Stan Tracey - collectors series
Summer 2012 release
Ben Webster - Stan Tracey
Soho Nights Vol 2
"Recorded live at Ronnie Scotts (1964), the music here has lain unheard on the original tape reel for 48 years and has never been released in any format, making it a remarkable rediscovery".
Simon Spillett's superb liner notes once again putting the people and the era into context, Volume 2 of Soho Nights is a CD not to be missed.
Ben Webster - tenor saxophone with Stan Tracey - piano. Rick Laird - bass. Jackie Dougan - drums
TRACKS : Introduction by Ronnie Scott - C-Jam Blues - Night in Tunisia - Chelsea Bridge - Poutin' - Over The Rainbow - Sometimes I'm Happy (Youmans-Caesar ) - Cotton Tail - The Theme - Goodnight from Ronnie Scott
CD PRICE : £12.00 (incl. p&p)
Thomas Cunniffe. JazzHistoryOnLine.com August 2012
Today's travelling jazz musicians tour Europe an average of once or twice a year, but in the days when the only passage to the Continent was by steamship, a European visit by an American jazz musician was a rare luxury, for both the artist and the audience. Coleman Hawkins, Bud Powell, Mary Lou Williams and Ben Webster all traveled to Europe for short-term gigs, but in each case, they remained for years, enjoying the increased appreciation and work that was readily available. For Webster, a month-long engagement at London's Ronnie Scotts' commenced a European residency that would last for the rest of his life. British pianist Stan Tracey was Webster's accompanist during several performances at Scott's nightclub, and Tracey's label, Resteamed, has issued two CDs of Webster from those gigs. "Soho Nights, Volume 1" was issued in 2008 and featured music from a January 1968 performance, and the newly-released Volume 2 goes back to the second night of Webster's inaugural gig in December 1964. - more
By 1968, Scott had relocated his club from the basement at 39 Gerrard Street to the ground level at 47 Frith St (where the club still stands). Both Webster and Tracey had mellowed in the intervening four years: the tenorist perhaps feeling his age and having less to prove, and the pianist going through physical and emotional challenges, but also creating some of his finest compositions. The bass and drum team of Dave Green and Tony Crombie lay down a deep groove on the first set's opener, "Johnny Come Lately" and they maintain it through the other medium-tempo tunes including "Sunday", "What Am I Here For" and a surprisingly jaunty "For All We Know". Crombie's bombs are overwhelming at times, but on "Sunday" he and Tracey have a marvelous dialogue, and on an incomplete version of "In a Mellotone", he spurs Webster into a brilliant solo turn. There's a little instruction on the bandstand during "The Jeep is Jumpin'" where Webster can be heard calling out chord changes to the band. However, the greatest parts of Volume 1 are in the ballads: two versions of "Londonderry Air" ("Danny Boy") where Webster displays the art of melodic paraphrase, and a stunning reading of "Come Sunday" with a beautifully constructed tenor solo.
Live recordings from Ronnie Scotts' are hardly rare, but the audio for these releases, taken directly from the club's PA system, is quite good for its day. Simon Spillett's liner notes have several anecdotes about Webster and his issues with alcohol, but also contain valuable information for those not familiar with Tracey and the other sidemen. Apparently, Tracey has several more unissued tapes from Scotts, featuring Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Rollins and Tubby Hayes. If they are of the same artistic and technical quality of the Ben Webster CDs, they will be welcome and important additions to the jazz legacy. less
John Fordham Guardian.co.uk August 2012
When Stan Tracey was the house pianist at Ronnie Scott's in the 1960s, he creatively accompanied most of American jazz's biggest stars, including saxophonists Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz, Sonny Rollins and the former Duke Ellington Orchestra legend Ben Webster, whose monumentally powerful sound, sly timing and teeming imagination are heard with Tracey's trio on this December 1964 live show. - more
TheJazzBreakfast.com August 2012
Back in 1964 pianist Stan Tracey was heading up the house band at the legendary Soho jazz club, then in Gerrard Street.
And of course Ben Webster was a legend, too. Possessor of one of the defining tenor saxophone voices in jazz, he had been a giant of the genre since being a vital member of the Duke Ellington Orchestra in the early 1940s, yet this was his first visit to Europe and to Ronnie's.
It's a lively set including C-Jam Blues, Night In Tunisia and Cotton Tail, while Chelsea Bridge and Over The Rainbow allow Webster to show off his breathy, rich romanticism in ballad form.
Though Tracey's piano is a little far back in the mix, the recording quality is remarkable for its age, and this is far more than a historically significant recording of a classic transatlantic collaboration. It's simply a lovely listen.
Full marks to Tracey's son's label ReSteamed for digging it out of the archives.
Under Milk Wood Jazz Suite
Stan Tracey (p) - Bobby Wellins (s) - Jeff Clyne (b) - Jackie Dougan (d)
New cover design and booklet for the latest reprint of the Stan Tracey Quartets 1960's classic.
CD PRICE : £12.00 (incl. p&p)
See alsoGIVEMEJAZZ for downloads
Benny Green, Broadcaster and journalist, 1965
"…..the masterly interplay between Tracey’s piano and the tenor saxophone of Bobby Wellins. Wellins is one of the very few British jazzmen with originality and the aspect of his style which comes across to so great effect is his restraint, his use of silence in the solo, his ability to create light and shade instead of endless rambling streams which so many modern musicians indulge in"
Dave Gelly, The Observer, 1984
"It is now 19 years since Stan Tracey first introduced his jazz suite Under Milk Wood. The record was an instant, if modest, success and one of the pieces on it, the haunting ‘Starless and Bible Black’ remains probably the finest single recorded performance by a British jazz group. With the plaintive sound of Bobby Wellins’ tenor saxophone floating above the subdued piano chords, it evokes to perfection the atmosphere of a soft spring night…it was one of the most enjoyable concerts I have attended for ages… everyone writes suites these days… but none of them has lasted like this one…"
Rhythm Magazine 1993
"Stan himself is, quite literally, brilliant… His compositions all have that classic modern jazz feel: the heads are glaringly apparent and the solos obviously placed, but that’s what modern jazz should be about… Tracey has always been a progressive pianist with his self-created bounds and the rest of his band seem to share that ideology. Jazz for jazz lovers."
Tony Augarde, Music-Web International, 2007.
Stan Tracey's 1965 recording of his "Jazz Suite inspired by Dylan Thomas" has attained the status of a classic disc - and rightly so. After more than 40 years, the album stands up as one of Stan's finest. A British jazz masterpiece? How often can you suggest such a thing? But in this case the answer is undoubtedly "Yes".
Stan Tracey Octet- The Early Works
Two classic seventies albums reissued and remastered.
'The Early Works' has the Stan Tracey Octet 'Bracknell Connection' and 'Salisbury Suite' now as a double cd. Includes bonus track previously unissued 20 minute live recording at the Salisbury Arts Festival 1976.
Peter King - alto saxophone (Bracknell Connection) / Jeff Daly - alto saxophone /
Art Themen - tenor & soprano saxophone / Don Weller - tenor saxophone / Harry Beckett - trumpet / Malcolm Griffiths - trombone
Stan Tracey - piano / Dave Green - bass / Bryan Spring - drums
Recorded Live at the 100 Club London. 1976. - Salisbury Arts Festival. 1976 - Royal Festival Hall. 1978
TRACKS : DISC 1 THE BRACKNELL CONNECTION
CUDDLY - AGITATO-SYMPATICO - FRAGGIE BAR WALTZ - TIMESPRING - CHIFFIK (previously unissued)
DISC 2 SALISBURY SUITE
PEG-LEG BATES - BALLAD FOR ST.ED - MIFF
DOUBLE ALBUM CD PRICE : £15 (inc p&p)
The Jazz Breakfast/Wordpress ****
This is also a double disc and comprises The Bracknell Connection on the first (recorded at the 100 Club in 1976) and the Salisbury Suite on the second (recorded Royal Festival Hall a year and a bit later). There is a magic in these recordings – more
Tim Stenhouse. UK Vibe/Jazz Culture:
As part of the ongoing series of re-issues comes the latest instalment of classic Stan Tracey sides. This focuses on live recordings from the mid to late 1970s, with the leader's compositional skills to the fore, and captures Tracey and the larger ensembles in top form. more
John Fordham, Guardian December 2008 ****
In the autumn of his long career, British composer/pianist Stan Tracey's past and present are better represented on record than they have ever been - but these effervescent 1970s live cuts with his first octet take a lot of beating. more
Chris Parker, Vortex December 2008
Two 1970s Steam albums The Bracknell Connection and Salisbury Suite form this two-CD reissue (plus a hitherto unreleased encore from the Salisbury Arts Festival, ‘Chiffik’), and they document the results of the two eponymous festival commissions, the former in 1976, the latter two years later, for what has become one of Stan Tracey’s most fertile musical formats - more
Bill Shoemaker, Point Of Departure December 2008
Stan Tracey formed his Octet in the mid 1970s to reinvigorate his writing, which had been back-burnered during a period that emphasized free improvisation in duos with Mike Osborne and in larger ensembles such as Splinters and Tentacles. Though the Octet’s charts were decidedly mainstream by comparison, Tracey’s exhilarating brand of swing and winsome lyricism prevented them from sounding dated.more
Ray Comiskey, Irish Times November 2008 ****
This double marks the CD debut of two fine mid-1970s albums, The Bracknell Connection and The Salisbury Suite , by the stellar octet for which Tracey wrote and arranged: Harry Beckett (trumpet), Malcolm Griffiths (trombone), Pete King or Jeff Daly (alto), Art Themen (tenor/soprano), Don Weller (tenor) and the Tracey-Dave Green-Bryan Spring rhythm section.more
Ben Webster - Stan Tracey - Soho Nights
Recorded live at Ronnie Scotts, this unreleased recording of the 'tenor giant' performing with Stan's 'in-house' trio of the time is now digitally remastered from the original reel tape. The album perfectly captures the atmosphere of the club in 1968 (including Ronnie Scott as MC).
Along with Simon Spillett's superb liner notes putting the people and the era into context the cd is a must for fans of this classic period.
Ben Webster - tenor saxophone with Stan Tracey - piano.
Dave Green - bass. Tony Crombie - drums
TRACKS : JOHNNY COME LATELY - COME SUNDAY - SUNDAY - LONDONDERRY AIR - FOR ALL WE KNOW - IN A MELLOTONE - THE JEEP IS JUMPIN' - WHAT AM I HERE FOR? - THE THEME
CD PRICE : £12.00 (incl. p&p)
What a find! Two live sets at Ronnie Scott's club, privately recorded in January 1968 and only now brought to light. Webster, then aged 58 and seriously alcoholic, was in the autumn of his career, but he could rouse himself to heights of eloquence on occasion, and he does it here. The tenor saxophone never sounded more expressive. Tracey, leading the accompanying trio, makes a perfect partner, especially on Ellington's gorgeous 'Come Sunday', which is a masterly performance by any standard. The mutual inspiration and depth of feeling, especially in this and other slow numbers, makes this a precious discovery.
Chris Parker - vortexjazz.co.uk
Playing what fellow tenorman Simon Spillett's excellent sleeve notes refer to as 'a typical autumnal Ben Webster set', the great saxophonist is joined by Stan Tracey (piano), Dave Green (bass) and Tony Crombie (drums) for this January 1968 recording, taken from two sets played at Ronnie Scott's, where Tracey was house pianist. - more
John Fordham, - Guardian ****
Nostalgics for the golden 60s era at Ronnie Scott's, when the pioneering legends of jazz regularly emerged to the club founder's wry announcements, will have a moistening of the eye at this previously unreleased classic. - more
Ray Comiskey, Irish Times,
Webster, on this previously unreleased late-1960s live recording from Ronnie Scott's, may have been in gentle decline, but he had refined his less-is-more tenor to the ultimate in expressiveness. - more
Peter Bevan, Northern Echo,
Another tremendous issue in the Stan Tracey Collectors' Series, this is the first of three volumes of recently discovered tapes. One of the the great pleasures in the 1960's was the opportunity to hear the great American tenor saxophonist Ben Webster and his unique and ditinctive style, often accompanied by Stan Tracey.
There are various contenders for the title of heavyweight champion of the tenor saxophone - Lester Young, John Coltrane, Coleman Hawkins, Sonny Rollins. But on one point there is no argument. No one ever conjured a richer, more velvety sound from the instrument than Benjamin Francis Webster. - more
This music, with its complex mixture of emotions - tenderness, elation, anger, sorrow - bears out a comment made by Dave Green, bassist in this band: "Ben didn't just play the tenor saxophone - he played his whole life." - less
Lee Wilkinson, The Stage
Forming part of the Stan Tracey Collection on this label operating out of Hemel Hempstead, this disc includes previously unissued live recordings made at Ronnie Scott's club in January 1968. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, the original tapes have been digitally restored, resulting in a quality of sound that is quite remarkable. - more
Throughout the CD, Dave Green on bass and renowned drummer Tony Crombie combine to underpin Websters and Tracey's fluent partnership. All four exhibit their individual talents to good effect on The Jeep Is Jumpin', which is something of a tour de force.
With informative liner notes, this release is one that jazz fans can buy with confidence, and there are plans to issue more archive material to demonstrate the importance of Stan Tracey's musical accomplishments. - less
This is the first of three projected CDs made from recently-discovered tapes of tenor-saxist Ben Webster. On this session, he was performing at Ronnie Scott's London club in 1968, backed by Ronnie's rhythm section of Stan Tracey, Dave Green and Tony Crombie. - more
Five of the eleven music tracks have Ellington connections, including a bouncy version of Billy Strayhorn's Johnny Come Lately and an assured reading of The Jeep is Jumpin', co-written by Ellington with Johnny Hodges. In fact, I suspect that some influence from Hodges may have rubbed off on Ben Webster when they were playing side-by-side in Duke's orchestra, as Webster's sweet tone and soaring notes are in some respects similar to Hodges' style.
The rhythm section provides sterling support for the star. Stan Tracey's piano is as edgy as ever, underpinned by the totally dependable double bass of Dave Green and the excitable drumming of Tony Crombie. The sound quality is remarkably good for recordings transferred from old quarter-inch tape. Ronnie Scott's introductory and closing announcements are expendable, but they only occupy a couple of minutes and they convey Ronnie's sincere appreciation for his great fellow-tenorist. - less
Stan Tracey & Keith Tippet - Supernova
A recently unearthed recording of a live concert at the ICA in London in the Seventies by this mighty duo.
One of the most powerful sets of improvised piano you'll ever hear
digitally remastered from the original tape
(released in shops March 2008)
available here now
CD PRICE : £12.00 (incl. p&p)
John Fordham. The Guardian ****
"On Stan Tracey's triumphant Barbican concert at the end of January, the 81-year-old pianist/composer ran through most manifestations of his talents. - more
Chris Parker - vortexjazz.co.uk
"Recorded at the ICA in 1977, this album captures 50-odd minutes of peerless improvising from two masters of the craft. - more
The Northern Echo "Beautifully recorded with the musicians clearly separated in each channel, it's an object lesson in creativity and expression.."
"Free improv isn't everyone's bag, but whatever nexus of inspiration was in the air between Tracey and Tippett at London's ICA in August 1977 produced something extraordinary.."
Tracey and Tippett performed as 'TNT' and released an album under that name on Emanem Records (later reissued on Steam Records and Blue Note International).
This album is now available again as a download, exclusively. There are also still some mint editions available from our vinyl section.
the outstanding 60's big band recording
Alice In Jazzland out now
CD PRICE : £12.00 (incl. p&p)
Alice In Jazzland - Afro-Charlie Meets The White Rabbit - Fantasies In Bloom
Summer Hallucinations - Teatime Gavotte - Murdering The Time
Pig And Pepper - Portrait Of A Queen
trumpets : Kenny Baker, Eddie Blair, Ian Hamer, Les Condon
trombones : Keith Christie, Chris Smith, Wally Smith
alto saxes : Alan Branscombe, Ronnie Baker
tenor saxes : Ronnie Scott, Bobby Wellins
baritone sax : Harry Klein
piano : Stan Tracey
double bass : Jeff Clyne
drums : Ronnie Stephenson
also with : Tubby Hayes and Kenny Wheeler
Pianist and composer Stan Tracey is a legendary veteran on the British jazz scene, in his own quiet way, a master musician...more
A crack team of legendary British players was put together for this session. But Stan himself sets the tone in the first thirty seconds of the title cut with an aggressive, audacious piano intro that makes you sit up and go 'Wow!'. This is an album that exemplifies the classic British big band sound: tart, bright, punchy. But it also pushes the envelope way out with its' confidence and wild musical invention. It's full of fantastic loud, huge, wide chords that are big enough to stick your whole head in.
This album is a much a product of its time as the Beatles' Revolver, and it's no coincidence that it was also recorded at Abbey Road (and beautifully recorded at that). British music and culture was at a zenith, and you can hear the sunshine and swagger in the likes of "Pig And Pepper" and "Summer Hallucinations". "Afro Charlie Meets The White Rabbit" has a psychedelic edge with outrageous discords and an off the wall arrangement which never meanders or loses focus. The lovely "Fantasies In Bloom", provides some breathing space. It seems dangerous to single out one player but I particularly love the trumpet section and Kenny Baker's trumpet feature on the intense "Murdering The Time".
Right up to the glorious conclusion of "Portrait of A Queen" there's not a precious second wasted in 38 brilliant minutes. They really don't make 'em like this anymore. Thankfully you can hear 'em again, thanks to Clark Tracey and his programme of reissues of his father's music: truly a labour of love in a very bad world. Great stuff!"
Tim Stenhouse. UK Vibe/ Jazz culture online
While the jazz suite based on 'Under Milk Wood' has righlty been vaunted as Tracey's masterpiece, relatively little has been written about his foray into big band writing and playing...more
John Fordham. The Guardian
The octogenarian Stan Tracey has run into such sustained acclaim for his various ventures over the past couple of years that he has almost found himself recast as a wholly contemporary musician...more
The Ellington influence is always clear on Tracey's big-group ventures (such as the swoony Fantasies in Bloom), and the title track confirms how early Monk-inspired conceptions of rhythm took root in the pianist's chordal punctuation. Summer Hallucinations, with its gliding alto-sax solo, recalls the Cool School, and Murdering the Time is a raucous, squalling flyer. The contrast between Bobby Wellins' eccentric lyricism and the late Ronnie Scott's relaxed swing in the tenor-sax section is a bonus.
Chris Parker - Vortex.co.uk
The second release from the ReSteamed Records Collectors' Series, this (mainly) big-band session was recorded a year after composer/pianist Stan Tracey's enduringly popular Under Milk Wood Suite, and it features three of the quartet from that album...more
The material is named ('Pig and Pepper', 'Portrait of a Queen' etc.) loosely after scenes from Alice in Wonderland, but is not programmatic in any stricter sense, consisting of Monkishly eccentric, spiky themes leavened with the odd passage of almost Ellingtonian elegance ('Fantasies in Bloom').
The pungent power of Tracey's composition has retained its appeal well over the forty-odd years that have elapsed since the suite was recorded in 1966: the punchy, occasionally shouting ensembles are judiciously balanced against pleasingly bleary solo contributions from Wellins and characteristically percussive, idiosyncratic yet cogent soloing from Tracey himself (his tripping, delightfully discursive playing on 'Fantasies in Bloom' a particular highlight), but what is most impressive is the overall confidence, even swagger, that permeates the writing and playing Î like all his extended works, Alice in Jazz Land, while clearly indebted to his great inspirations, Ellington and Monk, is immediately identifiable as quintessential Stan Tracey.
A revealing and highly enjoyable reminder that there was a lot more to British musical life in the 1960s than the Beatles and the Stones.