Our next three Classics Records of the Month — which you’ll receive if you sign up for VMP Classics in April, May and June 2023 — feature blues and jazz standards, a gem from Blue Note and a hard-bop masterpiece.
April: Odetta’s Odetta and The Blues
In April, VMP Classics members will receive our edition of Odetta and The Blues, pressed at GZ on 180g black audiophile vinyl, with AAA lacquers cut from the original master tapes by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound, with a Listening Notes booklet from Susannah Young.
The 1962 album from Odetta collects blues and jazz standards, in which “Odetta makes each track sound timeless and true, but also utterly, entirely her own,” Young writes. “I think that’s the hallmark of a true and truly unique talent … to find the throughlines between their perspective and the art itself; to preserve the original message and add one of your own, like a constructive game of Telephone.”
“Since we did the Vanguard box, I’ve been wanting to feature Odetta in Classics. She’s got such a deep catalog that has sort of fallen through the cracks,” said VMP Director of Music Andrew Winistorfer. “She bounced around genres and labels, and never really had the massive hit that made her contemporaries world-famous. So, while she was Martin Luther King Jr.’s favorite singer, and performed with him at rallies, and was a regular on TV, her records themselves, apart from a handful of folk ones, have become almost afterthoughts. This record packs such a punch; it’s Odetta doing blues and jazz standards, and her voice is so good, and so there it feels like you’re sitting in the studio next to her.”
Sign up now to receive Odetta and The Blues.
May: Freddie Roach’s Brown Sugar
Freddie Roach’s Brown Sugar, originally released by Blue Note in 1964, is our VMP Classics Record of the Month in May. “Freddie Roach’s first three albums introduced him to the world, but Brown Sugar showed it who he was,” Listening Notes author Ashawnta Jackson writes. “It was the album that Roach made to capture the energy of soul jazz. To somehow take the sounds in the city, in the clubs, and bring them to a record. In his original liner notes, Roach writes that the album is an ode to late nights and loud clubs, to backs damp with sweat, arms wrapped around waists.”
The VMP exclusive edition of the record is pressed at GZ on 180g black audiophile vinyl with AAA lacquers cut from the original master tapes by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound, with a Listening Notes booklet from Jackson.
“It’s been a few years since we’ve featured Blue Note in Classics, since they’re doing such a good job reissuing their catalog on vinyl, but you can’t do a jazz reissues series without doing something with them,” Winistorfer said. “There’s this huge period of Blue Note especially that people kind of overlook, that era when organ-fied soul jazz was moving units, and essentially bankrolled the more out-there titles on the label. Freddie Roach, along with Jimmy Smith, was one of the label’s organ-jazz stalwarts, and this record is such a vibe: It feels like hitting a joint and floating in a jacuzzi, but in audio form.”
Brown Sugar will be available for sign-ups starting April 20; sign up to be notified here.
June: Thelonious Monk’s Monk’s Music
In June, VMP Classics members will receive Thelonious Monk’s Monk’s Music, the 1957 release from the iconic jazz artist’s septet, including John Coltrane, Art Blakey and Coleman Hawkins, among other lauded players. The VMP edition of Monk’s Music is pressed at GZ on 180g black audiophile vinyl with AAA lacquers cut from the original master tapes by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound, with a Listening Notes booklet by Charles Waring.
“Thelonious Monk’s Live in Paris was the first jazz album VMP ever sent our members, back in 2014, and it occurred to me it’s a travesty we haven’t featured him in VMP Classics until now,” Winistorfer said. “But we decided to go big or go home here: We’re featuring one of Monk’s biggest albums, and one of his most daring. A hard-bop masterpiece, our edition should stand along some of our finest jazz releases, like last year’s Shape of Jazz to Come or Sun Ship.”
“On Monk’s Music, Thelonious Monk elected to use a bigger sonic canvas than he’d used before by adding four horns to a rhythm section of piano, bass and drums — with Gigi Gryce, Coleman Hawkins, John Coltrane, Wilbur Ware, Ray Copeland and Art Blakey joining him to form a septet,” Waring explains in the Listening Notes. “This album marked a defining moment in jazz; not just for its enigmatic architect, Monk, whose genius was now beginning to be recognised, but also for Coltrane.”
Monk’s Music will be available for sign-ups starting May 18; sign up to be notified here.