Album Review: Benny Goodman Orchestra Featuring Anita O’Day

I write often of Jazzhaus releases. Drawing upon the vast unreleased archives of German radio and television, the label presents unheard (or rarely-heard) jazz performances, mostly by venerated American artists. Clearly annotated and impressively packaged, these releases are almost without exception essential purchases for the aficionado of 1950s and ’60s jazz. The label’s “Lost Tapes” and Big Bands Live” series spotlight notable rare tapes from what I consider jazz’s finest era.

Their occasional vinyl releases are equally impressive: pressed on 180g vinyl and housed in sturdy sleeves along with mp3 download cards, they offer a unique artifact for the vinyl lover. But one area in which the vinyl releases generally fall ever-so-slightly short is in regard to content. Owing to the physical limitations of vinyl, the LP releases of Jazzhaus CD releases often have a track or three shaved off. True, the mp3 editions offer the complete sets, and it’s a small sacrifice to make for the privilege of having that warm 2-inch vinyl, but it does merit mention.

With that in mind, Jazzhaus’ latest effort is especially noteworthy. Another in the “Big Bands Live” series. Benny Goodman Orchestra Featuring Anita O’Day first came out on CD in early 2012; I gave it a brief review here. Released concurrently with that title were archival concert dates from Cannonball Adderley and Gerry Mulligan. The latter two would be released (in truncated form, as I mentioned above) on vinyl in Summer of 2013.

But now comes a vinyl release of the Benny Goodman set. And not only does it include most of the CD release, it adds more music: an opening track, “Let’s Dance,” Harold Arlen‘s “Get Happy,” a Goodman original called “Slipped Disc,” and Vincent Youmans‘ Memories of You.”

Completists might want both (though this 2LP set includes the customary download card) but if you must make a choice, the clear edge goes to the vinyl – in wonderful audio quality as per Jazzhaus standards – over the 2012 CD. Here’s looking forward to further Jazzhaus vinyl releases, especially one title for which they have to date been unable to resolve licensing issues for a stateside release, a 1978 set by Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers.

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