Our next three Classics Records of the Month — which you’ll receive if you sign up for VMP Classics in July, August and September 2021 — begin with a major milestone for the Track, our 50th VMP Classics record, and continue with a long-pursued R&B classic, followed by a remarkable jazz pick.
July: Abbey Lincoln’s It’s Magic
Sauntering into July’s summer heat with a warm Track selection, VMP will ring in our 50th Classics title with the first repress of Abbey Lincoln’s It’s Magic since Riverside Records’ 1985 reissue. It’s Magic landed on the cusp of Lincoln’s growing activism, right before she imparted civil rights anthems alongside then-husband and drummer Max Roach, and shed the sultry persona she cultivated in the early stages of her career. Working backward from Abbey Lincoln’s half-century long career as a singer-songwriter, It’s Magic dates back to 1958 as her third album. Effortlessly leading with a steady voice that escalates across the scale, Lincoln mindfully fabricates a serene ambience. The 10-track album arrives on AAA cut from the original analog tapes by Sterling Sound’s Ryan Smith, pressed at Quality Record Pressings as a zenith of tunes for late-night wine and dines. VMP’s Classics & Country Director Andrew Winistorfer said this about Abbey Lincoln and the album’s reissue:
“It feels like [Abbey Lincoln] never got the same kind of due as artists like Sarah Vaughan or Nina Simone, who were contemporaries of hers. Doing this record, I think this is an ideal VMP project because she’s sort of an under-heralded artist, and this is a really under-heralded album from her. This is right before she kind of started doing a lot of civil rights-oriented jazz, and this was still when she was sort of in ballad mode.”
Sign up now to receive It’s Magic.
August: Bill Withers’ +‘Justments
In August, VMP will feature Bill Withers’ funk and soul on his 1974 album +‘Justments. Despite a brief career, Bill Withers’ fluid vocals and expressive compositions have pervaded through the decades, ushering him into legacy status as an inductee of both the Songwriters and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame. +‘Justments ultimately became Withers’ last album with Sussex Records, and the imprint closed its doors soon after. While not quite erupting as a commercial success during its initial run, in part due to the folding label, the album openly unraveled the fragile, dissolving relationship between Withers and his ex-wife, Denise Nicholas, as they filed for divorce the same month it was released. +‘Justments is a culmination of Withers’ relationship and redirects his grief and anger into an emotive performance. August’s Classic ROTM pressing is also AAA remastered, cut from analog tapes by Sterling Sound’s Ryan Smith, pressed at Quality Record Pressings.
A personal passion project from VMP Classics & Country Director Andrew Winistorfer, he offered the following words about the album:
“I think this is one of the best divorce albums. It’s this incredible, sort of sad, kind of angry R&B album, and that’s a mood that doesn’t come across very often in R&B music. This was a project that we’ve pursued for the better part of three or four years. We’re incredibly honored to feature this record; it’s been remastered all analog from the original master tapes by Ryan Smith, and the Listening Notes are by a writer named Brianna Younger, who wrote beautifully about this record.”
+‘Justments will be available for sign-ups starting July 27.
September: Lee Morgan’s Take Twelve
Trumpeter Lee Morgan will take VMP Classics’ stage in September with Take Twelve, joined by Clifford Jordan, Barry Harris, Bob Cranshaw and Louis Hayes as the Lee Morgan Quintet. Anticipated to be Cliff Brown’s successor following Brown’s death in 1958, Morgan rapidly rose to prominence. Lee Morgan pounced from stage to stage alongside the revered Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and eventually waltzed to the forefront as his own leader for a plethora of bands. Recorded in 1962, Take Twelve was Morgan’s only release under the Jazzland imprint, and our Classics reissue is AAA cut from the original analog tapes by Sterling Sound’s Ryan Smith and pressed at RTI. The work came during a tumultuous time in Morgan’s life as he struggled with heroin addiction. Ashawnta Jackson shares in the Listening Notes:
“Take Twelve sounds like an announcement: I’m back. There’s no hesitancy, no unsure moves, no doubt. But from the first notes of the opening track the propulsive Morgan-composed ‘Raggedy Ann,’ it’s clear that the magic, the spark, the thing that made him so special never went away. It’s urgent, driving, never letting up.”
Although Morgan’s untimely death at the age of 33 devastated the musical landscape, his ageless brass sounds endure through time.
Take Twelve will be available for sign-ups starting August 26.