Selection: Sayonara Blues
Blue Mitchell (trumpet) Junior Cook (tenor saxophone) Horace Silver (piano) Gene Taylor (bass) John Harris Jr. (drums) Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, July 13-14, 1962
This unforgivably was left off my Horace Silver Retrospective. Its one of my favourite Horaces but I had only a particularly scuffed and noisy stereo copy, on the borderline of being acceptable, but on the wrong side of the border. Then last week I came across this copy, mono and near mint. So now no excuse.
This was an exceptionally swinging session, with Horace’s earthy bluesy smiling piano in abundance, Cook once again cast as Hank Mobley’s double, and there is not a bad track among them. I chose a personal favourite, Sayonara Blues, which stretches out to a leisurely thirteen minutes of great Silver swing.
Vinyl: BN 4110 NY/Liberty – mono – a respectable 130 gram vinyl
No ear, but a silky smooth pressing by Liberty on New York labels and VAN GELDER mastering stamp. The back cover betrays its Liberty manufacture – shrunken catalogue number and no catalogue address – and the inclusion of a “27 Years of” Blue Note inner bag points to the year of Liberty transition, 1966. The first-wave Liberty/NY mono’s, of which I have around ten, are all very good, and almost always in better condition than their “original” predecessors, so they deserve special place with collectors.
The laminate quality of the cover is another additional bonus. I don’t recall seeing a Liberty manufactured cover of such high standard before. Were Blue Note covers manufactured and stored while liner notes that bore addresses added later? May be there is another untold story of cover printing, It’s a gap in our knowledge, what printers did, the vintage technology of lamination, why they can’t make anything like that today? Plenty of Youtubes explain vinyl-pressing, but vintage LP cover lamination, nothing. What exactly does that enigmatic number at the bottom right corner of Columbia liner notes actually mean? What does WB know?
Despite posing with two geisha girls, the album was recorded at Englewood Cliffs, and thankfully eschews any cheesy oriental references, like playing chopsticks. The Tokyo Blues is thoroughly American, which is exactly what jazz fans in Tokyo would want.
I’ve long had an original stereo Blue Note, which had not been cared for by a previous owner. The chance to upgrade to a NY/Liberty mono was too good to pass on. (Just one other Horace still lurking in the wings for a future post, for completeness)
Another one of my Horace albums is, like Mattyman’s, blessed with a “fake” autograph, modelled on the one printed in the liner notes of Tokyo Blues. Why did people fake autographs? Probably for similar reasons that compels people to pose for a photograph in front of luxury sports cars that obviously aren’t theirs. I recall in the ’60s, people called “fans” were often autograph hunters, who gathered a lot of kudos with their collection of autographs of stars. What groupies collected will pass without mention. Plaster of Paris? An autograph at least you can pass down to your children.
An real autograph is a brief personal encounter with fame. I managed to collect only one in my life, that of blues giant Howling Wolf back in 1970, It is real. I was there. And I’m glad to still have it along with the memories.
Another “bogus” Silver signature?
This Horace-forger also signed his own name on my Japanese Toshiba copy : “Hugh Albert”. Stand up, Hugh! It’s your handiwork, isn’t it?
Puts me in mind of those inept bank robbers much beloved of “America’s Stupidest Criminals” TV programmes, who rob a bank wearing a full-face motorcycle helmet to conceal their identity, forgetting their full name is stencilled on the back of the helmet, as captured on CCTV.
Man walks into a bank, throws bag on cashiers desk, calls out ” OK, nobody move, this is a stick-up, …umm hold hands, this is a cock-up. I forgot the gun”