Some of the better finds in the last few months have come courtesy of Blue Note Records who defying all recent precedents have seemed to listen to the punters and reinstated the Rare Groove series. This was the old series that used to reissue longout of print soul jazz from the Blue Note vaults by Donald Byrd, John Patton Eddie Henderson, Lonnie Smith, Lou Donaldson Richard Groove Holmes and not forgetting Grant Green.
This series was a treasure as years ago when I cleared out my LP collection I bitterly resented getting rid of such rare finds as Richard Groove Holmes’ Comin on Home and Lonnie Smith’s Move Your Hand but the cds more than made up for this and sometimes as with Lonnie Smith brought new finds. Even better still was when the series unearthed unissued new finds by Lou Donaldson, Donald Byrd, Duke Pearson, Lonnie Smith and my personal favourites by John Patton.
Sadly the label dried this source up as the issues seemed to focus more on the products of the mid 70’s Blue Note era and less on hard to find soul jazz with obvious huge exclusions such as Grant Green’s Shades of Green. Or Reuben Wilson’s On Broadway.
The series was much missed and discussed on sites such as Organissimo but no new appearances came and news of EMI’s take over and rumour of no more Blue Note seemed to nail the coffin shut. Yet this year out came some rare surprises albeit from the mid 70’s but still all the same were welcome and long lost friends for those of us that used to have the LP.
First up came Lou Donaldson’s Cosmos with the oft sampled killer track Caterpillar which I kind of missed on LP…. used to be a hard to find LP at the best of times, the rest of the LP was not the best of his work in my opinion but I have moved on and interests grown as well.
Much nicer to see was the issue of Reuben Wilson’s Set Us Free which featured not only Mr Big Stuff but Tom Thumb and We’re in Love. I had such a beat up old copy on LP that I had to trade it in and get another …slightly less beat up copy for what seemed a huge amount at the time….finally despite the odd track on a Japanese Blue sampler I got to listen to a hiss, warp and crackle free version. Magic
Blue Note also stuck out the other Eddie Henderson Blue Note: Heritage to partner Sunburst which had been issued earlier on this series. I had both LPs and was lucky enough to get the CDs when they had come out in
Fans of the Three Sounds and Gene Harris were pleasantly surprised to see not one but two LPs: Elegant Soul and Soul Symphony. Elegant Soul is an example of a record that has grown on me. One of the first LPs I sold as I never liked it, I reluctantly gave it another go, only to have it repeating through the house at full volume and lovin’ it.
Soul Symphony I had never tracked down and written off as probably avoidable but again this was a real find and very very welcome. I have the other Gene Harris from this era and it never fails to impress. One note is that I would love to see Vibrations put out from the earlier period as I have all the other earlier stuff on Japanese cds but this never appeared and I have to make do with ( very gratefully received matey J ) with an LP burn. The same also goes with The Three Sounds /Gene Harris Blue Note 4378 with the great Your l
ove is too much (also not to be confused with Gene Harris of the Three Sounds Blue Note 4423!) Perhaps more on Gene Harris on Blue Note in a later article.
A strange appearance was Howlin for Judy which mixed part of 2 Jeremy Steig LPs Legwork and Wayfaring Stranger onto one LP based on the name of his better known track. I do like his materi
al but in very small doses.
The last of the set was Fancy Dancer from Bobbi Humphrey which again refilled a hole left in my collection when I cleared out the LPs.
So a groovy collection of rarities, rediscoveries and new finds for me in this batch. Thank you Blue Note….more please in the future of the same if possible.
Here is a list of some/most of the other collection of Rare Groove series from Blue Note (stolen it has to said from the Allaboutjazz forums). I have all of them bar the Gary Bartz
Blue Note Rare Grooves so far...
Blue Mitchell-Down With It
Bobbi Humphrey-Satin Doll
Bobby Hutcherson-San Francisco
Brother Jack Mcduff-Down Home Style
Donald Byrd-Electric Byrd
Donald Byrd-Fancy Free
Donald Byrd-Places And Spaces
Donald Byrd-Street Lady
Duke Pearson-I Don't Care Who Knows It
Duke Pearson-Sweet Honey Bee
Duke Pearson-The Right Touch
Gary Bartz-Music Is My Sanctuary
Gene Harris And The Three Sounds-Live At The "It" Club
Grant Green-Carryin' On
Grant Green-Green Is Beautiful
Jack Mcduff-Moon Rappin'
Jimmy Mcgriff-Electric Funk
Jimmy Mcgriff-The Worm
John Patton-Accent On The Blues
John Patton-Got A Good Thing Goin' On
John Patton-Let 'Em Roll
John Patton-Memphis To New York Spirit
Lonnie Smith-Live At The Club Mozambique
Lonnie Smith-Move Your Hand
Lou Donaldson-Everything I Play Is Funky
Lou Donaldson-Good Gracious
Lou Donaldson-Pretty Things
Lou Donaldson-The Scorpion - Live At The Cadillac Club
Reuben Wilson-Blue Mode
Reuben Wilson-Love Bug
Richard Groove Holmes-Comin' On Home
Ronnie Foster-Two Headed Freap
Stanley Turrentine-Common Touch
Stanley Turrentine-Easy Walker
Various Artists-Blue Note Rare Grooves
Try and find them as soon as you can as they have a tendency to run out