Selection 1: Senor Blues (alt. take) (EP version, first release on LP)
Artists: Silver/ Mobley/ Byrd/ Watkins/ Hayes
Selection 2: Tippin‘ (EP version, first release on LP)
Artists: Silver/ Byrd/ Cook/ Taylor/ Hayes
Sterling Silver features various live and studio recordings from the Silver Quintet in 1956, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1964, and Horace in trio from 1963. Two tracks offer Mobley on tenor, the rest Junior Cook. Donald Byrd holds the trumpet on earlier sessions, Blue Mitchell on the rest. All recordings by van Gelder, studio, or live at the Village Gate
A break from chasing labels, let’s get back to some music, with this find, suited to the budget-conscious Blue Note vinyl lover. Unlike these Blue Note trophy-hunters, an example of what vintage collectors are up against- see here, and here (For an example of collector lust, click on the bids total and see how three or four battle it out, only to be snookered by a sleeping XXL snipe). I was blown out much earlier. Finds on a budget are good
I became aware of this Michael Cuscuna-curated collection of Horace recordings during my posthumous review of Silver’s Blue Note recordings, but I had never seen it in the flesh until I walked into it in a record store shelf. Unprepared, I surveyed the line-ups and recording dates with relish. Mobley, whoa! All not previously issued except two titles recorded specially for EPs for radio and juke box promotion. Not that I had ever seen them before either.
The track I avert my ears from is the vocal version of Senor Blues, featuring singer Bill Henderson. Blue Note in 1958, testing the appetite of the jazz-buying public for a vocal rendition of the Silver hit Senor Blues.
Personally I think it’s ghastly (sorry Bill, you are welcome to disagree), but the idea was not pursued further, so I have selected the bop-oriented B-side “Tippin’ ” , and offer the shortened alternate take of Senor Blues, with Hank Mobley, an alternative take for juke box and radio play.
All the tracks are worthy selections uncovered by Cuscuna in his rummage through the Blue Note tape boxes held by United Artists, and released in 1979 during the dying gasps of Liberty/United records before they fell into the hands of EMI (Evil Music Industries). Vintage van Gelder, a great set of recordings, nicely packaged including the only Blue Note inner bag dedicated to a specific release. Gatefold-not.
Vinyl: United Artists Blue Note BN-LA 945-H
Original 1979 pressing, unknown provenance, unreadable matrix codes, most unusual pressing die profile, an oddity all round but a good sounding record courtesy of RVG .
Overlooked but an inexpensive and worthy addition to anyone’s Horace collection, the man with the smiling piano. Vintage recordings, most not previously released, nicely presented with an absorbing background commentary from Michael Cuscuna. Not to be confused with “reissues”. It also benefits from being born two decades after vinyl-damaging equipment, then called record players, began to be replaced by domestic hi-fi turntables. And of course, Mobley’s tenor: can’t get enough of those notes of roasted malt and dark chocolate. Who needs singing when you have a “voice” like Mobley?