Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Bey Area

Welcome to Tuesday and a 75th birthday tribute post for one of my all-time favorites in any genre: the one-of-a-kind vocalist, Andy Bey.
Andy is a serious rarity in the jazz world -- an openly gay musician since the 1970s -- and a pioneer. Throughout a 50 year career -- his first record, with his sisters as Andy & the Bey Sisters, came out in 1964 -- he's played piano and sang with countless luminaries and on some of the greatest jazz LPs of these last five decades. Howard McGhee, Max Roach, Horace Silver, and Gary Bartz have all featured him as their vocalist, and if you could sing like Andy they might have hired you too.
This guy is all over some of my fave records, that's for sure. What I have done over the course of yesterday was to delve into exactly this: his guest spots on the recordings of other people. This, to come up with a delicious, custom compilation for those who've never heard him or heard of him. Toss in a couple of his own cuts from his own records and you get a pretty tasty tape.
Andy Bey
Bey Area

01 The Show Has Begun - Horace Silver
02 Du (Rain) - Gary Bartz NTU Troop
03 Celestial Blues - Andy Bey
04 Dufus Rufus - Horace Silver
05 Feelin' Good - Andy & the Bey Sisters
06 Sing Me a Song Today - Gary Bartz NTU Troop
07 Butterfly Dreams - Stanley Clarke
08 Black Maybe - Gary Bartz NTU Troop
09 Members, Don't Git Weary - Max Roach
10 Uhuru Sasa - Gary Bartz NTU Troop
11 Who Has the Answer - Horace Silver
12 I Don't Care Who Knows It - Duke Pearson
13 Let the Music Take You - David Murray
14 Hibiscus - Andy Bey
15 Dear Lord - Gary Bartz

Total time: 1:17:52

This one came out great IMO, and came together rather easily once you discount getting 15 tunes from 14 different albums to sound remotely like they make up the same whole. Anyway it's a big deal, turning 75, so I wanted to mark the occasion with a suitable tribute to a stellar vocalist I truly dig, and I hope you'll pull this compilation down and celebrate accordingly... maybe someone who never heard him will get hip to Andy Bey -- born this day in 1939 -- and for me that's reason enough to put in the effort :)--J.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Rest In Bass

My 48th birthday (and the one-year anniversary of this blog) started off on a sad note when I awoke Saturday morning (10.25.2014) and learned of the passing of the magnificent bass behemoth Jack Bruce at the age of 71. 
Obviously this is devastating news and I shouldn't have to tell you who Jack Bruce is/was. From Graham Bond to Cream to the Tony Williams Lifetime to the Carla Bley Band to his own groups, he should need no introduction and no explanation. One of the world's foremost songwriters and bass players of the last 50 years, period.
When I got back home later on I started to think about a suitable homage, and I got into this absolutely mind-frying, balls-to-the-wall performance from when Jack first assembled his all-star band with Billy Cobham, David Sancious and Clem Clempson at the outset of the 1980s. 
This concert, broadcast over WNEW-FM in NYC live as it happened and captured direct to Maxell cassettes off the air, dates from a few days before this band even had a record out and finds all four virtuosi ready to blow up the Bottom Line... which they do over the course of the next 103 minutes, sending the packed club into complete pandemonium, which you'll hear all up and down the tape.
This master cassette was taped with Dolby B noise reduction back in the day so I took a good few hours with it and went about putting the high end into a punchier place. Using Sound Forge 9 I was able to find a way to make the drums somewhat more present and resurrect the treble some, giving it more life and unleashing more of its (not insignificant) power without altering it too much.
Unless WNEW taped this themselves as it went out and archived it, I don't think there's a pre-FM source of this, given the one-offness of these old Bottom Line broadcasts, but who knows? There was a (horrifying-sounding and incomplete) Italian bootleg CD of some of this show out back in the mid-1990s when there was that interregnum in copyright law over there, but this right here may be as good as it gets for this one barring someone having captured it, say, onto a reel-to-reel off the air or somesuch. 
Jack Bruce & Friends
The Bottom Line
New York City, NY
early show
EN FM remaster

01 White Room
02 Jet Set Jewel
03 Post War
04 Born Under a Bad Sign
05 You Burned the Tables On Me
06 The Loner

Total time: 45:23

01 Running Through Our Hands
02 Theme for an Imaginary Western
03 Bird Alone
04 Politician
05 Sunshine of Your Love
06 NSU
07 Jack Bruce interview fragment

Total time: 57:37

Jack Bruce - bass, vocals
Billy Cobham - drums
David Sancious - keyboards, guitar, vocals
Clem Clempson - guitar, vocals

EN remaster of an FM master cassette capture of the original live simulcast
All conjecture aside, this is the real thing, and all we know exists as far as a live document of this incendiary group at its inception, so please do enjoy this remaster of what can only be termed a take-no-prisoners performance. I hope it makes some fraction of a fitting tribute to the Maestro who left us yesterday with a lifetime or twelve worth of the very finest sounds.--J.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Listen Here: Eddie at Eighty

We are gathered here this Monday to wish the greatest eightieth to the late great sax potentate Mr. Eddie Harris, born this day in 1934.
An inventor and technologist as well as a musician, Eddie pioneered the reed mouthpiece attachment for trumpet (enabling kids, in his words, to "play for a thousand choruses" without busting their chops) and was a prime progenitor of the Varitone electric sax attachment in the 1960s, prominently featured on his huge hit and now jazz standard, Listen Here.
Another career benchmark was participating in one of the more legendary Montreux Jazz Festival sessions, this one in 1969 with piano legend Les McCann that resulted in the million selling album Swiss Movement. Somehow, at the instigation of festival honcho Claude Nobs, this session was filmed, possibly for Swiss TV... and that's what I'm sharing today!
And my, oh my... what a session it is. It looks like it was captured on primitive black and white videotape or even a kinescope, but who cares? You get to see them play a good portion of the record, including the classic Gene McDaniels rant "Compared to What?" that was so huge from that LP. There's even a bonus track from the same festival where Eddie plays Listen Here with his own group, going on an 8-minute Varitone-and-echoplex excursion whilst the Swiss hipsters shimmy and shake along. This was issued by Rhino in 1996 on VHS tape (remember VHS tape?) but has somehow never made it to DVD, so I am posting it as a reminder to Rhino to get a clue and get a proper release of this out there ASAP.
Les McCann & Eddie Harris
Montreux Jazz Festival
Montreux, Switzerland

01 Cold Duck Time
02 Kathleen's Theme
03 Compared to What
04 Kaftan

Les McCann - piano + vocals
Eddie Harris - tenor saxophone
Benny Bailey - trumpet
Donald Dean - drums
Leroy Vinnegar - bass

05 Listen Here

Eddie Harris - tenor saxophone + effects
Jodie Christian - piano
Billy Hart - drums
Melvin Jackson - bass

Total time: 47:26

NTSC DVD made from commercial, out-of-print Rhino VHS tape
This is stellar footage for ten billion reasons -- the crowd reactions alone are worth watching, as is the moment when Ella Fitzgerald sits down in front to watch and the crowd goes berzerk. You also get to see the original Casino in Montreux before it burned down in 1971, as immortalized in the Deep Purple homage Smoke On the Water. And of course, you are bearing witness, down the decades, to one of the all-time most awesome jazz records that will ever be made, as it's created in front of your eyes. What better way to celebrate the life and legacy of Eddie Harris, who passed away in 1996 but who'd have been 80 years old today? --J.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Law of Attraction: The Birth of the Beeb

I've been super busy with work -- it's a full-time job staying this broke all the time, you know -- but let's take a bloggy moment to acknowledge a pertinent anniversary, shall we? Raise your tea and biscuits in salute to the BBC, incorporated this day in 1922!
And what better way to celebrate the broadcasting home of so much tremendous music than with a tremendous concert from the BBC? I don't have much from the 1920s (my Victrola is as broke as I am), but believing as I do that one good anniversary deserves another I do have something suitably tremendous.
Honestly when I was reading yesterday about the 92nd birthday of the BBC I immediately thought of this show, recorded 31 years ago in the Hammersmith Palais in London and featuring the big band Elvis Costello had for the "Punch the Clock" LP, with the horns and the background singers augmenting the Attractions.
Yes, that tour was the closest Elvis ever came to sounding like like... that other Elvis! So I dug it out and dusted it off and set about repairing its many flaws and dropouts, as well as appending the last song -- not included on the boot CD of the original transcription LPs, but recorded off the air onto cassette when the show went out live and exceeded the allotted hour -- back onto the end of the set. 
 Elvis Costello & the Attractions (w/Afrodiziak & the TKO Horns)
Hammersmith Palais
London, UK
EN pre-FM+FM remaster

01 Let Them All Talk
02 Possession
03 Watch Your Step
04 The Greatest Thing
05 Man Out of Time
06 Shabby Doll
07 From Head to Toe
08 Charm School
09 Oliver's Army
10 Shipbuilding
11 The World and His Wife
12 Alison
13 Clowntime Is Over
14 Everyday I Write the Book
15 TKO (Boxing Day)
16 Pump It Up

Total time: 1:02:43

Elvis Costello & the Attractions:  
Elvis Costello – vocals, guitars
Steve Nieve – keyboards
Bruce Thomas – bass
Pete Thomas – drums

The TKO Horns:
Jim Paterson – trombone
Jeff Blythe – alto saxophone, baritone saxophone, clarinet
Paul Speare – tenor saxophone, flute
Dave Plews – trumpet

Caron Wheeler, Naomi Thompson and Claudia Fontaine – backing vocals

remaster by EN
Tracks 01-15 sourced from a boot CD made from pre-FM BBC transcription LPs
Track 16 sourced from a master FM cassette of the original live BBC broadcast
A bunch of remastering went on, as I tried to match the pre-FM source with the FM-sourced final track, which I felt had the horns more brassy and prominent somehow, perhaps due to the FM compression but who knows? The pre-FM source sounds awesome but lacked gain and needed more on top for the horns to really break through, so I went in that direction without changing it too much. Anyway I think I've got it sounding nice and punchy crisp now, so enjoy and thank you BBC for 92 years of great music on radio, and thank you Elvis Costello for this ferocious concert from the first night of the "Punch the Clock" tour 31 years ago, aired on the BBC!--J.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Lesterday Once More

Today would have been the 73rd birthday of Lester Bowie, one of my personal favorite chefs, so I am here to cook up a sweet and savory tribute to the erstwhile Art Ensemble of Chicago founder, who passed in 1999.
He really made the trumpet talk, that Lester Bowie. Very often, he'd be talking through the horn, literally. No one ever to play the instrument could make it come out with all these crazy sounds, without the benefit of electronic enhancement, like Lester could.
The lab coat/chef's jacket he wore onstage was symbolic of creation: that the chef, the alchemist of sound was whipping up a feast for the ears. I saw many AEC shows in the 1980s and 1990s that sent me home satisfied, as if I had eaten a seven-course meal. Lester was a big reason why.
To celebrate and commemorate I am going to share this fantastic master FM reel of a Brass Fantasy set from German radio back in 1986, from between the I Only Have Eyes for You and Avant Pop LPs on ECM. I dig his Brass Fantasy groups as much as the Art Ensemble, truth be told... Brass Fantasy had a tuba on bass, how can you go wrong with that?
Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy
Bremen, Germany

01 The Great Pretender
02 Crazy
03 Think
04 Macho
05 I Only Have Eyes for You
06 Oh, What a Night
07 We Bop
08 Zero (Blueberry Hill)
09 Thriller
10 Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen

Total time: 1:17:46

Lester Bowie, Stanton Davis, Malachi Thompson, David Hines, Bruce Purse - trumpets
Frank Lacy - trombone
Vincent Chancey - French horn
Bob Stewart - tuba
Philip Wilson - drums

master FM reel recorded from a BR 2 / Z├╝ndfunk broadcast
The original share of this show had a track at the beginning that seemed to be from another, much more recent concert, so I left it off... the thing makes it on a single CD now. Anyway enjoy this one as you let the birthday boy Lester and his brass family embellish your weekend with a smattering smear or six.--J.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

The Life of Riley

I heard that the Blues Deity, Mr. Riley B. King, fell ill onstage at the House of Blues in Chicago the other night, so by way of healing vibrations I am sending out this anniversary special of a killer set broadcast as part of 7UP's old "UnConcert" series in the 1970s.
This man, 89 years young, needs no introduction and no explanation. Suffice to say that he is probably the greatest living exponent of The Blues, and that we'd want him to live another 90 years doing what he does if that were somehow possible.
What always strikes me about the King of the Blues is that vibrato. A guitarist using what's usually termed "violin vibrato" always gets me, but this guy has made it a signature part of his sound and tone perhaps more than any other. Listening back to this, when he launches into a screaming clean solo you can sense the top of the audience's heads coming off, and that vibrato shaking their souls to their very foundation when he breaks it out at the end of a phrase. Never has one note been played as eloquently as B.B. plays it. Maestros will be Maestros, after all.
So here's this FM master reel, from the collection of a legendary taper & collector, captured 36 years ago and remastered by yours truly to get it pumping as good as it can. Actually, this came with an admonishment not to alter the raw recording, but if the people who let it loose wanted that they ought to have had the levels above -10db and removed the choppy DJ chatter from it. I also sprinkled a bit of Sound Forge 9 Graphic Dynamics pixie dust upon it, to beef up the slightly lacking midranges containing B.B.'s guitar, and to get an already stellar hour of power up to something approaching an official-quality-sounding tape.
B.B. King
Park West
Chicago, IL
EN master FM reel remaster

01 I Need My Baby
02 Don't Answer the Door 
03 Nobody Loves Me But My Mother 
04 I Need You So Bad 
05 Strange Things Happening 
06 Why I Sing the Blues
07 Nightlife
08 When It All Comes Down
09 Hold On
10 Outside Help
11 Never Make Your Move Too Soon
12 The Thrill Is Gone
13 I Just Can't Leave Your Love Alone

Total time: 58:56

master FM reel capture of a 7UP "UnConcert" from the R.J.P. collection, remastered by EN
A soaring, scintillating set from one of the Masters, presented to you here today as a living Get Well Soon card to the man as he lies in hospital in the city where he made his legend. I ask only that you do enjoy this performance, and remember also to send out the healing vibes to him so he can stick around and play The Blues for us for a while longer, as only he can.--J.