New releases from Fantasy Records

Six new compilations in the multi-label “Plays for Lovers” series--featuring the lyrical sides of Tony Bennett, Stan Getz, Chet Baker, Bill Evans, Sarah Vaughan and Dave Brubeck --are due out 1/10, the first catalog release of 2006.

The discs, produced by Concord's Nick Phillips, draw on the Riverside work of Evans; Vaughan's late-70s/early-80s Pablo recordings; and Bennett's Improv/Concord discography (with one track from his Fantasy album with Bill Evans). “Chet Baker Plays for Lovers” is culled primarily from Riverside material (including three vocals) but also includes two tracks apiece from a 1953 Fantasy date with Gerry Mulligan and a '64 outing for Prestige with George Coleman.

Fantasy sessions by Dave Brubeck (solo and with Paul Desmond) are combined with a small sampling of the pianist's 1980s work for Concord, while the program on the Stan Getz disc ranges from a 1950 Prestige track (with Percy Heath) to Getz's 80s quartet with Marc Johnson and Billy Hart.

”Lovers” discs by Miles Davis and John Coltrane, produced by Richard Seidel and first released on Prestige in 2003, will be repackaged to ship 1/10 with the six new CDs.

The “Plays for Lovers” concept, incidentally, originated with Prestige's Bob Weinstock, who in 1965 inaugurated a series by that name with albums by Miles, Coltrane, Yusef Lateef, and the Modern Jazz Quartet.

The brilliant careers of Philadelphia's Heath brothers--bassist Percy, saxophonist/composer/arranger Jimmy, and drummer Albert "Tootie"--are documented in hundreds of recordings, many of them for the Prestige, Riverside, and Pablo labels. Eldest brother Percy made a slew of dates for Prestige in the 1950s with artists such as Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, and the Modern Jazz Quartet, of which he was a founding member. Jimmy recorded six albums as a leader for Riverside in the company of Cannonball Adderley, Freddie Hubbard, Wynton Kelly, Herbie Hancock, and Cedar Walton. Tootie, meanwhile, was a busy freelancer, appearing on sessions with John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery, Dexter Gordon, and numerous others.

Brotherly Jazz, a 66-minute documentary about the Heaths produced by former Bill Graham Presents executive Danny Scher and directed by Jesse Block, premiered at the Monterey Jazz Festival in September and was screened last month at the Mill Valley Film Festival. It was filmed in 2004 at a live concert in Coventry Grove, CA--one of the last times the brothers played together--and completed shortly before Percy's death in April of this year, at 81.

Containing fascinating archival material about the Heaths' family life and early professional activities as well as rarely seen footage of Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and other bebop figures, “Brotherly Jazz” also features new interviews with key friends, admirers, and fellow musicians. Among those who help tell the story are Billy Taylor, George Wein, Marian McPartland, Taj Mahal, Herbie Hancock, Jack DeJohnette, Gerald Wilson, Orrin Keepnews (Jimmy's producer at Riverside in the 1950-60s and Landmark in the 80s), Jon Faddis, jazz historian Phil Schaap, newsman Peter Jennings (a friend of Percy's), and Sonny Rollins (on whose 1951 debut album--for Prestige--Percy Heath was a sideman).

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