‘Verve By Request’ vinyl reissues – image courtesy of Verve Records/UMe/Third Man Records
Verve Records/UMe and Third Man Records have teamed up to resurrect the popular reissue series, Verve By Request, with a vinyl twist. Focusing on rare gems and fan-requested jazz albums from the band’s iconic Verve Label stable of labels, the series will feature two titles per month, each handpicked by Verve and Third Man Records. The discs will include both long-out of print tracks from the vault as well as very early vinyl pressings for albums released in the 90s and albums that were originally only released on CD.
The albums will be newly remastered from original analog sources, where available, and pressed onto 180-gram audiophile-grade vinyl at Third Man Pressing in Detroit. Each month, a limited Third Man Edition yellow colored variant of each LP will also be available exclusively through Third Man Records and uDiscoverMusic. Each of the Third Man editions will be presented in a limited edition, two-tone, screen-printed on an archival French cover, printed and assembled in Detroit. The series kicks off Nov. 11 with a nod to Third Man’s birthplace with two of Detroit’s finest: Alice Coltrane’s Ptah, the El Daoud (1970) and long out of print by Roy Brooks To beat (1964).
Registered at Motown’s legendary Hitsville USA studio for Workshop Jazz – the short-lived jazz imprint of Berry Gordy – Beat marks Roy Brooks’ debut as a frontman and finds the innovative drummer fusing his hard bop roots with a Motor City soul-jazz groove. Brooks, who has served as a sideman for Horace Silver, Yusef Lateef and Chet Baker, among others, is joined by fellow Detroit natives George Bohannon (trombone) and Hugh Lawson (piano), as well as bandmates from the Horace Silver Quintet: Blue Mitchell (trumpet), Junior Cook (tenor saxophone) and Eugene Taylor (bass). Together they deliver a high-energy set that includes tracks written by Brooks, Joe Henderson and Duke Pearson. Notably, the track “Soulsphere” was composed by Alice McLeod (erroneously credited as “McCloud” on the cover), who would chart a new musical path a few years later as the incomparable Alice Coltrane. Hailed by All Music as “a record of extraordinary scope and range”, Beat is the first official reissue of a Workshop Jazz album.
Following the death of her husband John Coltrane in 1967, Alice Coltrane continued to transmit the musical and spiritual version which they had elaborated together and began to release records on her own as a composer and conductor. The hypnotic Ptah, the El Daoudwas the fourth album to bear the name of the pianist and harpist released between 1968 and 1970, which also included her joint album, cosmic music, partially recorded with John a year before his death. the transcendent Ptah, the El Daoud, recorded in Coltrane’s home studio in 1970 and released later that year on Impulse! Records, features an all-star line-up on all four compositions, including Pharaoh Sanders and Joe Henderson (both on tenor saxophone and alto flute). A masterpiece of spiritual jazz, the album’s title track is an ode to the Egyptian god, Ptah (the El Daoud meaning “the beloved”), while many of the disc’s moments can best be described by the Hindu word “Turiya”, which Coltrane defines in the liner notes as “a state of consciousness – the elevated state of Nirvana, the goal of human life”.
The outings continue on December 9 with chicken fat, the 1967 Pulse! debut of blues guitarist Mel Brown. Brown’s clean picking style – honed while playing alongside John Lee Hooker, Bobby Bland and T-Bone Walker – pairs deliciously with the soul-jazz swing organ of Gerald Wiggins. With the simmering lament “I’m Goin’ to Jackson”, the electrifying “Greasy Spoon” and the remarkable title track, chicken fat is probably the funkiest and most unique album ever released on the label.
Also available in December is by James Brown soul at the top. Originally released in 1970 via King Records, the album was a dream project for the Godfather of Soul, a big band jazz fan who is offered the full treatment with an 18-piece band, led by drummer Louis Bellson and arranged by Impulse! starring Oliver Nelson. Joined by his soul consigliere, saxophonist Maceo Parker, Brown offers a swinging set of jazz and pop standards, while revisiting many of his classic hits, including “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World” and “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag “. This reissue features a new mix of the original album by legendary bassist and James Brown superfan Christian McBride and UMe A&R Vice President Harry Weinger.