Sunday, 25 April 2010

Gene Estes - Westful: Jazz In Hollywood


Westful: Jazz In Hollywod


256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from Nocturne NRS-701

Preview clip:
Big "P"
Besame Mucho

Although the name may not jump out at you right away, first-call LA percussionist Gene Estes has played a part in many classic recordings, including some of my best-loved soul faves like Willie Hutch's The Mack, Eddie Kendrick's The Hit Man (c/o Flabbergasted Vibes RIP) and Johnny Bristol's Feeling The Magic. He worked with practically every big name who recorded in LA for a major label during the 60s and 70s and appeared on dozens of albums spanning genres from jazz and soul to rock and country and almost everywhere in between. Counted among the "Important Records" to which he contributed are The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds, Frank Zappa & The Mothers' Freak Out! and David Axelrod's Songs of Innocence as well as critically-acclaimed records by Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash, Nilsson and a host of others.

Brian Wilson w/ Gene Estes on the vibes in May 1967 from
Pop Surf Culture: Music Design Film and Fashion from the Bohemian Surf Era

OK, so he's also assisted corporate concoctions like Sonny & Cher, The Monkees, Neil Diamond, Barry Manilow, Eric Carmen, REO Speedwagon and many other mediocre MOR megastars but then that's LA session life for ya, ain't it? It's no wonder then that this obscure solo project, the culmination of a couple years spent jamming every Sunday night with other SoCal session stalwarts, is brimming with the energy of a joyful release from frustration and monotony. In the liner notes Estes describes their weekly rehearsals as not "trying to prove anything with writing or's just a matter of having a ball" and that pretty much says it all about the atmosphere here.

Besides a noticeable lack of bombast or breakneck tempos normally found on drummer-led big band dates, there's really not much in the way of surprises here - just the sound of some excellent musicians gelling together to get that swing and nailing their solos without melodrama or overwrought pyrotechnics. In fact, the entire affair actually sounds
like a throwback that could have been recorded 15-20 years prior and as such, it's one of those rare jazz albums recorded in the 70s upon which Mr. Yanow and I can agree:

AMG Review
by Scott Yanow
Other than a very obscure early-'60s LP for the Carlton label, this album from 1976 was drummer Gene Estes' debut as a leader. For the only recording by Estes' rehearsal big band, the drummer contributed five of the nine selections and all of the arrangements. Among the all-star jazz and studio players heard from are saxophonists Med Flory and Tom Scott, trumpeter Conte Candoli, trombonists Herbie Harper and Bob Enevoldsen, pianist Joyce Collins and Gene's younger brother Alan Estes on vibes. The excellent music is essentially straight-ahead and has its exciting moments, although this LP may be difficult to locate.

Gene would maintain his roughly 16-year cycle and record another album as leader in 1993, when he returned with another equally anachronistic slice of jazz called On The Edge. There would be one further posthumous release, In A Sentimental Mood, which contained material recorded shortly before his passing in 1996.

Discography as Leader

1960 The Greatest Stereo Vibraphone in Recording History
[Carlton ST LP 12/25]

1976 Westful: Jazz In Hollywood
NRS-701] at Soundological

1993 On The Edge

[Progressive 7095] at Amazon

2000 In A Sentimental Mood
[Arbor ARB0101]
at iTunes

Gene Estes - Drums
Med Flory - Sax
Tom Scott - Sax
Bob Hardaway - Sax
Jay Migliori - Sax
Bill Hood - Sax
Meyer Hirsch - Sax (7 & 8)
Ollie Mitchell - Trumpet
Ralph Osborn - Trumpet
Conte Candoli - Trumpet
Herbie Harper - Trombone
Bob Enevoldsen - Valve Trombone
Dick Leith - Bass Trombone
Joyce Collins - Piano
Alan Estes - Vibes
Jim Hughart - Bass

1 Sharly My Boy
2 All About Henry
3 Poca Nada
4 Big 'P'
5 Pot Luck
6 D.A.V.
7 Sweet Lump
8 Besame Mucho
9 Good-Bye

Ride off into the sunset with Gene Estes and Soundological in the comments.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Moe Koffman - Museum Pieces


Museum Pieces

256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from Janus JXS-7073

Preview clip:
Digs (Archaeology)

What's the direct connection to the previous post featuring Hank Crawford? Since Moe avoids the sax entirely, it's the fact Crawford and Koffman regular Doug Riley were past musical directors for Ray Charles; Hank for an extended stint at the start of the 60s and RIley for a short spurt at the end of the same decade. Otherwise, the albums were released within a year of each other and share something in musical sensibilities as well, a fact picked up on by Dusty Groove who mention it in their brief review:
A groovy album of moody electric funk tracks from Moe Koffman -- and probably one of his best records from the 70s! The groove is nice and rolling, with less of the break-oriented sound than you might expect, but still with some very nice mellow, almost CTI-ish moments, thanks to keyboards from Don Thompson.
Not much left unsaid about Moe or this roster of regulars in one of the many posts here on Soundological covering Koffman and Riley. However, out of Moe's oeuvre, it is by far and away the closest to the smooth jazzfunk sound epitomised by Creed Taylor's imprint. More importantly, it pretty much sidesteps the copious cheese slathered upon the albums book-ending this session (Jungle Man before, Things Are Looking Up after) and hits a sweeter spot where groove, technique and studio polish intersect.

A snapshot of many popular trends in jazz during the period, there are a couple adventurous post-bop tunes on hand ("Dinosaurus" & "Wildlife"), some proto-smooth jazz moments ("Pharoah's Dream"), orchestral string-backed slow blues ("Evolution Blues") and a couple outright funkified offerings in the form of Weather Report-style fusion with some drum breaks ("Rocks") and the Mizell-flavoured downtempo funk of "Digs."

Days Gone By (Egyptology)

Based on its use by Jill Scott, you may already be aware of the mellow "Days Gone By (Egyptology)" and though it's not the best track on the record, it's why sample-spotters often snatch this one up on sight. That bite alone is one of the main reasons copies of this album are seldom seen out in the wild, coupled with the fact this is probably Koffman's strongest effort in the latter part of his pop-fusion phase so folks were likely more inclined to keep it in their collections.

Jill Scott's Slowly, Surely & Marc Mac's Visioneers Remix

Featuring prominently on the track is Ed Bickert's crystal clear tone on the guitar. He displays his deft mastery of the instrument throughout the album and for many fans his playing here is a big reason to pick up this set. Though more well-known for his work on bass, Don Thompson's contributions on keyboards (mostly Rhodes) are mainly as an astute accompanist with few solos on the album outside of "Wildlife" and "Days Gone By." Speaking of Ed and Don, this album was released around the same time as their critically acclaimed live duo set, At The Garden Party.

Intro to "Rocks (Mineralogy)"

On "Rocks" it's pretty clear Riley's still crushing on Mwandishi and Head Hunters era Hancock but always with his own bluesy touch thanks to his B-3 background. However, he's all over the map stylistically on his own composition "Dinosaurus", a tune described as "a delightful romp through the harmonic overtone series" which highlights both his skills and his influences (especially Bud Powell and Oscar Peterson) but meanders a bit too much as a result of some kitchen-sinkism.

For the most part Moe keeps it melodic throughout, maintaining his mainstream-oriented style without taking the type of excursions in his solos witnessed on the kosmigroovish Solar Explorations nor straight-up displaying his bebop chops like when he was Live at George's. However, he has a few moments where he lets go a bit and soars high, especially on "Pharoah's Dream" and "Wildlife."

Sometimes a picture doesn't paint a 1000 words
Australian issue [RCA VPL14130]

All in all, an enjoyable album that saw a modicum of critical and chart success here in Canada upon its release (nominated for 2 Juno awards in 1978). Created as a conceptual piece to accompany exhibitions at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto (pictured on the back cover), its main drawback is in replicating the sterile, hands-off environment of most museums to a fairly high degree.

As indicated by the cover art's roped-off skeleton, sarcophagus and caveman mannequin, the music is often dryly academic and tends to be aimed moreso at the head rather than the heart or hooves. However, as also hinted at on the cover, there's just enough howler monkey to keep things lively and nobody is placed on a pedestal so it stands as cohesive communal effort among some of Canada's A-list jazzbos of the late 70s.

Moe Koffman - Flute
Ed Bickert - Guitar
Marty Morell - Drums and Percusion
Rick Homme - Electric and Acoustic Bass
Don Thompson - Keyboard, Arco String Bass
Bob Mann - Rhythm Guitar on "Rocks," "Digs" & "Museum Piece" + solo on "Dinosaurus"
Doug Riley - Keyboard on "Rocks," + Clavinet & Piano on "Dinosaurus"

1 Museum Piece
2 Rocks (Mineralogy)
3 Digs (Archaeology)
4 Evolution Blues
5 Pharoah's Dream
6 Wildlife (Mammalogy)
7 Days Gone By (Egyptology)
8 Dinosaurus

Celebrate Cheeba's birthday today by tagging along with Soundological & Moe for a trip to the museum - free ticket in the comments!

Friday, 16 April 2010

Hank Crawford - Tico Rico

Tico Rico


256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from Kudu KU-35

Although this popped up on the essential and now-defunct The CTI Never Sleeps blog a while ago, I thought I'd offer up another rip from my clean copy of this fairly rare OOP session Hank Crawford recorded for Creed Taylor's Kudu imprint. There was also an issue with the tracks on that version being wrongly named and tagged, which is not a concern here since they are correct in this package.

This album actually highlights the issue of abuse of copyright laws since rumour has it the original tapes have disappeared. If true, this would mean CTI does not hold the original sound recordings and would only be able to exert rights based on ownership of a copy - which Brooklyn Law School's Jason Mazzone has included as one of the four types of what he calls "copyfraud." However, try as I could, I could find no official statement that the master tapes for this album no longer exist but it still doesn't necessarily mean the album is in the public domain, or the even greyer category of "orphaned works," by default just because no one can technically prove they "own" the original.

There may be other reasons CTI has not reissued this record. Out of the eight records Crawford recorded for Kudu, this is not the only one to never see a reissue since originally hitting the streets; neither Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing nor Cajun Sunrise have been released in digital format either. The remaining five that have been given the CD treatment are only available as Japanese imports on the King label.

For some reason, CTI has never reissued any of Crawford's albums on this side of the pond and the sole Crawford Kudu release on iTunes is Wildflower. WTF is up with that? It's especially odd since you'd think record company ghouls would be grinding his corpse like nobody's business after his passing just over a year ago. It's what they do best. Y'know, maybe there is some truth to the rumour after all...

Tico Rico & Funky Rooster

Fairly popular on its release, Tico Rico debuted at #31 in its first week and ultimately peaked at #28 on Billboard's 1977 Jazz Album chart. Of course, you know what that means to our favourite whipping boy over at AMG ...

Review by Scott Yanow

This LP has generally weak material ("Teach Me Tonight") is the only standard, the arrangements by David Matthews are routine and Crawford's soulful alto sounds obviously overdubbed over the string section; the "background" vocals on "Lullaby of Love" also do not help. The only reason to acquire this album is to hear Crawford's always appealing sound, but there are many more rewarding Hank Crawford recordings currently available.
In other words, Hank's holdin' his down but there's too much funky business goin' on out there on the lawn. Of course, this latter aspect is of most interest to our merchant friends at Dusty Groove, who are more forgiving and even more succinct playing up the album's strengths in their appraisal:
More of a David Matthews album than a Hank Crawford one -- as Matthews handled the arrangements in that slick funky big band style he was using at the time, letting Crawford come into solo over the top, but not really leading the session in any sort of obvious way.
However, probably the definitive assessment of this record on the web is likely courtesy of (surprise, surprise) CTI afficianado numero uno Doug Payne. He devotes a few paragraphs to this album in his insightful essay covering Matthews' work for Creed Taylor during the 70s. Not just a purveyor of fact-filled fanboy fodder, his wit and passion for the subject matter at hand always makes for an enjoyable read. I've snipped out some of the background info and play-by-play for Tico Rico in hopes you'll visit Doug's blog to learn more:
Hank Crawford recorded many albums for the Atlantic, Kudu and Milestone labels during his career, but very few on any label that had more than one or two great tunes. This is one that is terrific from start to finish, with Crawford in perfectly bluesy and swinging form, driven by Matthews's superb, yet simplified, electrifying charts. If a soloist is only as good as his arranger, then Matthews is probably the best Crawford ever had (and Crawford was the guy who arranged for Ray Charles!). Tico Rico - which has never been issued on CD - is undoubtedly their best work together. <<...>> Matthews provides an alluring, romantic underscore that Crawford simply sets alight. A fine achievement for both Hank Crawford and David Matthews.

Sax - Hank Crawford
Sax - Michael Brecker
Trumpet - Jon Faddis, Randy Brecker
Flute - Jeremy Steig
Guitar - Eric Gale
Bass - Gary King
Drums - Steve Gadd, Steve Taylor
Keyboards - Cliff Carter, Dave Matthews
Percussion - Nicky Marrero, Sue Evans
Cello - Alan Shulman, Charles McCracken
Viola - Emanuel Vardi, Lamar Alsop
Violin - Charles Libove, David Nadien, Emanuel Green, Marvin Morgenstern, Matthew Raimondi, Max Ellen, Max Pollikoff, Paul Gershman
Backing Vocals - Frank Floyd, Raymond Simpson, Zachary Sanders

1 Tico Rico
2 Teach Me Tonight
3 Lady Soul
4 Lullaby Of Love
5 I've Just Seen A Face
6 Lament
7 Funky Rooster

Soundological suggests you take your own Tico Rico to go while it's still hot in the comments!

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Jeannie Trevor - Sings!!

Jeannie Trevor Sings!!

256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from Mainstream 56075

Preview clips:
Visit Me

Could any record be better suited to current predilections of Soundological? We have here a lesser-known chanteuse supported by the
Quartette Trés Bien recording for the first incarnation of Bob Shad's Mainstream records, wrapped in a wonderful Jack Lonshein pop-art cover. Although the QTB is not listed by name "due to contractual problems" (in other words, Bobby didn't want to pay Decca and/or Norman Wienstroer) their sound is unmistakable and Jeter Thompson is given ample room to shine on the ivories throughout. In fact, it pretty much sounds like a slightly poppier-than-usual QTB record with a vocalist and a horn player present - a good thing in this case considering the fine talents displayed by both soloists.

Jeanne Trevor was a Harlem native who trained in opera and then moved out west after graduation, eventually settling in St. Louis after a short stint in tinseltown. With her wide vocal range and ability to belt out big tunes as easily as she can sweetly and softly croon, she soon become a local icon in the swinging 60s scene revolving around the infamous Gaslight Square district. Mainly a live performer, aside from contemporaneous singles on local labels like Norman Records, "the first lady of St. Louis jazz" would not return to the recording studio for another 33 years (not counting the occasional voice work on commercials that garnered her a Grammy). Rather than delve into her long and illustrious bio here, you can read it elsewhere or watch a recent interview with her below.

Jeanne Trevor on KETC-TV St. Louis

Trevor and the QTB are joined on this set by another legendary Gaslighter, Hugh "Peanuts" Whalum. He's the uncle of smooth jazz sax sensation Kirk Whalum, who's been causing a stir the last few years with his The Gospel According To Jazz concert series, the most recent of which features George Duke. Although not the most recognised name in the biz, he's played with luminaries like Nat King Cole, Billy Exkstine, Miles Davis and Ella Fitzgerald to name but a few. Born in Memphis, Whalum wound up in St. Louis when he was touring with Lionel Hampton's band and the city happened to be the tour's last stop. Seems he just stuck around ever since.

Peanuts is often praised by industry insiders for his subtle improvisational skills and his personal approach to phrasing on sax. He's also highly regarded among musicians for his ability to effortlessly forge an emotional connection to both his material and his band-mates. Much the way a sports team's playmaker will chalk up more assists than goals themselves, Peanuts is one of those sought-after accompanists who focuses more on the final score than personal glory. Still plugging away at 82 on piano as well as tenor, he released his first solo album Hugh "Peanuts" Whalum in 2006 to high critical praise - head over to his MySpace page to hear some of the tunes.

Jeanne & Peanuts ca. 2009 c/o St. Louis Magazine

As you probably gathered from watching the interview or judging by the pic just above, Trevor also remains active on the scene to this day. As well as acting in plays and musicals, she continues to be a popular draw as a songbird both on tour and in St. Louis where, some 45 years on from the recording of this album, she can still be seen gigging with Peanuts. Besides the aforementioned release in 1998, she also appears on a recent CD, Together, a collection of standards in duet with yet another Gaslight Square veteran, Kevin Kruth.

1999 Love You Madly
buy at Amazon

2009 Together w/ Kevin Kurth
buy at kmk music

Jeannie Trevor - Vocals
Hugh "Peanuts" Whalum - Sax
Jeter Thompson - Piano
Richard Simmons - Bass
Albert St. James - Drums
Percy James - Percussion

1 People Will Say We're In Love
2 Don't Blame Me
3 Get Out Of My Life
4 I've Got You Under My Skin
5 Four
6 Lady With A Painted Smile
7 Moonlight Serenade
8 The Last Moment
9 I Know That You Know
10 From An Ancient Proverb
11 The Lady's In Love With You
12 Visit Me

If you happen to find this album for less than $50, consider yourself lucky. This rip is from a mono version (it seems almost impossible to find a stereo version) that was in excellent condition when it arrived on the doorstep. In fact, the original shrinkwrap was fully intact and only removed so the cover could be properly scanned for posterity. You can have your own personal powwow with Jeannie, Peanuts and the QTB by checking out the comments.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Les McCann - Les McCann Plays The Hits

Les McCann Plays The Hits


256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from Limelight LS 86041

Another of Les McCann's unabashed stabs at the mainstream market for Quincy Jones' Limelight during the mid-60s, Les McCann Plays The Hits is exactly what the title advertises. Although enjoyable on the whole, it's generally a luke-warm affair for the most part as Les sounds less eager to interpret these tunes than the liner notes would lead you to believe. While "Sunny" and "Sunshine Superman" certainly have sizzle, and McCann's jubilation during the gospel read of "River
Deep, Mountain High" is palpable even in the bum notes, the remainder of the instrumentals come off as merely the work of a lounge band, albeit a highly competent one as the roster attests.

Original Billboard review from Nov. 19, 1966

Ironically, two of the top tracks are not only the sole original compositions, one by himself and one by friend Gene "Not Yet Eugene" McDaniels, they're also the only vocal tunes and seem somewhat tacked-on to the track listing. It could be the inclusion of "Sad Little Girl" and "Compared To What" was a concession on Limelight's part, especially when it comes to the latter song. That type of social commentary in pop soul lyrics, which would be Les' specialty by the time he moved to Atlantic, had not yet fully come into vogue on the hit parade. The Summer of Love was still almost a year off and the bubbling brew of aspirational middle-class America's angst and disillusionment was not quite potent enough to sanctify its clear reflection in the charts.

As noted a few years ago on Funky 16Corners, this seems to be the first recorded appearance of McDaniels' "Compared To What." It pre-dates any others involving McCann and was taped prior to any version recorded by McDaniels himself. I originally heard the track on Roberta Flack's First Take, a classic soul-jazz "perfect storm" that remains one of my most cherished albums. Although for me Flack's remains the definitive version (mostly due to Ron Carter's bass), this version feels closer to the style McDaniels' exhibited on his later albums, such as the 1971 masterpiece Headless Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

"Sad Little Girl" is a swingin' mid-tempo minor-key number that purports to be another teen break-up tale on the surface, but McCann's characteristic depth of insight into personal politics subtly points to fallout from alienation, rootlessness and disenfranchisement as the true culprit. Although it was an album-only cut and never released as a single Stateside, word is this shuffler did pretty well rotation-wise on the Northern Soul scene in the UK for a few years. Along with "Guantanamera," "Compared To What" and "Sunny" (both parts), it was included on the Les McCann Talkin´ Verve compilation while the remaining songs have not been reissued since the album fell out of print over forty years ago.

Les McCann Ltd:

Les McCann - Piano, Vocals
Booker T. Robinson - Drums
Leroy Vinnegar - Bass
Additional personnel on tracks 2,5,6Lynn R. Blessing - Vibes
Plas Johnson - Sax
Jimmy Georgantones - Guitar
Ron Rich - Conga

Recorded Aug 5, 1966 at United Recording, CA

Additional personnel on all other tracks
Vincent Bell - Guitar
Carl Lynch - Guitar
Seldon Powell - Flute, Sax (Tenor)
Jerome Richardson - Sax (Tenor)
Warren Chiasson - Vibes
Joe Macho - Fender Bass
Johnny Pacheco - Conga

Recorded Sept 9, 1966 at Bell Sound Studio, NYC

1 Sunny (Part I)
2 Sunny (Part II)
3 Guantanamera
4 Summer Samba (So Nice)
5 Sad Little Girl
6 River Deep, Mountain High
7 Les Skate
8 Sunshine Superman
9 Message To Michael
10 Flamingo
11 Compared To What
12 Pretty Flamingo

This copy had seen better days and put ClickRepair through its paces. Although there's still some noise on the occasional intros and outros of some tracks, it's not so bad you can't enjoy the music - and unless you own a copy you ain't gonna hear most of it anywhere else!


Regular readers will notice a difference in the way sharing works at Soundological today. The most obvious is a lack of RapidShare links, a change that will be permanent starting now. I know RS is not the most popular service and it's often difficult for non-premium users to access files but I've stuck with them in the interests of stability; as long as I paid the piper y'all could dance to the tunes eventually.

Well, I don't cotton much to being called a "criminal" by a certain hypocritical prick named Bobby Chang (Rapidshare Aims To Convert Pirates Into Customers) while he wipes his ass with the piles of money he's made over the years - proceeds from what would now be considered criminal activity. He also wants to collude with the MAFIAA to help shut down all other file-hosting services that dare use the same business model RS has employed for ages.

Needless to say, the RS links will slowly die out after my RS subscription expires on May 13 so you may want to grab them while they're still available - I won't be placing a priority on re-posting old links and won't be switching to a new premium hosting service. I know y'all have your favourites but I'm not interested for the time being...

Rather than settle on a compromise with any single cyberlocker site, Soundological will now start using a combo of distributed hosting services (Sharebee, Mutliupload & FlameUpload at the moment) to increase the odds of a file's longevity. A few other adjustments were made based on the way the wind's blowing in the blogosphere: switching to RAR in order to hide the folder inside from prying eyes, adding a password ("soundological") to the archives and moving the links to the comments section. Hopefully this won't detract from your experience too much.

(updated 2013-05-24 see comments)

Friday, 19 March 2010

Willie Mitchell - Solid Soul

Solid Soul
256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from Hi SH-32045


In a city populated by multiple generations of musical goliaths, WIllie Mitchell was somehow still able to stand head and shoulders above most Memphians. Since his passing this January, there have been many tributes made and obits written, so we'll keep it short and sweet here at SI. I'm throwing this one down mostly due to the fact that my pal, Professor Groove, asked me to guest on WeFunk Radio tonight to drop some science on Mitchell
and flip some beats, both old and new, to highlight his legacy. You can listen to the live stream on CKUT's site if you like (midnight EST) and later I'll also drop a link to the show on the deep 'n' dope WeFunk archives).

While gearing up I noticed blogopolis was devoid of this smouldering coal of southern soul, so thought I'd share this classic set with y'all. Hip hop hedz will know the main joint Groovin' from GZA of the Wu-Tang's Liquid Swords but I originally bought it back in the 80s for the covers of Hugh Masakela's Grazing In The Grass and Cliff Noble's The Horse (previously posted here). If you ask me though, the real killer thriller is the rendition of Freddie King's San-Ho-Zay, a banger for the boards and a track that falls squarely between the nascent funk sound of the time and four-on-the-floor shakers familiar to the Northern Soul scene. On the whole, this LP sounds exactly like the cover sez and how it looks: Solid. Soul. Slick. Badass.

Wille's "Groovin'" vs. GZA's "Liquid Swords"

Wax Poetics'
One of the greatest record producers ever, Poppa Willie Mitchell ruled the soul charts with hits on Hi Records for O. V. Wright, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Otis Clay, Ann Peebles, and Syl Johnson. But everything changed the day a young soul crooner named Al Green arrived at his doorstep in South Memphis.

They had previously met in Texas at one of Green’s gigs. Mitchell offered to bring him back to Memphis, but Green wasn’t quite ready to commit. “He wanted to know how long it would take to make him a star,” Mitchell told Andria Lisle in Wax Poetics Issue 9. “I told him eighteen months, and you know what he said? ‘I really can’t wait that long!’” Poppa Willie, with a heart of gold, loaned the young Al $1500 to pay off some debts, but without a contract, Al Green disappeared into the night. “About six months later,” Mitchell remembered, “the doorbell rang at six o’clock in the morning. I thought it was a man coming to paint my kitchen, but the guy said, ‘Don’t you remember me? I’m Al Green.’”

Willie Mitchell died on Tuesday, January 5, 2010. He was eighty-one.

When you compare the Al Green anecdote with another one told by Al Bell at Mitchell's Memorial in Memphis, it's clear Willie really was as generous as they say. Seems after Stax went belly up, Al was not only persona non grata in the Memphis music scene for a while, the outcome was also financially crippling for him. During the service he reminisced how his main competitor, Willie, was the one cat who kept Al and his family from falling through the cracks at that crucial time. You can read all about it at Red Kelly's stupendously informative and stupid cool the "B'" side, a blog all soul fans should have the pleasure of perusing.

Willie Mitchell - Trumpet
Charles Hodges - Organ, Keyboards
Leroy Hodges - Bass
Mabon "Teenie" Hodges - Guitar
Al Jackson, Jr. - Drums

1 Prayer Meetin'
2 Grazing in the Grass
3 Windy
4 Sunrise Serenade
5 The Horse
6 Groovin'
7 San-Ho-Zay
8 Up Hard
9 Monkey Jump
10 Strawberry Soul
11 Hideaway
12 Willie Wam

Willie Mitchell Links
Hi Records Home Page
Red Kelly's the "A" Side and the "B" Side

Solid Soul was reissued on CD in 1993 (Hi 120) and again on Sept. 11, 2001 (Hi 182), on each occasion it was packaged as 2-for-1 with its successor, On Top. Both reissues are OOP and can fetch big bucks on line ($200 at Amazon! WTF!) so don't think twice and grab it if you see it for a reasonable price.

In the meantime, Soundological does your Willie a solid HERE or HERE.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Karel Bogard & Co. - Blues From Over The Border

Blues From Over The Border1971
224+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from Barclay 90017

Since the last few posts featuring Mainstream MRL recordings were predominately of the blues persuasion, there's one more album of the genre to squeeze in before Soundological gets back in the swing of the jazz/funk/soul thing. To that end, this here write-up is a heapin' helpin' of what could best be described as a Belgian speculation sandwich. "WTF is that," you ask dear reader? Well, it's a tasty filet of trusted info on a musician from Belgium (block quotes segment below) nestled between two thick slices of whole-wheat hypothesizin' (pretty much the rest).

Bogard is sometimes referred to as Karel Bogaert, and the first tenuous thread connected to the latter name is that someone using that moniker authored a book called Blues Lexicon: Blues, Cajun, Boogie Woogie, Gospel that was published in 1971 by Antwerp publishing house Standaard Uitgeverij. The book remains a popular overview to this day of exactly the strains of music Bogard covers so well on the album and is even considered as canon by some European academics due to the thorough and comprehensive biographical data of hundreds of American folk musicians included therein. Currently it's cited as one of the main references on the Dutch Wikipedia entry for Blues.

The following info is from Belgian Pop & Rock Archives, translated from Dutch by Google and edited by yours truly:

In the late sixties Karel Bogard was proficient in various instruments, playing in Leuven (he sang, played guitar, piano, and even a hundred others) in various blues, skiffle and jugbands, like Free Sound Community en Crowin Rooster.

After graduation he went to Paris to study Chinese but while in the French capital, he kept himself busy in musical circles. Through contacts with Alexis Corner (Bogard was playing in his band at the time) and Memphis Slim he struck a deal with the French label Barclay. The LP "Blues from over the Border" appeared in France in 1971, including Roland van Campenhout and other guests.

In the mid-seventies in Ghent he started his own record label: Dwarf Records. Originally created solely to issue the Kandahar LP, Bogard he soon found a number of kindred souls so in a short time the label also included Banzaï, Tjens Couter and TC Matic from Arno.

"In the years '70-'75 Ghent was a hive of activity," he said in the book "Wit-lof from Belgium," and jazz musician Pol Van Gijseghem was involved in various projects. There emerged an interaction with many groups: Bunker, Quark, Red Mole .. etc.. Rock and jazz had found each other." Karel Bogard thus became one of the main figures of jazz-rock in Belgium (Hugo Spencer, 5th Ball Gang, Marc Moulin, Placebo, Sam Suffy). Bogard's main project in these years was Kandahar, with guitarist Jef De Visscher and Pol Van Gijseghem, who released two LP's in the blues/jazz/rock idiom.

Simultaneously, he also recorded solo (the LP "From Dusk until Dawn" in 1975) or combined forces with other companions as The Karel Bogard Blues Band in 1976 with "Still Hooked On The Blues" and as Karel Bogard's Highway Band in 1977 with "Step," featuring the single "Sweet Lady Society".

Dwarf went bankrupt, however, and was swallowed by E.M.I./ I.B.C. (with whom they already had a distribution deal). This marked the end of Kandahar and a bitter Bogard quit music, combining his studies in engineering and oriental languages to land a job with a dredging company in Singapore.
That's pretty much it for the meat and, from thereon, it's back to unfounded flights of fancy based on scant photographic evidence of a recent pic that belies a resemblance to the young Karel on the cover of this album. Unfortunately, the pic was in a corporate quarterly report and the PDF of said report has been misplaced or erased in the past few weeks. If it pops up again, the post will be updated with the side-by-side comparison of photos. Regardless, let us return to the specumilatin'...

When in Singapore, he likely worked for one of the two Belgian dredging companies doing business there, Dredging International or Baggerwerken Decloedt, which have since merged and now operate under the name Dredging, Environmental & Marine Engineering. In 1997 he was the President of the Belgian & Luxembourg Association of Singapore , a social club for expats and he seems to have returned to Europe at the turn of the century, serving on the board of directors from 2001-2007 for Dutch environmental product company PMV. Other than that, there is no reference to any further musical projects with the participation of Mr. Bagard/Bogaert.

Which is a shame really, since his obvious passion and talent for music seem to have borne the brunt of his distaste at "the biz" and an older, wiser, worldly Karel would likely bring the depth of his experience to his lyrics. Roughly in his 60s, these days he would probably more clearly exude the blues feeling beyond the note-perfect execution of its stylistic idioms. Although it was obvious Karel felt the blues on this recording, it doesn't necessary follow that the listener will feel his blues.

For a student of the African-American roots music techniques this document may be almost as valuable as original field recordings from the early part of the century (which Bogard had obviously pored over himself). For purists who demand their blues artists be directly from the delta (or at the very least Chicago), this will be anathema. For casual listeners who don't care much about the "who" or "when" or "what" when it comes to their blues, they'll likely enjoy the "how" displayed here by Bogard and his companions, mostly because Karel and companions so obviously enjoyed themselves while recording.

Blues From Across the Border
seems to have steadily increased in price until it maxed out in value in 2007 - Popsike gives eBay auction results of 45€ in 2003, 80€ in 2006 with prices ranging from 100€ to 200€ in 2007 on eBay and at various online record stores. Since then, it seems to have dropped with most pricing reverting back the 40€ to 80€ range. This rip is from the Canadian pressing of the LP, which in many places is mentioned as the only run Barclay printed. It was part of that big bulk purchase I made last summer so you could say I scored it for a buck which is definitely a bargain for this slice of folk-blues, even without considering the value to collectors.

Karel Bogard - Lead Vocal, Acoustic Guitar, Kazoo, Mandolin, Piano
Bottleneck Chris - Acoustic Guitar, National Slide Guitar, Vocals
Roland Van Campenhout - Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Flute, Harmonica
Roger Mason - Accordion, Spoons, Triangle, Vocals
Derroll Adams - Banjo

1 Brownsferry Blues
2 Done Lived With The Blues
3 Morning Sun
4 Don't You Leave Me Alone
5 I.C. Blues
6 Crumble's Farm
7 Rollin' Blues
8 Me And The Devil
9 Bukka White Is Not Dead
10 Danny's Tune
11 See See Rider
12 Tennessee Rag
13 Crowley Two-step

Make a run for the border with Soundological HERE (updated 2013-04-04).

Solo Album Discography

1971 Blues from over the Border
[Barclay 90017] at Soundological

1975 From Dusk Until Dawn
[Dwarf 4C062-96844]

1976 Still Hooked On The Blues

1977 Step
[EMI/Dwarf 4B062-98105]

With Kandahar

1974 Long Live The Sliced Ham
[Sounds Superb 4M048-97401 / Dwarf LP1]

1975 In The Court Of Catherina Squeezer
[Dwarf 4C062-96846]

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Ray Charles-Arbee Stidham-Lil Son Jackson-James Wayne


Ray Charles-Arbee Stidham-Lil Son Jackson-James Wayne

256+ VBR mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from MRL 310

Junco Partner

Shad made good use of his Sittin' In With catalogue both in the original Mainstream run and in the MRL series and this offering bears witness to two major aspects of Shad's career: his knack for "discovering" (or being one of the first to record) what would become well-known artists with an illustrious career and his questionable business practices regarding artists and ownership of their material.

Ray Charles needs no introduction and this compilation features some of the earliest recordings of his material, captured shortly after his return to the South from Seattle and ostensibly while he was a member of Lowell Fulsom's ensemble. These predate the Atlantic sessions that saw him start his meteoric rise and are much more on the "Blues" than the "Rhythm &" tip since the gospel inflection had yet to be injected into his work at this point. All of Charles' songs here, save for the instrumental "Back Home," also appeared on a 1960 compilation of Sittin' In With material called Riot In Blues released by Shad on his TIME imprint.

Original review in Billboard June 12, 1971

This record also features some of the first recordings by James Wayne, who was discovered by Shad in 1951 when his first session was taped in Houston. His second set recorded in Atlanta shortly after yielded five tracks and among them were the two on offer here. Shad first listed his name on the original 78s as "James Waynes" but later on he would also record under the moniker "Wee Willie" Wayne. It is with Wayne's version of the traditional Louisiana standard "Junco Partner" that the more questionable aspects of Shad's business practices become apparent.

"Wee Willie" - not the most advantageous nickname

Although the song was already a standard at the time, the songwriting credit is Shad's. Due to the vagaries of recording and publishing contracts, a savvy businessman could jot down the melody, make some minor changes to the lyrics and voila: a song firmly in the public domain was now the property of a record label owner. Another better-known example of that practice was "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" originally written and performed by South African artist Solomon Linda.

On the other hand, many artists who were unaware of the rules regarding royalties were basically fleeced into selling their compositions (if not their performances) up-front for a pittance. In a 1973 interview for Jazz Journal magazine (available on the Blues Archaeology website), Candy Green alluded to Shad as one of the sharks that would try and secure a session for "a bottle of whiskey and a chick." That statement might help clarify exactly why some of the first Peppermint Harris recordings were infamously taped in a brothel!

There has been ample speculation on the history of the Junco Partner credit (it has its own Wikipedia entry and one discussion thread can be found here) but it's pretty telling of the industry's legal practices that, even though fully aware of the song's folk heritage, gris-gris mojo man Dr.John still attributes it to Shad on his releases. In fact, the liner notes to his classic Gumbo from 1972 go into detail on its pedigree:
The song was first made popular by James Wayne's hit on the "Sittin' In" (Bob Shad's) label. But it was a New Orleans classic; the anthem of the dopers, the whores, the pimps, the cons. It was a song they sang in Angola, the state prison fams and the rhythm was even known as the "jailbird beat". Dudes used to come back with all different verses. The hard-core dopers couldn't wait to hit the streets after their release so they could score again.
Such is the strength of a publishing contract that even though artists like Rebennack, Louis Jordan and Professor Longhair had an intimate knowledge of the song's source they were still required to give Bobby the nod knowing full well what the deal really was. While the credit for "Junco Partner" is under his own name, as mentioned in the previous Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee post, Shad also used the name "R. Ellen" or "Robert Ellen" and sometimes "Mack Ellen" or a combo thereof to register copyrights.

Jordan's Junco 78 with Shad-Ellen credit
c/o Boogie Woogie Flu

Some speculation has been made that Ellen was the name of Shad's wife but that was not her given name, which was Molly. However, her maiden name remains unknown and may indeed be Ellen so the theory can't be entirely discounted at this time. The wiki entry linked to above mentions Robert Ellen as a separate individual but no evidence is available to support this person's existence and Ellen also gets credit as arranger on some sessions where Shad was known to perform that duty. Regardless, the change in policy of using his own name was more than likely due to reducing taxes (as were most business decisions he made) and one way would be for Shad to give his wife the royalties for the music while he took the profits from the product, thus minimizing his personal taxable income.

1 Ray Charles - Why Did You Go
2 Ray Charles - Back Home
3 Ray Charles - I Found My Baby There
4 Ray Charles - Guitar Blues
5 James Wayne - Junco Partner
6 James Wayne - Please Baby Please
7 Arbee Stidham - I Want To Rock
8 Arbee Stidham - Feeling Blue & Low
9 Arbee Stidham - I'm In The Mood
10 Lil Son Jackson - Roberta
11 Lil Son Jackson - She's Gone

There's a riot in blues goin' on at Soundological HERE or HERE.