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Buck Owens pre-Capitol 1950s recordings reissued on RockBeat

Buck Owens is synonymous with the Bakersfield sound of country music that also gave rise to the Maddox brothers and Rose, Tommy Collins, Ferlin Husky and in later years Merle Haggard.

Owens’ earliest recordings for independent labels in Southern California — ahead of his lucrative career on Capitol Records in the ’60s and ’70s — have been collected on Buck Owens — Bound for Bakersfield 1953-1956: The Complete Pre-Capitol Collection, scheduled for release on September 27 on RockBeat Records through e0ne Entertainment. The suggested retail price is $14.98.

The 24-song reissue opens with selections from his first known session in 1953 in Hollywood, which produced two singles (“Down on the Corner of Love” b/w “It Don’t Show on Me” and “The House Down the Block” b/w “Right After the Dance”) on Claude Caviness’ Pico Rivera-based Pep Records. It closes with a 1956 Bakersfield session that produced singles on Chesterfield Records and an album on La Brea Records. Included are previously unreleased alternate takes including an overdubbed version of “Hot Dog.”

Liner notes for Bound for Bakersfield were written by Rich Kienzle, a music historian with special expertise in West Coast country. RockBeat VP or A&R James Austin and Jim Shaw of Buck Owens’ Buckaroos compiled the collection.

According to Kienzle’s notes, “Buck Owens was 21 when he rolled into Bakersfield from Phoenix in May, 1951, a part-time musician and laborer who had his eye on a musical career. It would take some time. There were lessons to be learned and dues to be paid. But in the final analysis, the Buck of legend, of the raw honky-tonk vocals, catchy commercial tunes, twangy Fender Telecasters and churning, aggressive ‘freight train’ rhythms was forged in Bakersfield's honky tonks and recording studios there and in L.A. from 1951 to 1957.”

Owens is best known for his later Capitol Records hits like “Tiger by the Tail,” “Foolin’ Around” and “Act Naturally.” But his ’50s pre-Capitol recordings find him working in a honky tonk milieu (except for the rockabilly tracks such as the 1957 single “Hot Dog”). One can hear early flashes of the distinctive sound he'd perfect at Capitol, the sound that made him famous.

With his indie singles earning him both regional recognition and buzz from A&R departments at both Capitol and Columbia Records, Owens passed on New York’s Columbia (whose producer told Owens to “hold on” until he could come to the West Coast) in favor of Hollywood-based Capitol Records, which made him an offer on the spot. Owens was known to Capitol from his work on sessions by one of the originators of the Bakersfield sound, Tommy Collins. Buck’s own first Capitol session in 1957 aimed for a pop-rock audience, trying, as he later said, “to make the biggest hillbilly in Bakersfield into somethin’ he wasn’t.” In 1959, he was recorded as his true, honky-tonking self, with great success.

Kienzle notes, “Buck Owens was always known for his spot-on instincts. Clearly, his expectation that he’d have no recording career beyond Pep and the odd demo or two was a rare miscalculation. These raw, primal performances, blended with hundreds of hours onstage at the Blackboard (club in Bakersfield), were essentially part of a long rehearsal for the fame that came soon enough.”

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Track List:

1.            Blue Love (with Studio Chatter) (1953)
2.            Down on the Corner of Love (Alternate Take) (1953)
3.            Down on the Corner of Love (1953)
4.            It Don’t Show On Me (Alternate Take) (1953)
5.            It Don’t Show on Me (1953)
6.            The House Down the Block (Alternate take) (1953)
7.            The House Down the Block (1953)
8.            Right After the Dance (Alternate Take) (1953)
9.            Right After the Dance (1953)
10.         Hot Dog (1955)
11.         Hot Dog (Overdubbed Single) (1955)
12.         Rhythm & Booze
13.         There Goes My Love (Alternate Take) (1956)
14.         There Goes My Love (1956)
15.         Sweethearts in Heaven (Alternate Take) (1956)
16.         Sweethearts in Heaven (1956)
17.         Honeysuckle (1956)
18.         Country Girl (Leavin’ Dirty Tracks) (1956)
19.         You’re Fer Me (1956)
20.         Blue Love (1956)
21.         Please Don’t Take Her From Me (1956)
22.         Three Dimension Love (1956)
23.         Why Don’t My Mommy Wanna Stay with Daddy & Me? (1956)
24.         I’m Gonna Blow (1956)

Concord Original Jazz announces six new reissues

Concord Music Group will release six new titles in the Original Jazz Classics Remasters series on June 14, 2011. Enhanced by 24-bit remastering by Joe Tarantino, generous helpings of bonus tracks (many of them previously unreleased), and new liner notes that provide historical and technical context, the series showcases some of the most pivotal recordings of the past several decades by artists whose influences on the jazz tradition is beyond measure.

The six new titles in the series are:

  • Chet Baker: In New York
  • Ornette Coleman: Something Else!!!
  • Thelonious Monk: Thelonious Alone in San Francisco
  • Cannonball Adderley with Bill Evans: Know What I Mean?
  • Bill Evans Trio: Explorations
  • Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass: Easy Living


“These six releases bring us to 20 titles altogether since the launch of the series in March 2010,” says Nick Phillips, Vice President of Catalog and Jazz A&R at Concord Music Group and producer of the series. “Each occupies an important place in any quality jazz collection.”

Chet Baker: In New York

Recorded in September 1958 for Riverside, Chet Baker’s In New York features saxophonist Johnny Griffin, pianist Al Haig, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Jones. In addition to the half-dozen tracks from the original album, the reissue includes a bonus seventh track — “Soft Winds,” a blues composition written by Benny Goodman and Fletcher Henderson.

The recording provides a glimpse of the trumpeter “coming off a run of popularity, critical praise, and commercial success the likes of which few musicians have known,” according to the new liner notes by Doug Ramsey. By the late ’50s, Baker had won numerous awards throughout the decade for his instrumental work, and was even regarded as a romantic idol for his singing.

“Baker had been somewhat pigeonholed as a West Coast cool jazz artist,“ says Phillips, “but this recording illustrates that he was right at home playing with New York musicians — who dealt with their own stereotype of being harder edged and more aggressive. On this recording, they all seem to meet effortlessly somewhere in the middle.”

Of the ongoing tug-of-war between Baker’s artistic successes and his personal battles with substance abuse, Ramsey adds: “It will be a long time before Chet’s struggles with his demon are forgotten, but one day when the headlines have finally disappeared, the beauty of his music will still be shimmering in the air.”

Ornette Coleman: Something Else!!!

Recorded at Contemporary’s studios in Los Angeles in February and March 1958, Ornette Coleman’s Something Else!!! features Don Cherry on pocket trumpet, Walter Norris on piano, Don Payne on bass, and Billy Higgins on drums. The first of two albums that Coleman recorded for Contemporary, Something Else!!! marks the saxophonist’s debut as a leader. “He was a very influential but at times controversial artist,” says Phillips. “Right out of the gate he was doing something that was just so different from what people were used to hearing,” says Phillips.  ”Although structurally-speaking, the music in this recording is based on established song forms, you can hear very clearly that Coleman is starting to break free of the limitations of conventional harmony.”

Neil Tesser writes in his new liner notes that Coleman traced jazz back to its roots to rid the music of its increasingly elaborate harmonic structures and other constraints. “Without the limitations imposed by such harmonic patterns, his band would freely travel into, out of, and between musical keys,” says Tesser. “As Ornette said in the original notes, ‘I think one day music will be a lot freer. The pattern for a tune, for instance, will be forgotten and the tune itself will be the pattern . . .’ When he recorded Something Else!!! that day was still a little ways off. In these performances, you hear him in the last throes of unshackling the past.”

Thelonious Monk: Thelonious Alone in San Francisco

Recorded on Riverside in October 1959, Thelonious Alone in San Francisco was a sequel of sorts to Thelonious Himself, recorded two years earlier. In addition to the album’s 10 original tracks, the reissue includes an alternate take of “There’s Danger in Your Eyes, Cherie.”

“With Thelonious Alone in San Francisco, Monk proved that his earlier success as a solo artist was not a fluke,” says Tesser in his liner notes for the reissue. “And in rejecting all the ‘rules’  for playing without accompaniment — as he’d rejected so many rules before — Monk expanded the entire concept of the solo piano idiom. Without Monk’s recordings as bedrock, it’s hard to imagine similarly intimate (though otherwise quite different) solo albums that would eventually come from Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea or even McCoy Tyner.”

For as unique as Monk’s style was, “he stayed pretty consistently within that style throughout the remainder of his career,” says Phillips. “That’s not to imply that there was any lack of creativity on his part. Within the unique style that he established, there was so much to explore and develop. But he still sounds unmistakably like Thelonious Monk, no matter what chapter of his career you listen to.”

Cannonball Adderley with Bill Evans: Know What I Mean?

Know What I Mean? was recorded between January and March 1961, with bassist Percy Heath and drummer Connie Kay supporting the saxophonist and pianist. The reissue includes three bonus tracks that are alternate takes of “Who Cares?,” “Toy” (previously unreleased), and “Know What I Mean?”.

“This album takes two artists who were part of the legendary, historic 1958 Miles Davis Sextet and pairs them together,” says Phillips. “The modal approach that Evans was pioneering in the context of that 1958 group reveals itself in some of the material that he and Cannonball are playing on this album.”

Orrin Keepnews, who produced the original recording sessions, writes in his new liner notes for this OJC Remasters reissue, “One of the many advantages of working with a man like Julian Adderley was that he was totally stubborn about pursuing an idea he believed in. And, quite simply, he thoroughly believed in the validity of an album based on his moving very much in a Bill Evans–influenced direction.

In his liner notes to the original recording, Joe Goldberg observes that while not all of the selections are ballads, an “aura of relaxation” permeates the recording. “In this instance it can be recognized as simply a matter of four highly skilled artists away from their usual tasks and delighting in one another’s musical company,” he says. “Nothing more really need be said about the results of their meeting than that the feeling of delight comes through.”

Bill Evans Trio: Explorations

Recorded in New York in February 1961 for Riverside, Explorations was the last album this version of the Evans trio would make in a recording studio. Bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian also appear on Sunday at the Village Vanguard and Waltz for Debby — both live recordings, released later in 1961 — but LaFaro died in a car accident shortly after the live sessions. This reissue features four bonus tracks, including previously unreleased alternate takes of “How Deep Is the Ocean?” and “I Wish I Knew.”

“Evans’ sound and approach was his own by ’61,” says Ashley Kahn in his new liner notes. “His piano style had fully matured, as had the interplay of the trio . . . Upon entering Bell Sound’s studio on February 2, 1961, producer Orrin Keepnews immediately noted the three had ‘made giant strides towards the goal of becoming a three-voice unit rather than a piano player and his accompanists.’”

What’s more, the disparity of styles between the unreleased alternate takes and their counterparts that made the final cut on the original record “illustrates that jazz masters like these are real improvisers,” says Phillips, “and no two takes are ever going to sound the same — because no two moments in jazz are ever the same.”

Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass: Easy Living

Recorded in Los Angeles in 1983 and 1986, Easy Living was one of a series of Ella Fitzgerald–Joe Pass collaborations on Pablo throughout the ’80s. In addition to the original album’s 15 tracks, the reissue also includes two previously unreleased bonus tracks — alternate takes of “Don’t Be that Way” and “Love for Sale.”

Easy Living and the other collaborations between these two veterans “worked on many levels,” says Tad Hershorn in his liner notes for the reissue. “As her voice aged and deepened, Fitzgerald discovered partial remedies in her phrasing, choices of keys and the pleasing maturity that now enveloped her still youthful voice. Pass was the perfect foil to display her diminishing resources to their best and most emotive advantage. Ella was known to incessantly toy with songs in her restless artistic striving, so one can perceive the music she made with Pass as a direct extension of her creative method. The leanness of their music underscores that even this late in her career, Ella Fitzgerald retained her bonafides as a singer for whom words did matter: not every song was merely a vehicle for her to bat notes out of the park. The allure was in the quiet majestic intimacy that focused an audience’s attention on full absorption of the musings of joy, wistfulness, and melody.”

The level of confidence with which each of these two musicians performs on this recording is hard to miss.  “The fact that Ella could walk into the studio with a bunch of lead sheets,” says Phillips, “and they could do a little rehearsal on the spot, figure out the best key for her, and he could just play it in any key behind her — all of that takes some phenomenal musicianship . . . They have a very conversational, relaxed sensibility about them, and both musicians seem very much at ease performing together and recording together in the studio.”

Labor Records reissues Heiner Stadler’s album Tribute to Bird and Monk

A truly groundbreaking landmark recording, Tribute To Bird and Monk, was widely lauded when it was first released in 1978 – credited as one of the best and most unusual albums of that year by Neil Tesser in a Jazz Magazine article that noted the record’s “tough, bright, innovative resiliency” and earning the coveted five star (highest) rating in a Downbeat review by critic Jerry de Muth (who called the two LP set “a brilliant mixture of arranged and free jazz”) and garnering arranger-producer Heiner Stadler a place in the magazine’s Annual Critic’s Poll as a Talent Deserving Wider Recognition.  More than thirty years later, the album originally released on Tomato Records, is a coveted collectors item whose importance has only been compounded with time, while Stadler’s pioneering conception continues to be a talent very much deserving of wider recognition.  Now reissued as a compact disc on his own Labor Records imprint, it is likely that Stadler’s unique talent will again be heard as deserving increased attention and the music will once more be praised on a level comparable to when it first appeared. The considerable artistic success of Stadler’s pioneering project can be credited as much to his visionary assembling of a truly distinctive ensemble to perform his inventive orchestrations, described by de Muth as “far more than arrangements,” noting that “recompositions would be a better term.”

In selecting veteran cornetist Thad Jones, a Monk alumnus and one of the most renowned arrangers of his day, to be an important member of the band filled out by much younger musicians who were closely associated with more modernist, even avant garde aspects of the jazz genre, Stadler imbued the date with an intriguing traditionalist facet at atime when tradition and innovation were virtually at war.  Tenor saxophonist George Adams, most recognized for his work with Charles Mingus made him at home in both camps, but his fierce uninhibited sound was certainly heard as being outside the mainstream.  The youngest member of the group, trombonist George Lewis as a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians was clearly recognized as a member of the avant garde.  Stadler’s choice of rhythm section mates could be considered most astute, with multitalented pianist Stanley Cowell as one of the few players of his instrument to find a place in the post Ornette realm of forward looking modernism. Virtuoso bassist Reggie Workman, a veteran of Coltrane’s innovative band and  then a member of Max Roach’s creative quartet was extending both the range and the role of the bass.  While Lenny White, known for his pioneering fusion work on Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew and Chick Corea’s Return To Forever, proved to be a propulsive force, capable of swinging with fiery power.  The addition of percussionist Warren Smith on tympani for a pair of tracks further contributes to the band’s uncommon sound.

In his introductory comments for the reissue Tribute To Bird and Monk (prefacing the late Robert Palmer’s original liner notes) Jazz Journalist Association President Howard Mandel observes,  “By casting a unique sextet of New York City’s best improvising instrumentalists to explore the potentialities and retain the essences of music by two great jazz modernists composer-producer Stadler proved prescient. In 2010 tribute projects proliferate, though few take the dramatic leaps to create new art from indestructible aspects of established creations that Stadler’s does.” With remixed sound by the brilliant engineer Malcolm Addey listeners can now appreciate more the nuances of Stadler’s polytonal arrangements and the soloists’ daring improvisations on the six tracks split evenly between Monk and Parker compositions.

As Palmer points out in his liner notes (now reprinted) Parker’s opening “Air Conditioning” begins, “deceptively as it turns out, with a unison theme statement in C.”  Deceptively, as it is, because Stadler’s “polytonal manipulations on the theme …especially evident in the horn backgrounds that frame the solos.”  Each of the sextet members improvise boldly with Jones kicking things off with one of the date’s most conventional statements, followed by Lewis who pushes things a bit further out, preceding Adams who gradually takes things into space, with the ensembles raucous backgrounds deftly referring to Parker’s melodic line.  Cowell’s outing is particularly adventurous, proving himself to be one of the very few keyboardists who wasable to interpolate the vocabulary of Cecil Taylor into the more traditional language of bebop.  Workman, whopowerfully pushes the unit throughout, acquits the bass as an instrument quite capable of holding its own in the spotlight, while White solos musically, hearkening to Max Roach’s work with Bird.

Drums dramatically open Monk’s “Ba-lue Bolivar Ba-lues-are,” followed by Workman’s vigorously bowed bass and the horn section’s statement of the theme, which begins ominously before morphing into a carnival-like mood reflecting the composer’s sly sense of humor. Cowell, the lone remaining soloist, improvises lengthily here – referencing Monk frequently, occasionally with verbatim phraseology -- as horns enter and exit at odd intervals chime in with backgrounds transcribed from Monk’s original piano solo with Cecil Bridgewater (subbing for the snowbound Jones) playing with free spirited assurance.  Palmer notes the performance seems to be a particularly radical recomposition with each phrase of the theme voiced polytonally and separated from the next by a free collective improvisation, with Stadler’s score warning “don’t improvise too long in order to avoid losing the continuity of the melody.”

Parker’s ” Au Privave” features the trombone of George Lewis whose years of experience playing numerous uptempo Bird songs with Anthony Braxton finds him well prepared for his exemplary work here.  Adams plays the opening theme over Workman’s bass walking (in a different key) joined shortly thereafter by the horns. Lewis improvises marvelously, following Stadler’s instructions to vary his tempo, playing either slightly faster or slower than half time, while the rhythm sections plays in the set tempo.  The result is in Palmer’s words “constantly shifting mosaic of tempos … and each tempo swings.”

Workman and White open up Monk’s “Straight No Chaser” before the horns begin playing fragments of the well known melody with the various separate components linked by collectively improvised horn ensembles. Jones solos first, playing with an inspired abandon Palmer described at the time of the original release as “his most exciting and creative recorded work in years.”  Cowell again proves himself to be one of the most creative soloists of his generation improvising in tandem with the primordial Workman in a manner recalling Monk, while White’s drums run the gamut from New Orleans to out(er space) in a rhythmic duel with the horns’ staccato background. Workman’s extended unaccompanied bass solo brings the horns back in and the bassist walks things to a close

“Misterioso,” the final Monk exploration again begins with a Lenny White solo, his drums here joined by Warren Smith’s tympani, as various members of the ensemble play fragments of the bluesy theme to frame their percussion discussion, with Cowell’s piano clearly drawing the line between Monk and Cecil Taylor.  Workman’s bass is in the spotlight again, displaying a vast sonic array with incredible pizzicato and arco sections that are sensitively backed by the rest of the band on a truly masterful interpretation of the Monk classic engendered by Stadler’s daring arrangement which concludes with a return to the percussion section’s buoying of the theme.

Parker’s “Perhaps” ends the date on one of its lighter notes, with brass playing the not so widely known Bird line to open things up for Adams’ breathy flute as the rhythm section swings over Workman’s fast walking bass, joined intermittedly by trumpet and trombone, breaking up thetempo before Adams lets loose on tenor playing with a full emotional range -- from terrifying to tender -- that leads to a final ensemble statement of the theme with an almost conventional tone that offers an unexpected final relief.

The durability of this music, as daringly modern todayas it was when it was made more than three decades ago, stands as a tribute not just to Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk, but also to Heiner Stadler, whose sympathetic vision of the two great composer’s creativity has brought their sound into the future while paying homage to the tradition from where it sprang.  As Mandel notes, “Tribute is a fair indication of Stadler’s powers. In it, he demonstrates that Bird and Monk wrote immutably multi-faceted music from which inspired individuals can generate kaleidoscopic variations, and that their music has inspired him to stretch form in a manner indisputably wed to content. There is no higher tribute than an artist making something new and enduring out of sources he admires and acknowledges.” This is the splendor Heiner Stadler provides to us with his Tribute to Bird and Monk.”

'Ray Charles Live in Concert' captures The Genius in 1964

In the half-century between his earliest recordings in the 1950s and his death in 2004, Ray Charles ascended to icon status by leaving his mark on virtually every form of American popular music that emerged in the latter half of the 20th century. Nowhere was this more evident than in his live performances, where one was likely to hear shades of blues, soul, R&B, jazz, gospel, country, and more in a single evening — indeed, sometimes in a single song. To put it simply, the Right Reverend did it all.

All of these subtle shades and styles are evident in Concord Music Group’s April 5, 2011, reissue of Ray Charles Live in Concert. Originally released as a 12-song LP on ABC-Paramount in early 1965, Live in Concert captured Ray at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles in September 1964. More than four decades later, the CD reissue brings additional depth and perspective to the 1964 recording with the help of 24-bit remastering, seven previously unreleased tracks and extensive new liner notes that provide additional historical context to what is already considered a pivotal recording in Ray’s overall body of work.

“There could be no more uplifting live musical experience than digging Ray Charles and his mighty orchestra in their prime,” says roots music historian Bill Dahl in his new liner notes. Indeed, the 15-piece orchestra backing Ray on this date — assembled just a few years earlier in 1961 — boasted no less than a dozen horns, including formidable saxophonists David “Fathead” Newman, Hank Crawford, and Leroy “Hog” Cooper, all of whom had been with Ray since his days as a leader of smaller combos. “This amazing aggregation,” says Dahl, “was every bit as conversant with the intricacies of modern jazz as with the gospel-blues synthesis that Brother Ray pioneered during the mid-1950s, when he began accruing serious cred as the father of what would soon become known as soul music.”

Chris Clough, Concord’s manager of catalog development and producer of the Live in Concert reissue, notes that the Shrine Auditorium performance took place at a transitional moment in Ray’s career, just as he was transcending the confines of R&B and entering the mainstream by demonstrating a firm grasp of various other genres. “He’d made his ascendance in the early ’60s, and he had the world at his feet by this time,” says Clough. “He’d basically invented soul, he’d done R&B, he’d conquered country and he was on his way to becoming an American icon.”

In the span of 19 songs, Live in Concert illuminates the route to that destination. Ray wastes no time taking his audience on a ride from jazzy big band groove of “Swing a Little Taste” to the Latin-flavored “One Mint Julep” to the blues-gospel hybrid of his classic “I Got a Woman.” Although his live rendition of “Georgia On My Mind” on this date didn’t make the cut on the original LP, the song is a standout track on the reissue, thanks to his complex organ runs and the flute lines moving in counterpoint with his rich vocals.

Clough considers the yearning “You Don’t Know Me” and the previously unreleased “That Lucky Old Sun” to be among the high points of the recording. “It sounds like he’s really baring his soul on those two tracks, and they just sound incredible,” says Clough, noting that Ray was unaware that tape was rolling during this performance. “This particular date was at the end of their tour, and the performance seems a little loose as a result — in a good way, and in a less slick way.”

Further in, the rousing “Hallelujah, I Love Her So” is driven by a gospel groove and embellished with a sax solo by Newman that closely mirrors the original 1957 recording. The result is a familiar hit for an audience that’s more than ready to reinforce Ray’s foot-stomping beat with handclaps.

The sly and swaggering “Makin’ Whoopee” is delivered completely off the cuff, with drummer Wilbert Hogan, bassist Edgar Willis, and guitarist Sonny Forriest improvising an accompaniment behind what Dahl calls “Ray’s luxurious piano and breathy, supremely knowing vocals.” By all accounts, Ray spontaneously inserted the song into the set in response to the negative press he’d received overseas about his private life.

In the home stretch, Ray introduces the Raeletts, the female backing vocalists who served as his foil for some of his biggest hits. Together they work their way through “Don’t Set Me Free” (with Lillian Fort stepping forward for a duet with Ray), the comical “Two Ton Tessie” and the torchy “My Baby” before climaxing with the churning “What’d I Say,” a song tailor-made to stoke any room to a fever pitch.

A huge piece of the Ray Charles legacy is his mastery of any style he touched, and his ability to make it his own in a way that no other artist could — powers that can only come from an innate sense of adventure and spontaneity that are fully evident in Ray Charles Live in Concert.

“Few performers were less predictable onstage than Ray Charles,” says Dahl. “And nobody did it better.”

Concord Original Jazz Classics titles announced for March 15

Concord Music Group marks the first anniversary of its highly successful Original Jazz Classics Remasters series with the reissue of four new titles on March 15, 2011. Originally launched in March 2010, and enhanced by 24-bit remastering by Joe Tarantino, the series showcases some of the most pivotal recordings of the past several decades by artists whose influence on the jazz tradition is beyond measure.

The four new titles in the series are:

  • Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers: Ugetsu
  • Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson: Ella and Oscar
  • Thelonious Monk: Monk’s Music
  • Cal Tjader/Stan Getz Sextet


“In keeping with the philosophy behind the series, we continue to showcase the best – and in some cases, the most influential — recordings by some of the most legendary artists in jazz,” says Nick Phillips, Vice President of Jazz and Catalog A&R at Concord Music Group and producer of the Original Jazz Classics Remasters series. “After 14 titles in a span of 12 months, there’s obviously no lack of high caliber artists and excellent material in the Concord vaults to draw from.”

Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Ugetsu

Recorded live at Birdland in New York City in June 1963 for Riverside, Ugetsu features trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter, trombonist Curtis Fuller, pianist Cedar Walton and bassist Reggie Workman — a crew heralded as “one of the top three or four lineups Blakey ever led,” according to Neil Tesser, who wrote the new liner notes for the reissue. The CD ends with four bonus tracks, including a previously unreleased cover of George Shearing’s 1949 bop classic, “Conception.”

“There’s something special about Art Blakey and his band live, and this album is certainly no exception,” says Phillips. “That’s partly because this was the natural environment in which these guys were working night after night in the clubs. There are certain things that can happen in a live jazz recording that don’t always happen in the more artificial environment of a recording studio.”

Tesser notes that the recording marks the first appearance of iconic tunes that would remain in the Messengers’ repertoire long after their composers left the band, including Shorter’s “One by One” and “On the Ginza,” Fuller’s “Time Off,” and Walton’s title track. “Blakey almost never took an extended drum solo with the Messengers,” says Tesser. “He didn’t need to. He stamped every gig, every phrase, practically every note from his sidemen with the unerring judgment and bold panache of his colors and accents.”

Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson, Ella and Oscar

Ella and Oscar was recorded in May 1975 for Pablo and produced by jazz impresario Norman Granz, who’d founded the label just a couple years earlier. The album is a series of duets that enlists the aid of bassist Ray Brown on four of the original nine tracks. Brown also appears on two of the four previously unreleased bonus tracks included in the reissue.

“The selections that make up Ella and Oscar, as well as the casual ambience of the exchange between singer, pianist, and bassist Ray Brown . . . beckons the listener to enjoy this meeting of musical minds that could have taken place in Ella’s living room in Beverly Hills or Oscar’s home in Mississauga, Ontario, rather than in a recording studio,” says Tad Hershorn, who wrote the new liner notes for the OJCR reissue. “The interaction between Fitzgerald, Peterson, and Brown accomplishes two ends. It reveals the creative improvisational process while delivering a finished definitive product destined to linger in the annals of jazz vocals. The spare directness of these recordings lay bare the emotions contained in the songs themselves with few frills.”

The bonus tracks are alternate takes that “underscore the fact that both artists were true masters of the art of jazz improvisation,” says Phillips. “The alternate takes don’t sound like the master takes. Each performance is fresh, and each captures that spontaneity and that in-the-moment creativity that are hallmarks of the greatest jazz artists and timeless jazz recordings. Nothing is done by rote.”

Thelonious Monk, Monk’s Music

Recorded in New York in June 1957 for Riverside, Monk’s Music surrounds the pianist/composer with a stellar crew: trumpeter Ray Copeland, alto saxophonist Gigi Gryce, tenor saxophonists John Coltrane and Coleman Hawkins, bassist Wilbur Ware, and drummer Art Blakey.

“What makes this one of the most fascinating recordings of Monk’s career is the complexity of the material combined with the caliber of the musicians on hand to play it,” says Phillips. “You have John Coltrane and Coleman Hawkins, two all-time legends of the tenor saxophone, playing Monk’s music side-by-side. That in and of itself makes this a very special recording. They’re two artists with very different styles, and two artists who have had a profound influence on legions of other saxophonists.”

Monk’s Music was the haymaker in a one-two-three combination of albums, all recorded in 1957, that made it a breakout year for Thelonious Monk,” says Ashley Kahn, author of the new liner notes for the reissue. “A solidly balanced recording that highlighted Monk’s growing status as the pre-eminent composer of the modern jazz scene, it featured a septet that drew on an unusual mix of soloists and a solid rhythm team. It also stood out as being the first recording released that was conscious of Monk’s increased popular appeal.”

Heralded by Downbeat as one of the top five albums of 1958, Monk’s Music “remains one of Monk’s most cherished recordings: coherent, organic, and fully realized,” says Kahn.

Cal Tjader / Stan Getz Sextet

A study in serendipity, Cal Tjader / Stan Getz Sextet was recorded for Fantasy at the Marines Memorial Auditorium in San Francisco in February 1958. The two leaders are backed by pianist Vince Guaraldi, guitarist Eddie Duran, bassist Scott LaFaro, and drummer Billy Higgins.

There are no bonus tracks, and for good reason, says Doug Ramsey, author of the new liner notes. No evidence exists in the Fantasy/Concord vaults of alternate takes or outtakes from this session. “What we have here is 43 minutes and 51 seconds of perfection,” says Ramsey, “a demonstration that six masters who have never before played together as a group can produce timeless music in the common language of jazz.”

Duran, the sole survivor of the 1958 sessions, concurs: “There was no rehearsal before the date, no alternates, no second takes. It went very smoothly. It just kind of fell into place. The feeling was happy and relaxed.”

“From the LP era, there are many examples of indifferent recordings by makeshift bands – jam sessions filling out the 12-inch vinyl with endless choruses,” says Ramsey. “In this joint venture, planning, preparation, six major talents and a spontaneous compatibility bordering on magic made the Tjader-Getz collaboration a classic. It’s good to hear it again.”

John McLaughlin at the Boulder Theater - 12.04

Fiery yet disarmingly open-hearted, the new album from John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension, To The One, bravely takes on the artistic and spiritual challenges first offered by Coltrane’s jazz masterpiece A Love Supreme, while making extensive use of the pioneering musical and technical vocabulary that McLaughlin has honed since the beginning of his storied career.

Available via Abstract Logix on April 20, 2010, To The One is the result of a burst of inspiration that struck the legendary English guitarist and composer in summer of 2009. “This music started to come to me,” McLaughlin explains, “without any call from my part. The sound and feel of this new music took me back to 1965, to when I first heard A Love Supreme. I was 23 years old at that time, and struggling with questions of existence that we all confront sooner or later. Some of us discard them or don’t bother to delve deeper, but that’s not my nature. I was asking big questions: What is the meaning of life? What is this word ‘god’? What is this spirit? It was then that Coltrane came along and single-handedly brought this dimension of spirituality into jazz…it was a pivotal experience to me. It was so encouraging to me in both my musical and spiritual quests. To The One, as an album, is about those two aspects of my life – music and spirituality – crystallized by this recording of Coltrane’s, and how A Love Supreme coincided with my search for meaning in life.”

It is a search that he never surrendered, as McLaughlin’s musical journey took him from session work and jazz sessions in the UK to recording and performing in America with the likes of Tony Williams and Miles Davis, through to the founding of the incredibly influential exploratory fusion outfit the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Shakti, his ensemble dedicated to exploring Indian music and spirituality. Over the past three decades, McLaughlin has continually sought out bold new contexts for his expressive and inventive playing.

The six original compositions on To The One were mostly written in July and August of 2009, and set down in the studio in November and December, with very few overdubs, by McLaughlin’s current performing outfit, the Fourth Dimension: Gary Husband (keyboards, drums), Etienne M’Bappe (electric bass), and Mark Mondesir (drums). Compositional devices clearly inspired by Coltrane are fused with elements of McLaughlin’s own multi-faceted approach, all delivered with a group empathy and shared vision that harkens back to Coltrane’s fearless mid-‘60s quartet of Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner, and Jimmy Garrison. The effect of Jones’ kaleidoscopic approach to rhythm and drumming is especially felt, brilliantly recast and explored via McLaughlin’s gift for complex metrical structures.

From the surging opener “Discovery” to the gently propulsive title track which closes the compact, forty-minute program, McLaughlin’s own playing is at its very peak: emotional and probing, exploding into flourishes of rapid-fire sixteenth notes one moment, candid and unguardedly vulnerable the next. “For the band to play my tunes is a challenge,” McLaughlin explains, “and in return, I want them to challenge me. This is part of what jazz is – it’s very interactive. You play with the musicians. You’re not just playing the notes.

For updates and additions continue to check www.johnmclaughlin.com

John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension

Boulder Theater

Saturday, Dec 4th

Doors: 7:00 pm

Show Time: 8:00 pm

All Ages

Miles Davis/Sonny Rollins, Chet Baker, Wes Montgomery, others reissued on Concord

Concord Music Group is scheduled to reissue five new titles in the Original Jazz Classics Remasters series on September 28, 2010. Originally launched in March 2010 — and enhanced with 24-bit remastering by Joe Tarantino, along with insightful new liner notes — the series showcases some of the most pivotal recordings of the past several decades by artists whose influence on the jazz tradition is beyond measure.

The five new titles in the series are:

•    Vince Guaraldi Trio: Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus
•    Miles Davis featuring Sonny Rollins: Dig
•    Wes Montgomery: Boss Guitar
•    Chet Baker Sings: It Could Happen to You
•    Bill Evans Trio: Waltz for Debby

“Like the previous titles in the series, these are all-time classic recordings by some of the most legendary artists in the history of jazz,” says Nick Phillips, Vice President of Catalog and Jazz A&R at Concord Music Group and producer of the series. “Anyone looking to build a collection of timeless, essential jazz recordings could begin by simply selecting titles at random from the Original Jazz Classics Remasters series.  Their collection would be off to a terrific start.”

Vince Guaraldi Trio: Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus

Recorded in late 1961 and early 1962 for Fantasy, Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus — featuring bassist Monty Budwig and drummer Colin Bailey — was Guaraldi’s celebration of Brazilian bossa nova for Stateside audiences. Propelled by the surprise radio hit single “Cast Your Fate to the Wind,” Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus is the album that made Guaraldi a household name,” says Phillips.

The Guaraldi reissue also includes five bonus tracks — the single version of “Samba de Orfeu,” as well as four previously unreleased alternate takes: “Manhã de Carnaval,” “O Nosso Amor,” “Felicidade,” and “Cast Your Fate to the Wind.”

“Close to half a century later, the music on Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus remains as fresh and vibrant as it was when first heard in the spring of 1962,” says Derrick Bang, author of the new liner notes for the reissue. “The album has remained in print the entire time: no small thing, in an era when all music has a much greater risk of becoming ephemeral.”

Miles Davis featuring Sonny Rollins: Dig

Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins recorded Dig for Prestige in October 1951, with help from alto saxophonist Jackie McLean, pianist Walter Bishop, bassist Tommy Potter, and drummer Art Blakey. The reissue features two bonus tracks, “My Old Flame” and “Conception.”

“Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins form one of the most empathetic and powerfully moving duos in jazz,” says Ira Gitler in his original liner notes. “Although they had recorded together before (“Morpheus,” “Down,” “Whispering,” “Blue Room”), this was their first chance to stretch out together on records.” This extra room was made possible via the advent of the LP, which allowed for longer tracks and lengthier solos. “Looking back,” Gitler writes nearly six decades later in his new liner notes for the reissue, “the new latitude attitude sometimes led to LPs with some interminable solos, but for the most part it gave extremely creative players and writers a chance to fully speak their minds and hearts. Dig passes the half-century plus test.”

In addition to changes in recording technology, the significance of this recording is also about changes that were taking place in the music itself. “The early ’50s was a period in which a stylistic progression from bebop to what became known as hard bop was happening,” says Phillips. “So this is a snapshot of two artists who would later become absolute legends, making music history together in what was an important transitional period for both of them.”

Wes Montgomery: Boss Guitar

Recorded in April 1963 for Riverside, Wes Montgomery’s Boss Guitar features Mel Rhyne on Hammond B-3 organ and Jimmy Cobb on drums. In addition to the eight original tracks, the reissue also includes three bonus tracks: alternate takes of “Besame Mucho,” “The Trick Bag,” and “Fried Pies.”

“I think most jazz fans and guitar aficionados would agree that Montgomery was at the peak of his creative powers during his Riverside period,” says Phillips.  “Clearly the musicianship and the virtuosity that’s on display in Boss Guitar leaves no doubt as to why his guitar playing continues to be so influential.” 

Journalist Neil Tesser, who penned the new liner notes to the reissue, suggests that Montgomery “inspired something close to deification among his fellow guitarists.” While the title Boss Guitar was originally a reference to Montgomery’s excellent guitar chops, it has taken on a new meaning in the intervening decades. “These days,” says Tesser, “I think of it as a nickname for Montgomery himself: an accurate and respectful way of denoting the guitarist who, in the brief and shiny playground called the '60s, unexpectedly found himself calling the shots, leading the way, and – in his wholly unprepossessing manner – letting the jazz world know who was in charge on the instrument he played.”

Chet Baker Sings: It Could Happen to You

Recorded in August 1958 for Riverside, Chet Baker Sings: It Could Happen to You spotlights Baker’s vocals as well as his trumpet playing. It also features his first scatting on record. Backing him on this date are pianist Kenny Drew, bassists George Morrow and Sam Jones, and drummers Philly Joe Jones and Dannie Richmond. The reissue includes four bonus tracks: “While My Lady Sleeps” and “You Make Me Feel So Young,” and previously unreleased takes of “Everything Happens to Me” and “The More I See You.”

“It’s very easy to tell that the vocalist and the trumpet player on this record are the same person,” says Phillips. “Stylistically, Baker’s vocal approach — the nuances and phrasing — is very similar to the relaxed, effortless way he plays trumpet, and by the same token, there’s a certain lyrical quality to his trumpet playing.”

Despite Baker’s rocky personal life, he’s at the top of his game creatively on this recording. “Here is Chet Baker at 29, smack in the middle of the New York scene,” says jazz journalist Doug Ramsey in his liner notes for the reissue. “He is in good musical company and good spirits, beautifully singing a dozen great songs. His playing, particularly when he uses the Harmon mute, indicates an awareness of Miles Davis, but Baker’s style and individuality make it impossible to take him for anyone else. As always in Chet’s life, there was tumult and trouble, but when it came time to create, the strength of the artist overcame the weakness of the man.”

Bill Evans Trio: Waltz for Debby

Captured live at the Village Vanguard in June 1961, Waltz for Debby is the last recording of Bill Evans’s classic lineup of bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian (LaFaro was killed in a car accident less than two weeks after these performances). Bonus tracks on the reissue include the Evans Trio’s rendition of Gershwin’s “Porgy (I Loves You, Porgy)” and alternate takes of “Waltz for Debby,” “Detour Ahead,” and “My Romance.”

“This is one of Evans’s most popular and critically acclaimed recordings, and for good reason,” says Phillips. You could easily make the argument that Waltz for Debby was not only the high point in Evans’s career, but it also set a benchmark for the jazz piano trio format that has yet to be surpassed.”

Some 50 years after producing this legendary live session, Orrin Keepnews recalls in the new liner notes:  “I was convinced that this trio would not go on forever and might not even survive the upcoming tour. Learning that they would soon be at the Village Vanguard for two weeks shortly before going out on a long road trip, I started to lobby in favor of taping them in performance . . . It is by now a very well-established and accurate part of modern jazz lore that on Sunday, June 25, all went incredibly well . . . including the trio’s handling of the leader’s basic premise that this was to be music performed by a well-integrated trio, not a piano player with two accompanists.”

The Warner Brothers Studio Albums + Dead.net exclusive

What a long, strange trip it's been! In celebration of the 40th Anniversary of Workingman's Dead and American Beauty, we proudly present THE WARNER BROS. STUDIO ALBUMS, a five-LP boxed set commemorating those tremendous and transformative early years. Due September 21st, the collection contains The Grateful Dead (1967), Workingman's Dead, and American Beauty (1970), plus the original mixes for Anthem Of The Sun (1968) and Aoxomoxoa (1969), available on vinyl for the first time in nearly 40 years!

This stunning set also features detailed replicas of the original albums housed in a hard-shell case with an accompanying 12" x 12" book containing unpublished photos and new liner notes by our friend Blair Jackson. And as always, we've ensured the highest degree of quality - these albums were pressed on 180-gram vinyl at RTI using lacquers cut from the original analog masters. Now all you've got to do is gently place the needle on the record and slip into auditory bliss!

Order from Dead.net and receive an exclusive reproduction of a rare 1968 7" single (in a picture sleeve) that features the studio version of "Dark Star" (b/w "Born Cross-Eyed"), clocking in at a concise 2:38. You'll also receive a reproduction of a rare 1967 promotional poster from the Warner Bros. Records archive. The 7" and poster are yours only when you place your order at Dead.net.

An Evening with Charlie Hunter, Thurs Sept 9 @ the Fox Theatre

As a young guitarist growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Charlie Hunter was looking for a way to stand out in the '80s. His primary influences were jazz great Joe Pass and the fluid Tuck Andress, (of the guitar/vocal duo Tuck & Patti), both six-string guitarists who were adept at blending bass notes into their standard guitar melodies to make themselves sound like two musicians at once. But Hunter wanted to take it one step further, and set out to find an instrument on which he could simultaneously function as both a guitarist and a bassist. For his self-titled 1993 debut CD, Hunter played a seven-string guitar for the duality effect, locking down the bottom with drummer Jay Lane and mixing melodically with saxophonist David Ellis. But on his trio's 1995 sophomore release, "Bing, Bing, Bing!," Hunter unveiled his custom-made Novax eight-string, the guitar that finally allowed him to realize his capacity. Designed by Ralph Novak, the instrument featured special frets and separate signals for its guitar and bass portions. Picking bass notes with his right thumb while fretting them with his left index finger (while at the same time fingerpicking guitar chords and single notes with his right hand's remaining four digits as he frets with his left hand's other three fingers), Hunter achieves the real sound of two-for-one.

Hunter played with the side group T.J. Kirk in the mid-'90s, a band that derived their name from the cover material they exclusively played: Thelonious Monk, James Brown and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Initially wanting to call themselves James T. Kirk before being threatened by the Star Trek TV and film series, T.J. Kirk released a self-titled 1995 debut and the 1996 follow-up, "If Four Was One", before disbanding. Hunter took drummer Scott Amendola with him for his next project, an ambitious instrumental remake of Bob Marley's "Natty Dread"album in its entirety. Also featuring saxophonists Kenny Brooks and Calder Spanier, the 1997 release beat the odds by becoming arguably Hunter's best album. After Spanier died from injuries sustained from being hit by a car, Hunter moved east to New York, taking Amendola with him. Teaming with vibraphonist Stefon Harris and percussionist John Santos, Charlie Hunter & Pound for Pound's 1998 CD Return of the Candyman is dedicated to Spanier. A departure from Natty Dread, mainly due to the work of Harris, the disc featured a vibes-heavy cover of Steve Miller's "Fly Like an Eagle."

Hunter's modus operandi had now become shifting personnel changes, and in between tours he recorded a 1999 duo CD with drummer/percussionist Leon Parker and a self-titled 2000 CD that featured Parker and an otherwise ensemble cast. Hunter also contributed greatly to the 2000 comeback CD by drummer Mike Clark, "Actual Proof". Hunter concluded his run at Blue Note with 2001's "Songs from the Analog Playground", which saw him collaborating with vocalists for the first time, ranging from labelmates Norah Jones and Kurt Elling to Mos Def. 2003 found Hunter with a new label (Ropeadope) and two new bands (the Charlie Hunter Quintet) on "Right Now Move" and the beginning of Groundtruther, a partnership with percussionist/composer Bobby Previte.  They released "Come in Red Dog, This is Tango Leader" before adopting the Groundtruther moniker. For 2003's "Friends Seen and Unseen",  it was back to the Charlie Hunter Trio, with drummer  Derrek Phillips and saxman John Ellis, both members of the Quintet. By now, Groundtruther had taken on a life of its own, with Hunter and Previte joined by a rotating third member.  "Latitude" was first, in 2004 with saxophonist Greg Osby, followed by "Longitude" with DJ Logic in 2005.

In 2006, the Charlie Hunter Trio resurfaced with "Coperopolis" and almost immediately announced that it was disbanding as Ellis wanted to further pursue a solo career. What to do? Form another trio! After recruiting Erik Deutsch on keys and Simon Loft on drums, they released "Mistico" in the summer of 2007, Hunter's first album for Fantasy.

All Ages / GA  / $15.00 adv / $20 DOS

Internet 24-7 at www.foxtheater.com

Phone: During box office hours: 303.443.3399

COLLECTORS’ CHOICE TO REISSUE ABKCO’S CAMEO-PARKWAY CLASSICS

On June 22, 2010, Collectors’ Choice Music in conjunction with ABKCO Music & Records will begin a rollout of six reissues and compilations from the legendary Cameo and Parkway Records masters. The initial six CDs, including four twofers, are Rawhide’s Clint Eastwood Sings Cowboy Favorites, Bobby Rydell Salutes The Great Ones/Rydell at the Copa, Chubby Checker’s It’s Pony Time/Let’s Twist Again, The Orlons’ The Wah-Watusi/South Street, Terry Knight And The Pack/Reflections plus the compilation Remember Me Baby: Cameo Parkway Vocal Groups Vol. 1 which features The Lydells, The Dovells, The Tymes, Lee Andrews, Billy And The Essentials and more.

For some time ABKCO had been looking for the right team with whom to delve into its vaults to create an ongoing Cameo Parkway reissue program.  ABKCO found the right mix in Collectors’ Choice Music and have entered into an exclusive arrangement, ensuring that a flow of reissues and compilations will be available over the next few years. All releases will be curated by Teri Landi, ABKCO’s resident engineer and catalog archivist, and annotated by respected music journalists.

Jody Klein, CEO of ABKCO Music & Records commented, “We are delighted to have Collectors’ Choice Music onboard for these releases of great historical relevance. Their expertise in this area will ensure that the music that made Cameo-Parkway such a cultural touchstone will be enjoyed by music fans who have long awaited these collections.”

Much of the material has not been available since its original release on vinyl some 45-50 years ago. Both companies have approached these reissues with careful A&R, annotation, package design and sound engineering. Said Gordon Anderson, Sr. VP of Collectors’ Choice, “The opportunity for our company to release this material represents the culmination of a career-long dream for me, and a fervently-held dream for thousands of our Collectors’ Choice Music customers.”

Founded by Bernie Lowe and Kal Mann in December 1956, Philadelphia-based Cameo-Parkway was one of the great American indie labels during the late ’50s and ’60s.  It was home to big pop-rock and R&B stars like Bobby Rydell, Chubby Checker and The Orlons, as well as to all manner of styles and artists both famous and obscure. It also represents the last great, largely untapped repository of vintage pop music from the rock ’n’ roll era.

It has been argued that popular culture was forever changed by the impact of Cameo-Parkway hits. Cameo-Parkway was one of America’s leading independent labels during the era that preceded the British invasion, offering a breathtaking range of pop, soul, rock, novelty and dance records that have continued to resonate with fans over the past five decades.  The label’s biggest claim to fame is the string of dance craze hits that followed in the wake of “The Twist.”  These included “Mashed Potato Time,” “The Wah-Watusi,” “Bristol Stomp,” “Do the Bird,” “Hully Gully Baby,” “Pony Time,” “The 81,” “Limbo Rock” and, of course, “Let’s Twist Again.”

Beyond the dance songs — most of which originated in Philadelphia — Cameo-Parkway issued garage rock classics from the Midwest including ? And The Mysterians’ “96 Tears” as well as early tracks by Detroit’s Bob Seger, The Rationals and Terry Knight And The Pack. The label even embraced the British invasion, releasing sides by The Kinks and Screaming Lord Sutch. Soul played a significant role with singles by The Tymes, Patti LaBelle And Her Bluebells, Frankie Beverly And The Butlers, The Five Stairsteps, and Bunny Sigler. Beyond those, Cameo was the label home of Bobby Rydell, who transformed from “swingin’ pop idol” to a mature vocalist and was accepted by both teen and adult audiences with such hits as “Wild One,” “Kissin’ Time” and more adult fare such as “Volare” and “Sway.”  

Collectors’ Choice’s initial rollout of six CDs includes the following:

• Bobby Rydell — Bobby Rydell Salutes The Great Ones/Rydell at the Copa. These two 1961 albums — presented here in their original stereo mixes — represented an effort by Rydell to move beyond the limitations of his teen idol persona. The title of Rydell’s Cameo LP, Bobby Rydell Salutes The Great Ones, works on two levels.  It is an early tribute to the performers the young singer admired all his life, as indicated by the little caricatures of Al Jolson, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra in the upper corner of the LP’s cover, and the “great ones” in the title refers to songs from the Great American Songbook such as “Mammy,” “That Old Black Magic” and “All of You.”  By recording a live album at the Copa, Rydell was following a well-trodden trail left by other pop male vocalists like Bobby Darin and Paul Anka.  Jim Ritz contributed liner notes.

• Chubby Checker — It’s Pony Time/Let’s Twist Again: This twofer includes two albums from the height of the Chubby Checker twist phenomenon that he and Cameo-Parkway had spawned, virtually ruling the music charts in 1960 and 1961. The first album’s title track, “Pony Time,” went to #1, his only chart-topper besides “The Twist,” while Let’s Twist Again, his fourth album, hit #11, shortly followed by three Top 10 albums in a row. Also featured here are “We Like Birdland,” “The Watusi,” The Hully Gully,” “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “Let’s Twist Again” and more.  Jim Ritz penned the liner notes.

The Orlons — The Wah-Watusi/South Street. Discovered by high school classmate and future Cameo labelmate Len Barry, The Orlons (Shirley Brickley, Marlena Davis, Rosetta Hightower and Stephen Caldwell) were one of Cameo-Parkway’s most popular vocal groups and certainly the label’s top girl group. This twofer presents their only two charting albums from 1962 and ’63 respectively, and both featuring Top 5 title tracks. Heard here in their original pristine mono with notes by Gene Sculatti that contain quotes from Caldwell (he of the ultra-low “frog” voice), this reissue contains the title hits plus “Dedicated To The One I Love,” “Tonight,” “Cement Mixer” and more.

• Terry Knight And The Pack — Terry Knight And The Pack/Reflections. Although Cameo-Parkway was best known for rock ’n’ roll, pop and R&B, these albums (originally released on Cameo’s Lucky Eleven imprint) illustrate the label’s embrace of Midwestern rock. Flint, Michigan’s Knight And The Pack were a garage band with many regional hits that never broke nationally; they might have become stars but for the fact that band members Mark Farner and Don Brewer left to form Grand Funk Railroad, with Knight producing. In his liner notes, Jeff Tamarkin tells the story of their 1966-67 fuzz-laced sounds featured in “Numbers,” “You’re a Better Man Than I,” “The Lovin’ Kind,” “One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show,” “Dimestore Debutante” and others.

Clint Eastwood — Rawhide’s Clint Eastwood Sings Cowboy Favorites: Oscar-winning actor Clint Eastwood has demonstrated a musical streak throughout his acting and directing career, and this 1963 album catches him at the beginning. Fresh from his success on the TV series Rawhide, he croons (and quite convincingly so) a collection of cowboy favorites. The set includes the 1962 single “Rowdy” b/w “Cowboy Wedding Song,” as well as “San Antonio Rose,” Bouquet of Roses,” “Along the Santa Fe Trail,” “The Last Roundup,” “Sierra, Nevada” and more.  Jim Ritz contributed liner notes.

Remember Me Baby: Cameo Parkway Vocal Groups Vol. 1: There are collectors and there are doo-wop collectors, which is why Collectors’ Choice devoted its very first compilation in the series to the vocal groups whose recordings defined Cameo-Parkway during its earliest years. Heard here are The Gainors’ “You Must Be An Angel,” Billy And The Essentials’ “Remember Me Baby,” and never before released tracks by The Dovells and The Tymes, “Short On Bread” and “Did You Ever Get My Letter?,” respectively.  Also featured are rare tracks from The Anglos, The Defenders, The Exceptions, The Expressions, The Gleems, Pookie Hudson And The Spaniels, The Impacs, The Rays, Rick And The Masters, The Sequins, The Skyliners and The Turbans — 24 tracks in all. Annotated by Ed Osborne.