Artist: “Big” John Patton.
Title: Oh Baby!
Label and Catalogue Number: Blue Note BNST 84192.
Personnel: Blue Mitchell (trumpet); Harold Vick (tenor sax); Grant Green (guitar); John Patton (organ); Ben Dixon (drums).
Side 1: Fat Judy; Oh Baby; Each Time.
Side 2: One to Twelve; Night Flight; Good Juice.
Recording Date: 8 March 1965 at the Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, USA.
I know it’s hard for some people to imagine, but there was a time before eBay. Back in those days, the main way to find and collect records was by the traditional crate digging technique. A highlight of my occasional trips to London would be a visit to the now long defunct Mole Jazz record shop located in the slightly seedy environs of Kings Cross. Even on week days, this shop seemed to be well populated with fellow enthusiasts thumbing through the racks in hope of finding a sought after prize. But the proprietors knew their stuff and the best pieces only rarely surfaced on the shop floor. Instead, they were held back for the periodic postal auctions.
These auctions will sound archaic to those of you weaned on online instant gratification. First, you had to get yourself on to Mole Jazz’s postal mailing list. Then you had to wait… And eventually a plump A4 envelope would flop through your letterbox. The contents were sheet after sheet of detailed and densely typed record listings. The next step would be several pleasant evenings perusing each page in detail marking up the items of interest in readiness for preparation of your bid. As I recall, the envelope included a bidding form with one row for each item. The deal was that you had to fill in the details and enter your bid – one bid figure only with no idea what others might bid. And then you had to make sure that you posted it back before the auction’s deadline. This was an oddly stressful process with plenty of chewing the end of your pencil over pitching your bids right: high enough to win, low enough to avoid over-paying. Remember, no opportunity to watch other peoples’ bids!
And then you had to wait some more…
Eventually, if you were successful, a package would arrive. The subject of this posting is the result of one such pleasurable ordeal some 25 years ago. If memory serves, I also scored a Freddie Roach LP in the same auction.
I have to admit that I have a weakness for the Hammond organ. There were an awful lot of players who climbed aboard the organ bandwagon in the 1950s and 1960s but only a few of them were premier league players and even they couldn’t always hit consistently high standards. Patton was definitely one of the top players and Alfred Lion must have thought so too because “Big” John was the second most prolific organist on Blue Note, beaten only by Jimmy Smith. Oh Baby! was Patton’s fourth release and comes from his hot streak in the first part of his Blue Note career.
It’s no coincidence that he’s accompanied by Green and Dixon, the other two members of what was effectively Blue Note’s house electric rhythm section of the time. The trio had performed together on all of Patton’s previous sessions and the understanding between Green and Patton in particular is clear to hear across this record with each egging the other on to new heights. Dixon is no slouch either and contributes compositionally too with the opening track and possibly choice cut Fat Judy. Other highlights include One to Twelve, Good Juice and the title track. In fact, the standard is consistently high across the whole record and if I do have any criticism, it’s that things are sometimes a little one-paced. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good groovy, bluesy pace – I would just have liked a little more variety.
For Collectors Only
Side 1 is non-deep groove, bears the Plastylite “P”, “VAN GELDER” stamp and has a hand etched matrix number “BNST 84192 A” with a New York label. Side 2 is non-deep groove, bears the Plastylite “P”, “VAN GELDER” stamp and has a hand etched matrix number “BNST 84192 B” with a New York label. The cover is non-laminated with the “43 West 61st St., New York 23” address. The vinyl itself weighs in at a satisfying 155g. In other words, all the hallmarks of a first pressing.