Friday, September 7, 2012

This Trane fell through the cracks

A true gem fell through the cracks in my Early Coltrane: A study in dynamics and evolution of jazz. In an ensuing discussion on one of the best drummer discussion boards,, a very knowledgeable member who goes by 5 Style introduced me to a rare album titled Like Sonny. This one literally fell through the cracks and does not show up on some mainstream discographies.

Actually it's two albums with the first four tracks recorded in Los Angeles on 8 September 1960.

One of the reasons it is difficult to track down is the product page credits Blue Note as the label, but the first four tracks were recorded for Roulette Records, which was label that the Genovese crime family used as a front.

The 1960 sessions comprising Like Sonny (Roulette ROU 1012) consisted of track one that is the alternate take of Exotica and the remaining three recorded for an album titled John Coltrane & Lee Morgan: The Best of Birdland, Vol 1 (Roulette SR 52094.) The tracks that are included from that album are:
One For Four (aka Mr. Day)
Simple Like (aka Like Sonny)

Musicians on these tracks are Trane on alto, McCoy Tyner on piano, Steve Davis on bass and Billy Higgins on drums. There is no playing by Lee Morgan evident despite the title because all of the tracks were taken from side A of the album. On the B side were Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, Bobby Timmons, Jimmy Rowser and the ubiquitous and prolific Art Taylor. Heck, replace Taylor with Art Blakey and you practically have a Jazz Messengers line up!

The last six tracks are from a November 1958 session in New York City for an album titled A Tuba Jazz (Jubilee JLP 1090).

Personnel are Ray Draper on tuba, Trane on tenor, John Maher on piano, Spanky DeBrest on bass and Larry Richie on drums. Tracks are:
Essil's Dance
I Talk To The Trees
Angel Eyes

If you caught the fact that this album was recorded for Jubilee Records and are further confused by the pedigree, Roulette Records assumed control of Jubilee's catalog in the late 70s/early 80s. Eventually EMI and Warner Music acquired the rights to the catalogs.

Here are some sample tracks from the album:

Since I am unlikely to post anything more specifically about Coltrans in the near future I am going to include some interviews and a brief piece about the Coltrane-Sonny Rollins connection (appropriate since the Sonny in the title Like Sonny is an homage to Rollins.)

And, finally, two interviews from the period. I am not going to editorialize on either because at the time I am sure the interviewers were doing their best. The first is from 1958 and the final is 1960.

Enjoy ... and do check out my recent post on my other blog, Lewis Nash Master Class. Plus, for fun since it's no secret that I am a hard-core Mingus fan, check out Mingus, Coltrane, Vicious, and Buddha Having Lunch in a Greek Diner in Tibet, which is a delightful combination of short story and one act play that Joseph Benzola graciously bestowed on the world. One finds genius in the most unlikely of places.

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