Sunday, November 27, 2016

Mose 'Scoscious

Sunday Greetings and welcome to memorial tribute #2 of the weekend, this time featuring a recently departed American treasure and a rare anniversary special of a concert.
Not too many folks I feature on here can claim a 60-year career of completely unique output, but there are always exceptions. The "music industry" isn't always conducive to longevity, but every once in a while iconoclasts rise above the sound and fury and its self-signifying nothingness to unabashedly do their own thing for decades. Today's hero is one such cat.
It took a tremendous battle, so the story goes, for him to be able to convince the record company to allow him to sing. When they did, he rewarded them with a smash hit and a song that would end up a classic standard, covered by dozens of artists. The suits offered little resistance after that.
The song was Parchman Farm, about the famous Southern prison, and it launched Mose Allison into a career as one of the truly representative American songwriters. It came out in 1957 and became a sensation, eventually reaching Smithsonian status in the Great Songbook of Everything. I can see the car commercial that featured it so prominently many years ago in my mind's eye right now.
I have many favorite songs of his -- his version of The Seventh Son, a Blues standard for decades before he recorded it in the late 1950s, is held by the experts as one of the foundational instances of Funk -- but the one at the top of the page takes it for me. Your mind is on vacation, but your mouth is working overtime.... sound like anyone you know, Mr. President-Elect?
In addition to being one of the integral American songsmiths, Mose Allison is also somewhat notorious in archival trading circles for being one of the least visible artists in terms of concerts and whatnot. It isn't that he never played -- my friend, a record producer of some legend, was recently recounting a story on social media about the first time he ever saw the man play in London in 1964, and how there was no one like him on the scene when he hit. Cue daggers of jealous rage is 3...2...1...
He had a long career pretty much being himself and authoring his songs from his one-of-a-kind perspective, like a pillar of consistency unto himself. His approach -- never deviating far from the wry, self-perceiving narrative Ever Since I Stole the Blues style he was famous for -- inspired millions of other players and songwriters of all stripes, almost becoming a style unto itself. Artists from Randy Newman to John Prine owe him a tremendous debt.
He passed away at the elder age of 89, just four days after his birthday a couple of weeks ago, but his style and sound, infused with a wisdom and humor almost as no other musician of our era, cannot ever be forgotten. He is interwoven with the DNA -- the molecular musical material -- of the sounds of our lifetimes forevermore.
To celebrate the life of this seminal Scorpio of song, I am putting into the cloud one of the few captures that exist of our hero being broadcast on the radio airwaves. This set dates from about a quarter century ago and features The Mose Allison Trio of the early 1990s turning in a tight, hilarious and highly representative 49 minutes of what makes this man so revered among those that knows.
Mose Allison Trio
Berlin, Germany

01 Indian Love Call/Power House/City Home
02 When You're Going to the City
03 Tell Me Something
04 Your Molecular Structure
05 announcement by Mose Allison
06 Do Nothin' Til You Hear from Me
07 I Feel So Good
08 Announcement by Mose Allison
09 Trouble In Mind
10 Gettin' There
11 I Don't Want Much
12 Ever Since the World Ended
13 Announcement by Mose Allison
14 I Love the Life I Live

Total time: 48:56

Mose Allison - vocals and piano
Sigi Busch - bass
Jerry Granelli - drums

digital capture of a digital FM rebroadcast on Kulturradio
A bizarre aspect of this show is the presence of German bass superstar Sigi Busch, MPS label luminary and a future possible subject for a tribute on this here page. If you know Mose you are likely already clicking the link and ignoring my thoroughly phoned-in spiel, but if you don't this tape -- captured from a pristine rebroadcast on the radio in Europe -- would be a great place to begin. Either way, it makes a fitting tribute to Mose Allison, one of the treasured icons of the music we adore who has left this frequency after six full decades of song -- really almost 90 years on Earth! -- and a long lifetime of enrichment and enlightenment no one who ever dug him will ever forget.--J.
11.11.1927 - 11.15.2016

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Sharon the Groove

It's been a depressing few weeks for sure, but I am back this weekend with two tributes to two giants who passed away this month. Let's begin with a modern soul songstress who left us too soon after a battle with cancer.
I first heard Sharon Jones' massive voice when I went to the record store one day in 2002. I was perusing through the Soul section when the Dap-Kings' 1st album caught my eye... the old school artwork fooled me into thinking it was a rare private-press reissue of some obscure band from approximately 1969.
It took a few spins and some research before I realized that this was a brand new group, albeit working in a classic style. When their subsequent releases have dropped since that day in Amoeba Berkeley almost 15 years ago, I have always scored a copy.
I saw them play once in Oakland at a street fair long ago on Telegraph Avenue... it might have been one of the initial First Fridays they have in downtown. If you close your eyes they really do sound the part of some crack 1970s combo you never heard before.
At the center of their sound was Sharon's voice, like a pillar holding up the whole thing. Astonishingly, she never made a record or really sang professionally until the age of 40. Twenty  years after she got in the game, she leaves it at the top of her powers.
They made six records in total and became one of the more popular and enduring Soul bands of this era... legend has it that James Brown tried to steal them to become his new group in  the early 2000s, but they opted to stay with Sharon and keep doing their own thing.
She came down with cancer a few years back and battled it hard, recording and touring around the chemo sessions. In one of the two radio concerts I am sharing here today, she is interviewed extensively about her condition, treatment and prognosis.
Ah, yes... these concerts. Taped for the ridiculously incredible program "Morning Becomes Eclectic," which originates from KCRW-FM in Santa Monica, we have two appearances (Sharon says in the latter of them it's their fifth time on, but I count only four) of the Dap-Kings from 2010 and 2014. There are interviews with Sharon and of course a total of about an hour of her band live on the air.
Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
"Morning Becomes Eclectic"
KCRW-FM Studios
Santa Monica, California

01 MBE intro
02 Sharon's intro/If You Call
03 She Ain't a Child No More
04 Give It Back
05 interview
06 Window Shopping
07 I Learned the Hard Way
08 Mama Don't Like My Man
09 Better Things
10 outro
11 Money/MBE outro

Total time: 38:10

Sharon Jones - vocals 
Gabe Roth - bass 
Binky Griptite - guitar, vocals 
Joseph Crispiano - guitar, vocals
Homer Steinweiss - drums 
Fernando Velez  - percussion 
Dave Guy - trumpet  
Neal Sugarman - tenor saxophone 
Cochema Gastelum - baritone saxophone
Saundra Williams  - vocals 
Noelle Scaggs - vocals

master analog-FM-to-digital capture
Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
"Morning Becomes Eclectic"
KCRW-FM Studios
Santa Monica, California

01 MBE intro
02 Stranger to My Happiness
03 You'll Be Lonely
04 We Get Along
05 interview
06 Long Time, Wrong Time
07 Now I See
08 Making Up and Breaking Up (And Making Up and Breaking Up Over Again)
09 outro
10 Retreat!

Total time: 34:08

Sharon Jones - vocals 
Gabe Roth - bass 
Binky Griptite - guitar, vocals 
Joseph Crispiano - guitar, vocals
Homer Steinweiss - drums 
Fernando Velez  - percussion 
Dave Guy - trumpet  
Neal Sugarman - tenor saxophone 
Cochema Gastelum - baritone saxophone
Saundra Williams  - vocals 
Starr Duncan Lowe - vocals

master analog-FM-to-digital capture
both shows zipped together
This is my first post on this new laptop I got myself for my birthday, so forgive me if it's not completely up to snuff graphically cuz I am just learning to use it correctly. I shall return tomorrow with an anniversary tribute to another recently deceased musical heavyweight, but by all means grab onto these KCRW Dap-Kings performances and remember Sharon Jones, who only lived to be 60, didn't start in music until she was 40, yet left an indelible impression on the music of our world.--J.
5.4.1956 - 11.18.2016

Monday, November 14, 2016

And the Night Comes On

I went down to the place
Where I knew she lay waiting
Under the marble and the snow
I said, "Mother, I'm frightened
The thunder, the lightning
I'll never come through this alone."
She said, "I'll be with you
My shawl wrapped around you
My hand on your head when you go."
And the night comes on
and it's very calm
I wanted the night to go on and on
But she said, 
"Go back.
Go back to the World."
 We were fighting in Egypt
When they signed this agreement
That nobody else had to die
There was this terrible sound
And my father went down
With a terrible wound in his side
 He said, "Try to go on
Take my books, take my gun.
Remember, my son, how they lied."
And the night comes on
and it's very calm
I'd like to pretend that my father was wrong
But you don't want to lie
not to the young
 We were locked in this kitchen
I took to religion
And I wondered how long she would stay
I needed so much
To have nothing to touch
I've always been greedy that way
 But my son and my daughter
Climbed out of the water
Crying, "Papa, you promised to play!"
And they lead me away
To the great surprise
It's "Papa, don't peek! Papa, cover your eyes!"
And they hide
they hide in the World
Now I look for her always
I'm lost in this calling
I'm tied to the threads of some prayer
Saying, "When will she summon me?
When will she come to me?
What must I do to prepare?"
 When she bends to my longing
Like a willow, like a fountain
She stands in the luminous air
And the night comes on
And it's very calm
I lie in her arms and she says, "When I'm gone,
I'll be yours.
Yours for a song."
Now the crickets are singing
The vesper bells ringing
The cat's curled asleep in his chair
I'll go down to Bill's Bar
if I can make it that far
And I'll see if my friends are still there
 Yes, and here's to the few
Who forgive what you do
And the fewer who don't even care
And the night comes on
and it's very calm
I want to cross over, I want to go home
But she says
"Go back.
Go back to the World."
Leonard Cohen

Casino de Montreux
Montreux, Switzerland

01 intro
02 Bird On the Wire
03 The Law
04 Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye
05 There Is a War
06 Who By Fire
07 Dance Me to the End of Love
08 Diamonds In the Mine
09 Night Comes On
10 The Gypsy's Wife
11 Hallelujah

01 Avalanche
02 A Singer Must Die
03 The Stranger Song
04 Chelsea Hotel #2
05 Story of Isaac
06 Famous Blue Raincoat
07 Lover Lover Lover
08 Tennessee Waltz
09 The Partisan
10 Sisters of Mercy
11 Memories

01 Passin' Through
02 If It Be Your Will
03 Heart with No Companion
04 I Tried to Leave You
05 Suzanne
06 Coming Back to You
07 Joan of Arc
08 Dance Me to the End of Love (2)

Total time: 2:48:46

Leonard Cohen - guitar & vocals
Richard Crooks – drums & percussion
John Crowder – bass, Vocals
Ron Getman – guitar, pedal steel guitar, vocals
Anjani Thomas – keyboards, vocals
Mitch Watkins – guitar, keyboards, vocals

the band introductions and the comments that begin and end the concert are by Claude Nobs

reel-to-reel master tape -- possibly the pre-FM master reel -- from the mixing desk, smoothed for volume consistency and slightly repaired by EN
983 MB FLAC/November 2016 archive link
"Austin City Limits"
Studio 6A
Communications Building B
University of Texas
Austin, Texas

01 First We Take Manhattan
02 Tower of Song
03 Everybody Knows
04 Ain't No Cure for Love
05 The Partisan
06 Joan of Arc
07 Jazz Police
08 If It Be Your Will
09 Take This Waltz

Total time: 58:11

Leonard Cohen – vocals, keyboards, guitar
Bob Metzger – guitar, pedal steel guitar
Bob Furgo – keyboards, violin
Steve Meador – drums
Steve Zirkel – bass, trumpet, keyboards
John Bilezikjian – oud
Tom McMorran – keyboards
Julie Christensen – vocals
Perla Batalla – vocals

Region-free TS file of a 1080p HD webstream
from the PBS site
1.1 GB TS here

Obviously the Maestro, who changed the DNA of this world, is gone. There are no words to express the void that leaves, so I won't try. All I did to this amazing tape, which seems to get to 20Ghz in the spectral analysis, with what could be a MiniDisc in the lineage somewheres to explain the reduction above 15Ghz, is modify it slightly. It sure sounds more pre-FM-ish to my (ugly but fairly experienced) ears than an off-air recording -- if it were an FM capture, the acoustic songs would have been way louder and up-compressed and there'd be DJ patter over the long sections between sets, IMO -- so all I did was adjust the volume between tracks as subtly as I could to make it play like a more balanced broadcast.
Following the law of Do The Least Alteration To What's Already Awesome, other than smoothing the piano intro to Coming Back to You, which came in super hot, and maybe the fades between discs I applied (the end of CD2 and start of CD3 had repeating applause passages) and fixing the dropout mentioned above in the previous notes (and another in Diamonds In the Mine) to play more naturally and less noticeably... oh yeah, and the titling and tagging of the files -- nada further was done. This came with gorgeous artwork so I left the titles the same as featured there.
This (complete, almost 3-hour) concert is UNBELIEVABLE, and this source of it is the best that may ever be, especially after I tweaked it a little bit to be more consistently audible track to track. I also included an HD webstream capture of LC's Austin City Limits tour de force TV appearance from 1988, just for good measure.
I am sad the man has left us but joyous for his long and beautiful life led by example. No one who ever heard or read him with any degree of honest attention will ever forget the depth and the height of some the greatest Art and most revealing and incisive Music ever produced by any human being in any era. The world may be going to hell in a handbasket of disinformationables, but we'll never be able to say this guy didn't tell us, in 60+ years of output, a great deal about why love can and should still win. Thank you forever, Mr. Leonard Cohen. --J.
9.21.1934 - 11.7.2016

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Oslo Jams III: Septet Offensive

This is probably not what anyone's gonna be interested in this morning, and it's understandable. But I planned to put this one up today and no forsaken High School Confidential popularity contest or Debbie Downer Dystopia is gonna stop me from sharing the very best of the rare and necessary gems I have here. Now, more than ever.
I promised one of my regular readers I would do something for the 45th anniversary of the Miles Davis Fall 1971 Eurotour and I am coming through with this one. I apologize for not doing more. This stuff is a full-time job, even the few days a month I post. So this is for you, musiclova.
And damn, I suppose I better blog this before Mssr. Dick de l'Orange takes office and abolishes Jazz altogether, right? I imagine the Kraven Kulture Kops in his new Ministry Of Whiteness will be on scene to police and punish even its mere mention. Perhaps Kenny G will be made Minister of Soprano Saxophone, who can say at this point? Just consider me Robespierre to their Louis XVI... we may both end up in the basket, but at least I want you to have more than just cake to eat.
And ohhhhhh boy, this one here is prime for life in solitary with no possibility of parole -- possibly even the 1791 Paris reenactment, blades and all -- for the likes of me, I can tell you. I was only 5 when this tour happened, and have been trying to build myself a time machine ever since to go back and see it in person. Shit, even pasty ol' Marty McFly could get down to this band.
Obviously if you know this period you've already scrolled to the links and have successfully avoided my (oh so laughably pale) attempts at explanation. For those that aren't, and especially those suffering under the weight of the (apparently now terminated) livable human future this morning, the only thing I can say is that this music is deeply primal and maybe can help get you through at least the morning before fleeing to Canada or outer space.
And speaking of the outer limits... what a band, eh? Keith Jarrett and Gary Bartz are the two main soloists besides Miles, with KJ doing his "I sure play electric shit well for someone who wishes it dead" energy-in-ivory thing, and Gary arguably supplying the best and most ferocious playing, as he often if not always does. This is a vicious band that will decapitate the ears off anyone listening, that's for sure.
On a day such as this, I feel we could all do with a bit of primordial Funk power, delivered without compromise or attenuation. Of all these NRK-TV high-def rebroadcasts, this might be the one to turn your TV or computer screen from orange to a healthier shade of some sort. We can try.
Miles Davis Septet
Chateau Neuf
Oslo, Norway

01 Directions
02 Honky Tonk
03 What I Say?
04 Sanctuary
05 It's About That Time
06 Yesternow
07 Funky Tonk
08 "Sanctuary" theme + closing

Total time: 1:22:05

Miles Davis III - trumpet
Gary Bartz - alto & soprano saxophones
Keith Jarrett - electric piano & organ
Michael Henderson - electric bass
Ndugu Leon Chancler - drums
Don Alias - percussion & congas
James "Mtume" Foreman - percussion & congas

FLV file of an NRK webstream merging 2 rebroadcasts from the Norwegian TV archives
This is a very hard day for a whole lotta folks, and I wish I didn't have to tell you it will get unimaginably -- perhaps irrevocably -- worse before it's bad enough that anyone will do anything real to stem the Fascist tideswell, I'm afraid. Try to remember what's important, and that music is the one thing our species does that transcends the overt deceptions we engage in in all other spheres of our lives on a daily if not momentary basis. To quote a great poet, "We are ugly, but we have the Music."
I advise turning off the "news" -- cuz face it, rampant bigotry and xenophobia aren't really news -- and turning on to this hour and a half of Electric Mayhem from the heavyweight champion of such things, and one of the acknowledged greats of all time. It will beat MSNBC and CNN today -- and honestly, any day ending in "y" -- trust me on that folks. Unlike their tawdry, traitorously sordid asses, I would never dream of lying to you whilst smugly chuckling in your face.--J.
5.26.1926 - 9.28.1991