Track Selection: “Paean”
Sam Rivers Sextet (Sides 1-2)
Donald Byrd (tp -1/4) Julian Priester (tb -1/4) James Spaulding (as, fl -1/5) Sam Rivers (ts, ss, fl) Cecil McBee (b) Steve Ellington (d) Recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, March 17, 1967
Andrew Hill Quartet (Sides 3-4)
Sam Rivers (ts -1/4,6,7) Andrew Hill (p, cel) Walter Booker (b) J.C. Moses (d) Recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, March 7, 1966
This is one schizophrenic two record package from United Artists “Blue Note Reissue Series” in 1975, works by Sam Rivers and Andrew Hill not previously released. The Sam Rivers sides went on to be released by under the title “Dimensions and Extension” which I have only ever seen on French vinyl (poor quality pressing) BST 84261, which is a pity as it is very exciting stuff, and on CD (Blue Note CDP 7 84261-2), which is outstandingly well mastered by Rudy Van Gelder.
CD alternative source of the track “Paean” which gives a much more lively and cohesive presentation than the vinyl, illustrating the loss of quality from the Seventies
The Andrew Hill sessions were intended to be on BLP 4233 “One For One” which was never released by Blue Note and only published later by United Artists as BN-LA 459, in the same reissue series as Sam Rivers.
Julian Priester’s trombone is much in the vein of Grachan Mocur III, an instrument morphed from its sassy bluesy JJ Johnson manner into something a little more playful and menacing, a perfect partner for Rivers more unorthodox improvisation, while Steve Ellington’s insistent cymbal strike keeps time. This is the best 1966 NY deli jazz – a blend of sharp flavour sauerkraut and gherkin with pastrami on rye, perfect to awaken a tired palate.
Vinyl BN-LA 453-H2
The short-lived United Artists Blue label with white note 1975-79, Stereo, and not especially great pressing, much like the state of vinyl across the industry. It was about this time Atlantic red/green label reissues of completely indifferent quality flooded the market, hastening the demise of the format.
Dealers don’t seem to know what to make of this record. It is chronologically ten years out of kilter, the “Blue Note Reissue Series” suggests they are common or garden reissues which they are not, the brown paper gatefold cover looks cheap and nasty, and Rivers himself is something of an unknown quantity, despite having some extremely good Blue Note releases. He was a tenor sax “bad boy” – original, with a bitter tone and sometimes austere, not “free jazz” but not comfortable bop either. His choice of fellow musicians is similarly a little left field, and the music is difficult to categorise, but “exciting” is where I file it.
This is actually a gem of a package, not especially rare, undervalued and priced usually around the £20 mark due to the above limitations. The United Artists pressing leaves a little to be desired, and the Rivers CD is a better alternative sonically,but it’s not exactly expensive to acquire the whole lot, including the Andrew Hill vinyl.