Sunday, July 31, 2022

Both Hands Burning

We are reaching the peak of summer and the end of July, with 100 degree temps in the shade and a post about one of the hottest players ever to touch a musical instrument.

They are turning 63 today and I've always wanted to cover them, so screed I shall.

There are just not too many people about whom you could say OK, this person opened up a whole, distinctly new approach and avenue of expression for their chosen instrument.

Today's birthday person is undeniably one of them.

In fact, since their advent, there have been entirely new, hybrid instruments (like the Warr Touch Guitar, an even tappier Chapman Stick) invented to handle the demands of their boundary-shattering approach.

I remember seeing them on some TV show -- it might have been David Letterman or Johnny Carson -- in the early 1980s and thinking they were surely too talented and visionary to even be from this world.

Using the technical innovations made in the 1960s and 1970s by folks like Barney Kessel, Harvey Mandel, Steve Hackett and Eddie Van Halen -- who were among the first to tap on the fretboard and use both hands to essentially move the guitar's nut around during a solo -- as a sort of starting point, today's honoree redefined what was essentially a one-dimensional, somewhat flashy maneuver and made it into a whole galaxy of horizonal possibilities.

If I had to describe two-handed tapping, I'd probably say it's like using both hands as a perpetual motion capo, changing where all the notes are on the instrument from moment to moment.

In other words, definitely not something your camp counselor was doing around the fire that summer in 8th grade, when he sang all those Eagles tunes for the kids.

They've been doing it at a very high level for these last 40 years, and there are moments in the concert I'm sharing today in their honor when they make quite an ensemble, even integrating simultaneous guitar and piano into their arsenal in perfect, one-person band style.

It's almost impossible to write about a musician as innovative and unique and Stanley Jordan -- who was born this day in 1959 -- so I'll cease my paltry effort and get to this unbelievable, tour de force of a performance: one that made me think, wow this person has lost precisely none of their fire over the course of a long career, have they?

There isn't much to say about this ridiculous two hours of stunning sound showcase, except that Stanley Jordan does it all and more. Everything but sell popcorn at the concession counter.

The simple observation I'd make, as a veteran of who knows how many live concerts, is that it would be 101% out of the realm of the reasonable to expect to buy a ticket for anything and receive this level of committed, boundless artistry and effort in return.

 Stanley Jordan Quartet
"Meeting Stanley Jordan"
Müpa Budapest
Béla Bartók National Concert Hall
Budapest, Hungary

01 Mozambiqueudu
02 Reverie
03 A Place In Space
04 Bartok 1
05 Fragile
06 All the Things You Are
07 Tak Tom
08 Queca
09 Tavaszi Szél
10 Piano Concerto #21 (W.A. Mozart)
11 I Kissed a Girl
12 Bartok 2
13 The Lady In My Life
14 Stairway to Heaven
15 City of New Orleans

Total time: 1:51:42
disc break goes after Track 08

Stanley Jordan - guitars, piano & vocals
Christian Galvez - bass & vocals
Kornél Horváth - percussion & vocals
Gábor Dörnyei - drums & vocals

extracted 384/48 audio from a 2021 Astra 9 digital HD satellite TV broadcast
converted to 16/44 CD Audio, tracked & slightly remastered by EN, July 2022
508 MB FLAC/July 2022 archive link

This concludes our romp through July, seven posts for the seventh month.

I'm hard after August here, but don't elevate out over your skis about that just yet.

Let's instead use the remaining, waning hours of July to tap into one of the most revolutionary guitar players of all time. Long may they practice the magic touch!--J.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Soprano Domini

Let's keep the weekend and July -- month of 1000 concerts -- rolling with another legendary Jazzer's 88th anniversary.

Today's born-day badass burst onto the scene during a short stint in the band of Thelonious Monk, and after migrating to Kenny Drew's band he busted out on his own.
Perhaps the individual in Modern Jazz most closely associated with the soprano saxophone, he was on a mission in life to render every possible expressivity out of the straight horn.
He started as a teen playing Dixieland, but by the time the 1970s rolled around he was a prime exponent of Free playing, and a composer of scripted tunes that often, but for a brief melodic line, seemed wholly improvised.
Any one of his songs contains almost the entire history of Jazz, if you pay close enough attention.
So yes, Steve Lacy -- who kept right on playing until his death from liver cancer in 2004 -- was born this day in 1934.
In his honor, I broke out one of his greatest unissued concerts and cleaned it all up to be in its Saturday best. It's got a cool fuckin' thumbnail cover too.
Steve Lacy Quartet
New Jazz Festival
Moers, Germany

01 Scraps/Weal
02 Flakes
03 The Shoals (In Memory of Duke Ellington)
04 Moms
05 Crops
06 Esteem
07 The Rush 

Total time: 1:12:45

Steve Lacy - soprano saxophone
Michael Smith - piano
Kent Carter - bass
Kenneth Tyler - drums

preFM reels, presumably from the WDR archives

slightly retracked -- with dead air trimmed, between-track gaps removed and noise bursts in Track 01 repaired -- by EN, July 2022
466 MB FLAC/July 2022 archive link

I have one more for the last day of the month, making seven for 7.
I am trying to keep it to five a month, but I made an exception for festival season so don't get too hyped that I'm gonna start posting 14 times a month again.

I will see you then, just as soon as I say HBD again to Mr. Lacy here.--J.
7.23.1934 - 6.4.2004

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Abraxas, Bold As Love: Carlos Santana 75

Hey, remember when I said no more rock stars and no more repetition? The great thing about rules is they were made to be broken.

Today's repeat rock star, whom I've covered numerous times in articles with titles far more clever than this one, ought need no introduction other than to say he's obviously an icon for all times, whose music and innovations in music will live on centuries hence.

He's also into bootlegs and live recordings, and at one time before it all went digital he had one of the biggest collections of this sort of stuff.

I'm not sure what there is to say about him that hasn't been long since said, except maybe that whenever I see him in interviews he seems like he's a pretty hilarious person.

Like when you hear him tell the story of Woodstock, and how the intense facial expressions he's making aren't the result of some higher musical energy, but him struggling to not completely lose it and promising to never take that many tabs of mescaline before performing ever again, if God will please allow him to stay in tune and not mess this up.
If I had to describe his playing, I would use the words tasteful, fluid and voice-like. Like fresh, singing water.

He's also one of those rare rockstars or musicians in general that everyone seems to love. In 50 years of knowing who he is, I don't recall ever hearing someone say out loud that they don't dig his music.

That's not easy to pull off, but over those 50+ years and who knows how many records and tours, Carlos Santana has done it.

Anyway you must have figured out before you even read this, given the wealth of (deserved) tributes flowing online, that he is 75 today.

So we'll celebrate by mashing up a whole bunch of pre-broadcast materials, with a biscuit I put together to be fit for a King.

King Biscuit Flower Hour sampler

01 KBFH intro
02 Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen
03 Oye Como Va
04 Hold On
05 Evil Ways
06 No One to Depend On
07 She's Not There
08 Winning
09 Spirits Dancing In the Flesh
10 Incident At Neshabur
11 Savor/Soul Sacrifice
12 Toussaint L'Overture
13 Europa (Earth's Cry, Heaven's Smile)

Total time: 1:19:49

Tracks 02-04: Forum, Montreal CAN 9.22.1982
Track 08: Cape Cod Coliseum, South Yarmouth MA 7.4.1981
Carlos Santana - guitar & vocals
Richard Baker - keyboards
Graham Lear - drums
Alex Ligertwood - guitar & vocals
David Margen - bass
Armando Peraza - bongos, congas & vocals
Raul Rekow - congas & vocals
Orestes Vilató - percussion, timbales & vocals

Tracks 05-07: Palladium, NYC 2.10.1978
Carlos Santana - guitar, percussion & vocals
Greg Walker - vocals & percussion
Tom Coster - keyboards & vocals
David Margen - bass & vocals
Graham Lear - drums & percussion
Armando Peraza - congas & bongos
Raul Rekow - congas & percussion
Pete Escovedo - timbales
Francisco Vega - congas

Tracks 09 & 13: Sunrise Theatre, Ft. Lauderdale FL 11.26.1988
Carlos Santana - guitar
Greg Rolie - keyboards 
Alphonso Johnson - bass & Chapman Stick
Michael Shrieve - drums
Jose "Chepito" Areas - percussion
Chester D. Thompson - keyboards
Armando Peraza - percussion

Tracks 10 & 11: Rynearson Stadium, Ypsilanti MI 5.25.1975
Carlos Santana - guitar & percussion
Leon Patillo - keyboards 
David Brown - bass
Tom Coster - keyboards 
"Ndugu" Leon Chancler - drums
Armando Peraza - congas, percussion & vocals

Track 12: Balboa Stadium, San Diego CA 7.28.1974
Carlos Santana - guitar, percussion & vocals
Jose "Chepito" Areas - percussion
Jules Broussard - saxophone & flute
David Brown - bass
Tom Coster - keyboards & vocals
Leon Patillo -  keyboards & vocals
Armando Peraza - percussion & vocals
"Ndugu" Leon Chancler - drums

KBFH announcer - Bill Minkin

highlight reel of King Biscuit performances, all sourced from pre-broadcast materials
based on the Santana KBFH Retrospective aired in February 1991... but slightly altered, edited and expanded by EN, July 2022
509 MB FLAC/July 2022 archive link

There's a KBFH program that aired in 1991 that was kind of a retrospective, the pre-FM CD of which is where most of this comes from, but I extended it and used the Michigan Soul Sacrifice because I think it's better. If you want the entire San Diego broadcast, I shared it years ago right here.

I'll be back with maybe a couple more for July, seeing as how it's summer festival season and if I wanted to I could post three concerts a day that had an anniversary or birthday connection, because there are just that many.

But as for the now, don't let me hear you saying you ain't got nobody to depend on (no tengua nadie), when people like Carlos Santana -- born this day in 1947, and rolling along fine as long as he remembers to eat something before going onstage -- exist in our world.--J.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Diamonds Are Forever

We'll rejoinder yesterday's Bauhaus birthday bash with an anniversary post about one of the great undersung groups of all times.

It's tempting to dwell on the (spectacularly tragic, almost mythically sad) way this band came to an end just a few months ago, but I'll try not to do that out of deep respect for the legacy of the music these beautiful people created over a 50+ year career.

This is one of the ensembles in a category you could almost count on the fingers of one hand: a group that first came together in 1969 and whose three principal members stayed together until this year, when what happened happened.

In one of the more hilarious music industry twists, what's probably their most famous and beloved song -- an absolute standard of the Reggae genre -- is most known in a cover version in which all the cannabis references are dumbed down into an homage to food.

These guys made over 40 albums, according to what I was just reading, yet few outside of Roots Reggae enthusiasts and Rastafarians know who they were.

Even besides the prolific studio career, they were a staple of the global touring circuit for uninterrupted decades, especially on festivals and events focusing on Reggae.

This past March it all came to an end in almost surreal fashion, when one member was slain in a drive-by shooting and another -- who had just been hospitalized -- passed 48 hours later from diabetes, having never yet been told of his comrade's demise.

Like I said I'm doing my best not to go on a negative tirade about it, but you have to ask yourself: who shoots a 67-year-old man, himself one of the greatest living Jamaican artists? What the actual fuck is this world? It launches me into an instant McEnroe moment of You Cannot Be Serious, people.

Regardless, today we honor Donald Shaw, Fitzroy Simpson and Lloyd Ferguson: Tabby, Bunny and Judge.
Never, if we lived to be 10,000, would we hope to meet any three people more worthy of being called Diamonds.
Mighty Diamonds
The Edge
Manayunk, PA

01 Party Time
02 Heads of Government
03 Them Never Love Poor Marcus
04 Natural Natty
05 Natty Dread Never Run Away
06 Have Mercy
07 Africa
08 I Need a Roof
09 Get Up Stand Up
10 Keep On Moving
11 Have a Little Mercy
12 Pass the Kouchie
13 band introductions
14 medley incl. Pass the Kouchie reprise/Mack the Knife/Just Don't Want to Be Lonely
15 Heavy Load
16 Rumours
17 Bodyguard

Total time: 1:09:27

Donald "Tabby" Shaw - vocals
Fitzroy "Bunny" Simpson - vocals
Lloyd "Judge" Ferguson - vocals & melodica
Joseph “Capo” Williamson - guitar
Derrick "Stewie" Stewart - drums
Junior "Chico" Chin - trumpet
Ronald "Nambo" Robinson - trombone
Larry "Professor Larry" Silvera - keyboards
"One Drop" - bass
Shalita - vocals
Malijah - vocals

flawless master soundboard DAT of the complete performance
373 MB FLAC/July 2022 archive link

This is just about as flawless an example of what the Mighty Diamonds were all about, coming courtesy of a soundboard DAT capture every bit as flawless.

I'll be back Friday with some legendary mental illness, molded into music that will last centuries.

Built to last like the MDs here, blessing us with this Irie show taped 23 years ago today and still vibrating. Now, pass that kutchie to your left, will you?--J.

The Mighty Diamonds