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Koch Raids RCA & Sony Vaults

While RCA’s jazz department has gone the way of the dodo, the independent Koch Jazz is still mining the major label’s vaults for classic jazz reissues. Four new CDs, culled from the’40s, ’50s and ’60s, are dropping in record-store bins. Longtime Basie band guitarist Freddie Green’s first CD, Mr. Rhythm, is from 1956 and it features Al Cohn, Joe Newman, Henry Coker, Nat Pierce, Milt Hinton, Osie Johnson and Jo Jones. Ellington’s sidemen represent on Things Ain’t What They Used to Be, a combination of four small-group recordings made in the ’40s led by alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges and trumpeter Rex Stewart. Pianist Phineas Newborn cut several sessions in Memphis in 1956 and those recordings finally found their way onto the 1967 LP Phineas’ Rainbow featuring solo as well as trio and quartet performances with George Joyner, Philly Joe Jones and Calvin Newborn. Finally, the awkwardly named The Sextet of Orchestra U.S.A. and its interpretation of Mack the Knife from 1966 featuring Eric Dolphy, Thad Jones, John Lewis, Jimmy Raney, and others.

Koch also dug through Sony’s cellar and uncovered five new albums that, apparently, aren’t worthy of the Legacy label. Still, there is much to love on these releases, starting with Don Ellis’ Shock Treatment, the perfect follow up to his groovy, psychedelic 1968 big-band album Electric Bath. At the other end of the spectrum is Pony Poindexter’s 1963 album Pony’s Express, which features big-band takes on tunes like “Mickey Mouse Club March” and “Struttin’ With Some Barbecue.” More big-band hi-jinks follow on Woody Live: East and West, a collection of tracks from Herman’s Herd recorded in 1965 and 1967. Vocalist Teri Thornton’s 1963 album Open Highway, featuring Clark Terry, Ron Carter, Mel Lewis and an orchestra, and drummer Dave Bailey’s 1960 LP One Foot in the Gutter, featuring three long blues jams with Terry, Junior Cook, Curtis Fuller, Horace Parlan and Peck Morrison, round out the reissues.

Originally Published