Art Blakey Ritual! (1957) Pacific Jazz

Track Selection: Sam’s Tune

Artists

Bill Hardman (tp) Jackie McLean (as) Sam Dockery (p) Spanky DeBrest (b) Art Blakey (d) recorded NYC, January 14 and February 11, 1957

Music:

Hard bop – Mclean and Hardiman top of their game.

It is Blakey’s album, and features in a long drum solo “Ritual” with a “search for my roots” narrative from Art Blakey about idealised primitive Nigerian village life;  hunting / girl-chasing / and the central role of collective drumming as a form of story-telling. Modern Nigeria of the Sixties was also home of often-imprisoned Fela Kuti, who offered a slightly different take on this former British colony. A country riven with ethno-tribal tensions – Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa and Fulani – resulting in a civil war, ruled over a decade by a military junta, and an elite in Africa as it’s main oil-producing country: a far cry from Blakey’s primitives. The introduction narrative by Art Blakey is here (however not the solo , which for me is less interesting):

Vinyl: PJ 15 Pacific Jazz original US released 1960 Deep Groove.

Lawyers at dawn, whose record is this? Recorded in 1957 – Blakey, McLean, Hardiman, all artists under contract to other labels, released three years later by the West Coast based World Pacific subsidiary, Pacific Jazz, and recorded by the west coast answer to Van Gelder – Richard Bock. No mention of where it was recorded other than “NYC”. Perhaps a record Blakey wanted to make but unable to interest Blue Note or Prestige.

Collectors Corner

Source: eBay

Sellers Description:  Prepare yourself for this, it is over 1500 words long , but educationally worth its weight in gold. The original text was mostly all in SHOUTY capitals, so I have given it the old MS Word “Shift + “F3” trick to make it readable. Off we go, from UK seller Rocking Eric…

“A fantastic rare 1961 American jazz LP in near mint condition. If you love rare original American 1st pressings of jazz LPs-you will want to own this fabulous album. An original USA 1960 mono Pacific Jazz “deep grooved” labels issue with thick vinyl: hardly any survive, especially as good as this example of an album that might have been issued in the UK but even if it was, almost impossible to find in 2012! I can’t recall seeing this issue before in my 25+ years as a dealer specialising in jazz vinyl!

The record is in near mint condition! I would suggest that the majority would state mint but in my opinion mint does not exist unless you have a sealed item but this copy will be almost impossible to improve upon so do not miss out! In depth sleeve notes an essential album for any jazz musician to study that may not be available on CD! The first decent copy to be seen on eBay or anywhere in years from a reliable seller, jazz fan and long-term collector!

From the collection of former Esquire Records and major jazz collector and musician, the late Peter Newbrook who preserved his records using top of the range equipment. He had strong connections with many American jazz record companies as he issued many American albums on his esquire label, hence having this copy sent to him way back in 1960! Due to the size of his collection and being very busy, the majority of his LPs had less than half a dozen plays – maybe as few as a couple and this LP looks and as few as a couple and this LP looks and sounds as if it has only had one or two plays before my one testing play! Wonderful quality!

Many shops would only get these imported LPs to special order and it might have been deleted within a year in the USA due to limited sales and quite possibly not issued in the UK ,but even if it was, would be almost impossible to find in 2012! American pressings are much harder to find, as in 1960 very few people in the UK could afford or find the specialist import shops who could obtain them – remember how strict the import system was in the UK! Many were thrown away or at least badly damaged due to fast handling as often the case in radio stations or busy reviewers!

So often these pressings were ruined on old equipment-this one is in great shape! The print run for these LPs would be few thousand at the very most and of course how many survive in near mint condition approx. 52 years later?? A jazz collector’s dream-please read on for in-depth details!!

I have not found such breathtaking quality for an American LP of this vintage for quite some time. they are simply not turning up as frequently as they did, even five years ago. Most have now left the UK for the collections of Japan, America and the far east never to return to the selling market. This may be your last chance to get such a musically brilliant LP like this one in near mint condition!

Don’t forget just how expensive LPs were for the average fan of the 1960s. An LP was usually a carefully considered purchase over weeks and even months, which explains why so few turn up. Those that did buy them were often scared of having them stolen or borrowed without return and would write names on the cover- just compare with any other similar LPs on eBay, the majority have writing, Sellotape repair or worse still drawings and doodles added. This is about the best I have seen in years and years. Check out your copy – can you really put up with the one you have got and will you regret it later? If nothing else this is a fantastic investment! I am sure to regret not keeping it but that’s life! The house is full as it is! The previous owner had the benefit of getting the best and indeed it is highly probable that this is one of the best examples of this record to appear on Ebay for years direct from someone who was in the right place at the right time!

Those of you who have been dealing with me on Ebay since 2002 and indeed elsewhere before since 1986, will probably know i have been a respected music expert and collector for many years called upon by radio, TV and price guides for my advice and knowledge. Whilst I am in the business to sell, I care deeply about the items I am selling. In a competitive market such as Ebay, this is getting rare so you can buy with complete confidence!

A very nice thick pressing! Most copies that survive are in poor condition-this one is in near mint condition with hardly any surface noise, even at high volume with the treble full on to “catch” any groove wear and that is being strict! No sticks!/ no jumps!/ no clicks!/ no swishes!/ no distortion! A copy that has been played only a few times, having spoken at length to the previous owner’s son!!!! probably half a dozen or so at the most!

Just how many were preserved like this one?!!!!!! The mono mixes are superb and full of bass, with a natural warmth from those LP-days of around 52 years ago! In the early 1960s, many were using terrible old and heavy equipment and using worn styli or nasty auto-changers that would scuff the discs forever in seconds, at the time not aware that years later even the slightest damage would be evident on more sophisticated audio. Sometimes these LPs were ruined on old heavy equipment. The 1960s equipment was quite often a bit basic and it was suggested to play LPs at between 5 and 8 grams, which of course after a few plays would produce on later plays that nasty “film of fizzy distortion so often ignored by sellers and in my listening grading is always listened out for with the treble full on and played to ensure the best and most accurate grading!!!! To find immaculate copies all these years later is getting almost impossible! Fact! They are simply drying up!

These mixes are far punchier but are rather flat on the CDs that have come out! Vinyl is still the best way to hear this top jazz music and always will be! Great wide range sound with great bass! I test all the way through without filtering or a mono switch. There is no spindle wear. Look elsewhere on Ebay and you might see other copies – look closer and you will find they are often reissues or lower grade copies with all manner of faults.

Most records on Ebay are in diabolical, bad conditions attempted to be sold by people who do not know how to grade or bother to actually play them for an accurate description! This is a possible upgrade copy – examine yours if you have one at all and it may not be as good as you think! The LP itself as usual will be removed from its cover before sending!

Remember i am grading strictly! Please study the photos! As both a collector and dealer, I am very strict on grading but do checkout my feedback for grading proof!!!! Don’t leave it and regret it later!!!!!!!!!!! This may not be repeated for a long time! This is a great chance to own a super and rare LP. A great investment!

Thanks for looking and good luck.”

If you reached the end, well done. I exchanged emails with Rocking Eric and he confirmed this copy indeed came from the collection of Richard Newbrook, a Director of Esquire Records, whose collection he had bought from Newbrook’s son, and sold on ebay over the last three or four years. You would have to have had a heart of stone not to buy this, just for all the Mclean and Hardiman tracks.

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7 thoughts on “Art Blakey Ritual! (1957) Pacific Jazz

  1. First pressing of this was on the short-lived PJM series from Pacific Jazz.

    But I don’t know if there’s really any collectibility difference between the two? I like the PJM crimson label design a bit better but that’s just me!

  2. I have the CD of this album which, surprise surprise, contains 9 tracks instead of the 7 on the vinyl album. The two extra titles are “Little T.” and “Exhibit A”.

  3. two sessions, in January and February 1957:

    Bill Hardman (tp) Jackie McLean (as) Sam Dockery (p) Spanky DeBrest (b) Art Blakey (d)
    NYC, January 14, 1957
    Once Upon A Groove Pacific Jazz EP 4-74, PJM 402, PJ 15; Jazztone J 1281; Blue Note LT 1065
    Sam’s Tune (Sam You Made The Bridge Too Long) Pacific Jazz EP 4-54, PJM 402, PJ 15, PJ 100; Blue Note LT 1065
    Touche Pacific Jazz EP 4-73, PJM 402, PJ 15; Jazztone J 1281; Blue Note LT 1065
    Little T (Lil ‘T) World Pacific JWC 508; Pacific Jazz PJ 15, PJ 33; Blue Note LT 1065
    * Pacific Jazz PJM 402; World Pacific WPM 402, WP 1275 The Jazz Messengers Featuring Art Blakey – Ritual
    * Pacific Jazz PJ 15 The Jazz Messengers Featuring Art Blakey – Ritual
    * Jazztone J 1281 Clifford Brown’s All Stars/The Jazz Messengers With Art Blakey – Jazz Messages
    * Blue Note LT 1065, CDP 7 46858-2 Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers – Once Upon A Groove
    * Pacific Jazz PJ 100 Various Artists – On Mike!: A Decade Of Pacific Jazz 1952/1962
    * World Pacific JWC 508; Vogue (E) LAE 12152; Disques Swing (F) LDM 30086 Various Artists – The Hard Swing
    * Pacific Jazz PJ 33 The Jazz Messengers Featuring Art Blakey/The Elmo Hope Quintet Featuring Harold Land
    * Pacific Jazz EP 4-74 The Jazz Messengers Featuring Art Blakey – Ritual, Vol. 3
    * Pacific Jazz EP 4-54 The Jazz Messengers Featuring Art Blakey – Ritual
    * Pacific Jazz EP 4-73 The Jazz Messengers Featuring Art Blakey – Ritual, Vol. 2
    the next month:

    Bill Hardman (tp) Jackie McLean (as) Sam Dockery (p) Spanky DeBrest (b) Art Blakey (d)
    NYC, February 11, 1957
    Exhibit A Pacific Jazz PJ 33; Blue Note LT 1065
    Scotch Blues Pacific Jazz EP 4-74, PJM 402, PJ 15; Blue Note LT 1065
    Wake Up Pacific Jazz EP 4-73, PJM 402, PJ 15; Blue Note LT 1065
    Comments By Art Blakey Pacific Jazz EP 4-54, PJM 402
    Ritual Pacific Jazz EP 4-54, PJM 402; World Pacific WP 1247; Blue Note CDP 7 46858-2
    * Pacific Jazz PJ 33 The Jazz Messengers Featuring Art Blakey/The Elmo Hope Quintet Featuring Harold Land
    * Blue Note LT 1065, CDP 7 46858-2 Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers – Once Upon A Groove
    * Pacific Jazz PJM 402; World Pacific WPM 402, WP 1275 The Jazz Messengers Featuring Art Blakey – Ritual
    * Pacific Jazz PJ 15 The Jazz Messengers Featuring Art Blakey – Ritual
    * World Pacific WP 1247 Various Artists – Drums On Fire!
    * Pacific Jazz EP 4-74 The Jazz Messengers Featuring Art Blakey – Ritual, Vol. 3
    * Pacific Jazz EP 4-73 The Jazz Messengers Featuring Art Blakey – Ritual, Vol. 2
    * Pacific Jazz EP 4-54 The Jazz Messengers Featuring Art Blakey – Ritual

    • Busy boys, weren’t they? A discographers nightmare. I am glad I collect only 12″. Life is too short for all those EPs as well, not to mention the cardiovascular burn trotting back and forward to the turntable..

  4. Blakey was under contract to Columbia but this session was “swapped” for a Chet Baker and Strings album recorded by Dick Bock for Pacific Jazz. It shows you which way the East Coast bosses thought the trade winds were blowing…..

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