Selection: Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams (Moll, Koehler, Barris)
Harold Land (ts) Hampton Hawes (p) Scott LaFaro (b) Frank Butler (d) recorded Los Angeles, CA, March 17, 1958, engineer Roy DuNann
London,1958, Britain’s first parking meter is installed. Soon the queue of cars waiting to park at it stretches as far back as Birmingham; several more are put on order; America launches first monkey into space. Monkey likes it, waves hands in air on re-entry, and asks if it can stay on for another ride.
A distinctive West Coast voice of bop piano, Hawes’ style is instantly recognizable for its infectious bluesy swing, and mastery of time and harmony. If his biographers are to be believed, Hawes was born with six fingers on each hand, corrected quickly by surgery. With hindsight one can only imagine the advantage of this could have conferred on a number of musical directions, and we ain’t talkin’ ukele. Horn-players like Sonny Stitt only sound like they have six fingers on each hand. Here was a case of some one who actually had six fingers, if briefly. .
Hawes gives ample space here to one of my favourite West Coast tenors, Harold Land, not a unique stylist, but a player who always punches his weight, and sounds here very at home with Hawes swing. Also present on duty, Scott LaFaro on bass , another great talent lost to music not long after in an automobile accident. Great line up completes with the excellent Frank Butler, who is also found on Curtis Counce, Elmo Hope and some Art Pepper recordings. It’s all very West Coast School – sun sand sea and blue sky – but a welcome occasional change from the darkness of New York .
Hawes was yet another victim of the war on drug users. The target of a federal undercover operation in Los Angeles in 1958, drug enforcement gambled that Hawes would inform on suppliers rather than risk a successful music career. Instead he refused to cooperate, and was sent down, handed a long stretch in Fort Worth Federal Medical Facility. After serving only part of his sentence, he was granted Executive Clemency by President Kennedy, who one must surmise was fan, however the golden years of bop had passed, Hawes career lost its momentum and never really recovered.
US Contemporary S 7589 Black and Gold label. Coming immediately after DuNann’s own “Stereo Records” label but pre-dating that sea of custard yellow, aren’t they lovely? Made from “noise-free vinylite”, according to the liner notes. Interesting as early as 1958, reference to purity of vinyl. The next fifty years added a few tics here and there. Very early stereo engineering, but sounds great as you expect from Roy DuNann and his magic AKG C-12′s
Aficionados of typography, note artists names on the front cover are un-capitalised. So West Coast, LA, just tear up the rules.
Source: Collection of the late Brian Clark
Replaces my earlier Japanese King pressing of “For Real”, an early post here at LJC in September 2011 - my how time flies. Always nice to hear how a recording was intended to sound.
Warning! – Bragging Ahead!
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