Thursday, November 30, 2006

Mysterious Mann song

Playing right now: Art Farmer-Benny Golson Jazztet - Here & Now

While I was compiling the CDs last week for my parents' party, I wanted to pick a song from one of their albums by Pete Rugolo. He was an arranger for Stan Kenton who started his own group. When I dropped the needle down on the first song, the melody sounded kind of familiar to me. Then I realized it was a song that Herbie Mann played on a cassette by that my dad had by the flutist (or "flautist"). I used to play the tape all the time when I was a little kid, but I never knew the name of the song because I didn't know how to read yet. (I was probably about three or four at the time.) 30+ years of mystery solved. The name of the tune is "Here's Pete."
I looked it up on and found out it came from an album called Hi Flutin' that Herbie did with Buddy Collette, where they both switched off on a number of reeds. And then some of the titles looked familiar. Most notably there is one called "Theme From 'Theme From.'" They also do "Baubles, Bangles and Beads" which really perplexed this young reader way back when.
I went to Jerry's Records on my day off to see if I could find it. There is a BIG Herbie Mann section there, in part because he did a lot of albums and also because a lot of people resold them. There were at least half a dozen copies of the late '70s album Super Mann (cover has him emerging from a phone booth pulling off his shirt to reveal a Superman outfit), along with other bad-pun titles (Our Man Flute, Family of Mann, Et tu Flute).
Among them I found just one copy of Hi-Flutin'. It's a little beat up, but I had to buy it, regardless. I know I would've gone home craving it if I hadn't. It's a pretty straight ahead session, but they mix it up by switching instruments. In "Herbie's Buddy," they play a chorus each on one flute, let a member of the rhythm section take a chorus, then they come back on sax and then clarinet. I thought it was a pretty clever way to approach the blues. And the rhythm section consists of Mel Lewis (drums), Jimmy Rowles (piano) and Buddy Clark (bass), who are all pretty solid.

Monday, November 27, 2006

And there ain't NOTHING I can do.....

Playing right now: Paul Bley - Copenhagen and Haarlem
I've always wanted to check out more stuff by Paul Bley, because he's always seemed like someone I'd like. This album collects two trio sessions that were released in Europe, and compiled here in the '70s by Arista-Freedom. A number of the songs are written by Annette Peacock, and I have a CD by pianist Marilyn Crispell where she interprets them too.
This album is something that I need to listen to a lot before I'll fully grasp it. So far, it's pretty interesting. Not as harsh as Cecil Taylor but definitely open.


Last night while I was doing dishes, I was listening to the first album by the Vanilla Fudge (I have a thing about reattaching "the" to some bands who jettisoned it: the Sweet, um.......maybe that's it. I don't normally say "the Pink Floyd," or "the Cream.")
Anyhow, side 2 of that album is kind of interesting. mainly because their version of "You Just Keep Me Hangin' On" is on it and it has some great, foundation-rocking moments.
Then I put on Side 1. I forgot how awful it is. REALLY awful. "People Get Ready" is over the top, white boys trying to sound like soulful choir boys (which kind of reveals the implication of their name). "She's Not There" is warbly.
There was a time, in fact right around this time of the year, during 9th grade that I was really into Vanilla Fudge. I had The Beat Goes On on cassette; I found In the Beginning with its side-long jam (in which each member got a solo [ugh] and Tim Bogert played fuzz bass, [yeah!] and they did a slammin' version of "Shotgun," which I wouldn't mind hearing again someday soon; and I got a copy of Renaissance, which includes their 10-minute version of "Season of the Witch" which seems to channel the movie The Fly, with the "help meeeee" plea after each chorus. (Anyone know if there's some bigger reference I'm missing?) Other than that, that record sucked and I started to realize these guys weren't as good as I thought. Surprisingly, I never bought their landmark debut. This copy came from an estate sale over the summer.
So before the Fudge plodded into "Bang Bang" I decided I needed to hear something that was a little more bearable.
Call me crazy, but I threw on Emerson, Lake & Palmer's first album.
True story.
(Someday I'll explain why I still have a soft spot for that album.)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Music for a 50th Anniversary

Playing right now: Art Ensemble of Chicago - Non-Cognitive Aspects of the City (Disc 2)

Last night was my parents' 50th anniversary shindig. It went really well; all of my siblings were there, with significant others and kids, along with many guests. In the context of this blog, I have to say that my music choices went over well. I made 2 discs, almost a total of two hours, from the albums that I borrowed from them. There were also CD-Rs for all the guests, which had 12 songs that had some connection to the folks. The cover had a picture of Mum and Pop leaving the Arlington (corner of South Aiken and Center - still there!) where their wedding reception took place.

Here are the tracks on the giveaway CDs:
Chet Baker - Imagination (their song)
Bud Shank - Shank's Pranks
Shorty Rogers - Popo
Dave Pell Octet - Let's Have Another Cup of Coffee
Laurindo Almeida - Blue Baiao
John Haas- Egypt
Gerry Mulligan Quartet - Bernie's Tune
Chet Baker With Strings - I Married an Angel (see the last entryfor an explanation)
Stan Kenton - The Peanut Vendor
Sauter-Finegan - Finegan's Wake
George Shearing - September in the Rain
Chet Baker - There Will Never Be Another You

In looking at all the albums I borrowed from them, the West Coast jazz cats were like indie rockers: Everybody shows up on everybody else's albums. Saxophonist Bob Cooper especially. He played with everyone. I guess it was because they all came out of the Stan Kenton band, but damn: Shorty Rogers, Bud Shank, Russ Freeman, Shelly Manne, they're everywhere.......It was all pretty good stuff, but some of it started to sound the same after awhile. Lotta similarities to "Birth of the Cool."

But it made the folks really happy. They had a good time and I'm glad the soundtrack fit with that.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The songs of my parents' courtin' days

Next weekend there's going to a party for my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. I'm in charge of programming the music, so I borrowed an armful of their albums this week. They're all old jazz albums from the '50s, some of them on rare labels like X and Brunswick and Coral. A copy of Chet Baker With Strings is allegedly THE album that got them together. My mum borrowed it from Pop, who had to marry her to get it back.

They even have a 10" copy of the music from the Brando movie The Wild One. That one hasn't been played in years because there was crayon or something on the grooves. (I didn't do it.) I cleaned it off and, while it's still pretty scratched, it plays okay. Too bad it's beat up. I've seen copies of the 12" version go for three figures. I can only imagine what this would go for. Not I want to sell my parents' records and memories.

I'm just saying.

PS: No music playing right now.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Estate Sale Booty

Playing right now: Vandermark 5 - A Discontinuous Line
I bought this and the new Art Ensemble of Chicago album last week. I haven't gotten through the whole V5 disc yet, so it's kind of out of character for me to put it on as background music while I'm writing, but I figured it's so rare to have time to just sit and listen to it with no distractions, so I might as well spin it now to get a feel for it.

Upon perusing some old entries, I realized that it's been awhile since I listed my finds from the weekend's estate sales. The past two weekends yielded some interesting discoveries. Last weekend I drove all over hell's half acre to a total of three different estate sales. The final stop on the morning's excursion brought me to a house that had boxes of reel-to-reel tapes in the basement along with 78s. I usually ignore the 78s because it's always the same things: Guy Lombardo, Tommy Dorsey, "The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane" by the Ames Bros. (come to think of it, my copy of that song is busted last time I looked, so if I see this one, maybe I should pick it up), and worse.....but since the morning had been disappointed, I decided to check out the small stack. First I came across some Jazz at the Philharmonic 78s. One tune typically stretched over at least two and maybe three records because there were so many solos. Unfortunately, all these records were cracked.

But then I started finding all these homemade 78s made, presumably, with a record cutter. They all featured a pianist who I'm assuming was the owner of the house, and he was sitting in with bands or playing with what looks like an army or navy band. (Honestly I haven't played them yet.) And there were a few with labels from George Heid Studios with "Transcription" being the only information on them. George Heid owned a studio downtown in the '40s and '50s (I think my timing is right) and I know his son, who has a studio with all of the antiquated equipment needed to play these records (he's also a good jazz drummer). I bought about seven or eight of these records. Maybe tomorrow during my day off, I'll try to play a few on my victrola.

The big find came after I paid for the records and a few reel-to-reel tapes that I fished out of a box. The seller pointed to three more boxes of reel to reel tapes and I decided to check them out. The ones I sort through consisted mainly of 78s transferred onto tapes, but now I was finding recordings of the Silhouettes (a local jazz group that put out an album on Segue Records) playing on WQED-TV; there was also a tape of Walt Harper playing on WQED. The seller told me I could take everything for $10 and I went back and forth in my mind about five times before I finally decided to just go with a total of five tapes instead of stacks of tapes that I'll never listen to.

On my day off last week, I listened to the Silhouettes tape. The sound is really good. I thought it might have come from a microphone stuck in front of a tv set, but it sounds like a direct copy from the original tapes. They hadn't been joined by the female vocalist who's on their album. It was just vibes/flute or sax/bass/drums. They sounded good, playing Charlie Parker's "Au Privave" and some tunes that might have been originals. The other side had a pretty good Woody Herman big band performance. The writing on the box says it came from WQED, but it had to be a national show since Ralph Gleason was the host.

So nothing for resale, but some nice treasures nonetheless.


This past Saturday, I finally got back in the Estate Sale Booty Saddle. It's been quite a while since I've come home with either an armload of records or one wild find.

Jimmy Smith - Respect
Jimmy Smith - Got My Mojo Workin'
The Impressions - People Get Ready
The Impressions - The Never Ending
The Modern Jazz Quartet - Blues at Carnegie Hall
Modern Jazz Quartet- Jazz Dialogue
Temptations - Temptin' Temptations
Drifters - I'll Take You Where the Music's Playing
Drifters- Up On the Roof
Brother Jack McDuff- Walk On By
Ahmad Jamal - Heat Wave
Ahmad Jamal - Standard-Eyes
Ahmad Jamal - Rhapsody
Carla Thomas- Comfort Me
Carla Thomas - s/t
Gerry Mulligan- Gerry's Time
Cannonball Adderley - Mercy Mercy Mercy
Fontella Bass- The New Look

All for $1 each. Some, or maybe most, of the covers have some water damage, but a lot of the vinyl is in really good shape. All the albums on Atlantic are original pressings, I think. No mono albums, but I thnk these are the types of albums where stereo albums are the more rare of the two. The Cannonball album is a UK pressing, as is the Jimmy Smith Mojo album. I told myself about three years ago that I didn't need any more Jimmy Smith albums, but for $1 each, I would've been a fool to pass them by. Besides I don't have any of his stuff on Verve, which released both of these albums.

There was more Ahmad Jamal too, but they were too beat. Plus there was a Jackie Wilson album with the wrong record in it. FIE!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Yeh-Yeh Girl's second phase.

Playing right now: Francoise Hardy - Loving
I won this album in an auction several weeks ago and it finally arrived earlier this week. Francoise's Reprise albums have been described to me as having more questionable quality when compared to the ones that came out on 4 Corners (on Vogue in Europe). Over the summer I won her self-titled Reprise album, but it was pretty good. A little more orchestrated, but still pretty catchy. And the cover had the lyrics translated into English, which revealed how much angst factored into her writing.
So I figured Loving couldn't be all that bad, especially since she's singing in English and covering other people's songs. Well, it's not as if she went the Claudine Longet route and got all fluffy and poppy on us, but there is definitely a middle-of-the-road quality to the album. "Let It Be Me," Tim Hardin's "Hang On To A Dream," Ricky Nelson's "Lonesome Town,".....heck even Phil Ochs' "There But For Fortune" is done in a sweetened-up manner.
And then there's the French enunciation coming and going: "There's a town where lover's go/ to kwy their twoubles away"; "Show me a pwison...." But "That'll Be the Day" is fine. It'd be a good song if the rhythm section wasn't so stiff. They sound like they're playing a bump-and-grind stripper routine.
It's not an awful album though. "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" is played with an upbeat kind of boogaloo rhythm. And she covers the Kinks' "Who'll Be the Next In Line," which, if Reprise had exercised their PR department, could have been as big a hit as "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'."
I swear that one of my French Francoise albums has a version of the song "Never Learn to Cry" on it. The opening organ riff sounds so familiar. But I've gone through almost all of my albums and couldn't find it. I have one more to go, but my hopes are high for it. Maybe I'm crazy.
Francoise's career is strange because she started out playing breezy '60s pop, then she got more easy listening with this stuff (not sure exactly when it came out). In the late '90s/early '00s she released Le Danger, which had some rocking moments, along with some stuff that was kind of like Suzanne Vega (a good thing in my book). But the more recent Clair-Obscure was more MOR despite a duet with Iggy Pop ("I'll Be Seeing You," in which Ig sounded terrible). Now I read that Julio Iglesias is her latest duet partner. I want to hear it, and yet I don't.

By now, every one probably knows that the Dave Clark Five are nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Whoopee!

The new Fiery Furnaces album, Bitter Tea, which is not quite so new now, is really good. Still weird as hell, but I'm glad I got it on vinyl. Having a break every three songs help to me to retain them better. I actually got one of their melodies stuck in my head this week.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Dispatch on the Fiery Furnaces

Playing right now: Silence, which is good because I just had my ears blown out by the Fiery Furnaces.

Luckily I found out before it was too late that the Pernice Brothers show is tomorrow, so I didn't have to choose between them and Fiery Furnaces. (The bad news is that I work the closing shift tomorrow at work, so I can't see Joe and Co. FIE!!)

On the other hand, I made it to Mr. Small's to see the Furnaces. Now, the last time they were here, they were a RAWK band. Matthew played guitar, as did Eleanor on a couple songs, and a rhythm section rounded things out. [Matt had some cool stereo effect going where his guitar sound was bouncing between the left and right speakers too.] Tonight, Matthew stuck with a keyboard that looked like some old Vox or Acetone organ. They had both a drummer and percussionist; and ex-Sebadoh member Jason Loewenstein (the bassist on the last tour) was handling guitar duties.

Man, were they tight. The FF's songs have all sorts of twisty-turny melodies to begin with, and to hear a full band play them can be pretty astounding. Everyone was on the same page, making every change together. Not only that, they seemed to segue one song into the next for about 40 minutes straight. My friend Brendan compared it to seeing a rock opera, which is true: There were individual parts, but it kind of seemed like one whole piece. Until they took a breather after the 40-minute mark, the set was all from their latest album Bitter Tea, which I haven't heard yet, so it was all new to me. The only problem was you couldn't discern what Eleanor was singing, but as a person who's been going to shows and dealing with that situation for years, I was fine with it.

Afterwards, Matthew and Eleanor were hovering around the merchandisc table. Actually I was hovering, they were just standing there. They were both really nice and chatty, which I think says a lot for them after such an intense set. (I think they played at least an hour.) One would think they'd need more downtime. Eleanor had been to Whole Foods today and bought some club soda that Matt was drinking. I wonder if we passed each other in the aisle today at all.

The vinyl copy of Bitter Tea was $20, but I couldn't resist. I know I want it. And it has a beautiful cover. So I bought it.

Then I asked Eleanor if Jason was going to come out to talk to people. She brought him out and I had to tell him about my fond Sebadoh memories (see previous installments). He said they're getting back together early next year (WOO HOO!). He was really nice and down to earth, though he still looks like he has a wild gleam in his eyes. His solo album Sixes and Sevens, came out a few years ago and it really should've gotten more attention. It's really heavy and raw, but it has a great sense of melody without sacrificing what's good about either hooks or noise. And he played everything himself. It's not often that you come across an album where one person handles everything and it sounds like a band, with fully realized arrangements. Usually one-person solo = doodle fest.

I gave him the url to this site. I wonder if he'll check it out. Hi, Jason. Make another solo album. I'm sure I'm not the only one who'd dig it.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Flip a coin?

These days, it takes a lot to get me out to see a show, unless it's at Gooski's, which is right around the corner from me.

So today I realized that not one but two indie bands that I really like are in town on the same night (tomorrow) at opposite venues: in this corner, the Fiery Furnaces at Mr. Small's.

In this corner, the Pernice Brothers, at Club Cafe. (That's Joe Pernice below).

I'd get off my duff for either of these bands........and now they're playing on the same night? What ever will I do? makes me happy

Playing right now: Odean Pope - Locked and Loaded

Tenor saxophonist Odean Pope has shown up in my house twice recently, in the form of this CD and also as a support player on Max Roach's early '80s album, Chattahoochee Red. My friend Rob told me a couple years ago that if I ever saw a copy of that album to immediately pick it up. So a few months ago, I found a vinyl copy of it at Jerry's. (It probably hasn't been reissued on CD yet, as it was released by Columbia. If it was, probably only appeared in Japan.)

This was a pianoless quartet (except for one song which addsa 88s). And it is the kind of album that, at times, might make you say, "That's Max Roach?!" because it gets a little wild. It starts off with Max playing a solo over excerpts from Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. This is the kind of thing that only someone with Max's vision and taste could pull off. There's a version of "'Round Midnight" that takes some liberties with the melodic structure and makes it rise above all the other versions of the Monk classic.

Some jazz musicians have been around forever and we kind of take them for granted, not realizing how tremendous they are. Max is one of them. Clark Terry is another. Listen to either of those guys and you will be have to pull yourself up off the floor and say "Goddam" several times. Because these guys play with the kind of excitement and passion that makes you feel glad you're alive to hear this music. And really that's what it's all about: hearing something exciting that makes you glad you're hear to take the time to listen to it. And Max & Clark did an album together about three years ago that proves both are still capable of blowing minds as they reach the eighth decade of their lives.

But I started out talking about Odean Pope. He's truly a tremendous saxophone player. Last year he played on an album by saxophonist Prince Lasha that I reviewed for JazzTimes magazine. This year, JT did a profile on him that coincided with the release of an album by his saxophone choir: three altos, five tenors (not counting guests Michael Brecker, James Carter and Joe Lovano), one baritone and a rhythm section.

The album is called Locked & Loaded on HalfNote and I hope to see it on numerous Best Of Lists this year. I mean, the sound of all those horns together is powerful enough, but you get Lovano, Carter and Brecker tearing up the scenery along with Pope (who's a monster), and you have a pretty good time.


I recently came into a copy of the Go-Go's Beauty and the Beat (which I REALLY wanted for Christmas in 1981, but quickly forgot about soon after) and I decided I LOVE LOVE LOVE the song "Our Lips Are Sealed."

Up until that point I thought it was a catchy little number but a few Sundays ago, I decided it's one of those pieces of pop music bliss. And even though I'm not too keen on the rest of the album, that one song is reason to hold onto it. The same way I'm holding onto the second Fun Boy 3 album because it includes their version of the same song.