Real To Reel’s New Harold Land Live Recording Is One Of Record Store Day’s Standout Offerings

Courtesy: Reel To Real Recordings LTD

In yet another sign that America is turning the corner in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, music lovers’ biggest day makes its return Friday.  That big day is Record Store Day.  A year after being canceled as a result of the pandemic’s impact, Record Store Day makes its grand return this week, and with it will come a release featuring performances from one of the jazz community’s more underrated and underappreciated artists, tenor saxophone player Harold Land in the form of Westward Bound!  Land released 15 albums between 1958 and 2001, with the last coming only four months prior to his passing at the age of 72.Now thanks to the independent record label Reel to Real, Land and his work are getting renewed focus with the forthcoming live recording, Westward Bound.  The nine-song recording will release on a 2-LP 33-1/3 RPM 180-gram set as part of Record Store Day’s return.  A CD platform release will follow on June 18.  The recording proves a positive new presentation that any jazz purist will appreciate, regardless of their familiarity with Land.  The liner notes in the recording’s companion booklet are one part of what makes it successful.  They will be discussed shortly.  The production and editing used in bringing the performances back to life add to the recording’s presentation.  They will be discussed a little later.  The songs featured in the recording round out this presentation’s most important elements.  They will also be addressed later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the presentation.  All things considered they make Westward Bound! an enjoyable tribute to Land and will hopefully start bringing him the attention and respect that he deserves.

Reel to Real’s forthcoming Harold Land live recording, Westward Bound! is a presentation that most jazz purists will find enjoyable.  That is due in part to the information that is provided in the recording’s rich liner notes.  The notes in question offer an in-depth profile of Land and his career.  The notes are not just third person meanderings, either.  They come from those closest to Land. For instance, Sonny Rollins provides insight in an interview featured in the booklet as to how he took Land’s place alongside Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet.  Rollins’ (a legend in his own right) explains how Land’s departure was his own.  Not to give away too much, but it was related to a family issue.  Audiences will be left to learn the whole story for themselves.  This is just one of the many points of interest in the liner notes.  Also featured in the liner notes is a brief introduction to the songs performed by Land and his fellow musicians in each performance.  As it turns out, most of the songs are those of others (E.g. Tony Bennett, Carmell Jones, Dizzy Gilespie).  There is at least one song featured in this presentation that is Land’s but many are performances of songs from other composers and musicians.  Most of the background on the songs is pushed to the back of the booklet.  It would have been nicer to have had that information earlier in the liner notes, but this is not enough to make this overall aspect a failure.  That it is discussed as part of the overall rich liner notes at all adds to the liner notes’ appeal even more, especially considering the depth of that background information.  When this information is considered with the other items pointed out here and everything else in the liner notes, the whole makes a solid foundation for the recording.  It is of course just one of the items that makes the recording successful.  The production and editing that went into the recording add their own layer of appeal to the presentation.

The production and editing that went into Westward Bound! is important to address because audiences must take into account the age of the performances featured in the presentation.  The performances in question were captured at The Penthouse in Seattle, WA between December 1962 and August 1965.  The actual dates of the three performances are noted on the back of the packaging.  The more important thing here is that the captured performances are each more than 50 years old.  The earliest is 58 years old and will turn 59 in December.  The August 1965 performance is 55 years old.  Considering that more than half a century has passed since each performance was recorded, the recordings have obviously stood the test of time well.  That and those responsible for remastering the recorded performances obviously went to painstaking lengths to make the recordings sound so impressive.  The sound quality of each performance is such that it sounds like it could have been recorded now in the 21st century.  To that end, the work of those responsible for resurrecting the recordings is to be applauded.  On a related note, the transitions between performances are just as enjoyable as the recordings’ sound.  Considering that the performances were separate, it would be easy to assume that there would be fade outs and fade-ins, which are so commonly used for live recordings that present various performances.  That does not happen here.  Instead, audiences get clean, smooth transitions between each song.  That may be a simple aspect on the surface.  However, its aesthetic value unquestionably adds to the importance of the editing and production.  Keeping that in mind, this part of the recording’s presentation adds even more to its appeal.  It is only one more part of the recording’s success, too.  The songs themselves are important in their own right, too.

The songs featured in Westward Bound! are, as already noted, mostly from composers other than Harold Land.  There is at least one that is from Land, though.  Some of the compositions were crafted by Land’s fellow musicians who performed with him in the recording’s concerts.  Yes, it would have been nice to have had more of Land’s own compositions, considering that he is one of the lesser-known and appreciated musicians out there in the jazz community.  That aside, the songs show Land’s influences and the reach of his talent in their own way.  When they are considered along with the background information provided about them in the liner notes, the appreciation for those songs increases.  Keeping that in mind, the songs featured here round out the recording’s presentation.  Together with the liner notes and production/editing, the whole makes Westward Bound! a proper tribute to a jazz musician who deserves more credit than he has ever gotten.

Reel to Real’s Harold Land live recording, Westward Bound!, is a presentation that most jazz purists will find appealing.  That is proven in part through the rich content featured in the recording’s companion booklet.  The liner notes provide a thorough background on Land and his career while also addressing the songs featured in the featured performances, and much more.  The production and editing that went into resurrecting the featured performances add their own appeal to the recording in whole.  That is because of the clarity of the sound and transitions.  The songs themselves add their own layer of appeal.  That is because they serve to show Land’s influences and talents.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the recording’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the recording a great live recording that any jazz purist will appreciate.  The recording is scheduled for release Friday on vinyl for Record Store Day.  A CD release is scheduled to follow June 18.  More information on this and other titles from Reel to Real is available at:




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