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Record Store Day Black Friday 2023: Jazz Releases

Record Store Day Black Friday 2023: Jazz Releases

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For many, Black Friday conjures up images of massive crowds battling each other to get their hands on marked down gift items at huge department stores. For record collectors, though, the scene is much less dramatic because Black Friday is one of two yearly Record Store Day drops. This is where limited run albums hit the shelves of many independent record stores. Although a variety of musical genres is represented, there are always some cool jazz releases to pick up. Here are some of the Black Friday jazz releases for 2023.

Chet Baker
Chet's Choice
Elemental Music/Criss Cross Jazz

Originally released on the Criss Cross label in 1985, this album is one of Chet Baker's finest recordings from his final years. It features Baker on trumpet and vocals along with Philip Catherine on guitar Jean-Louis Rassinfosse and Hein Van De Geijn on bass. The RSD release presents all seven tracks from the original album, along with previously unreleased alternate tracks. The two-album set includes a gatefold jacket with rare photos and updated liner notes.

Marion Brown and Wadada Leo Smith
Creative Improvisation Ensemble
ORG Music

Free jazz fans are in for a treat with this release. Creative Improvisation Ensemble presents the collaboration between Marion Brown on the alto saxophone and Leo Smith on the trumpet. The session was recorded in 1970, and originally released in 1975. Both artists were firmly rooted in avant-garde jazz. Brown was an important New York jazz scene member during the sixties, and he recorded with artists such as John Coltrane, Archie Shepp, and John Tchicai. He was even featured on Coltrane's legendary album Ascension (Impulse! 1965). Smith has also been an integral part of the avant-garde jazz scene, and he has been featured on albums by numerous artists, including Anthony Braxton, John Zorn, and Henry Kaiser. According to the press release, this is the first reissue of the vinyl recording, and the Black Friday version will be pressed on transparent red audiophile-grade vinyl.

Dave Brubeck Quartet
Live from the Northwest, 1959
Brubeck Editions

This is the latest release from Brubeck Editions, and it features the classic Dave Brubeck Quartet lineup in its prime. Brubeck is featured on piano with Joe Morello on drums, Eugene Wright on bass, and Paul Desmond on alto saxophone. This concert was recorded in April 1959 just months before the quartet released their most famous album, Time Out (Columbia 1959), and it was recorded by Wally Heider, a major figure in studio engineering, who would later help develop the San Francisco rock sound. This album should satisfy any Brubeck collector. Perhaps the press release sums it up best: "Listening to this new release, you will feel like you are sitting in the jazz club fully immersed in high fidelity sound, on a night when the incomparable Dave Brubeck Quartet was firing on all cylinders!"

Terry Callier
Speak Your Peace
Mr. Bongo

Terry Callier was active during the sixties and seventies both as a performer and a recording artist. Things changed for him, however, by the early eighties when his label dropped him. After this, he decided to follow a different career path than music. During the later part of the eighties, though, Callier developed a new audience when the acid jazz movement became popular. DJs began playing his music, which led to a renewed interest, giving him the inspiration to start recording again.

Speak Your Peace, originally released in 2002, marks his comeback as a recording artist, and his soulful voice and expressive guitar are in full swing. Callier manages to deliver a tasty blend of jazz, folk, and R&B. This one has plenty of cool grooves This RSD Black Friday release is pressed on 180g vinyl and features a tip-on sleeve with re-worked artwork.

Eric Dolphy
Iron Man
Culture Factory USA

Although released in 1968, Iron Man was originally recorded in 1963. This critically acclaimed album has been long out of print on vinyl. Iron Man is an important release from one of jazz music's most important avant-garde composers. The RSD Black Friday version includes an OBI side strip, original album artwork, and original record labels. This version is also pressed on colored vinyl.

Bill Evans
Tales: Live In Copenhagen (1964)
Elemental Music

Certain artists are almost always going to be represented in RSD drops. For rock, The Grateful Dead is a perennial favorite, and Bill Evans has become a staple for jazz releases. Tales: Live In Copenhagen (1964) marks Zev Feldman's 11th never-before-released recording of the legendary pianist's work. This album features Evans, with bassist Chuck Israels and drummer Larry Bunker. Feldman mentions in the liner notes, "Tales is a wonderful document that captures the spirit, essence, and beauty of what Bill Evans was all about."

Gil Evans
Gil Evans & Ten
Craft Recordings

While Gil Evans is probably best remembered for his work with Miles Davis, he was an influential artist in his own right, and this 1957 album for Prestige Records was his first release as a leader. The set features Evans on piano with an 11-piece band featuring artists such as trombonist Jimmy Cleveland, Bart Varsalona on bass trombone, French horn player Willie Ruff, Steve Lacy on soprano saxophone, Lee Konitz on alto saxophone, bassist Paul Chambers, and Jo Jones on drums.

The Craft reissues are always excellent, and this should be no exception. Remastered from the original tapes, this mono mix will be one to be on the lookout for. This is cool jazz at its best.

Jerry Garcia and David Grisman
So What
ORG Music

Along with being the heart and soul of The Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia was an incredibly talented guitarist. His influences covered a broad spectrum of music, including jazz. Even when playing rock, Garcia approached his solos like a jazz musician by playing through the changes and relying on modes rather than standard rock licks. Garcia is joined here by his longtime friend, David Grisman, who played mandolin on the 1970 Grateful Dead album American Beauty (Warner Brothers). They also played together in the bluegrass group, Old and In the Way.

Along with being a superb bluegrass mandolin player, Grisman is noted for his recordings of Dawg music, which is a unique mixture of jazz and bluegrass. Given their close musical companionship and their shared interest in jazz, it only seems natural that the two would record a jazz album. Originally released in 1998, So What features acoustic performances of Miles Davis' "So What" and "Milestones" along with Milt Jackson's "Bag's Groove" along with original compositions. This 25th-anniversary edition is being released as a double album on vinyl.

Dexter Gordon and Slide Hampton
A Day in Copenhagen

Dexter Gordon was one of the most influential tenor saxophone players in jazz. Both John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins have cited him as an influence. Gordon's talent as an improviser is impressive, to say the least, and the 2020 RSD release, The Squirrel (Rhino/Parlophone) provides plenty of evidence for this.

A Day in Copenhagen,was originally released in 1969, a time when mainstream jazz was on the decline in the United States. Like many other musicians, Gordon moved to Europe during the sixties and remained there until 1976. This album features a collaboration between Gordon and trombonist Slide Hampton. This is definitely one to be on the lookout for.

Chico Hamilton
The Master
Craft Recordings

Drummer Chico Hamilton is one of those artists who is hard to classify. His recordings cover jazz styles ranging from straight-ahead to avant-garde. As a result, listeners sometimes might not know what to expect from him, and the Black Friday release of his 1973 album, The Master, might easily slip under the radar. However, the album is worth noting for a few reasons. First, it was released on Enterprise Records, which was a Stax subsidiary originally intended to be a jazz label. While they did release some jazz records, the label is mainly remembered for releasing many of Isaac Hayes's albums. The Master was one of the final Enterprise offerings. What makes this album particularly noteworthy, however, is its backing musicians, This recording features all of the members of Little Feat with the obvious exception of their drummer, Richie Hayward.

By 1973, Little Feat had established themselves as a formidable band both in the studio and on stage. With the exception of The Meters, Little Feat was one of the funkiest groove-oriented bands around, and this album features them in their prime. There are some excellent grooves and improvisations from Lowell George (incorrectly attributed as George Lowell), Paul Barrere, and Bill Payne. Remastered from the original tapes, this album will be released on purple vinyl.

Ahmad Jamal
Emerald City Nights: Live At The Penthouse (1966-1968)
Jazz Detective

The first RSD drop of 2023 saw two excellent Ahmad Jamal releases, and Emerald City Nights: Live At The Penthouse 1966-1968 is the third and final set of previously unreleased recordings of this legendary pianist. The recording features Jamil Sulieman Nasser on bass and Frank Gant on drums. This two-album set includes an extensive booklet with rare photos and essays. Like the previous releases, the sound quality and performances are exceptional.

Les McCann
Never A Dull Moment!—Live From Coast To Coast 1966-1967

Never A Dull Moment is a previously unreleased collection of live performances recorded between 1966 and 1967 by pianist Les McCann. Some of the sessions were recorded at the Penthouse jazz club in Seattle with Stan Gilbert on bass, Paul Humphrey on drums, and Tony Bazley on drums. Also featured are recordings from the Villag/e Vanguard on July 16, 1967, with Leroy Vinnegar on bass and Frank Severino on drums. This is an official release in cooperation with Les McCann, and the three-album set includes an extensive booklet with rare photos and liner notes.

Charles Mingus

The music bassist and composer Charles Mingus and his group recorded during his 1960 sessions for Candid Records, resulted in some outstanding releases. Incarnations is the fourth great Mingus album to emerge from those historic sessions. This recording is taken from rare and unreleased material that serves as an excellent addition to his collection. As the press release claims, "Incarnations is the Mingus masterpiece nobody knew they were missing."

Wes Montgomery
Maximum Swing: The Unissued Half Note Recordings

Many jazz fans list Smokin' at the Half Note (Verve 1965) by Wes Montgomery and the Wynton Kelly Trio as one of their favorite albums. Pat Metheny, for example, once commented that Smokin' at the Half Note is "the absolute greatest jazz guitar album ever made. It's also the record that taught me how to play." This landmark album features Montgomery during his prime, and it is one of his finest recordings. It only seems fitting that Resonance Records is honoring Montgomery's 100th birthday with a deluxe release of the Half Note performances from 1965.

The original Smokin' album featured five songs, but they were not all live recordings. The second side of the album was recorded in Rudy Van Gelder's studio. The entirety of Maximum Swing features previously unreleased live recordings from Half Note jazz club in New York with drummer Jimmy Cobb and bassists Paul Chambers, Ron Carter, Herman Wright, and Larry Ridley. This three-album set comes in a gatefold jacket with a booklet containing rare photos, essays, and interviews.

Oscar Peterson
Con Alma: The Oscar Peterson Trio: Live in Lugano, 1964
Mack Avenue

Oscar Peterson was one of the most important pianists in jazz, and he is remembered for playing in a trio setting. Although he had many different players over the years, the trio with Ray Brown on bass and Ed Thigpen on drums is probably the most famous lineup. This group recorded several classic albums including Night Train (Verve 1963) and We Get Requests (Verve 1964).

This album features previously unreleased live performances. The press release features a quote from Peterson about this group, stating how "they created a flexible and multi-faceted rhythmical language that they could apply to any musical statement I might make and enhance any direction I might choose. In short, they practiced 'all the possibles.'" This album will be released on translucent blue vinyl.

Cal Tjader
Catch The Groove: Live At The Penthouse 1963-1967
Jazz Detective

Vibraphonist Cal Tjader's recordings emanate coolness, and Catch The Groove captures him when he was at the top of his game. This collection of previously unreleased recordings features Tjader with Armando Peraza on percussion and Monk Montgomery on bass. The recordings are taken from six different performances, each of which was originally broadcast live. This three-album set includes an extensive booklet with photos, essays, and interviews.

Various Artists
Black Jazz Records: The Complete Singles
Real Gone Music

Real Gone Music has recently reissued several excellent albums from the Black Jazz label catalog. Record collectors can find long out-of-print albums by artists such as Doug Carn, Calvin Keys, and Chester Thompson. Black Jazz Records: The Complete Singles, includes a collection of rare singles that were produced for the label. As the press release states, "This 15-track set serves as both a Black Jazz 'Best Of' and a collector bonanza, as it includes several unique single edits." The album will be pressed on orange and black swirl vinyl.

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Jazz article: Record Store Day Black Friday 2023: Jazz Releases
Jazz article: Record Store Day 2023 Jazz Releases
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