The Concord Music Group recently added five new entries to its Original Jazz Classics Remasters series. All presented with their original cover art and liner notes, and in some cases previously unreleased bonus tracks, this series helps preserve jazz history. The latest batch includes: Miles Davis featuring Sonny Rollins - Dig (1951), Chet Baker - Chet Baker Sings: It Could Happen To You (1958), Bill Evans Trio - Waltz For Debby (1961), Vince Guaraldi Trio - Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus (1962), and Wes Montgomery - Boss Guitar (1963).
As Ira Gitler explains in a new essay in the CD booklet, Dig was originally released in the obsolete ten-inch LP format. The five tune track list was expanded by two in 1956 after the twelve-inch LP became standard. Every reissue since has included all seven numbers. Miles Davis assembled a sextet for this October 5th, 1951 session, most notable for the presence of Sonny Rollins on tenor saxophone. Nineteen year old Jackie MacLean played alto sax. Walter Bishop was the pianist, while the rhythm section consisted of Tommy Potter on bass and Art Blakey on drums.
The group comes out swinging hard right-off the top with the title track, the first of four Davis originals. The uptempo "Dig" features exciting soloing from all three horn players. Although Gitler asserts Rollins' squeaky reed during "It's Only a Paper Moon" doesn't mar his solo, I have to respectfully disagree (it's a little annoying). "Denial" is highlighted by the adrenaline rush of Blakey and Davis trading fours. Later in the album, the classic Davis tune "Bluing" serves as the album's centerpiece. Nearly ten minutes long, Davis' soloing during this relaxed blues is particularly masterful.
Chet Baker Sings: It Could Happen To You hit record stores when Baker, who began his career strictly as a trumpet player, was already established as a popular vocalist. Due to his dulcet singing tone, this is probably the most accessible to non-jazz fans of these five reissues. Baker sings ten standards on the original album, with four alternate takes added to the CD (two of which are previously unreleased). He plays trumpet on most of them, but on some he takes a scat vocal solo instead. The album's original liner notes make the interesting observation that Baker's scatting was styled after his horn playing, similar both in tone and in phrasing.