definitive

'Definitive Chick Corea' Reissue on Concord

Since his earliest recordings in the 1960s, pianist, keyboardist, and composer Chick Corea has consistently taken the creative process to a level that transcends conventional musical doctrines. After spending his formative years with artists as diverse as Miles Davis, Herbie Mann, Stan Getz, and Sarah Vaughan, Corea helped redefine the boundaries of jazz as a founding member of the acclaimed Return To Forever, one of the most innovative and daring jazz fusion collectives of the last half-century. In more recent decades, as the leader of numerous projects that have explored various aspects of the musical landscape, he continues to be an influential force in modern jazz.

In celebration of Corea’s 70th birthday this summer, Concord Music Group provides a look back at three decades’ worth of brilliant recordings in The Definitive Chick Corea on Stretch and Concord. The sweeping two-disc collection — the latest in CMG’s ongoing Definitive series — begins with some of Corea’s best sessions with Stretch in the early 1980s and follows him through the end of the century to his work on Concord up to 2009. The Definitive Chick Corea on Stretch and Concord is set for release on June 7, 2011, just days ahead of the artist’s 70th birthday on June 12.

The collection is being released simultaneously with Forever, a new two-disc electric/acoustic set that Corea recorded live with Return To Forever bandmates Stanley Clarke and Lenny White — along with, on disc two, a few high-profile guests (Chaka Khan, Jean-Luc Ponty, and Bill Connors) — during a world tour in 2009. A previously unreleased version of Corea’s well-known “La Fiesta,” captured during this tour, is the closing track on The Definitive Chick Corea.

Even a quick glance at the range of material in this collection — 21 tracks in all — provides an impressive perspective on the breadth and depth of Corea’s imagination, according to veteran music journalist Don Heckman, who wrote the liner notes for the set.
“Start with the all-star collectives of the early ’80s that find him in the company of such jazz stalwarts as Michael Brecker, Joe Henderson, Roy Haynes, Lee Konitz, and Gary Peacock, to name only a few,” says Heckman. “Add the musical encounters with old friend and frequent collaborator Gary Burton, the first Origin tracks and a glimpse of Chick’s insightful approach to standards. And, in the 2000s, more unusual musical encounters, this time with Bobby McFerrin, Béla Fleck, Hiromi, John McLaughlin, and again Burton, as well as the Elektric and Akoustic Bands.”
As to the divine nature of the creative process, Heckman recalls a quote from Corea himself about the higher channel that every artist eventually dials into: “Your tastes can change from day to day,” says Corea. “But the whole point of being an artist, with my groups, has always been spirituality, art as spirit. That’s our message, and translated into human rights terms, it’s freedom of expression. Freedom of thought, which is actually broader than freedom of religion . . . Freedom to think as you will. Which means freedom to pray, practice your own religion, play what music you want, say what opinions you have, communicate as you want. And that’s our premise.”
The music within The Definitive Chick Corea on Stretch and Concord exemplifies Corea’s unwillingness to be restricted by artificial boundaries, says Nick Phillips, Concord Music Group’s Vice President of Catalog and Jazz A&R and co-producer — in collaboration with Corea — of this collection. “One of the many amazing things about Chick is just how restlessly creative he is — not only as an instrumentalist, but also as a composer,” says Phillips. “He’s a true artist who’s not driven by fickle trends, or some conventional norm about the way a jazz tune should be written or played. He’s driven purely by his own boundless creativity, and he has demonstrated that throughout his career. That’s what shines through on these tracks and that’s why each one is timeless.”
Heckman sums up the release as “a three-decade, double-disc album of selected musical scenes from a richly creative life. An album guaranteed to appeal to Chick’s dedicated fans, as well as the lucky listeners who will be experiencing the pleasures of first discovery.”
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TRACK LIST:

Disc 1

Tap Step
Quartet No. 1
Folk Song
Duende
Windows
Armando’s Rhumba
Bud Powell
Dreamless
Wigwam
Spain
It Could Happen To You
Disc 2
Blue Monk
Bessie’s Blues
Johnny’s Landing
North Africa
The Fool on the Hill
Señorita
Crystal Silence
The Disguise
La Fiesta [previously unreleased]
Fingerprints

Miles Davis, Albert King & Bill Evans get Definitive discs on Concord

Concord Music Group has assembled three new titles in its ongoing Definitive series, one of which marks the series’ initial foray into CMG’s vast blues catalog. The Definitive Miles Davis on Prestige; The Definitive Bill Evans on Riverside and Fantasy; and The Definitive Albert King on Stax span a total of 60 years and include the music of two monumental figures in jazz and an equally influential figure in the blues. Each of the two-CD collections is set for release on April 5, 2011.

The two dozen tracks of The Definitive Miles Davis on Prestige follow the creative evolution of the most revered trumpeter in the annals of jazz. Spanning the first half of the 1950s, the collection captures Miles at the beginning of his breakthrough to mainstream appeal, according to the liner notes by music journalist and historian Ashley Kahn.

“The purpose of this collection is to deliver a full, definitive overview of that very special period in Miles’s career,” says Kahn. “Its focus covers the nearly six-year period when the trumpeter was signed exclusively to Prestige. Disc 1 offers the best of his 1951 to ’56 sessions primarily as a leader of various ad hoc all-star ensembles. Disc 2 provides a generous sampling of Miles the bandleader, in ’55 and ’56, at the helm of one of the most groundbreaking groups of the day.”

The collection also chronicles Miles’s dramatic artistic growth over a relatively short time, says Nick Phillips, Concord Music Group’s Vice President of Jazz and Catalog A&R and the producer of the collection. “The years between 1951 and 1956 are not a huge amount of time, but the development by Miles — as a musician and as a bandleader — is pretty astonishing in this period,” says Phillips. “This culminates in what ended up being one of the most legendary groups in jazz, the Miles Davis Quintet, featuring John Coltrane.”

The Definitive Bill Evans on Riverside and Fantasy tracks more than two decades of recordings by a highly influential figure in jazz piano. “It would be difficult to think of a major jazz pianist emerging after 1960 who did not take Bill Evans as a model,” says jazz journalist Doug Ramsey, who wrote the liner notes for the 25-song collection that begins in the mid-1950s and ends in 1977. “Indeed, many seasoned pianists who preceded Evans altered their styles after hearing him.”

What’s more, “Evans had a profound effect on how musicians play jazz and how listeners hear it,” says Ramsey. “He is so much a part of the jazz atmosphere that many musicians — regardless of instrument — who came of age in the 21st century are not conscious that his concepts helped form them.”

The collection also gives proper attention on the second disc to Evans’s Fantasy-era recordings of the mid-1970s, says Phillips, who also produced the Evans collection. “Because the Riverside sessions are so acclaimed and so legendary, the Fantasy tracks are often overshadowed,” he says. “But in listening to this collection, you realize that Evans was still creating some amazing recordings throughout the Fantasy period with some high-caliber musicians, like Eddie Gomez, Kenny Burrell, Lee Konitz, Tony Bennett, Ray Brown, and Philly Joe Jones.”

The Definitive Albert King on Stax follows 15 years worth of recordings — from 1961 to 1975, plus a final track from 1984 — by a bluesman who’d spent the early part of his career playing to an African-American fan base in the roadhouses and theaters of the chitlin’ circuit. But by the latter half of the 1960s, the genre “was now attracting the rapt interest of young white listeners, their sensibilities opened wide by the muscular, in-your-face blues rock of the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, and Jimi Hendrix,” says roots music historian Bill Dahl in his liner notes for the collection. “These new converts were gravitating to the best the idiom had to offer. No single blues guitarist made a more stunning impact during that tumultuous timeframe than Albert King.”

“For as paradoxical as it might sound, you could make the case that Albert King was a cheery blues guy,” says Chris Clough, Concord’s manager of catalog development and producer of the Albert King collection. “He had that wry smile, and he often smoked a pipe. He was always well dressed and dapper. He was genuinely interested in putting on a show for his audience, and that sensibility comes through on these tracks.”

Dahl suggests that the years between 1966 and 1975 were a “Golden Decade” for King. “He was with Stax that entire time,” he says, “right up to the Memphis label’s unfortunate demise, cutting one enduring blues classic after another as he scaled the charts over and over again. In the process, King deeply influenced countless up-and-coming blues axemen, even though the ringing licks he coaxed out of his futuristic Gibson Flying V were all but impossible to accurately recreate.”

THE DEFINITIVE DAVE BRUBECK

Over the course of seven decades, Dave Brubeck has become one of the most iconic and influential figures in all of jazz. In that time, the pianist/composer/bandleader continually has defied conventions and preconceptions by grafting elements of numerous styles — classical, Latin, pop and more — into a solid and unwavering jazz foundation and creating a musical hybrid that still is deeply rooted in the jazz tradition. While his 1959 opus, Time Out, is considered a landmark recording, it represents only the tip of the iceberg that is Brubeck’s massive and enduring body of recorded work.

Concord Music Group provides a sweeping look at that body of work in The Definitive Dave Brubeck on Fantasy, Concord Jazz and Telarc. The ambitious two-disc collection — the latest in CMG’s ongoing Definitive series — assembles some of Brubeck’s earliest session work from the 1940s as well as some of his more recent recordings from the past few decades. The Definitive Dave Brubeck is set for release on November 16, 2010, in celebration of the music icon’s 90th birthday on December 6.

The collection’s comprehensive liner notes — written by music journalist and historian Ashley Kahn and based on a recent interview with Russell Gloyd, Brubeck’s manager/producer/conductor of more than 30 years — carefully parse out each of the 26 tracks in the set and the relationship between the two distinct periods represented on each disc. Disc 1 chronicles the Fantasy years, from the very beginning of Fantasy Records in the 1940s to the end of 1953, when Brubeck still was learning, absorbing, experimenting and recording mostly standards and other jazz repertoire — already proving himself to be a top-tier musician and bandleader. Disc 2 follows the artist from the 1980s to the early years of the 21st century, performing many of his own compositions, still exploring and creating vibrant music.

“The link between these two discs is one of consistency,” says Gloyd, producer of The Definitive Dave Brubeck collection. “Most of the elements of Disc 2 — melodic ideas and musical innovations, the choice of songs and sidemen — can be traced back to Disc 1, especially with the early Trio recordings.”

Regardless of where one lands on the continuum of Brubeck’s career, the exploratory nature of his approach to music remains constant. “Whether it’s his earliest recordings or his more recent releases, Brubeck is consistently probing, curious and inventive,” says Nick Phillips, Concord Music Group’s Vice President of Jazz and Catalog A&R and director of Concord’s Definitive series. “He’s a rare artist who has never put up barriers between genres. Here you have someone who was studying classical music and classical composition in a conservatory setting, but ultimately decided to become a jazz artist. That, however, didn’t mean he’d put up a wall between jazz and classical, or jazz and Latin, or what have you.”

As one example, Russell Gloyd cites Brubeck’s Trio recording of “How High the Moon”:  “Note that Dave cut this right at the height of bop but took it in a completely different direction, recording counterpoint for the first time and winding up closing in the style of a Bach chorale.”  Another example, more than three decades later, is Brubeck’s recording of “Take Five” live in the Soviet Union, in which he quotes the theme from the first movement of Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony in his piano improvisation.

The juxtaposition of the early and recent recordings within a single collection highlights what Kahn calls the “scripted quality” to the Dave Brubeck story, “as if some master novelist sketched out the narrative in advance. There’s hardly a wasted step or a creative dead-end in his career; early decisions and musical forays consistently predicted or prepared Brubeck for what followed . . . To recognize this aspect of Brubeck’s career is to grasp the idea that serves as the foundation for this collection: the first time the earliest echoes of his musical genius have been combined with his best recordings of recent years.”  Indeed, it makes for a most fitting celebration of the 90th anniversary of the legendary artist’s birth.

On Monday, December 6th, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will also celebrate Brubeck’s birthday with the premiere of Dave Brubeck: In His Own Sweet Way, a new documentary executive-produced by Clint Eastwood and narrated by TCM Essentials co-host Alec Baldwin. Directed by Bruce Ricker, the film features perceptive interviews with such well known luminaries as George Lucas, Sting, Wynton Marsalis and Bill Cosby and performances by Keith Emerson, Yo-Yo Ma and David Benoit.

For all of the insight provided by The Definitive Brubeck, the story is far from over.  Unimpeded by the approach of his 90th birthday in early December, Brubeck continues to follow the narrative. “He has always been, and continues to be, a restlessly creative artist,” says Gloyd.

TRACK LIST:

Disc 1
I Found a New Baby
The Way You Look Tonight
(Back Home Again In) Indiana
Laura
Singin’ in the Rain
That Old Black Magic
Sweet Georgia Brown
Perfidia
Avalon
How High the Moon
Look for the Silver Lining
This Can’t Be Love
My Romance
Lulu’s Back in Town
Over the Rainbow
How High the Moon
All the Things You Are

Disc 2

Koto Song
Black and Blue
St. Louis Blues
Take Five
(Variations On) Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?
Here Comes McBride
Waltzing
Day After Day
Forty Days

John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk and Sonny Roillins get 'Definitive'

Following up on the success of The Definitive Vince Guaraldi, Concord Music Group  has assembled three new titles in the Definitive series showcasing some of the most influential figures in modern jazz. The Definitive John Coltrane on Prestige and Riverside; The Definitive Thelonious Monk on Prestige and Riverside;The Definitive Sonny Rollins on Prestige, Riverside and Contemporary not only put the spotlight on the monumental work of three individual jazz players of the 1950s, but also provide an overview of the hard-bop period, one of the most significant chapters in the evolution of jazz. Each of the 2-CD collections is set for release on August 24, 2010.

The Definitive John Coltrane on Prestige and Riverside tracks Coltrane’s artistic development from his first Prestige recording session in November 1955 for Miles: The New Miles Davis Quintet to his last sessions for Prestige (for Bahia) in December 1958.

Trane’s career was marked by various shifts in style throughout the ’50s and ’60s, “but if you like straight-ahead, yet inventive, hard-bop playing, then this collection of recordings from the mid- to late ’50s is definitely one of the sweet spots,” says Nick Phillips, Concord Music Group’s Vice President of Jazz and Catalog A&R and the producer of the Definitive series. “And yet some of what you hear in these tracks gives hints about what was to come from this restlessly creative artist.”

Extensive liner notes by veteran music journalist and Coltrane biographer Ashley Kahn provide an in-depth look at the tracks and the circumstances surrounding their genesis. “The Definitive John Coltrane offers a best-of culled from these early recordings,” says Kahn, “offering an inspiring listening session that allows for much to be gleaned: Coltrane’s talent at recasting decades-old themes with a modern touch; a penchant for brooding, minor-key melodies; the uncanny rate of his personal development — building on his strengths, articulating a signature sound; an increased ability born in the one-take fire of three-hour recording dates to toss together timeless performances.”

The Definitive Thelonious Monk on Prestige and Riverside covers an even broader span of the ’50s, beginning with trio sessions in New York featuring bassist Gary Mapp and drummer Art Blakey in October 1952 and stretching to sextet dates in San Francisco with trumpeter Joe Gordon, tenor saxophonists Harold Land and Charlie Rouse, bassist John Ore and drummer Billy Higgins in April 1960.

“This is some of the most amazing Thelonious Monk on record,” says Phillips. “Whether he’s playing a standard or one of his own compositions, he sounds uniquely like Thelonious Monk and nobody else. All of the tunes in this collection that Monk wrote have become jazz standards. Conversely, he plays standard tunes like ‘Caravan’ and ‘Tea for Two’ with such distinctive genius that you’d swear he had written them himself.”

But Monk was no overnight sensation. He made “a long, slow climb from underground to mainstream adulation, and the ten-year period represented by this collection captures that ascent,” says Kahn in his liner notes. “The one constant — creatively, promotionally, and economically — was his recordings. First for Prestige Records from 1952 to ’54, then for the Riverside label from ’55 to ’61, Monk was afforded the chance to create new music and work with a number of significant jazz peers in a number of contexts — from solo piano, to trios, to quartets, even a big band . . . Most importantly, what Monk composed and recorded during the ’50s amount to the definitive versions of some of the most enduring, joyous melodies in modern jazz.”

The Definitive Sonny Rollins on Prestige, Riverside and Contemporary comes out a few weeks ahead of Rollins’ 80th birthday on September 7. Like the Thelonious Monk release, the Sonny Rollins set also covers almost an entire decade, from a December 1951 session in New York for Sonny Rollins with the Modern Jazz Quartet to an October 1958 session in Los Angeles for Sonny Rollins and the Contemporary Leaders.

“That was such a significant period in the development of jazz in general, and Sonny Rollins was at the heart of all that was going on during that decade,” says Phillips. “Just look at the Miles Davis session where he recorded ‘Airegin,’ ‘Doxy’ and ‘Oleo,’ for example. Those are all tunes that he penned, and all remain indelible jazz standards. That’s a whole lot of jazz history that was made on just a single day in the summer of 1954.”

Liner notes for The Definitive Sonny Rollins are provided by music journalist Bob Blumenthal, co-author with photographer John Abbott of the forthcoming book, Saxophone Colossus: A Portrait of Sonny Rollins.

“That the marks of [Rollins’] genius were fully apparent in the music he made over a half-century ago has been obvious to all who have followed the trajectory of his unprecedented career,” says Blumenthal. “As a contract artist with Prestige Records between 1951 and 1956, and through his work on various labels from 1957 until the beginning of an extended sabbatical two years later, Rollins laid the foundation for his status as a master improviser, saxophonist and composer; an influence far beyond his chosen instrument and idiom; and a living icon of affirmative creativity. Concord Music Group is the steward of many of the finest Rollins performances of the ’50s, and has culled them well in presenting this short course in what made Sonny Rollins Sonny Rollins.” released in October 2009.

David Malachowski & The Woodstock Allstars

The Woodstock Allstars is a revolving group of world-class musicians and friends who have played together in various combinations and configurations, but never all at the same time. What results is an intriguing, compelling blend of blues played with a jazz sensibility and rock stance. The name is borrowed from a friend; the late Artie Traum.

Led by venerable guitarist Malachowski (Shania Twain, Savoy Brown, Commander Cody) the Woodstock based band features some of the best musicians in the world. Bassist Graham Maby and drummer Gary Burke are thought by many to be the definitive Joe Jackson rhythm section, and it was Burke, Maby and Malachowski (as leader) that formed the core of the Shania Twain Band in the mid-nineties seen by millions. Burke –now with Professor Louie & the Crowmatix-was on Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Tour, and in the Rick Danko Band, Maby has also played with Natalie Merchant, They Might Be Giants and Joan Baez.

WEDNESDAY., JAN. 27
DAVID MALACHOWSKI & THE WOODSTOCK ALLSTARS: PETE LEVIN-ORGAN, GARY BURKE-DRUMS, GRAHAM MABY-BASS, MACHAN TAYLOR-VOICE, DANIEL A WEISS-PIANO, DENNIS GRUENLING-HARP, ERIK LAWRENCE-SAXOPHONE, DAVID MALACHOWSKI-GUITAR

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