To continue the theme of British Jazz, now expanded to 1963-74, the second double album compiled by DJ of French origin, Gilles Peterson, Impressed 2 released on vinyl in 2004. Nice cover segue, with a second thumb print, it’s all in the detail.
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Artists (Michael Garrick Septet line up )
Michael Garrick, piano, harpsichord and celeste; Ian Carr, trumpet and flugelhorn; Tony Coe, tenor saxophone; Joe Harriott, alto saxophone; Don Rendell, tenor and soprano saxophone; Dave Green, bass; Trevor Tomkins, drums… additional drum and poetry, Colin Barnes. Eh? Poetry? As omniscient Google asks: Did you mean pottery?
Original title, on Decca label Argo:
Impressed 2 Bonus!: Harold McNair – The Hipster
The Groove is strong with this one . . .
. . .
Original title Harold McNair on B&C Records
“Beat and Commercial” Records, a label which existed 1968-75, whose roster included prog-rockers like The Nice, Van Den Graaf Generator and Atomic Rooster, prog-folkies Steeleye Span and Lindisfarne, and Spyrogyra (not to be confused with Spyro Gyra, easily done), all of which which I’m going to pretend I can’t remember because I was too young! Totally untrue of course, I remember them well, but not this one.
“The second self-titled album by Jamaican-born saxophonist and flautist Harold McNair, released posthumously in 1972. The album, which includes mixes taken from the earlier self-titled LP released on RCA in 1968, featured probably his most famous composition, “The Hipster”, which has become a perennial fixture on the playlists at jazz clubs and was included on Gilles Peterson’s recent Impressed Vol. 2 compilation of 1960s British jazz.”
I had never heard of Harold McNair until this volume came to my attention, just one of the many benefits of writing about something you know nothing about: it’s so educational. Harold McNair? Record store conversation with man-behind-the-counter pulled up the usual record-store anecdote. “I sold Flute and Nut one time“. Me, blank look, Fruit and Nut? This is a sweet shop now? Got it, good British play on words. Yeah, of course, wow…(feigning hipness)
Desirable, but taking one look at it (above) I probably wouldn’t have expressed an interest at the time. Ignorance is a terrible thing, and in such plentiful supply. The label Vocalion Dutton has apparently put out a reissue of these two main albums, however a mere CD compilation, so once again, Gilles strikes gold again with vinyl.
Of McNair himself, his career was cruelly cut short by cancer at the age of only 39, in 1971, leaving a legacy of less than a handful of albums.
Other Impressed 2 artists tracks: Boom Jackie Boom Chick! (Paul Gonsalves, title track!), Rendell Carr Garrick! The Tubster! Stan Tracy! Cream of British Jazz titles in the late ’60s. I have only two as originals, sad face…but they are both very very good, happy face… Starless and Bible-Black (Stan Tracy not the King Crimson album 1974)…yeah.
“The second volume of unique, rare and beautiful British jazz from the renowned BBC Radio One international DJ. This album sees him uncover more exceptional UK jazz, this time from the 60s and 70s. Featuring landmark recordings, elusive rarities and previously unreleased exclusives, Impressed Vol 2 builds on the success of the first volume, with many of the tracks reissued for the first time since their original release.” (Amazon official review)
“This was something of a golden era. What is interesting is that most of these musicians don’t sound American. This is jazz with an English accent.”
Speaking of English accents, several tracks feature the voice of Norma Winstone, voted top singer in the Melody Maker Jazz Poll of 1971, and a regular contributor to albums by Michael Garrick (pictured together on the insert). Norma is still with us, not long ago awarded an MBE ( Most Excellent Order of the British Empire). Shouldn’t that be MEOBE?
The Insert (Typical of its time, printed in coloured ink which does no favours to readability, I have darkened the text to improve this)
The Insert – where they put the actual information.
“Information” as to which tracks are on which of the four sides of vinyl is conspicuously absent. Apparently, information is old fashioned, nowadays you are lucky to know who’s album it is. You have to ask, then why tell us which record number and side number it is? There’s the tell. Information does matter, that white space is a modern conceit. Well, that’s how I read it.
The pressing is stronger here than the first Impressed double, or at least my copy. More important, the engineering transfer quality is impeccable. Based on information surfacing as regards the first volume, original tape sources.
I first stumbled on this (second) Peterson collection in a London record store, another of those joyous accidental discoveries, which led backwards to tracking down a copy of the first Peterson collection, previous post. As often, life rarely occurs in the correct order. “sat mat on the cat The” .
Looking back to buying records in my teens, let’s say a few decades ago, we all eagerly awaited the next new release by our favourite artists. Record collecting today is a quite different enterprise: you never know from one day to the next what will turn up, by whom.
As I have written before, the word “new”, which holds such influence over the music industry, has no force at all here – everything was new once. Now we have the entire historic musical canvas to look back over, and the joy of discovery, un-tramelled by the commercial conveyor-belt of newness.
Much British jazz was from this golden age is entirely new to me, fifty years later. What a great time to be a music-lover, all this wonderful stuff, and still much more to discover. All the while, still luxuriating in the heritage of America.
A real-life jazz DJ, Jean-Claude, explained to me where this stuff fits with the younger generation ( I paraphrase the conversation, as best I recall). “The kids are brought up on grime, dubstep, hip-hop, rap, what the industry produces for kids now. They have never heard “jazz” until stuff like The Hipster or Boom Jackie Boom Chick hits them. Its got a groove they can relate to, its just one small hop, and they are shocked, why don’t we know about this!? Some of the hipper are musicians themselves. The sharper ones go to Youtube – everything is there, every jazz artist of the golden era, they watch everything, but they have never experienced any of it except through mediocre MP3, grainy 260px footage. They know it all, but they have never experienced it, until you spin vinyl through a full sound system, like, they go mental!”
This is the spirit of DJ Jazz which Gilles and Jean-Claude represent. It seems a good spirit to me, an antidote to the jump-up-and-down mindless stuff. There is an appetite for the good stuff, not just the new stuff.
Enough of the soapbox, LJC, time to move on.