Earlier this year, Vinyl Me Please marked 100 releases in its Essentials track and reissued ten key titles from artists including Queen, Al Green, and Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Now, the record club is releasing the 50th title in its Classics series concentrating on Soul, Blues, and Jazz. (Hip-Hop and Country tracks are also available to monthly subscribers.) That 50th title is vocalist Abbey Lincoln’s third studio album, 1958’s It’s Magic, in a new edition remastered by Ryan Smith in an all-analog chain and pressed at QRP. As part of the festivities, VMP is also offering an opportunity to win almost all of the 50-volume Classics series.
Born in Illinois and raised in Michigan, Abbey Lincoln – born Anna Marie Wooldridge – was inspired by Billie Holiday to forge her own path in the jazz world. Her debut LP, 1957’s Abbey Lincoln’s Affair: A Story of a Girl in Love, was an ambitious concept album in which she personalized twelve compositions to tell a complete story from beginning (the Gershwins’ “Love Walked In”) to end (Bob Russell and Tutti Camarata’s “No More,” introduced by Holiday in 1946). The ambitious release, on which she was supported by heavyweights such as Marty Paich and Benny Carter, attracted the attention of Riverside Records where she would record three more remarkable LPs culminating in 1959’s recently-reissued Abbey Is Blue.
It’s Magic was the second of those three Riverside albums. Lincoln was joined by a band including Kenny Dorham (trumpet), Curtis Fuller (trombone), Benny Golson (tenor sax), Jerome Richardson (flute/baritone sax), Wynton Kelly (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), and Philly Joe Jones (drums) with Art Farmer, Sahib Shihab, and Sam Jones subbing on some tracks. Plumbing the depths of their lyrics for personal meaning, Lincoln once again made a group of familiar standards her own, whether Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne’s “It’s Magic” – immortalized by Doris Day – or Dorothy Fields and Jimmy McHugh’s “Exactly Like You.”
Lincoln would sit out recording for much of the 1960s, acting on television and film and using her voice as a passionate crusader for civil rights. A 1969 live performance of the searing “Africa” at the Harlem Cultural Festival with her then-husband, drummer Max Roach, is thrillingly seen in the new documentary Summer of Soul now in theatres and streaming on Hulu. Abbey Lincoln would ultimately blossom as a songwriter and take her music in many different directions, but she never completely abandoned the standards songbook; in 1989 and 1992 she released two volumes of Abbey Sings Billie saluting her early inspiration. Lincoln passed away in 2010 at the age of 80.
VMP’s all-analog reissue of It’s Magic is pressed on 180-gram vinyl and housed in a tip-on jacket. It includes a booklet of liner notes by journalist Shannon Effinger (Shannon All). New subscribers can begin their Classics track with this release; see here for more details.
Coinciding with this release, VMP is offering the opportunity to win all of their available Classics titles – over 40 in all. To enter, subscribers and non-members alike simply have to submit a 400-700-word essay responding to one of six questions (sample: “Write about a record you would want to be a future Classics pick, and why you would select that record”). The grand prize winner whose essay is selected by VMP will take home the vinyl bundle and will also have their essay featured in the club’s magazine. Second and third place prizes are also available. Click here for more information on how to enter. The contest ends on Friday, July 16 at 10:00 a.m. Mountain Time.
Abbey Lincoln’s It’s Magic is available now to subscribers of Vinyl Me Please at the link below.
Abbey Lincoln, It’s Magic (Riverside RLP 12-227, 1958 – reissued Riverside/Craft Recordings/Vinyl Me Please, 2021)
- I Am in Love
- It’s Magic
- Just for Me
- An Occasional Man
- Ain’t Nobody’s Business
- Out of the Past
- Music, Maestro, Please
- Exactly Like You
- Little Niles