Shirley Scott: One For Me (1974) Universal Sounds (1997) – updated

UPDATE 12/12/19: Photos added of Shirley Scott and Harold Vick, live, 1975.

Selection: Keep On Movin’ On (Vick)

.  .  .

Artists 

Shirley Scott, organ, mellotron; Harold Vick, alto/tenor  saxophone; Billy Higgins, drums; Jimmy Hopps, cowbell; recorded at Blue Rock Studio, New York City, November 1974, engineers: Eddie Korvin, David Horowitz; mastered by David Crawford at Generation Sound.

Music

Hammond B3 organ soul jazz? Mrs Turrentine? What has got into to you LJC, first flute, now.. .this?

Yes, but, yes, but, I was strangely taken with this track. and found myself coming back to, it again and again, groovin’ along. Generally I don’t listen to organ-combo soul jazz, but Scott has a very soulful easy flow, initially taking a back seat to Harold Vick’s excellent saxophone, playing his heart out for the first five minutes of the nine-minute track. How’s that for modesty, Shirley gives first half of her time to her sideman.

The principal theme is a latin-tinged call and answer between I guess the answer  a multi-tracked horn, voiced over a swaying Hammond vamp.  In classic soul-jazz form, the key is long held, until the mounting tension is relieved by shifting the key. This is held too, until resolved by a further key change. It creates an elongated modal structure over which Vick can stretch out after the main theme is done. I like the way this plays out.

When Shirley does take off, it is indeed in a very soulful groove, more gentle than the histrionics usually associated with Death-by-Hammond B3 school of organ players. She cooks and swings beautifully and her bass pedals deftly cover over the absence of a bass player. She was one of the few women jazz players in a field then dominated by men, so kudos to her, but more kudos for her uplifting playing. 

Another word about Harold Vick. Vick recorded just one album as leader for Blue Note, BLP 4183 Steppin’ Out  (1963) dominated by Blue Note’s 2nd favourite soul jazz organist, “Big John” Patton.   Vick had a natural affinity with organ soul jazz, working with Brother Jack McDuff and Jimmy McGriff ,  so it was unsurprising to find him partnered here with Shirley Scott. Initially I thought of Vick as a competent but perhaps lightweight tenor player. His passionate driving play here shows hints of more, perhaps not the premier division – Coltrane – Rollins –  but you don’t need three Michelin Stars to cook up a great tasty meal. I add Harold Vick to my list of horn players to look out for.

Billy Higgins has become one of my favourite drummers, solid as a rock but more propulsive than a rock, obviously. He pushes everything along nicely,  with the help of a merciless cowbell strike from Jimmy Hopps that leaves you “slave to the rhythm”.

Allmusic awarded the album only 3/5 stars: “while it is nothing overly heavy or deep, it’s thoughtfully and sensitively produced and of its kind an almost perfect album” – covering all the bases, eh? Like a lot of Strata East, it is fairly rare, and sells for up to $200 at auction. I guess I really ought to get myself a copy.

Vinyl: Strata East SES 7430  released January 1975

Since I don’t actually own this album, I thought I would try something new at LJC: FakeJazzCollector. I think this is another  LJC first.

It didn’t take long to find acceptable quality pictures of each label side, thanks to Popsike and Youtube. No etchings, that would be expecting too much.  A picture of the back cover wasn’t too difficult to find either, neutralising the colour-cast, legible text, with  just a little help from Photoshop. Almost as good as owning it, but not.

What I do own will be revealed below under “Collector’s Corner”

shirley-scott-one-for-me-label

Shirley-Scott-One-For-Me-back-cover-Strata-East-1974.jpg

Collector’s Corner

Today’s actual source: “Strata-2-East” Universal Sound, London, 1997

Strata East records are not much seen in the UK and they are pretty rare themselves in the US. There have been a spate of Strata East modern reissues recently, of pretty poor quality  based on my sample of one, to be avoided. However I came across this  compilation of Strata East recordings ( Years 1972-5), issued by Universal Sound, London,1997. The compilation is itself over twenty years old.

In the record-collecting heirarchy. the least desirable of all records is a compilation/sampler, but there are times when  a sample of things you are unlikely to hear any other way has it’s attraction. I know nothing about Universal Sound. The name sounds like the music giant “Universal”, but isn’t. Unlikely a little-known record label in London would have access to original Strata East tapes, so no audiophile pretensions, but a home-grown DJ-type dubbing operation, ask no questions.

The tracks selected for the compilation are more from the funky side of Strata East. Two tracks by “The Descendants Of Mike And Phoebe” (pictured below left) – strange name for a group, but interesting, Bill Lee on bass, includes a nice rendition of  the “Glass Bead Games” mesmerising Lee composition “Coltrane“. So let’s hear it from The Descendants..

Selection: Descendants Of Mike And Phoebe – “Coltrane” (Lee)

.  .  .

Such a lot of interesting material on the Strata East label, tantilisingly obscure, and out of reach, and sound quality of original Strata East albums is much better than this sampler (which is nonetheless fairly pleasant)

The  DJ jazz funk community in London has long had a fascination with music from this period, Good on them for producing this in the late ’90’s, and introducing me to Shirley Scott and Harold Vick, which I would otherwise have overlooked.  Now, the Oness Of JuJu, hang on, I’m still catching up. Some of the material on the sampler has not aged well, but there is also some good stuff spread over its four sides. So take a bow, Universal Sound, whoever they are/were.

Anything here for you? Strata East? Universal Sound? Shirley Scott? Harold Vick? Oneness of JuJu? Descendants of Mike And Phoebe?  Or am I here on my own?

The floor is yours. Just be sure to sweep up after.

LJC

Jazz fan and photographer Harry M captured Shirley and Harold live at Montreux,1975, just a few months after the recording of “One For Me”. VIP front row seat, how marvelous! Thanks for sharing.

Shirley Scott, Harold Vick, Montreux 1975

Photos courtesy of Harry M

UPDATE 2: Descendants of Mike And Phoebe Revealed.

The Descendants Of Mike And Phoebe – A Spirit Speaks (Strata East, 1974)

The composing and bass-playing father of film director Spike Lee led a family band through a funk-friendly jazz album dedicated to their slave ancestors. The line-up includes three of Lee’s children siblings, flugelhornist Cliff, pianist Consuela and singer Grace, augmented by drummer Billy Higgins“.

By inference, Mike and Phoebe were the “ancestors” referred to. I assume there was fourth child, Spike, who chose not to play an instrument.

12 thoughts on “Shirley Scott: One For Me (1974) Universal Sounds (1997) – updated

    • Dangers of cut and paste journalism, as the quote marks around the paragraph indicate, I copied it, straight from a Strata East fansite.
      As my Factchecker is on long-term sick, I just checked for myself. Seems Lee had five children with his first wife and one with his second, none of whom are the three listed members of The Descendants. So, you are right, “siblings”. Useful trivia, “siblings” is worth 11 points in Scrabble.

  1. Shirley Scott’s playing on a recent Tone Poet release of Stanley Turrentine’s “Hustlin” was my gateway into a jazz trope I had always scorned – the jazz organ. Have now spent the last month or so down the rabbit hole and appreciating quite a few records I once wouldn’t have considered.

  2. Except the LP for Blue Note, Harold Vick did two albums for RCA Victor “Straight Up” and “Watch What Happens”, one for Muse “Commitment” and one for Strata East “Don´t Look Back”. The RCA Victor´s are not essential, especially “Watch What Happens” is more on the easy listening side (and advertised as such).But Commitment and “Don´t Look Back” are worth to look for. Beware: both have some flute playing by Vick!
    For my ears Harold Vick is a very underrated player. He reminds me a little bit of Tina Brooks, his playing has a kind of “dark” emotional quality. He was highly valued by his New York saxophone colleagues.

  3. I think Universal sounds/Sounds of The universe/soul jazz records are legit licensee’s of the music. I have various compilations from them covering jazz, funk and latin music. They also curated a cd that accompanied an exhibition on contemporary black culture at Tate Modern. The quality of the cd’s are superb so I’d be surprised if they were bootlegged.
    Rather than go with volume releases I feel they’re about the quality of the music offered.
    I really recommend their Soho store. As well as vinyl and cd’s there’s a good book section too.

  4. Universal Sound…it looked kind of familiar, with the characteristic typography, in red letters…
    Then I remembered where I saw it before: my (reissue) copy of – the fantastic – Steve Reid / Nova. And of course, the back cover reveals: Universal Sound, a division of Soul Jazz Records, 12 Ingestre Place, Soho, London (now located at 7 Broadwick Street, also Soho).
    All my vinyl reissues on Universal Sound or Soul Jazz Records are of stellar quality. The three (also fantastic) Lloyd McNeill reissues sound as good as the original Asha pressings… well better even, on much quieter vinyl!

  5. Completely agree with you about Billy Higgins. He often turns what would otherwise be a “meh” record into something worth listening to.
    I don’t mind a bit of Hammond soul jazz now and again and Shirley Scott makes a nice change from Lonnie and Jimmy Smith.
    Scott always reminds me of my art school days, Manchester c.1983. Hanky Panky a tune she recorded in 1965 got played a lot in the clubs and features in this hysterically bad video (from 2’21”).

    Surely the prize for Death-By-Hammond should be awarded to Jon Lord of Deep Purple fame. I once had the dubious pleasure of helping to assemble his organ at Castle Donnington Monster’s Of Rock. Suffice to say the analogue beauty of the instrument itself with those big whirly-gig speaker things was much more interesting than the noise he coaxed from it.

  6. There was a near mint copy, UK seller, at £40 last month on eBay, I hesitated for a moment and it was gone. When I saw your review I thought it might have been you who purchased it, but no, it’s not!

      • Hi, I meant a copy of the Shirley Scott on Strata-East (cf “FakeJazzCollector”)! I hesitated for the same reasons as you: I am not a big fan of soul jazz organ… Great site by the way, always inspiring.

        • Gotcha, the Strata East. I probably would have passed on it myself, “don’t do soul-jazz organ trio” until getting my ear in gear around Shirley. It would not have been the first time I made a mistake, and likely not the last.

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