A1 Dun-Dunnee ( 7:13
A2 Tall Polynesian ( 8:13
A3 Mr. Bond ( 8:21
B1 Fremptz ( 6:03
B2 Something Blue ( 7:37
B3 Half And Half ( 7:51
; lto sax, flute, clarinet
All Music awarded 4/5 stars: “Years before Paul Horn became famous for his pioneering new age and mood music albums, he was an adventurous bop-based improviser trying to create an alternative to the hard bop music of the era.” He was trying to do it with West Coast sensibility. It’s Something Blue, not Somethin’ Blue, Cannonball would add, you know what I’m sayin’?
Horn found his mission in life, not jazz, but new age spirituality, with acoustics recorded in natural and sacred sites, Inside the Taj Mahal sold 750,000 copies, somebody must have liked it, Inside the Great Pyramids, and Cosmic Consciousness in Kashmir. It all seemed very profound at the time.
Perhaps at the time, real life didn’t have much going for it. The early Sixties boundless optimism for the future through scientific progress turned out to be largely science fiction, the rat race became the only race in town, and hifi an escape portal, certainly one I adopted in the Seventies. I have a box of New Age LPs in the loft, and a bookshelf of 70’s Californian self-help psychobabble: don’t scoff, it certainly helped me through a day of corporate ladder-climbing. “Who’s driving your bus?” (Bandler & Grinder, NLP)
The music is buoyed up by lots of Horn alto, clarinet and flute, and vibraphone of Emil Richards, a firm swinging piano, and lots of kicks up the rear courtesy of Mr Billy Higgins. I hadn’t appreciated that Higgins, a driving force on so many Blue Note titles started musical life in LA, before moving to New York in the 60’s. This swings in its own way, and with the lights down and a glass of Macon-Lugny, I’m relaxing in 1959, a big improvement on 2021.
Emil Richards enjoyed a six decade career, which including an album for Impulse, “Spirit of 76” , reference to American Independence, not the year 1976. Richards, who left us in 2019, reminisced of his initial move to LA: “My first gig was the first night I got into town. I worked that day on a recording session and at night I worked with Paul Horn at a club called the Renaissance, opposite us Lord Buckley and Lenny Bruce.”
Bobby Hutcherson was destined to do the vibes heavy lifting. Meanwhile Richards toured extensively with Frank Sinatra, and was a regular feature of countless film and TV scores. I think the ample rewards of Hollywood entertainment industry signed a death warrant to the spirit of jazz, though many players enjoyed a more comfortable life as a result, and who can blame them.
I’ll leave the final word on Paul Horn to John Fordham in his 2014 obituary:
“Horn made 50 albums over an illustrious career that began as a jazz sideman in the early 1950s, winning Grammy nominations and accolades as a player, composer and movie-soundtrack writer. He published books of musical instruction and spiritual guidance, and he was prolific, influential and musical, although the jazz cognoscenti dismissed his later work as weightless, and his serenely ambient records began dropping out of jazz discographies after the mid-1990s.”
Matrix / Runout (side 1 stamped): J R-615 A D2
Matrix / Runout (side 2 stamped): R J-615 B D2
Hollywood-based short-lived independent label founded in 1956 by Richard Vaughn, one of the pioneers of stereophonic recording. The label’s jazz recordings appear limited to 1959-60, and Vaughn’s money-spinner seems to be the sister-label HiFi Records, mainly featuring the exotic Hawaiian sounds of Arthur Lyman Group, and Wurlitzer organ records of George Wright. Exotica or mood music.
Releases by HiFi Jazz in 1959 included the first issue of Harold Land’s The Fox, recorded at Radio Recorders, LA, possibly the same studio for Horn. Links with Contemporary Records are tempting – The Fox went on to have its reissue by Contemporary. Also the matrix of Something Blue has stamps similar to Contemporary, D2/ D2 (though no sign of the “H” stamp of RCA Hollywood).
The hifi sound is great for 1959, a damn site better than many if not most modern vinyl records. By chance, my copy is the mono release, which makes the stereo hype redundant, but hifi it is. Good mono from this time is natural room filling, wide dynamic and tonal range.
The inner bag is a polythene horror, looks authentic, but best kept away from the vinyl.