Army Blues – A New Beginning

  • Front
  • Back
  • Label 2
  • Label 1

*Click an image to enlarge it.

Published In 1978

“This was to be the Mark Taylor record,” says Bob. “He was going to be the savior of the band. His history of being with Maynard (Ferguson) and Stan Kenton was well-known in the clinic/composing/arranging arena. He was the first one that really exclusively wrote the type of material the Blues should have been doing.” So begins Bob’s assessment of an album that is the first (and thus far only) album to feature the work of just one songwriter/arranger: Mark Taylor.

“The goal had changed,” Bob continues. “We were moving to less of a show-type band where we could go play the rock for kid’s or nostalgia for the old timers and moving more into being a Jazz ensemble. We were moving more in a Jazz direction.” This new direction caused people to be of two minds about it, however. “The young people (in the band) were going for it. I think we were all excited about a different direction just ’cause it was new.

As for the tunes, Bob was actually a fan of many of them. “‘New Beginning’ became our theme song. This was our second theme. Mark was a heck of a writer. ‘New Beginning’, ‘Granada Smoothie’ – they were energetic tunes and we enjoyed playing the stuff. It was certainly different from what we were doing before.”

Some of the tunes were written specifically for this album…but not all of them. “One thing Mark did was that he’d come to the table with a lot of things he’d already written. ‘Granada Smoothie’ was one he did with Stan Kenton. ‘Love Beams’ and ‘Of The Third Kind’ were written specifically for this album. Some of this things were not easy to play. There are clips on YouTube of other bands trying to play his stuff and they generally don’t get away with it. His stuff always had these high trumpet parts in them.”

This album, like the previous two, would see radio play on stations like WEAM and WMAL for quite some time after it’s release. This is truly a very nice album and, as previously stated, quite different from those that preceded it. It was the beginning of a whole new direction for the band and really the only time they’d balance Jazz ensemble aspirations with accessible and enjoyable material.

Audio Note: This album was absolutely painful to master. As I listened to the EQ-limited copies of the master tapes (sadly, the only ones that survive), problems crept up that seemed almost insurmountable. First, the tapes had almost no bass. Secondly, due to mishandling, the tape has many “wrinkles” in it – especially at the beginning of each reel. Try as I might, I was not able to cover them all. Third, one tiny section was “mono-fied” to make mastering to the original LP easier. But, wait…it gets worse. The drums have too much compression on them at times and the brass doesn’t always have enough. I really don’t remember the last time I worked this hard on an album. For those who’ll see this later, there was quite a lag between the last album mastered and this one. This took almost a solid month of work to make it sound presentable. I humbly state all the work was worth it as I think it now sounds better than it ever did…and clearly, I’m not easily satisfied. If there’s just one album you listen to out of all of these, I hope you’ll pick this one. This is the one I worked hardest on and the one I’ve grown to most enjoy…so go…enjoy!  (Ed)