The Complete Bee Hive Sessions (#261)

Mosaic Records Limited Edition Box Set

 

The Complete Bee Hive Sessions (#261)
“You have to bring yourself back to the 1970s,” Jim Neumann said. “These were established musicians who hadn’t had the opportunity to express themselves completely—they were working in clubs. And these musicians were the fountainhead for what I was very much in love with, which was bebop.
Limited Edition: 5,000 copies

12 CDs -  $169.00

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A Missing Chunk Of Jazz History Restored
The Hard Bop Legacy Of Bee Hive Records



It's easy to get so caught up in "what's new" and forget to regard "what's wonderful." Especially in the arts.

By the late 1970s, so much was happening in jazz that it was hard to keep up with the expanding vocabulary around it. Fusion, funk, free-jazz, avant-garde, world fusion… Anything you could strike, blow air into, or plug into an amplifier was making its way onto music stages and recordings, from Tokyo to Chicago to Brazil to London to the Middle East to New York City. It was exciting. The musicians were discovering so much that was new. The audiences were young and we at Mosaic were fans. Don't get us wrong.

But at the same time, a little-heralded experiment was launched by Jim and Susan Neumann, a husband-and-wife team that owned a lighting fixture business. Their passion for bebop and hard bop led to the decision they would start their own label. They chose the name Bee Hive, after a Chicago club that thrived in the 1950s. They knew nothing about running a music label, but found there were many in the community willing to offer information and support.

Their enthusiasm resulted in sixteen LPs, released over a span of seven years. Because Jim and Susan were committed to independent distribution, even though the albums got noticed they were never widely available. And they've never been available on CDs.

But that shameful state of affairs is about to be corrected.

An Introduction. Thirty Years Later.

Mosaic is very pleased to present "The Complete Bee Hive Sessions." Spanning 1977 to 1984, they include so many names you will know and so much music, you won't believe you haven't heard it.

But right off the bat, let's get this out of the way: this was not an indulgent journey into nostalgia for Jim and Susan. Most of these leaders were only in their forties, an age where for an artist that first blush of energetic rebellion gets tempered with something… else. You hit your forties and early fifties and you've experienced more. You've heard more, including hearing yourself more. You're open to more. And if you are committed to moving forward, not rehashing what you've already done, you can have a lot more to say.

And that was the case with these artists; all of them top level, first-call contemporary performers.

Despite his youth, Nick Brignola had already influenced countless players on baritone saxophone by the time of his Bee Hive recordings. Well-known names like Curtis Fuller, Dizzy Reece, Clifford Jordan and Johnny Hartman got dates, as did the sadly under-appreciated Ronnie Mathews. Other sessions were led by Roland Hanna, Dick Katz, Junior Mance and Arnett Cobb.

The Neumanns gave musicians complete artistic control, which was a respect not paid to them universally when they were coming up. The result was that there was no particular "label sound," as you might expect if you looked across the spectrum of a jazz label's releases, except for the fact that many of the leaders turn up as sidemen on other dates. This was genuine music from each performer's soul.

Brignola's dates are as blistering as you'd expect from a musician known for his relentless excitement. With fellow baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams and trumpeter Ted Curson, a musician with whom he was associated as early as 1967, he explores a solid list of familiar bebop tunes and standards. A second Brignola date is like a baritone saxophone sampler platter, with both Ronnie Cuber and Cecil Payne joining him for a workout.

Tenor saxophonist Sal Nistico is principally known as one of the most recognizable of Woody Herman's various saxophonists, and he would continually return to the Herd into the 1980s. His crisp tone is searing, powerful, and identifiable. His date in our collection includes other Bee Hive label mates Curson, Brignola, and Mathews. Nistico also soars on Curtis Fuller's date, where the two of them percolate beautifully on numbers such as Kenny's Dorham's "Minor's Holiday" and the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic "Hello, Young Lovers."

Five Stars for Dizzy Reece.

Hearing Dizzy Reece leading an all-star sextet (with Clifford Jordan, Charles Davis, Albert Daily, Art Davis, Roy Haynes) is a pleasant rarity. A reliable sideman throughout his career who spent many years in Europe, Reece helmed his own group in the U.S. sporadically, including on a few LPs for Blue Note years earlier. At the time of its release, Reece's disc for Bee Hive earned a five-star review from downbeat. It is a dramatic, thoughtful and well-planned set, featuring Reece's careful and extremely distinctive soloing.

The first Clifford Jordan set marked an emotional return to Chicago for the saxophonist, pianist Norman Simmons, and bassist Victor Sproles. They approach the set with tremendous warmth and collaborative intelligence. A little over a year later, in 1984, Jordan went in the studio in New York with Red Rodney, Jaki Byard, Ed Howard and Vernal Fournier. Accounts of the session point to a rocky relationship between Byard and Jordan, but their unaccompanied duet on "If I Had You" is an exquisite melding of Jordan's lush, lyrical style and Byard's deft ability to cycle through the history of jazz piano and pull out anything that seems appropriate, artistic and enlightening.

Hartman's Last Stand.

It's hard to believe that Johnny Hartman would leave us just three years after his Bee Hive date in 1980. But remarkable to realize that late in his career he made one of his most celebrated recordings and certainly the most widely-heard of the Bee Hive catalog - thanks to the inclusion of seven of its songs on the soundtrack album for the film, "Bridges of Madison County." If you happen to know these tracks from that set, you've only heard them in a distorted fashion, as the album was mastered incorrectly and the songs are all a half-tone off. Hearing them the way they were meant to be heard, it's impossible to find an adequate descriptor for Hartman's voice, indistinguishable from the way it sounded 30 years earlier. Butter? Velvet? He was almost inhumanly perfect, except for the fact that he was all sensuality and warmth. Frank Wess and Joe Wilder solo brilliantly as well.

Guitarist Sal Salvador marked a return to leading jazz groups with his recordings for Bee Hive. His dates include many originals as part of a quartet with Billy Taylor, Art Davis, and Joe Morello, and in a sextet with Eddie Bert, Derek Smith, Sam Jones, Mel Lewis and Brignola.

The first album Ronnie Mathews recorded for Bee Hive was only his second as a leader, and -- coming in 1978 -- it had been 14 years since he led a date. He got another date a year later. Mathews did a lot of listening in those years when he was gigging, as well as a lot of personal searching into what moved him as a composer. He concocts his own brew of hard bop on "Thew's Blues" and creates a stunning backdrop for soloing on "Ichi Ban." Mathews had been part of the Thad Jones - Mel Lewis Orchestra, and his unaccompanied rendition of Thad's classic "A Child Is Born" is a study in emotionalism and virtuosity.

Hanna's Visionary New York Quartet.

Another pianist who spent a lot of time on the piano bench with Thad and Mel was Roland Hanna, a remarkable musician in any context but especially appreciated here. His New York Jazz Quartet, established after leaving Thad and Mel, was a working unit that produced visionary music, often on original compositions by Hanna and other band mates, as well as by two by Thad Jones. There are not that many examples of this band on record, and this is an important document of their work.

On the Dick Katz date, the longtime big band pianist showed off not only his talent for writing and arranging, but also his ability as an improviser. He is joined by Jimmy Knepper, Frank Wess, Marc Johnson, and Al Harewood. Pianist Junior Mance is backed by David "Fathead" Newman, Martin Rivera, and Walter Bolden on many familiar tunes ("That Lucky Old Sun," "Birk's Works," "Truckin,'" by Hank Crawford, etc.) and originals that show off his ability as a blues man.

Rounding out the set is tenor saxophonist Arnett Cobb, whose hard, gutsy tone dating back to the swing era became a model for many R&B musicians in the 1950s. But by 1984, when this was recorded, Cobb's age and tribulations (he suffered terribly from a couple of serious accidents) had mellowed him into a more rounded performer, and in the small group setting he displays flashes of fire as well as a lot of genuine tenderness.

After seven years and 16 LPs, Jim and Susan had made their mark and made the decision to move on. Others following their lead would launch similar niche labels with similar exceptional results. Proving jazz label owners, like jazz musicians themselves, need only one key attribute: passion.

Our set includes 110 tracks on 12 CDs, including six tracks released only on a rare sampler and three tracks previously unissued. The deluxe booklet features an historical essay and track-by-track analysis by Aaron Cohen, plus rare photographs from the actual sessions.



Read More About Bee Hive:
Track Listing, Personnel & Recording Dates »





  • Booklet
  • Audio Quality
  • Photography
  • Sample Session Notes
MOSAIC RECORDS BOOKLET
DownBeat’s Aaron Cohen, who grew up two doors down from Bee Hive’s Evanston, Illinois home office, documents the history of this independent label’s eight-year run and its 16 sessions with thorough research and interviews with surviving musicians.
SOUND QUALITY

For this project, we flew to Chicago to uncover all of the original analog tapes for these albums as well as session reels that yielded a number of alternate take of interest. The tapes were shipped back to Malcom Addey’s studio in New York where he transferred them at 24 bit into the digital domain. Addey’s mastering seamlessly wove Bee Hive’s 16 albums, recorded in various studios in New York and Chicago over eight years, into a coherent audio tapestry.
PHOTOGRAPHY

Photo Copyright © Protected
Bee Hive
The booklet for THE COMPLETE BEE HIVE SESSIONS features a wealth of images from the actual Bee Hive recordings dates of Nick Brignola, Sal Nistico, Sal Salvador, Curtis Fuller, Clifford Jordan, Dizzy Reece, Ronnie Mathews and more, taken by Joe Rizzi, Len Speier and Chris Erbach
SAMPLE RECORDING SESSION

(e) Dizzy Reece—Manhattan Project, January 17, 1978

Like Fuller, Jamaica-born trumpeter Dizzy Reece also led a few celebrated hard bop sessions for Blue Note in the late 1950s. His arresting compositions and formidable technique reportedly even impressed Miles Davis, but he worked infrequently in America since the early 1960s. When Reece recorded again, the resulting Manhattan Project became widely acclaimed—including Pete Welding’s five-star review in DownBeat (Dec. 7, 1978). Other articles provided a platform for the trumpeter to talk about his work. He told Harold Fuller in Spin Off (Feb. 7, 1979) that his goal on this LP was to, “express through the music the life of musicians in New York and my own personal experience.” Two titles—“Manhattan Walk” and “Yule On The Hudson”—overtly connect to the locality, while he said of “Con Man,” “there are a lot of them in this city.”

Along with Reece’s compositions, the group interplay suggests that significant preplanning went into the date. Even though “Con Man” sounds like it begins in the middle of a jam, pianist Albert Dailey’s chords elegantly set up Reece’s rounded extroverted tone. The previously unissued alternate take was recorded at the beginning of the session before Dailey’s late arrival. “Manhattan Walk” centers on Dailey repeating a seven-note theme that shifts subtly, and then explodes.

The voicings also stood out, with Chicago-born tenor saxophonists Clifford Jordan and Charles Davis stretching harmonies over 15 choruses on “Yule On The Hudson” in a way that belies that their saxes are ones in the same range—especially since Jordan could flow in the upper range of the tenor, almost mirroring an alto. This was actually Davis’ first date on tenor, as he had established himself on baritone long before. Neumann adds that he and Reece were excited to have Art Davis on bass. His improvisational acumen challenged everyone.

“Art had played with Coltrane, but was not really recording much at that time,” Neumann said. “I kept saying that he was a genius and he proved to be a real linchpin. We were all in awe of him.”



CUSTOMER REVIEWS

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  Its About Time!
Way to go Mosaic! Have been waiting for this for a long time. The Hartman album is a desert island pick. The New York Jazz Quartet is a fine collection of great compositions played by the best. Time to wear the Bee Hive t-shirt again.
 
  I WISH I could afford it.
I agree with the other whiner like me. My mouth is watering reading about it, but this bad boy is too expensive for me, a hundy is my limit. Maybe Donald Trump could afford it?
 
  Great Lost Music From Underrated Artists
I received this as a Christmas present and have been on Cloud 9 ever since. This is some fantastic music that was thought to be gone forever. My personal favorites are the albums from Nick Brignola, Sal Nistico, Johnny Hartman and Ronnie Matthews. I also own the brilliant Clifford Jordan box set and these tracks are a great addition to those. Thanks Mosaic and I hope that you continue to unearth more music like this and put them together as compilations as you have with Beehive and Dial.
 
  Awesome
Bought this largely for the Johnny Hartman Album and it is just AWESOME!!!!!!!!! The sound quality is great and a huge improvement over the Bridges of Madison County Soundtracks. Sooooo worth the price of the set for that one album.
 
  THANK YOU
Thank you Mosaic for this amazing box set with a superb audiophile sound. The best sound you can find on cds
 
  Highlights?
With classical music labels releasing amazing classic recordings in box sets of 50+ discs at prices of $2-3 per disc, this set is just too expensive for me. How about a reasonably-priced 2-disc highlights set?
 
  Treasure Trove
There are so many surprises in this set. Great Ronnie Matthews recordings with Frank Foster playing a mind bogglingly gorgeous and powerful soprano sax! Sal Salvatore gorgeous guitar sessions. Too much to list individually. I own about a third of these on original LPs and yet this set was still worth getting because of all the surprises I never knew about.
 
  Amazing and Indispensable.
A giant and enthusiastic THANK YOU!!! to the folks at Mosaic for compiling and releasing this treasure trove of long unavailable material in this stunning, stellar set. Run, do not walk...to reserve your copy today. I have been walking around in a hypnotic state since receiving my copy a few days ago...I almost have to pace myself...there is so much tremendous music on every. single. disc. And my CD player has gotten no rest...running 24/7 and trying to take it all in. Bravo Mosaic!!! And thank you, especially, for the Johnny Hartman tracks, which are easily worth the price of admission all by themselves.
 
  Thank You To Mr. & Mrs. Neumann and Mosaic Records
I have been asking for Mosaic Records to do this set since the first time I spun a second-hand LP copy of Curtis Fullers Fire And Filigree that I found at Stereo Jacks. Great Jazz recordings by top notch bands. If youre partial to bari sax, you owe it to yourself to get this set pronto. The jam sessions Nick Brignola did with Pepper Adams Baritone Madness and Ronnie Cuber & Cecil Payne The Burn Brigade are worth the price by themselves and not to be missed if you love the sounds of the big horn. One of my favorites in the unsung heroes category is Clifford Jordans Hyde Park After Dark, with the rarely heard Cy Touff on bass trumpet. The rhythm sections are impressive. In these 18 sessions, just the drummers alone read like a Whos Who list, with names like Roy Haynes, Mel Lewis, Al Foster and Jimmy Cobb, to name a few. Thank you Jim and Susan Neumann for recording these bands and thank you Mosaic Records for finally getting this music onto a portable, pop-free playback media.
 
  The Complete Bee Hive Sessions
Wow ! awesome new Thank you to Mosaic Records and Jim Neumann
 

The Complete Bee Hive Sessions (#261)
The Complete Bee Hive Sessions (#261)
Limited Edition: 5,000 copies
12 CDs - $169.00


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