The Art Yard reissue of Sound Advice

Before I lugged my ass to the Chicago Reader in 1993, I spent quite a few years at Jazz Record Mart, and the other day one of my former JRM coworkers, Steve Dawson of Dolly Varden, posted on Facebook about the famous folks (well, “famous” is a relative term) who shopped at the store on his watch. His list reminded me of of meeting wonderful saxophonist Pat Patrick at JRM—a longtime member of Sun Ra’s Arkestra, he’s now better known as the father of former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick. He popped into the store a couple of times during my stint, and once he sold some cassettes of his own music.

Jazz Record Mart would occasionally come into a stash of titles on Saturn Records, the label started by Sun Ra, so nobody was surprised to see someone affiliated with the group bringing in some goods. I excitedly bought a copy of the tape Patrick sold, credited to the Baritone Sax Retinue and titled Sound Advice. It was dubbed onto a cheap low-bias TDK cassette, with the titles handwritten on a generic J-card. The spine bore the words “El Saturn Research” and the label’s PO box. I never knew where and when the album was recorded or who played on it, but the group featured a raft of baritone saxophones over a loosely grooving rhythm section. At the tail end of 2015, the great London label Art Yard—launched in 2004 to reissue Ra’s music—gave Sound Advice its first proper release, including information that cleared up the mystery for me.

Pat Patrick’s Sound Advice—the cassette version

The band featured eight baritone sax players, among them Rene McLean (son of the great Jackie McLean), fellow Arkestra member Charles Davis, and onetime Charles Mingus sideman George Barrow. The rhythm section included pianist Hilton Ruiz. The music was originally released on Saturn in 1977 in a generic 12-inch sleeve with no artwork, but the reissue doesn’t list a recording date. (According to Discogs, a 2013 Italian bootleg had a black-and-white photo of Patrick on the cover.) The Art Yard release reproduces a photo of a different version of the band, including Hamiet Bluiett, performing live on a TV show hosted by poet Amiri Baraka in 1973. The album itself was also recorded live, and it has the same distant, room-miked sound of many Saturn releases. But that less-than-ideal production can’t obscure the silken richness of all those bari horns—occasionally offset by flutes—as they traverse a mix of jazz standards (Jimmy Heath’s “Funny Time,” Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Sabia,” short theme statements of Benny Golson’s “Stablemates” to open and close) and some tunes by Davis. Below you can check out the album’s one Patrick original, “Uptightedness.”
Today’s playlist:

Marc Baron, Un Salon au Fond d’un Lac (Potlatch)
Ellen Arkbro, For Organ and Brass (Subtext)
Peter van Huffel’s Gorilla Mask, Howl! (Between the Lines)
Else Marie Pade, Electronic Works 1958-1995 (Important)
Ron Nagle, Bad Rice (Omnivore)