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Shout Factory Strikes Gold in Bethlehem Vault

Charlie B. Dahan By

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Shout Factory begins its Bethlehem reissue program with three of jazz's true stalwarts and true originals. One of the recordings contains a collection of John Coltrane's recordings on two compact discs. The other two are Duke Ellington's Duke Ellington Presents, originally released in 1956, and Charles Mingus' East Coasting, which was released right after in 1957. All three packages contain superior sound, detailed liner notes and essays. Also, jazz fans will be happy with the bonus tracks on the Coltrane and Mingus releases.

Bethlehem Records began in 1953 with Gustav Wildi at the helm and became one of the cornerstone NYC based jazz label in the be-bop heyday. Syd Nathan's King Records, best known for his recordings with James Brown, saw that the major recording companies were going to join on his turf as R&B was becoming lucrative. Nathan decided that distribution might be the best way to keep King afloat and one of the first catalogues he acquired was Bethlehem's in 1960. He began a reissue series that faded away in the 1970s.

John Coltrane's release, entitled The Bethlehem Years, divides its two discs into a regular album and a second disk of outtakes and lesser recordings, therefore not impacting the aural pleasure of some excellent Coltrane sides from 1957. These post Blue Train recording include "Midriff," "The Kiss of No Return," and "The Outer World." The second disk includes an unreleased recording of "Oasis" and several versions of the tunes found on the first album. In addition, the package contains and essay written by Art Lange in 1993 and thorough credits and a few black and white photographs.

The Duke Ellington recording contains only the recordings originally found on the 1956 recording of Duke Ellington Presents. This album finds Ellington and his sixteen piece orchestra in fine form and featuring Clark Terry on trumpet and Johnny Hodges on alto sax. The orchestra works through some standard repertoire inn typical well-arranged form including "Blues," "Summertime," and "My Funny Valentine." The package contains a brief essay and track descriptions by Joseph Muranyi. This package leaves falls a bit short of what has become expected by Shout Factory, but the music makes up for this shortfall.

The last in the initial reissue series of reissues rediscovers Charles Mingus' East Coasting. On this album Mingus and his sextet featuring Bill Evans works through "Memories of You," "East Coasting," and "Fifty-First Street Blues"; the former two are also included as additional outtakes. The essay by Nat Hentoff and Joseph Loredo display top of the line journalism appropriate to a Mingus package.

Shout Factory will continue the Bethlehem reissue series with Mel Torme, Dexter Gordon, Charles Mingus and many others.

John Coltrane: The Bethlehem Years

Disc 1
1 Midriff; 2. Ain't Life Grand; 3. Tippin'; 4. Pristine; 5. El Toro Valiente; 6. The Kiss Of No Return; 7. Late Date; 8. The Outer World; 9. Not So Sleepy; 10. Love And The Weather; 11. If I'm Lucky; 12. Turtle Walk

Disc 2
1. Oasis (Unreleased); 2. Midriff, Take 1; 3. Midriff, Take 2; 4. The Kiss Of No Return, Take 1; 5. The Kiss Of No Return, Take 5; 6. The Outer World, Take 2; 7. The Outer World, Take 5; 8. El Toro Valiente, Take 1; 9. Ain't Life Grand, Take 2; 10. Ain't Life Grand, Take 4; 11. Pristine, Take 2; 12. Pristine, Take 6; 13. Pristine, Take 8; 14. Tippin', Take 1; 15. Tippin', Take 3

Ellington Presents...

1. Summertime; 2. Laura; 3. I Can't Get Started; 4. My Funny Valentine; 5. Everything But You; 6. Frustration; 7. Cotton Tail; 8. Day Dream; 9. Deep Purple; 10. Indian Summer; 11. Blues

East Coasting

1. Memories Of You; 2. East Coasting; 3. West Coast Ghost; 4. Celia; 5. Conversation; 6. Fifty-First Street Blues; 7. East Coasting (bonus alt. take); 8. Memories Of You (bonus alt. take)

Visit Shout!Factory on the web.


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