Holiday Hits!

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Chick Corea’s Elektric Band heads up a stellar group of boxed sets.

(Photo: Courtesy Candid Records)

Looking for that perfect last-minute gift? There’s plenty to choose from in this year’s edition of the DownBeat Holiday Gift Guide!

For starters, check out these seven great boxed sets from the likes of the Chick Corea Electric Band, Nina Simone, Joni Mitchell, Peter Bernstein and more!

Chick Corea Elektric Band

The Complete Studio Recordings 1986–1991 (Candid)

On Dec. 1, Candid Records releases a limited edition, five-album box of the Chick Corea Elektric Band’s output on the label. The collection includes The Elektric Band, Light Years, Eye Of The Beholder, Inside Out and Beneath The Mask. The CD version comes in at just under $70, but there’s also five-LP, limited-edition box at just under $200. And, if you’re lucky to have $1,000 burning a hole in your pocket, there are two 10-LP test pressings available. The lineup is the quintessential band with bassist John Patitucci, drummer Dave Weckl, saxophonist Eric Marienthal and guitarist Frank Gambale. And for the Chick-o-files out there, Candid will also be separately issuing a never-before-released live album that was compiled by Corea himself before his passing. The Chick Corea Elektric Band, The Future Is Now was selected from live shows recorded between 2016 and 2018 in a three-disc vinyl set. Finally, for a classical-jazz fusion of Corea’s art, the label will be releasing Sardinia: A Night Of Mozart & Gershwin with the Orchestra da Camera Della Sadegna. It’s a mind-expanding live recording demonstrating once again the absolute breadth of Corea’s creativity.

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Nina Simone

Four Women: The Nina Simone Complete Recordings 1964–1967 (Verve)

This limited-edition, seven-LP box is being released in honor of the soulful singer/pianist’s 90th birthday. The collection features all seven albums Simone recorded for Phillips during that time, remastered by Kevin Reeves from original analog tapes. The albums include Nina Simone In Concert (1964), Broadway–Blues–Ballads (1964), I Put A Spell On You (1965), Pastel Blues (1965), Let It All Out (1966), Wild Is The Wind (1966) and High Priestess Of Soul (1967). The set includes 18 pages of rare photos as well as liner notes by noted author Ashley Kahn and features some of Simone’s most indelible anthems including “Mississippi Goddam,” “I Loves You Porgy,” “Don’t Smoke In Bed,” “I Put A Spell On You,” “Feeling Good” — and that’s just scratching the surface. The package is beautiful, the music astounding. All-in-all, a treat for the eyes and ears. ververecords.com


Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express

Complete Oblivion (Soul Bank)

Here’s one for lovers of ’70s fusion. Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express danced between the grooves of jazz, pop and r&b with a British cool that remains indelible to this day. The folks at Soul Note Records have boxed up the group’s six studio albums into one fantastic package, completely remastered from the original master tapes by Bill Smith at United Archiving in Los Angeles. The two-piece box features six LPs and six CDs with the original covers of each album presented as they were on these recordings released between 1970 and 1975. The booklet is packed with rare photos and a great interview with Auger, whose keyboard work and vocals drove the band. soulbankmusic.com


Joni Mitchell

Archives–Volume 3: The Asylum Years (1972–1975) (Rhino)

This five-CD, four-LP box features never-before-heard demos, alternate takes and rare live performance recordings along with a 40-page book packed with photos and an intimate conversation between Mitchell and writer/filmmaker Cameron Crowe. This volume documents Mitchell’s art at a time when she was questioning the scrutiny of her music and her life as laid out in the tabloids. She announced an early retirement from the stage in 1970, moved to British Columbia and became inspired by her new surroundings. In doing so, the singer, songwriter and guitarist created three of her most endearing works: For The Roses, Court And Spark and The Hissing Of Summer Lawns. As Mitchell approached her 80th birthday this year, Rhino collected a stellar crop of fascinating demos and alternative takes of music from these albums. Also included is her triumphant return to Carnegie Hall in 1972, another live show from the Court And Spark era featuring a backing band of Tom Scott & the L.A. Express as well as other cuts featuring James Taylor, Graham Nash and Neil Young. rhino.com


Peter Bernstein

Signs LIVE! (Smoke Sessions)

While most boxed sets focus on a more distant past, Smoke Sessions, the New York jazz club and record label, delves into archival moments a little closer to the present. If you haven’t caught Peter Bernstein live … do it. He’s one of the best guitarists working today in the Big Apple or on planet Earth. Here, Bernstein reconvenes an all-star cast that recorded his second album, Signs Of Life, back in 1994, featuring pianist Brad Mehldau, bassist Christian McBride and drummer Greg Hutchinson. A two-CD set came out back in July, but Smoke Sessions is releasing a five-LP vinyl set in late November, just in time for the holidays, that also includes two bonus tracks.

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Vinny Golia

Even To This Day…Movement Two: Syncretism: for the draw…Music For Orchestra And Soloists (Ninewinds)

Experimental composer and instrumentalist Vinny Golia has released a magnum opus of adventurous art with this 110-track second movement to Even To This Day… . Originally conceived as part of Golia’s 75th birthday celebration, one that included performances by 75 musicians, but this expanded well beyond that original notion. On volume two, recorded by Golia and engineer Wayne Peet, Golia plays more than 30 instruments on a sprawling set with a slew of special guests including Nels Cline, Susan Alcorn, Chas Smith and more. vinnygoliamusic.bandcamp.com


Buselli/Wallarab Jazz Orchestra

The Gennett Suite (Patois)

This tasty big band out of Indianapolis released The Gennett Suite, it’s most ambitious album to date, earlier this year. Now comes a five-LP vinyl version of the music available in early November. The album tips its hat to Richmond, Indiana, where 100 years ago jazz legends flocked to record music in a converted piano factory. Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, Jelly Roll Morton and so many others traveled to Richmond to record at Gennett Studios for the Gennett label, one of the earliest to have success in jazz. Brent Wallarab has admired the era and the label throughout his musical career and employs themes from some of Gennett’s biggest hits — such as “Dippermouth Blues,” “Wolverine Blues” and “Star Dust” — to bring that sense of inspiration and awe into the present.

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Click here to read this article in the December 2023 issue of DownBeat.

Check out all of DownBeat’s Holiday Gift Guide here! DB



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