Where can you get an “LP” of the latest release from Ellis Marsalis? Try iTunes. It sounds like a contradiction in terms, but true to its moniker, Nu Jazz Entertainment is embracing the new with its release this month of Ellis Marsalis’ An Open Letter to Thelonious as “the first jazz “LP” on iTunes.”
iTunes launched its LP format in 2009 in an attempt to revive some of the visual experiences that came with buying records-the cover art, liner notes and inserts. Downloads with this label include digital versions of these items as well as video content. Marsalis’ Open Letter to Thelonious will be the first traditional jazz album to get the treatment.
The album download will include all 11 of the Monk compositions from the original 2008 release with Ellis at the piano, Jason Marsalis on drums, Derek Douget on tenor and soprano saxophone and Jason Stewart on bass. Added to the package are three bonus audio tracks, 10 photographs from the Milton J. Hinton Collection and the Marsalis Family Archives, liner notes in visual and audio formats, song etymologies from the award-winning book Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of An American Original by Robin D.G. Kelley and four high definition documentary videos exploring the Marsalis family. The videos offer narration from Ellis, interviews with his sons, and photographs capturing their earliest years as musicians.
The LP download resembles a cross between a DVD menu and a web site. Links to 8 content pages are splayed across a home page, which also hosts a simple “play album” button to trigger the 11 core audio tracks. Pages are laid out intuitively with scroll bars, and users can navigate back home from any of the successive pages with one click.
“The new iTunes ‘LP’ format was the ideal vehicle for releasing this project,” says Nu Jazz Entertainment president, Jerald Miller in a press release. “In association with Elm Records, we were able to go in and create some extremely unique material which not only gives great insight into the first family of musicians to be named ‘Jazz Masters’ by the National Endowment of the Arts, but creates an exciting interactive program that every music lover can truly enjoy.”
Ellis Marsalis: An Open Letter To Thelonious (Platinum Edition) retails for $15.98.