Bluebird Records, the RCA jazz subsidiary that was resurrected last year, continues its series of First Edition reissues with three CDs released on Feb. 5:
Gil Evans The Gil Evans Orchestra Plays the Music of Jimmy Hendrix
Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers A Night in Tunisia
Paul Desmond Desmond Blue (pictured left)
Jimi and Gil originally conceived an Evans-Hendrix album, based on “Third Stone From the Sun,” when the guitarist was alive. What was supposed be a summit between the avant-rock guitarist and the worldly arranger, however, turned out to be Evans’ tribute to Hendrix, who died in 1970. This 1974 album reeks of its time period: it’s funky, groovy and a tad cheesy, but Evans’ arrangements are still shaded with his unique tonal colors. The reissue contains four alternate, unissued tracks, and features the talents of David Sanborn, George Adams, Billy Harper, Lew Soloff, Howard Johnson, Tony Williams, John Abercrombie, Ryo Kawasaki and Keith Loving.
The Blakey CD was originally recorded for the RCA imprint Vik in 1957, and it has the distinction among the drummer-leader’s extensive discography as being the lone album featuring his sextet with Jackie McLean (who left soon after) and Johnny Griffin (who replaced McLean). Pianist Sam Dockery and bassist Spanky De Brest round out this version of the Jazz Messengers, which existed for only a few gigs and recorded this one time. Tracks include the album and alternate versions of the title track, “Off the Wall,” “Theory of Art,” “Couldn’t It Be You?” and “Evans.”
Desmond’s disc is still available as part of The Complete RCA Victor Recordings of Paul Desmond, but those just wanting a taste of Dave Brubeck’s main man should start with the alto saxophonist’s orchestrated debut for the label. Recorded in 1961 and ’62, and featuring strings with arrangements by Bob Prince, guitarist Jim Hall shares in the soloing duties with Desmond. Among the 16 tracks are standards like “Autumn Leaves” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” and seven alternate takes of various cuts.
All the 24/96-remastered CDs feature original artwork and original and new liner notes.Originally Published