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Verve Records 60th Anniversary

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Photo: William P Gottlieb/Ira and Leonore S Gershwin Fund Collection, Music Division, Library Of Congress

It’s January 1956, and Norman Granz, jazz impresario, founder of Clef and Norgran Records, decided to start a new label – he called it Verve Records. So this year it’s Verve Records 60th anniversary and we want to celebrate this most iconic of jazz labels.

In February 1956, two full pages appeared in Billboard, one announcing the prices of Verve’s records: $3.98 for an LP; EPs in line with Clef and Norgran at 98 cents; 45-rpm singles selling for 89 cents; and 78-rpm singles at 98 cents. The other advert was for the first Verve albums to be issued, Anita O’Day Sings, Toni Harper Sings and In A Romantic Mood by Oscar Peterson. Peterson’s Trio also accompanied Toni Harper.

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The Harper and the Peterson albums had been recorded between 29 December and 3 January; Anita O’Day’s record with The Buddy Bregman Orchestra had been cut at the start of the month. O’Day’s album is MGV2000, the first ever to be issued by Verve, and is in every respect a lovely record. Verve was equally opportunistic and recorded Anita O’Day doing the “Rock And Roll Waltz”. It became the label’s first single, but it did not chart.

January ’56 was a frenetic month of recording for Verve, Norgran and Clef. Among the sessions were Herb Ellis, Buddy Rich, Count Basie with Joe Williams, Johnny Hodges, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Stitt & the Modern Jazz Sextet, Teddy Wilson; Art Tatum; Spike Jones; and on 25 January, Ella Fitzgerald’s first session for her new label.

In the last 60 years Verve made some of the finest jazz records ever released, and in the process probably got more people listening to jazz than any other record label. This was thanks to the likes of Ella, Louis Armstrong, and in the early 1960s, the Bossa nova jazz made popular by Stan Getz, Joao Gilberto, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Astrud Gilberto.

We’ve picked 60 classic Verve albums to celebrate this iconic label, most are from the 1950s and 1960s but we’ve added a few more recent releases and reissues. We’re not saying these are the greatest, although some of them very definitely are, just that these 60 albums personify the vision of Norman Granz and his record label.

Listen to Verve Records on Spotify

Anita O’Day Sings The Most 1956 Anita sings
Antonio Carlos Jobim The Composer of Desafinado Plays 1963Jobim
Astrud Gilberto The Astrud Gilberto Album 1965Astrud gilberto
Ben Webster Soulville 1957Ben-Webster-Soulville
Benny Carter Cosmopolite 1994Benny Carter
Bill Evans Conversations With Myself 1963Bill Evans
Bill Evans Bill Evans Trio with Symnphony Orchestra 1965Bill Evans symphony
Bill Evans & Jim Hall Intermodulation 1966Bill Evans 2
Billie Holiday Lady Sings the Blues 1956Lady sings the blues
Billie Holiday Solitude 1952Billie Solitude
Blossom Dearie Once Upon A Summertime 1958Blossom Dearie
Bud Powell The Genius of Bud Powell 1956Genius of Bud Powell
Buddy DeFranco Buddy DeFranco and The Oscar Peterson Quartet 1958
Cal Tjader Soul Sauce 1065Cal Tjader
Charlie Parker Charlie Parker with Strings 1950Charlie Parker with strings
Charlie Parker & Dizzy Gillespie Bird & Diz 1952BirdandDiz
Chet Baker & Stan Getz Stan Meets Chet 1958Stan meets chet
Coleman Hawkins The Genius of Coleman Hawkins 1957Genius of Coleman Hawkins
Coleman Hawkins & Ben Webster Coleman Hawkins Encounters Ben Webster 1957
Count Basie April in Paris 1956April In Paris
Count Basie & Joe Williams Count Basie Swings, Joe Williams Sings 1955Krupa and rich
Diana Krall The Look of Love 200120506396
Dizzy Gillespie An Electrifying Evening With the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet 1961Electrifying Dizzy
Duke Ellington & Johnny Hodges Side By Side 1959duke-ellington-johnny-hodges-side-by-side-2lp-45rpm-200gr-analogue-productions-qrp-usa
Ella Fitzgerald Ella Fitzgerald sings the Cole Porter songbook 1956Ella Cole_edited-1
Ella Fitzgerald Mack the Knife – Ella in Berlin 1956
Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong Ella & Louis 1956Ella and louis
Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong Porgy & Bess 1959Ella and louis porgy
Gene Krupa & Buddy Rich Krupa & Rich 1956Krupa and rich
George Benson Giblet Gravy 196881Umut0zPcL._SL1379_
Gerry Mulligan Gerry Mulligan and The Concert Jazz Band at The Village Vanguard 1961Gerry Mulligan
Gerry Mulligan & Ben Webster Gerry Mulligan Meets Ben Webster 1960Mulligan and webster
Herb Ellis Thank You Charlie Christian 1960Herb Ellis
Herbie Hancock River – The Joni Letters 200751qK36dUJXL
Illinois Jacquet Port of Rico 1956Port of Rico
Jimmy Guiffre The Easy Way 1959The Easy Way
Jimmy Smith The Cat 1964cat1
Jimmy Smith & Wes Montgomery The Dynamic Duo 1966Jimmy & Wes
Johnny Hodges Ellingtonia ’56 1957Ellingtonia
Kenny Burrell Asphalt Canyon Suite 1969Kenny Burrell
Lester Young & Teddy Wilson Pres & Teddy 1957Pres and Teddy
Lional Hampton & Stan Getz Hamp & Getz 1955hampGetz
Louis Armstrong & Oscar Peterson Louis Armstrong Meets Oscar Peterson 1957Louis meets oscar
Louis Bellson Concerto For Drummers 1956Louis Bellson
Mel Torme Swings Schubert Alley 1960Mel Torme
Oscar Peterson Night Train 1963Night Train
Oscar Peterson The Jazz Soul of Oscar Peterson 1959jazz Soul
Ray Brown Bass Hit 1957ray brown
Roy Eldridge Dale’s Wail 1957Roy+Eldridge+Dales+Wail+533543
Sonny Stitt & Gene Ammons Boss Tenors 1961Boss Tenors
Stan Getz Big Band Bossa Nova 1962big-band-bossa-nova-5226fbaababb1
Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto Getz/Gilberto 1964Getz Gilberto
Tal Farlow The Swinging Guitar of Tal Farlow 1957Tal Farlow
Various Artists Jazz at the Philharmonic in Tokyo 1953 1972JATP Japan
Various artists Jazz at The Philharmonic vol.8 1956JATP Vol8
Various Artists The Jazz Scene 1949The Jazz Scene
Various Artists West Coast Jazz 1956getzWestCoast
Various Artists Charlie Parker Jam Session 1990CP Jam Session_edited-1
Wes Montgomery Bumpin’ 1965Bumpin
Wes Montgomery Smolin At The Half Note 2005Smokin-At-The-Half-Note-Vol-2-cover

“John
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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Frank Blackwell

    January 31, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    Please could you send me details of how I can get Concerto for drums…Louis Bellson and whether you have any recording of Tomus by him?

    Thanks

    Frank

    • roy phillippe

      July 28, 2016 at 9:12 pm

      Concerto for drums is available from Amazon. It is on a 2 disc set with other early Bellson albums.

  2. james broughton

    February 1, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    Send me info

  3. Don Richardson

    October 30, 2016 at 10:19 pm

    I have lost my Verve Test disk and i wish to have a replacement. Track 1 is the sound of an old steam engine train arriving at a train station. There is an excited crowd of people waiting on the arrival of the train. other tracks provide test signals for testing your audio system. the announcements are in
    French and English. Can you provide replacement? If not, do you,have any idea where I might locate one?

    Don

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