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Craft Recordings and Original Jazz Classics Announce 3 New Reissues For 2023

OJC continues rollout of jazz essentials with “The Tony Bennett Bill Evans Album,” The Dave Brubeck Quartet’s “Jazz at Oberlin” and “The Cats,” featuring Tommy Flanagan, John Coltrane, Kenny Burrell and Idrees Sulieman.

The Tony Bennett Bill Evans Album, the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s Jazz at Oberlin Album and The Cats Album

It has been quite a year so far for Craft Recordings. Their RSD 2023 titles included a superb Chet Baker release that was one of the most sought after records and the first batch of OJC reissues including iconic Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane titles were almost completely sold out within days of the announcement.

Both reissues were cut by Kevin Gray and feature incredible sound quality; I have been listening to both for the past few weeks and can’t believe how great they sound.

Craft Recordings also announced the second batch of Original Jazz Classics series reissues—all of which are essential additions to any jazz fan’s collection: Mal Waldron Sextet’s Mal/2, Yusef Lateef’s Eastern Sounds, as well as a pair of landmark recordings from the Bill Evans Trio, Waltz for Debby and Sunday at the Village Vanguard.

Craft Recordings officially re-launched Original Jazz Classics, reimagining the long-running reissue imprint with audiophiles and vinyl collectors in mind. Now the series closes out the year with three more essential titles: The Tony Bennett Bill Evans Album, the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s Jazz at Oberlin and The Cats, which captures Tommy Flanagan, John Coltrane, Kenny Burrell and Idrees Sulieman on the cusp of stardom. Offering the highest-quality listening experience, each album features lacquers cut from the original master tapes (AAA) by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio, 180-gram vinyl pressed at RTI and tip-on jackets, replicating the original LP artwork. Additionally, albums will be available digitally in 192/24 HD audio. 

The rollout begins October 27, 2023.

First launched in 1982 under Fantasy Records, Original Jazz Classics served as a home for the label’s impressive jazz catalog, which had grown to include thousands of celebrated titles from Prestige, Galaxy, Milestone, Riverside, Debut,Contemporary, Jazzland and Pablo. Over the next three decades, OJC became the go-to source for jazz reissues—and faithfully presented more than 850 memorable albums. Given Craft Recordings’ shared passion for meticulous preservation and quality, it was a natural step to relaunch Original Jazz Classics. 

Tommy Flanagan, John Coltrane, Kenny Burrell, Idrees Sulieman: The Cats

Long renowned for its music, Detroit became a hotspot for the emerging sounds of bebop, inspiring innovators like Miles Davis, Charlie Parker and John Coltrane to visit, while serving as an incubator for locals, including pianist Tommy Flanagan and guitarist Kenny Burrell. It was there that Flanagan met Coltrane and, when he and Burrell relocated to New York, they reconnected with the saxophonist at Rudy Van Gelder’s Hoboken studio in the spring of 1957. 

Tommy Flanagan, John Coltrane, Kenny Burrell, Idrees Sulieman: The Cats

At the time, all three musicians were on the verge of stardom. Coltrane was in between stints with Miles Davis and was about to begin a career-changing, months-long residency with Thelonious Monk. Burrell was a sought-after sideman, who had played with the likes of Tony Bennett, Billie Holiday and Benny Goodman, and was fresh off recording his debut as a leader. Flanagan had recently appeared on Sonny Rollins’ landmark album, Saxophone Colossus, and would soon become Ella Fitzgerald’s full-time accompanist. During this particular session, however, Flanagan would serve as the de-facto leader.

Joined by esteemed trumpeter Idrees Sulieman, as well drummer Louis Hayes and bassist Doug Watkins (both top players in the Motor City scene), the group performed four upbeat Flanagan originals: “Minor Mishap,” “Eclypso,” “Solacium” and the nearly 12-minute closer, “Tommy’s Time.” Flanagan, Watkins and Hayes also deliver a standout trio performance of the Gershwins’ standard “How Long Has This Been Going On?” The sole ballad offers Flanagan a moment to shine particularly bright, as he delivers a poignant and nuanced performance on the piano. 

A hard-bop classic, The Cats was released by Prestige Records in 1959. AllMusic praises, “From the opening number… you realize something special is happening. Flanagan is energized, playing bright and joyous melody lines, comping and soloing like the blossoming artist he was. Coltrane is effervescent and inspired… The Cats is a prelude to much more music from all of these masters that would come within a very short time period thereafter.”

Where to buy: $39.00 at CraftRecordings.com (Available October 27, 2023).

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The Dave Brubeck Quartet: Jazz at Oberlin

One of the most important and innovative figures in the post-war cool jazz movement, pianist Dave Brubeck became one of the genre’s biggest stars during his six-decade-long career. While his catalog contains numerous landmark recordings, one of his earliest was captured in 1953 at an unlikely venue: Oberlin College. At the time, it was a rare occurrence for a jazz artist to perform outside of a nightclub—let alone at a concert hall or school. However, after an Oberlin student caught Brubeck on stage in San Francisco, he persuaded the Ohio college to book the rising musician. 

The Dave Brubeck Quartet: Jazz at Oberlin Album

The Bay Area pianist brought members of his evolving quartet, which included bassist Ron Crotty, drummer Lloyd Davis and alto saxophonist Paul Desmond (who would remain with Brubeck for years and compose his biggest hit, “Take Five”). The set—which was comprised of five standards, including Juan Tizol’s “Perdido,” Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust” and Jerome Kern’s “The Way You Look Tonight”—offered Brubeck the opportunity to showcase his complex yet approachable style. Recorded by engineers at the college radio station and released by Fantasy as Jazz at Oberlin, it became one of the first instances of cool jazz on tape. 

Declaring the album to be “Brubeck’s First Great Jazz Moment,” The Guardian’s John Fordham explained that the musician’s delivery “indicated new directions for jazz that didn’t slavishly mirror bebop, and even hinted at free-jazz piano techniques still years away from realization.” DownBeat’s Nat Hentoff, meanwhile, hailed it as “the best of Brubeck on record. The concert itself also marked a turning point for the genre, helping to legitimize jazz as a serious art form. In the coming years, jazz artists would be booked more frequently at concert halls, while colleges and universities across the country (including Oberlin) would expand their studies beyond the confines of classical music. 

Where to buy: $39.00 at CraftRecordings.com (Available November 10, 2023).


Tony Bennett and Bill Evans: The Tony Bennett Bill Evans Album

When Tony Bennett and Bill Evans recorded their first of two albums together in 1975, it marked a rare moment in pop culture—when a pair of equally respected but vastly different icons could combine their talents, while elevating each other’s artistries in the process. Bennett was an internationally renowned singer, who had built a name for himself interpreting pop and jazz standards. Evans was one of the most innovative pianists in jazz music, who was revered for his conversational interplay and lyrical compositions. Best known for his work in trio settings, Evans rarely played with singers. He did, however, have a great appreciation for Bennett, which he professed in a 1968 Billboard tribute to the singer. 

Tony Bennett and Bill Evans: The Tony Bennett Bill Evans Album

Several years later, the two legends finally met at Fantasy Studios for an intimate and somewhat spontaneous affair. Joined only by producer Helen Keane and an engineer, Bennett and Evans selected material and loosely worked out arrangements. An amalgamation of both men’s backgrounds, the set married pop (“Days of Wine and Roses,” “Young and Foolish,” “We’ll Be Together Again”) with jazz, including Evans’ own “Waltz for Debby” (featuring lyrics by Gene Lees). The session allowed Bennett to prove his chops as a serious jazz singer, while Evans offered thoughtful accompaniment—with ample improvisational interludes. 

The Tony Bennett Bill Evans Album was an enormous success upon its release, leading to a follow-up, 1977’s Together Again. Since then, reverence for the recording has only grown. AllMusic hailed it as “one of the best albums of either’s career, while All About Jazz called it “one of the most memorable vocal-piano duets committed to vinyl.” NPR included the album in their Basic Jazz Record Library, with the AFI’s Murray Horwitz declaring, “This is the American art song tradition at its finest… Both men are masters, they know exactly what they want to do with each song, and they make a splendid interpretation every time. It’s one of those records when you can truly say it doesn’t get any better than this.”

Where to buy: $39.00 at CraftRecordings.com (Available December 1, 2023).


Tip: Find more Original Jazz Classics Albums available now at Amazon.com.

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