Thursday, July 27, 2017

Hidden Handy: Indian Summer of '79

After almost two weeks unblogged, I have resurfaced with a gorgeous and criminally undercirculated gem of a concert that is celebrating its 38th birthday today.
If you don't know the name of John Handy, you should... he's only one of the greatest musicians to walk the Earth during our lifetimes. He started out in the early 1960s with Charles Mingus and proceeded to go out on his own, lighting up the Monterey Jazz Festival of 1965 with certainly one of the most incredible ensemble performances in the history of Jazz, which was later issued on one of the genre's most revered live records.
This concert is just as transcendent, and dates from the late 1970s and Handy's second Seventies World Fusion project to feature legendary Indian sarod player Ali Akbar Khan. While their 1972 collaboration was mostly a duo, this show features as all-star of a band as you could put together.
Yes, this is a quintessential quintet JH has got onstage with him, with Brazilian guitar visionary Bola Sete, tabla deity Zakir Hussain and violin master L. Subramaniam rounding out the ensemble. When Handy finally got around to making a record of this project in 1980, a couple of the players had moved on.
Yes, this one was taped for National Public Radio on this very day in 1979 and boyo, whatta performance. As I was saying, Zakir Hussein and Bola Sete did not make the session for the one 1980 LP this group made, so their presence here makes a special hour of music even more special, composed as the lone piece was especially for this, this group's debut concert.
I remastered this powerful hour of entrancement a bit, hoping to make it about the very best it can be. I did little revision of the sonics, except to work on the slightly dull low end (in the tablas especially) and overall just bring the soundstage to the fore, as it was sort of flat sounding and a bit lifeless in terms of heft and fullness. I used Sound Forge 9 Graphic EQ and Graphic Dynamics tools for the fattening, and if I do say so now it sounds nearly indistinguishable from an official release.
John Handy's Rainbow
Great American Music Hall
San Francisco, CA

01 John Handy interview and radio intro
02 Rainbow
03 radio outro

Total time: 1:00:45

John Handy - saxophones
Ali Akbar Khan - sarod
Zakir Hussain - tabla
L. Subramanian - violin
Bola Sete - guitar

master reel of a "Jazz Alive" pre-recorded FM broadcast from National Public Radio (U.S.A.), remastered by EN
This is, as I said, an hour of lilting, drone-slithering power, reminiscent of John McLaughlin's Shakti but not entirely as chops-focused as that group, and this Handy dandy quintet captures an organic vibe not unlike something, say, Don Cherry might mastermind. Anyway I thought it deserved a birthday refresh session, so I did the deed...  pull it on down and groove to it endlessly!--J.


  1. Just wanted to say thank you very much for this very unusual John Handy set. I am a huge fan and collector of the NPR Jazz Alive! series, and I don't mind saying that I'm old enough to have listened to many of the original airings in 1978, 79 and beyond. For some reason I missed this Handy episode but thrilled to be hearing it now.

    I am especially grateful for the Arthur Blythe set from the Public Theater as that has always been a true fave for me and my original (well-worn) cassette tape is compressed for the first six minutes, so hearing your pristine copy after all these years was just so awesome.

    There were so, so many great performances on Jazz Alive! I have some on cassette and some in digital form, Pat Metheny's Telluride Jazz Festival performance of 1978 among them. If you should happen to come across any more of these, there two great Jazz Alive! shows that still elude me -- both are from the Paramount Theater in Austin, Texas -- Jean-Luc Ponty (15NOV78) and Eberhard Weber & Colours (02MAR78).

    A special thanks once again for the Jazz Alive! recordings and thanks as well for all the great and varied music you so generously offer. Always a pleasure to visit your site and to read your highly entertaining homages. Thanks . . .

    -- Pino

    1. OK Pino I consulted the archives of oblivion and I had 32 minutes of the Eberhard Weber one.... not sure if it's the whole broadcast but I tagged it up and put it in the cloud for you here:!YHgy1ToR!2bWk2idki5-D5UtcI3YelIUFTOEAX0yxp7jQrV-sMeQ

    2. .... and I found the JLP one, or at least 42 minutes of it, on Trader's Den, so I tagged the files and put it here for you:!8CJkHITZ!i-s9YxedUXwTeC9RKz6-kUHP91-JwVjuLc0Hekd1RU4

      Enjoy Pino!!!

  2. thanks Pino that is really nice of you to say that

  3. WOW -- can't believe how fast you came up with these!! And can't tell you what joy they bring to my ears after all these years of searching . . . . and, yes, those are the whole broadcasts (just enough to nicely fit on one side of a 90 minute cassette!!!)

    Thanks a million for these, Bliss. You are a true wonder.

    -- Pino

    1. No worries Pino, anytime

      anything you are questing for, just lemme know ;D

  4. Thanks, I remember the NPR Jazz Alive series and Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

  5. Any chance of a re-up? I'm always slow, a bit behind the times.