From The Desk Of The Kellys: Blue Note Vinyl Reissues

Whenever Jeff Kelly takes a break from piloting Seattle’s Green Pajamas on their world tour of uncharted psych/pop waters, he likes to collaborate vocally with a woman. Until now that person has been GPJ alternate lead singer Laura Weller in a partnership called Goblin Market. Kelly didn’t have to venture far from the home fires for his most recent female vocal foil. With his wife Susanne as an equal partner, the pair has come up with By Reckless Moonlight (Green Monkey), a little gem that visits places no Jeff Kelly LP has been before. Susanne may insist she’s not really a singer, but her voice knows just the right moves to counterbalance Jeff’s ethereal sound from a previous lifetime. The Kellys will be guest editing all week. Read our recent feature on them.


Jeff: I have to admit my early interest in classic jazz music was in a large part influenced by the stunning graphic art and photography of Blue Note Records album cover art, especially the ’60s stuff. When I found out what was on the vinyl inside, so much the better! I’ve often wondered what it would have been like to collect those records as they originally came out. I would have been mostly too young for that, and even when I was an older child, I was caught up with pop and rock music, certainly not jazz. I might have been hearing “Take Five” by Dave Brubeck and maybe “Watermelon Man” by Herbie Hancock, but not much else. “The Girl From Ipanema,” of course. Everybody heard that one. But oh, what a new world when I started getting the Blue Note stuff in the early days of compact discs. Now there’s a chance to buy these records new again! Sorta. To celebrate the company’s 75th birthday, about five newly remastered LPs (120-gram vinyl, with replica sleeves) are being released each month. So it’s a little bit like a dream come true: me buying Blue Note LP records as they’re released, new, each month. At first I thought, “Great, I’ll get all of them!” Then reason set in. Though affordable, they aren’t cheap at around $18 apiece. So I’ve just decided to be a little selective.

Some favorites:

Out To Lunch! by Eric Dolphy.
I’m absolutely crazy about Eric Dolphy. I think I would have wanted to marry him back in his day. What a fascinating man and musician. I believe this was his only studio recording for Blue Note, and what a fucking record!

See No Evil and Ju Ju by Wayne Shorter
Two of my very favorite sleeves and with the music to match. Put these on after listening to a little Art Pepper as I did the other day and suddenly you go, “Whoa, man, we’re not on the West Coast anymore. We’re heading into some wild and darker territory. Let’s keep going!” Hard and beautiful stuff.

Our Man In Paris by Dexter Gordon
Always loved this man and this album. The vinyl is a small revelation to me.

At The Golden Circle Stockholm Vol. 1 by Ornette Coleman
I was always a little afraid to listen to Ornette Coleman. When I did, I found his music surprisingly easy to like. I also have his Blue Note release The Empty Foxhole on vinyl with his then 12-year-old son on drums. His son was no Tony Williams, which made the critics a little bit … uncomfortable. I listened to it over and over and over again this past summer, front door open, sun shining.

Undercurrent by Kenny Drew
I didn’t know this album and, wow, what a treasure!

Often these recordings were made not just good but great by the billed leader alone but also by the other phenomenal musicians who played on these sessions, a partial who’s-who really, of important American musicians, and this new reissue series makes that fact all the more apparent. Nothing I’ve acquired from this series is disappointing, and I really think these records sound better than the old CD issues I own. Blue Note has released so much monumental music over the years it’s kinda mind blowing. Their “75th Anniversary Vinyl Initiative” was one of my personal, most welcome, surprises of 2014, and apparently they’re going to keep this going for years to come. If you’ve never listened to jazz of the ’50s and ’60s and want to try it out, you’re in for some fun.

Video after the jump.