. . .
Lee Morgan, trumpet; Curtis Fuller, trombone; Joe Henderson, tenor sax; Bobby Hutcherson, vibes; Cedar Walton, piano; Ron Carter, bass; Joe Chambers, drums, recorded Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, January 27, 1966, released November 1966.
One line up you can’t fit in a taxi, a septet: Henderson, Morgan, Fuller brass front line, add Hutcherson mallets; Walton, Carter and Chambers bringing up the rear, you could not ask for more top talent in 1966, an all-star line up.
Musical Notes: Joe Henderson, The Art Of The Tenor
Aside from the Giants (right, hat-tip M C Escher’s triangle) and the founding fathers of bop, to my ears, two saxophone players in the middle ’60s field stand out: Wayne Shorter and Joe Henderson. Both combine superior expressive improvisation with strong composing skills. Henderson strikes me as the more emotional and adventurous of the two players. Shorter I find more measured and controlled as a player, but the stronger composer. No need to choose between, I’ll take ’em both.
I turned to another saxophone player to describe in horn-playing musician-speak Henderson’s stylistic acheivements: sopranist Dave Leibman:
“As a saxophonist, I consider Joe’s style an extension of Sonny Rollins, attributable mostly to his sense of phrasing and note choices and the fact that the principles of the bebop legacy are fundamental to both. However, Joe took the tenor sax elsewhere technically, in areas such as his unique set of expressive devices, unending variations of articulations, fast arpeggios, trills and the like, a looseness of rhythm that defied the bar line, his own personal way of using the high register of the horn, and a tone that could go from liquid to coarse in a beat”
Leibman continues, but lost me at this point: ” “Shade of Jade” has a large percentage of major 7 flat 5 chords, with a lot of whole and half step root motion“. Yeah…root motion.. (strokes imaginary goatee) dig those cords, hipsters, mine are … purple.
Henderson’s “voice” is distinctive, a hard and gruff tone, not at all the nasal malted-chocolate tone of Hank Mobley, the acid sharp alto of Jackie Mclean, or the sour burnt tone of Wayne Shorter’s tenor. What matters next is what the voice goes on to sing: emotional expression, urgency and excitement, fluent lyricism, and of course, inventiveness and surprise. Joe Henderson has all of it.
Music: Mode For Joe
Three years on from his Blue Note debut, Henderson was growing in tenor power, growing the size of his band, and now growing a beard. The presence of several feature soloists stop it from being “just a saxophone album”, though nothing intrinsically wrong with that, if it’s a good album. The songs here are less ensemble pieces than a platform for the soloists. Not everyone appears on every track, or in the same running order, which keeps pace and texture varied.
If you wanted words to describe Mode For Joe, it falls under the umbrella of “adventurous hard bop”, neither inside nor outside, more somewhere in the middle, with a bit of both. That doesn’t help much, LJC, start again.
A Shade of Jade and Mode For Joe travel a long way beyond the infectious bossa beats of Page One, to energetic, raucous, helter-skelter pieces. Joe Chambers never lets up the drive, Ron Carter walks double time, bubbling beneath. Cedar Walton’s assertive comping completes the platform from which front line launch the fireworks. Lee Morgan puts on an glittering display of his trademark excitable horn, Henderson’s drilling hard tone pierces armour, while Curtis Fuller’s trombone adds texture, weaving low brass harmonies, and at one point, an inspired rhumba undertow. Enter Hutcherson’s contrasting cool metalic tones…in effect, you are getting several albums for the price of one. Unfortunately, a not insignificant price nowadays, well into three figures (Three copies on Discogs asking from $200 to $500)
Vinyl: BNST 84227
Liberty first pressing in late1966, VAN GELDER stereo master, vinyl 160 grams, NY labels printed for Bue Note before Liberty.
Cover fails Surgeon General’s advice against smoking, no warning.
This record comes with the second 27 Years inner sleeve, last of the Blue Note picture inner sleeves. The unique album for this sleeve is Dexter Gordon “Getting Around” in column 6 row 4. It was matched with BLP 4227 (Mode For Joe) and higher.
A large quantity of this sleeve was used by Liberty on titles in preparation at the time of their aquisition of Blue Note, and with early reissues. Its presence is generally an indicator of a quality East Coast pressing by All Disc, Roselle NJ. – in the latter half of 1966, almost always with original Van Gelder master metal.
Not that I understood the significance of the inner sleeve at the time, and I was mistakenly disappointed this copy lacked the Plastylite ear, believing the ear to be the sign of genuine Blue Note. It was only some time later I became familiar with the 35 Blue Note titles caught in the early stages of preparation for release, whose first pressing was by Liberty. Fears are groundless, the school of ’66 Liberty pressings from Van Gelder masters are the equal of Plastylite, in all except price. The same can not be said of all the years that were to follow.
This 27 Years sleeve is always a good thing to find on a Liberty. Cherish it.
Mode For Joe: Marketplace Mischief & Mayhem
I was shocked at recent auction prices of Mode For Joe. Popike tells the story. What interested me, aside from the eyewatering prices, was lots of spurious detail; a couple suprisingly claim “sealed” (Liberty in 1966? just … possibly); quoting the back cover address 43W61St., (which is the same on every Blue Note cover from 1960 to 1966) The top price seller claims their copy is “Deep Groove”, which is total bs. Deep groove disappeared at Plastylite a year and a half previously, and never appeared on any record pressed for Liberty. Everyone skirted around the absence of the Plastylite ear. Nothing wrong in that, it is “the original”, no need to be shy.
The important thing is condition and that it is the mono which fetches the premium price.
My humble stereo copy was marked down due to its scruffy cover. One previous owner painted his name in white tippex on the top right of the front cover, and black felt tip on the back. Idiot. I photoshopped it out. I have to look at it, no reason why you should have to as well.
I bought it in 2010, an Ebay auction a year before the birth of LondonJazzCollector, under $50.
It never made a LJC post, because attention in those heady days was then focussed on “new aquisitions”, and showing off my latest score. There were many: postman calling daily with record-shaped brown packages, some from an exotic place called New York. And so many things to learn, and mistakes to make, but Blue Note was love-at-first-sound, and I wanted more.
Confessions of a Record Collector
There is probably a diagram to be drawn about the stages of building a record collection. It starts with aquisition overdrive, voracious, everything you can get your hands on. Fortuitously, among the commonplace Japanese and French copies, you pick up what will be ultimately be proved bargains: originals. Then, as you become more knowlegeable and discriminating, buying fewer and more expensive records. Finally you reach the point where you have most of the records you want, and you rarely if ever see the few remaining of your wants list, and reluctant to stretch to the most expensive trophy records (though some will).
I wondered if this collector’s model would be supported by the facts? Being a numbers guy, and because I enter the “date added” to my collection database, it was possible to extract a count of records added in each of the last full nine years (barring a few blanks and typos and part-year 2010, and excluding 2020) Never done this before. The results, for 1600 records for which I had a date-added, shocked me. This is what a vinyl junkie‘s diary looks like!
Number of Records Bought Each Year
In the first three years I was buying virtually one record a day! Madness.
Consolidating in the following three years, record buying dropped by nearly half, to only one record every two days. Still madness. In the latest three years however, record buying has fallen to less than one a week. If I had 2020 up to date, which I haven’t yet, it has probably fallen even lower. I could do the same data with expenditure at some time.
LJC reader Eric sent me these pictures of a veritable Aladdin’s Cave of jazz records he had been bidding on. I figure this is what happens when a record collector simply remains stalled in aquisition mode. What to listen to, apart from the doorbell as postie arrives laden down with more records. Meticulously filed in alphabetical order, a collection may be ten times the size of my own, based on the approximate number of records visible for selected letters of the alphabet.
The personal challenge now is not to collect more records, but to listen to the ones I already have. I admire Giorgio’s Injunction (DottorJazz), that you should play every record you own at least once a year. I fail that test miserably in the past, but it’s the right advice and I’m planning to take it. As a result, I expect to find more records I missed first time around, and want to write about. No problem, I have, unexpectedly, plenty of time on my hands.
If there are any records you would find helpful to have a view on, I am open to suggestion, just keep your social distance.