Verve Records/UMe and Third Man Records have partnered to resurrect the popular reissue series, Verve By Request, with a vinyl twist. Focusing on rare gems and fan-requested jazz albums from the Verve Label Group’s stable of iconic labels, the series will offer two titles per month – each hand-picked by Verve and Third Man Records. The records will include both long-out-of-print titles from the vault as well as the first-ever vinyl pressings for albums released in the ‘90s and aughts that were only originally released on CD.
Recorded at Motown’s legendary Hitsville USA studio for Workshop Jazz – Berry Gordy's short-lived jazz imprint – Beat marks Roy Brooks’ debut as a leader and finds the innovative drummer fusing his hard bop roots with a Motor City soul-jazz groove. Brooks, who served as a sideman for Horace Silver, Yusef Lateef, and Chet Baker, among others, is joined by fellow Detroit natives George Bohannon (trombone) and Hugh Lawson (piano), along with his Horace Silver Quintet bandmates: Blue Mitchell (trumpet), Junior Cook (tenor saxophone), and Eugene Taylor (bass). Together, they deliver a high-energy set that features tracks written by Brooks, Joe Henderson, and Duke Pearson. Notably, the track “Soulsphere” was composed by Alice McLeod (erroneously credited as “McCloud” on the sleeve), who would blaze a new musical path a few years later as the incomparable Alice Coltrane. Hailed by All Music as “a record of uncommon scope and reach,” Beat is the first official reissue of any Workshop Jazz album.
Following the death of her husband John Coltrane in 1967, Alice Coltrane continued to forward the musical and spiritual version they set out on together and started to release records on her own as composer and bandleader. The hypnotic Ptah, the El Daoud, was the fourth album to bear the pianist and harpist’s name released between 1968-70, which also included her joint album, Cosmic Music, partially recorded with John a year before his death. The transcendent Ptah, the El Daoud, recorded in the Coltrane home studio in 1970 and released later that year on Impulse! Records, features an all-star line-up on the four compositions, including Pharoah Sanders and Joe Henderson (both on tenor sax and alto flute). A masterpiece of spiritual jazz, the album’s title track is an ode to the Egyptian God, Ptah (the El Daoud meaning “the beloved”), while many moments on the record can best be described by the Hindu word “Turiya,” which Coltrane defines in the liner notes as “a state of consciousness – the high state of Nirvana, the goal of human life.”
The releases continue in 2023 with Chicken Fat, the 1967 Impulse! debut by blues guitarist Mel Brown. Brown’s clean picking style – honed while playing alongside John Lee Hooker, Bobby Bland, and T-Bone Walker – marinates deliciously with the swinging soul-jazz organ of Gerald Wiggins. Featuring the simmering lament “I’m Goin’ to Jackson,” the electrifying “Greasy Spoon,” and the standout title track, Chicken Fat is quite possibly the funkiest and most unique album ever released on the label.
Also available in 2023 is James Brown’s Soul on Top. Originally released in 1970 via King Records, the album was a dream project for the Godfather of Soul, a fan of big-band jazz who is provided the full treatment with an 18-piece band, led by drummer Louis Bellson and arranged by Impulse! star Oliver Nelson. Joined by his soul consigliere, saxophonist Maceo Parker, Brown offers up a swinging set of jazz and pop standards, while revisiting several of his classic hits, including “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World” and “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag.” This reissue features a new mix of the original album by legendary bassist and James Brown superfan Christian McBride and UMe A&R Vice President Harry Weinger.
Future Verve By Request titles, which are listed below through June 2023, will include vinyl debuts of Wayne Shorter’s Footprints Live! (2002) and Herbie Hancock’s The New Standard (1996), plus reissues from Pharoah Sanders, Ahmad Jamal, Archie Shepp, Sun Ra, and many more.
Verve By Request Releases:
Roy Brooks – Beat
Alice Coltrane – Ptah, The El Daoud
James Brown - Soul On Top
Mel Brown – Chicken Fat
Ahmad Jamal – The Awakening
Archie Shepp – Kwanza
Dorothy Ashby - The Rubáiyát Of Dorothy Ashby
Gábor Szabó - The Sorcerer
Blossom Dearie - Blossom Dearie
Eartha Kitt - Bad But Beautiful
Yusef Lateef – Psychicemotus
Pharoah Sanders - Black Unity
Wayne Shorter - Footprints Live!
Herbie Hancock - The New Standard
Albert Ayler - Love Cry
Sun Ra - Space Is The Place