Freddie Redd: Lonely City (1985) Uptown Records

freddie-redd-lonely-city-1800-ljc[1]-(2) Selection: Bleeker St Blues

Artists

Freddie Redd (piano) Clarence “C” Sharpe (alto) Clifford Jordan (tenor) Gerry Cappuccio (baritone) Don Sickler (trumpet) George Duvivier (bass) Ben Riley (drums) recorded Englewood Cliffs NJ, January 18 &19, 1985

Music

Pedigree line-up, some of New York’s finest in their day, triple treat in the brass section, alto, tenor and baritone, including Clifford Jordan, tenor. Freddie Redd, immediately recognisable from his solid Blue Note history Shades of Redd (Blue Blues Blues!) and Music from The Connection, two often played favourites in the LJC listening room. When I stumbled on this record in a store, everything about it yelled undiscovered unacknowledged gem, except the price, which was financially non-invasive.

Vinyl: Notice anything, umm… unusual, in the run-out? Your eyes do not deceive you, no tricks zone. RVG. (Recorded by and) Mastered by Van Gelder.Freddie-Redd-Lonely-City-labels-1800-LJC Freddie-Redd---Lonely-City-back-cover-1800-LJC Two connections to make: Clarence C Sharpe, and Uptown Records.

First, Clarence “C” Sharpe, alto saxophone.

Blue Note fans may not be immediately aware but they will have heard Clarence before, but may be not since – until now: Lee-Morgan---1538-Lee-Morgan-Indeed---cover-1800-LJC Selection: BLP 1538 Lee Morgan Indeed (1956) Gaza Strip

Artists

Lee Morgan (trumpet) Clarence Sharpe (alto saxophone) Horace Silver (piano) Wilbur Ware (bass) Philly Joe Jones (drums) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, November 4, 1956

Music

The Bird influences in Sharpe are plain enough to hear, but a delight none the less, as young Clarence runs through his paces, surrounded by the brightest Blue Note stars of the day. Lee Morgan’s extraordinary dexterity on full display doesn’t dim the tuneful notes of C Sharpe.

Vinyl:

BLP 1538 King Records, Tokyo, circa 1979

Lee Morgan populates a number of the most expensive slots in the Blue Note pantheon – impossibly rare and expensive as an original. King records have done a fine job, usually a sign that the source original Van Gelder recording was itself outstanding, and mono (cue Van Gelder expert, true monophonic recording, predating twin track tape, authentic Hackensack and if you listen closely you can just hear Rudy’s mum calling out in the background, asking if the boys would like a cup of tea). All my Morgan 1500 series are Kings, I just played them all,  and the 1538 is the best sounding of the lot.

. Lee-Morgan-Indeed-labels-1800-LJC Read all about it, November 1956, Feather’s liner notes. Unusually and unfortunately, the record had fallen into the hands of a Sellotape fetishist, who taped all edgesof this otherwise perfect cover, completely unnecessarily. Sellotape residue permanently disfigures record covers. I’d like to like ride a time machine back to the person responsible and give them a slap severe talking toLee-Morgan---1538-Lee-Morgan-Indeed---back-cover-1800-LJC Pictured below, Clarence Sharpe, age 19 next to Morgan and Silver. One career that should have taken off but mysteriously never did. Clarence C Sharpe dates Who was Clarence “C” Sharpe?

WordPress blogger Crownpropeller offers “105 minutes with legendary Clarence “C” Sharpe” including links to a tape recording of Cee Sharpe Group (1980), and has many reminiscences from musicians who knew Sharpe, including this tribute:

For having overcome physical injury, having no teeth (zero) and probably not the easiest or forgiving of lives, Sharpe played more powerfully, beautifully and brilliantly in his final years than i understand he ever had before. it’s a different level from his initial Lee Morgan recording.

More here ….. and here

After the Lee Morgan date, Sharpe surfaced again in 1970 on Archie Shepp’s For Losers  (Impulse AS-9188) the  intervening fourteen years unaccounted for. One further link, vocals on Shepp’s title are credited to Clarence’s wife  China-Lin Sharpe, appearing on the Ellington songbook title I Got it Bad (And That Ain’t Good).

Who are Uptown Records?

Uptown Records is “a jazz record label based in New York” . That is the entire sum of knowledge in Wiki, aside from a listing of its fifty titles in its catalogue, which includes my most treasured Evil Silver Disc ™, Charlie Rouse and Sahib Shihab –  Soulmates.

Rouse-Shihab-Soul-Mates-Uptown Soul-Mates-CD-back Recording engineer, Rudy Van Gelder, 1988. Walter Davis Jr, piano, Charlie Rouse tenor, Sahib Shihab in from Denmark and in sparkling form, baritone..

Why is so little known about Uptown Records, when music of this calibre appears out of thin air, engineered by RVG, The Master of Sound ™.

More research reveals the Uptown label was founded by one Dr Bob Sunenblick in 1981 to record and release jazz music of relatively unknown or “forgotten” artists . Sunenblick is a doctor of internal medicine from Montreal, with a lifelong passion for jazz and a personal collection of jazz recordings between 100,000 and 125,000. Another DottorJazz, as if the world had need of another one. (But which was the first Dottorjazz?)

A  jazz fan who stepped beyond the ordinary, started a record label, and set about publishing historical rare jazz sessions, as well as recruiting well known musicians from the golden age to record new work. Somehow, he managed sometimes to employ the skills and studio of Rudy Van Gelder. logowhtrns1[1] Sunenblick revealed in a court action over trademark infringement between himself and rap artist Andre Harrell, that he spent almost nothing on advertising and promotion, and that only three out of the previous fifteen years  had ever sold more than 5,000 copies from his catalogue, and had made a profit in only six of its then fifteen years of operation. Sounds like a hero to me.

The shoddy business of expenditure on legal action rather than music publishing (It’s The American Way ™) resulted in this court judgement over the use of the Uptown name by ’80s hip-hop rapper Harrell:

CONCLUSION

Both parties passionately invoked the American dream before this court. It is plain that Sunenblick represents the best of that dream. He had a vision. He undertook the risks, investing time, energy and money in order to make the vision a reality. And so did Andre Harrell. He is the very archetype of an American success story. In consideration of the facts, the court cannot say that Harrell’s success poses any likelihood of injury to Sunenblick in the marketplace.

Accordingly, it is ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that the complaint be, and it hereby is, DISMISSED.

 

Each side will bear its own costs.

In summary, the lawyers won.

Some other Uptown Records titles: Uptown-Mobley-1953-Grant-Green--Capture Mobley 1953! Ok who else knew? Why wasn’t I told? A live set with amateur tape recorder running in a Newark jazz club, but important!

There are some exciting gems in the Uptown catalogue, unfortunately many only in CD form. Some proportion of historical sources  are private recordings from club dates, not all RVG studio quality, others transfers from 78’s, even wire transfers from radio broadcasts. A few are still found on vinyl, like the Freddie Redd  Lonely City that started this journey .  I salute Dr Sunenblick. We need as many jazz-loving doctors as we can get, whichever is the first original Dottorjazz.

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20 thoughts on “Freddie Redd: Lonely City (1985) Uptown Records

  1. Great post. I’m sorry I found it so late. I’ll continue scrolling through the archives. It looks like it may take a few years (what fun).
    I believe the Freddie Redd was the last vinyl issue from Uptown.
    Dr Sunenblick is a huge collector and a strong presence (buyer) on eBay as well. He has unearthed many treasures including a Sonny Clark from 1955 and the Bird and Diz 1945 concert at Town Hall as well as a complete issue of Dizzy’s Big Band from 1946 @ The Spotlite including Monk on piano (all on dreaded disc only). Some of the great sessions he has produced on vinyl include live shows from JR Monterose (2702), Pepper Adams (2716), Barry Harris (2720) and Tommy Flanagan (2729), He also produced both Philly Joe Jones Dameronia sessions (2711 &15) among others. I have about 20 titles.
    Love this site. Keep up the good work.

    • Oops. I was confused! this was not the last vinyl issue on Uptown. I don’t know what was, but I confused this with Freddie’s album Everybody Loves A Winner on Milestone (M9187) which actually was the last vinyl issue for them. I think I’ll just got back to reading.

    • If the sax is slightly out of register (low) is it in the same way on other recordings Jackie McLean is slightly sharp? I don’t claim to understand these things, but I don’t make any issue of things being out of (perfect) pitch. They just sound how they sound. I don’t think they sound “wrong” because of it.

      • LJC, if you don’t like people with perfect pitch, I can assure you that I am not blessed/plagued with this physical anomaly. But I can tell you if an instrument is in tune with other instruments. It should be, or else it will sound wrong. That’s what decent music is all about.

        • I don’t find the alto pitch detrimental to my enjoyment of this recording. May be we listen to things in a different way.

          The guy had been playing his instrument over 25 years. I can only imagine it was tuned how he wanted it.

          • The guy was playing perfectly in tune in 1956 (see Lee Morgan track above). Now I don’t think that at some point he decided that playing out of tune was how he wanted it. I don’t know the other tracks of “Lonely City”, but at least in this one there is some discrepancy, especially between piano and alto. Things like this do happen, and sometimes they become more noticeable than at other times. But they certainly don’t happen on intention.

            • i came here to say exactly the same thing as eduard. it sounds very poorly tuned to me, but surely one of these fine musicians would have said something, or the producer would have, if they weren’t getting what they wanted.

              but yes, it sounds very ‘wrong’ to me, because it is out of context in this otherwise very tonally centered recording. but i say live and let live, and we are forced to assume they wanted it this way.

              • My guess is they didn’t exactly “want” it this way but found out after the recording session that other takes of that song were flawed in other respects, and choosing this one was an acceptable compromise if they didn’t want to splice tapes. Splicing is little help if, say, the tempo isn’t exactly the same.

  2. Very interesting stuff…just pity about the Uptown cover design department, no wonder they didn’t sell too good…

  3. A fascinating tale about Clarence Sharp, Dr Sunenblick and Uptown Records. You’ve brought this mid-80’s set to our attention and thanks for that, but did you enjoy it?

      • Delighted to hear that. Congratulations on another find then. I’ll be seeking the Grant Green ‘Holy Barbarian’ set as per the photo. As I read your piece I was listening to GG playing with Stanley Turrentine and Horace Parlan ‘Up At Minton’s’ (on ESD, I’m afraid).

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