Selection 2: Old Spice
Benny Bailey (trumpet) Jackie McLean (alto sax) Tina Brooks (tenor sax) Freddie Redd (piano) Paul Chambers (bass) (drums) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, January 17, 1961.
The original recording session for Music from The Connection (BN 4027) , left, was February 15, 1960, a year earlier than this selection. The alternative Music From The Connection (LTZ-U 15,221) was recorded four months later for Decca, on June 13, 1960, under the name of Howard McGhee Quintet, with Tina Brooks in place of McLean, and Freddie Redd playing under the pseudonym I Ching, for contractual reasons.
This so called Third Session, recorded January 17, 1961, music definitely from the same family of tunes as The Connection, but this time reunites McLean on alto with his Connection understudy, Tina Brooks, on tenor. The session remained unissued until Mosiac brought it to light, with two sides in this 3-LP box set.
Not to confuse things, yet another version of Music From The Connection was released by Cecil Payne with Kenny Drew on piano for Charlie Parker Records, and some tracks from the West Coast staging of the play by Dexter Gordon on his Dexter Calling album for Blue Note (which for some reason I have omitted to review. I’ll get around to it.).
If you have enjoyed Redd’s rousing tunes from The Connection, and stormin’ tunes like Blue Blue Blues! from Shades of Redd, the Complete Freddie Redd Mosaic offers an unusual opportunity to get yourself another helping, previously unissued work, a Blue Note that never was.
It’s official. You can not have enough Tina Brooks (says LJC)
Another player taken from us too soon, age 42, Harold Floyd “Tina” Brooks is a firm favourite on the LJC turntable.
I have always had a preference for the more throwaway Tina Brooks /Decca Connection over McLean’s more professionally crafted Blue Note. Tina’s tenor has a wayward, impetuous youthful drive. He gets himself into scrapes, tight corners in his solo runs, but usually manages to pull a surprise, twisting back to land on his feet. That same ability is in abundance here, under the watchful eye of McLean, acid-toned as ever.
It is Freddy’s three album after all, though the tenor showcasing is important for musical content. Freddie Redd has a rousing block-chordal delivery of the strong melodic compositions that are his trademark. The extra surprise is the trumpet Benny Bailey’s powerful voicing. Bailey was a long-standing hard-bop trumpeter who eventually moved to Europe, first Sweden, went AWOL in Gigi Campi country with Francy/Bolland and finally Hollanded, permanently. Somewhere I have a ’60s Benny Bailey release for Candid I must revisit. All these Connections!
Vinyl: Mosaic MR3-124 The Complete Blue Note Recordings Of Freddie Redd , Sides V and VI
Issued as a 3 LP box set in 1989, the Complete Freddie Redd offers not only the previously unissued additional tunes from The Connection, it releases Shades of Redd for the first time in stereo. Music Matters issued Shades of Redd in stereo, in their 2008 2x45rpm edition.
It also looks like I photographed the label before passing the records through the RCM: it looks very dusty. Near-mint doesn’t mean near-clean, it’s filthy. It’s not even vintage dust: a domestic appliance called a vacuum cleaner was widely available in the ’90s, but clearly not much used in this owner’s house.
The track-listing credits “digital transfers by Ron McMaster”. As this set was also issued on CD, and the same insert doubling up to cover both the vinyl set and the CD set, so that statement might mean anything.
Though they contain essential material, given Cuscuna’s access to original Van Gelder tapes, Mosaic are not always the top-notch audio they should be. Often you have to turn them up a bit to recover some punch, some of them are weak and slightly soft transfers. Cuscuna is an unequalled archivist, curator and repository of Blue Note knowledge, just not necessarily a “vinyl audiophile”. He should have renewed his acquaintance with Van Gelder more often. However I guess we should be grateful for what we get.
History of The Third Session – Mosaic Insert
Written in 1988 by Ben Sidran, one time keyboardist of the Steve Miller Band in the early ’70s (long before Abracadabra), subsequently life-long career as performer, producer and educator. Sidran’s jazz credentials are confirmed by his five-year NPR program Sidran on Record, featuring conversations recorded with 60 leading jazz musicians, including Miles Davis and Art Blakey.
This has been a bit of a rambling post, but that is sometimes how it works.
Very little has been coming in from record auctions of late, so it was a pleasant surprise to see this pop up in a record store, a low box set number 1,800 in a run of 7,500. The price was a little rich but these box sets are long out of print, and often show little sign of play. I guess vinyl issued just a few years after the arrival of CD was often put to one side in favour of listening to material on the “new format”, the Evil Silver Disk™.
The Shirley Clarke film of The Connection is a somewhat heavy-handed affair, a film about someone making a film about jazz musician junkies, in which everyone is acting, including the documentary maker, and the jazz musicians playing themselves. Identity crisis, where is reality? However the official trailer is a delight, seeing Mclean playing himself on alto amidst the junkies on the set, just great theatre.
I would be thrilled to see the Gelber stage play brought back to the stage, musicians playing the score, live. Wouldn’t that be something? Theatreland needs a shot in the arm.
Put it on your Santa wants list.