. . .
Harold Vick, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute, bass clarinet; Virgil Jones, trumpet, flugelhorn (A1-A3); Kiane Zawadi, euphonium ( A1-A3); Joe Bonner, electric piano, piano, percussion, tuba; George Davis, guitar, flute (A1-B1); Sam Jones, bass (A1-B2); Billy Hart. drums, percussion (A1-B2); Jimmy Hopps – percussion ( B1;) recorded at Minot Sound Studios, White Plains, NY, November 1974.
A1 – Don’t Look Back (6:04)
A2 – Melody for Bu (7:22)
A3 – Senor Zamora (5:40)
B1 – Stop and Cop (6:38)
B2 – Lucille (9:20)
B3 – Prayer (1:05)
Vick is among the more mainstream artists who recorded for Strata East, with a leaning towards soul jazz, found on another Strata East title with Shirley Scott, the excellent One For Me. (Harold Vick’s “Keep On Moving on”)
Somewhere between Boogaloo and Cosmic Conciousness is Mainstream and this is reassuringly it. Vick was a funky, bluesy tenor who paired well with heroes of the Hammond – Brother Jack McDuff, Jimmy McGriff, Richard “Groove” Holmes, Johnny Hammond and Big John Patton. He led just one title for Blue Note, 4138 Steppin’ Out, in 1963, compared to around a dozen soul jazz sessionswith McDuff, for Prestige. His tenor style is a dancing partner of the soul jazz organ: muscular, solid, playing inside the groove not out, absent tortured self-expression, but setting out his own engaging lyrical path and a tenor voice tinged with vibrato – not unlike another Strata East saxman, Clifford Jordan.The line-up is electro-acoustic – acoustic brass and woodwind, the piano is both electric and acoustic. The drums, accents and cymbal-sibilance are spread across the width of the soundstage. The recording engineers were on the case, and the remastering engineer is on the same wavelength. Dynamic and tonal range is full, which is ultimately I guess what today “audiophile” means, and not optimised for earbuds.
Vinyl: Pure Pleasure 2018 reissue of 1974 Strata East SES 7431
In Pure Pleasure’s own words about the label: “Sourcing the best available masters to work from, then over to spending stunning days with the experts at Mastering. Air Studios with Ray Staff. Graheme Durham at the Exchange, Shaun McGhee at Abbey Road. Ron McMaster at Capital mastering in Hollywood, Kevin Grey at Coherant Audio.”
Harry M has the photos.
Harold Vick, Montreux 1975, with Shirley Scott Trio
Sam Jones, Copenhagen 1969, with Oscar Peterson Trio
Tale of Two Labels: auction max – Blue Note $700 left, Strata East $300 right
This “Musician’s Departure Timetable” prompted my comment in a record store, that “most of the people I listen to are dead”. Whilst anatomically correct, the proprietor was a little taken aback at my clumsy expression. They were definitely all alive during the recordings. What I meant to say was I don’t listen to many living artists, That doesn’t sound much better, but in no small measure because they mostly put out their work on CD and download. And only occasionally, on vinyl.
Modern Vinyl Manufacture, UK
One living artist I have bought recently on vinyl was talented Manchester trumpet player Matthew Halsall, sort of lounge Miles Davis, a bit acoustic wallpaper, but nice acoustic wallpaper. Two double LPs, sealed, first time out of the sleeve, the pressings were filthy, grooves choked with dust. All four LPs in the same shocking Dusty Groove indeed. Under diffuse roomlight, unnoticeable, under LED, send for the vinyl police. If you don’t have an LED spot, get one now, it is an education.
The ten year old recordings had been remastered for a tenth anniversary reissue, sounded digitally sourced, missing much of the upper register – another engineer who had read those frequencies can not be heard. Was the original recorded source analogue? The vinyl output is mostly midband and boosted bass, engineered for Millenials, smells digital. Each record had a code for digital download. I thought, why bother? I think that’s what I’m already listening to.
A friend bought another of Matthew’s albums, and immediately had to send it back as one side had seriously faulty pressing. Is there no quality control in these plants? Perhaps the guys producing this are not themselves vinyl-philes.. It is vinyl, and vinyl is cool, but ultimately just another format, according to preference. So the digital file source gets put on vinyl. You don’t know what you don’t know.
An eye-opener, UK modern vinyl manufacture is in a sorry state.The vinyl revival contains a large quantity of poorly manufactured plastic quality. Audiophile quality manufacturing seems the monopoly of Germany – Optimal who press BN 80’s, and Pallas, who press Jazzman. Perhaps it’s the customers fault, unwilling to pay for a properly manufactured product. You get what you pay for, though sometimes not even that.
With a few notable exceptions, engineering skills also seem to have been have been lost. The exceptions include Kevin Gray, who I am now convinced is the living reincarnation of Rudy Van Gelder. In the UK, Caspar Sutton-Jones at Gearbox, Ray Staff at Air Studios for Pure Pleasure, Colin Young (CY Audio) for Jazzman and Pete Hutchison and his mastering engineers for Electric Recording Company (ERC), £350 a pop, sold out before I finished typing his name. That’s what I call provenance, Hutchison apparantly flew between LA and London with the Bill Evans Village Vangard tape in his personal custody.
In the tiny sector of truly audiophile vinyl (stands up to originals, or acceptably close) , I now include Pure Pleasure, ERC, Blue Note Vinyl Classics 80, Tone Poets, and Music Matters Jazz SRX. There is gold out there, take no-one’s word for it, trust just your own ears. And well, maybe trust mine. However there is still a lot to be said for “originals”, though deep pockets are required.
Hey! Look what I just found! Pure Pleasure are proud sponsors of…
Impressive line-up he said, checking the Musician’s Departure Timetable, yup, they all with us so far, few days to go. Billy Parker’s still got a good head of hair. The hair is all in the genes. Buster’s looking good, but no grey, how old is the photo, Buster? Sorry Lenny, the hat is a giveaway, what you would conceal, you reveal.