Nutmegging This Up

Hunting vintage jazz vinyl records in the Nutmeg State

Kenny Burrell – Have Yourself a Soulful Little Christmas (1966)

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Kenny Burrell, guitar

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Stereo pressing. Don’t know much about the Chess label, but this seems to be early.

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A little late, but here’s a holiday offering worth tracking down for the future. The music is what you would guess: Xmas tunes injected with a bit of soul. There are some subtle surprises to be found here though: first, that any hopes of a commercial angle to this LP are a bit blurred by a diverse offering of tunes as well as some clever arrangements (including a version of “The Twelve Days” that’s not entirely hate-worthy). Burrell’s playing is sharp and balanced, including some sensitive moments. This is the only time I’ve ever happened to hear him on an acoustic guitar though I haven’t heard a huge amount of his output. It’s a Christmas record with ideas but not a gimmick. That’s why I like it and that’s why I’m sticking with it.

Excited about the next few posts I’ll be bringing to NTU: I’m behind on a few records I found here in the Constitution State, plus I am going crate digging in New York tomorrow with my best bud from middle school and beyond. This will be my first time record hunting in the city since I began arming myself with knowledge this past summer, so I’m excited to see what I’ll find. Until then…

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12 comments on “Kenny Burrell – Have Yourself a Soulful Little Christmas (1966)

  1. Joe L.
    December 30, 2012

    It’s a first pressing. Argo changed its name to Cadet in 1965. To my ears, the early Cadet blue label deep groove (like this one) sound as good as the original Argo deep groove. And this is one of the few Christmas albums I actually enjoy listening to.

    • pgiampi1
      December 30, 2012

      I’m in the same boat with Christmas music…I’m not a huge fan but I have some favorite records (see the previous post if you haven’t already). Thanks so much for the info on Cadet! I’ve got an Argo first pressing I need to dig into soon and will be on the blog…here’s hoping it sounds purty!

      • Joe L.
        December 30, 2012

        I am an Argo fanatic. We live in Chicago so perhaps Argos are a tiny bit easier to come by because they were recorded and produced locally, but I think they are hugely undervalued, mostly because the big-name guys (Lou Donaldson, Baby Face Willette, etc.) recorded “better” records on Blue Note at the same time. But I believe the Argos have glorious sound, and are unfairly neglected by jazz collectors. Check out “Cookin’ The Blues” by James Moody on Argo – stunning sound, killer band, tight as a drum. Or “Red Rodney Returns.” I have a mint copy of that which sounds like the band is in the room; if he had recorded it on Blue Note, it would go for $600 on eBay. Or “Mo Rock” by Baby Face Willette. It’s a cooker. Or any of the early live Ahmad Jamal records. They all sound terrific, and the sound compares favorably to the live Bill Evans records on Riverside (seriously – I know that’s heresy, but it’s true). And the early Cadet blue labels – like the KB Christmas record – sound good too. “Soul in the Night” by Sonny Stitt and Bunky Green is a terrific mid-60s Chicago “tough tenor” record. Anyway, you can often find them for $6 and under, and I always pick them up.

      • pgiampi1
        January 5, 2013

        Can you give me some information on identifying first and early pressings of Argo albums? I have a white label pressing of Meet the Jazztet that I’m realizing doesn’t exactly have a clear deep groove. It’s got three different codes in the matrix, one of which is stamped. It was sold to me as a first pressing and I’m not sure now that it is…it would still be early I guess, but I really have no idea what I’m looking at. It will go on the blog eventually but any information you might have would be much appreciated.

      • pgiampi1
        January 5, 2013

        Correction – it has FOUR different matrix codes. The stamped one ends in “1A” at least. What a mess!

      • Joe L.
        December 30, 2012

        By the way, happy to have found your blog. Keep up the good work.

  2. Joe L.
    January 7, 2013

    I have a few that have multiple matrix codes (one always machine-stamped); but also many that have only one machine-stamped code. Where that gets interesting and confusing is that those stamps are not always consistent from record-to-record! I have a stereo copy of the Meet The Jazztet (dear lord, what a great record) and it has one machine-stamp. Anyway, bsnpubs (those guys are the tops) has a great Argo breakdown here: http://www.bsnpubs.com/chess/argo600.html and it seem white-and-black was an early promo label. When I get a minute, I’ll take a look at my Argos and see if any patterns emerge, haha.

    • pgiampi1
      January 7, 2013

      I had a feeling the white label was promotional, although nothing on there says “not for sale” or the like. I was hoping such promotional status would yield some nice results. But unfortunately my LP seems like its been played quite often, the very opening sounds muddy and there is quite a bit of static-y distortion at times. Either it’s damaged or I still haven’t figured out how to tame some mono records enough…

  3. Joe L.
    January 8, 2013

    Here is a sampling which covers a good span of time and a few different artists, and mono as well as stereo. I found a few different patterns, but there are also one-offs and not many of the patterns match straight-up. I apologize in advance for the length of this post; I started looking, and got interested:

    James Moody – Moody’s Mood For Love, Argo 613 (black, deep groove, heaviest vinyl of all these samples): handwritten – 8420 ∆334

    Ahmad Jamal Trio – But Not For Me, Argo 628 (black, deep groove): machine stamp – LP628-8671 J8OP-3506 (I have a few others with similar stamps and codes)

    Ramsey Lewis Trio and Lem Winchester – Tribute to Clifford Brown, Argo 642 (black, deep groove): machine stamp – K8 OP 0917-1 (I have a few others with similar stamps and codes, starting with either J, K, or L)

    Red Rodney – Red Rodney Returns, Argo 643 (black deep groove, notably heavy vinyl): handwritten – LP-9192 ∆-1112 ; crossed out is a machine stamp which reads K8 OP 0926 1A

    Meet the Jazztet, Argo Stereo 664 (blue, deep groove): machine stamp – L8OY-3878-1 U-10053

    Ahmad Jamal – Jamal at the Pershing Volume Two, Argo 667 (gray, deep groove): handwritten – LPS (S crossed out)-667 S-1 U-10270 and machine stamp – LO8P 0101-1B

    Ahmad Jamal – Listen to the Ahmad Jamal Quintet, Argo Stereo 673 (blue, deep groove): handwritten – L08Y-4707-1D LPS-673-1 10547

    Baby Face Willette – Mo’ Rock, Argo Stereo 739 (blue, deep groove): machine stamp – R4RS-9094-1 LPS-739-1 (have a few others with similar patterns, all from the 700s)

    Baby Face Willette – Behind The 8 Ball, Argo 749 (gray, no deep groove): handwritten – 13650

    I also looked at two early Cadet records (Cadet 770 and 813), and they have similar handwritten marks to Argo 673 above.

    Interestingly, nearly all of the code sequences are also on the labels themselves. A job run, perhaps? Anyway, Columbia sequenced stampers, they are not!

    • pgiampi1
      February 3, 2013

      Thanks for all this information – it doesn’t seem like there’s a rhyme or reason to a lot of it…I just picked up Ahmad Jamal’s Chamber Music of the New Jazz and its got a JO9P- number that has seemingly nothing to do with Argo’s LP- number. It’s got deep groove on both sides and a black label…seems light in weight but otherwise seems early (it has an onion paper sleeve…did Argo use those in the 50s?)

  4. Álvaro Pinto
    September 25, 2015

    …and I forgot, the label has no deep grove, just a round edge depression on the middle of the label on both sides.

    • pgiampi1
      September 26, 2015

      Those Cadet pressings came after the Argo originals, usually. Check out London Jazz Collector – he’s got some great information on the history of labels.

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