Sunday, February 22, 2009

Harold Vick - "Commitment" (1967/74)

I've been on the trail of this album ever since I did a history of saxaphonist Harold Vick and came across the killer track "H.N.I.C", which apparently stands for 'Head N#@@er In Charge'. So a few weeks ago, I went into ebay with all guns blazing, fought the good fight, and here we are ....

In 1966, three years after his organ n' sax debut "Steppin' Out", Vick released two quite different albums on RCA Victor : the latin-flavoured "Caribbean Suite" and the relatively straight-ahead "Straight Up".

Discography minutiae :

"Commitment" was generally thought to also have been recorded in 1966, languishing in the vaults until Muse put it out in 1974. However, due to some help from the folks over at the Organissimo forums, it seems that this album was most probably recorded for RCA Victor on May 1-2, 1967. Sessions on those dates are listed as having exactly the same lineup, with three same-named tracks. The other four tracks here are the Vick compositions, so I think we can safely assume that he re-named them seven years later. This would mean there are still three unreleased tracks somewhere, including a version of "Sunny".

It remains a mystery why this album was shelved for seven years. Vick released one more album with RCA, 1968's orchestrated "Watch What Happens". He went on to Encounter Records for the funky "Power Of Feeling" in 1973 under a pseudonym, then had a heart attack in April 1974. However, by August he was back in the studio recording "Don't Look Back" for Strata-East.

Sometime in the last four months of 1974, Muse released these 1967 recordings as "Commitment", and then Strata-East released "Don't Look Back". Independent label war ?

Annnnnnyway ... these sessions were and are worth excavating :

While the instrumentation is the same as that of "Straight Up" from the year before - saxaphone, guitar, vibes, piano, bass and drums - this is a more live, less orchestrated band who break out more often, harking back to some of the rawness of the "Steppin' Out"album.

Even in straight-ahead jazz tracks like "Commitment" and "Out Of It" there's a sense of communication between the soloists that is sometimes missing from Vick's more heavily 'arranged' albums from the 60s. Vick flourishes in this looser atmosphere, and his playing is beautiful and lyrical throughout.

There's a fantastic up-tempo take on Jimmy Heath's "A Time and A Place" , which you may know from Heath's 1974 album, or versions by Art Farmer, Milt Jackson and others. The jazz dancers should cream themselves over this one, with solid solos from Vick's tenor, pianist Walter Bishop Jr (last seen here with "Cubicle"), vibesman Victor Feldman, and guitarist Malcolm Riddick showing some Grant Green-like moves.

Victor Feldman, who's a significant presence on this album, takes over Bishop's piano chair for "H.N.I.C" to contribute a fiery, percussive piano solo that winds around Vick's flute throughout the track.

While mostly heard on tenor sax on this album, Vick switches to soprano for a beautiful reading of "Wild is the Wind" , supported just by Feldman's vibes, and Bishop's piano, backed by sparse work from Herb Bushler's bass and Mickey Roker on drums.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this album, leave a comment and let me know what you think. Download links and more Harold Vick albums are below.

Corrected as much as possible from an original Discogs entry - unsure who's on bass for some tracks.
01 Commitment (5:10)

Drums - Mickey RokerBass - Ben TuckerGuitar - Malcolm Riddick
Piano - Walter Bishop
Vibraphone - Victor Feldman
Tenor Saxaphone - Harold Vick
Written By - Harold Vick
H.N.I.C. (5:00)

Drums - Mickey RokerBass - Ben Tucker
Piano - Victor Feldman
Flute - Harold Vick
Written By - Harold Vick
A Time And A Place (6:10)

Bass - Ben Tucker
Drums - Mickey Roker
Guitar - Malcolm Riddick
Piano - Walter Bishop
Vibraphone - Victor Feldman
Tenor Saxaphone - Harold Vick
Written By - Jimmy Heath
Out Of It (5:30)

Bass - Herb Bushler
Drums - Mickey Roker
Guitar - Malcolm Riddick
Piano - Walter Bishop
Vibraphone - Victor Feldman
Tenor Saxaphone - Harold Vick
Written By - Harold Vick
Wild Is The Wind (4:18)

Bass - Herb Bushler Drums - Mickey RokerPiano - Walter Bishop
Vibraphone - Victor Feldman
Soprano Saxaphone - Harold Vick
Written By - Dimitri Tiomkin , Ned Washington
Blue Gardenia (4:24)

Drums - Mickey Roker Bass - Herb Bushler
Piano - Victor FeldmanTenor Saxaphone - Harold Vick
Written By - Bob Russell , Lester Lee
From Within (4:48)

Bass - Herb Bushler
Drums - Mickey Roker
Guitar - Malcolm Riddick
Piano - Walter Bishop
Vibraphone - Victor Feldman
Tenor Saxaphone - Harold Vick
Written By - Harold Vick

PRODUCTION CREDITS Recorded May 1-2, 1967 at Bell Sound Studios, New York.Muse Records MR-5054
Released in 1974
Producer, Liner Notes - Fred Norsworthy
Artwork By - Ron Warwell
Photography - Jim Dunn

(Presuming that four Vick compositions here were later re-named)

New York, May 1st 1967Harold Vick (fl,ts) Vic Feldman (p,vib) Walter Bishop Jr. (p) Malcolm Riddick (g) Ben Tucker (b) Mickey Roker (d)

UPA1-4086 Sunny (unissued) RCA
UPA1-4087 Reflections
UPA1-4088 Home is where love is
UPA1-4089 A time and a place
UPA1-4090 Like Alice
UPA1-4091 Where butterflies play
UPA1-4092 Pitco blues

New York, May 2nd, 1967

Bob Bushner (b) replaces Tucker, rest same

UPA1-4093 Blue gardenia (unissued) RCA
UPA1-4094 Wild is the wind
UPA1-4095 Leave it the way it is
UPA1-4096 Where butterflies play


1963 "Steppin' Out" at Ile Oxumaré
1964 rejected Blue Note sessions May 27th
1966 "Straight Up" at
Call It Anything
1966 "The Caribbean Suite" at
Orgy in Rhythm
1967/74 "Commitment" (released 1974) in comments here.
"Watch What Happens" also at Never Enough Rhodes
1973 "Power of Feeling" (Vicks as "Sir Edward") also at Never Enough Rhodes
1974 "Don't Look Back" also at Never Enough Rhodes
1977 "After The Dance" at My Jazz World

is HERE.

Vinyl rip by Simon666This vinyl is a little worn. I used a new needle, but there's some mild distortion here and there, not too bad.
Album links in this post go to : Ile Oxumare, Orgy In Rhythm, Call It Anything.
Please thank and support these bloggers if you click through ..



katonah said...

nice one simon, if this matches up to "don't look back" then we're on to a winner.! many thanks

ish said...

Oh yay Simon. Excited to hear this one. Such great work on unearthing the details of the record. Will get back to you after I've listened to this.

neil said...

Thought I'd check out where Harold went after “Steppin’ Out” – thanks for the opportunity...

Unknown said...

Wow, Simon you did the great work again & again & again &...
Many thanks and much appreciated and Congratulation.


Jazzjet said...

Great work, Simon, in getting hold of this album and then posting it for us all to share. You're a star!

the jazzman said...

Nice one. Thanks.

corvimax said...

after all is also a work of social importance not to let go in oblivion
all the great things of the past.
and dig and dig what may come out.
thank you simon for this one too

jahcisco said...

Thank you.

cinq said...

thanks simon, appreciate this and previous posts. your site is stellar!

Dante said...

thanks for this great session - greatly appreciated!!

johnv said...

This looks really tasty, thanks as always Simon for running a great blog!

Art Simon said...

Great Post, and a great job! Thanks so much!

JTF said...

always love some harold vick!

icastico said...

wow. thanks.

Hunter said...

Another top post. Simon you're a shiny star. Keep 'em coming.

modernist02 said...

I love Harold Vick! Thx!!!

Btw, I got somethin 4 ya Simon666:

French Jazz Funk with a brazilian beat... Killer track!!!!

So what do you think?

Simon666 said...

thanks for that one Modernist, did you make that track ?

g.raf said...

Always nice to hear some Harold Vick.
Thanks Simon.

ish said...

Back to say how much I enjoyed this. Fave track is of course HNIC, pretty ahead of its the flute thing. Vick sure sounds great on everything. Blue Gardenia is a beautiful ballad (do you know Dinah Washington's version?) and his tone here is really special. Enjoyed the Heath cover very much also. The mind boggles at how underappreciated this guy was.

Thanks again Simon!

klf said...

Oh, we're here. We're here and we're listening. We're here, we're listening, and we're groovin' to the music!

modernist02 said...


No I didn't.
I live in France. This young musician released this 2nd album a few months ago. I like the album especially this track "Song for Kelly G" which reminds me of the late 70's sound of george duke or earth wind fire. Since I'm proud to have a jazz funk youngster in my country, I wanted to help him by introducing his music to the blogosphere.

Could you make a special post about him?

PS: Jazzypier from "my favourite sound" told me that this track is "Dope Beat!"

Simon666 said...

Thanks for the comments guys, glad you're enjoying the album,

hi again modernist02 - I enjoyed having a listen to the track, and thanks again, but this blog is really about sharing my own collection.

Gianni aka Cesare Barbetta said...

thank you Simon for this magic post.

soulbrotha said...

Simon, this album is beautiful. Thank you.

barsha said...

Harold Vick Harold Vick Harold Vick
He is great.
10X for this post.

Hanimex 3000 said...

nice drop


Djalma said...

That "A Time and a Place" tune rocks bro! Thank you for this amazing LP! And yeah, I laughed so hard when I saw your second comment on my blog... Thank you once again Simon...

fathead said...

Thanks for this Simon


brassero said...

Excelent info & comments. Anxious to listen this! Thanks for this valuable sharing.

Anonymous said...

many thanks, Simon.
great post. i love it :)


jazzlover said...

Thank You.

arshille said...

thank you again for all the work you put into your posts and for giving me the chance to listen to music that i would never have thought worthwhile to download had it not been for the info in the post - with appreciation - arshille

fritz the cat said...

looking forward to this. thanks

Robert said...

thanks Simon,that's one beautiful joint!!

Collectionist said...

Thanks for this. I am just getting hip to Vick and appreciate all of your research.

Simon666 said...

Hi guys,
Mediafire link deleted, due to link leeching, but rapidshare still available.

BigD said...

Big Ups Simon,
Been a fan of Vick since about 10 years ago when some old man Wendell hipped me to him at Tower Records in New Orleans. I was reading the back of his BlueNote record with Our Miss Brooks on it and Wendell is like "Man Harold Vick is one of the most underrated tenors ever, stop looking at that and just buy it." So I did and I also picked up a record from Big John Patton that he was on, another BlueNote. Loved him for years but didn't here him much except for those CDs and maybe some McDuff records. Anyway I did get Vick a fix from your blog but haven't had a chance to listen to this one much. Anyway the album shuffled onto my iPod at work and I am freaking out because I am hearing some Bish that I didn't know I had. I was like "Damn I didn't know he was on this record" I've been studying Bish hardcore for the past year and didn't realize that he was on here until I heard the solo yesterday on one of the tracks. I just had to come back and thank you for this one. Great Vick and Feldman but also my man Bish. Yes! The Trinity. Thanks, BigD

Simon666 said...

Hi BigD -
thanks for your comments and glad you got to this. Hope you've also had a chance to check out Bishop's "Cubicle" :

J Reid said...

again, thanks

Andy said...

Thanks Simon. Big appreciation.

chu said...


I agree with your conclusion that this must be from the unissued RCA sessions in May 1967 rather than some other unknown session in June 1966. Additional circumstantial evidence is the Jimmy Heath composition "A Time And A Place". The first released version was recorded in December 1966 by Milt Jackson with Heath as sideman. The next version was recorded in February 1967 by Art Farmer, once again with Heath as sideman. This makes a 1967 date seem much more likely. Although, just to complicate matters, it was actually recorded already in April 1966 for an unissued Atlantic album (Farmer with Heath), so it apparently was around before June 1966, and Vick could have picked it up from live performances. Or drummer Mickey Roker could have hipped him to it, since he was also on the unissued Atlantic session!

But when you say that "Sessions on those dates are listed as having exactly the same lineup", I must point out that there is actually a small difference. Muse lists the bass player as "Herb Bushler" whereas the RCA session bassist is listed as "Bob Bushnell". However, I think one of them is probably a mistake, since "Bushler" and "Bushnell" are similar and could have been confused. Both have a number of sessions listed in Lord and both recorded in New York around this time, so that gives no obvious hint. If Bushler is indeed the right one, I'm not sure why the RCA files would list Bushnell.

One can also wonder where the purported June 1966 date comes from. Perhaps the RCA tapes were smuggled out and used without authorization, and a wrong date was cited at some point to cover up. That could also explain why all original compositions were named differently in 1974.

Something I haven't seen anyone mention is that this album is in mono. A RCA session from 1967 would certainly have been recorded in stereo, so why isn't it in stereo here? One reason could be that only the mono tapes were smuggled out. Or that Vick had gotten a rough mono copy at the time of the session. Or there could have been some problem with the stereo recording, that prohibited it from being released by RCA.

A lot of speculations, but I can hear no obvious reason why this wouldn't have been released by RCA. It is a pretty good album, actually! Even better would be if someone could dig up the original tapes in the RCA (now Sony vaults) - perhaps in stereo -, and release an expanded edition on CD with the extra tracks added. I can see only one enterprise doing that today, and that would be Mosaic.

Simon666 said...

Hi Chu,
many thanks for your research and comments.
Not whether this one will ever see a digital release, I suppose it depends on how Vick's place in the perceived histories of jazz changes over time. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Cheers for the downloads!! Real nice collection and gems you got here. Much respect, appreciate it.

Simon666 said...

you;re welcome anonymous, thanks for the comment :)

grumpy said...

I am ashamed to say I downloaded this back in 2009 and failed to leave a comment, so very belated thanks.
Your post reawakened my interest in Vick and I've been seeking all of his recordings since, not easy as so little is in catalogue.

deGallo said...

Thank you very much.

Bhowani said...

many thanks for your rip, Simon !

Prof. Yaffle said...

Many thanks - great post!

sep troelstra said...

Thanks a lot!!

Simon666 said...

Thanks for all the recent comments, folks, much appreciated :) Curious : has this post or album been mentioned somewhere else recently?

Unknown said...

Man thank you, this blog is pure fire I'm learning a lot!

Simon666 said...

Glad you're enjoying it :)

Subhankar said...

Thank you for the Harold Vik posts and the excellent accompanying notes. My better half loves to listen to this kind of music.

Simon666 said...

Thanks for the comment, Subhankar, glad that's it's bringing some joy :)

Guitarradeplastico,scraping oddities said...

Many thanks