Grachan Moncur III: Some Other Stuff (1964) Blue Note

4177-grachan-moncur-some-other-stuff-cover-1600-LJC.jpgSelection: Thandiwa


Grachan Moncur III , trombone; Wayne Shorter , tenor sax; Herbie Hancock, piano; Cecil McBee, bass;  Tony Williams, drums;  recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, July 6, 1964

Grachan Moncur III Pocket Bio (selected quotes I liked, borrowed from others)

I always remember a valve trombone being in the house.  When my father (bassist Moncur II) was on the road, I’d sneak it out from under the bed and try to play it even though I was too small to pick it up.”

I used to go to Birdland and sit in on Monday nights. One night Miles came in.  I went up to introduce myself and told him how much I admired him.  He looked at me and said, ‘Don’t you ever say that corny shit to nobody!  I know who you are, man.  You got something.  Dig yourself!‘ “

While touring with Ray Charles, Moncur was invited to join Golson and Farmer in The Jazztet.  Giving Ray Charles his notice and explaining his reasons, the singer reminded him “I really admire your spunk, but do you realize it’s 1959, and I’m booked till 1980?”

After The Jazztet disbanded,  Moncur began to record for Blue Note as leader and sidesman. “A Blue Note date was more than just a record date – it was an event. There was a certain Blue Note style of playing. I helped to break that mold because they let me do my own thing“.

Michael Cuscuna notes that the trombonist’s pieces “are unique like Monk’s, and each one, coupled with its title, creates a vivid mental picture... His compositions,while friendly to musical conventions, are also open and lyrical and exist within their own logic.”

“Moncur became one of only a handful of trombonists to move the instrument beyond the conventions of bebop.  “‘Avant-garde’ or ‘free’ playing is a concept just like swing or bebop. You can’t just jump in and start playing it.  You’ve got to respect it and learn how to fit in.”


The second of Moncur’s recordings for Blue Notes continues the same dark and looser direction as Evolution (1963),  but with Hancock’s angular and restless input in place of the softening vibes of Bobby Hutcherson. Moncur is on a mission, signposting the greater rhythmic and tonal freedom of the “new music”  of the mid-Sixties, on an improbable instrument, the trombone. Child of the US army marching band, transformed from the liquid gold of J J,  and reinvented as a  persistent and menacing presence. Both Moncur and Roswell Rudd grasped the avant-garde potential of the trombone

Part of the stream of intensely creative  “new music” from a group of like-minded musicians appearing on each others titles, including Sam Rivers, Bobby Hutcherson, Jackie Mclean, Herbie Hancock  and  Anthony Williams. Williams continues to  bear the standard for drums as instrument rather than just timekeeper.  (I am reminded of the great  line, I think attributed to Mingus: ” We all know where the beat is. There is no need  for anyone to actually play it“)  Shorter’s abrupt and angular phrasing stubbornly declines to swing other than in his own way. Shorter pointing to towards later Miles Davis.

Bassist Cecil McBee had slipped under my radar. He made his name as bass player on many of these proto-avant titles of the early-Sixties, recording with Jackie McLean, Sam Rivers, Yusef Lateef and Andrew Hill, and later with Alice Coltrane  and Pharoah Sanders.

The track selection song titleThandiwa (the most mainstream of the tracks)  is apparently the Zulu word for “beloved”, an African  heritage reference often found in titles of this time. It adds little to a comprehension of the music, but fulfills the requirement that every song must have a title

Vinyl: BLP 4177

Its mono, its got ears, VAN GELDER mastered, weighs a healthy 180 gm, it’s an original Blue Note in every meaning of the word. Reid Miles grainy motion-blur monochrome design is an unsubtle clue to the musical contents:  Unsuitable for Easy Listening. Contains Nuts.


4177-grachan-moncur-some-other-stuff-back-1600-ljc.jpgCollectors Corner

Source: Ebay  Location: UK Sellers Description: SLEEVE:   EXCELLENT –    VINYL:      EXCELLENT +

Very clean, more than clean, looks virtually unplayed. This sometimes happens with records you buy with an expectation but find, on playing, that you don’t much like.

Moncur-auction-800Ask seller a Question

Q: Could you have a look at the dead wax on both sides and tell me if you see the 2 followings things : 1) A “RVG” or “Van Gelder” stamp 2) A hand-etched “ear” or “P” Thanks for letting me know. Best regards, M*****

A:  Hi M*****, yes both sides have a Van Gelder stamp. There is also a hand-etched symbol that could be an “ear” or a “p” – difficult to tell – also looks like a “b” but definitely a symbol of this type. I hope this helps, Thanks, Frank

Don’t you just hate it when sellers publish answers to questions!

I figured it was either an original or an NY/Liberty, and either way I was happy, and I set my bid long before without seeing the Q&A.

I suspect bidders may have included friends of LJC,  for which I can only say: Sorry, all’s fair in love, war, and Blue Note collecting.  At the end of the day, there is only one winner and  several losers. This time, its me, another time its you.


8 thoughts on “Grachan Moncur III: Some Other Stuff (1964) Blue Note

  1. I am a big fan of this kind of stuff, an I’m a big fan of Ornette Coleman in particular… I’ve been collecting some of his Atlantic LPs and I’ve also snagged a beautiful copy of vol. 1 of Live at the Golden Circle, with an ear and everything. Half of the free jazz LPs I’ve acquired seen to have very little play on them, more pristine than most of my other records. I wonder why…


    • In marked contrast to every Bill Evans Riverside I have seen, which have all been played so many times the spindle area is like a skating rink. Thing is, with free jazz, if it wasn’t pristine, but poppped crackled and jumped, how many people would really notice ? 😉


  2. LJC, Have you misguidedly added falling snow to your blog? I hope so, because if you haven’t then I am having an embolism or something.

    What a splendid cover this record has. I’ve only got EVOLUTION and in fact have never seen let alone heard SOME OTHER STUFF. It isn’t, however, a terribly inspired (or inspiring) title, is it…


    • Bah humbug, next you will be telling me you don’t believe in Santa Claus. Seasonal jollity introduced by my blog host, WordPress, Alun. They turn it off at the beginning of January. You are supposed to think “How cool is that”


    • Picked this up as suggested by Alun on the Heavenly Sweetness label – nice ‘audiophile’ quality sound but just listening to this rip again on my laptop suggests a bolder, ok, more compressed sound from the original vinyl – but all the better for it IMO. Still – what a remarkable record – very very lovely – challenging, interesting and beautiful.


      • Great stuff — but perhaps just shade below EVOLUTION? I’m just listening to my Heavenly Sweetness repress which came this morning (11/04/14). Sounds good enough to my not very reliable ears… You know I sometimes think how much better a label Blue Note would have been had it issued a greater proportion of records of the like of this and Andrew Hill, and Rivers and Dolphy and the early Hutchersons…


        • …such as Jackie McLean’s “Destination… Out!”, with that haunting Hutcherson solo & backing on “Love and Hate”. And a truly stellar line-up (Moncur, Roy Haynes…). Blue Note at its best.


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