Quick Guide to Record Store Day’s Unreleased and Reissued Jazz Recordings

Rather than provide our usual detailed reviews of these never-before-released and/or reissued jazz recordings, we will instead provide a brief summary of each in alphabetical order by artist. Every one of these sets has terrific liner notes, historic photos, and remembrances from those who played or just admired the musicians. The Resonance and Elemental are particularly strong with insightful interviews as well. All on this delectable menu are well worth your while.  

NEW DISCOVERIES

ArtistPepper Adams

AlbumPepper Adams and The Tommy Banks Trio

Label – Reel to Reel (Cory Weeds)

Overview – Adams spent his career as a valued sideman for the likes of Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Big Band, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Lee Morgan, Donald Byrd, and others. So, having a recording of Adams fronting a group is a rare occurrence. While the baritone sax is usually not considered a highly lyrical instrument, Adams proves rhythmic, melodic, and improvisational in this tight combo through a set of originals and standards rendered as swinging bop and lush balladry. Can’t help but note the $1.50 entry fee pictured on the back, quite a bargain for those fortunate to attend.

Location and Date Recorded – September 25, 1972 at University of Alberta, Student Union, Room at the Top, Edmonton, AB

Personnel – Pepper Adams (baritone sax), Tommy Banks (piano), Bobby Cairns (electric bass), Tom Doran (drums)

Most Impressive Sideman – Pianist Tommy Banks, one of the most in-demand players north of the border at the time, proves that he can swing in this outing

Must Hear Tracks – “Civilization and Its Discontents” and “Patrice” These are the only two known recordings of these two Adams’ originals. The romp through Sonny Rollins’ “Oleo” is breathtaking.

Available Formats and Dates – Vinyl (2-LP) (4/23), Digital, 2-CD (5/6)

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Artist – Albert Ayler

AlbumRevelations – The Complete ORTF Recordings

Label – Elemental Music (co-produced by Zev Feldman and Jeff Lederer)

Overview – While the first two hours of these recordings have been released, this set provides an additional two hours of some of the last recordings of Albert Ayler, self-proclaimed Holy Ghost of the Holy Trinity with John Coltrane as Father and Pharoah Sanders as Son, would ever make. The concert unfolds in chronological order, the first two discs without the pianist Call Cobbs who missed the flight from JFK. At this point in his career, Ayler was both a life and musical partner with Mary Maria Parks who together with Ayler composed the highly spiritual music. The liner notes are incredibly insightful as Jeff Lederer provides details on each track and commentary comes from bassist Steve Tintweiss, Joe Lovano, Sonny Rollins, Archie Shepp, David Murray, John Zorn, Reggie Workman, James Brandon Lewis, Carlos Santana, and others. This passage from John Zorn is a great summation – “…For him, the sax was more like a sound source, and the sounds he was able to coax out of the instrument ranged from the charming and beautiful to the frightening, and vexingly complex. Every note he played was intense, expressive and emotional – every phrase and gesture packed with drama…Ayler was a pioneer in expanding the language of the sax to embrace screeches, Screams, squeaks, grunts, growls, tweets, howls, barks and more. Unlike almost every saxophonist before him, Ayler placed an unusually huge emphasis on texture, energy, timbre, and density over pitch, and he was able to create rich sonic inventions using a highly personal language of notes and noises.” You’ll hear all that and more, yet many of this version of Ayler are more accessible than his earlier work as he moves from free, spiritual jazz seamlessly into R&B and poetic modes driven by Parks. Consider also that the band was a combination of disparate parts, never together as unit until these shows.

Location and Date Recorded – Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul de Vence, France (near Nice) on July 25 & 27, 1970.

Personnel – Albert Ayler (tenor, soprano, bagpipes, vocals, Mary Parks (soprano, vocals), Call Cobbs (piano), Steve Tintweiss (bass) Allen Blairman (drums)

Most Impressive Accompanist (s) – Mary Maria Parks, is an unmistakable presence with her poetry, chanting, spoken word, and soulful R&B vocals (i.e., “Love Cry,” “Heart Love,” and “A Man Is Like a Tree” as examples. She also burns on the soprano sax in a style much like Ayler’s, especially on the series of “Revelations” pieces. Ayler clearly feeds off her energy. The rhythm tandem of Tintweiss and Blairman is especially potent on the three versions of “Revelations’ on Disc Two. Pianist Cobbs somehow finds a way to use his more traditional chordal approach to fit in with the group, giving it a more structured sound. His glissandos are especially impressive on “Zion Hill,” the most gorgeous piece in this set.

Must Hear Tracks – The first two discs, more highly improvisational, take place without pianist Cobbs on July 25 and have a few of Ayler’s most well-known compositions from his Impulse! albums such as “Ghosts” and “Love Cry” as well as the vocal gymnastics of “Speaking in Tongues,” a definitive mark in the Parks-Ayler collaborative years, and the not to be missed “Desert Blood,” yet it’s best to hear the program in its entirety. Discs 3 and 4 have a completely different feel with Cobbs aboard and contain such vaunted Ayler material as “Holy, Holy” and “Spirits.”  Disc One opens with the iconic “Music Is the Healing Force of the Universe,” the same piece that ends the program on Disc Four. The audience is beyond enthusiastic. Ayler’s tone and his energetic stamina throughout the four hours is breathtaking. 

Available Formats and Dates– 5-LP Box (4-23) and 4-CD package (4-30)

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Artist – Chet Baker Trio

AlbumLive in Paris – The Radio France Recordings

Label – Elemental Music (Zev Feldman)

Overview – This set includes the two performances recorded by Radio France listed below. Most will associate Chet Baker’s prime with the ‘50s as first a member of Gerry Mulligan’s quartet and then as a bandleader who reached pop audiences as a vocalist with most of his recordings on Pacific Jazz. He had numerous career setbacks in the ‘60s but regained form in the ‘70s and ‘80s via live performances and recordings in Europe. These two concerts at the two Paris jazz clubs, only seven months apart find him in drumless trios, both anchored by the great pianist Michel Graillier (influenced by McCoy Tyner and Bill Evans), who performed regularly in Baker’s combos from 1977 until Baker’s death in 1988. The relaxed tone and use of space is essential to the overall sound.

Baker’s heroin addiction is well-chronicled as is his checkered history of missed dates and wide-ranging moods. His signature sound, mostly his interpretation of standards, with some newer material, possessed unrivaled beauty in a very personal style of jazz that especially appealed to women and gay men in the Paris jazz club scene. Paris-based journalist Mike Zwerin summed it up perfectly – “Appreciating late Chet Baker was mostly a European habit. Americans considered him ‘history’.”

Location and Date Recorded – By Radio France at La Esplanade de La Defense (July 17,1973) and Le Petit Opportun (February 7, 1984)

Personnel – 1963 date – Chet Baker (trumpet and vocals), Michel Graillier (piano), Dominique Lemerle (bass)

                       1984 date – Chet Baker (trumpet and vocals), Michel Graillier (piano), Riccardo Del Fra (bass)

Must Hear Tracks –These are stretched-out, unrehearsed tracks vocalizing lyrics, scatting, and offering plenty of room for solos of all three instruments. As it says in the liners this is a period where Baker was more settled and consistently supported than any time in his life. He is relaxed, his tone more fluid and his singing, despite, is gentler, warmer, and a little less precise due to wearing dentures. Disc One picks – “Easy Living” and “Just Friends” – great solos from all trio members on both Disc Two picks – Blues and bop here without any vocals. Prominent walking bass on “Strollin’” the bebop centric “Walkin’,” the tune provides an insight into Baker’s style as opposed to Miles Davis and Clifford Brown, who have their own familiar versions.
Available Formats and Dates– 3-LP (4-23) 2-CD (4/30)

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Artist – Dave Brubeck Trio

AlbumLive from Vienna 1967

Label -Brubeck Editions

Overview – Yes, we have the words “Dave Brubeck Quartet” burned into our collective memories and this is the only recording of the trio. So, it becomes an accidental legacy recording because altoist Paul Desmond missed a flight and did not make the date, forcing the group to perform without him. Hence, there was more additional space for solos and improvisations, as well as an emphasis on rhythmic variations and textures without the usual saxophone melodies. These are mostly standards that Brubeck learned early in his career, with just one original, “One Moment Worth,” a tribute to Fats Waller. With their backs against the wall, so to speak, the trio, buoyed by an amazingly enthusiastic audience, delivered an intense and unbridled performance.

Location and Date Recorded – November 11, 1967, Konzerthaus, Vienna, Austria

Personnel – Dave Brubeck (piano), Eugene Wright (bass), Joe Morello (drums)

Must Hear Tracks – “St. Louis Blues,” “Someday My Prince Will Come”

Available Formats and Dates – CD, Digital (4-15) LP (4-23)

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Artist – Bill Evans

Album(s)Morning Glory, Inner Spirit

Label – Resonance (Zev Feldman)

Overview – These two now make seven live and studio releases of Evans by Resonance. Morning Glory features Evans’ longest-running trio playing for the first time in Buenos Aires under an environment teeming with political unrest and tension. Due to last-minute scheduling, they performed at 10 am, but the audience was more than awake from inception, bringing the trio out for three encores. The trio performed three originals and ten standards.

     Inner Spirit has Evans’ last trio, in one of their first dates in Evans’ last appearance in Argentina, and was also marked with political turmoil. Again, there are 13 selections with only Rodgers and Hart’s “My Romance” common to both. There are just two originals here, including the new one “Letter to Evan,” for his son. “Theme from M*A*S*H” is obviously also new. LaBarbera is very impressive throughout and this is an early date for the bassist Johnson who has earned quite a legacy since. Both trio mates had come off stints with the Woody Herman Big Band.

Location and Date Recorded – Morning Glory –1973 Buenos Aires Inner Spirit – 1979 Buenos Aires

Personnel – Morning Glory –Bill Evans (piano), Eddie Gomez (bass), Marty Morell (drums) Inner Spirit – Bill Evans (piano), Marc Johnson (bass), Joe LaBarbera (drums)

Must Hear Tracks – Morning Glory – the original “The Two Lonely People,” “Esta Tarde Vi LLover,” “My Foolish Heart” and “Emily” for Gomez’s stunning bass solo.

Inner Spirit – “Letter to Evan,” “MInha,” and the 17-plus minute “Nardis” with Johnson’s gorgeous bass tone especially shining on “Some Day My Prince Will Come” and “Nardis.”

Available Formats and Dates– Both 2-LP (4/23), 2-CD and Digital (4/30)

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Artist – Charles Mingus

AlbumMingus – The Lost Album from Ronnie Scott’s

Label – Resonance (Zev Feldman) 

Overview – This is a volcanic performance at the famed venue and was originally scheduled to be a Columbia release before they pulled every jazz artist from their catalog except Miles Davis in 1973. Mingus was experiencing a career renaissance at the time, but his sextet was transitional, having recently seen the departures of such longtime colleagues as Jaki Byard and Dannie Richmond. Nonetheless, these nine performances across two nights reveal an energetic, explorative group continually reaching in the true spirit of famed Mingus’ Jazz Workshop gatherings. Mingus fans can be assured that this set more than holds its own with his storied shows at Monterey, Carnegie Hall, and Antibes. Like those offerings, this set features three compositions than run for over a half-hour.

Location and Date Recorded – Ronnie Scott’s, London, 1972

Personnel – Bobby Jones (tenor), Charles McPherson (alto), Jon Faddis (trumpet), John Foster (piano), Roy Brooks (drums), Charles Mingus (bass)

Most Impressive Accompanist(s)– The fiery approach of then 19-year-old trumpeter Jon Faddis never ceases to impress and although we’ve heard drummer Roy Brooks with Mingus later on Mingus in Detroit, this is an early example of his invention, the “breath-a-tone,” which allowed him to control the pitch of his kit while playing. Brooks also introduces his famed musical saw on a couple of tracks.

Must Hear Tracks – While “Fables of Faubus” is always must listening, the nod goes to the new at the time “Orange Was the Color of Her Dress, Then Silk Blues,” “Mind-Readers’ Convention in Milano (AKA Number 29),” and “Noddin’ Ya Head Blues”

Available Formats and Dates – 3-CD set, Digital – both on 4/29

REISSUES

Candid Records Has Five Remastered by Acclaimed Engineer Bernie Grundman, Originally Produced by Nat Hentoff

Available Formats and Dates for all five – CD and Digital 4-15   Vinyl 6-24

Artist Charles Mingus 

AlbumCharles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus

When Recorded – 1960

Overview – These are the original Jazz Workshop recordings with a chordless quartet balancing composition with free jazz across only four selections as Mingus is noted for lengthy tracks (and long titles)

Personnel – Charles Mingus (bass), Eric Dolphy (alto sax, bass clarinet), Ted Curson (trumpet), Dannie Richmond (drums)

Most Impressive Supporting Musicians– Anything with Eric Dolphy is worth a listen and he shines here.

Must Hear Tracks – Only four on one CD so all of them – “Folk Forms No. 1,” “Original Faubus Fables,” “What Love,” “All the Things You Could Be Right Now If Sigmund Freud’s Wife Was Your Mother”

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Artist Max Roach and Oscar Brown Jr.

AlbumWe Insist! Freedom Now Suite

When Recorded – 1961

Overview – At once an avant-garde masterpiece, a vocal-instrumental suite, and a work of collective improvisation directly addressing the racial and political issues of its day, this is one of the most important artistic statements of the Civil Rights Movement and one of the most groundbreaking jazz albums of all time. In fact, last week the Library of Congress announced that the recording was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry, which reflects the diverse music and voices that have shaped our nation’s history and culture through recorded sound. 

Personnel – Abbey Lincoln (vocals), Coleman Hawkins (tenor), Walter Benton (tenor), Booker Little (trumpet), Julian Priester (trombone), James Schenck (bass), Max Roach (drums), Michael Olatunji (congas), Raymund Mantillo and Tomas du Vall (percussion)

Most Impressive Supporting Musicians – Coleman Hawkins and Michael Olatunji

Must Hear Tracks – Again, the whole album is worth listening to, but “Driva Man” sets the tone.

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Artist Abbey Lincoln

AlbumStraight Ahead

When Recorded – 1961

Overview – Abbey Lincoln’s distinctive vocal style, thought-provoking writing, and spirited personality have secured her a place among the jazz greats. Though she made her first recording for Riverside, and later in life for Verve, it was with the young and audacious Candid Records that she made what is considered by many to be her most important statement.

Personnel – Abbey Lincoln (vocals), Coleman Hawkins (tenor), Walter Benton (tenor), Eric Dolphy (reeds), Booker Little (trumpet), Julian Priester (trombone), Art Davis (bass), Mal Waldron (piano), Max Roach (drums), Roger Sanders and Roger Whitley (congas) on “African Lady” 

Most Impressive Supporting Musicians – The tie goes Coleman Hawkins, Eric Dolphy, and Booker Little

Must Hear Tracks – Lincoln originals “Straight Ahead” and “In the Red” and the Langston Hughes poem “African Lady”

Candid is also offering two blues albums – Lightnin’ Hopkins – Lightnin’ in New York Otis Spann – Otis Spann Is the Blues

Mack Avenue Records is releasing two of its most popular albums on vinyl for the first time.

Artist – Kenny Garrett

Album Sketches of MD – Live at the Iridium

Overview – This was Garrett’s debut for the label, and he was intent on displaying several styles across these five lengthy pieces. With Pharoah Sanders as with 2006’s Beyond the Wall. These are all Garrett originals with Tyner acolyte Gonzalez grounding Garrett and Sander on “The Ring,” the chanting, African infused “Intro to Africa,” the quieter but beautiful title track, the funk of “Wayne’s Thang,” and the rousing set closer “Happy People” which course through contemporary jazz to R&B to Weather Report-like fusion. In all, an utterly engaging performance.

Location and Date Recorded – Iridium, NYC, 2008

Personnel – Kenny Garrett (alto sax), Benito Gonzales (piano), Nat Reeves (bass), Jamire Williams (drums), Pharaoh Sanders (tenor sax)

Most Impressive Accompanists – One can never diminish the presence of the legendary Pharoah Sanders, but pianist Gonzalez proves to be an invaluable anchor to the various textures here

Must Hear Tracks – There are only five so dig in but be sure not to miss the title track, “The Ring,” and “Wayne’s Thang.”

Available Formats and Dates – 2-LP (4-23) red vinyl

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Artist – Christian McBride

AlbumConversations with Christian

Overview – This is an unusual album consisting of bass-vocal, bass-piano, and bass-instrumental duets as the consummate relationship builder McBride gets down with his best friends, demonstrating versatility across all pairings. 

Location and Date Recorded – 2011

Personnel – Duets – Singers – Angelique Kidjo, Sting, Dee Bridgewater, Gina Gershon Pianists – George Duke, Eddie Palmieri, Chick Corea, Dr. Billy Taylor, Hank Jones, Instrumentalists: Regina Carter, Roy Hargrove, Russell Malone, Ron Blake

Most Impressive Partners/Tracks – There are 13 tracks in all and we need to mention more than half of them: Vocalists: Dee Bridgewater (“It’s Your Thing”), Gina Gershon ( “Chitlins and Gefiltefish”) Instrumentals – Roy Hargrove (“Baubles, Bangles, and Beads”), Russell Malone (“Sister Rosa”), Ron Blake (“Shake and Blake” ), Pianists: George Duke in rare acoustic mode on “McDukey Blues “, and two performances with two who passed in 2010 – Dr. Billy Taylor (“Spiritual”) and Hank Jones (“Alone Together”)

Available Formats and Dates – 2-LP (4-23) – orange

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