Track Selection 1: Triangle (not Succotash, everyone knows Succotash)
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A dreamy floating extended improvisation, kick off the shoes and lie back, ten minutes required, beauty therapy for brains
Track Selection 2: A Jump Ahead
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The best bop/swinging Hancock high energy, get those shoes back on and look busy in case the boss comes round.
Herbie Hancock, piano; Paul Chambers, bass; Willie Bobo , drums,, timbales; Osvaldo “Chihuahau” Martinez, congas, bongos, finger cymbals, guiro; recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, August 30, 1963, released February 1964.
Osvaldo “Chihuahau” Martinez (left)
Excuse for cute puppy shot, a Chihuahua, spelling optional, (right)
Hancock is a percussive pianist and this album is a logical progression into rhythm – something which came to dominate his later work. Instead of another multifaceted album like My Point of View, Hancock changed direction to experiment with an unusual mixture of Latin rhythms and textures with jazz harmonies and structures.
Thankfully the Latin element is not a flirtation with the bossa nova, but borrowing from Afro-Cuban, in a rhythm-intensive improvisational atmosphere where repetition is pitted against unexpected chords, harmonies, creating floating spontaneous melodies.
An Amazon amateur reviewer/ pianist offered this musicians-ear point of view:
“There aren’t really any written tunes – “Mimosa” was a set of chord changes and the other tunes are completely improvised – so sketches are built more off of fragments and ideas born in the studio. For example, one tune features the bass playing a pedal tone for four bars followed by Hancock’s improvisation in that key for sixteen bars. The music, while abstract, is oddly infectious through the rhythmic approach. In addition, Hancock was working with fairly “inside” musicians, especially Chambers, a first call bop musician. As a result, though free, this music is fairly conservative” –
Conservative by the standards of free jazz. Great! “Free minus”!
Vinyl: Blue Note BLP 4147
NY, Van Gelder, ear, no DG, mono. Just one small problem – according to Cohen the original is DG Side 1, this is no DG.At the end of 1963, records were coming out of Plastylite randomly with no DG, DG both sides, one side or the other. Change of press, change of stamper, additional batch of copies pressed, anything can happen. Depends whether you are 1st Pressing Fundamentalist. Where all other signs are right, I am not precious.
Source: West London pre-owned record shop, with a good number of excellent Polish delicatessen nearby. Though the condition was not perfect, its a rare item which I don’t think I have come across again “in the flesh” so I was more than happy, though my heart sank when I saw the writing on the cover “Jazz Club Library”: twenty or thirty borrowers, impecunious students who couldn’t afford to change the stylus on their portable record player. Or maybe it was Porsche-driving Beverley Hills alumni hepcats.
Also available reissued by United Artists I guess under a different title and alternate cover as “Succotash”. The cover is never going to compare with Herbie’s stand in the Middle of the Road.
What is a “succotash” anyway? Some kind of bean? Maybe it sounds like this…
. . .
If you have got this far, well done, I’ll play you out with Succotash.