Harold Land: The Fox (1959) Hi Fi Jazz

Harold-Land---The-Fox---HiFI-Jazz-(1961)---cover---1800-LJC

Selection: One Second, Please (Hope)

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Whilst the standard pick on The Fox is… The Fox, a helter-skelter chase at breakneck speed,  it has a “showcase” feel, look how fast we can play this tricksy tune, plus I already chose it as a previous pick, so this time around my favourite is the Elmo Hope tune One Second, Please.

Land has a measured forward flow never departing too far from the melody, his linear solo-lines punctuated with backflips and triplets, a stylistic flourish reminiscent of a well-proportioned British tenor player. His playing is elegant, measured, and melodic, with controlled speed, “both pleasantly round and sweet-tart” (a nice description by inelegantly named Flophouse Magazine: review here)

Relatively unknown trumpet-player  Dupree Bolton gets a good workout here too, shades of Clifford Brown and a triple-tonguing Kenny Dorham( I’m not convinced that is the correct musical term, but it sounds like it could be).

Elmo Hope, composer of four of the six tracks, writes memorable tunes, punctuated with impish Monk-esque accents off-tempo and off-key, enough to make this a Hope album as much as a Land one,  a perfectly balanced listening session that deserves to be on your turntable some time soon.

Artists

Dupree Bolton (trumpet) Harold Land (tenor sax) Elmo Hope (piano) Herbie Lewis (bass) Frank Butler (drums) recorded at Radio Recorders, Hollywood, CA, August, 1959

Music

The tenor is a wonderfully expressive instrument, and almost everyone who picked it up risked standing in the shadow of giants.

Escher-Triangle-800-LJC-ROLLINS-COLTRANE-EVERYONE-ELSE

Of course which giants, it depends in which era you start counting. Roll back a generation and it could equally read Charlie Parker (alto in the main, of course, but still saxophone…), Lester Young, and …endless controversy… who were the greatest players, and who should be listed among the greatest – its dangerous territory.

Hey Zoot[1]LJC, call yourself a jazz fan? You’ve left out Snuff Kaplinsky, the most under-rated tenor ever to come out of Alaska. Man, he couple play tenor better than most without even takin’ his snow mitts off!  And what about  Junior “Lock-Down” Griffiths…whose promising career was cut short at only 16 when he choked fatally on his reed… promise unfullfilled

We need our giants, but we also need variety, different voices, and thankfully, there are many other wonderful tenor players – Booker Ervin, Hank Mobley, Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, Archie Shepp, all distinctive voices, without whom our lives would be musically poorer. I count among these players Harold Land: an East-Coast tenor stylist who recorded on the West Coast, but not playing in “the West Coast manner”.

Land has a bright rough textured bop voice, Coltrane-like but without the intensity that marks out JC, Rollinesque but without quite the muscularity. He stands his ground without grandstanding, and gives everyone the opportunity to shine, the mark of a gentleman and confident musician. He works energetically inside the musical canvas, his explorations are elegant, precisely mapped, but always with an element of surprise. You don’t already know where he’s heading next, which is what makes good jazz.

Land went on to a long-standing collaboration with Bobby Hutcherson through the late ’60s and early ’70s, however his earlier works between 1959 and the very early ’60s  deserve seeking out, often reissued under different titles or unexpected labels, or just fallen through the cracks: Harold in the Land of Jazz (Contemporary  1960, reissued under the title “Grooveyard”), West Coast Blues (Jazzland, 1960),  Hear Ye! with Red Mitchell (Atlantic, 1961) and another orphaned recording from 1961, Take Aim (first issued by Cuscuna in the Liberty/UA Jazz Classics LT series in 1980, and King in Japan Unissued Masters Series), and of course The Fox, rescued from relative obscurity by Contemporary a decade or more later.

What became of Land? He continued recording and playing live more or less continuously his whole life, undertaking a professorship in jazz small combos at UCLA in his late sixties, and died in July 2001, from a stroke, at the age of 73 (John Fordham’s full obituary here) . In addition to those under his own name, Land left his name as a sideman on many excellent recordings, always worth looking out for.

Vinyl: Hi Fi Jazz J 612 mono – promo.

A recording most familiar in the form of its reissue, by Contemporary Records as M3619 (mono – rarely seen) – catalogue number adjacent to recordings made for Contemporary in 1969, which gives us a clue as to the date.  Also reissued in stereo as S7619, commonly found among late ’70s reissues.

Who or what were the Hi Fi Jazz label? (The fun part of writing is asking yourself questions, to which you have no idea what the answer is, you have to go find out.) The High Fidelity Recording Company was established in 1956 in Hollywood, California by Richard Vaughn. The company issued popular, jazz, gospel, sound effects and spoken word, on three labels: HiFi, Arvee and Orbit. The labels were eventually sold in 1965 to the Everest label, a label which I know even less about.

HiFi-Records-label-four-bsnpubs

The excellent bsnpubs (Both Sides Now) site illustrates some of the original Hi Fi labels, above. The label is apparently most famed for its Arthur Lyman lounge music titles. (Not that I would know of such things. Lounge? Not in my lounge, you don’t)

Harold-Land-The-Fox-HiFi-Jazz-labels-1920-LJCThe connection between promos and mono runs deeper than you might think – since most radio stations in the day broadcast in mono, so mono is what the record labels would send disc jockeys. That’s my theory anyway.

Harold-Land-The-Fox-HiFi-Jazz-back-cover-1920-LJC

Collector’s Corner

Source: Ebay (US) Not a record you come across every day in the UK,  it had to be sought out in the US as an original rather than its later commonly found reissue – reviewed in 2011 here at LJC (updated out of embarrassment, with new photos and text)

With records you especially like, you get this urge to hear it in its best original form, and I felt need of an original. Somewhere in the mists of time my mission was jazz on original vinyl. It just hasn’t always turned out that way.

Here is where The Fox started:

harold-land-the-fox-cover-1920

harold-land-the-fox-contemporary-labels-2000

harold-land-the-fox-Contemporary-backcover-1920

The Hi Fi Jazz edition I have is of course mono, so we have a matching Pair of Foxes, one mono, one stereo, for those days when you can’t decide which you would rather take for a spin. I’ll be writing more on the subject of mono and stereo shortly, stay tuned.

If my interpretation of M C Escher’s mystical optical illusion  triangle is too severe, here is a take on another Escher work that seems to summarise the ’60s Tenor Scene more generously: House of Tenors Galore.

Escher house of Tenors

Professor Jazz

Professor Jazz

Never mind who’s the best tenor player, we all know who those are.

But who are the most under-appreciated, deserving of greater recognition, players people should look out for who they may be less familiar with?

Nominations for Unsung Heroes of the Tenor welcome, share your knowledge.

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48 thoughts on “Harold Land: The Fox (1959) Hi Fi Jazz

  1. The enigmatic Elmo Hope had the gift to pull the maximum out of his sidemen. The very average Frank Foster, when with the Count, became a first class hard bop soloist on Elmo’s first quintet dates (Blue Note and Prestige).
    Harold Land went unnoticed with Clifford Brown, but he shines on the Elmo Hope inspired sessions on CR and HI-FI.
    In short, I wish to add Frank Foster to my list of a few days ago.

  2. Late to the party though I see most of my underrated tenors suggestions have already come up. I’d agree that the wonderful Tina Brooks and Hank Mobley are probably no longer in that category. And you can put me down as a “plus one” for Harold Land (his partnership with Bobby Hutcherson is often overlooked), Booker Irvin (such a distinctive sound), John Gilmore (who, by the way, was a member of The Jazz Messengers when they appeared on the BBC’s Jazz 625 programme) and, of course, Tubby Hayes (the very definition of underrated outside the UK).

  3. Ok, this topic finally got me to coment instead of just lurking about….. Great site by the way!

    Eddie Harris.
    The In Sound
    Tender Storm
    Mean Greens

    All on Atlantic. Now to find a copy of Peace Maker, didn’t know about it until recently, I’ve enjoyed A New Shade of Blue for Decades. Thanks LJC and thank you all for all the information and entertainment over the last year.

  4. Booker Ervin. His records are pricey and he’s “famous” today in jazz collecting circles, but he was a genius who was, and remains today, sorely underrated. That’s It! is just completely fantastic all around; it’s as good a tenor record as I’ve ever heard. He’s fantastic on The Quest and all the Mingus records (esp. Mingus x5). And his run on Prestige is all great, The In-Between is a gem, Structurally Sound is good. Such a unique, instantly-identifiable sound. Just bursting with ideas and creativity.

  5. He had a pretty great early career, playing on a number of well-known records (at least in jazz circles):

    Brown and Roach Incorporated
    Clifford Brown and Max Roach
    Max Roach and Clifford Brown in Concert
    Study in Brown
    The Remarkable Carmell Jones featuring Harold Land
    Hampton Hawes – For Real
    The Curtis Counce Group
    You Get More Bounce With Curtis Counce
    Thelonious Monk Plus Two – At the Blackhawk

    Plus, aside from The Fox, I think:
    Eastward Ho!
    West Coast Blues; and
    The Peace-Maker
    are all terrific records. That’s a pretty good run!

  6. Great reading as usual LJC, nice to see mr. Land getting the recognition he deserves. Theres already a good list of underrated tenors so i’ll just add an underrated Land album, The Peace Maker on Cadet, 1968 – great album with Hutcherson & some uncommon musicians on board.

  7. Can’t believe no one has mentioned Stan “The Man” Turrentine….a great run of albums on Blue Note

  8. Because I would feel bad simply hijacking this comment thread to ask about a particular record, I’ll give the unsung tenor heroes question a shot. As I think about it I realize that I am shamefully mainstream in my knowledge, and ought to go find some more obscure players. That’s the beauty of this era of jazz—there were very few bad players (records, too, as I’ll get to later) regardless of how well known they are.

    My pick:

    Eddy “Cat Eye” Williams – I found Mr. Cat Eye (perhaps an admirer of Mr. Lockjaw) as a sidemen on a Prestige record by Chicago pianist John Wright, called Makin’ Out. I found a great original fireworks label, deep groove, RVG first pressing, I think for $20. Plays perfectly. Anyhow, I was impressed with Cat Eye and wanted to find out more about him, but ran into a dead end. Do you know anything about this player?

    Now to return to my original unrelated comment. At my local record store I found a wonderful album on Impulse! – Impressions of New York by the Rolf and Joachim Kühn Quartet, the former playing clarinet and the latter on piano, augmented to a foursome with Jimmy Garrison obviously on bass Aldo Romano on drums. Nice gatefold, some gloss bubbles, orange and black labels, Van Gelder stamp, plays beautifully. I had never heard of the album or its leaders, and I was pleasantly surprised; it now ranks among my favorites. Here’s my confusion: the cover is originally mono, but the “monaural” text is covered with a small black “STEREO” sticker; the only other time in my limited experience that I’ve seen this is on a red ring label second pressing of MCCoy Tyner Plays Duke Ellington that I own. So, despite being on Orange/Black labels, I’m confused about its status as a first pressing. Could it be a second, just pressed with leftover labels? Regardless, I recommend that you listen to this wonderful album, and if anyone on this thread has listened to it I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    Loving the blog LJC,

    Aidan

    • Hi, you have something of a curiosity there, AS-9158. I know when I was compiling my Impulse Label Guide, I ran straight into the last gasp of the Impulse mono series, which terminated at A-9165, just a few titles later.

      By this time of this Kuhn release (nice title!) – 1968 – Impulse commercial releases move to only stereo. Mono was the preserve of radio-play promos, and then only for a short while, after which promos moved also to stereo.

      What I think you have is a gatefold originally printed and prepared to support a mono commercial edition, which by the time of release was redundant, as commercial releases had moved on to stereo. Hence a nifty bit of footwork to relabel the mono cover as stereo, to match a stereo pressing, save a few pennies in reprinting the cover, not waste it.

      It was common practice during times of transition to sticker mono covers as stereo, saving the cost of printing two different covers. They did similar stuff penny-pinching on common liner notes to records issued in two volumes.

      Do I get a prize for the correct solution? Really, no, it was nothing. Well, not exactly nothing. I mean, it was something. Not much, but still … pretty deep dive, eh?

      Eddy “cat-eye” Williams? Well under the radar, this one, seriously under rated. But with due diligence, I have an Eddy! Not one, but two. Never registered it but Eddy Williams appears on an obscure Japan-only Blue Note LP, “Minor Revelation” by trombonist Bennie Green (King GXF 3036) Sonny Clark Paul Chambers! Also with Benny Green, already subject of a blog post here on LJC, hear for yourself, BLP 4010 Walkin’ & Talkin.’ Judge for yourselves.

      Interestingly, that post reminded me of my new LJC system of Dating Record Covers according to the width of trouser flares.

      There is more to be developed from this idea, like dating records by suit lapel width. Forget etchings, trouser flares is the new forensic.

    • Eddie Williams born 1910 died 1977 played with Claude Williams 1930s, military service1945/46 recorded with Bennie Green 45 Sessions and Walking and talking both BN also Oliver Nelson and Pee Wee Russell The Spirit of 67 on Impulse

  9. Borje Fredriksson – check out his album “Intervall” on Swedish Parlophone. Now that’s what I call under-rated…Part 1

    Or sticking with Sweden- Bernt Rosengren- “Notes from the Underground”

  10. Just picked up a copy of the early 70’s A New Shade of Blue (Mainstream) with Bobby Hutcherson during my last visit to Cleveland. It’s clearly Land playing, but the overall style is a significant shift from The Fox.

    Unsung heros of the tenor…let’s not forget Ben Webster and Zoot Sims. Plus a couple of my favorite Chicago players Von Freeman (on the wonderful Nessa label) and Dewey Redman.

  11. LJC, under rated tenor saxophonists
    –Hank Mobley
    –Tina Brooks
    –Booker Ervin
    –George Coleman
    –Johnny Griffin
    –Charlie Rouse

    That’s just off the top of my head…there are so many more! Greg

  12. For those who like to know what was up with Dupree Bolton, jazz historian Ted Gioia tracked down the enigma in 2009. Great jazz research: http://www.jazz.com/features-and-interviews/2009/4/14/in-search-of-dupree-bolton-part-1

    In spite of the monicker, if not a good little church worker, I’m quite the law-abiding citizen, LJC.:) But let’s not be TOO decent. I’m not in the myth-making business, but many of the classic jazz guys, albeit straight-up, didn’t exactly stress decency…

    Unsung heroes:

    Red Holloway
    (Sit down & relax with) Jimmy Forrest
    Benny Golson (Still a lot of focus after all these years on his – indeed – great songwriting, while his tenor playing is equally great)

    • Maybe its my English, but isn’t a “flophouse” slang for a cathouse/bordello? I’ll happily withdraw, it just seemed to me a little odd for a blogname. The writing is no slouch, great, some of the best I have read.

      • Supposedly, yes, there were tenements buildings or sleazy hotels where one’d be sure to encounter loose women. I like the name and that it’s not exactly clear. Hard Bop Heaven sounded dull to me… Wouldn’t call it whorehouse.com of course.

        I can understand you find it odd though.

        Thanks for the compliment. And reference, much appreciated!

        Cheers,

        Avid LJC reader.

    • As you point out, the research from Ted Gioia is excellent. His love of the music and fascination with its people saved the story of what became of Dupree Bolton for posterity. Thanks to FlophouseMagazine for publishing. Incidentally, whenever I hear the term ‘flophouse’ I think of the home that the lads made for themselves as told in the older Steinbeck’s ‘Cannery Row’.

      • That’s why I posted it a while ago, Downwithit (Downwithit? Hey, that’s a blog!) exactly because of the reasons you pointed out. Below, I see Anonymous agrees…

        Interesting linguistic insights!

        Blog on.

  13. I have a stereo original on hifijazz , handily stickered ‘this is an incomparable hifi STEREO disc by high fidelity recordings, inc’….. And it is! Loud and lively.

  14. My tenor flea market tenor short list included most of the above players mentioned but I have to add: Dexter Gordon and Jimmy Heath.

    • Good call on Jimmy Heath! He never gets mentioned and he was one of the great writers too – spent too much of his prime behind bars or he surely would had a couple of prime LPs as a leader for BN or Riverside. Luckily he came out swingin’.

  15. Favorite Tenors who get left out of the usual conversation:

    Clifford Jordan – original voice, recognizable, never made a bad album.
    Charlie Rouse – original voice, had to keep up with Monk’s tunes, was his perfect foil. Also made some fantastic solo albums (my favorite is Moment’s Notice on Storyville).
    and…
    Harold Land! Let’s not forget he was in the Brown-Roach Quintet for a number of great recordings and playing next to Brownie was no easy deal. Plus all those great 70s records with Bobby Hutcherson – those are some of the best jazz records of the era. His solo work is killer too. But I love “The Fox.” DuPree Bolton was a monster – check him out on Curtis Amy’s “Katanga” LP – straight fireworks.

    Great album. Saw this original copy here in Houston for….$80.00. I’ll keep my $11 OJC copy but the original is a beauty indeed. Elmo Hope! What a band.

  16. Bill Barron! Hardly ever mentioned, much less so than his brother Kenny. His early sixties records Modern Windows and The Hot Line (with Booker Ervin) are very advanced modern jazz for the period.

  17. i object to charlie parker being labeled a tenor player in any sense. he dabbled with it (i like “blue haze!), but if he is a tenor player, then coltrane is an alto player.

    oh man, i have GOT to get a copy of this harold land record. and dig that cover. scrumptious.

    unsung tenor heroes?

    -junior cook, who filled the tenor seat with horace silver so well through the late 50s.
    -john gilmore, sun ra’s tenor man for 30+ years, and featured on great albums like “turkish women at the bath” in his own right
    -albert ayler, but dare i call him unsung?
    -ditto for pharoah
    -ummm, is harold land an obvious choice?
    -sam rivers
    -YUSEF LATEEF, for god’s sake. the guy made world music good even before world music was bad.

    -whoever i am forgetting that i will remember as soon as i post this.


    LJC says – brain not in gear, Parker, alto of course, I automatically list Parker as number 1 in any list, but you are quite right, technically, not tenor much.

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