Shelly Manne & His Men at the Black Hawk (Vol.3)
How great is it to discover new music you love, especially when it’s nearly 60 years old?!
I’m a fan of drummer Shelly Manne, and have been since I made a fantastic discovery about a decade ago that also happened to send me down the high-end/vintage audio path I’m on today.
A Brief History
I was living in a small house downtown with my girlfriend, who was a crafty girl. A woman had asked her to make a small coffee table, topped by actual vinyl records, and sealed with acrylic. The client had given her records to use for this purpose (looking back I cringe thinking about what treasures may have been sacrificed to DIY furniture…). She finished the table and soon after the woman wanted something else made. I think – not sure – my memory is not great. Not sure what type of payment was exchanged, but a part of this deal was that the remainder of the records she had were left with my girlfriend.
It was some time before I looked at this large box of vinyl, and I’m not clear now what inspired me to look. I think it came up in conversation that this client’s father had been a DJ in the 40’s and 50’s and this was a part of his collection. This hair-raising conversation sent me running to our storage room.
Among the cheaper and less interesting records were around thirty 10″ jazz records from the 40’s and 50’s. Some of the more rare records included Kenny Dorham’s first quintet outing on Debut, the Max Roach quartet on Blue Note and The Amazing Bud Powell on Blue Note. Many were damaged by time and poor storage conditions, though all were playable. It was truly awesome to have in my hands these rare musical treasures.
Also included in this bunch, were several of Shelly Manne’s original 10″ pressings on Contemporary Records. While all of the more rare pressings were sold and or given to collectors who would care for them (I was never a collector, and, those records were not for spinning, so we decided to find better homes for them), I held on to those Manne LP’s for much longer.
This experience reignited my affair with jazz music, vinyl in general, and a real fascination with tube gear.
This brings us up to date, when the US Postal Service dropped this record at my door today…what I believe is the 1990’s reissue of the Contemporary Records pressing of Shelly Manne & His Men at the Black Hawk Vol.3. Recorded in San Francisco in September 1959. This outing is straight up, easy on the ears bebop.
I’ve been listening to this and the other volumes via Tidal/Roon since I read an article on Part-Time Audiophile that mentioned them. I listened to the vinyl today. My experience confirms what Rafe Arnott described – the recording is fantastic. Easily one of the best live jazz recordings I have heard. A dynamic, open recording that captures the space and everyone in it without diluting the presence and tone of the instruments. This pressing happens to be very quiet too.
Glad to have this record in the collection.
Thanks for reading.