Selection 1: Man of Words (320kbps MP3)
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Selection 2: We Speak (320kbps MP3)
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Booker Little (trumpet) Julian Priester (trombone) Eric Dolphy (alto saxophone, bass clarinet, flute) Don Friedman (piano) Art Davis (bass) Max Roach (drums, timpani, vibraphone) Nat Hentoff (supervisor) recorded Nola’s Penthouse Sound Studios, NYC, March 17 and April 4, 1961.
Eric Dolphy! Max Roach! Ron Carter! drool, what a line up Booker amassed for this Candid session.
Recording only between 1958 and 1961, Booker Little had only a handful of titles to his name as leader, appearing more often as sideman – Coltrane’s Africa Brass, Eric Dolphy’s Far Cry and the At The 5 Spot volumes for Prestige.
His promise was cut short at the age of only 23 by kidney failure, two years less than Clifford Brown’s departure at just 25.
A professional assessment of Little’s playing better than I could have written, so I will quote in full:
“Little had a memorable melancholy sound, featuring crisp articulation, and his interval jumps looked toward the avant-garde, but he also swung like a hard bopper. He was capable of stringing together beautifully shaped, swinging lines – but he was less confined to conventional bop phrasing and accentual patterns than his peers, and he often broke free from diatonicism and the blues.
Little focused his attention on intervallic relationships, overt harmonic extension and dissonance. His playing was angular and at times rigid, and he used wide intervallic leaps, with unexpected long notes in the middle of phrases, and a pulling-against-the-pulse technique, to create dramatic effects. Endowed with a magician’s ear, Booker Little’s innate lyricism and unwavering consistency of tone made ambitious and difficult improvisations sound easy”.
Varied textures from the combination of trumpet and trombone plus Dolphy’s armoury of wind instruments make this album a delight. Booker here puts me in mind of my favourite Freddie Hubbard Blue Note LP “Open Sesame”, Gypsy Blue, melancholy and minor key, Booker pulls off a similar mood.
Of the album Out Front, the above critic wrote
“Arguably considered to be Little’s masterpiece, the tempos on Out Front are slow and deliberate – even free at times – which allows Little’s gorgeous tone and melancholy to come to the forefront in his succinct improvisations and tempoless cadenzas”.
“Tempoless cadenzas”, that reads so impressively, but I had no idea what it means, so I had to look it up. Tempoless, without a beat, obviously, a cadenza: ” during a concerto, a point in the music during which the orchestra stops playing for several minutes and the soloist performs material from earlier in the piece usually presented in a showy, flashy manner“.
Rubato, accelerando, ritardando everyone knows, but a tempoless cadenza, that is real music-talk, definitely one to drop into conversation at parties, bound to impress. Yeah, the cadenza is…um…so tempoless. Cool, eh?
Vinyl: Barnaby/Candid 1976
Shrink! One occasion it won’t do any harm leaving the shrink wrap on.This record is pretty well impossible to find on original Candid, but I have found the late 70’s Barnaby Candid pressings very acceptable, and with the benefit of being (genuine) stereo where the original 1960 Candid originals are invariably found only in mono, though stereo apparently do exist.
I have had the opportunity to A:B original Candid against Barnaby/Candid and the gap is not as great as you might fear, and they are definitively superior to the 1985 Phonoco reissues, which are ten a penny. Fortunately, most collectors don’t know this. Let’s keep this one strictly entre nous.
Those run-out photos, LJC, …umm… dusty dirty vinyl? Yes, the vinyl is as yet uncleaned – because the record cleaning machine is out of action.
I remain convinced an RCM is an essential purchase for any serious vinyl enthusiast. Noisy in use and cleaning fluids can be messy, but knowing you are hearing your records at their possible best is important. After proper cleaning, any remaining extraneous surface noise is something you have to live with and can’t do anything more about. Definitely a zen moment..
But after four years of sterling service, last week the rotating platter of my Moth Pro RCM suddenly ground to a halt, stopped rotating and instead started twitching, trying to rotate clockwise and counter-clockwise simultaneously, in a state of paralysis – but still making a helluva lot of noise. Nothing wrong with the vacuum, but I assume the motor or gearbox had burned out.
What now? If your car breaks down, you simple call out a garage, and an hour later, a tow-truck arrives and a friendly man in overalls fixes everything. If your record cleaning machine breaks down, you ring your local RCM emergency response centre and …no, basically, you are stuffed.
The only option was to return the RCM to the manufacturer a hundred miles away, to fit a new motor or possibly gearbox.. It weighs a staggering 14 kg, and this is where you discover the extraordinary cost of industrial “freight”. Packed up in a spare large cardboard box, packed up with bubble wrap, polystyrene chips, packing tape, and walk it, purple-faced, a half mile to the Post Office. The price you have to pay. Or you can follow the advice of comment poster John.