The Search for Roy DuNann

Thomas Conrad (Stereophile) writes .....

I don't remember the year, but I remember the moment when I first became intensely curious about Roy DuNann. It must have been about 1975, right after I moved to Seattle. I bought a Sonny Rollins LP called Way Out West, took it home, cued it up on my Thorens turntable, dropped the tonearm, and suddenly I was in a room with Rollins and Shelly Manne and Ray Brown. It was a shipping room with records stacked on shelves all around the musicians, but I wouldn't know that until many years later.

The song was, improbably, "I'm an Old Cowhand," and it began with Shelly Manne striking a woodblock in the right channel, and the blows carried in a perfectly defined acoustic space that included me. Then Rollins' tenor sax came in, so real in the left channel that I believed I could walk up and touch it. Deadpan, Rollins bit off the notes of Johnny Mercer's cowboy melody, the details of his pronunciation audible in his reed, now raspy, now clarion-clear.

The label was Contemporary, and the back of the album jacket said, "Recorded at Contemporary's Studios, Los Angeles. Produced by Lester Koenig. Sound by Roy DuNann." What made the sound truly astonishing was the recording date: March 7, 1957.

I found other Contemporary albums, and discovered some extraordinary music, such as Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section and Sonny Rollins & the Contemporary Leaders and Teddy Edwards' Teddy's Ready. The sound of these albums had a .....

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Epilogue

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