david kessel

VERVE, IMPULSE! RECORDS AND UMe LAUNCH VITAL VINYL SERIES TODAY

FEATURING 180-GRAM VINYL REISSUES OF THE ICONIC LABELS’ CLASSIC ALBUMS;    DAVID KESSEL ON VERVE RECORDS FOUNDER NORMAN GRANZ

By Harvey Kubernik © 2019

In 2019 Verve and Impulse! Records, together with UMe, launched their new series Vital Vinyl, a celebration of essential jazz LPs from the iconic labels’ enduring catalogs.

Throughout the year, the labels are making some of their most beloved must-have albums from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s available once again as non-limited editions LPs, pressed on audiophile grade 180-gram black vinyl and showcased with their original cover artwork, track listings and liner notes.

The records will be released in three batches with the first available today followed by the second on May 3 and the final installment on June 7.  Continue reading

Legendary drummer Hal Blaine passed away at age 90 on March 11th

I (David Kessel) had the pleasure of growing up in the recording studio along with my brother Dan. We worked with Hal Blaine on many,

David Kessel and Hal Blaine

many Phil Spector sessions, as 2nd generation Wrecking Crew musicians.  My Dad, Barney Kessel and Stepmother, B.J. Baker (one of the top background vocalists and vocal contractors in LA) were friends of Hal. Hal once said to me at a session  “The trick is, that if you make a mistake at the beginning of a take, you have to remember the mistake through the whole song.” I asked our Cave Hollywood wordsmith Harvey Kubernik to remember Hal Blaine.

By Harvey Kubernik Kubernik © 2019   

I knew Hal Blaine for 50 years. I did a term paper on him during high school. He invited me to a 5th Dimension session, too.

Hal steered me to Pro Drum Shop on Vine Street. My life changed seeing the sparkle sets and equipment on the wall. I never knew there was a place for drummers and percussionists besides Wallichs Music City and Drum City.

For decades I called him Belsky, his real last name, and he would call me Harvala.  

In the seventies I interviewed him numerous times for domestic and international publications. He once gave me a lift on his motorcycle between a 3 session day and also picked me up hitch-hiking once on Sunset Blvd. when he saw me at a bus stop on Fairfax Avenue when my car was in the shop.  “Take me to Gold Star! I need to see this session.” After it wrapped, Hal’s parting comical advice was: “Harvala. Please don’t get married in California!” Then every Wrecking Crew session veteran started laughing their heads off. I didn’t quite comprehend the reality on display. Just about every cat started running down words I never heard like alimony and visitation… Continue reading

VERVE RECORDS TO PAY TRIBUTE TO ITS LEGENDARY FOUNDER NORMAN GRANZ AND HIS CENTENNIAL

APTLY- TITLED ALL-STAR FOUR- DISC BOX SET THE FOUNDER OUT ON DECEMBER 7TH VIA VERVE/UME    

BY HARVEY KUBERNIK c 2018

In jazz circles, few names command more respect than Norman Granz. Although he wasn’t a musician, Granz (1918-2001) was as

Courtesy of Verve/UMe

responsible as any individual for popularizing jazz and promoting the careers of many of the genre’s greatest artists.

Granz’s incredible half-century career first took off with his creation of the groundbreaking Jazz at the Philharmonic concert series. But Granz was equally influential for the series of record labels that he launched in the 1940s and 1950s: Clef, Norgran and Verve. 

Those companies became home to many of jazz’s most important and influential artists. And, unlike many of his contemporaries, Granz combined his love for the music with a passion for social justice, championing African-American musicians at a time when those musicians were often exploited and disrespected.

Now, in honor of the hundredth anniversary of Norman Granz’s birth, Verve/UMe has assembled The Foundera four-CD/digital box set celebrating his remarkable life and career. The historic package features a massive chronological assortment of music spanning Granz’s remarkable career and featuring music by most of the great musicians he recorded. Continue reading

Horn From The Heart The Paul Butterfield Story

Documentary Now Screening Across The U.S.

By Harvey Kubernik c 2018

Horn From The Heart: The Paul Butterfield Story is a feature-length documentary about the life and career of legendary blues musician

Courtesy of Abramarama

Paul Butterfield.  A white, teenage harmonica player from Chicago’s South Side, Paul learned the blues from the original black masters performing nightly in his own back yard. Muddy Waters was Paul’s mentor and lifelong friend, happy to share his wisdom and expertise with such a gifted young acolyte.

The interracial Paul Butterfield Blues Band, featuring the twin guitar sound of Michael Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop, the rhythm section of Sam Lay and Jerome Arnold and the keyboards of Mark Naftalin, added a rock edge to the Chicago blues, bringing an authenticity to its sound that struck a chord with the vast white rock audience and rejuvenated worldwide interest in the blues. The band’s first LP, released in 1965, was named “#11 Blues Album of All Time” by Downbeat.

The only artist to perform at The Newport Folk Festival in 1965, The Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967 and the Woodstock Festival in 1969, Paul would continue to break new ground in the blues, and to stand up for racial equality, until his death at age 44 in 1987 of a drug overdose.  Through his music and words, along with first-hand accounts of his family, his band mates and those closest to him, Horn From The Heart: The Paul Butterfield Story tells the complex story of a man many call the greatest blues harmonica player of all time. Continue reading

LONG OUT-OF- PRINT COLLECTION ALL DAY THUMBSUCKER REVISITED

DOCUMENTING THE HISTORY OF BLUE THUMB RECORDS, REVIVED ON EVE OF LEGENDARY LABEL’S  50TH ANNIVERSARY IN 2018 HONORS MEMORY OF LATE LABEL FOUNDERS TOMMY LIPUMA AND BOB KRASNOW
2CD SET AVAILABLE WITH FIRST-EVER DIGITAL RELEASE NOW OUT

By Harvey Kubernik C 2017

From 1968 to 1978, Blue Thumb Records was one of music’s most adventurous and imaginative record labels, with a far-ranging roster of cutting-edge acts and an unconventional visual sensibility. Nurturing an eclectic assortment of artists from a wide variety of genres, Blue Thumb embodied the restless creative spirit of the era in which it was born, reflecting the emerging attitude that albums were worthy of being taken seriously as artistic statements.

Blue Thumb’s expansive musical vision was anthologized on the 1995 label retrospective All Day Thumbsucker Revisited. Verve Records/UMe has just released the long-out-of-print collection, originally compiled by Gary Katz, known for his work with Steely Dan, in an updated two-CD edition on the eve of next year’s 50th anniversary of Blue Thumb’s founding.

The first in a projected series of releases to celebrate the revered label, the CD set offers 32 vintage tracks spread across two discs, while the digital edition, due marks the first time this collection will be available as a digital download and for streaming.

In showcasing Blue Thumb’s influential artist roster, the album also honors the iconoclastic musical vision of late label founders Bob Krasnow, who died on December 11, 2016, and Tommy LiPuma, who passed away on March 13, 2017.  Continue reading