Joe Harley was striding around the Denver Convention Center. When we shook hands, he glanced around and said, "Let's go somewhere private." We ducked into an empty demo room and he pulled a few records out of his bag. "Nobody else knows about this, I'm giving you the exclusive."
He then handed me a gorgeous, double gatefold LP of the Horace Parlan Quintet's Speakin' My Piece, the first release in Music Matters' new definitive Blue Note reissue series. They'll be mastered by Kevin Gray and Steve Hoffman at Acoustech Mastering, which will produce the metal parts. Because the recent Acoustic Sounds 45rpm Prestige/Riverside discs sounded so luscious, Music Matters decided to release the Blue Note series as double-disc 45rpm limited-edition sets.
Harley said, "Let's state flat out that as essential as Rudy Van Gelder and Alfred Lion were to Blue Note, it is difficult to imagine a Blue Note record without envisioning the photography of Francis Wolf. And that merits the finest graphic presentation possible. We've taken great care in choosing the cardboard stock and thick lamination for the jackets. Where the original releases frequently featured thumbnail-sized session photos on the jackets, we decided to give these photos the high-resolution treatment they deserve—a proper gatefold. And Blue Note man extraordinaire, Michael Cuscuna, helped us obtain the wonderful session photos, not to mention guidance and support for this project."
The first scheduled releases are Art Blakey's The Big Beat, Speakin' My Piece, Lou Donaldson's LD+3, Kenny Drew's Undercurrent, Hank Mobley's Soul Station, and Horace Parlan's Us Three.
That's one heck of a first step!