Montag, 22. Juli 2013

I have a sense, that my blog could become more active in the near future. I once started out to focus on rare Jazz Vinyl and wasn't well informed, how many wonderful blogs about the very same topic do exist. So in the meantime I started and continued reading daily posts on so many great blogs like Al's Jazzcollector site or the Jazz collectors from London or Stockholm.. (I'm not very familiar with linking all these blogs, but I'll work myself into that pretty soon). So there you have the the first reason, why I stopped blogging so quickly. Other people had the better records and the better writing skills. Easy as that. Anyways. The more you grow into the field of active work and business, the more you sit in front of computers and you maltreat your keyboard most of your work life. The same time the interest to write at the computer whilst privately at home declines. You focus on something different, sports, drinking, listening to records, life in general. That's the second reason for blogging less. Life has something more to give than just looking into monitors. On the other hand, I never stopped collecting records. And while I was scrolling down my favourites I came across my old, old blog. So I started to think and I'm really willing to renew everything in the next time and I have ideas as well. Record collecting has grown to a very expensive hobby. You don't find bargains that easy anymore (as far as you're living in Germany) and collectable records get high prices. For me with a fairly limited budget it's just impossible to score high on some sought after Blue Notes, Prestiges, or other records from labels like Bethlehem, Savoy or New Jazz. But that's okay with me. I like jazz and I like Vinyl. If you combine both, you don't automatically get Lee Morgan on Blue Note. There's much more. So my idea is, to focus on some not so well known LP's that are nice and can sometimes be had at fair (bairgain) prices. I think of the likes of Lou Blackburn, Lefty Edwards or Chauncey Westbrook. Ring a bell? They don't get much interest, but I can't imagine why, they made great music. So I'll be spotlighting some of these guys. So in the near future I'll be focusing on some underrated records and I'll spice it up with whatever records I'll have and will get my hands on. That implicates, that not all records will be M- or always in excellent shape. Some of these records didn't pop up very often, so it's hit or miss it for the next half year or longer. I had great luck and always did get nice records. It's okay with me, I love the music, the whole deal. It's for the music, not for the minty item you hesitate to use and listen to it. A collection completes your household through the music you can get out of it. The better the condition of a record, the better it is. But my records are meant to be played. So, these are my ideas for now. Let's think about a record to start with. I'm pretty excited.

Donnerstag, 22. Juli 2010

Full time job

Collecting jazz records could easily be a full time job. If you collect CD's, you'll always have to step up to your 2nd hand-dealer, asking for new incoming ones. If you collect LP's, you have to watch the new ebay-listings on almost a daily basis, because once in a while, there are really some nice bargains. Somehow it is sad, that the days are mostly gone, when your local record store would have original pressings offered for a reasonable price. Nowadays they all have their online-shops, where you can find these records for international prices, and only the common records will stay in the physical stores. So diggin' crates is not that fun today, because it's mostly virtual crate diggin.
In the passed months, I made some trips to other cities and I visited some record stores, of course. And even if they didn't have that rare records or even original pressings (I once thought, that Japanese reissues were expensive and scarce as well, but they are definitely not), I stumbled across some nice LP's, that feature excellent music. During that time, I kept one eye on the virtual market as well and I visited a record-collector-fair as well. All in all, I managed to find some pretty nice records and I'd like to share.

I started in Hamburg, Germany where I made my way through almost all record-stores I knew and I didn't find something really interesting. I came across a nice, but not original pressing of Jimmy Heath's "Triple Threat" he cut for Riverside in 1962 and an original deep groove-pressing of Gil Melle's "Primitive modern", cut for Prestige Records. The latter one was way to expensive for me, because I found it in almost the first store. Running out of money at the beginning did not sound like a great idea. Later on I got my hands on some later OJC pressings of Harold Land's "The Fox", Gigi Gryce's "The rat race blues" and a record that featured an all-star-band under the leadership of Teo Macero on the Prestige label. All three records were really cheap and feature good, even if not essential music.
At last, already on my way back to the car, I came across a really small spot, that had records as well. There was a small collection of mostly worn records, nothing really of interest. One of the last records was "Blue Hour", the LP Stanley Turrentine has cut for Blue Note with the help of The Three Sounds - Blue Notes own Soul Jazz-trio. The jacket looked marvelous and when I turned it around, I came to see the "43 West 61st" adress, one indicator, that it could be an original first pressing. I asked the owner, if I could see that particular record and when he gave it to me, I was a bit disappointed, because it was a second pressing with the "New York"-labels. I started a pro & contra-list in my head: I already had this record, but only as a japanese Toshiba-issue. I really like the music pretty much and this record was one of my first BN-records, when I started collecting. The record itself was in flawless shape, still had the original innersleve and it was a monaural deep groove-pressing at a very reasonable price. After thinking 5 seconds, I stepped out of the store...with that record.
2 months later, I came back to that store and he still had all the other records, so I bought the obviously best one.

Now, for the record itself: as I have said, the jacket was the original one with light corner dinges on only one side. The seams and the spine are intact, as well as the front is clean and shiny and the back shows no signs of yellowing. The original inner sleeve is clean as well. The record is one of these thick and heavy pressings I really love. The labels are clean, have the "New York"-adress on both sides, as well as the deep groove-circle. The run out groove features the ear and the "RVG"-stamp. Only the adress makes this record a second pressing, because otherwise it's an original one. Both sides are near mint, no scratches or scuffs.

The music shows Mr. T in his best days, rooted in the blues, mostly playing with a deep and warm tone. Here you can hear his mastery of the tenor, his heartfelt mixture of serious and aching playing, combined with deep earthened soul in his tone. On his later, more commercially compiled records, this tone got more absent, but here he plays at his peak. The Three Sounds, mainly Gene Harris (p) offer a great sensitive support. I know, that many jazz-lovers dislike the Sounds, because they often played on an almost commercial basis and their music sounds especially "light" sometimes, comparing this trio to others. But these four musicians fit very well, because Gene Harris offers gentle support, whilst staying in the background most of the time. Andy Simpkins (b) is a very decent, but elegant bassist and he has a warm but always swinging tone, that reminds me of Ray Brown and even of Sam Jones sometimes. Bill Dowdy (d) uses brushes throughout the recording and shows a very comfortable feeling, being situated in the background, doing nothing more than an ample support. The tunes they play are mostly blues and ballads and the name of the record "Blue hour" is the programme on this one here. Although "Kind of Blue", the famous Miles Davis record is on another level, this LP works equally. Get at home in the night - drink some Cognac, wake up in the morning - drink some coffee, sit down and relax in the evening, this soulful and relaxed recording is a perfect partner for you. I still think, that this LP is the most relaxed one, throughout the whole BN-catalogue. If I may say some critique, the playing sometimes really sounds similar or well known, but that's, beause the whole LP shows this soulful and blue mood.
And it's no imagination, these deep groove-issues do sound fantastic...

Donnerstag, 4. März 2010

Bargain bin

It's a pity. Sometimes I get a little sad, when I get to see worn out records. I am wondering, how some people treat their records. Once I got the chance to get my hands on an original first pressing of Lou Donaldson's "Sunny side up" (I already wrote about it in an earlier post). The description of the record and jacket were somewhere in the very good-direction. I can't remember the price, but it was very cheap. The record is almost incredible to be found as an original pressing whithout spending tons of gold, so there was a small chance to get a record, I could listen to. It turned out, that the record was worn and far from being very good. That's sad, because otherwise, some people would have spend much money for it. On the other hand, I like it, because it's an original pressing and I am happy, that I can treat it with some kind of respect, others may have missed. I think, the graders on ebay have become more and more exact with their visual and audible gradings. That makes it hard to find real bargains. But from time to time, I'll try. Lately I stumbled across an original Mono-pressing of Eric Dolphy's "Out to lunch". The record was described as good. The price was absolutely okay and I hope, that I will be lucky this time and it will turn out as a playable copy. What am I supposed to say? These records are historical documents and maybe the musician himself, Alfred Lion, Rudy van Gelder or someone else once had exactly this record in his hand, before it went on to the retailer?! Who knows? So these records all have a story to tell - not only the mint copies. And even when they are worn or have poor condition, someone has to take care of them.
...sometimes, I am the one. Think about it!
(Photographs are coming soon)

Sonntag, 28. Februar 2010


What's up y'all? It's been a while since the last post! This was due to some special circumstances. I moved from one city to another some year ago and I had to let all my Lp's at my old home, because the newer one was a very tiny and small flat. As life happens on and on without a break, I didn't make it that often to my old vinyl and in the meantime I fell onto collecting some classical music on CD - because I was at least able to listen to Cds!
But right now I thought about reactivating this blog and I'm about to write something more in the future.
Some topics I've planned are a little Blue Note-labelography, concerning the different issues that are around on the market. This will include the newer counterfeits, because I haven't seen anything, being written about them. And for the easy access I am planning to group the postings into labels, jackets and the run out groove. Comments, hints and help is warmly appreciated!
Then I'll have some news concerning records by multi-instrumentalist Yusef Lateef, as well as other LP's by Art Blakey, Cannonball Adderley and Jackie McLean and some other artists...
So there will be something new in the future - stay tuned!

Sonntag, 18. März 2007

A cornerstone to listen to

Hank Mobley - A slice of the top
March 18, 1966
This is easily not only one of the best Mobley-albums ever (even if the high-ranking LP’s „Soul station“ or „Roll Call“ are quite good, too), it could also be one of the best Blue Note-albums as well.
Hank Mobley was one of the HardBop-cornerstone-tenor saxophonists for the label in the sixties and showed his talent on many recordings which became classic LP’s, like “A blowing session” altogether with the great Coltrane and the speedy Johnny Griffin.

“A slice of the top” is once again something like an oddity, because it features Mobley in a band setting he never before had, and even with musicians he has worked for the first time (as to my knowledge) on this recording session:

James Spaulding (as) (the flute is not mentioned on the jacket, but there’s a fine solo on “Cute ‘n pretty” for example.)
Lee Morgan (tp) (the other HardBop-cornerstone)
Kiane Zawadi (euph) (formerly known as Bernard McKinney)
Howard Johnson (tb)

McCoy Tyner (p)
Bob Cranshaw (b)
Billy Higgins (d)

This makes a unique combination out of HardBop-experienced lead-instruments playing, combined with an avantgardish but deep rooted rhythm section, paired with a really small brass-section, which functions as a deep-toned background filler (although all killer!).
Mobley wrote four of the tracks in 1966, while he was in prison for drug abuse and handed these compositions, as well as some detailed informations over to Duke Pearson - who also had some fine recordings on Blue Note and remained as a musician, arranger and A&R, after Ike Quebec’s death – who should arrange the tunes. So this means, that pretty much of the sound on this record is because of Pearson’s arrangements.

This album is amazing, because Mobley fits very well with all the other musicians and shows a deep, round and “fat” sound on his horn, while Lee Morgan plays more in an avantgardish Freddie Hubbard-tradition, that suits him well (other issues can be heard on “Delightfulee” for example). Usually Mobley was well known as a perfect HardBop artist, but on this session you can feel the deep influence of Coltrane, Miles Davis and even the one of Sonny Rollins, because he reveals a melodic creativity and unexpected changes, while he still shows his roots.
McCoy fits this session as well as all other sessions he was on, because he is always on point and shows melodic lines, that fit perfectly.

My personal highlights on this session are the minor waltz “Cute ‘n pretty”, where Spaulding shows beautiful lines on the flute and the brass section just finds the right accompaniment. There are thrilling changes between two main parts. One part is dominated by the melodic and sweet flute, whereas the other part shows off some darker colour, dominated by the brass section and remains as a tricky contrast to the lighter colours. They are divided by astonishing improvisations and soloes of the lead musicians – first Morgan, then Mobley, Spaulding on flute and McCoy - (the brass players only worked as accompanists) and Mobley shows one of his best works on this LP. Alfred Lion would have been very excited, because of the swing within the music and the driving beat.
In a similar manner, “A touch of the blues” comes along and it really lives through the brass-work, which immediately catches the listener straight from the beginning.
The only tune, not written by Mobley is the ballad “There’s a lull in my life” which silences Zawadi and Johnson a bit and shows the brilliance of the musicians on the slower scale. As well, the track is living through the beautiful handling of Spaulding’s flute and the light right hand-attack of McCoy Tyner.
If you are into the work of Spaulding and Zawadi, you should look for Freddie Hubbard’s recordings, like “Blue Spirits” or “Breaking point”, which are highly recommended.

Two last remarkable things: As I’ve already mentioned, the brass players are only “used” as accompanists, but because of the deep throated tone of Zawadi's euphonium especially you may think, that they’re everywhere. So they really contributed a main part to this session in surrounding the arrangements. I guess this was a difficult part for Mobley to write and for Pearson to arrange.
The other thing is, that this recording has not been released at the time it was made. It unbelievably stayed in the Blue Note-vault until 1979 and there’s no reason why!

In the 90’s the record was released on vinyl as part of the connoisseur-edition (limited edition 180gr.-pressings) with sleeve-design by Patrick Roques, who fit the tradition of Reid Miles. There was a Japan-only pressing before, which featured different artwork.
The original recording engineer was Rudy van Gelder (of course) and it was produced for release by Michael Cuscuna, the never tired Mosaic-crate digger.

My issue came in excellent condition with no corner dinges, blemishes and no scuffs or anything else. Like all other Connoisseur-LP’s it has the newer backcover design with a B1-catalogue-number and “The finest in Jazz since 1939” on the record-label. That's it. Now go listen!

Donnerstag, 15. März 2007

From France via USA to Germany

Dexter Gordon - Our Man in Paris
May 23, 1963
“Our Man in Paris (BST84146)” is one of the nine studio-sessions (within this count are “Clubhouse” and “Landslide”), tenor saxophonist Gordon cut for Blue Note in the 60’s during his second renaissance, I might say and is a special recording in two ways.
After his disappearance from the jazz-scene in the 50’s he made his comeback on the Blue Note label while he was staying in Copenhagen, Denmark and Paris, France from 1962 until 1977 and these recording became his most known work, although he was really underrated during that time, because of his European residence.
So one speciality about this record is, that it was recorded in Paris – as the name might suggest – with Claude Ermelin as the recording engineer. (I can only remember Clarke & Boland – The golden 8 BN4092 as the only other record of the classic Blue Notes, that was not recorded by Van Gelder)
The other speciality is the band, who was working with Dexter Gordon on this LP:
Bud Powell (p), Pierre Michelot (b) and Kenny Clarke (d). These musicians were all living in Paris, even if they were US-natives besides Michelot who was a Frenchmen and had some recording and playing experience with Miles Davis (“Lift to the scaffold”) or Dizzy Gillespie. This trio formed the band “The Three Bosses” in 1959, so they knew each other and were ready to play, as well as Powell and Clarke did already play with Dex as well.

Comparing to the other Blue Notes, Gordon has made in the 60’s, I cannot fully understand the high rating of this record. The playing is inspiring and you can feel, that the musicians are equally connected, but somehow there is a little bit of strength, I’m missing and I guess this comes from the selection of tunes. On all other LP’s, there is at least one tune, that stays remarkably in my mind, like “Cheesecake” on “Go”, “Tanya” on “One flight up” or “Manha de Carneval” on my favourite record, “Getting’ around”. “Our Man in Paris” has not really a highlight in my opinion, so it’s not really shining for me, I guess.
As I’ve already mentioned, the accompanists play really fine, especially Clarke who is always in the neck of the other musicians, or Michelot who is working under all other instruments and does a really good job, ‘cause you can hear him buzzing and humming all the time, like on “Broadway” or “A night in Tunisia”, for example.
I guess, my real stumbling block is Powell, who indeed is a wonderful pianist, but I guess he wasn’t very comfortable on this setting, while he stays in his Bebop-tradition, whereas the other musicians do their playing in a more hard-boppish manner. That’s not really an antipode, but I guess there’s not a really deep connection, at least on the faster pieces, as it would have been possible. But Powell can really shine on the ballad “Stairway to the stars” while he is stretching out in the background or just at the beautiful beginning, laying down a wonderful introduction to the piece.
The music is well worth collecting, and anybody should give it a listen, even if there are better recordings, in my opinion.

Because of Gordon’s underestimation and the high rating of “Our Man in Paris”, this LP is really sought after.
My copy came as a solid blue label Liberty-pressing in EX condition, with “van gelder” in the dead wax, which is a bit curious, because – as I’ve mentioned – Ermelin was the recording engineer. I guess Van Gelder had his hands on this reissue.
The jacket is in beautiful shape, aside from some small seam splits, and has the Liberty note on top left of the back cover and “43 West 61st”-address.
This is still something I’m wondering myself: Some of these Liberty jackets do have this address on the back and some others don’t!
And I really like the Reid Miles cover with this great Francis Wolff-shot a lot.

Montag, 5. März 2007

Mickey Mouse was on my records

As I have promised, there will be an update and there it is.
I’ve stumbled across same rare Blue Note-titles around the last weeks, I want them to introduce to you.

"Baby Face" Willette - Face to Face
January 30, 1961
The first one is the bluesy second recording-session of Baby Face Willette for Blue Note “Face to Face (BN 4068)”. Willette is known as an oddity or mystery in jazz-music, because he has only recorded a couple LP’s, two of them on the Blue Note-label - what makes these records highly collectable - and disappeared from the scene in the middle of the 1960’s.
As a soul jazz-organist, his roots can be determined from religious gospel music up to Blues and RnB music, even if his main influences have been Bud Powell, Monk, Erroll Garner, Oscar Peterson and I believe – Jimmy Smith, the organ grinder.
By listening to his music, I can feel, that he had a different approach on the organ – other than Smith, or of course Larry Young. His playing is definitely blues rooted and hard swinging on another level. I’m not really an admirer of organ-jazz itself, or at least a fan of Jimmy Smith, but I do like the records of Larry Young and the “Hootin’ and tootin’”-sessions by tenor-man Fred Jackson alongside Earl Vandyke on organ. I do like this record here as well. I really can’t tell, what the difference (musically) between Willette and Smith is, but this record swings on another level as the Smith-records do, which I know.
For example: “Whatever Lola wants” is usually a cheesy pop-song to me, but Willette is goin’ down on it and creates a hard-driven up-tempo number without sounding corny, using his left hand in a spectacular manner.
His perfectly fitting accompanists are the famous Grant Green (guitar), one of the most forgotten but highly recommended saxophonists Fred Jackson and the Jimmy Smith-regular. Ben Dixon on drums.
Scott Yarnow from claims, that Willette displays a lighter touch than Smith, even if he swings in a similar manner. Maybe it can be, because Baby Face could not read any music and was playing entirely by what he has heard. But I don’t know, if Smith could have done it the same way.
You can hear Baby Face Willette on his first stand “Stop and listen”, as well as on Lou Donaldson’s “Here ‘tis” and Grant Green’s “Grant’s First Stand”, just in case anybody wants to check for his music.

The record, which was not really expensive, turned out to be an original second pressing in VG-condition, but cover and LP itself needed a quick cleaning. The jacket with the “43 West 61st”-address is in good shape with no seam splits and minor edgewear, but yellowing on the back.
The record had some mold and dust on it, which could be removed. The clean labels carried the “47 West”-address on one side and “New York USA” on the other one. The vinyl had some marks and hairlines which cause slight background-noise and a few clicks. I guess it has to be cleaned professionally. “Ear” and “RVG” in the dead wax as well, but no original inner-bag.
I guess this was a good opportunity to get hand on this rare LP, even if it’s not NM.

Don Wilkerson - Elder Don
May 3, 1962
The last record for today is an original pressing of Don Wilkerson’s “Elder Don (BN 4121)”, recorded 1962 and this one was his second effort for Blue Note.
Wilkerson himself is also not really remembered on the jazz-scene, I might guess. I think, that this depends on the instrument he was playing, because there have been so many tenor-saxophonists, that it is hard to know them all quite well, even if they don’t had a really recognizable inventive approach like John Coltrane or Joe Henderson.
Wilkerson was a versatile saxophonist in a more soul-jazz vein, but he could fit ballad-settings as well as RnB-sessions.
On “Elder Don” he concentrated on pieces that matched his Texas-influence like “Senorita Eula” or “San Antonio Rose” and played the entire set with a lyrical latin style. Therefore he couldn’t have found any better musicians than Grant Green (once again) and the latin-tinged pianist Johnny Acea (whom I remembered from a Leo Parker session), as well as the experienced drummer Willie Bobo (remember Green’s Latin Bit?). The pretty unknown Lloyd Trotman (who has played with Duke Ellington) has worked on the bass and did a good job.
In comparison to the only other album I know from Wilkerson, “Preach Brother”, this one is really a dance-album, like Joe Goldberg stated in the liner notes. The other one is a more hard-driving bop-session, according to Sonny Clark’s or Billy Higgins’ work, but “Elder Don” is nice and swinging as well, but it is functioning as a somehow unspectacular dance-music-record, which by no means is meant as being deprecative.
The tunes are nice and transfer the spirit, but in my opinion there is nothing really new, or special on it, but I furthermore think, that this was not their purpose. You can feel, that the musicians liked their playing altogether, and that’s what counts.

On to the hard-facts:
The jacket is in nice shape, wouldn’t it have had mice-damage on the lower right corner, so that the edge had to be cutted. No seam splits and slight corner dinges on the other hand and a bit of yellowing on the back. As for the year 1962, it carries the “43 West”-address. There is a price sticker on the front, too that indicates that these original pressings once did cost $4.98. This record was a special sale for $3.88. Imagine that!! Today Blue Note original pressings fetch prices between $60 - $100 and even mor for scarce or collectible LP's like "Undercurrent" or "True Blue". Gosh...
The Mono-record had clean “New York USA” -abels, “Ear” and “RVG” in the wax and only minor wear, so that it plays through very quiet.
According to some inner twirling of the seams, the (newer) inner bag can’t be stuffed inside the jacket, so that this will be the only record I have to leave on the outside.