Selection: Since I fell For You (Johnson)
Stanley Turrentine (tenor saxophone) Gene Harris (piano) Andrew Simpkins (bass) Bill Dowdy (drums) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, June 29, 1960
With fifteen albums in the Blue Note catalogue, Blue Note’s “house trio” The 3 Sounds had already been paired with other artists including Lou Donaldson (LD+3), and later, Oliver Nelson (Coldwater Flat) , repositioning the 3 as a rhythm section tethered to a brass leader, a good formula. Turrentine’s soulful bluesy tenor integrates well with the trio, as it does with Kenny Burrell in Blue Note’s pre-eminent blues outing, Midnight Blue (BLP 4123).
This blues/jazz fusion is a likeable, soulful effort. The format is the blues, its roots in Chicago, the 12-bar progression and it’s variations. Turrentine’s warm full-bodied tenor delivers bluesy-licks, probing the upper register with the occasional jazzy digression, giving the familiar blues changes a genre-bending lift. He stays within safe limits, smooth and measured, never quite reaching the “pour your heart out” intensity that the blues canvas is a natural home to. Send out for Buddy Guy, or my teen-hero, Otis Rush. So Many Roads…
The 3 Sounds pianist Gene Harris emerges as the star of the album as he “tickles the ivories” in the grand blues manner – rising and falling figures and bluesy riffs, top-end trills, all with echoes of Otis Spann, Champion Jack Dupree and Eddie Boyd. I confess to a long-standing affection for the other classical music of America, The Blues.
The music is not ground-breaking, but nevertheless a satisfying, enjoyable and deserving of a late night listening place on your turntable, in the blue hour. A small bonus, it can be found petit prix on United Artists blue label, like this one.
Vinyl: BST 84057 reissue by United Artists Music & Record Group Inc. circa 1975 (1st pressing fundamentalists may wish to look away at this point) Blue label black note –
OMG! original metal – RVG STEREO master stamp. What an unexpected find. Good stereo, Rudy at the dials, and an unbroken lineage from the recording tapes to the Van Gelder master, thanks to United Artists reusing original metal, and not, as they often did, re-mastering what sounded good in the first place. But wait, there is more…
… a sting in the tail: a 9M etching! This is impossible…
The 9M etching appears on
all many 1500 series 12″ LPs and just the first of the 4000 series (4001, Rollins’ Newks Time – recorded 1957) and then disappears. Except it appears here on the metal of 4057, recorded and manufactured nearly three years later. Witchcraft? Voodoo? Time-travel?
After years of speculation as to the meaning of “9M”, it was found by LJC readers to be one of a series of client codes of similar format assigned to a number of record labels in the mid to later ’50s. In that time, 9M is found exclusively on Blue Note, 7E on Prestige, 14i on Riverside, 19H on Debut, 10Z on Esoteric, 3R on Dial, others possibly for other clients
The existence 9M etched on a master manufactured as late as Summer 1961 is itself hard to explain. Add to that the reappearance of that RVG stereo master, with the 9M, used by United Artists fifteen years later than its likely manufacture, is bordering on the supernatural. What’s going on?
Possessed of a few pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and wanting to understand the whole picture, the LJC Puzzle Solving Guide™ signals a warning. You have a few pieces, but you don’t know how big the jigsaw puzzle is. You may have three pieces out of ten or three pieces out of five hundred. You can not simply connect the dots.
Second, you can not assume the pieces are each from the same puzzle. They could be from several different puzzles. Lastly, the cheat’s solution picture included with most jigsaws puzzles is missing. You are on your own.
The original hypothesis, that 9M means “Blue Note”, remains sound. Also, the re-use of legacy metal for pressing by Liberty and later by United Artists has been seen numerous times. The difficult bit to explain is the two and a half year gap between the last 9M on 4001 and this one on 4057.
One possible explanation is that a client code was applied by a plating service to blank acetate discs destined for use by different record labels. Possibly there was an old blank acetate on Van Gelder’s shelf, from an earlier time, that was put into service to generate this RVG STEREO master. It’s a hypothesis that fits the together the pieces we have.
Until someone comes up with another jigsaw piece, that doesn’t fit.
Even a smart seller can not value a record by what it sounds like, only by its “buy-signals”. Here, they are not high. The record is not especially rare, neither Turrentine nor the 3 Sounds command big-ticket following. It is not a Blue Note original, but a commonplace blue label reissue by United Artists. Only the RVG STEREO stamp hints at what we have – an audiophile bargain for a song.
The LP is short measure, technically “not as described”, but Blue Forty Two Minutes doesn’t really sound like a winner. The evil silver disc edition of Blue Hour combines all Blue Hour session tapes onto two CDs, nearly 90 minutes worth of Blue Hour. Technically, that is over an hour, but the notion that there are only sixty minutes in an hour is well behind the times. The average bar Happy Hour is at least two hours, if not three. And everyone much happier for it.
Alternative explanations for the presence of 9M welcome, or indeed how many minutes there are in a post-modern hour.
9M UPDATE November 17, 2015
LJC reader and Blue Note collector Jim R has kindly contributed a most comprehensive listing from his own collection, which confirms the presence or absence of a “9M” etching in the run-out. In 70 titles between 1500 – 4001 for which we have sight (not all titles have been validated but remain to be classified – data blank 28 titles) 48 titles bear 9M and 22 are confirmed to have no 9M etching at all. Thee titles have 9M on only one side.
The longest straight run of titles with 9M ends with 4001, Rollins Newk’s Time, exceptionally it appears on 4025 and 4026.The last sighting of 9M is BLP 4067 Mclean’s Bluesnik and there is a small cluster around that release time in 1961, of 9M on 4057,4058, and 4067 .
The full listing including those for which data is still needed is here.