Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Dig - it's Harry Babasin!

Sometimes I get the idea in my head that I need to find a certain record (it's usually a record; rarely a CD) for no other reason than I want to hear it, as soon as possible. Right around the time that Bud Shank died, I got curious about Harry Babasin, the bassist on several of the saxophonist's early 10"s. Part of the interest stemmed from his name. I don't know if BAB-a-sin is the correct pronunciation, but if it's said that way, it sounds like a set of scat syllables. And Eugene Chadbourne wrote a very detailed biography of Harry on that made him sound like more than just an obscure West Coast cat. Turns out he was a cellist in addition to a bassist.

The Babasin Bug died off not too long after that. In fact, I came across one of his albums at Jerry's last summer and ended up putting it back because I already had about three with me. And it didn't have the appealing, "original pressing" lure of some albums.

Well, there I was in Jerry's yesterday when I stumbled across a copy of the self-titled album by the Jazzpickers, a quintet spearheaded by Mr. HB. On EmArcy, with the infamous "drummer logo," it had all the trappings of the Find of the Day. I just got through the first side of it, and it's pretty swinging. It didn't occur to me right away, but there's no bass on the whole album. Crazy, man. At least for that time period.

I'm guessing the quintet pre-dated the Chico Hamilton group because the liner notes don't compare the guitar/cello/flute instrumentation to that group, and the sound is pretty similar: subdued but burning underneath. Plus, Buddy Collette is on this album, and he was in the original Hamilton group. There's no mention of Harry's stints with Bud Shank either.

Another point of interest, sort of, is the band itself. Boy, these cats are the squarest looking bunch of dudes ever. Well, Harry has the Dave Brubeck/egghead look going on. But vibist/drummer Bob Harrington looks like Jack Webb's homely brother, and guitarist Don Overberg should've learned to smile without letting his bad teeth show. Collette and drummer Bill Douglas look okay, but they have a lot to balance out.

It just goes to show you that you can never judge a jazz band by their looks. I guess back then not everyone could look as hip as the Jazz Messengers.

No comments: