• Out of stock
    The History of Rhythm and Blues series of CDs brings you the accidental synthesis of jazz, gospel, blues, ragtime, country, pop and Latin into a definable form of black music, which would influence pretty well all popular music from the 1950s to the present. It is the first attempt to put together a cross-label compilation showcasing the most important and influential records in the rise of Rhythm & Blues. Includes fully illustrated 32page booklet. One of the finest box sets released in recent years… the reissue of the year by a country mile -Jeremy Searle, RocknReel It’s difficult to imagine any set doing a better job of tracing the roots of R&B -Steve Leggett, All Music Guide Cross-label set tells story better than anything before…offers wealth of insights into song origins -Johnny Black, Mojo RANDB008
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    Includes fully illustrated 24page booklet. There’s so little on this box set that I wouldn’t be overjoyed to play you… an absolutely essential purchase. Mark Lamarr BBC Radio Two Fellow addicts will already have many of the tracks, but purchasing them again to have them put in the context of blues development should be a joy rather than a hardship.… As a whole package, it is irresistible and should be an essential on the shopping list of all self respecting r’n’b junkies. David Innes R2 The History of Rhythm and Blues 1942-52 is just splendid, it's a labour of love and a work of supreme scholarship, put together by people who obviously care. From boogie men to boppers, hillbilly's to honkers it is beautifully programmed and has polished some dusty old gems into a relevant and modern work of art. Compilations of the music of any genre from history are ten a penny these days, thrown together with little thought for anything bar profit. This is something else, something very special indeed. It realises that recorded music has a place in social history, its own mythology, a narrative and in its four discs and lovingly annotated 68 page book, it tells that story. So as well as the fabulous and joyful music, we get thoughts on the development of radio, the race laws of early 20th century America and the migration of workers, the jukebox phenomenon and even technical information about patterns in the 12 bar blues form. The compilers of this set have created a desirable object every bit as a precious as a memory, as valuable as a necklace, they are heroes of the gramophone, the record player, the cd machine. Just buy it, you won't go far wrong. Ian Clayton Among a plethora of such comps…frankly, it’s probably the best of its kind. Whether you want to learn more about the genre or have been listening for years, this collection leaves others eating its dust. Laith Al-Kaisy Record Collector RANDB048
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    Includes fully illustrated 24page booklet. Well what a set this one is… it is not JUST the music that makes it so valuable (I nearly wrote important)…The 68 page booklet (fully illustrated with labels, photos and billboards) is an exemplar of how these things should be done. Each individual track comes with a textual analysis and full recording details…The wealth of information presented is both impressive and delightful. Impressive because of the volume of research that must have been undertaken to produce the text and delightful because of the fascinating information delivered to the reader, particularly in the context of the sequencing of the tracks…there is more information here than will often be found in some books purporting to discuss the genre. Ian McKenzie Blues & Rhythm Breathtaking collection of vintage greats...brilliantly packaged with a detailed 68-page booklet, it’s hard to think of a music fan who wouldn’t want this in their collection. Terry Staunton Record Collector Hugely entertaining…ease back and luxuriate in the warm flow of mostly black sounds. Geoff Brown Mojo A multi-genre, colour-blind, cross-label and highly inclusive collection… delivers a history lesson with a helluva backbeat… Essential music by any measure, in a box set which does it justice and best of all, it rocks like a mother. RANDB011
  • Includes fully illustrated 68page booklet. What they said about Volume Three: 'Mind-bogglingly superb 4CD set ... too good to ignore...the definitive statement on the era...every cut is 100% juicy.' Johnny Black Hifi News 'Strongly recommended both because of the quality of its content and style of music and because of the loving care that has been applied Ian McKenzie Blues & Rhythm Brilliantly packaged with a detailed 68-page booklet, it's hard to think of a music fan who wouldn't want this in their collection.' Terry Staunton Record Collector R010
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    Includes fully illustrated booklet. Clarksdale, Mississippi: birthplace of Ike Turner, Sam Cooke, John Lee Hooker and Son House and home to five taverns visited by Library of Congress researcher Lewis Wade Jones in 1941. In each of these taverns, the Chicken Shack, the Dipsie Doodle, Lucky's, the Messenger's Cafe, and the New Africa, a jukebox. In each jukebox, a choice of records, painstakingly listed by Jones, who figured it was worth it. And now, sitting down in the comfort of your own home, you can pull yourself a beer and listen to the sounds that a 29 year-old Muddy Waters from nearby Stovall might have heard on a night out in Clarksdale on 9th September, 1941. Thanks, Lewis! After reading the impeccable illustrated booklet, all that’s left is to close th eyes, leaving for Clarksdale in 1941, push open the door to any tavern and slip a coin into the music box...magic! Le Pied It’s a brilliant idea, but of course, it stands or falls by the quality of the music on offer. But it stands...boy does it stand...this is blues as pure unadulterated joy...the history crackles from the speakers and blues fans – and indeed fans of good music generally – should beat a path to this album forthwith. Jeremy Searle R2   This is not only a great collection of music it's a significant historical document. A delightful and truly fascinating collection. Frank Scott Roots & Rhythm Overall across the four discs (77 +, 76 +, 74 +, 75 + minutes each) the sound is good/bordering on very good--especially for so many recordings from several labels--recorded from 1938-1941. While the sound has been cleaned up it still has that period warmth and feel which adds to the authenticity. There's occasional surface noise but nothing that gets in the way of enjoying the music. The 18 page booklet has details for each single--title, composer, artist, label, recording date--plus an essay reprinted from 1971 that includes pertinent information about the music/era, and a few photos of performers and other pertinent ephemera. This set is worth five "stars" not only because of the music/artists found that day, but also for the Rhythm and Blues label having the foresight and the chestnuts to release something as important as this. Blues fans looking for authentic music, the kind that patrons of those five clubs listened to using their hard earned nickels in juke boxes, as they drank with friends will find many surprises found on those juke boxes. This collection is from a two year field study of culture in the Mississippi Delta region during the summers of '41 and '42 in conjunction with the Archive of American Folk Song--Library of Congress & Fisk University. If you're a deep blues fan read "Lost Delta Found" and there you'll see one section that lists "Records on Machines in Clarksdale Amusement Places", that lists all the songs. Obviously this collection is the real-deal authentic music heard in that region (and no doubt other areas) in the 1940's. There's no guess work, no random inclusion of songs/performers that fit comfortably in the "juke joint" mould of what people may envision as from that era. Because of the authenticity of the cultural study and Jones' work, this is one of the most important (and eye-opening) collections of music in the blues genre. Plus it makes for darn good listening. Blues fans/blues scholars will have a field day with this fine set--it upsets what many of us thought "juke joint music" was. But the juke box changed all that. It's the music that working people heard after a day of hard work while drinking and relaxing with their friends. On all accounts this collection has to be one of the most authentic, important releases in the blues genre for 2016. Many tracks aren't what people may think of as juke joint music, but the juke box ushered in a new era of music in taverns and local joints all across the South. But more than that--it's just great music. Stuart Jefferson Amazon RANDB036 BONUS CD available free if you order the set from us direct
  • ‘You might think that when you’ve been around for a long time and love music as much as we all do at Blues Matters, that we might become a little blasé receiving CDs to review. You’d be wrong...This is a staggering project, a sheer delight...You can stick a pin in anywhere and come up with a gem of a recording. What these records will present to even the most avid R&B aficionado is a revelation... lifting the lid on a buried treasure chest of arcane recordings, all in a style decades ahead of their time... Every one of these tracks is utterly satisfying. If you’re a true R&B fan, you will not experience a finer collection this year or any other. Exhilarating, educational, historical, but above all, extremely musical, a complete evening’s unforgettable R&B entertainment...Think you know your blues history? Think again. As this has taught me, you’re never too old to learn.’ ROY BAINTON Blues Matters RANDB030 DVD style casing Produced as CD-R (professionally manufactured recordable CD printed for short run) as opposed to CD-P (professionally manufactured pressed CDs made in quantities of 500+). All CDs whether CD-R or CD-P are 100% guaranteed error free. Discs will always be replaced if any problems are encountered.
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    With 8 page booklet ‘You might think that when you’ve been around for a long time and love music as much as we all do at Blues Matters, that we might become a little blasé receiving CDs to review. You’d be wrong...This is a staggering project, a sheer delight...You can stick a pin in anywhere and come up with a gem of a recording. What these records will present to even the most avid R&B aficionado is a revelation... lifting the lid on a buried treasure chest of arcane recordings, all in a style decades ahead of their time... Every one of these tracks is utterly satisfying. If you’re a true R&B fan, you will not experience a finer collection this year or any other. Exhilarating, educational, historical, but above all, extremely musical, a complete evening’s unforgettable R&B entertainment...Think you know your blues history? Think again. As this has taught me, you’re never too old to learn.’ ROY BAINTON Blues Matters RANDB031 DVD style casing Produced as CD-R (professionally manufactured recordable CD printed for short run) as opposed to CD-P (professionally manufactured pressed CDs made in quantities of 500+). All CDs whether CD-R or CD-P are 100% guaranteed error free. Discs will always be replaced if any problems are encountered.
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    An excellent invitation to this ground-breaking music. Well worth tracking down. Gary Von Tersch Big City Rhythm & Blues R&B records is one of those dedicated labels which just keeps on giving. The first five volumes of this assiduously researched and compiled series have been an utter revelation, opening up corners of R&B history many of us never knew existed. Seeing as the term ‘R&B’ wasn’t invented in 1938, some of us could be forgiven for imagining that the genre we later became familiar with didn’t stretch back past the 1940s. How wrong we’d be. Throughout this amazing collection there’s more great names than you can shake a stick at. Spending an evening in with this quartet of discs and a few beers is a fine way to spend your time - and there are new names here offering new thrills. And all this, before I was born. Those were the days, indeed. Essential listening! Roy Bainton Blues Matters Now here we are really talking about going back to the roots with World War II lurking just around the corner…there is a sense of early rock'n'roll with The Golden Gate Jubilee and Bob Wills…Big Noise From Winnetka with Bauduc & Haggard is really Big Noise with is a stand-up bass that any rockabilly bassist in the world would be jealous of…The raw guitar sound on Blind Boy Fuller’s "You've Got To Move It On" I think will never be recreated... After listening through the collection you should understand how everything is interrelated. How Chuck Berry got his sound and how, among other things, Beatles and Rolling Stones became what they became. A collection of canons in my opinion and a booklet accompanies the records where there is very good info about the artists and the groups. Jonas Andersson American Music Magazine I have listened to almost nothing but this chronology in the past evenings, but I still feel that I have only just been knocking at the door of a rich treasure trove. Famous names and well-known songs are alternated with rare and unexpected tracks on the four CDs. What makes these sets so special is that they are not a dry and dusty exercise in musical archeology. What they present will be a revelation even for the most enthusiastic R & B enthusiast. Eric Schuurmans Rootsville   RANDB047
  • Includes fully illustrated booklet. The Coasters are widely considered to be the pre-eminent vocal group of the original rock ´n´ roll era both in sound and attitude, and to have created some of the best vocal group harmonies ever waxed. They had made their musical debut as the Robins during the early years of rhythm and blues and as the Coasters they contributed to shape rock'n'roll with some of the most cheeky, exciting and entertaining songs of the 50s. The original line-up disbanded early but the crucial team of singers and their mentors Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, moved from California to New York and created most of the greatest hits we know today. They were important influences for many later artists who covered their songs, such as the Beatles, the Stones, the Who and the Kinks. This compilation includes 19 hits listed in the Billboard pop and R&B charts between 1956 and 1962 and an accompanying 24-page booklet with many rare photos and notes on the group's evolution. Superlative compilations of essential American music history Not many groups of any kind can claim to have such a distinct influence on pop and rock n roll music as The Coasters. Their lengthy string of iconic hits, mostly courtesy of the pen of their mentors and genius song writing team Leiber & Stoller, and also their unique blend of personality and vocal harmony, took the mixture of doo wop, rock n roll, soul and jazz to new territory, and put them at the pinnacle of the original Rock n Roll and R’n’B era. Covered by everyone from The Beach Boys, Elvis, Zappa, Leon Russell, Alex Harvey, the Grateful Dead, these tunes were also central to the Brit Beat boom of the early 60s (Hamburg-era Beatles’ live set was heavy on Coasters covers). In addition, it’s difficult to understate the sheer magnitude of their influence on popular music; Put simply; these are the explosive and innovative bricks and mortar of all the rock n roll and R’n’B you’ve ever loved. These two new lavishly packaged and annotated double CD collections from the ‘History of RnB’ stable certainly do justice to the legacy and the fantastic energy of this incendiary, funny, and entertaining music. This is energetic music that screams youth, attitude and sass, with jokes, wit, satire and risque humour in spades (the likes of ‘Little Egypt’ were banned on release) that even after all this time still leap from the speakers at full pelt. The Definitive Coasters – The A & B sides collects both sides of the groups first 30 7” singles from their faultless run comprising 1954 to 1962. As such, the crammed-full first disc of A-Sides is as damn near perfect as an 80 minute receptacle of music can conceivably be, and an essential inclusion for anyone with even a passing interest in the development of American music. The B sides disc, quite understandably, has a moderately lower strike rate, and features some less exceptional ballads when compared with the vibrancy of the revolutionary hits, however its hard to argue with the likes of the genuinely funky ‘Turtle Dovin’ and ‘What is the Secret of Your Success’ which both rank as high as any A-Side. Absolutely essential. Those Hoodlum Friends…Coasters in Stereo comprises 49 tracks of rare stereo takes of some of the hits and also key album cuts and out-takes, as well as a full disc packed with composite studio tracks and alternate versions and studio chatter from the archive, many of which have never been released before. Jazz standards like ‘Moonglow’, ‘Autumn Leaves’, ‘Moonlight in Vermont’ and ‘Sunny Side of the Street’ are recorded with orchestras and show a more polished traditional jazz and balladeering side to their style, which although perfectly good is not quite as exciting as their more forthright material. While many early stereo recordings are inferior to their mono comparisons, the mixes here are sharp, luxurious and well defined. Definitely one for the already converted, collectors and connoisseurs, but it’s a look at this important music from a slightly altered angle (‘Run Red Run’ and ‘The Snake and the Bookworm’ offer very fresh perspectives in their alternate forms). Both these generous collections are finely packaged, expertly compiled sets, that are lovingly annotated with encyclopedic attention to detail. History has never been so much damn good fun! Ian Fildes AmericanaUK 9/10 A simply fabulous collection! If you missed out on the limited edition four CD set issued by Rhino Handmade in 2007 the History Of RnB label comes to the rescue with two double sets featuring everything that this fabulous group recorded for Spark and Atco between 1954 and 1962 including a couple of items that were not on the Rhino set but omitting the post 1962 recordings which were generally not as good as the earlier sides. Set comes with 24 page booklet with informative notes, rare photos, label shots and posters. A fabulous set with great sound. Roots & Rhythm R001
  • Outtakes, Stereo Versions and Album Tracks The accompanying 24-page booklet includes many rare photos and an exhaustive session discography by Claus Röhnisch. A collection for Coasters and early rock 'n' roll aficionados! The Coasters had the benefit of recording in the best studios, backed by the best musicians and produced by the top producers of their generation, Leiber and Stoller. Naturally, they were required to run through as many takes of each song as was necessary to satisfy the exacting demands of their mentors. Luckily for us, many of these alternate takes have survived. Mono was the standard recording format until the late 1960s, but many of the big selling artists also recorded alternate versions specifically for the stereo market, which was targeted to the discerning adult listener. Disc One features all the alternate stereo versions of Coasters songs that were issued at the time on album and subsequently on CD. Disc Two takes you deep into the heart of Coasters sessions with composite tracks which combine studio chatter together with the finest moments from various different takes. This disc contains several outtakes which have until now been unavailable anywhere and gives an invaluable insight into the genesis of many well-loved tracks and also into the character and working practice of the Coasters and of their producers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. R002
  • What is this glorious music we call doo-wop? It’s a style conveying naivete and young love in a way no genre did before. It’s an attitude harking back to the birth of the teenager in the 1950s. For a lot of us, it represents nostalgia for an era we may or may not have experienced. Technically, doo-wop is an amalgam of five key characteristics that are explored in the 24-page booklet that accompanies this CD and richly evidenced in the choice of recordings. This CD, the first in a set of six, covers the formative years of doo-wop, offering astonishing vocal harmonies, vibrant instrumentation and a fun collection of songs that will not fail to please the amateur while being of interest to the serious collector. Compiled and annotated by Anthony J Gribin & Matthew M Schiff, the Doctors of Doo-Wop. RANDB028 Produced as CD-R (professionally manufactured recordable CD printed for short run) as opposed to CD-P (professionally manufactured pressed CDs made in quantities of 500+). All CDs whether CD-R or CD-P are 100% guaranteed error free. Discs will always be replaced if any problems are encountered. 24-page booklet included
  • Henry Glover was the first producer/writer in the American music industry, paving the way for a host of illustrious followers such as Phil Spector, Leiber & Stoller and Burt Bacharach. Composer, producer, arranger, publisher, talent scout, vocalist, trumpet player, engineer, A&R executive, and, later, a label owner in his own right, Glover was one of the most talented music industry entrepreneurs of the mid-twentieth century. The fact that he was black and working in an exclusively white executive environment makes his achievements all the more remarkable. Glover’s career illustrates the evolution of modern popular music from its beginnings in jazz and blues, through its mutation into rhythm and blues, rock’n’roll and pop, culminating in soul and rock music. His first compositions in the forties were for mainstream artists such as Ella Fitzgerald and Dinah Washington in the big band and orchestral mould, but he established himself in the early fifties as a composer of risqué blues such as The Swallows’ It Ain’t The Meat (It’s The Motion), Wynonie Harris’s I Like My Baby’s Pudding and Bull Moose Jackson’s I Want a Bowlegged Woman as well as a host of drinking songs. Glover’s formative years were spent at Cincinnati-based King Records and the majority of hits on that label during its golden era from 1947 to 1958 were Henry Glover productions, most notably Little Willie John’s original 1955 version of Fever. He was equally at home with white country music and black sacred gospel music. His hillbilly song Blues Stay Away from Me has attained the status of classic in its field with versions by such diverse artists as B.B.King, Merle Haggard, Harry James, K.D.Lang and Tennessee Ernie Ford. His pioneering work with Moon Mullican and Hawkshaw Hawkins combining blues and country predates Elvis Presley’s Sun recordings by several years. His best-known song in the soul genre was Ray Charles’s 1960 number one hit Drown In My Own Tears. Towards the end of the fifties, Glover tried his hand at doo-wop and rock’n’roll music, but he found his greatest success in the dance craze era of the early 1960s with songs such as Peppermint Twist, Let The Little Girl Dance and California Sun, later covered by The Ramones. In later years, Glover channelled his energies into finding new artists and forming his own record label (he launched the careers of The Hawks, who mutated into The Band, and of the recently departed Nick Ashford). One of his last productions was Muddy Waters’s swansong The Woodstock Album, which won a Grammy in 1975. RANDB020 Produced as CD-R (professionally manufactured recordable CD printed for short run) as opposed to CD-P (professionally manufactured pressed CDs made in quantities of 500+). All CDs whether CD-R or CD-P are 100% guaranteed error free. Discs will always be replaced if any problems are encountered. 36-page booklet included
  • Out of stock
    includes 32 page booklet RANDB021 Produced as CD-R (professionally manufactured recordable CD printed for short run) as opposed to CD-P (professionally manufactured pressed CDs made in quantities of 500+). All CDs whether CD-R or CD-P are 100% guaranteed error free. Discs will always be replaced if any problems are encountered.
  • This set brings together the finest R&B instrumentals recorded between 1956 and 1957, putting the spotlight both on long-forgotten records by established artists and fabulous obscurities by long-forgotten ones! It’s a cracking compilation from start to finish: Mid-West electric blues, Southern swamp rock, spicy New Orleans rhythms, sophisticated West-Coast productions and East Coast city blues, dominated by guitarists and saxophonists but interspersed with a few organists, accordionists, pianists, harmonicists and even a unitarist. All in all, 120 mighty instrumental stompers from 1956-57, R&B-style. Glorious stuff! An extra 2CD set is available as a free bonus only if bought direct from us. RANDB054
  • Here’s a selection of cracking R&B instrumentals, and scarcely a chart hit amongst them. Guitar-led rockers from the West Coast, with fiery picking and heavy blues/rock riffs from Johnny Talbot, Travis Wammack and Roy Buchanan and some early fuzzbox action from Lou Josie of the Ho-Dads. There’s Louisiana sounds from Mac “Dr. John” Rebennack and Robert Parker with Mid-West guitar grooves by Tommy Tucker, Freddy King and Little Milton. Up in New York, you’ve got B.B. King, Wild Jimmy Spruill, and King Curtis blowing out on Soul Train. Dave Lewis and The Exotics were from Seattle and there’s even a Canadian group, future comedian Tommy Chong’s Little Daddy & The Bachelors. These are the records Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Dave Davies, Jeff Beck et al were listening to in 1964. An extra 2CD set is available as a free bonus only if bought direct from us. RANDB053 Sheer eye-opening delight…Its absolute playability is amazing. There’s little need to press the skip button, just sit back and enjoy. Alan Taylor Pipeline
  • Just before the United States joined the Second World War, Jazz was at a crossroads. Big Band Swing was at the height of its popularity amongst white jazz fans, but black audiences were tiring of the bland, easy listening fare being served up by the likes of Glenn Miller. It was high time to put some excitement back into jazz, and the ‘honkers and screamers’ were in the right place at the right time to do it. Jazz purists hated it, but the public lapped it up. This set brings together all the jazz and R&B instrumentals that reached the R&B charts between 1942 and 1963 and draws a connecting line between Swing, Bebop, Boogie, Jive, Mambo, Rock’n’roll, culminating in the funky organ grooves of Booker T and Jimmy Smith. It still has the irresistible energy that seduced so many in the Forties, Fifties and Sixties and changed the character of popular music forever. We couldn't get all the hits even on to 4 CDs, so there is an extra 2CD set available as a free bonus set only available direct from us. RANDB050 With its comprehensive, almost scholarly approach, this is a fantastic project – just what the instrumental collector/historian ordered. But it also makes for good entertainment as the sequencing of the tracks is adjusted for listening pleasure. Alan Taylor Pipeline The extensive notes include recording dates, composer, artist, original catalogue numbers and chart entry number/date. There are just so many great tunes here that at times you could be overwhelmed but you’ll be dancing and smiling so never mind. GRAEME SCOTT Blues Matters Here’s a killer compilation of swing, jazz, smoochers, mild/wild rockin’ jivers to fill any sax-loving fan with delight and every one a hit. Compiler Nick Duckett has combed the charts of Billboard, Cashbox R&B, even Pop to come up with the goods, from número uno to a humble #128. You should have no difficulty with most, if not all of the acts, tho some of the titles may be unfamiliar. With bulging booklet, amply illustrated…if you're a sax maniac, you're in hog heaven…more than well worth a listen. Tony Martin American Music Magazine/NDT
  • 1962 was the peak year for hit records instrumental-style, with no less than 123 discs scoring on the American pop charts. There wasn’t much in the hit parade to interest R&B fans though, apart from King Curtis’s Soul Twist, Booker T. & The MG's Green Onions and James Brown’s Night Train, but that’s where Mighty Instrumentals R&B-Style 1962 comes in. So what was new in 1962? A bit of surf, a bit of funk, a brand new rhythm on Boogie Twist. More slinky organ groovers, uptown dancers and late night smoochers for teenagers to dance to. And there you have it – 58 R&B scorchers with rhythm aplenty. RANDB044 These albums are full of big, fat chugging and swinging bluesy numbers…With their excellent sound and at such good value for money these CDs will delight fans of the genre. Alan Taylor Pipeline  
  • 1960 was the year that Instrumentals hit the charts in a big way with guitar or sax-led rockers and slinky organ groovers. Here are the discs that teenagers wanted to hear in the juke joints: exciting, uptempo stompers with catchy, melodic riffs, along with slow, soulful, down home blues. This compilation throws the spotlight on instrumentals by artists more widely associated with vocals, along with more obscure artists who may only have had one or two releases to their name. ...absolutely cracking double CD of 57 superb R&B instrumentals from a vintage year...we’ve just finished whipping through it and it’s going on again in 5 minutes! More please! New Gandy Dancer RANDB034
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    1960 may have been the big year for Instrumentals, but back in 1959, several white instrumentals acts were already making a dent in the pop charts, among them the Virtues, the Rebels, the Rock-A-Teens and the Fireballs. Duane Eddy had broken through in ‘58 but in 1959 he had no less than seven singles on the Hot 100. Johnny & the Hurricanes had their first success this year with three big hits. Black artists, however, had less mainstream success. Jimmy Beck sneaked in at #82 for two weeks with Pipe Dreams, Larry Kerrin’s The Hunch was a hit for both Paul Gayten and the Bobby Peterson Quintet; Bill Doggett had three discs in the R&B charts but apart from a couple of organ hits for Preston Epps and ‘Dave Baby’ Cortez, that was it for R&B instrumentals chart-wise. If you’re knocked out by what you hear from 1959, just wait till you find out what was on offer in 1960 and 1961. RANDB037 My gosh! Can compilations of great R&B instrumentals get any better? Joyous album full of unbridled passion...toe-tapping and dancey- great party or listening musicwith racey, funky guitars, rattling sax and rollicking piano. And the drummers all had fun too. Can’t recommend these two albums highly enough. New Gandy Dancer  
  • 1960 may have been the year that Instrumentals hit the charts in a big way, but it was in 1961, that their hold on the hit parade was consolidated with a good number of guitar or sax-led rockers and slinky organ groovers. These are the discs that teenagers wanted to hear in the juke joints: exciting, uptempo stompers with catchy, melodic riffs, and slow, soulful, down home blues. Our compilation throws the spotlight on instrumentals by artists who are more widely associated with vocals, along with more obscure musicians who may only have one or two releases to their name. We hope you enjoy these grooves and if you like what you hear from 1961, just wait till you find out what was on offer in 1959, and in 1960! RANDB038 Awesome R&B instro Cd's - well pleased and great to hear a load of new material. Just when I thought I'd heard it all! Graham Cann These are two mighty instrumental collections from R&B Records...with no real duds amongst them. A veritable cornucopia of fine sounds which will be of interest to all instrumentally minded fans of R&B. Fred Rothwell Blues & Rhythm
  • As the UK fired up to the 'White Heat' predicted by its new Prime Minister Harold Wilson, the nation's jazz scene was already aglow with talent, both established and up and coming. Indeed, London was a boiling crucible of jazz invention, mixing R&B, Hard Bop and a pinch of the Avant-Garde to forge its very own alchemic brand of jazz. Soho Scene '64/'65 captures this moment perfectly, a time when The Beatles and Bond were both new and fresh and when Brit-Jazz sounded as colourful and swinging as anything sashaying down Carnaby Street. Booklet notes by Simon Spillett RANDB058 I love this series. Since every track is different, dynamic and tasty, you can listen straight through without ever looking up… Where American big-band jazz trailed off in the early 1960s Britain continued to develop the genre further and with gusto… the U.S. sides are funky and off the beaten path, making for a wonderful juxtaposition between jazz evolution in London and the U.S. during the exact same two-year period. It's all here on this new set and series. Grab your Lambrettas! Marc Myers
  • This is the latest of a terrific series of classic 1960's British jazz… digging a good deal deeper into the jazz side, and, moreover, offering the considerable bonus of rare as hen's teeth UK jazz 7"/EP and LPs with a second CD of American jazz…Rounding off an excellent overview of the club scene are the terrific black and white photos and these capture the atmosphere to perfection. Extensive liner notes come courtesy of Paul 'Smiler' Anderson. A fascinating insight into the kind of music that was played in the hipper clubs of the era... A good, if expensive, time to be a 1960s jazz devotee. Tim Stenhouse UK Vibe A little difficult to grasp: 1961 - The British Perspective by Simon Spillett Not so long ago, the unlikelihood of the Briton as a jazzman would have been perfectly expressed by thinking of him in a bowler hat. Result: complete incongruity, like Mrs Grundy dancing the can-can. Philip Larkin, The Daily Telegraph, July 15th 1961 It's hard to work out what caused the biggest noise in British jazz circles back in 1961. Was it the one and only UK visit of John Coltrane, the first bona-fide American avant-gardist to play to an English audience, whose London début was dismissed in Jazz Journal as “the low water mark of jazz in this country.” Or was it the installation of a new espresso machine at Ronnie Scott's club, “the most out-of-tune contraption of its kind in all of Britain,” according to Jazz News, issuing “steaming sibilance...guaranteed to blast almost any soloist out of audial existence.” Then again, perhaps it could have been the clamouring wheels of the Trad bandwagon, pushing its way up the mountainous slopes of the popular charts? Actually the big story of the year wasn't one at club or concert level, although both appeared to be doing well. Despite the predictions of nay-sayers and the odd spat with other West End promoters (“From Monday to Thursday, the Flamingo quietly folds its wings and drops dead,” observed Scott in December 1960), Ronnie Scott's had survived for just over a year, its successes coming in fits and starts not unlike the splutterings of its new espresso maker. The coffee machine was a good sign though, as was the long-awaited installation of a bar at the premises in April 1961, an event only made possible by the formation of the club’s own “wine committee”, of which Benny Green made a puzzled secretary. Ronnie's was by no means the only London modern jazz spot doing well. Regardless of Scott's jibe, The Flamingo continued to pull the punters, pressed into what one magazine called its “dark, Turkish-bath, but always swinging, atmosphere.” Further afield there was success too; opened in January 1961, by November of the same year Klooks Kleek in West Hampstead boasted a membership of 1600, no mean feat for a venue promoting solely local attractions. On the touring package front, things also looked to be on the up. A welcome relief from what had already begun to seem like a veritable carousel of mainstream and big band artists, the visits of Art Blakey, Thelonious Monk and Coltrane had shown a distinct shift towards the modern, with their respective bands introducing then largely unknown new stars such as Elvin Jones, Eric Dolphy and Wayne Shorter to local audiences. Each of these visits caused moments both controversial and thought-provoking, some less well-publicised than others, including Elvin Jones' memorably Dadaist sit-in at Scott's, which brought delight to some (Tubby Hayes) and dismay to others (a well-known British trumpeter who was moved to scoff “that man can't count four bars!”). Another US visitor that year – bassist Charles Mingus, in England to appear in the jazz-does-Shakespeare film novelty All Night Long – hung around long enough to get more of a measure of the parochial scene, holding court in a series of interviews which found him unafraid to confront what he saw as the failings of the UK's jazzmen. “The trouble here, so far as I can see, is that everyone's listening to records and taking their cues from these,” he remarked perceptively. “It seems to me if our records weren't issued in Britain, the British cats would have to think for themselves.” Balancing this critique, Mingus had been quick to praise those local players who he did think were onto something of their own, including Ronnie Scott and Joe Harriott (“he's got a good sound”) in whose free-form experiments he recognised the spirit of a fellow maverick . As cutting as Mingus was, his remarks about “our records” had an almost laughable irony to them. The label to which he was then signed – Candid – hadn't yet found a UK distributor. Indeed, local modernists weren't nearly as up-to-date as their album-chasing legend might have us believe, something rammed home early in 1961 by the arrival in the UK of the Blue Note catalogue, arguably the finest on-record representation of modern jazz to date. If the label had long exemplified the height of hip to US jazz listeners, its message had taken an age to find English ears. Hitherto available as super-inflated imports or sailor-smuggled luxuries (Tony Hall recalls paying an astronomical £4 per LP in the late 1950s), a deal struck with Central Record Distributors meant that from February 1961, Blue Notes were now regularly available in the UK for the first time. Regardless of a still-expensive price tag (49/9 each, 12/- more than an average British 12” LP), the demand was ridiculous, with Doug Dobell's famed London record shops' initial stock selling out in less than ten days. Within seven months, Blue Note had sold four times as many albums as they'd budgeted for, good news for record retailers and fans but a further kick in the teeth to those trying to sell local modern jazz on record. The timing couldn't have been more bittersweet. Shortly after Blue Note began to appear in the racks, Tony Hall finally threw in the towel at Tempo, the label that had almost single-handedly documented the harder end of UK modernism for close to five years. Tempo's final modern jazz release – The Jazz Five's The Five Of Us – had received good press, but as a commercial commodity it had been a dead loss. “When you can buy a Miles Davis LP for a couple of bob less, can you really afford to buy, say, Tubby Hayes' latest, however much you dig British jazz?” Hall had asked ruefully in Jazz News. If the question was somewhat academic, there were nevertheless some signs of a welcome change of pace. At the eye of the Trad hurricane, in February 1961, Johnny Dankworth's incessantly catchy African Waltz three-foured its way into the popular charts, selling a staggering 24,000 copies in a month. Barely had this news broken than Tubby Hayes put his moniker to a contract with Fontana, “the first British modernist to be signed to a major label in some years,” reported Melody Maker excitedly. Indeed, the big noise in British modernism that year wasn't in the clubs, at festivals or on the radio - it was on record. And, like all things in British jazz, it was a tale of equal parts triumph and disaster. The latter were all too easy to under-sensationalise: the end of Tempo, Blue Note's dismissal of its one ex-British artist (Alfred Lion: “the public did not really take to our recordings of Dizzy Reece”), the Musicians' Union putting the block on Dizzy Gillespie recording in London. After all, hadn't this been the story for years now? But, for once, the triumphs seemed to be coming in greater numbers; that year the US Riverside subsidiary Jazzland licensed recordings by The Jazz Couriers, The Joe Harriott Quintet and The Vic Ash-Harry Klein Jazz Five for Stateside release (“MUST HAVE!” Jazzland's Bill Grauer had cabled Tony Hall on hearing the Ash/Klein tapes); pianist Dave Lee's album 'A Big New Band From Britain' spent six weeks in the famed US 'Cash Box Top Ten'; and Don Rendell found himself the first British modernist signed exclusively to an American label - also Jazzland - (“Forgotten Jazzman nets big disc deal” Melody Maker), effectively resuscitating his career. Rendell wasn't the only beneficiary. Almost overnight, it was as if the lifeblood had been pumped back into British modernism. Cool, it seemed, was well and truly out. “Filling the void is something which should inject a new life into the whole modern scene,” wrote Melody Maker's Bob Dawbarn that summer, “- excitement”. It was hard not to sense a burgeoning confidence beginning to infuse the music. All of a sudden, local modern LPs began to receive rave reviews, with one – Tubby Hayes' initial salvo for Fontana, Tubbs – named Melody Maker's Jazz LP of the Month in July 1961, succeeding none other than John Coltrane's Blue Train. There was even sign of an end to the closed shop mentality that had for so long kept British bop hemmed in. Hot on the heels of signing Tubby Hayes, Fontana had also bagged twenty year old Dick Morrissey, a saxophonist whose precocious ability came close to that of Hayes himself. “I'm still trying to find a really serious grouse with the whole thing,” wrote Jazz News's Kevin Henriques reviewing Morrissey's debut disc, as if it just wasn't cricket to favour the local lads. Even those not generally sympathetic to contemporary jazz styles had at last begun to yield. In late 1961, Denis Preston – Lansdowne studio’s maven of mainstream and a leading architect in building the Trad Boom – recorded the Emcee Five, a frighteningly accomplished “territory band” from Newcastle upon Tyne, the mere existence of which said everything about how deeply modernism had taken root throughout the UK. Where it should venture next was obvious. Having successfully exported recordings by its leading exponents – Harriott, Scott, Dankworth – to the US, it was now only a matter of time until we exported the real thing, a pipe-dream that became a reality in September 1961, when Tubby Hayes inaugurated a UK/US soloist exchange deal enabling American players to appear at Ronnie Scott's club while their English opposites played New York. Earlier that year, Hayes had complained, “the British scene is very limiting. It is difficult to get beyond working around the Wardour Street-Gerrard Street area.” Now, he was working Hudson and Spring, attracting audiences including Miles Davis and Cannonball Adderley, a sure fire sign that British modernism had finally made the biggest leap of its short-life – one as much cultural as artistic. The story of this transatlantic détente was set out on record for all to hear: Hayes recording in New York with a band including Clark Terry, while Zoot Sims was taped over several nights at Ronnie Scott's club, sounding just as comfortable with his English accompanists as Hayes had with his US ones. It was the ultimate victory. “Even five years ago, [this] would have seemed like wishful thinking,” summed up Benny Green in his sleeve note to Tubbs in N.Y. “Even after hearing [this record] I find it all a little difficult to grasp.” What Hayes and has colleagues had grasped though – in essence the nettle of opportunity – was to prove particularly awkward to hang onto in the year ahead. Indeed, far down among the provincial undergrowth lay a threat few would have thought serious at the time. Yet it was there all the same. Reviewing the club scene in Liverpool at the end of 1961, Jazz News cautioned “you would be quite surprised at the 'jazz section' of the evening paper. Some of the groups that appear are called The Beetles [sic.], Undertakers and the Galvanisers...” The Beetles? The name said it all: this was to be one hard-shelled opponent. RANDB042
  • Something Quieter: 1962 – The British Perspective by Simon Spillett As for our own jazzmen – stick to listening in the clubs. They are twice themselves there. Readers letter to Melody Maker, October 6th 1963 It was an affront! Nothing less than an insult! An unnecessary and totally incongruous modernistic excrescence arbitrarily grafted onto what was one of the nation’s favourite radio programmes. How dare the BBC tinker with this hallowed ground, trying to tart it up to make it more in keeping with contemporary tastes. If the change to the programme title were not bad enough, then what was this?! – a new signature tune, all garish jazzy harmonies and such. Whatever next?! Outraged of Tunbridge Wells wasn't merely upset, he was incandescent! So went public the reaction to the BBC's re-branding of Mrs Dale's Diary as The Dales in February 1962. The show’s new theme music – an offending burst of modern big band jazz - had been written by none other than John Dankworth, then riding high on the recent success of African Waltz, the chart-friendliness of which had thrust him – always one of the more palatable UK modernists – further towards the realms of the establishment. Indeed, profiled in Melody Maker the same month as The Dales first aired, it was clear that at least for Dankworth and his wife, vocalist Cleo Laine, modern jazz was now providing a living far removed from the starving-in-a-garret clichés normally pedalled by the press. “The couple live in Woburn Sands, Bedfordshire” the paper reported, “and run two cars – an A40 and a Zephyr...” Although the BBC were to junk his new theme to The Dales within a matter of months, following an avalanche of letters requesting “something quieter”, Dankworth's radio commission was the latest sign that modern jazz in Britain was at last finding its feet. Those same feet were now also gaining ground across the Atlantic. A Melody Maker headline at the beginning of the year shouted America is Booking British, detailing how the Anglo-US exchange deal begun the previous autumn was now gearing up to return Tubby Hayes to New York, soon to be followed by Ronnie Scott, Jimmy Deuchar and Ronnie Ross. Barely a few months before, all this would have seemed impossible. And it wasn't only the British who'd welcomed the trade-off. Even America's jazz bible DownBeat noted the wisdom of the exchange; “If England'll accept, I'm all for sending Noel Coward back and taking Tubby Hayes,” wrote one of its columnists. “Come to think of it, I'm all for sending Noel Coward back whether they give us Tubby or not.” But for the Englishmen back home in London it was to be an all too brief moment in the noon-day sun. In May 1962, just five months after it had proudly unveiled Dankworth's new Dales-theme, the BBC summarily banned what it termed “uninhibited modern jazz” from its Light Programme scheduling, partly a reflection on the audience figures the network had accrued when latterly presenting traditional jazz bands, partly out of a fear that modernism was a pernicious force undermining the corporation’s strict, Reithian edicts. “I'm not asking Tubby Hayes to make a commercial sound like Victor Sylvester,” said producer Terry Henebery, as if in mitigation, “but there are limits.” The almighty row that exploded in the pages of the jazz press following the ban – in which Dankworth himself compared the BBC's policy to apartheid – was also accompanied by an on-going one about how these same modernists presented themselves in public. The argument was an old one, namely that Britain's modern jazz musicians appeared to believe the world owed them a living. “Whose fault if no-one wants modern jazz?”, asked one Melody Maker piece, laying the blame squarely at the feet of the players themselves. Sam Kruger, boss of The Flamingo, had had enough of the studied indifference displayed by many of those he employed, railing against the way “[they] dress in a slovenly way, smoke on stage and play endless choruses”. The musicians tried to fight back. “We must present ourselves properly and have more confidence,” remarked the Jamaican altoist Harold McNair, as if waking to smell the coffee. “It doesn't mean lowering standards – just more communication.” Even those who might not otherwise have appeared to give a damn about Brit-Bop waded in, with one, Trad demigod Acker Bilk, providing a characteristically pithy piece of advice. “If British modernists saw [Gerry] Mulligan,” wrote Bilk after a trip to New York, “they would understand that modern jazz is as much a part of show-business as trad or pop.” Trad and pop, however, weren't getting the brush off from the record industry. The top-selling UK jazz album of 1962 – itself an almost totemic representation of the entire Trad movement - was The Best of Barber and Bilk. British modern jazz LPs on the other hand continued to be rare as hens' teeth. For example, that year, Ember released just two new modern albums by Tony's Kinsey and Crombie, and while Fontana continued its valuable patronage of Tubby Hayes, for many other local jazzmen, the story continued to be one of A&R neglect. Nothing was clear cut though. Indeed, looking at recording activity covering the three strands comprising the fabric of modernism at this juncture – cool, bop and the blues-driven end of mainstream – there is as much contradiction as conformity. Again, some thought the music at fault, others the musicians. One unidentified record producer told Bob Dawbarn that he was now loathe to book “a modern jazz group three months ahead [as] I know I will see an entirely different band of musicians [on the session] – if the group still exists at all.” Another mover and shaker, Pete Burman, mastermind of the Jazz Tete a Tete concert packages believed too much emphasis had been placed on chasing the cutting edge of Hard Bop. “I wonder if this intimate, rather formal sort of jazz” he wrote of the music he presented – played by the likes of Johnny Scott and Pat Smythe - “isn't perhaps the kind British musicians are best at.” He had a point; or maybe he didn't. When Philips' Johnny Franz signed saxophonist Tony Coe's Quintet – a group able to straddle several stylistic camps - to a one-shot LP deal in summer 1962, Coe found no such reservations about what might sell, with his producer actively encouraging him to cover the gamut. “[He] was wonderfully sympathetic,” he said of Franz in a Melody Maker interview. “Musically he gave us our heads [and accordingly] most of what was used were first takes.” Coe's relaxed experience in the studio was an unusual one for a British modernist, but with a repertoire incorporating Cannonball Adderley, Kenny Burrell and Sonny Rollins, his band was playing music typifying the definite shift towards harder, earthier playing that was now the trend in London's jazz clubs. However, regardless of how spirited the music in these venues may have been at this, the last point in musical history in which soul remained an adjective rather than a noun, there were those who continued to see it all as a phoney, fashion-fitting pretence. “A British jazzman must make a living, with audiences and colleagues largely conditioned to Transatlantic fashion,” wrote Kitty Grime in January 1962, explaining the dilemma faced by virtually every local modernist. Pianist Eddie Thompson – who having finally tired of the impediments of the UK jazz circuit, upped sticks permanently to New York around the same time – was even more direct. “You cannot afford to be original here,” he observed wistfully, “I could go no further in Britain.” Another English jazzman - one making the reverse journey after years in the States - bassist Peter Ind, also saw things with a refreshing clarity. “They seem to forsake their own originality for an imitation of whichever American jazz star is currently popular,” he said of the colleagues with whom he'd been reunited, “thus, we have many little Miles’s, Coltrane's and Cannonball's around, all vying for attention.” Perhaps the most vociferous critic of all was Danny Halperin, Jazz News' resident curmudgeon, who took every opportunity available to swipe at the locals. Having dismissed the London club scene in the autumn of 1962 as “a dreary succession of dimly-lit miniature steam baths peopled by drags”, he then delighted in tearing a strip off of several of the capital’s leading lights. “I wouldn't give you a plugged farthing for any of them. Yes, and I mean that tenor man who runs changes till the cows come home. Also I mean that charming bandleader who plays the most wooden alto this side of heaven.” But, as the year drew to a close, it was to be that same “charming bandleader” who was to prove himself more man of steel than saxophonist of wood. In fact, during the very same week that John F. Kennedy faced down the Soviets, John W. Dankworth stood up against an equally formidable foe – the BBC. Having relaxed its ban on modern jazz somewhat during the late summer months, the corporation had engaged Dankworth's band to appear on its Jazz Club programme on October 11th. During rehearsal, one of the bandleader’s pieces – Freeway, a quintet feature for Kenny Wheeler – had been vetoed by producer Terry Henebery as “too advanced for Jazz Club”. Come the broadcast, Dankworth was asked to restore the piece to the show’s playlist, which he flatly refused to do – live on air – resulting in the programme under-running and a flustered response from compère Alan Dell. Was it a protest at the stylistic vacillations of the corporation? - a held-over response to their earlier outright ban on modern jazz? - or even a fit of pique over them scrapping his theme for The Dales? The answer was simple: Dankworth was standing up not just for his music, but for himself, showing the genuine grit which British jazz was so often said to lack. “If I am well-known for anything,” he had written earlier in 1962, “it is certainly not for obeying rules.” It was clearly a watershed moment, a very public display of the “more confidence” Harold McNair had thought was woefully absent in many local jazzmen. Indeed, at the end of the year – twelve months that had mixed controversy, confrontation and consolidation in equal measure – Britain's modernists had come out stronger than ever. Battle-scarred but undimmed, now all they needed was a wider audience. Maybe 1963 would be their year, after all? Simon Spillett July 2017 RANDB035
  • Sale!
    THAT WAS THE YEAR THAT WAS: 1963 – The British Perspective by Simon Spillett “There is a new look to British jazz these days. The soloists are still going their own way but against a more saleable framework.” Melody Maker, February 2nd 1963 “Rarely has a new year caught the British jazz scene in such as state of flux.” So began an article in Melody Maker on January 5th 1963, outlining what the paper thought might be likely trends within the music over the coming months. The Trad Boom - for so long the mainstream media idea of what British jazz was all about - it maintained was finally over, while Rhythm and Blues, the new style that had latterly begun to feature in London jazz hot spots like The Flamingo and The Marquee, had yet to truly prove its worth. Elsewhere in the same issue, R&B was the subject of a piece with the provocative strap-line Trend or Tripe, in which figures including Alexis Korner and a nineteen year old called Mick Jagger debated what the music’s likely impact might be in the near future. Having now got its foot firmly in the door of two of the country’s leading jazz clubs, was it possible that with Trad now on the wane, this might be the next real threat for Britain's tight clique of modern jazzmen? Not everyone thought so. To the surprise of some, Pete King, manager of Ronnie Scott's club believed R&B could “definitely assist modern jazz”, adding that when played by jazz musicians the new music “sounds really good.” King's comments were the latest in a series of indications that, after a decade of cool indifference to public tastes, the capital’s modernists were starting to thaw out. Indeed, as the country froze in the grip of the coldest winter since 1947, there were even signs of them melting. “The modernists are beginning to move backwards towards less-complex, more easily assimilated music”, Melody Maker concluded, a prediction borne out by the launch the following month of The Seven Souls, a co-operative band headed by John Dankworth, which aimed to “please the dancers” with “uncomplicated arrangements and a strong beat.” The band’s début gig was a roaring success, with Melody Maker's Bob Dawbarn postulating that the group might even shake the British record industry out of its almost total indifference to local jazzmen. “If [the producers] had heard [them play] Hoe Down they would have had the contracts out on the stage,” he gushed. Sadly, the musicians knew just how unlikely this pipe-dream was. Despite the predictions of writers like Dawbarn and Benny Green (who in an article in Scene magazine in October 1962 had even gone so far to suggest that “the prospects for British modern far as recording studios are concerned, are...better than they have been for many years”) things had fallen ominously quiet on the album front. Although Fontana had made some in-roads into recording local modern jazz during the previous two years – signing both Tubby Hayes and Dick Morrissey in 1961 – there was little resulting windfall on other labels. In fact, looking at the number of British modern jazz recordings reviewed in the pages of Melody Maker, Jazz Journal and Jazz News and Review during 1963 reveals the story in stark black and white. MM reviewed a dozen such LPs and EPs, JJ thirteen and JN&R just eight discs, a meagre ratio when set beside the space allotted American albums, and a statistic also somewhat skewed when one remembers that “modern” back in 1963 could still take in certain fringe artists, such as Steve Race. But this wasn't just the old conundrum of local press prejudice – the problem was Britain's modernists simply weren't recording. In fact, in this regard, 1963 was a truly dismal year. Modern jazz recording sessions in London over those twelve months could almost be counted on the fingers of one hand; a couple of Dankworth dates, one by Jamaican guitarist Ernest Ranglin, a session each for Dick Morrissey, Michael Garrick and Joe Harriott, but little else. “The [record] companies have virtually closed their doors to modern jazz,” complained saxophonist Don Rendell in an interview in March, believing “only US records will sell well here.” Painful as it was for men like Rendell to hear this, the record labels had a point. Some thought money an issue; in October of 1963 Ronnie Scott suggested that British jazz might sell if “available on record at prices lower than those charged for American LPs” a suggestion also made more than once that year in Melody Maker's Mailbag (Scott himself briefly tried his hand at record store management, opening a short-lived shop in Soho's Moor Street in May 1963). But this had already been done, disastrously as it turned out, by the SAGA Company back in the late 1950s. A cut in record prices from all the major UK labels - following Purchase Tax relief in January 1963 - hadn't helped much either. No, what was needed was an ingenious way to drip feed the work of London's modernists to the record buying public; in other words – the jazz single. The success of the 45rpm of Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd's Desafinado the previous year (lifted from the Grammy-nominated album Jazz Samba) was all the argument needed to prove that just occasionally modern jazz could find favour with popular taste. And although bossa-nova's insinuating mood of gentle romance hadn't moved everyone who heard it (Jazz News’ critic Patrick James had dismissed it as “a curious Latin-American scrubbing sound”) nobody could deny its commercial potential. For a jazz recording, however diluted, to reach the Top Twenty was nothing short of a minor miracle. Surely Britain’s jazzmen could cash-in too? And so they did – or rather they tried to, with the new Brazilian rhythm inspiring a small wave of singles by British artists over the winter of 1962/63 – Shake Keane, Vic Lewis, Elaine Delmar, Johnny Scott – each hoping that a little of the Getz magic might rub off. A few of the locals even went for the expedient option of refitting existing material to meet the new groove, like Bill Le Sage, whose composition Autumn in Cuba dated back to the late 1950s but whose title – post-October 1962 - now had a delicious irony to it. In spite of their good intentions, none of these discs really hit the spot, with Melody Maker's review of one – Vic Ash's Banco – more or less encapsulating the fate of them all: “haunting on repeated spins but we can't see it scoring highly.” But bossa wasn't the whole story. Other influences were at play too, among the most pervasive that of soul-jazz, a music whose imprint could be felt in the work of several of the newer London jazz groups of the day, such as the John Burch Octet, one of whose members – Graham Bond – had done the impossible, signing a five year contract to EMI that spring. Bond had gone the whole hog, of course, abandoning his alto saxophone – and eventually jazz altogether – in favour of an earthy, R&B-driven mix of Hammond organ and vocals. This new “back to the roots” angle had also thrown a lifeline to those associated with older styles of jazz; Humphrey Lyttelton was now playing things like One Mint Julep alongside his otherwise solid diet of mainstream, while vocalist Beryl Bryden weighed into the singles market with a surprisingly effective version of Bobby Timmons' Blue Note anthem Moanin'. Normally all washboard and Trad, Bryden re-emerged like a female Ray Charles. Crass commercialism was still an ever present trap though, with some of the years British jazz output hanging unashamedly from the coat tails of others; Dave Lee's Five To Four On openly aped Dave Brubeck, and the likes of Laurie Johnson (There's A Plot Afoot) and Ken Jones (Dodgy Waltz) proffered a bastardised reflection of the latest jazz fashions more suited to Come Dancing than the floor of The Flamingo. The well-tried conceit of co-opting the songs of a Broadway show remained popular too, with Tony Kinsey's How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying notable if only for the absolute mauling the group received when the album was reviewed in Jazz Journal, a critique describing the band as “highly proficient dance band musicians playing at jazz” whose performance was “unforgivably trivial.” However, there remained one British modernist whose work seemed positively unassailable, and it was he who provided what was perhaps the biggest surprise of 1963. Yes, in the same year when Christine Keeler went to bed with John Profumo, Valentina Tereshkova went into orbit and Ronnie Biggs went to ground, Tubby Hayes went pop. Then the éminence gris of British jazz, Hayes' bid for chart stardom began in February 1963, when the saxophonist’s recording manager at Fontana, Jack Baverstock, bolstered by the recent success of his label's release of Take Five, suggested his recent signing take a crack at recording a single. Hayes agreed, taping four potential items, out of which Baverstock plumped for the highly unusual choice of Sally, former property of none other than Lancashire legend Gracie Fields. Nobody has ever quite been able to fathom what informed this selection; was it some sort of in joke? Had Hayes been given the most unlikely piece Baverstock could think of as a challenge? (“There you go, Tubbs! Try and make jazz out of that!”) Was it a reference to the early sixties' cultural fascination with all things Up North? Was Lancashire being played off against Rio De Janeiro? Whatever the reason, to his credit, Hayes had actually managed to transform this most innocuous of English ditties into a rather neat Horace Silver-like arrangement, but beyond that – and in spite of some canny publicity from Fontana and an in-person airing on ATV's otherwise pop-dominated Discs-a-go-go - the record wasn't a success. “This one doesn't stand an earthly,” said Dusty Springfield when she was played the record in Melody Maker's Blind Date that summer. “It's probably well done but I don't like it. It doesn't get anywhere.” Indeed, the fate of Sally seemed to speak volumes about what a naïve folly it had been to ever believe British post-bop could score a commercial hit. The message from the pop world was clear: this is our turf, so leave us to it. With the monopolising force of the Beatles about to break through, advice like this was soon to be rendered academic. Nevertheless, one could see some sense behind the efforts of Jack Baverstock and co. It hadn't all been about sales figures, it had been about keeping the music visible, a point driven home by remembering that not only had 1963 been a lean year for British modern jazz records, it had also been a particularly bad time for modernism on the radio too. For much of the year, players like Tubby Hayes had found themselves shut out of the BBC's popular Jazz Club slot, the after effect of a ban on “weird stuff” initiated by the corporation’s Light Programme the previous spring. “Many of them just don't play ball,” said Jazz Club's producer Terry Henebery at the start of the embargo, shaming the hermetic “take it or leave it” attitude with which many of London's modern jazzmen then regarded their art. The irony was laughable; the very things the modernists had so admired in their American role models – lengthy solos, ambitious original material and harmonic complexity – had actually cost them a valuable part of their already shrinking workload. However, when the ban was finally lifted in the summer of '63, it was clear that something had been learned in the interim, a lesson in part drummed home by the catchy and condensed requirements of the three-minute single. Indeed, it was telling that, on his first appearance on Jazz Club's new Saturday slot that September, John Dankworth had included Hoe Down, the spirited slice of soul-jazz which Bob Dawbarn had predicted would turn heads back at the beginning of the year. There could be no resting on laurels though. “British musicians should try to find something that is individual,” Dankworth remarked in the final weeks of 1963, as if sensing the next great leap forward for UK jazz. “One shouldn't say 'I'm going to make this sound like an American.' To me it should be completely the opposite.” 1963 had been a year of transition then – twelve months in which Britain's modern jazzmen had gone from chasing hits and following fashion to realising their own worth. Where they went next would be quite a story... RANDB043