July: John Coltrane’s Sun Ship
Our July Classics Record of the Month is John Coltrane’s free jazz masterpiece Sun Ship. An interstellar album recorded in 1965 but not released until 1971, after the saxophonist’s death, it’s an album that sounds like what traveling to Mars in an open-top convertible must feel like. It’s out there, and it’s been remastered AAA from the original master tapes by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound. It comes on 180g audiophile black vinyl and was pressed at RTI, a first for VMP Classics. It has new Listening Notes by Mark Richardson, the rock and pop critic for the Wall Street Journal and former Executive Editor of Pitchfork.
“Sun Ship was actually the first John Coltrane album I ever listened to,” said VMP Classics & Country Director Andrew Winistorfer. “I had read about him, and it was the only Coltrane album available at the public library when I was like 13 or 14, so I didn’t know that this album was from his more ‘out there’ period, and that he’d even made records like Love Supreme. In some ways, this Coltrane is what is most exciting to me; him pushing the boundaries of jazz, free jazz, his own playing and his own mind. When the opportunity came up to do one of the Coltrane albums from the vaunted Impulse! catalog, I instantly knew it had to be this album.”
Sun Ship is also Coltrane’s second time in VMP Classics, following our edition of Live in Paris 1960, an album recorded during his time with Miles Davis.
You can sign up to receive Sun Ship now.
August: Dinah Washington’s For Those in Love
The Classics Record of the Month in August is Dinah Washington’s splendid 1955 album, For Those in Love, one the jazz chanteuse’s best LPs. Remastered AAA from the original mono tapes by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound, it comes on 180g black audiophile vinyl, and was pressed at RTI.
“All Dinah Washington wanted was the one thing she never got,” writes Natalie Weiner in the album’s new Listening Notes. “Dubbed the Queen of the Blues and the Queen of the Jukeboxes — titles she used herself —Washington nevertheless resisted genre orthodoxy, and was clearly resentful whenever she was asked to explain or categorize her vast catalog. ‘You would mostly call me an all-’round singer,’ she insisted with a patient smile when a Swedish TV host asked her whether she preferred to sing jazz or blues songs. ‘Haven’t made opera yet,’ Washington quipped by way of conclusion, perhaps nodding to the hurdles facing Black women artists while making clear that she could earn many a ‘Brava’ at the Met, if given the opportunity.
‘I can sing anything,’ she told Jet magazine in a quote published posthumously. ‘Anything at all.’”
You can sign up to receive our new edition of For Those in Love starting July 21.
September: Dizzy Gillespie’s Afro
And finally, our Classics Record of the Month in September 2022 is Dizzy Gillespie’s groundbreaking 1954 album, Afro. Remastered AAA from the original analog tapes by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound, it comes on 180g black audiophile vinyl pressed at RTI. It features new Listening Notes from Dean Van Nguyen.
“I realized late last summer that it was a travesty we hadn’t featured any Dizzy Gillespie in six years of having VMP Classics, so I spent weeks deep in his catalog,” Winistorfer said. “And after some deliberation, decided that it had to be Afro as our first Dizzy album, because it was so secretly groundbreaking, one of the first Afro-Latin jazz albums ever, an album that proved that the lines between countries, musics and people were not as thick as we thought. Plus, ‘Manteca’ goes so hard, it was impossible to not pick Afro. Dizzy was on a whole other level when he made that song, and Afro the album.”
You can sign up for Afro starting August 18.
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