Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Candyman Among Men

As indicated, we'll finish out the month with the second half of two essential heavyweight birthdays of American music lore.
Whereas yesterday with Duke we had the macro influence, writ large across everything that came in its wake, today we have more of a micro influence whose instrumental exploits fathered a million fingerpickers.
The only one of his mother's children that survived to adulthood -- even though he went blind along the way -- today's honoree found the guitar and Jesus in rapid succession in the 1920s.
His apocalyptic odes to faith and the coming End Times carried with them a picking style that could have only been described as revolutionary.
When the Sixties Folk and Blues booms happened, his largely-forgotten music came roaring back, with countless guitar luminaries citing him as the guy they were trying to copy.
I kind of look at he and Leadbelly as two sides of the same, 12-stringed coin, with Huddie covering the more secular territories of Earthly struggle for justice and the Reverend Gary Davis -- born this day wayyyyyy the heck back in 1896 -- more concerned with what's coming after this life.
He's been gone for almost 50 years, but he's in no danger of ever being forgotten as long as acoustic guitars, and those who'd play them, are looking for an approach.
To celebrate would would have been his 123rd birthday -- yes, this is the only archival music blog where you get a combined age of 243 over two days of posts -- we've got one of those crazy tapes.
This could be described as another one of those proto-bootlegs, where someone showed up with a reel-to-reel deck, plugged into the board -- this was when mixing desks were relatively new -- and captured a historical, legacy artist on fine form.
From what I understand, it took a lot of post-production to get the guitar and the vocal balanced, and the subsequent use of noise reduction meant that this tape thirsted for more high end.
I broke out the Sound Forge 11 Graphic EQ and Dynamics tools on it, and gave it just a slight push up top in the treble department.
This is 71 minutes of vintage RGD playing and storytelling, taped just a few years before he left us forever.
Reverend Gary Davis
Friends' Center
Seattle, Washington

01 introduction + RGD talk: I like yalls' little town
02 Old Time Religion
03 Let Us Get Together
04 I'm Gonna Sit Down On the Banks of the River
05 RGD talk: don't feel like it
06 Feel Like My Time Ain't Long
07 RGD talk: can't do nothing but cry
08 RGD teaches the next song to the audience
09 Come Down and See Me Sometime
10 RGD talk: I love to talk about women
11 She's Just Funny That Way
12 Make Believe Stunt
13 Cincinnati Flow Rag
14 RGD talk: no man lives by himself
15 I Heard the Angels Singing
16 Samson and Delilah

Total time: 1:11:15
Tracks 01-13 are from July 8, 1st set
Tracks 14, 15, 16 are from July 7, second set

Reverend Gary Davis - guitar, harmonica & vocals

mono soundboard reels recorded by Phil Williams and mastered by Easy Ed
high end slightly restored by EN, April 2019
I'll be right back in a couple of days to begin the new month with just the proper Mayday alerts, but make sure you get pasted to the birthday guy Mr. Reverend Gary Davis here as he whips his setlong sermon upon the unsuspecting Seattle faithful more than 50 years ago.--J.
4.30.1896 - 5.5.1972

Monday, April 29, 2019

Mood Indigo Child: Duke Ellington 120

We'll wrap up April with two consecutive posts about two legends of American music, beginning with the obvious choice for today.
Of course it's also Willie Nelson's birthday today, but I went with the round number. Willie will live to be 186, so there's ample time.
And what a perfectly logical coincidence, that Willie and Duke Ellington have the same birthday. That's a lotta formative music for one April 29th.
Why, that's nearly the entire history of America, in just two composers, if you think about it.
Anyway Duke woulda been 120 today, if humans lived that long. Really Duke will live on, in sound and pure innovative influence, forever just as long as there are still people.
Possibly the central musical figure of the 20th Century, there really isn't any quantifying what he means to the continuum since he came on the scene in the 1920s.
Duke is the difference. Between 19th Century music and that of the 20th, certainly. Between jazz as juke joint Saturday night dance music and serious composition and arrangement. Between the sweep and scope of classical music and the energy and elegance of Jazz.
Yes we will always love him madly, and to celebrate his big day today we have what else? but the last known recording of him, from just a few months before he passed.
His last official recording was made just two days before this, as he wrapped up what would turn out to be his final European tour with stops in the UK.
It's possible that this is the soundtrack to a video or television thing, but I'm not certain. What is known is that this is the very last time one of Duke's concerts was ever broadcast on the BBC while he was still alive.
Duke Ellington
"Big Bands At the Dorchester Hotel"
Lime Grove Studios
London, UK
probably 12.3.1973

01 Take the "A" Train intro
02 Rockin’ In Rhythm
03 Creole Love Call
04 Satin Doll
05 I Can’t Get Started
06 New York, New York
07 I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good
08 hits medley incl. It Don't Mean a Thing and Sophisticated Lady
09 Soul Soothing Beach (Togo Brava Suite: first movement) 
10 Chinoiserie (Chinese Dance)
11 Lotus Blossom

Total time: 47:31

Duke Ellington - piano
Harry Carney, Russell Procope, Harold Minerve, Percy Marion & Harold Ashby - reeds & flutes
Money Johnson, Mercer Ellington, Johnny Coles & Barrie Lee Hall - trumpets
Vince Prudente, Art Baron & Chuck Connors - trombones
Joe Benjamin - bass
Quentin “Rocky” White - drums
Anita Moore - vocals on Track 06

sounds like an off-air FM master reel of an original BBC broadcast
Regardless of where it comes from, this is a helluva tape and Harry Carney, especially, goes fairly well nuts.
I'm tryna come back with one more piece of taffy before we hit May, so look out for the Candyman tomorrow.
Today, though, try and get next to the king of all -- Sir Duke -- on his big birth-o-versary here... I wish those days could come on back once more.--J.
4.29.1899 - 5.24.1974

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Krzysztof Making Sense

I'll finish up April with three birthday bashes in four days, beginning with this one all about a prized Polish composer, born this day in 1931.
Our honoree today didn't live to be very old at all, but like so many stars of the eternal firmament his influence has not dimmed.
He is perhaps the most famous and beloved musician in the history of Poland, surpassed only by Chopin himself. 
If you've ever watched any of those Roman Polanski films from the 1960s like Knife In the Water or Rosemary's Baby, he will be somewhat familiar.
In all he scored almost 50 films in his very short life, making him the most prolific film composer in Polish history in just a few short years.
He died under mysterious circumstances, from injuries he was alleged to have sustained horsing around with a friend at a cocktail party.
Considered the ultimate father figure of Polish Jazz, Krzysztof Komeda would have been 88 years old today, having died 50 years ago last week.
We'll celebrate with what's thought to be the only footage of him doing the thing, in this case for Polish TV in late 1967, premiering his memorial piece for the then-just-deceased John Coltrane.
Watch out for trumpet deity Tomasz Stanko -- I will get to him on his own soon -- in this, a rare kinescope from the Polish television archives, sourced from a 2006 rebroadcast.
Krzysztof Komeda Quartet 
"Jazz w Filharmonii"
unidentified Polish Television Studio
Warsaw, Poland
probably 10.17.1967

01 Requiem for John Coltrane (AKA Nighttime Daytime Requiem)

Total time: 31:50

Krzysztof Komeda - piano
Rune Carlsson - drums
Roman Dylag - double bass
Tomasz Stanko - trumpet

PAL DVD of a 2006 rebroadcast of a kinescope capture of the only known footage of Komeda;
audio extracted and included in FLAC
2.2 GB PAL+FLAC/April 2019 archive link
I took the liberty of extracting the audio from this DVD, and have included it in the folder in the usual FLAC format.
I'll be back on Monday and Tuesday to finish out April in the best, most necessary style.
For now, though, you should welcome Komeda into your weekend, and begin to learn about what makes him the most revered 20th Century Polish musician.--J.
4.27.1931 - 4.23.1969

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Timbales Immiserables

The back half of the weekend birthday shindiggery is all about one of, if not the preeminent, acknowledged kings of Latin music.
His legendary music and influence is so wide and deep, I only just learned researching this post that he wasn't born in Cuba, but in New York City. 
That's how authentic the material he used to construct his musical revolution was... to be from Spanish Harlem and sound for all the world like you have lived and breathed Havana.
I remember seeing him on television when I was a little kid, and being struck (yes, struck... battered, even) by how hard he hit the drums and how happy that seemed to make him.
I suppose I carry some of that spirit in my own percussive adventures... that primal sense of abandon coupled with that directed, clocklike force. Well, I have the reckless abandon part down anyway.
There isn't much else you could say about Tito Puente, except that he was born this day in 1923. And that he is essentially the Godfather of Afro-Cuban jazz in particular, and of what is generally termed modern Latin music in general.
He'd have been 96 today, and although he's been gone almost 20 years, we will remember him with this fantastic all-star set from the Estival in Switzerland.
This is another one of those pristine, near-perfect captures where I guess the sound guy or gal had a DAT recorder and got the whole show, start to finish, in almost the best possible audio fidelity.
Look out for sax colossus James Moody, flute deity Dave Valentin and percussion shaman Mongo Santamaria -- plus a keyboard-shattering series of killer piano excursions from Hilton Ruiz -- standing out amongst the titanic assembly of Latin Jazz heroes onstage with Maestro Tito here.
Tito Puente's Golden Men of Latin Jazz
Estival Jazz
Piazza Della Riforma
Lugano, Switzerland

01 New Arrival
02 Summertime
03 Giant Steps
04 Obsession
05 Afro Blue
06 Oye Como Va

Total time: 1:13:58

Tito Puente - timbales, percussion, vocals
Mongo Santamaria - bongos, percussion
Giovanni Hidalgo - congas, percussion
James Moody - saxophone, flute
Charlie Sepulveda - trumpet
Dave Valentin - flute
Hilton Ruiz - piano
Andy Gonzales - bass
Ignacio Berroa - drums

1st generation DAT copy of a master soundboard DAT capture, resampled to 44.1 CD Audio
from the Swissbird archives
I will be back to finish out April with a whole slew of stew at the end of the month.
If you're smart, though, you'll live in the moment and paste your ears and swiveling hips to this 74 minutes of grooves played with such clarity and tightness, you almost feel like you're trancing out to precision loops at certain points.
For now Tito Puente -- yes it's his birthday today and you ought never forget his contribution to the music we love -- and his all-star army of hall-of-fame Latin Jazz warriors, lighting the fuse on this monster hit of festival ecstasy, are calling you to the caliente.--J.
4.20.1923 - 5.31.2000