Selection: Concerto For Billy The Kid (Russell)
. . .
Art Farmer (trumpet) Hal McKusick (flute, alto sax) Bill Evans (piano) Barry Galbraith (guitar) Milt Hinton (bass) Joe Harris (drums) recorded NYC, March 31, October 17 & 21, 1956
Artist of Note: The (fairly) young Bill Evans, age 27, a few minor appearances on record previously, the 1956 Russell Smalltet would give him major exposure, and open the door to Riverside recording (New Jazz Conceptions, 1956), the following year a stint with Mingus (East Coasting, 1957) and two years later he would join the Miles Davis Sextet (Jazz Tracks, 1958, Kind of Blue,1959) and his continued meteoric rise through the Bill Evans Trio with Scott Lafaro (1959-61).
Twelve tracks, a few forgettable, many unforgettable. A bewildering parade of ensemble pieces, hoe-down, rhumba, big-band, contrapuntal lines and stop-start rotating time signatures, workshop excursions, from the writing and arranging skills of George Russell.
The selection, Concerto for Billy The Kid, (the young Bill Evans is Billy The Kid) is an extraordinary piece, an exciting composed backcloth which showcases a Bill Evans I hadn’t heard before. Bill Evans, not the romantic-lyrical voice of Waltz For Debby, Evans is rapid-fire Tristano/Powell full-on commando attack, elongated melodic lines and rollercoaster spills and thrills driven by a relentless energy that shows no respite: cling on for the ride.
The asymmetrical horn-riffs weave in and out of the time signature. McCusick is a fine altoist voice somewhere between Art Pepper and Paul Desmond but more swinging. Art Farmer provides richly-textured trumpet tone. The combined players provide a scored brass backbone, mashed-up riffs that syncopate with rhythmic precision and variety.This piece is extraordinary, I come back to it again and again. How come I didn’t know about something this good ?
Do you have other tracks that are favourites?
Vinyl: RCA 2nd edition 1962.
Great stuff, RCA Victor second issue. A few crackles, but generally a fine recording of fine music.
Everyone has their most beautiful records, gathering oohs and aahs from collecting friends. Isn’t it a beauty? Sharp corners, flawless glossy laminate, pristine, no writing on the cover, no storage damage, perfect, mint covers.
Sickening, isn’t it?
A chance email from a reader prompted a new idea, a new theme: The LJC Chamber of Horrors, where readers can show off not their best, but the worst condition albums in their collection. Not just any old album, it must be a premium collectable record, which originally had beautiful original cover, whose beauty previous owners failed to preserve it. Inner beauty, but outside, now The Beast.
I’ll start the ball rolling, with three of my precious favourite records where I bit the bullet, and adopted a much-wanted but seriously misused album cover for the love of the music within.But first, another horror story. Just last week a good friend received the following record following through the post:
That is how it arrived, a billhook through the package, that scarred the vinyl. My inner psychologist says this is no accident. Some malignant individual, possibly under the influence of the Evil Silver Disc or its more evil twin the Devil-Download, was provoked by the admonition – Handle With Care: “Vinyl? I’ll teach you vinyl-lovers a lesson! Take that!”
Your stories or picture contributions welcome. Share your pain. Schadenfreude.
The LJC Chamber of Horrors
BN 84061 Donald Byrd at The Half Note
What happens to an original laminated cover when encased in a rigid plastic sleeve which, over several decades, formed a vacuum seal with the laminate. Taking the cover out of the sleeve left half the laminate bonded to the sleeve.
Next up, careless handling, no excuse, my office, now!
London American, Byrd’s Word
That beautiful London American cover, with a chunk of Byrd’s leg amputated, my grey card prosthetic in its place. How could they be so careless?
Felsted, Chet Baker, I Get Chet.
Final entry, rare as hen’s teeth, the cheesecake cover on Decca Felsted, Chet Baker I Get Chet. How could anyone not look after this lady, mother wouldn’t approve. She Gets Chet, what more could you ask?
Am I the only one who has an eternal battle with the “Condition is King”? Collector. Over to you. Fellow collectors, we will feel your pain (or at least, will share it, then probably snicker). Send your photos and stories to
Subject line: Chamber of Horrors.
LJC reader Nick tells me this story:
I once purchased a record with a good chunk missing from the record mailer. I opened the LP & took a look, then celebrated the fact that the LP had been spared much too soon. I took the record out of the sleeve & went to place it on my turntables platter, & then stared in horror when the LP actually fell into 2 pieces! Right down the middle too! There must have been enough of a connection left in the vinyl for me to get it from the sleeve to the platter without noticing the damage at first. Right down the middle I tell you! Truly horrifying!!!
Reader Charles shared this slightly dog-eared copy of Saxophone Colossus, which saved him a small fortune on this iconic record.
Aaron got this