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Archive for the ‘Oscar Peterson’ Category

Jazz It Up with New Verve Records Box Set

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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 »

Review: Pablo 40th Anniversary Series with Gillespie, Ellington, Tatum, Peterson, Grappelli and Sims

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Pablo Reissues

When impresario Norman Granz founded the Pablo label in 1973, fusion, funk and Latin sounds were at the forefront of jazz.  Granz, founder of the Verve, Norgran and Clef labels, initially launched Pablo as a platform for his management clients Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson and Joe Pass, but soon its roster was filled out with the equally starry likes of Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Sarah Vaughan.  Granz’ new label was an instant success and a safe haven for traditional jazz in this period of rapid musical change.  Pablo’s very first LP – Oscar Peterson, Joe Pass and NielsHenning Ørsted Pedersen’s The Trio – even netted a Grammy Award.  To celebrate Pablo’s fortieth anniversary, Concord Music Group has reissued five classic titles from its catalogue.  Three albums feature guitarist Pass, two in collaboration with pianist Peterson and one with bassist Pedersen.  The fourth and fifth – archival showcases for the legendary Art Tatum and Duke Ellington – were recorded in the 1950s but released on Pablo in the 1970s.  Best of all, all titles have been remastered, and all save the Tatum premiere previously unreleased bonus material.

Before Dave Brubeck, before Bill Evans, before Bud Powell, there was Art Tatum.  Though inspired by the stride piano style (in which, generally speaking, the left hand plays a four-beat pulse with a single bass note, octave, seventh or tenth interval on the first and third beats, and a chord on the second and fourth beats) of Fats Waller as well as by Earl “Fatha” Hines, Tatum made the instrument his own, and is frequently recognized today as the greatest jazz pianist of all time.  There’s ample evidence why on the first volume of Pablo’s Art Tatum Solo Masterpieces (OJC-CD-34620-02).

Almost every one of the sixteen songs on this introductory volume – recorded in 1953 and 1955 – is a standard, but Tatum’s boundless imagination for improvisation renders nothing at all “standard” about them.  69 Solo Masterpieces performances were recorded over two days in 1953; more sessions commenced in April 1954 and concluded in January 1955, yielding a total of 125 masters.  On November 5, 1956, Tatum was gone, a victim of kidney failure.  The tracks were originally issued on Granz’s Clef label as boxed sets and 13 individual albums.  When Pablo was founded in 1973, one order of business was to reissue these seminal recordings.  The newly-remastered Volume One combines the first and ninth original Pablo LPs onto one disc.

Tad Hershorn’s new liner notes explore the theory that Tatum may have made it all look too easy, which might explain why he never achieved international stardom during his all-too-short lifetime.  Indeed, the notes recount producer Granz bringing Pabst Blue Ribbon and a portable radio tuned to the UCLA basketball game to get Tatum in the mood for the sessions.  Though the results sound far from tossed-off, the fact of the matter seems to be that the inventive improvisations heard here did come naturally to Tatum.  There’s a bounce and a carefree verve to these tracks – even unlikely ones such as Cole Porter’s 1930 “Love for Sale,” originally a streetwalker’s lament.  Tatum puts the soul into “Body and Soul,” lightly swings “My Love Affair,” and embellishes “There’s Only a Paper Moon” with a barrage of zesty notes that enliven Harold Arlen’s sweet melody.  Though he transformed the style with elegance, muscularity and musical wit, the stride technique admired by Tatum is still very much present throughout.  Tatum even takes on two compositions by another renowned pianist, Duke Ellington (“Just A-Sittin’ and A-Rockin’” and “Sophisticated Lady”) with aplomb.

Though this is very much an exuberant set, Tatum also has a way with a ballad.  As he dissects the melody of Rodgers and Hart’s “Have You Met Miss Jones,” interpreting it in various styles, it’s impossible to say what Rodgers would have thought.  Though the famed composer was a notorious stickler for playing the notes as written, Tatum’s virtuosity is undeniable.  “Stay as Sweet as You Are” has a romantic feel, while Tatum is surprisingly dark on “Willow Weep for Me.”  The title of one of these Solo Masterpieces, “Too Marvelous for Words,” could certainly describe Tatum’s animated instrumental performances!

After the jump, we’ll explore titles from Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson, Stephane Grappelli, Zoot Sims and others! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 7, 2013 at 10:21

Release Round-Up: Week of September 17

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The Band - Academy of MusicThe Band, LIve at the Academy of Music: The Rock of Ages Concerts (Capitol/UMe)

This five-disc box set (four CDs and a DVD) features selections from The Band’s famed four-night run in New York in 1971. Though these shows would create the live Rock of Ages album, this box instead features highlights from the shows on two discs (including guest appearances by Bob Dylan), another two discs of the complete soundboard mix of the final concert on New Year’s Eve 1971, and a DVD with 5.1 surround mixes and newly-discovered film of two of those performances.

4CD/1DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2CD highlights: Amazon U.S.

Sunshine Daydream packshotGrateful Dead, Sunshine Daydream (Rhino)

One of the most sought-after Dead shows, from the summer of 1972, is released in full on CD and in 5.1 surround sound.

3CD/1DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. deluxe version with 40-page booklet and Grateful Days documentary: DVD / BD
4LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Alternate MonroMatt MonroAlternate Monro (Parlophone U.K.)

Twenty-seven alternate takes of classic songs from the underrated British crooner. (Amazon U.S.Amazon U.K.)

I Robot Legacy EditionThe Alan Parsons Project, I Robot: Legacy Edition (Arista/Legacy)

The Alan Parsons Project’s sophomore album (and first for Arista) featured the band’s second Top 40 hit, “I Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You,” amid a narrative structure on artificial intelligence. This Legacy Edition features a bonus disc with all the tracks from the 2007 reissue plus even more bonus material.

2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2LP: Amazon U.K.

Roy Orbison In DreamsRoy Orbison, In Dreams: Greatest Hits (Legacy)

A rare example of acclaimed re-recorded versions of an artist’s earlier hits! In Dreams, first released in 1987 after Orbison’s unexpected popularity boost by way of Blue Velvet, was the catalyst to a remarkable comeback for the Big O – one that lasted well beyond his sudden passing in 1988. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Pablo ReissuesDizzy Gillespie, Dizzy Gillespie’s Big 4 / Zoot Sims, Zoot Sims and The Gershwin Brothers / Art Tatum, The Art Tatum Solo Masterpieces Volume 1 / Duke Ellington and His Orchestra, The Ellington Suites / Oscar Peterson and Stephane Grappelli, Skol (Original Jazz Classics)

Five titles originally released on the Pablo Records label and featuring some of the century’s biggest names in jazz are reissued on CD; all but the Tatum title have been expanded with unreleased material!

Dizzy: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Zoot: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Tatum: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Duke: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Oscar: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Glen Campbell ICON ChristmasGlen Campbell, ICON Christmas (Capitol/UMe)

Typically, news of an ICON title gets flung into the sun; however, this disc features, for the first time on CD, Campbell’s 1968 album That Christmas Feeling. The product line comes through! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Pablo Records’ 40th Celebrated with Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, More

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Pablo Reissues

Concord Music Group’s Original Jazz Classics line recently celebrated the 60th anniversary of Orrin Keepnews and Bill Grauer’s famed Riverside Records label with five reissues from Bill Evans, Chet Baker, Wes Montgomery, Thelonious Monk and Gerry Mulligan, and Cannonball Adderley and Milt Jackson.  (Expect a full review of all five titles soon!)  On September 17, the OJC series will turn its attention to the 40th anniversary of jazz impresario Norman Granz’s Pablo Records with the reissue of five classic albums from Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson and Stephane Grappelli, Zoot Sims and Art Tatum:

  • Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Pass, Ray Brown and Mickey Roker, Dizzy’s Big 4 (1974)
  • Zoot Sims, Zoot Sims and the Gershwin Brothers (1975)
  • Art Tatum, The Art Tatum Solo Masterpieces, Volume 1 (1975)
  • Duke Ellington and His Orchestra, The Ellington Suites (1976)
  • Oscar Peterson and Stephane Grappelli, Skol (1979)

Granz founded Pablo roughly one decade after having sold his Clef, Norgran and Verve labels to the MGM dream factory.  The producer, manager and entrepreneur initially made Pablo a home to artists he also managed like Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Pass and Oscar Peterson, later adding many other familiar names to his roster.  In fewer than fifteen years, Pablo released over 350 albums, but in 1987, Granz sold the label to Fantasy Records, today a part of the Concord Music Group.  Each of the upcoming titles save Art Tatum’s Solo Masterpieces, Volume 1 has been expanded with previously unreleased material.

After the jump: more details and pre-order links for all five titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 5, 2013 at 14:28

Armstrong, Fitzgerald, Peterson Featured on Hip-o’s Expanded “Hollywood Bowl”

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The names of the greatest producers in jazz history still resonate today. The likes of Orrin Keepnews, Creed Taylor and Norman Granz (to name a mere three) all pioneered production and promotion styles that made their releases both identifable and enduring.  Next week will see the release on Hip-o Select of a major project by that third-named gentleman. Granz (1918-2001) founded five record labels in his lifetime, but none more renowned than Verve. That label was created by Granz in 1956, and the very same year, he recorded the first-ever jazz concert at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl, a venue which opened in 1922 and still hosts prestigious concerts today. (The famous bandshell didn’t come along until 1929, however!) Jazz at the Hollywood Bowl brought together some of the biggest names of the genre: Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Flip Phillips, Illinois Jacquet, Roy Eldridge, Herb Ellis, Ray Brown and Buddy Rich. The concert was released as a deluxe 2-LP set, but has never been released on CD. Hip-o Select’s Verve Select imprint rectifies this with a new CD reissue, but the pot has been sweetened by the addition of 11 previously unreleased tracks performed by Louis Armstrong! (These tracks are almost simultaneously appearing as one complete disc on Universal U.K.’s ambitious 10-CD box set Satchmo: Louis Armstrong, The Ambassador of Jazz.  Read about that exciting project here!) 

The American debut of the Armstrong set is just one reason that this new package is an essential one. Satchmo had been heard on the original vinyl edition in two duets with Ella Fitzgerald (“You Won’t Be Satisfied” and “Undecided”) but the trumpeter’s full set could not be included on the original LP. Eleven previously unreleased tracks have been reinstated, bringing the total number of Armstrong performances to fourteen. That’s not all, though. Verve Select’s CD edition now has all of the songs performed that summer evening of August 15, 1956, and the set list has been restored to its original running order. (The original LPs altered the sequencing due to the era’s time constraints for vinyl albums.)

Armstrong and his All Star Orchestra took their place beside a truly legendary group of musicians, and Jazz at the Hollywood Bowl offers six solo tracks from Fitzgerald, including takes on Cole Porter’s “Love for Sale” and “Just One of Those Things” plus Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s “Little Girl Blue” and the then-current showtune introduced by Sammy Davis, Jr. in Mr. Wonderful, “Too Close For Comfort.” Flip Phillips, Illinois Jacquet, Harry “Sweets” Edison and Roy Eldridge were backed by Buddy Rich and the Oscar Peterson Trio with Herb Ellis and Ray Brown on a once-in-a-lifetime jam session incorporating Fats Waller’s “Honeysuckle Rose,” Vernon Duke and Ira Gershwin’s “I Can’t Get Started” and Count Basie’s signature “Jumpin’ at the Woodside.” Piano jazz is well represented by Art Tatum’s four songs, among them the Gershwins’ “Someone To Watch Over Me” and Porter’s “Begin the Beguine,” and the Oscar Peterson’s Trio’s two-song set highlighted by Burton Lane and Ralph Freed’s “How About You?” (“I like New York in June/How about you? I like a Gershwin tune/How about you?”) The concert marked one of Tatum’s last appearances. The entire ensemble joins in for (what else?) “When The Saints Go Marching In,” the jubilant, rousing finale.

Jazz at the Hollywood Bowl is housed in a digipak reproducing the original artwork plus new photos, detailed annotations and an essay by historian Bob Porter. This 5,000-copy limited edition is available for pre-order now at Hip-o Select for $35.98 and will ship on July 29. It will be available from other retailers beginning August 16. After the jump, you’ll find the complete annotated track listing plus pre-order link at Amazon. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 19, 2011 at 10:01