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Old Jul 6, 2007, 02:47 AM
Gavin Walker Gavin Walker is offline
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Harold Land At The Cellar.

Harold Land, Jazz At The Cellar 1958

With the release on Lonehill Records of Harold Land at The Cellar (that is the original Cellar that was located at the rear of 222 East Broadway) the public can hear a reasonably well recorded set by a band that changed my life. First off these recordings have been circulated for years throughout the country....how they got out only Dave Quarin (who made them and ran the Cellar) knows and how they got into the hands of Lonehill is anybody's guess and who knows whether Quarin or the Land estate had any knowledge of this is also anybody's guess. This incredible group was here for 4 days in November 1958 and I was there for three of the four nights. I did my last year of high school here in Vancouver as my family had moved here from Montreal and was in high school when this band came here. I had been lucky up to that time to have heard some amazing live music (Miles Davis, MJQ, Brubeck, etc) but nothing prepared me for this band! Harold Land (tenor) with Elmo Hope (piano), Scott LaFaro (bass) and Lennie McBrowne (drums). My parents reluctantly allowed me to go Thursday night (much begging and pleading as it was a school night) and Dale Hillary (the alto player) and Al Neil (the pianist) and Jimmy Johnson (the saxophonist) sat in the front chairs.

Just Land, LaFaro and McBrowne hit as Elmo was late and they opened with Cole Porter's "Just One of Those Things" taken at a tempo only the greats could handle........Hillary and I sat with our mouths agape and we could only say "Yeah!" as Land reeled off chorus after chorus leaning back with his eyes closed and holding his horn to one side and moving only his fingers on the keys (no body english) just like Bird. I'd never seen a bass played the way LaFaro played before with his first two fingers of his right hand moving over the strings and never missing a beat and McBrowne who had studied with Max Roach emulating the master but not imitating him.......then after dozens of Land choruses Elmo Hope picked his way through the tables and chairs and hit the bandstand and splatted down chords never missing a change. The rest of the evening was even better. I got to meet Elmo who was aways a personal favourite of mine and shake his hand......he had huge hands and it was like shaking hands with a pillow. Elmo (who was much shorter than me called me his little buddy and was quite taken by the fact that I had a number of his albums. Today I'd have him autograph the records but back then it wouldn't be considered hip to do that! I went again on Saturday and again (after much begging and pleading...school again) on Sunday night. I may have been there for some of those tunes on the CD...I probably was. The MC at the Cellar who is heard on the recordings was Barry Cramer (saxophonist Dylan Cramer's dad) who produced plays at the Cellar. That band changed my life and provided me with some of the best musical moments I have ever experienced to this day!
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