Harold Land - Jazz Impressions Of Folk Music

Harold Land Jazz Impressions Of Folk Music (Imperial 1963)

Get acquinted with Jazz Impressions Of Folk Music, the underappreciated gem in the discography of tenor saxophonist Harold Land.

Harold Land - Jazz Impressions Of Folk Music

Personnel

Harold Land (tenor saxophone), Carmell Jones (trumpet), John Houston (piano), Jimmy Bond (bass), Mel Lee (drums)

Recorded

on July 3 & 17 at Radio Recorders, Los Angeles

Released

as Imperial 12247 in 1963

Track listing

Side A:
Tom Dooley
Scarlet Ribbons
Foggy, Foggy Dew
Kisses Sweeter Than Wine
Side B:
On Top Of Old Smokey
Take This Hammer
Hava Nagila
Blue Tail Fly


We love Harold Land, one of the finest tenor saxophonists of his generation, who fills the void between Rollins and Mobley. He employs a hard but clean tone and is rarely short on ideas. His fluent playing makes it feel as if the changes do not exist. Taste written all over Mr. Land, who loves chili pepper, goes easy on salt. Land came into his own just before Charlie Parker passed away early in 1955, the era of the burgeoning hard bop style, when the tenorist from Houston, Texas was part of the Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet, partaking in the making of the group’s essential albums. His stint with the challenging, popular outfit sealed Land’s reputation as a major voice on the tenor saxophone.

Land spent a large part of his career on the West Coast, where he recorded the eponymous The Fox with trumpeter Dupree Bolton and pianist Elmo Hope. He enjoyed a fruitful cooperation with vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson on a string of Blue Note albums in the late 60s and early 70s. A number of albums by Land, who passed away in 2001, are popular items, particularly West Coast Blues – with guitarist Wes Montgomery – and The Peacemaker.

Jazz Impressions Of Folk Music owns its rightful place in that category. Folk music? Sure, why not. The folk boom was at its height in the mid-sixties, Pete Seeger a working class hero, Seeger’s former copycat Bob Dylan was making a big name for himself, folkies flocked the streets of Greenwich Village. Jazz jumped on the bandwagon. Even big names like Duke Ellington did Blowin’ In The Wind. The great Bud Shank dug in too, on his Folk Flute album, a forgettable commercial affair, by the way. But jazz interpretations of folk tunes weren’t always specifically designed to try to cash in. Sonny Rollins famously posed as an old cowhand and recorded Way Out West in 1957, one of the prime examples of the transformative potential of jazz. A couple of albums that were released during the era of Land’s album were Art Farmer’s To Sweden With Love, Clifford Jordan’s Plays Leadbelly and Shelly Manne’s My Son The Drummer, a set of Jewish and Hebrew songs. Good company.

Land chose a bit of everything, sneaking into the skin of cowboy, Hebrew cat and John Henry. The repertoire consists of Tom Dooley, Scarlet Ribbons, Foggy, Foggy Dew, Kisses Sweeter Than Wine, On Top Of Old Smokey, Take This Hammer, Hava Nagila and Blue Tail Fly. It’s consistently excellent. The frontline sparkles with warm unison melodies and spontaneous ad-libs. The underrated Carmell Jones, a trumpeter with a shiny full tone, delicately using slurs and bends, rides on the waves of a solid rhythm trio, that moves with ease and urgent swing and responds merrily to Land and Jones, who secretly pass canned heat to one another in a smoke-filled corner of the saloon. Pianist John Houston adds a number of nimble, lively lines.

The story of Land’s Tom Dooley is a rare thing of beauty. The warmth and fluidity of Land’s playing not only pervades that opening tune, but the entire program of his sincere jazz folk album.

Jazz Impressions Of Folk Music is unfortunately not released on CD or streamed as yet, but it is part of The Mosaic Select set of Carmell Jones. Find (here).

Listen to Kisses Sweeter Than Wine on YouTube (here).

Mystery Man

If you’d care to take a listen to the trumpet player on Harold Land’s 1960 album The Fox without knowing the line-up, you’d undoubtly ask yourself the question: “Who the hell is this guy?! He’s brilliant.” He’s Dupree Bolton, a mystery man of modern jazz if ever there was one. On the outstanding album of tunes by Harold Land and pianist Elmo Hope – it’s a major league hard bop fest, Read the review here – Dupree Bolton, who’d appeared on the scene from nowhere, displayed chops and fireworks on par with the likes of Clifford Brown, Howard McGhee and Lee Morgan. Bolton only recorded just once after that on Curtis Amy’s Katanga (1963) – click for some great live footage here What happened to Bolton? Why did he vanish into obscurity instead of becoming a new great kid on the block? Jazz historian Ted Gioia asked the question in 2009 and did a great job finding out. Read his article here Bolton passed away in 1993.

Harold Land Quintet - The Fox

Harold Land The Fox (HiFi Jazz 1960)

Hold on tight when the fox is loose! The Fox, tenorist Harold Land’s greatest solo album, contains a title track that in my opinion is one of the all-time classic hard bop cuts. The rest of the album is filled with fine originals mainly written by pianist Elmo Hope. It’s also memorable for the appearance of trumpet enigma Dupree Bolton.

Harold Land Quintet - The Fox

Personnel

Harold Land (tenor saxophone), Dupree Bolton (trumpet), Elmo Hope (piano), Herbie Lewis (bass), Frank Butler (drums)

Recorded

on August 1959 at Radio Recorders, Los Angeles

Released

as HiFi Jazz SJ-612 in 1960 and Contemporary S7619 in 1969

Track listing

Side A:
The Fox
Mirror-Mind Rose
One Second, Please
Side B:
Sims-A-Plenty
Little Chris
One Down


Land moved to Los Angeles in 1955 because of illness in his family, cutting short his engagement with the Max Roach/Clifford Brown Quartet. (Sonny Rollins took his place) When Elmo Hope left NYC for the West Coast after losing his cabaret card due to a drug bust, the bop piano wizard soon checked out Land. Planning a recording and in search of a trumpeter, they were adviced the unknown Dupree Bolton. A great pick, as Bolton surprised everyone with quicksilver phrasing and a fiery, cocksure tone. He also turned out to be a smart reader of Hope and Land’s deceptively straighforward tunes.

The driving rhythm section also handles the pretty and characteristic changes of the composers Hope and Land very well. They kickstart the title track, written by Harold Land, at breakneck speed, pushed along by a string of boisterous, descending runs from Elmo Hope. Harold Land delivers a fluent, crackerjack solo. Dupree Bolton is in staccato mood. His blend of virtuosity and buoyancy is on par with Clifford Brown. Elmo Hope’s solo is stunning. He’s ‘out there’ and makes intelligent use of dynamics, alternating between soft/hard and low/high, yet his brainy statements never lose the sense of harmonic stability. The horn bits behind Hope stimulate his proceedings considerably near the end. The Fox is a very tricky tune and the way the group succeeds at letting it flow unaffectedly is fantastic.

Hope’s Mirror-Mind Rose (Hope contributes four tunes to The Fox, Land two) is an exquisite, warm-hearted ballad. Land’s tone can be both pleasantly round and sweet-tart and his sound is forceful without excessive strain. Hope’s impressionistic solo is pure comfort, evokes the image of a warm glow that embraces you in front of the fireplace. It has tinges of both Monk and Bill Evans.

Another Hope tune, the uptempo One Second, Please, evolves from a Night In Tunesia-type intro into a nice, long flowing theme. Harold Land’s tale is relaxed but strong and reveals a special feeling for melody. Dupree Bolton’s statements are out of sight. The Fox turned out to be the prime studio achievement of one of jazz’ most obscure top-notch cats; nobody knew where he came from and nobody knew what happened to him afterwards. Bolton’s only other recording is Curtis Amy’s Katanga! (1963)

Both Sims A-Plenty and Little Chris are uptempo, intriguing tunes that possess a good sense of groove. Harold Land’s ability to construct series of coherent, rich ideas catches the ear in particular in Sims A-Plenty. His approach is simultaneously cerebral and temperamental and strikes me as similar to the style of Benny Golson. Hope is outstanding, injecting ‘trinkle tinkles’ and Middle-Eastern accents into swift changes. Bolton’s flair, meanwhile, is highly contagious.

The album is rounded off with the latin-type composition One Down. It’s a solid ending of a session of great teamwork, remarkable performances of leader Land and virtual co-leader Hope and, last but not least, the rabbit that was pulled out of the hat, Dupree Bolton.

MRL314-autoxauto

Harold Land A New Shade Of Blue (Mainstream 1971)

For those who came out of the sixties bruised and/or (almost) out of work, and without the stardom attached to fusionytes as Miles, Headhunters and Weather Report, for a period Bob Shad’s Mainstream Records was a shelter of sorts. For a big part, Mainstream concentrated on re-issuing a hodge podge of fifties material. But its 300 series involved recordings of (either as leader or sideman) household names as Blue Mitchell, Roy Haynes, Art Farmer, Billy Higgins, Cedar Walton and Curtis Fuller.

MRL314-autoxauto

Personnel

Harold Land (tenor sax), Bobby Hutcherson (vibraphone), Bill Henderson (piano, electric piano) Buster Williams (bass), Billy Hart (drums), Mtume (congas)

Recorded

in 1971

Released

as MRL 314 in 1971

Track listing

Side A
Side A:
A New Shade Of Blue
Mtume
Side B:
Ode To Angela
De-liberation
Short Subject


And Harold Land. It is fairly obvious where he came from. One only has to take a listen to De-liberation, a fast-paced bop piece in which Land fluently flies through the changes, to be reminded of a late fifties winner such as The Fox.

Musically, Land and co-operator Bobby Hutcherson – who together made a series of acclaimed records on Blue Note in the late sixties – certainly weren’t out of fashion. Contrary to many who dabbled in adventurous jazz, they relied on skill and feeling to bring about a kind of avantgarde hardbop. It’s not wholly satisfying (read: a bit longwinded, a tad lame production-wise) but competent.

Side A is particularly wide-ranging. Arguably, Wayne Shorter’s methods cast their shadows on A New Shade Of Blue; Mtume is part Spanish part world music. A large part of the album has Buster Williams’ intricate bass playing grabbing attention; in general, the two authoritative voices of Land and Hutcherson, plus an artful gatefold cover, certainly make A New Shade Of Blue worth buying.

YouTube: A New Shade Of Blue