Concord Music Group will release three new titles in its Original Jazz Classics Remasters series on May 15, 2012. Enhanced with 24-bit remastering by Joe Tarantino, bonus tracks on each release (some previously unissued), and new liner notes to provide historical context to the originally released material, the series showcases pivotal recordings of the past several decades by artists whose influence on the jazz tradition continues to reverberate among jazz musicians and audiences well into the 21st century.
The three new titles in the series are:
- The Bill Evans Trio: Moonbeams
- Thelonious Monk: Misterioso
- Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Max Roach, Charles Mingus: The Quintet: Jazz at Massey Hall
The new reissues focus on some of the best jazz recorded between the early 1950s and the early 1960s — by three of the most creative and influential figures in the history of the genre.
The Bill Evans Trio: Moonbeams
Recorded in New York City over the course of three sessions in May and June of 1962, Moonbeams is the first studio recording by the Bill Evans Trio following the sudden accidental death of bassist Scott LaFaro the year before. Chuck Israels replaces LaFaro, playing more of an accompanist’s role than was Scott’s style, and Paul Motian resumes his drumming duties with the trio. This lineup produced material for two albums that would be amongst Evans’s most popular. Moonbeams includes ballads from the ’62 sessions, which also yielded the more upbeat How My Heart Sings that same year. Moonbeams captures some of Evans’ most introspective playing, his sense of loss evident but soothed by Israels’ empathetic performances. Evans also expresses his lyricism underlaid with rhythmic firmness, even in the extraordinarily slow “Love in Vain.”
Jazz journalist and author Doug Ramsey, who wrote the new liner notes for the Moonbeams reissue, points out the tumultuous undercurrent beneath Evans’s music during the transitional period chronicled in this recording. “Crystal notes, quiet fire, flow of rhythm, depth of harmony, adoration of melody,” Ramsey says. “Evans melded all of that to create beauty in this recording, despite the distractions of grief, illness, and a powerful need for drugs that shared with music dominion over his life.”
Ramsey’s notes quote Israels himself as having taken a different approach to playing in the context of the trio from that of LaFaro. “Naturally, the trio’s music is going to be different from what it was with LaFaro,” says Nick Phillips, Vice President of Jazz and Catalog A&R at Concord Music Group and producer of the OJC Remasters series. “That said, Bill Evans’ brilliance shines through on this project, despite the fact that he was still trying to recover from the tragic loss of a dear friend and important collaborator.”
The reissue of Moonbeams also includes three previously unreleased tracks — alternate takes of “Polka Dots and Moonbeams,” “I Fall in Love too Easily,” and “Very Early.” All are from the sessions in spring of 1962 that spawned the original album’s eight tracks.
Thelonious Monk: Misterioso
Recorded live in 1958 at the Five Spot Café in New York, Misterioso is one of two albums to emerge from the Five Spot dates — the other being Thelonious in Action — that introduced the world to the quartet format that defined the remainder of Monk’s career. Monk’s lineup throughout this recording includes tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin, bassist Ahmed Abdul-Malik and drummer Roy Haynes. Art Blakey sits in on drums in one of the reissue’s three bonus tracks, a medley of “Bye-Ya” and “Epistrophy.”
The album takes its title from a composition composed by Monk in 1948, says Neil Tesser in his new liner notes. “The word itself, from the Latin, means ‘in a mysterious manner,’ you find it used most often as a musical direction in classical music scores. But by the time Monk’s quartet recorded this music in performance, a decade after its studio debut, ‘Misterioso’ had largely come to identify Monk himself.”
“This is an all-time classic live Thelonious Monk record,” says Phillips. “It includes spirited live performances of a number of his classic compositions, including ‘Nutty,’ ‘In Walked Bud’ and of course the title track. And then, with the bonus tracks, you also have some other Monk classics, with ‘Evidence,’ ‘’Round Midnight’ and ‘Epistrophy.’ It’s an indelible snapshot of Monk live in the late ‘50s.”
Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Max Roach, Charles Mingus: The Quintet: Jazz at Massey Hall
As the title clearly states, this album was recorded live at Massey Hall in Toronto, Canada, in May 1953. This summit of modern jazz titans — held in a concert hall three-quarters empty — is considered by many to be the greatest jazz concert ever. The music survives thanks to the foresight of Charles Mingus, who, along with Max Roach, taped the performance and subsequently issued it on Mingus’ own new label, Debut.
“Whether you are familiar or not with these performances, rest assured that one does not need to dig for moments that remain impressive and fresh, or that reveal the personality of each player in their prime,” says jazz journalist Ashley Khan in his new liner notes to the reissue. “It seems all worlds of music — rock, blues, R&B, soul, hip-hop and others — are able to point to impromptu get-togethers as proud moments in their timelines, encounters that were recorded and created music of lasting impression. In the jazz tradition, there are a few, but none that has been revered for as long as Jazz at Massey Hall.”
Phillips notes the importance of remembering that the Massey Hall date captured in this recording was not a rehearsed gathering, but rather a one-time-only concert event. “It’s a perfect example of what can happen when musicians of this caliber come together and just play! It’s the very definition of an all-time classic, and each and every musician on this recording is a true legend of jazz.”