Monday, June 7, 2010

Recent Acquisitions: 6-7-10

Bill Evans and Jim Hall, Undercurrent (United Artists Jazz, mid-60s stereo pressing, $18). This has been on my list for as long as I can remember. It’s one of the best jazz duo recordings ever. The cover featuring a woman floating in water is also beautiful and haunting, worth having in the large LP format. There’s a cheap reissue available, but there’s nothing like having an original.

John Coltrane, Coltrane (Impulse, Analogue Productions 45rpm reissue, 2-LPs, $20). This is the first recording of Coltrane’s classic quartet. It’s one of the few Coltrane Impulse records I didn’t have. So when I saw this mint reissue at less than half the cost of it new, I snapped it up.

Chico Hamilton Trio, Chico Hamilton Trio (Pacific Jazz, original mono pressing, $10). The price of used records has been increasing steadily in the last few years even in the midst of the recession. There are exceptions to this trend. Some very expensive records have a hard time selling. And a few artists seem to have gone out of favor, as reflected in the price decline of their records. Chico Hamilton seems to be one of them. This is good news for a Hamilton fan. His recordings from the 50s and 60s are consistently worth listening to. Foreststorn Hamilton (real name) had something in common with Art Blakey besides being a drummer and band leader. He was a prodigious discoverer of talent. Eric Dolphy made his first commercially recorded appearance on a Chico Hamilton record. Other notable sidemen in Hamilton’s band included Jim Hall, Paul Horn, Charles Lloyd, Gabor Szabo, and Larry Coryell. One could attribute the lack of appreciation for Hamilton on the general bias against West Coast jazz. Whatever the reasons, if I can pick up original pressings of his 50s records for ten bucks, I’m not going to complain.

Leonard Cohen, New Skin for an Old Ceremony (Columbia, second pressing, $1). This copy has an alternative cover with a black-and-white portrait of Cohen, which I had never seen. The original cover has an illustration of a winged couple from an alchemical document. Whenever I think of Leonard Cohen, I’m reminded of a scene from college. Our film class was having class outdoors on a beautiful spring day. We were discussing McCabe and Mrs. Miller, which features a number of Cohen songs (one of many unconventional touches in Altman’s “Western”). The discussion steered toward Cohen’s songs and was guaranteed to go nowhere when the professor admitted she was embarrassed to having liked Cohen when she was our age. Yet she didn’t seem embarrassed about letting everyone look up her skirt the way she sat open-legged on the grass. That’s what I think of when I think of Leonard Cohen.

Michel Legrand, Legrand Jazz (Columbia, original mono pressing, 6-eye label, $2). This album would be the answer to a good trivia question: Which non-compilation jazz album features Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Hank Jones, Ben Webster, Art Farmer, Donald Byrd, and Phil Woods? Second clue: Playing arrangements by a French guy who wrote the score to The Ode to Billie Joe and the theme to Brian’s Song?

Gang of Four, Solid Gold (EMI, original pressing, $8). Remember when bands had something to say? Remember when punk, reggae and rap music had social and political messages? Remember what it was like to have fun and be politically conscious? Okay, there were popular airheaded acts back in the day (cf. Madonna, the 80s equivalent to Lady Gaga), but what is today’s equivalent to Gang of Four? I can’t think of one either.

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