Concord Music Group will release five new titles in its Original Jazz Classics Remasters series on September 17, 2013. Enhanced by 24-bit remastering by Joe Tarantino, bonus tracks (some previously unreleased), and new liner notes to provide historical context to the originally released material, the series celebrates the 40th anniversary of Pablo Records, the prolific Beverly Hills-based label that showcased some of the most influential jazz artists and recordings of the 1970s and '80s.
The five new titles in the series are:
*Duke Ellington & His Orchestra: The Ellington Suites
*Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Pass, Ray Brown, Mickey Roker: Dizzy's Big 4
*Oscar Peterson & Stephane Grappelli: Skol
*Zoot Sims: Zoot Sims and the Gershwin Brothers
*Art Tatum: The Art Tatum Solo Masterpieces, Vol. 1
The story of Pablo records is a story of one veteran producer's return to the music he loved best. Norman Granz, founder of Jazz at the Philharmonic, so missed the recording aspect of the music business - which he'd abandoned in 1962 when he sold his Clef, Norgran, and Verve labels to MGM - that a little more than a decade later he decided to take the plunge and start up yet another label. Based in Beverly Hills, California, at the time, Granz secured a distribution deal and launched Pablo Records in 1973, quickly building a world-class catalog of albums by legendary artists Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Pass, and Oscar Peterson - all of whom Granz managed - as well as Count Basie, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Tatum, Sarah Vaughan, and many others. After releasing more than 350 albums in a span of less than 15 years, Granz sold Pablo to Fantasy in 1987, which in turn merged with Concord Records in 2004 to form Concord Music Group.
Duke Ellington & His Orchestra: The Ellington Suites
The three Ellington Suites in this release were recorded at different times along Ellington's legendary and prolific arc: The Queen's Suite in February and April 1959 (written for and dedicated to Queen Elizabeth II, but not widely released until 1970); the Goutelas Suite in April 1971; and the Uwis Suite in October 1972.
"Ellington would record his orchestra at his own expense, and then stockpile the recordings," says Nick Phillips, Vice President, Catalog and Jazz A&R at Concord and producer of the Original Jazz Classics Remasters series. "These were recordings that were later sold to Norman Granz, who had the good sense in the '70s to collect these then-unreleased suites on one album."
Nearly 40 years after its first release, "this latest edition of The Ellington Suites adds a studio discovery: the never-before-released ‘The Kiss' is a track recorded in 1972 at the same session that yielded the Uwis Suite," says Ashley Kahn, author of the new liner notes for the reissue. "[It] is included herein as a reminder of how - all the way to the end of his timeline - Ellington was at work at new creations, ever intrepid and ever expansive. Today The Ellington Suites, music he produced to his specifications and at his expense, are as powerful a statement as any to the remarkable consistency that colored the entire, storied career."
Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Pass, Ray Brown, Mickey Roker: Dizzy's Big 4
Recorded in September 1974, Dizzy's Big 4 provides a snapshot of the bebop pioneer still in superb form at age 57. "Joined by a rhythm section of fellow Pablo all-stars, Diz is heard at his bebopping best in a compelling mix of Gillespie classics (‘Be Bop' and ‘Birks' Works'), a then-new Gillespie composition (‘Frelimo'), and standards (‘September Song' and ‘Jitterbug Waltz')," says Phillips. "The sheer joy of four like-minded musicians spurring each other to new musical heights is palpable throughout this Pablo classic."
Willard Jenkins, author of the new liner notes for the reissue, concurs. "Befitting a Pablo session, the four musicians comprising Dizzy Gillespie's Big 4 have an obvious simpatico with each other's artistry," he says. "Despite the fact that this is an all-star assemblage, the parts are beautifully matched and throughout the session a keen sense of camaraderie prevails."
The reissue includes two bonus tracks, previously unreleased alternate takes of "Russian Lullaby" and "Jitterbug Waltz" - both of which are significantly different versions of the same songs that appeared in the original release. "When you're talking about master jazz improvisers like Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Pass, Ray Brown, and Mickey Roker, every single take of any given song is going to be fresh and different," says Phillips. "These alternate takes are no exception."
Oscar Peterson & Stephane Grappelli: Skol
Recorded live at Tivoli Concert Hall in Copenhagen, Denmark, on July 6, 1979, Skol features the six tracks from the album's original LP release, plus three previously unreleased bonus tracks from the same performance: "Honeysuckle Rose," "Solitude," and "I Got Rhythm."
"The title of the album, Skol, is of course a Scandinavian toast: ‘Cheers!'" says Tad Hershorn, archivist at the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University and author of the new liner notes for the reissue. "It exactly suits the spirit of this sparkling music reintroduced here in observation of Pablo's fortieth anniversary."
Hershorn adds: "Oscar Peterson was just over the halfway point of a career beginning in the mid-1940s up until just shortly before the time of his death in 2007 at age 82 . . . Stephane Grappelli catapulted to fame in the 1930s as part of the original Quintette du Hot Club de France led by legendary guitarist Django Reinhardt.
But the two co-leaders are just the beginning of this story, says Phillips. "Add Joe Pass, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, and Mickey Roker, the end result is an impressive array of talent on a single album."
Zoot Sims: Zoot Sims and the Gershwin Brothers
Recorded in June 1975, Zoot Sims and the Gershwin Brothers is a set of ten well-known Gershwin classics executed by Sims on saxophone, backed by Oscar Peterson on piano, George Mraz on bass, Joe Pass on guitar, and Grady Tate on drums. "It's arguably the best album Zoot Sims ever made," says Phillips, "not just on Pablo but in his entire career. It's that good. He sounds absolutely amazing on this album."
In addition to the ten tracks from the original release, the reissue includes three bonus tracks: "They Can't Take That Away From Me" and previously unreleased alternate takes of "Oh, Lady, Be Good!" and "I've Got a Crush on You."
"Zoot brought to the formal business of studio recording the same unflagging spirit of swing that motivated him in casual settings like the Paris boîte and the Mississippi steamer," says Doug Ramsey, author of the new liner notes to the reissue. "For this music by the Gershwins, he had at his disposal a dream rhythm section of four peers who shared his dedication to the propositions that jazz must swing and must pursue the ideal of beauty."
Ramsey adds: "Let your ears be your guide and let Zoot, Oscar, Joe, George, and Grady guide your ears. It is good that this music has new life and is again available as an essential installment of the Zoot Sims legacy."
Art Tatum: The Art Tatum Solo Masterpieces, Vol. 1
The Art Tatum Solo Masterpieces, Vol. 1 got under way with an evening session in December 1953 where Tatum walked into the studios of Radio Recorders in Hollywood with a portable radio. He sat down at the piano bench, opened the first of many bottles of Pabst Blue Ribbon (provided by Granz), listened to about a half hour of UCLA basketball and said, "Let's go."
"From there, the music poured forth to produce 69 masters over two days, nearly all on first takes with no playbacks," says Herschorn in his new liner notes to the reissue. "It was an auspicious beginning for a peak moment in the histories of Granz and Tatum. Picking up again in April 1954 and concluding in January 1955, the series came in at over 125 songs . . . The endurance of the Tatum recordings, celebrated with this reissue of Volume 1 in recognition of the fortieth anniversary of Pablo Records, proves that the highest ambitions of both men continue to be revered in the 60 years since Tatum, a man of few words and a daredevil on the keyboard, first uttered, ‘Let's go.'"
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