Dexter Gordon: One Flight Up (1964) Blue Note


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An LJC follower wondered why I had omitted to cover this excellent Dexter Gordon title. I couldn’t think of a convincing answer, so here it is,  hot from the LJC collection. More Americans in Paris, in the shadow of the Eiffel … Continue reading

Blue Note inner sleeves – deep dive, for vintage vinyl collectors.


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Blue Note Geek Alert! Blue Note vinyl detectives at work, sifting the evidence for original pressings through the Blue Note inner sleeves. Followers of the evil silver disk, downloaders, and proud owners of modern repros may wish to look away, … Continue reading

Herbie Hancock: Maiden Voyage (1965) Blue Note



Selection: Dolphin Dance (mono)


Freddie Hubbard (trumpet) George Coleman (tenor saxophone) Herbie Hancock (piano) Ron Carter (bass) Anthony Williams (drums) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, March 17, 1965


What words can describe this  in my view  triumph of Hancock’s  ’60’s Blue Note recordings? – compelling, refreshing, luminous, liquid gold. Hancocks previous  album Empyrean Isles was an altogether darker and more edgy  quartet affair. The addition of Freddie Hubbard to what is basically Miles Quintet, including Davis’ saxophonist of the time George Coleman.

I needed reminding that the tenor is not Wayne Shorter, but George Coleman, playing probably at his best here. Shorter’s trademark downbeat tone, pungently stretching out became the perfect foil for Hancock’s modal colourings and probing chords and , but Coleman excels himself as the  perfect offset to Hubbard ‘s burnished tone in the portentous opening song lines of this visionary work.

Despite everyone’s familiarity with the iconic title track and its opening chords, it is Dolphin’s Dance which for me is the sublime  track, but they are all good.

Vinyl: Blue Note BN 4195

Mono original pressing, ear and VAN GELDER stamps


Liner Notes (attributed to one “Nora Kelly”)

Opinions differ whether this over-wrought prose adds fittingly to a “concept album”, or is high class b.s. which wastes the opportunity for informative biographical and musical notes to complement critical listening. I guess I may have given away my position. You decide for yourself.


Collectors Corner

This has taken a long time – four or five years – to track down, a mono copy in (almost) excellent condition. Not that they appeared often but when they did, someone would spirit it away with an XXL bid. I lost count of the number of times I found myself second place price setter. The Tokyo Disc Union buyers are the main suspects. It nearly happened again, but for once the cards fell differently. There was only one other bidder – and from the anonymised  Ebay bidder code, u***i – I’ll give you a clue. Very competitive, and according to their change in score total over six months, I calculate buys a record every three days.


What put off other bidders? Perhaps it was that crossed out previous owners name on the rear cover, or the seller’s redundant disclaimer that it wasn’t him that had done it, as though it mattered who.

It brings to five* my Hancock Blue Note originals (1962-5), I think the complete set, all mono:

Takin’ Off
 My Point of View
 Inventions and Dimensions
 Empyrean Isles
 Maiden Voyage

(*excluding The Prisoner, which escapes me, and  falls out of scope)

Taking Liberties:  Same selection, later Division of Liberty, stereo:

Dolphin Dance (stereo later Liberty)



Mono-Stereo Observations

I have no overall preference between mono and stereo, it all depends on the music. For several years the best copy of Maiden Voyage I could get was a stereo later Liberty, and I thought I was doing well to have that. For reasons I was unable to pin down, I felt little enthusiasm for playing it. Immediately on hearing the original mono, everything changed

As soon as  the needle drops, the mono has you solidly focussed on the music. Williams cymbal-washes rise up out of the hanging brass harmonies and percussive colourings. It is thrilling, as it should be. In contrast, the stereo immediately sends you location information. Williams is on the right, detatched from what’s happening at other points of the compass, undermining the cohesion of the ensemble. Information about room placement sits between you and the music, it doesn’t support or enhance it .

There was no doubt in my mind that the stereo didn’t engage me in the way the original mono does. It doesn’t help that  Liberty seems to  lacks the visceral punch of Plastylite. I’d have to hear the stereo original to judge it more confidently but we are in confirmation bias territory. The Liberty is not an early NY/Liberty, it is a dark blue/ yellowy later label, indicative of the Transamerica period, which often turn out a weaker presentation.

New-found enthusiasm for this pinnacle of Hancock’s Blue Note works, due to vinyl pressing and presentation. Who’d have thought it?

Max Roach: Percussion Bitter Sweet (1961) Impulse


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Selection 1: Man from South Africa   Booker Little (trumpet) Julian Priester (trombone) Eric Dolphy (alto saxophone, flute, bass clarinet) Clifford Jordan (tenor saxophone) Mal Waldron (piano) Art Davis (bass) Max Roach (drums) Carlos “Patato” Valdes (congas) Carlos ‘Totico’ Eugenio … Continue reading

Miles Davis: Dig / Diggin’ (1951) Esquire/Prestige


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All this attention given to Prestige covers, it is time to “dig in” to some of the music inside those covers. We take a closer look at what is inside 7012 Miles Davis Dig, but with a few “LJC twists … Continue reading

Prestige covers continued: the second issues


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Bob Weinstock, ever resourceful, selected many of his prime recordings for a second issue with a new catalogue number and a new cover, and occasionally an altogether new title to snag the unwary. It is worth noting these pairs as they … Continue reading

Potayto, pottato: two nations, Prestige and Esquire, back to back


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An occasional post, on the subject of US Prestige and UK Esquire records Prestige is one of the treasure chests of audiophile quality vintage Modern Jazz recordings, along with Blue Note, Riverside, Contemporary, Impulse, without which our lives would be considerably poorer. … Continue reading

Horace Silver: Further Explorations (1958) Blue Note (Jp)


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Selection: Pyramid Artists Art Farmer (trumpet) Clifford Jordan (tenor saxophone) Horace Silver (piano) Teddy Kotick (bass) Louis Hayes (drums) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, January 13, 1958 A quick scan of the main quintet  line-ups during the Blue … Continue reading

Horace Silver: The Tokyo Blues (1962) Blue Note



Selection: Sayonara Blues


Blue Mitchell (trumpet) Junior Cook (tenor saxophone) Horace Silver (piano) Gene Taylor (bass) John Harris Jr. (drums) Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, July 13-14, 1962


This unforgivably was left off my Horace Silver Retrospective. Its one of my favourite Horaces but I had only a particularly scuffed and noisy stereo copy, on the borderline of being acceptable, but on the wrong side of the border. Then last week I came across this copy, mono and near mint. So now no excuse.

This was an exceptionally swinging session, with Horace’s  earthy bluesy smiling piano in abundance, Cook once again cast as Hank Mobley’s double, and there is not a bad track among them. I chose a personal favourite, Sayonara Blues, which stretches out to a leisurely thirteen minutes of great Silver swing.

Vinyl: BN 4110 NY/Liberty – mono – a respectable 130 gram vinyl

No ear, but a silky smooth pressing by Liberty on New York labels and VAN GELDER mastering  stamp. The back cover betrays its Liberty manufacture – shrunken catalogue number and no catalogue address – and the inclusion of a “27 Years of” Blue Note inner bag points to the year of Liberty transition, 1966. The first-wave Liberty/NY mono’s, of which I have around ten, are all very good, and almost always in better condition than their “original” predecessors, so they deserve  special place with collectors.

The laminate quality of the cover is another additional bonus. I don’t recall seeing a Liberty manufactured cover of such high standard before. Were Blue Note covers manufactured and stored while liner notes that bore addresses added later? May be there is another untold story of  cover printing,  It’s a gap in our knowledge, what printers did, the vintage technology of lamination, why they can’t make anything like that today? Plenty of Youtubes explain vinyl-pressing, but vintage LP cover lamination, nothing. What exactly does that enigmatic number at the bottom right corner of Columbia liner notes actually mean?  What does WB know?

Despite posing with two geisha girls, the album was recorded at Englewood Cliffs, and thankfully eschews any cheesy oriental references, like playing chopsticks. The Tokyo Blues is thoroughly American, which is exactly what jazz fans in Tokyo would want.



Collectors Corner

I’ve long had an original stereo Blue Note, which had not been cared for by a previous owner.  The chance to upgrade to a NY/Liberty mono was too good to pass on. (Just one other Horace still lurking in the wings for a future post, for completeness)

Another one of my Horace albums is, like Mattyman’s, blessed with a “fake” autograph, modelled on the one printed in the liner notes of Tokyo Blues. Why did people fake autographs? Probably for similar reasons that compels people to pose for a photograph in front of luxury sports cars that obviously aren’t theirs. I recall in the ’60s, people called “fans” were often autograph hunters, who gathered a lot of kudos with their collection of autographs of stars. What groupies collected will pass without mention. Plaster of Paris? An autograph at least you can pass down to your children.

An real autograph is a brief personal encounter with fame. I managed to collect only one in my life, that of blues giant Howling Wolf back in 1970,   It is real. I was there. And I’m glad to still have it along with the memories.



Another “bogus” Silver signature?


This Horace-forger also signed his own name on my Japanese Toshiba copy : “Hugh Albert”. Stand up, Hugh! It’s your handiwork, isn’t it?

Puts me in mind of those inept bank robbers much beloved of “America’s Stupidest Criminals” TV programmes, who rob a bank wearing a full-face motorcycle helmet to conceal their identity, forgetting their full name is stencilled on the back of the helmet, as captured on CCTV.

Man walks into a bank, throws bag on cashiers desk, calls out ” OK, nobody move, this is a stick-up, …umm hold hands, this is a cock-up. I forgot the gun


Hank Mobley: Roll Call (1960) Blue Note


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Selection 1: My Groove, Your Move   Selection 2: The Breakdown Artists Freddie Hubbard (trumpet) Hank Mobley (tenor saxophone) Wynton Kelly (piano) Paul Chambers (bass) Art Blakey (drums) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, November 13, 1960 Music: … Continue reading

Jackie McLean: It’s Time! (1964) Blue Note


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Selection 1: It’s Time!   Selection 2: Revillot   It was a very ’60s thing, titles made up of words spelled backwards. This track is quite obvious, Revillot, Tolliver, With others its more subtle, like Llareggub, from Stan Tracey’s Under Milk … Continue reading

How They Heard It – Blue Note Records and the Transition from Mono to Stereo


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Hot on the Heels of Dottor Jazz’s magnus opus on Blue Note First Pressings (published entirely in mono) another guest post takes us into stereo territory. The subject of mono and stereo is one which excites and inflames passions among many record … Continue reading



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BLUE NOTE UNDER-COVER DETECTIVES an occasional post for the Blue Note collector that doesn’t have everything, but would like to. The 12″ microgroove unbreakable record brought record cover art to the fore, and developments in printing technology enabled these new generation covers … Continue reading

Jackie McLean: Swing Swang Swingin’ (1959) Blue Note


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Liberty Stereo Cover, but wait – Always Read The Label! Selection: Let’s Face the Music and Dance (Irving Berlin) . “There may be trouble ahead But while there’s moonlight and music And love and romance Let’s face the music and dance” … Continue reading

Booker Ervin: Back From The Gig (1963/68) Blue Note / UA


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Selection: Home in Africa (Ronnie Boykins) The track selection Home in Africa is credited to Ronnie Boykins, best known as Sun Ra’s bass player, one more at Home in Outer Space. Artists: Johnny Coles (trumpet) Booker Ervin (tenor saxophone) Horace Parlan (piano) Grant … Continue reading

Horace Silver: The Jody Grind (1966) Blue Note


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HORACE SILVER RETROSPECTIVE No 9: The Jody Grind Selection: Blue Silver Artists Woody Shaw (trumpet) Tyrone Washington (tenor saxophone) Horace Silver (piano) Larry Ridley (bass) Roger Humphries (drums) James Spaulding (alto & flute), recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, … Continue reading

Horace Silver: The Stylings of Silver (1957) Blue Note


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HORACE SILVER RETROSPECTIVE No 8: The Stylings of Silver Selection: Soulville Selection 2: No Smokin’ Artists Art Farmer (trumpet) Hank Mobley (tenor saxophone) Horace Silver (piano) Teddy Kotick (bass) Louis Hayes (drums) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, May … Continue reading

Horace Silver: Horace-scope (1960) Blue Note


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HORACE SILVER RETROSPECTIVE No.7: Horace-Scope Selection: Nica’s Dream Artists Blue Mitchell (trumpet) Junior Cook (tenor saxophone) Horace Silver (piano) Gene Taylor (bass) Roy Brooks (drums) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, July 8 – 9, 1960. Music The … Continue reading

Horace Silver: The Cape Verdean Blues (1965) Blue Note


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HORACE SILVER RETROSPECTIVE No. 6: The Cape Verdean Blues Selection: Pretty Eyes (Silver) mono original Blue Note Artists Artists Woody Shaw (trumpet) Joe Henderson (tenor saxophone) Horace Silver (piano) Bob Cranshaw (bass) Roger Humphries (drums) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, … Continue reading

Horace Silver: Finger Poppin’ (1959) Blue Note


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HORACE SILVER RETROSPECTIVE No.5: FINGER POPPIN’ Selection 1: Cookin’ at the Continental Selection 2: Swingin’ the Samba Selection 3: Juicy Lucy Selection 4: Finger Poppin’ Artists Blue Mitchell (trumpet) Junior Cook (tenor saxophone) Horace Silver (piano) Gene Taylor (bass) Louis … Continue reading