LP lovers detested CDs when the format was first introduced in the 1980s. But little by little, as CD-player prices dropped in the 1990s, record collectors started snapping up discs of albums they never owned, particularly Blue Note releases. By the late 1990s and early 2000s, bit-remastering and meticulous restorations by import labels made CDs sound more exciting, especially when played on the right audio equipment.
And then came iTunes and mp3 downloads, which gave us portability and instant access to music at rock-bottom prices, without the burden of shelf storage. In the past year, the improved fidelity of downloads has further fueled the popularity of digital media. But with convenience comes compromise—namely the virtual death of album-cover art, liner notes and that little thing called
"hold-a-bility." Now, as more consumers abandon CDs and hook computers up to stereos, fewer and fewer companies are bothering to remaster LPs on CD or even upgrade older CDs, a decision that eventually will have an impact on jazz collecting, reading and learning.
Yesterday I offered five albums that I'd love to see remastered on CD before all music winds up on the head of a pin. Today, here's a second set of five LPs and CDs worthy of remastering and reissue:
Benny Carter—Saxomania (IDA/1988). This LP actually appears under French alto saxophonist Claude Tissendier's name. Tissendier led a French sax ensemble in the late 1980s and 1990s that recorded about 10 albums. On this French LP, Carter sails above a fine reed section on Doozy, Out of Nowhere, Lover Man, Stereophonic, Liza, What Am I Here For, Sweet and Pungent, and Cottontail. It's a shame this one hasn't seen the light of day.
Supersax—Salt Peanuts (Capitol/1974). This follow-up to the Grammy-winner Supersax Plays Bird (1973) served up another smart spread of Charlie Parker solos transcribed for five studio saxophonists: Med Flory and Joe Lopes (altos), Warne Marsh and Jay Migliori (tenors), and Jack Nimitz (baritone). After this one, the group recorded Supersax Plays Bird with Strings (Capitol/1974), also a fine example of bop reed work. Subsequently, Supersax recorded other albums but the three mentioned above were the group's best efforts. Admittedly a novelty act (you can't beat Bird for Bird), all three albums nevertheless made your neck hairs stand up. All three are out of print, and only Supersax Plays Bird was issued on CD. Each could use a remastering. Bird made it all look so easy, which becomes all too apparent when you hear these pros work hard to recreate his lines and lyricism.
Louie Bellson—Thunderbird (Impulse/1963). In Las Vegas, Bellson brought a bunch of West Coast studio musicians together and recorded one of his best small-ensemble recordings. The musicians on the date: Harry "Sweets" Edison (trumpet), Carl Fontana (trombone); Sam Most (alto sax), Ed Scarazzo (tenor sax), Jim Mulidore (baritone sax), Arnold Teich (piano), Jim Cook (bass) and Louie (drums). The arrangers were Jay Hill, Lalo Schifrin and Marty Paich. This album had been remastered and issued on a Japanese CD, but it's long out of print.
Coleman Hawkins—Stasch (Prestige/1959). As part of its Swingville series, Prestige Records put the Hawk together with Idrees Sulieman (trumpet), Jerome Richardson (flute, alto sax), Pepper Adams (baritone sax), Ray Bryant (piano), Roy Gaines (guitar), Wendell Marshall (bass) and Walter Bolden (drums) for a bluesy, uptempo session. Some tracks from this album were released on different CDs, but the album has never been remastered and reissued intact with its original, abstract expressionist cover.
Bobby Hackett—A Time for Love (Enoch Light/1968). Call it easy listening, mood music or whatever derogatory term you want to use. But at the end of the day, trumpeter Bobby Hackett's playing is always jazz to me. This album featured a mellow Hackett wandering around on a bed of strings playing positively beautiful standards of the day. You haven't lived till you've heard Bobby play the theme from the James Bond film You Only Live Twice or You Stepped Out of Dream. This album and That Midnight Touch (1967), another Hackett mood gem, eventually were released on a double LP and then a CD in the early 1990s. But that CD is out of print, and it never maximized the LPs' fidelity. Musicians on A Time for Love included Stan Freeman on piano and Don Lamond on drums. Arrangements were by Lew Davies, who wrote extensively for Enoch Light, an "easy listening" label started in the late 1950s that focused on high fidelity.