HutchFan

Playing Favorites: Reflections on Jazz in the 1970s

780 posts in this topic

 

23 hours ago, Eric said:

As with all things Organissimo, this blog has been a (well-spent) drain on my pocketbook 😎

I have found this decade to be extremely rich and deep and thanks HutchFan, for taking the time to point out a bunch of things that were previously unknown to me.  It has also prompted me to pull out stuff that had been sitting dormant in my vinyl collection.  When I started buying jazz (early 80s), this was the only era that was really in print, at least in the middle of Kansas.

I'm glad that you've enjoyed the blog, Eric. :tup

I didn't start collecting records in earnest until the mid-90s. Until then, I was college student with hardly any cash! Fortunately for me, the UGA library included many, many recordings.

BTW, my exploration of 70s jazz is entirely retrospective.  I was just a kid at the time. So I missed out on all the cut-outs many of you are describing. 

 

20 hours ago, JSngry said:

I'm seeing that Ornette was covered back in February, so I'm wondering when, how,  or if harmolodics are going to be covered. Tales of Captain Black maybe? The decades almost over!

No Blood Ulmer. So no harmolodics. ... I considered Captain Black. But -- at the end of the day -- it's just not my bag.

Remember, this blog ISN'T history. Or maybe it's a "personal history." It wasn't my aim to be objective. 

 

Edited by HutchFan

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The one time I heard Dexter, the band was Kirk Lightsey, David Eubanks, and Gladden. I'd love to have a tape of that gig, or some similar gig, just to be able to objectively confirm my in-the-moment impression that Lightsey was pushing Dexter just a little bit harder that night than Cables did on these Keystone sides. And Rufus Reid...love the guy's groove, but his pitch can drive you bonkers if you let it, moreso than Ron Carter. This is a longstanding "known quantity", and one that I generally don't let get to me because of the groove. But on those Keyystone dates....listening at any length, you kinda rub up against it, it's unavoidable.

As for Blakey...hey my first Messengers record was Indestructable, and the Prestige records were getting radio play here at the same time. So by the time the Overalls band rolled around, I was already DEEP into the Blue Note/etc stuff. so...yeah, not the same. And Schittner and Pomeraniov (sp?) never worked me up into a frenzy of anything other than a soft yawn. Like i said, i slept on Watson/Williams, no doubt unfairly, but an Art Blakey record that stimulates yawning does nobody any favors.

Glad that Peter mentioned Backgammon, though. That one eluded me for years, just got it not that long ago. Good record, Albert Dailey always adds value!

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12 hours ago, JSngry said:

Our Thing was a tough one back in the day, the one Joe BN that went OOP early and was not in any store. I got lucky and found a copy in the campus radios station's "jazz" library ca. 1976 or so, and traded, like two John Klemmer impulse! records for it. I kinda felt bad about such a lopsided deal, but otoh, that's where they were at, Joe was still very much a cult figure, "Blue Note" was full-frontal New Note, and John Klemmer was making a lot of noise for the nowsoundlazzkids and the station had not yet been serviced with his records. So hey.

Every time I think of this story, and a few others like it, it reminds me of how some of the records that we take for common these days were once the province of a very few, a very select and limited audience, people who were the hippest of the hip. Our Thing, Unity, Indestructable, etc. They were released, sold a few copies, and then went OOP, not to come back until the CD era. It boggles the mind sometimes.

I may have posted before, but from the back of Our Thing.

Notes written on the back cover - "Every note on every song on this record is magnificent" and "There is not one moment of boredom or any lapse in creativity on either side.  All the compositions are a gas.  AAAAAAGH" and "This is a perfect record.  There is not an average note anywhere."  There is also a note beside Teeter Totter which says "This is the greatest tenor solo on record."

The hippist of the hip indeed!!

IMG_0144.JPG

IMG_0147.JPG

Edited by Eric

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6 hours ago, kh1958 said:

Kent Jordan is a fine musician, not deserving of mockery. I've seen him live several times in the last few years, leading his own group and mostly with Kidd Jordan. They are a dynamic team.

So are Joey DeFrancesco, Marlon Jordan, the Marsalis Bros. and others, but Columbia had a thing they were doing on those albums which didn't do any favors to the musicians involved.   And a lot of them weren't ready to be leaders 35 years ago.

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9 hours ago, Eric said:

I may have posted before, but from the back of Our Thing.

Notes written on the back cover - "Every note on every song on this record is magnificent" and "There is not one moment of boredom or any lapse in creativity on either side.  All the compositions are a gas.  AAAAAAGH" and "This is a perfect record.  There is not an average note anywhere."  There is also a note beside Teeter Totter which says "This is the greatest tenor solo on record."

The hippist of the hip indeed!!

IMG_0144.JPG

IMG_0147.JPG

That....is amazing.

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15 hours ago, JSngry said:

The one time I heard Dexter, the band was Kirk Lightsey, David Eubanks, and Gladden. I'd love to have a tape of that gig, or some similar gig, just to be able to objectively confirm my in-the-moment impression that Lightsey was pushing Dexter just a little bit harder that night than Cables did on these Keystone sides. And Rufus Reid...love the guy's groove, but his pitch can drive you bonkers if you let it, moreso than Ron Carter. This is a longstanding "known quantity", and one that I generally don't let get to me because of the groove. But on those Keyystone dates....listening at any length, you kinda rub up against it, it's unavoidable.

As for Blakey...hey my first Messengers record was Indestructable, and the Prestige records were getting radio play here at the same time. So by the time the Overalls band rolled around, I was already DEEP into the Blue Note/etc stuff. so...yeah, not the same. And Schittner and Pomeraniov (sp?) never worked me up into a frenzy of anything other than a soft yawn. Like i said, i slept on Watson/Williams, no doubt unfairly, but an Art Blakey record that stimulates yawning does nobody any favors.

Glad that Peter mentioned Backgammon, though. That one eluded me for years, just got it not that long ago. Good record, Albert Dailey always adds value!

 

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11 hours ago, felser said:

So are Joey DeFrancesco, Marlon Jordan, the Marsalis Bros. and others, but Columbia had a thing they were doing on those albums which didn't do any favors to the musicians involved.   And a lot of them weren't ready to be leaders 35 years ago.

True. I do recall going to see Wynton in a club a few times back in those days. The place would be packed, though the music was just okay. The weeks before or after, they would have someone incredible in the same venue to a modest or sparse crowd. Kind of demoralizing.

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Columbia tried to do the right thing with Blanchard/Harrison, but they weren't yet ready either, imo. I blame the demise of the working club band model myself. People don't get the same seasoning they used to. But any of their records were more interesting than any of the Marsliuses.

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1 hour ago, JSngry said:

Columbia tried to do the right thing with Blanchard/Harrison, but they weren't yet ready either, imo. I blame the demise of the working club band model myself. People don't get the same seasoning they used to. But any of their records were more interesting than any of the Marsliuses.

I actually did like those Blanchard/Harrison sides OK.  Blanchard even then was such a good writer.

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On 10/22/2020 at 1:05 PM, felser said:

I actually did like those Blanchard/Harrison sides OK.  Blanchard even then was such a good writer.

I agree.  They're solid if not spectacular.

 

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On 10/21/2020 at 3:50 PM, JSngry said:

The one time I heard Dexter, the band was Kirk Lightsey, David Eubanks, and Gladden. I'd love to have a tape of that gig, or some similar gig, just to be able to objectively confirm my in-the-moment impression that Lightsey was pushing Dexter just a little bit harder that night than Cables did on these Keystone sides. And Rufus Reid...love the guy's groove, but his pitch can drive you bonkers if you let it, moreso than Ron Carter. This is a longstanding "known quantity", and one that I generally don't let get to me because of the groove. But on those Keyystone dates....listening at any length, you kinda rub up against it, it's unavoidable.

As for Blakey...hey my first Messengers record was Indestructable, and the Prestige records were getting radio play here at the same time. So by the time the Overalls band rolled around, I was already DEEP into the Blue Note/etc stuff. so...yeah, not the same. And Schittner and Pomeraniov (sp?) never worked me up into a frenzy of anything other than a soft yawn. Like i said, i slept on Watson/Williams, no doubt unfairly, but an Art Blakey record that stimulates yawning does nobody any favors.

Glad that Peter mentioned Backgammon, though. That one eluded me for years, just got it not that long ago. Good record, Albert Dailey always adds value!

Back in the day, meaning in this case the mid '70s to early '80s, you bought vintage Blue Note when you saw it or else and didn't worry about which pressing it was, mono or stereo or even all that much about condition or who was on it.  I found out about some wonderful music buying $1 beater BNs that way that I would never have heard otherwise and wouldn't see again for years and wouldn't have been interested in paying serious $ for either if I hadn't grown to love my play copies.

Blanchard and Harrison were ok, but the Columbia signing that was a godsend was Arthur Blythe - great albums, sometimes wonky recordings but easy to find.

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It was Bruce Lundvall who brought Blythe to Columbia... Dr Death had no such vision.

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2 hours ago, JSngry said:

It was Bruce Lundvall who brought Blythe to Columbia... Dr Death had no such vision.

And truth be told, some of those Blythe Columbia's were a mess (though others were pretty great, and the first one was classic).

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Mess? 

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On 21/10/2020 at 3:41 AM, Mark Stryker said:

I can't even count the number of Blue Notes I bought as cutouts while in high school, 1977-81, in Bloomington, Indiana. They were all 70s United Artists pressings (either White or Black b) and while in recent years I've replaced many of them with earlier and better pressings, I still have a lot of them from that era. Most I bought from a hip record store where an older cat (trumpet player) who worked there took a shine to my enthusiasm and started calling me when new batches would come in. But in a not unrelated note, I bought Sonny's "A Night at the Village Vanguard" at a fucking K-Mart!

As someone who wasn't there, I'd be interested to know whether jazz fans at the time were actively chasing Blue Note in comparison to other labels of similar vintage like e.g. Prestige. 

From the point of view of the '90s, when I started to listen to jazz, Blue Note was the king - it was the great era of reissues, hip hop tie ins (Guru etc.) and coffee table books. If there were Blue Notes crowding the bins in the mid 70s then I suppose that must not have always been the case.

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Blue Notes were most categorically NOT crowding the bins in the mid 70s - their presence in that George Butler era was largely limited to Donald Byrd’s fusion stuff etc.plus the very late stuff by Horace Silver, which got a lukewarm response. Only In 1977/78 with the UA reissue series did the profile raise, with classics such as ‘The Sidewinder’ and the Bud Powells Vol 1 and 2 et al at last getable in WH Smith’s etc. The Japanese imports from King and Toshiba also ramped up around that time - sold by Mole etc.

The floodgates really opened around 1989/90 with those first longbox CD reissues.

Edited by sidewinder

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40 minutes ago, sidewinder said:

Blue Notes were most categorically NOT crowding the bins in the mid 70s - their presence in that George Butler era was largely limited to Donald Byrd’s fusion stuff etc.plus the very late stuff by Horace Silver, which got a lukewarm response. Only In 1977/78 with the UA reissue series did the profile raise, with classics such as ‘The Sidewinder’ and the Bud Powells Vol 1 and 2 et al at last getable in WH Smith’s etc. The Japanese imports from King and Toshiba also ramped up around that time - sold by Mole etc.

The floodgates really opened around 1989/90 with those first longbox CD reissues.

What about the DMM reissues in and around 1985? They may not have opened the floodgates as the CDs did but they certainly made a lot of titles available and with good media coverage (we were having a Jazz Revival I think).

That's when i started buying Blue Notes in any number.  I still remember the NME review, by Roy Carr I think, that introduced the idea of 'brown-bagging' in that you could buy any of the reissues in a brown bag without seeing the cover and still be guaranteed great music.  My introduction to 'Out To Lunch', 'Empyrean Isles', 'Let Freedom Ring', 'Spring', 'The Rajah', a few Joe Hendersons and Sam Rivers.  I must have bought twenty plus titles.  And, you got a poster too!  They were readily available in Our Price as well as the specialists.

Also available at this time were the French Pathe Marconi, nicer quality covers than the DMMs.

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I bought dozens and dozens of those DMMs and yes, they were readily available. Lots of BN titles were not issued in that series though - e.g. hardly any Andrew Hill or Sam Rivers, which wasn’t addressed until the CD era. Agree that with this series the Blue Note catalogue got much more readily available in the UK.

I think the first ones I saw were at the shop in the RFH, when I snagged ‘Inner Urge’ after attending a Miles concert. The other memory of that gig is that I parked my car right outside RFH with free meter parking. :D

The Pathe Marconis (which were the ones I bought) were DMM. Yes, ‘Our Price’ used to stock them. £5.50 or thereabouts ! Some good titles made an appearance - ‘Hi Voltage’, ‘The Rajah’, ‘More Workout’ come to mind.

Edited by sidewinder

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47 minutes ago, mjazzg said:

 And, you got a poster too! 

Got oodles of ‘em !

One other very good thing around that time of the EMI ‘relaunch’ was that the new Blue Note hosted an all-star reunion concert in NYC which was filmed and recorded. Guest of honour was Alfred Lion and many of the greats played (fortunately, many were still musically active at that time). Heck, even Hank made a (non playing) appearance.

Edited by sidewinder

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Was there some sort of air of mystique then, such that you would have purchased a Blue Note record if you saw it?

Or was the Blue Note of the 60s just seen as a just another label until the reissues got underway in the 80s (noting the fact that Blue Note had a life of its own in the 70s)? 

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14 hours ago, felser said:

And truth be told, some of those Blythe Columbia's were a mess (though others were pretty great, and the first one was classic).

Yep ....

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7 minutes ago, Rabshakeh said:

Was there some sort of air of mystique then, such that you would have purchased a Blue Note record if you saw it?

Or was the Blue Note of the 60s just seen as a just another label until the reissues got underway in the 80s (noting the fact that Blue Note had a life of its own in the 70s)? 

Yes, I think there was an added value, maybe not mystique, to the BN reissues in the mid-80s.  There was a big fanfare and a marketing campaign that highlighted the history of the label and it did coincide with the jazz revival that included landmarks like the film 'Round Midnight' which featured BN artists. 

My perspective is one of someone very new to jazz at that time. Maybe more experienced listeners knew their Prestiges as well as their BNs. I knew more about labels that Mingus LPs came out on and Black Saint at that time...reflecting my two entry points of Braxton and Mingus

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8 hours ago, Rabshakeh said:

As someone who wasn't there, I'd be interested to know whether jazz fans at the time were actively chasing Blue Note in comparison to other labels of similar vintage like e.g. Prestige. 

From the point of view of the '90s, when I started to listen to jazz, Blue Note was the king - it was the great era of reissues, hip hop tie ins (Guru etc.) and coffee table books. If there were Blue Notes crowding the bins in the mid 70s then I suppose that must not have always been the case.

I go back earlier than the 70's in beginning my collecting. In the 50's and 60's new jazz LP's were coming out regularly on many labels. Blue Note and Prestige were perhaps the hottest items, but there was also Pacific Jazz, Contemporary, Argo, Verve (formerly Clef and Norgran), and many other  small labels that put out only very few albums. My first Jackie McLean LP as leader was on the tiny Ad Lib label. A nice couple of Donald Byrd LPs and a Doug Watkins LP were on Transition. Carl Perkins and Dexter Gordon LPs on DooTone was another small label. I should not forget Savoy and Bethlehem too. Of Course the big guys such as Columbia, RCA and Decca were there as well.  There were many other labels in the specialist jazz record shops that don't immediately come to mind.

The key for me were the musicians.. If they were musicians I liked, I would go for that album no matter what label it was on. The record shop in Detroit that I frequented most often was happy to play me a track from an LP that I was thinking of buying, if I was not already decided.

If you were not located in a town that had some sort of record shop that catered to jazz fans, the odds of finding the small less known labels were most likely quite poor.  

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Weekly Recap - PLAYING FAVORITES: Reflections on Jazz in the 1970s 

Mickey Tucker – Mister Mysterious (Muse, 1979)
Jay McShann – Kansas City Hustle (Sackville, 1978)
Pepper Adams – Reflectory (Muse, 1978)
Archie Shepp & Dollar Brand [Abdullah Ibrahim] – Duet (Denon, 1978)
Bennie Wallace – Live at the Public Theater (Enja/Inner City, 1978)
Bob Brookmeyer – Back Again (Sonet/Gazell, 1979)
New York Jazz Quartet – Blues for Sarka (Enja/Inner City, 1978)

 

I love this week's selections.  Every one of them. 

George Mraz is a hero this week, as he appears on no less than three of these albums.  I've said it before: No one makes a more lovely sound on the bass than George Mraz.  His bass sings! 

To anyone reading this post who's never heard Mickey Tucker's Mister Mysterious:  Go to my blog pronto!  I've embedded a YT link, so you can hear the entire LP.  Frank Foster!  Pepper Adams!  Cecil McBee!  Eddie Gladden!  And Mickey Tucker's superb compositions.  ... You can thank me later.  ;) 

 

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