ATLANTIC JAZZ LEGENDS-20 ORIGINAL ALBUMS FROM THE ICONIC LABEL.

ATLANTIC JAZZ LEGENDS-20 ORIGINAL ALBUMS FROM THE ICONIC LABEL.

Mention the great jazz labels, and automatically think of Blue Note, Impulse, Capitol Records and of course, Atlantic Records. It was founded in 1947, by Ahmet Ertegün and Herb Abramson. Eight years later, in 1955, Ahmet’s brother Nesuhi joined Atlantic Records. By then, Atlantic Records had embraced jazz. 

Jazz, Atlantic Records, believed was the future of music. They were right. There was an explosion in jazz’s popularity. This just happened to coincide with the introduction of the twelve-inch LP.  Soon, Atlantic Records became synonymous with jazz music. It was home to some of the most innovative and groundbreaking artists. Among them, were John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Herbie Mann, Chick Corea, Art Blakey and Thelonious Monk. Each of these artists feature in the Atlantic Jazz Legends-20 Original Albums From The Iconic Label box set, which was recently released by Rhino. 

For newcomers to jazz, the Atlantic Jazz Legends-20 Original Albums From The Iconic Label box set, is the perfect introduction to twenty years of jazz released by Atlantic Records. It’s meant to be the perfect primer to what’s without doubt, one of jazz’s legendary labels. The albums in the Atlantic Jazz Legends-20 Original Albums From The Iconic Label box set were released between 1956 and 1973, and a are a tantalising taste of an iconic jazz label, Atlantic Records.

The Atlantic Jazz Legends-20 Original Albums From The Iconic Label box set story starts in 1956. That’s when Chris Connor released her eponymous album Chris Connor. She works her way through a set of standards that includes Cole Porter’s I Get A Kick Out Of You, Get Out Of Town and Anything Goes. Along with Rogers and Hart’s He Was Too Good To Me, Chris Connor is an album of vocal jazz that heads off in bluesy, soulful tangents. Two years later, two jazz legends would collaborate  

In 1958 Art Blakey and Thelonious Monk collaborated on Jazz Messengers. This coming together of giants, resulted in a critically acclaimed album of bop and hard bop. Not for the last time, would Art Blakey and Thelonious Monk play their part in a classic album.

Just like Art Blakey and Thelonious Monk, Ornette Coleman is remembered as a pioneer of jazz. His first release on Atlantic Records was 1959s The Shape Of Jazz To Come. That was no idle boast. Far from it, The Shape Of Jazz To Come was a groundbreaking album, from one of the founding fathers of free jazz. However, The Shape Of Jazz To Come isn’t the only Atlantic Records debut within the Atlantic Jazz Legends-20 Original Albums From The Iconic Label box set.

John Coltrane’s Giant Steps, which was released in 1960, was the first album ‘Trane released on Atlantic Records. It was case of start as you mean to go on. Giant Steps was a John Coltrane classic. Gone was bebop, to be replaced by hard bop. However, ‘Trane’s music continued to evolve. By 1961s My Favorite Things ‘Trane fused modal jazz and hard bop. That was still to come. During 1960, two hugely influential albums were released.

The first was Charles Mingus’ Blues and Roots. It was Charles Mingus’ Atlantic Records’ debut. Just like John Coltrane, Charles Mingus’ music was evolving. Blues and Roots was an ambitious album of post bop. Equally ambitious was The Modern Jazz Quartet’s 1960 album Pyramid. It was an album of West Coast Jazz tinged with bop. For The Modern Jazz Quartet, the cool school wasn’t out yet and would still be going strong in 1962.

That’s when Mel Torme released Comin’ Home Baby. For me, 1962s Comin’ Home Baby is a controversial inclusion. It’s a mixture of soul jazz and easy listening that I could’ve lived without. After all, there’s much more worthy inclusions, including albums that helped change musical history. However, doubtless the compilers will argue that Comin’ Home Baby’s inclusion shows just how eclectic Atlantic Records’ back-catalogue is. There’s everything from Mel Torme’s easy listening to Mose Allison’s post bop.

Just like so many artists that feature in the Atlantic Jazz Legends-20 Original Albums From The Iconic Label box set, Mose Allison was always looking to push musical boundaries. By 1964, when he released The Word From Mose his music is best described as post bop. Mose’s previous Atlantic Records’ albums veered between blues, jazz and soul jazz. He was a versatile artist, just like Joe Mooney, Dave Pike and Joe Zawinul.

During 1966, Joe Mooney, Dave Pike and Joe Zawinul all released albums on Atlantic Records. For some people, Joe Mooney’s Lush Life will be a controversial choice. However, once they’ve experienced the delights of Lush Life, they’ll be won over by Joe. Sometimes, swings, other times the music has a moody, late night sound. This slice of vocal jazz is the surprise package in the Atlantic Jazz Legends-20 Original Albums From The Iconic Label box set. Dave Pike’s Jazz For The Jet Set is another hidden gem. Vibes player Dave Pike switches to the marimba and is accompanied by guitarist Billy Butler and Herbie Hancock on Hammond organ. The result is an album of curios and obscurities that epitomise an era. Joe Zawinul’s  Money In The Pocket is the other album released during 1966. It marks the debut of the Austrian fusion virtuoso, and hints at what’s to come from the future bandleader and Miles Davis’ sideman. A year after Joe Zawinul released his Atlantic debut, so did Freddie Hubbard and Roy Ayers.

By 1967, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard had released albums on Blue Note, Impulse and Prestige. Then in 1967, Freddie released Backlash on Atlantic Records. It’s a blistering debut from another of jazz music’s pioneers. Constantly, Freddie explored new genres. He never stood still, and during the sixties moved from bebop and hard bop to post bop. Backlash is the perfect introduction  to one of jazz’s explorers. The same goes for Roy Ayers’ Atlantic Records’ debut Virgo Vibes. Back then, the future looked bright for Roy, who was one of jazz’s rising stars. On Virgo Vibes, one of Roy’s hidden gems, the vibes man taking hard bop in a new and unexpected directions. An equally adventurous album,  is Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s The Inflated Tear.

Not many artists have to overcome blindness. Rahsaan Roland Kirk did and became a multi-instrumentalist. His disability didn’t hinder him. Far from it. By 1968, Rahsaan Roland Kirk was ready to release The Inflated Tear, an album of post bop. It was the followup to 1967s Here Comes The Whistleman. It’s a blistering album from the pioneering reeds-man. 

The same year, 1968, two albums of free jazz were released. Free jazz pianist Keith Jarrett released his debut album Life Between The Exit Signs, on Atlantic Records’ subsidiary Vortex. It’s a tantalising taste of what the Keith Jarrett was capable of. However, the 

Yusef Lateef’s The Blue Yusef Lateef is a stonewall classic. Elements of free jazz and hard bop combine to create an album where Yusef pushed musical boundaries to their limits, and sometimes, even beyond. As the sixties drew to a close, that’s what people expected from records bearing the Atlantic Records’ logo.

By 1969, flautist Herbie Mann had released a string of critically acclaimed albums on Atlantic Records. Memphis Underground, released in 1969, is best described as an album of soul-jazz. This was very different to his previous albums. That’s not surprising. Herbie never stood still. His music was constantly evolving and moving forward. This ensured as a new new decade was about to dawn, that his music stayed relevant.

There’s only three albums from the seventies in the Atlantic Jazz Legends-20 Original Albums From The Iconic Label box set. The first is Latin percussionist Mongo Santamaria’s 1970 album, Mongo ’70. On Mongo ’70, musical genres melt into one. Elements of Afro-Cuban, jazz, Latin and jazz-funk unite, playing their part in what’s a genre-melting album. That’s also the case on Billy Cobham’s album Spectrum.

Spectrum was drummer Billy Cobham’s 1973 debut album. By then, Billy was already twenty-nine. However, he was part of a new musical genre, fusion. Fusion was a marriage of jazz, funk and rock. This was the way the jazz was heading in 1973. Soon, fusion would be one of the most popular musical genres. Even jazz veterans like Chick Corea would jump on the fusion bandwagon. In 1973, Chick Corea released Inner Space, where elements of fusion and post bop collide, creating a groundbreaking album, which is the final album in the Atlantic Jazz Legends-20 Original Albums From The Iconic Label box set.

Earlier, I described the Atlantic Jazz Legends-20 Original Albums From The Iconic Label box set as the perfect primer to to what’s without doubt, one of jazz’s legendary labels. There’s twenty album from three decades. The twenty albums were released during a seventeen year period between 1956 and 1973. 

1956 was the year after the twelve-inch LP was introduced. This played its part in the rise and rise of Atlantic Records. From the introduction of the album, Atlantic Records embraced jazz. Soon, Atlantic Records became synonymous with jazz music. It was home to some of the most innovative and groundbreaking artists. Among them, were John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Herbie Mann, Chick Corea, Art Blakey and Thelonious Monk. For the next seventeen years, Atlantic Records signed some of the jazz’s biggest names and rising stars. Many of them feature in the Atlantic Jazz Legends-20 Original Albums From The Iconic Label box set, which was released recently by Rhino.

Whether you’re a newcomer to, or veteran of  jazz music, the Atlantic Jazz Legends-20 Original Albums From The Iconic Label box set deserves to find its way into your record collection. It features everything from Afro-Cuban, bebop, easy listening, free jazz, fusion, harp bop, jazz-funk, Latin, post bop and vocal jazz. As a result, the best way to describe the Atlantic Jazz Legends-20 Original Albums From The Iconic Label box set is eclectic. It’s also a box set that’s sure to provoke debate.

Just like any box set, where the compiler can only pick twenty albums, music lovers will debate the merits of the various albums. After all, there’s so many candidates within Atlantic Records’ vaults. This must have made choosing just twenty albums extremely difficult. However, mostly, the albums with the Atlantic Jazz Legends-20 Original Albums From The Iconic Label box set are their on merit. That’s apart from Mel Torme’s Comin’ Home Baby. I can think of many albums that are worthy of a place with the Atlantic Jazz Legends-20 Original Albums From The Iconic Label box set. Maybe however, they’ll find their way into Volume 2.

There must be a followup to the Atlantic Jazz Legends-20 Original Albums From The Iconic Label box set. After all, for three decades Atlantic Records was synonymous with jazz. That’s why The Atlantic Jazz Legends-20 Original Albums From The Iconic Label box set is a welcome release, a reminder of one of the heyday of one jazz’s greatest labels. 

ATLANTIC JAZZ LEGENDS-20 ORIGINAL ALBUMS FROM THE ICONIC LABEL.

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2 Comments

  1. This looks indeed like a perfect gift for somebody new to Jazz – a wealth of extremely important but also great to listen to records. Veterans will likely have the “problem” that they own a larger part of the records already. By the way, is this a vinyl release or CD?
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Glad that you enjoyed the review. I’m in total agreement with you, about the box set. Many jazz veterans will have the albums, or most of them. For newcomers to jazz, however, it’s a good introduction to the wealth of great jazz Atlantic released. At $50 for 20 CDs that’s great value.

      Regards,
      Derek.

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