Concord Music Group will release five new titles in its Original Jazz Classics Remasters series on September 17, 2013. Enhanced by 24-bit remastering by Joe Tarantino, bonus tracks (some previously unreleased), and new liner notes to provide historical context to the originally released material, the series celebrates the 40th anniversary of Pablo Records, the prolific Beverly Hills-based label that showcased some of the most influential jazz artists and recordings of the 1970s and '80s.
This 1966 concert at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles features sets by Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald, with the source evidently being a soundboard tape. His star soloists consistently shine, especially tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves in the flag-waver "Soul Call" and the ballad "In a Sentimental Mood" (the latter usually a feature for Johnny Hodges). Cootie Williams' brash trumpet is showcased in "Take the 'A' Train," while high-note specialist Cat Anderson squeals in his "Prowling Cat." The drums are a bit too prominent in the mix, the sound is a bit muddy in places, and the microphone does not always pick up the leader's spoken…
One of the giants of the alto saxophone, Johnny Hodges was perhaps the most important soloist and sideman in Duke Ellington's orchestra from 1928 up to Hodges' death in 1970. The self-taught player made many solo forays during his long career - one of his '50s outfits included a young John Coltrane - but history remembers Hodges for his virtuosic sidemanship, particularly his sensitive rendering of ballads.
When Billy Strayhorn died of cancer in 1967, Duke Ellington was devastated. His closest friend and arranger had left his life full of music and memories. As a tribute, Ellington and his orchestra almost immediately began recording a tribute to Strayhorn, using the late arranger's own compositions and charts. The album features well-known and previously unrecorded Strayhorn tunes that showcased his range, versatility, and, above all, the quality that Ellington admired him most for: his sensitivity to all of the timbral, tonal, and color possibilities an orchestra could bring to a piece of music. ~ Thom Jurek, All Music Guide
By the time Oliver Nelson and his big band had recorded Fantabulous in March of 1964 for Argo, the great composer, saxophonist, conductor, and arranger was a man about town in New York. He had released some truly classic dates of his own as a leader in smaller group forms – Blues and the Abstract Truth and Full Nelson among them – and had done arrangement work for everyone from Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and Johnny Hodges, Nancy Wilson, Frank Wess, King Curtis, Etta Jones, Jimmy Smith, Jack Teagarden, Betty Carter, Billy Taylor, and Gene Ammons, to name more than a few. For Fantabulous, he took his working big band to Chicago for a gig sponsored by Daddy-O-Daylie, a famous local disc jockey.
Altoist/arranger Benny Carter's classic Further Definitions is a revisiting, instrumentation-wise, to the famous 1937 session that Carter and tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins made in France with two top European saxophonists (Andre Ekyan and Alix Combelle) and guitarist Django Reinhardt. The all-star group (which also includes Hawkins, altoist Phil Woods, Charlie Rouse on second tenor, pianist Dick Katz, guitarist John Collins, bassist Jimmy Garrison, and drummer Jo Jones) performs a particularly inspired repertoire.