Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck Quartet, Charles Mingus Tito Puente

The 60’s are commonly regarded as a period of unparalleled artistic adventure, but, for both rock and jazz, the foundation for experimentalism was solidly laid in the previous decade. Each of these double-CD ‘Legacy Editions’ comprehensively documents what a crucial year 1959 was for the world of jazz;  not concieved merely for holiday sales, these deluxe packages capture the historical significance of the work and reaffirm the timeless quality of truly great music of any genre.

Miles Davis
Sketches of Spain: The collaboration of the man with the horn and Gil Evans is widely recognized, but is such an achievement of moody magnificence–not to mention orchestral brilliance–their partnership and the fruits of it probably can’t be lauded too much. The development of the Spanish motif as represented on the original studio recording is enhanced here with alternate takes and rehearsals, fully annotated in the enclosed booklet and, in a gesture of forward thinking (albeit a modest one), includes access to a digital document that further enhances this source of endless fascination.

Miles Davis
Kind of Blue: Even as the period photos of Miles Davis and co, taken in the studio and on the stage around the time of this recording, place the music of this Legacy Edition squarely in its time, two excellent sets of liner notes alternately expound upon and contemplate the ongoing influence of this hallmark album. Now fifty years old, and already reissued before, it is worth the attention, if for no other reason than to experience the increasingly clear remastered sound allowed by the progression of technology. But in this two-cd edition, studio recordings cut prior to the main studio work indicate how Davis was beginning to turn in a new direction at least a year prior to these historic sessions.

The Dave Brubeck QuartetTime Out Take Five: The innovative pianist did jazz and culture at large a favor by bringing the music into the mainstream, so it’s appropriate this Legacy Edition goes a step further in its presentation by including not just a remastered version of the original album, but a second full-length compact disc comprised of never before released live recordings from the Newport Jazz Festival. Brubeck’s own uniquely modest perspective on his work appears in an interview enclosed as a digital add-on, further evidence his work continues to weather the test(s) of time.

Charles MingusMingus Ah Um/Mingus Dynasty: The irascible bassist’s influence on jazz and rock becomes deeper and more broad with the passage of time and even just a cursory listen to these idiosyncratic works suggests why. But this stylishly packaged two-cd set,which also includes a digital add-on that expands the frame of reference on the idiosyncratic man and his equally unusual music, serves to ground his innovations in a clear perspective that renders his work as accessible as it can possibly be. Mingus is not that easy to hear, but the rewards that arise from listening are worth it.

Tito PuenteDance Mania: Given the pervasive popularity of Latin music in this now decade-old millennium. it’s arguable this master percussionist launched recognition of the music over a half-century ago. Digital remastering certainly benefits this rhythm heavy music and it doesn’t sound dated in the least. On the contrary, with each of the two discs contain original albums expanded to virtually twice their original length through the inclusion of bonus tracks, the peak experience becomes almost inescapable. Essays, photos and memorabilia continued in the triple-fold digi-pak reaffirm the authenticity of the times and explain why its impact has remained so genuine for over a half century: like a limited edition painting or book, this Legacy package, like its counterparts, is an essential edition to a musiclover’s library.

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