A couple of years ago, as part of its 75th anniversary celebration, Blue Note Records announced a series of 100 reissues on high-quality vinyl. This initiative was designed to help the label’s celebrated back catalog take advantage of the contemporary vinyl boom, but it also amounted to an in-house canon formation. Writing on The New York Times’s ArtsBeat blog, Larry Rohter scanned the release list and posed a question: Which jazz greats were left off the Blue Note 100?
Mr. Rohter floated a few answers himself, lobbying for the tenor saxophonist and flutist Sam Rivers, and in particular his breakthrough 1964 debut, “Fuchsia Swing Song.” But the post also proved a rare instance when the cardinal rule of the Internet — “Don’t read the comments” — could not be said to apply. Dozens of readers chimed in, with feedback that was overwhelmingly earnest and informed. Don Was, the president of Blue Note, responded to many of the points directly.
Now a new batch of reissues is due out on May 6, based on suggestions generated by the ArtsBeat post. “I considered every comment carefully and was really moved by the passionate and articulate responses,” Mr. Was wrote in an email. “Ultimately, we selected the five most egregious oversights and moved swiftly to rectify them.”
These five albums were all released during the early-to-mid-1960s, but they otherwise cover a fair stylistic range. “Fuchsia Swing Song” is the most restless of the bunch, a sterling example of postbop’s mid-60s experimental fringe. “The Thing to Do,” by the trumpeter Blue Mitchell — another object of Mr. Rohter’s advocacy — pursues a center-lane, hard-bop sound, with a 23-year-old Chick Corea on piano.
The other titles came from the commentariat and reflect the tastes of a connoisseur. “Blue and Sentimental” is a sensuous, evocative album by the tenor saxophonist Ike Quebec, who also worked as a talent scout for the label. (“Ike Quebec was a key figure at Blue Note,” wrote one commenter, R. L. from Kew Gardens, “and leaving his great album ‘Blue and Sentimental’ off the list is a travesty.”) And “Let ’Em Roll” is a characteristically soulful effort by the Hammond B-3 organist Big John Patton.
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Finally, “Portrait of Sheila” is the auspicious 1963 debut by Sheila Jordan, the first Blue Note album by a jazz singer. “I’m surprised and honored,” Ms. Jordan, informed of the release, said by phone from upstate New York. “I thought that album was off the market.”
Now 87, and a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, Ms. Jordan said she had often heard from younger vocalists that “Portrait of Sheila” was their introduction to her career and a source of inspiration. But she added that she was too self-critical to listen to her own recordings; she hasn’t heard the album, she estimated, since shortly after it was released.
“I guess maybe Blue Note will send me a copy,” she said, chuckling, “and maybe I’ll listen to it. Maybe.”
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