I looked around for info on this earlier in the year and couldn't find any. A week or so ago, Never Enough Rhodes published an exhaustive post on a Reggie Workman LP and a comment left by the ever-insightful El Goog about how there is no real discog for Denon anywhere prompted me to pull out this rare 12" 45rpm and put it up for posterity.
Forgive me for not going into the careers of these ultra-mega-giants of jazz, funk and improv music. If these names are a mystery to you then you're in for a treat on your journey of discovery. You can start with the bio links above. I'll be keeping this post brief like the offering on hand.
Researching this a little further, I saw it on eBaythe first time going for a benjamin. Also I noticed that, buried a few pages back in on a Google search, it had been posted a few months ago by Dan Gr at No Value System, who has the best review of it on the whole wide interweb - and not just because it may be the only one. It's informative, has some nice sleuthing and it explains the goings-on better than I could. I'll post a snippet but you'll have to check the link you just glossed over if you want to read more...
I found that Herbie Mann (who "presents" this 12") recorded a version of "If I Were A Carpenter" for his 1968 album Windows Opened. Roy Ayers, Miroslav Vitous, Bruno Carr, and Sonny Sharrock—aka the Roy Ayers Quartet 2—are Herbie Mann's band. It's really interesting to compare the two versions.
Now the enigma was wrapped in a riddle. Windows Opened was on Atlantic in 1968 and Stoned Soul Picnic was also released the same year on Atlantic and also featured Vitous and Mann (the line up also appears on some tracks of 1970's Stone Flute on Embryo but are augmented by strings). In case you didn't check that eBay posting, that copy is a Japanese pressing but is on Nippon Columbia. The copies here on Soundological and over on No Value System are both on Denon. I've read previously that there is another Quartet-2 recording released on 12" 45 simultaneously with this one, also one track per side. Unfortunately I can't dig it up again, so if someone can confirm, please feel free to leave a comment. (NB: see bottom of post for link to the other one!) So it appears we have outtakes from a 1968 session, likely from Windows Opened, that was issued in only Japan on both Nippon Columbia and its subsidiary Denon in 1976 - or were the Denons reissues of earlier Columbia releases? Or vice-versa? Why in Japan only? Did Mann bootleg the masters over there? Did he own the masters and sell them to Columbia overseas? Did Atlantic? According to a few sources, out of the dozens of records in Mann's prodigous 49-year career, only Latin Mann from 1965 and Big Boss Man from 1973 were on Columbia. Ayers himself didn't release any records on Columbia/CBS until '84. Perhaps the story is told on the sleeve notes but they're written entirely in Japanese which is all Greek to me. Anyone out there able to translate?
The chances of you running across this wax are slim so Soundological suggests you snap it up HERE or HERE until you do.
UPDATE: The eminent El Goog has benevolently blessed blogland with the ultra-rare other volume over here. Don't sleep!!!