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5 Favorite Conns to recommend

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Inspired by Mark Sheldon's indomitable efforts to collect every Conn (he's only missing two now!) along with Couw's complete list of Conns provided on page 2 in the DISCOGRAPHY section,

I would like to ask everyone to name 5 Conns they are particularly impressed with and would recommend to others, while naming another 5 that fell flat in their ears.

I've got (or had as I traded some I didn't like) 76/99 Conns, so I feel qualified enough to take a stab at this.

Five to recommend:

1. Pete Larocca, BASRA. This could very well be my favorite. Contains some of Joe Henderson's best playing. Great compositions. My kind of music.

2. Wayne Shorter, ETCETERA, and SCHIZOPHRENIA. Great sessions and as good as anything else he's done. Little bit of cheating here as I count these as one :D

3. Bennie Green, SOUL STIRRIN'. Downright ebullient music. This will pick up anyone whose feeling down. Love that 'bone!

4. Grant Green, SOLID. McCoy Tyner raises Green to another level, as he does with MATADOR as well.

5. Andrew Hill, SMOKESTACK. I had to include something avante gard. Love this cd, especially "Wailing wall"

Now 5 that I don't care for:

1. Wayne Shorter, THE ALL-SEEING EYE. Does nothing for me. Seems to meander too much. Haven't heard this for a long time so it is hard for me to describe it.

2. Don Wilkerson, THE COMPLETE BLUE NOTE SESSIONS. I should probably give this one another chance--should give everything another chance, but I find this very average music. Wilkerson struck me as not exactly brimming with ideas.

3. Freddie Redd, REDD'S BLUES. Did nothing for me. Plain and simple.

4. Grachan Moncur, SOME OTHER STUFF. Didn't care for this one. At the same time, I love Jackie Mclean's DESTINATION OUT, and it is mostly because of Grachan Moncur's contribution on that session! You figure that one out!

5. Walter Davis Jr. DAVIS CUP. Hard bop that just didn't bop for me. I probably need to listen more times. Unfortunately, I sold the cd.

Now for a disclosure: there are quite a few Conns that I own but haven't listened to many times, so this is far from a comprehensive assessment. I am also very much a music layman. I don't know music terms and don't play any instruments. I just listen in my little humble way.

Let me see what you guys think.

Edited by connoisseur series500
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Well, I have nowhere near the number of Conns that the previous poster does, but I will comment on five that I enjoy a lot:

1) Lee Morgan - TARU - A purely swinging session with all players in top form. Some great contributions from George Benson on guitar, both in his comping and soloing. Higgins is his usual self, with Workman playing some particularly fine/interesting lines. Two of Lee's finest ballad performances are also included in this album: 'Taru, What's Wrong with You', a Cal Massey composition, and 'Haeshen', penned by the leader.

2) Hank Mobley - STRAIGHT NO FILTER - This album was my introduction, of sorts, to Mobley and it sure did not disappoint. It made me want to seek out the other albums of this period in Hank's discography, of which many (NO ROOM FOR SQUARES, THE TURNAROUND, etc) are somehow 'related' to SNF. But it was the opening three tunes (which aren't 'related' to other albums of Mobley's) that made me scratch my head in wondering why an entire album's worth of tunes could not be culled from that session (only the musicians and Alfred Lion will know, I guess). The first three tunes are just burning, all the guys seem to have been particularly inspired that day.

3) Larry Young - INTO SOMETHIN' - The trio is really tight and there are some great tunes ('Paris Eyes', to name one), Rivers is a nice addition, playing changes but with some intensely original lines and phrase lenghts; Green shines too.

4) Freddie Redd - SHADES OF REDD - An extremely integrated quintet with an absolutely awesome front line. I've never heard stuff like what McLean and Brooks do, both in unison lines and in harmony. Oh yeah, Mr. PC's in the bass chair, need I say more?

5) Kenny Burrell - INTRODUCING KENNY BURRELL - My first KB album(s), three on two CDs. A nice mix of standards and originals, ballads, blues, and up-tempo excursions all with that patented golden Burrell sound and phrasing.

Tough to choose just five, as a sixth I'd probably add Andrew Hill's LIFT EVERY VOICE.

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Connseries500 - I'll admit I'm kind of late in knowing about the Conn series, as I only really became aware of it in early 2001. Of course by that time I had already missed out on many of the earlier releases.

But of the ones I do own, Hutcherson's MEDINA and Stanley Turrentine's COMPLETE BLUE HOUR (w/the 3 Sounds) haven't really 'connected' with me, at least not yet anyhow.

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1 Larry Young INTO SOMETHIN' - one of my all time favorites period.

2 Tina Brooks MINOR MOVE or BACK TO THE TRACKS (of course TRUE BLUE if you can find it, I can't. Not for under $30. I'm holding out for the RVG.)

3 Hank Mobley THIRD SEASON

4 Sonny Clark SONNY'S CRIB - sounds like a warmup to BLUE TRAIN

5 Andrew Hill GRASS ROOTS

Honorable mention:

Dizzy Reece COMIN' ON

Lee Morgan TARU


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Wow! Medina and All Seeing Eye are two of my favorite Conns. Different strokes, I guess. Also very fond of Julius Watkins’ Sextet Vol. 1 & 2, Freddie Redd’s Shades Of Redd (yeah, I know, some think this one’s a clinker) and Don Cherry’s Complete Communion. On the flip-side, no need to beat a dead horse but… Thinking Of Home.

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Looking at the list, I realised I own less of these than I thought. But I have some faves for sure:

Julius Watkins Vol 1&2

Gil Melle Complete

Sonny Criss - Imperial Sessions

Jackie McLean - Jacknife

Stan/3 Sounds Complete

And a couple that haven't done it for me - Don Cherry - Complete Communion, Chick Corea - Complete Is.

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Looking at the list, I realised I own less of these than I thought. But I have some faves for sure:

Julius Watkins Vol 1&2

Gil Melle Complete

Sonny Criss - Imperial Sessions

Jackie McLean - Jacknife

Stan/3 Sounds Complete

And a couple that haven't done it for me - Don Cherry - Complete Communion, Chick Corea - Complete Is.

This is bad: I don't have nor have I heard three of your favorite five!!

Looks like my retirement from cd purchasing will have to be put on hold. :(

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I almost hate to admit it, but between actual Connoisseurs, maybe a few regular releases and some Mosaics, I've got all of the the Conn material. :party:

I hate picking favorites, but I guess I'd have to say that my favorites of the bunch are SERIES IX (1998):

Julius Watkins – Julius Watkins Sextet Vols. 1 & 2

Sal Salvador Quintet/ Kenton Presents...

Howard McGhee Vol. 1/Introducing Kenny Drew

Howard McGhee Vol. 2/Tal Farlow Quartet

Frank Foster/George Wallington - Showcase

Gil Melle – Complete Fifties Sessions

I really dig these sessions. Maybe it's because these were, along with the Ventura/Phillips Mosaic, my first real exposure to 50's jazz.

Some of my other favorites are The Sonny Criss - just because it was my first exposure to him, Ready for Freddie, Heavy Soul, Solid, Something Personal, the Braith and Wilkersons as well as the Blue Hour stuff and the Burrell. In all honesty, I'd be hard pressed to find a release I didn't like. Heck, I even like the Dodo Greene, but matbe that's because she's still singing here in Buffalo.

If it's any consolation, I've only "upgraded" on about 6 or 7 titles in the RVG series. My ears have never been as discriminating as some board members and I enjoy the wide soundstage of some of the earlier releases.

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....I love 'em because they sound unlike anything else in my collection.

That's exactly what drew me towards 50s jazz. The sound and feel was so different, yet so good. I might have gotten there otherwise, but it was these Conns really started me down the path that led outside the 60s and on to earlier forms of jazz. I'm glad I went down that path :)

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It's hard to pick out particular favourite Conns, I like most of them (including that excellent 10" series) but the following in particular stand out:

(1) Bobby Hutcherson 'The Kicker' - Wonderfull stuff, can't fathom how this sat on the shelf so long. Hutcherson and Joe Henderson make a very compatible pairing.

(2) Bobby Hutcherson 'Stick Up' - Another fine Hutcherson release from a purple period. Fantastic Billy Higgins on this one and some good reworking of Ornette Coleman material.

(2) Andrew Hill 'Judgement' - Hard to choose between this and Smokestack. Superlative !

(4) Tina Brooks 'True Blue' - A perennial fave. 'Theme For Doris' still raises the hairs (or is it 'hair') on the back of my head. A search for the Brooks Mosaic becomes essential once you have heard this session (it was for me anyway :g ).

(5) Booker Ervin 'The In Between' - My favourite Ervin, along with the 'Book' sessions and 'Back From The Gig'. I particularly like the mood of the album and the interplay with Richard Williams.

To be honest, I can't think of any outright duds. Some of the more obscure and low key offereings (for example Harold Vick's 'Steppin' Out') also have plenty of excellent grooves on them and are worth picking up..

Edited by sidewinder
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Great post, Sidewinder :D

I like Booker's "In-Between" and would probably include that in my top 10. Your comment also that it is difficult to find one that you do not like is fair as well. I believe that all are good discs but tastes account for why one may not "hit" me (such as Moncur, "Some Other Stuff.")

I'm really excited about looking for some of the 50s stuff mentioned by Ed. I've always been a fan of 60's jazz and I do have some 50s but have been put off by poor recordings and masterings. We know this wouldn't be a problem with the Conn series, right?

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It's impossible to limit the to 5, but for me the top two are easy:

1. Sonny Clark: Sonny's Crib

2. Larry Young: Into Somethin'

Next up, probably Tina Brooks: Minor Move

Sonny Criss and all the Lost Sessions Conoisseurs are excellent.

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except for some of the first two batches and all of the latest (except Byrd/Watkins which I have), I have pretty much all of them. And it's quite a hard choice!

One which came to mind first was Stick Up! by Bobby Hutcherson.

Then Mellé,

Sonny Criss,

Griffin's The Congregation is one of my favorites (got the LP, wonderful sound. And that first track, whoa!!)

but there are so many good ones, Quebec, Hipp, Ervin, Brooks, McLean, the Cherry, Solid, Little Johnny C, Harold Vick, Louis Smith...

and of course the whole 10" series within the series

and the West Coast series... too hard to make a choice for me!


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Just counted and it looks like I have 88 Conns, though a couple of them are either Japan issues, newer RVGs, or parts of Mosaic sets. I had a few CDRs as well, but I think i've finally replaced them all with the real things. ;)

It's hard to say which five are my favorites, but I think the five that surprised or pleased me the most as "discoveries" are:

Lee Morgan "Leeway"

Pete La Roca "Basra"

Hank Mobley "A Slice of the Top"

Paul Chambers "Quintet"

Dizzy Reece "Comin' On"


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Three that I loved are Soul Stirring by Bennie (just a fun record, with some great artists), Stanley Turrentine with the Three Sounds (drenched in the blues; this session works slightly better than LD+3 for me) and the Sonny Criss Imperial Sessions. This one I didn't like at first but wound up listening to it a bunch of times.

Other notables: Baby Face's Stop and Listen, Tina's True Blue, Blowin' In From Chicago (one of my first Conns) and Jackie's Destination Out.

One I hated. That's easy: George Braith. Just do not like the sound of that stitch. Just couldn't get into that. This one is an ebay candidate.

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here's my 5 favorites. kind of tricky to choose

Donald Byrd/Doug Watkins – Transition Sessions

Lee Morgan - Infinity

Clifford Jordan – Cliff Craft

Art Blakey - Africane

Horace Silver – Further Explorations by Horace Silver

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OK, I'm finally posting my thoughts about this topic...

And, strangely enough - I just realized that most of the choices in my "top-16" list are dates that were unreleased for many years, until they finally came out in the 70's, 90's, or even later. The only ones that were released near the time when they were recorded were: the first half of "Lift Every Voice", "Complete Communion", "Judgement", "Basra", and "Fuschia Swing Song" - and (depending on how you look at it), "The Complete 'IS' Sessions" (which were released in an incredibly slipshod way over the years).

What does that say about my tastes???? (...that nearly 2/3rds of these titles sat in the vaults for 10-35 years???)

"Top 16 Conns"

1. Wayne Shorter - Etcetera

2. Hank Mobley - Third Season

3. Andrew Hill - Lift Every Voice

4. Chick Corea – The Complete 'IS' Sessions

5. Don Cherry – Complete Communion

6. Lee Morgan – The Procrastinator

7. Andrew Hill - Judgement

8. Jackie McLean – Jacknife

9. Bobby Hutcherson - Medina/Spiral

10. Grant Green - Solid

11. Lee Morgan - Infinity

12. Pete La Roca - Basra

13. Dizzy Reece – Comin’ On

14. Larry Young - Mother Ship

15. Andrew Hill - Tomorrow is Now!! ;)

16. Sam Rivers - Fuschia Swing Song

"Honorable Mention"

Andrew Hill - Grass Roots

Wayne Shorter – The All-Seeing Eye / Schizophrenia

Jackie McLean – Destination Out! / ‘Bout Soul / Vertigo

Bobby Hutcherson - Patterns / Stick-up!

Grachan Moncur III – Some Other Stuff

Larry Young – Into Somethin’

Hank Mobley - A Slice of the Top

Tina Brooks – Minor Move / Back to the Tracks / The Waiting Game

Grant Geen – Green Street / Sunday Mornin’

Booker Ervin – Structurally Sound / The In-between

Donald Byrd – Byrd in Flight

Johnny Coles – Little Johnny C

Dizzy Reece – Blues in Trinity

Horace Parlan – On the Spur of the Moment / Us Three

PS: My favorite "Rare Groove" CD's are also previously unreleased sessions, that didn't ever come out until the 90's...

John Patton - Boogaloo

Donald Byrd - Donald-Kofi

Also, the only Conn I have that I don't really care for all that much, is....

Don Wilkerson – The Complete Blue Note Sessions

FYI, if I'm remembering what I've got right, then I've got 66/99 of the Conns (in some form or another, TOCJ, Mosiac, etc...)

Edited by Rooster_Ties
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My 5 favorite Conns are:

J.R. Monterose

Andrew Hill - Judgment

Wayne Shorter - Etcetera

Larry Young - Into Something

Julius Watkins Volumes 1&2

Only a couple Conns that are not among my favorites:

Sonny Red - Out Of The Blue

Donald Byrd - Byrd In Flight

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Great comments everyone. Rooster always takes particular care with his responses, which is good. Boy your tastes are scattered all over the place! Of course, mine are as well.

Rooster, perhaps we need to create a new poll. Take note of some of the titles which have been listed and create a poll for "your favorite Conn." Offhand, it looks like Larry Young, "Into Something" gets lots of votes along with Hill, "Judgment" and "Smokestack." Have to look back on all the posts to pick out the top ten. Interesting that Booker Ervin's "The In-between" is so popular. I sure do like that one too.

Of course, you have to create the poll, Rooster. You know what happens when I create a poll... ;););)

I felt it important that everyone express their opinions regarding the Conns they found disappointing. Not everyone did that, but I felt that it would make particularly interesting reading, as we all tend to praise--perhaps overpraise?--things while posting. I could have named another 5 disappointing Conns beyond the 5 I already mentioned.

We all want to be fair to the artists, I'm sure, and perhaps the Conns I am not pleased with could grow on me with further listenings. Still, I don't believe that all 99 Conns were excellent material. Most were and that in itself is a tribute to the Blue Note people and their selections.

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FAVES: :excited:

1. True Blue - I like this even better than Open Sesame, and OS is my favorite Freddie Hubbard album!

2. Judgement - My favorite Andrew Hill album anyway!

3. Hootin' and Tootin' (Fred Jackson) - Greeeeeeaze out the wazoo! Even more so cuz it's packed with a second session, just as greeeazy!

4. Et Cetera - beautiful album with especially fantastic bass playing by Cecil McBee.

5. Solid - lives up to its title!


1. Out of the Blue

2. Some Other Stuff (yes, I know it's a classic; still does nothing for me)

3. Jutta Hipp w/Zoot Sims (zzzzzzzzzz)

4. Blowin' in from Chicago

5. My Conception

Great thread, BTW! :rsmile:

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Tina Brooks--True Blue

Further Explorations by Horace Silver

Sonny Clark--My Conception

Jackie McLean--Vertigo

Sonny Criss--The Complete Imperial Sessions

Honorable Mentions:

Byrd/Watkins---Transition Sessions

Hank Mobley---Straight No Filter

Larry Young---Into Somethin'

Dizzy Reece---Comin' On

John Jenkins---Jenkins With Kenny Burrell

Sonny Clark---Sonny's Crib

Freddie Hubbard---Goin' Up

Tina Brooks---Minor Moove, Back To the Tracks, and Waiting Game

Hey, it's hard to choose!

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