One of the few Blue Note recordings made outside the US ( Dexter Gordon in Paris, Dizzy Reece and Tubby Hayes in London, perhaps you know of others). Blue Note does Yrup, next stop, Cologne (Köln, not the after-shave). Produced by Italian jazz enthusiast and café patron, Gigi Campi, Eltern gehörte das Eiscafé Campi in der Hohen Straße in Köln.
It’s Oktoberfest, and it just makes me want to get up and dance.
BNST 84092 (Toshiba EMI, Japan)
Selection 1: La Campimania (Boland)
Selection 2: The Golden Eight (Boland)
Dusko Gojkovic (trumpet) Raymond Droz (alto horn) Christian Kellens (baritone horn) Derek Humble (alto saxophone) Karl Drevo (tenor saxophone) Francy Boland (piano) Jimmy Woode (bass) Kenny Clarke (drums) recorded Cologne, West Germany, May 18 & 19, 1961 Recorded by Wolfgang Hirschmann, producer Gigi Campi .
Predecessor to the Clarke Bolland Big Band, with artists from USA, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Switzerland, UK and Austria, European Union big band, Brussels-led, full-on lederhosen, dopple-espresso all round. Future members of the KCFB Band would include Ronnie Scott, Jimmy Deuchar, Eddie Lockjaw Davis, Johnny Griffin and Sahib Shihab. More great stuff still to come, make space on your shelf for Kenny Clarke Francy Boland.
With initial misgivings, not being a fan of big band, I found The Golden Eight an unexpected delight. It is a lean big band, an octet (Golden Eight), not more than one of any instrument, which is where I part company with the “three of everything” stimulus-package big band, everybody standing up and standing down on cue. The arrangements are not straight-jackets, there is lots of open space for the soloists (in an orderly fashion, of course), great energy and excitement, and virtuoso performances.
Cohesive without being regimented, KCFB have a richly varied tonal palette and meter, and an enthusiasm which is infectious. It was a brave choice for Blue Note, and a pity that Campi’s Army did not go on to get wider exposure in the US, carrying the flag for tendance Ellington-Mingus. The US jazz centre of gravity was moving elsewhere, and instead, Europe and BASF-MPS maintained the blood-line. This changing retinue of jazz loyalists recorded together until 1972, leaving a trail of great jazz in their wake.
Vinyl: BLP 4092 – BST 84092 Toshiba EMI Test Pressing
The label says in very small print “BLUE NOTE RECORDS OWNED BY LIBERTY RECORDS A DIVISION OF CAPITOL RECORDS MFD BY TOSHIBA EMI LTD IN JAPAN UNDER LICENSE FROM CAPITOL RECORDS INC. Text sponsored by Specsavers.
An outstanding recording which sounds fresh and open – well-delineated soundstage, full richly detailed tonal range, fast response, great sense of movement and clarity.The stereo presentation is well-suited to an octet format, and this is one of those cases where stereo might be preferred over the original mono (he he he). Test pressing status delivers the promised quality.
Curiously for a test pressing, however, the stampers are numbered 5 and 6, which blows a hole clean through the theory that stampers are numbered sequentially, starting with 1 as the first. What happened to the other four? Bad day at the factory?
The edition is also unclear. Toshiba list two reissues of The Golden Eight. The 1984 first Toshiba reissue (left) has an alternate BNJ catalogue number BNJ 71035, not in evidence here. Probably this is the December 1992 second reissue. Contrary to expectation, from the early Toshiba’s being superior, it sounds great. May be the earlier one sounds greater still.
There is also something strange in those Toshiba Japanese pictograms – left, this record BST 84092, right, a test pressing label of BST 4089 from the very excellent LNJ series a few years earlier.
Calling TokyoJazzCollector! 助けて！The meaning of extra character number three in the top row? What does it mean, if anything? 12/24 as compared to 6/20? 12/24 what? Could any of our friends in Tokyo help us out here please?
The back cover repeats test pressing/ factory sample, bottom left hand corner. This the first time I have seen a Japanese test pressing covers annotated this way. In US and UK record production the promo has a particular financial significance, in that it is not sold/for sale and therefore not liable for purchase tax/ sales tax. Big deal to Accounts.
LJC SOAPBOX : in many walks of life, producers of goods and services inadvertently became tax-collectors. UK Purchase Tax on vinyl records in one year was Luxury Goods rate over 50% of the record selling price, compared to the few cents the artist who created it earned. Judge who gave better value. I look forward to petrol stations having the guts to rebrand petrol pumps as tax extraction machines, with a separate price display for the actual cost of the petrol. However oil companies have no backbone, nor many other commercial organisations. I don’t object to them making a profit, I object to them feeling they have to apologise for it.
Back to the subject in hand. How the promo record business worked in Japan I have no idea, I just know that any audiophile collector should be very happy to see that stamp. It is usually a sign of a record at the front of the pressing queue, and my few test pressings have all had that excitement factor.
SPECSAVERS SPONSORED LINK: I am looking for ways to make the liner notes more readable. The current new way involves a duplicate layer with strong unsharp mask applied, multiply blending mode, reduced overlay transparency. Continuous improvement is a goal here. Hopefully you can see an improvement, it looks better to me. Any pro photographers out there, I’m not proud, I’ll take advice. Tight crisp text is not yet there.
The original Blue Note release of 4092 is something of a rarity, which can fetch over $300. The Toshiba is a good introduction to the music at a tenth of the cost.
I have seen the original only a couple of times at auction, and it spiralled over my house limit. I would guess it wasn’t big seller for Blue Note, hence the scarcity of copies in circulation. Alfred Lion would have felt comfortable with its European roots, but would your typical ’50s New Yorker feel at home in Yrup, with so many unfamiliar names?
Anyway, this is one book you don’t judge by its cover, The Golden Eight is worthy addition to any Blue Note collection, and this copy’s test pressing status (which the seller was unaware of. Brush up your Japanese!) was an unexpected bonus. Priced barely in two digits, I felt guilty, if only briefly. .