First Five Titles Set For Release On March 30, 2010
February 17, 2010 — In the tradition of its highly lauded Rudy Van Gelder Remasters Series of classic Prestige recordings, Concord Music Group has dug into the vaults once again to create a new series of jazz reissues. The Original Jazz Classics Remasters series, scheduled for launch on March 30, showcases some of the most pivotal recordings of the past several decades by artists whose influence on the jazz tradition is beyond measure.
The first five titles in the series are: Dave Brubeck Quartet: Jazz at Oberlin Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section Sonny Rollins: Way Out West Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane Joe Pass: Virtuoso
An extension of the popular Original Jazz Classics series (est. 1982), the new OJC Remasters releases reveal the sonic benefits of 24-bit remastering-a technology that didn’t exist when these titles were originally issued on compact disc. The addition of newly-written liner notes further enhances the illuminating quality of the OJC Remasters reissues. “Each of the recordings in this series is an all-time jazz classic,” says Nick Phillips, Vice President of Jazz and Catalog A&R at Concord Music Group and producer of the series. “With these reissues, we get a fresh look and a new perspective on these artists and some of their most important work-not only from the meticulous 24-bit remastering by Joe Tarantino, but also from the insights we glean from the new liner notes that have been written for each title in the series.”
The Dave Brubeck Quartet: Jazz at Oberlin (1953)
Jazz at Oberlin, recorded live at Oberlin College in Ohio in March 1953 and released later that year, is considered a breakthrough album - not just for Brubeck himself, but for the entire concept of live jazz recordings. “The idea of presenting a jazz concert on a college campus was something that really hadn’t been done,” says Phillips. “So this recording represents a historic first. The combination of the excitement generated by the quartet and the unbridled response from the audience is riveting.”
Indeed, says jazz critic and historian Ashley Kahn in his new liner notes, “there had never been a commercial jazz recording that contained, again and again, such spontaneous eruptions of enthusiasm. That the youthful attendees were so gleefully unaware of jazz protocol - not holding on to their appreciation until the end of the solos, offering raucous applause rather than polite golf claps - only adds to the charm of the recording.” More than a half century after the performance was recorded, “Brubeck’s playing is still astonishing,” says Kahn.
Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section (1957)
Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section united the saxophonist with Miles Davis’ crew at the time: pianist Red Garland, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Philly Joe Jones. By all accounts, the early 1957 session should have been a disaster. Recently released from federal prison, Pepper was still struggling with a heroin addiction and severely out of practice. The gig had been set up by Pepper’s girlfriend (unbeknownst to him until just hours before the sessions were to begin), and he discovered at the last minute that - after several months of not playing - the cork in the mouthpiece of his horn had come loose. “But in the end, the session proved to be a triumph rather than a disaster,” says Phillips. “The camaraderie between Pepper and the Rhythm Section resulted in one of Art’s greatest recordings.”
Jazz writer/broadcaster Neil Tesser, who penned the new liner notes to the reissue, suggests that music in this set “reveals an obvious camaraderie, true artistic achievement, and a distinct lack of self-doubt or intimidation - perhaps because musically, Pepper actually had a great deal in common with the Rhythm Section.” He adds: “The ‘meeting’ between Pepper and this rhythm section was less a matter of confrontation, or even creative friction, than a matter of shaking hands in the middle of a bridge spanning east- and west-coast idioms.”
“The Man I Love,” a performance that was recorded at this session but was not included in the original album release, is included as a bonus track.
Sonny Rollins: Way Out West (1957)
Way Out West was, in many ways, Sonny Rollins’ tribute to the heroes of his childhood - the cowboys of the big screen, whom he idolized in the movie theaters of Harlem during the Depression. “Westerns took me away from reality,” he says in a recent interview with jazz blogger Marc Myers. Rollins’ comments provide context for the original recording in Myers’ new liner notes for the reissue. “My reality wasn’t bad,” he explains. “It’s just that Westerns took me to another place. They gave me hope that a Utopia did indeed exist in life.”
But along with this sense of optimism comes a wink and a sly grin, says Phillips. “If you compiled a list of the top Sonny Rollins recordings from throughout his incredible career, this one is certainly among the top entries,” says Phillips. “In addition to his phenomenal playing, it’s a great example of Rollins’ legendary sense of humor in his playing. Doing a jazz interpretation of ‘I’m an Old Cowhand’ is just one example of the kind of wit that he is known for. Even the cover photo of Sonny wearing a ten-gallon hat was his idea.”
Alternate takes of “I’m an Old Cowhand,” “Come, Gone,” and “Way Out West” are included as bonus tracks.
Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane (1961)
Recorded in the spring of 1957 but not released until four years later, Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane was instantly hailed as one of the greatest achievements in either musician’s career. “What can you say about this combination?” says Phillips. “These are two of the most legendary and influential artists in jazz, together in the same recording.”
Orrin Keepnews, producer of the original recording and author of the new liner notes for the reissue, suggests that “one way of looking at the sudden acceptance of these two previously much underappreciated but - as we have now all known for a full half-century - truly monumental artists, might be simply to accept their triumph as an incredibly important idea whose time had now suddenly arrived.”
“Monk’s Mood,” a Monk/Coltrane recording that was originally released on the otherwise all-solo Thelonious Himself album, is added as a bonus track.
Joe Pass: Virtuoso (1974)
Joe Pass was already a virtuoso before cutting a record whose title referred to him as such, but the 1974 solo guitar release elevated him to international star status. In his new liner notes for this reissue, jazz biographer Doug Ramsey recalls bassist Jim Hughart’s assessment of Pass: “If ever there was a guy who was a natural jazz guitarist, it was Joe Pass. Joe is like an artesian well of music, an unrestricted source of inspired jazz. He could play endlessly and rarely repeat himself.”
Phillips, meanwhile, calls Virtuoso “the definitive Joe Pass recording. If you could only have one jazz guitar album in your collection, you could argue that this should be it. It includes some phenomenal playing, just as the title suggests...And it’s one of those recordings that doesn’t require that the listener be a jazz aficionado. I think anyone who has an interest in the guitar owes it to themselves to check out this recording.”
The Original Jazz Classics Remasters series is a chronicle of vital moments in the rich history of jazz. “Each of these recordings is a significant cornerstone in each artist’s career, and together they tell the story of jazz as an ever-evolving art form,” says Phillips. “Each has more than stood the test of time.”