Blue Mitchell: Bring It Home To Me (1966) Liberty Blue Note

Selection: Port Rico Rock

.  .  .

Track List

A1. Bring It Home to Me (Jimmy Heath) – 7:58
A2. Blues 3 for 1 – 6:04 (Mitchell)
A3. Port Rico Rock (Tom McIntosh) – 6:34
B1. Gingerbread Boy ( Jimmy Heath) – 6:36
B2. Portrait of Jenny /Jennie (Gordon Burdge, J. Russell Robinson) – 5:39
B3. Blue’s Theme (Mitchell) –  5:23 

Artists

Blue Mitchell, trumpet; Junior Cook, tenor sax; Harold Mabern, piano; Gene Taylor, bass; Billy Higgins, drums; Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, January 6, 1966, released 15 March, 1967.

From 1958, Blue Mitchell led eight albums for Riverside, mostly with Wynton Kelly on piano, and from 1962, signing to Blue note, where he led a further eight albums for Blue Note including successor Liberty.  A cornerstone of the Horace Silver Quintet, when Horace disbanded the quintet in early 1964,  Blue Mitchell lost no time in stealing bandmates Junior Cook (tenor sax) and Gene Taylor (bass), putting  Al Foster on drums and recruiting a Horace replacement in Chick Corea.  For this quintet session in the closing months of Blue Note before Liberty,  Mitchell brought in Harold Mabern on piano and the mighty Billy Higgins on drums.

The horn partnership between Mitchell and Cook turned out to be one of the most enduring in all of jazz history. Junior said of Mitchell’s playing,  a “very warm, lyrical and melodic player. He was technically precise, had a beautiful tone and expressive quality like Miles Davis’s, warmth and great feeling.”

Blue stayed faithful to the jazz idiom, without jumping on the rock or fusion bandwagon. After Liberty, Mitchell went on to record for the Mainstream label, with whom I have had  a very mixed experience, some not great quality engineering. No, I’m being too kind, horrible.  

After over a decade of touring and big band work, Mitchell’s final ensemble incarnation was the hard-driving Coltranesque Harold Land/ Blue Mitchell Quintet from 1975 to 1978, with whom he recorded the album  Mapenzi (Concord Jazz, 1978,) cinematic jazz, a large canvas soundtrack anticipating world influences, one of my enduring favourite albums of all time. Mitchell’s time was over too soon, age 49, in 1979. 

Mitchell’s  legacy stands somewhat in the shadow of the premier league trumpet voices, Miles Davis, Lee Morgan and Donald Byrd, but he deserves not be overlooked. Aside from his own titles, there are many fine sessions to which he contributed, including the Horace Silver Quintet Blue Notes, Jackie McLean’s Capuchin Swing and Jackie’s Bag, Hank Mobley’s Hi Voltage, Lou Donaldson and Grant Green’s later titles, Blue Mitchell pops up as a reliable swinging and versatile performer. The price of versatliity? Perhaps lacking a distinctive uncompromising, singular voice, needed to pick him out from a crowded field of good trumpet players. But the bonus with Blue is his strong ensemble, and of course, the magic of Van Gelder engineering, which always makes listening a special pleasure, whoever is on the turntable or in the line up.

Music

After weeks of dabbling in various national mutations of modern jazz, I thought to make time for the original classic genre of Blue Note.

The album mixes modal harmonies, lyrical moments and funky boogaloo grooves. Carefully constructed tunes with pungent rhythms, rich harmonies, inspired melody and a kind of raw eloquence brought about through the interplay of Mitchell and Cook. 

Vinyl: Blue Note BLP 4228 mono .

Liberty Blue Note, VAN GELDER stamp, New York labels previously printed in preparation for release, ear absent (All-Disc pressing), 2nd 1966 inner sleeve, Liberty released the recording 15 months later, in March,1967.

Interesting that against the rise of stereo in the mid 60s, the notes designate this copy as “Monaural” in big letters.

The inner sleeve is the second “27 Years”,1966, Dexter Gordon on his bike, Gettin’ Around, Column 6, Row 4, used solely for sleeving Blue Note to Liberty transition pressings in the  second half 1966 and early 1967.

Harry’s Place

. Once again, Harry M  has his finger on the pulse, and the shutter: Blue Mitchell  with John Mayall, 1973

Photo credit: © Harry M

Collector’s Corner

Like many owners of the music, Universal Group pre-empt people uploading copies to Youtube – by uploading it themselves. Unfortunately, this method usually entails comments being disabled, which are often the most entertaining companion.

“Provided to YouTube by Universal Music Group    ℗ A Blue Note Records Release; ℗ 1966 UMG Recordings, Inc.”

Compare the digtal YouTube upload, bland mid range, with an original vinyl rip, rich in tonal colouring and detail.

 This album is in the “affordable” Blue Note bracket. It is not Holy Grail, but .. it’s available, and there is a lot to be said for that. 

I see Blue Note (Classic Vinyl) have just put out Jackie McLean’s Destination Out! I have the original, so not one for me. Juno say it is out of stock, which means either the preorders have taken up their allocation, or the release date January 21, 2022,  was a trifle optimistic.

If I didn’t already have it, I would be on the case. I’m interested if readers have any feedback on the reissue. (I assume it has the Kevin Gray pedigree, it should sound great.) Good to see all these classic titles being given a second lease of life.

PostscriptWordPress has introduced unwelcome functional changes – I can no longer manage which image is the primary one for a post. Nuisance but not fatal.

LJC

 

11 thoughts on “Blue Mitchell: Bring It Home To Me (1966) Liberty Blue Note

  1. “…in the shadow of the premier league trumpet voices, Miles Davis, Lee Morgan and Donald Byrd…”. Ah, as a writer I like to work in threes myself but as a jazz historian, in this particular instance a grave error to omit Freddy Hubbard. Only a nit.

    LJC: Ah, the Donald or Freddie dilema! I’ll go with the Fabulous Four, of course.

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  2. Listened to it and loved it! It swings baby!

    Saw his first 8 Riverside albums in a CD box set on Amazon for $15. Might get it.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  3. Indeed friend Andrew l agree with
    you in your appreciation, Blue
    Michel has always been in the
    shadow of Byrd, Davis (and others)
    but beware of him,
    he certainly
    deserves recognition for his genius
    and know-how. I already dream of
    next August 5 and acquire this
    delicious Tone Poet, without a
    doubt a release that will give a lot to
    talk about. As for his appreciation
    of “Destination…
    •Out!” Mr. McLean
    is another work of art by Mr. Kevin
    Gray, which will have to be
    recognized for his work. I would set
    a date per year (Kevin Gray’s day!
    For example! And be careful, on
    April 1 comes “Tippin The
    Scales” (and “Curtain Call” by Mr.
    Mobley, both Tone Poet Series. Enjoy!

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  4. Picked up an original copy of this Blue Mitchell album in Japan and in immaculate condition. Price wise around the £30 mark in Yen, so a bargain.

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  5. Not sure I agree with your “staying true to the jazz idiom” statement, Bantu Village and Collision in Black both on later Blue Note releases seem a bit less jazz idiom to me and also did he not work with John Mayall from 1971 to 1973.

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      • Bantu Village and Collision, I rejected both at first hearing, Liberty titles, horrid, I overlooked that turn of direction, fair comment. Mitchell’s stint with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers ran I believe 1971-3. I narrowly missed him as my band at the time did a support gig to John Mayall in 1970. All this was some years ago!

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    • Yes we heard him in a concert in Wellington together with a tenor saxophonist ex Mingus when Mayall had introduced some jazz musicians. I liked Blue Mitchell, hearing some Clifford Brown there.

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  6. Thanks for the usual thorough review. The Jackie McLean title was issued a few weeks ago and I managed to get a copy. Sounds great to me but nothing to compare it with. Like many of the Tone Poet and Classic series it may well be out of stock until it is repressed.

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  7. I’ve not bought the BNC Destination Out as I’ve the MMJ45 which is stellar. However you may not be aware that there is to be a Tone Poet release of this Mitchell album, due August 5th so good timing posting this review for the uninitiated.

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