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Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus To Receive Super Deluxe Reissue / Restoration and Small Batch Limited Editions

Mark Smotroff gets excited about a restored and expanded favorite jazz album upcoming…

We haven’t run “news” items in a while but this one felt important enough for Jazz fans of the late great Vince Guaraldi (details here sourced from official press materials issued by Craft Recordings):

Long before Vince Guaraldi’s name was synonymous with the beloved PEANUTS® animated specials, he was a rising star in the West Coast jazz scene. The San Francisco-born pianist began his career in the early ’50s, playing alongside the Latin-influenced vibraphonist, Cal Tjader.By 1954, Guaraldi established his own trio and, within a year, his first recordings as a bandleader were released by Fantasy Records as part of their multi-artist collection, Modern Music from San Francisco. Shortly thereafter, the Bay Area label signed Guaraldi to an exclusive deal, releasing his self-titled debut album in 1956, followed by A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing in 1957. But it was the pianist’s third album, Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus, that found him settling into his own as a leader and establishing his signature style. The 1962 LP would also serve as his commercial and creative breakthrough, opening new avenues that even Guaraldi couldn’t have imagined.

Craft Recordings will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of Vince Guaraldi’s breakthrough album, Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus, with a variety of reissues. A deluxe, expanded edition of the 1962 album—featuring the GRAMMY® Award-winning instrumental hit “Cast Your Fate to the Wind”—offers 16 bonus tracks, including 12 previously unreleased selections, with outtakes and alternate takes of nearly every track on the album.

Perhaps most famously, however, the tune caught the ear of television producer Lee Mendelson, who was searching for a musician to score a documentary about PEANUTS® creator, Charles M. Schulz, and his popular comic strip. While the film was never released, Guaraldi recorded the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas the following year—creating one of the best-selling jazz and holiday albums of all time in the process. Before his sudden death in 1976, Guaraldi would score more than a dozen PEANUTS animated specials. Yet, the pianist’s musical legacy extends far beyond those enduring soundtracks, and Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus is a prime example of that. 

This definitive edition will be released as a 3-LP, 2-CD, or 24-track digital collection, with newly remastered audio by engineer Paul Blakemore. Produced by Nick Phillips, the original album is cut from the original master. The bonus material was transferred from the original analog tapes by Plangent Processes. According to the folks at Plangent, all digital releases of the album and bonus materials feature a Plangent Processes transfer.

Lacquers for the 3-LP edition were cut by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio and pressed at RTI on 180-gram vinyl. Both physical formats also include new, in-depth liner notes by jazz writer Andrew Gilbert (San Francisco ChronicleSan Jose Mercury NewsKQED Arts). The digital offering comes in standard and Hi-Res options. The CD and Digital formats will release on November 18th with the LP set due to follow on February 24th.

Additionally, Craft will offer a limited and numbered pressing of the original, eight-track album as part of their acclaimed Small Batch series, which offers discerning listeners the highest-quality, authentic sound—distilled to its purest form. As with previous Small Batch pressings, Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus was cut from its original analog tapes by legendary engineer Bernie Grundman and pressed on 180-gram vinyl at RTI using Neotech’s VR900 compound and a one-step lacquer process—as opposed to the standard three-step process—allowing for the utmost level of musical detail, clarity, and dynamics while reducing the amount of surface noise on the record. The limited nature of these pressings guarantees that each record is a true representation of the original lacquer and is as close as the listener can get to the original recording. 

Set for release on February 24th, 2023, and also available for pre-order today exclusively via CraftRecordings.com, each Small Batch pressing (limited to 3,000 copies) will be individually numbered and encased in a foil-stamped, linen-wrapped slipcase featuring an acrylic inset of the original artwork. The vinyl disc—extractable through a unique, frictionless ribbon pull-tab—is housed in a reproduction of the album’s original, tip-on jacket and protected by an archival-quality, anti-static, non-scratching inner sleeve. Rounding out the package are new liner notes by Derrick Bang, the foremost Guaraldi historian and author of Vince Guaraldi at the Piano (McFarland & Company).  

Stay tuned as we’ll no doubt be reviewing some of this exciting new release series here on Audiophile Review.

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