Track Selection: Hootnan
Charles Tolliver (tp) Jackie McLean (as) Bobby Hutcherson (vib) Cecil McBee (b) Billy Higgins (d) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, September 16, 1964
Recorded in 1964 on the coat tails of some of McLean’s best titles One Step Beyond (4137) and Destination…Out! (4165) the previous year, it fitted well with McLean’s new trajectory, moving on from Bop towards more adventurous music. The sidesmen are likewise drawn from the school sympathetic to a more free approach, fizzing with energy, liberated from the role of “rhythm section”. This is exciting stuff, Mclean’s biting acidic alto partnered with Tolliver’s spicy trumpet and Hutcherson’s cooling vibes, in a potent cocktail.Higgins powers along keeping time on the cymbals, while hitting the rest of the kit for accents, whilst McBee’s bass treads a path through the melange. Great jazz.
Vinyl: Blue Note BLP 4218 mono NY labels VAN GELDER stamp, no “ear”
One of the thirty or so Blue Note releases whose first pressing was after the sale of Blue Note to Liberty, so the absence of the Plastylite “P” is to be expected. Van Gelder mastering, and pressed by Liberty’s acquired plant All-Disc, Roselle, New Jersey. To my ear every bit as good as any NY original Blue Note: fresh bright lively engaging, you can’t beat it, ear or no ear.
The cover design is of course a negative photographic image, very typical of “new thing” graphic design in the Sixties – taking the familiar and standing it on its head. I couldn’t resist inverting it back to a positive to see how it started life. Judge for yourself which you prefer. I prefer the positive as it’s a great atmospheric photo of Mclean in action, but the inverted cover image is a more authentic “Sixties” view on the world, a time before the art-cliches of punk that still dominate graphic design today.
From a Soul specialist store in West London, not their usual fare, an unexpected find which illustrates LJC’s Second Law of Record Collecting, that good things are not always found where you expect. If there was a perfectly-targetted store called, say, Mister Rare Collectible Jazz, its shelves would be permanently empty as hundreds of hungry collectors would shuffle through every day. This happens with one shop I know in central London, where anything good that comes in disappears within hours of being put out on the shelf.
I commend the principle of The Random Shuffle. Not a dance craze or pelvic thrust routine from The Rocky Horror Show, but occasionally scanning for things in the “wrong” place, because the stuff in the right place is all gone. However, random also includes looking frequently in the right place too. (That’s the First Law by the way.)