Track Selection: Manaha da Carnaval
Dexter Gordon (ts) Bobby Hutcherson (vib) Barry Harris (p) Bob Cranshaw (b) Billy Higgins (d) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, May 28-9, 1965
Dexter’s last major release for Blue Note, not long after which he moved to Europe, to Wonderful Wonderful Copenhagen, where he could continue to play modern jazz. Most subsequent Dexter releases are found on Steeplechase, a label well-regarded by audiophiles.
This record follows Dexter’s by now well-established formula of standards given a luxurious tenor voice makeover. However this time the addition of Bobby Hutcherson and his percussive spacey vibraphone adds welcome colour and texture to Dexter’s rich tenor melody lines, and Barry Harris very classy block chord comping rounds off the picture, with Higgins and Cranshaw doing the heavy lifting in the rhythm area.
The selected track Manaha da Carnaval has a latin tinge, as was fashionable, but it is quickly overtaken by music that swings to its own jazzy beats. Never let a fashion stand in the way of good jazz.
Vinyl : BLP 4205 NY labels, VAN GELDER, mono, no “ear”
It’s a BINO – Bluenote in Name Only. One of the forty or so recordings prepared for release by Blue Note but eventually first released after the sale of Blue Note to Liberty, pressed at Liberty pressing plants, hence “no ear”.
What it does have is the routine VAN GELDER machine stamp at around 2 o’clock and a very neat small catalogue number hand-inscribed at 8 o’clock. Not the same flamboyant hand that wrote the big numbers on original Blue Notes, but a different small precise neat hand.
(VACANCY! the Vinyl Detective Squad has an exciting opportunity to join its forensic team, as a Graphology intern. The successful candidate will be expected to learn to read deadwax engravings expertly, working extremely long hours under poor lighting conditions and without pay. A magnifying glass will be provided. On successful completion of their internship, the Consulting Detective Graphologist will be licensed to wear sunglasses after dark, and carry a very large handgun)
Despite its Liberty origin, the pressing is nonetheless sonically equivalent to a New York Blue Note, with a wide dynamic range and the house-style of Van Gelder microphone placement and well-engineered instrument balance. Would that all records were as well made as this.
Gettin’ Around completes my selection of Dexter Gordon Blue Notes bar one, the elusive and much sought after Swingin’ Affair.
This one was a retail purchase from a Central London store , for a very reasonable price. (I have to be polite here as the jazz specialist at the store, I’ll call him “Tony” to protect his identity, is an occasional reader of this blog. Hi “Tony” (not his real name) if you are reading this) This is one of my favourite London stores, which often manages to find one or two interesting jazz records where others don’t. Keep up the good work “Tony”.