Selection 2: Stylin’ (Land) 3:34
It’s rapidly approaching, Christmas/Thanksgiving/Holiday/whatever-you-wanna-call-it, so a seasonal bonus from LJC – Selection 2,Stylin’, and what a track! Outrageous! Harmonica, flute, vibes – it even smells of 1967, the faint whiff of joss-sticks and incense, patchouli oil, and … thanks, but just tobacco in mine
Harold Land (tenor sax) Bobby Hutcherson (vibes) Joe Sample (piano) Buster Williams (bass) Donald Bailey (drums, harmonica) recorded Annex Studios, Los Angeles, CA, December 11, 1967 & February 26, 1968, recording engineer Dave Wiechman.
Bobby Hutcherson and Harold Land have been covered extensively at LJC before, so a quick peek at who joins them on this not well known album.
Joe Sample (piano) on leave from The Jazz Crusaders, the group who would later to become simply The Crusaders, when I caught up with them in the early ’70s. Up in the attic, boxes of electronic jazz-funk-fusion LPs: Yellowjackets, Spyrogyra, Special EFX, Brecker Brothers, Larry Carlton, David Sanborn, Bob James, many GRP and MCA albums – the list is embarrassingly long, but no Kenny G.
Sample eventually moved over to various electric keyboards, Wurlitzer, Fender Rhodes and clavinet, a long illustrious career as session man with many stars. But here on acoustic piano, fluid and rhythmic, echoes of Wynton Kelly, Horace Silver, Duke Pearson, but wholly versatile, adapting to the drifting floating cool direction set out by Land and Hutcherson.
Buster Williams on bass, who would shortly join Herbie Hancock Sextet, largely electric post-Miles, which evolved into synthesiser-based post-modal impressionism. Music forever on the move.The experimentation dates it on the cusp of electrification but Buster can walk.
Donald Bailey, drums and harmonica. Bailey is best known for his appearance on twenty one Jimmy Smith Blue Note albums. But the harmonica? The most portable instrument in the jazz repertoire, fits neatly in a shirt pocket with room for a pack of Luckies. Belgian Toots Thielemans is about the only widely recognised exponent of jazz harmonica, a very small field compared with its’ natural home, the blues. Quirky, but against all expectations, it adds a different sound which works well with Hutcherson and Land, quite endearing.
Recorded on the cusp of 1967/8, this merger of East and West coast into a new landmark.
AllMusic (awarded 4½ stars): “one of the finest if little-known jazz LPs of its era. The Peace-Maker is a particularly apt title. The record’s serene, supple contours glow with a lyricism that eschews the angularity of bop.
Land’s graceful sax melds perfectly with Hutcherson’s warm, shimmering vibes to create a deeply soulful, even divine sound. His original compositions are no less thoughtful, galvanized by a yearning for harmony that embraces all senses of the term “.
The Peacemaker was first of ten albums Land recorded with Bobby Hutcherson over the following eight years. The tunes here are not show-tunes or bop standards, but a new genre, jaunty staircase headline motifs that run up and down the scales while the modal canvas shifts with each repetition.
Hutcherson has metallic cool ringing-tones, while Land delivers hard-edge gritty tenor , leaving the propulsion to the rhythm section, which acquits itself honourably. You have to breathe in that 1967 smoke to really get this album. First reaction was – eh? It took more than a few repetitions to get into the zeitgeist. I’m off up the thrift shops looking for a pair of purple loon pants.
Vinyl: Chess LPS 813 original pressing on the Chicago label.
A small amount of recycled vinyl in the mix, not as bad as some Prestige/New Jazz, but an underlying crackle persistent between the tracks, dubious industry practice of the day – payola to disc jockeys, adulterating vinyl by adding recycled to cut cost, perhaps no-one at the time could hear, but quite audible with a sensitive modern cartridge.
That aside, a nice stereo soundstage, generally well engineered by Dave Weichman of Radio Recorders, best known as “Elvis’s engineer” 1962-6 with a respectable list of jazz recordings to his credit, including Harold Land’s The Fox, MJQ, Elmo Hope, Dave Pell, Emil Richards, and…Canned Heat.
This one is “rare”, I concluded, the devil to get hold of, and very fully priced, from across the pond, perhaps it didn’t sell well. You might have some views on it.
UPDATE December 6, 2016
I noticed this copy being sold on Ebay as though it was the original. Original Cadet it is not – it is a Cadet reissue by All Platinum Records Group, a specialist Soul and R&B label who took over the Chess catalogue in 1975.
This All Platinum “Cadet” is mid to late ’70s second issue. The few I have are poor quality manufactured for cheapness, and the covers are often as seen here, black and white copies, not recommended.
Faster than a speeding bullet train, LJC reader Moko fires off a Japanese copy, label dated 1984. Could be the alternative of choice. Thanks, Moko, nice shooting.
Any more alternatives out there? Send ’em. This album deserves to be better known.
I read we just lost Phil Woods, a fine altoist, one of the finest.