Monday, 16 November 2009

Quartette Trés Bien - Kilimanjaro


256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from DL 74548


My Favorite Things

Often compared to the Ramsey Lewis/Young-Holt Trio, Billy Larkin & The Delegates, Odell Brown & the Organ-izers and The Three Sounds to name a few, this soulful piano-fronted St. Louis combo set themselves apart by adding a percussionist into the mix and notching up the funky latin feel early in the game. Hugely popular in their hometown, this is one of the records that broke them out of their regional star status and brought them to the world's attention in the early 60s.

Although released second in chronological sequence, Kilimanjaro could actually be viewed as the band's debut since the material contained herein was recorded prior to most of the music on Boss Trés Bien. Having released some albums on small indie label Norman Records before signing with Decca, their discography is not so cut and dried when it comes to the dawn of their career. Here's a bit of background on QTB's early output from Dennis Owsley's book City of Gabriels: The History of Jazz in St. Louis, 1895-1973 (p. 149):
The Quartette Trés Bien recorded for the Norman label in St. Louis before moving to Decca...Their first album, Quartette Trés Bien was recorded in St. Louis around 1962. The tunes were "Lover Come Back To Me," "I Love Paris," "The Breeze and I,", "Exodus," "Rhodesian Chant," and "Three O'Clock in the Morning." Both "Exodus" and "Three O'Clock in the Morning" also were on their Atlantic album, Bully! The group also recorded "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" and "Ramblin' Rose" as a 45-rpm single during this time. "Kilimanjaro," the title tune of their first Decca album was also recorded in St. Louis as a single. The remaining tunes on the album Kilimanjaro may have been recorded in either St. Louis or New York. They are "Secretly," "I Didn't Know What Time It Was," "My Favorite Things," "My One and Only Love," and "You Came a Long Way from St. Louis." One more tune was recorded in St. Louis as a single, "Boss Trés Bien," parts 1 and 2, became part of the Decca album, Boss Trés Bien. Vocalist Clea Bradford recorded "Someday My Prince Will Come" in two parts with the group in 1963 as a single.
In the appendix of his book, rife with discographical data, Owsley notes there are at least 4 tracks recorded during the 60s Decca sessions that remain unissued, although he mentions there is speculation some of the tracks may have been remastered and renamed. Owsley also mentions elsewhere in the book that producer Norman Wienstroer (the "Norman" in "Norman Records") was the one responsible for hooking up QTB with Decca. Thankfully he did since otherwise these local jazz heroes may have faded into obscurity as was the fate to befall most other acts from the Norman catalogue's 1960-1967 run.

Dusty Groove sez:
One of the earliest albums from the legendary Quartette Trés Bien -- the hip piano combo from the St Louis scene -- one who were almost to that city's jazz world what Ramsey Lewis was to Chicago! Unlike other piano groups of the time, which were trios, the Quartette featured an additional percussionist in their lineup of piano, bass, and drums -- and that added percussion really gives records like this a super-cool kick -- a romping sort of rhythm that's totally great! Pianist Jeter Thompson's also one heck of a great writer -- as you'll hear on the album's original "Kilimanjaro" -- and percussionist Percy James really makes other tunes groove, including versions of "You Came A Long Way From St Louis", "I Left My Heart In San Francisco", "Secretly", "My Favorite Things", and "My One And Only Love".

Jeter Thompson - Piano
Richard Simmons - Bass
Albert St. James - Drums
Percy James - Percussion

1 Kilimanjaro
2 I Left My Heart In San Francisco
3 Secretly
4 I Didn't Know What Time It Was
5 My Favorite Things
6 My One And Only Love
7 Ramblin' Rose
8 You Came A Long Way From St. Louis

You can climb
Kilimanjaro's snow-capped peak with your Soundological sherpa HERE or HERE.


1964 Boss Trés Bien

[Norman NL102/NS102 & Decca DL 7/4547]
here (@320 not my rip, found on slsk)

1964 Kilimanjaro
[Norman NL107/NS107 & Decca DL 7/4548]
1965 Spring into Spring
[Decca DL 7/4617] at Arkadin's Ark

1965 Stepping Out
[Decca DL 7/4675] at Arkadin's Ark

1966 Sky High
[Decca DL 7/4715] at Arkadin's Ark

1966 Bully!
[Atlantic SD 1461] it's out there, do a search (not linked by request)

1966 In Motion
[Decca DL 7/4791 & Brunswick LAT8642] at Arkadin's Ark

1967 Where It's At!
[Decca DL 7/4822 & Brunswick 74822]
c/o My Jazz World

1968 Here It Is!
[Decca DL 7/4893] at Arkadin's Ark

1968 Four of a Kind
[Decca DL 7/4958]

1968 Our Thing
[Decca DL 7/5044] c/o Arkadin via slsk

2004 Coming Together
[Trio Tres Bien] at Trio's web page

2000 Bully! w/ Sergio Mendes' Great Arrival (Collectable Jazz Classics 2-for-1)
Boss Trés Bien (Universal Japan)
2008 Kilimanjaro (Universal Japan)

Along with Peanuts Whalum on sax, QTB also backed St. Louis jazz chanteuse Jeannie Trevor on her 1965 album for Mainstream, Pow! Jeannie Trevor Sings!! Fetching a fair price on the racks, it features yet another dope Jack Lonshein cover for Shad's label. QTB had previously backed her in 1962 on two 45s for Norman records.

[Mainstream 56075]

Speaking of 45s, the band also released a dope one in the early 70s on Royal Tone Records featuring the choice cut "Voo Doo Man" with Jeter switching on to electric piano - check it out over at I'm Learning To Share! However, this looks like the swan song for QTB as this line up would split and Thompson would hook up with his brothers Harold and Howard to carry on in the same vein as the Trio Trés Bien.

Sources: Dennis Owsley (KFMU St. Louis), AMG, Wikipedia, The Egyptian Combo & Norman Records page.


el goog said...

Hello Cheeba, thank you for this great post as usual!

Bill said...

I`ve liked QTB ever since I first heard Boss Tres Bien. Thanks for this and the discography.

Chris said...

Wow, great stuff. Thanks!

cheeba said...

You're very welcome gentlemen! Hope we see some of that discography fill out in the future...

Arkadin said...

Now that's what I call a great idea, master Cheeba! Love the group's sound.
Having a new record player and being not really satisfied with my old rip of "Sky High" I wanted to re-rip the album, but an evil scratch made the needle jump - one of these LPs whose conditon was described as "near mint"... ;)
I may be able to contribute a low bitrate version of "Our Thing" later. Let me check my labyrinthian hard drive...

Anonymous said...

Wow, great stuff, many thanks!

I knew and loved their stuff through soulseek but never had any background, no lineup, not even years for their albums. Information on them is rare on the web - but now thanks to you there's a lineup and a discog with more titles to look for, great!

cheeba said...

Beautiful Sherlock Arkadin, will add to post if you can find it. In months of checking, only ever saw the ones noted above. Sometimes these discog posts are a subtle(?) plea for anyone to share the missing pieces...

porco, much like you I've loved them since I heard the title track from Bossa Tres Bien on GP's first Jazz Juice comp those many years ago. Only ever found this one on vinyl in the shops. However, they seem fairly available and fairly priced at most of the usual supsepcts (GEMM, Music Stack, etc) so might make some orders in the future if the money's handy :)

I did have a hard time finding and sorting out all the discog info and once I had worked out most of it I found Owsley's discog info and that really clarified some of the errors out there on AMG, etc.

Happy hunting and if anyone happens to find others, would love to hear them!

cheeba said...

FYI y'all - Arkadin came correct with Our Thing and it's been added to the discog in the post.

Thanks Yoda!

Anonymous said...

Just absolutely loving these two albums. The title track to Kilimanjaro is astounding! I would not complain if more of this discography appeared. Thanks so Much.

Anonymous said...

Awesome! I have been looking for this for YEARS! My copy from the sixties is worn out.

matthew said...

Thanks for all of this Cheeba. Had the same intro to QTB as you and love their sound still. Happy stuff.

cheeba said...

@gregoriograzi - me too! Will definitely be keeping an eye out in the crates since only the 3 noted have been reissued so far. Chances are Arkadin will dig them up before anyone else gets a chance tho!

@matthew - you're very welcome! I hope to bring more of those QTBs to the table in the future. If they don't pop up I will probably be forced to dig into the wallet since there are quite a few of the Deccas on Gemm, MusicStack, etc.

rog said...

Many thanks for the wonderful QTB album! A fun discovery as I am a huge fan of Gene Harris and the 3 Sounds...

cheeba said...

You're welcome Rog! Many thanks for dropping a line!

BTW, the sublime Mr. Smooth has shared some more QTB over at My Jazz World

taro nombei said...

hey Cheeba
I meant to thank you for these QTB a while back. Well now's the time!
Hope you had a great Christmas you're enjoying some good holiday time.
best from TOoKyo

anomia said...

Can anyone give a hint on how to find Bully! please?

Anonymous said...

Awesome posts here, Bossa tres bien was part of jazz juice 1 courtesy of colin curtis a Manchester based DJ who's been doing the right thing for near on 40 yrs, check his blog here, some nice goodies on offer. Not really annonymous just dont have a google account! Mark here from THANKS FOR AN AWESOME BLOG WITH SOOOOO MUCH TO SHARE. THANKS A MILLION !

Anonymous said...

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