Milestones

Blakey's Blue Note live recordings (and others)

47 posts in this topic

I find it interesting that there are so many live recordings of Blakey's Jazz Messengers. While there are classic studio records like The Big Beat and Moanin', I imagine most of us think of the live records on Blue Note as his main legacy.

By comparison, other barely did any live recordings. I think Horace Silver did just one (then a second about 3 decades after the fact). I can't think of any live recordings (on Blue Note) by Hubbard, Morgan, McLean, Henderson (prior to State of the Tenor in the 80s), Hancock, Shorter, etc.

Anyone know why this was the case?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How about Lee Morgan's Live at the Lighthouse, a Blue Note 3CD-set?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

True. Doesn't that have Hubbard on it as well? But it's not a record I ever owned or heard.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Really? When did the Hancock get released?

Oh, I was thinking of Night of the Cookers for the Morgan/Hubbard tandem, though I don't directly know that record either.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm still trying to see if there is an answer to the basic question. Why did Blakey have so many live releases, when everyone else seemed to have, at best, one?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe Blakey liked it more than most and pushed the idea more than most.

Most BN studio albums of the 1960s were not working bands, and most presented new material that came together only a week or so earlier, so if the artist was concerned with "presentation", the control afforded by a studio date would have been the way to go.

Also, a live date meant easier money for him (no rehearsal or anything just come in to the gig and play, get paid for the night for the gig AND for the record date), and I don't know that I've ever heard of Blakey not liking the idea of easier money, nor do I find that in any way a disreputable quality, although one must remember that Blakey was, to use Curtis Fuller's memorable phrase, "a rascal". Was it the St. Germain date where everybody shows up one night and there's cables and shit out, and Benny Colson says wait a second and Blakey is all GOSH I didn't know THIS was happening even though he had done got his money? A rascal!

Quite apart from BN, how many live Blakey dates were there over the years, just the official ones? Lots!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I imagine most of us think of the live records on Blue Note as his main legacy.

I certainly don't. The first ones are classics. The next ones at the Bohemia are also excellent. The remaining ones are meh - they're certainly not bad, but they definitely aren't better than, say, Moanin' or Free For All or Indestructible. (Note that Ugetsu and Three Blind Mice come from this period but were not recorded for BN.)

As for why Blakey made more live records on BN compared to other artists, I imagine Blakey's prior success gave him a lot of clout with Lion/Wolff and they were OK with indulging him on projects they wouldn't do with other artists (e.g., doing four separate sessions with large percussion groups).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jimmy Smith made several live recordings for Blue Note: COOL BLUES, GROOVIN' AT SMALLS' PARADISE, 3 volumes of LIVE AT THE CLUB BABY GRAND.

Additionally, Kenny Dorham's ROUND ABOUT MIDNIGHT AT THE CAFE BOHEMIA

Donald Byrd/Doug Watkins - THE TRANSITION SESSIONS (2 albums)

Donald Byrd AT THE HALF NOTE

Grant Green - LIVE AT CLUB MOZAMBIQUE, and ALIVE!

Eric Dolphy - ILLINOIS CONCERT

Sonny Rollins - A NIGHT AT THE VILLAGE VANGUARD

Kenny Burrell - ON VIEW AT THE FIVE SPOT

Bobby Hutcherson - LIVE AT MONTREUX

I'm sure there are others.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While there are definitely some fine BN live recordings, I don't think BN was particularly known for their live output in general. Maybe RVG preferred the studio atmosphere?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While there are definitely some fine BN live recordings, I don't think BN was particularly known for their live output in general. Maybe RVG preferred the studio atmosphere?

I read somewhere that RVG said it was more difficult setting up for live recordings than in his own studio where he had more control.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Donald Byrd/Doug Watkins - THE TRANSITION SESSIONS (2 albums)

Eric Dolphy - ILLINOIS CONCERT

These two were not originally BN recordings - BN just eventually acquired and put them out.

Horace Silver's Doin' the Thing is another one. Not surprising that JOS/Silver/Blakey account for many of the live sessions in the pre-1967 period.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's also Lonnie Smith's MOVE YOUR HAND, and LIVE AT CLUB MOZAMBIQUE.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Blue_Note_Records_live_albums

This includes some records that were not originally on BN, as well as those recorded after the 1980s revival.

I did not realize that The Three Sounds' Live at the Lighthouse was originally a Dick Bock session, but was issued as a BN record - BLP 4265, not on Pacific Jazz which Liberty had also acquired 10 years before. Did any other Bock sessions receive their first issue under the BN name during the Liberty years? Or was this a one-off? (Liberty didn't do this with some of the other Bock sessions released around this time - the Jazz Crusaders' Lighthouse '68 bears the Pacific Jazz logo.)

Edited by Big Wheel

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I might be wrong, but I don't think any of the recordings included on Donald Byrd/Doug Watkins - The Transition Sessions are live performances.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sonnymax just beat me to the punch. The Byrd/Watkins Transition sessions recorded in Cambridge or Boston were not live.

On the other hand, Transition did originally issue Byrd/Lateef concert (with Harris/McKinney/Jackson/Gant) that was taped live at the World Stage in Detroit in August. 1955. That's the material most easily found on Delmark. (Actually, the World Stage was technically in Highland Park, a separately incorporated city inside Detroit's borders.)

Edited by Mark Stryker

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Transition also issued a live date by Boston hero Herb Pomeroy entitled Jazz In A Stable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Coda: I also in no way ever considered Blakey's live Blue Notes superior to his studio dates.

Stanley Turrentine's two "Up at Minton's" LPs and Ornette Coleman's two "Live at the Golden Circle" LPs should be added to the master list of live Blue Notes.

I always thought of Blue Note as a pacesetter in live recording in the rush of the early LP era with Blakey, Smith, Rollins. But then the label slowed down, either because the novelty wore off or because it was a pain in the ass or it didn't make sense aesthetically for most of their projects. Still, they recorded or released things occasionally.

The five live Blue Notes never made that I wish would have been:

Grant Green/Larry Young/Elvin Jones

Freddie Hubbard's "Breaking Point" band

Herbie Hancock's "Empyrean Isles" quartet

Any Wayne Shorter ensemble playing his music between 1964-67

Horace Silver's band with Woody Shaw and Joe Henderson -- there is a bootleg tape of this band from I think the Half Note that's killin'

Edited by Mark Stryker

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are the two Ornette dates from Stockholm, that BN put out in 1966 but I don't recall Rudy being flown in for them. Did they start life on another label or did BN bankroll them?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, clearly control and being able to capture better sound is something you will get by working in the studio. Some of those early live albums are pretty dismal in audio quality (yet others are fairly good). But then there is the flip side of the coin--capturing a fantastic band in concert. I wasn't around during the great years of Blue Note--at least not as a mature listener aware of jazz and with the means and money to see these artists (born in 1960; didn't own a jazz record until I was 21). As Mark Stryker points out, it would be great to have live documents of those bands.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I imagine most of us think of the live records on Blue Note as his main legacy.

No. The opposite is probably true, this is a minority opinion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are the two Ornette dates from Stockholm, that BN put out in 1966 but I don't recall Rudy being flown in for them. Did they start life on another label or did BN bankroll them?

Frank Wolff went to Sweden for the recordings. He used Rune Andreasson as the engineer. This was a BN project from the beginning.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I imagine most of us think of the live records on Blue Note as his main legacy.

No. The opposite is probably true, this is a minority opinion.

Hmm... there's the great Bohemia recording of the original Messengers, there's Birdland with Brownie - at least those are staples. Then I'm very fond of the hippsippy chicken 'n dumplins double set with a returning Mobley, there's the other Birdland double set w/Shorter, which by comparison both to that band's studio sets and the other live sets I never really warmed to that much ... then there's Three Blind Mice (United Artists, right?), and next the fine Limelight one with Frank Mitchell, and by 1968 another label caught the band with Billy Harper ... plenty to choose from, really. But no desert island material except for the first two. My essential Blakey would be a mix of studio and live - first I'd pick the Bohemia material, next Free for All ... and that band, at that point in time, would be my big wish for a live recording to turn up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't believe Rudy recorded Lee Morgan at the Lighthouse, either.

At least in the 1950s, the height of hard bop and west coast, almost nobody was doing much live concert or club recordings. Brubeck was an exception.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't believe Rudy recorded Lee Morgan at the Lighthouse, either.

At least in the 1950s, the height of hard bop and west coast, almost nobody was doing much live concert or club recordings. Brubeck was an exception.

'LIghthouse' was recorded by Dino Lappas, produced by Francis Wolff.

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.