Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Divinity Is Still My Name: Sarah Vaughan 100

Sarah Vaughan Quintet - I Remember Clifford

All right, March rolls on with this month's big centennial!

There are a wealth of luminaries who dropped into our firmament in the year of 1924, but I can't name one more luminescent than today's sassy and soulful singer.

Certainly firmly in the conversation for Greatest Jazz Singer Of All Time, she's been gone a long time but she isn't gonna be forgotten until at least the year 3024.

I covered her exactly 10 years ago for her 90th, and I wouldn't dare miss her 100th if you paid me.

Born in Newark, New Jersey, she came on the scene in the early 1940s (!!!!) when, after winning the Apollo Theater talent competition -- that's the one where if you sucked, they'd hook you off the stage with a giant cane sorta thing -- she was chosen to open for Ella Fitzgerald at that famed Harlem venue.

By the time she was 20, she had progressed from the band of Earl "Fatha" Hines into Billy Eckstine's newly minted Big Band, which brought her into the company of the likes of Charlie Parker, Art Blakey and Miles Davis to name but a few.

After her time onboard with Eckstine and his all-stars, she went solo and she never looked back.

By the late 1940s Sarah Vaughan -- nicknamed Sassy by her pianist and later The Divine One by Chicago DJ Dave Garroway -- was a household name and a superstar, and remained so until her death in 1990.

This isn't an artist whose impact is easily conveyed by words of explanation, so let's get into this Hamburg 1978 set that got rebroadcast by German radio two weeks ago in honor of her centenary, to which I've added some bonus material from the very same Eurotour.

Sarah Vaughan Quintet
NDR-Jazzworkshop (139)
NDR Studio 10
Hamburg, Germany

01 This Is the End of a Beautiful Friendship
02 I'll Remember April
03 I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good
04 East of the Sun (And West of the Moon)
05 Lover Man
06 Watch What Happens
07 Somewhere Over the Rainbow
08 On a Clear Day
09 You're Blasé
10 Blues improvisation
11 I Remember Clifford
12 There Will Never Be Another You
13 Send In the Clowns
14 Misty/Tenderly
15 outro theme
16 Once In a While
bonus tracks:
17 Sarah introduces the Gershwin medley
18 Somebody Loves Me
19 Love Walked In
20 Fascinating Rhythm
21 I Cried for You
22 Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
23 Bye Baby, Bye

Total time: 1:42:10
disc break goes after Track 11

Sarah Vaughan - vocals & piano on Track 16
Carl Schroeder - piano
Waymon Reed - trumpet
Walter Booker - bass
Jimmy Cobb - drums

Tracks 01-14: digital capture of a March 2024 256/48k NDR digital rebroadcast
Tracks 15-16: digital capture of a Australian Broadcasting Corporation webstream, date and bitrate unknown
converted to 16/44 CD Audio and slightly retracked/edited -- with repeating portion in Track 15 removed -- by EN, March 2024
Tracks 17-20: Concertgebouw, Haarlem NL 10.22.1978 sourced from an HD YouTube file; spectral goes past 20k, so equivalent to a preFM source
Tracks 21-23: unidentified venue, Prague CZ (late October/early November 1978); sourced from the 2007 Impro-Jazz DVD "Live In Prague 1978"
bonus tracks captured, extracted & remastered by EN, March 2024
516 MB FLAC/direct link

I might do one more for March, if this Nick Lowe 1983 show can be reconstituted. But no promises.

I've also got another possibility lined up for the 31st, but again who knows.
No matter, for today is all about Sarah Vaughan -- born this day in 1924 -- and her legacy of impeccable and influential music gifted us over the course of a 50 year career that can only be termed a full tuition at Divinity School.--J.

3.27.1924 - 4.3.1990

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Auto American: Ric Ocasek 80


The Cars - Moving In Stereo

I'm not having a good day but I have to get this up.

For today would have been the 80th birthday of the mastermind of one of our age's most beloved groups, and I can't miss that, can I?

When their first record came out, I was in the 7th grade, and right away they were my best pal's favorite band and he was drawing their logo all over his notebook. And mine.

That first LP of theirs is still a de facto Greatest Hits record now, 45 years on.
It's only in researching this post that I came to know that 100% of their material was written by our b'day hero.

Which is really something when you think about bands and the usual ego battles amongst their members.

That he had the prescience to realize that fully half of the songs -- including ones that would become huge, timeless hits -- were better sung by the bass player, who indeed had a very distinctive voice and way of singing, says a lot about him.

In interviews I've heard him describe what he was trying to do with his music, and how he felt that up to 1977 everything that had happened in music in the last few years had been a result of the iconic 1960s sounds, and how he wanted to break from that influence and attitude.

Which itself is sorta ironic, given that these guys were doing their level best to emulate the vibes of The Kinks and other supermelodic Sixties British bands, right down to the very English way they sing.

It's funny, because parallel to this post I've been trying to do one on Nick Lowe, who is 75 tomorrow and as British as he is, sounds like he wants you to think he's from Chicago or somewhere way more American. Be it ever thus... I guess the grass is always greener on the other side of the pond.
Anyway Ric Ocasek -- the late and principal driver of The Cars -- was born on this day in 1944, so let's let the good times roll with a couple of pre-broadcast shows that depict them at the peak of their mileage efficiency.
The Cars
The Summit
Houston, Texas USA

01 Hello Again
02 It's Not the Night
03 Touch and Go
04 Candy-O
06 Moving In Stereo
07 Just What I Needed
08 A Dream Away
09 Cruiser
10 Good Times Roll
11 Drive
12 You Might Think
13 My Best Friend's Girl
14 Magic
15 Let's Go
16 Heartbeat City
17 You're All I've Got Tonight
18 Shake It Up (bonus track @ US Festival, San Bernadino CA 9.4.1982)

Total time: 1:16:49

Ric Ocasek - guitar & vocals
Benjamin Orr - bass & vocals
Greg Hawkes - keyboards & vocals
Elliot Easton - guitar & vocals
David Robinson - drums

Westwood One Superstar Concert Series pre-FM LPs
slightly denoised, commercials removed, and remastered by EN, March 2024
Track 18 is from the 2006 Warner Music Vision DVD "The Cars Unlocked," remastered to stereo from 5.1 Surround by EN, March 2024
579 MB FLAC/direct link

But wait!!!! I hear you protest. He said a couple of shows and that's just one!!!!! He's cheating us again!!!!!

Well, settle yourselves, because the show I did on its anniversary in 2019 has since surfaced from a sweet and superior source, so I went back and re-did it and now it sounds like an official live record, perhaps better. And if you click right here, you'll be taken to the new version's page.

See what you get when you don't go greedily leaping for the clitoris right away, and instead read my drivel all the way through? Why, whole record collections have happened when people did that.

Anyway I will try to do this Nick Lowe thing in a week for its anniversary, because it needs work if it's gonna be fully cruel to be kind. But I would be a broken down wreck if I didn't tribute Ric Ocasek for his architecture of one of history's greatest bands, on his big 8-0. So now it's Saturday night... after the good times roll, who's gonna drive you home tonight?--J.

3.23.1944 - 9.19.2019
let the good times roll
let them turn you around

Friday, March 15, 2024

Go Too Extremes: Stomu 77


Stomu Yamashta's Go - Mysteries of Love

Time Marches forward with another birthday of another superstar of the musical firmament, turning 77 today.

When I was a kid my dad, rest his soul, really exposed me to a wealth of cultural material that likely would be greeted by a visit from Child Protective Services, were he to have tried it these days.

I reckon I was taken to in the vicinity of 300 Broadway shows, plays, recitals and operas before the age of 10.

Some of these performances would today be considered utterly inappropriate for a child, like The Crucible or Equus, with its frank depictions of full nudity.

Of course this idea of exposing young Joshy to all manner of somewhat extreme, or at the very least adult, content extended to the world of film, and I was allowed to watch pretty much anything from a very young age.

One of these movies -- actually one of my dad's favorite films of all time -- was Ken Russell's blasphemous The Devils, starring Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave as a rogue, lascivious and possibly demonic priest and his female accuser.

I must have seen this film 10 times by the time I was 10, and for me the most striking feature of it was the wild, possessed sounding and highly percussive music that accompanies some of its most pivotal moments.

It wasn't until I grew up -- well, that's debatable, but at least I got older -- that I came to understand who was behind that soundtrack, and what his other, sometimes even more dramatic, music was about.

That composer -- possibly the central Japanese musician of the last half century -- is 77 years old today, and his name is Stomu Yamashta.

As the years flew by and I got into Fusion, I came to adore his 1970s catalog, which bridges the gap between traditional music of Japan and the funkified, percolating grooves and topnotch chops of Jazz-Rock.

I love all of those records like Freedom Is Frightening and Man from the East, but of all of them I think I prefer the second LP from his supergroup Go, simply titled Go Too.

The first iteration of Go -- the one that had Steve Winwood and Klaus Schulze onboard -- had its own live record, which a lot of folks prefer to their studio platter that preceded it.

The second one didn't get its own live album, but luckily for us their San Francisco residency -- which was two nights at the Great American Music Hall on O'Farrell Street next to the infamous Mitchell Bros. porn theater -- had one show go out over the mighty KSAN-FM.

And even luckier, someone in that once-great city had a cassette deck or two rolling to capture those airwaves and their contents.

And even luckier still, I spent a few days spiffing those cassettes up in Sound Forge and Audacity, that we might time machine ourselves back to September of 1977 and get ourselves all good to Go.

Stomu Yamashta's Go
Great American Music Hall
San Francisco, California USA

01 Prelude
02 Seen You Before
03 Madness/Ecliptic interlude
04 Mysteries of Love
05 Crossing the Line
06 Wheels of Fortune
07 Beauty
08 You and Me
09 Superstar interlude
10 Man of Leo
11 Wheels of Fortune (reprise)

Total time: 1:19:02

Stomu Yamashta - drums & percussion
Kevin Shrieve - guitar
Ava Cherry - vocals & percussion
Jess Roden - vocals & percussion
Patrick Gleeson - synthesizers
Michael Shrieve - drums
Paul Jackson - bass
Doni Harvey - guitar
Brother James - percussion & vocals

sounds like a master or 1st gen off-air cassette capture from KSAN-FM
pitch corrected by Pervesser Goody
slightly edited & remastered by EN, March 2024
548 MB FLAC/direct link

Make sure you watch out for the late lord of the low end Paul Jackson -- also born in March of 1947 (on the 28th!) -- who's in danger of destroying downtown SF using only a Fender Jazz bass on this here concert.

I've got a bunch more thangs cooking up on the burners in here for the remainder of the month, but I've always wanted to cover one of the great rhythm devils, Stomu Yamashta -- who is still alive and playing as far as I know -- since I started this page a decade ago, so here we is! Enjoy this one or it's a month of Ken Russell outtakes for all of you!--J.