Tuesday, March 31, 2009
"Miracles do happen. And the discovery of these recordings certainly is one. Although the band name may be unfamiliar to most, the musicians names behind East Bay Rhythm certainly aren’t. All of those who are fans of the Headhunters will recognize them as core members of that group. Tucked away on a dusty shelf for over 20 years lay the master tapes of the formation East Bay Rhythm...
...Drummer James Levi, Bassists Paul Jackson and Freddie Washington, as well as Percussionists Bill Summers and Butch Haynes along with the help of friends and guests such as Carlos’ brother Jorgé Santana of Malo, came together in a period between 1976-1980 to record six unbelievably funky tracks...
...After just one listen, it becomes quite obvious: Had these recordings been released 20 years ago, we would all have known them as long time classics in every funk collection. Lucky for us we catch up on that now. Indeed, miracles do happen."
Below, the track "A Little Love Will Help."
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Uriel "Possum" Jones, the last of the holy trinity of Motown drummers (along with William “Benny” Benjamin and Richard “Pistol” Allen), died Tuesday at the Oakwood Hospital in Detroit, where he’d been since a February heart attack. He was 74.
As part of the legendary group of Motown session musicians known as the Funk Brothers, Jones contributed to a range of classics, from Smokey Robinson & The Miracles’ “I Second That Emotion” and “Tracks of My Tears” to Stevie Wonder’s “For Once In My Life.” But he may have been most closely associated with the productions of Norman Whitfield, the architect of Motown’s “psychedelic soul” era. For Whitfield, Jones played on the Temptations’ “I Can’t Get Next To You” and “Ball of Confusion,” and, with Benny Benjamin, Gladys Knight & The Pips' two-drummer version of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." And then, of course, there's the Tempts' "Ain't Too Proud To Beg," with Jones' immortal opening drumroll, chorus-introducing explosion, and stop-start flourishes throughout. Motown's session credits are infamously muddled, so you can bet Jones played on dozens more uncredited landmarks. (COURTESY EW.COM)
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Gary McFarland was an inventive arranger/composer who sadly never saw his career reach its full potential. As a musician, he played trumpet, trombone, and piano before settling on the vibes when he was 21. Before he knew it, he was working as a freelance arranger (and vibraphonist) for artists like Gerry Mulligan, Johnny Hodges, John Lewis, Stan Getz, Bob Brookmeyer, Anita O'Day, Bill Evans, and many others.
1963's Point of Departure is one of McFarland's finest solo offerings, and features an all-star sextet with Richie Kamuca on tenor and oboe, guitarist Jimmy Raney, trombonist Willie Dennis, bassist Steve Swallow, and drummer Mel Lewis. Filled with colorful, bop-oriented solos and gorgeous arrangements, the LP remains sadly (and mysteriously) out of print.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
"Clarence Reid was born 14th February, 1945 and recorded for TK Records president Henry Stone's Alston label.
During the 60's, Clarence sang with the group the Del Mires, whom, at one point, had Paul Kelly as part of their line-up.
His Billboard-charting singles were 'Nobody but You Babe' (number seven R & B summer 1969, on the Atlantic LP), 'Good Old Days' (early 1972), and 'Funky Party' (summer 1974).
Reid's frequent collaborators were songwriter Willie Clarke and producer Steve Alaimo.
He co-wrote hits for Betty Wright ('Girls Can't Do What the Guys Do,' number 15 R & B), the million-selling 'Clean Up Woman' (number two R & B for eight weeks, number six pop), 'Baby Sitter' (number six R & B), and 'Let Me Be Your Lovemaker' (number ten R & B).
For Gwen McCrae, Reid co-wrote and co-produced 'Rockin' Chair,' which reached number one R & B and number nine pop in spring 1975.
In his other persona, he performed X-rated material under the pseudonym Blowfly..."
...Recorded at the Zoo Recording Studio in Miami, FL, like most records under Stone's family of labels, the recording was primitive, raw and gritty. Just how we like em. A classic track from Clarence Reid!
(Biographical info courtesy Clarence Reid's page at soulwalking.uk)
Eddie Bo, a New Orleans jazz pianist, singer, and songwriter has died at the age of 79, The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported Saturday.
The newspaper said Bo had died last Wednesday of a heart attack.
"He was one of the last great New Orleans piano professors, kind of a bridge between Professor Longhair and Allen Toussaint," the paper quoted New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival producer Quint Davis as saying.
"Everyone now has to remember to check their bucket on their own, without Eddie to tell us."
Born Edwin Joseph Bocage, Bo grew up in Algiers and the 9th Ward of New Orleans, the report said.
After graduating from high school, he served in the army and then studied arranging and composing at the Grunewald School of Music, a training ground for scores of professional musicians.
He fronted various bands and wrote and released singles for the Ace, Ric, Apollo, and Chess labels.
His hits included "Check Mr. Popeye" and "Hook and Sling," which reached No. 13 on Billboard's R&B chart in 1969, said The Times-Picayune.
Other artists fared well with his songs, the paper added. Little Richard adapted Bo's "I'm Wise" as "Slippin' and Slidin." Etta James scored a 1959 hit with his "Dearest Darling."
He is also credited with writing Oliver Morgan's signature "Who Shot the La La," according to the report.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
A killer 45 courtesy of legendary Puerto Rican musician Joe Cuba, who sadly passed away in February of 2009.
"Born 'Gilberto Miguel Calderón' in New York City, Cuba's parents moved from Puerto Rico to New York City in the late 1920s and settled in Spanish Harlem, a Latino community located in Manhattan. Cuba was raised in an apartment building where his father had become the owner of a candy store located on the ground floor (street level floor). His father had organized a stickball club called the Devils. Stickball was the main sport activity of the neighborhood. After Cuba broke a leg he took up playing the conga and continued to practice with the conga between school and his free time. Eventually he graduated from high school and joined a band.
In 1950, when he was 19 years old, he played for J. Panama and also for a group called La Alfarona X. The group soon disbanded and Cuba enrolled in college to study law. While at college he attended a concert in which Tito Puente performed 'Abaniquito'. He went up to Tito and introduced himself as a student and fan and soon they developed what was to become a lifetime friendship. This event motivated Cuba to organize his own band. In 1954, his agent recommended that he change the band's name from the Jose Calderon Sextet to the Joe Cuba Sextet and the newly named Joe Cuba Sextet made their debut at the Stardust Ballroom. In 1962, Cuba recorded "To Be With You" with the vocals of Cheo Feliciano and Jimmy Sabater. The band became popular in the New York Latin community. The lyrics to Cuba's music used a mixture of Spanish and English, becoming an important part of the Nuyorican Movement.
In 1965, the Sextet got their first crossover hit with the Latin and soul fusion of 'El Pito (I Never Go Back To Georgia)' . The 'Never Go Back To Georgia' chant was taken from Dizzy Gillespie's intro to the seminal Afro-Cuban tune, 'Manteca'.
Along with fellow Nuyorican artists such as Ray Barretto and Richie Ray, Cuba was at the forefront of the developing Latin soul sound in New York, merging American R&B styles with Afro-Cuban instrumentation. Cuba was one of the key architects behind the emerging Latin Boogaloo sound, which became a popular and influential Latin style in the latter half of the 1960s...."
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
"The Soul Investigators, a Finnish funk collective, was formed in 1998 by producer and drummer Jukka Sarapää, guitarist Pete Toikkanen, bassist Sami Kantelinen and organist Antti Määttänen. The group’s initial 7” ('Calypso Strut' b/w 'Party Food') was released under the moniker Calypso King & the Soul Investigators and received such a positive reaction from the international deep funk community that it led the band to issue two additional 45s — 'Investigators Testifying' b/w 'C’mon Boot-it!' in 1999, and 'Compin’ & Smokin'” b/w 'Damper Down Popcorn' in 2000.
Prior to recording their debut full-length LP, Soul Strike!, in 2000, the group added acclaimed funk DJ and sound engineer Didier Selin on percussion and guitar. In 2001, the band formed Timmion Records for the release of Soul Strike! and pressed four more 45s over the next year before issuing its sophomore LP, Home Cooking, which featured the addition of a horn section...
'I like working with these guys and have a great appreciation for what they do,' says [singer Nicole] Willis says about the Soul Investigators [Willis began collaborating with the Soul Investigators in 2003]. 'They’re kind of raw. They don’t ever get polished in a way that would ever compromise the style of the music. I love hearing the horns and the sound of real drums rather than a drum machine. I think that’s super important. People do not want to sit and watch musicians using drum machines and laptops, and we don’t want to make records like that. We don’t want to make perfect music. We want to make soul music.'"
(Quotes courtesy of Andy Tennille @ Harp Magazine)
Below, the track "Good Food" which sounds like a rough, greasy, somewhat experimental Meters B-side (that never was.)
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
"Sometimes there are moments in history that are quite remarkable. Like the heroic revolt of Spartacus or the new view of the universe by Kopernikus or - in our days - the story of three kids that were captured in the mid 80`s by a musical style that was long gone, in fact, never really happened in their home town of Munich/Germany.
It was the explosive dynamics and the rough sounds of numerous late 60`s and early 70`s independent funk bands that sublimed their whole musical approach towards a even more defined stylistic expression. After early excursions through the universe of rare groove 45`s (collecting records and discerning the deeper contents of this music), they started to create their own small renaissance of this special style by founding their 7" label 'Hotpie & Candy Records' to release first creative moments (yeah!).
Using specific equipment and recording techniques they developed a trademark sound that laid a foundation for a unique output that goes far beyond your average "Soul Brother No.1" style funk. Growing local success led to the release of a now 'classic' debut album (Practice What You Preach, 1993) and supported their urban guerrilla tactics to react against cheesy and overproduced mainstream entertainment (especially the then successful 'Acid fake-Jazz' hype).
Following this LP, further 7" releases were issued on their own label (introducing different side-acts such as 'The Pan-Atlantics', 'Bus People Express', 'The Soul-Saints Orch.', 'Bo Baral´s Excursionists Of Enlightenment', 'The Woo Woo´s' plus many others). In the later 90´s they planned to record a second album before concentrating on other projects...
...What sets the Poets apart from other bands in this newly emerging modern funk movement is that they have an undeniably distinctive voice. Nowhere on Discern/Define will the listener find a cover version of a funk standard. The Poets have created new standards, transcending the current parameters which they are assumed to reside within. Their sound is fine tuned yet wildly eclectic, citing african rhythms, gritty rock riffs, psychedelic sounds and soulful melodies, all backed by that omnipresent funk backbeat...
...Their music has catapulted them into the next era, raising the bar for up and coming groups within the newly emerging modern funk movement, and the Poets of Rhythm are unanimously regarded by those same peers as the standard bearers. Why? One listen and you'll see why it ain't hard to tell."
Below, the track "Ham Gallery," with a super heavy drum break at the top.
Monday, March 16, 2009
"Long out of print, this 1962 recording is one of the prize items of the free-jazz movement as it flowered in California. It teams flutist Prince Lasha (pronounced la-SHAY) and alto saxophonist Sonny Simmons, who cowrote all the songs and play with an esprit de duo that reflects their long-term partnership. Lasha, who also played saxophone, was a childhood friend of Ornette Coleman and became part of his circle in Los Angeles. Simmons, a Louisiana native who grew up in Oakland, came under Coleman's influence while honing his own terse, lyrically heated style.
Though the overall sound of The Cry! very much proceeds from Ornette's harmolodic "new thing" (while absorbing earlier styles ranging from Ellington exotica to Waller erotica) it's a racier vehicle that takes hairier turns. Stopping just short of freneticism, the melodies have an irresistible pull--not for an instant does the music sag. Propelled by the clean and steady dual basses of Gary Peacock and Mark Proctor (on three tracks, Peacock goes it alone), Lasha and Simmons harmonize with as much zip and warmth as they put into their solos..."
Below, "Congo Call"--a moody dancefloor jazz classic.
Friday, March 13, 2009
"Henry Roeland 'Roy' Byrd - better known to the world as Professor Longhair or 'Fess,' for short - stands as the foremost exponent of New Orleans piano style. Byrd’s idiosyncratic style is a rhythmic jambalaya reflecting the freewheeling, good-time spirit of the Crescent City. Professor Longhair soaked up influences from close-at-hand sources - barrelhouse boogie-woogie, Caribbean rhythms like the rumba (many of his relatives were West Indian), and the Crescent City’s 'second line' parade rhythms - but the way he pieced these elements together is what made his style such a marvel of fluidity and drive. He has been hailed as 'the Picasso of keyboard funk' and 'the Bach of rock.' Professor Longhair also served to influence profoundly a generation of New Orleans pianists that came up behind him, many of whom made their mark in the interlocking worlds of rhythm & blues and rock and roll. Some of his more prominent musical heirs include Mac Rebennack (a.k.a. Dr. John), Fats Domino, Huey 'Piano' Smith, James Booker and Allen Toussaint.
He was born Henry Roeland Byrd in Bogalusa, Louisiana, and lived in New Orleans from the age of two onward. As a child, he learned how to play on an old piano that had been left in an alley. He seriously began to master the instrument while working at a Civilian Conservation Corps camp in 1937. After a stint in the service during World War II, he returned to New Orleans and began playing at clubs like the Caledonia, a neighborhood bar just outside the French Quarter. He was called Professor Longhair, the 'professor' part being an honorary nickname bestowed on New Orleans piano wizards. He first recorded in 1949 and scored his one and only R&B chart hit with 'Bald Head,' released on Mercury Records, a year later. Soon after, he was signed to Atlantic Records and began recording under the aegis of the label’s producer/executives, Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler.
As a vocalist, Professor Longhair was a classic blues shouter. As a pianist, he was a unique force of nature - or, more accurately, New Orleans. It was a city whose sense of festivity he celebrated with such anthems as 'Tipitina' (now the name of the city’s most fabled music club), 'Mardi Gras in New Orleans' and 'Big Chief.' Longhair remained locally popular as a working musician from the late 1940s to the early 1960s, rarely venturing off his home turf. He abandoned the music business in 1964 to work odd jobs and deal cards for a living. After languishing in obscurity Professor Longhair was rediscovered and enlisted to play at the second New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 1971. His comeback included tours of Europe and albums for major labels as a new generation discovered his inimitable 'mambo-rumba-boogie' style. All the while he remained the patron saint of Jazzfest, closing out the final show each year until his death in 1980..."
Below, one of his funkiest tracks, "Big Chief," which British singer Lily Allen most recently sampled to great effect in "Knock Em Out."
Thursday, March 12, 2009
"The mysterious Shawn Lee grew up in a rural area on the outskirts of Wichita, Kansas. His mother is half Lebanese, half American Indian, his father Irish-American. While his peers got off on cheesy corporate rock and the kind of line-dancing tunes recently fashionable in Gap ads, Shawn was groovin to the blaxploitation funk Sly and the Isleys. Later, his local Baptist Church widened his appreciation of black music, but when he sang and played drums in its gospel choir, he discovered some of his white friends were racists who disapproved. F**k this, he thought, time to leave the Mid-West but not before playing in local band Lotus with future country superstar Martina Mcbride.
Next stop Los Angeles. Already an able multi-instrumentalist (guitar, drums, perc,bass, etc) Shawn now set about developing his songwriting. There were bands, publishing deals, relationships,tours and day jobs: more notches on the bedpost of experience. Shawn was introduced to producers the Dust Brothers( post Paul’s Boutique) and spent much time hanging out, drinking cappuccinos and making mix tapes from their dusted record collection. This period also saw Shawn befriend the late Jeff Buckley, and somebody, somewhere has a tape of them jamming 'Honky Tonk Woman.'
In 1995, Shawn moved to London, where he recorded his solo debut for DJ Gilles Peterson’s Talkin Loud label. For all the wrong reasons, the album was never released. It was soul destroying; a bit like somebody erasing 3 years of your life. Resolving to write and record on his own terms, Shawn kept working. He created the infamous Planet of the Breaks series as well as 5 volumes of Ape Breaks becoming the most sampled drummer of his generation in the process. He passed CDs of songs to friends with no agenda other than hope you enjoy it. As Shawn continued to do it his way, airplay garnered by a self-financed EP prompted several major labels to phone him. He had no intention of reboarding the corporate merry-go-round. Instead, he opted to sign a deal with Mark Jones at Wall of Sound.
2004 saw the release of two Shawn Lee albums. Soul Visa (in Japan only, on Rush!) and the debut release of Shawn’s instrumental side project Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra. The first of which was entitled Music and Rhythm on Ubiquity Records. 2005 also saw two more records from Mr. Lee; Harmonium (in Japan only, on Rush!) and the second Ping Pong album Moods and Grooves....
...The third album from Shawn Lee's popular Ping Pong Orchestra, Strings and Things , features his usual smorgasboard of genre-blurring musical wizardry, from kung fu flick flavors to Bombay-bastic beats. While these mood-setting tracks might make great DJ tools, collections for sampling, or music for film, they also make for great listening...."
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
"Betty married Miles Davis in the late 60s, influencing him with psychedelic rock, introducing the jazz great to Jimi Hendrix and inspiring classic work like Bitches Brew. She herself had been strongly urged to record by Marc Bolan of T. Rex, and turned down both Eric Clapton and Motown to keep control over her own work and express it as nasty as she wanted to be.
Rappers from Ice Cube to Talib Kweil to Ludacris have rhymed over her tracks. This amazingly progressive debut showcases her revolutionary talent and features such gems as 'If I'm In Luck I Might Get Picked Up' and 'Game Is My Middle Name.'
Originally released in 1973, "Betty Davis" was recorded with a who's who of San Francisco stars - from Sly & the Family Stone's rhythm section to backing vocals from Sylvester and the Pointer Sisters, while Sly Stone drummer Greg Errico produced the album..."
Saturday, March 7, 2009
A new Radiophonic Oddities set for all to enjoy--25 more tracks of funk, jazz, R&B, breaks, hip-hop, Jamaican soul, Afrobeat, and everything in between.
Featuring cuts and beats from J-Rocc, Stark Reality, Al Hirt, Lyn Christopher, DJ Premier, The Apples, Henry Mancini, and many others.
Many thanks to DJ Clarence Duffy for his assistance.
It will download as a zip file. **If an advertisement pops up, just click on "Continue to Sendspace" on the TOP RIGHT of the screen to bypass the advertisement and return to the download page.**
Friday, March 6, 2009
"Where did all the R&B guitar hotshots go — those who once haunted East Bay byways in the '60s and '70s? Many would be lucky to surface on as loving a tribute as We Can't Take Life for Granted, a deep bow to Eugene Blacknell, who once ran with Sly Stone, performed for Marvin Gaye, and scored comparisons to Albert King. The Oakland ace's highly collectible 7-inch singles have found a second life via sampling by Beck, among others..." (Courtesy San Francisco Bay Guardian.)
Below, a 45 of "Gettin Down" with a heavy drum break at the top!
Monday, March 2, 2009
One of the hardest funk tracks ever released on the Philly funk label Rising Soul. Recorded sometime circa the early 70's.
Original band members were: Herman Carter - organ, Harold Carter - sax, Norman Satchell - sax, Arthur Irons - guitar, Rusty 'Stone' Jackman - bass, George Fels - drums