(Upcoming Release) Blue Note Records Releases Lost 1959 Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers Album on 4/24 : “Just Coolin'” : A Deeper Dive

Cover Art for Lost 1959 album Just Coolin’ out April 24th on Blue Note Records

We’re treated to yet another “lost” album from the jazz archives, this time from the extensive Blue Note Records archives. On April 24th Blue Note will be releasing an originally rejected release titled Just Coolin’ from a March 8, 1959 session recorded at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in Hackensack, NJ. This session was dropped due to the fact that four of the six tracks recorded overlapped with At The Jazz Corner of the World (not to be confused with the 1960 2 LP Meet Me At The Jazz Corner of the World with Wayne Shorter) album recorded by Alfred Lion at Birdland in NYC just over a month later on April 15th, 1959. Split over two volumes, the first was released in 1959, and the second in 1960.

Drummer Art Blakey’s legendary Jazz Messengers band had a lot of lineup changes during its 35 year run. The period from 1958-1964 is generally regarded as the most notable run for the band. Blakey pulled together a band of Philly natives: Lee Morgan (trumpet), Benny Golson (tenor sax), Bobby Timmons (piano), and Jymie Merritt (bass). This is the band that Blakey had on his Blue Note Records debut Moanin’ (Blue Note 4003), recorded in October of 1958 and released in January of 1959. Following the sessions for Moanin’, the band hit the road for an extensive tour of Europe producing the live albums 1958 – Jazz Olympia (on Fontana) and Art Blakey et les Jazz-Messengers au club St. Germain (on French RCA) among other later releases (mostly unofficial) that came out in the 1970’s to capitalize on Blakey’s departure from releasing albums as changing tastes in modern music turned away from his music.

By the time Blakey returned to the studio with Alfred Lion in March 1959, Benny Golson left the band for Art Farmer’s sextet, which included Bill Evans on keys (check out Modern Art for the results of that). Golson was replaced by Hank Mobley who had been a member of the first Jazz Messengers from 1954-1956. Mobley stayed with the Messengers during this third iteration of the band long enough to get this session and Jazz Corner of the World recorded before he was arrested in 1958 for possession of narcotics and spent the rest of the year in prison (only the first of stints he would do, unfortunately). Mobley was replaced by Wayne Shorter, who was hired after Lee Morgan ran into him at The Toronto Jazz Festival in July of 1959.

Ultimately, the replacement of Mobley with Wayne Shorter resulted in two of my favorite albums in the Jazz Messenger catalog: the 1961 release A Night In Tunisia, and the very-underappreciated (in my opinion) 1962 album Mosaic.

Mobley spent a brief stint in Miles Davis’s band as a replacement for the departed John Coltrane starting in 1961. But that pairing never really resulted in the partnership that Davis was missing with Coltrane. He appears on the studio album Someday My Prince Will Come (which somewhat awkwardly also features Coltrane) and two live albums : Friday and Saturday Nights Miles Davis In Person at the Blackhawk, San Francisco and Miles Davis at Carnegie Hall.

Just Coolin’ is an album that documents a brief interval in the changing lineups of The Jazz Messengers, but an important one nonetheless. Hank Mobley wrote three of the songs for the album, and they also appear on Jazz Corner of the World: “Hipsippy Blues,” “M&M,” and “Just Coolin’.” The early reviews suggest that the studio takes lack the energy and possibly the polish of the live versions, but the inclusion of two previously unheard songs pique the interest of fans and present a kind of “what if” scenario with Mobley had he been able to continue with the band.

The first track we get to hear is the previously unheard Bobby Timmons composition “Quick Trick.”

Here is the track listing for Just Coolin’ with YouTube links to the four versions from At The Jazz Corner of the World fso you can get an idea of what the other songs will sound like.

Hipsippy Blues (Hank Mobley) Live version
Close Your Eyes (Bernice Petkere) Live version
Jimerick (unknown)
Quick Trick (Bobby Timmons)
M&M (Hank Mobley) Live version
Just Coolin’ (Hank Mobley) Live version

B-Sides in the Bins #49 – Doug Roberson’s Yard Sale 7/11/09

Doug Roberson of the Diplomats of Solid Sound posted a Facebook event for a yard sale he was having. He was moving across town in Iowa City and decided, like many of us would, that he had some things he didn’t want to move so he decided to have a yard sale. Knowing that Doug is a record collector and having talked with him the night before when the band played Coctails and Company in Cedar Rapids about what he might have, I made the trip down.

It was a drizzly day which was sort of concerning, but I got down there around 1:30 and he had all of the records on his front porch. He was sitting on a lawn chair drinking a Budweiser and chatting with the other people hanging out looking at his stuff. Most of the people, as you might imagine were Iowa City scenesters– people in other bands in town, people who were fans of his bands. So, it was pretty cool.

He was selling a lot of vinyl– almost all of it duplicates he accumulated over the years in addition to some books, magazines, and some music gear like a couple of Farfisa organs used with his prior band The Bent Scepters and a couple of guitar amps. He also had a pretty substantial collection of 7-inch singles– a LOT of King Records releases of James Brown. I think someone could have bought most of a James Brown 7″ collection– if not all– right there!

I was hoping to pick up some rare pieces from Doug’s pretty extensive career and I wasn’t disappointed! I ended up picking up the following records for, I think $35. I good haul, for sure!

The Bent Scepters – “She Freak” b/w “The Curse” (7″, Prescription Records PRE001, 1993) This was a nice find. Doug’s band The Bent Scepters was formed out of the ashes of The Dangtrippers and Head Candy. The Bent Scepters’ certainly fulfilled Doug’s penchant for of 60’s Nuggets-style garage pop. The Scepters were closer in sound to the Dangtrippers than the layered distortion grunge delivered by Head Candy. Doug’s current band The Diplomats of Solid Sound started as kind of a side band of the Scepters. On Prescription Records which is Doug’s “vanity” label.

The Bent Scepters – “My Toyota” b/w The Delstars – “Lustron a Go-Go” (7″ split, Prescription Records PRE002, 1997) While I was flipping through the records, Doug found a box that had record pressing plates and a couple white-label 7″ test pressings for a split 7″ he put out with the Des Moines surfy band The Delstars. “My Toyota” comes from the Scepters second album Hellevator Music.

The Diplomats of Solid Sound featuring the Diplomettes – “If You’re Wrong” b/w “If You’re Wrong (Lack of Afro rmx)” (7″, Record Kicks RK45 023, 2008) This one sort of took me by surprise because I didn’t know that there was a second 7″ from Record Kicks. The first single was “Plenty Nasty” backed by “Hurt Me So (Lack of Afro Remix).” I hadn’t heard about this release, but apparently the band has been carrying this 7″ in their merch box. The remix by Lack of Afro is pretty similar to the remix he did for “Hurt Me So”– it adds a clubby groove to it.

The Shy Strangers – Indian Name (LP, Pravda Records PR-2616, 1986) Doug had an unopened box of still-sealed copies of Doug’s pre-Dangtrippers band The Shy Strangers. This record is still in print and can be ordered from Pravda for $4.99! I haven’t dropped a needle on this one, yet. The Shy Strangers was Roberson, Jim Merrick on drums and Scott Stecklein on bass. Doug and Scott were in The Dangtrippers and The Bent Scepters together.

I was hoping for some rare Head Candy stuff, but according to Doug there really wasn’t much more than the CD. There was promotional purple 7″ for “At The Controls” / “Watching the Sun’s Trail” I need to pick up some time, but Doug didn’t have any of those. Here’s the other non-Doug stuff I picked up:

Eric Dolphy – Out to Lunch (LP, Blue Note BLP-4163/84163, 1964) Sax player Eric Dolphy’s first and only release for Blue Note as a solo artist. The album was recorded by the legendary Rudy Van Gelder in February 1964. Soon after Dolphy moved to Paris and died in June 1964 from a diabetic coma. Out to Lunch is considered to be one of the essential free jazz records– considered by some to be on par with A Love Supreme. The label says “Blue Note – A Product of Liberty Records.” This release came soon after Blue Note and Liberty were purchased by Avnet in 1965. This also explains the “84163” catalog number. According to this label breakdown, my copy of Out To Lunch is a post-1968 repressing as my label art says “Blue Note Records – A Division of United Artists Records, Inc.” United Artists was a division of Transamerica which picked up Liberty and its associated imprints in 1968.

Lonnie Smith – Drives (LP, Blue Note Records BST 84351, 1970) This was a still-sealed reissue of Dr. Lonnie Smith’s funky, organ-fueled Blue Note release. The label shows the old 304 Park Ave. South address which I’m not sure would have been right. This would have been a UA release and I think they changed the labels to look like the Dolphy release above. I think this was a 90’s reissue done by EMI. Covers of “Spinning Wheel” by BS&T, the great “Twenty Five Miles” originally done by Edwin Starr, and “Seven Steps to Heaven” by Miles Davis.

Donald Byrd – The Cat Walk (LP, Blue Note Records BL-4075, 1961) This was also a still-sealed reissue of  trumpet player Donald Byrd’s 1961 solo release with regular sidekick Pepper Adams. I wasn’t very familiar with Donald Byrd’s work other than a couple of compilation tracks– notably “Blackjack” which was included on the Blue Note Rare Grooves comp. An easy bop record.

Julian Cope – Saint Julian (LP, Island Records/ATCO 90571-1, 1987) This was a nice find- not a record I was actually looking for, but one for the memories. I wasn’t familiar with Cope’s first band The Teardrop Explodes when I heard “World Shut Your Mouth” all those years ago. I listened to this record a lot in ’87 and found a guy in college who was a fan as well and got me to dig a bit deeper into Cope’s catalog. I still find myself coming back to this record. These days Julian Cope has become a strange cultish figure and I’m not following him as much, but this record is pretty much the best of his releases in my opinion.

Richard & Linda Thompson – Hokey Pokey (LP, Carthage Records CGLP 4408, 1983) This is the 1983 reissue of the 1974 Island release of Hokey Pokey. According to this thread on the stevehoffman.tv boards Carthage Records and Hannibal Records were run by Joe Boyd who discovered Pink Floyd among other things. These reissues and sometime new releases were centered around UK Folk groups like Fairport Convention. It would be cool to pick up Shoot Out the Lights by Richard & Linda on vinyl. I have it on 24kt CD today. I wasn’t familiar with this album, but I picked it up because the record seemed in good shape and Richard & Linda are notable musicians. I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet.