If you started listening to jazz during the LP era, then you certainly have a list of albums you hope someday will be available on a remastered CD. Sadly, in the download age, the chances of those albums appearing on a disc issued here, in Japan or anywhere else are becoming increasingly remote.
Slim odds notwithstanding, I've decided to share 10 from my wish list (hey, you never know who's reading what these days!). Below are the first five. Tomorrow I'll feature the second set:
Sonny Stitt—The Sensual Sound of Sonny Stitt (Verve/1961). This Stitt with Strings album features lush arrangements by Ralph Burns and liner notes by Ira Gitler. I have no idea why Verve has steadfastly refused to remaster and reissue this one. The charts are solid throughout, and Stitt sails along like the breeze on each of the album's 10 tracks. It's a gem from start to finish. In the late 1990s, the album was remastered and released in Japan. But today even the import is out of print and will cost you upward of $50 if you find it. I tried—and balked, hoping Verve would see the light. So far, no dice.
Oliver Nelson—Black, Brown and Beautiful (Flying Dutchman/1961). Side No. 1 features a tribute to Martin Luther King, and Nelson's writing, truth be told, is a little iffy. By contrast, side No. 2 features five powerhouse compositions and arrangements. There's also brilliant solo work by alto saxophonist Frank Strozier, pianist Roger Kellaway, and Nelson on soprano sax. A couple of tracks from this album were issued on a Nelson comiplation CD in 1992, but the entire work remains available only on vinyl.
Herb Pomeroy—Band in Boston (United Artists/1959). Boston-born trumpeter and educator Pomeroy died last August. A sideman in small groups and bands throughout the 1950s, Pomeroy recorded two albums for United Artists in 1958 and 1959—The Band and I with vocalist Irene Kral, and Band in Boston. The former was remastered and reissued by Capitol in the early 2000s. But Band in Boston has remained unissued on CD. Which is a shame, since as anyone lucky enough to own this rare album knows, it features exceptional big band arranging and playing that defies all "schools" of the time.
Thelonious Monk—Who's Afraid of the Big Band Monk? (Columbia/1968). Long ridiculed as "Monk Does L.A.," this double LP was hands-down fabulous. I never understood the drubbing critics gave this one. Personally, I think much of their ire stemmed from the illustrated cover, which stupidly depicted Monk's head on top of a wolf. Poor art direction aside, the double album is a killer and should be reissued by Sony. Dig the personnel: Bobby Bryant, Conte Candoli, Freddie Hill (trumpets); Billy Byers, Mike Wimberly, Lou Blackburn, Bob Bralinger (trombones); Ernie Watts and Buddy Collette (alto sax); Charlie Rouse and Tom Scott (tenor sax); Ernie Small (baritone sax); Thelonious Monk (piano); Howard Roberts (guitar); Larry Gales (bass); and Ben Riley (drums). Oliver Nelson arranged and conducted.
Dizzy Gillespie—Dizzy Goes to College, Vols. 1 and 2. (Jazz Showcase/1947). Recorded originally at Cornell University in October 1947 (students never had it so good!), these two LPs feature Dizzy Gillespie's orchestra at its very best. I first heard the rare recordings last December during a Cecil Payne memorial broadcast on WKCR (NY) just after the baritone saxophonist died. The band is loose, the playing strong, and Dizzy is having a ball. Arrangements were by Tadd Dameron and George Russell. The recordings have been available only on two LPs. Again, the personnel tells the tale: Dizzy, Dave Burns, Elmon Wright, Matthew McKay and Ray Orr (trumpets); William Shepherd, Ted Kelly (trombones); John Brown and Howard Johnson (alto saxes); James Moody and Joe Gayles (tenor sax); Cecil Payne (baritone sax); Milt Jackson (vibes); John Lewis (piano); Al McKibbon (bass); Joe Harris (drums); Chano Pozo (conga); and Kenny Hagood (vocals). It's truly a crime that this one remains unissued. Memo to someone, somewhere out there: Please find the metal, restore and reissue! This gig is an essential Dizzy document and bop recording that's completely off the radar screen.