When: The Grachan Moncur III Thread

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This is the only jazz-related thread I'll ever start--far from my comfort zone--and only because the song that interests me is up on YouTube. I put "When" low on a Top 100 I drew up a few years ago; it'd be in the running for #1 these days. It's as beyond-sublime as "My Favorite Things." I play it almost every time I'm in the car for more than half an hour, so I've been listening to it 4-5 times a week this summer. I'm starting to know every single note like I know every single note of "Cowgirl in the Sand." I have the CD it comes from, New Africa, on a home-burned CD, and I just ordered Some Other Stuff from Amazon. Moncur is on other albums I have, and that's all I know about him.


clemenza, Saturday, 12 August 2017 00:13 (ten months ago) Permalink

One of the most interesting players in the post-bop cannon.

His other album on the BYG/Actuel label is compiled on a CD with New Africa.

His Mosaic Select set is one of the best of the series.

And he's one of a few people who ever went over two decades between albums and still managed to sound as good as ever. Inner Cry Blues.

he doesn't need to be racist about it though. (Austin), Saturday, 12 August 2017 00:48 (ten months ago) Permalink

yes! i love "new africa" too. i got into it after hearing "exploration" from the jazzactuel box set. then i moved on to "evolution" (on blue note). love that too.

those are the only albums of his i've heard. excited to check out inner cry blues, thx for the recommendation. how is "some other stuff"? that looks pretty good, never knew about until today (because i'd never checked out his discogs page)

by the way, checking that page, i am surprised to see he plays on some of my very favorite byg dates ("echo", "ketchaoua", "from the luna surface", "live at the panafrican festival")

i can't remember what he sounds on those dates, which makes sense i guess because those are generally pretty big groups ... i'll have to relisten to those i guesas

the late great, Saturday, 12 August 2017 02:38 (ten months ago) Permalink

All the Archie Shepp albums he's on are great.


grawlix (unperson), Saturday, 12 August 2017 02:45 (ten months ago) Permalink

hmm good to know, i've only heard panafrican festival of those ... also i see he's on some jackie mclean stuff i like! more to relisten to...

the late great, Saturday, 12 August 2017 02:50 (ten months ago) Permalink

Great thread idea. I've liked what I've but he's somehow always remained for me up to now what Xgau called a Topic For Further Research.

Barkis Garvey (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 12 August 2017 02:58 (ten months ago) Permalink

It's two Jackie McLean LPs and a Herbie Hancock LP I have him on from that discography above; he's not on the Archie Shepp album I have.

Except for Some Other Stuff, Moncur's CDs are really expensive on Amazon (at least the Canadian branch).

clemenza, Saturday, 12 August 2017 17:45 (ten months ago) Permalink

Evolution is also reasonably priced on Amazon US:


He made two albums in the 2000s; I haven't heard Inner Cry Blues, but Exploration is really good - re-recordings of old tunes with an absolutely killer band including Tim Hagans on trumpet, John Clark on French horn, Dave Woodley on trombone, Gary Bartz on alto sax, Billy Harper on tenor sax, Gary Smulyan on baritone sax, Ray Drummond on bass and Andrew Cyrille on drums.


grawlix (unperson), Saturday, 12 August 2017 17:51 (ten months ago) Permalink

I really like the trombone/alto/vibes frontline sound of Evolution and those two McLeans.

Scape: Goat-fired like a dog! (Myonga Vön Bontee), Sunday, 13 August 2017 20:01 (ten months ago) Permalink

I should listen to New Africa more often. Aco Dei De Madrugada (also on BYG, often paired as a twofer with New Africa now) has always been my personal favorite for the low key bluesy feel and the instrumentation of just the lead trombone and rhythm section. Mmmm-mmmm-good.

j arthur rank, Wednesday, 23 August 2017 16:20 (nine months ago) Permalink

Also, good luck finding it, but Echoes of Prayer, a Mantler/Bley produced date performing Moncur's 4 movement suite is a trombone fete. Also includes Carlos Ward & Perry Robinson in the large ensemble. It was on JCOA and is typical of their sound. OR as Scott Yanow noted on AMG: "The music is quite advanced, sometimes pretty dense, and will take a few listens to fully digest."

j arthur rank, Wednesday, 23 August 2017 16:26 (nine months ago) Permalink

Scott Yanow should be the last person one looks to for advice on Grachan Moncur's music.

he doesn't need to be racist about it though. (Austin), Wednesday, 23 August 2017 17:41 (nine months ago) Permalink

Scott Yanow should be the last person one looks to for advice on Grachan Moncur's music.

Yeah, I was gonna say, Yanow says that about pretty much anything that's not straight-ahead bop.

grawlix (unperson), Wednesday, 23 August 2017 17:45 (nine months ago) Permalink

I wrote a whole semi-diatribe against him years ago on my blog:

Scott Yanow is a pretentious butt who is maddeningly redundant in his criticisms.
»Just look at the Joe Henderson page for a small example. The first sentence of the bio reads that Joe is 'proof that jazz can sell' — a reference to Joe's later success at Verve in the mid-90's. In the first sentence of the review for Joe's first Verve album in the 90's, Yanow again states that 'with the release of this CD, the executives at Verve and their marketing staff proved that yes, indeed, jazz can sell.' Thanks, Scott. That was profound. And it really lets me know about the music. Later on, in his review of the Miles Davis tribute album on Verve from the same period, he likes the fact that Henderson picked mostly lesser-known material from Davis' cannon: 'He is to be congratulated for not taking the easy way out and sticking to the simpler material of Davis's earlier years.' Because, really, it's not about how well the material is performed, it's about 'not taking the easy way out.'
»According to Mr. Yanow, Ron Carter's albums as a leader are "for lovers and/or fans of bass solos" (in two different reviews) and that his albums are mainly a showcase for Carter's bass (two separate reviews). Thanks, Scott. Here I was, expecting Ron Carter to be playing extensive banjo solos.
»Also, according to Mr. Yanow, in his review of Bill Evans' 1977 album Affinty, Bill plays "electric piano on this album for the final time in the recording studio." That's just fine, except that he played it again on We Will Meet Again, which was recorded two years later. I guess in Yanow's world, 1979 came before 1977.
»The guy is the reason that there is a stereotype of jazz fans being snobs. With his authoritative stance and broad generalizations passed off as valid criticisms, Scott Yanow is an embarassment to any jazz loving listener.

He sucks.

Grachan Moncur, on the other hand, is delightful.

he doesn't need to be racist about it though. (Austin), Wednesday, 23 August 2017 17:58 (nine months ago) Permalink

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