Art Farmer (trumpet) Clifford Jordan (tenor saxophone) Horace Silver (piano) Teddy Kotick (bass) Louis Hayes (drums) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, January 13, 1958
A quick scan of the main quintet line-ups during the Blue Note years fixes Further Explorations to the 1958 front line where Farmer stepped in to replace Donald Byrd and Clifford Jordan briefly replaced Hank Mobley. It was a short-lived quintet as the following year Horace set up his long-term front line of Blue Mitchell and Junior Cook.
January 1958. I find this Horace title a mixed bag. The title is something of a misnomer, as I was expecting something Further Out when what it delivers a good second helping of what came before. Putting things in context, it was recorded second week in January 1958. That’s almost 1957 in old money. Perhaps from that vantage point it had a more experimental approach to bar structure, elements of latin rhythms, and other references that were novel in 1950’s bop.
Further Explorations has some of my favourite Horace tracks, and some I confess I don’t warm to. I think the problem is this short-lived line up and the lack of Mobley. With the exception of the selected track Pyramid, Clifford Jordan doesn’t deliver the assured weight of Mobley or his successor Cook. To my ear, his voice is not distinctive, a little Coltrane-light, and his phrasing mostly uninspiring. (Forgive me, Cliff) Occasionally you sense him thinking “What would Hank have played here?” which is where I think he plays his best.
Farmer in contrast has a very distinctive and polished trumpet voice, but I sense it pulling towards being an Art Farmer album, not a Horace Silver one. Their long-term replacements Mitchell and Cook fitted more naturally into the rhythmic, bluesy, happy Horace mould, and were a perfect front line for Silver’s compositions. The best was still to come.
Vinyl: BST 81589 Toshiba Japan pressing
An original has escaped me every time, so this title sits on my shelf as a Toshiba pressing. Unusually, I don’t think our Japanese friends did a particularly stellar transfer. That or it’s one of the last off the press. Sonically, several of the tracks are lacking punch, dull with rolled off top end. That’s a problem which results in a reluctance to play, may be some of the tracks would grow on me if I did, but I owe it to completeness to include it here. On to the labels –
Whoops, got carried away there for a moment, these are from Discogs, where the uploader thinks they have a 1958 original (ear, DG 63rd etc) , but as avid readers of the good Dottor Jazz Guide to Blue Note, The Universe And Everything knows we see the Side 1 label is INC, which dates it late 1959 at the earliest/ 1960, probably later still, reusing old stock labels matched with one for the purpose of copyright assertion.
Of course mine is these Japanese stereo labels. Note that Toshiba didn’t bother to replicate the 47W63rd original address in the facsimile, but settled for the later NY label. Tsk tsk. Always read the label.
CD collectors might find it useful to know the Barcode of the 2009 24 bit remastered reissue: 5099951437923 (snigger)
Having said there was one more Horace Blue Note to go, there still is: Silver Serenade, so not quite done.
I think it was Bob who was wondering what my take on Further Explorations was. Well, now you don’t have to wonder any more. The track Pyramid is one of my absolute Horace favourites, full of melodic twists and turns, rising and falling pyramid-like scales, and great playing, but I prefer other Horace albums more. If you think I’ve misjudged it, missed the best track, wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been wrong, there is nothing stopping you putting the case for the defence.
“Hey, LJC, this is my favourite and his best ever album!! The best track is Moon Rays. You don’t know nuffink!”
Don’t spare my feelings, you speak your mind.