Joe Harriott: Free Form (1960) Jazzland

Updated November 5, 2017. New rips, pictures and text corrections

Selection: Formation (fake mono – stereo with channels summed)

. . .


Shake Keane (trumpet) Joe Harriott (alto saxophone) Pat Smythe (piano) Coleridge Goode (bass) Phil Seamen (drums) recorded Lansdowne Studios, London, England, 1960


Jamaica-born Joe Harriott was one of several Caribbean jazz musicians, including Dizzy Reece, Harold McNair, Harry Beckett and Wilton Gaynair, who arrived in Britain in the 1950s. Along with Tubby Hayes, Harriott was also one of the few British jazz players to  receive international recognition, with two albums released in the US, including this album Free Form, released in 1960 on the Jazzland label.

At the outset a bebopper of the school of Charlie Parker, altoist Harriott went on to experiment with “free jazz”, and later in the Sixties with Indo-jazz fusion, a genre popular at the time – John McGlaughlin’s Shakti and others – in an effort to partner Indian classical music with the jazz aesthetic.

Harriot is also known for the notoriously expensive 1969 album Hum Dono, a collaboration with Goan indo-bebop guitarist Amancio d’Silva.   Up to $2,500 for an obscure British Sixties jazz record? Crazy, but that’s the “rare” premium, for one of the holy grail British jazz records:

Hum Dono Popsike

LJC-HipHop-DJ-siWorth £1500? Every penny, says MC Jazz, hip-bop master of turntabalism, who claims he owns all copies in the country. You can judge for yourself, as the EMI Memorial 1973 album helpfully includes a track from Hum Dono, Stephano’s Dance, featuring Norma Winstone on vocals (the only vocal track on LJC) and Ian Carr on flugelhorn.

It’s time for some rare grooves on LJC.

Joe Harriott – Stephano’s Dance ( from LP Hum Dono, stereo channels summed)

. . .

Of a different stripe is this track, taken from another of Harriott’s early albums pre his Bollywood phase, Abstract (1962), entitled Modal.

MC Jazz says: Anything called Modal is massive with us in the Hoxton and Spitalfields East London DJ Jazz Collective (Your turn to do the washing up, Gilles). Yeah, modal, rare grooves, avant-funkalicious, modal, great! seamless link, take it away…

Joe Harriott – Modal (from LP “Abstract”,  stereo channels summed)

Artists: Joe Harriott Alto, Shake Keane Trumpet and flugelhorn, Pat Smythe piano, Coleridge Goode bass, Bobby Orr drums.

.  .  .


The Riverside Jazzland vinyl is VG minus – too many scratches to be a collectible copy – and the absence of deep groove casts a shadow over its provenance anyway,  but fortuitously an EMI memorial album for Joe Harriott came to the rescue. Not quite as shrill as the Jazzland transfer, it’s a decent stereo, mastered and pressed by EMI. So that’s the rip included  with the post. However to give it authentic period flavour, EMI’s stereo has channels summed to mono, as the original Free Form.

The EMI One Up label is  off my radar, recorded under the personal supervision of Denis Preston, one of the few independent producers on the British jazz scene of the 50’s and 60’s and the mastermind behind the independently produced EMI Lansdowne Jazz Series which includes Stan Tracy’s Jazz Suite -Under Milk Wood.

Vinyl: Jazzland JLP 49 Free Form

Jazzland recordings/pressings are not generally the finest, with a tendency towards excessive  brightness, and their choice of pressing plant open to question, but as with all these things, that’s the only way it is, if you want it. 

For a little more about Harriott, the Memorial 1973  liner notes are a fitting tribute, including words from Denis Preston (photo updated to one more readable)

Collectors corner

Joe Harriott moved from Kingston Jamaica to London England, and makes this  record which is released in the US. Sitting in London I buy it on Ebay from a Middle-Eastern seller located in the Emirate of  Dubai , but the record when it finally arrives is postmarked Holland. Someone says it’s a small world? Looks pretty big from where I sit.

Sadly it didn’t live up to the VG++ description, with quite a few deep sounding scratches which went over even my new tolerance threshold.  I offered to post it back, but the seller figured it wasn’t worth trying to sell it again, so a deal was done: offered a full refund, I could keep the record, but write off the postage. All the fun of the fair on the good ship Ebay. The EMI Joe Harriott Memorial 1973 also courtesy of Ebay. Normally I wouldn’t stoop to a “Best of …” collection but this one seemed a bit special, reissue in Stereo, pressed by EMI, a fitting reprise, RIP Joe Harriott. 

9 thoughts on “Joe Harriott: Free Form (1960) Jazzland

  1. The first selection is not Formation but Modal from Abstract and not Free Form. The same track is repeated again further down. Can you upload Formation? Or someone email an mp3? I am trying to decide whether to buy the MONO or STEREO LP of Free Form. Can anybody weigh in with their opinion? I can only find MONO samples from Free Form which may be the indicator that, that is what I should buy. Thank you. I have just discovered Joe and I can’t stop digging deeper. He’s amazing.

    • Hi David
      I see this post was written around four years ago. How time flies, so much learned since, and I see there are some things that need fixing badly. I do badly.
      I’ll refresh the post, put in new rips, and to help with your dilemma, I will include both the mono and the stereo of the rip, as I now have a copy of each. How’s that for service? Be done by the weekend.

  2. Hi LJC, Love the posts, I call by the website weekly to see whats new. The Hum Domo title track, which is probably the best on the LP as far as I can remember, appears on another Denis Preston produced sampler from the late 60’s titled “Jazz Explosion” on Columbia. A modest priced record which turns up regularly on e-bay. Worth checking out if it comes your way, A nice Don Rendell-Ian Carr rarity on there also comes recommended. Keep up the good, very enjoyable work. Thanks. Steve.

  3. I remember One-up as a short lived budget off shoot of EMI, featured a ragbag of artists, not much jazz but there was a Billie Holiday release. Incidentally Joe appeared at the 69 IOW festival with Indo-Jazz Fusions, not many people know that

  4. Slightly adjacent to topic, but here goes…
    At the end of the 80’s there was an incredible music project called Lewisham Academy of Music, based in a decommissioned mortuary in Deptford, then a somewhat down at heel South London backwater. The tongue in cheek name belied great inclusivity. It welcomed anybody, with an emphasis on local kids and residents. The great Harry Beckett was one of the tutors. I never sat in on one of his classes, as I was making a stumbling attempt to learn tenor sax (taught by a world-class bass clarinetist) but he was incredibly well thought of and I’m sure he encouraged a legion to take their first steps on one of the shared trumpets. I’m determined to track down one of his recordings.
    There should be a special place in the Hall of Fame for musicians who encourage others.

  5. As it cost you only postage (if I read the account correctly), one can hardly complain…. However, I’m not sure some of these 60s Brit-Jazz albums quite deserve either the acclaim or the premium prices. FREE FORM is a case in point. It’s OK, but world class? I think Shake Keane, bless him, is the wrong kind of trumpeter for the record, and it isn’t really quite as ‘free form’ as all that. Perhaps ABSTRACT isa better record – but as I hardly ever play the dreadful sounding CD I have I’m not best qualified to tell.

    HUM DONO with Amancio D’Silva is a pretty dreary record, I find. One of the few records of that period which to my mind is fully deserving of its reputation is Stan Tracey’s UNDER MILK WOOD SUITE.

    I blame Gilles Peterson for ramping up the prices of Brit Jazz…. Okay, he has also helped make some of it available again, and on vinyl (initially), but even so, I blame him…

  6. There was some talent around in those days. I saw Joe Harriot play live and we booked Harry Becket on one of our recording sessions at Recorded Sound, Marble Arch, when I played and wrote for ‘Galliard’ a progressive rock band in the early seventies. I saw at first hand how well he adapted to what we were doing. Bud Parkes also played well and kept us smiling.

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