Thursday, June 26, 2008

Leon Ware - Rockin' You Eternally (1981)





Leon Ware is one of those great 70s soul-funk artists - like Roy Ayers and to a certain extent, Curtis Mayfield - whose impact is being both felt and recognised more in retrospect, and whose reputation continues to grow. He's an extraordinary soul songwiter, vocalist and arranger who peaked in the mid 70s with his soul masterpiece "Musical Massage", but all periods of his work deserve some examination.

Apart from a brief Japan-only CD release on East-West, and a later, even briefer re-release on Expansion Records, "Rockin' You Eternally" remains out of print, and seems to be the only unblogged album from his main period, so i'm presenting it here today along with a history in which hopefully even diehard Ware fans can find a few treats.

Bold album links take you to albums on other blogs; italic links take you to individual songs. If you follow them, please thank those bloggers :)

Born in Detroit, Ware started as a Motown writer in the late 60s, scoring some hits for the Isley brothers and the Four Tops. After writing and producing much of Ike and Tina Turner's 1971 United Artists album "Nuff Said", with great tracks like "I Love Baby", the label gave him a shot in 1972 on his first solo album "Leon Ware". Much of it references the classic RnB forms that he'd just been working on with the Turners, while tracks like "Why Be Alone" and "Nothing's Sweeter than My Baby's Love" showcase both his beautiful voice and the romantic soul for which he was to become better known.

As a writer, he continued to score hits such as Michael Jackson's "I Wanna be Where You Are" and Donny Hathaway's "I Know It's You". His vocal abilities were also being noticed in the 1973-74 period - he features on several tracks on the blaxploitation gem "The Education of Sonny Carson", and he really came to the fore when he wrote and sung two of his tracks on the Quincy Jones album "Body Heat" - the title track, which was a sizeable RnB hit, and in particular his song "If I Ever Lose this Heaven", co-written with frequent collaborator Pam Sawyer and covered by many since.

His co-singer on that track, apart from Al Jarreau, was Minnie Ripperton, then at her peak of success with "Loving You". In 1975 , the two duetted on a cover of "My Cherie Amour" on Quincy Jones' album "Mellow Madness", although Leon's smooth vocal seems a little less comfortable on the pysch/funk track "Paranoid" - good album though!
After that, Ware wrote several great songs for Ripperton's album "Adventures In Paradise", notably "Baby This Love I Have" and the haunting "Inside My Love", both featuring an increasingly upfront eroticism (let's say it almost drips on you!) that was to dominate his next work.

While working on his next solo album, Ware was also doing some demo tracks with Diana Ross' troubled brother T-Boy Ross. Motown's Berry Gordy heard the demo for the song "I Want You", and demanded it be passed on to Marvin Gaye for his next single. In the end, Ware's entire, nearly finished solo album was given to Gaye, with both Leon's lead vocals and many of his backing vocal arrangements replaced by Marvin's. The resulting album "I Want You" still stands as a 70s soul masterpiece, and a highlight of Gaye's catalogue. While much of the albums' upfront sexuality and eroticism has been linked to Gaye's sexual obsession with his younger second wife Jan, less has been written about how it stands as a natural progression from that emergent eroticism on the Ripperton album tracks, and follows in a straight line to Ware's followup.

Having given away a masterpiece, Leon Ware went into the studio in 1976 and recorded another. I've got little to say about "Musical Massage" except that I think it's the greatest soul album of the 70s, and if you haven't got it, click that link and listen to it before this one. Or just have a listen to "Instant Love", "Musical Massage", "Phantom Lover" or "Holiday", with Marvin Gaye and Bobby Womack on backing vocals. Once again, Gordy wanted Ware to hand the album to Marvin Gaye. Ware's refusal led to the album being released with little or no promotion, and it failed commercially, although its stature continues to grow with time.

Ware retreated to work as a songwriter and producer, taking the reigns for albums like Syreeta's "One to One" from 1977, Lara Saint Paul's "Saffo Music", and the albums "Shadow" (1980) and "Shadows In the Street" (1981) for the Ohio Players' offshoot band Shadow.

In 1979 he signed with Elektra and released the self-produced "Inside Is Love", a generally uptempo collection of soul numbers like "What's Your Name", and a faster, almost disco version of "Inside Your Love". Notably, with the beautiful "Love Is Such a Simple Thing", he began a collaboration with Brazilian legend Marcos Valle, who was exploring soul textures at the same time as Leon was reaching into brazilian harmonic changes. Valle began to feature Portugese versions of their collaborations on albums like 1981's "Vontade de Rever Voce" and 1983's "Marcos Valle".

That songwriting collaboration continued into the lush title track of today's album, 1981's "Rockin' You Eternally" (link at base of post). The song's a perfect slice of orchestral soul with unexpected chord progressions, Marcos Valle on the rhodes, and some unusually restrained and sensitive string arrangements from Gene Page. The album mixes uptempo numbers like "Baby Don't Stop Me" and "A Little Boogie (Never Hurt No One)" with more traditional Ware soul like "Sure Do Want You Now" and "Got to be Loved". His main writing collaborator on this album, however, was Richard Rudolph, husband of Minnie Ripperton who had died of cancer two years before. (Rudolph had co-written all tracks on the "Adventures in Paradise" album).

Some of the production suffers from FM synthesis, the scourge of the early 80s, but there's enough Leon here to still appreciate. There's a funny story from around this time where apparently Marcos Valle bought an 80s-style DX-7 keyboard in New York, sold his Fender Rhodes, regretted it, then had to beg Deodato (who was living in a NYC hotel suite) to sell him a Rhodes again, in order to get some recording done - Deodato had six Fender Rhodes.

Ware recorded one more album for Elektra in 1982, titled "Leon Ware" (just like his 1972 album), but they dropped him after it wasn't a hit. The 90s 'rediscovery' of the track "That's Why I came to California" from that album led, in part, to the resurgence of interest in his earlier work.

For most of the 80s and 90s he worked as a songwriter - here's a few early 80s examples from Nancy Wilson, Les McCann and Seawind. As a leader, he only released the albums 'Undercover' in 1987 and "Taste the Love" in 1995, and notably collaborated on the track "Sumthin' Sumthin' " on Maxwell's 1996 debut album "Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite".

The arrival of the internet and renewed interest in his older work seems to have re-invigorated Leon, and he's released four independent albums : "Candlelight" (2001); "Love's Dripping" (2003); "Deeper" (2004) and "A Kiss in the Sand" (2005). Of these, I'd recommend the jazz-focused "Candlelight", which just features Leon on vocals and Don Grusin on piano and rhodes, although they're all good. "A Kiss in the Sand" references brazilian-syle harmonies and structures, while the other two are your romantic soul-style Leon Ware. it's actually quite amazing how well his voice has lasted.

Although his website's recently had a major slickover, Leon continues to answer fan questions, as he has there since at least 1999, and still plays live.

Jazzanova's new album "Of All the Things" (2008) features a rendition of "Rocking You Eternally" with both Ware and Dwele on vocals.

He's recently signed with the reconstituted Stax Records, and in August 2008 released "Moon Ride", his first major label release in 26 years. To quote the PR : Leon says "I've never really been out there as a fully-fledged recording artist and performer because of my love for producing and writing. Now," he emphasizes, "it's time to do that..."
'ROCKIN' YOU ETERNALLY' - LEON WARE (1981)

TRACKLIST

1.
'A Little Boogie (Never Hurt No One)' - (L.Ware, R.Rudolph) 
2. 'Baby Don't Stop Me' - (L.Ware, M.Valle, L.Oliviera, P.Cetera) 
3. 'Sure Do Want You Now' - (L.Ware, R.Rudolph) 
4. Our Time' - (J.Williams, W.Beck, C.Willis, R.Rudolph, L.Ware) 
5. 'Rockin' You Eternally' - (L.Ware, M.Valle) 
6. 'Got to Be Loved' - (L.Ware, M.Valle, R.Rudolph) 
7. 'Don't Stay Away' - (L.Ware) 
8. 'In Our Garden' - (L.Ware, A.Anderson) 

PRODUCTION CREDITS 

Produced by Leon Ware for Leon Ware Productions.
Strings and horns arranged by Gene Page
1981 Elektra / Asylum Records 


MUSICIANS

Leon Ware - lead and background vocals
William Beck - piano, rhodes
Marcos Valle - rhodes on tracks 5 and 6
Chet Willis - guitar, bass
James (Diamond) Williams- drums
Laudir de Oliveira - percussion
Michael Boddicker - synthesiser
Shadow - backing vocals on track 2 


LEON WARE DISCOGRAPHY

1972 'Leon Ware' at ce la plume / FLAC at Avax
1976 'Musical Massage' at Here only Good Music For All
1979 'Inside Is Love' at Never Enough Rhodes
1981 'Rockin' You Eternally' in the comments of this post

1982 "Leon Ware" at Soulfunkjazz / alternate
1987 'Undercover'
1995 'Taste the Love' 2001 'Candelight'
2003 'Love's Drippin' at zonamusical 2004 'Deeper'
2005
'A Kiss In the Sand'

2008 'Moon Ride'
2009 "Leon Ware and Friends" collaborations comp.) at MasterfunkMoco

POST CREDITS

Rip by Simon666

Other album blog links in post go to :
Forrealheadz, Ce la plume, Blaxploitation Pride, Blak's Lair, DJ Uilson - Professor Groove, My Favourite Sound, fullundie, run's lossless library, Here Only Good Music for All, The Bossa Blog, Mellow Soul and Sensual Grooves, The Mood Indicator, Zona Musical, Let's Go Get It, regalame esta noche, funk classic master, Oufar Khan

Please thank and support these bloggers if you visit these links - lack of comments kill music blogs.


DOWNLOAD WAV - MP3

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

never enough rhodes - comp #8 (brazil)




'Pinnacle' excerpt


'Love and Aggression' excerpt


'Avidaemseus' excerpt


'Cascavel' excerpt

We're back to Brazil again for this eighth compilation in the rhodes series. Some jazz, some funk, a bit of samba and some amazing orchestration .. I'll let the previews talk for me today, but take my word for it that this one is hot, so give it a try!

.... and leave a comment - you know that we bloggers go crazy unless you do :) Even if just to say "Your cover design's improving a little".

Anyway, enjoy it.



click the pic below for more rhodes compilations


Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Jacksons / Jane Fonda - "Can You Feel it" (buttocks)




'Can you Feel it" (buttocks remix) 


TRACK OF THE DAY

This is one all for the DJs and closet DJs out there. I guarantee you : any dancefloor, any place. any time, any crowd ... this song is a secret 125 bpm weapon.

“Can You Feel it” was the first hit single from the Jacksons' 1980 CBS/Epic album “Triumph”, the second album over which they had artistic control. With Michael hovering just beneath the stratosphere after the success of his "Off the Wall" album the previous year, CBS/Epic went all out with a (then) expensive, elaborate 7 min. sci-fi video, in which Michael and Co. sprinkle their fans with magic gold dust, and teach them to not be scared of eclipses.

It was the first in a decade-long series of expensive MJ video fantasises where narratively, it seems to me, he seems to gain power by first scaring someone, and then saving them (Moonwalker, Thriller) - could we call him an opportunistic saviour ?

In the video, the song itself is almost buried in laser zaps, explosions and an additional faux-John Williams orchestral layer.

Single cover, "Can You Feel It"

This wasn't to be the last time the track was buried under other sounds : Within months of its release, CBS also released the best-selling "Jane Fonda Workout Record", in which the waning Hollywood actress cashed in on the aerobics boom with a series of exercises spoken over tracks by CBS artists such as the Jacksons, the Brothers Johnson and REO Speedwagon.



"Can You Feel It" was used as the backing track for a series of mind-and-sphincter-expanding buttocks exercises, in which Fonda's cries of "Resist ... Release!" perhaps echo her earlier status as USA public enemy #1 , Vietnam resistance fighter Hanoi Jane - while perhaps "Keep it up there, keep it tight!" more reflect the 60s-style sexual submission / "free love" of her sci-fi film "Barbarella". Or as she exhorts in the cover notes : "And remember! Discipline is Liberation!"

inner sleeve detail

There's nothing quite like watching a dancefloor or a party of people when the needle drops on this - they stop in their tracks, then slowly begin to try and obey Jane's various commands of buttock clenching, stretching and lifting, while still attempting to dance standing up ...

A final strange note on the song "Can You Feel It". In 2006, UK illusionist/mentalist Derren Brown used it as a "cue" on a TV program to make four hypnotised people rob a bank. I find it inexplicable that he didn't use the Fonda version - surely any good bank robbery needs a good warmup ?

Tech notes : First, I've flattened the original slow fade-in so that this can be crossfaded at the start. I've done a slight lift around 100hz to give a bit of presence back to the bass guitar and kick, which get lost in the original track as it's at the very end of the side in those narrow grooves. Finally, I've done some detailed multiband compression in order to bring out the song itself more - the original mix favoured Jane a little too heavily, and fairly crudely 'flattened' the Jacksons track. I wanted to make this work more like the "early rap" that it could be :) - so that people can attempt, for whatever reason, to dance to it."

CAN YOU FEEL IT" - The Jacksons / Jane Fonda (buttocks version)


DOWNLOAD WAV - MP3


** Please comment or say hi **

Other TRACKS OF THE DAY:

Aretha Franklin – “Reasons Why”
Erykah Badu / Quincy Jones – “On and On” (Summer In Sydney remix)
Marcia Hines – “You Gotta Let Go”

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Daly-Wilson Big Band ft. Marcia Hines (1975)






Many of you enjoyed the other Daly-Wilson Big Band album (see there for the history and scandals), so here's another. Our vocalist this time around on a couple of tracks is Marcia Hines, who went on from here to become one of the biggest pop stars in 1970s Australia. After this album, she recorded his first (and best) solo album "Marcia Shines" in 1975.

There's not as much attention paid to this particular release, as neither Mobb Deep or DJ Shadow have sampled this one - but perhaps you could be the first? To be straight with you, this is not as good an album as the Kerrie Biddell one, with a few seriously bad tracks, but it's got its moments - good Rhodes workout in "Theme From the Rockford Files"; a version of Herbie Hancock's "Chameleon", which features some wah-wah trumpet; and Marcia is good on "Ain't No Mountain High Enough".

The band had just come back from a world tour around this time, interestingly having extensively toured Russia, which was unusual in those days, and having performed at the White House in Washington. Not sure what Nixon (or possibly Ford) made of this ...

Strangely enough, as part of their national tour that year, they visited a number of high schools, including mine, and it inspired me to write some brass parts for my band. Luckily for you, the cassettes of this have long since disintegrated ...

Marcia Hines with the Daly Wilson Big Band, 1975

Thanks again to Micko and the Midoztouch community for this rip.


TRACKLIST

01 El Boro 
02 Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans 

03 Theme From The Rockford Files 

04 Chameleon 

05 Satin Doll 

06 The Way We Were

07 Ain't No Mountain High Enough 

08 Jimmy Webb Medley: Up Up And Away - Wichita Lineman - MacArthur Park

PERSONNEL

Trumpets - Don Raverty, Norm Harris, Lary Elam, Warren Clarke & Pat Crichton
Trombones - Ed Wilson, Herbie Cannon, Merv Knott & Peter Scott
Saxaphones - Doug Foskett, Paul Long, John Mitchell & Bob Pritchard
Vocals - Marcia Hines
Drums - Warren Daly
Bass - John Helman
Guitar - Dave Donovan
Keyboards - Ray Alridge


PRODUCTION CREDITS

Produced by Warren Daly and Ed Wilson
Recording and Mixing Engineer - Martin Benge
Recorded at EMI Studios Sydney
Marcia Hines appears by arrangement with Wizard Records
Photography - Phillip Mortlock
Art Direction - Ken Smith




Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bridgewater Brothers - "Lightning and Thunder" (1978)





We last met the Bridgewater Brothers (Cecil on brass, and Ron on reeds) as part of the Billy Parker's Fourth World album from a few weeks back. They recorded this Japan-only vinyl release in late 1977 with a pretty stellar lineup - Stanley Cowell on piano, Reggie Workman on bass, Michael Carvin on drums.

I started doing one of my who's-played-with-who jazz chronologies as part of this post, but it soon became clear that these guys have played together in so many configurations over so many years, that such a chronology would have ended up turning into some endless DNA molecule sequence that would have eventually eaten me and spat me out.

So the trivia fact of the day is that all five of these musicians played on singer Mark Murphy's 1961 album "Rah" which sounds, of course, nothing at all like this one (but is a wonderful vocal jazz album, so catch it at El Goog's blog via that link).

Also, as part of that initial search, I did come across a lovely 1975 album by drummer Michael Carvin called "The Camel", which was new to me, and you should check out at Pharoah's Dance.

Cecil and Ron Bridgewater, West Village NYC, 1976
photo by Tom Marcello

As for this album - three long tracks written by the brothers. This is the most straight-ahead jazz I've posted so far - i'll listen to Stanley Cowell play piano any place, any time. Ron Bridgewater's "Silent Rain" features solos by the brothers and by Cowell. "Dear Trane" has - you guessed it - plenty of saxaphone solos and some inspired solo bass by Reggie Workman.
Cecil Bridgewater's frenetic title track takes up the second side of the album. After some chaotic discordancy at the start, Workman's walking bass holds things together while Cowell's arpeggios go screaming all over the scale, and Carvin is all percussion and colour.

TRACKLIST 

01 "Silent Rain" - (Ron Bridgewater) - 9:09
02 "Dear Trane"- (Ron Bridgewater) - 10:37
03 "Lightning & Thunder" - (Cecil Bridgewater) - 16:41

PERSONNEL

Cecil Bridgewater - trumpet, fluegel horn
Ron Bridgewater - tenor & soprano sax
Stanley Cowell - piano
Reggie Workman - bass
Michael Carvin - drums


PRODUCTION DETAILS

Artist: BRIDGEWATER BROTHERS
Title: LIGHTNING AND THUNDER
Label: DENON / NIPPON COLUMBIA
Cat #: YX7526ND
Press: JAPAN
Recorded: Dec 10, 1977, NYC
Released 1978 – japan only

Hope you enjoy it.



Sunday, June 15, 2008

Leroy Vinnegar - "Glass Of Water" (1973)







Although he's here today because of the funky rhodes and wurlitzer on this album, bassist Leroy Vinnegar has gone down in history as the person who popularised the "walking bass" style in jazz, in which the bass player plays lines of quarter notes in steady 4/4 metre, at varying degrees of distance from the underlying harmony. This enables the bassist to create a countermelody to the soloist, while still supporting harmonic progression and providing a regular pulse. Don't you wish you'd done that?

Without doing a full bio - I know, my posts are getting longer - he worked with Les McCann for much of the 60s, so just check out this fantastic live video of McCann and Eddie Harris' 1969 "Compared to What", and if you want to go a bit deeper into his prolific, three-hundred album output, you could start with this name search at Call It Anything.

But one more - you really should check out this incredibly cool 1963 track called "Paco" by the Gerald Wilson Orchestra on the album "Portraits" - Vinnegar on bass, Chuck Carter on drums (who also features on today's album), as well as Joe Pass on guitar, and Harold Land in the sax section.

Our rhodes and wurlitzer man today is Dwight Dickerson, who also played on Vinnegar's other 70s album "The Kid", which has seen something of a revival after being sampled by DJ Shadow.

Dickerson's keyboard playing is also worth checking out on these other blogged albums : Bobby Hutcherson's essential "Inner Glow" (1975), Gene Ammon's "Free Again" (1972) - great brass section; key funky cut "Jaggin" - and Henry Franklin's post-Black-Jazz-but-still-spiritual "Tribal Dance" (1977) - killer cut "Cosmos Dwellers", but it's all good.

This album's a little rootsier than "The Kid" - no synths or guitars, a little more of a bluesy touch - Vinnegar worked on Jimmy Smith's "Bluesmith" just before this one. "Glass Of Water" is a bit like an early 70s Milestone album with some spacier rhodes layering. Best track here is the wonderful "Muffin Man", which I included on Rhodes compilation #6, but the rest of it's worth checking out as well.

Vinnegar and Dickerson worked together once more, on 1979's Bev Kelly Live at the Jazz Safari, together with Rudolph "Rudy" Johnson, who you may know from his Black Jazz releases.

Anyway, "Glass Of Water" was to be Vinnegar's last release as a leader for sixteen years, until 1993's "Walkin' the Basses". Hope you enjoy it.

Rapidshare link for Bobby Hutcherson's "Inner Glow" in this post originally uploaded by Bacoso at "Orgy in Rhythm". "Glass of Water" from Soulseek. 

TRACKLIST

01 "Twila"
02 "Funny Time" - (Jimmy Heath)
03 "Glass Of Water" - (L. Vinnegar)
04 "Damn! Somebody Stole my Pants" - (L. Vinnegar)
05 "My Romance" - (Rogers and Hart)
06 "Muffin Man" - (Hampton Hawes)
07 "Hey Mon"- (L. Vinnegar)

MUSICIANS

Leroy Vinnegar - bass
Dwight Dickerson - keyboards
Chuck Carter - drums
Micel Barrere - percussion


CREDITS

Label: Legend Records (LGS-1001)
Year of Release: 1973








Saturday, June 14, 2008

never enough rhodes comp #7 (hip hop)






'Good Rap Music'- Bahamadia

I'd imagine that most people who visit sites like this one enjoy 1970s jazz, funk, soul, and related forms. But we take different paths to get here - some people know these musics from back in the day, while others have tracked back to the music via hip hop samples, explorers looking for treasure amongst the dusty grooves of yesteryear. Part of the history of the Fender Rhodes electric piano is somehow tied up in this search, specifically : the near-disappearance of the instrument around the time of the early 1980s, and then its return to many forms of popular music, including hip hop, in the 1990s and the current decade.


'Thought Process'- Breakthrough / Grap Luva

The development of FM synthesis in the 80s, and the 'audio shock' or the novelty of that technology's clarity and emulation of the 'real' , led people away from warmer tones of analogue emulations like the Rhodes. The gated-reverb snare drum that could bite your head off and the crisp bells of the DX-7 synthesiser took over. The rhodes company tried to adapt, but by then had lost both their classic sound and the public ear.

Later, sometime in the early 90s, I remember buying a keyboard module that included a "dusty rhodes" patch - the rhodes samples it contained were overlayed with other samples of vinyl crackle and dust. This was around the time people like Pete Rock, A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul were excavating 70s jazz in their classic hip hop albums.
So things like the "dusty rhodes" patch - appearing at a time when the rhodes itself was no longer being manufactured, would seem to mean that the rhodes had become a "vinyl instrument" that could travel in time, and could bring the music of the past to life via the turntable or the sampler.


'Relieved'- Pete Philly & Perquisite

After rhodes samples brought the sound back to the public's ears via hip hop, the sound began to re-appear in the music of the next soul generation, via people like D'Angelo, Maxwell and more recently Dwele (who plays here on Bahamadia's "Beautiful Things"). People began to refurbish and play the Rhodes again, along with virtual emulations, in the 90s. The sound once again spread through many forms of music, and last month the Rhodes company announced that they are, for the first time in many years, to release a new series of the instrument.


'K.O.S. (Determination)'- Talib Kweli / Mos Def

In this seventh compilation, "Hip Hop and the Fender Rhodes", I don't want to do a historical summary of the 90s rhodes-n-jazz flavoured hip hop that I mentioned, but rather look at its after-effect.

This is more recent, jazz-flavoured hip hop, all from the last ten years, mostly still existing somewhere outside the newer world of million-selling commercial "pop hop". I don't get too excited at a lot of the blandness in popular music that passes itself off either as "jazz" or "hip hop" these days, but to me, the connections that some hip hop is making with jazz, ranging from the more soul and jazz-related stuff in this comp to the more esoteric edge of West coast independent hip hop labels, really IS the spirit of "jazz" in the 21st Century.


'Come get with it'- Basic Vocab

Sometimes the rhodes is sampled here, sometimes it's played, often both in the same track. This is an international collection, mostly from hip hop's birthplace, the USA, but also from places like Japan and France. I guess i'd subtitle this "The Children Of Pete Rock" - and even his brother is on track 2.

This is for the funky people, for the hip hop people, for the jazz people, all of you. Hope you enjoy it, tell me what you think ...


click the pic below for more rhodes compilations

Friday, June 13, 2008

Freddie Hubbard - "Polar AC" (1975)






Released in 1975, this was trumpeter Freddie Hubbard's sixth and final release for Creed Taylor's CTI Records, made at a time when he was already exploring new styles over at Columbia Records. It's his only CTI release that remains out of print - apart from a very brief Japan-only CD release some years back - but it's got some great tracks, players, textures and arrangements.

Hubbard was prolific in his output throughout the 70s as both leader and sideman.
After a string of albums on the Blue Note label in the 60s, he released two albums in 1969 that in some ways foreshadowed the two sides of his 70s work. While "The Black Angel" reaches out to the Bitches Brew Miles Davis crowd, with growling rhodes, experimental textures and spatial jams, "A Soul Experiment" lurched into soul-jazz over a Bernard Purdie backbeat. Hubbard was to continue to slip into the cracks between jazz and funk throughout the 70s.

Things got underway quickly in 1970 on CTI with two releases - the beautiful "Red Clay" began to stretch the hard bop textures with a new electric feel, often courtesy of Mr Hancock's rhodes, while the looser "Straight Life" hit a new groove with added percussion (including Weldon Irvine on tambourine!). 1971's "First Light" expanded the palette with Don Sebesky's string orchestrations taking things to a different level, with the album reaching a wider audience and even nabbing a Grammy award. 1972's "Sky Dive" continued the same pattern, with Sebesky's added string arrangements once again ensuring commercial success.

In the early 70s, CTI frequently toured its high-profile roster of jazz stars - who included George Benson, Stanley Turrentine, Hubert Laws, Hubbard and others - and released the live results on a great series of albums under the name "The CTI All-Stars". Hubbard's tracks featured on both 1971's "California Concert - the Hollywood Palladium" and 1972's three-album set "CTI Summer Jazz at the Hollywood Bowl". Also, check out this nice 1972 live bootleg.

In early 1973, CTI released two blistering live albums under the title "Freddie Hubbard / Stanley Turrentine In Concert" - Volume 1 and Volume 2 - with several Hubbard originals, and Herbie Hancock working overtime on the rhodes on 'Hornets'. Later in the year, Hubbard pulled back to a septet for the beautiful "Keep Your Soul Together", an almost perfect merge of hard bop, soul jazz (Junior Cook on tenor sax is a standout) and funky rhodes from Mr George Cables.

in 1974, he took virtually the same band with him to Columbia Records to record the funky "High Energy". There's a play with various styles here, and Hubbard seems atuned to the modal electricity of other jazz artists who were branching into post-Davis funk-jazz, like Eddie Henderson and Bobby Hutcherson. Cables is adding clavinet counter-rhythms to his rhodes, and the funk is pushing through to the front.

In 1975's "Liquid Love", Hubbard lets the funk take centre stage. Apart from the extended latinesque workout of "Kudu", where Hubbard channels amplified and echoed Miles Davis wails, he sits back in a combo funk effort. Cables' rhodes and string synthesiser become more textural and harmonic backing, with more straight-ahead funk emanating from the guitars of Ray Parker Jr and Johnny Guitar Watson, and even a group funk vocal track with "Put It In the Pocket". Later in the year, the group recorded the double-live set "Gleam" in Tokyo, with tracks drawn from his last three albums.


Sometime between those two 1975 albums, CTI released this Freddie Hubbard album, Polar AC. It's a lush, heavily orchestrated, accessible piece of jazz that in some ways continues on from "First Light" and "Sky Dive" - the final track is an adaptation and extension of the title track from the latter album. Don Sebesky and Bob James tag-team the orchestrations and arrangements on two tracks each, with the band pulling back to septet for the final track. While I can't find exact recording dates, it has a definite pre-Columbia feel to it, and I wonder if it was held back while Hubbard was working his way out of his contract ...

Hubbard's playing is superb, but he gives just as much solo space to flautist Hubert Laws - at times it's almost a duo album, with the two intertwining over Sebesky and James' orchestrations, often joined by guitarist George Benson and rhodes player George Cables. Sebesky and James almost seem to be having a pissing competition with their alternating string arrangements, the sense of competition often producing great results.

The highlight is the Bob James-arranged "People Make the World Go Round" previously performed by Hubbard on the superb Milt Jackson CTI album "Sunflower" in 1972. It starts with Airto doing his "talk to the animals" percussion noises against distorted patches of Rhodes colour from Cables. Whereas Don Sebesky's arrangement of the track on the Milt Jackson album worked its way into an angular keyboard-led funk, Bob James' arrangement here takes things deeper into the melodic melancholy that emanated from the Stylistics' original, with winding crescendoes of string melodies gradually providing a bed for Hubbard's solos. Bob James also orchestrates another Stylistics track, "Betcha By Golly Wow".

On the title track "Polar AC", Sebesky builds up the tension with orchestral flourishes over a solid, joyous bass line from Ron Carter, anchored by some crazy snare and cymbal work from Jack deJohnette. Hubbard plays in and around the building strings with some great solo work. The other Sebesky-arranged track is a cover of Nat Adderley's "Naturally". Hubbard and Laws solo over the solid jazz trio of Benson, Carter and Billy Cobham, while Sebesky snakes in big band and woodwind sections to suddenly broaden the texture.

We finish off with the (relatively!) sparser septet of the thirteen-minute "Son Of Sky Dive", Junior Cook's saxaphone harmonising the main melody with Hubbard, while George Cables gets down to some rhodes playing over Lennie White's flailing toms.

Anyway, I hope this post helps some of you complete your 70s Freddie Hubbard collection!

TRACKLIST 

01 "Polar AC" (Cedar Walton)
02 "People Make The World Go Round (Bell/Creed)
03 "Betcha By Golly Wow" (Bell/Creed)
04 "Naturally" (Nat Adderley)
05 "Son Of Sky Dive" (Freddie Hubbard)

PRODUCTION CREDITS

Produced by Creed Taylor
Recorded at Van Gelder Studios
Rudy Van Gelder, Engineer
Cover photograph by Pete Turner
Liner photograph by Fred Valentine
Album Design by Bob Ciano
This album is also available on stereo 8 track and cassette tapes.


POLAR AC
Arranged by Don Sebesky

Trumpet - Freddie Hubbard
Bass - Ron Carter
Drums - Jack DeJohnette
Guitar - George Benson
Flute - Hubert Laws
Strings - Al Brown, Paul Gershman, Emanuel Green, Harold Kohon, Joe Malin, Charles McCracken, David Nadien, Mathew Raimondi, George Ricci, Tosha Samaroff, Irving Spiece, Manny Vardi.
(Maybe one of these guys will google themselves and say hi?) 

PEOPLE MAKE THE WORLD GO ROUND
BETCHA BY GOLLY WOW
Arranged by Bob James

Trumpet - Freddie Hubbard
Electric Piano - George Cables (on "People")
Bass - Ron Carter
Drums - Lenny White (on "People")
Guitar - George Benson
Percussion - Airto
Flute - Hubert Laws
Strings - Max Ellen, Paul Gershman, Emmanuel Green, Theodore Israel, Charles Libove, Harry Lookovsky, Joe Malin, David Nadien, Gene Orloff, George Ricci, Tony Sophos, Manny Vardi


NATURALLY
Arranged by Don Sebesky

Trumpet - Freddie Hubbard
Bass - Ron Carter
Drums - Billy Cobham
Guitar - George Benson
Flute - Hubert Laws
Woodwinds - Phil Bodner, Wally Kane, George Marge, Romeo Penque
Brass - Wayne Andre, Garnett Brown, Paul Faulise, Tony Price, Alan rubin, Marvin Starren


SON OF SKY DIVE

Trumpet - Freddie Hubbard
Piano - George Cables
Bass - Ron Carter
Drums - Lennie White
Tenor Saxaphone - Junior Cook
Flute - Hubert Laws

POST CREDITS

Vinyl rip by Simon666.

Other album links in this post go to :

Oufar Khan, Jazz & Beyond, My Jazz World, Sophisticated Squaw, Sinkane, You Got Rhythm, Martini and Jopparelli, Pharoah’s Dance, Into the Rhythm, Music Selections, Ubu Roi (list to be updated)

Please thank and support the above bloggers if you click through and download.

Please leave a comment if you grab these files, I do all of this for the music conversation :

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

George Duke - "The Dream" (1978)






I'm really pleased to have Ish from the fantastic ile oxumaré blog as guest poster today. If you don't know his blog, you must check it out, it's a treasure trove of all sorts of great music. He also runs the indispensable Strata-East Fan Club blog. I've often joked that we seem to have the same vinyl collection, and as it turned out, we needed both copies of the same rare one to get today's post happening.
... so over to you Ish :

(First let me say I'm honored to be a guest poster on Simon's blog. In my short life as a music blogger he's been one of my earliest and best readers over at Ile Oxumare: quick to comment, with useful info to add, and generous with his shares. I've been thrilled with his entry into the world of jazz blogs. I've heard some great music I hadn't known of here, and he's been energetic supplying background info and links to related sources. Bravo Simon! It took two continents to make this post: my vinyl had a series of hopeless skips on side one. Together courtesy of some wires strung between New York and Australia here you have it in one restored piece, a keyboard classic.)


George Duke recorded eight albums for the German label MPS. Six of them are well-known classics on the rare groove scene, and these have finally been put out on CD by a rejuvenated MPS imprint as a 4-disk collection. One of these - "The Inner Source" - you'll even find on this blog.
His first album, pre-electric and more or less disavowed by Duke himself as unlistenable, seems to be lost to the ages. I think I may have had a copy once but it didn't survive one of my great vinyl purges.

The eighth album—“The Dream”--got caught up in contract dispute as Duke moved on to the US imprint Epic, and to greater commercial style and success. MPS put it out against his wishes, and apparently without paying him for it. It received relatively limited circulation. By way of revenge, Duke reworked the album and reissued it in 1982, retitling it "The 1976 Solo Keyboard Album." One suspects Duke was using the recording as filler for his Epic contract, for he shortly after moved to Elektra, his albums becoming more smooth-R&B and less interesting.

Anyway in the liner notes to the 1982 version--which has been put out on CD--Duke states :

"This album is the last in a series of records I made for MPS...it is my first and only solo record. It was originally recorded and mixed in 1976....The present album was remixed in 1980 with a few alterations at my recording studio, Le Gonks West....'Pathways' on the original recording was an acoustic piano improvisation. On this record I have added Prophet V synthesizer. All the other synthesizer work on this record was done in 1976 on arp odyssey and mini-moog synthesizers."

(The downloads include the later 1982 versions of "Pathways" and "Spock Gets Funky" for comparison).

Duke obviously fell in love with electric keyboards, His sound on the arp and minimoog is instantly recognizable on his solo albums and the dozens of albums for which he contributed, often under the nom-de-keys Dawilli Gonga. Making a solo album today is nothing--all you need is a mac and a copy of garage band. In 1976 it was a whole different story. There was no sampling. No flipping of a single on switch. Those synthesizers had to be taught to make those glorious sounds. Hearing this album you understand how seduced Duke got by later generations of keyboards. The less said about what happened to his music when he got into those perhaps the better.

Here. then, is “The Dream”!

*************************************

PRODUCTION


George Duke - "The Dream"
MPS LP, cat. number 68183
Recorded 1976, released 1978


TRACKLIST 

1 'Mr. McFreeze'
2 'Love Reborn'
3 'Tzina' (retitled in 1982 "Excerpts from the Opera Tzina")
4 'Spock Does the Bump at the Space Disco' (retitled in 1982 "Spock Gets Funky")
5 'Pathways'
6 'Vulcun Mind Probe' (1982 "Vulcun" respelled "Vulcan")
7 'The Dream That Ended'

Also included in downloads
"Pathways" and "Spock Gets Funky" from the 1982 release.


CREDITS

All compositions by George Duke, Mycenae Music / ASCAP

George Duke : keyboards, drums, bell tree, vocal
Recording Engineer : Kerry McNabb (Paramount Recording)
Producer : George Duke
Executive Producer : Baldhard Falk
Front Cover : Sätty
Photo : Baldhard Falk


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