“Alone Together” Smackdown: Pepper vs Hank vs Grant

Updated November 26, 2017 – previous rips, which previously were muddled up and labelled incorrectly, are replaced with fresh rips made on the latest quality audio system (Avid Acutus Reference) at 320kbps (double previous resolution, each rip correctly attributed.

One of the things often overlooked are the songwriters credits. At least certainly by me. For many decades, “standards” were the accepted  jumping off platform for improvisation, not much of the tune in evidence.  It was not until the Sixties contemporary jazz musicians appeared as composers of their own tunes (along with a few reassuring standards). By the time we reach simultaneous group improvisation, any pretence of originating from a “standard” is almost entirely ironic.

Dietz and Schwartz’s names are associated with many popular jazz standards, such as “Dancing in the Dark” (Cannonball Adderley/ Miles Davis on BN 1595 “Something Else”) Two versions of their composition “Alone Together” caught my eye, each quite different flavour. One by Pepper Adams, the other by Hank Mobley. Same music, two giants,  one baritone the other tenor, plus late entrant Grant Green.

So, hot on the heels of the Bill Evans/Miles Davis “Israel” spot the similarity competition, and the hugely succesful  Tina Brooks vs Jackie McLean “Which Twin Has The Toni?” poll  (3 votes cast, judges decision declares it a tie) I bring you another multiple choice question for jazz afficionados. Remember, its the taking part, not the winning that counts.

Which is your preferred version of “Alone Together” ? Is it

A: Pepper Adams, or

B: Hank Mobley? or

C: Grant Green or

D: All of them!

First out, Pepper Adams “Critics Choice” Highly rare and collectible original press on World Pacific Jazz Records from 1958. (Pepper’s solo kicks off once the mood has been well established by Doug Watkins’ bass, a little way into the track)

Sample: “Alone Together” Pepper Adams Quintet (1958)

.  .  .

Pepper Adams is one of my (many) favourite players of this beast of an instrument. Adams prodigious talent was well recognised at the time as a Downbeat Poll-winner, and I always look out for him in a lineup. Known to colleagues as “The Knife” for the furious emotional outpouring of his playing, no exaggeration.

Second up B: The Jazz Messengers and Hank Mobley version:

Sample: Jazz Messengers, with Hank Mobley “Alone Together” 

.  .  .  
Recorded three years previously live at the Cafe Bohemia, by Hank Mobley with the Jazz messengers, which we know from the RVG 87th Birthday DVD took Rudy three days to set up and record. As a live recording it is breathtaking. Mobley introduces the tune personally . The sleeve notes say it is Blakey, but I think from the figure of speech it is Mobley, which if I’m correct is first time I have heard young Mobley’s real voice rather than just his tenor. Doug Watkins does the honours on bass. From BN 1507 “At The Cafe Bohemia  Volume 2″ (this sample, second pressing on 47 West 63rd St labels)

 

Last-minute third nomination in Extra Time! Choice D: Grant Green

Sample: Grant Green “Alone Together” (07:00)

.  .  .

Japan King Record Co. pressing 1979

 

Bonus Point for anyone who scan guess the common musician with Pepper and Hank in these contrasting East Coast and West Coast sessions in choices A and B .  Clue: Doug Watkins on bass

Tie Breaker: Which has the better cover? (No looking at other people’s answers) No, wrong again, it’s The Jazz Messengers or Grant Green.

Jazz Standards Footnote

Alone? Together? What, just us?

Alone Together” composed by Dietz and Schwartz (1931) –  a mainstay of the jazz musician’s repertoire. Renditions, among many others,  include –

  • Artie Shaw – (1939 & 1940)
  • Dizzy Gillespie – (1950)
  • Art Blakey – At the Cafe Bohemia, Vol. 1 (1955)
  • Miles Davis – Blue Moods (1955)
  • Pepper Adams  – Critics Choice (1958)
  • Sonny Rollins – Sonny Rollins and the Contemporary Leaders (1958)
  • Chet Baker – Chet (1959)
  • Kenny Dorham Quartet – Prestige Records (1959)
  • Grant Green – Green Street (1961)

 

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9 thoughts on ““Alone Together” Smackdown: Pepper vs Hank vs Grant

  1. I know it sounds lame, but I have to say it: I like them all. Standards come in so many exciting and super good versions by so many great names that one can’t chose. With every new purchase there’s always this nice moment where you notice that “Stardust” or “The Best Things In Life Are Free” or “It’s Only A Paper Moon” or “Cheek To Cheek” is on there and immediately you want to check it out to hear how this versions was done. But back to the lecture at hand, OK, given the three versions in this post, at gunpoint, I’d say Mobley’s rendition on Café Bohemia. And yes you’re right: that is Mobley’s voice. “I’d like to play… I think is a very pretty ballad…”. Somewhere else on the record, Mobley even says, when given the mic, “thank you, Art…” and continues. Blakey’s voice was already smoky, deep and dark by that time and not to be mistaken for somebody else, in my opinion 😉

    • Shucks, you guitarists, always rooting for the string-pickers! I will most certainly check those out, thanks for the leads.
      Update: damn I have the Grant Green record and I didn’t know the tune was on it. Learning point!. We should spend less time chasing new things and more getting to know better what we already have.
      Update2: Grant Green as option 3 uploaded – excellent cool linear flow of ideas. Good Choice.

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