The RCA Victor Group continues its Bluebird First Editions series with three new reissues. The latest releases include Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli’s Djangology, Louis Armstrong’s Louis Armstrong and His Friends, and Lonnie Liston Smith’s Astral Traveling (pictured). All three CDs feature previously unreleased tracks and/or alternate takes.
Djangology, which was recorded in 1949 in Rome, marks the reunion of Reinhardt and Grappelli after the second World War cut off their relationship. The album, which features an Italian rhythm section of pianist Gianni Safred, bassist Carlo Pecori and drummer Aurelio de Carolis, includes tunes such as “Honeysuckle Rose” and “I Got Rhythm.” Although no tracks are rare or unreleased, the original Djangology 12-track LP has been expanded to 23, featuring tunes from the session that have been meted out elsewhere.
Louis Armstrong and His Friends was an all-star session on which several legends gathered to celebrate the trumpeter’s 70th birthday. Though he does not play his horn, Armstrong sings throughout on the album, which was his last studio date. The string-heavy 1970 session includes work from Oliver Nelson, Thad Jones and Kenny Burrell, among others. Armstrong tackles “We Shall Overcome” and “What a Wonderful World” as well as John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance” and three versions of Pharoah Sanders’ “The Creator Has a Master Plan.”
Smith’s 1973 LP Astral Traveling marked the former Jazz Messenger and Roland Kirk sideman’s debut as a leader, and the album features his band, the Cosmic Echoes, with saxophonist George Barron, guitarist Joe Beck, bassist Cecil McBee, drummer David Lee Jr., and percussionists Badal Roy, Sonny Morgan, James Mtume and Geeta Vashi. This jazz-fusion-funk session was recorded while Smith was still a member of Miles Davis’ group, and it features a mixture of Eastern sound, electric keyboards and universal vibes. The reissue features four previously unreleased alternate takes.
All of the releases in the Bluebird First Editions series feature 24/96 remastering of analog source material, original and new liner notes, archival photographs and original artwork when available.
For more information, go to www.bluebirdjazz.com.