Nathan Davis: Live in Paris, ORTF Recordings (1965-7) Sam Records (2018)


Selection:  Blues For Southeast Asia

.  .  .


All tracks except E2: Nathan Davis, saxophone; Georges Arvanitas, piano and organ; Jacky Samson; bass; Charles Saudrais; drums. E2: Champs-Elysées All-Stars : Nathan Davis, saxophone; Jack Diéval, piano; Jacques Hess, bass, Franco Manzecchi, drums.

Side A & B recorded at Studio 105 Charles Trenet, Maison de la Radio, Paris, France, November 19, 1966. Side C, D & E1 : recorded at Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris, October 22, 1967. Side E2 recorded at Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris, France, February 9, 1965.

French jazz pianist Georges Arvanitas born June 13, 1931 in Marseille, France, died September 25, 2005

Track List

A1   The Hip Walk (N. Davis)  9’21
A2   Yesterdays (J. Kern)  8’40 (Flute Version)
B1   A5 (N. Davis)  10’39
B2   Nathalie’s Bounce (N. Davis)  10’17
C1   Love Ye The Neighbor (N. Davis)  12’43
C2   Mid Evil Dance (N. Davis)  9’53
D1   The Rules of Freedom (N. Davis)  12’15
D2   The Thing (N. Davis)  13’19
E1   Yesterdays (J. Kern)  14’05 (Sax Version)
E2   Blues For Southeast Asia (N. Davis)  10’15


 Nathan Davis recordings for French Radio (ORTF), three locations, live settings, lots of space for extended workouts rather than studio execution to the stop-watch, broad canvas, discover the true voice of Nathan Davis, covering much of his recorded songbook.

The selection, Blues For Southeast Asia, is my absolute favourite. A modal vamp with shades of Dave Brubeck’s Take Five, (without the tricksy time signatures)  gives Davis a ten minute blank canvas to find his own voice and ideas, extended lines, excursions, flurries, not obviously any other player, it grooves and swings its own course.  Jack Diéval, piano, supplies the vamp, bass and drums are timekeepers, a little space for the rhythm section at the close, I’d be happy with another twenty minutes of this track, lovely stuff.

Other tracks are great too, you get over an hour and 45 minutes on the complete album set. I have not checked each track, but the final track is mono from the waveforms, definitely, but I left the rip in Stereo just in case. 

Vinyl: Sam Records SR20/2

“My two great interests are jazz music and photography. In 2006 I got to know the American musician Nathan Davis personally and made a decision : I would re-release a recording by Davis from 1965 in the best possible quality available. The search for the copyright owner of the cover photo led me to Jean-Pierre Leloir, a legendary photographer who had captured on film what went on music-wise in Paris over many years. I was to be able to find who had the master tape, then have an agreement with the owner and then produced my very first LP reissue”.

(Fred Thomas, Sam Records)

Made in Germany, cutting by SST –  Schallplatten Schneid Technik GmbH, German master disk cutting specialists 

“Cutting is the fundamental component of phonograph disk production. It is the decisive element that determines whether an audio production will be transferred to disk in a way that is true to the original”  .” SST link

The squiggle after SST is the engineer code, K, seen elsewhere attributed to Kr, Daniel Kreiger.

SST: Cutting from analogue tape

“The tape machine used for cutting to disc has two playback heads. The tape is fed first to one head, then after a loop with several guide rollers, to the second head. We thus obtain two identical but time-shifted playback signals. The first signal is supplied to the cutting machine to control groove spacing, allowing the required spacing of the grooves to be calculated in advance and adjusted. Loud passages require more space, since they generate greater deflection of the groove than is the case with soft passages. The second, subsequent signal is used for the actual cutting of the grooves

Up and Coming Audiophile Jazz Releases
First Flight To Tokyo 1961 – Art Blakey Jazz Messengers (x2 LP) Release scheduled November 5th 2021 – Blue Note Vinyl Classics.
Audio transfer from the original ¼” tape reels, vinyl edition mastered by Bernie Grundman and pressed on 180g vinyl at Record Technology Inc. (RTI).
Live recording at Hibiya Public Hall in Tokyo, January 14, 1961. Not likely the Messengers flew van Gelder with them, so the engineering is down to their host’s in Tokyo, it passes without mention. They don’t know, they don’t know they should know, or they don’t want you to know. It is always the omission which is the tell. Like the ear not present.
Now’s the Time (22:34)
Moanin’ (13:33)
Blues March (11:45)
The Theme (00:33)
Dat Dere (12:14)
Round About Midnight (13:29)
Now’s the Time – Version 2 (17:15)
A Night in Tunisia (11:12)
The Theme – Version 2 (00:30).
Over 25 Blakey posts here at LJC, I don’t feel need of another Messengers album covering the same material, but possibly a good  entry-point for the rookie collector or completist. 
We have just had the Witch Doctor from Art Blakey on Blue Note Vinyl Classics, another 1961 Messengers line up recording as I recall. It is undeniably great music, but this “lost tapes” angle is beginning to wear a bit thin.  There is a lot of not lost material desperately in need of a quality AAA reissue.
I nearly fell for a twist on the “lost tapes” angle, a newly discovered  “rehearsal tape” made the day before a band went into the studio to record their first album. Recorded unfortunately on a portable in the band leader’s grandparents sitting room. Yeah, very “intimate sound”, I bet.  

11 thoughts on “Nathan Davis: Live in Paris, ORTF Recordings (1965-7) Sam Records (2018)

  1. This blog is full of very intelligent comments, insight, a very helpful host and positivity. It’s great to see this blog so active.

    The value of all collectibles, art, Star Wars memorabilia, baseball cards, vinyl. All has gone up tremendously recently. That’s a fact. It’s just nice to be focusing on the music itself instead of parroting recycled dribble conspiracy theories about what is driving the price of collectibles up. Or merely serving as a forum for old white men, with one for in the grave, to commiserate and complain, and do nothing else. The absence of the “get off my lawn” Old curmudgeonly man crowd is greatly appreciated.

  2. LJC,

    Is nice to see Bernie Grundman on this project too. I like his work better than Kevin Gray’s, Which often has too much of the Steve Hoffman house sound still in it.

    For example, he has a. Copy of Maiden Voyage from the original master tapes. Trip away from Bernie Grundman that I actually like better than. That Kevin Gray 33.

  3. Ljc,

    Brilliant disc, brilliant quality, Brilliant recording.

    Do you have a copy of? The new AAA version of the complete live at the lighthouse. Lee morgan? That would be interesting for a column. It’s fantastic music and transferred very well.

  4. On “Blues for Southeast Asia,” I am wondering if Davis is using a Selmer Varitone sax, the instrument made famous by Eddie Harris. I’m hearing a second horn voice in the statement of the theme at around 1:11; and Davis is a profiled artist on the French Selmer saxophone site.

    Before purchasing this expensive set, I would suggest visiting the SAM record site, where they have provided 2.5-minute samples of 6 of the tracks on the album, though be cautious as many of the pages are “not secure.” I find “Blues for Southeast Asia” to be quite unlike the other tracks sampled, in addition to it’s having a different group of musicians supporting Davis. On one sampled track Davis plays soprano sax, on another flute. I don’t find his sound on either of these instruments especially attractive, but this is personal preference I suppose. Davis’ tenor sax also sounds a bit different to me on two of the tracks. I don’t know if this is due to their being from different recording sessions or if he is monkeying around with tonality on a Varitone. One can find a sample of yet another of the album’s tunes on SAM’s YouTube preview of the album, and here one finds Arvanitis playing Hammond organ instead of piano.

    LJC and Pendulum found “Blues…” reminiscent of some Dave Brubeck tracks, though I would suggest there’s a difference in the competence and creativity levels between Brubeck/Morello/Wright and Diéval/Hess/Manzecchi. The latter trio very ably play the simple but catchy, foot-tapping rhythmic pattern throughout “Blues…”, but the piano solo towards the end (by Diéval not Arvanitis, as misstated at one point in the post) is simplicity to the extreme, perhaps inspired by a fondness for Ahmad Jamal, but more reminiscent of some of the popular piano groups of the time, such as the Quartette Trés Bien. My opinions are based on hearing the one track chosen by the LJC and samples of six others and perhaps they would be different if I heard the album in its entirety. Davis seems a very talented but sadly underrated sax player, but given my reservations and the price of this album, I’m unlikely to purchase it. I would be more than happy to accept it as a gift however ☺

    • You are quite right, the pianist on the selected final track is Diéval, not Arvanitas, as noted in the artist credits.

      The three different recording settings which spam the album do sound acoustically different, especially if flipping between the short samples on Sam’s site. However when you listen through twenty minutes in full on one side, you settle into that setting, it is less of a comparative issue.

    • The vibe on this one Davis track seems ,to me ,very similar to the vibe on Brubecks Jazz Impressions of Japan album. An interesting and very enjoyable experiment and a long way from Take 5. Morello adds traditional Japanese percussion instruments to his kit eg wood blocks and gongs etc and in his hands, this works really well.

      I can think of a lot of Afro, Indian , Spanish and other music imported into Jazz in order to experiment and take it in a new direction but not a lot of SE Asian stuff – maybe some of the Don Cherry stuff on ECM

  5. What a great track, sold, just ordered the upcoming nov ( i think ) reissue, 80 euros.I’ve toyed with getting a Nathan Davis OG LP before: the much lauded Makatuka, though something always held me back. Thanks for the great write up as usual .

  6. As I remember, the oil crisis in the mid ’70’s was when LP records became very flimsy. Let’s hope we don’t have a repeat of that as I like my 180 gm’s! The resurgence of interest in vinyl is a double edged sword but all in all it’s a great time to be a jazz collector with Sam Records being one of the best re-issue labels..

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