Launched in 1982 by Fantasy Records, the Original Jazz Classics banner subsequently appeared on more than 850 reissues over the next three decades from the venerable catalogues of Fantasy, Prestige, Milestone, Riverside, Galaxy, Debut, Contemporary, Pablo, and Jazzland Records. Now, Craft Recordings has announced the relaunch of the series whose logo remains a familiar sight to jazz fans and collectors alike. On April 28, Craft will reissue two classic titles in audiophile quality on the OJC imprint: Workin' with the Miles Davis Quintet (originally issued in 1960 on Prestige) and Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane (originally issued in 1961 on Jazzland). Reflecting OJC's new focus, the titles will be reissued on 180-gram vinyl, cut from the original master tapes in an all-analog (AAA) chain by Kevin Gray at Cohearant Audio. They will also be reissued digitally in 192/24 HD Audio.
Workin' with the Miles Davis Quintet is one of the five albums that resulted from Davis' three recording sessions for Prestige between November 1955 and October 1956. These sessions, which captured the vibrancy and intimacy of the trumpet giant's live shows, featured his First Great Quintet: Red Garland on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, Philly Joe Jones on drums, and John Coltrane on tenor saxophone. (The young Coltrane had replaced Sonny Rollins in Davis' group.) Workin' captures the Quintet at its swingin' hard bop peak with both original tunes (Davis' "Four" and "Half Nelson." Coltrane's "Trane's Blues") and reinvented standards (Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's "It Never Entered My Mind," Dave Brubeck's "In Your Own Sweet Way"). Jazz historian Bob Blumenthal notes, "Davis understood the potential of the new, longer 12-inch album format, and used it to create definitive performances...The key was contrast, which began with the juxtaposition of Davis' concision, Coltrane's complexity, and Garland's sparkle; extended to the textural variety the rhythm section provided each soloist; and was capped by the distinctive range of the band's repertoire."
1961's Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane was recorded in 1957 but not issued until Trane (already a veteran of Davis' and Dizzy Gillespie's bands) had become a jazz superstar in his own right. The album was recorded not long after pianist Monk, already a titan of the jazz genre, and Coltrane began a summer residency at New York's Five Spot Café. The track list featured such Monk favorites such as "Monk's Mood," "Ruby, My Dear," and "Epistrophy" (co-written with Kenny Clarke), reimagined in varied settings including trios, septets, and quartets. Monk and Coltrane were joined by a roster of top-tier musicians such as Art Blakey (drums), Wilbur Ware (bass), Gigi Gryce (alto sax), Ray Copeland (trumpet), Shadow Wilson (drums), and Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax). The partnership between Monk and Coltrane wasn't a long-lived one, dissolving soon after the Five Spot shows, but Coltrane never forgot the lessons he learned from the elder statesman of jazz.
Sig Sigworth, the President of Craft Recordings, comments in the press release, "Given Craft's shared passion for meticulous curation and quality, it was a natural step to relaunch Original Jazz Classics. Its popularity and iconic status have endured decades and many audio formats, but its mission remains the same. We are excited for longtime fans of the series to rediscover these historic titles as well as introduce them to an entire new generation of jazz fans." Future reissues are promised from Coltrane as well as from Bill Evans, Dave Brubeck, Mal Waldron, and Yusef Lateef.
The two initial titles in the new OJC vinyl series are due from Craft on April 28. You'll find track listings and pre-order links below.
- It Never Entered My Mind
- In Your Own Sweet Way
- The Theme (Take 1)
- Trane's Blues (a.k.a. Vierd Blues)
- Ahmad's Blues
- Half Nelson
- The Theme (Take 2)
- Ruby, My Dear
- Trinkle, Tinkle
- Off Minor