Do you need a producer, ever wondered why certain records are just better? Producers come in all shapes and sizes. The best ones encourage the musicians by just helping them do the thing that they have come to do, getting enough numbers down in a small amount of time and getting the hell out of there, making it easy for them, helping them relax, choosing a good studio and engineer, suggesting tunes, getting the right person to do the charts if necessary and above all alleviating as much stress out of an already stress-y situation as possible.

Musicians, you need someone to do this. They do not have to be qualified but they do need some skills. Oh, like what? All of the above and someone to point out the bum notes and when you come in at the wrong place when your ego won’t admit to anything because of your much needed protective life jacket, pride. 

I was thinking about producer Bob Shad when I was listening to one of his records earlier. A name not half as famous as Ed Michel, Bob Thiele, George Avakian or Teo Macero at this distance but who produced Charlie Parker and much later Janis Joplin just to name two giants of jazz and rock respectively.

If you worked out an average he made about 20 albums a year for 40 years doing his thing. His career began in 1946 for National Records and then Savoy Records and he went on to found Mainstream Records in 1964.

Today’s early morning listening is all Mainstream with a capital M. Enjoy this 1972 semi-forgotten-about album Senyah from one of the greatest drummers alive Roy Haynes, which Shad produced. 

The tunes are by the likes of band members George Adams and Marvin Peterson and with Haynes on drums, timpani, are Peterson, trumpet, Adams tenor saxophone, Carl Schroeder on piano, Roland Prince, guitar, Don Pate, bass and Lawrence Killian, congas.

Shad had also worked with Haynes on the earlier Hip Ensemble which featured a similar line-up.

Finally a quick word on “mainstream” with a lower case “m” as a describer in jazz lingo because it is often used and can refer to a wide swathe of jazz styles. Often in UK jazz lingo anyway it used to refer to a Humphrey Lyttelton-like Buck Clayton or Sweets Edison sound but now “mainstream” can mean “middle of the road” regardless of idiom. It is now so open to a wide interpretation as to be wisely avoided unless you just want to confuse people. SG 

The only surviving member of the classic John Coltrane quartet and one of the most distinguished jazz musicians on the planet marlbank salutes McCoy Tyner who turns 80 this week. His contribution to the practice, expression, and interpretation of jazz as a vital artistic medium is incalculable. Tyner grew up in Philadelphia in a jazz neighbourhood, his neighbours included the hugely influential bebop pioneer Bud Powell whose music touched him deeply. McCoy studied locally at the West Philadelphia Music School to begin with, gigging as a teenager he went on to make his recording debut with the Benny Golson-Art Farmer Jazztet at the end of the 1950s. 

In 1960 he became a member of the John Coltrane quartet and over the next five years made history as part of what is universally regarded as one of the very greatest groups in jazz and whose music still touches jazz lovers deeply to this very day.

Later after Coltrane passed, as a leader of his own groups in later years his compositions too became a striking part of his artistry and are long since part of the wider jazz soundtrack the world over played by many artists who turn especially to ‘Passion Dance’, ‘Contemplation’, and ‘Blues on the Corner’. Marlbank encourages you to listen and spend quality time with the music of the real McCoy right now and into the future.