Nat King Cole : Jam Session

Black Market Stuff - 3.37
Black Market Stuff - 2.44
Black Market Stuff - 2.41
Black Market Stuff - 2.31
Laguna Leap - 2.58
Laguna Leap - 2.54
Laguna Leap - 3.35
I'Ll Never Be The Same - 3.23
I'Ll Never Be The Same - 3.27
Swingin' On Central - 3.22
Swingin' On Central - 3.30
Kicks - 6.46

Despite the various mechanical and electronic processes necessary to the production of a gramophone record, some sessions succeed in bridging the gap between studio and listener better than others. An atmosphere of euphoria or, as in the case of Charlie Parker‚Äôs Lover Man, the exact opposite, sometimes transcends the space-time barrier with the result that at each successive playing the listener is able to experience again the mood of the original date. Such a session was the one which Eddie Laguna produced for his Sunset label on June 9, 1945; now, for the first time, we can hear all the music which was committed to acetate complete with alternative takes, false starts, and snippets of conversation. This is a fascinating album, especially for those of us who are familiar with the originally issued takes. In many cases I have, over the years, literally worn the surface away from a Parlophone 78 coupling of Laguna Leap and Black Market Stuff and there must be many other collectors who will welcome the opportunity of hearing the complete session. The tracks have been programmed in the original order of recording, the heading details setting out the matrix and take numbers. (The reason why the lengthy Kicks appears to have out-of-sequence numbers is that this track was not scheduled for issue for some time after the others. Matrix number 114 had already been allotted to another session, consequently it was given the matrices 142 and 143 to cover the ‚Äúparts 1 and 2‚Äù of the 78 r.p.m. release.) The year 1945 was, in many ways, an end and a beginning. It marked the end of World War II and, musically, it was the year in which the effects of bebop began to be felt on a wide scale. The returning service men, jazz musicians amongst them, found bop a fresh experience and many were intrigued by the restless and unexpected twists of its rhythmic and melodic contours. When Eddie Laguna set up his session in Hollywood he unwittingly captured elements of the older swing era as well as pre-echoes of bebop. None of the five men on the date was a bopper pure and simple (if one can apply such a description) yet there are definite traces of the Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie experiments. Laguna chose his men with care and it would be difficult to improve on his selection. Eddie remembers how he originally tried to book trumpeter Harry Edison (then in Hollywood with Count Basie) and eventually sprang for Charlie Shavers, one of Buddy Rich‚Äôs colleagues in the Tommy Dorsey band of the day. John Simmons was in Hollywood with pianist Eddie Heywood‚Äôs little band while Nat King Cole was, of course, the leader of a fine trio (completed by guitarist Oscar Moore and bass player Johnny Miller at that time). The leader of the studio-assembled quintet was Herbie Haymer, a splendid tenor saxophonist who had worked with the Red Norvo orchestra from 1935 to 1937 and later with Woody Herman. For some years Haymer had lived in Hollywood, playing on all manner of dates, yet his ability to create fine jazz solos had never diminished. It will be obvious from one hearing of this record that Haymer was an ardent admirer of Chuck Berry; without a doubt this album contains Haymer‚Äôs best solo work. In playing order the session gets under way with a false start and then an incomplete take of Black Market Stuff. Shavers‚Äô solo reached a climax after 16 bars but Charlie fluffs a high note, blows some desultory trills and is chided good-naturedly by Buddy Rich as the take terminates in the third chorus. Take 1 of Black Market Stuff, which follows, is perfect and was chosen for issue on the original 78 release; take 2 follows the same routine (theme chorus, half a chorus of tenor, half a chorus of piano, half a chorus of trumpet, eight bars of bass, and eight bars of theme) and it is clear that Shavers has the outline of his solo worked out. Take 3 differs in that Haymer, Cole, and Shavers take a full chorus each, which means the take is signalled to a close at the end of Shavers‚Äô solo to avoid over-running the ‚Äúten-inch 78‚Äù time limit. Haymer‚Äôs solos are noticeably different throughout, and the take 3 chorus, commencing with a bluesy phrase, is perhaps the most striking. The musicians seem anxious to get under way on the fast Laguna Leap. ‚ÄúWhat key?‚Äù calls a voice, ‚ÄúE flat‚Äù is the reply and the quintet starts work. This is another false start, however; ‚ÄúLet‚Äôs go, Let‚Äôs go,‚Äù shouts an excited Nat Cole and take 1 takes shape. After the theme statement, Herbie Haymer jumps straight into a turbulent solo aided and abetted by Buddy Rich. Shavers comes in, hot and exciting, followed by Nat Cole for two choruses. Cole tries out a descending octave figure (an idea he retains through the subsequent takes) and starts his second chorus with a quotation from Idaho. Trumpet and tenor trade four-bar passages with Buddy Rich for a chorus (with John Simmons taking the middle eight), then Shavers and Haymer battle it out together in the last chorus. The same routine is used for takes 2 and 3 and it was 3 which was selected for issue originally, presumably because the unisons are crisper and the ending cleaner. Otherwise there is little to choose between the quality of the individual solos, Nat Cole‚Äôs, in particular being consisten tly good. The two takes of I‚Äôll Never Be The Same are complete with take 2 being used on the original issue. At ballad tempo Charlie Shavers‚Äô playing takes on a sweet quality but this should not obscure the fact that his control is exemplary throughout the range of the trumpet. Haymer‚Äôs playing is lighter in tone here than on the faster tunes. Swingin‚Äô On Central, a blues, borrows Count Basie‚Äôs Swingin‚Äô The Blues for use as an introduction to both takes, the first of which was used on the 78 r.p.m. releases. Haymer and Shavers each play three solo choruses and on both takes Nat Cole repeats the closing trumpet phrase and uses it as the beginning of his two chorus solo. Twelve bars by the dependable John Simmons precede a two-chorus recapitulation of the theme. On the second take Haymer drives hard over the clipped beat laid down by Rich, while Shavers reaches fresh heights of soaring excitement. At this point in the session, with four tunes successfully completed, there was sufficient time left for a six minute, unrehearsed closing number. Shavers tries out the theme of All The Things You Are while Nat Cole remarks, ‚ÄúI want to see the parade,‚Äù meaning that he wants to get away from the studio promptly. (As VE-Day was only a few weeks before it is possible that Nat wanted to watch some kind of victory parade for returning servicemen). Kicks, the closing track, is one of those extemporized performances in which musicians take chances hoping that their colleagues will be sufficiently quickwitted to follow suit. Shavers leads the group in the tune, which makes use of the Honeysuckle Rose chord progression, and then allows Herbie Haymer to take the first chorus. Nat Cole follows then a spontaneously-created trumpet and piano passage, which makes use of an ‚Äúecho‚Äù device with Nat and Charlie repeating each others phrases. A chorus by John Simmons is followed by further trumpet-piano exchanges; the Cole-Shavers partnership succeeds brilliantly (note the insertion of a quotation from Pretty Baby) and it is hard to believe that this routine was not planned; nevertheless the idea seems to have stemmed quite naturally from the general atmosphere from the session. Haymer returns to share four-bar passages with Rich and the performance draws to an orderly conclusion. Throughout the album there is a unique feeling of joy and happiness as the five men make music which has since stood the test of time. Jazz such as this is free from artificially-created stylistic barriers and dates back to an era when the chief requirement of a musician was that he could swing all the time. Herbie Haymer, Charlie Shavers, Nat King Cole, John Simmons and Buddy Rich more than prove their worth in this direction. Alun Morgan 1. Black Market Stuff (110-0) (incomplete) Laguna time 2:15 2. Black Market Stuff (110-1) Laguna time 2:33 3. Black Market Stuff (110-2) Laguna time 2:40 4. Black Market Stuff (110-3) Laguna time 3:35 5. Laguna Leap (111-1) Laguna time 2:55 6. Laguna Leap (111-2) Laguna time 2:55 7. Laguna Leap (111-3) Laguna time 2:55 8. I‚Äôll Never Be The Same (112-1) Malneck-Signorelli-Kahn time 3:11 9. I‚Äôll Never Be The Same (112-2) Malneck-Signorelli-Kahn time 3:09 10. Swingin‚Äô On Central (113-1) Laguna time 2:51 11. Swingin‚Äô On Central (113-2) Laguna time 3:17 12. Kicks (142 & 143) Laguna time 6:00 Charlie Shavers trumpet Herbie Haymer tenor saxophone Nat King Cole piano John Simmons bass Buddy Rich drums Recorded in Hollywood, California, June 9, 1945 Supervision: Eddie Laguna Album Produced by Alan Bates Sleeve photographs by Jean-Pierre Leloir Design and layout by This compilation © 1990 Phonoco International Ltd. P 1990 Phonoco International Ltd.

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