Sam Rivers: Fuchsia Swing Song (1964) Blue Note


Selections :

1. Fuchsia Swing Song (320kbps mp3)

2. Cyclic Episode (320kbps mp3)


Sam Rivers (tenor saxophone) Jaki Byard (piano) Ron Carter (bass) Anthony Williams (drums) Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, December 11, 1964

Music: the Critics say – 

The Allmusic review awarded the album 4½ stars:

Of Rivers: Recorded in 1964 immediately after leaving the Miles Davis Quintet, Sam Rivers’ Fuchsia Swing Song is one of the more auspicious debuts the label released in the mid-’60s. Rivers was a seasoned session player (his excellent work on Larry Young’s Into Somethin’ is a case in point)…By the time of his debut (album), Rivers had been deep under the influence of Coltrane and Coleman, but wasn’t willing to give up the blues. Hence the sound on Fuchsia Swing Song is that of an artist at once self-assured and in transition….Rivers took the hard bop and blues of his roots and poured them through the avant-garde collander.


Of the title track:  Rivers opens with an angular figure that is quickly translated by the band into sweeping, bopping blues. River’s legato is lightning quick and his phrasing touches upon Coleman Hawkins, Sonny Rollins, Coleman, and Coltrane, but his embouchure is his own.

LJC says:

LJC Thinks some more1964 was in some way a crossroads, hard bop losing its grip, the pull of the avant garde one way, soul jazz another, the blues tradition lingering, and the out and out individualists like Mingus out to confuse trend-followers. Rivers eventually sided with the avant garde but left us a number of albums at this crossroads, accessible from all directions. Melodic headline statements, swinging extended improvisations, anticipatory free digressions and dissonances, but still an integrated quartet listening to each other, playing together, not heroic soloist endless angst. (It’s “music”, not some kind of spiritual enema)

Rivers pays a debt to Coltrane on this first album, no bad thing in itself, close your eyes and ask “who is this tenor player?” It can be enjoyed in the same spirit. Accompanied by a rhythm section comprised of the luminous talents of Anthony Williams (a frighteningly precocious young drummer, probably aged seven at the time of recording, ok, maybe seventeen) the Miles Davis second quintet bass stalwart Ron Carter, and the mercurial piano stylist of Mingus, Jackie Byard.

And all on Blue Note, recorded by Van Gelder,  what’s not to like? Well for a start, the price! This one joined LJC’s  small “just crossed the three figure” club.

Vinyl: Blue Note BLP 4184, NY labels mono Van Gelder.

The recording: Typically hard-boiled mid ’60s Blue Note mono production. Van Gelder had by now nearly a decade’s practice at turning out this calibre of recordings. Bright, punchy, intense, no messing with instrument positioning, concentrated music. Not his very very best but no slouch.

The cover: thick card laminate with sharp corners,  makes me feel much better about the price. Reid Miles cover design flirting with the expanded reality of the circular image fish-eye lens, I guess a novelty of the day. I have a 14mm fisheye in my armoury and it’s an incredibly powerful viewpoint chosen right, hyper reality, or a dreadful cliché chosen wrong. Tinted monochrome, the  gaunt figure of Rivers, the gritty NY high-rise backcloth, and the iconic tenor, says it all, a perfect graphical expression of the music. Set in subliminal  brown –  that’s not “fuchsia”.



Collectors Corner

My sole winning from the auction of a true jazz collectors hoard, most  achieving way over my estimate of a fair price.  That’s how it works with Ebay. A fastidious jazz collector’s collection is up for auction. Every jazz collector who comes a cross one item then clicks on the sellers other items, and pretty soon there are a whole lot of vultures circling the carcass. Even less desirable titles are bid up by the presence of so many watchers, and  over the space of two to three weeks everything is gone, at fancy prices. Disappointing, but at least I got to go home with one.


27 thoughts on “Sam Rivers: Fuchsia Swing Song (1964) Blue Note

  1. “ Accompanied by a rhythm section comprised of the luminous talents of Anthony Williams (a frighteningly precocious young drummer, probably aged seven at the time of recording, ok, maybe seventeen”

    Precisely 19 years and 1day; what a talent!

  2. I just wanted to give my compliments for this site. It’s really awesome from every angle: aesthetics, quality of the posts in-terms of the music and the artists, analysis of the sound performance/different issues, everything is first rate in my opinion. For people like me who are digging deeper into Jazz having completed base-camp training it’s really a goldmine full of ideas and leads for things to look-for but also what to avoid and stay away from. The quality of the discussion is also very high. Really well done!

  3. I bought “Fuchsia”, NY stereo copy, at a record fair in Munich last winter. I never had a Blue Note original in my collection before, so I was greedy and I paid 100 Euro for this item, because it looked like a stone cold mint copy to me. At home, under strong light, the record appeared to have been left in the garden for several years and it sounded like Rivers was playing beside a camp fire. I bought a washing machine for 400 Euro and the record plays now high end excellent. What have I learnt? Don’t forget the torch when visiting a fair.

  4. A great record — mine is a Pathe Marconi like Andy Cronshaw’s I think — and decent enough if you can find one for £12-£15. Also highly recommended NEW CONCEPTION OF JAZZ, WAVES (on the Tomato label — a lot more free but with the great free drummer / percussionist Thurman Barker, the fabulous jazz tuba (yes!) and baritone player Joe Daley, and of course Dave Holland on bass. Also recommended — CONTRASTS on ECM, which is about to be reissued, I understand.

    I also like DIMENSIONS & EXTENSIONS, of which mine is yet another Marconi I think.

    Lots of excellent Rivers out there of varying vintages – and it needn’t break the bank.

    • Dimensions and Extension’s is great, and not many people know it forms one half of the Sam River’s Blue Note (Blue label/white b) twofer “Involution”, which circumvents the French DMM processing. However I am on the record as declaring the CD of Dimensions and Extensions sounds better than the twofer vinyl. There, said it, I’ll go wash my mouth out now.

    • In my opinion everything Rivers recorded for Blue Note is gold. The Mosaic box set is one of my favorites from that company.

  5. Just picked this up 10 minutes ago , imagine that after seeing this post this am.

    Not NY, but a liberty mono with van gelder stamp.

  6. For those without patience and money Music Matters do a very fine sounding 45rpm 2LP set which can still be found . I’m a happy owner. The CD version adds several interesting takes which genuinely add interest. All his BN albums are collected on an excellent Mosaic set. The sound on this set had some nay sayers but it sounds good enough to me. The MM of course sounds better as I’m sure would a NY mono.

  7. Along with Shorter the best tenor player Miles used post Trane, probably a tad too individualistic for the Davis concept. All his BN recordings are essential listening.

  8. A terrific album. Was this an upgrade copy? Your Flickr stream has photos of a label in poorer condition.

  9. nice catch! this one is on my short-list, too… 😉 all River’s blue note Lps are worth the xtra effort but i could live happily with a New York stereo though…

  10. I knew of this recording but have never heard anything from it until today (thanks LJC). The album “Miles in Tokyo” was my only reference point for this fine player and the fact that Kenneth Clarke M.P. once recommended him as one of his ‘favourite jazz artists’ means that I should
    A) try to find more of his music
    B) try to get out a bit more.
    A quick look around the web yields zero by way of mp3 for “Fuschia Swing Song” and the CD will set you back about £40 or more as an import from Japan. If LJC paid a shed load for this then it seems to be justified by the two tracks previewed above – I’m sure the rest of the disc is just as good. Nice……

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