Horace Tapscott Sextet session Dial ‘B’ For Barbra

HORACE TAPSCOTT SEXTET

session

DIAL B FOR BARBRA


Horace’s music is of a type that will escape you if you don’t make an effort to get into it. Even more so than most artists you have to go to where Horace’s music dwells.

At first it can seem wobbly, careless, out-of-tune, and strange.

Once you get there and lock onto it, you’ll never be the same. It has such a compelling character and substance that it pulls you into its orbit. It’s a deep music and a heavy music. Loaded with gravitas. I always left these sessions completely drained.

Horace was a night person. He lived on the other side of the clock. (Note the time on clock in control room.)

Engineer Ed Perry | Photo by Mark Weber

This session began in the evening around 8.
Sunset Boulevard.
Hollywood.
Pacific Ocean breezes.

I never asked Horace but I always figured the title track was a spin-off on Tadd Dameron’s tune “Dial B For Beauty.” Horace loved Dameron’s writing and had many of his tunes in his repertoire. Horace was of that generation that grew up on bebop. It is the foundation of his musicality.

Al Hines conducting his composition | Photo by Mark Weber

My field notes from this session reveal that one tune that didn’t make it to the album was Al Hines’ “I Heard Ya Before Ya Got Here.” His own arrangement of the tune. Al was one of the three main bass players in the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra, who’s day job was in the studios of Hanna-Barbara. I asked producer Tom Albach about this tune and he said he tossed all of the outtakes.

Producer Tom Albach and engineer Ed Perry| Photo by Mark Weber

Also, my notes say that Horace referred to his tune as “Lately Lester,” at the session, whereas on the LP and CD it is called “Lately’s Solo.” This is Horace’s arrangement of Lester Robertson’s trombone solo on Gerald Wilson’s version of “Milestones,” which was a radio hit on Los Angeles jazz radio back in the early 70s. Lester was Horace’s closest friend before drugs and alcohol wrecked him and remained loyal to him for all the days and times I saw them together. It was a deep friendship. Lester’s nickname was Lately, because he had other ideas about punctuality. Lester is also the subject of Eric Dolphy’s tune “Les.” And was a member of Eric’s legendary early 60s Los Angeles group.

Roberto Miranda & producer Tom Albach | Photo by Mark Weber

Tom Albach never liked the mix of “Dem Folks” that appeared on the LP. He maintains that the bass is too high. So, the LP and CD are very different releases. Tom hates the LP version, “Sounds terrible! It’s effete, doesn’t have any punch, too clean. Big difference in sound between the LP and the CD.” This session was recorded in that era in-between analog and digital — unfortunately, some very odd recording gear was employed and the equipment is hard to find nowadays (U-matic systems) so the CD was made from a cassette copy that Ed Perry, the engineer, gave Tom that evening. From this was made the present recently released CD on Nimbus West.

Mark Weber | April 7, 2012

Horace Tapscott Sextet | DIAL B FOR BARBRA session | February 26, 1980 | United-Western Studios | Studio 2 backroom | Horace Tapscott, piano; Reggie Bullen, flugelhorn; Everett Brown Jr, drums; Roberto Miranda, bass; Gary Bias, alto & soprano sax & flute; Sabir Matteen, tenor sax & clarinet | Photo by Mark Weber

Horace Tapscott Sextet | DIAL B FOR BARBRA session | February 26, 1980 | United-Western Studios | Studio 2 backroom | Horace Tapscott, piano; Reggie Bullen, flugelhorn; Everett Brown Jr, drums; Roberto Miranda, bass; Gary Bias, alto & soprano sax & flute; Sabir Matteen, tenor sax & clarinet | Photo by Mark Weber

Horace Tapscott Sextet | DIAL B FOR BARBRA session | February 26, 1980 | United-Western Studios | Studio 2 backroom | Al Hines, Horace Tapscott, piano; Reggie Bullen, flugelhorn; Everett Brown Jr, drums; Roberto Miranda, bass; Gary Bias, alto & soprano sax & flute; Sabir Matteen, tenor sax & clarinet | Photo by Mark Weber

Horace Tapscott Sextet | DIAL B FOR BARBRA session | February 26, 1980 | United-Western Studios | Studio 2 backroom | Al Hines, Horace Tapscott, piano; Reggie Bullen, flugelhorn; Everett Brown Jr, drums; Roberto Miranda, bass; Gary Bias, alto & soprano sax & flute; Sabir Matteen, tenor sax & clarinet | Photo by Mark Weber

Horace Tapscott Sextet | DIAL B FOR BARBRA session | February 26, 1980 | United-Western Studios | Studio 2 backroom | Horace Tapscott, piano; Reggie Bullen, flugelhorn; Everett Brown Jr, drums; Roberto Miranda, bass; Gary Bias, alto & soprano sax & flute; Sabir Matteen, tenor sax & clarinet | Photo by Mark Weber

Horace Tapscott Sextet | DIAL B FOR BARBRA session | February 26, 1980 | United-Western Studios | Studio 2 backroom | Horace Tapscott, piano; Reggie Bullen, flugelhorn; Everett Brown Jr, drums; Roberto Miranda, bass; Gary Bias, alto & soprano sax & flute; Sabir Matteen, tenor sax & clarinet | Photo by Mark Weber

Horace Tapscott Sextet | DIAL B FOR BARBRA session | February 26, 1980 | United-Western Studios | Studio 2 backroom | Horace Tapscott, piano; Reggie Bullen, flugelhorn; Everett Brown Jr, drums; Roberto Miranda, bass; Gary Bias, alto & soprano sax & flute; Sabir Matteen, tenor sax & clarinet | Photo by Mark Weber

Horace Tapscott Sextet | DIAL B FOR BARBRA session | February 26, 1980 | United-Western Studios | Studio 2 backroom | Horace Tapscott, piano; Reggie Bullen, flugelhorn; Everett Brown Jr, drums; Roberto Miranda, bass; Gary Bias, alto & soprano sax & flute; Sabir Matteen, tenor sax & clarinet | Photo by Mark Weber

Horace Tapscott Sextet | DIAL B FOR BARBRA session | February 26, 1980 | United-Western Studios | Studio 2 backroom | Horace Tapscott, piano; Reggie Bullen, flugelhorn; Everett Brown Jr, drums; Roberto Miranda, bass; Gary Bias, alto & soprano sax & flute; Sabir Matteen, tenor sax & clarinet | Photo by Mark Weber

Al Hines | DIAL B FOR BARBRA session | February 26, 1980 | United-Western Studios | Studio 2 backroom | Photo by Mark Weber

Horace Tapscott Sextet | DIAL B FOR BARBRA session | February 26, 1980 | United-Western Studios | Studio 2 backroom | Horace Tapscott, piano; Reggie Bullen, flugelhorn; Everett Brown Jr, drums; Roberto Miranda, bass; Gary Bias, alto & soprano sax & flute; Sabir Matteen, tenor sax & clarinet | Photo by Mark Weber

Horace Tapscott Sextet | DIAL B FOR BARBRA session | February 26, 1980 | United-Western Studios | Studio 2 backroom | Horace Tapscott, piano; Reggie Bullen, flugelhorn; Everett Brown Jr, drums; Roberto Miranda, bass; Gary Bias, alto & soprano sax & flute; Sabir Matteen, tenor sax & clarinet | Photo by Mark Weber

Horace Tapscott Sextet | DIAL B FOR BARBRA session | February 26, 1980 | United-Western Studios | Studio 2 backroom | Horace Tapscott, piano; Reggie Bullen, flugelhorn; Everett Brown Jr, drums; Roberto Miranda, bass; Gary Bias, alto & soprano sax & flute; Sabir Matteen, tenor sax & clarinet | Photo by Mark Weber

Horace Tapscott Sextet | DIAL B FOR BARBRA session | February 26, 1980 | United-Western Studios | Studio 2 backroom | Horace Tapscott, piano; Reggie Bullen, flugelhorn; Everett Brown Jr, drums; Roberto Miranda, bass; Gary Bias, alto & soprano sax & flute; Sabir Matteen, tenor sax & clarinet | Photo by Mark Weber

Horace Tapscott Sextet | DIAL B FOR BARBRA session | February 26, 1980 | United-Western Studios | Studio 2 backroom | Horace Tapscott, piano; Reggie Bullen, flugelhorn; Everett Brown Jr, drums; Roberto Miranda, bass; Gary Bias, alto & soprano sax & flute; Sabir Matteen, tenor sax & clarinet | Photo by Mark Weber

Horace Tapscott Sextet | DIAL B FOR BARBRA session | February 26, 1980 | United-Western Studios | Studio 2 backroom | Horace Tapscott, piano; Reggie Bullen, flugelhorn; Everett Brown Jr, drums; Roberto Miranda, bass; Gary Bias, alto & soprano sax & flute; Sabir Matteen, tenor sax & clarinet | Photo by Mark Weber

Horace Tapscott and his sons | Photo by Mark Weber

The Sextet

Horace Tapscott, virtuoso pianist, dedicated composer and conductor, brother extraordinary, speaks of the music of his Ark-estra as music contributive toward the kind of world we want to live in, be a valuable part of, and ensure for our children. It is contributive rather than competitive. It is protective of all that has made black music endlessly fresh and stimulating, welcoming surprise and influencing all within earshot on every continent For today, it is an alternative music — a real thing — a togetherness and belief in ourselves.

The Ark-estra came together under Horace’s leadership, initially in the Sixties, to explore musically the new explosion of black self-awareness and aspiration. Black and brown musicians joined him from many parts of the United States to participate in his work of exploration. They called themselves a Society for the Preservation of Black Music and they called themselves UGMAA.They began giving performances in community centers and parks, where they handed out percussion instruments in wood, hide, metal and shell to everyone in the audience — adults and children — who wanted to join in, who something to say and were willing to try and say it, and who held, perhaps for the first time, and instrument with which to begin.

UGMAA meant whatever it needed to mean. As Underground Musicians and Artists it meant the underground stream of African musical origins, and it meant the dark earth underground where roots push deep and spread, and it meant the ground swell below that ultimately restructures the surface. It was the African word too: ugmaa. Like maana that means meaning: mbona why; njaa hunger; umba to create.

As a communicator, a chronicler of the times, as an actor, it is my customary way to view it all as drama, a ceremonial procession toward the common goals that hold us together and sustain hope. Those who began the trek with us and who were felled by deprivation — dear, dear ones — we grapple them tightly to our souls and carry them gladly, to be rescued with us because remembered.

When Horace comes tipping, tapping and finger dancing forth on that keyboard, it isn’t long before you realize that you’re in the world of Tapscott, where he is master of the black and white keys to harmony and discord, where he shows us the way — in the fresh and complex unity of his Ark-estra — on our long trek together to the Ark.

The muted trumpet sings a lyrical remembrance of things rich and excellent in the high harmony of relationships.The flute and piano join in the unwonted key of peace that remembrance brings. The sounds of our black odyssey are strident, sudden, agresssive in their assault on the elements, wind and dust, dense thorny brush and pollutants, that would bar our way.

Dial ‘B’ for Barbra. (excerpt)

A melodic lilting tenderness pervades the title tune. A profound friendship is traced and cherished.We sense the mounting self-assurance through mutuality along the way, an achievement beyond all doubt — and a basis for going on. Keep trudging along.

Lately’s Solo. (excerpt)

Here is a solo that is not a solo. Here is a brilliant individuality that never loses touch with individuality of the others. A slow intricate coming together of all in the main themes.This fresh music accepts complexity as a simple fact. Each instrumental line contains all the rest. Then the sudden ceasing — and the confirming sense that this is a never-ending procession. Every point is both a beginning and an ending.

Dem Folks. (excerpt)

The music announces a simple, dominating, rhythmic continuity, and then rediscovers it in myriad ways over and over and over again. The plain reality stirs argument, becomes restriction, invites escape, demands discipline, erupts in clamorous denial. But the reality re-emerges enriched — recreated and reinforced, and elaborated in elusive urgent melodies.

The giant awakens
Sunders his bonds
With the leverage
Of brotherhood
And moves toward home
As Dem Folks

Tapscott and UGMAA are in public performance again. Another chance to listen and add your sound to the procession. Be on board, for the Old Ark will be a-movering, a movering, a movering. — Liner notes by William Marshall


Please Note: This recording and many other Horace Tapscott recordings are available vie Nimbus West by clicking here… or just click the cover or the Dial ‘B’ for Barbra banner.

Following some other Horace Tapscott recordings.

6 Comments

  1. Some of them negatives are a little scratchy and over the years have developed water (calcium) stains, but, I think they are still worth seeing.

    ALSO note that another version of Horace’s song “Dial B For Barbra” can be found on the compact disk JESSE SHARPS & THE WU ENSEMBLE, recorded in Heidelberg, Germany, in 1999, with Jesse on bassoon and the unison flute part played by Tilman Engelhardt. On an arrangement by Jesse for sextet.

  2. Lenny Tischler

    April 11, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    Fantastic, Mark…You always have/give us something of great value. I thank you.
    Lenny

  3. Wow, I just ordered a copy of recently released CD of pianist Roosevelt Wardell ! Horace always talked about this guy, he was legendary in Watts. The Fresh Sound record company have re-issued his only album. I’ll finally hear this mystery artist. Horace always talked about him and Elmo Hope. You can hear a lot of Elmo in Horace’s piano.

  4. i really dig everything that you wrote and organized. i especially like your introductory statement. it’s wonderfully worded and i couldn’t agree with your assessment more.

    thanks…..

  5. It was Ezra Pound who pointed out that there is a certain beauty to facts.

  6. Just one note, Mark. Horace recalls in his autobiography that he wrote “Dial ‘B’ for Barbra” for an early girlfriend, a blond, white girl he met at the Kirk Elementary School in Fresno, Calif., who helped him think through issues of race at the time. — best, Steve I.

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