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Best Historical Releases 2021

John Coltrane A Love Supreme Live In Seattle

A newly-discovered rare live performance of John Coltrane's masterwork stands out in a bountiful year for historical jazz.

The best?  It's quite easy at the end of 2021 to simply list the cascade of historical releases and reissues that came our way over the past 12 months.  And while I'm not a fan of ranking, tending to opt for the straight-up alphabetical listing of albums and box sets that caught my ear in one way or another, special honors must be given to Impulse's unexpected drop of John Coltrane's live October 1965 performance of his suite A Love Supreme, adding three musicians to the classic quartet that had recorded the studio version just nine months prior, and doubling the length of that version.  It's as if a secret 1967 concert of Sgt. Pepper had suddenly turned up, with the Beatles augmented by an orchestra and members of the Incredible String Band.  Anyway, a banner year for historical jazz:

Hasaan Ibn Ali, Metaphysics: The Lost Atlantic Album  (Omnivore Recordings)

Hasaan Ibn Ali, Retrospect In Retirement Of Delay: The Solo Recordings (Omnivore Recordings)

Mose Allison, The Complete Atlantic/Elektra Albums 

Louis Armstrong, The Complete Columbia and RCA Victor Studio Sessions 1946-1966 (Mosaic Records)

Art Blakey, First Flight To Tokyo: The Lost 1961 Recordings (Blue Note)

Roy Brooks, Understanding (Reel To Real)

Doug Carn, Infant Eyes (Real Gone Music)

Don Cherry, The Summer House Sessions (Blank Forms)

John Coltrane, A Love Supreme Live In Seattle (Impulse)

Bill Evans, Everybody Still Digs Bill Evans (Concord)

Stan Getz/Astrud Gilberto, Live At The Berlin Jazz Festival 1966 (Lost Recordings)

Roy Hargrove/Mulgrew Miller, In Harmony (Resonance)

Julius Hemphill, The Boyé Multi-National Crusade for Harmony (New World Records)

Joe Henderson, Complete Blue Note Studio Sessions (Mosaic Records)

Sheila Jordan, Comes Love: The Lost 1960 Session (Capri)

JuJu, Live At 131 Prince Street (Strut)

Lee Konitz/Martial Solal, Live At The Berlin Jazz Days 1980 (MPS)

Harold Land, Westward Bound (Reel To Real)

Lloyd McNeill, Tori (Soul Jazz Records)

Lee Morgan, Complete Live At The Lighthouse (Blue Note)

Charlie Parker, Bird In L.A. (Verve)

Bud Powell, 1962 Copenhagen (Steeplechase)

Bola Sete, Samba In Seattle: Live At The Penthouse 1966-1968 (Tompkins Square)

Nina Simone, The Montreux Years (BMG)

Barney Wilen, French Ballads (Anagram)


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