James Clay: A Double Dose Of Soul (1960) Riverside

Selection: New Delhi (Feldman)

. . .

My DJ informant on what’s hip and what’s not tells me the killer track is Pavanne,  . which is a processional dance. That’s as may be, but I’m running with the Victor Feldman composition New Delhi. What its got to do with the capital of India, search me, but it has a good vibe.


Nat Adderley, cornet; James Clay, flute, tenor sax; Victor Feldman, vibes; Gene Harris, piano; Sam Jones, bass; Louis Hayes, drums, recorded at United Recording, Los Angeles, CA, October 11, 1960

Line up looks like The Loan Arranger comes to town. James Clay on loan from The Lawrence Marable Quartet, Gene Harris on loan from The Three Sounds, rest of the rhythm section and brother Nat on loan from the Cannonball Adderley Quintet, and Victor Feldman on loan from England.

After making a sparkling contribution on one of jazz’s holy grail titles  Lawrence Marable Quartet Featuring James Clay – Tenorman. Jazz West JWLP8 (1956)  James Clay finally made his debut as leader on this Riverside title, A Double Dose of Soul (RLP 9349). The Riverside connection also found him work on a handful of other Riverside sessions, including James Clay & David “Fathead” Newman – The Sound Of The Wide Open Spaces!!!! (RLP 12-327   ) and   Wes Montgomery – Movin’ Along.( RLP 342 )

However it seems no further dates were forthcoming. In Sixties New York,  I guess, tenors were ten-a-penny. Clay returned to Texas where he languished in relative obscurity over the following three decades, returning to the studio in 1989 to record a couple of titles as the James Clay Quartet. Clay died on New Year’s day, January 1, 1994; Dallas, TX, aged 58.

Victor Feldman settled in Los Angeles, and enjoyed a quirky musical career, pictured bottom left The Arrival of Victor Feldman…with much-missed Scott La Faro; Mallets A Forethought as  Nominee for worst Vibraphone record cover ever, and recording  such promising titles as The World’s First Album of Soviet Jazz Themes, an album I am confident you all have on your shelves, featuring great songs like “Moscow After Dark“, and “‘Round About Midnight (knock on the door)”.

Feldman is probably best known for turning down an offer to join the Miles Davis Quintet in 1963, settling instead for less artistically demanding but more lucrative session work for the US film and recording industry. He also dabbled in 70s pop scene – who can forget his riveting opening conga beat on Steely Dan’s Do It Again? Well, I’m trying. (Cue Victor Feldman conga intro, electric piano, Steely Dan…)


Half the tracks feature Clay on tenor, the other half feature the flute, to which instrument  Clay brings a forward and assertive style that lifts it above the watery chirruping of some flautists.  The “Double Dose” in the album title is like “Triple Threat”, a reference to instrumental versatility, two instruments. Or something you go discretely to the doctors for treatment. All in all I think this is a great and undervalued album, full of promise, destiny not fulfilled.

Vinyl: RLP 9349 US Riverside stereo

Like many US Riverside pressings, little or no visible etchings in the runout, usually a sign of someone not proud of their own work.


Collector’s Corner.

Collectors, can we talk?

Are you a disciplined, well-organised collector who maintains meticulous military-precision filing order in their shelves? Or are you basically a collector slut: albums scattered over the floor in random piles, relying on memory where any record you want to play may be? For the last couple of years, I confess I have been the latter.

Records pulled for playing were not returned to their proper place. Records were miss-filed simply under  approximate artist position, in an ultimately inadequate attempt to restore order. Newly purchased records were never added to the master database, and technically “did not exist”. Duplicates were hidden following upgrades, and  the expensive upgrade was not recorded. Whole artist sections had disappeared into random piles. Something had to be done, but the prospect was daunting.

There would be little point in “filing” those records out on the floor into a system that was itself in disorder. It had to be a fundamental re-ordering of every record in the collection, all two and a half thousand of them. A plan was hatched.

First step was to update the database, with every record acquired in the last two or more years that was out on the floor. Many more would be discovered in the course of the refilling process. Many more.

The updated database listing was sorted alphabetically by Artist Last_name and Album title. A few decisions were required as to under whose name an album should be classified. James Clay or Lawrence Marable was one that topically comes to mind. And all the variably titled Francy Bolland Kenny Clarke Big Band albums. The database list would be the arbiter of which record belonged where, the master filing list was then printed to paper – amounting to 36 pages.

The next task was to put in alphabetical order the three to four hundred records out on the floor. Some old  IKEA boxes and a clever vinyl separating 12×12 index card set (on-line from VinylGuru) provided the temporary structure. From there on each main filing system cabinet shelf was emptied in turn, correctly put in alphabetical order as per the master filing list, and any albums from the floor added to their proper place.

Many omissions were found and corrected in the painstaking process. I found many records I had forgotten I had. Some records I can’t remember buying or even playing. Three records I found I had mistakenly bought twice.

Towards the very the end of the alphabet, somewhere around Phil Woods, I ran out of filing cabinet space. It was wishful thinking that everything out on the floor would fit into already full existing shelves.  Larry Young and a section of compilations (“Various Artists”) had to be found another home.

The whole process, from start to finish, took four and a half days, by the end of which, to be honest, I never wanted to see another record again.

(Photo-simulation, but to scale)

But it was done, order forged out of chaos, and I had found a whole list of “new records” I wanted to become re-acquainted with. All I have to do now is…keep it in order.

That could prove an even bigger challenge.





21 thoughts on “James Clay: A Double Dose Of Soul (1960) Riverside

  1. Late entry I know and not within your normal bandwidth but I was scratching around at the back of the cupboard yesterday and came across an excellent Victor Feldman Trio recording from 1978 called Together Again on the Japanese label Yupiteru label with Monty Budwing and Shelly Manne . Piano all the way and well a bin dive . .

  2. Thanks for pointing out this one and the accidental voyage of discovery it leads to.
    I never find four days spare to do what you did with your collection, but my ad hoc method means I can lay my hands on most albums quite quickly. I go looking for something and the there are big clusters, like Impulse, Charlie Parker Miles Davis Duke Ellington etc, and albums loosely related to them are on either side. British jazz is by decade. If as I skip through looking for something I see an album that looks like it should be near a cluster, I move it there. Over the months and years it gets a few minutes a week of sorting a week. I am trying to thin down from 10k to about 3-4k of albums.
    I know a much better system I will have one day though, smaller clusters of say 25-30 lps all in flip racks face out, 3 or 4 tiers, waist to eye level only, along the two side walls of the listening room. Every time you walk in, you are confronted by all that lovely artwork. Play an lp, put it in the rear of the rack, the front art changes every week.

  3. This a great album recorded by a great engineer Wally Heider. Clay started off in Texas in the 50’s gigging with Ornette Coleman , Don Cherry and Billy Higgins He did not “chuck it in ” after the few Riverside recordings , he joined the Ray Charles Band and stayed until the late 60’s. He then quit to raise a family and was invited back to New York in 1988 to record Art Deco with Don Cherry and Billy Higgins ( recorded by RVG). Another strong Clay performance from the early period is Red Mitchell presents on Contemporary
    Regarding Feldman’s output how can anybody forget “Stop the world , I want to get off” . It still applies today me thinks.

    • Thank you for pointing out “Stop the world…Looks like a similar trio setup as “The Arrival of Victor Feldman”.
      The Red Mitchell album features interesting early Clay with Billy Higgins. A very fine album. Clay is already on flute here!

  4. Not so long ago I sold this album. As a tenor Clay is interesting, but his contemporary Junior Cook is more versatile and expressive. Let’s forget about Clay’s fluting.. The presence of Nat A. is a definite minor point to me. Victor Feldman has tonnes of talent. But he never surpassed his CR trio album, for me one of the stellar sessions of the ’50s.
    When I am browsing in my Riversides of that period, I noticed that all have seam split problems, like yours. They were definitely on the cost cutting track.
    Btw, the title of the album puts me off. This is the period where hard bop had lost its initial freshness. Soul had the function to boost sales.

    • you don’t like nat? or do you just mean it isn’t a big deal to you that he is on the record? I love him. Like the cannonball of the trumpet (or cornet). so soulful and pliant.

      • De gustibus……..
        No, I don’t like Nat’s trumpet or cornet. His soulful, ‘optimistic’ playing does not appeal to me.
        Give me Webster Young or Tony Fruscella instead. I like the subdued trumpet type, with some exceptions, Lee M. and Bill Hardman.

          • As far as I know, Tony made only one legitimate album, the Atlantic lp, which was also on London. There are some obscure live recordings on two Honeydew lp’s.
            There is an Adderley, Nat I mean, on EmArcy (Wing) which (for me) is worth listening to, one of his first, with Roy Haynes and Jérôme Richardson, I believe. Roy is always a treat.
            I found out that the first Clay recording on Jazz West is not his, but L. Marable’s.
            Clay’s first recording under his name was one track with the rhythm section of Chet Baker for Pacific Jazz. Came on an P.J. anthology ‘Solo Flight’.

    • The recording date was 1960, surely bop had a long way to unwind before needing “soul” refreshment, think of all those Blue Notes still 47W63rd.

      I hear this album as more about the pull between East Coast and West Coast sensibilities, and the influence of Cannonball Adderley – pushing “soulfulness”, rather than later stereotypical “Soul” direction with lots of Hammond B3, all those Prestige titles in the mid-60s.

      Junior Cook with Horace Silver is a good comparator with Clay, similar playing weight. Clay unfortunately threw in the towel early, our loss.

      I am on record as being anti-flute, but Clay won me over. I plead guilty.

  5. I’ve shipped my modest collection of a couple of thousand vinyl and some evil silver disks from Slough to Manchester to Auckland (NZ) to Melbourne to Adelaide to Brisbane to Christchurch. Disarray is the norm, re-discovery is a joy.

  6. used to have this James Clay record; nice but I never felt “essential.” Would probably pick it up again if I saw it in nice condition, though.

  7. I am VERY particular about keeping my records organized and in order. I have never, to my memory, left a record out of place for more than a few hours after playing it. It is truly a sickness.

      • reap the benefits every day when i can find what i’m looking for and i know what i have. haha.

      • order and discipline is my vinyl rule, the only way to find everything in seconds. when an artist has many records I try to keep a chronological order too. this doesn’t apply when many records are from the same label (Coltrane on Impulse, Davis on Prestige or Columbia, Monk on Riverside). these are in catalogue # series. it’s not maniacal, it’s simply useful. I still remember a friend collector who had 1000s, several 1000s of records all in his room, but had not enough place. all the walls were covered by shelves, almost all the floor was busy with records. you had to walk, step by step, on a narrow track to reach some point. well, all records were NOT organized in any way, they were simply amassed. when I asked him how to find a single record he replied: ” I can’t, I know I have it and someday it will surface”.

  8. Very cool flute groove and sounds like good stereo as far as I can tell from my playback .Its on the list, thanks for the info.

    Mallets Afore Thought – great cover!

    Very impressive record collection – careful with your joists!

  9. Cool storage, LJC

    & I’d love to hear the James Clay record, but I’m stranded on Silver Disc Isle..


  10. ‘ I found many records I had forgotten I had. Some records I can’t remember buying or even playing. Three records I found I had mistakenly bought twice.’

    Been there.

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