Mystery Post 8th December and 9th December – wrong button pressed for a post still in Draft, not ready for publishing yet, apologies. Twice in two days, WordPress?
Selection: Love For Sale (Porter)
Bonus track: Desperation* (Deuchar)
Zoot Sims (tenor) Stan Tracey (piano) Kenny Napper (bass) Jackie Dougan (drums) Recorded at “Ronnie Scott’s Club”, London, England, November 13-15, 1961
*Desperation: The Ronnie Scott/ Jimmy Deuchar Quintet – add Ronnie Scott (tenor) Jimmy Deuchar (trumpet)
Love for Sale is the standout track, a joyous romp with Zoot firing off chorus after chorus with boundless enthusiasm and drive, high-speed gymnastics, triple somersaults, backflips, effortless fleet runs, twists and turns, picking at the tune while sailing through the changes, high-octane performance which must have been electrifying live.
Tenor forged in the ’40s an ’50s big bands of Goodman, Shaw, Kenton and Rich, Zoot Sims found himself the first great American giant to play England in 1961, following the end of ban on musicians between here and the USA, Tubby Hayes gained entry to the US, to play at the Half Note Club in New York City and record with Roland Kirk among others; in exchange, we got Zoot Sims, to play at Ronnie Scott’s supported by Stan Tracey’s trio.
Fontana recorded Sims over three nights, providing the material for this and other Fontana releases. Though Sims recorded prolifically over his long career, these sessions provide a unique sense of time and place, bringing together the calibre of Sims and the best of British players, live before an appreciative audience. Set your watches for 1961, order a whisky and soda, open a pack of cigarettes (no health warning), relax, and enjoy the night in.
With his robust and full-bodied tone, Zoot’s big husky tenor sound is an immediately recognisable voice, warm, simmering, cooking. Largely self-taught , Sims was a bridge between the old school of Prez and the younger generation of boppers, perhaps not as sophisticated harmonically as some of his contemporaries, but melodically inventive and relentlessly swinging, sure-footed.
Sims never went on to develop other roles like some of his “brothers”, educator, incubator of young talent, arranger or composer, Zoot Sims put everything he had into being a player, which is what he did best.
Stan Tracey was resident pianist at Ronnie Scott’s from 1960 through to 1967, which uniquely must rate as the nearest thing to secure employment in jazz. His vigorous and assertive style of piano accompaniment, dense block chords and off-centre harmonics makes for an interesting quartet ensemble beyond simple Zoot and trio. Napper’s bass is confidently swinging, while Jackie Dougan, a regular of the Stan Tracey Quartet keeps things moving crisply behind the scenes. It sounds like a great jazz club session, as it should.
Vinyl: Fontana FJL 123 original UK release.
Unlike many of the Fontana Popular Jazz Series, Cookin’ is not a general compilation of studio recordings but a live recording from the epicentre of the London jazz scene in 1961 – Ronnie Scotts, Soho, taken from two Fontana LPs which are themselves extremely sought-after: Solo For Zoot (680 982 TL) – and Zoot at Ronnie Scott’s (689 989 TL) . Some of the tracks have been edited down to fit on Cookin’ (Love for Sale halved), and the full session has only recently been released on CD, extensive liner notes courtesy of fount of all knowledge British Jazz, and occasional LJC visitor, Simon Spillett. (Hi Simon!) However, it is not vinyl.
Despite Zoot’s manly jazz credentials, both original Fontana titles lack the all-important girlie cover of the Popular Jazz Series.
Fontana Popular Jazz Series
The Fontana Popular Jazz Series, with their one-word shriek-mark titles, consisted mostly of compilations, introducing artist to the British audience and giving bachelors (or their dad) an excuse to decorate their pad with girlie covers while listening to some cool music
The Dutch version of this series are titled volumes in the “Jazz Club Series” . The French, typically difficult, dropped some titles and added others to what they called “Plaisir du Jazz” , including a Lou Bennett album (me neither) “Feeling“, featuring the first blonde with tartan cap,seamed fishnets and heels cover, something I feel urgently that I must have, if only because of its’ total political incorrectness. Elle fume, Plaisir du Jazz indeed. God bless the French.
Cover: laminated thick card, reminiscent of real ’50s covers.
Steel-blue/silver rough textured label circa 1963 original issue.
The Rough and The Smooth of it: the “textured label”
In case any readers are unfamiliar with the textured label, here is a quick primer. For both UK CBS and Fontana, the textured label (left) helps identify early original UK pressings from later reissues (right). In the example below, the Ronnie Scott Sextet title is a much later reissue despite its ® 1957 text – smooth label (and the higher matrix code) number tells a different story.
Fontana and CBS textured labels disappeared in around 1968. The important feature for dating manufacture is the wrinkly texture of the paper used by the printers, not the underlying vinyl. With textured paper, ink can spread more easily into adjoining fibres, and the paper can retain moisture, which has a harmful effect on vinyl if any steam was generated during pressing. The smooth label was progress. Of sorts.
Is it British Jazz, or American Jazz? It seems it appeals to both, hence the price. Sims has a considerable following, as do followers of British artists in this period. The top ten auctions concentrated in the $200 – $300 range.
The appeal of Cookin’ is that it shortcuts the alternative of acquiring the two originating Fontana releases, each of which can run to considerably more. Or there’s always the CD for a tenner, get the full 13 minutes of Love For Sale. Sounds a bargain.
In case the PC police are stalking me, a mere cultural observer, of the two lady jazz singers included in the Popular Jazz Series, Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughan, the covers include a boyfriend to supplement the girlie. Good to know gender sensitivity was incubating in record marketing of the mid ’60s.
LJC Gets With The Programme!
All this has made me realise I ought to consider taking a leaf from the Fontana book and brighten up the site, fine tune its appeal to a certain jazz-loving demographic. Another LJC first.
If anyone recalls any of Ronnie Scott’s (im)famous dry jokes (on the lines of: “Here’s to our wives and sweethearts – may they never meet…” or any ’60s Ronnie Scott’s Club performances, they might want to share, it’s Brit-night…