Blue Note 80th Anniversary reissues...any news?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by riverrat, Nov 9, 2018.

  1. Crazysteve

    Crazysteve Gonzo Party Member

    Once the record is properly groomed after leaving that silly skintight white paper, it is absolutely right on par with Mr Shing a Ling. At least to these ears. Once again lush instruments come right into the room.
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  2. GentleSenator

    GentleSenator what if

    Aloha, OR
    such a cool cover too!
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  3. struttincool

    struttincool Senior Member

    Anacortes, WA
    Yep. My wife also got swept away by the groove of this one. Always a good thing.
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  4. scotti

    scotti Forum Resident

    Atlanta GA
    Had to come up from (Paradise) for a quick post...enjoying the heck out of all of your comments!

    Just listened to Alligator Bogaloo locked so dead in my sweet spot...this one is beyond special! Easily my favorite of the BN 80th releases!...going back now to enjoy Donald Byrd...
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  5. SJR

    SJR Senior Member

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  6. MisterBritt

    MisterBritt Forum Resident

    Santa Fe, NM, USA
    I've been contemplating your question since I read it this morning. I don't have a great short answer, but I have some ideas you might find worthy of consideration.

    Lou Donaldson and drummer Leo Morris (Idris Muhammad) hooked up much earlier than a lot of folks might suspect. They had actually been playing together -- not exclusively -- since 1965, two years before the Alligator Bogaloo recording date. I don't recall the circumstances, but Lou Donaldson left Blue Note for a time, circa 1964~'66, and made eight records for Argo and Cadet. Two of those records had Idris Muhammad on them. Lou then recorded a record for Blue Note in early 1967 without Idris that was shelved, prior to Alligator Bogaloo.

    I was thinking that tune, "I Want a Little Girl," might have been something Lou Donaldson and Idris had been playing live. I know they were doing live gigs. Curious, I have searched and searched the internets to try and find a date in 1965 when Miles Davis was playing Birdland. Why? According to the Idris Muhammad autobiography [editor's note: a book with which I am intimately familiar] that concert is where he met Lou Donaldson. But first, some back story:

    My days off I would go around and look at the guys playing. It wasn't that I had to do something right away in New York. I was just enjoying myself. I would be all dressed up. I had tailor-made trousers, nice shirt and a slick tie. One day I took the subway up to the Apollo Theater because I used to play there a lot.

    Directly before moving to New York, Idris, a New Orleans native, had been with Curtis Mayfield & the Impressions, based out of Chicago. When he left The Impressions Curtis gave him a suitcase and told him not to open it until the plane had taken off. It was full of money!

    All of those early to mid-sixties Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions records, that's Idris Muhammad on drums! People Get Ready, Keep on Pushin', etc. There was a week in 1960 when he had three songs in the Top Ten, one or two of them rotating to number one. Chain Gang by Sam Cooke, another was You Talk Too Much by Joe Jones, and the third I don't recall, maybe something by Jerry Butler or Dee Clark? Idris Muhammad was a hit-maker before he moved to New York.

    There's a chapter explaining how Idris took Charlie Persip's job as the house drummer at the Apollo Theater. That's a great little section but let's acknowledge it and keep moving. I will say, however, that while Charlie Persip and Idris were initially great friends, even though Idris took Charlie's job, there was an incident in Harlem, both serious and hilarious -- in retrospect -- that severed that friendship. Let me give you a taste. Sorry for taking this out of context. He is addressing the Charlie Persip incident, actually a culmination of events:

    So that day I go home and get my pistol. It was time to even up with Charlie Persip. The drums, the drugs, the money -- all of it.

    Whenever somebody gets you busted in New Orleans we give them a pistol-whip. We kneecap them. We shoot them in the foot. But if they're lucky we just pistol-whip them.... I was a friend of Charlie Persip and I let him get too close to me. I got Charlie Persip in the corner, pistol in my hand, and he's pleading with me.

    "Oh man, oh man, please."

    "... The first time for robbery in New Orleans I had three years of probation. But that made me a man. My dad said if I would have shot somebody it would have been better...."

    That blurb about Charlie Persip is not directly related to our Lou Donaldson story but it is contextual to when Idris took his job as the house drummer at the Apollo Theater circa 1965, and I think it gives some character development to names and sounds we otherwise only hear on records. Now, let's go back and revisit how Idris, doing the job at the Apollo, ended up on Blue Note Records two years later on Alligator Bogaloo. In order to get to Lou Donaldson, let's pick up how Idris Muhammad came onto the radar of all the jazz cats in New York; how he came to apply his funk playing and ended up at Blue Note Records.

    I'm working at the Apollo Theater and the guys in the band said I should go down to the Five Spot. They say there's a guy down there who plays three horns at one time. So I thought they was drinking too much. I thought they were kind of exaggerating.

    The job at the Apollo takes all day but at night I begin going downtown to see all the jazz players. It's something I like to listen to but I can't really play. I can't woodshed jazz because I'm at the theater all day.

    I go to the Five Spot and I see it is Roland Kirk. And he is playing three horns at one time. And I think,
    Yeah, that's interesting. Boy, I'd like to play with him. It was like a magnet drawing me to him. So I ask the drummer, his name was Candy Finch, if I can sit it.

    And he says, "Yeah, come on. Sit in."

    We start playing. After the melody, Roland turns around
    [who is blind] and says, "Who's that on them drums?"

    So I said, "It's Leo Morris
    [Idris Muhammad].

    I ended up playing the whole set. After I played the set, this other guy walks up to me.

    He says, "I like your playing. I'd like you to do a concert with me in Town Hall."

    And I said, "Well, I'm working at the Apollo Theater and I don't know if I can get off."

    And he says, "Oh man, please try. I would like you to do the concert."

    And I said, "Okay, well, what is your name?"

    And he says, "Kenny Dorham."

    And I thought, okay; but now I'm nervous because I know Kenny Dorham from his playing with Max Roach. That night
    [the concert at Town Hall] it was Kenny Dorham's band, Freddie Hubbard's band, and Lee Morgan's band -- trumpet players.

    Kenny played first and the guys in the bands said, " Who's that drummer? That drummer. Who's that drummer?" They said it was some kid. They didn't know my name. So they said it was some kid from New Orleans.

    I met a lot of musicians that night: Paul Chambers, George Coleman, Betty Carter. I've worked with all of them. That was my introduction to New York and the jazz scene. They were all saying I was the baddest cat in town. They could hear the jazz cats were saying, "You want the baddest cat in town? Get Leo Morris."

    And from that, sitting in with Roland Kirk to the concert with Kenny Dorham at Town Hall, we get to Lou Donaldson. This next section was at the 1965 Miles Davis concert at Birdland.

    I meet Lou Donaldson as I'm walking down the steps of Birdland. Birdland is in the basement of this building down the street from which is the drugstore where all the musicians and entertainment cats used to cash their checks, at the corner of Broadway and 50th. Lou and his trumpet player Lou Hardman are walking up the steps when they spot me.

    "Hey Lou," Bill Hardman says. "There's that drummer I was telling you about!"

    Lou has this funny Truman Capote voice. Says three words: "Can you swa-ing"

    And I say, "Yeah-es, man. I can swing."

    And he says, "Are you working next week?"

    I say I'm not. So he says, "You wanna gig?" He says, "Gimme your number."

    So he takes my number. And the next week we go to Baltimore and we play Gary Bartz's father's club, The North End Lounge. The first tune we play is "Scrapple From the Apple."

    We have Billy Gardner on organ, Bill Hardman on the trumpet, Lou Donaldson on the saxophone, and me on the drums. After the head, Lou turns to Billy Hardman and says, "We got us a drummer!"

    That's the story of how Idris Muhammad (Leo Morris) broke into the jazz scene in New York. He ended up with Lou Donaldson when trumpeter Bill Hardman introduced them on the steps of Birdland in 1965. Let me jump over a couple other chapters and get to Idris' narrative about the Alligator Bogaloo recording session.

    Francis Wolff and Alfred Lion are the two owners of Blue Note Records. Frank Wolff is dancing in the studio during the Alligator Bogaloo session.

    "Keep that beat. Keep that beat. Keep that beat!" Frank Wolff has this german accent.

    When they hear this beat the guys start dancing around the studio. Their movement is all out of sync of the music. But they have the beat.

    I don't consider myself a jazz drummer. I'm a funk drummer. People call me a jazz drummer because I made so many jazz records. I remember this happening with the first record date I did with Lou Donaldson at Rudy Van Gelder's in April of 1967. This is my introduction to Blue Note Records. The guys at Blue Note want hits. They want hit records, man."

    The next short chapters in Idris' autobiography are titled: Rudy Van Gelder's Studio, Cutting a Record, Capturing My Sound, and Lou's Jazz Lesson. I had intended at one time to transcribe Lou's Jazz Lesson. It is circa 1965 and it goes into a lot of depth about playing with organ players. Maybe I can do that soon if this is interesting to the forum.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2019
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  7. blutiga

    blutiga Forum Resident

    George Benson and Lonnie Smith knew each others playing very well :)
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  8. scotti

    scotti Forum Resident

    Atlanta GA
    Just an awesome post! Enjoyed waking up and reading this. I have to say that I actually love the way this song ends this album now. The wonder of listening to music is how it grows on you after repeated listens. This is an absolutely beautiful song "I Want A Little Girl" and if I may be so bold as to now say...Mr Shing-A-Ling, let me introduce you to Mr. Alligator...because this one bites down hard! Wow, the music/sound on this is so crazy good!

    "GentleSenator" might just have to agree with you on this being the Tone Poet choice instead of Mr. Shing-A-Ling...but honestly, both should have been.
  9. blutiga

    blutiga Forum Resident

    The tune was also recorded by Jack McDuff with a great band on his album The Honeydripper. I know the tune from that version, I didn't know it was famous by Louis Armstrong though.
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  10. Lonson

    Lonson Just a Lucky So-and-so

    My favorite versions are Jimmy Rushing singing with Count Basie. He just owned that tune.
  11. shawnwes

    shawnwes Forum Resident


    Wow, thanks for that bit of history. One of the best posts I've ever read. Almost put me in the middle of the sessions & clubs the way it is written.
  12. scotti

    scotti Forum Resident

    Atlanta GA
    No doubt! "MisterBritt" always delivers the goods. A class act indeed!
  13. Crazysteve

    Crazysteve Gonzo Party Member

    I agree! That was one of the best posts. (More history lessons, please!) What a great read on a Saturday morning, with Alligator Bogaloo spinning and filling the room with amazing music and sound.
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  14. Gabe Walters

    Gabe Walters Forum Resident

    The Scofield title is great, too. Don't sleep on this! Stream it first if you're unsure. It's digital, but Kevin Gray does his usually excellent job.
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  15. scotti

    scotti Forum Resident

    Atlanta GA
    Gabe, I had this reserved for this week but canceled it. I just can't seem to get into his style. I have "a go go" on CD, tried to listen to it a few days back, but don't like it. Not the biggest fan of streaming...what am I missing when I listen to his music? Should I take a chance and just order it for next week? I trust your feedback, so please let me have it, but in a nice way if you will...

    Is there any other examples of how you would compare this one to? Thanks in advance!
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  16. blutiga

    blutiga Forum Resident

    Thanks for the info Lon. I'm gonna have a listen now!
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  17. Jerry James

    Jerry James Forum Reticent

    Yeah - I totally agree! I recently stumbled upon a nice batch of Jimmy Rushing LP's that I'd never seen before and have been enjoying the heck out of those. Also love Joe Williams with Basie, especially the live stuff - full of such energy.
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  18. Jerry James

    Jerry James Forum Reticent

    Played side A of two of the releases to get a taste, and the first slab of the Scofield. Love them all. This is the first Scofield I've owned on vinyl - sounds terrific! Sometimes I feel like crying happy tears that we are in the middle of this awesome avalanche of super high caliber jazz reissues. I mean, I think everyone one of the TP and 80's have been perfect! I really, really hope they continue this into next year and beyond.
  19. MisterBritt

    MisterBritt Forum Resident

    Santa Fe, NM, USA
    First, I'm not following that "GentleSenator" reference. Is that a forum member?

    But let me repeat something I had mentioned on a related thread, and I'll get to why I mention this at all. The musical characterizations du jour, "bogaloo" and "shing-a-ling," absorbed into Lou Donaldson's album titles, are synonymous; they mean the same thing. So then the Lou Donaldson's sobriquet, Mr. Shing-A-Ling, suggests his second album in this funky period stands as an extension of his Alligator Bogaloo recording date. Remember now, according to Idris, "The guys at Blue Note want hits. They want hit records, man." Idris goes on to say elsewhere in his autobiography:

    The "Alligator Bogaloo" date with Mr. Lou Donaldson was very successful. That second line beat will make you move. You've got to do something. Every record that I did with Lou Donaldson was a hit. He had the secrets of making hits after hits after hits.

    And what is my fascination with this?

    I was curious what Melvin Lastie was doing on this date. Blue Note had a stable of horn players, Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, etc., yet here comes Melvin Lastie on coronet. Lastie had done only one other recording for Blue Note (a rejected and untitled Herbie Hancock date July 19, 1966) yet he pops up on Lou Donaldson's Alligator Bogaloo. Why? Where did this guy come from?

    As it happens, I knew of Melvin Lastie before this record. Indeed, he is featured prominently on my most recent installation from Vinyl Me Please, Willie Bobo's Uno Dos Tres 1-2-3, recorded at Rudy Van Gelder's studio in April of 1966, three months before the previously mentioned and abandoned Herbie Hancock session. If you look at the liner notes for Willie Bobo's record, you will see that Melvin Lastie is credited as the arranger on seven of the twelve tunes, starting with the tune "Boogaloo in Room 802." (Bogaloo/Boogaloo doesn't seem to have a standardized spelling yet. Ha.)

    Now, a light went on in my memory. I can remember an interview Idris Muhammad recorded for the Hudson Music project called, "The Roots of Rock Drumming." It was done both as a DVD and more fully as a book by the same name. I found a snippet of the interview in which Idris mentions how he started at Blue Note and that dialog trails into a discussion that mentions Melvin Lastie as more than a horn player, but as an arranger as well! I'm now thinking Melvin Lastie was invited into the Alligator Bogaloo session to help arrange this style of music. Check this out, guys:

    I'm pretty sure Melvin Lastie was either related to the Marsalis family or (if I'm getting that mixed up in my mind) he might have been New Orleans drummer Herlin Riley's uncle. But he was down there in New Orleans back in the day. I discovered he played with New Orleans drummer Paul Barbarin (who gave Idris his only formal drum lesson as a kid) as well as Fats Domino, with whom Idris recorded the hit Blueberry Hill circa 1956.

    I'm not really aware of any other film or video interviews with Idris Muhammad. This snippet, circa 2003, is a unique opportunity to see and hear him talk publicly. Idris never did interviews back in the day so take this in because this footage is super rare.

    Melvin Lastie - Wikipedia
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2019
  20. blutiga

    blutiga Forum Resident

    Not sure if there its any direct Spanish Harlem connection, but re- the Willie Bobo/Melvin Lastie connection, Grant Green essentially used the Pucho And The Latin Soul Brothers alumni for a big component of his second late 60's stint with Blue Note, Neal Creque, Claude Bartee, Willie Bivens with Idris Muhammad on drums.
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  21. scotti

    scotti Forum Resident

    Atlanta GA
    Yes, was responding to an earlier post from them...
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  22. japhyman

    japhyman Forum Resident

    Yarmouth, ME, USA
    Ethiopian Nights is superb! Can Blue Note perhaps consider a GROOVES series of its own ? The last couple batches of BN80’s are among my favorite purchases this year.
  23. MisterBritt

    MisterBritt Forum Resident

    Santa Fe, NM, USA
    I had mentioned there are more chapters in Idris Muhammad's autobiography (titled Inside the Music) in and around this Lou Donaldson Alligator Bogaloo period that I might transcribe for you guys. There seems to be sufficient interest and I can do that. But thinking on this period, there is a previous chapter about another Blue Note drummer named Joe Chambers that cracks me up. And in the same post, I'd like to share a little snippet about Elvin Jones.

    There's actually quite a few references to Elvin Jones in Idris' book. Elvin and Idris were best friends. Also Max Roach and Art Blakey, the triumvirate (Elvin, Max and Art) of whom comprised Idris' jazz pantheon before he himself came on the jazz scene. In New Orleans, drummer Eddie Blackwell had been a sort of guardian angel to Idris. We'll skip over that. I had mentioned that Idris was the drummer with Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions. Indulge me and I'll tell you something I found interesting.

    Remember the movie, "Vanilla Sky," with Tom Cruise? I'm going to use that as a touchstone to set this up. There is a birthday party scene and John Coltrane appears as a hologram playing "My Favorite Things." But just before that hologram scene, but still in the birthday party sequence, you can hear the tune "People Get Ready" being played as background music at the party. Listen close and you can hear it. That's some serendipity. From Idris' autobiography:

    We got to Chicago and went in the studio: "People get ready, there's a train a comin'," and I played it the same way I played it on the shoe box. I played it the same way on the same drum with the brushes. Big, big hit.

    We'd get to the studio and he'd [Curtis Mayfield] be playing on the guitar while we listened to the playback. This used to happen quite a bit with Curtis. "Keep On Pushin' " was done on the spot in the studio in 1964. The "Keep On Pushin' " record had five Top 40 hits on just that one album.

    "What is that, Curtis?" I'd ask him. He'd say to just be still and he finds the chords he wanted.

    "But it ain't in four-four -- it's in three."

    I kind of put a backbeat to it. Sometimes I'll put a backbeat to a song, but it's not where the backbeat typically is. I put the backbeat where I want to put it. That's one of the things I'm known for, that's maybe one of the things where Eddie Blackwell in New Orleans influenced me. At the same time, I liked the way Elvin played "My Favorite Things" with John Coltrane.

    So when we started to running this song down, "Keep on Pushin'," I'm trying to play like Elvin Jones playing in three, 'cause it's in three, it's in threes.

    From this snippet you can see how jazz was influencing popular music. "Keep On Pushin' " presages the ghostly "My Favorite Things" hologram in the movie. That hologram scene really resonates with me. Okay, let's unpack that story Idris tells about Joe Chambers. Again, this is circa 1965, before Idris began recording for Blue Note. Idris was roommates with comedian Flip Wilson at this time. Idris had met Flip when Idris was with Sam Cooke in the Caribbean.

    One day I went to the supermarket -- this was way before I was Muslim -- but I knew how to select fresh meat and poultry. And I saw this nice chicken but it is capon so it's bigger than a regular chicken. I brought him on home and put him on the table and cooked him up. Made some brown gravy -- it was out of sight.

    The people in the building, all up and down the hallway, would smell this food. I made so much food that people used to knock on the door to know what I'm cooking.

    There was a drummer -- he was working a lot with Blue Note Records; he was working with Freddie Hubbard. He was working his ass off -- and he lived right across the street. One day Joe Chambers came by our apartment house, said he wanted to smoke a joint.

    Joe opens the door and the aroma just attacked him.

    "Hey man, what you cookin'?"

    Joe lies around the house until the food is finished. I give him some, give him a joint and he leaves. So the next day he comes back again.

    "Hey man, you got any of that chicken left?"

    It was in a big pot so I put it in the refrigerator so I didn't have to cook every day.

    Then one day I happened to go by his house. Joe Chambers was living with a bass player named Mickey Bass. And I sat there, we smoked a joint, and their girlfriends were cooking in the kitchen. We would sit and talk, maybe listen to some records -- and then I see Mickey come out the back of the kitchen and he's wiping his lips. And then Mickey would sit and talk. Next I know, Joe would walk off and then Joe would come back from the kitchen licking his fingers. I'm looking at this and Joe says,

    "Oh man, we just had enough for ourselves and the two ladies."

    So I found out a lot of cats will just give you the joint, but they won't give you no food. So the guys were saying: New Yorkers, they give you a joint but they won't feed you.

    In my house in New Orleans, that's all we do is give food away. We'll force you to have some food. That's how New Orleans is. So that's a contrast between New Orleans and New York. I cook all the time. Neither of my wives could cook. But I'm a wizard in the kitchen.

    And living with Flip, and all these comedians who were his friends that used to come over by the place -- I developed a sense of humor. My traces as a young kid and into my teenage years were always serious. I was a very serious type guy. And it reflected to people like that. So in order to make people a little easier, I try to make some humor. And I learned this type of humor living with Flip Wilson when I moved to New York.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2019
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  24. Mugrug12

    Mugrug12 nothing gold can stay

    You're the man. I'm a die hard impressions fan and have all those
    Records but had no idea it was him on drums. (Or his old name). Is he on this is my country as well? No musician credits on any of my impressions albums iirc. Keep on pushing is a great example of weird and wonderful drum grooves on a pop tune. Takes a second to realize it's in three with the unique patterns. "We're a winner" is also sick drums, is old dude on that track as well?!
    Thanks for the excerpts...
  25. Psychedelic Good Trip

    Psychedelic Good Trip Senior Member

    New York

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