Jazz 

I will add, as time permits, a grade for Recording Quality: RQ. The scale used is from 1 to 5, 1 being the lowest quality, 5 the highest. There are sometimes large differences in quality, depending on the origin of the pressing, and of the re-issue, when applicable (see the NOTE in my introductory page). Therefore the ratings below relate only to the pressings I know.

With stereo jazz recordings, we all too often have to deal with the pernicious problem of instrumental balance. It is unfortunate that engineers feel the need to create a completely absurd spatial environment when it comes to recording small jazz combos (such as part of the drum set on one side, and cymbals on the other, etc...). LPs that otherwise would get the highest mark end up in such cases with one point lower.

JULIAN “CANNONBALL” ADDERLEY

Somethin’ Else - with Miles Davis, Hank Jones, Sam Jones, Art Blakey (Blue Note; reissue AcousTech Mastering, 45 rpm) 1958 // RQ: 4.5


MUHAL RICHARD ABRAMS

Live at Montreux 1978 (Arista Records)


GERI ALLEN

Flying Toward the Sound (Motéma Audiophile, 2010) // RQ: 5


LOUIS ARMSTRONG

Ella and Louis - with Ray Brown, Herb Ellis, Oscar Peterson, Buddy Rich (Verve Records, 1956; reissue Quality Record Pressings 2011, 200 g 45 rpm mono) 1956
Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington / Recording Together for the First Time - with Trummy Young, Barney Bigard, Mort Herbert, Danny Barcelona (Roulette Records; reissue Quality Records 200 g) 1961 // RQ: 5
Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington / The Great Reunion - with Trummy Young, Barney Bigard, Mort Herbert, Danny Barcelona (Roulette Records; reissue Quality Records 200 g) 1961 // RQ: 5



CHET BAKER

‘Cools’ out - with Phil Uros, Bobby Timmons, Jimmy Bond, Peter Littman, Art Pepper, Richie Kamuca, Pete Jolly, Leroy Vinnegar, Stan Levey (Boplicity) 1956


COUNT BASIE

Chairman of the Board - Count Basie and His Orchestra (Roulette) 1958 // RQ: 5
Kansas City 5 - with Milt Jackson, Joe Pass, John Heard, Louis Bellson (Pablo, recorded 1977) 1981 // RQ: 4.5
Me and You - Count Basie and His Orchestra (Pablo) 1983 // RQ: 5+
This has to be the best recorded drum kit ever…
88 Basie Street - Count Basie and His Orchestra (Pablo) 1984 // RQ: 5



ART BLAKEY

!!Art Blakey!! Jazz Messengers!! - with Jymmie Merritt, Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, Bobby Timmons (Analogue Productions-Impulse)

 

RAY BROWN

The Red Hot Ray Brown Trio - with Gene Harris, Mickey Roker (Concord Jazz) 1985 // RQ: 4
Soular Energy - The Ray Brown Trio - with Gene Harris, Gerryck King - and Red Holloway, Emily Remler (Pure Audiophile Records) 1984 // RQ: 4

 

Don’t be fooled by the prominent “Pure Audiophile” display on this LP. Brown’s bass is well recorded (although overpowering) and nicely centered but the piano and drums are another example of stupid balance decisions: top range of the piano is far right, bottom range far left--Gene Harris now has a giant piano and 10 feet long arms. Same for Gerryck King who must be using very long sticks to be able to hit cymbals far right and far left at the same time. If only the engineers had spent more time working on depth and less on width... As it is, pianist and drummer are sitting on top of each other.
There’s a good reason why some jazz lovers prefer mono recordings...

 


JOHN COLTRANE

Dakar - with Cecil Payne, Pepper Adams, Mal Waldron, Doug Watkins, Art Taylor, Bobyy Jaspar, Idrees Sulieman, Webster Young, Kenny Burrell, Paul Chambers (Prestige) 1957
Blue Train - with Lee Morgan, Curtis Fuller, Kenny Drew, Paul Chambers, “Philly” Joe Jones (Blue Note; reissue Classic Records, 45 rpm) 1957
Giant Steps - with Tommy Flanagan, Paul Chambers, Art Taylor (Atlantic) 1960
A Love Supreme - with Jimmy Garrison, McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones (ABC-Paramount Records, The Impulse!; reissue 2010 Analog Productions, 45 rpm 180 g) 1964


 

MILES DAVIS

Miles Davis and The Modern Jazz Giants - with Milt Jackson, Thelonious Monk, Percy Heath, Kenny Clarke (WaxTime) 1954
Miles Davis Quintet: Around Midnight - with John Coltrane, Red Garland, Paul Chambers, Philly Joe Jones (Jazz Track Records) 1956
Porgy and Bess, orchestra conducted by Gil Evans (CBS) 1958
Kind of Blue- with Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, James Cobb (Columbia) 1959
Someday my Prince will come - with Hank Mobley, John Coltrane, Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, James Cobb, Philly Joe Jones (Columbia; recorded March 7-21, 1961) 1961 // RQ: 4.5
In Person Friday and Saturday at the Blackhawk, San Francisco - with Hank Mobley, Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, James Cobb (Columbia, reissue Impex Records 2012; recorded April 21-22, 1961) 1961
Seven Steps to Heaven - with George Colemann, Victor Feldman, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Frank Butler, Tony Williams (Columbia; reissue Analog Productions; 45 rpm) 1963 // RQ: 5

My Funny Valentine, Miles Davis in Concert - with George Colemann, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Tony Williams (Columbia) 1964
Water Babies - with Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Dave Holland, Ron Carter, Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams (CBS) 1977


 

DUKE ELLINGTON

Masterpieces by Ellington; Duke Ellington and his orchestra (Columbia; reissued by QRP, 2014; mono; reissue Analog Productions) 1950 // RQ: 4 - 4.5 for the reissue
Such Sweet Thunder (Dedicated to the Shakespearean Festival, Stattford, Ontario); Duke Ellington and his orchestra (Columbia) 1957
Ellington Indigos; Duke Ellington and his orchestra (Columbia; Sony 2012 - Impex Records) 1958 // RQ: 5
Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington / Recording Together for the First Time - with Trummy Young, Barney Bigard, Mort Herbert, Danny Barcelona (Roulette Records; reissue Quality Records 200 g) 1961 // RQ: 5
Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington / The Great Reunion - with Trummy Young, Barney Bigard, Mort Herbert, Danny Barcelona (Roulette Records; reissue Quality Records 200 g) 1961 // RQ: 5
Ella & Duke at The Cote D’Azur (Verve Records; Mosaic Records reissue 2010) 1966
Duke Ellington - The Pianist - with John Lamb, Sam Woodyard, Victor Gaskin, Paul Kondziela, Rufus Jones (Fantasy Records) 1966, 1970
Duke Ellington & Ray Brown - This One’s for Blanton (Pablo; reissue Analog Productions 45 rpm) 1972 // RQ: 4.5
Duke’s Big 4 - with Joe Pass, Ray Brown, Louis Bellson (Pablo) 1974


 

BILL EVANS

Portrait in jazz - with Scott LaFaro, Paul Motian (Waxtime) 1959
Sunday at the Village Vanguard - with Scott LaFaro, Paul Motian (Riverside) 1961



ELLA FITZGERALD

Ella and Louis - with Ray Brown, Herb Ellis, Oscar Peterson, Buddy Rich (Verve Records, 1956; reissue Quality Record Pressings 2011, 200 g 45 rpm mono) 1956
Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Johnny Mercer Songbook; Arranged and Conducted by Nelson Riddle (Verve Records; reissue Speakers Corner Records) 1964 // RQ: 4.5
Ella & Duke at The Cote D’Azur (Verve Records; Mosaic Records reissue 2010) 1966



STAN GETZ

Getz/Gilberto - featuring Antonio Carlos Jobin (Verve Records; reissue Quality Record Pressings 45 rpm, 2011) 1964 // RQ: 5
Spring is Here - with Lou Levy, Monty Budwig, Victor Lewis (Concord Jazz 45 rpm180 g) 1981 // RQ: 5



DIZZY GILLESPIE

Dizzy’s Big 4 - with Ray Brown, Joe Pass, Mickey Roker (Pablo, recorded 1974) 1975


BILLIE HOLIDAY

Songs for Distingué Lovers - with Harry “Sweets” Edison, Ben Webster, Barney Kessel, Red Mitchell, Joe Mondragon, Jimmy Rowles, Alvin Stoller, Larry Bunker (Verve Records; reissue Quality Record Pressings 200 g 45 rpm, 2012) 1957 // RQ: 5


MILT JACKSON

Jackson, Johnson, Brown, & Company - with J.J. Johnson, Ray Brown, Tom Ranier, John Collins, Roy McCurdy (Pablo) 1983 // RQ: 4

HANK JONES

With the Great Jazz Trio / Direct from L.A. - with Ron Carter, Tony Williams (East Wind Records, 1978) 1977 // RQ: 4.5


BARNEY KESSEL

The Poll Winners Ride Again! - with Shelly Manne, Ray Brown (Contemporary Records, 1958) // RQ: 4.5


MICHEL LEGRAND

Legrand Jazz - with Michel Legrand, Herbie Mann, Betty Glamann, Barry Garlbraith, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Phil Woods, Jerome Richardson, Eddie Costa, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers, Kenny Dennis, Ben Webster, Frank Behak, Jimmy Cleveland, Eddie Bert, Hank Jones, Art Farmer etc (Columbia - mono) 1958 // RQ: 4
Legrand Jazz - with Michel Legrand, Herbie Mann, Betty Glamann, Barry Garlbraith, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Phil Woods, Jerome Richardson, Eddie Costa, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers, Kenny Dennis, Ben Webster, Frank Behak, Jimmy Cleveland, Eddie Bert, Hank Jones, Art Farmer etc (Columbia - stereo - new pressing by Impex Records, 45 rpm, 2018) // RQ: 5



CECILE McLORIN SALVANT

Woman Child - with Aaron Diehl, Rodney Whitaker, Herlin Riley, James Chirillo (Mac Avenue Records, 2013) // RQ: 5

 

CHARLES MINGUS

Mingus Ah Um - with John Handy, Booker Ervin, Shafi Hadi, Willie Dennis, Jimmy Knepper, Horace Parlan, Dannie Richmond (Columbia) 1959 // RQ: 4
Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus - with Butterfield, Dolphy, Ericson, Ervin, Hafer, Jackson, Mariano, Preston, Richardson, Richmonds, Williams, Woodman, Berliner, Byard, Perkins (The Impulse!; reissue Analog Productions 45 rpm 180 g) 1963



THELONIOUS MONK

The Riverside Trios: Plays Duke Ellington - with Oscar Pettiford, Kenny Clarke, The Unique Thelonious Monk - with Oscar Pettiford, Art Blakey (Milestones) 1955
Thelonious Monk plays the music of Duke Ellington - with Oscar Pettiford, Kenny Clarke (Riverside) 1955
The Complete Thelonious Monk at the It Club - with Charlie Rouse, Larry Gales, Ben Riley (Mosaic Records) 1964
The Man I Love (Black Lion Records) 1971
The London Collection Volume 1 (Black Lion Records) 1971 // RQ: 4.5



ROSA PASSOS

Rosa Passos and Ron Carter Entre Amigos, with Luis Guilherme Farias Galvao (Lula), Paulo Braga, Billy Drewes (Chesky Records, 2003) // RQ: 5

 

ART PEPPER

Gettin' Together: Art Pepper • Conte Candoli • Wynton Kelly • Paul Chambers • Jimmie Cobb (Contemporary Records) 1960 // RQ: 4.5
The Way It Was: Art Pepper • Warne Marsch • Ronnie Ball • Red Garland • Solo Coker • Wynton Kelly • Ben Tucker • Paul Chambers • Jimmy Bond • Gary Frommer • Philly Joe Jones • Frank Butler • Jimmie Cobb (Contemporary Records, rec. 1956, 1957, 1960) 1972 // RQ: 4.5



OSCAR PETERSON

Night Train: The Oscar Peterson Trio - with Ray Brown, Ed Thigpen (Verve Records) 1962
We Get Requests: The Oscar Peterson Trio - with Ray Brown, Ed Thigpen (Verve Records; reissue Quality Record Pressings, 2011 45 rpm Limited Edition) 1964
Face to Face: Freddie Hubbard • Oscar Peterson - with Joe Pass, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Martin Drew (Pablo) 1982



WAYNE SHORTER

Speak No Evil - with Freddie Hubbard, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Elvin Jones (Blue Note, 2008) 1964


LOUIS SMITH

Smithville - with Charlie Rouse, Sonny Clark, Paul Chambers, Art Taylor (Blue Note; reissue Music Matters 180 g 45 rpm mono) 1958 // RQ: 4.5 (very good mono)


NINA SIMONE

Little Girl Blue (Bethlehem Records) 1958 // RQ: 4


CECIL TAYLOR

Silent Tongues; recorded live at the Montreux Jazz Festival ’74 (Freedom)


SARAH VAUGHAN

Gershwin Live! with the Los Angeles Philarmonic, Tilson Thomas (CBS) 1982 // RQ: 4
Sarah Sings Soulfully - with Teddy Edwards, Ernie Freeman, Carmell Jones, Milt Turner, arr. Gerald Wilson (Roulette; reissue Pure Pleasure Analog) 1963 // RQ: 4.5



BEN WEBSTER

Gentle Ben - with Tete Montoliu, Peer Wyboris, Eric Peter (Ensayo; reissue Analog Productions, 2011) 1972 // RQ: 4.5
At work in Europe - with Kenny Drew, Frans Wieringa, Cees Slinger, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Jacques Schols, Donald McKyre, John Engels (Prestige, recorded 1969) 1973


CASSANDRA WILSON

New Moon Daughter (Capitol Records) 1995 // RQ: 5

AMY WINEHOUSE

Frank (Universal Records) 2003 // RQ: 3
Back to Black (Island Records) 2006 // RQ: 4
Get the UK version, for better sound than the US pressing
Lioness: Hidden Treasures (Republic) 2011 // RQ: 3
Posthumous release of old and new tracks of originals and covers, arranged by her two regular producers

 

(updated August 2017)