Jun 30, 2013

Art Blakey and the Jazz Messenger: Hard Bop, Columbia 6 Eye Vinyl, 1957

I can't think of an album more aptly titled than this session from 1957, Hard Bop.

 Hard bop, a term used to describe this harder and more blues based sound opposed to be-bop, which was a lighter yet more complex music that involved rapid chord changes .

Hard Bop the album, on Columbia Records was one of the few Art cut for the label.

 Jackie McLean on alto sax, and Bill Hardman on trumpet offer a front line support that was one of Blakey's more underrated units.

This, along with the RCA Victor album A Night in Tunisia "not the Blue Note Album" are fine example of this band.

The pictured vinyl copy  is one I found at a Catholic charities thrift shop. I remember  that day fondly, as I spent a good 200 dollars in there, with about 50 of the 100 records I found going directly into my collection.

 A bunch of rare big band mostly from Clare Fischer, Johnny Richards, and Stan Kenton. These were all first presses in excellent condition.

Trumpeter Bill Hardman is a name you don't hear much, I think that might be because he played with Blakey in the 50's and again in the 70's, but never appeared on a Blue Note messengers album. I think this has been a big reason he is lost in the shuffle.

Outside of Blakey, Hardman did not lead that many sessions of his own, just seems to be bad luck and circumstance, because he is a fine player in the Clifford Brown tradition.


Jun 27, 2013

John Coltrane: Kulu Se Mama, 1967 Vinyl on Impulse Records

http://redirect.viglink.com/?key=7f4b0b133ef875ccddfa32e340a55e1e&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.com%2Fsch%2Fi.html%3F_odkw%3Dkule%2Bse%2Bmama%2Blp%26_osacat%3D0%26_from%3DR40%26_trksid%3Dp2045573.m570.l1313.TR0.TRC0.Xkulu%2Bse%2Bmama%2Blp%26_nkw%3Dkulu%2Bse%2Bmama%2Blp%26_sacat%3D0John Coltrane's Kulu Se Mama is one of those later period Coltrane albums that really seems to draw a line between the critics.

 Many would not accept anything after A Love Supreme, and frankly I don't think they could get past anything with an over blow or atonal sound.

Actually Kulu Se Mama turns out to be a bit of a world music album along with some fine free elements.

The title track composed by the vocalist Juno Lewis is the meat of the album and happens to be one of the first Coltrane tracks the caught my ear. The pulsating, and droning percussion of Lewis, and eventually the wild sax of Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders drives this music to very exhilarating heights.

The title track sounds modern and contemporary by today's standards, the world music vibes would fit right in on a college student's iPod.

The other 2 tracks on the original Impulse vinyl are "Vigil" and "Welcome", they are classic quartet tracks, and show the quartet pushing the boundaries of inside outside jazz.


The pictured vinyl record is an original stereo copy, and sounds so good, I spun this one twice.

 These original Impulse albums are rising fast in price, this copy in top condition will set you back 75-100 bucks, second pressings though can be had at very reasonable prices.

I was lucky enough to find this copy to add to my own collection at a local Cincinnati record shop several years ago. near mint vinyl for 15 bucks sure was a welcome deal.


Jun 26, 2013

Archie Shepp Four for Trane on Vinyl

Archie Shepp's Four for Trane is one of those free jazz records that is an easy jumping of point for straight ahead jazz fans.

 I always thought Four for Trane owed more to Ornette Coleman than John Coltrane.

The group interplay just reminds me of that type of jazz Coleman brought to jazz 8 years earlier, but the advances here are Shepp's husky tone, and the reworkings of 4 tracks Coltrane originally did for Atlantic Records.

"Syeeda's Song Flute"is the highlight of the album in my mind.  I love the blues gospel rawness of the track, very advanced playing but clearly more rooted in tradition than one would think given the reputation of the new thing movement.

"Mr. Symms" and "Cousin Mary" get fresh make overs, you will recognize the compositions though, I keep thinking back to that Ornette Coltrane quartet influence,  it is there.

The lone Shepp number here is the seriously felt "Rufus, Swung His Face at Last to the Wind, Then His Neck Snapped" This track seems to fit in well with the Coltrane tracks, It also sort of solidifies the album as a brand new work, separate from John Coltrane.

I always liked Archie Shepp's tenor sax tone, sort of the Ben Webster of free jazz. Other musicians of note are Alan Shorter on trumpet, Reggie Workman on bass, John Tchicai on Alto, and Roswell Rudd on trombone.

This pictured vinyl copy I won in an auction, for 12 bucks, it is not an original pressing, likely a second press, late 60's. In any event, still a fantastic sounding record with much more warmth than the CD can muster.

The ultra cool cover is also nice to have in its original 12 inch form.

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