Vinyl Me, Please May ’22 Unboxing: Phineas Newborn Jr. – Here is Phineas
Good things comes in 12 inch packages. Delivering limited edition vinyl pressings of new and classic albums directly to your doorstep, VMP operates under a simple philosophy: The Album Lives! With a carefully curated catalog of new and hard to find releases, the subscription service is more than just a record club, it’s a lifestyle choice for folks who wish Record Store Day could happen every month… in their living room.
Here’s how it works. You send Vinyl Me, Please some of your hard-earned money (a 3-month membership will set you back about $119) and they send you one carefully selected album they feel is Essential to any record collection. Yes, it really is as easy as it sounds. You even get FREE SHIPPING. Each custom pressing (often on colored vinyl!) also comes with killer extras like original artwork and informative listening companion booklet.
You’ll have membership privileges in the VMP store too, which means you can grab a copy of previous VMP selections from the archives – including April’s immaculate pressing of Lightnin’ Hopkins blues masterpiece “Lightnin’ Strikes” – or choose from a slate of super-limited releases pressed exclusively for Vinyl Me, Please. The store is open, and Team VMP are dropping fresh new selections to their stock every single week. Do not miss out.
Word to the wise, while the store is open to the public, most of the more covet-worthy stock is only available to subscribers. Members are privy to reduced “Members Pricing” as well, so joining the club definitely has its rewards. If you’re peckish about relinquishing control of your record collection to complete strangers, know that VMP’s Swaps Program is in full effect. That means you can flip any VMP pick you’re not interested in for a past featured album from any track (including Essentials, Country, Classics, and Rap/Hip Hop). My advice? Don’t overthink it. Do your turntable a favor and sign up today.
What about May’s box, you ask? An absolutely essential reissue of jazz great Phineas Newborn Jr.’s debut album Here Is Phineas.
For The Love Of Music, Please DO NOT BEND (or how I learned to stop worrying and let VMP Classics tickle my fancy with some ivory-tickling jazz)
So … Here Is Phineas is obviously not the Vinyl Me, Please Essentials pick for this month. In fact, A Tribe Called Quest’s 1991 masterpiece The Low End Theory took that honor for May. And there really isn’t a ’90s hip hop release more worthy of the VIP VMP treatment. As some of you might recall, I’m historically very picky about hip hop. And of the five album’s I generally deem worthy of my own collection, The Low End Theory is not among them. If it’s a Top Fiver for you, however, VMP’s fresh vinyl pressing is apparently second to none, so don’t think twice about picking it up.
As for me, I took the opportunity to swap-out ATCQ’s jazz-tinged classic for a legit piano jazz stunner from the Classics track. Now, if you’re a fan of the piano (or jazz music at all for that matter), the name Phineas Newborn Jr. is no doubt well-known to you. If not, well, you should learn as much about the man as you can, because Phineas Newborn Jr. is one of the most renowned jazz pianists who ever lived. And the gang at Vinyl Me, Please has just given his 1956 debut Here Is Phineas the royal treatment.
Renowned for his technical ability and singular playing style, Phineas Newborn Jr. was born in Tennessee in 1931 to a father who moonlighted as a blues drummer, and a brother who fancied the guitar. Though he studied the trumpet and saxophone, Newborn gravitated to the piano at an early age. The burgeoning piano man would cut his teeth tickling the ivories on the jazz, blues, and soul rich Memphis scene, with his first group (a rhythm & blues outfit no less) briefly serving as the house band for the legendary Plantation Inn Club before cutting records as the backing band to blues legend B.B. King.
By the mid-50s, jazz became Newborn’s chosen form, with the young pianist eventually taking his electrifying style to the epicenter of the scene, New York City. He didn’t make quite the splash on the scene he’d initially hoped, however. And even as Newborn’s technical prowess was largely admired by all, some felt his style was too technical, and seriously lacking in emotion. That changed with the release of his debut album, Here Is Phineas – an album that married Newborn’s astonishing skill with a emotional resonance few knew he was capable of.
Ably backed by his brother Calvin on guitar, Kenny Clarke on drums, and Oscar Pettiford on bass, Newborn’s swaggering, swooning riffs are never not front and center on Here Is Phineas. With the iconic Rudy Van Gelder calling the shots in the studio, Newborn and band deliver a 36-minuted piano-centric jazz odyssey the likes of which even seasoned pros surely marveled at upon release.
As a testament Newborn’s boundless ability, Here Is Phineas is nothing short of dazzling. As a debut album, Here Is Phineas remains a staggering document of a precocious young artist who knew not only what he wanted to do with his music, but exactly how to do it. And every jazz fan alive needs to hear what Phineas Newborn Jr. could … especially on the format it was meant to be heard on.
As for the cover of Here Is Phineas, well, it has the feel of a gifted artist reflecting peacefully on a legit work of beauty. And that couldn’t feel more right.
Flip it over for a track list, album credits, a few kind words about the album from George Wein, and, of course, the shiny foil stamp denoting Here Is Phineas a legit VMP Classics selection.
And if there’s any question about what makes this pressing of Here is Phineas the definitive pressing of Here Is Phineas, the info on the hype sticker should more than answer them.
Yes, there is another sticker in the box as VMP’s design contest continues. It’s safe to say this winner from David Arpaio gives new meaning to the term “dead wax.” (cue high-hat)
Cradling the spine of the album, you’ll find an informative OBI strip boasting vital stats on the front. And on the back you’ll find an excerpt from the listening companion for Here Is Phineas on the back.
In case there’s any question, this month’s listening companion is another deep-dive page turner from VMP’s own Andrew Winstorfer.
As for the wax, like every Classics picks before it, Here Is Phineas is a thick, glossy black beauty.
And it’s destined to class up any deck it comes in contact with.
How’s it sound? Like a couple of piano ingenues doing all they can to set their Steinways ablaze with their fingers. Only it’s one guy playing, the music is on vinyl, and I can neither confirm nor deny if Phineas Newborn Jr. is actually playing a Steinway here.
Give VMP a Spin
I’ve been stumping about Vinyl Me, Please’s Classics track since the early days of its inception. In all frankness, VMP’s Classics picks have felt a lot more essential to me than many of the Essentials picks in the last couple of years. Said track has also done more to bolster my beloved jazz collection than any other single source of late as well. And in case I wasn’t clear, this month’s diamond from Phineas Newborn Jr. is one of VMP’s best jazz selections yet. So if you haven’t scooped up a copy for yourself, you might wanna do that sooner rather than later.
A big THANK YOU to our friends at Vinyl Me, Please for sponsoring this subscription. Don’t forget to check out the Vinyl Me, Please website and sign up to get some choice wax delivered right to your door each and every month! Be sure to check back next month to see what vinyl treasure Team VMP sends our way!