Donald Byrd (tp) John Coltrane, Hank Mobley (ts) Elmo Hope (p) Paul Chambers (b) Philly Joe Jones (d) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, May 7, 1956
A typical Prestige “blowing session” as the title suggests.
You can begin to appreciate how Rudy Van Gelders first recordings, made in his parents house, must have worked. Imagine if you will, it is Sunday afternoon, and the Van Gelder doorbell rings.
Why, there’s Hank on your doorstep, he’s brought his tenor, and a few friends. Come on in, Hi Donald, Hi John, come in come in make yourselves at home. Coltrane lifts his tenor out of its case. Paul heaves in his bass, and Philly Joe is last through the door hidden under an armful of drums. “There are beers in the fridge for those that want!” Rudy places his microphones. Pretty soon the boys are warmed up and ready to go. The room starts to shake…
Vinyl: UK 1st release Esquire 32-039 of US Prestige 7043 (pictured below)
Esquire pulled off their usual trick of putting a superb pressing in a dubious alternative cover, with liner notes verbatim from the Prestige US release. The very low catalogue nunber 12-039 confirms this was probably a near-simultaneous release to its US original, around or shortly after 1956.
Once in a while on ebay, as earlier this year, a record turns up with a line up so stellar you simply have to have it, and “Informal Jazz” was one of those records. As is often the case, Lady Luck played her part in winning the auction.
Perhaps the seller wasn’t entirely familiar with Elmo, may be confusing him with 60’s comedian Emo, the one with the “wandering falsetto tone of voice and a confused, childlike delivery” (Wiki). Whatever the reason, they decided to list it as “Donald Byrd – Informal Jazz”, a UK release in an alternative cover, with no acknowledgement of its Prestige origin or the $1,000 price tag it often commands.
It must have slipped below the radar of many collectors. Not so LondonJazzCollector!. There was still a dog-fight between eagle-eyed bidders, but “age and guile” won the day. Plus a little help from Lady Luck.