Dick Patterson - The Lost Chicago Tapes
Starting his Jazz journey on the road at the age of 15, Dick Patterson (also known as Dale to some friends) was allowed to drive the tour bus while playing trombone for the Cliff Kyes Orchestra, despite not having a license. How he played the trombone while driving, we'll never know. Later on he would add upright bass as his instrument of choice.
By the late 1950's, he had become one of the go-to players in the Chicago club scene, and it was here, in late 1962, that the recordings for this album were created. In 1963, he would move to the mountains of Colorado with his young family, and begin his career all over again, this time playing with such luminaries as Clark Terry, The Pointer Sisters, Johnny Smith, Peanuts Hucko, Jerry Lewis, Spike Robinson, Neil Bridge, Stew Jackson, Dean Bushnell, Bob Montgomery, Claude Thornhill, George Gobel, Dave and Don Grusin, and so many others. This was the heyday for Jazz in Denver, and while the iron was hot, it was time to strike. Playing up to six nights a week for several decades, Dick was pleased to support those who would seek the spotlight, putting their musical journey above his own.
But in so doing, he was often overlooked as the artist he was. One of the things he left behind after his too-quick passing in 1991 was a treasure trove of live performance tapes he recorded over the years. These were not antiseptic studio recordings - they were filled with the energy of a live performance, recorded directly in the clubs and concert halls as the events were happening. The Lost Chicago Tapes is the first of that series. Recorded over a period of four nights, this is not just a window into these players, playing amazing and seldom-heard songs from Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Hoagy Carmichael,Lerner & Loewe, Gershwin, Rogers & Hart, and many others.
With 48 songs, including a few that have varying takes from different nights, The Lost Chicago Tapes is truly a window into the incredible Chicago Jazz scene of the 1960's, and a tremendous sampling of the finest Jazz that existed in that era. Produced by jazz great Mark Patterson, and mastered by Craig Patterson, owner of PME Records, this project keeps everything in-family. The single regret PME has in this release is that we do not know the names of the pianist or drummer that were playing with Dick Patterson on those nights. The label on the tapes simply reads "Trio - Chicago." We have consulted with Jazz historians and friends, but to no avail. We're excited to get this recording out into the world, so that others may have a chance to give these artists the recognition they deserve by letting us know their names.
These recordings are not rehearsals. They don't stop and start again, and the solos are played to listeners. The tunes are well-rehearsed, like the group has played them a lot.
About the piano player, Producer Mark Patterson, one of Dick's sons, says "There is a sort of naive or self-taught vibe to their playing but they know a lot of tunes. The rhythm swing feel is kind of straight-eighth Monk-ish but the time is sometimes a little weird or square and rushy (counter to Monk's sophisticated rhythm ethic).
"That 'square' idea though is an on-purpose funky thing in a lot of players, particularly in certain communities. I think of Billy Tolles (saxophonist) in Denver. (Also, Lee Morgan, the great trumpeter.) There is a fine line between funky-square and weird-square and to me this hits more on the funky side and only occasionally the uncomfortable side."
The Recording and Restoration
The original recording was made on 1/4"-wide reel-to-reel tape, in mono, over the course of what is believed to be four nights. Mic placement was adjusted to try to get the best balance of instruments. The microphone and recorder types are not known.
The recordings remained in low-humidity, temperature-controlled environments until they were rediscovered in 2022, exactly 60 years after their creation. Upon discovery, the tapes were baked in a specialized device that re-attaches any shedding ferric oxide coating, so that the tape can be played. The tapes were then transferred to digital using a Pioneer RT-707 deck, and an RME ADI-2 Pro FS Black Edition A/D converter.
Once the songs are edited and separated, the final step in the process is mastering, which adjusts the tonality and dynamics to give the best possible listener experience.