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Blue Note ST-84199/0850312
Format: LP

Musical Performance: ***½
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****

Just when I think I’ve bought too many Blue Note reissues on vinyl, the label releases something I like but own only on CD. Trumpeter Lee Morgan recorded The Rumproller in April 1965, and Blue Note released it in January 1966. The album followed The Sidewinder, which had become a surprise hit following its release in July 1964.

World Circuit WCV094
Format: LP

Musical Performance: ****½
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****½

Nigerian drummer Tony Allen, who’s been recording and touring since the late 1950s, is best known for his long stint with Fela Kuti’s Africa 70, which incorporated American funk and soul music into the African-influenced jazz that was Kuti’s specialty. The result came to be called Afrobeat, and Allen was the music’s driving rhythmic force. He recorded more than 30 albums with Kuti over the next ten years, and when Africa 70 disbanded in the late 1970s he went on to play as leader and sideman on a vast number of recordings. Pop-music fans will recognize him as a member of the British band The Good, the Bad & the Queen.

Pro-Ject PJR001
Format: 2 LPs

Musical Performance: ***½
Sound Quality: ****½
Overall Enjoyment: ****

By 1991, vinyl had been pronounced dead. But Heinz Lichtenegger, who that year founded Pro-Ject Audio Systems, remained faithful to the format. Although Pro-Ject now makes all manner of hi-fi gear, from DACs and amps to cables and accessories, its foundation remains turntables, and it continues to improve and innovate in a field that has made an impressive and, to many, unexpected comeback. Clearly, Lichtenegger and a few others, such as Roy Gandy of Rega Research, and Harry and Sheila Weisfeld of VPI Industries, believed that the attractions of vinyl would remain strong enough for the format to remain viable.

Blue Note/Slow Down Sounds SDS-84099
Format: LP

Musical Performance: ****½
Sound Quality: ****½
Overall Enjoyment: ****½

Although I’d heard of the great jazz guitarist Grant Green by the time I began collecting jazz albums, in the 1970s, I didn’t begin listening to him seriously until the early ’90s, when there was little available on new vinyl. The last few years have seen the return on vinyl of several Green albums, some through Blue Note’s 75th- and 80th-anniversary reissue and Tone Poet series, others from such audiophile labels as Analogue Productions and Music Matters.

ECM 1001 (LP)
ECM 0110 (24-bit/96kHz WAV)

Musical Performance: ***½
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****

Jazz pianist Mal Waldron moved from New York to Munich in 1967, and thereafter, until his death, in 2002, did most of his recording in Europe. He’d performed and recorded as a leader and sideman since the early 1950s, and had found that American -- especially African-American -- jazz musicians were treated and paid better across the Atlantic.

Impulse! 000602577573736
Format: LP

Musical Performance: *****
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****

Charles Mingus recorded three albums for Impulse! Records, and one of them, The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (1963), is among his masterpieces. It stands with two other Mingus albums, Pithecanthropus Erectus (Atlantic, 1956) and Mingus Ah Um (Columbia, 1959), as essential jazz recordings that belong in any collection of American music. Mingus went so far as to write, in the liner notes for Black Saint, “I feel no need to explain any further the music herewith other than to say throw all other records of mine away except maybe one other.” He doesn’t name the other record.

Apple B0030719-01
Format: LP

Musical Performance: *****
Sound Quality: ***
Overall Enjoyment: ***½

The Beatles’ Abbey Road turned 50 in September, and Apple Corps Limited, along with Universal Music and, in the US, Capitol Records, have marked the occasion with six commemorative packages, much as they did with the 50th-anniversary editions of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and The Beatles (aka “The White Album”).

Atlantic/Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab MFSL 1-415
Format: LP

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ****½
Overall Enjoyment: ****½

For a while in the 1970s, it seemed that one American band might be a match for the Rolling Stones. The J. Geils Band had a firm foundation in blues, soul, and R&B, and few bands then touring were tighter or more dynamic onstage. I saw them four times in the ’70s, and only Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band could match them for stage presence and intensity.

Impulse! 000602577573781
Format: LP

Musical Performance: ****½
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****

In 1963, bassist, composer, and bandleader Charles Mingus recorded three albums for Impulse! Records. The first of these, The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, is one of his best, and fit the Impulse! aesthetic of recording cutting-edge jazz. The third, Mingus Plays Piano, is a unique and valuable look at Mingus on the instrument he used to write his brilliant music.

“Baby Face” Willette: “Face to Face”

Blue Note B0029750-01
Format: LP

Musical Performance: ****½
Sound Quality: *****
Overall Enjoyment: *****

Grant Green: “Grant’s First Stand”

Blue Note B7745061
Format: LP

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ****½
Overall Enjoyment: ****½

Blue Note’s celebration of its 80th birthday continues, and I wanted to cover two new pressings featuring nearly the same players but released in different reissue series. “Baby Face” Willette’s Face to Face has been returned to print on vinyl as part of the Tone Poet series, mastered by Kevin Gray under Joe Harley’s supervision. Grant Green’s Grant’s First Stand is part of the Blue Note 80 series, also mastered by Gray but produced by Don Was.