New grooves in 2020

Short album reviews

On this page I will introduce my LP purchases of 2020. Just for the fun of it.

January 15, 2020

Willie Bobo: Uno Dos Tres 1.2.3 (C026, 2019)
Sister Rosetta Tharpe: Gospel Train (C025, 2019)
Donald Byrd: Fancy Free (C017, 2018)
Lightmen Plus One: Energy Control Center (C012, 2018)

'Vinyl Me, Please' reissues


These four albums, ordered from 'Vinyl Me Please' last year, were finally delivered today. 'Vinyl Me, Please' is a US company/record club, bringing fine reissues on the market (usually leased from other companies), but I guess it all grew too fast, resulting in a logistical mess at the end of last year. Apologies made, which I appreciated a lot, and today this episode came to an end when I received my order.

Willie Bobo's "Uno Dos Tres" is a friendly and cheerful latin jazz album, featuring twelve vocal and instumental tracks. Bobo was a percussionist and he and his group recorded this album in 1966, at Rudy van Gelder's Studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Originally released on Verve V/V6-8648.

For several years I bought nothing but gospel records. These times are over, but I still enjoy listening to some of those black gospel shakers. Sister Rosetta Tharpe is one of my favorite female gospel artists and I was surprised to see this one being re-released. I have the original album but I was just curious what this one would sound like. No disappointment - this music hits you right in the face! The mono sound is clean, dynamic and balanced. Uptempo and slower tracks are merged with Sister's singing and guitar solos. The tip-on sleeve looks fine (with a great picture where Sister Rosetta Tharpe holds a nice Gibson Les Paul Goldtop), but the colors aren't true to the original, too much reds mixed in (not too obvious in the picture above). Originally released on Mercury MG-20201.

Trumpetist Donald Byrd is most famous for his Blue Note recordings. He was a versatile artist and this album shows our man in good shape releasing four groovy jazz tunes. The recordings were made in 1969 with the help of Frank Foster, Lew Tabackin, Julian Priester, Duke Pearson, Roland Wilson, Jimmy Ponder, Joe Chambers, Nat Bettis, Jerry Dodgion and Leo Morris. Duke Pearson produced the album, and Rudy van Gelder seems to not have been involved this time (surprising!). Originally released on Blue Note BST 84319.

The fourth and last LP in this set is by the Lightmen plus One, a group I hadn't heard from before. The hype sticker on this release says: "Revolutionay, spiritual jazz from the unlikely city of Houston, Texas: the definitive issue". The original single album from 1972 is a rare collectable and was re-released here as a double album featuring some previously unreleased alternate takes. I listened to it once today and I think I liked what I heard; moody jazz improvisations with some unexpected weirdness thrown in at times. I need to listen more often. Originally released on Lightnin' LP-2001. The double LP reissue is on Now Again Records which was concurrently released by 'Vinyl Me, Please' as a special release by this record club.

All of these four albums came in nice and glossy tip-on sleeves and were pressed on 180 grams vinyl. The sound quality is very satisfying. Michael Fremer (Analog Planet) says: "If you'd have told me a few years ago when Vinyl Me, Please launched, that within a few years the curated based vinyl subscription service would be at the top of the vinyl reissue heap, I'd have said you've been inhaling too many PVC fumes". Good things do happen!

January 12, 2020

Rita Reys: The Cool Voice Of Rita Reys
(with the Jazz Messengers and the Wessel Ilcken Combo)

(Philips B 08006 L, 1957)


Rita Reys had a prominent place amongst the top jazz singers in Europe. This album, her first, features Rita Reys with the Wessel Ilcken Combo on side 1 (recorded in Hilversum, the Netherlands, 1955-56) and with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers on side 2 (recorded in New York, USA, 1956). It was first released in the USA (Columbia CL 903) in 1956, a few months before it was released in the Netherlands (and Europe, and other places).

Rita Reys proves to be a more than competent jazz singer on this collection of standards although it doesn't thrill me the way some American singers do.

I found this original LP in a second hand record store in Nijmegen; it's a collector's item but not in a very good condition. My Japanese 1993 pressing will be on the turntable when I need to hear it. Music On Vinyl re-released it in 2018.

January 3, 2020

Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser
(Impex/Columbia IMP 6020/CS 9451, 1967/2013, stereo reissue)


The postman delivered this album at my front door late in the afternoon; it was ordered at JPC at the end of 2019.

This is a 2-LP reissue of the 1967 Columbia LP by Impex Records and the back cover says the following: "The session recordings for Thelonious Monk's 1967 classic "Straight No Chaser" ran longer than a single LP could hold. Rather than put out a more costly 2-LP set, Columbia edited down the tracks chosen for the record to fit a 1-LP format - a common practice at the time. Now, for the first time ever on 180-gram vinyl, Impex Records brings you the complete, extended takes of these breathtaking tunes, plus a great interpretation of "Green Chimneys", keeping fully intact and deepening the listener's appreciation of Monk's singular musical vision and the near-instinctive communication between Monk and his sidemen, Charlie Rouse, Larry Gale and Ben Riley."

For completeness sake, it should be added that this album was released on CD in 1996 including the complete versions, the bonus track "Green Chimneys" (a title first issued on Monk's "Underground" LP from 1968) and two more bonus tracks.

"Straight, No Chaser" is a fine album which fits well with the other Columbia LP's I have ("Monk's Dream" and "It's Monk's Time"). The tunes are recognisable but have loads of unexpected twists and sounds. This Impex release sounds great too, which comes as no surprise as the (all analog) mastering was done by Kevin Gray (Cohearant Audio). The heavy tip-on cover sure adds luster to this attractive but expensive reissue.

January 2, 2020

The Dizzy Gillespie Octet - The Greatest Trumpet Of Them All
(Verve MG V-8352, 1959, early pressing, mono)


Although I bought quite a few records today, I consider this the first album of 2020 for my collection, as the other purchases were all done for the Philips-Minigroove website (and won't be discussed here).

This LP features Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Golson, Gigi Gryce, Henry Coker, Pee-Wee Moore, Ray Bryant, Tommy Bryant and Charlie Persip. These gentlemen bring a rather relaxing set of jazz tunes, very suitable for a rainy sunday afternoon. I like it and this old US Verve pressing sounds fine too.

The Waxtime label reissued this on vinyl in 2010 and again in 2016 (with a different cover), so Discogs says, but for around the same money you can find an original pressing which is preferrable. Waxtime doesn't have a great reputation either.