some favorite black & white covers with beautiful audio content
Hans Dulfer/Han Bennink Kwartet – “Jazz in Paradiso” (Heavy Soul Music, 1969)
Great, great Shepp/Rudd derived free jazz LP documenting Dulfer’s wonderful late ’60s small group, dirty and bluesy but with a twist – Bennink’s madcap swing and absurdism really separating the music from others of its specialized ilk. Killer lineup with Maarten Altena on bass and Willem Van Manen on trombone. Very few copies were made (<300) and the image of the band performing below a shot of Ike Quebec from the “Heavy Soul” Blue Note LP is priceless. Supposedly this was getting reissued on CD a few years ago but I don’t know if that ever happened. All of his ’60s/70s work is worth checking out if you can find it.
Henry Grimes Trio – “The Call” (ESP, 1965)
For a long, long time this was the bassist’s only recording as a leader – he disappeared for over 30 years in 1968 – but it was also a wonderful document of Perry Robinson’s mid-60s folksy free swing and the great drummer Tom Price. Probably one of the sickest ESP cover images ever, in my opinion, courtesy of the photographer Ray Gibson. Not a particularly “rare” LP nowadays, but certainly underrated within the deep ESP catalog.
Ken McIntyre – “Year of the Iron Sheep” (United Artists, 1962)
Strong early Sixties date featuring McIntyre in fine form on alto and flute, certainly out of the Dolphy mode but bringing his own brand of squirrelly-ness to the proceedings. He’s joined by such luminaries as Jaki Byard, Ron Carter, Ben Riley, Ahmed Abdul-Malik and a young Warren Smith on a collection of originals and a sprightly version of “Laura.” Dig the textured cover and great shot of McIntyre on front. Trombonist John M. Lewis is also credited but I’ll be damned if I can hear him anywhere on the record!
Creative Improvisors Orchestra – “The Sky Cries the Blues” (CMIF, 1982)
An excellent collective document of the early ’80s New Haven scene, which included such figures as Wadada Leo Smith, Gerry Hemingway, Joe Fonda, Mario Pavone, Bill Lowe and Bobby Naughton. A slew of excellent private-press LPs resulted from the Creative Musicians Improvisers Forum, on labels like Otic (Naughton), Alacra (Pavone), and Auricle (Hemingway), and it was a fertile local climate existing outside of the NYC rat race. Beautiful versions of Naughton’s “Picric Wobble” and Hemingway’s “Interstices of a Dream” on here. The CMIF only produced this one LP, but produced many concerts and workshops from the late ’70s into the mid-80s. Fun fact: my uncle, Phil Buettner, was one of the ensemble reedmen on this date and performed on a number of the participants’ other LPs. We look almost exactly alike.
Phill Musra – “The Creator Spaces” (Intex, 1974)
The first time I heard this trio, with reedman Phill’s brother Michael Cosmic on reeds and assorted instruments and Huseyin Ertunc on drums, it blew my mind. This was around the time that a bootleg of Ertunc’s “Musiki” surfaced on CD. Phill’s date is a bit more reigned in and very pretty in parts (though the whole “spiritual jazz” tag is pretty ludicrous in my opinion, it’s apt in this case). The more intense passages of “free jazz” have an unhinged DIY quality to them and really don’t sound like anything else at the time or since. There are two cover versions of this record, one with a drawing by Ertunc (complementing “Musiki”) and this one with Phill’s image in a glossy promo-photo style. It’s a gorgeous album and certainly one of my favorite jazz records.
Clifford Allen, september 2012