27

Herbie Nichols: Herbie Nichols Trio – Blue Note 1519

Marc Davis By

Sign in to view read count
Enter the album name hereOK, now I'm cheating. At least it feels that way.

The next CD on my quixotic Blue Note odyssey is Herbie Nichols Trio, a 1955-56 trio record by the criminally under-appreciated pianist. Great—I'm looking forward to it! I know almost nothing about Herbie Nichols, except that he was an overlooked talent who was often compared to the quirky Thelonious Monk. How can that be bad?

Except... you can't really buy this CD. Not easily. And not cheaply.

Go to Amazon and look it up. The first thing you see is that the album is available on MP3 for just $6.99. OK, that's good, but a last resort. I'd rather have the tangible CD for my collection. Then you see the two-CD set Complete Studio Master Takes—a Spanish import selling for $40 to $50. Um, no. Not yet. Maybe never.

There's also Herbie Nichols Trio, Volume 2, which some nut is selling for $2,339.99 new. That has to be a typo. Used copies start at $28. Maybe when we get to Volume 2. But not yet. And even so, that's kind of expensive.

How about eBay? There's a $13 used copy—shipping from Japan! I'm not sure I trust that. A $15 copy shipping from South Korea. A $50 copy shipping from Japan, and two $60 copies shipping from Canada and Japan. Uh, no.

So MP3 it is. Which is great, if all I want is the music. But I don't. I want the CD.

Sigh. Eventually. Meanwhile, the MP3s will do, says the cheater.

Oh yeah, and then there's the music.

It's great, just as I'd hoped. The critics are right. Herbie Nichols is just slightly less off-kilter than Monk, but they're in the same ballpark. Clearly, he can play a tune straight, but doesn't choose to. Each tune is full of odd pauses and note choices and rhythms that are a tiny bit off—intentionally.

It's enough to make every song interesting. It's cerebral bop, but not quite as extreme as a typical Monk tune. Max Roach on drums and either Al McKibbon or Teddy Kotick on bass provide the beat, but stay pretty much in the background. This is almost entirely Nichols' show.

The biggest surprise is "Lady Sings the Blues." Yes, that song. Nichols co- wrote it with Billie Holiday, and while it's Lady Day's version you remember, slow and soulful, Nichols' version has a life of its own. The melody is recognizable, but the pace is faster and the improvisation has a whole different, boppish feel.

Actually, every tune on this wonderful CD is full of unexpected turns. This is piano trio music with a twist. It's a great find—even in MP3 format.

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

Availability: Rare as a standalone CD, only available as an import; Sold as MP3 files on Amazon

Cost: $7 in MP3 format

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read My Fats Waller Obsession: Why Do We Collect Music? My Blue Note Obsession My Fats Waller Obsession: Why Do We Collect Music?
by Marc Davis
Published: May 31, 2017
Read Ike Quebec: Blue & Sentimental - 1962 My Blue Note Obsession Ike Quebec: Blue & Sentimental - 1962
by Marc Davis
Published: May 14, 2017
Read Jack Wilson: Something Personal – 1966 My Blue Note Obsession Jack Wilson: Something Personal – 1966
by Marc Davis
Published: May 1, 2017
Read Ronnie Foster: Two Headed Freap – 1973 My Blue Note Obsession Ronnie Foster: Two Headed Freap – 1973
by Marc Davis
Published: April 18, 2017
Read Bud Powell: The Scene Changes - 1958 My Blue Note Obsession Bud Powell: The Scene Changes - 1958
by Marc Davis
Published: April 4, 2017
Read Walter Davis Jr.: Davis Cup - 1959 My Blue Note Obsession Walter Davis Jr.: Davis Cup - 1959
by Marc Davis
Published: March 21, 2017
Read "Wayne Shorter: Speak No Evil – 1964" My Blue Note Obsession Wayne Shorter: Speak No Evil – 1964
by Marc Davis
Published: December 21, 2016
Read "My Fats Waller Obsession: Why Do We Collect Music?" My Blue Note Obsession My Fats Waller Obsession: Why Do We Collect Music?
by Marc Davis
Published: May 31, 2017
Read "Jack Wilson: Something Personal – 1966" My Blue Note Obsession Jack Wilson: Something Personal – 1966
by Marc Davis
Published: May 1, 2017
Read "Walter Davis Jr.: Davis Cup - 1959" My Blue Note Obsession Walter Davis Jr.: Davis Cup - 1959
by Marc Davis
Published: March 21, 2017
Read "Paul Chambers: Paul Chambers Quintet - 1957" My Blue Note Obsession Paul Chambers: Paul Chambers Quintet - 1957
by Marc Davis
Published: March 3, 2017
Read "Javon Jackson: Pleasant Valley – 1999" My Blue Note Obsession Javon Jackson: Pleasant Valley – 1999
by Marc Davis
Published: December 5, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.

Please support out sponsor