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75 Years of Blue Note Records to Be Honored in Two Years of Reissues

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Blue Note 75

Venerable jazz label Blue Note Records celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, and they’re celebrating well into the next year with an ambitious campaign that will see parent company Universal Music Group reissue dozens of titles on vinyl through 2015.

Founded in 1939 by mogul Alfred Lion and musician Max Margulis, Blue Note started as your average traditional jazz label before 1947, at which point the company started to focus on innovations in the genre, namely bebop and hard bop. Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Art Blakey, Fats Navarro, Hank Mobley, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, McCoy Tyner and Herbie Hancock are just a few names that recorded for the label at some point in their storied careers. The label began to fade by the late ’60s, when it was acquired by Liberty Records, which was in turn acquired by United Artists (the conglomerate of which was bought by EMI in 1979). However, an early CD-era reissue program saw the name revived in the mid-’80s, and the label became associated with many of Capitol-EMI’s jazz ventures since – most notably Come Away with Me, the Grammy-winning 2002 debut album by Norah Jones.

Of the ambitious venture to release classic albums from the Blue Note repertoire on vinyl, five at a time, between this March and October of 2015(!), label president and noted producer Don Was issued this statement:

Two years ago, we decided to begin remastering the jewels of the Blue Note catalog in hi-def resolutions of 96k and 192k. In order to develop a guiding artistic philosophy for this delicate endeavor, we donned our lab coats, ran dozens of sonic experiments and carefully referenced every generation of our reissues. Ultimately, we decided that our goal would be to protect the original intentions of the artists, producers and engineers who made these records and that, in the case of pre-digital-era albums, these intentions were best represented by the sound and feel of their first-edition vinyl releases. Working with a team of dedicated and groovy engineers, we found a sound that both captured the feel of the original records while maintaining the depth and transparency of the master tapes…the new remasters are really cool!

While these new versions will become available in Digital Hi Def, CD and the Mastered for iTunes formats, the allure of vinyl records is WAY too potent to ignore. This year, Blue Note – along with our friends at Universal Music Enterprises – is launching a major 75th Anniversary Vinyl Initiative that is dedicated to the proposition that our catalog should be readily available at a low cost – featuring high quality pressings and authentic reproductions of Blue Note’s iconic packaging. Beginning in March 2014, we’ll start rolling out five remastered vinyl reissues every month. Although this program begins in celebration of Blue Note’s 75th Anniversary, our catalog runs so deep that we will faithfully be reissuing five albums a month for many years to come!

The first two batches will be available in stores March 25 and April 22, featuring titles by Coltrane, Rollins, Hancock, Adderley, Wayne Shorter and more. Pre-order links for these vinyl reissues are after the jump; click here for the full list of planned titles!

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Written by Mike Duquette

March 4, 2014 at 15:00

One Stop Shopping: “Complete Collections” Coming From Denver, Washington, Kansas and Shorter

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No sooner did your catalogue correspondent pop a very old disc of John Denver’s 1985 Dreamland Express into the CD player than the news arrived that Dreamland Express would be collected along with 23 (!) other Denver LPs in Legacy’s new The Complete Albums Collection.   But that’s not all.  Following the first wave of releases which arrived just over two months ago, the catalogue initiative continues!  For the uninitiated, The Complete Album Collection box sets bring together an artist’s entire tenure at a label (in these cases, Columbia, Kirshner, Sony Classical and RCA) in one tidy box set, with albums in individual mini-LP sleeves and booklets containing brief essays and credits for each album.  The first four artists to receive this treatment were The Byrds, Sam Cooke, Stan Getz and Return to Forever, while joining the beloved country legend Denver in this new batch are jazz greats Grover Washington, Jr. and Wayne Shorter, plus classic rock heroes Kansas.  There is even special material, when applicable.  A rare privately-pressed 1966 LP appears on the John Denver box, Kansas’ live Two for the Show has been expanded into a 2-disc Legacy Edition for its 30th anniversary, and two bonus discs are in the Shorter box collecting the saxophonist’s compositions recorded by his group Weather Report.

We’ll put up track listings later, but in the interest of passing this information to you as quickly as possible, hit the jump for the titles included in each box set and the label-supplied information for each title!  All titles can be pre-ordered exclusively at Sony’s indispensable online PopMarket store. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 27, 2011 at 09:12