Our next three Classics Records of the Month — which you’ll receive if you sign up for VMP Classics in October, November and December 2022 — feature an album that set the foundation for free jazz, a former Classics artist and an album straight from the soul.
October: Ornette Coleman’s The Shape of Jazz to Come
With The Shape of Jazz to Come, alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman was creating free jazz — before the term even existed. This record, which VMP Classics members will receive in October, cleared the way for the avant-garde jazz of the future, and had an undeniable impact on the genre. As prominent music journalist Marcus J. Moore put it in the album’s Listening Notes: “Without The Shape of Jazz to Come, who knows if Coltrane would have had the heart to try spiritual jazz, or if an up-and-coming pianist named Herbie Hancock would’ve been bold enough to blend funk into his atmospheric hybrid. Coleman was the first major artist to leap into unforeseen territory, and he did it at a time when the courage wasn’t always rewarded.”
The VMP edition of The Shape of Jazz to Come is pressed at RTI on 180g black audiophile vinyl, with AAA lacquers cut from the original mono tapes by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound — the first mono vinyl reissue since 1966.
“I wanted Classics to really go out with a big bang this year, as I think this year has been one of our strongest ever in any subscription, and it starts with this mono reissue of Ornette Coleman’s masterpiece,” said VMP Director of Music Andrew Winistorfer. “Ornette basically set the template for free jazz for the next 60 years with this album, and I saw our edition as a chance to master it as good as it can possibly sound, and for it to be enticing to people who have maybe heard about this record and haven’t dropped into the deep end. Here’s your chance.”
Sign up now to get The Shape of Jazz to Come.
November: Miles Davis’ Star People
In November, VMP Classics members will receive Miles Davis’ Star People, the blistering 1983 record that followed a six-year period of silence and transition from the legendary artist. The first-ever 2LP release of the album, our edition of Star People comes on 180g black audiophile vinyl, pressed at RTI with AAA lacquers cut from tapes by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound and plated at Welcome to 1979, with new Listening Notes by Harmony Holiday.
About his evolving sound throughout his career, Holiday writes, “[Davis’] balance of new and classic made his never-look-back attitude make sense to listeners who could keep up. He would not play Kind of Blue for the rest of his life, and those who needed repetitive clichés would have to look elsewhere, or to the past as he transcended them.”
This is not Davis’ first time in the Track; he was previously featured in the March 2018 Classics Record of the Month, Live in Paris 1960, which collects his performance that year with John Coltrane. (Coltrane, whose free jazz masterpiece Sun Ship was featured as the VMP Classics Record of the Month in July 2022, had second billing on Live in Paris.) As Winistorfer explained, “For the first time in the history of the Classics subscription, we’re repeating a headline artist, and for good reason: We were approached to do the definitive edition of Miles Davis’ Star People, one of his final studio masterpieces.”
He added, “It was a no-brainer for me, especially since we realized that the original presses of this album were often sandwiched onto one LP, when it should have been spread across two. So, our edition will be the best sounding edition of the album, and it allows a new generation of listeners to engage with one of Miles’ most underrated periods.”
Star People will be available for sign-ups starting October 20.
December: Yusef Lateef’s The Three Faces of Yusef Lateef
Our December Classics Record of the Month is multi-instrumentalist and composer Yusef Lateef’s multifaceted (literally and conceptually) 1960 album, The Three Faces of Yusef Lateef. The VMP edition of the record comes on 180g black audiophile vinyl pressed at RTI, with AAA lacquers cut from the original analog tapes by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound and Listening Notes by Ashawnta Jackson.
“We’ve featured Yusef Lateef as a leader and player a number of times in the VMP store, and I realized earlier this year that we were overdue to feature him in Classics,” Winistorfer said. “And I quickly zeroed in on this album, an underrated album that showcases so many different sides of Lateef, who probably hasn’t reached the god tier in jazz circles for how diverse his sound was. He played multiple instruments and styles, and was never the same album to album. Get a slice of him here.”
Expounding on that diversity of sound, Jackson writes in the Listening Notes: “This is not a jazz album. ‘I don’t play jazz — in case you’ve heard that’s what I play,’ Yusef Lateef told an Ann Arbor Sun reporter in 1976. ‘That term doesn’t apply to my music, and it doesn’t apply to me.’ Lateef described his music as autophysiopsychic. This is music from the mind, the soul, the body. Music that comes, he said, ‘from the mental, physical and spiritual self.’ Just as it is powerful to say what you are, to claim your space proudly, it is just as powerful to say what you are not.”
The Three Faces of Yusef Lateef will be available for sign-ups starting November 17.
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