Sahib Shihab: Summer Dawn (1963) Rearward RE (updated)

Sahib-Shihab-Summer-Dawn-cover-1800-LJCSelection: Waltz for Seth


Sahib Shihab (alto saxophone, baritone saxophone, flute), Jimmy Woode (bass),  Joe Harris (bongos) Kenny Clarke (drums) Ake Persson (trombone) Francy Boland (piano) Produced by Gigi Campi,  engineer: Wolfgang Hirschmann; recorded Cologne, Germany, May 8 and 9, 1963.

Music: Sahib Shihab

Featuring the cream of ’60s expatriate jazz musicians in Europe, a sort of loose collective recording over a decade under the watchful eye of Cologne’s jazz godfather,Gigi Campi.

A cut down version of the Francy Boland Big Band has a big-band feel but puts Sahib firmly in the spotlight. Sahib Shihab is probably my favourite bari-player, also here on alto and dabbles a bit on flute, but we won’t talk about flute. He has a uniquely creative line in solo construction, breaking time, pausing in unexpected places, running over the bars, reaching out in unpredictable directions, performing musical twists, somersaults  and back-flips yet managing to land on his feet, amply fulfilling Whitney Balliett’s definition of jazz: The Sound of Surprise.

He extracts all this from this beast of an instrument, the baritone saxophone, without ever sounding like the swinging Gerry Mulligan, or indeed a member of the avant-garde. His only rival on baritone is to my mind Pepper Adams, who manages to pull off similar agile feats, no less inventive, but perhaps with a more deliberately swinging pulse.

Band leader and classically trained Belgian pianist  Francois “Francy” Boland reminds us he can swing on keyboard too, as does Ake Persson the Svinging Svede jazz bop trombonist, a permanent feature of Francy Boland Big Band, who provides fluent counterpoint to Sahib’s bari (and alto, and occasional, did I mention, flute).

Shihab’s compositions, largely modal following a strong opening unison-brass melody and varied time signatures, have a perfect retro feel and therefore sound timelessly modern. Compared with the style of jazz emanating from New York in the early ’60s it is hard to believe this is of the same era.

Sahib Shihab Maiken Gulman 1969A man seriously ahead of his time, Sahib anticipated by nearly five decades the present-day hipster beard and black frame glasses, and fortunately not the jaunty-angled baseball cap, trilby or cheese-cutter favoured by the East End DJ Collective. Shihab pictured right with flute, and Danish blonde with bongo ( probably not one “Joe Harris” bongo player credited on the liner notes)

Vinyl: Schema Rearward RW130LP Milano, Italy 2008

Original Edition: ARGO LP 742


I am breaking the rules about original pressings, but sadly an original edition has not come into my possession, though I have bid on it several times. One of those records that always seems to get away, in demand by the DJ community. (I guess their bids have the hidden advantage of being tax-deductible)

No matter, Rearward is a modern Italian  reissue label I hold in high regard. They produces faultless reissues of otherwise very hard to get recordings from the ’60s Gigi Campi/  Francy-Boland  Cologne jazz scene.  I have several other Rearward Sahib Shihab titles and Francy Boland sets (they must have a licensing exclusive on Gigi Campi recordings).

I assume from the “High Fidelity” reference it is a mono recording, but the sound is so fresh and bright, tonally rich, you never stop to think or ask the question. That’s what a good recording often does.


Jacket: Warning! Bar code ahead!

Collectors love covers. Not just the big bold artwork, heavy card and glossy laminate, there are some small details you get attached to about vintage record sleeves too. The large proud catalogue number at the top right of Blue Notes, the address which invites you to send for their catalogue (they want you),  the bragging about the technical prowess of “High Fidelity” when such things were new, hand in hand with a belief in progress through science and an ever better future.(a false dawn, as it emerged).  Period charm.

The reverse Pavlovian reaction for me is the bar code, the merest sight of which causes an involuntary flinch: modern!  A give-away of non-original status reissues, it doesn’t belong on a 1963 recording, an anachronism in the context of faithfully reproduced original Argo liner notes.The dissonance is compounded by its association with the bip, bip, at the checkout end of the supermarket  conveyor belt, mass-produced goods, everything says wrong! to a vintage record collector. However, this is one of those times when you have to up your medication, it’s for your own good..


Collector’s Corner

A copy of this Rearward reissue popped up the same week in several West End stores I frequent, one of those coincidences that sometime happen to baffle collectors. I had no hesitation in adding another Sahib Shihab record to the shelf. An original will turn up at some point, however this music won’t wait, it is irresistible.

hipster-twit-Capture                 Recommended by the South East London DJ Jazz Collective cool-5

POSTSCRIPT: Shihabology

Rearward have published three Sahib Shihab titles (two of them double albums): RW102, RW119 and RW130. These albums  feature around 40 tracks between them, of which 28 tracks are unique, the rest duplicates . 17 of those 28  tracks appear on only one of the three records. Of the remaining 11 tracks, 8 are duplicated on one other album, and 3 are duplicated on another. Every album has tracks that are unique to that record. You need to have all three titles to have a complete set of all 28 Sahib Shihab tracks. In the process you get some additional duplicates.

sahib-shihab-all-those-cats2(left) RW102 All Those Cats : 15 tracks in total, 3 unique to that album, 8 which also appear on RW119, and 3 which also appear on RW130

Sahib-Shihab-2-Jazz-Joint-Companionship-cover-1800(right) RW119 Companionship: 20 tracks total , of which 12 are unique to that album and 8 appear on RW102

RW130 Summer Dawn (current post): 5 tracks total, two of which are unique to this album (Side 1) , and three (Side 2) which also appear on RW102

This is not to obscure that this is great music, albeit lousy record reissuing practice on the part of Milan’s Rearward (though I guess, compared to the process of government in Italy, it looks quite orderly)

Coming up shortly on LJC:

More Impulse! – the third 100 stereo titles(my thanks to readers who have been sending me in label shots, some very helpful additions to the ultimate reference guide to original Impulse)

Also  a long-awaited return to the hi-fi improvement road with a tale about Electricity, and of course more interesting records, what else?

21 thoughts on “Sahib Shihab: Summer Dawn (1963) Rearward RE (updated)

  1. I think the rarity of these Shihabs is attributable partly to the originals getting played to death, and partly to them assuming cult status amongst the jazz-dance and DJ crowd (Gilles Peterson, for instance). The upside of that is that very serviceable reissues are available; the downside is that originals aren’t.

    I only have SEEDS on Rearwards and have probably only played it three or four times since I bought it, but my lasting impression is that the baritone sax tracks are great, the flute tracks perilously close to easy listening. I’d also go out on a limb and say that SEEDS is probably the best album.

  2. A local shop listed an original on ebay (greedy bastards) that sold well in excess of three figures. They then posted a promo copy (identical to your pics above) which I won well under three figures. No complaints here. Excellent stuff.

  3. I was very disappointed by this reissue. LJC, I had a “needledrop” in mp3 from an original pressing. Even within the limitations of the mp3 format you could still hear the original pressing was much better. I hear that the master tape is lost for this title (most Argo tapes were lost in a fire a few years ago), so it appears that Rearward just transferred an old LP for this reissue. But in order to mask the surface noise of the record, they folded the channels until the recording doesn’t sound nearly as wide stereo as the original. It loses quite a bit of charm that way. On top of that, they transferred it only at CD resolution, so what we practically have here is a vinyl transferred to CD transferred to vinyl. Ouch.

    The music itself is beautiful, though.

    • Never having heard the original I have no point of comparison. If they took this off existing vinyl, I’m amazed, there is no trace of surface clicks and pops. I had a Sawano Bros reissue scraped off an original ’50s Tempo Tubby Hayes vinyl record and it sounded horrible. The worst I can say about this Summer Dawn Rearward is that it sounds “pleasant”, not something I usually say about modern vinyl.

      • Clicks and pops can be digitally cleaned up without affecting the music. Surface noise, not so much, at least not without introducing digital artifacts. Anyway, the “Seeds” reissue sounds much better.

        • Sounds like there is a good reason why an original is particularly desirable (and of course expensive) . The search goes on. I’ve seen the original Vogue of Seeds go for eye-watering money. Same with the original Oktav of the Danish Radio Orchestra. I think this is one area where reissues are justified.

          • One more word on SEEDS, as I also had the chance to compare the reissue to a needledrop of the original. The reissue is quite good, good bass reproduction and a certain warmth is present. The only thing it lacks is some of the airiness and openness the original has. But they definitely used a tape as a source for this.

            Would be great to see these recordings reissued by a company like Speakers Corner, which uses analogue tape exclusively, but I don’t think there is much hope, as these titles are too obscure to be considered by a company that caters to “audiophiles”.

            Anyway, thanks for bringing up this record, LJC. It’s one I love dearly.

  4. Thanks, LJC, for another great jazz artist. Someone once told me that The Netherlands has great jazz artists with many small clubs in Amsterdam. I haven’t traveled much but the last time I looked, I saw some well known jazz groups playing in Spain.

  5. All Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland albums are worth checking out, like: Latin kaleidoscope, Sax no end, All blues, All smiles and the 2 Live at Ronnie scotts: Volcano and Rue chaptal etc etc

  6. Fantastic album ! Very happy with the sound quality on this pressing as well.
    Yet to find another good Shihab on Rearward but there are some lovely Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland albums.

    • My other Sahib Shihab on Rearward: All Those Cats ( RW102) and Companionship (RW119) ride comfortably alongside the quality of this baby. By the time I have added Seeds (Youngblood UK release) and The Danish Radio Jazz Group (Japanese press Oktav), then there is the wonderful but Evil Silver Disk only edition of Shihab with Charlie Rouse called Stablemates (1988).
      Not one of my Shihabs are original vinyl. It’s humiliating. What gives? This man is impossible to get – he manages to combine being rare and musically very desirable, a lethal combination.

      • Thanks LJC, remember checking the first 2 titles but thinking they are some sort of compilations i gave them a miss. Checking again i see there are some duplicated titles between the 2, the Schema/Rearward website doesn’t help to understand where this music is taken from…quite confusing.

        • My recollection is there is no duplication between the tracks on the two Rearward titles (I’ll need to check to be sure, but I’m fairly confident on that) , but I recall there are tracks found on earlier 1971 Shihab album release called “Sentiments”, which are also found on the Rearward titles. I nearly bid on the “Sentiments” album until I found I had all the tracks already on Rearward. The reissue industry is sometimes less than transparent. However needle-drop “Bohemia after Dark” and all worries evaporate away.

          • Both of the Rearward LP’s are compilations, with a few titles appearing on both of them. While checking all this on Discogs I hit upon a remarkable CBS record called “Swing im Bahnhof” where some of the tracks were originally issued. Sadly (if Discogs is right which isn’t always the case), Sahib played only flute on that particular date.

        • Recollection at fault! In summary – Rearward have published 29 unique Sahib Shihab tracks, spread over three releases (two of them double albums) . 17 of those tracks appear on only one of the three records. Of the remaining 11 tracks, 8 are duplicated on one other album, and 3 are duplicated on another. Every album has tracks that are unique to that record. You need to have all three titles to have a complete set of all 29 Sahib Shihab tracks. In the process you get some duplicates.

          RW102 All Those Cats : 15 tracks total, 3 unique to that album, 8 which also appear on RW119, and 3 which also appear on RW130

          RW119 Companionship Jazz Joint Vol 2: 20 tracks total , of which 12 are unique to that album and 8 which also appear on RW102

          RW130 Summer Dawn: 5 tracks total, two of which are unique to this album, and three which also appear on RW102

          I declare all the tracks to be great, and hearing them in a different order without having to get off the sofa is a bonus. I also take Rearward to task for this publishing chaos. They have not done themselves any favours (or record sales any good) by padding out each release with duplicates of tracks also found on other titles. They are very naughty. However this is not to obscure my opinion that this is great music, albeit lousy record reissuing practice.

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