Bennie Green: Soul Stirrin’ (1958) Blue Note


Track Selection: “Lullaby of the Doomed” 


Bennie Green (tb, vo) Gene Ammons, Billy Root (ts) Sonny Clark (p) Ike Isaacs (b) Elvin Jones (d) Babs Gonzales (vo -2,4) recorded at Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, April 28, 1958


Trombone can be a fairly fruity sound, but add to it not one but two tenor saxes – fellow Chicagoan Gene “Jug” Ammons and Philadelphian Billy Root – and raise the level of brass attack; let Elvin Jones loose on drums, and season heavily with Sonny Clark on piano (“Sonny Delight!”) and Ike Isaac on bass, and you have a formidable line up. Soul Stirrin’ is a solid helping of soul-jazz, all its bluesy roots showing, recorded on a day when Rudy Van Gelder was absolutely on top of his game.

Almost impossible to select one standout track, nevertheless I plump for the superb darkly titled “Lullaby of the Doomed”. Its’ mournful  bluesy opening theme gives way to some extraordinarily powerful solos. This record is  a reference track for me when, after listening to all sorts of varible  quality pressings, if  I forget how good an original 47 West 63rd  St. first press can sound. As my friends the other side of the pond are inclined to say, “totally awesome”. Is there, I wonder, any other kind of awesome? (Update: see comments. Apparently so. freakin’ awesome)

I have read that there was a dispute at the time as to whether it should be “Benny” or “Bennie” Green, and Bennie won. There is another Benny Green, a younger jazz pianist, and another trombonist Urbie Green, as well as Grant Green, not to mention the Family Green, near-neighbours of the Family Von Trap, in the alternative Bebop audiophile edition of The Sound of Music Matters , a searing expose of record pressing in the Californian foothills, in lederhosen (I just made that up)

Vinyl: Blue Note BLP 1599

Original 1958 pressing, 47 West 63rd, RVG stamp, Deep Groove, ear, 9M, mono

BN 1599, the last release in the Blue Note 1500 series.This copy suggests ownership by a heavy smoker. From nicotine stains on the label, I guess at least two a day. Packs? No, lighters.  Superb heavy pressing – 196gm – ensures it delivers the full weight of this bluesy outing.



Collectors Corner

At the time, the most expensive record I had ever bought, and it remains among the top three today. Two things a gentleman never mentions – a ladies age, and the price paid for a record. It’s vulgar and unseemly. Suffice to say I have seen the record on offer at over double, like for like, during the last few weeks, so I am content with it. More importantly it is worth every penny.

8 thoughts on “Bennie Green: Soul Stirrin’ (1958) Blue Note

  1. Oh my. Listening to this now for the first time and wow. Such depth. Such soul. Such uniqueness. It doesn’t sound like any other jazz album I can recall, always an indicator of something special. My pressing is the Japanese King pressing from 1983. A slight warp, but sounds and plays beautifully. Looking forward to spending more time with it.

  2. Yep. Magnificent album and “Lullaby Of The Doomed” opens my Monday morning in style. Of course I have it on CD, not on vinyl, but it’s on my vinyl wish list. A few months ago I lost an auction of this beauty. I was consciously bidding on a ‘super rare’ seventies United Artists stereo reissue, only ’cause it was much cheaper than a 1st pressing. According to the seller this was the only stereo version that was ever released on vinyl and therefore so rare. Well, I lost. Still I own it on CD and yes, in stereo, but my word is the sound quality fabulous. “Soul Stirrin'” is one of those favourites you just can’t get enough of. May I also recommend Bennie Green’s “Walking And Talking”, BLP 4010? Another sure shot 😉

    • Glad to hear it!

      (On the subject of hyperbole, I read a good piece the other day, about how corporations like to talk marketing-speak about they are “Passionate” about things, like “We are Passionate about Pizza!”
      Oh good, thats a relief, they wrote. We were worried for a moment that you might be “Not Totally Averse to Pizza”, or even “Up for a Pizza if there is nothing else better to eat”
      There should be only one awesome, and that is totally. And Bennie Green is unquestionably passionate about trombone.

      • I’m passionate about all sorts of moderately awesome things.

        New plan–I will sort my LP’s into the following groups:
        -totally awesome
        -moderately awesome
        -not totally adverse to
        -mostly adverse to

    • La Belle France, oui, Guy. Its been raining most of the day here. Narrowly missed Barak Obama flying out of G20 as we flew in. I took the precaution of uploading a few draft posts to keep me up to mischief. There will be more music, in case anyone thought they would get a break!

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