The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- Incredible Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from the first note to the last
- Both sides are wonderfully big, rich and LIVELY, with boatloads of Tubey Magic and the kind of three-dimensional space that's a hallmark of Bob Simpson's engineering
- "Smith bubbles and bounces through all of it at the B-3 while Nelson proceeds to fill every available corner with huge, sweeping orchestral washes and crescendos. The clear highlight, though, is the lead and title track, "Hobo Flats," which moves at a languid but wonderfully funky pace and establishes a groove as wide as the Mississippi River."
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Both sides of this very special early stereo pressing are huge, rich, tubey and clear. As soon as the band got going we knew that this was absolutely the right sound for this music. There was nothing that could beat it, in any area of reproduction.
In the past we've complained about "echo-drenched brass" on some of these Oliver Nelson / Jimmy Smith collaborations, but on a killer copy such as this there is nothing to complain about. If you have a top quality front end (and the kind of system that goes with it), this recording will be amazingly spacious, three-dimensional, transparent, dynamic, and open.
What the best sides of this original pressing 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 1963
- 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 recording 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 above.
What We're Listening For
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 the full complement of harmonic information.
In addition, when the top end is lacking, the upper midrange and high frequencies get jammed together -- the highs can't extend up and away from the upper mids. This causes a number of much-too-common problems that we hear in the upper midrange of many of the records we play: congestion, hardness, harshness, and squawk. (Painstaking VTA adjustment is absolutely critical if you want your records to play with the least amount of these problems, a subject we discuss in the Commentary section of the site at length.)
Tube smear is common to most pressings from the '50s and '60s. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have little or none, yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.
Full-bodied sound is especially critical to the horns; any blare, leanness or squawk ruins at least some of the fun, certainly at the louder levels the record should be playing at.
The frequency extremes (on the best copies) are not boosted in any way. When you play this record quietly, the bottom and top will disappear (due to the way the ear handles quieter sounds as described by the Fletcher-Munson curve).
Most records (like most audiophile stereos) are designed to sound correct at moderate levels. Not this album. It wants you to turn it up. Then, and only then, will everything sound completely right musically and tonally from top to bottom.
Production and Engineering
Creed Taylor was the producer, Bob Simpson the engineer, with Val Valentin acting as Director of Engineering (whatever that is) for these sessions from 1963. It's yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording.
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.
Never heard a good one on this title. We stopped buying them a long time ago.
A Big Group of Musicians Needs This Kind of Space
One of the qualities that we don't talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record's presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small -- they don't extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don't seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy in the center.
Other copies -- my notes for these copies often read "BIG and BOLD" -- create a huge soundfield, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They're not brighter, they're not more aggressive, they're not hyped-up in any way, they're just bigger and clearer.
And most of the time those very special pressings are just plain more involving. When you hear a copy that does all that -- a copy like this one -- it's an entirely different listening experience.
What do we love about these vintage pressings? The timbre of every instrument is Hi-Fi in the best sense of the word. The unique sound of every instrument is reproduced with remarkable fidelity. That's what we at Better Records mean by "Hi-Fi," not the kind of Audiophile Phony BS Sound that passes for Hi-Fidelity these days. There's no boosted top, there's no bloated bottom, there's no sucked-out midrange.
This is Hi-Fidelity for those who recognize The Real Thing when they hear it. I'm pretty sure our customers do, and whoever picks this record up is guaranteed to get a real kick out of it.
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 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.
Walk Right In
Trouble In Mind
I Can't Stop Loving You
Playing piano-style single-note lines on his Hammond B-3 organ, Jimmy Smith revolutionized the use of the instrument in a jazz combo setting in the mid-'50s and early '60s with his recordings for Blue Note Records. After he moved to Verve Records, though, he began working in more big-band settings, experimenting a bit, although he was always the same Jimmy Smith whose rapid runs on the B-3 careened, stuttered, glided, and flashed all over the place at a frequently breathless pace.
This set, recorded in 1963 in New York City, finds him working with arranger and conductor Oliver Nelson in a combined orchestral and big-band setting and what strikes first, aside from the movie soundtrack feel of Nelson's arrangements...
Smith bubbles and bounces through all of it at the B-3 while Nelson proceeds to fill every available corner with huge, sweeping orchestral washes and crescendos. The clear highlight, though, is the lead and title track, "Hobo Flats," which moves at a languid but wonderfully funky pace and establishes a groove as wide as the Mississippi River. Smith arguably was at his best in small combos, and at times he gets overwhelmed here by the big cinematic arrangements, but there's plenty to like with this set, even if it's a bit on the atypical side for Smith. It works well more than it doesn't.
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