Paul Chambers: Whim of Chambers (1956) Blue Note


Selection 1: Dear Ann

Encore! Too good a line up to let go! Encore!

Selection 2: We Six

Artists: Paul Chambers Sextet

Donald Byrd (trumpet) John Coltrane (tenor saxophone) Horace Silver (piano) Kenny Burrell (guitar) Paul Chambers (bass) Philly Joe Jones (drums) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, September 21, 1956


Peerless line up of Coltrane, Byrd, unusually – Burrell, and of course Horace Silver. What more could you want for.  Coltrane is slightly hesitant, still not yet on fire, still waiting to catch the Blue Train, and the surprise presence is Burrell in a more complex sextet format. Byrd offers a beautiful melancholy burnished tone, dancing faultlessly around the melody of the pretty ballad “Dear Ann”.

Aged just 21 for his first session here as leader for Blue Note, Mr P.C.  must have recorded more than any other bassist in modern jazz, the bassist of choice for monumental albums like Monk’s Brilliant Corners and Coltrane’s Giant Steps.  His career cut short in 1969 at the age of only 34. That’s too young for anyone. His biographical notes say his dad wanted him to be a sportsman. Good job he took no notice.

Chambers is rock-solid rhythmically, pioneering arco and pizicatto to show bass was potentially more than mere accompaniment, and showed its melodic potential .I am reminded of the saying attributed to Mingus: “We all know where the beat is, there’s no need to actually play it” Contrast that with some modern music.

Vinyl: BN 1534

More label mixing, this time left over 767 Lexington with W63rd on Side 2 but crucially the New York 23 variation , found only around 1957. The RVG initials are hand-etched, its the full Blue Note Meal Deal.


hackensack-van-gelder[1]Lovely split-tone cover picture of Chambers –  that little trolley wheel under the double bass carry-case is so sweet, a reminder of the physical transportation challenge of moving a double bass around the city.  The location is not identified but it looks like it ought to be in the vicinity of Hackensack, New Jersey,van Gelder’s home studio.

Writing on cover alert: “To John. Happy New Year”. Now why don’t I get new year’s presents like this?

Vinyl Alternative:

PAULCHAMBERSJOHNCOLTRANE[1]Whim of Chambers tracks were also released under the United Artists ’70s Blue Note two-fer, BN-LA451-H2   Paul Chambers/John Coltrane – High Step  but without that original cover, which is an essential part of the experience.

Collector’s Corner

Another early acquisition around five years ago, at a sensible price. Fortunate, I guess, as I have never seen any since in London’s shops. A recent Lexington of Thad Jones Detroit New York  last week from a Scottish seller on  Ebay shot to over £350, count me out.

I have more on the shelves that deserves listening to, than chasing todays auction prices.





14 thoughts on “Paul Chambers: Whim of Chambers (1956) Blue Note

  1. for Coltranologysts: the BN twofer contains a complete 1956 quartet session originally on the very rare Jazz West LP7, A jazz delegation From the East, as well as three sextet tracks of which one only published on Transition TRLP 30.

  2. Faultless bass player Chambers was I never particularly cared for his arco work. With the notable exception of Richard Davis & Mingus the tone quality of most jazz bassists leaves much to be desired, the spectre of Slam Stewart is always looming

    • Interesting comment. I agree with you concerning the bowing technique of most jazz bass players. However, I do like Chambers’ bowing work on his “Bass on Top.”

      I am listening to Slam Stewart as I am beating out this text via streaming audio, and agree he is definitely a talent. I had never heard of him before for your text. Thanks for the tip and enlightenment.

      • Glad you’re enjoying Slam’s work, I find it OK in small doses but it can become tiresome. I would heartily recommend the live version of “I Got Rhythm” with Don Byas from Town Hall concert 1945

      • Chambers arco on Bass on top is majestic, so to speak. Precision combined with a great intonation and timing (slllloooowwww) are some of the best ingredients for an atmospheric cocktail!

  3. This is one I have on my playlist on Nice cut, and not to difficult to find. A brand new 45rpm re-issue can be had for $50 US. However, my favorite Paul Chambers album is “Bass on Top.” Not as easy to find. At least that has been my experience. I plan to add both to my collection and would rather have “close to original issues” as possible.

  4. I bought mine at Discotone (Lange Leidse Dwarsstraat for insiders) around 1964. Two DG, ears no R, etc, adress on both labels 47W63 NY 23. Heavy vinyl and flattish rim. Adress on rear cover 43W61, Blue Note Inc., like yours. Question: has yours a broad spine with album title printed, or a thin one, without text? The inner has the thumbnail album covers (first print).

    • Gosh, that is one of the best questions I have ever been asked! I have no idea, but when I am reunited with my vinyl next week, I will seek an answer about the printing on the spine. No inner sleeve, unfortunately.

  5. Very good album. More mellow then intense with that old school, smoky jazz club feel. While the music is great, I’ve always felt this recording is one of, how shall I say, Rudy’s less than stellar moments. The sound appears a bit muddy on my early Liberty and SACD, although I have yet to hear a copy with an Ear. I am jealous.

    I’m willing to bet this cover photo was taken just outside Rudy’s house on his parents’ street. I wonder.

    “I have more on the shelves that deserves listening to, than chasing todays auction prices.” – There is a lot of truth to this statement.

  6. I have this one as well. True 1st pressing with Lex. Ave labels on both sides, flat rim, deep grooves, no “inc”, no “R” and the right etchings in the dead wax like yours BUT: mine has NO f—ing cover! I only have the record. The vinyl. That’s it. The record itself is pretty beaten up, with tea stains on- and initials carved in the labels -sacrilege- but it plays all the way through and despite the static and crackle it’s still a joy to listen to.

    I made four close ups of the actual record, please enjoy them HERE.

    If only I had the cover of your copy, I’d be out of the woods. It’s a great album from start to finish and the one ‘off the wall’ track that I really like is “Tale of the Fingers”.

  7. Have to say that I don’t think I’ve ever seen this record before – duh! Coltrane appeared then on four Blue Notes? This record, Sonny’s Crib, A Blowin’ Session and Blue Train. I used to think it was just Blue Train.
    On Horace Silver; Geoffrey Smith does a nice job of describing his career in this hour-long show on BBC Radio 3

  8. this one brings back good/sad memories as it was my very first original blue note Lp, that i bought for cheap back in the days (early 80s) and sold for probably cheaper a few years later, along with the rest of my modest Lp collection. nippon miles pressings mostly – which i believed was the real deal – a few rollins and ouch! the two blue lights Burrell/warhol 2nd pressings. i vividly remember the touch of the OG blue note in my hands and that off-yellow cover… and that’s a cool feeling

  9. Thad Jones original Blue Notes recently sell for hundreds of $, and I am happy to own “The Magnificent” as Lex copy.
    My other two are Japanese.

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