Hunting vintage jazz vinyl records in the Nutmeg State
with Herbie Hancok (p), Butch Warren (b), Billy Higgins (d), and the fabulous Garvin Masseaux (tambourine)
Just about twenty-four hours ago, Blizzard 2013 really got going, and for me that meant extra interaction both before, during, and afterward with my record collection. Friday was spent hearing lots of Donald Byrd, upon news of his passing, while today I auditioned a fistful of LPs mostly on the ECM label that I felt were perhaps worth passing on to others while raising a few dollars for more original pressings of jazz from its heyday. I happened to discover through all this looking around that I had a now out of print 180 gram reissue of My Bloody Valentine’s Titan of a record, Loveless, that I never played and didn’t care to keep. I’m auctioning it off on eBay if you’re interested: http://bit.ly/V7un60
Anyway, this fairly recent addition to my collection of Blue Notes isn’t a silver bullet first pressing in EX condition, but it is an LP I haven’t noticed having been up for auction since I started this crazy pursuit of rekkids last Spring. It has, in the words of the seller, “a gawjus cover” with a totally intact spine, which is in my top five list of things I find attractive in a jacket. The LP is noisy but quite honestly I think it’s still dirty. My Audio-Technica brush only does so much legwork, although I have noticed a vast improvement in its effectiveness ever since I ran out of their cleaning solution and switched to 4:1 distilled water to isopropyl alcohol (91%) mix. Most of what you’re hearing could also be my crummy stereo’s inability to amplify my preamp’s output to a level where I don’t have to crank the volume just to keep up.
Regardless, it has that Blue Note fidelity, and further more it has my main man Herbie Hancock. Herbie is on my list of musicians who, if I had enough resources, I would work at owning all of their major output on vinyl regardless of the level of rarity. Art Farmer, J.J. Johnson, and Ornette Coleman are on that list too, among others. Anyhow this was an LP I didn’t know much about until I stumbled upon the listing for it. I was especially unaware of Herbie’s appearance on the record, so it was a happy accident and it now becomes the fifth Blue Note LP of mine on which he plays (a stereo second press of My Point of View, a flawless early Liberty mono pressing of Maiden Voyage with New York USA labels, as well as original Playstylite presses of Kenny Dorham’s Una Mas and Donald Byrd’s A New Perspective, both mono).
The music is really terrific – African American spirituals make for perfect vehicles for improvisations that end up dipping their brushes into the pallet of early soul jazz. Grant Green in particular is effective in his use of repetition, which if you think about it, is a major attribute to the uplifting qualities of gospel music, something alluded to at times on this LP. There’s a point while Hancock is soloing on “Joshua Fit De Battle Ob Jerhico” where he and the rest of the band nearly get into the double-time stomp of a choir that really gets the congregation going.
Grant Green did a few of these LPs with themed programs in the 60s – in particular I can instantly recognize the cover of “The Latin Bit” – but some of them didn’t get released until later on. It would seem that Green almost kept pace with Blue Note’s most prolific artist, Jimmy Smith, and as a result both artists (as well as Art Blakey) have late 60s/early 70s releases with late 50s/early 60s material. I’m sure the pressing quality isn’t amazing, but something tells me I’ve passed on an album like “Goin’ West” without realizing that it was recorded in 1962 with…who else…Herbie Hancock. Knowledge is power. The digger I deep, the more I find out, the more I can get out and hear.