Pete La Roca: Basra (1965) Blue Note


Selection: Lazy Afternoon (Latouche Morros)



Joe Henderson (tenor sax) Steve Kuhn (piano) Steve Swallow (bass) Pete LaRoca (drums)  recorded at Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, May 19, 1965

Artist of Note: Pete La Roca

Drummer, turned lawyer, eventually returned to music, as so many do, which enriches humanity rather than just said lawyer. I mean,  are we short of lawyers?


Lazy Afternoon” is essential listening on a lazy Sunday afternoon. A million miles from the frenetic pace of thousand-notes-a-minute bop, Joe Henderson’s languid, breathy tenor serves up the slow-cooked melody, Steve Kuhn’s gently rippling piano creates the wide open space, while La Roca and Steve Swallow lay down the firm foundations, permitting you to simply float away, drifting across the surface of the music.

An often-recorded tune  – Maluguena is another stand out track – on this hard to find Blue Note record. 

Vinyl: Blue Note BLP 4205

Mono, Van Gelder, Plastylite.



A Collectors Tale

La Roca’s “Basra” had been on my wants list a long time. Starting listening first with a CD, then a 90’s digital-to-vinyl transfer Scorpio. Eventually I freighted a King Stereo pressing from Japan, and finally, won a nail-biting ebay US auction at four in the morning  to secure this original mono pressing.

Imagine if you will the LJC household scene: alarm call at four in the morning, causing consternation in the boudouir. A variety of  questions. What are you doing – its four in the morning!  An auction ending in Pacific Standard Time, dear. I want to see it through”. Questions raised about my sanity – a reasonable line of enquiry at the time. This was the time before I had got over the ebay adrenaline factor – now it’s snipe-and-forget. Popsike recorded the auction results, which I’ve included that at the end of the post, for anyone nosey enough to want the Collectors Tale..

Only about a half-dozen original pressings of “Basra” come to auction a year . The copy below (not mine) was from a seller in the UK in April 2010, which sold for the equivalent of  USD $350 – the seller included the word “rare” in the description, as well as the adjective “beautiful” – a double word score, and a lethal combination. The buyer of course could have been anywhere in the world, but I have my suspicions not the UK.

Note the intrusion of mahogany flooring.  Bad photographers don’t notice the background because they are looking only at the foreground. Good photographer’s work the other way around. It’s the background that will most likely spoil the foreground. Like the lamp-post sticking out of the subjects head.


This was my US auction below, six months later in October 2010, as shown in Popsike. It closed at USD $188 – about half the above price, but still not exactly cheap. Both copies had 10-11 bidders, and NM condition doubled the price, though mine sounds absolutely great (apart from the very rare pop and like most 45 year old  vinyl, the odd faint surface noise). My cover isn’t in quite as good condition, but the sellers picture makes it look worse than it is. It is the same cover, down to the sticker shadows top left and right, and the worn bottom left corner.

Having won the auction, then followed the three week wait for packing, despatch,US  customs clearance, air freight, UK customs clearance, post sorting office and eventually a knock at the door. Thankfully the US seller put only a nominal $6 value on the customs form, so no UK taxes and Post Office tax collection charge at this end. The result: a very happy record collector.

Update:   February 14, 2017 – record photos updated to current standards

6 thoughts on “Pete La Roca: Basra (1965) Blue Note

  1. This is one of the greatest records in my collection. Until I own an original, I’ll go with the 45RPM Music Matters reissue (:-(). Such a great piece of music!

  2. i think you made a wise choice in including this lovely ballad as the choice song from this lp. just happened to find a nice stereo copy for an obscenely fair price at a local shoppe and couldn’t be happier with the whole record. there are so many moods and settings on this one – its an eclectic, exotic and varied recording. highly recommended.

  3. Terrific stuff. Unfortunately I haven’t the financial resources to be a proper collector, I’m lucky if I put enough food on the table every week, so I’m afraid I have to resort to downloading my jazz from the interweb. However, I do only download high-quality Flac files which I then copy to cd and print out the cover artwork. As an artist/designer I love the Blue Note designs of this period.

    Thank you for this wonderful site.

  4. This has been on my want list for a while too, ever since Sonny’s Night at the Village Vanguard became my favorite record.

  5. Another excellent score as usual! Beautiful record–still don’t have a copy myself. I’m a big Steve Swallow fan and it’s interesting the hear him on upright bass.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s