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.
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.
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.