Oscar Pettiford: Self-titled Vol.2 (1955)

Track Selection 1: Bohemia After Dark

Track Selection 2 (short) : Oscalypso

Artists

Donald Byrd, Ernie Royal (tp) Bob Brookmeyer (vtb) Gigi Gryce (as, cl) Jerome Richardson (ts, cl, fl) Don Abney (p) Oscar Pettiford (b, cello) Osie Johnson (d) recorded NYC, August 12, 1955

Music

Oscar Pettiford was widely rated as the second greatest individualist of the bass after Mingus, as both composer and instrumentalist. Many jazz standards originated from popular songs of the Thirties, but among those from jazz musicians themselves, Pettifords name  is often found. Bohemia After Dark is one of my favourites jazz tunes, which I first came across by Sahib Shihab, so I was interested to hear Pettiford’s original creation. Likewise I had heard bass-driven composition Oscalypso by both Curtis Fuller and Yusef Lateef, another short track on this seminal Bethlehem release.

The lineup is amazing – Donald Byrd, Gigi Gryce, Bob Brookmeyer, Osie Johnson, has to be a winner, but 1955 recordings a little too early to be a top quality audio. Another year or two and it would have been stunning, but, as they say, “We are where we are”. However a lovely cover.

Vinyl

Released in 1955 on Bethlehem,  this pressing is on the generally  dependable London label, pressed by Decca. Discs at this early time were especially exposed to the risk of scratching due to the heavy tracking weight of record player arms of the time – 20 gm compared to 2 gm today, and this sample had suffered a couple of long audible scratches. The recording quality isn’t quite what you would like it to be either – waiting for someone to invent high dynamic range microphones, to own enough to mike a large number of instruments individually, and for Creed Taylor to arrive at Bethlehem and sharpen up his production skills. Great music though. Pettiford has something of the Mingus, definitely.

Wait for a better copy to turn up, which could be a long time.

Collectors Corner

Having lost bidding on a Bethlehem original copy in the US recently, I chanced a couple of weeks later on this London UK release. A rare copy from 1955, but its condition rather spoiled by a couple of long audible scratches, though  not affecting the two tracks which I was interested in, sampled here. A better copy will turn up one day. Its not over ’till the fat lady sings.

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5 thoughts on “Oscar Pettiford: Self-titled Vol.2 (1955)

  1. Back in the Fifties, I counter-balanced the heavy weight of my tone arm by taping a quarter or two to the tone arm butt-end. That helped lighten the playing end of the tone arm. I did the same for 78s in the 1940s.

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