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Tenor Battles

Alexander Hawkins

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I seem to remember a thread like this on the BNBB, but...

Seeing as I'm probably going to get evicted I've been playing Lock and Griff's 'Battle Stations' so loud ;) , could people please suggest some similar dates (and their favourites) so I could do the job in style?!?

Thanks as ever!

p.s. I have 'Blowin' in from Chicago', the Rollins/Stitt date, Tenor Madness, and I think that's it!

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My favorite is "Two Days In April" with Fred Anderson & Edward "Kidd" Jordon. I've said this before, bt this cd is like listening to the history of the tenor saxaphone, and it is intense as anything you'll ever hear. Plus! Wiliam Parker and Hamid Drake are backing, so there is something going on every second.

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I like that one with Griff and Lock playing Monk tunes on prestige.

"Boss Tenors In Orbit" is a good one two. Sonny Stitt and Gene Ammons w. Don Patterson behind them..

AHHH....there's a whole bunch of great teams. Pres and Herschel, Al and Zoot, Stitt and Ammons, Griff and Lock.

...Then there's that SOUL BATTLE on prestige with Oliver Nelson, Jimmy Forrest and King Curtis. Good record.

Edited by Harold_Z
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The Lateef/Ricky Ford thing on YAL is truly one of the most WACK records I've ever heard. God only knows what was going on when they made that one, but I can't really say I've ever heard anything so out, even though the playing is not all THAT "out". It's the vibe and the attitude. The two go at it at the speed of light, and nothing ever resolves, it seems. Nothing. EVER.

Highly recommended, btw.

Jaws and Griff you can't go wrong with. My personal favorite is GRIFF & LOCK, found on the OJC BLUES UP AND DOWN. "Hey, Lock" is the sound of eternal world peace, 7:54 of nirvana captured for posterity, a reminder to us all that the tenor saxophone IS the instrument of God, and that we ignore this fact at our collective peril.

I kid you not.

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Hello everyone. I lurked at the dearly departed Blue Note boards (ha) for a very long time, so I've decided to make my coming out appearence here starting with this topic. Everyone's recommendations have been excellent, and I'll second (third? fourth?) the good words said about Plas and Red's "Keep That Groove Going." For me, the standout track is "Go Red Go" which leads me to recommending the album where it originally came from, 1959's "Blow Arnett Blow" originally released on Prestige (okay, Cobb originally cut it for Apollo in the 40s, but this version is the topper).

Cobb is paired with Lockjaw here, and while the results aren't as boppish as Jaws' dates with Griff, these guys swing hard in an almost violent way, aided by a rhythm section of Strethen Davis on organ, George Duvivier on bass (what a rock!) and Arthur Edgehill. Even when they're relaxing as on "When I Grow Too Old To Dream," the groove doesn't quit. The whoops and shouts heard in the background on "Go Red Go" speak volumes about this joyous date (note, it was reissued on LP as "Go Power" but the OJC CD is "Blow Arnett Blow").

Helluva job on the forum,


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Hello everyone. I lurked at the dearly departed Blue Note boards (ha) for a very long time, so I've decided to make my coming out appearence here starting with this topic.


Your writing style is clear, descriptive, informative and to-the-point.

Errr... maybe you shouldn't lurk so much? :P

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Records be damned, one of my fondest memories took place at one of Joe Segal's events in Chicago. Joe had booked Hank Crawford for the weekend, but Jug was out of prison, and Joe called Von Freeman and Hank Mobley (living in town at the time). The tenors opened the show, but Von had to go to the wings to drag out Crawford when he was announced. HC, dressed in a peach, bell bottomed outfit and was scared to death.

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Yeah, tenor battles are one of the greatest things in jazz! Of the ones mentioned, I dig Griff 'n' Lock the most, they were a great team. I second the recommendation of the Oliver Nelson Soul Battle.

On Prestige, there also is a fine album called Very Saxy with Lockjaw, Arnett Cobb, Buddy Tate and Coleman Hawkins where everyone has a ball! Then there is of course the Tenor Conclave with Coltrane, Mobley, Al Cohn and Zoot Sims.

Recent aquisitions include:

- an Antilles CD from 1991, The Tough Young Tenors, with Walter Blanding Jr., James Carter (his recording debut), Herb Harris, Tim Warfield and Todd Williams. Carter is definitely the most original of the bunch, but pianist Marcus Roberts plays the wittiest solos on this date and steals the show for me.

- The Art of the Saxophone, Bennie Wallace with Harold Ashby, Jerry Bergonzi, Oliver Lake and Lew Tabackin

- Tenor Legacy, Benny Golson with Ashby, Branford Marsalis, and James Carter.

The camaraderie among tenor players seems to defy any limit.

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Thanks for all these! Please do keep them coming!

I think the tenor 'battle' is just a particularly compelling setting. I don't know why; some reasons, I guess, are

(a) that very full sound unison tenors get; with the various players' sounds being sufficiently different to one another that the whole thing sounds spontaneous, and none too clinical;

(B) the intrigue of the setting really making you listen to 'who does what to whom' (quotes, doubling up, all the rest of it...)

© the involving way that everyone is so damn keen to get out of the head, and just to get down to business; but then also the way they thunder back into the head at the end of the tune;

(d) the combative element, but then also

(e) the fact that actually, it's all in such good spirits, 'battle' is perhaps something of a misnomer.

In fact, actually, taxonomy is useless. I just LOVE them!

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One I love and which has not yet been mentioned, maybe because it's not a "battle" of any sorts but rather some very friendly sparring, is "Coleman Hawkins encounters Ben Webster" (on Verve), backed by Peterson, Ellis, Brown, Stoller. They don't do any fast numbers, no fours or heated trades, but what they do is trying to sound the meanest, purr the loveliest... great great great! And Peterson does not disturbe (I like him a loooot more as accompanying player than anything else...)

Bean also is on a nice RCA Victor session with Sonny Rollins. A nice one, too!

Then there's Webster's "And Associates" (Verve) with Bean and Budd Johnson. Beautiful one, too.

And of course get "Blowing Session"...

And maybe you like Mobley/Coltrane/Cohn/Sims all in one? Then "Tenor Conclave" (OJCCD) is the one to get.

The Lateef/Von Freeman disc ("Tenors", too, as the one with Shepp) is a good one. There's one more with Ricky Ford which I don't know.

Ford is on a Muse LP (on CD by Camden, parts on 32jazz' "Best of the Rest"), of Sonny Stitt (with the great Barry Harris), as is Jimmy Heath (on the same Camden and 32jazz issues).

Stitt also did a nice one with Paul Gonsalves (Salt & Pepper, Impulse).

that's the ones which come to my mind immediately. have fun!


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last night as I was driving to my gig I was diggin' WKCR-FM. Phil Schaap was doing a 3 hour show on Lester Young and was discussing and playing records concerning Lester/Herschel. One of his observations was that upon reading all then contemporay record reviews from the time the records were released was that the critics of the time had a 50% batting average when it came to identifying whether it was Lester or Herschel.

Both Lesterand Herschel were aware and amused by this. They went to Eddie Durham and asked him to write a tune featuring both of them. The tune ended up being TIME OUT. Lester and Herschel were supposed to split the solos (in an attempt to really befuddle the critics) but John Hammond put his two cents in (even tho this was a Decca session, Basie let John Hammond influence the band greatly) and the solo became almost entirely a Lester solo. Herschel played 4 bars at the end of the intro into Lester's solo. Nobody - not one critic at that time - ever noticed that Herschel played anything on this record.

Phil then played the record several times and isolated the relevant passages. The transition from Herschel to Lester was VERY obvious.

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There is a Prestige album called "Interplay for 2 Trumpets and 2 Tenors" recorded in 1957 (I think it was under the leadership of Mal Waldron, but credited to "Coltrane et al."), which has Coltrane and Bobby Jaspar trading fours. If nothing else, it's a good opportunity of hearing more of the under-exposed Jaspar.

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