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Dan Gould

Mosaic Sets but Especially Tina Brooks

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For me it might have been timing - it wasn't terribly long after I started getting into the music (1989) before I heard about Mosaic (probably print ads in DB, I am guessing, then getting the catalogs) but I am quite certain that it was Michael's essay about Brooks as this forgotten/neglected/talented musician that made me want the Mosaic LP set.

What are your recollections? Were you also deeply intrigued about Tina or did you know him from his sidemen appearances already?

What about other Mosaic sets? Did it just take an intriguing come-on from Michael to make you order (or in my case, request for birthday/Christmas)? Or did you rely on prior knowledge, the mystique that Mosaic built up in their golden years, asking online or real-life friends?

I guess part of this depends on age, if you came to the music later you didn't need the Brooks LP set, and our older members of course were buying BN LPs at $5 when they were fresh in the stores or just off the boat, but I'm curious so ... What do you say?

 

EDIT TO ADD:  Just realized Freddie Redd might be an even better example in terms of Mosaic creating a market.  The Mosaic came out four years before any BN album reissues. At the time there were probably some OJCs easily available, and the market primed by older folks who knew his music back then.  But he was really an unknown quantity to me that I requested purely off of the Mosaic catalog, I am certain.

Edited by Dan Gould

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I had read so much about the music, and Michael's praise in particular, that it made me want to hear the music. No other issue to be seen. I was not disappointed. Except for Minor Move, which is more or less a typical hardbop session. But the others are really special. 

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2 hours ago, Dan Gould said:

Or did you rely on prior knowledge, the mystique that Mosaic built up in their golden years, asking online or real-life friends?

Mainly via online discovery as by the time I got into jazz, Mosaic was well past it's groundbreaking heyday. But that was for other Mosaics such as the Selects they were carrying (RivBea Orchestra) and the remaining singles like the George Wein in Mexico, Bud Freeman Chicago High School, & The Jazz Piano which made up my first orders from them about 6 years ago. The first box sets I ordered from the were some of the last vinyl sets they had like the Kirk, Coltrane and Mulligan sets.

I got into Tina Brooks much later and mainly through the Audio Wave XRCDs; learning later about Mosaic's efforts to get the Brooks albums back in print domestically. That probably paved the way for the recent Brooks reissues, and well deserved IMO. The trio of albums from him that include Back to the Tracks, True Blue & The Waiting Game are remarkable. I actually don't have any version of Minor Move, and will remedy that eventually even though it's regarded as his least essential output. 

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I believe I first ran across Tina Brooks prior to the Mosaic Release on the LPs by Jimmy Smith, Cool Blues and on Jackie McLean's Jackie's Bag. Those made purchasing the Mosaic LP box set a no brainer. True Blue and Back to the Tracks are great (listened to the Mosaic LPs very many times), The Waiting Game is good, and Minor Move is just okay.

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11 minutes ago, kh1958 said:

Those made purchasing the Mosaic LP box set a no brainer. 

Yes!

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I probably didn’t really discover Tina until the True Blue conn in 1994, far as I can remember — or at least that’s the first time I ever took any close notice of him.

My very first Mosaic purchase was the Don Cherry BN set in late ‘94 (a bit because of the low price point) — then the McLean in Jan ‘95, and the big Hill box in May ‘95.

(Not sure, but the Tina set might have already been sold out by then, or it wouldn’t have been all that much later.)

I might have had House Party or The Sermon before True Blue — but I was slow to warm to much organ jazz that early in my listening in college and the first couple years after (my ‘college’ jazz listening was all around 1989-93). Sure, I “liked” organ jazz “ok”, but it didn’t fire me up the way other more horn-dominant dates did. Only Unity really grabbed me back then — but I hadn’t yet heard any other Larry Young, or ANY John Patton at all — and the smattering of Jimmy Smith dates I had all sounded a little too samey-samey.

Pretty sure they Tina Mosaic was sold out by the time I got The True Blue conn, or else within a year after, iirc. But then I DID get all the Tina dates, one by one, quick as they came out on CD domestically — and had really warmed to him big-time, from the very start.

Not sure when I picked up Open Sesame, but it wasn’t too long after True Blue, or maybe even slightly before.

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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Michael's write-up certainly helped but back then, I was more hooked by the line-ups. Hubbard/Morgan/Mitchell/Coles, Clark/Drew/Jordan, Blakey/Philly Joe/AT, Watkins/Chambers/Jones/Ware I felt that it had to be good. On top of that, back then, you really couldn't even hear "True Blue" as the original and Japanese LP pressings were rare and/or expensive.

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Good point, Kevin and it nearly convinces me that I am over-estimating Michael's power of persuasion. Back then I was definitely trying new music based on sidemen.

(Kenny Drew in particular was an absolute assurance of quality and enjoyability, right up until the moment I bought a Ken McIntyre Steeplechase because Kenny was on it).

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2 minutes ago, Dan Gould said:

Good point, Kevin and it nearly convinces me that I am over-estimating Michael's power of persuasion. Back then I was definitely trying new music based on sidemen.

(Kenny Drew in particular was an absolute assurance of quality and enjoyability, right up until the moment I bought a Ken McIntyre Steeplechase because Kenny was on it).

For me it was Blakey, Clark & Morgan. Especially Blakey. I was big into Blakey back then. I was buying pretty much anything with his name on it.

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Just now, bresna said:

For me it was Blakey, Clark & Morgan. Especially Blakey. I was big into Blakey back then. I was buying pretty much anything with his name on it.

Oh yeah. Lee made Minor Move much more enjoyable to me than the "meh" reviews it seems to be getting lately here.

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I’ve been bitten by the Jazz bug since the early 70’s. When Mosaic first came out I pre-ordered Mosaic 101. I don’t have it any more but I remember getting a letter from Mosaic noting a delay in the release and an offer for refund, which I declined. I mention that only to establish I was on the Mosaic bus early.

As with Rooster above, I was not necessarily enamored of organ dates then the way I am now so I probably didn’t have Brooks with JOS at the time. For me, the decision to order the Tina Brooks set was solely based on the Mosaic announcement through their newsletter. I still have it, I hope to pick up XRCD copies of at least some of the issues.

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4 minutes ago, Tom in RI said:

I’ve been bitten by the Jazz bug since the early 70’s. When Mosaic first came out I pre-ordered Mosaic 101. I don’t have it any more but I remember getting a letter from Mosaic noting a delay in the release and an offer for refund, which I declined. I mention that only to establish I was on the Mosaic bus early.

As with Rooster above, I was not necessarily enamored of organ dates then the way I am now so I probably didn’t have Brooks with JOS at the time. For me, the decision to order the Tina Brooks set was solely based on the Mosaic announcement through their newsletter. I still have it, I hope to pick up XRCD copies of at least some of the issues.

So Tom was it Michael's words about Brooks the player or did the lineups also play into it substantially? Or was it really, "hey, it's Mosaic"?

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Well, of course I figured at the time that the personnel on the dates were pretty safe as far as springing for the release. If, however, individual releases of the dates showed up in record racks and I hadn’t seen any reviews I can’t say I would have picked them up. I might have but I might have stuck to leaders I would have viewed as safer bets. 
 

I didn’t then, or now, try to be a Mosaic completist. But I was definitely happy with Mosaic 101, 104, and 105. I skipped 102 and 103, which was a reflection of my tastes at the time. I guess my feeling was, I trust this fledgling label to deliver an artist in the most elegant fashion. I had also had 2 or 3 correspondences with Mosaic, I knew Michael had issued some of my favorite, at the time, Blue Note twofers, and that just added up for me to credibility that his presentation of Brooks as an under the radar great was worth spending the dough.  

Edited by Tom in RI
Speeling

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2 hours ago, Dan Gould said:

Back then I was definitely trying new music based on sidemen.

My 2nd and 3rd Mosaic purchases (the McLean and Hill) were almost 90% based on the strength and reputations of the sidemen. Point of Departure might have been the only Hill date I had before I got the box (or perhaps one other, at most), and I can’t swear if I had any McLean leader-dates before I got his Mosaic.

One thing’s for sure, I was almost a total Hill neophyte before I bought the box (and back then, POD always seemed like a close cousin to Out To Lunch, as much or even more than being a “Hill” album — so much so, that even to this day I can half forget that Joe Henderson is even on POD (if I haven’t heard it in 6 months) — which is saying a LOT, since Joe is my all-time favorite tenor player, and always has been, even back then).

And it was the presence of Herbie Hancock and Lee Morgan, among others, who sold me on the McLean set.

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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Like Tom, I pre-ordered my Mosaic first set before there was actual product, based on print ads they were putting out there.

Setting the tone early, the first sets were months (many months, iirc) late in coming out, but once the product came, it was, like, instant satisfaction and appetite for more.

Money was REALLY a consideration then, so I picked very carefully when a new crop of releases was announced. Tears still being shed about some of that.

But not the Tina Brooks set, he was a known quantity for me, but it was a small quantity. so when they announced the Mosaic, that was a no-brainer, a true #instaorder.

Michael's blurbs only stoked the already whetted appetite.

That photo of Tina playing at the Coronet(?) still remains, to me, one of the deepest jazz photographs ever.

 

4 hours ago, Dan Gould said:

EDIT TO ADD:  Just realized Freddie Redd might be an even better example in terms of Mosaic creating a market.  The Mosaic came out four years before any BN album reissues. At the time there were probably some OJCs easily available, and the market primed by older folks who knew his music back then.  But he was really an unknown quantity to me that I requested purely off of the Mosaic catalog, I am certain.

Bill Barron could be the Tina Brooks or Freddie Redd of the 21st Century, one more of the unjustly shaded but significantly gifted original voices whose "rediscovery" is more than warranted. But the Mosaic that could/would have gotten that done no longer exists.

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Mosaic wasn’t really my introduction to Tina. To me it was also the line-ups that attracted me, and they also already had quite a reputation on the internet. I was convinced from his very first note on True Blue and bought the other albums within a couple of months of that introduction.

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I'm certain that Open Sesame CD issue was my introduction to Tina. Jazz  was all pretty new to me around then in the late 80's. Although I liked what I heard it's really the passing of  the years that has solidified my interest in his music. I simply haven't got bored listening to Tina Brooks in the way that others have out stayed their welcome in my collection..

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I think the Mosaic might have been my introduction to Tina. I only bought all the albums with him as a sideman when they were reissued on CD. I trusted Mosaic as I had several earlier boxes, starting with Monk.

What a hassle it was back then to order a set! I got their brochure, filled out the order form and sent it to them in a registered air mail letter, along with a check drawn on a US bank which I had to get from my local bank, all costly and time consuming. When the parcel finally arrived, it was like three months after my first wish to get the box. So much easier today with internet and online banking.

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3 hours ago, mikeweil said:

What a hassle it was back then to order a set! I got their brochure, filled out the order form and sent it to them in a registered air mail letter, along with a check drawn on a US bank which I had to get from my local bank, all costly and time consuming. When the parcel finally arrived, it was like three months after my first wish to get the box. So much easier today with internet and online banking.

I used to order by phone (late at night) from here in Australia - I always spoke to the same person - she's been mentioned on this board previously. Can't remember her name but she had a lovely voice. The Tina Brooks was one of my earlier purchases. IIRC the Mingus & Cecil Taylor Candids were my first buys. Shipping would take 12 to 16 weeks via surface but it was cheap (compared to today)!!

Edited by romualdo

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Yeah, I go back to the Monk Blue Note set, but like Jim, money was a big factor in those days, so I didn't order the Tina Brooks set at the time. Once the cds came out, though, I got those and bagged a copy of the booklet from Mosaic to go with them. I've made up for it since, though the Brooks LP set is now one of the few Mosaic sets I don't have.

 

 

gregmo

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I too bought the Monk set on release and kept up through 34 or 36 sets then stopped buying everything...only some regrettably.

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Like a few folks here, my dad went back with Mosaic to the original Monk set.  He had belonged to a couple of those old style record clubs like Columbia and Musical Heritage, and I guess Mosaic must've bought into some lists at the start because one day in the mail came the solicitation from this new outfit to buy this Monk set.  Dad had a lot of it already on the old 10 inchers, but he was a huge Monk fan and the lure of having all of those recordings in clean sound on new LPs was too much to resist.  I remember him sharing the exciting news with my then-college student self and sending cassettes to me.  He then bought the next 2 sets, Mulligan/Baker Tenetette, and Albert Ammons/Meade Lux Lewis, of music he also loved and had a longtime relationship with.  So someone in our family had the Mosaic bug early.

Tina Brooks was someone who Kenny Burrell had hipped my dad to back in the old days, but of course Tina had all too soon faded away.  But when a complete set of his unobtainable dates magically appeared in the Mosaic catalogue it was an easy sale.  Dad loved that set and played it in regular rotation for months hipping us all to Tina's work.

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When I worked at the Electric Fetus (89-91), knowing about Mosaic (which we didn't even sell) was the test of whether you were really a jazz fan or not.  I'd first learned about them before I moved to MN because the Multnomah County Library in Portland , OR bought them and I soon came to trust that pretty much anything they did was worth checking out even though I couldn't afford to buy much.  I had friends in MN who would call me if they saw used Mosaics at better than new prices.  I currently own 11 big boxes, 3 Selects, and 3 singles, both LPs & CDs, if I counted right.  Wish I owned more  They did good work, in every sense.  And even where the material is available elsewhere (and often for less $), I would usually rather have the Mosaics, unless my other choice is BN 1st pressings in mono...  But I haven't bought many used recently (and probably should've taken my cheaper option on the last one I bought), and haven't bought a new one in forever. 

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The Tina Brooks and Freddie Redd Mosaic sets were especially valuable back in the early 80s (ouch, nearly 40 years ago now!). The recordings were not easy to find (and some, impossible) then. And the sets were vinyl only. I virtually never play vinyl anymore. CDs sound great, and no Rice Krispie sound. Now, and for quite a while of course, all those Brooks and Redd recordings are available on CDs.

The Brooks set should have included the superb "Street Singer" session, but it seems that that was then regarded as a McLean session. It is now listed as by Jackie McLean and Tina Brooks. I just put together a very nice-sounding CD of the session using four of its six tracks from two Blue Note Works CDs for the best sound; "Melonae's Dance" and "Medina" came from the Japanese "Street Singer" CD.

The Mosaic booklet has a picture of Alfred Lion leaning over Freddie Redd at Redd's last Blue Note session. You can see the body language there, and why Freddie was pissed off. Yes, Benny Bailey was not approved of by Alfred, but he was a fine trumpeter and there was no need to sulk.

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A nitpick perhaps but the Brooks set came out in '85 and the Redd in '89 . . . which I would not consider "the early 'eighties."

Okay, my chronological OCD is satisfied. Carry on. ;)

Edited by jazzbo

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