Selection: Alone Together (Dietz/Schwartz)
Miles Davis (tpt) Britt Woodman (trb) Teddy Charles (vib) Charles Mingus (b) Elvin Jones (d) Audio-Video Studios, NYC, July 9, 1955
An interesting line up of the young Miles Davis, with Mingus and Elvin Jones in support, no tenor sax to crowd Miles’s front line, but silky trombone and cool vibes lending the blue mood to classic Fifties cool jazz.
The Debut original
According to the original sleeve notes, the relatively short playing time of the album was because the recording was cut at 160 lines per inch (instead of the usual 210 to 260) making the grooves wider and deeper and to allow more area for bass frequencies, the extended bass range “giving the listener more quality to that of high fidelity tape recording”.
One would never guess that Debut was founded by a well-known …umm… bass player, Charles Mingus.
About that writing on the cover. It says “Miles Davis” Here are some other samples of Miles signature, which purport to be genuine (or are at least good forgeries):
The Chase Manhattan signature had better be genuine, or Mr Davis will be asked to step into the manager’s office.
So what’s your verdict? Mine says the Fantasy signature is just “Writing on Cover”. Looking at a few on-line examples, the D in Davis always starts with a single down straight stroke, not a circular swirl If you are going to forge a signature at least make a half-decent attempt. It was priced on the assumption of forgery.
The vinyl however is most certainly genuine red vinyl, no mistaking that. Not sure when this vintage red vinyl was pressed, possibly late Fifties, early Sixties?
Vinyl: Debut DEB 120; DEP 27/28 Miles Davis – Blue Moods, Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 Debut recordings reissued on Fantasy LP 6001, which is itself a “vintage pressing”. Cover is stamped as a promo.
Fantasy is a less well understood label, at least to this innocent collector, so press forward with a little research. Concord Music provides a little of the history: In the 1940’s, brothers Max and Sol Weiss operated a San Francisco plastic moulding business that included a record pressing plant, the Circle Record Company (LJC: so no excuses, they of all people should know about vinyl pressing) One of their early clients was Dave Brubeck, and following the success of his records, the Weiss’s the pressing plant metamorphosed into a record label, which they named Fantasy after a popular science-fiction magazine. Another label similarly adopted a science fiction theme, Galaxy.
In 1967, a group of investors headed by Fantasy sales manager Saul Zaentz purchased the company. Zaentz pursued a policy of acquiring independent jazz labels, among the first, the almighty Debut Records. Debut had been founded by Mingus in the Fifties as a vehicle to allow jazz musicians to control their own music. When Charles and wife Celia Mingus separated in 1958, Celia moved to San Francisco, where she went to work for, and eventually married, Saul Zaentz of Fantasy Records. Game set and match.
Fantasy went on to acquire Good Time, Prestige (1971), Riverside and Milestone (1972) and Contemporary (1984), thus becoming the repository of a large proportion of American Jazz history, the part not owned by Blue Note.
From its headquarters at the corner of Tenth and Parker, Berkeley, California, over two decades Fantasy reissued much of that legacy, gifting us with indifferent quality vinyl pressing and lacklustre design.
The original Fantasy Record label on which many Debut recordings were reissued are quite acceptable. Not all of them are red, an artistic choice probably inspired by breathing too much San Francisco air.
Blue Moods, red vinyl, is that hot or cool? It makes it more difficult to assess for surface damage and grade the vinyl, whilst not helping anything in any way..
Source: London record shop.