Too many. Can't pick. And loving it....
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Here are some ideas:
John Coltrane "Lush Life"
Thelonius Monk "Monk's Dream"
John Coltrane "Standard Coltrane"
Horace Silver "Paris Blues" (Live)
Herbie Hancock, Michael Brecker, Roy Hargrove "Directions in Music" (Live)
The Miles Davis Quintet 1965-68 (Box Set)
Miles Davis & John Coltrane "The Complete Recordings" (Box Set) - not every disc sounds great but enough to make it worthwhile
John Scofield & Pat Metheny "I Can See Your House From Here"
Weather Report "Live and Unreleased"
Gonzalo Rubalcaba "Discovery, Live at Montreaux
Eva Cassidy "Live at Blues Alley"
Horace Silver "The Stylings of Silver"
Wes Montgomerey "Full House" (Live)
Isaac Hayes "Shaft Soundtrack" (jazzy)
John Coltrane "Giant Steps"
I will suggest two classical peices and one jazz recording.
The Carnegie Hall Concert by Evgeny Kissin and James Levine of piano music for four hands by Shubert (RCA Red Seal)is beautiful music beautifully recorded.
The Mieczyslaw Horszowski recording at age 94 of the Fantasia in D minor by Mozart and other peices by Chopin and Debussy and Beethoven is also an excellent solo piano recording.(Nonesuch 79160).
Anthony Wilson and 3 other guitarists have a wonderful new jazz peice called Seasons - Live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It has original music and covers and is very well recorded.
I find the sound of 90% of my Blue Note CD's to lack sonic weight overall. They as I like to describe, "lack meat on the bones." Of the ones I have, there are only one or two exceptions. It can be a little disappointing. Also, the highs tend to be accentuated above the remainder of the sonic spectrum. The music and artists however, are mandatory as part of any jazz collection.
I tend to agree with your thoughts on Blue Note recordings, esp those from the 50-60s, but I have always liked this quality. Simple and direct with a minimum of manipulation. It has also allowed the sound to be 'improved' using modern technology. But, as you implied, the music is so great that to criticize it borders on nit-picking. On the other hand, some music is so badly recorded, that no technology can fix it. Motown is the most infamous example of this.
BTW, just rediscovered this one.
The First Esquire Concert
LaserLight 15 723
Recorded at the MET in 1944 (war bond drive)
Has to be the greatest Jazz line up for one gig in history. Billie Holiday in her prime is worth the purchase. Check it out. Sound is ok given the times.
I like most Blue Note recordings I have heard, FWIW. They tend to be solidly produced and enjoyable even if not knock your socks off audiophile reference recordings in many cases. Its a label I will buy without any prior knowledge of a recording when I come across it at the right price because I expect the recording quality to not be a barrier to musical enjoyment. In some cases, the recordings are in fact top notch. I'll note my copy of Coltrane's "Blue Train" CD on Blue Note as an example of a top notch jazz recording on CD from that era.
I've been shocked of late listening to old Motown CD remasters on my system of late. I used to think those without much merit sonically but now they are a revelation and I have done a 180 of late. YEs, lots of studio mastering in play but the recordings mostly sound pretty good to me these days in a shimmery pop kind of way that manages to suck me in. Nothing like what most would deem an "audiophile" recording, but still nice to listen to if you are into that kind of music at all ( I am minimally I would say).
A lot of my home listening enjoyment these days with my audiophile hat on comes from what most might generally consider to be pretty average or run of the mill recordings perhaps more so than trying to wean some last fraction of a percent of sound quality in the grand scale of things out of what most would consider the best audiophile recordings. Relatively scarce pickings in that turf. When most of what you listen to sounds great whereas in the past it did not, its both an audiophile and music lover's heyday. I wish more audiophiles could manage to get to that promised land.
Good point concerning 'audiophile' recordings. I have a few that were highly hyped, but I never listen to them because I don't like the music. I even purchased a few DBX and DMM LPs back in the day, but I noticed they always seemed to be by lesser composers and lesser performers. I don't pay any attention to the 'audiophile' tag anymore. I just work thru all the hype and BS and try to find good recordings by reading every review I can find. I have found that the All Music Guides tend to track my taste.
I like Motown because it was the music of my teenage years. I can say that motown on LP sounded much better than Motown on CD. At least my fading memory says so. I can't believe I just said that. :) Soon I'll be singing the praises of tubes.
IMHO, one way to enjoy the Blue Note sound and beat the "thin" bottom end exhibited by some of their (especially RVG's) stuff is to go for the better Jimmy Smith titles. You might start with "Prayer Meeting" - which features some really cool playing from Stanley Turrentine and one bad-ass rumbling organ to fill out the bottom end.
Caveat - like all RVG, this is not everyone's cup of sonic tea.
I also like to recommend Allen Toussaint's recent "The Bright Mississippi" and Duke Ellington's Pablo releases (especially "Queen's Suite" and "Small Band - Intimacy of the Blues") and "Far East Suite" on Bluebird.