Record Store Day 2020: A jazz and blues guide

The 13th edition of Record Store Day is an unusual one.

Since 2008, the annual occasion has grown into the world’s largest single-day music event, in which collectors flock to indie record stores across the globe and scope out a lineup of special vinyl releases, including rarities, reissues and box sets.

However, the world is different in 2020. Instead of one day, Record Store Day is taking place in three different “drops” in August, September and October, with many stores offering curbside pickup or delivery so you can safely and responsibly snag that record you’ve been meaning to add to your collection.

Here’s a curated list of some of the special releases that fans of jazz and blues can find in Record Store Day’s third and final “drop” on Oct. 24, 2020. Just be sure to check with your local shop to see if they have the one you want.

Miles Davis – Double Image: Rare Miles From the Complete Bitches Brew Sessions

It’s now been 50 years since Miles Davis defied the conventions of jazz and sent shockwaves through the musical universe with the electric, experimental Bitches Brew. Leading a cast of all-star musicians including Wayne Shorter, John McLaughlin and Chick Corea, Davis brought together the worlds of jazz, rock and funk and became a pioneer of what would become known as fusion. With this outtakes compilation — issued for the first time as a standalone release, on red vinyl — you’ll hear 10 early-stage recordings that paved the way for what would become Bitches Brew. Copies: 6,000

Dexter Gordon – The Squirrel

This live album finds tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon performing at the famous Jazzhus Montmartre in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1967. Captured by the country’s public broadcaster, the recording was only released three decades later in 1997. The band features pianist Kenny Drew, bassist Bo Stief and drummer Art Taylor. The Squirrel is a double-LP containing a four-song set list that includes the Gordon composition Cheese Cake along with tunes by Tadd Dameron and Sonny Rollins. Copies: 1,500

Dexter Gordon Quartet – Live In Châteauvallon, 1978

It’s a big day for Dexter Gordon fans. This release picks up a decade later in 1978, which was a banner year for the saxman. He returned to New York after his stint in Europe and got a big boost to his career after signing with Columbia, enjoying several live releases by Blue Note, and bringing on the tour de force of Maxine Gordon (then Gregg) to manage his career. He was named the DownBeat musician of the year. Playing as a quartet with pianist George Cables, bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Eddie Gladden, Gordon gave a “joyous and fiery” performance at the Châteauvallon Jazz Festival that November, which is now pressed on 180-gram vinyl for the first time. Copies: 1,500

J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding – Stonebone

This record is the rarest of all A&M/CTI projects. Stonebone features leaders J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding along with an all-star lineup of George Benson, Herbie Hancock, Bob James, George Benson, Ron Carter and Grady Tate. Not available on any streaming platforms and long sought after by collectors, it has not been available since its original release in Japan in 1970. Original editions have sold for upwards of $1,000.There are several reasons that explain why it’s so rare, along with plenty of speculation that’s been required to fill in the cracks. But that changes now. Pressed on red vinyl for its first-ever reissue, Stonebone can finally be yours. Copies: 4,000

Jimmy Giuffre – Graz 1961

The second Jimmy Giuffre release of this year, Graz 1961 offers another window into the complex and experimental innovations of his early collaborations with pianist Paul Bley and bassist Steve Swallow. Recorded on Oct. 27, 1961, in Graz, Austria, this concert audio was mastered for vinyl and arrives as an LP for the first time, exclusively for Record Store Day. Copies: 1,000

Previous drops

Here’s what came out during the first two “drops” in August and September. Maybe you can even still find some of these kicking around.

Bill Evans – Some Other Time: The Lost Session From the Black Forest

Originally recorded in 1968 in Germany, this studio album was lost to history before being unearthed nearly half a century later. Some Other Time features Evans with bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Jack DeJohnette and was recorded only five days after the trio’s tour-de-force performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival. The album was finally released to critical acclaim in 2016, and has now been given a deluxe, double-LP reissue as a Record Store Day exclusive. It’s pressed on 180-gram vinyl and includes an extensive booklet with essays by acclaimed author Marc Myers, interviews with Gomez and DeJohnette and previously unpublished photos. Copies: 3,500

Jimmy Giuffre – The 3 & 4: New York Concerts

After a highly prolific period in the late 1950s, clarinetist and saxophonist Jimmy Giuffre went pretty much silent for a decade between 1963 and 1973. But these recordings of two remarkable concerts in New York in 1965 offer a “rare and revelatory glimpse into that discographic dark period.” This double-LP finds Giuffre leading undocumented trios and quartets at a key moment when one of jazz’s most innovative thinkers was developing his experiments in counterpoint and abstraction into even more adventurous avant-garde territory. Copies: 1,500

Don Cherry – Cherry Jam

This rare recording features a jam session with trumpeter Don Cherry and pianist Atli Bjørn in Copenhagen in 1965. Cherry Jam features four previously unreleased tracks, three of which were new compositions. This hand-numbered limited edition is a 45-rpm, AAA pressing from the original tapes. Copies: 1,100

Allan Holdsworth – Road Games

The Grammy-nominated 1983 jazz-fusion album by British guitarist Allan Holdsworth has only ever been available on vinyl in limited editions. Described as a “mini-album,” Road Games features six tracks of “fusion-rock bliss,” as one critic wrote. This Record Store Day exclusive also features a bonus track that’s never before been included on vinyl pressings. Copies: 1,200

Thelonious Monk – Palais Des Beaux-Arts 1963

By 1963, Thelonious Monk had entered arguably the pinnacle period of his career. He had established a steady quartet of veteran players and landed a contract with Columbia Records, for whom he recorded two milestone albums. He set out on tour throughout Europe with his acclaimed lineup: saxophonist Charlie Rouse, double bassist John Ore and drummer Frankie Dunlop. This limited release features unearthed recordings from a performance in Brussels, featuring top tunes from Monk’s Dream and Criss-Cross that have since become jazz standards. It’s a tight, masterful set by Monk and his band, and the full house reacts with palpable joy. Copies: 2,000

Neil Swainson Quintet – 49th Parallel

Over the years, Canadian bassist Neil Swainson’s only album as a leader has been increasingly hard to find. Initially released on Concord Records in 1988, 49th Parallel is now extremely rare. The recording features a quintet with tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson, drummer Jerry Fuller, pianist Gary Williamson and trumpeter Woody Shaw. (It was Shaw’s final studio session before his death.) Now, the album has been reissued for the first time in more than 15 years — and for the first time ever on vinyl. The deluxe gatefold, 180-gram LP includes a download code for a bonus track called Labyrinth, as well as a booklet with liner notes by Phil Dwyer, interview with Neil Swainson by producer Cory Weeds, and rare photographs by Mark Miller and Alice Su. Copies: 500

Ron Carter – Foursight: Stockholm

This new release by Ron Carter, the most-recorded jazz bassist in history, features a quartet with pianist Renee Rosnes, tenor saxophonist Jimmy Greene and drummer Payton Crossley. “With us, nobody knows exactly what happens when,” Carter says. ”No breaks, just slight changes that show the beginning of a new song … This kind of thing only works with this band.” Foursight: Stockholm arrives on Record Store Day as a limited, hand-numbered and hand-signed “audiophile edition,” featuring a gatefold cover, 180-gram vinyl and three bonus tracks. Copies: 1,999

Charlie Parker – Jazz at Midnite

The centennial celebrations of Charlie Parker includes this Record Store Day-first release by Blue Note and UMe. Jazz at Midnite features standout live recordings from 1952 and 1953 at the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C., alongside a lineup of Max Roach, Charlie Byrd, Zoot Sims and more. It’s pressed on deep blue vinyl and packaged like a classic Blue Note record, with original liner notes by producer Bill Potts. Copies: 4,000

Dizzy Gillespie & Charlie Parker – Town Hall, New York City, June 22, 1945

For a long time, no one knew this performance by Dizzy and Bird from 1945 had even been recorded. Now, we get to hear a newly discovered and restored showcase of bebop right at the time of bebop’s inception. Gillespie and Parker were joined by Don Byas, Al Haig, Curley Russell and Max Roach for this concert, featuring bebop mainstays like Groovin’ High and Salt Peanuts. Now, you can finally hear it while also poring over the LP’s extensive liner notes. Copies: 1,200

Sun Ra – Egypt ’71

In December of 1971, Sun Ra decided to travel to Egypt for the first time, accompanied by his Arkestra. When they got there, the band played two hastily arranged concerts in Cairo and Heliopolis. Those performances emerged on three of Ra’s records during the ’70s: Horizon, Nidhamu and Dark Myth Visitation Equation. Now, those LPs have received their first reissue on vinyl, along with two other records of previously unreleased recordings. Add rare photos and extensive liner notes by Paul Griffiths and the Goethe Institute’s Hartmut Geerken, and you’ve got a definitive package celebrating Sun Ra’s iconic trip to the “Land of Ra.” Copies: 600

Dr. John – Remedies

In 1970, Dr. John released Remedies, his third studio album under the eccentric, voodoo-inspired persona of the “Night Tripper.” It was his first record that wasn’t produced by Harold Battiste, instead turning to rock’n’roll producer Tom Dowd for a psychedelic, prog take on Dr. John’s signature boogie-woogie style. Pressed in splattered Mardi Gras colours, this vinyl reissue is one of many fitting tributes to the late New Orleans legend following his death last year. Copies: 1,300

Don Cherry / The New Eternal Rhythm Orchestra / Krzysztof Penderecki – Actions

This amalgam of international and avant-garde sounds brings the free-jazz trumpeter Don Cherry together with Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki for a “mind-bending confluence” of music. Recorded live at the Donaueschingen Festival in southwestern Germany in 1971, Actions fuses Cherry’s broadening musical palette of European jazz, African rhythms, Turkish folk idioms and Indian classical music with the soundscapes that put Penderecki on the map for his soundtracks to The Shining and The Exorcist. They also formed the New Eternal Rhythm Orchestra specifically for this performance, enlisting a who’s who of European jazz heavyweights of the day to help bring this grand experiment to life. Copies: 1,500