Vincent, Paris

BYG Actuel Series

107 posts in this topic

...you get a good chance to hear the little know French bass player Beb Guerin!

When I'm in a Beb Guerin mood I reach for Way Ahead or Scorpio. Not this one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • The BYG label was run by crooks, plain and simple. Here's one instance of unsavory activity that I witnessed first-hand:

    In the late 60s or early 70s, I'm not sure which, I received a call from Columbia Records. They had purchased some Charlie Parker material from France--several albums worth--and Robert Palmer was writing the liner notes. He was having a problem identifying some of these sessions, so they wondered if I would take a listen.

    That same day, via messenger, a handful of LP test pressings arrived at my apartment. I spent the weekend tracking the material down and concluded that it would be impossible for any European to actually own all this. There was material that belonged to U.S. labels, some at that time in litigation, etc. I called Columbia and told them that it was my considered opinion that they had been had.

    They seemed quite upset and told me that the Parkers were only a small part of a larger package that included Stan Getz, Louis Armstrong, Ma Rainey... When they got to Rainey, I told them that all her recordings belonged to John Steiner, who had taken over the Paramount material, so, obviously, no Frenchmen had any rights to sell it. Now they were really beginning to sweat, so they asked if I would mind checking out the rest of the stuff.

    It didn't take me long to determine that this was all a scam. I called Columbia and told them that they were ok on the Armstrong. "Thank God for that," said the guy from A&R. I added that they were only ok because they already owned it--Jacques Bisceglia and Jean-Luc Young had sold them their own material!

    They came t my apartment, along with someone from the legal department, I laid it all out for them and they seemed to forget that I was present, for they spoke quite freely among themselves, They had already paid Young and Bisceglia a $200,000 advance. Next, they called BYG and asked the guys to come to New York, because they needed someone to help identify the various tapes--they did not reveal that they had caught on to the scam.

    At CBS's request, I was present for the meeting with Young (who was the only one who heeded the call) when a meeting was held in the legal dept at Blackrock. It was interesting to note how Young's understanding of English deteriorated whenever the questions got tough. He was asked to produce proof of ownership, which he promised to send. The contracts that eventually arrived were from a Stockholm-based company called "Jazzola." There was no such company.

    The upshot of this was that Columbia, embarrassed by their blunder, decided to write off the $200,000 and whatever money had already been spent on production (including the rather hefty invoice I presented them with). Fortunately, none of the material was issued by Columbia--that would have generated lawsuits as well as embarrassment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After I collect my thoughts, I will post about this too. I was a CBS employee at the time and I know one of the guys got away with $75,000.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chuck, can you recall the name of a black guy (they said he used to play bass) who played a major role in the decision to purchase this material? He didn't last long at CBS, but received enormous funding to start his own label--all I remember about that label is the lavish party they had to introduce it. They took over the Fifth Avenue library, sent limos to pick people up, etc.

It was obvious that CBS haphazardly took him aboard because they were looking to "diversify" at that time (remember "Dr." Butler?) and I think they ran the package past this guy because he was black and played an instrument--he had to know jazz. When he saw names like Parker, Getz, and Armstrong, he said "great," not having a clue about such pesky things as rights. Ridiculous, of course, but I think you recognize the early 70s white corporate mindset.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chris (and Chuck), great stories. Keep them coming. Since I know a number of people involved with the Byg/Actuel label, there is one name missing here, the mastermind behind it all: Jean Georgakarakos. He was the real crook!

From what I know, I regard the others as plain hustlers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I'm in a Beb Guerin mood I reach for Way Ahead or Scorpio.

Has Scorpio made it to disc? And, is it an Arthur Jones session, or Coursil's?

Charly, Fuel, and Sunspots are now all reissuing BYG/Actuel titles, and it's difficult to keep things sorted out. The music's great ... but it's too bad about the shadiness of the proceedings, etc., and that the musicians seemed to have seen not a penny.

If anyone can link a complete list of what's made it to disc, that would be great.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Late, 'Scorpio' was one of the Byg/Actuel LPs. It was released under Arthur Jones' name.

Just in case you are not aware, here is a list of the Actuel releases from Michael Fitzgerald's website:

http://www.jazzdiscography.com/Labels/byg.htm

And just to add, I can assure you - I was at some of the dates and witnessed this - that the musicians who took part in those sessions were paid. Don't think they were paid a lot, but they were paid. And also I'm pretty sure they are not getting any money out of the reissues.

The Actuel people approached Cecil Taylor for a record session and he refused far various reasons notably because the money was not right. The Actuel guyes then turned to Jimmy Lyons and Andrew Cyrille who were part of the then CT Unit. The two of them accepted and recorded their first albums under their name for the Actuel series.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And just to add, I can assure you - I was at some of the dates and witnessed this - that the musicians who took part in those sessions were paid. Don't think they were paid a lot, but they were paid.

Right, good to know. I guess I was thinking of the reissues, but didn't clarify in my post above. Looks like a fair portion of the catalog has seen compact disc reissue, which is good. Interesting that the Kuhn's haven't been out, though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Scorpio has not been released on CD as far as I know. In fact, neither have either of the Coursils (Way Ahead, Black Suite). However, you might want to look for Black Suite among the (French) Amercia CD reissues since I believe it was a date recorded initially for Amercia and then later issued among the Actuel titles. It's a late one. Like #49 or 50.

I can tell you that Way Ahead was reissued by Get Back in the past year or so. Don't know if that helps you out very much but I have definitely seen that one on the shelves.

Edited by Brandon Burke

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

coursi_jacq_wayahead~_101b.jpg

Way Ahead is currently out on disc through the Italian Sunspots label, in a gatefold mini-LP jacket. Haven't heard it, but I've read Brandon's AMG review!

:rhappy:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Way Ahead is currently out on disc through the Italian Sunspots label...

Get it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Way Ahead is currently out on disc through the Italian Sunspots label...

Get it.

OK.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

murray_sunn_sunshinea_101b.jpg

This one is currently available for $6.99 from The Bards. Here. Recommended, particularly for the Sunshine half of the disc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Bards currently have this 3-disc set on sale for $19.99 ...

zzjazzactuelacollecti_101b.jpg

Some of it's great, some of it's not, but it's the only way you can hear some of those BYG tracks (vinyl notwithstanding).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Black Suite" was #49, "Scorpio" was #50. Both were hijacked from America, so I would think that they might come out as America/Universal CDs before BYGspots. The Coursils and Jones are some of the best from that period, for sure.

I'm wondering if they will reissue the Joachim Kuhns or the Acting Trio. Kuhns are pretty good and pretty odd; Acting Trio (buncha heavily obscure French cats, tenor player Philippe Mate the only one of any real recording pedigree) is way, way out. Like Brotzmann playing Stockhausen... except 'French.'

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After I collect my thoughts, I will post about this too. I was a CBS employee at the time and I know one of the guys got away with $75,000.

I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on this, Chuck, as I'm sure many of us would. Thanks!! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Instead of the Paul Bley, or even one of the AEC albums, I wish Universal France would have reissued Arthur Jones' Scorpio in the new Free America line. The one track I have ("Brother B") is something else — I keep coming back to it. Is the rest of the album as good?

Here's a single BYG "anthology" disc that I made for myself (clocking in at 79:11) that really seems to work, one track to the next:

1. "Brother B" (Arthur Jones)

2. "Premonitions" (Jimmy Lyons)

3. "Exploration" (Grachan Moncur III)

4. "Black Suite, Part Two" (Jacques Coursil)

5. "The Utter-Nots" (Sun Ra)

6. "Note" (Steve Lacy)

7. "From 'Out of Bartok'" (Burton Greene)

8. "Blessing" (Kenneth Terroade)

9. "Soon" (Sonny Sharrock)

Try it some time!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

anything to look out for over here that will not blow my brains out but is some progressive new jazz with an out twist? the moncur or anything? i guess maybe the arthur jones? the sun ra or the sunny murray? anything? the sharrock? thank you for any input....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

yeah i have heard that one. i forgot about it.

duets are not my favorite format though.

come to think of it, don cherry sessions seem to never live up to my hopes.

i always have high hopes and they are ok-but not amazing like i had hoped for.

"brown rice" being a prime example.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

anything to look out for over here that will not blow my brains out but is some progressive new jazz with an out twist?

Based on your posts in other threads (Free America, Pharoah Sanders, etc.), I don't think you'd really be into any of these sessions. The one track from the Moncur ("Exploration") might be to your liking (as it has Philly Joe on it), but otherwise it's all likely too "out" ... ? (You'd probably also like the track "Brother B," as it has a bass vamp that kind of grooves at times ... maybe if you found the BYG box used for a decent price ... )

You definitely don't want the Sharrock. I really like it, but it's music to play on Halloween to scare your neighborhood kids away ... or something like that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Andrew Cyrille is the drummer on the Moncur... but that's probably the sort of BYG best-of mix I would make too!

Too bad the Jones didn't make it to CD. Great record.

AK, do you have the Don Cherry Blue Notes? I mean, the Mu records are great, as is the orchestra stuff, but judging from your posts you might dig "Complete Communion" and "Where is Brooklyn?" more than "Brown Rice" (which, IMO, blows).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i thought "brown rice" was considered a classic, cliff. it seems confused and boring to me.

and....yes! "complete communion" is great. i love ed blackwell on that one.

i sold "symphony for improvisers" a while ago but i am more than willing to try "where is brooklyn" if it comes out.

and yeah, i guess it is about bass vamps for me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know why Brown Rice is a classic, or for whom, but it is considered by many to be so... it is confounding to me, too. Especially when you consider the BNs, the BYGs, the MPS, the Sonets, the Caprice...

I can't think of too many BYGs that are 'modal' in the way you're looking for; I guess a couple of the Shepps and "Suns of Africa" from Murray's Homage to Africa might fit the bill nicely. That Murray is a killer date.

But then, I don't think of those Cherry BNs as being particularly vamp-y.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Andrew Cyrille is the drummer on the Moncur... but that's probably the sort of BYG best-of mix I would make too!

Whoops — Cyrille's almost playing "straight" at times ... so I assumed without checking the liners. (Which BYG session is Philly on?) I really dig Cryille's drumming, though. He and Sunny Murray are two guys I can't get enough of. They both fit the bill for Cecil at different times, and yet their playing is quite a bit different.

I don't have Murray's Homage yet. Another one to add to the list.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Philly Joe is on Yasmina, Blase and Poem for Malcolm (all Shepp), as well as the Mal Waldron trio that was supposed to be a BYG but came out only as an Affinity.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.