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Rabshakeh

Richie Cole

32 posts in this topic

It was the second anniversary of Cole's death recently and there's been a bit of chat about him on social media.

There are various bitty threads on here about this album or that album, but I don't think any one page.

I don't really know anything much about Cole.  I know Keeper of the Flame and the Battle of the Saxes record that he did with Eric Kloss, but nothing else. Both are enjoyable, with a kind of 'mid week show at the jazz club' feel to them.

He seems to have had a sense of humour, and to have been a well known figure in the 70s and 80s, but by the time I started listening to jazz in the late 1990s seems to have disappeared from view entirely. That's true of a lot of bop figures from the 70s, but with Cole I don't remember even hearing of his name until his death.

Who was Cole, career and playing wise? Are there any albums that people recommend by him?

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I often saw him in the same light as Phil Woods, technical facility but not that much feeling.  Collaborations with Eddie Jefferson are probably his high points.

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Posted (edited)

He was very much in the jazz magazines in the early 80s as a young super bebopper, and did albums with Phil Woods and others, and named his quartet "Alto Madness" and one of his albums was named after his daughter something like Annie Alto or Alto Annie, and then he made a record with a kind of country tenor saxophonist Boots Randolph that was his name and it was called Yaketee Madness or so (I don´t know how to write it, it´s not jazz and I don´t know it or don´t have a relation to country). 

I saw him in 1983 with a solid quartet, but didn´t know the names of the players, it was nice it was mainstream alto with p,b,dr, but nothing more......

Anyway that was a festival and from alto sax what remained in my mind was Jackie McLean and from the young musicians Donald Harrison´s alto in the Blakey formation...

Edited by Gheorghe

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He started with Buddy Rich, and was apparently "groomed" to b a star or something.

Truthfully, I found him to be an altoist for people who found Phil Woods too difficult. His mid-70s Muse records were very popular, and god bless him, he did give Eddie Jefferson his last career boost. Maybe Eddie's murder got him off his axis or something, because his stuff just started getting....weird, and not in a good way.

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I saw Richie Cole once at the Caravan of Dreams; it was fine, better than I expected, but nothing to write home about.

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I toyed with comparing him to Phil Woods in my initial post, but I thought that I would get yelled at if I did, so steered clear.

His playing seems very much in Woods' style. Perhaps honed for the tastes and support of the more conservative mid-70s / early 80s jazz kids who were getting tired of the current trends, only to get chucked out and forgotten when the mid 80s hit with an actual commercially driven conservative jazz revival. 

I think my imagination was piqued by Keeper of the Flame, which seems like a funny little manifesto, with its on the nose title, mocking of free jazz, and weird cover photograph. That record is pretty enjoyable, even if it is not ever going to make it to any human being's desert island.

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No doubt, he knew right from wrong, but it seems that he just couldn't help being silly.

It best got put by some reviewer of some festival who described Coles' set by saying something like "warmed over third generation bebop is an acquired taste. I have not acquired it" That's it for me.

And really, no disrespect meant, the guy obviously did the work and paid at least some dues. There was so much other stuff happening at the time, even on Muse, so much other stuff. Even with Eddie Jefferson, Richie Cole did not really seem necessary, but he kept being there anyway, sorta like Ron Jeremy.

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I always thought Cole sounded best right out of the gate with Buddy Rich. Otherwise, I was not a fan; often too corny. But I genuinely appreciated his drive to keep going, even after the jazz media moved on and he dealt with his own personal issues. Always respect a committed road dog. That cat spent a LOT of time in vans touring everywhere.  Anyway, he gets some nice solo space on Buddy's "Keep the Customer Satisfied" LP in 1970, and here's some footage of him with the band that same year. 

 

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Also, this is out there. A good representation of the Jefferson/Cole barnstorming show. Note that this Sunday matinee on May 6, 1979 at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago was Jefferson's second to last performance. Two days later in Detroit, after finishing opening night Tuesday at Baker's Keyboard Lounge, he was shot outside the club in the wee hours of the morning of the 9th in a drive-by shooting. A 41-year-old unemployed factory worker who was also described as a frustrated dancer and had known Jefferson a decade earlier in New York, was arrested and charged with the murder, but a jury acquitted him after a three-week trial.   

Coda: The trio here are all became good friends of mine. Pianist John Campbell, bassist Kelly Sill, and drummer Joel Spencer. I can't believe how young they all are here .

 

Here's how my paper, the Detroit Free Press, covered the initial shooting. (I was only 15 at the time and wouldn't joined the paper for another 16 years in 1995.) 

jefferson 1.jpg

(I can't seem to get the rest of the story to post -- appears to be too large a file.)

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5 hours ago, JSngry said:

his stuff just started getting....weird, and not in a good way.

This.   I liked his initial albums quite a bit, they sounded very fresh in the context of the 70's.  Then he hit a rut and then went off in unfortunate directions.  Saw him live in 1988 at Penn's Landing, and it was a great show.  He and Vic Juris were telepathic with each other.  Never heard Juris sound nearly as good on recordings as he did at that gig.

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Never really checked him out.  A friend had the Cool C album, the cover of which I liked for its nod to Beat culture.  Can't remember the music.

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15 hours ago, randyhersom said:

I often saw him in the same light as Phil Woods, technical facility but not that much feeling.  Collaborations with Eddie Jefferson are probably his high points.

Sorry, Phil Woods Police here. Don't get out of the car, keep your hands where we can see them, and listen to this:

Now if you can still say that PW played with "not much feeling", we're going to have to write you up.However, if you can amend that statement a bit, I don't see why we can't let you go with just a warning. It's up to you.

As far as Richie Coe goes, he studied with Phill Woods, and at his best, he came up with stuff worthy of The Master. I just transcribed his solo for MT's version of "The Shaker Song" and wrote it up for big band as a sax soli, and AFAIC Cole's solo is a great work of art.

14 hours ago, Rabshakeh said:

I toyed with comparing him to Phil Woods in my initial post, but I thought that I would get yelled at if I did, so steered clear.

His playing seems very much in Woods' style. Perhaps honed for the tastes and support of the more conservative mid-70s / early 80s jazz kids who were getting tired of the current trends, only to get chucked out and forgotten when the mid 80s hit with an actual commercially driven conservative jazz revival. 

I think my imagination was piqued by Keeper of the Flame, which seems like a funny little manifesto, with its on the nose title, mocking of free jazz, and weird cover photograph. That record is pretty enjoyable, even if it is not ever going to make it to any human being's desert island.

You're lucky you reconsidered your actions in your first sentence. I've heard the Phil Woods Police have been on the prowl...:g

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I didn’t do nothing. I was put up to it, it was a set up.

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I think I head at somebody´s place a Richie Cole Phil Woods two alto album in the 80´s and I think it had a long version of a bop tune, maybe it was Donna Lee. Fine stuff, they know how to play, though my real love as an alto sound always has been Jackie McLean. Yes, this was the Woods-Cole album. I think it had a strange track on side B that had some strange title I couldn´t understand and to me it sounded like something "pseudo free". I mean I really like a lot of free jazz, but this sounded like if two guys who are not into that bag just try to do something "atonal" ....

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Nice Richie Cole/Greg Abate altoist collaboration here:

ab67616d0000b27358b16551913d3d649d8c2460

 

 

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14 hours ago, Teasing the Korean said:

 A friend had the Cool C album, the cover of which I liked for its nod to Beat culture. 

and then there's...

LmpwZWc.jpeg

 

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31 minutes ago, JSngry said:

and then there's...

LmpwZWc.jpeg

It looks like the soundtrack for a bad 80s movie!

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you get Tom Waits and Manhattan Transfer to boot!

LTQ4NDYuanBlZw.jpeg

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Rule of thumb - beware of alto players with constant hats.

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1 hour ago, JSngry said:

Rule of thumb - beware of alto players with constant hats.

I vary my hats. Am I still to be eyed with suspicion? 

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hmmmm...not if you're never without one. :g

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Well I don't live in a police state and am doing what I can to keep it that way.  But I think it's great that those who like Woods and Cole are speaking up.  And I did note Woods' excellent taste in rhythm sections on Exhibit A.

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1 hour ago, randyhersom said:

Well I don't live in a police state and am doing what I can to keep it that way.  

Then I know who you aren't voting for in the PA governor election this fall...

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