“You can not have enough Tina Brooks”. Discuss.

Track Selection: “Street Singer” Tina Brooks with Jackie McLean >

Artists (Street Singer):

Tina Brooks (ts) Jackie McLean (as) Blue Mitchell (t) Kenny Drew (p) Paul Chambers (b) Art Taylor (d) recorded Sepember 1st, 1960


According to an online seller the Mosaic box set “The complete Blue Note Tina Brooks Quintet Sessions” was  a limited run of only 5,000 copies, and this is one of them. A good starting point to test the proposition that “you can’t have enough Tina Brooks” put forward recently by a poster on this site.

Drawn from sessions recorded between 1958 and 1961 with Tina as leader – he appears on other sessions of course – it amounts to a good evening’s listening.  Several of the tracks here were Japan-only releases, including the one track sampled here, “Street Singer”, the gem from a recording date with Jackie McLean that made up a full album for Japanese release, self-titled.

I have some of these on CD,  a Toshiba reissue of “True Blue” (pass the hat around for an original Blue Note pressing!), a King Japan only press of Minor Move, but others are new to me. Having lost out on a whole run of ebay bids, which honestly must have saved me a fortune, I thought why not treat yourself to the box set, and enjoy the exacting hi-fi quality pressing of Michael Cuscuna’s Mosaic venture, remastered from the original tapes, on vinyl in near mint condition.

The Test

Settle into the sofa sweet spot, turn up the volume and down the lights, bottle of refreshment to hand, and remember, this is a test…(skip to end for the result)…

After listening to all four records, I can conclusively say the answer is…

Yes. You cannot have enough Tina Brooks.

There, it is now a proven fact. You can tell all your friends.

16 thoughts on ““You can not have enough Tina Brooks”. Discuss.

  1. Just listening to ‘Back To The Tracks’ on Classic records (200 gram/mono) – amazing music & very pleasing sound quality, highly recommended !

  2. While very late replying to this old thread, I enthusiastically mention “Street Singer,” by Jackie McLean and Tina Brooks. It’s one of the late releases first issued on the “King” label.

    The song “Isle of Java” is a masterpiece. Originally listed as McLean’s composition, it was actually written by Brooks. It’s a song that I play repeatedly. If one listens carefully, Brooks inserts the popular song “Mary had a Little Lamb” into his solo, in a strange minor key and proceeds to improvise on it. It’s reminiscent of the American classical composer, Charles Ives, who randomly inserted folk songs, jazz and popular tunes into his symphonies. Its blistering pace and quick shifts from minor to major keys create a feeling of tension. “Mclean jumps right out of the melody into a blistering solo, followed by Mitchell, Brooks, Drew and Chambers, who all remain true to the non-stop, edgy vibrant quality of the composition.” (From the album cover notes.) I keep bumping up against the idea that Brooks was a genius who suffered for being ahead of his time.

  3. Mmmm…Tina Brooks…I don’t have any of his stuff on vinyl, but would like to someday. Is there a general consensus as to which pressings have the most “presence” between Mosaic and Japanese? Unfortunately, original Plastylite for these are a wee bit (way) under my house budget. Alas.

    • I agree originals are out of the question, they are just too rare and sought after. For some inexpensive Tina Brooks you might check out Jimmy Smith’s “House Party” and “The Sermon”, or the japan-only Jackie McLean “Street Singer” – Tina gets some good airplay as sideman and they are not expensive, comparatively

      Japanese or Mosaic, there’s a question. There isn’t a universal league position. Mosaic can be a little flat and dull sometimes, but then so can some Japanese. Equally, some are great. On this one, I would opt for the Mosaic, if you can find one. There is little or nothing to choose between them sonically and you get all the albums with Tina as leader in one go rather than chasing Japanese titles one at a time.

  4. And here am I trying to cut down my vinyl purchases to save up a bit of cash and you keep posting these amazing tunes on your blog…. This is not fair.

  5. Well, if I had the dough for it, I’d buy everything on vinyl I could lay hands on. -Call my referrals to still available CD versions of the LPs discussed a bit of service to the poor sods that threw away their turntable a long time ago 😀

  6. Indeed. Tina Brooks’ material never disappoints. I have four Blue Note CDs by Tina Brooks; discs that altogether contain all the tracks that also appear on the Mosaic box, that is: if I’m not mistaking. It’s weird to know that some of these gems are even out of print on CD now, too, and not just on vinyl. Still, if you want, you can buy them all -including two bonus cuts on True Blue, as always omitted on the Japanese pressing- through the usual channels. Go ahead and click for Minor Move, True Blue, Back To The Tracks and The Waiting Game. I have ’em all and they’re a great addition to your collection, also because in the CD booklets, Michael Cuscuna explains a thing or two about why so much of Tina’s output was shelved in the Blue Note vaults for quite some time before it saw the light of day. 😉

    • Amazon paying commision on sales now Matty? You are quite right, there are other ways to get this music! Unfortunately for me, vinyl playback sounds much better at the moment than my CD/streamer. So to max my listening pleasure I have no choice but to go with the evil black plastic. YMMV .
      As matty says, If you don’t have this music, Amazon does.

  7. Excellent. This is one of my favorite sets. I’m a big Mosaic guy, and these sets are a comprehensive undertaking. They were clearly a labor of love for Michael Cuscuna, because he didn’t get rich doing this!

      • Oh yes, quite a lot that I like. Standouts on LP are The Complete Studio Recordings of the Miles Davis Quintet 1965-June 1968, The Complete Candid Recordings of Charles Mingus, The Complete 1959 CBS Charles Mingus Sessions. For the CD only releases, I like the Max Roach set. The sheer volume can be overwhelming. Also like the Benny Golson and Art Farmer set as well.

        In general, I always prefer the LP versions over the CD versions. I keep all the LP issues, while the CD versions are ripped losslessly, and I store them, or if I end up replacing the CD versions with the LP version, then I’ll sell them off. Either way, you can’t lose with Mosaic sets.

        • Thanks for the tips. I’ve recently started watching for Mosaic stuff. It’s usually expensive, but I’d like to give it a try. Same goes for those deluxe Miles Davis boxes on Columbia (like Complete Quintet 65-68, Complete Bitches Brew etc.).

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