Track Selection: “Strange as it Seems” (Excerpt)
Ornette Coleman (tp) Jackie McLean (as) Lamont Johnson (p) Scott Holt (b) Billy Higgins (d) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, March 24, 1967
The music – a convergence or fracturing musical styles? “New and Old Gospel” sums up a lot of the mood. McClean’s playing and choice of sidesmen throught the early to mid Sixties (Grachan Moncur, Bobby Hutcherson) clearly had him moving towards the looser, freer-style, and this record seems to mark another logical development, bringing in Ornette Coleman. The tonal palette however is unexpected, with Ornette playing trumpet throughout, complementing the acid tone of Mclean’s alto. Billy Higgins brings some brio to the percussion, and other less well-known players like Lamont Johnston on piano maintain that unfamiliar territory feel.
A healthy sounding pressing in keeping with many other early Liberty releases, despite being slightly lighter weight vinyl and perhaps lacking the true sparkle of its NY predecessors. Nevertheless, a happy addition to my now 30 or so Liberty Originals.
The legend “Audition Copy” stamped on the back only guarantees the first owner got it for free, played it perhaps once, and then sold it on with all the others that week. What happened to it in the following forty years is anyone’s guess.
Born on the wrong side of the original Blue Note Records Inc catalogue’s finish line of 4250, this week I stumbled on 4262, Jackie McLean’s “New and Old Gospel” sitting in the new arrivals bin of a popular London pre-owned vinyl store.
It was keeping bad company, surrounded by a batch of later reissues, French DMM’s and the like. Sporting Liberty labels, it had been priced casually as a slight pedigree reissue at £20. A moments research in my crib-file quickly confirmed it was an original first pressing, recorded 24th March 1967. A Liberty Original, and no suprises, stereo in keeping with those changing times.
A bargain (Check!)