CJ Shearn

Blakey Just Coolin' review

97 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Nice comprehensive review CJ!!

The Bastards have this available on CD and vinyl.

How does this go unreleased over the last 35 years?  Was it once “rejected?”  Rhetorical question as it is out now!

Edited by Eric

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4 minutes ago, Brad said:

Excellent review, thanks. 

Thanks.  I fixed a few things.  I figure hey, since I'm a Blakey fanatic as many of us are here, I'd go in depth with it from the point of a serious Blakey fan.  There's enough basic information there that if some friends of mine who are casually interested in jazz, they can go further.  As for Eric's query, I'm not sure? Because I first heard  about the session here years ago and how folks said it was mediocre, I wasn't that anxious to hear it.  Around the third listen this one clicked for me.  A session like say Jimmy Smith's Straight Life I'd say (and I spun it again after a long while few weeks back, it's not bad for what it is) it's pretty clear why it was shelved in favor of Plays Fats Waller, the trio is going through the motions a bit more than say Crazy! Baby. 

Just now, CJ Shearn said:

Thanks.  I fixed a few things.  I figure hey, since I'm a Blakey fanatic as many of us are here, I'd go in depth with it from the point of a serious Blakey fan.  There's enough basic information there that if some friends of mine who are casually interested in jazz, they can go further.  As for Eric's query, I'm not sure? Because I first heard  about the session here years ago and how folks said it was mediocre, I wasn't that anxious to hear it.  Around the third listen this one clicked for me.  A session like say Jimmy Smith's Straight Life I'd say (and I spun it again after a long while few weeks back, it's not bad for what it is) it's pretty clear why it was shelved in favor of Plays Fats Waller, the trio is going through the motions a bit more than say Crazy! Baby. 

 

Just now, CJ Shearn said:

Thanks.  I fixed a few things.  I figure hey, since I'm a Blakey fanatic as many of us are here, I'd go in depth with it from the point of a serious Blakey fan.  There's enough basic information there that if some friends of mine who are casually interested in jazz, they can go further.  As for Eric's query, I'm not sure? Because I first heard  about the session here years ago and how folks said it was mediocre, I wasn't that anxious to hear it.  Around the third listen this one clicked for me.  A session like say Jimmy Smith's Straight Life I'd say (and I spun it again after a long while few weeks back, it's not bad for what it is) it's pretty clear why it was shelved in favor of Plays Fats Waller, the trio is going through the motions a bit more than say Crazy! Baby.  I do think that Zev is probably more likely to release things that Michael Cuscuna saw unfit to release as far as rejected items, as long as it makes sales sense.  I would like to see a lot of the rejected Jimmy Smith material from Jimmy Smith Trio+LD and Softly As a Summer Breeze surface.  I'm also curious if the 1957 Newport appearance exists (it should if the VOA) or his 1957 Bohemia date was recorded.  The 1957 set would complement the brief 1959 Newport set which I downloaded from Wolfgang's Vault years ago quite nicely on an archival live release.  I did let Blue Note's PR department know if that any  archival live Smith releases from the era are on tap for release I'd like to write liner notes.

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Posted (edited)

CJ, it is simply not true that the full session heard by a relative lucky few was 'several generations removed from the master'.  This implies a degradation of the sound that is simply entirely lacking. More accurately, the entire session was spirited out by an insider (I am pretty sure on cassette) but once transferred to digital went out into the world of folks sworn to secrecy and subsequent copies stayed in the digital realm. Thus, I have no current desire to buy the CD because I don't think their master is likely to be blow-away better than mine.

(The fact that BN can issue it now is a tribute to the fact that so many people heard it but it didn't ever make it out via a bit-torrent site.)

Secondly it is not inexplicable that this recording was shelved. The fact that most of the set was re-recorded in a live setting is entirely indicative that Alfred didn't think the recording jelled all that well. 

So IMO your  description of the music is fine (I do think you miss the fact that Lee is the star of the released takes, and Hank wasn't really all that great here) but your background on the recording, and the fact of its unofficial release is inaccurate in terms of fidelity and skips over an important part of the story - not only why it was not released and actually re-recorded live, but the ensuing debate among those in-the-know.  I realize  you never had access to the full session but that didn't stop you from describing that version as 'several generations removed'.

Just my 2 cents.

Edited by Dan Gould

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9 hours ago, CJ Shearn said:

CJ - does it say that Ron McMaster mastered these digital files? Ron retired quite a while back so it is unlikely that he did this unless its been "in the can" for many years. It's more likely that they used someone else at Capitol Mastering.

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1 hour ago, bresna said:

CJ - does it say that Ron McMaster mastered these digital files? Ron retired quite a while back so it is unlikely that he did this unless its been "in the can" for many years. It's more likely that they used someone else at Capitol Mastering.

All the accompanying promo material I received only specified Kevin Gray doing the vinyl version.  It is more than likely Ian Sefchick mastered the digital versions, it's just that to me, the sonic signature which is relatively matter of fact as I said, reminded me of McMaster more than anything else.  Last Ron McMaster Blue Note I heard was Evolution by Lonnie Smith.  I won't have the CD mastering credit handy until my copy ships from Amazon and I'll amend the review

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Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, Dan Gould said:

CJ, it is simply not true that the full session heard by a relative lucky few was 'several generations removed from the master'.  This implies a degradation of the sound that is simply entirely lacking. More accurately, the entire session was spirited out by an insider (I am pretty sure on cassette) but once transferred to digital went out into the world of folks sworn to secrecy and subsequent copies stayed in the digital realm. Thus, I have no current desire to buy the CD because I don't think their master is likely to be blow-away better than mine.

(The fact that BN can issue it now is a tribute to the fact that so many people heard it but it didn't ever make it out via a bit-torrent site.)

Secondly it is not inexplicable that this recording was shelved. The fact that most of the set was re-recorded in a live setting is entirely indicative that Alfred didn't think the recording jelled all that well. 

So IMO your  description of the music is fine (I do think you miss the fact that Lee is the star of the released takes, and Hank wasn't really all that great here) but your background on the recording, and the fact of its unofficial release is inaccurate in terms of fidelity and skips over an important part of the story - not only why it was not released and actually re-recorded live, but the ensuing debate among those in-the-know.  I realize  you never had access to the full session but that didn't stop you from describing that version as 'several generations removed'.

Just my 2 cents.

Thanks Dan, edited review to reflect the info.  I'm not sure that I missed that Lee is the star of the show, both of them sounded pretty good IMO, we all catch different things and I think that's beauty of it

 

Edited by CJ Shearn

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>>and Hank wasn't really all that great here<<

I would love if someone could explain why this seems to be the overall sentiment w/ regard to this session. As a player and a very discerning listener, I'm not so sure I would agree.

FWIW I've heard all of the false starts & alternate takes of this session and from what I hear, these guys were having a lot of fun in the studio and I think it shows in the performances they culled for this release.

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No mention of the italicized ampersand. :rmad:
 

(But a great and detailed review otherwise. :tup)

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For those of you on Facebook, I just put up a lengthy post regarding the possible composer of Jimerick. Perhaps with enough shares, we will find someone in the world who recognizes it. Jeremy Pelt has already weighed in, so it could get very interesting. I hope to milk the ever-powerful exponential function as a revenge for all the grief it has given me.

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14 hours ago, bluesForBartok said:

>>and Hank wasn't really all that great here<<

I would love if someone could explain why this seems to be the overall sentiment w/ regard to this session. As a player and a very discerning listener, I'm not so sure I would agree.

Nobody would claim that he wasn't good, much less that he was bad. But considering the greatness of Hank's greatness, then no, this is not all that great.

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Posted (edited)

But ultimately, does it matter? The argument that somehow releasing this would sully the reputation of any of these fine musicians was absurd back then, as it would be now that is has been released.

In a way, it is like comfort food - we know what Hank sounds like, it is always great to get another helping even if it was not the best of all the meals Hank could have cooked up for us. Blue Note will make more money off of this than it cost them to put it out, that is a guarantee. And Zev Feldman will get another Jazz Detective of the year award, so he goes home happy. I doubt there will be one single negative review questioning Blue Note's wisdom in releasing this.

It is also probably the last studio date by both Lee and Hank that we will ever hear, which is bittersweet. I know there is still quality live stuff out there, but it is in the grips of those sociopaths who do not believe in sharing, or are simply to removed from reality to figure out how to share with the world and still make a little bit of money. And do it all legally, too.

Edited by bertrand

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19 minutes ago, bertrand said:

But ultimately, does it matter?

No. And that it doesn't is why I'm not buying it. It really doesn't matter.

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Posted (edited)

I thought I'd try to clear a few things up for you....

The CD was mastered by Bernie Grundman. I thought he did a great job. I don't know when, but at some point, the master takes were chosen and an order was assembled and the CD and LP were mastered from that source but I believe the order as it was originally assembled, was changed for this release. 

Also, the full session that was circulating among some of you was not from the Blue Note vaults, A second machine was run at the same time and at least in this time period, at a slower speed and in mono. These were copies made for Alfred Lion to take home and listen to. These tapes have a different home now and this one got out somehow and circulated. The sound quality is fine but it is in mono. I listened to these as well as at one point, we were contemplating adding bonus tracks to this release. I have to say that while I am a fan of mono, when I first heard the stereo masters, this record sounded a whole lot better to me, it kind of came to life. Some of this is Grundman's mastering of course. And yes, to me Lee is the star of this session, he sounds great. When I first told Cuscuna I thought the date was not bad, he said, aw, you're just a trumpet player, meaning, I assume, that I was just taken in by Lee's playing. 

Edited by david weiss

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Were the alternate takes too unpolished to include? I just received my copy today and enjoyed it.

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1 hour ago, david weiss said:

I thought I'd try to clear a few things up for you....

The CD was mastered by Bernie Grundman. I thought he did a great job. I don't know when, but at some point, the master takes were chosen and an order was assembled and the CD and LP were mastered from that source but I believe the order as it was originally assembled, was changed for this release. 

Also, the full session that was circulating among some of you was not from the Blue Note vaults, A second machine was run at the same time and at least in this time period, at a slower speed and in mono. These were copies made for Alfred Lion to take home and listen to. These tapes have a different home now and this one got out somehow and circulated. The sound quality is fine but it is in mono. I listened to these as well as at one point, we were contemplating adding bonus tracks to this release. I have to say that while I am a fan of mono, when I first heard the stereo masters, this record sounded a whole lot better to me, it kind of came to life. Some of this is Grundman's mastering of course. And yes, to me Lee is the star of this session, he sounds great. When I first told Cuscuna I thought the date was not bad, he said, aw, you're just a trumpet player, meaning, I assume, that I was just taken in by Lee's playing. 

Thank you David! Amended my review to reflect this information, and since I just received my copy, I see it was mastered by BG.

On 7/17/2020 at 10:26 AM, Rooster_Ties said:

No mention of the italicized ampersand. :rmad:
 

(But a great and detailed review otherwise. :tup)

Thanks.  I think I put it out too fast in order to get it out while the iron is hot. I made several edits to tighten things up.  More than the ampersand, shouldn't the BN logo have been red or yellow to match the color scheme? :lol:

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, Ken Dryden said:

Were the alternate takes too unpolished to include? I just received my copy today and enjoyed it.

I thought two of the alternates (I would have to go back to my notes to remember which) were pretty close to the chosen masters and worthy of release and one other decent enough. The problem is that with the reemergence of vinyl, vinyl is now the priority so no more bonus CD tracks. They would have had to include them on the vinyl and make it a 2 record set to include alternates and while I am not privy to the thought process, I assumed they did not want to do that (expense probably) plus the bonuses would have probably been in mono. 

 

Edited by david weiss

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3 hours ago, david weiss said:

Also, the full session that was circulating among some of you was not from the Blue Note vaults, A second machine was run at the same time and at least in this time period, at a slower speed and in mono. These were copies made for Alfred Lion to take home and listen to. These tapes have a different home now and this one got out somehow and circulated.

Did Alfred Lion have a lot of these type tapes, and did they all go to the same different home??

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1 minute ago, JSngry said:

Did Alfred Lion have a lot of these type tapes, and did they all go to the same different home??

It was common practice to send copy tapes home with the leaders. That's how all the "recent" Coltrane Impulse issues exist.

I did/do that regularly. It changed to cassettes later.

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4 hours ago, david weiss said:

Also, the full session that was circulating among some of you was not from the Blue Note vaults, A second machine was run at the same time and at least in this time period, at a slower speed and in mono. These were copies made for Alfred Lion to take home and listen to. These tapes have a different home now and this one got out somehow and circulated. The sound quality is fine but it is in mono. I listened to these as well as at one point, we were contemplating adding bonus tracks to this release. 

My understanding at some point was that Bob Belden was the source for the sessions that escaped - including Ike Quebec, the KD date, and the extended Grant Green date, and that all of these were acquired when he had access to the vaults. I am curious about "different home now" - they made it back to BN or to some other person?

As far as mono goes my transfers are not - close, no major stereo separation, but different peaks. I've never seen a recording that was mono turn into something not quite mono in the digital realm (as in, mono source, extracted as stereo -> still going to be mono.  So David I am not sure of your info and would be interested in further detail.

As for tracking and potential alternates, I have a disc of the master takes listed in the discography and just burned in that order so I guess my version is truly chronological. I would need to listen to the full discs to find these potential alternates, I could swear that the few full takes not labelled as the master take featured more squeaky Hank reed than the masters.

Maybe my attitude about the recording is colored by exposure to the full session and one shouldn't see how the sausage gets made. But I still think the band wasn't gelling that well which is why there were so many takes, so many breakdowns and so few full takes.

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1 hour ago, Dan Gould said:

My understanding at some point was that Bob Belden was the source for the sessions that escaped - including Ike Quebec, the KD date, and the extended Grant Green date, and that all of these were acquired when he had access to the vaults.

I also understand a copy of the (in)famous unreleased Tyrone Washington BN session was spirited out by Belden as well - something I kept under my hat for years (while Bob was still with us), lest I get him in any trouble. The person I got it from had gotten it directly from Bob, and I still think the session is really fantastic.

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Although I have heard that Belden was the source for a lot of the unissued material floating around out there, the person I got this Blakey session from told me that he traded it with Belden to get some of his unissued stuff, so I would think that Belden was not the source of this one. This guy only traded me a copy because I had a session he didn't have. He said that's the way it worked in those circles.

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17 hours ago, david weiss said:

 A second machine was run at the same time and at least in this time period, at a slower speed and in mono. These were copies made for Alfred Lion to take home and listen to. These tapes have a different home now and this one got out somehow and circulated. The sound quality is fine but it is in mono.

Rudy's Hackensack studio ran separate mono and stereo machines at 15 ips. He also would run a 7.5 ips machine for reference purposes. When he moved to Englewood Cliffs he discontinued using the dedicated mono deck.

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