52 Jazz Tracks for 2021. 44. ‘Doin’ it for Art’ – Stan Tracey Quartet, Captain Adventure, 1975

The 44th of Jon Turney’s weekly selections comes from a classic night at the 100 Club.

Captain Adventure album cover

This recording, a near lifelong favourite, preserves a pretty spectacular night’s playing by all concerned. I heard it at first hand, though the much-cherished memory really attaches to the LP. This is the best of Stan Tracey’s many quartets I think – Art Themen on tenor and soprano, the redoubtable Dave Green on bass, and Bryan Spring, one of the finest drummers the country has ever seen. 

The piano style was distinctive, of course. I have always loved Stan’s percussive, rhythmic but also – people sometimes don’t mention – brilliantly melodic playing.

Doin’ it for Art, though, begins with some Tracey balladry (more chords, fewer percussive trills), leading in to a sumptuous tenor solo from the man indicated in the title. Simon Spillett’s sleeve notes for the expanded CD reissue 30 years later suggest it is “Themen’s finest recorded moment”. For me the whole thing is the equal of the Bobby Wellins and Tracey track that everyone knows, Starless and Bible Black. Lucky to have been there in that case. And, memory being what it is, even luckier that the crew were there to record it.

The whole set is still available for download

More on this recording on Jon’s Bristol Jazz Log

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Read Jon’s introduction to the ’52 tracks’ series

Week 43. Tumbao No 5 (para Charlie Mingus) – Orlando “Cachaíto” López

Spotify playlist for the series

2 replies »

  1. Hi Jon,
    I wholeheartedly agree, this was also my favourite of Stan’s quartets and Bryan’s drumming the reason I played drums.
    Thanks for including the download link, which includes the previously unissued remaining tunes from the live gig.
    It’s wrongly attributed to my quartet too which I will have removed!
    For this tune Stan just gave the guys some chords, no melody. Wonderful!

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