Hope everyone has enjoyed their summers. We have experienced a cold and rainy three month here in the Northeast, but the great new packages have added a ray of sunshine. Here are some of the Vault's summer faves:
Attention record labels! Please email me your reissue schedules so I can include them in future lists.
Vault's Record of the Summer (Year?!?!?)
Ray CharlesGenius Love Company (Concord) It was long overdue to celebrate Brother Ray's career like this and quite sad that he won't be around to enjoy it, but he left us with more great music to enjoy and look back at a career of such magnitude and importance. There will be a multitude of repackages, but this is Brother Ray's real last hurrah. Much like his career, Charles celebrates his diverse musical palette with a wide variety of special guests. Some hit the recordings out of the park like Norah Jones, Dianne Krall, Willie Nelson, Gladys Knight and BB King, while others fall a bit short (James Taylor and Elton John). Through and through, this duets package would make a proud addition to your Ray Charles collection - It contains more than just music, it possesses a spirit of joy and celebration that is both infectious and a welcome addtion - what are you waiting for, get it already!
Boxset of the Summer
Bing CrosbySwingin' with Bing: Lost Radio Performances (Shout! Factory) The fine folks at Shout Factory are off to a great start, setting a high standard for reissue and special event packages, reminiscent of the good old (and I stress old) days of Rhino. With this box, America's great crooner is paired with some of the greatest and most distinctive vocalists of his day Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole and the Andrews Sisters. These lost performances are some of Crosby's finest moments and musically compelling. In addition, the set contains great liner notes, song by song accounts, great period photography and detailed credits (the collection even smells of class!) While most may think of Crosby as a pop singer from the early 20th century, these pairing in a live setting are some of modern music's finest performances and Shout Factory makes them sound great and with above board presentation. Bravo!
Reissues for the Top Shelf:
A Duke Ellington trifecta reissued by Columbia Legacy from 1958-61. During this era Ellington recorded and released a series of 'mood' music entitled Piano in the Background, Piano in the Foreground and Blues in Orbit. This series is a sort of a precursor to the recent flood of "Jazz for a Sunday Morning' type of repacking that has been dominating the market the last few years. Ellington arranged and recorded the appropriate and suitable material to fit the vibe of the album concept.
Piano in the Background from 1960 contains a fuller sound than one would imagine from the title (after all Ellington used a ninety-one key piano) thanks to new arrangements of old classics, but not enough to lose Ellington's brilliant performances. In addition to the original tracks and excellent song-by-song liner notes, 'Background' also has bonus recordings with one alternate take of 'Lullaby of Birdland' and a previously unreleased 'Harlem Air Shaft.'
Piano in the Foreground from 1961, contains both a trio (piano, bass and drums) and solo piano performances of more newly arranged and written material. This set also includes the original detailed liner notes and seven bonus recordings, four of which are Ellington piano improvisations.
Blues in Orbit digs into the roots of jazz and comes out the other side 'modern' (for 1958). The package contains the original liners from Teo Macero and new liners from Patricia Willard. In addition to the eleven original tracks, 'Blues in Orbit' adds eight new tracks, five of which are alternate versions and one previously unissued track.
Summer Latin Sizzler
No one compiles and reissues a Latin jazz reissue better than the fine folks at Concord. "The Colors of Latin Jazz: Latin Jam!" digs into the deep vault and compiles eleven tracks that pulse, pound and jam their way through the one hour of musical ear candy. The CD flows seamlessly from track to track to appeal to fans of Latino music, jazz and modern 'jam band' type music fans. The line-up includes artists that are the top of the marquee quality: Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Eddie Palmieri, Cal Tjader, Poncho Sanchez and the all-star Jam Miami, amongst others. This one needs to be turned up to eleven!
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.