Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Good Things Don't Happen Every Day, But They Happened Yesterday!

I knew it could be. This time last year my conversations with fellow non-Republicans went something like "yeah, he's great, but he'll never get elected." Republicans tended to say something more along the lines of "I hope he wins the primary because it'll be easy to beat him in the election." Well, he did it, we did it, and now our first family looks like this picture. They're brown. Brown like most of the musicians posted on this blog, even most of the musicians who have defined the American musics on any of these blogs we all go to. What's so fantastic is that in a way, that's secondary. First and foremost he's a visionary that somehow managed to make a large majority of Americans not even make brownness and issue. Today is the first day of the rest of our lives in the U.S., and I'm proud of and happy for us.

The folks at the new Groove Merchant blog Groovy Merchant don't have this one yet so I thought I'd do a quick post of it. Jimmy McGriff teams up with blues vocalist Junior Parker for a strong set of post-Basie organ blues. It's a fun album, better than I thought it would be actually. And, as I said in the title. Good things may not happen everyday, but yesterday they did.

Link in comments

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Melvin Sparks Band Live in Greece

So I taped almost each of my14 sets with the Melvin Sparks Band in Athens, Greece (except for the two days when my M-Audio and Matt's passport were in the back of this guy Theodore's car whose number we didn't have). My original idea was to go through it all and pick the best tracks to post (thus eliminating any bad drumming...) but that's just not going to happen! I did listen to most of it, but I'm really not going to get that crazy about it. Instead, I've decided to post the last set of the last night. It's far from perfect, and the recording quality is decidedly M-Audio-y, but I think the energy is great and Melvin tears it up. Matt Oestricher, who has only played in the group about a month, also takes care of some serious business on here.

For me the trip was like a year in college. Spending every day in the company of someone as unfathomably talented, dedicated, knowledgable and willing to share it all as is Melvin was the ultimate music lesson. I am a lucky guy indeed.

On this recording I'd say that parts of each tune are pretty dialed in, and I really love the made up on the spot encore Melvin lead us through (unfortunately the vocals suffer most on this recording). The recording is a little lo-fi, though certainly not awful. Anyway, for those that want to check it out, I hope you'll dig it!

The band is:
Melvin Sparks - Guitar, Vocals
Matt Oestricher - Organ
Me - Drums
Recorded Oct. 9, 2008 at the Half Note in Athens, Greece (The pic above is Melvin standing beneath a poster of himself looking at himself on the cover of a magazine).

Jimmy Smith LIve in Concert

This is a totally ripping set from Jimmy Smith's May 1965 trip to Paris that features Quentin Warren on guitar and Billy Hart on drums. Smith is on fire throughout, pulling the band to long ecstatic peaks in each of the album's four tracks. There's a pretty classic moment in "The Sermon" when Smith has kicked it up so high that Hart seems to lose him; I imagine Hart literally could no longer hear his own drums--I know the feeling and it's something that, in jazz anyway, really only a Hammond player can do (there's a great guy locally that always wants to play "Misty" like Groove Holmes and gets so fired up doing it that most of the band leaves me on stage to battle him myself!).

Tracks: The Sermon, Goldfinger, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, When Jimmy Comes Marching Home

Here's some video of the same lineup (I think it's Warren on guitar...) which is killing. Notice the classic moron Youtube comments: "Compared to Larry Young this sounds like a baseball game." Free speech has it's downsides...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

E.P.'s October Surprise

As I listen to the Constitution Candidate Rev. Baldwin in the background on NPR ("I'd like to see our borders closed [um how did your family get here a%$hole?], I'd like to see the IRS disbanded...") I thought I'd drop a link to E.P.'s superb October Surprise mix. It's a collection of totally smoking organ grooves with an interlude from the forthcoming movie The Soul Men that speaks 100% truth. Check it out, I guarantee you'll dig it.

The October Surprise Mix

Friday, October 17, 2008

Back at it with Charles Earland

It's hard to believe that it's been almost a month since my last post. It's been a busy, but very good month. I spent a couple of weeks of it on tour with Melvin Sparks, doing a residence at the fabulous Half Note Jazz Club in Athens, Greece (and I've posted this stunning pic of us at the Parthenon to prove it!). Man, what a trip. What I learned: Acid Jazz is way more popular in Europe, and because of that so is Melvin. The place was packed every night with people who listened, danced, had fun and were excited about the whole thing, and that's a lot more than I can say about the average American venue. I sure hope many more Euro trips are coming (Melvin is on tour there right now with Dr. Lonnie Smith, sans me, btw). I recorded every night of our trip so when I can go through the stuff I hope I'll have some to post here at some point.

So, back to the main point of this blog which is other peoples' music. Here's a rip of Charles Earland's rather large group recording from 1972 Live at the Lighthouse, which features Elmer Coles (tp), Clifford Adams (tb), Jimmy Vass (sop,as), Charles Earland (org), Maynard Parker (g), Darryl Washington (d), Kenneth Nash (cga). Like many Earland recordings it has ups and downs (none very low though), but overall it's a solid outing. (As an aside, having now seen John Cusack in the horror film 1408 the song "We've Only Just Begun" has an ominous side I could never have imagined).

In other news: My new turntable and conversion set up has arrived, expect a quality upgrade soon.

Link is in comments

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Heads Up for Shasha Marley

This past weekend I had the good fortune to perform with Shasha Marley, a reggae singer from Ghana. I lead a dub group of all Wesleyan students that mostly does living room parties but occasionally ventures out to bigger things like backing good singers (Dion Knibb and Toussaint Liberator for instance) and by way of several friends who had friends who somewhere along the way knew Shasha, we ended up being Shasha's band for a couple of weeks.

Everyone who knows anything about it tells me that Shasha Marley is a mega-star in Ghana. Apparently he's on cereal boxes he's so big. On TV 24-7. Nonetheless, he's one of the most beautiful, mellow and humble people I've ever had the pleasure to know. His music is great too, kind of like a blend of Steel Pulse and Burning Spear with a healthy dose of his own thing. We've got one more show coming up with him but I know he'll definitely be coming back.

Check out his Myspace Page for some tunes and more info.

The 5th Beatle (Not Eddie Murphy)

Billy Preston's biggest claim to fame was certainly his connection with the Beatles (he's one of only two outside musicians to get his name listed as a performer on their albums), but he's got a lot more to offer than that. Preston was playing with Mahalia Jackson when he was ten, and his skills at the organ prove it.

This post is actually a guest post sent my way by my dear friend EP over at Between Sun and Sea (we actually know each other in the physical realm too!). EP's a composer of some very strange and beautiful music (and he makes a mean mix), but he works in the film industry to pay the bills. He came across this great Preston recording while looking for soundtrack music to use in a film on which he was working. Hymns Speak from the Organ is Preston basically puttin' the church on tape; it's about as sanctified as soul can get.

Hope you dig it! Link in Comments.