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duaneiac

Artists who got overlooked during the CD reissue heyday

41 posts in this topic

So I've been listening to a lot of vintage Ahmad Jamal music the past couple of days (as Maxwell Smart used to say, "and loving it!").  Unfortunately I've had to do so via one of those 8 albums on 4 CDs grey market sets that we are not supposed to discuss here.  The question  is, what were my other options?  That these albums have not been made commercially available on CD via a legitimate domestic reissue is not only frustrating it is also  almost criminally negligent on the part of the copyright holder to intentionally withhold from the American public access in some form or another to these items and performances of significant musical, artistic and cultural value.  I guess these albums were included in the Mosaic set, but if like me, one could not afford that set when it was available, is that just the end of the story as far as the rights holder was concerned?  (I don't even know which conglomerate owns the Chess/Cadet/Argo catalog now.)   They didn't want anybody else's money?

I mean, At The Pershing, Volume Two is simply a terrific album and should be just as readily available as Everybody Digs Bill Evans or Money Jungle.  But how if the rights owner has no interest in reissuing it or any of  these other great albums?  That I am nearly 60 years old and it's the first time I'm hearing At The Pershing, Volume Two in its entirety is very, very wrong.  All of these Ahmad Jamal Argo albums should have been just as eagerly reissued on CD as Oscar Peterson's Verve albums were.  Verve & Pablo (and their subsequent owners) made a vast array of OP's original albums -- good, bad or indifferent (and yes, I can hear you OP deniers saying, "how can you tell the difference?") -- available on CD.  Ahmad Jamal's music deserves that same degree of attention and respect.  I would gladly welcome a legitimate, well-done, remastered CD version of each of these albums.  Instead I end up buying this beautiful music from some shoddy public domain EU label.

It seems like the era of CD reissue programs at the major labels has pretty much ended, so it is unlikely we will see a legitimate domestic  CD reissue of these not insignificant albums.  I certainly wish some of these could be reissued on CD while Mr. Jamal is still around to pass along his thoughts & recollections about the recordings.  

So I guess I have a couple of questions.

1)  Why were Ahmad Jamal, Ramsey Lewis and Ray Bryant so woefully represented on CD by whoever owned Chess/Cadet/Argo back in the 1990's - early 2000's? 

2)  What other artists can you think of who have had significant portions of their recorded works not get reissued officially on CD?  A minor example:  I don't think either of Junior Mance's two Capitol LPs were domestically reissued on CD.  Not essential stuff, but they would be fun to have.

A broader example would be those many 2 LP sets that came out in the late 1970's and 1980's of The Complete RCA Bluebird Recordings of . . .   I think there was a big multi-disc Complete RCA Bluebird boxed set for Glenn Miller issued on CD, but the label never pursued anything approaching a complete reissue program for such musicians as Bunny Berigan,  Charlie Barnet or Benny Goodman.

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2 hours ago, duaneiac said:

1)  Why were Ahmad Jamal, Ramsey Lewis and Ray Bryant so woefully represented on CD by whoever owned Chess/Cadet/Argo back in the 1990's - early 2000's? 

duaneiac,

I've often thought the same about the Argo/Cadet catalog.  It's been woefully under-served in terms of digital reissues, particularly in the US and Europe.  A quick scroll through the Argo/Cadet discography shows many artists who recorded for the label whose recordings have been overlooked.  These are all in addition to the three that you mentioned -- Ahmad Jamal, Ray Bryant, and Ramsey Lewis.  Consider ...

  • Dorothy Ashby - Several
  • Kenny Burrell - The Tender Gender 
  • Lou Donaldson - Several
  • Art Farmer, Benny Golson, and the Jazztet - Several (not counting the Mosaic set, of course)
  • Bunky Green - Several
  • Al Grey - Several
  • Barry Harris Trio - Breakin' It Up
  • Willis Jackson - Several
  • Illinois Jacquet - Several
  • Budd Johnson - Several
  • Hank Jones, Kenny Burrell, Milt Hinton, Elvin Jones - Here's Love
  • Harold Land - The Peacemaker
  • Jack McDuff - Several (including one of his very best records, The Heatin' System)
  • James Moody - Many (an egregious oversight, IMO)
  • Shirley Scott - Several
  • Sonny Stitt - Many (no surprise there)
  • Baby Face Willette - Mo' Rock and Behind the 8 Ball

I'm know there are others that I'm missing.

I suppose someone at some point decided that mining the Argo/Cadet catalog for reissues wasn't worth it from a dollars-and-cents point of view.  But I know that decision often had little or nothing to do with the quality of the music.  

 

 

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33 minutes ago, HutchFan said:

duaneiac,

I've often thought the same about the Argo/Cadet catalog.  It's been woefully under-served in terms of digital reissues, particularly in the US and Europe.  A quick scroll through the Argo/Cadet discography shows many artists who recorded for the label whose recordings have been overlooked.  These are all in addition to the three that you mentioned -- Ahmad Jamal, Ray Bryant, and Ramsey Lewis.  Consider ...

  • Dorothy Ashby - Several
  • Kenny Burrell - The Tender Gender 
  • Lou Donaldson - Several
  • Art Farmer, Benny Golson, and the Jazztet - Several (not counting the Mosaic set, of course)
  • Bunky Green - Several
  • Al Grey - Several
  • Barry Harris Trio - Breakin' It Up
  • Willis Jackson - Several
  • Illinois Jacquet - Several
  • Budd Johnson - Several
  • Hank Jones, Kenny Burrell, Milt Hinton, Elvin Jones - Here's Love
  • Harold Land - The Peacemaker
  • Jack McDuff - Several (including one of his very best records, The Heatin' System)
  • James Moody - Many (an egregious oversight, IMO)
  • Shirley Scott - Several
  • Sonny Stitt - Many (no surprise there)
  • Baby Face Willette - Mo' Rock and Behind the 8 Ball

I'm know there are others that I'm missing.

I suppose someone at some point decided that mining the Argo/Cadet catalog for reissues wasn't worth it from a dollars-and-cents point of view.  But I know that decision often had little or nothing to do with the quality of the music.  

At least The Jazztet and Benny Golson saw release as individual CD's (Japan) and 2-on-1's (Germany/Europe) some time ago....

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2 minutes ago, soulpope said:

At least The Jazztet and Benny Golson saw release as individual CD's (Japan) and 2-on-1's (Germany/Europe) some time ago....

For sure. 👍

Many of these Argo/Cadet recs have had Japanese reissues. Harold Land's The Peacemaker, for example. But think about how much more well-known that recording could've been if it were more readily available in the U.S. and Europe during the heyday of jazz CD reissues.

Then again, maybe it wouldn't have made any difference.  I don't know anything about the way the music biz works (or worked back then). The music lover/collector in me just wishes they were more readily available, easier to hear -- both for me and other jazz fans too.

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Charles Earland and a lot of other Muse artists/albums are MIA on CD.

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24 minutes ago, HutchFan said:

For sure. 👍

Many of these Argo/Cadet recs have had Japanese reissues. Harold Land's The Peacemaker, for example. But think about how much more well-known that recording could've been if it were more readily available in the U.S. and Europe during the heyday of jazz CD reissues.

Then again, maybe it wouldn't have made any difference.  I don't know anything about the way the music biz works (or worked back then). The music lover/collector in me just wishes they were more readily available, easier to hear -- both for me and other jazz fans too.

You`re right .... btw some reissues were rather recent, others like "The Pacemaker" already 10+ years ago ....

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Posted (edited)

I thought one of the problems with the Argo/Cadet catalog was the lack of masters? Many (all?) of the Argo/Cadet sessions that have been released on CD don't have great sound. I've also noticed that on the few releases I do have from these labels, there is often a lack of personnel listed. Maybe the label just wasn't kept in a good enough condition to allow the owner to mine it properly? You can't reissue what you don't know you have. :)

Edited by bresna

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5 hours ago, BFrank said:

Charles Earland and a lot of other Muse artists/albums are MIA on CD.

And many that did come out on CD can effectively only be found in those dreaded ‘32jazz’ releases - long after earlier more legit-looking earlier CD issues (if they were ever released pre-32jazz at all.

It’s a crime that Woody Shaw’s Muse catalog suffered that way, and most of those titles became nearly impossible to readily find. Didn’t help that you had to decode which Woody Shaw titles corresponded to which retitled 33jazz 2-fers. Really a shame.

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4 minutes ago, Rooster_Ties said:

It’s a crime that Woody Shaw’s Muse catalog suffered that way, and most of those titles became nearly impossible to readily find. Didn’t help that you had to decode which Woody Shaw titles corresponded to which retitled 33jazz 2-fers. Really a shame.

Put right in the Mosaic Muse Shaw set.

5 hours ago, soulpope said:

others like "The Pacemaker" 

:huh::lol:

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Argo/Chess/Cadet ended up with Universal during the CD Reissue Boom, correct? They did a few things here and there, just not very many. I know they did the Oliver Nelson record (but NOT the Lou Donaldson record with Oliver nelson).

Considering that those labels were out of Chicago and catered to a certain demographic in their time, that's Strikes 1 & 2 about getting a knowing treatment a few decades later. Plus, their LPs could be on the short side,

And the label's rather shoddy treatment by pre-Universal owners (remember all these B&W covers and then the LPs that had the same front and back covers)...I bet that cheapened the catalog's prestige/mystique/whatever. They also never (hardly) repackaged any LPs, so the original covers never got updated. sometimes that was good, but sometimes.....not.

But there's some DAMN good records there, a lot of damn good records, actually. Long overdue for some loving hands to massage all the goodness that is tensed up inside that body.

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Odell Brown!

Sonny Cox!

Bill Leslie!

Thornell Schwartz!

Sam Lazar!

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8 hours ago, HutchFan said:

duaneiac,

I've often thought the same about the Argo/Cadet catalog.  It's been woefully under-served in terms of digital reissues, particularly in the US and Europe.  A quick scroll through the Argo/Cadet discography shows many artists who recorded for the label whose recordings have been overlooked.  These are all in addition to the three that you mentioned -- Ahmad Jamal, Ray Bryant, and Ramsey Lewis.  Consider ...

  • Dorothy Ashby - Several
  • Kenny Burrell - The Tender Gender 
  • Lou Donaldson - Several
  • Art Farmer, Benny Golson, and the Jazztet - Several (not counting the Mosaic set, of course)
  • Bunky Green - Several
  • Al Grey - Several
  • Barry Harris Trio - Breakin' It Up
  • Willis Jackson - Several
  • Illinois Jacquet - Several
  • Budd Johnson - Several
  • Hank Jones, Kenny Burrell, Milt Hinton, Elvin Jones - Here's Love
  • Harold Land - The Peacemaker
  • Jack McDuff - Several (including one of his very best records, The Heatin' System)
  • James Moody - Many (an egregious oversight, IMO)
  • Shirley Scott - Several
  • Sonny Stitt - Many (no surprise there)
  • Baby Face Willette - Mo' Rock and Behind the 8 Ball

I'm know there are others that I'm missing.

I suppose someone at some point decided that mining the Argo/Cadet catalog for reissues wasn't worth it from a dollars-and-cents point of view.  But I know that decision often had little or nothing to do with the quality of the music.  

 

 

So it looks like every one who spent time at Argo/Cadet will have a "black hole" in their careers when it comes to their CD discography.  That's a shame, but it is also still puzzling.  Even if as bresna suggests there was a problem with a lack of original masters, it was not uncommon for record labels to reissue a CD from the best available vinyl source.  Why would a major record label sleep on reissuing classic albums by so many legendary musicians?  Other labels were reissuing their old Jack McDuff, Lou Donaldson, James Moody and Kenny Burrell albums on CD and finding a market for them.  Why couldn't the owners of Argo/Cadet even be bothered to try?

7 hours ago, BFrank said:

Charles Earland and a lot of other Muse artists/albums are MIA on CD.

Yes, I was thinking I have seen several Muse LPs in used record stores that have never made it to CD.  I just could not think of a specific artist who has been particularly poorly served when it came to CD reissues.

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1 hour ago, sidewinder said:

:huh::lol:

Obviously "The PEacemaker" ....

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2 hours ago, sidewinder said:

Put right in the Mosaic Muse Shaw set.

:huh::lol:

I had 90% of the Shaw Muse material on those godawful 32Jazz reissues, and I pre-ordered the Shaw Mosaic within 48 hours of being able to do so -- the very FIRST Mosaic I ever pre-ordered like that.

Still, I think it's an absolute crime that an album like Shaw's Berliner Jazztage was never released here in the US on an individual CD (under its own title) - and therefore barely known by CD-buying listeners over the last 30-35 years.  Also doesn't help that an album title like "Concert Ensemble at Berliner Jazztage" (or is it just "Berliner Jazztage"?) - doesn't exactly roll off the tongue either.  In any case, that such a brilliant album is relegated to semi-obscurity is really an awful shame.

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I thought that I read somewhere that the Muse catalog was a mess because of an ugly "business divorce" that somehow divided up the catalog?

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55 minutes ago, duaneiac said:

 Why couldn't the owners of Argo/Cadet even be bothered to try?

A lot of that catalog had the "stigma" of being "commercial" in one way or another, Like Burrell's The Tender Gender, it's an album about songs about girls. It's not real "exciting" or anything, it's just a good record. Tiings are all radio-friendly too, so yes, "commercial". but BFD. It worked. No need for stigmatizing the facts of life.

And then there's Richard Evans - not the most inventive or original arranger, just one with an ear towards what would play on the radio. 1966, hey yeah, 2006, eeeeewwwww jazzsnobs are repulsed.

What would really benefit the catalog is not single album reissues, but a knowing, loving packaged approach, putting albums together to represent the artist's catalog cumulatively. You would get a damn good Lou Donaldson out of that, an essential James Moody set, and good lord, the organ records (they'd have their own Legends Of ChicAcid Jazz series right there...)...and the non-Mosaic-ed Ahmad Jamal records....Ramsey Lewis post-Young/Holt, especially when Maurice White was on the gig, and Charles Stepney was at the helm...

And omg, if anybody had the gumption and the money to do a loving, knowledgeable, comprehensive Charles Stepney retrospective...that would be a deeply prized piece of my collection. There is so much there.

It's not necessarily a catalog the lent itself well to the single-album reissue paradigm. But that paradigm has come and gone, as has probably the reissue paradigm in general. But you got some good records in that catalog to do something with.

As for the owners...if you buy the Chess/Checker/Argo Cadet catalog, what are you buying it for? For the blues records, right? And even then, what, 3-5 names, mostly, right? And with good reason - you can sell the shit out of those records from now until forever. But everything else that comes with that? Hey, it all just came with that burger, like the fries you don't care if you get or not. And Bill Leslie? Not even a stray fry, more like the toothpick that you take out and throw away before you even get started. Not even a tasseled tooth pick at that.

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21 minutes ago, bresna said:

I thought that I read somewhere that the Muse catalog was a mess because of an ugly "business divorce" that somehow divided up the catalog?

That was for the catalog from the earlier days of the label (and including some of what was done for Cobblestone). Joe Fields and Don Schlitten each got custody of "their kids" (and there might have been an orphan or two). But Fields-Muse lasted a good long while on its own, got into a deal with Savoy Jazz (which then became or was already part of Artista), and IIRC, Fields folded Muse, took a little nap, and then woke up refreshed (a good nap'll do that for ya') and started, what was it, high note?. IIRC, he said he was not interested in investing the time or resources needed to "get his label back" or something like that.

And that kinda made sense, b/c there was little, if anything, to distinguish the first High Note releases from what the same people were doing for Muse, right? Same records, really (and I meant that in a good way). But lost are what Muse was starting to do with a certain group of emerging young NYC players, many associated in some form or fashion with M-Base. Cindy Blackmon, Lonnie Plaxico, Wallace Roney, plenty of records being made there. Not all of them necessarily good, none of them really great, but still, a scene, an opportunity for a group of players to organize for domestic record dates of original materials on an established "mainstream" label. Never a bad thing, that.

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Aside from the long OOP Mosaic Selects, Charles Tolliver's 60s & 70s music was only released on CD overseas (on Black Lion, Charly, Bellaphon, and Bomba) in a rather patchwork form of re-titlings and compilations (Paper Man of course not being released at all until recently). Even today those discs are very hard to get a hold of. Which is to say nothing of the Germany-only Live In Berlin albums and general lack of new recording opportunities during the 80s-00s. Cuscuna did his part but it still astounds me generally unavailable one of our great living jazz musician's work has been in his own country.

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Posted (edited)

There's still a ton of excellent Muse stuff that's MIA.  Rooster has already mentioned the Woody Shaw titles.  I also think of Pat Martino's seminal work for the label, which -- like Shaw's discs -- were reissued on 32 Jazz.  And those two are just the tip of the iceberg.

Unlike Rooster, I am grateful for the 32 Jazz label -- poor package design and all -- because, otherwise, even more of that music would never have been available in digital format. ... Have you noticed that the only issues that have been available for download were the ones digitized for 32 Jazz?  Everything else is just sitting in the vault.  The least they could do is make it available for downloading!

Some "important" (or at least interesting) artists whose Muse releases have never seen the light of day in the digital world:

- Bill Barron (Jim's favorite!, 3 LPs ready to packaged up in a two-CD set!)
- Eric Kloss (his best record, Essence)
- Carlos Garnett
- Richard Davis
- Buddy Tate
- Arnett Cobb
- Groove Holmes
- Don Patterson 
- Charles Earland (already mentioned above)
- Mickey Tucker !!!
- Joe Bonner
- The Visitors
- Mark Murphy
- Sheila Jordan
- Melvin Sparks
- and many others
 

And I'm just focusing on the 1970s, not even touching the later, 80s and 90s stuff Jim mentions above.

Edited by HutchFan

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5 minutes ago, HutchFan said:

- Bill Barron (Jim's favorite!, 3 LPs ready to packaged up in a two-CD set!)

No!

Ready to be part of a comprehensive Mosaic big box including the Savoy records and those off-label mid 60s dates!

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39 minutes ago, HutchFan said:

There's still a ton of excellent Muse stuff that's MIA.  Rooster has already mentioned the Woody Shaw titles.  I also think of Pat Martino's seminal work for the label, which -- like Shaw's discs -- were reissued on 32 Jazz.  And those two are just the tip of the iceberg.

Unlike Rooster, I am grateful for the 32 Jazz label -- poor package design and all -- because, otherwise, even more of that music would never have been available in digital format. ... Have you noticed that the only issues that have been available for download were the ones digitized for 32 Jazz?  Everything else is just sitting in the vault.  The least they could do is make it available for downloading!

Some "important" (or at least interesting) artists whose Muse releases have never seen the light of day in the digital world:

- Bill Barron (Jim's favorite!, 3 LPs ready to packaged up in a two-CD set!)
- Eric Kloss (his best record, Essence)
- Carlos Garnett
- Richard Davis
- Buddy Tate
- Arnett Cobb
- Groove Holmes
- Don Patterson 
- Charles Earland (already mentioned above)
- Mickey Tucker !!!
- Joe Bonner
- The Visitors
- Mark Murphy
- Sheila Jordan
- Melvin Sparks
- and many others
 

And I'm just focusing on the 1970s, not even touching the later, 80s and 90s stuff Jim mentions above.

32 Jazz and Joel Dorm was a godsend. Sorry the label is no longer around. 

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27 minutes ago, JSngry said:

No!

Ready to be part of a comprehensive Mosaic big box including the Savoy records and those off-label mid 60s dates!

LOL !

Didn't realize that it had to be a career-spanning, ALL-ENCOMPASSING set!  :D 

 

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Oh yeah. It's there.

If there can be BingleRosieHerdyherdMoSatches with the Mosaic brand of legitimacy-conferring that comes with that, then there can sure as hell be Bill Barron.

Bill Barron is the Tina Brooks of the 21st Century. The question is - will Mosaic be the Mosaic of the 21st Century?

 

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Posted (edited)

Back to duaneiac's original post. 

What's about Al Cohn's recordings on Xanadu?  Two of them have never been issued in digital format: Al Cohn's America and No Problem.  Arguably, the best of the bunch -- Play It Now -- was only briefly available in digital format.  It's a doozy! ... When Elemental did their recent Xanadu reissue series, they did scoop up Cohn's duo record with Jimmy Rowles, Heavy Love.  I was happy about that.  Just wish they'd done Play It Now (and the others).

Speaking of Jimmy Rowles ... His LP for Xanadu, We Could Make Such Beautiful Music Together, deserves a wider hearing.  It's easily one of Rowles' best dates, IMO.  

 

Edited by HutchFan

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18 minutes ago, Brad said:

32 Jazz and Joel Dorm was a godsend. Sorry the label is no longer around. 

Yes - deservedly damned to Eternal Damnation Design Hell (and I will keep my foot on that cellar door along with everybody else's so they don't ever escape), but fuck it, they got the records out. Not just Muse, but Atlantic, hello Fathead/Hand Crawford.

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