Track Selection: Society Red (Dexter Gordon) – long, 12 minutes, but Great!
Selection Society Red is big stretching-out blues march, rock steady in 4:4 time, with Hubbard and Gordon very much on the same page. Over 12 minutes it never drags, in stereo that really seems to have found its feet. Nice bass solo at the end from George Tucker, and the ambience is confident blues-flavoured bop.
Freddie Hubbard (tp) Dexter Gordon (ts) Horace Parlan (p) George Tucker (b) Al Harewood (d) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, May 6, 1961
Dexter aged 37, a jazz veteran in peak form, prior to his move to Europe. Plenty of Dexter’s trademark big-toned ballads with linear muscular melodic lead lines and the occasional flourish. The pairing with Hubbard however bring more grit and sparkle to the ensemble and Parlan likewise adds colouring to what could have been a somewhat formulaic session. Dexter had a series of Blue Note releases around this time, including the exceptional “Go”, “Dexter Calling” “Gettin around” and “Our Man in Paris”, not a dud among them.
Vinyl: Blue Note original BNST 84077, early stereo Van Gelder.
Original Blue Note on NY labels no DG both sides, sound is very fresh and rich as it should be for first or early pressing. Being an intended stereo at the recording stage, the master places an RVG STEREO machine stamp in the run out. This is good, no?
Blue Note Stereo
Updating the ever-popular Blue Note labels page recently, I had cause to revisit one of my very few early Blue Note stereo records, Dexter Gordon’s Doin’ Allright from 1961. At the time I had reservations about “Stereo” as something “second best”, not to be spoken about openly among collectors who prize mono as the definitive original version. But it has taken on a new interest following recent research on Contemporary Records and the early Stereo Records label of engineering wizard Roy DuNann, so I have given it a second chance.
There are no doubt earlier Blue Note stereo releases, Cohen’s Guide owners will know, but this is one of my earliest. Stereo was new enough at Blue Note not to have stereo covers printed yet, but the gold Blue Note Stereo sticker mounted on a beautiful laminated mono jacket.
Some tracks exhibit stereo presentation decisions I wouldn’t have made. Gordon far left on his own, Hubbard far right oddly shared with the drums; piano and bass tightly in the centre. On Dexter’s big-toned ballads the balance feels a little awkward, just three positions: far left, far right and centre, a banana-republic election rather than a spectrum. On the more busy Society Red, the soundstage comes together more convincingly, especially when Dexter and Freddie duet. Great.
I have heard it argued that Stereo is largely an artefact of studio engineering. If you were to see the group in live performance the sound would be coming at you from one source, the bandstand, effectively “Mono”. Interesting argument.
BN-ST 84077 with ear.
RVG STEREO engraving
Source Ebay Location: North of England
Sellers Description: VG+
Auction end of last year, from a nice collection. These things tend to run in packs. A fastidious collector builds up a collection over many years, to consistent high standard of desirable records in excellent condition. They walk under a bus. The collection is bought by a competent professional seller, who drips them back onto the market three or four at a time, each week. Pretty soon word gets around, a handful of XXL bidders move in, money no object, and all the records disappear – overseas. Fair and generous bids are pushed aside.
I was lucky to take just two. Am I bitter? Well, I know I shouldn’t be, but…