The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for June 29th, 2012

Review: “Album Produced By: More Of My Roller Coaster Life” by Bruce Kimmel

with 2 comments

At The Second Disc, we’re (literally) all about reissues!  But none of the titles we cover daily would be possible without the efforts of the producers who select the bonus tracks, commission the liner notes, oversee the remastering and pull the packaging together.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!  We have endeavored to spotlight the protean work of this select group of individuals, and have been grateful for the opportunity to conduct interviews with some of the finest in the business, including Harry Weinger, Steve Stanley and Mike Matessino.  Among that esteemed group is the founder of the Kritzerland label, Bruce Kimmel.  But Kritzerland is just one feather in the cap of a successful career at the helm of both new albums and reissues at Bay Cities, Varese Sarabande and Fynsworth Alley.  Kritzerland has released over 100 albums to date, including reissues of many beloved film soundtracks and cast albums.  Kimmel is also an author with more than ten books to his name, and the latest, Album Produced By…: More of My Roller Coaster Life (Author House, 2012), should be “required reading” for anybody who’s ever wondered about the ins and outs, the ups and downs of producing record albums.

Kimmel concluded his 2010 volume of memoirs, There’s Mel, There’s Woody and There’s You: My Life in the Slow Lane, with his decision to dive headfirst into the music business after dipping his toes into the water with his Bay Cities label: “I want to make a statement and within a year I want to be a well-known producer of show music recordings.  I want people to know when they see the name Bruce Kimmel that it means a quality album with a point of view.”  After a career largely spent as an actor, writer and director, he was afforded the opportunity to head up a new division at Varese Sarabande Records.  Within his first year there, two of his albums had already scored Grammy nominations.  Album Produced By… begins on Kimmel’s first day on the job in March 1993, and indeed, it’s not long in the book before the roller coaster begins its first climb.  After each climb, of course, there’s a fall, and then another climb, and so on, until the book concludes in the present day, two record labels and many life lessons later.

Hit the jump for more on this essential new read! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 29, 2012 at 13:43

Posted in Cast Recordings, Features, Soundtracks

Tagged with

“The Very Best Of” Jazz: Concord Launches New Series With Davis, Rollins, Coltrane and More

with 4 comments

If you’ve ever felt it might be a daunting task to “get into” jazz, Concord Music Group just might have the perfect releases for you.  Concord is home to many of the genre’s greatest labels, including Prestige, Contemporary, Riverside, Milestone, Fantasy and Pablo.  With the new series simply titled The Very Best Of, the Concord team has offered an affordable, entry-level look into five of the most influential musicians of all time: Miles Davis (trumpet), John Coltrane (tenor saxophone), Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone), Chet Baker (trumpet) and Wes Montgomery (guitar).  All five titles in the series are in stores now, and offer a selection of their most enduring music, primarily dating from the 1950s and early 1960s.  They capture these artists in the early portion of their careers, i.e. Davis before Columbia, Coltrane before Atlantic, Montgomery before Verve, when they were all breaking new ground and honing a personal style.  Each title – effective as either an introduction or a sampler – offers uniform design, remastered sound and new liner notes from authors including Neil Tesser, Ashley Kahn and Doug Ramsey.

For a musician who has influenced every guitarist from George Benson to Jimi Hendrix, Wes Montgomery is remembered for a body of work that lasted just over ten years.  Montgomery didn’t enter a recording studio until 25 years of age, didn’t record as a leader until another ten years had elapsed, and was dead ten years after that, felled by a heart attack at age 45.  The guitarist’s work can be divided into three distinct periods at different labels: Riverside (1959-1964), Verve (1964-1966) and A&M (1967-1968).  The latter two stints were spent under the aegis of producer Creed Taylor, who shaped Montgomery into a pioneer of the crossover jazz market, sweetening his recordings with strings and encouraging him to record the latest pop/rock hits. Concord’s The Very Best of Wes Montgomery is drawn from the pure jazz recorded at Riverside.  Montgomery’s sound was, even in his earliest days, instantly identifiable.  He made radical use of octaves (playing the same note on two strings, one octave apart) and chord melodies, and was inclined to play with his thumb rather than a pick, making his sound one of the most recognizable in all jazz.  The new set’s eleven tracks are drawn from eight of Montgomery’s Riverside albums, bookended by 1959’s The Wes Montgomery Trio and 1963’s Boss Guitar.  As you’ll find with all of these albums, a number of other luminaries appear as sidemen, here including Wynton Kelly (piano), Philly Joe Jones (drums), Milt Jackson (vibes) and Ron Carter (bass).  A number of Montgomery originals have been selected (“Four on Six,” “West Coast Blues,” “Cariba”) as well as covers of standards and pop songs (“Gone with the Wind,” “Canadian Sunset”) and jazz classics by Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk.  For those only familiar with Montgomery’s hit Verve and A&M albums, these eleven tracks will likely be a revelation.  In any event, they’re a solid starting point to explore the sadly-truncated career of a true great.

Among the artists chosen to inaugurate this series, Chet Baker stands out as the only one to have a career as both instrumentalist and vocalist.  Both sides of Baker are on display in The Very Best of Chet Baker, which consists of 14 tracks recorded between 1953 and 1965 from the Riverside, Prestige and Fantasy catalogues.  The collection’s earliest song, Rodgers and Hart’s “My Funny Valentine,” hails from Baker’s 1953 debut as part of The Gerry Mulligan Quartet.  It quickly became a signature song for the young trumpeter, whose tone was one of restraint, intimacy and smoothness.  A major player in the West Coast school of jazz, the handsome young Baker was courted for motion pictures and groomed for stardom, but a drug problem kept him running from the law and the court of public opinion throughout his entire life.  Other than drugs, the one constant was his great musicianship, whether playing or singing.  Four of his vocals are represented here, including three from Chet Baker Sings: It Could Happen to You (1958) and one from Chet Baker with Fifty Italian Strings (1959).  Baker’s cool, relaxed take on “Do It the Hard Way” from Rodgers and Hart’s Pal Joey is a particular standout.  Many of Broadway’s finest songwriters received sympathetic treatment from Baker.  In addition to four songs from the Rodgers and Hart songbook, two come from Lerner and Loewe, and two more from Jerome Kern (with Oscar Hammerstein II and B.G. DeSylva).  Pianist Bill Evans joins Baker on two selections from 1959’s Chet, and Herbie Mann’s tenor sax enlivens “Almost Like Being in Love” and “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face,” both from 1959’s The Best of Lerner and Loewe.  Baker continued to record until his untimely, mysterious death from a hotel window in 1988 (Was it suicide?  Was it an accident?  Was it something else?), but this collection preserves the musician in his prime.

After the jump, we explore sets from John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and the Miles Davis Quintet, plus we’ve got full track listings with discographical annotation, and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 29, 2012 at 10:06

Soundtrack Corner: La-La Land Has More Goldsmith, Intrada Has “Bite”

leave a comment »

This week’s soundtrack reissue offerings include two fantastical scores from one label and another pair of Jerry Goldsmith titles from a label that’s done a fantastic job on recent releases from the late, great composer.

Over at Intrada, they’ve released one of their more-requested titles: Charles Bernstein’s score to the comedy Love at First Bite. The 1979 film starred George Hamilton as a spooky but ultimately light-hearted Dracula, displaced from Transylvania to modern-day New York City. Bernstein’s music evokes all the Eastern European chills of your typical vampire yarn, but the change of scenery begets some lighthearted forays into disco! Augmented with two disco mixes of cuts from the original soundtrack LP on Parachute Records, this premiere release of the complete score is certainly something for fans to sink their teeth into.

The same label has also prepped a new edition of another fantasy-minded score. Though the film version of Masters of the Universe was released in 1987, some years after the Saturday morning cartoon and action figure series of the same name had peaked among audiences, its place in the franchise has earned it some cult status – along with memorable performances by Dolph Lundgren as Prince Adam of Eternia (He-Man to us mere mortals) and Frank Langella as the villainous Skeletor. This is not the first release of Bill Conti’s original score; a highlights LP was released on vinyl and CD by Varese Sarabande at the time of release, and said LP was paired with the complete score on a two-disc set released by La-La Land in 2008. This release, though, omits that original album in favor of a single-disc presentation of the original soundtrack.

And what Goldsmith gems does La-La Land have in store? Hit the jump to find out!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

June 29, 2012 at 09:20