Sahib Shihab Companionship (1964-70)

Track Selection 1. Bohemia After Dark (O. Pettiford)

Track Selection 2. Talk Some Yak-Ee-Dak (J. Woode)

Artists

Sahib Shihab (bars, fl) Kenny Clarke (d) Benny Bailey or I Sulieman (t) Francy Boland (p) Åke Persson (tb) Jimmy Woode (b) Sadi (vib, perc) or J Harris (perc)

Recorded Cologne, 1964/1965, “Alten Bahnhof Von Rolandseck” 1965, Lindström Studios Cologne on August 13th, 1968, Electrola Studio Cologne, February 2nd, 1969, and Cologne July 1970. Reissue supervised by Gigi Campi, recording Engineer Richard Hirschman.

Music

Sahib Sihab (better known to his mum and dad as Eddie Gregory) departed the US in the Sixties for a wife and a new life in Denmark. He appeared frequently with Francy Boland Big band,( where he gets only a little solo airtime), and the Danish Radio Jazz Orchestra. The Boland Big Band’s Italian producer Gigi Campi was instrumental in this release.

Personally I rate Sahib as the finest exponent of the baritone sax, just ahead of Pepper Adams, though others are welcome to disagree. I certainly rate both miles ahead of the world’s best known baritone sax player Gerry Mulligan, who’s blandness – with the exception of a few recordings – I find serves best as cure for occasional insomnia.

Sahib’s composing and arranging skills are matched by his inventive melodic improvisational lines, pulling off some daring high-wire excursions spanning the lower and upper register on the beast that is the baritone sax.

It is hard to believe this was recorded  between 1964 and 1970, it sounds so archly “modern-retro”. Perhaps it fits well with The German Jazz scene, which is quite unknown to me apart from Clarke-Boland – Albert Manglesdorff, Attila Zoller, Claus Doldinger , Peter Brotzmann, Rolf Kuhn –  plus I have difficulty locating the umlaut on my keyboard. No doubt there is more to this music than meets the ear.

Vinyl: Rearward RW119LP (2008, Italy)

Originally released 1970 on the German label Vogue LDVS 17243 with the same dire “Jazz Joint 2” white cover. Additional tracks taken from Sahib’s Summer Dawn (Argo LP-742) and Clarke Boland Sextet – Swing Im Bahnhof  (CBS 62681). A worthy companion to the other Rearward Sahib double LP, All those Cats

I don’t normally touch reissues but with Sahib it is often the only way to access the music, which is impossibly rare due to being European releases only in tiny numbers. Gigi Campi has done a splendid job with the reissue, and this is a modern  surprisingly heavy vinyl pressing with top flight mastering by people who know what they are doing, produced for people who know what they want, not a weedy 70’s and 80’s  reissue. It it makes no claims at to being an “audiophile” production. It just is.

Collectors Corner

Sitting in New Arrivals, and didn’t stay in the rack for long. Sells generally for around £20 which I reckon fair value for a double of this quality.

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11 thoughts on “Sahib Shihab Companionship (1964-70)

  1. Firstly, thanks for the info on the re-press quality. Will now be buying this.
    Also you say ’I don’t normally touch reissues’ – why not?

    Cheers.

    • Why not go for re-issues? I am not unhappy with “vintage re-issues” dating from the ’60s, which often have the same parentage as the original first pressing (same metalware, original tapes). Those aside later “reissues” are in most cases one two or three generations away from the original tapes, or worse, digital transfers created in modern times, never been near the original tapes, or contaminated by digital processing at some stage. The sound quality isn’t the same, and can be a long way off.

      The only way to find these things out is to actually acquire originals through an upgrade opportunity and compare with reissues you already have, on your own system. Take no-ones word for it, not even mine. Only hearing is believing.

      • Thanks. I often try and speak to the labels doing the reissuing to find out what they pressed from. Rarely get a response which is a shame.

  2. Companionship is one of my all-time favorite albums. I’ve had the luck of finding an original a few years ago in a Belgium record store for about half the price of a reissue. Both discs are great from start to finish, the combination of Boland’s piano playing and Clarke’s drumming is fantastic. Shihab is a master on saxophone and flute. I love every single of their small group sessions (Midnight Mood by Mark Murphy, Lady Heavy Bottom’s Waltz by Johnny Griffin, etc…). I actually wrote an article about Gigi Campi a few month’s back. You can read it here if you want to: http://www.laid-back.be/blog/?p=4864 (sorry for the shameless self promo).

  3. if Serge Chaloff could have lived some more year after 1957, we could have had perfect recordings. I think he’s the best in modern jazz, till now.

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