Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Greg Perry was one of major staff writers for Invictus/Hot Wax and co wrote most of the hits of Chairmen of the Board, Freda Payne etc. His first solo album, originally released on Casablanca in 1975, was called One for the Road. It is now regarded as one the best soul albums of all time.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Two true masters of French jazz - Michel Colombier and Ivan Jullien - teamed up in 1970 with other well known musicians from the French scene to record this excellent album at the famous Barclay Studios in Paris. The music was composed and played by Colombier and Jullien together with an allstar ensemble of finest studio players. Famous drummer Andre Arpino can be heard aswell as hammond master Eddy Louiss, Maurice Vander on piano, and Raymond Gimenez on electric guitar. Riviera Sound No.1 stands out as one of the perfect moments in French jazz funk, never reissued before and remaining on top of collector`s lists since years. There are not many facts to be found about this vinyl artifact, although nearly everybody of the featured musicians earned himself an excellent worldwide reputation.
The ten piece horn section delivers a great funky big band style from start to finish; wicked jazz funk is mixed with soundtrack or drama library sounds, like "Opening", that was also released on an impossible to find 45 single in the same year. "Crescendo" tears up every dancefloor, while "Talk" provides a monster open drum break at the beginning. Softer titles like "Edith" or "The Looser" draw their inspiration from cool jazz, modern jazz or pop music of the time. "I Remember Otis" is a soul and funk infused tribute to Otis Redding in a delicate Majestics or Mohawks style and the perfect groover "Wake The Monster" was re-recorded by Ivan Jullien later on for the always in demand Italian mod beat band "I Pyranas".
Ivan Jullien studied architecture and worked as a memorial inspector before he was sent to the Indochina war between 1952 and 1954. Back in Paris, trumpet playing became his main profession within the Paris jazz and variety scene of the time. He was soon playing in famous orchestras before accompanying big names like Johnny Griffin, Lester Young, Benny Bailey, Bud Powell, Dexter Gordon or Maynard Ferguson in the orchestra of the famous Olympia. In 1964 he was playing, arranging and recording for the likes of Johnny Hallyday, Francoise Hardy, Sacha Distel, Claude Nougaro, Charles Aznavour or Charles Trenet. All in all he did write thousands of arrangements for countless well known names from France and also started to compose and arrange big soundtracks like Claude Lelouche`s Un homme et une femme.
"Big Jullien" also started to lecture music analysis and music arrangement in 1983 and organized several big bands between 1965 and 1983. In 1993 he arranged "Carmen Jazz" featuring Dee Dee Bridgewater for the Vienna Festival, followed by special jazz arrangements of French chansons for Michel Leeb, finally performed by the Count Basie Orchestra in 2001. He received the "Prix Django Reinhardt" in 1971 and was also awarded with the "Prix Boris Vian" for his jazz adaption of "Porgy & Bess" together with Eddy Louiss. In 2003 he also received a "Victoires de la Musique" for his lifetime work. Moreover the man is "Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres", still working strong and arranging for his own big band today.
Michel Colombier learned to play the piano at the age of six, discovered jazz by eleven and soon performed or wrote for small combos and big bands. Later on he was playing and conducting the widest range of sounds from chamber orchestra to jazz band before being hired as artistic director for Barclay Records. The man stands out as one of the most important French music personalities of the 20th century. He not only composed music for more than 100 movies but also arranged some of the well known sounds by Prince or the first English album by Charles Aznavour, produced by Quincy Jones for release in the US. On the jazz scene he did write for many big names like Branford Marsalis. His classical works include titles for the Kronos Quartet aswell as various ballet musics. Michel Colombier passed away 2004 in Los Angeles.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
The album If was released on Nathan Davis’s tiny bespoke Tomorrow International record label in 1976 and only 1000 copies were ever pressed. Davis leads his super-funky group along the narrow path between jazz and funk that so many failed to navigate successfully in the second-half of the 1970s. It’s an album by an artist who is a musician’s musician. More importantly - it’s a killer LP.
Nathan Davis’s career has made him a connoisseur’s favourite and his records are all extremely collectable. In the 1960s Davis was drafted into the US army, and was based in Germany and France (working with everyone from Art Blakey to Donald Byrd and Ray Charles). Davis also worked as musical director of a TV and radio station, wrote film scores, studied anthropology at the Sorbonne and released a number of important records.
He returned to the US at the end of the 60s and continued to release a number of amazing jazz records – all of which have now been long out of print. His avoidance of the major record industry, working instead with various small independent labels with limited distribution has made all his releases very collectible. But have no doubt; Davis is one of the most important jazz artists of his time with a 50-year career span that continues to this day.
The early Tomorrow International releases, especially If, have become serious collector’s items, as indeed have most of Nathan Davis’s catalogue of recordings. Today, more people want these records than when they were first made and demand outstrips supply. Those who own Nathan Davis albums don’t sell them - and none more so than If.