Prestige Records celebrates its 65th anniversary with a catalog-wide reissue, including Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, and others

Prestige Records celebrates its 65th anniversary with a catalog-wide reissue, including Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, and others

With the so-called Jazz age nearly a century away, it can’t surprise anyone that most album announcements coming from that field take an archival spin. Thus, centennials or golden anniversaries are in order, cueing the commemoration of a legacy with more gravitas than the sheer nostalgia-peddling behind most reissues. With the recording industry mining its back catalog to the point of exhaustion, jazz has (fortunately) shown a proclivity for offering non-banal re-releases, with alternate takes and live registers providing much more than the mere dumping of beloved albums’ leftovers. For instance, think about the impressive, mostly revealing reissues Miles Davis has been the subject of in recent years. Appropriately, Prestige Records turns 65 this year and has announced a massive reissue plan in celebration, falling somewhere between awestruck didacticism and an adventurous exploration of its archives.

Perhaps lacking the clout of Blue Note or Impulse!, Prestige evolved from a small record shop into a powerhouse in the 50s and 60s, to finally flutter through blues, soul, folk, and fusion by the turn of the 70s — though it had previously ventured into heterodox terrain through its New Jazz off-shoot. Very few labels can brag about a roster as brilliant as Prestige’s: John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Eric Dolphy, Yusef Lateef, Coleman Hawkins, and many others released stone-cold classics with it. Most importantly, Prestige’s house engineer was the celebrated/infamous (depends on who you ask) Rudy Van Gelder, whose 90th anniversary is also being commemorated with this reissue campaign, comprising some of Van Gelder’s work highlights. With this in mind, Prestige is undertaking a massive re-release plan both on vinyl and digital, running through the whole year and including John Coltrane’s Soultrane, Eric Dolphy’s Outward Bound, Sonny Rollins’ Saxophone Colossus, and Oliver Nelson’s Screamin the Blues, among many others. You can check their herculean reissues program, including dates, here.

Not content with putting out enough music to keep us busy until their next anniversary, Prestige are launching a new video series, “Prestige Minutes,” showcasing the finest moments from the label history. Cynicism aside, this anniversary is as good an opportunity as any other to become familiar with a handful of 20th-century music masterpieces. Of course, you can always wait until Sonny Rollins passes away, or for Thelonious Monk’s centennial to arrive, to catch up with them. It’s not like anyone is force-feeding you these, is it? Oh no, no pressure at all. We’ve got all the time in the world. At least until the recording industry finally collapses, and these gems are either lost forever or freely accessible to anyone interested. Guess which is the most likely scenario. You can ponder that while you go back to enjoying your sweet, “new,” freely-streamable music.

• Prestige: https://www.concordmusicgroup.com/labels/Prestige

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