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Jazz vocalist Joe Coughlin first released his eponymously–titled LP 40 years ago.

Produced by Eleanor Koldofsky Sniderman on her prestigious Aquitaine label, the recording quickly garnered rave reviews, widespread airplay, and international distribution…and
then it vanished.

Coughlin had caught Eleanor Sniderman’s ear while competing in CBC television’s Search for the Stars competition. Joe won a $500 merit award, but more importantly, the wife of Sam “The Record Man” Sniderman signed him to a 3-year, 3-album management contract. Eleanor had already produced Liona Boyd’s big-selling debut LP, a critically acclaimed collection of Beethoven sonatas by Anton Kuerti, and over two dozen more classical recordings on her Aquitaine label.

Coughlin’s 1981 recording debut was her first and last jazz album.

Only a couple of years into jazz singing, the 26 year-old Coughlin went into Phil Sheridan’s Toronto studio to record with a crew of jazz stars including guitarist Ed Bickert, keyboardist Bernie Senensky, bassist Don Thompson, drummer Terry Clarke, saxophonist Les Sabina, with added percussion by Marty Morrel.

Morrel, a seven-year veteran of the great Bill Evans Trio, recently suggested that Coughlin put the long-lost LP out on CD, adding “There’s some serious, vintage Ed Bickert on that record!”

Indeed, Bickert’s tasty guitar is one of the highlights on eleven, Rick Wilkins arranged tracks backing Coughlin’s buoyantly swinging readings. The young vocalist’s soulful, horn-like phrasing soars seamlessly with his veteran band on a repertoire of lesser-known gems by Quincy Jones, Wes Montgomery, and Chick Corea, as well as jazz standards like Round Midnight.

40 years ago, a messy divorce between Sam and Eleanor Sniderman pushed Coughlin’s debut LP into obscurity. Only a few copies of the original vinyl recording exist, and the wizards at
London’s Abbey Road Studio have performed a skillful digital lift off of
a pristine copy that Joe found on the Internet. It’s a beautiful recording of a historic, Canadian jazz moment. Enjoy!

Joseph Blake, Jazz Critic

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