Lenny McBrowne: Eastern Lights (1960) Riverside

Lenny-McBrowne-and-the-four-souls-Eastern-Lights-cover-1920-LJC

Selection: Saudi

Artists

Donald Sleet (trumpet) Daniel Jackson (tenor saxophone) Terry Trotter (piano) Jimmy Bond (bass) Lenny McBrowne (drums) at United Recording, Hollywood, CA, October 13, 1960

Music

Lenny McBrowne is not a name that immediately elicits nods of recognition, but that’s the joy of jazz, so many undiscovered highways and byways. This fine group recorded only two albums, Eastern Lights for Riverside, and  Lenny McBrowne and the Four Souls for Pacific Jazz, in the fall of 1959. These were McBrowne’s only leadership sessions, and his last known recording came in 1976.

McBrowne gained much of his experience working with Harold Land, Sonny Rollins, Benny Golson and Curtis Fuller, and much of his finesse is owed to his mentor, Max Roach.

When Lenny McBrowne and the 4 Souls first began gigging in Sacramento and San Francisco clubs they were critically hailed as the great promise for the future of West Coast jazz: a West Coast group’s interpretation of East Coast hard bop. The group here is very cohesive, swings together, a shining example of The Beautiful Music.

Around this time was another meeting of coastal styles, Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section, East Coast meets West Coast, Miles Davis rhythm section meets the best west coast alto out of the Big House

The East/West Coast divide contained a lot of  baggage of race and culture, which as an Englishman I will keep my nose out of ( or we send back The Redcoats to sort you out) Suffice to say, it all makes great music, which is all that matters to me.

Vinyl: Riverside RLP 346

Deep groove, and a characteristic of some US Riverside pressings, a very faint  matrix etching and finely pin-drawn letters AB (Abbey Record Mfg Inc), hardly visible in the label picture, but shown in close up below.

Lenny-McBrowne-and-the-four-souls-Eastern-Lights-labels-1920-LJC

To get at the etchings required a true 1:1  macro lens an inch or two from the vinyl surface, tilted against backlighting to grab the narrow angle of reflected light. Normally it’s too much trouble and I am out of practice, so it seemed a good idea to brush up the technique.

Lenny-McBrowne-and-the-four-souls-Eastern-Lights-etchings-1920-LJC

Lenny-McBrowne-and-the-four-souls-Eastern-Lights-back-1920-LJC

Collector’s Corner

Source: another of those improbable encounters, Lucio’s Saturday market stall, Ventimiglia, Liguria, Italy, a few weeks back.  I visited Lucio again this Saturday, but the weekly market of the Summer months had given way to only twice a month, and he had put out just the staple rock and pop. Seems Mike Oldfield is big with Italian vinyl fans …Carried away by a Moonlight Shadow to France…and Deep Purple.

On the positive side he was able to recommend a rather good but inexpensive authentic Italian restaurant, which is pencilled in for a future visit. Man does not live by music alone. Sometimes, he needs lunch too.

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13 thoughts on “Lenny McBrowne: Eastern Lights (1960) Riverside

  1. I’ve got that Don Sleet record. He’s ‘OK’, but the band kicks a _ _. Think he was only 19 when he cut it.

    Only know Lenny McBrowne from the Booker Ervin Blue Notes of the ’60’s. Thanks, LJC, will have to check this out.

  2. In the mid to late 90’s I started buying Jazz records at the flea markets in NYC. I was finding both stereo and mono copies of Riverside records. Although the general consensus was mono was more desirable I very often preferred the stereo pressing instead. My stereo was set up with my speakers at the far end of a rectangular shaped room so stereo separation was not the major consideration. Almost across the board the stereo copies seemed to be mastered much louder than their mono counterparts and therefore there was less surface noise during playback. I’m not sure if my observation is based on my setup at that time… has anybody else ever thought this?

    • Not sure how surface noise (generally caused by dirt, grime, scratches, wear) would “prefer’ two channels to one? My experience has been that mono records played via stereo cart are usually a bit quieter than I would expect given the condition of a record. With the addition of a dedicated mono arm & cart, I can definitely state that mono records played via my mono cart are leaps and bounds quieter than when played with my stereo cart. All that said, its probably all system dependent. While my setup has consistent power / pre / speakers, the differences in arms and carts for mono & stereo are probably where the differences lie.

      • I wasn’t saying that surface noise would “prefer” 2 channels to one, I had observed that the stereo releases were mastered louder than the mono masters of the same record. Every record has some level of surface noise depending on the quality of it’s pressing. The purity of the vinyl used in itself can add unwanted noise during playback. That’s why “virgin vinyl” vs recycled is not just a marketing gimmick.

  3. Don Sleet’s lone release on Riverside’s Jazzland is worth the search. Lovely session. I’ve never seen it in the wild until this summer where mono and stereo copies appeared at one of my local shops. The mono is fantastic. I left the stereo for the next guy…

  4. Lenny McBrowne – that’s a new one to me. “Saudi” was a nice cut.

    Riverside is a fantastic label. Just think of some of the represented pianists – Monk, Bill Evans, Kenny Drew. I haven’t conducted a thorough check, but it apears that most of my mono and stereo ‘reel and microphone’ labels are DG. Years ago I collected a number of very clean Riversides at reasonable prices, but as you mentioned, some of them have inherently high levels of surface noise.

    By the way, how does that Deep Purple record sound on your system?

    • Ahh Deep Purple Mk1 of course, the pre 1970 band, you hardly ever see these. I occasionally put one on if the neighbours are out. Brings down the ceiling. Not that I would admit it in public, strictly entre-nous.

  5. An entirely unknown name to me — but very enjoyable. It’s interesting to see it’s produced by Cannonball Adderley. I wonder if that was a ‘real’ producing job or a bit of clever marketing, in that Cannonball’s name would have been a bigger draw (I presume) than Lenny McBrowne’s?

    In 1960 Cannonball would have been riding high on the acclaim for his own records (numerous, just for the preceding couple of years alone, and including SOMETHING’ ELSE as well as the extremely popular live recordings from San Francisco and Chicago) and of course for his contribution to KIND OF BLUE…

    • With just the occasional crackle, nothing major, sounds better than its cover suggests. That said, the few US Riversides I have, many seem to have some surface noise, even when they look perfect, I suspect pressing plant issues, though this one is by Abbey so it should be OK. Seeing the dust on the runout area I suspect this one went into the Photo-Me booth before washing. That was one dirty disc.

      Correction: listening through, some noise in the vinyl land before the track starts, and some scuffing at the beginning of the first track on the side, usually the first place to take a hit. However the track Saudi is such a cute tune, it had to be the one.

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