Music Matters: The Blue Note Reissue Series
The Music Matters Blue Note reissue series offers an awful lot to jazz fans. But the exceptional quality of the vinyl and the exquisite covers notwithstanding, the most impressive thing about the collection may simply be how far they've dug into Blue Note's back catalog. Titles like saxophonists John Jenkins' With Kenny Burrell (1957) and Sam Rivers' important, if under-appreciated Fuscia Swing Song (1964) don't get out of the vault very often, so it's a credit to Rambach and Harley that they've taken some chances. Rambach concedes that trombonist Grachan Moncur III's Evolution (1963) doesn't move a lot of copiesit is pretty far outbut he's released it anyway. The team stayed away from popular hits in part because it saw an opportunity to expose lesser-known titles, and that's a great thing. Music Matters currently has 88 Blue Note albums either released or already re-mastered and waiting to hit the streetmore than enough titles for a listener to gain a solid understanding of the label's legacy. Rambach and Hartley are a little cagey about which additional titles they'll release in the future, but they continue to audition tapes from the EMI vault, so it's a good bet that they're not done yet.
Rambach is circumspect about his role in the effort, and readily allows that none of this would have come together without the skills and efforts of everyone involved. "I've got nothing but reverence for Rudy Van Gelder; Michael Cuscuna was paramount in getting this done; and the RTI team, and even our printer made enormous contributions." The Music Matters Blue Note Reissue Series is truly a collaborative accomplishment. In a world where music is shot around the world in seconds over the Internet, these old- fashioned vinyl records offer better sound quality than virtually any digital medium, and the format itself invites listeners to slow down and give the music some serious attention. With the music industry dominated by technology that turns music into a commodity, and sound reproduction into an appliance, these records offer something very special: a collection that is made by people who truly care about what they're doing and insist on the highest standards. It's hard not to deeply appreciate their effort.
Page 1: Courtesy of Joe Harley
Page 3: Courtesy of Ron Rambach
Page 4: Francis Wolff, courtesy of Mosaic Images