New and reissued jazz and blues albums arrive for Record Store Day Friday
Record Store Day's post-Thanksgiving releases are coming Friday, Nov. 26. Oscar Peterson, Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong, Chick Corea, Big Mama Thornton and more will have jazz fans up early and standing in line at area record stores. KNKX jazz host Abe Beeson has a look at the new music, reissues and some previously unreleased recordings.
Oscar Peterson: A Time for Love: Live in Helsinki, 1987: In a limited three-LP translucent blue vinyl run, also on a double-CD set, this previously unreleased concert in Finland finds the legendary pianist with one of his greatest quartets. Guitarist Joe Pass, with Dave Young and Martin Drew on bass and drums, reached a pinnacle of artistry at the end of a 14-day European tour. Songs include Peterson originals like "Cakewalk" and standards by Duke Ellington and Bill Evans.
The Wonderful World of Louis Armstrong Allstars: Satchmo himself sings his classic version of "What a Wonderful World" on side A, and a 1936 recording of "Swing That Music" is heard on the B side. Verve Records uses the "parallel grooves" vinyl cutting technique on both sides. Depending on where you drop the needle, you might hear modern interpretations by an all-star group featuring Armstrong's fellow New Orleanians Nicholas Payton and Wycliffe Gordon.
Norah Jones: Christmas Don't Be Late: Blue Note Records offers a novelty 3-inch vinyl pressing of Norah Jones' version of the holiday classic by Alvin and the Chipmunks. Her new album, I Dream of Christmas, was released last month.
Charlie Parker: Bird in L.A.: Expected for release this past summer, the four-LP vinyl of these rare recordings from seven sessions or concerts from 1945 to 1952 in Los Angeles finally arrives Friday. Some of the recordings are incomplete, but several stretch past the seven-minute mark. Three recordings of blowing sessions last more than a dozen minutes, allowing extended soloing that was rarely captured at the time. Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Buddy Rich are heard with Parker on the recordings, which are also available on two CDs.
Ray Charles: Live in Stockholm 1972: This previously unheard concert, pressed on golden-brown vinyl, features the Ray Charles Orchestra and the Raelettes performing eight tunes, ranging from "Alexander's Ragtime Band" to "What'd I Say" and "I Can't Stop Loving You." The music is also available on the new six-CD box set True Genius.
John Hicks Trio: Is That So? This is the vinyl debut of the 1991 album from the pianist who joined Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers in 1964. Hicks leads a fantastic trio here with fellow Messenger alum Ray Drummond on bass and the legendary Idris Muhammad drumming. The powerhouse post-bop trio plays ballads and burners across two records, also marking the album's U.S. debut.
Chet Baker: Albert's House: This 1969 album of compositions by "Tonight Show" co-creator Steve Allen finds Baker at a low point in his career. The trumpeter was recovering from a terrible mouth injury that damaged his ability to play. Unfortunately, Baker isn't at his best artistically on Albert's House, despite the presence of guitarist Barney Kessel and pianist Paul Smith. This is the album's first-ever reissue on vinyl.
Larry Coryell 11th House: At Montreux: The Godfather of Fusion, guitarist Larry Coryell and his 1974 band are in fine form on this first-ever vinyl reissue. Trumpeter Michael Lawrence takes over for Randy Brecker, with Mike Mandel, Danny Trifan and Alphonse Mouzon at the keys, bass and drums. A brief 34-minute CD flows better on two sides of wax.
Chick Corea & Lionel Hampton: At MIDEM '78: Performing at the MIDEM Jazz Gala in Cannes, France, these two giants find common cause in swing through this one-time collaboration just after the breakup of Corea's band Return to Forever. Backed by the Bill Oliver Orchestra, and including RTF vocalist Gayle Moran, this live album's first vinyl pressing in four decades comes on hand-numbered transparent crystal vinyl.
Miles Davis: Live-Evil: Recorded in 1971 at the Cellar Door in Washington, D.C., this straight reissue may draw attention for fans of colored vinyl. And opaque teal will do fine if you don't yet have a copy of this hard-grooving workout with saxophonist Gary Bartz, guitarist John McLaughlin, Keith Jarrett on keyboards, Michael Henderson at the bass with drummer Jack DeJohnette and percussionist Airto Moreira. Or grab a second copy of Live-Evil for its 50th anniversary.
Art Pepper: Promises Kept: The Artist House Albums: This massive four-LP collection of 1979 recordings was released on five CDs a couple years ago; here it features additional songs and 14 pages of photos and notes by Art Pepper's widow, Laurie. The saxophonist recorded prolifically over his last years, and this is a quality set. The likely audience for Promise Kept, though, is the collectors market and serious Pepper fans.
Bobby Rush: Chicken Heads: This new four-song collection from Louisiana blues legend Bobby Rush celebrates the 50th anniversary of his biggest hit. Here, Rush revisits his classic swamp-funk single first with his own band. Then he collaborates on fresh takes of "Chicken Heads" with Allman Brothers Band spinoff group Gov't Mule, young Mississippi blues star Christone "Kingfish" Ingram and fellow blues icon Buddy Guy.
Big Mama Thornton: Sassy Mama: Live at the Rising Sun Celebrity Jazz Club: This 1977 concert in Montreal makes its vinyl debut for Record Store Day Friday. First released on CD in 1994, blues legend Willie Mae Thornton made her curtain call with Sassy Mama. Her final album, recorded at the famed Canadian blues venue, includes gems like "Hound Dog" and "Rock Me Baby" alongside standards "Summertime" and "Watermelon Man."
Memphis Slim & Canned Heat: Memphis Heat: The blues piano legend worked with the California blues-rock band Canned Heat on and off from 1970 to 1973. During the same time, Canned Heat recorded Hooker N' Heat with the great John Lee Hooker, finding them deeply immersed in blues tradition. The Memphis Horns keep these recordings firmly in the blues while adding a touch of funk. Barrel-house piano and punchy vocals deliver a jumping, bluesy good time.