Selection 1: Reflection (Bryant)
Selection 2: Sneakin’ Around (Bryant)
Phineas Newborn (p) Paul Chambers (b) Roy Haynes (d) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, November 14, 1958
Year: 1958, The Cold War rages on.
- 1958 March 11, U.S. B-47 bomber accidentally drops an atom bomb on Mars Bluff, South Carolina. Without a nuclear warhead fitted, it nevertheless destroys a house and injures several people. South Carolina immediately offers to surrender, but unsure to whom.
After Ayler’s free jazz pushing back the boundaries of sonic exploration, a return to more conventional musical space, in which melody, harmony and rhythm combine with skilful improvisation, exploration within the tune rather than outer space.
We Three is nominally Roy Haynes’ record but it is Newborn’s session, with elegant lead lines interwoven with dazzling figures and cascades. Supported by Haynes and Chambers, accompanists who can hold their own, Newborn confidently takes the lead, raising the bar way above a hotel-lobby piano trio. However in Selection one, Haynes rhythmic attack on the beat is nothing short of riveting. There are a lot of repetitive drum samples around today, but Haynes on the beat is truly “percussive”
The tunes I return to are those written by Ray Bryant, who had a knack for memorable distinctive melodies and changes, a perfect platform on which Newborn proceeds to elaborate and extend, putting weight on Bryant’s attractive structures.
Phineus Newborn deserved greater recognition but was handicapped by his abundant talent – not suited to the confines of mere accompaniment but not a leader in the league of Bud Powell or Bill Evans. I put him along side the likes of Hampton Hawes: someone special, who swings, and always makes for satisfying listening. Like many talented musicians of the time, his recording career was sadly short.
The less said about the Esquire cover the better. Cue usual suspects: No, no, I really like it! Three piano keys double as a metaphor for a trio of musicians, exploiting generous use of white space, ambivalent between background and its insinuation of white piano keys as foreground, it has an endearing retro feel that places it firmly in, whenever it was, I forget…
The original Prestige New Jazz cover is full of warmth and personality, though it might have been tactful of the photographer to offer Roy and Phineus a couple of chairs to stand on, gosh, isn’t Chambers tall.
The cover design is an exemplar of the composition “rule of thirds”, quite appropriate to a trio, and the picture answers the unspoken question, who are “We Three”. We are not the Three Green Rectangles according to Esquire. This is who we are.
Vinyl: Esquire 32-103 – UK release of US New Jazz NJLP8210 – RVG master
A monster 246 gm heavyweight, heaviest vinyl in the entire collection. One to challenge the VTR setting. Sonically, superb.
Original UK Esquire Records 32-103 (1958) Mono pressing
LAMINATED FLIP-BACK SLEEVE: VG (general age-wear, spine/seam-wear, corner dinks, small biro mark/sticker residue to back cover ), VINYL (Goldmine Grading): Shiny VG+ (heavyweight vinyl)
Scarce stunning rare Jazz set on the sought after ‘Esquire’ Label!
Takes my Esquire collection up another notch, and despite those covers, it’s still a good way to collect “original” New Jazz and US Prestige releases.