Further adventures in vintage Blue-Note-on-a-Budget twofer series… with more McLean, great stuff, and some not so good news for Hubbard fans with the “other” twofer series…read on.
Selection 1: Slow Poke
Grachan Moncur III (trombone) Jackie McLean (alto saxophone) Lamont Johnson (piano) Scott Holt (bass) Billy Higgins (drums) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, February 3, 1967
Selection 2: Blues in a Jiff (Sonny Clark!)
Kenny Dorham (trumpet) Jackie McLean (alto saxophone) Sonny Clark (piano) Butch Warren (bass) Billy Higgins (drums) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, June 14, 1962
Hipnosis showcases two very different line-ups, different times either end of the rapidly changing ’60s jazz scene: – vintage bop with Sonny Clark/Kenny Dorham (1962) and avant-leaning post-bop with Grachan Moncur III (1967)
It is interesting to compare Hipnosis with the other UA McLean two-fer offering, Jacknife. I find this Jazz Classics Series sonically better (probably just by chance) and musically has the edge, if only for the presence of a bubbling Sonny Clark and a brooding Grachan Moncur III. McLean recorded numerous times with Moncur, something about how the malevolant lower register trombone and offsetting acid-sharp alto gel, sweet and sour, a challenging sort of brass unison.
Both vintage McLean twofers are in my view essential, inexpensive good-sounding double vinyl. I expect most jazz fans already have them, but perhaps like me you have been neglecting to play them, so its good to get them off the shelf and onto the turntable where they belong. Not to labour the point, I am happy to revisit all vintage vinyl i.e. before digital /cd / barcode /modern reissue, download stuff. The twofers are over thirty years old, nearing forty years, close to nearly a decade short of originals. That is “vintage”, good enough for me.
Vinyl: BN-LA 483-H2 Hipnosis– a “non-beige” twofer Jazz Classics series (1978), follow up to the slightly earlier BN-LA 457-H2 Jacknife release
Quite what United Artists thought they were doing releasing two twofer series – The Blue Note Reissue Series and The Blue Note Jazz Classics series – is a mystery to me. Why call something a re-issue which has never been issued before? They are all Jazz Classics, whatever the word Classics means.
To keep you on your toes, some of the beige twofers include previously issued but impossibly rare whole albums from early Blue Notes releases, so you have to check the small print to see if you already have that title.
Our friends in Tokyo got the short straw, just half-a-twofer, I guess that’s a one-fer , just the 1967 session on this Japan-only King Records release. Cover’s nice though, eh?
For Followers of the Evil Silver Disc, just to confuse matters, there is an alternative CD two-fer, which merges the 1959/1963 McLean sessions found on the Liberty United Records LT 1085 Vertigo release with these Sonny Clark sessions on Hipnosis, with alternative shatter-font cover matching the ESD™ of Jacknife (You are following this, aren’t you?):
Mosaic include Hipnosis in their box set on Moncur , and I am sure someone somewhere has released an 100,000 CD set (want delivery by Friday? Check Freight for two pantechnicon immediate despatch) of The Complete Recordings of Everyone Ever (Spoti-Tunes). Old fashioned, I still prefer my music in bite-size pieces, including a walk to the turntable every twenty minutes.
In the collector-duelling chase for the rare, obscure and impossible-to-find (“especially in this condition“) stuff, it’s easy to overlook the commonly available, near mint, conveniently in a shop near you stuff. If it sold for ten times the price perhaps people would value it more. Even if you have all the McLean and Moncur Blue Notes, which I do, the two McLean twofers (is that a fourfer?) generously complement your collection, without duplicating any tracks.
That is more than can be said for the “other” Blue Note Reissue Series mentioned in the Jacknife post, which are actually reissues of previously issued material, the Artist Last Name series with the multi-colour dot screen covers. Chronologically, these were actually released before some of the better beige twofers like Hipnosis.
Curiosity got the better of me when I picked up this Hubbard edition BN LA 356-H2 for small change. On closer inspection, all thirteen tracks are taken from Hubbard’s other Blue Notes, all of which I have. Not a single previously unissued track, the tally of thirteen reissued tracks by album is:
4040 Open Sesame – 2
4056 Going Up -2
4073 Hub Cap – 3
4085 Ready For Freddie – 2
4172 Breaking Point -3
4196 Blue Spirits -1
Sort of a Best of Freddie Hubbard on Blue Note.
The one saving grace is this twofer tracks are all stereo, where I have originals often in mono. However the transfers are mostly not as good as they should be, uneven in quality. Some are OK, others quite disappointing, I think due to that passing obsession with suppressing “tape-hiss” by cutting off legitimate upper frequencies, destroying the dynamic range. Or maybe the engineer was having a bad hair day. Or maybe the engineer of the day didn’t know how to handle the twin track tape the way Rudy knew how to. Or may be some other reason. That should cover all bases.
LJC says: based on the Hubbard, if all the others in this series are the same uneven quality, avoid the Artist Last Name Reissue Series multicolour twofers. I am generalising from a sample of one, always dangerous, but a sample of one is one more than a sample of none. Allegedly. Call me out.
Action Action Action!!!
On a positive note, Mclean must have recorded some of the best and most durable, inventive and exciting music evah in the course of his forty odd year career. What’s your favourite Jackie Mclean track, and favourite Jackie McLean album? (they don’t have to be on the same record). Optionally, you might like to add why, more difficult, but I try to do it. Express yourself, the floor is yours.