Track Selection 1: Dahoud (Clifford Brown) w/ Chambers/Philly Joe
Selection 2: Oleo (Sonny Rollins) – w/ Sam Jones/Hayes
Phineas Newborn Jr. (p) Paul Chambers or Sam Jones (b) Philly Joe Jones or Louis Hayes (d) recorded Contemporary Records’ Studio, Los Angeles, CA, October 16 & November 21st , 1961 recording engineers Howard Holzer and Roy DuNann
Newborn was a talented pianist in jazz scene crowded with many talented pianists. Against the towering figures of Monk, Bud Powell and Bill Evans, if you were not a giant you had to compete with everyone: Red Garland, Hank Jones, Wynton Kelly, Horace Silver, Elmo Hope, Mal Waldron, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Hampton Hawes, Jaki Byard, Herbie Nichols, Bobby Timmons, Barry Harris, George Wallington, Freddie Redd, Kenny Drew, Junior Mance, Carl Perkins, Horace Parlan, the list is long and must have kept an industry of piano teachers in employment. His career was limited not by lack of talent but perhaps by not finding the right long-term musical partnership, like Mingus and Byard, Blakey and Timmons, Garland with Davis and Coltrane. The other instruments in the rhythm section seem a less crowded field, and are more portable.
In response to his remarkable technical accomplishments, critics labelled Phineas as “a cold technician”, too good for just comping in the rhythm section, but not up there with the giants as a leader. His trademark was to dazzle, executing absurdly fast runs following one another in quick succession, and scattering notes in every direction. He can be exhausting but selectively, also rewarding.
The “rhythm sections” on these sessions are peerless – Paul Chambers and Philly Joe on one side, Hank Jones and Roy Haynes the other. You get two track selections – one of each. Chambers name particularly comes up so often in the artist credits tags on this blog it puts him up as one of the topics most frequently written about. Was a busy man.
The liner notes helpfully advise Newborn preferred his name pronounced “Fine – us, with the accent on the first syllable”. You wouldn’t want to make a faux-pas (this week’s French bon mot) when talking in hep-circles about Finnyus Newborn. Everyone would know immediately, in the immortal words of Cannonball Adderley, “ you are just acting hip, not truly being hip, you know what I’m sayin’?
Vinyl: ZB 8071 – Origin: unknown ( Contemporary M 3600)
Another mystery. I can’t find any reference to the ZB issue number which has been hastily inserted onto the cover (unmatching font). Pressed on 168gm vintage vinyl – this is no modern reissue or clone, this is a vintage heavy vinyl mono pressing from an original Contemporary Lester Koenig LKL matrix, no funny business in the deadwax. The liner notes sport a coloured font inset panel characteristic of US Contemporary releases of the day, and the unlaminated cover is fairly flimsy card, also a Contemporary feature, if that is the right word.
The bottom half of the label, where it usually says in large type “RECORDS” or for European releases “Vogue”, is left blank, which makes me think it is an export pressing, possibly manufactured for US Forces based overseas – I have read elsewhere these things were done sometimes to sidestep application of local sales taxes (in the same fashion as white label promotional copies “not for sale” had no sales tax) I put this in my database under WTF? pressings, but it sounds every bit as good as you might expect from master engineer Roy DuNann.
(If you have any clues about its origin, feel free to comment)
London record store, glad to know this also had the jazz expert stumped as to its origin, so it was labelled simply “Jazz LP” and very modestly priced. Overdosing a little on saxophone players recently, I thought time for a little variety. One of those days when you arrive home with a lot of interesting stuff but nothing to shout from the rooftops. That’s how it goes in collecting. There will be something around the next corner. Plenty to listen to on the shelves, rediscover old friends, and make some new ones, it is always surprises me how much your tastes move around the more you listen.