Some Perfect Gifts

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Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, First Flight to Tokyo: The Lost 1961 Recordings

(Photo: Blue Note Records)

Looking for last-minute gifts for your favorite jazz fan? Looking for a little something under the tree to place there yourself? We feel ya! Here are some of the coolest packages we’ve seen out there for the holidays! Jump in and enjoy! And, check out our entire Gift Guide from the December issue HERE.


Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, First Flight To Tokyo: The Lost 1961 Recordings
(Blue Note) At the start of 1961, Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers arrived in Japan as one of the first modern jazz groups to tour the country. Japanese audiences were lucky to take in one of the band’s all-time great lineups, featuring Lee Morgan on trumpet, Wayne Shorter on tenor saxophone, Bobby Timmons on piano and Jymie Merritt on bass. When the band stopped in at Hibiya Public Hall in Tokyo, someone was smart enough to tape it, and these recordings have now been unearthed and were released this fall on double-vinyl and double CD. The band is in fine form, particularly on their spirited, swinging hit “Moanin’.” bluenote.com

John Coltrane, A Love Supreme: Live In Seattle (Impulse!) As seminal as A Love Supreme is — as the saxophonist’s public declaration of his personal spiritual beliefs and universalist sentiment won a Grammy and has continued to resonate with listeners of all stripes for decades — until now there’s been only one way to hear it live. But this fall, Impulse! released a recently unearthed second outing of the material that sees Coltrane expanding his band, adding Pharoah Sanders on second saxophone and Donald Garrett on second bass to an already stacked lineup. Available on double-vinyl or CD, this expands the story of both a great musician and a timeless piece of music. impulserecords.com

Lennie Tristano, Personal Recordings 1946–1970 (Dot Time/Mosaic) As box sets go, this one’s pretty personal. A compendium of never-before-released groundbreaking material from Lennie Tristano’s personal tape collection, Personal Recordings, released in November, captures the pianist playing alone and all over the place over the span of 24 years. When not solo, he’s sitting in with a long list of musicians including Billy Bauer, Arnold Fishkin, Lee Konitz, Warne Marsh, Joe Shulman, Jeff Morton, Peter Ind, Al Levitt, Tom Wayburn, Sonny Dallas, Nick Stabulas, Sonny Dallas and Zoot Sims. Listening in over six CDs, you hear not just Tristano evolve but jazz itself. dottimerecords.com

Duke Ellington & His Orchestra, Berlin 1959 (Storyville) Berlin’s Sportpalast has a checkered past, serving as the site of speeches by Adolph Hitler and other Nazis decades before Ellington brought his orchestra to the indoor arena in 1959, as captured here. But listening to this date, the arena feels freed from its past. On the band’s European tour, Ellington’s orchestra featured Clark Terry and Andres Merenguito on trumpet; Booty Wood, Britt Woodman and Quentin “Butter” Jackson on trombone; Wendell Marshall on bass; and Jimmy Johnson on drums. Ellington, of course, directs like a master conductor and accompanist from the piano. On 28 tracks spread out over two discs, Duke and his band run through hits like “Things Ain’t What They Used to Be” and intricate instrumental showcases like “V.I.P.’s Boogie” with confidence. An audibly enthusiastic audience reacts to every changeup from the band. storyvillerecords.com

Various Artists, Impulse! Records: Music, Message & The Moment (Impulse!) Impulse! Records is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year and kicked off the festivities in style with a box that’s not just a jazz lover’s dream. It’s a graphic designer’s dream, too, as its white cover has Impulse!’s iconic exclamation point cut out right-side-up and upside-down, giving a sneak peak at what’s inside. And that’s a lot — the package is generously stuffed with two gatefold double-LPs splashed with the label’s trademark orange, black and white and compiling the best of its vaults. Side for side, the discs are expertly curated and feel like true albums, even while placing names like John and Alice Coltrane, Stanley Turrentine, Amhad Jamal, Quincy Jones and Albert Ayler alongside each other. The box doesn’t stop there — it comes with a fun turntable slipcover and the liner notes are presented as a ’60s-looking magazine in a brown paper bag. It’s a perfect gift for anyone who loves what Impulse! once marketed as “the new wave in jazz.” impulserecords.com

Erroll Garner, Liberation In Swing: Centennial Collection (Octave Music/Mack Avenue Music Group) Octave Music and Mack Avenue Music Group this year celebrated the 100th anniversary of Erroll Garner’s birth with three releases focusing on the pianist’s self-released catalog from 1959 to 1975. The centerpiece is a stunning, previously unreleased Jan. 17, 1959, concert recorded at Boston’s Symphony Hall in front of a sold-out crowd. The date heralded Garner’s return after a lengthy battle for control over his catalog, and captures the unparalleled genius of Garner’s live performances at the beginning of one of the most defining periods of his life. Limited to 300 copies, the box set comes with a book featuring unpublished original artwork from Garner, previously unseen photos, and essays from Robin D. G. Kelley, Terri Lyne Carrington and Cécile McLorin Salvant. mackavenue.com

Joe Henderson, Mirror Mirror (MPS) This summer, MPS Records opened the vault to reissue 31 albums by some of the genre’s greats on vinyl and CD. This included titles by Ella Fitzgerald, Freddie Hubbard, Dizzy Gillespie, George Duke, Dexter Gordon & Slide Hampton, Don Ellis, Lee Konitz & Martial Solal, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Rolf Kühn, the Count Basie Orchestra, Baden Powell, Dave Pike Set, Eugen Cicero, Gilles Peterson, Joanne Grauer, Mark Murphy, Monty Alexander and others. Among all this was saxophonist Joe Henderson’s 1980 album Mirror Mirror, on which the Grammy winner is accompanied by a stellar acoustic lineup recorded in Los Angeles featuring Chick Corea on piano, Ron Carter on bass and Billy Higgins on drums. Corea and Carter each contribute two compositions to the set list, while Henderson’s “Joe’s Bolero” is a piece exemplifying this hard-bop, avant-garde recording, a cut that reflects one of the saxophonist’s primary influences, John Coltrane. Henderson’s virtuoso tenor emotes mellow melodies on the disc’s lone standard, “What’s New?” Although credited as a solo Henderson album, each member of the all-star quartet is given equal opportunity to shine. It’s available as a limited-edition green vinyl disc, a festive gift. mps-music.com

Oscar Peterson, A Time For Love: The Oscar Peterson Quartet–Live In Helsinki, 1987 (Mack Avenue) What’s captured on this momentous two-CD set is the final gig of a long international tour that began with four concerts in Brazil. This date was the 14th of a European tour that took the quartet all over mainland Europe and Scandinavia. Having performed together this consistently to this date, the synergy and empathy of the ensemble is audible. Listening to the band air out “Cool Walk” here is remarkable as the players are perfectly aligned and display no signs of fatigue. mackavenue.com

Ray Charles, True Genius (Tangerine Records) Ray Charles has been given the box set treatment many times, but this one is something special. True Genius is a newly remastered, limited-edition set featuring 90 of the greatest songs from his legendary career and all of Charles’ biggest hits. The listener here is reminded of what Charles could do with any material. He takes the Beatles’ 1966 chamber pop song “Eleanor Rigby,” preserves all of its melancholy and melodic sophistication and makes it swing in a way the Fab Four never could. The set also includes a special bonus disc of eight previously unreleased tracks recorded live in Stockholm in 1972. The box was released on Sept. 10 in celebration of what would have been Brother Ray’s 90th birthday. raycharles.com

Frank Zappa, 200 Motels (Zappa Records/Universal) The 1971 Frank Zappa movie 200 Motels had a lot going on, with appearances by Zappa himself, of course, but also Ringo Starr, Keith Moon, Aynsley Dunbar, George Duke, Pamela Des Barres, Theodore Bikel and much more, all of them running around attempting to capture, on film, the craziness of life on the road. The music, and its corresponding soundtrack, was equally diverse, a wild pastiche of avant garde rock and orchestral compositions interspersed with dialog from the film. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of its release, Zappa Records/Universal has taken the original soundtrack and blown it up into a six-disc box set, available Nov. 19, filled with unreleased and rare material including original demos, studio outtakes, work mixes, interviews and an early audio edit of the film. This is not for the faint of heart, but Zappa fans are long used to that. zappa.com DB



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