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In November, members of Vinyl Me, Please Classics will receive Jazz Impressions of Japan, a 1964 album from the Dave Brubeck Quartet. The album has been remastered from the original tapes and pressed at QRP on 180g vinyl, with a tip-on jacket. You can read an excerpt from our liner notes here, read a primer on the band here, check out a best of playlist here, and read below for why we picked this record. Sign up here.
VMP: So, how did this record become the Classics album this month?
Andrew Winistorfer, Classics A&R: This record kinda came in an interesting path: somebody who [our CEO] Matt Fiedler knows mentioned that they’d discovered this record on Spotify - and that it hadn’t gotten a vinyl reissue in forever - and Matt forwarded it to me and Alex Berenson, our Head of A&R. We listened to it, and found it super-interesting; I did some research on the backstory of this record, and thought this was the perfect Classics reissue. It’s the 45th Anniversary, it’s an under-sung record from an incredible group.
Dave Brubeck and his group were chosen by the U.S. to be ambassadors of jazz, and they traveled all around the world in the beginning of the ‘60s. They made a series of albums inspired by where they went, so Jazz Impressions of Japan is based on their Japanese tour. And it’s really not that they’re taking Japanese music, it’s really supposed to be what it was like for them to be in Tokyo as travelers. The songs are meant to represent being out in Kyoto, and what it felt like; a lot of the songs sound like very busy streets. It was meant as a sort of travelogue within an album. That whole story was very interesting, and the fact that this hadn’t gotten a real reissue since 1980 made it very appealing for us to reissue.
Like all Classics records - I feel like a broken record - it’s a 180-gram black vinyl, remastered from the master tapes by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound. Pressed by our friends at Quality Record Pressings in Salina, Kansas. The liner notes were written by Stephen Thomas Erlewine, who is the guy who’s written literally tens of thousands of reviews on Allmusic. If you go on Allmusic… odds are, it’s him. I approached him, and he was like ‘This is a really interesting record.’ And he hadn’t really listened to it much prior to me approaching him, so he was really excited to do the research. The liner notes really capture how popular Dave Brubeck was, and where he was in his career around this record. He was legitimately one of the biggest jazz musicians in this era; that’s something that people maybe don’t appreciate in retrospect, but he was on the pop charts with jazz records. He was a big deal.