The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for the ‘Billie Holiday’ Category

Lovely Day: Aretha, Sly, Andy, Marvin and Billie Headline “The Brazil Connection”

with one comment

Brazil ConnectionWell, summer is officially upon us! Already there’s talk about which songs will be anointed the perfect summer jams for 2014 – songs by artists like Ariana Grande, Iggy Azalea and the ubiquitous Pharrell Williams. If those names don’t set your pulse racing, however, Legacy Recordings has an alternative that’s bound to conjure up images of tropical sunsets, refreshing drinks and summer breeze. Studio Rio Presents The Brazil Connection makes over 12 pop classics from the Sony vaults by melding the original vocals with new bossa nova and samba arrangements written and/or played by some of Brazil’s top musicians including Torcuato Mariano, Paulo Braga, and bossa legends Marcos Valle and Roberto Menescal. The artists represent a cross-section of genres such as R&B (Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye) to jazz (Billie Holiday, Dave Brubeck and Carmen McRae), and traditional pop (Andy Williams, Mel Torme). The Brazil Connection arrives in stores today, just in time to coincide with the 2014 World Cup being held in Brazil.

Producers Frank and Christian Berman’s Studio Rio aggregation is successful in retaining an organic sound for most of these familiar recordings in their new, chill Brazilian settings. One can fairly question the practice of grafting new productions around vintage tracks – especially from deceased artists, whether Williams, Holiday, Gaye or Brubeck, just to name a few – but these Rio de Janeiro-made recordings are fun, tasteful and faithful to the spirit, if not the style, of the originals.

Most radical – and one of the album’s undisputed highlights – is the transformation of Sly and the Family Stone’s 1971 chart-topper “Family Affair” from lean, dark funk to soft and sensual tropicalia. Gone are the electric piano, bass and early drum machine; in their place is a lush and mellow complement of guitar, piano, bass, drums, flugelhorn, tenor and alto saxophones and trombone. The Isley Brothers’ “It’s Your Thing” and Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” both get rousing, lively reinventions from co-arrangers Mariano and The Berman Brothers. (“It’s Your Thing” is also featured on Sony’s official World Cup 2014 album, One Love, One Rhythm.) Another R&B great, Bill Withers, sees his 1977 “Lovely Day” shorn of its sleek R&B rhythm and replaced with a brassy yet contemporary Brazilian groove. One misses the iconic original backing of Johnny Nash’s 1972 No. 1 hit “I Can See Clearly Now,” though the new, cheerful backing is a perfect match for the song’s lyrical sentiments.

Unsurprisingly, Aretha Franklin’s 1964 recording of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “Walk on By” lends itself well to the treatment here. One of the Queen of Soul’s Columbia tracks that most anticipates her soulful direction at the Atlantic label, “Walk on By” thrives in Roberto Menescal’s alluring arrangement, as Latin rhythms are in the DNA of a Bacharach melody. Similarly, Mel Torme’s 1965 rendition of Cole Porter’s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” is a natural for Studio Rio, with arranger Mario Adnet seemingly channeling Claus Ogerman’s work on the seminal Sinatra/Jobim collaboration between another great American singer and Brazil’s answer to George Gershwin. Marcos Valle turns in a fun chart (and also plays Fender Rhodes) on Andy Williams’ hard-swinging “Music to Watch Girls By.” Williams was no stranger to Valle’s music, making this a particularly inspired choice. Roberto Menescal joins Valle on guitar for this upbeat samba.

We have more after the jump – including the complete track listing and order links!   Read the rest of this entry »

Jazz It Up with New Verve Records Box Set

with 2 comments

Verve The Sound of America Box SetMore than half a century after visionary music impresario Norman Granz founded his third and arguably most successful label, Verve Records, the label will be celebrated in style next month with a new book and a five-disc box set, The Sound of America: The Singles Collection.

Granz had previously come to prominence in the jazz world a decade before, when he organized a diverse jam session of a concert at Los Angeles’ Philharmonic Auditorium in 1944. This regular session turned into a full-fledged concert tour, and “Jazz At The Philharmonic” became one of the biggest national platforms for jazz musicians (both black and white) in North America. Recordings of the shows were licensed to Mercury Records, then in turn to two of Granz’s own labels, Clef and Norgran.

But it was Verve, founded in 1956, that enjoyed the greatest success, largely thanks to two factors: the rise of the 12″ long-playing record album, and Granz signing his biggest client as a manager to the label. Ella Fitzgerald, who’d been wooed to Verve from Decca, made some of the greatest recordings in jazz history during her years there, starting with her legendary Songbook series, which found her interpreting the catalogues of Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hart, Duke Ellington, George & Ira Gershwin and many more.

From there, Verve was, at one time or another, home to a who’s who of jazz luminaries, including pianist Oscar Peterson, trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong, organist Jimmy Smith, saxophonist Stan Getz, guitarist Wes Montgomery and even vocalists like Bing Crosby and Mel Tormé. Today, the Verve label still exists as a home for new and catalogue jazz; current acts include operatic tenor Andrea Bocelli and jazz vocalist Diana Krall.

The Sound of America: The Singles Collection features 100 tracks – not only sides from the Verve years, but a handful of pre-Verve jazz singles on Clef and Norgran – over five discs, “over 20 of which have been out of print for years.” All the discs are contained in their own individual slipcases, packaged in a box with a lift-off lid alongside a 48-page book of liner notes. The box hits stores December 10, just over a month after the publication of Verve Records: The Sound of America, an exhaustive written history of the label from producer/researcher Richard Havers.

The full track list and order links for the box set are after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Universal Europe Offers “Complete Masters” For Armstrong, Fitzgerald, Bechet, Parker, Holiday

with 5 comments

If you’ve ever been looking to build a solid jazz library without spending too much coin, look no further.  The European arm of Universal Music Group, through its EmArcy and Decca labels, has announced a series of Complete Masters boxes that offer considerable bang for your buck!  The Complete Masters slate kicks off with five box sets devoted to Louis Armstrong (1925-1945, 14 discs), Ella Fitzgerald (1935-1955, 14 discs), Billie Holiday (1933-1959, 15 discs), Sidney Bechet (American Masters 1931-1953, 14 discs) and Charlie Parker (1941-1954, 13 discs).  Based on the time periods, it seems that a great deal of licensing has been done by Universal to create these all-encompassing packages.  Alas, complete and verified track listings have not yet been released.

Information is most readily available as to the Billie Holiday box, which will take in her recordings for the Columbia, Commodore, Decca and Verve labels over its 14 CDs.  At a price of roughly £27 GBP from Amazon U.K. (or $40 USD, at the time of this writing) vs. $101.36 as an import from Amazon.com, ordering from a European retailer is a no-brainer.  Holiday tragically died in 1959 aged just 44, so this set represents the entirety of her released body of work.  (Alternate takes which have surfaced on numerous box sets including Legacy’s comprehensive Lady Day have not been included.)  One report indicates that four tracks recorded circa 1957 may be missing from the box set, so although we currently don’t have an explanation, it’s hard to argue with fourteen discs from this influential singer for 40 bucks.  No less an eminence than Frank Sinatra said of Holiday not long before her death, “It is Billie Holiday who was, and still remains, the greatest single musical influence on me. Lady Day is unquestionably the most important influence on American popular singing in the last twenty years.”

Another important influence to musicians of every genre is trumpeter, vocalist and bandleader Louis Armstrong (1901-1971).  Satchmo has been feted in recent months with a new career-spanning box set (also from Universal) as well as acclaimed biographies by Terry Teachout and Ricky Riccardi that anyone reading this should seek out.  The man described by his friend Bing Crosby as “the beginning and end of music in America” recorded for numerous labels during his long career, and as this set spans the period between 1925 and 1945, it should take in recordings from OKeh, Columbia, Vocalion, Victor and Decca across its 14 CDs.

One of Armstrong’s favorite collaborators was Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996), with whom he recorded both for Decca and Verve.  Fitzgerald had a lengthy career, with her discography ranging from 1935 to 1989.  The Complete Masters box set concerns itself with the singer’s first twenty years as a recording artist, from 1935 to 1955.  During this time, she was signed to the Decca label where she broke new ground in vocal jazz interpretation.  This box set takes listeners up until Fitzgerald’s signing with Norman Granz and his Verve label; that collaboration of manager and artist would influence Fitzgerald mightily through the rest of her career.

Hit the jump on the details of the Complete Masters sets for two overwhelming instrumental heroes! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 10, 2011 at 13:36

Come to the Pop Market, Part Two: Box Sets Planned For Brubeck, Holiday, Weather Report and Mahavishnu Orchestra

with 3 comments

Yesterday we reported on eight new box sets drawn from the Columbia and RCA Victor archives and available through Sony’s PopMarket site.  While those titles dedicated to Earth Wind & Fire, Electric Light Orchestra, Leonard Cohen, Paul Desmond, Dexter Gordon, Wynton Marsalis, Woody Shaw and Nina Simone are all currently available or due for release shortly, another batch is already on the schedule for November.

On November 11, Legacy Recordings opens the vaults to the rich legacy of jazz at Columbia Records , offering the following new releases:

  • The Dave Brubeck Quartet, The Complete Columbia Studio Albums Collection;
  • Billie Holiday, Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday on Columbia 1933-1944;
  • Mahavishnu Orchestra, The Complete Columbia Albums Collection; and
  • Weather Report, The Jaco Years: The Complete Columbia Albums Collection.

Hit the jump for details on what’s included in each set! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 23, 2011 at 11:37

Release Round-Up: Week of June 21

leave a comment »

Peter Tosh, Legalize It: Legacy Edition / Equal Rights: Legacy Edition (Columbia/Legacy)

The first two albums by the onetime Wailer are greatly expanded with rare alternate mixes and other goodies. (Official site)

Ace, Five-a-Side: Expanded Edition / Time for Another/No Strings: Expanded Edition (Cherry Red)

How long can you wait for expanded editions of the whole Ace catalogue? Each set (Five-a-Side as one set and the other two albums in another package) is remastered and expanded with a host of BBC session tracks. (Cherry Red)

Suede, Head Music: Deluxe Edition (Edsel)

We’ve been totally remiss lately about the Suede remasters, which by all accounts are damn good. So let us remind you that an expanded edition of Head Music came out today, with similar expansions of SuedeDog Man Star and Coming Up already available. And A New Morning will be expanded next week! (Official site)

Carly Simon, No Secrets / Bad Company, Straight Shooter (Audio Fidelity)

The latest Audio Fidelity Gold CDs are Carly Simon’s breakthrough LP (the one with “You’re So Vain,” which I hope Matt Rowe correctly predicts will be expanded in the near future) and Bad Company’s great sophomore album (with “Feel Like Makin’ Love” and “Shooting Star”). (Audio Fidelity)

Various Artists, ICON (UMe)

They just. Won’t. Quit. (Original post with links to all the titles in this batch)

ICON and On and On

with 7 comments

UPDATE 6/20: With a day before these sets are to hit stores, here’s the post with the track list for the one compilation that hadn’t been confirmed at the time – an incredibly slight collection for Steve Winwood. Just Steve Winwood. Not Traffic or anything else. Make of that what you will.

Original post: The latest batch of ICON titles hasn’t even hit stores yet, but yet another assortment of them has been announced for release next month.

While, as always, there’s not much in the way of rarities on these sets, there are a few artists compiled whose respective works haven’t seen much activity on CD. The Thin Lizzy compilation is interesting in the light of another forthcoming batch of deluxe editions from Universal’s U.K. arm, and the Bill Cosby and Righteous Brothers compilations are particularly welcoming for new fans. On the other side of the spectrum, though, you have a compilation from horrorcore rap group Insane Clown Posse, which only features tracks from the band’s four albums with Island from 1997 to 2000 (some Juggalo haters would argue that’s not all that’s wrong with this set), as well as an as-yet-trackless entry for Steve Winwood, whose Revolutions compilation came out just under a year ago.

If you’re interested, they’re all out on June 21 and can be ordered at Amazon (note that the page of “coming soon” titles still has listings for the last batch we reported on, due out next Tuesday). Hit the jump for the track lists (except the Winwood set, of course – we’ll update this post once that list comes over the line). Read the rest of this entry »

“Icon” Series Gets More Iconic

with 3 comments

Universal is prepping another batch of Icon compilations for the first week of 2011. Now, we’ve been hard on this series before, but there’s actually a lot to like about these new sets.

While previous Icon sets have been bashed by The Second Disc for either shamelessly repackaging previous compilations or offering fewer CD-based rarities than, say, Legacy’s Playlist series (more on that tomorrow), this new batch of Icon sets collate artists who haven’t had much in the way of compilations yet (Vanessa Carlton), expand on previous sets (the hefty double-disc set for Sheryl Crow) and highlight lesser-known artists (country comedian Jerry Clower, a host of funk notables on Tabu Records, including Cherelle, Alexander O’Neal and The S.O.S. Band).

Those Tabu sets will offer some nice morsels for collectors, too: all of them offer up some hard-to-find remixes previously only found on vinyl singles. Now this is what we’re talking about! Hats off to the UMe staff and everyone who made sets like these possible (including Donald Cleveland, producer of titles for the Funkytown Grooves label, who worked on these three Tabu sets with producer Harry Weinger).

Each disc will be in stores on January 4, though it looks like Amazon will be offering up some of these for download before the year is out. (See their pages for details.) The track lists are, as always, below. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

December 13, 2010 at 15:06