Tuesday, June 30, 2009
The J.B.'s recorded under various billings in the early '70s, including the J.B.'s, Fred Wesley & the J.B.'s, Maceo & the Macks, the First Family, the Last Word, and others. This double CD gathers 30 of the prime tracks by all of the above configurations from the first half of the '70s, including all nine of their chart hits and quite a few rare singles and long versions. Often, James Brown himself chips in with incidental vocals (though this is mostly instrumental) and keyboards. The two-and-a-half-hour program can start to sound monotonous if taken all at once, but it's prime, often riveting funk, jammed with lockstep grooves that vary between basic R&B vamps and imaginative, almost jazzy improvisation.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Ignored upon its release in 1974 and celebrated upon its reissue in 2001, Shuggie Otis' fourth and last album Inspiration Information exists out of time -- a record that was of its time, but didn't belong of it; a record that was idiosyncratic but not necessarily visionary. It was psychedelic soul that was released far too late to be part of any zeitgeist and it was buried at the time. Yet no matter what Luaka Bop's grand poobah David Byrne claims on the sticker -- he says Shuggie's "trippy R&B jams are equal to Marvin's and Curtis', but somehow more contemporary sounding...closer to D'Angelo meets DJ Shadow" -- this isn't revolutionary. It can occasionally sound modern, such as on the rolling head trip "XL-30," but only because it's the kind of groove Shadow would sample and build on; the slow, liquid instrumental head trips sound the same way. Perhaps that's why it can seem more contemporary -- contemporary ears are more attuned to these relaxed, warmly trippy soundscapes. Otis crafted all of this essentially alone, playing each instrument himself, and it's quite clearly a reflection of his inner psyche, and no matter how much it floats and skates upon its own sound, it's a welcoming, inviting sound. But, no matter how much the partisans claim -- and their effusive praise is plastered all over the liner notes, with Sean O'Hagan claiming that it shocks you out of a rut, Stereolab's Tim Gane says it is "almost like a new style of music that could've developed but never did" -- this isn't revolutionary, even if it's delightfully idiosyncratic. So, don't fall for the hyperbole. This isn't an album that knocks your head off -- it's subtle, intricate music that's equal parts head music and elegant funk, a record that slowly works its way under your skin. Part of the reason it sounds so intriguing in 2001 is that there just aren't that many musicians that doggedly pursue their individual vision while retaining a sense of focus. But it isn't a record without precedent, nor is it startling. It's a record for people that have heard a lot of music, maybe too much, and are looking for a new musical romance. [Luaka Bop's reissue contains four fine bonus tracks, including the original version of "Strawberry Letter 23," which the Brothers Johnson later had a hit with.
Few artists have been as crucial to the invention, development, and popularization of Afro-pop than Orlando Julius. Starting in the '60s, Julius was fusing traditional African sounds and rhythms with those of American pop, soul, and R&B. Aside from performing and recording in his native Nigeria, he spent many years in the United States working on collaborations with Lamont Dozier, the Crusaders, and Hugh Masekela. His 1966 effort, Super Afro Soul, made him a national celebrity in Nigeria and even went so far as to influence music in the United States. The record's dramatic, highly melodic incorporation of soul, pop, and funk was very much ahead of its time, and some say that Super Afro Soul helped shape the funk movement that swept over the United States in subsequent years. After Super Afro Soul, Julius released a long list of records exclusively in Nigeria and from them received a great amount of local fame. He went largely unnoticed by the international community until 2000, when Super Afro Soul was re-released on Strut and distributed throughout the world to wide critical acclaim.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Dengue Fever's increasingly notable role as a flashpoint band for myriad styles -- starting with but less and less limited to re-creating 1960s Cambodian fuzz-pop smashes -- gets a logical summary with Sleepwalking Through the Mekong, part career overview and part documentary of the sounds and styles which originally prompted the L.A.-based group into existence. The collection itself pairs up with an enjoyable documentary featuring the group's first tour of Cambodia itself, homeland of its powerful lead singer Chhom Nimol, but on its own the soundtrack makes for a good introduction for both neophytes to the group and its larger context. Only a few songs are full-on rarities for any dedicated Dengue Fever fan to start with -- two brief instrumentals, including the wonderfully titled "March of the Balloon Animals," plus a couple of live tracks and reworkings of earlier songs, including "Seeing Hands," its rhythmic keyboard vamp and guitar twang and buried vocals resulting in a compelling version as much Spacemen 3 as Sinn Sisamouth. The latter features on the disc along with other classic performers such as Ros Serey Sothea, whose "Today I Learnt to Drink" nearly steals the whole disc.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Any compilation put together by Carlos Santana has got obvious potential, and Sacred Sources I: Live Forever manages to live up to the hype of its title as well as Hal Miller's preachy liner notes. A collection of live material from a diverse bunch of legendary musicians -- Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and John Coltrane -- Live Forever ranges in audio quality from clean (the Hendrix and Vaughan cuts) to very, very spotty (Coltrane's "Ogunde"), but all is forgiven with the high standard of the performances, most of which were previously unreleased until now. While purists may fret over the stylistic degrees of separation between, say, Coltrane and Vaughan, Live Forever has a remarkably continuous feel to it, and that's exactly antana's point: eventually, the lines between jazz, blues, rock, reggae, and R&B begin to blur and the music is just plain good. ~ Ken Chang, All Music Guide
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
The innovative saxophonist and reeds player Charlie Mariano passed away yesterday aged 85 in the German city of Cologne.
Born in Boston, he earned his stripes playing in groups led by Stan Kenton, Shelly Manne, and later with Charles Mingus – performing on the classic album, The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady.
In the 1960s he travelled extensively around India and the Far East where he studied local musics and learned to play the oboe-like nagaswaram, which featured heavily in his work from the mid-1960s onwards. During the 70s Mariano became a founding member of the United Jazz and Rock Ensemble and also played with German bassist Eberhard Weber in his group Colours – performing on the acclaimed album Yellow Fields in 1975. Some of Mariano’s other key recordings include Boston All Stars in 1953, and Savannah Samurai in 1998 – showing the impressive multi-decade span of his career.
Mariano was for many years a highly respected educator at Berklee College of Music in Boston and also led his own successful ensembles, experimenting with east-meets-west fusion, of which he was a leading pioneer, and recording for the ECM label among others
Live at Perkins' Palace
Banyan is a mix brought to life by Stephen Perkins of Janes’ Addiction and Nels Cline of Wilco and accentuated by the captivating trumpet of Willie Waldman and ex-Minutemen, Mike Watt’s frontal bass. Together they all produce a fusion that delivers sounds that dip in and out of history while delivering an intriguing string of songs that will have you drenched when it’s over.
“A Million Little Laughs” brings to mind a drugged-out backdrop of Eno and Byrne’s My Life in the Bush of Ghosts but with a screeching and squealing guitars overlay. To bring Banyan’s modus operandi into perspective, it may serve the reader well to note that although this album’s energy level is in the red, their influences are literal grab bags of early 80s experimental with feet mired in 50s jazz and 70s jazz-fusion while mainlining rock into the whole of it. Now THAT’s a rush.
Beginning the set is a funky tune, “Mad As a Hornet” which is followed by “Oh My People”, whose trumpet reminds one of Chicago (the band) thereby giving the song itself a slight, chaotically tinged Chicago (again, the band) feel. “Om Om Om” begins with a melancholy trumpet that runs through a psychotic display of guitar, bass, and drums and occasionally slit with spaces of contemplated sadness. “El Sexxo” blends Middle Eastern flavours with the rest of the album producing a mishmash of styles better left to your exploration. If Red Bull is your drink of choice and you like a frenzied brand of jazz-rock fusion in an experimental vein, Banyan is your band.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Dolphy was one of several groundbreaking jazz alto players to rise to prominence in the 1960s. He was also the first important bass clarinet soloist in jazz, and among the earliest significant flute soloists.
His improvisational style was characterized by the use of wide intervals based largely on the twelve tone scale, in addition to using an array of extended techniques to reproduce human- and animal-like effects which almost literally made his instruments speak. Although Dolphy's work is sometimes classified as free jazz, his compositions and solos had a logic uncharacteristic of many other free jazz musicians of the day; even as such, he was considered an avant-garde improviser. In the years after his death, his music was described as being "too out to be in and too in to be out."
Dolphy posthumously became an inductee of the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1964.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Rudy Van Gelder (born 2 November 1924, Jersey City, New Jersey) is an American recording engineer specializing in jazz.
Frequently regarded as one of the most important recording engineers in music history, Van Gelder is one of the legendary behind-the-scenes figures in jazz, recording several hundred jazz sessions, including many widely recognized as classics. Bringing an unprecedented clarity to jazz recording, Van Gelder has recorded many of the great names in the genre, including Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson, Grant Green, Wayne Shorter, John Coltrane, and many others. He worked with many record companies, but he is most closely associated with Blue Note Records, now a division of EMI.
Van Gelder's recording techniques are often admired for the warmth and presence he brings to the end result. Some critics however have also expressed a distaste for the thin and recessed sound in the instruments, mainly the piano. Richard Cook for example noted that the manner in which Van Gelder recorded piano was often as distinctive as the pianists' playing. Blue Note president and producer Alfred Lion often noted that Rudy was sometimes a little heavy on the reverb and would jokingly note that on the tape box as a "Rudy special".
Monday, June 15, 2009
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Born May 13, 1949
Brooklyn, New York City
Franklyn Ajaye (born May 13, 1949) is a stand-up comedian. His nickname is "The Jazz Comedian" as he also played jazz for a time earlier in his entertainment career. He is also known as Franklin Ajaye.
He was born in Brooklyn, NY but raised in Los Angeles by an African father and a Florida-born mother. Ajaye is, as he likes to joke, a "true African-American." He has released five comedy albums to date: Franklyn Ajaye, Comedian (1973), I'm a Comedian, Seriously (1974), Don't Smoke Dope, Fry Your Hair (1977), Plaid Pants and Psycopaths (1986), and Vagabond Jazz & the Abstract Truth (2004).
Ajaye made his network debut on The Flip Wilson Show in 1973 and made his first appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson a year later.
He emigrated to Melbourne, Australia in 1997, but returns to the United States periodically to do stand-up at clubs or in television specials. He is known in Australia for his appearances on The Panel and Thank God You're Here.
He is an accomplished actor who starred in films such as Convoy and Car Wash. He has been seen more recently in the TV show Deadwood. Ajaye has also been nominated twice for the Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program for In Living Color (1990) and Politically Incorrect (1997).
On his stand-up television show Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle, British comedian Stewart Lee mocked Ajaye's LP I'm a Comedian, Seriously, sarcastically questioning the track titles of 'Homosexuals', 'Girls With Big Breasts' and 'Dick Caught In Zipper', in the context of the claim on the album sleeve that Ajaye was a deep thinker. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Hamsa Lila is inspired by earthy trance grooves from a variety of cultures, including North and West Africa, the Americas, India and the Caribbean.
Through Acoustic Trance, Hamsa Lila presents traditional and originally composed material set within a new creative ritual of celebration, while honoring the ancestors and the spirit of indigenous music.