Bruce Botnick 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.
I used to sell reissues of this record back in the day some twenty odd years ago. While they aren't terrible -- lackluster is a more apt description -- we can clearly hear now that they are made from second generation tapes.
The stage is recessed and collapsed, and the sound never gets big enough nor lively enough to free itself from the speakers. (This happens to be our all-too-common experience with many of the Heavy Vinyl pressings we audition and consequently write mean things about. Can you blame us? We loathe that sound.)
There is a wonderful picture on the inside of the fold-open cover showing all the saxophone players grouped around a forest of microphones in the studio. A couple of them are even wearing sunglasses indoors. How cool is that?
Mint Minus Minus 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 later 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.
Summer Samba (Samba de Verão)
On a Clear Day (You Can See Forever)
The Grass Is Greener
Here's That Rainy Day
A Time for Love
And I Love Her
Teamed with a saxophone section that included altoist Bill Perkins, both Rick Hardaway and Bob Cooper on tenors and baritonists Jack Nimitz and John Lowe plus guitarist Dennis Budimir, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Larry Bunker, Shank and his sidemen play rather concise versions of a dozen songs arranged by Bob Florence.
The West Coast band assembled for the Pacific Jazz date featured Bud Shank and Bill Perkins (alto saxophones), Bob Hardaway and Bob Cooper (tenor saxophones), Jack Nimitz and John Lowe (baritone and bass saxophones), Dennis Budimir (guitar), Ray Brown (bass) and Larry Bunker (drums). Bob Florence [pictured] handled the arrangements and conducted the band.
Bud Shank had a split musical personality during the 1960s. On the one hand he could tear your heart out with edgy playing on ballads and up-tempo pieces. But Bud also could lay back and surf melodies beautifully. He recorded this album in the middle of a highly commercial period for Pacific Jazz. At the time he was recording bossa nova albums (Brasil! Brasil! Brasil!) and LPs that tried to capitalize on the surging rock trend (A Spoonful of Jazz and Magical Mystery). Some were more successful than others and all had heart.
Tracks on The Sax Section include Summer Samba, On a Clear Day, the Sidewinder and And I Love Her. As you can see, the material was all over the lot hoping to appeal to everyone. And yet the album works, largely because of Bob Florence's arrangements and the shrewd doubling of the baritone and bass sax parts, which give the charts heft at the bottom. Florence also had the good sense to widen out the voicings and extend the counterpoint—making the section sound like a full band rather than one instrument. The overall sound remains wonderfully reedy and flighty. Interestingly, Jack Nimitz was the sole member of this sax section who wound up as a member of Supersax.
SOURCE: JAZZWAX BY MARC MYERS
August 20, 2010
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