Booker Little: Out Front (1961) Barnaby/Candid


Selection 1 Man of Words (320kbps MP3)

.  .  .

Selection 2: We Speak (320kbps MP3)

.  .  .


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”.

Booker Little website

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”.


ljc dunce 120px“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.



Collector’s Corner

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.

26 thoughts on “Booker Little: Out Front (1961) Barnaby/Candid

  1. Out Front has become one of my favourite jazz records, because of its allround sound, the incredible compositions and the jaw dropping arrangements, the inventive playing, and of course the tone of Little and his highly intellectual lines that still are warm, a marriage between avant garde and whatever you name jazz. He is the only trumpet player that could match Miles and Clifford Brown at the same time, he is totally original but also has something of both. He could have become the greatest maybe. I recently acquired it on an immaculate pressing of Pure Pleasure Records and it stands next to my stereo Kind of Blue and Love Supreme in my admiration, also in terms of how the engineering has reproduced the soundscape, brilliant.

  2. Just picked up a sealed copy of this reissue, and it sounds great except for some weirdly digital sounding distortion about 45 seconds into “Quiet Please”??!! It only last for two seconds, but it’s very jarring. Has anyone else encountered this? I have a couple other Barnaby-Candid reissues, and haven’t had a problem with any of them. My initial suspicion was that it was a problem with the tape, but since no one else seems to have that problem I’m a bit at a loss…it doesn’t sound like any pressing defect I’ve heard before, sounds more like the bit rate suddenly plummeted on an mp3??!!

  3. Although a bit late, I put in a word for the exquisite “Victory and Sorrow.” I have a stereo promo copy on “Bethlehem.”

    • I, even later, put in another word for that beautiful album, originally titled “…And Friend.” Booker Little’s playing is just extraordinary, but to my ears it is his compositions which really shine on this record. All six Little originals are just stunning, and the opener, “Victory and Sorrow,” is hauntingly beautiful. Well worth a listen, and the Bethlehem issue isn’t too shabby!

  4. Hmm, seems I have been lucky then — my Moth has so far given thirteen years of pretty heavy service. I’m guessing, but given that every record I have owned — or had pass through my hands during that period — has been cleaned, I’m guessing it must have cleaned somewhere in the region of 2000 LPs. I’ve no idea what the average lifespan of the motor in these things is but you have made me begin to wonder.

    As regards whether Jon is speaking tongue in cheek or not, I wouldn’t jump to conclusions. An old friend of mine who was at one time a huge collector and who bought records in conditions of dirtiness that I wouldn’t have touched always washed them exactly as Jon’s describes. His view was always that it wasn’t perfect but then either were the vast majority of records he bought — and it was cheap and relatively quick.

    Me, I’m praying that the motor in my Moth has a. Few years left in it. Perhaps I shall have to lesrn to use it more sparingly…

    • Mike Harris at Moth, when I spoke with him, said he had only ever had three motor failures. That translates into Ebayspeak: “Rare!”.

      My mum used to tell me, when things went wrong, “Andrew (we were on first name terms when wisdom was being dispensed), there is always something good comes out of something bad”. The old bird has proved right once again . The Moth has come back with far improved suction and performance. In addition to replacing the motor, Mike fitted a new vacuum tube, precision angled as only the designer knows how, at no charge. It now cleans much more efficaciously than before, judging by the first ten records I put through, improved cleaning power, great little machine.

      (I should add my use of the Moth has been made much more pleasant since I invested in a pair of ear-defenders. Its a noisy bugger)

  5. Wow, what a record! Your blog made me clear I’ve got the Japanese pressing. Never realized that before, ha!
    The related records below your story exactly reveal my “jazz taste”: Booker Ervin’s “That’s it” (gave my comments on his Blue Note two-fer “Back from the Gig” together with Mclean’s “Hipnosis” already), Mal Waldron’s “the Quest”….. all favorites!
    Check “Victory & Sorrow” by Booker Little & Friends. It’s on Bethlehem Records and strongly recommended. Top notch playing and very original!
    Cheers, André

    PS, Booker Little is also on “We insist” and “Percussion Bitter Sweet” by Max Roach, isn’t he?

    • Hi and welcome. I wasn’t attempting a comprehensive Little discography – I believe his partnership with Max Roach ran to several other titles.

      I think he is a distinctive voice worth looking out for when his name pops up on the credits..

        • And on Max Roach Plus Four – On The Chicago Scene (Emarcy 36132) as well as Fantastic Frank Strozier (Vee Jay 3005). The Frank Strozier record is a serious sleeper – cheaply had and with a killer band.

          • Sorry i have to make a little correction.. Max Roach +4 is with Kenny Dorham on trumpet. You probably meant Deeds, Not Words by Max Roach (later issued as conversation)

  6. the guy who wrote that silliness about soapy water in the linked comment at the end has got to be kidding. that has “tongue-in-cheek” written all over it.

    • Maybe I missed the /sarc switch: you never know, detecting irony is a fine art. I have read so many dopey things on the subject of record cleaning, I am convinced it is a subject of superstition.
      It is entirely possible John is a wind-up artist, or the New Cleaning Messiah.
      Who knows?

      • sarcasm can be hard to detect in print. his saying to “toss” them in water was what sold that he was joking. but who, indeed, know?

  7. By coincidence I picked up a Barnaby edition of Out Front this week. I’d very much agree that it sounds good and pressing quality seems remarkably high especially given flimsiness of the vinyl. A very valuable session , but then most Candids were perfectly formed jewels.

  8. Hi do you think the Candid Mono 8027 I have in my collection with the following matrix numbers CJM8027A & CJM8027B might be that impossible to find on Candid real deal?

      • We have a winner it has a deep groove and feels quite light! Shame I can’t add a picture to the comments though it was taken on my tablet in poor lighting and doesn’t look as good as yours.

      • I have the same! Written faintly on the back cover my father has also written April 1963 which is probably when he purchased it & also when he was based in the states. He has also written a big number 3 followed by a smaller 98 so maybe $3.98 would this have been the cost back then?

        • Yes Jon (I reply years later), $3.98 was a rather standard American list price for a Mono LP in the early 1960s. Sometimes the cents would appear on a smaller scale than the dollar amount, as seems to be the case with your father’s record. My compliments for his good taste in picking up Out Front.

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