Selection: No Refill
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Thad Jones, flugelhorn, cornet; Al Grey, trombone; Billy Mitchell, tenor sax; Tommy Flanagan, piano; Paul Chambers, bass; Elvin Jones, drums. Recorded at Nola Studios, NYC, October 24 & 31, 1959
After recently paddling in the musical waters of the late ’60s and early ’70s, their cultural roots showing, I needed to swim back into the mainstream waters of bop, to be reminded where all this stuff came from. And how good it still is.
Irresistable all-star line-up, swinging hard bop from a tight all-Detroit sextet, masters of the genre. This is straight ahead fare, Thad Jones pure tone flugelhorn and ice-cream cornet blended with trombone and tenor, a feisty three part brass, with Elvin Jones power behind, Paul Chambers towing underneath, while Tommy Flanagan glues everything together, just perfect.
These artists needed to move away from Detroit, to New York, to get the opportunities and recognition they deserved. But geographical sentiment seems strong in the jazz. If you are from Philly, or Detroit, that’s apparently important.
As a mere Brit, I have never understood the need to know which town or state a musician originated from. Ian Carr was a great trumpet player, who hailed originally from Newcastle. He’s “from Newcastle”. It adds information, a bit of shared local colour, but nothing of intrinsic value in understanding or describing his ability. The writer reveals their absence of musical vocabulary, but at least they know their geography. A Newcastle trumpeter. Everyone’s from somewhere, yeah. Over to you, Philly Joe. Kick!
Motor City Scene was later repackaged with another recording of complementary titles line-up led by Donald Byrd in a 70 minute CD of Motor City – originating music. But we won’t talk about that. Motown Sound I think I understand, but not Motor City Jazz. However you can educate me, I’m not proud.
Vinyl: FELP 214 La Voix De Son Maitre / Pathe Marconi EMI mono
French reissue of United Artists UAL 4025, my guess probably around the same time as the US issue, 1960. Solid mono presentation, well-articulated full tonal range, no solid-state or digital artefacts, pure craftsmanship in vinyl. Below is the original US issue, United Artists red label (mono):
I have often been disappointed by the US pressings of United Artists at this time. The plain coloured UA label (red mono, turqouise stereo) and the bendy tenor series has some very poor recording, mastering and pressing compared with the high standards of the Blue Note/ Prestige/ Riverside/ Contemporary specialist jazz labels.I put this down to the label’s origin primarily as a bulk distribution channel for United Artists film soundtracks, and the absence of a hands-on engineering champion at senior level. Never leave sound quality to the accountants, too many in the industry did.
By 1960, interest in jazz was rising at United Artists, leading to hiring Alan Douglas to run its jazz division. Around late 1959/ early 1960, a clutch of American jazz recordings, including Motor City Scene, were released in France by Pathé Marconi EMI, mostly United Artists recordings, likely a European licensing deal between United Artists and EMI.
As a way around sometimes unsatisfactory United Artists US pressings, I have found higher quality in European pressings. Despite being remastered from copy tape, solid local engineering skills and quality pressing produce good results, often better than original United Artists.
“His Master’s Voice” (HMV) logo features a terrier called Nipper looking into and listening to a wind up disc player. It was used around the world by British music giant EMI. In Europe these include “La voix de son maître,” (France), “La voz de su amo” (Spain), and “La voce del padrone” (Italy), along with many other local language variations in other countries. The French variant below is a label used by EMI’s French vehicle Pathé Marconi EMI.
Brush up your French with the liner notes, unusually for a European reissue, in French. The first track timing is a miss-print, not six seconds: 0’06 but 6’06. ‘oops, mistakes happen, not lost in translation.
Released in 1959 by United Artists but not subsequently reissued on vinyl in the US, – only this dedicated release in France and of course later in the ’70s in Japan, by both King and Toshiba.
My copy turned up rummaging in a small used vinyl shop in South of France. Hot on the heels of the 10″ Miles Davis Lift To The Scaffold, a little French vinyl portfolio to accompany some excellent white Burgundy and white Rhone snapped up in the Foire du Vin. Well a couple of bottles. St Péray from the Cuilleron, Villard and Gaillard “Vin de Vienne” boys – La Viennoise Les Farnands 2018 – 100% Marsanne. . Oh, and another special white, Collioure Blanc Roche d’Hérode, from Famille Gaillard at Malleval, neighbour of Condrieu, king of Northern Rhone. Oh and also some interesting Pouilly Fuissé…
Wine Supermarket wine fairs in France are everywhere second/third week of September, all the big supermarkets join in. There are the cheap-skate bulk offers – buy 4 get 2 free – a few euros a bottle, and there are a very limited number of bottles for the high-end enthusiasts, may be only one box total for the whole of the big Carrefour.
When the local Lidl wine fair opened, there were already a dozen people waiting along side me for the doors to open Then a race towards the wine shelves, catalogue in hand, elbows at the ready. It’s fun in a sort of kid in a sweetshop sort of way. Somewhere among all the unopened boxes behind other boxes I found the box of Viré Clessé I was after. Someone ahead of me slipped a case of six of something into their trolley, good stuff moved fast off the shelves. The queues at the checkout began to lengthen. Then soon after, the wine-buffs gone, everything returned to “normal”, that is, even longer and even slower-moving queues. French supermarkets across the board seem reluctant to employ enough staff on the tills, Lidl being one of the worst.
Imagine a Blue Note Fair, boxes of premium original titles, doors open at 08:00 am, collector’s swarm in. Wouldn’t that be fun? Perhaps Utrecht or Milan, or some of the big record fairs are like that,
Any record fair collector stories, I have never been to one, are they any good? Is it worth the travel? The floor is yours, we are all ears.