Autobiographical Order No. 475: Grachan Moncur III – Evolution

I’m probably only echoing what a lot of people are thinking right now by saying I miss traveling. I also miss buying records while traveling. Hell, I miss going to my favorite local record stores, but I also miss the fun of crate digging for new finds in new cities. Sometimes I find unexpected things, sometimes I find stuff I could have found anywhere else, but it kind of doesn’t matter, because I’ll always think about where I was when I bought it every time I listen to it, no matter where I picked it up.

If you’re wondering: Yes, I’m absolutely the guy that buys records made by artists from the place I’m visiting. I have far better examples in later entries, but for now we’re in New Orleans in 2015. My wife and I had long wanted to visit because it’s the most goth city in the U.S., and frankly it didn’t disappoint. We must have visited four cemeteries, and though they were all pretty amazing, the eeriest was St. Roch, because it was practically empty and across the street there were still houses boarded up from Hurricane Katrina (which was a full 10 years beforehand—let’s not forget how badly the Bush administration botched that one). Plus the food was great everywhere, the drinks were plentiful, and the Seance Room is basically the coolest/ghostliest place to drink in the country.

Naturally, I was looking to buy some NoLa records: Dr. John, The Meters, hell even some Eyehategod maybe. Plus we had some drinks at a great dive bar that was playing Lee Dorsey, so I had to add that one to the list. And I found none of these! Even at a store called Louisiana Music Factory, which had a cat named Snooks. (Great store, great cat, pay ’em a visit!) So, maybe a little unfortunate, but that’s how it goes sometimes.

The least I could do was at least buy some jazz, and by a trombonist at that. Anytime I’ve mentioned Grachan Moncur III to anybody, they have absolutely no idea who I’m talking about. But his album Evolution is essential as far as I’m concerned. It’s a very atmospheric record, low-key, kind of eerie in a way. That’s partially thanks to vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson (I must’ve been on a kick at this time), but the whole ensemble is pretty amazing: Jackie McLean, Tony Williams, Lee Morgan, Bob Cranshaw. Some all stars there.

But even some of the folks I’ve mentioned this record to that haven’t heard of it probably know some of it from being sampled by Shabazz Palaces. I didn’t think this was that obscure? But I make it my business to dig deep.

So, this isn’t a New Orleans record. Moncur is from New York, but regardless of the background, buying jazz in New Orleans just feels right.

Rating: 9.4

Sound Quality: Great

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