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Grachan Moncur III and Carmell Jones - Mosaic Select

SOURCE: Published: 2003-01-07
Mosaic Records is Proud to Announce the First Two Releases in Its New Mosaic Select Series Featuring a Pair of Extraordinary Brassmen, Trombonist Grachan Moncur III and Trumpeter Carmell Jones

Entering its 20th year of activity, Mosaic Records has set the standard for the highest quality in production and packaging of important reissues by many of jazz most significant artists. While a major focus has been on artists who have not received their proper recognition, or on lesser-known recordings by acknowledged masters, there are still some outstanding musicians whose recorded output is too small or scattered to warrant the full-scale treatment of the standard Mosaic boxed set.

Mosaic Select has been formed to address this circumstance, while bringing overdue attention to certain artists who are particularly threatened by obscurity. Grachan Moncur III and Carmell Jones are ideal choices for the launching of this new series. While both men have always enjoyed the enormous respect of their fellow musicians and the appreciation of the more enlightened critics, they have not received even a fraction of the public acclaim that their remarkable talents deserve. These two limited edition 3-CD sets should help remedy that unfortunate situation.

When he emerged in the musically turbulent 1960s, Grachan Moncur III and Roswell Rudd were the names in “free" jazz trombone. But free is a misleading word. Rooted in the classic tradition of modern jazz trombone as set forth by the immortal J.J. Johnson during the bebop era, Moncur is an amazing soloist and an outstanding composer. Grachan was a key contributor to Blue Note Records more structured approach to “free" or “avant-garde" jazz.

For Blue Notes legendary co-founder and producer Alfred Lion, Duke Ellington was right on the money with It Dont Mean a Thing If It Aint Got That Swing. And Moncur, as well as other Blue Note avant-gardists Sam Rivers, Andrew Hill, Bobby Hutcherson and Jackie McLean were superbly skilled musicians upholding the most precious element in jazz innovation.

Moncurs legendary dates with McLean and Hutcherson are the recordings that have cemented his esteemed status among lovers of adventurous jazz. One Step Beyond and Destination Out both recorded in 1963 under Jackies leadership clearly established the progressive Blue Note style, combining the labels exciting hard bop tradition with the liberated rhythmic style of the piano-less avant-garde. With the suspended time of Hutchs vibes anchored by the dynamic bass and drums tandems of Eddie Khan/Tony Williams on One Step Beyond; and Larry Ridley/Roy Haynes on Destination Out, these two albums became landmarks. But it was Moncurs first date as a leader, Evolution (also recorded in late 1963) that truly established him as a giant. Adding Blue Notes biggest name of the era trumpeter Lee Morgan, who often referred to his playing on this album as some of his best along with McLean, Hutcherson, Williams and bassist Bob Cranshaw, this album has achieved cult status.

The other three albums contained on this set utilize traditional rhythm sections, but are no less adventurous. Moncurs second date, 1964s Some Other Stuff finds the trombonist in totally new company (except for Tony Williams) with Wayne Shorter on tenor, Herbie Hancock on piano and Cecil McBee on bass. The set is rounded out with two 1967 McLean recordings, both featuring pianist Lamont Johnson and bassist Scotty Holt. Hipnosis also features Billy Higgins on drums; and the three cuts from Bout Soul that feature Moncur also include trumpeter Woody Shaw and drummer Rashied Ali.

Every one of the provocative 25 tracks 16 composed by Moncur is as fresh and vibrant today as when they first spun the jazz worlds collective head four decades ago.

While the Carmell Jones set is considerably more traditional in style, its certainly no less enjoyable and stimulating. The Kansas City native, who established himself as one of the finest trumpeters on the early 60s West Coast scene, was clearly a disciple of the incomparable Clifford Brown. Like Brownie, Jones had a sweetly powerful sound and dazzling technique that never interfered with his creativity, musical responsibility or his humility.

Carmell, who passed away in 1996 at the age of 60, will probably always be best known for his presence on Horace Silvers classic 1964 Blue Note album Song for My Father. The sessions contained in this set (all recorded prior to the Silver date) attest to his excellent capabilities as a leader and featured sideman.

Most of the material was recorded for Dick Bocks Pacific Jazz label between 1961 and 1963. Both of Jones dates as a leader are here. The Remarkable Carmell Jones, recorded in 1961, features his frequent collaborators, included tenorist Harold Land and pianist Frank Strazzeri, two other fine West coast musicians whove never really achieved the recognition they deserve. Bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Leon Pettis round out this excellent ensemble.

For his second album, Business Meetin, recorded later that year and early 1962, the same group is featured on four tracks with Donald Dean replacing Pettis. The albums other four tracks feature a nine-piece ensemble with arrangements by the legendary Gerald Wilson. In addition to Land and Strazzeri, altoists Bud Shank and Clifford Scott, tenorman Wilbur Brown and baritonist Don Raffell are joined by Leroy Vinnegar on bass and Ron Jefferson on drums.

Wilsons arrangements also highlight Brass Bag, a 1962 recording co-led by Jones and trombonist Lawrence Tricky Lofton. Strazzeri, Vinnegar and Jefferson are back, anchoring the all-brass front line of Jones and two to four trombonists, including Wayne Henderson of Jazz Crusaders fame.

As is often the case, Mosaic has unearthed a lost treasure with seven tracks from a previously unreleased 1963 Strazzeri session that includes tenor sax powerhouse Hadley Caliman, bassist Red Mitchell and Nick Martinis on drums. The session features five excellent compositions by the leader.

Rounding out the set is an unusual and intriguing Harold Land date recorded for Imperial in 1963 entitled Jazz Impressions of Folk Music. With a rhythm section of John Houston, Jimmy Bond and Mel Lee on piano, bass and drums, Jones and Land offer delightful versions of eight popular folk tunes.

This set will be an eye-opener for those unfamiliar with Carmell Jones -- and a most welcome treasure for those who are.

As always, Mosaic has taken the finest care in producing the best audio quality and complete track information for the Mosaic Select series. In order to keep the price as low as possible to allow new fans to take a chance on these lesser known, but important artists, the traditional boxes and large format booklets have been replaced by more standard packaging.

But the detailed booklets contained in these sets reproduce all of the liner notes contained in the original albums, along with photographs of the original covers and detailed session information.

Each of the sets are being released January 28, 2003 in numbered, limited editions of 5000, but unlike the larger format Mosaic releases, will be available in retail stores approximately one year after the initial release.

It is requested that all reviews or articles include the following: All recordings are available solely through Mosaic Records; 35 Melrose Place; Stamford, CT. 06902; (203) 327-7111. Check their website at www.mosaicrecords.com for more information or to place an order.

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