Selected track: “Landslide” >
Jack Sheldon (tp) Harold Land (ts) Carl Perkins (p) Curtis Counce (b) Frank Butler (d) recorded Los Angeles, CA, October 8, 1956
Original 1957 US press of Contemporary release “The Curtis Counce Group”, featuring the best of the west players, including Curtis Counce (bass) as leader, Harold Land on tenor and Carl Perkins on piano. Curtis Counce Group (1956-8) express purpose was to offer a West Coast answer to the hard-bop sound of the East Coast, but broke up with the death of Perkins, at only age 29, in 1958.
Land turns in the usual hard-driving performance, with Jack Sheldon on Trumpet, and Frank Butler pushing things along nicely on, you know, those things they hit with sticks. Land has been described as a ” small-toned, hard-edged, no-frills player whose every solo is at once a model of efficiency and flawless execution“.(That is nice writing. I don’t have a problem with a little bit of plagiarism. There are Jazz blogs I come across which consist of nothing but a discogs tracklisting and a cut’n’paste of other people’s reviews). However they go on to write “If John Coltrane had a skyward vision, Land’s was panoramic.” That loses me, shortly after the “‘If”.
Blue Note had Alfred Lion and Rudy Van Gelder, but Lester Koenig at Contemporary Records was also known for extremely high audio standards and thanks to the expertise of engineer Roy DuNann, turned out some shockingly good recordings. Not quite RVG, but a delight to listen to nonetheless, and streets ahead of most engineers.
However, one department Contemporary Records was definitely lacking in was graphic design. No Francis Wolff / Miles Reid. Perhaps the Pied Piper of Lollywood lured away all of the photographic creative talent, leaving Contemporary with the guy who fetches the coffee and donuts during studio shoots behind the camera. Such lucklustre stuff you have to fight the urge to dismiss the record, but the individual portraits on the back of the jacket may restore your faith. Moody black and white shots of people smoking. By Jove,someone’s finally got it.
( Bill Hicks line: You sure smoke a lot – how many a day? Two. Two what, two packs? No, two lighters.)