The Blue Note Years 1952-1956 (5 LPs on 2 CDs) + Live Broadcast
  • Blue Note LP 5020 Blue Note LP 5020
  • Blue Note LP 5033 Blue Note LP 5033
  • Blue Note LP 5054 Blue Note LP 5054
  • Blue Note LP 5063 Blue Note LP 5063
  • Blue Note LP 1517 Blue Note LP 1517
  • Gil Mellé Gil Mellé

Gil Mellé

The Blue Note Years 1952-1956 (5 LPs on 2 CDs) + Live Broadcast

Fresh Sound Records

Personnel:
Gil Mellé (ts, bs), Eddie Bert, Urbie Green (tb), Joe Manning (vib), George Wallington (p), Tal Farlow, Lou Mecca (g), Clyde Lombardi, Red Mitchell, Bill Phipps, Oscar Pettiford (b), Max Roach, Joe Morello, Vinnie Thomas (d), Monica Dell (vcl)

Reference: FSRCD 876_2

Bar code: 8427328608763

In 1952, Gil Mellé (1931-2004) was the first white musician signed to Blue Note Records. He had started young, studying oboe and planning to play jazz with it, but to practice his embouchure he decided to start on alto sax and then moved to tenor to extend his range. Baritone then presented a welcome challenge. Gerry and Harry Carney were doing great things on the instrument, but I felt there was a whole area for exploration and development on baritone.

He wrote all the material for these four Blue Note albums. They are compositions in the fullest sense since he creates his own chord patterns rather than building an original melodic line on top of the changes to some standard tune. I wouldnt call them compositions otherwise.

As with most musicians, he wanted to get a new, identifiable sound. Too many musicians are identified with a particular sound which leads to an obvious trouble, if they stick to it. They end up painting everything the same color. I want, instead, to fit my sound to the composition. His unorthodoxy allowed him to achieve a new tone, introducing his own personality through the choice of particular instruments, compositions and arrangements.

As an extra, this set also contains a previously unreleased broadcast of Melles quartet from Café Bohemia in New York recorded October 5, 1957.


Tracklisting:

CD 1

01. Four Moons 2:23
02. The Gears 3:07
03. Mars 2:47
04. Sunset Concerto 2:04
05. Cyclotron 3:14
06. October 3:43
07. Under Capricorn 2:59
08. Venus 3:41
09. Lover Man (Ramirez) 5:56
10. Spellbound (Rozsa) 3:18
11. Transition 5:13
12. Timepiece 3:12
13. A Lion Lives Here 3:50
14. Gingersnap 3:18
15. Lullaby of Birdland (Shearing) 3:47
16. Ballad for Guitar 3:53
17. Metropolitan 2:51
18. Newport News: 4:56
19. I. Spectrum Violet 3:06
20. II. Sea Green 1:08
21. III. Royal Blue 1:56
22. IV. Ebony 3:35
23. V. Spectrum Red 2:54

CD 2

01. Summertime (Gershwin-Heyward) 4:00
02. Quadrille for Moderns 3:32
03. Life Begins at Midnight 4:24
04. Threadneedle Street 4:15
05. Night Train to Wildwood 4:11
06. Weird Valley 5:14
07. The Set Break 4:48
08. Moonlight in Vermont 4:53
(Suessdorf-Blackburn)
09. Long Ago and Far Away 4:32
(Kern-Gershwin)
10. The Arab Barber Blues 9:06
11. Nice Question 8:17
12. Introduction 0:10
13. Theme 1:11
14. Quadrama 4:09
15. Mark One 6:18
16. Dom Cerulli interview 1:47
17. It Dont Mean a Thing 3:01
(Ellington-Mills)
18. The Arab Barber Blues 2:58
19. Closing announcements 1:11

Compositions by Gil Mellé unless otherwise indicated


Sources CD 1:

Tracks #1-2, from the 78 rpm Blue Note 1606

Tracks #3-4, from the 78 rpm Blue Note 1607

Tracks #5 & 8, from the 10-inch album
Gil Mellé Quintet/Sextet, New FacesNew Sounds
(Blue Note LP 5020 -which also includes tracks 1-4)

Tracks #9 & 14, from the 10-inch album
Gil Mellé Quintet (Blue Note 5033)

Tracks #15 & 18, from the 10-inch album
The Gil Mellé Quartet featuring Lou Mecca
(Blue Note 5054)

Tracks #19-23, from the 10-inch album
Gil Mellé Quintet with Don Butterfield:
5 Impressions of Color (Blue Note 5063)


Sources CD 2:

Tracks #1-2, from the 10-inch album
The Gil Mellé Quartet featuring Lou Mecca
(Blue Note 5054)

Tracks #3-5, from the 10-inch album
Gil Mellé Quintet with Don Butterfield:
5 Impressions of Color (Blue Note 5063)

Tracks #6-11, from the 12-inch album
Gil Mellé: Patterns in Jazz (Blue Note LP 1517)

Tracks #12-18 are previously unissued



Personnel on CD 1:

GIL MELLÉ SEXTET (#1-4)
Eddie Bert, trombone; Gil Mellé, tenor sax; Joe Manning, vibes; George Wallington, piano; Red Mitchell, bass; Max Roach, drums; Monica Dell, vocals (#2,3 & 4).

Recorded at Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey, March 2, 1952


GIL MELLÉ QUINTET/SEXTET (#5-8)
Eddie Bert, trombone; Gil Mellé, tenor sax; Tal Farlow, guitar; Clyde Lombardi, bass; Joe Morello, drums.

Recorded at Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey, January 31, 1953


GIL MELLÉ QUINTET (#9-14)
Urbie Green, trombone; Gil Mellé, tenor (#9,10,11 & 14) or baritone (#12 & 13) saxes; Tal Farlow, guitar; Clyde Lombardi, bass; Joe Morello, drums.

Recorded at Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey, October 25, 1953


GIL MELLÉ QUARTET (#15-18)
Gil Mellé, baritone sax; Lou Mecca, guitar; Bill Phillips, bass; Vinnie Thomas, drums.

Recorded at Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey, September 5, 1954


GIL MELLÉ QUINTET (#19-23)
Don Butterfield, tuba, added.

Recorded at Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey, February 27, 1955



Personnel on CD 2:

GIL MELLÉ QUARTET (#1-2)
Gil Mellé, baritone sax; Lou Mecca, guitar; Bill Phipps, bass; Vinnie Thomas, drums.

Recorded at Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey, September 5, 1954


GIL MELLÉ QUINTET (#3-5)
Don Butterfield, tuba, added.

Recorded at Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey, February 27, 1955


GIL MELLÉ QUINTET (#6-11)
Eddie Bert, trombone except #10 & 11; Gil Mellé, baritone sax; Joe Cinderella, guitar; Oscar Pettiford, bass; Ed Thigpen, drums.

Recorded at Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey, April 1, 1956


GIL MELLÉ QUARTET (#12-19)
Eddie Bert, trombone; Gil Mellé, baritone sax; Tommy Potter, bass; Paul Motian, drums.

Recorded at Broadcast from Café Bohemia, New York City, October 5, 1957




Original Blue Note sessions produced by Alfred Lion

Blue Note recordings engineered by Rudy Van Gelder
Artwork by Gil Mellé, Jerome Kuhl & Reid Miles
Photography: Bill Hughes & Francis Wolff

Original tape recordings (#12-18) courtesy of Eddie Bert

This CD compilation produced by Jordi Pujol


Hi Fi · 24-Bit Digitally Remastered

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See the 32-page booklet for complete personnel, recording dates, composers details, plus the original and new liner notes.

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Reviews:

"If nothing else, the vintage years of Blue Note records was known for having the hardest swinging black musicians around. The first exception to the rule was when multi-instrumentalist and artist Gil Melle recorded a handful of sessions for the label. It could have been as a payback from Alfred Lion for having Melle introduce famed engineer Rudy Van Gelder to the label, or maybe that the famous album covers that Melle made for Monk, Rollins and Davis got his foot in the door.

Well, it doesnt matter, but it shows that this guy was a creative sort. He sure doesnt sit still here, as hes recorded in a plethora of settings where he plays the tenor and baritone in small group settings that include George Wallington/p, Max Roach-Red Mitchell-Paul Motian-Joe Morello/dr, Tal Farlow-Lou Mecca/g, Osca Pettiford-Tommy Potter/b and Eddie Bert/tb. Some artsy vocals by Monica Dell are found on a handful of 1952 sessions making The Gears and Sunset Concerto feel very impressionistic. Most of the time, the sounds are subtle and swinging , with Melles bariton on Lullaby of Birdland and the Newport News suite deft and sublime. The feel here veers around California Cool, but with the collar turned up for attitude.

A 1957 broadcast from the Café Bohemia has Melle with Bert, Potter and Motian in a pianoless format that sounds telepathic onMark One and Quadrama. Melles tone on baritone is buttery and smooth, with a bit more heft than Gerry Mulligan and not as harsh as Pepper Adams.The impressively sized booklet gives a perspective of Melles career, with listings of all musicians and background info. These pieces are overlooked bon mots that should be tasted and enjoyed."

George W. Harris (November 12, 2015)
http://www.jazzweekly.com/2015/11/a-white-guy-on-blue-note-gil-melle-the-blue-note-years-1952-1956/>

Gil Mellé is a somewhat forgotten figure today but at the time of these recordings he was quite active on the Manhattan jazz scene. In 1952 he became the first white musician to sign for Blue Note and in 1998 the label released his Complete Blue Note Sessions on CD 95718. Fresh Sound has now reissued that material and added a previously unissued live broadcast from the Café Bohemia making this double CD an indispensable chronicle of his brief career in the jazz spotlight. He was something of a Renaissance man - apart from performing in jazz clubs he was a painter and sculptor showing his work in several New York galleries. Mellé was also a highly talented writer and most of his compositions feature original chord sequences not based on standards – as far as my tin ear can tell.

These CDs find him in a variety of stimulating settings supported by the elegant trombones of Eddie Bert or Urbie Green together with a veritable who’s who of fine guitarists – Tal Farlow, Lou Mecca or Joe Cinderella. The 1952 date with the obscure Monica Dell is the only time Gil used a piano in his rhythm section. He preferred a guitar, which served a dual role in providing the harmonic foundation together with occasionally doubling the lead. Baritone and guitar create an attractive ensemble sound. His quartet with guitarist Lou Mecca was billed as “The most promising new group” at the first Newport Jazz Festival in 1954. His Bob Cooper tenor-sound by way of Lester Young is particularly elegant on the early titles but by 1953 he had switched to the baritone, displaying a fluent, Mulligan-like lyricism.

In the early 60s Mellé left New York for Los Angeles where he became a highly successful movie composer for such films as The Andromeda Strain, The Ultimate Warrior and The Organization etc.
Gordon Jack, Jazz Journal, (November 2015)

Price:

$16.44  (tax incl.)

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