Selection: Moontrane (Shaw)
Woody Shaw (trumpet) Bobby Hutcherson (vibes) Cecil Bernard (piano) Ray Drummond (bass) Larry Hancock (drums) recorded at “Montreux Jazz Festival”, “Casino De Montreux”, Switzerland, July 5, 1973
Bobby and Woody we know, but what to make of the other players on this prestigious date at Montreux?
Bassist Ray Drummond is the only sideman here to have his own Wiki entry, going unnoticed from here until the late ’80s when his career advanced, somewhat. Hotep Cecil Barnard, piano, a young South African who appears on one track of The Byrds “Younger than Yesterday” (1967) and later ’80s with Hugh Masekela. Larry Hancock (drums) was a regular collaborater with Bobby in the mid 70s, later a jobbing session player with a variety of jazz artists. Journeymen each, who aquit themselves well here.
Why a Blue Note date? Well, Bobby was signed to Blue Note through Liberty and then United Artists. Woody was signed to Muse, so I guess it’s Bobby’s album, though musically it might just as well be Woody’s.
The Allmusic review awarded the album 4 stars and stated “Hutch and Shaw have ample room for solos, and they prove why they are the best in the business at inventing improvisations based on these viable themes“. “Viable themes” – not exactly Whitney Balliett is it?
You can’t go wrong with compositions like Woody Shaw’s Moontrane. Shame they couldn’t fit it on the record as one track, instead fading half way through on side one and fading back in on side two, poor artistic decision, but the power of the composition is undiminished. For your benefit I’ve stitched the two parts together, but there is an inevitable fade out and in at around 7:50 I like the Montreux scampering vibraphone version , but here are some others I posted earlier.
Moontrane was recorded again by Woody a year later on his Muse album “Moontrane” (1974) with a more emphatically brass line up which gives a very different reading of this great tune.
Then there is the very excellent Larry Young Unity version on Blue Note, soul jazz organ instead of piano:
So that’s you all Moontraned-out, full moon.
The other two tunes on the Montreux session are typically live concert material. Lots of energy and lengthy solos, but thankfully none where the soloist holds the stage while the rest of the band head for the bar. An impressive sounding album, quite unlike the disciplined precision of studio recordings, a welcome change, even.
Vinyl: Blue Note BN-LA249-G
United Artists Records, released in 1974, manufactured in Germany. I read somewhere this recording was released only in Europe and Japan.
We need to talk about the cover. The cover is a design horror. Photographer Doug Metzler is no Francis Wolff, Bobby is head in hands like he has the mother of all hangovers. Repeat the album title four times around the photo of Bobby, add a flower-power Montreux emblem, a bit of blue type play on “Blue” Note.
Just before you think it couldn’t get any worse, flip it over, the layout of the liner notes on the back consists of acres of unused white space and a single right-justified column of text. Then repeat the same photo on the front on the back. Someone signed this off? My office, now!
Thank heavens the engineering is a different story: well miked and recorded live performance, well-mastered and pressed, bright, rich tonal range, air around the instruments, convincing instrument imaging and placement.
Only the capture of the Montreux audience appreciation sounds a bit canned, not quite the background intimate clink of cocktail glasses and fuzzy hubbub of The Village Vanguard, Bill Evans Trio, or the spirited raucous club atmosphere of The Cafe Bohemia. There’s club live, and then there’s concert hall Live. Different sort of live.
Attention Londoners: Cookin’ with Blue Note, at Camden Town
As a matter of principle LJC doesn’t carry any commercial or promotional activity. Unless you count promoting Modern Jazz as a whole. And the second-hand vinyl market. And high-end hifi. And record-cleaning machines. Cue: What have the Romans ever done for us? Strictly education and research.
However, on Wednesday 21st September, the Jazz Café , Camden Town is playing host to an evening “History Of Blue Note Records“, and that is very much my metier, so I’ll give them a small plug . It’s a live musical tribute not an actual history tutorial, so no exam at the end, and at £10 entry, it’s a tenth of the price of many original Blue Note LPs, and if you include Mobley 1568, about 1/400th. Great value, so I give it my blessing.
The Jazz Café in Camden Town sounds like the sort of place I ought to hang out in, but strictly entre nous, it’s in (I’ll whisper it) North London. Us South Londoners just don’t get on up North. I mean Highgate (Sting)? Islington (Jeremy Corbyn) ? Hampstead (The Spice Girls) ? Not my manor, governor. I’m sorry I can’t go myself.
The North South Divide:
The flyer gives all the necessary details, if anyone is interested, and there is a link on Facebook and The Jazz Café site. Controversy alert! I don’t do social media. I use a basic flip-phone with no apps, so I’m not one of the zombies shambling around our cities staring all day at their hand-held device. Call me old-fashioned but Twitter Me Not. Keeping up this blog going uses what little energy I have nowadays, plus a little vinyl listening time. Controversy alert over.
If anyone goes, they could write me a guest post review. Non-commercial activity policy restored forthwith.
This post was in response to an album recommendation by an LJC reader. There you have it: a blog that listens. Just don’t get carried away.