Saturday, December 31, 2016

Michael, Row the Boat Ashore

Congratulations! You are reading this, so you made it to the end of the very worst year of our lifetimes and you're still alive! This is more awesome that you can possibly imagine, as exquisite, unprecedented tortures await in 2017 that will make what just transpired in 2016 seem like the halcyon days of Atlantis! Luckily there is this page, to keep you a-crypt of all the goings and goings.
Gosh, would you look at those Greek God cheekbones? He looks like he's posing for Mount Rushmore. Which would make him the first Brit ever put on the monument. He'd look good next to Teddy Roosevelt though. He might hit on Jefferson. Gosh, we can hope, can't we?
In this one he's making the face he made when the record suits told him all the gender references in his songs had to be unequivocally heteronormative. It should be the meme picture used for each time the rights of LGBTQ people are threatened or rolled back under the incoming Mussolini Administration.
In this one he's grabbing the axe by the neck, hopefully to stab the wretched record suits in their throats as soon as they turn their CIA-funded backs. Either that or he's fretting a D Major chord in like 12th position or something, I can't tell.
Look at him onstage... the suits haven't a clue he just came from the Folsom Street Fair, do they? It's all right, they traded it all in for a corner office at Langley long, longer ago than a galaxy far, far away. In 100 years, no one will karaoke their songs.
A few days ago they finally hounded him off the Earth, at the ripe old age of.... 53. That's only three years older than me. I don't look near as good in leather fringe though. Nor did I write and perform many of the most revered popular songs of the last 35 years.
Those of you who regularly read this page -- yes, all two of you -- know that this is not the typical fare here. I own precisely none of this person's albums, and have never seen him perform live. But as a nimble symbol of the grim thimble of tears that was 2016 -- OK, it was less a thimble than a full tub or six -- he seems perfect to lay 2016 to a much-needed rest.
I polled on my FB page and folks said do it, so do it I did. People said they'd get it so here it is, possibly "the" George Michael bootleg, made not from pre-FM LPs as earlier shares have suggested, but from an off-air recording on which you really hear the crackle of the records of the show the radio station is playing, back when it was captured. I went through it (I knew it was post-FM because it only gets up to about 14Khz in the spectral analysis) and (using Sound Forge 9 cuz I ride old school) beefed it up in the mids. You can really hear dude now, and honestly this might not be my favorite artist of all time but the guy sings his ass off in this performance.
George Michael
Palais Omnisports de Bercy
Paris, France

01 Hard Day
02 Everything She Wants
03 I'm Your Man
04 A Different Corner
05 Love's In Need of Love Today
06 Father Figure
07 One More Try 
08 I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)
09 Careless Whisper
10 Lady Marmalade
11 I Want Your Sex pts. I, II & III

Total time: 1:12:06

George Michael - vocals
Deon Estus - bass, vocals
Andy Hamilton - saxophone, keyboards, vocals
Chris Cameron - keyboards, vocals, musical director
Carlos Rios - guitar, vocals
Moyes Lucas - drums
Tony Patler - keyboards, guitar, vocals
Lynn Mabry - vocals

1st gen FM capture of a Westwood One broadcast from 1988, remastered by EN
Anyway I removed a good deal of the crackles and pops and FM noise burstlets I talked about. It drifted a bit sibilant in the middle of the show, but never irritatingly enough to alter it, which when you do that stuff can really eat up certain high frequencies in awkward ways. Beyond my sad pay grade anyways; I did, however, get "Careless Whisper" up to volume par with the rest of the set.... I have no idea why it was 3db shy of a load.
And speaking of sad, what about the saddest year since whatever, huh? This guy, whom I read up on as I prepared this with a devastating 102 degree fever, was more compassionate and giving in his little gay finger than all the hypocrites and sexual Purityrants will ever be in every body they'll ever inhabit, colonizers of consciousness as they are. He was only 53 years old when he died on Christmas Day -- I repeat!!! all of 3 years older than I! -- kind of placing the shit cherry atop the crap cake that was 2016 on so many social and cultural fronts.
Anyway maybe 2017 will be better, or maybe it will make the Billy Joel song of future Floridas seem like "Mary Poppins"... I cannot say as I am not Joshtradamus by any means. But I decided to close the year with this, because this person was as beloved an artist as any of the many (millions? tens of millions? I can't keep up) that have passed since Mr. Kilmister kicked it off 12/28/15, just past his 70th, and it has a sort of celebratory, pre-hangoverly intoxicated vibe appropriate, IMO, for New Year's Eve.
So here you are, titled & tagged as usual so the audioboffins can audioboff and the iTunes people don't feel left out, even though as Apple customers that's pretty much their way of life long about now. Until someone shares the pre-FMs of this one (HINT HINT) this can do for the definitive edition of this classic boot, so to say. See you soon at the New Moon, have a Happy New Year, and everyone be safe out there and love each other as George Michael would insist you do. --J.
6.25.1963 - 12.25.2016

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Chosen Fusion: Alphonse Moves On

The year is nearly over, and for music aficionados it's likely not a moment too soon. Today we memorialize yet another heavyweight hitter, gone this week after a career that left his drumprints on a whole lot of the sounds of our lifetimes.
I got to chat with him a few times on Facebook and he was a super guy, but even if he'd have been a screaming Buddy Rich tirade he'd still be the drummer on literally dozens of the greatest recordings of the last 50 years.
The first Weather Report LP, that launched them on the path to fusion stardom. All those Larry Coryell Eleventh House albums. Those Eugene McDaniels thermonuclear salvos Headless Heroes and Outlaw, in which he lays down beats to match the militancy of Gene's messages.
I teased him about that when I talked to him six months ago, what was Gene like? He was SO proud of those records and his unique and instantly recognizable style really takes them over the top, even now when we are 45 years removed from their making.
It's a testimony to his chops and personal flair that you can put a record on and know it's him after just a few bars. Drummers, as opposed to all other instrumentalists, have the toughest time establishing those conditions behind their work, where the sound is recognizable even without seeing who is playing.
He passed after a yearlong cancer battle on Sunday at the age of 68, but not before a career that spanned decades and collaborations with some of the most significant musos of our era. I just realized he is the man manning the traps for a whole slew of McCoy Tyner LPs and also the Betty Davis record Crashin' from Passion, wow. What didn't this guy play on?
A figure of this stature deserves a tribute of truly funkified proportions, and as Alphonse Mouzon was one of if not the premier fusion drummers of that art form's mid-Seventies golden age, let's share a delicious concert captured by German TV at the height of it. This is from 40 years ago and features the equally-as-immortal (and thankfully still breathing) Gary Bartz supplying his unique brand of alto and soprano saxophonistic shreddings over the bubbling beats of our departed honoree.
Alphonse Mouzon Group
Berliner Jazztage
Berlin, Germany

01 announcement by Werner Wunderlich
02 drum intro
03 Nyctophobia
04 Master Funk

05 Virtue
06 Poobli

Total time: 44:12

Gary Bartz - alto saxophone
Stu Goldberg - keyboards
Welton Gite - bass
Alphonze Mouzon - drums, percussion

PAL DVD from what looks like a master tape from the German TV archives
Obviously 2016 has been the Waterloo watershed for musicians leaving our world, and it hasn't been easy. I've only even been able to tribute a fraction of the luminaries that left us in the last 12 months.... I mean, George Michael and actress Carrie Fisher died in just the 48 hours since Alphonse Mouzon did, for cryin' out loud. Hopefully 2017 won't be as cruel an experience, but there are no guarantees so treasure them whilst they remain, for they are the ones that do the very best thing humans do -- move the air with music -- the best of any of us.--J.
11.21.1948 - 12.25.2016

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Eighty Palmieri

I return with a Salsa Special to honor an absolute giant of the genre, turning a milestone 80 today.
He's been doing it since the advent of the 1960s and you can still catch him live, touring globally. He and his brother Charlie are probably the greatest living ambassadors of Latin Music currently on Earth.
His early 1970s LPs cook with a fire typically seen on the Sun, and are never far from my personal platter playlistings. Starting with Justicia in 1970, through the long outta print 1972 live records I am posting here today, he had a run of seminal excellence that rivals the Stevie Wonders and Marvin Gayes of the same time frame.
It's no exaggeration to say that Eddie Palmieri is possibly the most beloved musician ever to come out of Puerto Rico, that's for sure. But even if he had come from Pluto, there can be no denying that the modern Salsa sound rests on a foundation of which he is a central pillar.
And then there's this band he created back in the day. As smokin' an ensemble ever to play this music, Eddie's Harlem River Drive group diversified things, really stirring in the heaping helpings of soul and funk that blew the doors off what had gone before. That 1971 LP is surely a Desert Island Disc for a lotta folks, me included... and then they played a supermax prison.
The two records that their gig at Sing Sing Correctional Facility in upstate New York produced make the studio album they made seem tame, let's just say. And let's just say that the audience of inmates responded to their set with a high degree of enthusiasm. How they didn't burn the place down, I have no idea.
Those records got reissued on the Tico label in 1994 and as far as I can tell have not been seen since... a while back I bought a bootleg Italian CD of Volume One and it was a dodgy vinyl transfer!! Thankfully I have both volumes on the original Tico CD issues and was able to very slightly remaster them to adjust the differing loudnesses, which diverged a bit between the two. These burn with the fire of twelve galaxies and I advise playin' em good and loud.
Eddie Palmieri & Harlem River Drive
"Live At Sing Sing, vols. 1 & 2"
Sing Sing Correctional Facility
Ossining, NY

vol. 1
01 intro/Pa La Ocha Tambo
02 V.P. Blues
03 Muñeca (new version)
04 Jibaro, My Pretty Nigger
05 Azucar (part 2 and part 3)

vol. 2
01 intro
02 Vamonos Pal Monte
03 Calle De La Vera Cruz
04 Mi Mujer Espiritual
05 intro
06 Somebody's Sons
07 Un Rifle Oracion (A Rifle, A Prayer)
08 17.1

Total time: 1:28:53

Andy Gonzalez - bass
Hank Anderson - Fender bass
Nicky Marrero - bongo drums
Ray Romero - congas
Reggie Barnes - drums
Cornell Dupree - guitar
Harry Viggiano - guitar
Charlie Palmieri - organ
Jerry Gonzalez - percussion
Eddie Palmieri - piano & electric piano
Ronnie Cuber - saxophones
Charlie Santiago - timbales
Jose Rodriguez - trombone
Ray Maldonado - trumpet
Alvin Taylor, Lorene Hanchard - vocals
Arturo Campa, Arturo Franquiz, Ismael Quintana - chorus vocals
Felipe Luciano & Paquito Navarro - spoken word
Joe Gaines - stage introductions

out-of-print CDs on the Tico label, slightly remastered by EN
These are among the seminal Salsa recordings ever made, especially in the concert context, so I'd advise not missing out on them. As you enjoy them, please remember to honor their creator, born this day in 1936 and showing no signs of slowing. Happy 80th, Maestro Eddie Palmieri!!--J.

Friday, December 09, 2016

San Gregorio

there might have been things I missed
but don't be unkind
it don't mean I'm blind
perhaps there's a thing or two
I think of lying in bed
I shouldn't have said
but there it is
you see, it's all clear
you were meant to be here
from the beginning
maybe I might have changed
and not been so cruel
not been such a fool
whatever was done is done
I just can't recall
it doesn't matter at all
you see it's all clear
you were meant to be here
from the beginning
Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Olympic Stadium
Montreal, Canada

01 The Enemy God
02 Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression
03 Pictures At an Exhibition
04 C'Est La Vie
05 Lucky Man
06 Piano Concerto #1: Third Movement
07 Tank
08 Nutrocker
09 Pirates
10 Fanfare for the Common Man/Blue Rondo a la Turk

Total time: 1:26:52

Keith Emerson - keyboards
Greg Lake - guitar, bass & vocals
Carl Palmer - drums & percussion
with a 65-piece orchestra conducted by Godfrey Salmon

NTSC DVD from a grey area 2003 release now long OOP
There ain't much to say except that once upon a time Rock music was just three-chord rave-ups about what backseat you had what girl in what position for some Brain Salad Surgery. Then some people came along who couldn't help themselves... they could play more than those three chords and had more in mind for subject matter than the teenage groping soundtrack that had preceded them.
Other, more thornily un-Rock musics began to find their way into it. Songs went from three minutes to twenty-three. Stadia were filled, cannons were fired, organs were stabbed with sharp, threatening looking cutlery. Then the British economy tanked, people were thrown into economic despair, and suddenly no one was interested in extended suites about those seven virgins and a mule, there upon the stool.
One of these formative figures in the sophistication and diversification in the music which we all take for granted these days passed away the other day, after a final fray on the cancer Battlefield. He was a co-founder of, first, the central group responsible for the shift, and then, one of its most legendary and top-selling bands. Without him, the music of the last 50 years would be very different -- in some ways, perhaps unrecognizable -- from what exists today.
I will offer no further editorial, except to say that if you love creative and unusual, risk-taking music the world is a little less colorful today, having lost an original member of both King Crimson and EL&P just 48 hours ago.
My advice is to pull down the ridonkulous, out-of-print DVD I put up of the latter's 1977 performance at Montreal's Olympic Stadium -- you might have the urge to form your first punk band from watching just the first 15 minutes! -- and paste your eyes and ears to what made the Great Gregorio one of the central figures in the ongoing, Jann Wenner infuriating heresy that is Progressive Rock. And don't forget to remember Greg Lake, a Magic Carpet rider who did much to widen the Overton Window of Rock music to include materials from beyond the backseat.--J.
11.10.1947 - 12.7.2016

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Hammond Song: Happy B-3 to You

I am back and will try to catch up to December, starting with this here birthday tribute. I know a big passing was just announced but today was slated for a celebration post. I promise I'll get to it soon.
Today would have been the 91st -- or the 88th, no one is completely sure -- anniversary on Earth of the man widely considered to be the quintessential organist of all time. He passed in 2005 after a long life and 50 year career, but no one who knows is going to forget who he was anytime soon.
If I had to list all the luminaries with which he played since his first record in 1956, I'd be typing until dinnertime and I ain't even ate breakfast yet. If I had to list all the hip-hoppers that have sampled his wares, I'd have to update to Windows 11, an operating system that hasn't even been invented yet.
No one made a Hammond B-3 beast scream and wail like Jimmy Smith, did they? His early records helped put the Blue Note label on the map as a commercial force, and his later Verve ones cook even hotter. By the time he got to the 1970s, he was delivering some of the most filthily funkified jams ever made.
There's no way to explain Jimmy Smith if you don't know him, other than to say that if a record of his is played at a party or on the radio at the coffee shop and it fails to get you groovin' and movin', it might be time to call the coroner because you are likely deceased. And we know how that can start to smell.
Like I was saying, this was a guy who literally played and recorded with the toppermost players of the age. If there were ever a list of Jazz royalty by instrument, this person would lead the names of the organists without reservation.
He influenced -- lit the way for, really -- all who succeeded him from Ray Charles to Larry Young to Charles Earland to Steve Winwood to Jon Lord to everyone else. There is no one alive who plays the organ who does not, in some direct way, owe a huge debt to Jimmy Smith.
A central figure in the 20th Century migration of the music of the African-American church into all forms of popular music, Jimmy Smith brought the passionate fire of Sunday morning into a new Saturday night context, using the instrument as central as any to the worship service to help ignite a secular revolution that reverberates to this day.
To commemorate this gigantic titan of the music of our age, I have gone full weird and placed two items -- which, together, make a pretty dastardly single 72-minute CD -- into the cloud, one an archival unreleased gem and the other a high-def transfer of a record that hasn't been in print since 1973 and itself has never appeared in the digital age. Both date from the same year -- 1972 -- and document two performances a few months apart with two similar, all-star bands... one even features B.B. King playing Jazz alongside Jimmy Smith in Yankee Stadium!
Jimmy Smith Group
live 1972

Newport in New York '72
Yankee Stadium
Bronx, NY

01 Blue N' Boogie
02 What's New
03 Since I Fell for You
04 The Man I Love
05 Ode to Billie Joe
06 Please Send Me Someone to Love

Total time: 32:47

Clark Terry - flugelhorn
Art Farmer - trumpet
Illinois Jacquet - saxophones
Zoot Sims - saxophones
Joe Newman - saxophones
Jimmy Smith - organ
Kenny Burrell - guitar
Roy Haynes - drums
B.B. King - guitar on Track 01

sourced from a 24/192 transfer of a long OOP LP, converted to 16/44 and tracked by EN

Berliner Jazztage
Berlin, Germany

01 intro by Ulf Drechsel
02 Walkin'
03 Satin Doll
04 I'm a Fool to Want You
05 improvisation

Total time: 39:13

Clark Terry - flugelhorn
Art Farmer - trumpet
Illinois Jacquet - saxophones
James Moody - saxophones and flute
Jimmy Smith - organ
Kenny Burrell - guitar
Roy Haynes - drums

sourced from a 2010 Kulturradio rebroadcast
both shows zipped together
I adjusted the volume of the Berlin set to match the Bronx one, so they play seamlessly as one program, as well as inserting track markers where they belonged for the Yankee Stadium record. I shall return very soon with tributes to the fallen, but for now pull this slab of organissimo down and paste your ears and hips to what it has on offer, largely courtesy of one Jimmy Smith... born this day in 1925 and gone from us more than a decade, but more able to deliver the goods from beyond the grave than many of today's so-called artists can do whilst breathing.--J.
12.8.1925 - 2.5.2005