The Street Swingers, Brookmeyer/Hall/Raney, World Pacific Records 1239, 1958
Jazz on a Summer's Day opening sequence, filmed July 3, 1958, directed by Bert Stern
Bob Brookmeyer, unknown (possibly Lee Konitz), Bill Crow, Jim Hall, Jimmy Raney, c.1957, photo by W. Eugene Smith
So needless to say, when I spied Brookmeyer in the corner of a W. Eugene Smith photo featured in Sam Stephenson's The Jazz Loft Project book (which I mentioned a couple of weeks ago), it resonated in some subtle way. And of course, seeing Bob engaged in a jam session with two guitarists that I have been paying more and more attention to over the past year and a legendary bass player with whom I have had the pleasure to exchange a few emails, I became more and more intrigued by the candid photograph. There is certainly a feel to The Street Swingers that could only come about due to the collaborative musical experimentation that can result in the best of casual jam sessions. The LP doesn't feel like a Prestige-styled blowing session or a over-formal presentation of compositions that one might find on a Capitol Records disc. The music exists somewhere between those extremes. I began to suspect that the two recording sessions perhaps may have come as a result of the Sixth Avenue sessions.
After doing my basic due diligence and re-aquainting myself with the LP, I reached out to bass player Bill Crow. Bill is not only featured in the Smith photo but also on the World Pacific LP. As I did not know the exact date of the photo, I was curious how the Sixth Avenue loft fit into the story. Crow was kind enough to respond to me:
Jim Hall had come to NYC with the Giuffre trio, with Jim Atlas on bass. When Giuffre found that Bob was available, he replaced Atlas with Brookmeyer.
Bill went on to tell me, "We were all living in Greenwich Village at the time, and hung out a lot together. The album was probably Bob's idea." Brookmeyer had an existing relationship with label-owner Dick Bock having had appeared on a number of Pacific Jazz sessions as both a sideman and leader before December 1957. Hall, too, had done a similar number of sessions for Bock in both roles, perhaps most notably the first Chico Hamilton Quintet LPs as well as Hall's debut disc under his own name. Brookmeyer and Raney had a history of collaboration stretching back over several years and several sessions. And Crow, of course, was a big part of the New York scene at the time.