📣 News 2024 Blue Note Records' Tone Poet series release schedule

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Blue Note has just announced the 2024 lineup of Tone Poet vinyl reissues. All are mastered by Kevin Gray of Cohearant from the original analog master tapes. There isn't too much of interest for me, but I'm beyond ecstatic that Silver's Serenade is finally getting a reissue! Just in time, as I'd been watching Discogs listing for over a year now, waiting to find an ideal used copy. (FYI--used copies of many Blue Note records in VG+ or better condition can fetch anywhere from $60 to over $200; these well-remastered reissues are a bargain in comparison, and sound better than the originals.) I've also liked a couple of Tony Williams' recordings, and his recording debut at 18 years old was on Blue Note with the Life Time album. There are a couple from Lee Morgan and Lou Donaldson also that may be interesting.



NOVEMBER 17, 2023

Blue Note Records has announced the 2024 line-up for the Tone Poet Audiophile Vinyl Reissue Series. The acclaimed series is produced by the “Tone Poet” Joe Harley and features definitive all-analog, 180g audiophile vinyl reissues that are mastered from the original master tapes by Kevin Gray of Cohearent Audio. Tone Poet vinyl is manufactured at RTI and packaged in deluxe gatefold tip-on jackets.

The titles were once again handpicked by Harley and include acknowledged treasures of the Blue Note catalog as well as underrated classics, modern era standouts, and albums from other labels under the Blue Note umbrella including Pacific Jazz, Transition, and United Artists. Newly announced titles begin January 5th at the start of Blue Note’s 85th anniversary year with the release of Elvin Jones’s unfettered 1969 post-bop exploration Poly-Currents and Lou Donaldson’s 1968 soul jazz manifesto Midnight Creeper, both of which are available for pre-order now on the Blue Note Store.

“We are thrilled to present the 2024 Tone Poet line up,” says Harley. “You’ll notice 3 rare titles from Transition Records, the label founded by legendary producer Tom Wilson. These mono titles from the mid-50s may be new to you but the artists featured on these sessions include Donald Byrd, Hank Mobley, Art Blakey, and Horace Silver. For you Bobby Hutcherson and Jackie McLean fans, 2024 will be a banner year with 3 each of their most cherished albums. 2024 also sees the release of one my all-time favorite Wayne Shorter albums, the majestic Odyssey of Iska. There’s much more greatness but do keep your eyes and ears open for a very special addition to the line-up that will be announced early next year. As always, every one of these was cut directly from the original analog master tapes.”

Tone Poet Audiophile Vinyl Reissue Series – 2024 Release Schedule:

January 5, 2024


February 2, 2024

  • Blue Mitchell – Down With It (Blue Note, 1965)
  • Joe Lovano – Trio Fascination: Edition One (Blue Note, 1997)
March 1, 2024

  • Jackie McLean – Action (Blue Note, 1964)
  • Booker Ervin – Tex Book Tenor (Blue Note, 1968)
April 5, 2024

  • Horace Silver – Silver’s Serenade (Blue Note, 1963)
  • Anthony Williams – Life Time (Blue Note, 1964)
May 3, 2024

  • Donald Byrd – Byrd’s Eye View (Transition, 1955)
  • Bobby Hutcherson – Total Eclipse (Blue Note, 1968)
June 7, 2024

  • Doug Watkins – Watkins At Large (Transition, 1956)
  • Kenny Dorham & Jackie McLean – Inta Somethin’ (Pacific Jazz, 1961)
July 5, 2024

  • Donald Byrd – Byrd Blows On Beacon Hill (Transition, 1956)
  • Wayne Shorter – Odyssey of Iska (Blue Note, 1970)
August 2, 2024

  • Lee Morgan – Taru (Blue Note, 1968)
  • Bobby Hutcherson – Medina (Blue Note, 1969)
September 6, 2024

  • The Modest Jazz Trio (Jim Hall/Red Mitchell/Red Kelly) – Good Friday Blues (Pacific Jazz, 1960)
  • Jackie McLean – Let Freedom Ring (Blue Note, 1962)
October 4, 2024

  • Booker Little – Booker Little 4 and Max Roach (United Artists, 1958)
  • Donald Byrd – Kofi (Blue Note, 1969-70)
November 1, 2024

  • Clifford Jordan – Cliff Jordan (Blue Note, 1957)
  • Bobby Hutcherson – Dialogue (Blue Note, 1965)
December 6, 2024

  • Freddie Roach – Good Move (Blue Note, 1963)
  • Hank Mobley – A Slice of the Top (Blue Note, 1966)

 
A couple surprises in the list. Rudy, what's the difference between the two series (Tone Poet vs. Classic vinyl)? I ordered up a couple as Christmas presents (because the originals fetch, as Rudy correctly points out, north of 1C (and to think back in the late '80s any NM Blue Note title could be had for $10 tops).
 
The Tone Poet series has deluxe packaging with thick "tip-on" jackets that are often gatefolds, and the records are in premium "rice paper" sleeves, pressed at RTI. The titles are chosen by series producer Joe Harley, and are likely to be significant and/or overlooked titles.

Classic Vinyl is a budget series that releases better-known titles. The jackets are standard weight, sleeves are plastic-lined paper, and pressing seems to not be limited to RTI.

Both series are pressed on 180g vinyl, and both are sourced from original analog tapes by Kevin Gray at Cohearant. Either way, you'll get a good sounding record.

There is also a very limited series called the 313 Series. Blue Note president Don Was hails from that area code (313 = Detroit), and the records are mastered and pressed by Third Man Records in the Cass Corridor un Detroit. (Third Man is owned by rocker Jack White, of the group White Stripes.) Donald Byrd's Electric Byrd (which I grabbed yesterday at the Third Man store downtown) is one of the titles in that series, in four color variations. All of the artists in the 313 series are Detroit-based.

No flaws in the copy I bought! Third Man is making a quality product.
 
Thank you for your detailed response, Rudy. Good to know. (I had a bit of a chuckle with the Detroit-based qualification for the 313 Series given Blue Note, particularly during the mid-50s-early-60s period, was known as featuring more Detroit artists than any other jazz label at the time.)
 
I was typing all that out on the tablet last night so I didn't get to include a link to the 313 Series:


As of right now, it has one title each from Grant Green, Thad Jones, Elvin Jones, Kenny Cox, and Donald Byrd. And each was pressed in four different variations---black, opaque "Blue Note" blue (available from indie record stores), and the limited edition eclipse pressings in the Blue Note colors blue and white, and the Third Man colors black and yellow, limited to (of course) 313 copies each. All of them have a unique yellow/white record label, with the "O" in "NOTE" using the Third Man logo.

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As I mentioned, Don Was originally was a local musician who formed a group called Was (Not Was) that made quite a splash locally, and is still a cult favorite today. (One wacky anecdote--Mel Tormé guested on one of their tracks, "Zaz Turned Blue.") It was interesting in later years to hear that he was in charge of jazz and had joined Blue Note. He's also very open to keeping the quality of these reissues series high, which is one reason you see Kevin Gray's name on all of these current reissues. And it was a nice payback to the local community for having Third Man remaster and manufacture the 313 Series.

I haven't heard Grant Green's "313" album yet (Live at Club Mozambique, which was a Detroit-area jazz club 50+ years ago) but did listen to Lonnie Smith's Live at Club Mozambique last night, as it's available on vinyl also, and his group still featured George Benson at that point. Their version of "Seven Steps to Heaven" is killer. It starts out at a breakneck pace, but midway through it shifts into a hard-swinging beat.

 
BTW, Horace Silver's Silver's Serenade is a perfect example of how Tone Poet series reissues a lesser-known title.

Its last vinyl release was in 1993, via Japan. There is an "unofficial" release on the DOL label from Europe but I can imagine it was probably made from a CD copy of the album, and I'm not one to support these ripoff companies. So, this Tone Poet will be the first official vinyl version and cut from the analog master tape.

One significant thing about this album is that it is the last full album of Silver's "classic" quintet. The album that followed, Song for My Father, was a transitional album as it featured two remaining tracks with this classic quintet (Blue Mitchell, Junior Cook, Roy Brooks, Gene Taylor), where the other four featured his new quintet (Carmell Jones, Joe Henderson, Roger Humphries, Teddy Smith).
 
Of the Blue Notes on the Tone Poets 2024 list, Hank Mobley's A Slice at the Top is the only title I'd bypass. I'm a huge Mobley BN fan yet that's the only 1960s title of his that I sent to the dungeon. I've tried to like it and have rescued it twice since it's original 2001 CD release to give it another chance, but, in what is a rare instance, I just cannot appreciate Duke Pearson's arrangements. Also, the recording quality (on the CD release) is harsh.
 
I will say that the high-res releases from Qobuz have mostly been top notch, and a fine alternative to the recent vinyl versions as the mastering is very similar. If the CD-resolution version is of a similar mastering, it should be just as good.

One oddity in my situation is that if I find an album to sound odd (whether it's muffled, too bright, too boomy in the bass, or has a strange tonal quality), that will turn me off even if the music is good.

I found an affordable copy of The Stylings of Silver and it's on its way to me right now. It's a blue/black reissue pressing but it should sound fine. That one had a reissue (possibly in the Music Matters series) but it was in mono...and well over $100.
 
@JOv2 I posted more shots of the 313 Series colored vinyl releases in another thread. I am hoping they do more releases in the series eventually as, like you say, Blue Note had its share of Detroit-based musicians.

 
The first Tone Poet I've picked up is Midnight Creeper--it has the killer lineup of George Benson and Lonnie Smith (who were performing a lot together during these years) and Idris Muhammad on drums. Pretty much the same lineup is on the Alligator Bogaloo album but I like this one a little more.

There is a lot of Donald Byrd ahead, and of those I will probably get Kofi. As the Classic Vinyl line up for 2024-2025 (usually announced mid-year) hasn't been revealed yet, I'm hoping for at least another good Horace Silver title, Donald Byrd's Black Byrd, and maybe one or two of the Ike Quebec albums I like, such as Blue and Sentimental, or the Bossa Nova album. Some of these were among the Music Matters releases so it's possible they may not get a timely reissue. (Some of those Music Matters releases are fetching hundreds of dollars now.)

I'm debating Black Byrd in the 75th Anniversary Initiative series...they were digitally sourced and the pressings weren't as good, so it's a crap shoot. I think my Cape Verdean Blues was from that series, and one side is pressed off-center, and the sound is average, not as spacious and warm as the Kevin Gray-mastered titles.
 
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