Elemental Music has just released on a 180g LP a newly remastered reissue of Teenage Head, the second album recorded by San Francisco band Flaming Groovies in 1971 under the label Kama Sutra. This album is probably the most acclaimed album of the band, and it is the last album with singer Roy Loney who left the band over differences in opinion with co-founder Cyril Jordan about the band’s future musical direction. Teenage Head is an angst-ridden, highly influential cult classic, with unforgettable tunes like the title track and “High Flyin’ Baby”. Released the same year as The Rolling Stones’ classic album Sticky Fingers, Mick Jagger reportedly noticed the similarities between the albums and thought the Flamin’ Groovies did the better take on the theme of classic blues and rock ‘n roll revisited in a modern context.
Elemental Music has just released a newly remastered LP reissue of Masterpiece, the acclaimed 1973 album by The Temptations originally issued by the Gordy (Motown) label and produced by Norman Whitfield. Mastered by Bernie Grundman, this 180g, black vinyl LP features original album artwork and is the first vinyl reissue of the album in 20 years. Masterpiece was the last Temptations album recorded for Gordy (Motown) Records in Detroit’s Hitsville U.S.A. studio before the label moved to Hollywood, CA. The album includes top 40 hits such as “Plastic Man” and “Hey Girl (I Like Your Style)” and the title track “Masterpiece” that reached #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart. This LP is the first of a series of The Temptations releases from Elemental Music that is due to release in March a set of 5 CD releases with albums such as “Masterpiece”, “Solid Rock”, “Psychedelic Shack”, “Sky’s the Limit”, and “Puzzle People”, all with its original tracklistings and timings.
Elemental Music is proud to announce its Record Store Day exclusive release Sonny Rollins On Impulse! This out of print album which was Rollins debut on Impulse is finally reissued on 180 gram black vinyl pressed at United Pressing, and mastered from the original tapes recorded at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio. It features pianist Ray Bryant, bassist Walter Booker and drummer Mickey Roker (Rollins and Bryant never recorded again together). Reissued with its original artwork, and liner notes from Nat Hentoff. This is another great “Limited Edition” Elemental reissue.
Elemental Music, together with Sony Music Entertainment, presents 6 new additions to the best selection of 70’s R&B, Soul, Funk & Psychedelic Rock out of print titles from the vaults of classic labels such as Philadelphia International Records, Buddah or Columbia Records, among others.
INTRUDERS – ENERGY OF LOVE
As the first group to score hits with the production team of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, The Intruders played a major role in the rise of Philadelphia soul. Originally formed as a doo-wop group in 1960, they signed with Gamble and Huff’s fledgling Gamble label in 1966 and scored a Top 20 R&B hit that year with “(We’ll Be) United”. 1968 was their breakthrough year: “Cowboys to Girls,” a template for what would become Philly soul’s trademark sound, topped the R&B charts and climbed to number six on the pop side, giving the group their biggest hit. Gamble and Huff’s success with The Intruders helped convince Columbia to grant them the money to launch Philadelphia International, which became the most successful soul label of the early ‘70s. In 1974 The Intruders switched from the Gamble imprint to the Philly International subsidiary TSOP, and released Energy of Love, which is their last known recording and their final collaboration with Gamble & Huff. Although it did not reach the success of its predecessors, Energy of Love is full of great songs with the Gamble and Huff team contributing to several cuts (“Energy Of Love”, “A Nice Girl Like You”, “Lonely Lonely” and “Be On Time”). The Philly natives also sparkle on four remakes: Marvin Gaye’s “Jan,” William DeVaughn’s “Be Thankful for What You Got,” Mary Wells’ “What’s Easy for Two Is So Hard for One,” and Paul Simon’s “Rainy Days and Mondays”, sounding especially frisky on DeVaughn’s hit. The album was recorded at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia, and the four members of The Intruders were backed by M.F.S.B., whose lineup included the Baker, Harris, Young rhythm section, guitarists Bobby “Electronic” Eli, percussionist Larry Washington, vibes virtuoso Vince Montana Jr., and violinist Don Renaldo. The arrangers were Bruce Hawkes and Bobby Martin, while producers included Vince Montana Jr, John Davis and the above mentioned Gamble and Huff team. Essential Philly Soul Sound!
LOU RAWLS – ALL THINGS IN TIME
Lou Rawls’ debut with the Philadelphia International label. This album relaunched his career and turned him into one of the company’s most successful acts. Recorded at the legendary Sigma Sound Studios and produced by such luminaries as Philadelphia International Gamble & Huff, Bunny Sigler and Dexter Wansel, All Things in Time became an immediate success on the back of its celebrated single “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine”, which gave Rawls the biggest hit of his career, topping the R&B chart and making #2 on the pop chart. The album was Rawls’ third R&B chart topper (the first since 1966), and reached #7 on the pop chart. All Things in Time has been highly rated by critics for the quality and variety of its material, faultless production standards and Rawls’ vocal performances. Its reputation has endured and it is often cited as the best album of Rawls’ tenure with Philadelphia International Records. Allmusic’s Jason Elias wrote that it’s “not only one of Rawls’ best albums, it’s also one of the finest from Philadelphia International”.
EDDIE KENDRICKS – VINTAGE ‘78
Vintage’78 was Eddie Kendricks’ first solo effort after he left Motown in the late 1970s and proved that he was still a superb vocalist during this period of his career. This masterpiece of sophisticated soul contains one of his biggest singles: “Ain’t No Smoke Without Fire”, one of the best disco jams The Temptations’ co-founder ever recorded. But what really shines here is Eddie’s finesse with the songs he loved to sing the most: love ballads (“The Best of Strangers Now”, “Maybe I’m a Fool to Love You”, “Your Wish Is My Command”, “Love, Love, Love”). Without a doubt Kendricks shows in this album that he was the best countertenor to come out of Motown and Vintage ’78 gives us a full view of his superb style of singing.
Recorded in 1969, this was the debut LP by the extended “Big-Apple” based ensemble Elephant’s Memory. It includes the songs “Jungle Gym at the Zoo” and “Old Man Willow”, from the celebrated Midnight Cowboy movie soundtrack. Formed between 1967 and 1968,by Stan Bronstein (saxophone, clarinet, and vocals) and Rick Frank Jr. (drums), in 1968 the band briefly added Carly Simon as a vocalist, and by 1969, the line-up had expanded to include John Ward (bass), Chester Ayers (guitar), Myron Yules (bass and trombone), R. Sussmann (keyboards), Michal Shapiro (vocals), Guy Peritore (guitar and vocals), and David Cohen (guitar, keyboards, and vocals). A further addition in 1970 was Chris Robison on guitar. Known around the Greenwich Village area as a politically active street band, Elephant’s Memory is also known for backing John Lennon and Yoko Ono in 1971-73. For live performances with them, the band was known as the Plastic Ono Elephant’s Memory Band, and as such they recorded the double album Some Time in New York City in March of 1972. The album was released in June of 1972 in the United States and in September of 1972 in the UK. The group specialized in an eclectic Frank Zappa-like mix of psychedelia, jazz, and acid-tinged rock. One of the quintessential artifacts of the psychedelic era!
GLADYS KNIGHT & THE PIPS – 2nd Anniversary
A milestone for long-running hitmakers Gladys Knight & the Pips, 2nd Anniversary was their fourth studio album recorded for the Buddah Records label. It was released in October of 1975 and spawned two Billboard R&B Top Ten singles with “Money” and “Part Time Love.” It was also their fourth consecutive Gold album, after their previous releases on the Buddah label: Imagination (1973), Claudine (1974) and I Feel a Song (1974).Knight and the Pips’ largest success came after they signed with Motown in 1966. Their top-40 hit “Everybody Needs Love,” was followed by the breakthrough success of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” which became a number-two pop hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and a number-one R&B hit for six weeks. The record sold 2.5 million copies, and at the time was Motown’s best-selling single ever. In late 1968, “Grapevine” would become an even bigger hit for Marvin Gaye, whose version, recorded before Knight’s but released a year afterward, was a number-one pop hit for seven weeks. Knight and the Pips departed Motown for Buddah Records in 1973. Knight later complained that she and the Pips were regarded as a second-string act, and that Diana [Ross] & the Supremes, The Temptations, and Marvin Gaye were given the best songs, while “we took the leftovers.” In Knight’s autobiography she alleged that Diana Ross had the group removed from being The Supremes’ opening act on a 1966 tour for being too good.
US 69 – YESTERDAY’S FOLKS
A highly sought after record among collectors, Yesterday’s Folks was US 69’s only album, and is considered by some critics as probably the very best ever released by the Buddah Records label.This Connecticut-based band was made up of Bill Cartier (drums), Bill Durso (vocals, guitar), Bob DePalma (saxophone), Don DePalma (piano, trumpet), and Gil Nelson (bass, flute). Previously called The Mustard Family, they changed their name to US ’69 before they released any of their recordings. The band combines a great mix of eastern-influence music with sitar along with psychedelic, jazz, rock, soul, and funk. The album is strong from start to finish, opening with the excellent “I’m on My Way (A Patch of Blue)”, and closing with the stellar ten-minute epic trippy, colorful psychedelia of “2069: a Spaced Oddity”.
Xanadu producer Don Schlitten writes in the opening line of the original liner notes: “This is the first in a series of albums recorded Live in Tokyo, Japan in April of 1976 from the first (of what we hope to be many) Silver Session Tours in that country.” Featuring bassist Sam Jones and drummer Leroy Williams (drums), Barry Harris – Live in Tokyo “finds him in superbly swinging form, spurred on by the hand-in-glove rhythm tandem of Jones and Williams.” (Bill Milkowski). Deluxe CD includes a 16-page book with original liner notes essays by producer Don Schlitten and Japanese jazz critic Shoichi Yui, a new essay by jazz journalist Bill Milkowski, and extra photos and session notes. First US reissue since the original LP release in 1976.
The smoking alto saxophonist Charles McPherson is joined by guitarist Jimmy Raney, pianist Barry Harris, bassist Sam Jones and drummer Leroy Williams live in Japan in 1976. McPherson says about the Japanese audiences, “They were very polite during the performance, but afterwards they’d come backstage like they were about to burst with appreciation, and it was genuine.” Deluxe CD includes a 16-page book with original liner notes essay by author Tom Piazza, restored original artwork, plus extra photos and session notes, and a new essay by jazz journalist Bill Milkowski who notes: “Bird’s music was very much in evidence on this tour, and particularly on McPherson’s set at Nakano Sun Plaza Hall on April 14, in Tokyo.” First US reissue since the original 1976 LP release.
On the 1976 Silver Session Tour of Japan, Barry Harris played the first set with Sam Jones (bass) and Leroy Williams (drums), then “the world’s greatest Jazz guitarist” (according to Don Schlitten) Jimmy Raney took Harris’s spot and played a stellar trio set of his own with Jones and Williams. This deluxe CD includes a 16-page book with original liner notes essay by producer Don Schlitten plus extra photos and session notes, and a new essay by jazz journalist Bill Milkowski who notes: “His obituary in the New York Times called him ‘one of the most gifted and influential postwar jazz guitarists in the world.’ Those gifts are on full display on Live in Tokyo.” First US reissue since the original 1976 LP release.
“BROOKLYN BROTHERS is truly a meeting of kindred spirits in perfect harmony. CECIL PAYNE and DUKE JORDAN are self-effacing people, but their music is strong and it takes on an extra richness when they are together. This is perhaps the most wholly satisfying session they have put down in an association which spans four decades.” – Mark Gardner, from the original LP liner notes.
This 1973 recording was Payne and Jordan’s seventh together, and was the first in the previous 11 years. Deluxe CD includes 16-page book with original liner notes essay by Mark Gardner and new essay by jazz journalist Ted Panken, plus extra photos and session notes. Original session Produced & Directed by Don Schlitten. Album design & cover photo by Don Schlitten. The first US reissue in 10 years!
Bassist SAM JONES’ second Xanadu release as a leader, CHANGES & THINGS, features an all-star sextet with Blue Mitchell, Slide Hampton, Bob Berg, Barry Harris & Louis Hayes. This is a swinging, feel good session with burning solos all along the way. Deluxe CD includes 16-page book with original liner notes essay by Chris Sheridan and new essay by jazz journalist Bill Milkowski, plus extra photos and session notes. Original session Produced & Directed by Don Schlitten. Album design & cover photo by Don Schlitten. First US reissue on CD since the original LP release in 1978.
“Sam adds something to a session which is subtle and difficult to put your finger on. You’d miss it if he wasn’t there because he’s one of the great bassists.” – Sonny Rollins
THE INIMITABLE TEDDY EDWARDS with Duke Jordan, Larry Ridley and Freddie Waits is a stellar outing by one of the most individual and resourceful tenor saxophonists in jazz, Teddy Edwards. His second release on Xanadu Records, The Inimitable was only his second release over the previous nine years and a rare New York recording for the Los Angeles-based saxophonist. Deluxe CD includes 16-page book with original liner notes essay by Mark Gardner and new essay by jazz journalist Ted Panken, plus extra photos and session notes. Original session Produced & Directed by Don Schlitten. Album design & cover photo by Don Schlitten. First US reissue since the original LP release in 1976.
BEAUTIFUL! is alto saxophonist CHARLES McPHERSON’s tenth album as a leader, and the first dedicated entirely to popular songs. Featuring Duke Jordan on piano, Sam Jones on bass, and Leroy Williams on drums, this 1975 session is classic, straight-ahead bebop at its finest. Deluxe CD includes 16-page book with essays by jazz writer Ted Panken and producer Zev Feldman, plus extra photos and session notes. Original session Produced & Directed by Don Schlitten. Album design & cover photo by Don Schlitten. First CD reissue in over 20 years.
HOME IS WHERE THE SOUL IS is one of only two albums bop pianist KENNY DREW recorded in the states after moving permanently to Copenhagen in 1961. Producer Don Schlitten says in the liner notes, “The concept was to bring Kenny home to ‘the cats’ and home to that ‘hip’ style of comping that only a bassist like Leroy Vinnegar can set you up for. And for some of that real Bebop time, who could ask for a better drummer than Frank Butler. Deluxe CD includes 16-page book with essays by jazz writer Ted Panken and producer Zev Feldman, plus extra photos and session notes. Original session Produced & Directed by Don Schlitten. Album design & cover photo by Don Schlitten. First CD reissue in over 20 years.
Alto saxophonist SONNY CRISS emerged in the late 1960s from a six-year period of soul-searching and self-examination and recorded 7 albums over 3 years with producer Don Schlitten for Prestige Records. SATURDAY MORNING was his first album released under his own name in the 1970s, and features pianist Barry Harris, bassist Leroy Vinnegar and drummer Lenny McBrowne. “When you hear Sonny Criss play you hear a tone like no other –a piercing, passionate sound from the heart. It sears the listener. Catch just a couple of bars of his playing and you know right away who is handling that saxophone with such consummate skill.” – Mark Gardner, from the original liner notes. This deluxe CD contains the original liner notes by Mark Gardner, and new essays by Ted Panken and producer Zev Feldman, plus extra photos and session notes. Original session Produced & Directed by Don Schlitten. Album design & cover photo by Don Schlitten. First CD reissue in over 10 years
“Sonny Criss was like the Shadow. He was a master saxophonist. He played very, very beautifully.” — Ornette Coleman
BOB BERG, the young tenor burner from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, blew with the kind of Coltrane-like urgency and technique that his Philadelphia born colleague Michael Brecker also possessed. Along with former Horace Silver Quintet bandmates Tom Harrell on trumpet and Mike Richmond on bass, Berg is joined by his mentor Cedar Walton on piano, veteran drummer Al Foster and percussionist Sammy Figueroa on NEW BIRTH, his debut as a leader. Together they cut a wide stylistic swath on four originals and two well-chosen cover tunes. The first US reissue since the original LP release, this deluxe CD contains the original liner notes with words by Bob Berg himself, and new essays by Bill Milkowski and producer Zev Feldman, plus extra photos and session notes. Original session Produced & Directed by Don Schlitten. Album design & cover photo by Don Schlitten. First US reissue since the original LP release in 1978
“Tenor saxophonist Bob Berg channeled the bold dynamics of hard bop to emerge as one of contemporary jazz’s most expressive and resourceful improvisers, honing a richly articulated sound bolstered by flawless technical command.” – Jason Ankeny, AllMusic.com
Following a long sabbatical after battling addiction, Xanadu Records producer Don Schlittlen welcomed FRANK BUTLER back to the scene by offering the veteran drummer his long-overdue debut as a leader, which resulted in 1977’s THE STEPPER. This stellar session, featuring Xanadu house pianist Dolo Coker, bassist Monty Budwig and tenor saxophonist Jack Montrose (the West Coast Montrose, not to be confused with the East Coast tenor player J.R. Montrose), reestablished Butler’s reputation and added immeasurably to his recorded legacy. The first reissue since the original LP release, this deluxe CD contains original liner notes by Pete Welding with new essays by Bill Milkowski and producer Zev Feldman, plus extra photos and session notes. Original session Produced & Directed by Don Schlitten. Album design & cover photo by Don Schlitten. Papa Jo Jones once called Butler “the greatest drummer in the world!” First US reissue since the original LP release in 1977.
A solidly swinging 1976 quartet date, CUBER LIBRE is baritone saxophonist RONNIE CUBER‘s debut release as a leader. Although he’s mostly known for playing with soul jazz greats like George Benson, Mongo Santamaria and Lonnie Smith (as well as many Steely Dan cuts), this session finds him among a top-notch bop trio of Barry Harris (piano), Sam Jones (bass), and Albert “Tootie” Heath (drums). The first reissue since the original LP release, this deluxe CD contains original liner notes by Ira Gitler with new essays by Bill Milkowski and producer Zev Feldman, plus extra photos. Original session Produced & Directed by Don Schlitten. Album design & cover photo by Don Schlitten.
“Throughout this bop-oriented date, Cuber shows why he has been considered one of the top masters of the baritone during the past 20 years.” – Scott Yanow, AllMusic
The definitive reissue of the classic 1976 Xanadu albums TRUE BLUE and SILVER BLUE featuring DEXTER GORDON/AL COHN (tenor sax) with Blue Mitchell/Sam Noto (trumpet), Barry Harris (piano), Sam Jones (bass) & Louis Hayes (drums). This specially-priced 2-CD set comes with a 14-page booklet with original liner notes by Tom Piazza plus new essays by Ted Panken and producer Zev Feldman. Original session Produced & Directed by Don Schlittlen. Album photo and design by Don Schlitten. Reissue supervised by Don Schlitten.
“Producer Don Schlitten conceived of this session as a welcome-home for Dexter Gordon, a longtime friend and associate. Dexter has made his home in Copenhagen for 14 years, making several trips back to the States. He visited the West Coast in 1975 and Chicago in 1974, but Dexter hadn’t appeared in New York since the Newport/New York Jazz Festival of 1972, where he was not featured to advantage.” – Tom Piazza
From the original liner notes of the album by Tom Piazza:
This date was a jam session in the true sense of the word. The personnel was a closely-guarded secret and, as one member after another strolled in, the air warmed with excitement and anticipation. With each new arrival came laughter and greetings; some were meeting for the first time, others were old friends.
The second of four releases on Xanadu in the 1970s, CALIFORNIA HARD was pianist DOLO COKER’s response to the notion that West Coast jazz musicians only played “cool jazz.” Featuring an all-star group including the iconic Art Pepper, in a rare sideman appearance, on alto and tenor saxophone, trumpeter Blue Mitchell, bassist Leroy Vinnegar and drummer Frank Butler. 16-page booklet contains original liner notes by Kent Hazen with new essays by Bill Milkowski and producer Zev Feldman, plus extra photos. Original session Produced & Directed by Don Schlitten. Album design & cover photo by Don Schlitten.
“The well-rounded set has originals by Coker, Pepper (‘Mr Yohe’) and Mitchell (a drum feature for Butler on ‘Roots 4fb’) along with a showcase for the trio (‘Gone Again’) and a vintage standard (‘Gone with the Wind’). A strong effort.” – Scott Yanow, AllMusic
His first entire album of solo piano pieces, recorded in 1982, KENNY BARRON‘s At The Piano is a must-have album for jazz piano lovers. The album is comprised of four Barron originals, and four standards, two of which were at the time of the release the only known solo piano pieces by the inimitable Thelonius Monk – “Misterioso” and “Rhythm-A-Ning.” “Along with the duets he recorded with Stan Getz, this stands as the high-water mark in his stellar recording career.” – Robert Taylor, AllMusic.com
After stretching out into the fusion realm in the early 1970s with Return to Forever and a number of albums on CTI, JOE FARRELL‘s 1979 album Skate Board Park was a return to his straight-ahead roots and features Chick Corea on electric and acoustic piano, Bob Magnusson on bass and Larance Marable on drums. “This valuable and very musical outing is long overdue to be reissued on CD.” – Scott Yanow, AllMusic.com
TEDDY EDWARD‘s 1975 album Feelin’s is a soulful sextet session with Edwards on tenor saxophone, Conte Candoli on trumpet, Dolo Coker on piano, Ray Brown on bass, Frank Butler on drums, and Jerry Steinholz on congas/percussion. “Teddy Edwards had not made a recording as a leader for quite a while at the time of this 1974 studio session . . . though after hearing this recording, one wonders why it took so long for someone to sign him . . . Long out of print, this disc is well worth acquiring.” – Ken Dryden, AllMusic.com
ELEMENTAL MUSIC AND WIDOW’S TASTE MUSIC PRESENT
ART PEPPER LIVE AT FAT TUESDAY’S
Previously unissued, remastered CD by alto sax great Art Pepper from an April, 1981 engagement at New York’s iconic jazz club out November 20, 2015
Detailed booklet includes interviews, essays from Stepháne Ollivier, Steve Getz, Brian Priestly, John Koenig, and Laurie Pepper
Art Pepper Live at Fat Tuesday’s features five extended live performances at the famed New York jazz club from the spring of 1981, Pepper’s most fertile period since his re-emergence onto the music scene in the mid-1970s, after years in prison and rehabilitation from drug addiction. Recorded April 15, 1981, the session featured Pepper flanked by a rhythm section composed of Pepper’s long-time associate, pianist Milcho Leviev, and two all-star guests, bassist George Mraz and drummer Al Foster.
Due out November 20, 2015 on Elemental Music (distributed in the U.S. by INgrooves), the package contains a 40-page booklet that includes: noted jazz historian and author Brian Priestley’s lengthy and probing 1980 interview with Pepper; an essay by French music scholar and journalist Stéphane Ollivier; producer Zev Feldman’s interview with Pepper’s widow, Laurie Pepper, who not only was her husband’s muse and closest collaborator, but who had vivid memories of the Fat Tuesday’s dates; a personal recollection by jazz producer John Koenig; and a first-person account by Fat Tuesday’s general manager, Steve Getz, of Pepper’s engagement at the club, as well as previously unpublished photographs by Laurie Pepper. The set will be available on CD and digital download.
According to producer Zev Feldman, the release of this album is a real stroke of luck; it could easily never have seen the light of day. Feldman explains, “In January of 2015, I received a phone call from Elemental’s CFO, Carlos Augustin, who informed me that label owner Jordi Soley had located a collector’s tape of Art Pepper recorded live at New York’s iconic jazz club, Fat Tuesday’s, in April of 1981.” The discovery of a previously unheard Art Pepper recording was a thrilling prospect for Elemental’s president, Jordi Soley, and for Feldman; Art Pepper is one of their absolute favorite jazz artists. Feldman continues, “I’ve been an Art Pepper fan since my early 20s when I was just starting my career in the music business and I discovered and was awestruck by his late-’70s to early ‘80s recordings.”
When Feldman learned of the existence of the tape and Soley and his team at Elemental had negotiated with Laurie Pepper to make it an official release, he determined to build the best album package possible to celebrate Pepper’s memory.
One of Feldman’s first moves was to bring in jazz producer John Koenig, who had worked with Pepper in the ‘70s, as an executive producer to work with Feldman on the album package and to bring to the project his memories of Art as a musician and as a man. And Feldman and the Elemental team assembled an outstanding array of voices, not only to place Pepper in historical perspective, but also to try to place listeners inside Fat Tuesday’s as the recording was made.
The recordings that make up this set, presented by Elemental Music and Widow’s Taste, represent Art Pepper — in his latest period — at his artistic peak. Having the benefit of a superb and sympathetic rhythm section, and in the intimacy of the leading New York jazz club whose management prided itself on creating a comfortable atmosphere for musicians so they could be at their best, Pepper was able to reach deep and produce some of his finest performances yet to be heard on record.
As Priestley has noted, “As with all of the major jazz soloists, the power of [Art] Pepper’s music outlives the circumstances in which it was created.” Art Pepper was an artist whose music embodied both transcendent beauty and powerful swing. His recorded output is celebrated decades after his death as art of the highest order. And the 1981 live engagement at Fat Tuesday’s in New York City that is presented on this album is among his finest recordings.
Pepper’s regrets regarding his own drug abuse are underscored in a poignant passage from the Priestley interview included in this album, in which Pepper recalled a conversation he had with one of his most important musical heroes, John Coltrane:
[We] [Pepper and Coltrane] became very good friends, and he told me, “You were given a gift by God, and to just ruin it by being a junkie, it’s really a crime. It wasn’t given to you just for your own selfish reason, it was given to you so that you could give it to the other people.” He had went through all those things and stopped, and that’s why he practiced continuously. And he said, “You’re a great player,” and that was the greatest compliment I’ve ever gotten in my life, for John Coltrane to say that. Because he is an idol of mine. So now I’m trying to give it.
Pianist Milcho Leviev, from Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second-largest city, is not only a pianist, but a noted composer and arranger in both jazz and classical music. In the early 1970s, Leviev relocated to Los Angeles. He encountered Art Pepper in the Don Ellis Orchestra, where Leviev served as pianist and arranger. Leviev has also performed and recorded with John Klemmer, Roy Haynes, Dave Holland, Gerald Wilson and Jack Sheldon. In the early ‘80s, he was one of the founders of the band Free Flight.
Virtuoso Czech bassist George Mraz was a member of Oscar Peterson’s group, and has worked with Pepper Adams, Stan Getz, Michel Petrucciani, Stephane Grappelli, Tommy Flanagan, Jimmy Raney, Chet Baker and many other important jazz musicians. Mraz is featured prominently on Pepper’s legendary 1977 Village Vanguard recordings on Contemporary Records featuring Pepper, Mraz, pianist George Cables and drummer Elvin Jones.
Drummer Al Foster has been closely associated with Miles Davis, both during the 1970s and in the early ‘80s, when Davis returned to music after a hiatus of several years. Foster has also worked with a virtual Who’s Who of jazz: from Herbie Hancock, Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson and Cannonball Adderley, to Freddie Hubbard, Thelonious Monk, Horace Silver and many others. This is the only recording on record of Foster with Pepper.
“Rhythm-a-ning,” by Thelonious Monk, first appeared on the 1957 Riverside album Mulligan Meets Monk. It’s an angular yet rollicking, up-tempo groove based on so-called rhythm changes, which is to say, the chord changes of George Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm.” The track begins at a high energy level with several choruses of melodic solos that even hark back to Art’s earliest saxophone influence, Lester Young. The urgent instrumental tone, though, is definitely early 1980s rather than mid-1950s and, after the first three minutes of the six-minute solo, there are instances of more distorted tones, sudden flurries and isolated use of upper-register screams.
Cole Porter’s 1929 song “What Is This Thing Called Love?” has become a jazz standard. Here, Pepper takes it at a medium tempo, with avant-garde elements appearing from early on, integrated into passages that still harken back to the familiar Pepper sound heard earlier in his recorded output.
Benny Goodman used Gordon Jenkins’s 1935 composition “Goodbye” as the closing theme for his orchestra. Pepper had a great affinity for it and his approach is, as it always was when he played it, to take it as a very slow ballad full of moodiness and lyricism. This is typical of Pepper’s approach to ballads, where he was always at his finest and most expressive.
“Make a List, Make a Wish” and “Red Car” are both compositions by Pepper. “Make a List, Make a Wish” is a typical modular/angular Pepper line that falls into a gospel-ish groove reminiscent of other tunes of the ’60s and ’70s like “Compared to What” as recorded by Les McCann and Eddie Harris.
“Red Car” is a Pepper composition he first recorded on The Trip in 1976. It’s a funk-gospel-infused, medium-tempo blues variant with a groove not unlike “Make a List, Make a Wish,” and gives all of the members of the band a chance to stretch out and play freely and without inhibition.
Art Pepper Live at Fat Tuesday’s is attractively designed by Burton Yount, who has created the artwork for many major jazz album packages, including Thelonious Monk Quartet With John Coltrane Live at Carnegie Hall, Wes Montgomery’s Echoes of Indiana Avenue and Bill Evans’ Live at Art D’Lugoff’s Top of the Gate for Resonance records.
Resurrecting one of the great jazz record labels of the 1970s and 1980s, Elemental Music, in partnership with The Orchard, proudly presents the Xanadu Master Edition Series – a new series of reissues of landmark albums from the vaults of Xanadu Records. Producers and Elemental co-founders Zev Feldman and Jordi Soley have handpicked 25 quintessential albums from the extensive Xanadu catalog in consultation with label founder Don Schlitten. The series features acclaimed titles by jazz greats including Jimmy and Albert “Tootie” Heath, Barry Harris, Kenny Barron, Charles McPherson, Dexter Gordon, Al Cohn, Cecil Payne & Duke Jordan, and Sonny Criss – many of which have never been released on CD before.
Don Schlitten founded Xanadu Records in 1975, following a successful career as a producer for such great jazz labels as Signal Records, Onyx, Prestige, Cobblestone, Muse and Xanadu. Among Xanadu’s more than 100 releases were important recordings by some of the giants of bebop and hard bop, documented at a time when popular tastes were overlooking such classic sounds in favor of electric fusion, rock, R&B and disco.
The label was a “mom and pop” operation, run by Don and his wife and partner Nina. Don recorded the artists, designed the album artwork, photographed the sessions, and occasionally wrote the liner notes – while Nina took care of the legal work, accounting and paperwork. As Nina has said, “Some days I was the secretary, other days I was the attorney.” Together they created a special home for musicians to record and left a profound music legacy.
“First of all, this is very important music that needed to be saved and preserved,” Feldman says. “Xanadu captured all of these amazing artists in their prime, and a lot of this music hasn’t been available for a long time. But this is much more than just another reissue series of great jazz albums for me. This series is also a celebration of the unique vision and contributions that Don Schlitten has made to jazz. He is one of my heroes, and an architect of this music who has left one of the largest footprints of anyone.”
Each of the 25 titles in the Xanadu Master Edition Series will boast deluxe packaging with ‘super jewel cases,’ 16-page booklets containing original artwork and liner notes, including additional photos from Don Schlitten’s personal archives, and new essays penned by British jazz journalist Mark Gardner, who wrote many of the original Xanadu liner notes. The series will be released digitally by The Orchard, with Elemental Music handling the CD & LP releases.
The series will launch on June 30th with the first six titles, including:
Barry Harris, Plays Tadd Dameron: A stellar 1975 trio session featuring the great pianist paying homage to the legendary bebop composer. It was a landmark album at the time, being the first repertoire tribute to the composer since his death a decade earlier.
Jimmy Heath, Pictures of Heath: Phenomenal quartet date featuring five Heath originals and a rendition of “Body and Soul,” with Barry Harris on piano, Sam Jones on bass, and Billy Higgins on drums.
Al Cohn / Jimmy Rowles, Heavy Love: Classic duet recording by tenor man Cohn and pianist Rowles, a delightful encounter with fresh takes on classic tunes. Grammy nominated.
Sam Most, From the Attic of My Mind: The definitive Most album, according to Schlitten, with the fiery flutist supported by pianist Kenny Barron, bassist George Mraz, drummer Walter Bolden, and percussionist Warren Smith.
Xanadu All-Stars, Xanadu in Africa / Night Flight to Dakar: A 2-CD set compiling two albums that resulted from a late-70s tour of West Africa that included Al Cohn, Billy Mitchell, Frank Butler, Leroy Vinnegar, and Dolo Coker.
Albert Heath, Kwanza (The First) aka Oops!: The first album featuring all three Heath brothers is a spiritually-oriented collection that also includes Kenny Barron, trombonist Curtis Fuller, and guitarist Ted Dunbar.
As the project got underway, Feldman soon discovered that many of the original tapes had been damaged or destroyed during Hurricane Sandy in the Fall of 2012 due to flooding where the tapes were stored. In order to live up to the standards already set by Elemental’s previous releases of unreleased music by Jimmy Giuffre and Red Garland, Feldman was forced to embark on a search for the best available source material in existence to make the release of this series a reality.
Feldman explains, “This was one of largest and most important historical preservation efforts I’ve ever been involved with. In many cases, the original tape reels completely unraveled in the floodwater. It was a mess, and as a result we outsourced the audio restoration and had to have the original master reels cleaned wherever possible. Unfortunately, all of the album art negatives, both front and back covers, were completely destroyed, so I had to dig into my personal LP collection to have drum scans made of them and then our designer, Simon Svärd, painstakingly cleaned up every front and back cover to remove all signs of damage or wear. It was an arduous process, but we were on a mission not to just preserve the music, but also the look and feel of the label according to Don’s vision,” says Feldman.
Having become familiar with the impressive depth and quality of Xanadu’s catalog over years of digging through record stacks, and later becoming friends with the Schlittens, Feldman says, “I’ve been a rabid jazz record collector my whole life, and everywhere I travel – in the States, Europe, Japan – I always make sure I get a chance to look through the local record shops, and I can’t go into a record shop and browse the bins without being constantly reminded of the gigantic footprint Don has left on the music. It’s really been an honor to have gotten to know Don and Nina well now, and being conscious of their advancing age, it’s become a chance not only to save, but revitalize this music and celebrate Don’s contributions.”
“I wanted to help create some great music,” says Schlitten today. “I’d had thoughts and feelings about music all my life, and I finally put them together in Xanadu in 1975. These are some of my best works by my favorite artists. I’m very pleased because these are great records and they should be available at all times, forever.”
Other titles coming in 2015/2016 also include:
Kenny Barron, At The Piano (1982)
Teddy Edwards, Feelin’s (1974)
Joe Farrell, Skateboard Park (1979)
Ronnie Cuber, Cuber Libre (1976)
Al Cohn & Dexter Gordon, True Blue & Silver Blue (2CD) (1976)
Dolo Coker, California Hard (1976)
Kenny Drew, Home Is Where The Soul Is (1978)
Charles McPherson, Beautiful (1975)
Frank Butler, The Stepper (1977)
Bob Berg, New Birth (1978)
Sonny Criss, Saturday Morning (1975)
Teddy Edwards, The Inimitable Teddy Edwards (1976)
Sam Jones, Changes & Things (1977)
Cecil Payne & Duke Jordan, Brooklyn Brothers (1973)
Barry Harris, Live in Tokyo (1976)
Charles McPherson, Live In Tokyo (1976)
Jimmy Raney, Live In Tokyo (1976)