Hunting vintage jazz vinyl records in the Nutmeg State
Phil Woods – Rights of Swing Part II (Ballad)
Phil Woods – Rights of Swing Part IV (Scherzo)
After a long period of being idle, I’m making a return to blogging. I’ve learned a lot since my last post, about old LPs and also about what I’d like this blog to be. I am happy to use it as a means of keeping track of some of my recent finds, and ideally it would be a great means to share music with others. As I have realized time and time again when trying to blog about various musical topics, I don’t need to say something profound every time I set out to put my own drops into the ocean of the Internet. With that being said, one of my aims in restarting the blog is to post more often, and thanks to my new digs, I think there’s a very good chance for that. In July I moved into a house back in my hometown, in which I have claimed one room for my record collection. In the first year that I was seriously collecting, I could only listen to records during the day and often from the next room. Now I have been able to delve into my record collection in the evening when my wife and daughter are asleep. To top it off, I have graduated from my Panasonic shelf system to a Sony receiver and some large bookshelf speakers that musician buddy kindly passed on to me at no charge.
I’m sure I’ll ramble more and more about what I’ve gained now that I am using my turntable more and more, while also acquiring more and more records, some of them in far better condition than I initially settled for around the time this blog began.
This Phil Woods record on Candid was the prized jewel of a recent trip to a record show about 20 minutes from where I live in Connecticut. I was at the show for about 45 minutes and I can confidently say that this was the only collectible jazz record for sale from any sellers. I almost passed it by because I thought it was a compilation – at a quick glance, the photo of the musicians looks nebulous and generic, unless you can recognize Curtis Fuller’s right hand or Benny Bailey’s puffy cheeks. The front of the cover is the rough, non-laminated type, which combined with the dark blue color doesn’t exactly jump out at you when flipping through a crate of records. The seller quickly and happily accepted my offer of 50% of his asking price (the standard bottom line for record show seller, I’ve noticed) and after picking a few 70s Blue Notes and Kudus from a different seller, I was able to get in a cleaning and a listen during nap time.
The date is led by Phil Woods but the crack band really stands out, particularly Bill Bailey on the beautiful second movement. Devised as a five part suite, each horn gets a nice amount of space to blow, and while each player has a few moments of brilliance, Woods shines the brightest in this small band setting. In the liner notes, Woods states that he no longer feels he can be described as “strident,” as he claims his style of playing was described early on. “Yet, I still intend to keep playing strongly and with, let us say, gonads.” His solo on “Ballad” is immediately expressive without overworking the thought of being emotive, and in general throughout the five movements he cleaves through the rest of band with a gleaming cleanliness that leaves no doubt who this music belongs to. In his review for AllMusic, Scott Yanow ponders why Woods didn’t find similar opportunities to play in a large combo setting, considering not only the enjoyable arrangements on this record (Quincy Jones compliments his talents numerous times on the back cover, calling his compositions “REAL writing”), but particularly the fire it sets underneath his alto.
Recently, Woods revisited the suite with an all-star group from DePaul University, so most efforts to research this record turn up reviews of this new album. I haven’t heard any of that music, but to read that the instrumentation is adapted by replacing the French horn with another alto saxophone and augmented by vibraphone sounds regrettable. The personality and deftness of the musicians featured here – Julius Watkins, Sahib Shihab, Tommy Flannagan, the relatively unknown Bailey – may have made a recreation of the original record to be a futile task anyhow.
The often interesting and often verbosely last named Jaren Wattananon discovered a little Easter Egg closing out Watkins’s solo in the final movement, around the time Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring was making a few jazzy appearances amongst musicians. Check out the YouTube videos found within this article to see if you can hear the French hornist evoking the mighty composer’s essence.
This is my first LP on Candid Records, which was a small, relatively obscure label that put out some heavy hitters in the world of collectible jazz LPs. Albums by Charles Mingus, Booker Ervin, and Max Roach are amongst the highlights. You can find a little bit of information as well as a discography of the label here.
This “consumer information card” for lack of a better term is kind of fascinating. Strangely enough, quite a few copies I researched on Popsike included this card.
“Postage will be paid by addressee.” I feel like you see that less and less nowadays. But I guess you were doing Candid a favor. After all, it does say on the other side, “Your cooperation in filling out and returning this card would be greatly appreciated.”