February-March 2004 Highlights

Charlie B. Dahan By

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In addition to what I hope is as a complete as a list as possible of upcoming reissues that I cover in the Straight From The Vault column, I will be highlighting those releases that I feel deserve attention as the upper tier of reissues, collections and special event recordings. Here are some of my highlights from February and March.

Attention record labels! Please email me your reissue schedules so I can include them in future lists.

The Best Featured Box Set / Reissue:

Dave Brubeck For All Time (Columbia / Legacy).
This is a five CD boxset featuring the reissuing of 1959’s Time Out, 1961’s Time Further Out, 1964’s Time Changes, 1965’s Time In and 1962’s Countdown: Time in Outer Space. These digitally remastered editions include bonus material and both original and updated liner notes including notes by Brubeck. A total of 6 bonus previously unreleased tracks are included highlighted by a live version of “It’s a Raggy Waltz” recorded live at Carnegie Hall. If ever there was a master of playing with odd time signatures but making them sound accessible and normal, this collection serves that example. From the classic album Time Out and it’s Paul Desmond penned hit “Take Five” to my new favorite Countdown: Time in Outer Space, Brubeck and his four cohorts masterfully mess with the beat without messing with the groove. A wonderful celebration of one of jazz's greatest moments and recordings. 4.5 out of 5 [ review ].

The Best For That Little Something Different:

Tangle Eye “Alan Lomax’s Southern Journey: Remixed” (Zoe/Rounder).
Tangle Eye is the name for producers Scott Billington and Steve Reynolds and their remixing efforts of Alan Lomax Library of Congress field recordings of the 1940’s. Similar to the recent Verve efforts, the Tangle Eye krewe does not let the word ‘remix’ get to their heads. There is no booming synth bass and over 120 bpm beats being flung around. Instead, they add, supplement and update tastefully these recordings with one tangled eye on the past and one on the future; a delightful marriage. This one is very cool both in concept and execution - think the Verve remix concept but instead of jazz, it is built around historic folk and roots music. 4 out of 5 stars.

The Best Modern Jazz Collection:

Jack DeJohnette - Rarum XII: Selected Recordings (ECM).
This seven track collection was recorded in Oslo, Norway; Los Angeles, California and New York, New York, United States between 1971 and 1997 and features an all-star line-up of modern jazz artists including Keith Jarrett, Lester Bowie, Mick Goodrick, Dave Holland, John Abercrombie, David Murray, Howard Johnson and Eddie Gomez. DeJohnette does an excellent job of choosing eight tunes that not only represent his wide spectrum of playing, but does so in a way that the record plays perfectly from beginning to end and gets better with each listen. 4 out of 5 stars.

The Best Non-Jazz Reissue:

John Fahey - The Best of John Fahey, Volume 2 1964-1983 (Takoma Records).
A collection of cutting edge bluesy folk music from this recently departed genius. Fahey teeters on chalk line of being both cutting edge and relaxing at the same time. Fahey’s collection is nothing more than a guitarist and his instrument communicating stories of love, passion, humor and despair with flesh and blood; wood and wire. It is music at its most basic, yet most complicated. The album includes three unreleased tracks from 1991, which include the lead track, “Twilight on Prince George’s Avenue,” “Slingo Mud” and “Tuff.” Other recordings of note include “Oneonta,” “Frisco Leaving Birmingham” and the thirteen minute piece entitled “The Fahey Sampler.” The reissue contains excellent and insightful liner notes by Henry Kaiser, including a reprint of a letter that Fahey wrote to Fantasy Records with regards to how they should handle his catalogue (this alone is almost worth the price of purchase). What also make this a collection of note is the sense and feeling that those who were involved put a lot of thought, care and love into its conception. This is more than just a reconfiguration — it is a salute to a dearly departed friend and master musician. A sure-fire must have collection for all! 4.5 out of 5 stars.

The Best Old Timey Jazz / Historical Reissue:

Johnny Dodds “Complete Paramount Recordings, volume 2” (Black Swan).
This collection of the ground-breaking clarinetist works with various artists including Blind Blake, Paramount Pickers, Lovie Austin and Freddie Keppard. While not his best known work, that with King Oliver with Louis Armstrong on the Gennett label, nonetheless, a top of the line collection of the work of one of jazz greatest and important clarinet players. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

The Best Collection for the Background:


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