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by Seth Colter Walls

July 10, 2014

Blue Note Nuggets Vol. 7: 1965

by Seth Colter Walls  |  July 10, 2014

In honor of Blue Note's 75th anniversary, we've launched a series that takes a look back at hits and obscurities from one of the most important catalogs in all of jazz. From blues to hard bop -- and on to fusion and the avant-garde -- Blue Note has been there. Now you can be, too!

As we go deeper into Blue Note's 1960s catalog, it becomes clear that the boundary between "avant-garde" and conventional playing isn't as clear-cut as some partisans would have you believe. The soulful title track from Lee Morgan's 1965 album The Rumproller was written by none other than piano experimenter par excellence Andrew Hill. (Click play, and you'll hear that jam directly.)

In '65 Hill also showed up on a key early Blue Note album by vibes man Bobby Hutcherson (who still records for the label today). That record, Dialogue, features the legendary bassist Richard Davis, with whom Hutcherson also played on Eric Dolphy's iconic 1964 Blue Note LP, Out to Lunch (featured in this series' prior post). The Dialogue track "Ghetto Lights" was — you guessed it — written by Hill as well, and features some lights-out blues soloing from trumpeter Freddie Hubbard.

The soprano saxophone part on "Ghetto Lights" comes courtesy of Sam Rivers, who also had a big year for the label. His second album as leader, Contours, was released in '65 and remains a staple of progressive jazz. Rivers originals like "Dance of the Tripedal" have a hint of conventional post-bop harmony, even if that aesthetic is apt to be interrupted on a dime by some thrilling dart of experimental-sounding phrasing. (Sequenced after "Tripedal," we've also given you the sound of Rivers' sax on a cut from drummer Tony Williams' Spring, also released in '65.)

Herbie Hancock, the pianist on Rivers' Contours session, had a strong year for Blue Note too: His original tune "Maiden Voyage" came on his album of the same name (featuring playlist heavy-hitters Hubbard and Williams). And the pianist also played as a sideman on Joyride, a soul-jazz album by Stanley Turrentine, in addition to holding down spots on Wayne Shorter's The All Seeing Eye and Lee Morgan's Cornbread.

So click play on our mix, and discover everything from Grant Green's Beatles cover ("I Want to Hold Your Hand") to the first Blue Note albums by Ornette Coleman (the two-volume At the Golden Circle, Stockholm). To bring things full circle, the close of our playlist features some more out-there material from Andrew Hill. In between, you'll find gems from Hank Mobley, Dexter Gordon, Jackie McLean and Horace Silver. Enjoy!

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