Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Hollow-Body & Soul

We'll put July to bed in high style, with a birthday tribute to a legend of legends.
I was reading where he has fallen on hard times healthwise and financially; hopefully he is getting the help he needs.
Born way back in 1931, he is turning 88 today after a decades-long career at the forefront of Jazz guitar.
In fact, the case could be made that today's hero is the primary living exponent of the guitar in Jazz, having helped to solidify so much of the vocabulary of that instrument in the context of improvisation.
His deeply soulful, quintessentially human lines and round, bluesy tone are instantly recognizable in a sea of imitators, even now.
It's almost synonymous, really. You say Jazz guitar, you think of the name of Kenny Burrell. At least I do, and I know I am not alone.
To celebrate his big day, I've got another of those deliciously vintage NPR "Jazz Alive!" broadcasts from back through the mists of time.
This 40 year old gem of a show features KB out front of an all-star group that includes a rhythm section of none other than Leroy Vinnegar and Shelley Manne, the latter of which gives a fascinating interview at the start of the program.
Kenny Burrell & The West Coast All-Stars
1st Annual "Friends of Jazz" festival
Irvine Bowl
Laguna Beach, CA

01 "Jazz Alive" intro & Shelley Manne interview
02 The Common Ground
03 band introductions
04 A Child Is Born
05 Blues In the Closet
06 It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing
07 Now's the Time
08 "Jazz Alive" outro

Total time: 51:58

Kenny Burrell - guitar & vocals
Jerome Richardson - saxophones & flute
Conte Candoli - trumpet & vocals
Art Hillery - piano
Leroy Vinnegar - bass
Shelley Manne - drums

master reel of the original 1979 NPR "Jazz Alive" broadcast
That will about cover it for the month of July... I am hard at work, selecting more fruits of the Big Tree to hit with in August as we heat things up to a feverish archival boil here. 
There's plenty of big birthdays and anniversaries to get to, of this you can be assured.
Don't sleep on this wonderful birthday blast of the exquisite Kenny Burrell though; it's a six-string summer spectacular for certain.--J.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Paraphernalia Down: Barbara Thompson 75

Let's begin to wrap up July with a milestone birthday for a severely underrated player.
Surely one of the top female reedmasters on the planet, she is 75 today.
She first became known in the band of her husband, who I covered here last year when he passed after a 50 year career as the leader of one of the original Progressive Rock bands, Colosseum.
She guested on a whole bunch of records in the 1970s before going out on her own in 1978, leading two groups at the same time whilst still finding time to play in Wolfgang Dauner's United Jazz & Rock Ensemble, another of Joshy's favorite Euro-fusion groups.
A passel of solo records and guest honkings followed in the 1980s, with several platters from her main band, Paraphernalia, hitting the shelves.
More followed as the 1980s became the Nineties, until a Parkinson's diagnosis took her off the stage into a temporary retirement.
She gave a series of farewell concerts, but somehow she came back from what seemed like a career-ending medical crisis just a few years later.
She's collaborated on a handful of musicals as well, with composer Andrew Lloyd Webber on worldwide favorites like Cats and Starlight Express.
Often found blowing multiple horns simultaneously, her late Seventies/early Eighties fusion records are never far from my personal playlistings.
It's one of these LPs -- most of them have never seen the light of day in the digital reissue era -- that we'll fire up today, fresh from a lovely vinyl transfer that I meticulously declicked the other day.
Barbara Thompson
Barbara Thompson's Jubiaba

01 The Funky Flunky
02 Seega
03 Helena
04 Cuban Thing
05 Black Pearl
06 Touch Of Blue
07 Slum Goddess

Total time: 37:09

Barbara Thompson - saxophones & flutes
Roy Babbington - bass & guitar
Trevor Tomkins - drums
Peter Lerner - piano & synthesizeers
Glyn Thomas - percussion
Henry Lowther - trumpet
Ian Hamer - trumpet
Bill Le Sage - vibraphone & percussion
24/96 LP rip of the long OOP album
converted to 16/44 and declicked by EN, July 2019
I'll try to get one more missive for July up before August augurs in.
Do enjoy this very rare and long out-of-print platter though... Barbara Thompson -- born this day in 1944 -- is sounding the clarion call, on multiple horns, for your attention.--J.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Keith Tone Corner

Let's get to this second keyboard wizard post, a 40th anniversary special of distinction.
This is one of those special jams where, when I think about what my favorite live recording of this particular artist might be, I come up with this one as opposed to all his others, legit and unlegit.
It's another of those France Musique rebroadcasts where they split the whole performance over two weeks, and you just thank the ORTF gods that they have the good sense to do so and that folks at home are waiting with the "record" button ready.
The playing here is just out of the atmosphere and the quality of the improvisation so high that you wonder how much more inventive it could possibly get.
I think it's my favorite live thing of this cat because it immediately precedes his G.I. Gurdjieff Sacred Hymns phase, and that's my favorite issued recording of him.
That takes it into a way more Eastern flavor than his much-revered Koln Concert platter and the Bremen/Lausanne solo LP, both also very high on my list of solo piano performances all time by anyone.
The kind of concentration and skill it takes to sit down at a piano for this long and have what you do exist at this level of melody and musicianship -- when 2/3 of it is made up straight off the top of your head -- would be almost inconceivable to me, were the audio proof not encoded into these here bytes.
Enough chatter: let's let Keith Jarrett take you aloft, as only he can navigate the 88-key flight plan.
Keith Jarrett
Festival de Jazz
Pinède Gould
Juan-les-Pins, France

01 Antibes Ia
02 Antibes Ib
03 Antibes II
04 My Song
05 Never Never Land

Total time: 1:46:45
disc break goes after Track 02

Keith Jarrett - piano

digital capture of two 2018 France Musique rebroadcasts that together form the complete concert
I shall return, perhaps Saturday, with more jazzy jewels and pop perfection -- as well as some rock righteousness and even some country classicism -- as we begin to arrive at August here.
You better not miss this Keith Jarrett show though; he is beckoning for you come down from your ivory tower to get the news, recorded precisely four decades ago today.--J.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Vimana Tone

We are back for two posts in three days, featuring anniversaries of two monster concerts by two absolute keyboard deities.
The first one just surfaced in the last few months, courtesy of a really nice vinyl bootleg from Germany, and let me warn you it's a Grail.
No one knew a master soundboard tape of Alice Coltrane during her seminal impulse! period even existed, but we sure are glad it does.
This show is like an astral, celestial voyage and the Maestro assaults her modified Wurlitzer organ -- there's a monophonic synthesizer built into it -- and her harp with Vedic vigor for the whole 78 minutes.
The organ solos alone will be enough to melt the plaque off your back and the grime off your mind.
How or why this was recorded we may never fully know. It goes strong to 15 kHz in the spectral analysis, so it could have been taped for KPFA-FM in Berkeley -- Alice had a performance from a year previous partially aired on there -- but never broadcast.
It makes fully no difference, as long as it's here and between our ears, amirite? Undiscovered gems such as this are what makes the world of archival and unissued audio worth inhaling.
All right, cut the chatter and spin the platter: I must have played this 50 times since it came out in May and it does not diminish with repetition in the slightest.
Alice Coltrane Sextet
Berkeley Community Theater
Berkeley, California USA

01 Journey In Satchidananda 
02 A Love Supreme 
03 My Favorite Things 
04 Leo

Total time: 1:18:01

Alice Coltrane - harp, organ, piano & synthesizer
Charlie Haden - bass
Ben Riley - drums
Aashish Khan - sarod
Pranesh Khan - tabla & percussion
Bobby Winn - tamboura & percussion

heretofore hidden master soundboard-sourced recording; spectral analysis indicates possible FM lineage but who knows?
taken from the 2019 bootleg 2LP set "Live At the Berkeley Community Theater 1972" on BCT Records
I'll be back on Thursday with another stunning display of pianistic wizardry, in a wholly different but somehow strikingly similar vein.
Don't even think about hesitating on this one today, though... it's like a private voyage on the sacred, flying vimanas of Alice Coltrane's fingertips and you know you wanna take the trip.--J.
8.27.1937 - 1.12.2007