In the annals of jazz history, few events have been more influential than the Jazz at the Philharmonic concert series, and the album series of the same name. From 1944 to 1957, pioneering impresario, Verve Records founder, Norman Granz organized a series of prestigious all-star concerts that featured a who's-who of the genre's most popular and influential artists. These shows were instrumental in raising jazz's public profile, and were among the first high-profile performances to feature racially mixed bands performing for integrated audiences.
Granz spun off Jazz at the Philharmonic into a series of album releases, which preserved historic performances from the JATP concerts. Granz licensed many of those live recordings to Mercury Records and later issued them on his own labels, Norgran, Clef and Verve. In the 1980s, Verve reached into the vault for an additional series of releases that included previously unissued performances. The JATP recordings have since attained legendary status, a status that was confirmed in 2010, when the series was chosen by the Library of Congress for inclusion in the National Recording Registry, which annually selects recordings that are "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant."
On April 20, Verve Records/UMe issues a trio of beloved vinyl gems from the legendary live series issued in the 1980s: Ella Fitzgerald's Jazz at the Philharmonic: The Ella Fitzgerald Set, Jazz at the Philharmonic: Lester Young Carnegie Blues and the all-star Jazz at the Philharmonic: Blues In Chicago 1955, featuring Oscar Peterson, Illinois Jacquet and Herb Ellis. All albums are pressed on standard weight black vinyl.
Jazz at the Philharmonic: The Ella Fitzgerald Set shines the spotlight on one of JATP's favorite artists. The two-LP set is an updated version of its first vinyl release in Verve's original 1983 Jazz at the Philharmonic archival series, now matching the expanded CD edition issued in 2016. The stunning collection – now one dynamic set – incorporates Fitzgerald's performances from 1949, 1953 and 1957 concerts, with the iconic singer fronting all-star bands including such legendary players as Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Buddy Rich and Hank Jones, delivering classic interpretations of such standards as "Oh, Lady Be Good!" and "Lullaby Of Birdland," and the memorable jam session "Flying Home." The Ella Fitzgerald Set includes an essay by journalist Will Friedwald.
Another jewel from the original Jazz at the Philharmonic series, Jazz at the Philharmonic: Lester Young Carnegie Blues is a loose, blowing set with the great tenor saxophonist Lester "Pres" Young sharing the stage with such jazz legends as fellow saxophonists Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Parker and Illinois Jacquet, pianist Oscar Peterson, guitarist Herb Ellis, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Jo Jones. First issued in 1985 with tracks then previously unreleased, Lester Young Carnegie Blues features highlights from three JATP shows recorded at New York's Carnegie Hall in 1946, 1953 and 1957, including the title track, an extended "Tea For Two," and a medley of Young originals centered around "I Cover the Waterfront."
The third JATP reissue is Jazz at the Philharmonic: Blues in Chicago 1955, a thrilling tour de force led by piano great Oscar Peterson, and featuring his frequent partner, guitarist Herb Ellis, and early saxophone innovator Illinois Jacquet. Recorded at Chicago's Shrine Auditorium in 1955, one side of the album is an audacious 20-minute piece entitled "The Blues," while the other side features a bopping "Modern Set" and a long "Ballad Medley," with appearances by Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy Rich, Roy Eldridge and Flip Phillips.
On April 20, Verve/UMe will also celebrate the 60th anniversary of Sarah Vaughan's classic Sarah Vaughan Sings George Gershwin, originally released by Mercury Records in 1958, with a fresh vinyl reissue of this beloved two-LP studio set, in its original mono mix. Throughout the sparkling 22-song session, Vaughan's unmistakable vocals soar over Hal Mooney's impeccable arrangements, bringing new life to such Gershwin standards as "Someone to Watch Over Me," "I've Got A Crush On You," "Summertime," "A Foggy Day," "The Man I Love" and many more.
Shining as brightly today as when they were recorded, these four long out-of-print classics can once again be enjoyed on vinyl, sounding better than ever.