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AotW - Sonny Clark - Cool Struttin'


GA Russell
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I want to give you a heads up that the AotW for the last two weeks of April will be Sonny Clark's Cool Struttin'.

I think that most Clark fans consider it to be his best album, but in our discussion we can discuss what we think about that.

It is available from BMG/Your Music, and from Amazon (Use the Big O link!) for $10.99.

http://www.amazon.com/Cool-Struttin-Sonny-...3238&sr=8-1

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GA, you must be on a similar wavelength to me! Cool Struttin' is one of my old favorites. One of the first Blue Note albums I ever bought (along with Dexter Gordon's Go!) and long my favorite Sonny Clark LP. Now I'm not so sure I could choose between it and several of his others, but still a big sentimental favorite.

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I'll have to pull it out again, while say I've listened to more post bop, modal, inside outside and free things the past several years rather than hard bop, definitely one of my fav. blowing date type albums. Philly Joe is smokin on the title cut, the swing never flags, and of course Clark's hip ass opening phrase which owes as much to the vocabulary of Horace and Wynton Kelly in addition to his own.

Edited by CJ Shearn
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I only have the "as released" LP, albeit on a later pressing. This was my introduction, along with a couple of Dex records, to the world of Sonny Clark.

There were two other volumes released in Japan that I haven't heard (I think they were culled from different dates anyway).

Two extra tracks, same session AFAIK. Not sure if they were even intended for this album, though--on one of them ("Lover") the "leader" doesn't even take a solo.

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The cover might be one of the best known of all Blue Note covers:

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Personally, I like the trio versions of his tunes better, more intensive, as far as the moods ar concerned, but that's just me. Too bad he didn't record trio versions of his three originals of this session.

McLean - I always find his tone too flat, so this turns out to be my least favorite Sonny Clark session.

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Two extra tracks, same session AFAIK. Not sure if they were even intended for this album, though--on one of them ("Lover") the "leader" doesn't even take a solo.

Yes, same session (January 5, 1958), intended for release on Blue Note LP 1592, together with three tracks recorded December 8, 1957 - but that LP was never issued. It was first issued in Japan in the 1970's. The three other tracks are on the My Conception CD.

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The "orchestral" collective work of the rhythm section on the title track virtually defines hard bop IMO; not I think something that was or could have been done before that era, though I suppose you could say that certain New Orleans/Chicago recordings of the late '20s or early '30s (e.g. the Ory-Dodds "Perdido St. Blues") are analogous in some respects. In any case, that aspect of the title track is just amazing, never fails to thrill and delight. If it had been all written out, it would probably would be recognized for the masterly collective "composition" it is, but... Listen, for one thing, to Philly Joe; his groove is subtly, precisely different on every chorus, and he is not alone in this.

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The "orchestral" collective work of the rhythm section on the title track virtually defines hard bop IMO; not I think something that was or could have been done before that era, though I suppose you could say that certain New Orleans/Chicago recordings of the late '20s or early '30s (e.g. the Ory-Dodds "Perdido St. Blues") are analogous in some respects. In any case, that aspect of the title track is just amazing, never fails to thrill and delight. If it had been all written out, it would probably would be recognized for the masterly collective "composition" it is, but... Listen, for one thing, to Philly Joe; his groove is subtly, precisely different on every chorus, and he is not alone in this.

Fantastic observation - I'm spinning this right now, thanks for pointing this out!

BTW - I still have the first Blue Note CD edition from 1987, and it mistakenly prints the liner notes of the Japanese LP "Cool Struttin, Vol. 2" instead of the original notes! Who did the notes for the LP, and are they available online somewhere?

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McLean - I always find his tone too flat

By "too flat" do you mean "too dull, or boring", or are you talking about problems of pitch? If the latter, I have no complaint about Jackie, but always find Gigi Gryce too sharp. Any views on this?

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Sonny's inclusion here of the very attractive "Sippin at Bells", recorded at Miles's first leader date in 1947 with Bird on tenor, reminds us of the bop roots of this hard bop pianist whose style derived ultimately from Bud Powell's. "Sippin'", a blues with altered changes of the sort which Bird and other boppers favored in the late forties, is perhaps a surprising choice for this 1958 hard bop date. Sonny had also selected the bop classics, "Two Bass Hit", "Be-Bop" and "Tadd's Delight", for his trio date with Blue Note the previous year.

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McLean - I always find his tone too flat

By "too flat" do you mean "too dull, or boring", or are you talking about problems of pitch? If the latter, I have no complaint about Jackie, but always find Gigi Gryce too sharp. Any views on this?

On "Rat Race Blues", I think Gryce sounds not unlike McLean.

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McLean - I always find his tone too flat

By "too flat" do you mean "too dull, or boring", or are you talking about problems of pitch? If the latter, I have no complaint about Jackie, but always find Gigi Gryce too sharp. Any views on this?

I mean flat, as far as pitch is concerned. And I don't like his tone that much. I listened to the CD this afternoon, and I can hear that he plays very well, and I appreciate it, but I just don't like his sound.

I hear that Gigi Gryce is sharp, sometimes, but since I like his tone and phrasing, I don't mind. It's a personal thing: You like a player's sound and conception, or you don't.

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McLean - I always find his tone too flat

By "too flat" do you mean "too dull, or boring", or are you talking about problems of pitch? If the latter, I have no complaint about Jackie, but always find Gigi Gryce too sharp. Any views on this?

I mean flat, as far as pitch is concerned. And I don't like his tone that much. I listened to the CD this afternoon, and I can hear that he plays very well, and I appreciate it, but I just don't like his sound.

I hear that Gigi Gryce is sharp, sometimes, but since I like his tone and phrasing, I don't mind. It's a personal thing: You like a player's sound and conception, or you don't.

As Ornette famously said, "You can play flat in tune and you can play sharp in tune." IMO Jackie usually plays flat in tune, especially on Blue Note; in his Prestige days a bit less so (i.e. less in tune and more just flat), though his sound still moves me.

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McLean - I always find his tone too flat

By "too flat" do you mean "too dull, or boring", or are you talking about problems of pitch? If the latter, I have no complaint about Jackie, but always find Gigi Gryce too sharp. Any views on this?

I mean flat, as far as pitch is concerned. And I don't like his tone that much. I listened to the CD this afternoon, and I can hear that he plays very well, and I appreciate it, but I just don't like his sound.

I hear that Gigi Gryce is sharp, sometimes, but since I like his tone and phrasing, I don't mind. It's a personal thing: You like a player's sound and conception, or you don't.

I too love Gryce's tone and phrasing. If you haven't heard Rat Race Blues I'd recommend it, my favourite Gryce album.

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McLean - I always find his tone too flat

By "too flat" do you mean "too dull, or boring", or are you talking about problems of pitch? If the latter, I have no complaint about Jackie, but always find Gigi Gryce too sharp. Any views on this?

I mean flat, as far as pitch is concerned. And I don't like his tone that much. I listened to the CD this afternoon, and I can hear that he plays very well, and I appreciate it, but I just don't like his sound.

I hear that Gigi Gryce is sharp, sometimes, but since I like his tone and phrasing, I don't mind. It's a personal thing: You like a player's sound and conception, or you don't.

As Ornette famously said, "You can play flat in tune and you can play sharp in tune." IMO Jackie usually plays flat in tune, especially on Blue Note; in his Prestige days a bit less so (i.e. less in tune and more just flat), though his sound still moves me.

Some time ago, I expressed my unease about pitch/intonation in the late recordings of Serge Chaloff, but found no one who was prepared to say about him the sort of things which are being said in this thread about Jackie McLean and Gigi Gryce. Any views on Serge in this context?

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Please do not take my remarks about pitch of players too personal - I have been listened to so much music in different tunings and tonal systems over the years that my hearing gradually changed - I tend to hear equal temperament, which is the standard in Western classical music and jazz, as "wrong", since no interval in this temperament is really in tune, except for octaves. In baroque music in meantone or other historical tunings, you always have at least some intervals in tune. Of course, the average jazz listener won't perceive this as such.

But I see what Ornette is talking about when he says you can play flat in tune and sharp in tune.

Just a matter of taste - you can't like everybody.

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I thought there was yet a third Cool Struttin' LP in Japan with a different band. Can't remember the specifics now.

That should be the March 29, 1959 session with Donald Byrd and Hank Mobley, released as a Connoisseur CD as My Conception.

All I could find was this, though I could swear there was yet another...

SONNY CLARK. Quintets. Blue Note 1592 (unissued).

(aka Cool Struttin' Vol. 2 Same as BNJ-61 016, LNJ-70093)

Clark (p), Clifford Jordan (ts), Kenny Burrell (g), Paul Chambers (b), Pete LaRoca (d).

"Minor Meeting"; "Eastern Incident"; "Little Sonny"

12/8/57.

Clark (p), Art Farmer (tpt), Jackie McLean (as), Paul Chambers (b), Philly Joe Jones (d).

"Royal Flush"; "Lover".

1/5/58.

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