The James and Susan Neumann Jazz Collection is the largest privately owned collection of jazz materials in the United States, and possibly the world. James Neumann, proprietor of the collection and an Oberlin Alumnus, decided last year to donate all of the materials to Oberlin. So far, the school has received about 45,000 vinyl LPs along with thousands of jazz periodicals and collectibles, which does not event amount to half of the entire collection. The recordings will not be available for students for some time, which is why WOBC has decided to give followers a regular taste of the collection’s rare gems. Disclaimer: Information and music posted are sourced from WOBC copies of albums also included in the Neumann Collection.
This week’s dig from the collection is a beauty: an original pressing of John Coltrane’s masterpiece A Love Supreme. This particular vinyl copy of the album is in its original monoaural format, kept in absolutely pristine condition since its pressing in the year of the record’s release, 1965. The amount of A Love Supreme copies of this kind probably amounts to a few thousand—but in terms of copies that are still in perfect condition, there must only be a handful in existence.
A Love Supreme was originally released on Impulse! records in February 1965. The whole record was cut in one session on December 9th, 1964 at the studio of master engineer Rudy Van Gelder in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. The personnel on the record consists of Coltrane’s legendary quartet of the early to mid-1960s: McCoy Tyner on Piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass, Elvin Jones on drums. The music is a suite in four parts: I. Acknowledgment; II. Resolution; III. Pursuance; IV. Psalm. Each movement is dedicated to a different aspect of Coltrane’s newfound devotion to God in the 1960s, and his deep spirituality is viscerally apparent in every moment of the record. Musically, each movement is based on a simple modal chord structure, over which Coltrane plays a short theme and then engages in a more or less “free” improvisation with the other members of the group.
The design and layout of this particular printing of the album is unique for Impulse! records. Most Impulse! releases bear a colorful photograph on the cover, the signature black and orange label on the side binding, and a foldout that includes liner notes, additional information, and photos of the featured musicians. The original release of A Love Supreme, however, bears a stunning black-and-white photo of Coltrane’s face in a position of meditative repose, a matching black-and-white side label, and a foldout that is filled up by a hand-drawn image of Coltrane playing his instrument and personal inscription from the saxophonist/composer proclaiming his love for The Almighty.
It’s clear from the design of the whole package that the record label felt this release needed special treatment. Impulse! turned out to be correct in its projection of the album’s importance: it is one of the best-selling jazz records of all time, and is held as a centerpiece of inspiration by countless musicians. It goes whithout saying that Oberlin is extremely privileged to own an original, mint-condition record of this historic album.
This Saturday May 19th is the Zen Tapes Traveling Sleepover–a mini music festival featuring artists from Ann Arbor, Boston, and Oberlin. Eastman Presser a.k.a. Steamship has kindly put together a fantastic mix featuring artists from the lineup. It is a privilege for such talented and critically acclaimed musicians from the D.I.Y. sector of Electronic music to be joining us to wrap up the semester. Come out and enjoy this unorthodox crossroads of musical personalities from 6 pm – 11 pm in Fairchid Chapel. Set time slots to be posted soon!
Have you scavenged through the folk vault recently? Dusty but thrilling. These compilation records are a real jam for those admirers of alternative country from the late eighties. The albums were released separately and a few years later combined in CD form. (Note: Volume 3 was also released but not in the WOBC vault) The musicians featured were rising alt country stars in Bakersfield, California. Bakersfield has cultivated the sound of a few notable country music stars, Buck Owens and Merle Haggard for example. The city is even noted for a ‘Bakersfield sound’ which originated in honky-tonk bars in the 50s. Take a listen.
About a month ago the Nashville five-piece Honey Locust played a show at Fairchild Chapel with Calvin Johnson and the Hive Dwellers and Erin Earthling. The band also kindly came by the WOBC studios and played a few new tunes off of their new release Fear Is A Feeling EP.
We got a chance to talk to the band about their favorite experiences on tour and how they each know how to play so many different instruments. Honey Locust’s five members never seem to play the same instrument twice. During the live broadcast we saw a viola, banjo, piano, organ, accordion, guitar, ukulele, cello, mandolin, percussion, and bass.
You can find more information about the band and get a copy of their EP at their website. You can also stream the EP on their bandcamp.
Elbow recently released their follow up to the Mercury Prize winning and highly successful The Seldom Seen Kid in 2008. Their latest effort, Build a Rocket Boys!, is a different take on their last, arena anthem record. Before the recording process, Guy Garvey, the lead singer and primary songwriter of the group, moved back to his hometown where he grew up, which is thought to have inspired Build a Rocket Boys! Many of the album’s themes reflect on the ideas of nostalgia, missing the warmth of family life and generally setting a more reflective and introspective mood. Though struggling to live up to their previous success, Guy along with band members Mark Potter who’s on guitars, Craig Potter on keyboards, Pete Turner on bass, and Richard Jupp on drums, embark on a creative journey that takes them to places they have not explored before. Guy writes about the realities of being middle aged, about childhood dreams, and how everyday people seek something much grander throughout life. This record is proof that Elbow still knows how to use textures to create a beautiful ambiance that is always different from what they have done before. What differentiates this group from many others is the propensity of the lyrics to being real and genuine with harmonies that can touch many people on several different levels. This is an imaginative, yet heartwarming record that echoes with textured guitars, organs, electronics, orchestral percussions, and of course the staple to most of Elbow’s music, the frequent use of the youth choir.