Nutmegging This Up

Hunting vintage jazz vinyl records in the Nutmeg State

Benny Golson – Take a Number from 1 to 10 (1961)

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“You’re My Thrill” – Benny Golson, tenor saxophone

“The Touch” – Benny Golson, tenor saxophone; Hal McKusick, tenor saxophone; Sol Schlinger, baritone saxophone; Nick Travis and Bernie Glow, trumpets; Willie Ruff, horn; Bill Elton, trombone; Tommy Williams, bass; Al Heath, drums.

“Time” – same band as “The Touch” except add Art Farmer, who takes the trumpet solo.

“It’s not a gimmick” Benny Golson states in the liner notes of this gimmick record. Gimmick is a strong word. We’ll call it “novelty.” If there’s one thing I’ve learned from searching out original pressings of 50s/60s jazz it’s just how often these guys found themselves in a recording studio. If I haven’t stated this thought in other ways elsewhere on this blog, it’s obvious to me now that jazz fans wore out their copy of this month’s record by _______ in anticipation of next month’s. That was the way to hear these musicians, unless you were situated in New York City or to a lesser extent a few other major cities (Boston, Washington D.C., Chicago…the West Coast too but you might have found a more limited pool of like-minded musicians). In fact this sole concept helps you to understand why old records are often as broken in as they are, how these musicians could possibly have “needed” to be in the recording studio this often, etc etc.

Getting back to my point, any concept or strategy that makes things new for the listener and the players alike must have been at least marginally tantalizing. Add to that the fact that there are quite a few big names listed on the front of this jacket, and I’m sure you can see why I had to have this record. Golson plays the opening “You’re My Thrill” entirely unaccompanied, serving as a nice test piece for my turntable and stereo. I passed, to an extent: the saxophone sound is full and weighty, and in front of my speakers you can really feel the presence, but the LP has certainly been played so all the charms (?) of listening to a 50 year old record are there. On each subsequent track, a player is added on each tune until there are ten total musicians in the band.

Golson is at his best on his own compositions, with the sequential twists and turns of clever hard bop. “Swing It,” “The Touch,” and “Time” particularly benefit from having an expanded band, the first of those tunes being a Jazztet-style sextet and the other two sounding like a big band with Golson as the featured horn. Art Farmer makes an appearence on “Time,” the album’s tentet grand finale and, as a Farmer completist, an additional reason why this LP appealed to me.

The record sounds nice, in particular the more stripped down band that comprises most of side 1. I have been listening to some of my mono records without condensing the two channels via Y-cables, and the results are mixed. As much power as there can be when I play mono records in stereo, the more powerful ensemble playing does seem a little hairy. Putting the cables on usually keeps things a little more tame while preserving the presence of the musicians, probably my favorite thing about playing old pressings on my turntable.  For these records, I chose to use the Y cables – I’ll have to do a comparison in my next post.  You know.  For fun.

 

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This entry was posted on June 3, 2013 by and tagged , , .
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