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Showing posts from September, 2013

Les Baxter's Moog Rock: Chill Out Exotica, Moog Style

Les Baxter (1922-1996) was known primarily for being one of, if not the originator of the genre of exotica. Baxter was also known for various film scores through out his career.

Baxter's"Quiet Village" which was covered by exotica legend Martin Denny became the bellwether for the genre.  Denny probably ended up overshadowing Baxter in the end.

This pictured vinyl copy of Baxter's Moog Rock is a stone classic of early Moog and just oozes 60's kitsch.

Totally infectious classical compositions reworked in a way that really gets under the skin. I was thrilled to find this record in a thrift store bin. In fact, I have found copies several times over the years, and sold them on eBay for at least 15 dollars each time. I won't sell my original copy, but you can now get the music on CD

The haunting music is part exotica, part chamber jazz, with just a smattering of rock. The music isn't some over the top hard rock album like the title could mislead,…

Island Dreaming With Sonny Rollins: What's New? 1962 RCA Vinyl

Oh what a gorgeous record this is: Sonny Rollins' What's New? A record I found for the insane price of .99 cents, a vintage pressing at that.

 Honestly you don't expect to find a near mint beauty like this in thrift store bin, especially this particular thrift store "which will remain nameless", as most of their records are unplayable or water damaged, but not this one.

 I also found a copy of Rollins' The Bridge at the same shop.  What's new starts off with a fantastic Bossa Nova "If Ever I Would Leave You" with Jim Hall on guitar.

 10 minutes plus of Sonny playing over top the light island rhythm is always a good thing, with enough heat to not get monotonous. Sonny's in his "St. Thomas" groove. Candido stops by for track 2, "Jungoso" boils and bubbles with plenty of real Latin heat. Candido's primitive sounding Conga playing and the call and response with Sonny set this apart from your standard bop fare.

This "…

Art Blakey Free For All: Heavy Metal Hard Bop

Talk about a monster of a hard bop album. Art Blakey's 1964 masterpieceFree For All just might be the the quintessential hard bop album.

"Free For All" the title track is not only "Hard" it's Heavy. I am talking about heavy in the most powerful sense.

Saxophonist Wayne Shorter's composition is seriously in your face, it will nearly take your breath away, it plays like a run away freight train.

 In fact, listening to my vintage vinyl copy of the album, one notices the recording equipment of the day, barely can take the pounding of the sextet.

Blakey's drums and Cedar Walton's piano sets the brisk tempo, Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Shorter on tenor sax, and Curtis Fuller on trombone blow up a hurricane playing the hell out of their instruments.

Shorters "Hammerhead" is a bluesy soul jazz work, that offers fine solos from Fuller and Hubbard. Hubbard's "Core" A tribute to the Congress of Racial Equality, is also a powerful ve…

B.B. King Live at the Regal 1965: The King of Live Blues Albums

Live at the Regal is certainly one album, that does grab and stir you. If you don't have the hair stand up on your neck at least 5 different time during Live at the Regal  you might not have a heart, or soul for that matter.

B.B. is at the peak of his powers here, the guttural growl, the high pitch squeals.

 He is the absolute beginning and end for male blues singers. I don't think it is possible to eclipse this live performance, I really don't.

Here are a few highlights: B.B. leads off the track "Worry Worry" with one of the most incredible blues guitar solos I have ever heard.

The guitar tone and B.B.'s portly fingers deliver some sort of straight to the heart arrow that makes you week in the knees, Oh to play with that type of emotion and vibrato once in my life?  Also "How Blue Can You Get", see the video below, is an absolute masterpiece of human story telling, and the audience is eating it up with a spoon.

This guy can do no wrong, the suspen…

Alice Coltrane: An Underrated Jazz Composer and Instrumentalist

Why is Alice Coltrane ignored by the jazz critical establishment? I don't read too much praise for her being the ground breaker she actually was.

Those critics also at times belittle John Coltrane's "later" period, many times considering it as secondary, or unimportant in the grand scheme of his legacy.

This is a double slap to Alice's Coltane's legacy.  For some reason, she is pushed to the back seat as John Coltrane's wife, or  Ravi's mother in recent years, as if she wasn't as great as she was, like she only had a voice because of her husband?

Her Passing in January of 2007 was particularly tragic for the jazz community as she had recently began to record again, and as far as the media was concerned she was starting to step out of the gargantuan shadow of her late husband John Coltrane.

When I first got around to the John Coltrane catalog during my on going jazz  journey, I would read all these after thought statements: "Alice is no McCoy…

Truth! Some Serious Soul Jazz with Houston Person

I love this album, Truth! it sure starts off on the right foot with "Cissy Strut", a monster fast paced bogaloo that almost overheats, you can't help but get moving on this track.

Houston Person never gets mentioned with the all time greats, it's a shame because Person is a fine Soul Jazz player in the vein of Stanley Turrentine.

 Person has a sweet tone, but he does tend to harden it up some, so you never would confuse him with the sugar man.

I think one of the problems soul jazz artists like  Person had, was the hard ass jazz critics of the day, they just couldn't stand anything that didn't fit into that "other musicians playing for other musicians box".

Soul Jazz was about connecting with the people, and these records sold very well, and you could have very likely heard a track like "Cissy Strut" in a rib joint in the deep south, they probably wasn't hearing to much free jazz in those venues.

You get danceable boogaloo's and me…

Black Pearls: John Coltrane with Donald Byrd and Red Garland Prestige LP

Black Pearls is a fine session from 1958, that catches Trane in an ultra swingin' mood, right smack in the middle of his "Sheets of Sound" period.

 I really like this straight ahead bop session quite a bit.

The centerpiece of the album, which wasn't released until 1964 is"Sweet Sapphire Blues", an 18 Minute producer Bob Weinstock vehicle.

 The blues was almost entirely improvised by Coltrane on the spot, and the track shows off pianist Red Garland to a great extent.

Then Coltrane digs into this blues, along with trumpeter Donald Byrd to offer some very spirited classic jazz, I like the simplicity of the music, Side one seems almost like bop rather than hard bop and quite frankly fizzles out compared to the side 2 side long blues jam.

If you are a Coltrane nut, you want this for the 18 minute jam alone, plus the Red Garland Trio providing backing support is nice, think The Believers and Lush Life, both nice straight ahead bop albums worth acquiring along wi…

Don Ellis' Electric Bath: A Great Album From an Underrated Band Leader

Is the Don Ellis Orchestra the Most underrated Big Band Jazz group of all time? Honestly I have a hard time thinking any other band was less recognized during its day.

After the trumpeter leader Don Ellis' death after suffering a massive heart attack in 1978 at the age of 44, the band seems to have had its fame extinguished along with its leader.

I think that had Ellis lived and the band continued, eventually Ellis would have received a lot more recognition.

Don Ellis could have been a house hold name, He did the film score for the Oscar winning The French Connection, as well as a similar Roy Scheider vehicle The 7 Ups. What I like about Don Ellis the most is his sense of humor, he really doesn't take himself too seriously, as many jazz musicians in particular can.

 I like the jovial way Don would introduce songs, especially those with unorthodox time signatures. Many a critic at the time did not warm up to this part of Don's personality, go figure?

Don did a few live alb…