Monday, February 26, 2018

Ninth to the Universe: Fats Domino 90

We come to the final Black History Month post, laying as it does at the feet of one of -- if not the -- acknowledged inventors of the music of our age.
There's an age-old canard about who invented Rock-n-Roll, with various luminaries from Louis Jourdan to Chuck Berry getting the credit.
The name you most hear associated with that breakthrough? Why it's today's big birthday boy, who passed just shy of his 90th today at the end of last year.
Before he departed, he managed to assemble the building blocks of a great deal of the music of our epoch.
He came out of  -- where else? -- The Lower Ninth Ward of the Crescent City of New Orleans, the epicenter of American music.
His first big single, 1949's Fat Man, is thought by many to be the first issued example of what became known as Rock-n-Roll.
Many more singles followed. Blueberry Hill. Walkin' to New Orleans. Blue Monday. A great deal of them are still as beloved and standard today as they were when the airwaves first crackled with the message of our hero nearly 70 (!!!) years ago. 
One or more of them is being played somewhere in the world right as I'm typing this. This will continue to infinity or human extinction, whichever comes first.
No, the many roads of Rock and where it came from run to the far horizon, but they began with the sound, vision and music of Fats Domino.
He was born a long time ago in 1928 on this day, and although he left us recently there is no disputing what he will always mean to the trajectory of our lifetimes in sound.
Let's mark the occasion with a vintage video voyage to 1962, for 43+ minutes of a somehow unreleased DVD that features the man and his full coterie of bandmates bringing the goods to a French TV broadcast, probably sourced from the station master tapes from what I can tell.
Fats Domino
Festival de Jazz d'Antibes
Palais des Sports
Paris, France

01 You Can Pack Your Suitcase
02 I’m Ready
03 Blue Monday
04 Mardi Gras In New Orleans
05 Blueberry Hill
06 Ain’t That Just Like a Woman?
07 Let the Four Winds Blow
08 Coquette
09 I Want to Walk You Home
10 My Girl Josephine
11 I’m In Love Again
12 Ain’t That a Shame?
12 When the Saints Go Marchin’ In

Total time: 43:51

Fats Domino - piano & vocals
Dave Bartholomew - trumpet
Herbert Hardesty - tenor saxophone
Lee Allen - tenor saxophone
Buddy Hagans - tenor saxophone
Clarence Ford - baritone saxophone
Clarence "Tenoo" Coleman - drums
Roy Montrell - guitar
Jimmy Davis - bass

NTSC DVD of what looks like the station master tapes
If you saw the recent PBS-TV documentary on Fats, you'll recognize that this was the footage they went back to again and again for the clips. This, however, is the whole thing.
So there you have it, quite the prolific month from me in celebration of the magnificent melinated musicians here in BHM. I will be back in March with all sorts of silliness, but for now you better dig upon Antoine "Fats" Domino... he'd have been 90 today, but what he started will live to be 1,000,000,090.--J.
2.26.1928 - 10.24.2017

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Spiritus Sancious

Happy weekend and welcome to yet another Black History Month tribute!
 Today's is an anniversary special from the golden age of Fusion and features another of the undersung heroes of the music of our epoch.
He began in Asbury Park, New Jersey and by the early 1970s he found himself in the band of some chap called Bruce, whom was his Boss for a few, oh so very beloved LPs.
In 1975 he split off from Springsteen and started his own, completely different band called Tone, purveyors of the blistering power trio Fusion depicted in the share today.
Following a passel of Tone records and a few solo excursions, as well as a few other high-caliber collaborations with people like Jack Bruce and Yes' Jon Anderson, he was asked to join the band of the ultra-theatrical ex-Genesis vocalist Peter Gabriel, who refers to him as "the musician's musician".
He still occasionally goes out on the road with Gabes, and he always turns up on sessions and alongside other heavyweights on tour.
What always struck me about David Sancious was that although all these Maestro types use him for his keyboard prowess, he's just as wild and skilled of a guitarist. Again, stay tuned for today's share for the proof.
He'll be 65 in November but why wait? It's BHM and we bring the goods, this time via a thoroughly lit electric set recorded at the legendary (and about to reopen!!!!!) Long Island, NY club My Father's Place precisely 42 -- yes that's Jackie Robinson's number -- years ago tonight.
In this 76 minutes of blazing mayhem we get hip to the raw power of Tone; look out especially for when DS straps on the doubleneck and shreds... he even plays The Star-Spangled Banner in the middle of one extended jam, it being the Bicentennial and all.
David Sancious & Tone
My Father's Place
Roslyn, NY

01 Transformation
02 band introductions
03 Sky Church Hymn #9
04 piano solo
05 Summertime Harmonies
06 Jam/Voodoo Child (Slight Return)

Total time: 1:16:00

David Sancious - keyboards and guitar
Gerald Carboy - bass
Earnest Carter - drums and percussion

sounds like a master off-air reel taped from WLIR-FM in Garden City, NY
This was captured from the magnificent WLIR-FM in Garden City, NY and at both ends -- the radio crew and the person at home with the FM receiver and the reel-to-reel deck -- was executed a brilliant, vibrant capture of the show that is easily worthy of an official release.
Really all that was amiss were two dropouts in the bass solo in the last piece, which I made invisible, so this ought to be The Definitive Edition of this classic bootleg.
I shall return in two days with the final Black History Month celebration, but for now I'd highly recommend floating this Tone show past your ears because it's a burner and a half!!--J.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Hands of the Priestess: Nina Simone 85

As promised, we are back with more essential Black History Month tributes for February... and today's honoree ought need precious little introduction.
As with Yoko Ono three days previous, she was born in 1933 and although she's been gone from us for well past a decade there is zero chance of her slipping away, missed by the mists of history's lists.
One of the integral voices of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, her music provides and will continue to resonate as a thoroughly unique chronicle of the changes of our epoch.
In her heyday she moved effortlessly between frameworks and genres, and was perhaps the World Champion of being able to use material from all walks of song and experience to transmit her message of dignity.
She had one toe in Chanson, one in Jazz, one in Soul, one in Rock, one in Classical, and both feet in using the power of sound and expression to make a cohesive statement about the imperative need for human equality in our world.
I'll say it: if Nina Simone was alive and kicking today, the cartoon shitscape of a social construct we see spitting in our dourly mocked faces on a daily basis would in no way go unchallenged.
Can you imagine what she'd be saying about the police murder of Black people at traffic stops? About five white predators "owning" the lion's share of all global resources? About the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? 
Sometimes I feel like I most regret people like her, or Bill Hicks, or Will Rogers, or Mr. Rogers dying mainly because you wonder what changeweight their voice and their passionate power of persuasion could exercise on the world as it is.
It doesn't matter and it's all water under the bridge, but sometimes it's a fun notion to entertain: what creative ways would Nina find to excoriate the haters and paint them into the corners they can't seem to get around? In the Sims game of Planet Earth, she'd be a pretty glorious cheat code anyway.
So she'd have been the super-milestone 85 today, and in honor of her inestimable and continuing contributions to the culture of our lifetimes and beyond I have just the delicious tidbits for your tweeters.
These are two scintillatingly intimate European radio broadcasts of performances from 1977, a particularly elevated year in the Simone oeuvre. These are both pristine captures that, but for the one DJ voiceover in one of the shows, you'd never know weren't official live documents of the High Priestess of Soul in action.
Nina Simone
European broadcasts, 1977

Festival de Jazz d'Antibes
Juan-les-Pins, France

01 Ne Me Quitte Pas
02 My Way
03 Plain Gold Ring
04 Please Read Me
05 I Love to Love
06 Just Say I Love Him (DJ voiceover at end)
07 Four Women
08 I Loves You Porgy
09 Let's Stick Together
10 Be My Husband
11 Alabama Song
12 In Our Childhood's Bright Endeavor
13 In My Life/Let's Stick Together (reprise)

Total time: 52:54

Nina Simone - piano, voice
Al Schackman - guitar, vibes, percussion

master digicapture of a 2017 European radio rebroadcast

Theatre Royal Drury Lane
London, UK

01 Balm In Gilead
02 Balm In Gilead (reprise)
03 Rich Girl
04 Little Girl Blue
05 The Other Woman
06 Turning Point
07 Pirate Jenny
08 Pirate Jenny (reprise)
09 Everything Must Change
10 That's All I Want from You
11 Ain't Got No/I Got Life

Total time: 49:21

Nina Simone - piano & vocals

Tracks 1-10 are a master FM cassette capture, Track 11 is a 1st gen cassette of a master reel capture

both shows zipped together
These are magnificent concerts, with Miss Simone issuing various hilarious asides to the people in the front row at both of them, and making fun of how she's gotta watch what she says between songs or the promoter will say she's being "bitchy again!"
Anyway I couldn't let her 85th pass without taking note of it, so you know what to do as far clicking and picking on the link above. I'll return on Saturday with a groovy fusion boom in tribute to another of the stellar melinated here in BHM, but for now a happiest of b'days to the immortal Nina Simone!--J.
2.21.1933 - 4.21.2003

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Grapefruit League: Yoko Ono 85

We're going to detour for a day from the Black History tributes -- stay tuned for the return to those posts on Wednesday -- and give it up to one of my all-time favorite artistes.
Today's birthday girl was born in 1933, and even her most ardent detractors could not fail to comprehend the fact that she's lived quite a lifetime.
Yes, the detractors. Detractors is a nice, polite word, isn't it? I'd prefer to use the term Racist Enablers Of Misogyny myself. There's another, monosyllabic word for them as well. It rhymes with "stunt".
Yep, those detractors. Funny how they don't have such enmity and hatred -- such as been spewed for 50 years at her -- for the other Avant Garde iconoclasts. You never hear about how Ornette Coleman (yes she collaborated with him more than once) is a phony or a charlatan anymore. In fact, he's revered as a deity of the music of our age.
So why is this woman so reviled, and for so little comprehensible reason? She scream-sings? So do Meredith Monk, Linda Sharrock, Leon Thomas, Peter Hammill, John Lydon, and a trillion other beloveds. She invented it, and all those folks I just listed drew the inspiration for it from her. What's wrong, haters? Can't get your ears around your Oh Baby I Love You Why Did You Leave Me? puerilities without some Caucasoid-dictated profit-motivated melodic laws?
I guess the most common bullshit trope is that, by marrying into the family, she broke up everyone's favorite Mop Top Quartet. As if those blokes didn't all loathe each other before she came on the set. As if the Caucasian lady that was married to the other main dude didn't accelerate their demise by demanding that her rich White Daddy manage their money... a supposition the other three had less than zero intent of enacting, and for reasons that could only remain not obvious to the willfully obtuse.
Honestly it all makes me sick to my soul, and has for long enough that I am typing this pointed diatribe about it. When anyone reading this has amassed a 60 year career at the forefront of Modern Art and Conceptual Art... when you all have had your work displayed multiple times in multiple galleries, museums, installations, various Museums Of Modern Art.... well then you can feel free to criticize other people. Until then it's time for you to STFU about the gift to Humankind that is Yoko Ono.
It's so funny to me that assholes can fall on their knees in genuflection to their working class hero John Lennon, and fail to get their lizard brains around the fact that their boy chose to spend his life with this lady, and to enable in any way he could the various messages contained in her work to reach a wider swath of the public.
The best part is that she couldn't care less and never really has. Her thrust is positivity, peaceful reflection and imagination, and she's stuck with those precepts for the whole arc of her journey, haters making their own craters to live in like they always do.
And lo and behold, she has reached a milestone age of 85 today, a figure few live to tread. I hope she lives to be 185, just to continue to hold up the mirror to what her detractors don't seem to get about themselves.
To commemorate the date and hopefully do something to ameliorate the hate and accentuate the great, I have deposited into the digicumulus a wild, wild, wild DVD of two insane, insane, insane full TV broadcasts from the Golden Age of Public Television in the US.
This one looks like a 1st generation VHS copy of the WNET-TV masters... it's a bit dusty but it's overwhelmingly immersive in its documentation of Yoko's oeuvre. Watch out for filmmaking legend Jonas Mekas and a husband Beatle backseating himself so his wife can get her stuff across unencumbered by his celebrity.
Yoko Ono 
with John Lennon & friends
New York City, NY
1971 + 1973

01 "Free Time"
WNET Studios
New York City, NY
with Jonas Mekas

explication of exhibits from Yoko's 1972 Everson Museum of Art (Syracuse, NY) installation,
"A Grapefruit In the World of Park"

originally aired 5.11.1972

02 "Flipside"
Record Plant East
New York City, NY

including footage of "Joseijoi Banzai," "Death of Samantha," "Catman (The Rosies Are Coming)," and "Winter Song," from the recording of "Approximately Infinite Universe" by Yoko Ono in Autumn 1972 

plus in-studio interviews with Yoko and John Lennon recorded May 1973

originally aired 6.30.1973

Total time: 1:26:31

NTSC DVD of what looks to be a 1st gen VHS tape of the WNET master tapes
dusty but essential viewing
This 90 minutes is totally thrilling viewing, and in addition to the glimpse into the vintage '70s Yokoverse offers a raw, uncut glimpse into the completely unhinged world of PBS when it was first starting out. 
The first segment takes place in an all-white studio where Yoko's various exhibits are acted out with participation from the audience, and the second showcases unbelievable footage of her in the studio, recording her epic LP Approximately Infinite Universe.
I shall return with another 85th b'day party in a few days, but for now I insist that you stop hating and start celebrating the life and singular artistic legacy of Yoko Ono, born this day in 1933 and still Feeling The Space!--J.