Sunday, August 31, 2008

The 1st Annual Benefit For the Congressional Black Caucus (1975)

'Wild and Peaceful' excerpt
more previews below

This album's been on the blogosphere before, but I wanted to get a full quality rip up here.

When Barack Obama gave his nomination speech the other day, much was made of the fact that it fell on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King's famous Washington speech, and many were moved to think about the progress that had been made in the intervening years.

This album comes about a decade into that progress : In January 1969, newly elected African American representatives of the 77th U.S. Congress joined six incumbents to form the "Democratic Select Committee". In 1971 the Committee was renamed the Congressional Black Caucus.

In 1974 someone had the great idea of holding concerts and dinners featuring Kool and the Gang, Curtis Mayfield, Gladys Knight and The Pips, War, and Jimmy Witherspoon, to raise money for the caucus' activities, and this album features excerpts from those events in September ...

back cover detail

This is a great funky album, capturing everyone at the top of their game. After a series of crowd "Amen!"s for the artists, Kool and the Gang kick off with a thirteen minute version of the jazzy instrumental "Wild and Peaceful" , the title track from their 1973 album rhodes, flute and a sax solo that builds and sustains.

'Give Me Your Love' excerpt

Curtis Mayfield comes in with a version of "Give Me Your Love" from "Superfly". The announcer tells us he'd just released the album "Sweet Exorcist". It's great to hear Mayfield live in this mid-70s period - as good as his 1971 live album is, this 1974 band is tight.

Gladys Knight tells us that she and the Pips had just completed the soundtrack for the film "Claudine" with Mayfield, and they launch into a version of that albums's funkiest track "On and On", written by Mayfield.

'Gypsy Man' excerpt

War open side two with a pounding sixteen minute take on their latin-funk-rock hit "Gypsy Man", from their '73 album "Deliver The Word", which rises and falls with in its dynamic - the preview above is a low key section - hey, it's Sunday morning here ...
War members Howard Johnson and Lonnie Jordan produced this album along with Jerry Goldstein.

Bluesman Jimmy Witherspoon completes the proceedings with an intimate version of "Goin' Down Slow", with a sudden breakout guitar solo from Robben Ford.

So enjoy this album, and don't be fooled by "pro-life" hockey moms, support Obama in '08!


01. "Wild and Peaceful" -
Kool & The Gang (13:13)
Written by Ronald Dell - Kool and the Gang

02. "Give Me Your Love" -
Curtis Mayfield (6:20)
Written by Curtis Mayfield

03. "On and On" -
Gladys Knight And The Pips (3.40)
Written by Curtis Mayfield

04. "Gypsy Man" - War (16:10)
Written by S.Allan, H.R. Brown, M.Dickerson, L.Jordan, C.Miller, L.Oscar, H.Scott

05. "Goin' Down Slow" - Jimmy Witherspoon (6.25)
Written by J. Witherspoon.

Tracks 1, 2, 4 recorded at Capitol Centre, Largo, Maryland , September 25th, 1974
Tracks 3, 5 recorded at Black Caucus Dinner at Washington Hilton September 27, 1974


Chess Records CH 60037

Produced by Howard Scott , Jerry Goldstein , Lonnie Jordan for Far Out Productions Inc. and GRT Corporation.
Manufactured by GRT Corporation
Remix Engineer - Ed Barton
Recording Engineer - Andrew Berliner
Executive Producer - Nate McCalla

MP3 or MP3
WAV-1, WAV-2, WAV-3

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mark Murphy - "Mark II" (1974)

When I saw this vinyl in the shop the other day, I thought : "That's the one between El Goog Ja's 'Bridging a Gap' (1973) and 'Mark Murphy Sings' (1975), originally ripped by Ish. .... never mind that the front cover clearly comes from the Csaba Deseö "School of Potato Print Painting", I had to have it. So here we have my first blog-related purchase ...

What can we say about Mark Murphy, apart from re-printing the same old AMG bio? One of the only "out" gay people in jazz besides Andy Bey, Fred Hersch, myself and Ish, it seems. A man who is regarded as the epitome of both "hip" and "mullet" at the same time, check this hair :

Side view : Mark discovers a blog criticising his mullet

On this release, Murphy offers his unique interpretations of lesser-known tracks by well-known "contemporary" artists - Stevie Wonder, Bread, Joni Mitchell, The Band, David Crosby and others. He also contributes two tracks himself - "They", which ponders whether or not alien visitors think about love, and "Lemme Blues", where he gradually works himself up to a relative vocal fever pitch.

It's a both a year and a musical mile away from the brilliant vocalese of 1975's "Mark Murphy Sings", but is still well worth your time - Murphy is in top vocal form here. I'm more partial to his version of Wonder's "Looking for Another Pure Love"; "Chicken Road", and the low key tracks such as Crosby's "Triad".

Apart from the aliens in "They", I note a lyric reference to "water brothers" in the Crosby "Triad" song, which references Robert Heinlein's sci-fi book "Stranger in a Strange Land", and there are also many intergalactic references in some of Murphy's collaborations at the base of this post. In 1970 he released an album called "This Must be Earth" - so it seems that Mark has definitely signed up for the Space Patrol. The rather scary Liza Minnelli confirmed this when she once said : 'There's a party goin' on in Mark's head, and I want to go to it!'

Much more detail in the back cover notes (readable from the scan above, but better in the download) - and I'm now curious about his late 60s acting career in London, particularly his role as Jesus in a TV pilot. Some would argue that the mullet alone could be grounds for crucifixion, but we'll let him off because he sings so well.


bonus download: 
See base of discography below for tracklisting


o1. 'Chicken Road' - (Greene)
02. 'Too Much Love' - (Griffin / Royer)
03. 'The Unfaithful Servant' - (J.R. Robertson)
04. 'Lookin' for Another Pure Love' - (Stevie Wonder)
05. 'Barangrill' - (Joni Mitchell)
06. 'Triad' - (David Crosby)
07. 'They' -
(Mark Murphy)
08. 'Sleeping' - (R.Manuel / R.Roberston)
09. 'Lemme Blues'
- (Mark Murphy)
10. 'Truckin' - (Griffin / Royer)


Mark Murphy - vocals
Ken Ascher - keyboards
Sam Brown - guitar
John Tropea - guitar
Mike Moore - bass
Jimmy Madison - drums
Susan Evans - percussion

Arrangements - David Matthews
Production - Helen Keane and David Matthews
Recording - Ray Hall
Liner Notes - Peter Keepnews
Recorded December 19-21, 1973
Released 1974

MARK MURPHY on le Planet Blog


1958 "Let Yourself Go" - blog gone, can anyone re-up?

1959 "Mark Murphy's Hip Parade" at El Goog Ja
"Rah!" at El Goog Ja
1962 "That's How I Love The Blues" at Entsharing / alternative

"Who Can I Turn To" donated by "Shivers Inside" (thanks!)
1970 "Midnight Mood" MP3 at El Goog Ja
1970 "Midnight Mood" FLAC at Call It Anything
1973 "Bridging a Gap" at El Goog Ja
1974 "Mark II" in comments here.
1975 "Mark Murphy Sings" at Ile Oxumaré
1978 "Stolen Moments" at Oufar Khan

1980 "Satisfaction Guaranteed" at El Goog Ja

1981 "Bop for Kerouac" FLAC at Call It Anything
1981 "Bop for Kerouac" MP3 at Funky Disposition

"The Artistry of Mark Murphy" at Nine Sisters

"Brazil Song" FLACS 1 - 2 - 3 , and covers-76kb

1983 "Brazil Song" MP3 at Rapidshare (thanks Ish)
1983 "Sings the Nat King Cole Songbook" (Vol 1) at Nine Sisters
1983 "Sings the Nat King Cole Songbook" (Vol 2) at Nine Sisters

1984 "Living Room" at Funky Disposition
1986 "Kerouac, Then and Now" at Call It Anything
1987 "Beauty and the Beast" at Ile Oxumaré

1990 "What a Way to Go" at
Musica & Tecnologia

1996 North Sea Jazz Sessions Volume 5” with Louis Van Dyke Trio
- Recorded 1970-74, good early version of "Stolen Moments"DOWNLOAD from Rapidshare (thanks Soul Gentleman)

1997 "Song for the Geese" at Musica & Tecnologia

2000 "Live At Birdland" Set 1 - Set 2, cover/details-36k

2005 "Once to Every Heart" at 02 Forum or Boogie no More

2007 "Love Is What Stays" at Entsharing or musica que cuelga


2003 "Timeless" (1971-2003 comp) - blog gone, can anyone re-up?

Gilles Peterson's Mark Murphy Mixup via Play Jazz Loud
- Great mix, recommended.


"MPS Jazz Concert '69" at Ile Oxumaré
- two Murphy tracks, "C.C. Rider" and "Broadway"

"Rhyme and Reason" - Herb Geller Octet at Happy As a Fat Rat in a Cheese Factory- Murphy vocals on most tracks - great album !
"An American in Hamburg" by Herb Geller at
The Growing Bin- Same as "Rhyme and Reason", with additional instrumental versions of tracks
"Indiana" - Jeff Hamilton Quintet at Arkadin's Ark.- Murphy on "Split Season Blues" only - single track download available in the comments there.

"Dingwalls" from
"Journeys by DJ" comp by Gilles Peterson
- Murphy's beatnik-rap ode to Peterson's Sunday club

"One for Junior" - Sheila Jordan and Mark Murphy, MUSE 5489

"Future Light" from "No Sound is Too Taboo" by United Future Organisation.

"Kool Down" (King Britt's Scuba remix) by Tenth & Parker

"Twelve Tribes" from "Creating Patterns" - by 4hero at Hefiorels Eclectic Music (Thanks to Ish)
"Millenium Riddle Song" by Tenth & Parker
- please upload if you've got it , but not the "Late night mix". Thanks.

"No Problem" - from "V" by United Future Organisation.
- beautiful track, recommended.

"Little Things" with Lindberg Hemmer Foundation.

"Chasing the Jazz Gone By" by Five Corners Quintet at The Music Jockey
- Vocals on "Jamming"; "Before we Say Goodbye"; "This Could Be the Start Of Something".

"Stolen Moments" - (UFO Harddisk Mix)
- from "United Future Airlines" EP
"Stolen Moments" - (Our Enchanted Demo Mix)
by United Future Organisation
- similar to the UFO Harddisk mix

"This Could Be the Start Of Something"
(Povo Remix)- from Five Corners Quintet "Jamming" EP
"Stolen Moments"
- Nicola Conte Midnight Mood Rework
"Stolen Moments"
- Phil H edit - original from Murphy album "Love Is What Stays"

"Love is What Stays" - Henrik Schwarz remix

A combined Collaborations and Remixes file, which includes the individual tracks profiled here, is above.

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

If links go dead, please let me know so I can re-direct and keep the page current.

Thanks to ISH for advice and help on this post.

- Commenting when you've downloaded keeps blogs alive, thereby increasing the amount of music available to you. Thanks to all regular commenters.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Bartz - Henderson - Connors - "Live at Nemu Jazz Inn - 1" (1975)

Originally posted by JN and Bacoso to "Orgy In Rhythm", April 2008

Simon says :
Many thanks to Jazz-Nekko, the much-loved Okinawan Devil, for allowing a re-post of this incredibly rare gem of an album as a follow-up to the last Norman Connors post. So this is both a re-post and a guest post! I'll hand you over to the ever-dependable JN and then add some words about 1975 ...

Jazz-Nekko says :
Gary Bartz is certainly on the top alto players of the modern generation, and like so many others - probably one of the most under-appreciated jazz artists. Eddie Henderson's horn is clearly influenced by Miles' early fusion period. Fellow Philadelphians, Elmer Gibson and Norman Connors have recorded with a "who's who" of jazz & fusion giants. It was only a year later that Connors became the Buddah Records Company's musical director.

This live set, "Live at Nemu Jazz Inn - 1", was released only here in Japan and just 500 albums were pressed. This set does not even show up in any of the artists' discographies; makes you wonder if the artists thought it worthy. For more than one reason, however, this ol' devil sure thinks it worthy: I attended this "Live at Nemu Jazz Inn" with my brother and two friends of ours.

The audience was 50% Japanese and 50% foreigners, mostly military personnel, as the club was not far from two bases. As you will hear, it was a quiet, respectful crowd but much of the raucous applause was cut out of the album. These guys were at the height of their artistic and imaginative skills. Connors led this set and personally selected the crew for their world tour. It was my first time to see Henderson in concert. Perhaps it is my bad memory or prejudice, but I cannot help but think his playing that night was a bit off. The sad part about this was that they did not include three other numbers – warm-ups – if you will, but the playing in those was also rather remarkable.

Throughout this, post-bop oriented but frequently dallying around the edges of fusion, gig, the group showed what they learned from the likes of Davis, Hancock, Roach, Sanders, Rivers, Harper and Sun Ra, marshaling polyrhythms, electronic textures, and cosmic mysticism to create a deeply spiritual jazz experience. The album kicks off with a darkish and fusion-edged version of Trane's 'Naima'. It was a ferocious attacking force by Bartz on alto, Henderson blew out the walls with his flugelhorn, Workman on bass and Connors' chameleon-like skin work; however, Bartz wins the honours on this track, in my opinion, but Workman gave him a run for his money. Bartz showed his ability to act as the group's adhesive by bopping and weaving his vamps around the others' strong solo works, as Connors continually drew out the map for the band.

The sprawling 26-minute 'Dance of Magic' spans the entirety of the flip side, capturing a memorable jam that explores free improvisation but without stepping beyond a point of no return. Connors' tremendous skins never fail to lead the band back home.

There was a certain coolness, a distorted sense of despair or subtle melancholy to this show that remains very clear in my memory to this day. Connors' oddly timed garbling/vocals perfectly suit a dark-toned feeling. I believe in the old adage that, "the only good jazz is jazz that is live" and here you will see what I mean ~ enjoy!

Simon adds :


What's unusual about this beautiful piece of jazz is its placement in the chronology of the main players' careers. Three years after they'd all been on "Dance of Magic", this album sounds like it could have been recorded the next day - yet in 1975 all three had just taken major, career-changing steps into jazz-influenced RnB or fusion-funk via their three individual albums of that year.

Let's check 1975 ...

Sometime in 1975, Gary Bartz recorded his album "The Shadow Do", in which the Mizell Brothers had packaged him up in their commercial jazz-RnB-funk that would continue in 1977's "Music Is My Sanctuary".

In March-April 1975, Eddie Henderson recorded "Sunburst", a funk/fusion album that was a major step away from his previous atmospheric post-Mwandishi albums.

In May 1975, all three major players - Henderson, Connors and Bartz - worked on Norman Connors' "Saturday Night Special", which was his first major RnB album, coming after the transitional "Slewfoot" on which all three had played as well.

Then in July 1975, two months later, they're in Tokyo recording this album, "Live at Nemu Jazz Inn" ....

They would have arrived back in the USA to see "Valentine Love", the single from "Saturday Night Special" with Michael Henderson and Jean Carn on vocals, hit the RnB Top Ten in the fall.

So 1975 was certainly a turning point for these three people.

While the others were putting on their dancing shoes, bass player Reggie Workman was still valiantly holding up the jazz front in 1975 - Charles Tolliver's "Impact!" (January); Marion Brown's "Vista" (February); Ken McIntyre's "Home" (June); and then after this July recording, off to Sonny Fortune's "Awakening" (August). Hopefully the others still took Reggie down to the disco occasionally.

Keyboardist Elmer Gibson (heard here on rhodes and piano) has a small catalogue of recording, but he obviously goes for quality ..... he can be heard on the wonderful and necessary 1972 "Neptune" album by The Visitors, as well as Norman Connors' "Dark Of Light" and "Slewfoot", and then this live album. He was Connors' musical director for a few years and composed "Kumekucha" on "Love From the Sun", and "Chuka" on "Slewfoot".

From what I can gather, despite leading an active life as a jazz educator and festival organiser, he then took a twenty-one year break from recording, then recorded his debut album "Generation Dance" in 1996-97, releasing it independently in 2002. And ... it features Gary Bartz, Eddie Henderson and Norman Connors. Since then he's got busy and released three more albums, as well having appeared on TC III's "Mega Jazz Explosion" from 2006 alongside Bartz and Henderson. Elmer lives here.

Also don't miss El Goog Ja's Gary Bartz discography.


01. 'Naima' (Coltrane) - 7:07
02. 'Revelation' (Hancock) - 18:10
03. 'Dance of Magic' (Connors) - 26:35


Gary Bartz - alto saxaphone
Eddie Henderson - flugelhorn
Norman Connors - drums, voice
Elmer Gibson - piano, electric piano
Reggie Workman - bass


Recorded live on 19 July, 1975 at Nemu Jazz Inn, Tokyo, Japan.
Released 1975
Nippon Columbia/Cobblestone VQ-7509-CO


320 vinyl rip and cover scans of this album by Jazz-Nekko.

Album blog links in this post go to :
Pharoah’s Dance, Ile Oxumaré, Strata-East Fan Club, El Goog Ja, Blak’s Lair, Mwandishi, My Jazz World, Happy as a Fat Rat in a Cheese Factory. "Neptune" by The Visitors link originally at El Reza, used by permission of Reza.

Please thank and support these bloggers if you click through and download.
If links go dead, please let me know so I can re-direct and keep the page current.

tell me what you think in the comments

Friday, August 22, 2008

Norman Connors - "Dance of Magic" (1972) + discography

originally posted by Bacoso at "Orgy in Rhythm", November 2006

Norman Connors' first album as a leader is a beautiful collision where the post-Bitches Brew crew meet up with post-Pharoah Sanders spiritual jazz across the rhythms and harmonies of latin america. Check the personnel on the cover, all you could want really!

While almost all of these people would end up in jazz-influenced RnB/disco within a few years of this album - in particular Connors himself - their work in the 1972-75 period is fascinating in its search for, and creation of, new hybrid forms. There are several albums that contain a large crossover of the musicians that are on this one, and taken together they make a wonderful journey. Here's what you need to check out :

Norman Connor's next two wonderful albums, "Dark of Light" and "Love from the Sun" which both develop ideas fermented here; Stanley Clarke's "Children Of Forever", and Carlos Garnett's "Black Love", "Journey To Enlightenment" and "Let This Melody Ring On". Plus of course, we've got Hancock, Henderson and Hart from the Mwandishi band, who we've discussed recently. For them, this comes the same year as "Crossings".

Vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater appears on most of the above albums, but not this one - unless she's one of the mysterious U.B.F Singers on the first track?

On the immediate front, many of the people here seem to have come straight off the back of Pharoah Sanders' "Black Unity" and "Live at the East" sessions - Connors, Clarke, Garnett, Cecil McBee and Billy Hart - while some of the sessions that make up Sanders' "Village Of The Pharoahs" (Clarke, Connors, McBee) occur soon before and after this album.

Original 1972 Cobblestone cover
I prefer the 1976 Buddha release (at top) due to Norman's jacket.

I listed all of those albums from saxophonist Carlos Garnett because he's a strong force across the first three Connors albums, and his own subsequent albums can be seen as a continuation of this particular fusion of spiritual jazz and latin elements. There's a strong melodic/harmonic influence from him in the main themes of the "Dance Of Magic" tracks, and he arranged the title track, which takes up all of Side One.

Garnett had worked with co-saxophonist Gary Bartz on Mtume's "Alkebu-Lan - Land Of The Blacks" as well as various Miles Davis sessions. For Bartz, this session occurs in the same year as "Juju Street Songs" / "Follow the Medicine Man".

At this stage Herbie Hancock is stretching his rhodes textures as far as they can go, now fully integrating the keyboard's delay, distortion, wah-wah and ring modulation effects into his playing and composition, just a year before he would shift his sonic experimentation to synthesisers. For Hancock, this session falls between Joe Farrell's "Moongerms" (where he'd been with Stanley Clarke) and Miles Davis' "On the Corner" (which he'd go on to with Garnett and Billy Hart)

I hadn't listened to this album for a few years until today, and it's the percussion that really 'strikes' me this time - Connors has assembled Brasilian wunderkind Airto Moreira and up to six others, and it's just a total funky joy to listen to. Conga player Nat Bettis had been with Gary Bartz on his NTU Troop "Harlem Bush Music" series of three albums, and he and Anthony Wiles had played on Pharoah Sanders' "Thembi" the year before alongside Cecil McBee.

is a huge year for Airto - he recorded his album "Free" (with Stanley Clarke in tow); Buddy Terry's "Pure Dynamite" included Airto, Clarke, Hart and Henderson; both Airto and Clarke continue on to Deodato's best-known effort "Prelude", and he's all over Cannonball Adderley's "Happy People".

Session pix, right-click for larger
L-R Herbie Hancock, Stanley Clarke, Cecil McBee, Eddie Henderson, Art Webb, Gary Bartz, Carlos Garnett, Airto Moreira

Connors' twenty-one minute "Dance Of Magic", which takes up Side One of the original album, starts with the vocal chants of the U.B.F Singers, then rises and falls with barrages of latin percussion over the twin bass attack of McBee and Clarke. Hancock holds the rhythmic centre on acoustic piano, while saxaophonists Garnett and Gary Bartz wail freely over the top, followed by a solo from trumpeter Eddie Henderson and then Hancock, who's initially so caught up in the general percussiveness of it all that he starts plucking and scraping the piano strings.

Cecil McBee's "Morning Change" (preview at top of post) at times melodically presages his album "Mutima" , and is anchored by Hancock's rhodes and a beautiful central sax and trumpet melody that develops into a solo from trumpeter Henderson, here still flying without the reverbs and delays he would soon swamp his sound in, and then a soprano sax solo from Garnett.

Stanley Clarke's ten minute "Blue" is built around a melody line than combines Henderson's muted trumpet with Art Webb's flute. Webb was strongly featured on Clarke's "Children Of Forever" album, and he excels here in a three minute solo. Henderson continues on muted trumpet, then finally Hancock goes crazy on the wah-wah rhodes before the melody is recalled.

The album finishes with Connors' appropriately titled "Give the Drummer Some". He bursts in with a short solo that breaks down to vocal/percussion call and responses, then the conga leads the entire percussion section, joined by Connors, into an exuberant finish.

As mentioned before, Norman Connors went on to develop these ideas across his next two albums, then made a transition into a jazz-influenced RnB that was also highly influential. You'll find all of his 70s and 80s discography, as well as his production work, in blog links at the base of this post.

Links for this album are in the comments. Bacoso's upload had expired, so I've upped this from the deleted CD re-issue which is apparently itself quite rare and valuable these days. So, since I'm also supplying WAV files, you can all print the cover out, rip it and sell it on Ebay, then we'll all take a nice holiday - which I for one need after the Todd Cochran extravaganza. By the way, the epic Cochran post didn't appear on feeds for some reason, so have a read if you missed it ....


01. Dance Of Magic (21:00) - Norman Connors
02. Morning Change (6:29) - Cecil McBee
03. Blue (10:20) - Stanley Clarke
04. Give The Drummer Some (2:22)
- Norman Connors


Drums - Norman Connors
Bass - Cecil McBee (1,2) , Stanley Clarke
Piano, Fender Rhodes, Electric Piano - Herbie Hancock
Alto & Soprano Saxophones - Gary Bartz
Tenor & Soprano, Saxophones - Carlos Garnett
Flute - Art Webb
Trumpet - Eddie Henderson
Baliphone - Anthony Wiles
Percussion - Airto Moreira (2,3,4) , Alphonse Mouzon (1,3) , Anthony Wiles , Babafemi (1) , Billy Hart (2,3,4)
Percussion, Congas - Nat Bettis
Vocals - U.B.F. Singers, The (1)


1972 - Cobblestone, CST-9024
then re-released :
1976 - Buddah, BDS 5674

Producer - Dennis Wilen , Skip Drinkwater
Engineer [Recording] - Harry Yarmark
Mastered By - Sam Feldman

Recorded at Bell Sound Studios, NYC , 1972

NORMAN CONNORS on Planet Blog :

** spiritual norman **

"Dance of Magic" (1972) - in COMMENTS HERE
"Dark Of Light" (1973) MP3- at Pharoah's Dance

"Dark Of Light" (1973) FLAC- at Call It Anything
"Love from the Sun" (1973) at My Jazz World
"Bartz - Henderson - Connors - live at Nemu Jazz Inn" (1975) - also here

** transitional norman**

"Slewfoot" (1974) at My Jazz World

** soul-disco king norman ** ( these are great too)

"Saturday Night Special" (1975) at My Jazz World

"You are my Starship" (1976) at Blak's Lair
"Romantic Journey" (1977)
at Blak's Lair
"This is your Life" (1978) at My Jazz World / alternate
(12" single of "Captain Connors" at Tuttsi Fruttsi Icecream)
"Invitation" (1979)
at Blak's Lair
"Take it to the Limit" (1980) at Soulfunkjazz's Blog
"Mr C" (1981) at Blak's Lair / alternate

** producer norman **

"Norman Connors presents Aquarian Dream" - Aquarian Dream (1976) at Baby Grandpa

("Phoenix" 12" extended version @ tuttsi fruttsi icecream)
"Fantasy" - Aquarian Dream (1978) at My Jazz World

("You're a Star / Play it for me - Aquarian Dream - 12") also at this blog.
"Sharing" - Vitamin E (1977) ONE plus TWO
"Love Will Find a Way" - Pharoah Sanders (1978) at El Goog ja
"Celestial Sky" - Starship Orchestra (1980) at My Jazz World

"Back for More" - Al Johnson (1980) at Here Only Good Music
"Can't We Fall In Love Again" - Phyllis Hyman (1981) at Groove With You

** later jazz norman **

"Beyond a Dream" (live with Pharoah Sanders) (1978) at My Jazz World
"Meditation" - Pharoah Sanders at Ile Oxumaré
(this is a bootleg of a different part of the same concert)

** norman the sideman **

"The Magic Of Ju-ju" - Archie Shepp (1967) at Into the Rhythm
Jackie McLean - session rejected by Blue Note (1968)
"Hues" - Sam Rivers (1971) at Inconstant Sol

"Live at The East" - Pharoah Sanders (1971) at Pharoah's Dance
"Black Unity" - Pharoah Sanders (1971) at Oufar Khan
"Love In Us All" - Pharoah Sanders at Pharoah's Dance
"Streams" - Sam Rivers (1973) at Ile Oxumaré
"Village Of the Pharoahs" - Pharoah Sanders (1973) at Pharoah's Dance "Wisdom Through Music" - Pharoah Sanders (1974) at Magic of Juju
"Odyssey" - Charles Earland (1976) at My Jazz World


Album blog links in this post go to :
Pharoah’s Dance, My Jazz World, Blak’s Lair, DJ Uilson Professor Groove, ile oxumaré, el goog ja, Oufar Khan, Nothing Is v2.0, Blog Do Turquinho, Everything Is On The One, The Bodega, It’s Coming out of your Speaker, Afrofunkybrassjazz, jazz-rock-fusion-guitar, Baby Grandpa, Bug In The City, Here only Good Music, Groove With You, Music Download cc , Magic of Juju, Musical Moadom, mec fais tourner les skeuds

Please thank and support these bloggers if you click through and download.

If links go dead, please let me know so I can re-direct and keep the page current.

Comments are welcome and encourage me to keep writing/posting, thanks. 


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Lives of Todd Cochran

Listen while you read, this is the prologue : 

Bobby Hutcherson - 'At The Source" 

Note : If you want the previews to work on this (long) post; make sure you click the post title to open it on a single page. Click play on the previews, they'll start after a short pause. 

One of the reasons that there are seemingly no comprehensive overviews of Todd Cochran's career online is that his musical shifts have been so radical, and so unpredictable, that you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who's seriously in love with all of the periods of his work. I don't like all of it myself, but in the weeks I've been tracking his career, I've become fascinated with those shifts themselves. I want to look at the spectacular failures alongside the moments of sheer genius, even if my preference for the jazz periods shine through in this eleven chapter history.

This is a post about a life in music of an artist who's confounded expectations of what a jazz artist - or an African-American artist - should do, or be, or become.

Cochran is an artist who's "remade" himself at least five times over a career now spanning more than thirty-five years. He's changed his name nearly as many times, so people lose track of him easily. At the time of originally writing this blog post in 2008, he had a blank website - but in 2014 it's been filled back, and even links back to this post.  It took me three weeks to find out what year he was born in, until finally yesterday I came across a Singapore children's charity concert program from 2004.

The "All Music Guide" thinks he has an "e" on the end of his surname, and made only one album in 1991. Under another of his three names there, they say he "disappeared from view" after 1976.

So let's make him appear ....


'Todd the Prodigy'

Todd Cochran was born on September 3rd, 1951 in San Francisco. His parents were "serious musicians", and seemed to have pointed Todd along the same path from an early age. At three, he was fingering melodies on the piano, at ten, giving classical performances. Significantly, in a later professional bio, he nominates Glenn Gould and Vladimir Ashkenazy as early influences - both were also child prodigies. He received musical training at no less than three institutions - UCLA, University Of San Jose, and the Trinity College of Music in London.

Trinity College of Music

At fifteen, there was something of a rebellion against the confines of the classical order, and he started taking part in jazz performances.

If we were doing his life as an old movie, we'd zoom in on his hands on the piano, watch a fast 16mm collage of growing, cheering crowds as the music starts to swing, and pass through another four years, as the tones of Bobby Hutcherson's "Head On" album begin to seep through, ahead of the edit ...


'Todd's Big Break'

On July 1st, 1971, three days of recording began on Bobby Hutcherson's album "Head On" (WAV - MP3).   Todd Cochran, still just 19 years old, wrote and arranged five out of the seven tracks, with three of them making the album's final tally of four. (though all would be included in the later re-issue).
Others have noted Cochran's Stravinsky influences here - I can hear it particularly in the tonal clusters and woodwind arrangements, and there's clearly some Gil Evans in the relationship between the jazz and classical elements of the structures. Hutcherson had used strings in 1969's "Now" more as orchestral colour and harmonic support, but on this album you've got jazz improvisation played out within classical structures.

The beautiful three-part suite "At the Source" - which hopefully you're listening to from the preview at the top - opens the album with an introduction of melancholy woodwind and muted brass ("Ashes and Rust"). This leads to a cautious, call-and-answer melodic interplay between Hutcherson's vibes and Cochran's reverbed piano, which he gradually builds up into arpeggios over Hutcherson's Steve Reich-like metallic resonances ("Eucalyptus"). Percussion enters for the third section, "Obisdian", as a simple, beautiful melody is passed between and harmonised by Hutcherson, Cochran and saxophonist Harold Land.

The second track "Many Thousands Gone" bursts straight into post-Bitches Brew cacophany, while at the same time some of its disjunctions seem to structurally reference Charles Ives' experimental juxtapositions. James Leary's frenetic bass solo is taken over by Hutcherson's swarthes of marimba and vibes colour. Land's saxaphone and trumpet both take solos, before William Henderson's distorted fender rhodes first mirrors Hutcherson's solo, then brings things down again.

Side 2 opens with Hutcherson's propulsive "Mtume" , and the album closes with Cochran's "Clockwork of the Spirits", which resembles a Herbie Hancock piece set for large ensemble.

The recent re-issue adds three extra tracks. Cochran's "Togoland" and Hutcherson's "Hey Harold" have post-electric-Miles jamming qualities to them with some upfront funk, while Cochran's "Jonathon" once again carries a torch for Hancock's progressions. This is a great album that you should spend some time with.


'Todd goes electric'

John Klemmer - 'Sea of Passion' excerpt

Six weeks later, August 14th, 1971. John Klemmer (tenor sax, echoplex) played a concert at the Kabuki Theatre in San Francisco, supported by Todd Cochran (electric piano), James Leary (bass) and Woody Theus (drums). Two of these live tracks - "Sea Of Passion" and "Last Summer's Spell" - later ended up on Klemmer's album (download) : "Intensity" (1973), the rest of which uses different personnel recorded at a later date.

From what I can gather, this is Cochran's first recorded performance on the rhodes, having just played piano on the Hutcherson sessions. Todd's totally into the groove here - it's as if he'd used "Head On" to purge fixed notions of classical structure - though he naturally retains his sense of colour and surprise in his improvisations.

Interestingly, Klemmer was recording his album "Constant Throb" two days before this, and also five days after this, with a totally different lineup.

Bass player James Leary from the Bobby Hutcherson group played on most of Todd's early recordings, and would go on to compose most of Hutcherson's "Waiting" album in 1976.

Hadley Caliman - 'Quadrivium' excerpt

Cochran's acoustic piano and rhodes work on Hadley Caliman's second Mainstream release (download) :  "Iapetus" (1972) is outstanding, with controlled use of wah-wah and some inspired solos amongst a great group of musicians. The album's suffused with a latin vibe - not "latin jazz", but jazz that references latin rhythm, similar to the sort of merge that was taking place in Carlos Garnett's work. I've put a whole track here, so listen through to Cochran's great solo from 1:26, and get the album from the link above. Recommended album!

No, I don't have these tracks, I just made a cover because I got frustrated ...... sorry ... I've been bothering people all over the world for weeks since I searched through three Bobby Hutcherson sessionographies, and in ONE of them, found an unreleased session.

On May 24th, 1972, at United Artists Studios in Los Angeles, Bobby Hutcherson (vibraphone, marimba) recorded five tracks with Todd Cochran (piano, electric piano), James Leary (bass) and Michael Carvin (drums). The tracks were : "Poem", "Unga", "B's Thang", "Mr X" and "Twenty Five".

In the place where the release details are usually added to the discography entries, it's marked "Rejected by Blue Note". And that's all I know ... so if any of you work for Blue Note, please start a private investigation and get those tapes.

I'd imagine that "Twenty Five" is probably a version of James Leary's composition that he contributed to George Duke's "Inner Source".


'The Birth of Bayeté'



Bayeté - ''Bayeté" excerpt

June 26th 1972. A month after the unreleased Hutcherson session, with Bobby Hutcherson and bassist James Leary still in tow, Todd Cochran recorded his first album "Worlds Around the Sun", having scored a deal with Prestige Records off the back of the success of  "Head On"

Cochran was now going under the african name Bayeté, a word used by the Zulu nation to greet King Chaka (sometimes spelt "Shaka"), regarded as the greatest Zulu warrior and strategist. The actual greeting is “Bayete Nkosi".

The title of the 12 minute opening track "Bayeté (Between Man and God)" would suggest that the idea of new name was to attach a spiritual significance to the music - i.e. that the music itself was the means of communication between man and god.

The track itself starts off with an array of percussive rhythms and counter-rhythms, with James Leary's bass locked to the toms. Bayeté's fender rhodes first completes the rhythm, skates around it, then breaks out to solo for several minutes. The brass and winds enter with chord surges as the rhythm breaks down. They take the melody over some rapid rhythmic changes, then the rhodes passes solo duties first to trumpet (either Oscar Brashear or Mulobo) and on to saxophonist Hadley Caliman. There's an expansive acoustic piano solo from Bayeté, before the brass and winds return in a beautiful composed melodic sequence that harmonically recalls the structures of "At the Source".

Bayeté - 'Eurus' excerpt

"Eurus" is all spacey Rhodes with subtle delay and panned LFOs (that's the "volume pulse" you get with rhodes), with Leary improvising high notes around Thabo Vincar's brushwork, and the brass/wind section coming in and out with the main melody. "It Ain't" is primarily a showcase for Bayete's acoustic piano, with Leary and Vincar getting some solo space at the end. "Njeri" features solos from Bayete, Hutcherson on vibes and Caliman on flute; with the main melody coming from a great combination of flute mixed with flugehorns - Caliman stands out here.

The other two tracks signal the first steps of Bayeté's next career phase. "I'm On It" is a fledgeling rock-funk track, with minimal vocals from Bayeté and a basic verse-chorus structure. He uses really precise wah-wah on both the rhodes and clavinet to make an almost guitar-like sound - the man's got the funk. But he's with the wrong band here - while Leary deftly handles some interesting rhythmic stabs, Vincar plods along with an on-beat snare drum and Caliman seems to lose interest halfway through his sax solo.

Bayeté - 'Free Angela' excerpt

Back to the funk again with "Free Angela (Thoughts ... and all I've got to say)", a tribute to black activist Angela Davis. Davis had been in detention for eighteen months for owning a weapon that had been used in a crime, but had finally been acquitted three weeks before this recording. By the time the album came out, Bayeté had apparently contributed music to Francisco Newman's political documentary "Aint Nobody Slick" (1972), which featured Angela Davis. Newman, a former journalist from San Francisco's KQED Public TV, had also made the documentary "Staggerlee : A Conversation with Bobby Seale, Leader of the Black Panther Party" (1970), filmed while Seale was in jail.The track starts out well with a percussive section. Once again, Bayetés own work is great - an arrangement that jumps in space between percussive wah-rhodes and sudden brass stabs, and a killer distorted clavinet solo - but his bandmates just aren't up to it or seemingly into it - the vocal chorus/chant of "Free Angela" seems forced, and Vincar's drums languish in the wake of Bayeté's funk attack. George Clinton's band are sorely needed. Hutcherson drops a few notes in the middle and then stops. There's a clumsy cross-fade halfway through which brings in a slow clavinet sequence, then another fade brings in a lyrical repetitive variation of some of the previous melodies - it sounds somewhat like the end of a rock opera. It seems possible that this track could have been spliced from three different excerpts he recorded for the film soundtrack.

Here's Todd talking about the album in 2014 : 

A few incomplete experiments aside , "Worlds Around The Sun" is an extraordinary spiritual piece of jazz from a 20 year old who seemingly wanted to flex his muscles in all directions at once.

Click for Bobby Hutcherson's liner notes

01. "It Ain’t (5:54)
02. "Free Angela (Thoughts... And All I’ve Got To Say)" (5:11)
03. "Njeri (Belonging To A Warrior)" (5:18)
04. "I’m On It" (2:55)
05. "Bayeté (Between Man And God)" (11:59)
06. "Eurus (The Southwest Wind)" (6:11)

All tracks composed by Todd T Cochran

piano, fender rhodes, clavinet, vocals - Bayeté
double bass, electric bass, vocals - James Leary III
drums - Thabo Vincar
flute, tenor saxophone - Hadley Caliman
percussion [vibes], marimba - Bobby Hutcherson
soprano saxophone, vocals - Mguanda (Dave Johnson)
trombone - Wayne Wallace
trumpet, flugelhorn, vocals - Mulobo (Frederick Berry) , Oscar Brashear

Prestige Catalogue # PRST 10045
Producer - Bayeté
Co-producer - Capus Hope
Engineer - Skip Shimmin
Artwork By [Design] - Phil Carroll , Tony Lane
Photography - James Tyler
Recorded June 26, 1972


'Let it Take Your mind' excerpt

Three months later - September 18th, 1972, a few weeks after his 21st birthday - Bayete was back in the studio recording his second album "Seeking Other Beauty". There's no bracketed (Todd Cochran) on the cover this time around - now he was Bayeté Umbra Zindiko. "Umbra" means "safe"; and "Zindiko" means "goal".

Everyone from the previous album is gone apart from Mguanda (woodwinds, percussion, vocals) and Mulobo (trumpet, fluglehorn, vocals). This time, Bayeté's got his funk-rock backline in place - Hoza Phillips on bass and Augusta Lee Collins on drums.

Doug Watson from freeform described this album well : "a lethal dose of nasty spacefunk".

Bayeté's got his foot on the wah-wah and/or distortion pedals for the entire album, and essentially transforms both his rhodes and clavinet into hard psych-funk guitars - with the rhodes as rhythm guitar and the clavinet as a screaming lead. Phillips also has his bass through a pedal-controlled extreme distortion that he switches in and out of. It's like Hendrix breaking bread with earlier, rockier Funkadelic over an array of effects pedals, recorded in the shadow of a Miles Davis poster.

The opener "Let It Take Your Mind" is almost like a musical 'tightening' of the previous albums' "Free Angela" - sped up, harder hitting psych-funk, punctuated with group chanting of the title and Hammond B3 organ chords. "The Time Has Come" is a slow, bluesy track with a distant group vocal and jazz "cutaways".

'Think on The People Arise' excerpt

Side One finishes with the twelve minute "Think on, the People Arise; Mulobo; People Arise!!!". Clouds of rhodes and drumrolls lay a bed for Phillip's noise improvisation through distortion and delay pedals. Bayeté and Mguanda tag team the wah-wah pedal for a while, then there's a crossfade to a more organised rock chant section of "The People Arise", before all instruments join to build to a controlled chaos. This is stoner music.

"Don't Need Nobody" is a more organised version of the same thing - could be from the second session two weeks later when everyone's straightened up a bit? An inital vocal chant makes way for five minutes of Bayeté emulating Hendrix with his wah-clavinet, then Mguanda and Mulobo solo through to the end.

'Pruda's Shoes' excerpt

The album finishes with the four-part suite "Pruda's Shoes". Perhaps a nervous Prestige Records executive stuck his head around the corner and asked for a jazz track?
This is mainly a vehicle for Bayeté's virtuoso acoustic piano work. He starts with rolling arpeggios over a simple melodic line from Mguanda's soprano sax. Phillips and Collins join in, more as added texture than backline support. The ensemble breaks down to just Bayeté and Mguanda again - Bayeté's work around Mguanda's simple melody line is complex and beautiful, increasingly so as the melody is developed and the album comes to a close.

The interesting tension here between Bayeté's different musical sides can perhaps be found in a poem he wrote for the back cover :

ESCAPISM / duality -
wondering when
it's going to crack on you.
To blow
is many things. May this piece provide
a statement of
a vast universe,
For you -
the SUN -
a piece of life -
a star in your eyes.

October 1972

01. "Let It Take Your Mind" (2:45)
02. "The Time Has Come" (4:24)
03. "Think On, People Arise; Mulobo; People Arise!!!" (12:55)
04. "Don't Need Nobody" (10:05)
05. "Pruda's Shoes" (10:15)
(i) Duet (ii) Trio (iii) Ensemble (iv) Finale

All tracks written by Todd T Cochran

piano, electric piano, clavinet, vocals, arranged by - Bayeté Umbra Zindiko
electric bass, vocals - Hoza Phillips
drums, percussion - Augusta Lee Collins
soprano saxophone, flute, vocals, percussion - Mguanda
(Dave Johnson)
trumpet, flugelhorn, vocals - Mulobo
(Frederick Berry)

Producer - Bayeté Umbra Zindiko
Engineer - Skip Shimmin
Photography - James Tyler
Prestige Records PRST 10062
Recorded at Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, Cal. on September 18 and October 2, 1972.
Released 1973

'The Stick Up' - from 'The Spook Who Sat By The Door' 

Sometime in the first half of 1973, Bayeté worked with Herbie Hancock on the soundtrack for the film "The Spook Who Sat By The Door", based on Sam Greenlee's famous book.

There's no record of what Bayeté's actual role was - I'm guessing that some of the clavinet playing, at least, is his. A later agent's short bio suggests that Herbie Hancock introduced Bayeté to "electronic keyboards and synthesisers" around this time. Tom O'Grady has suggested to me that Bayeté might appear in the house band in a bar scene - will have to check that!

Herbie Hancock and Todd Cochran - much later

Often lumped in with the blaxploitation films of the time, Ivan Dixon's film was actually a black revolutionary call-to-arms set within a fictional context. Here's a scene. It freaked the distributors out, was withdrawn from theatres, and only recently resurfaced via a DVD re-issue.

The only available bootleg soundtrack seems to be taken from a degenerated optical film mix, still mixed with the effects and dialogue tracks - but grab it from the Blaxploitation Pride link above if you want to check it out.

Following the Hancock connection, on June 28 and September 12, 1973, Bayeté played acoustic piano, rhodes and clavinet on Julian Priester's album "Love, Love" (previously covered in this blog), essentially filling in the Hancock role on this wide-ranging and masterful session. He'd just turned 22.

Mtume - "Yebo" excerpt

February, 1974- Minot Sound Studio, White Plains New York.

The track "Yebo" on Mtume's 3rd album "Rebirth Cycle" has a different lineup to the rest of the album - essentially, it's Miles Davis' electric band from the time - Mtume himself (here on acoustic piano); Pete Cosey (guitar); Michael Henderson (bass); and Al Foster (drums); who are joined by Tawatha (vocals) and Bayeté (rhodes).

Davis' band were in the middle of a gruelling tour schedule, and in February had five dates spread throughout the month, all around the country . A million "miles" from the rest of the deeply spiritual, africanist Mtume album, this is a party funk track that points the way to a different future for Mtume.

If we were to write Todd Cochran's life as a cheap TV movie, this would be a pivotal scene : After the session, we'd have Mtume, Michael Henderson and Bayeté sharing a few beers/joints, talking about how they should get out of the abstract jazz life, and forge new paths to the masses via the power of funk - or even latch on to that new thing called disco. WPIX-FM in New York premiered the first disco radio show in 1974, so perhaps, in our movie, it would be playing in the background ...

While this premonition would soon come true for Mtume and Henderson, Bayeté had other plans first ...


'To be a Rock and Roll Star'

'My Pearl' - Automatic Man 

'Automatic Man' - Automatic Man 

In 1976, the band "Automatic Man" released their self-titled album - progressive space-rock, awash with hard guitars and layered synth textures; with lyrical allusions to space travel and mystical matters on tracks like "Interstellar Tracking Devices" and "Atlantis Rising".

(lead vocals, keyboards), who wrote all of the tracks, apart from sharing credit on two group compositions, was joined by Micheal Shrieve (drums); Pat Thrall (guitar) and Doni Harvey (bass).

L-R Schrieve, Bayeté, Thrall, Harvey

Michael Shrieve had been the drummer with Santana, who had done a live instrumental version of Bayete's "Free Angela" on their "Lotus" album in 1975. He'd then taken part in the "Go" project, led by Japanese percussionist Stomu Yamashta and Steve Winwood, alongside Pat Thrall and the classically-trained Doni Harvey. There's also some a live recording of "Go" here.

This album's something of a mixture of twin-guitar-synth lead rock mixed with a touch of Mahavishnu excess and powerchord thunder, occasionally set in a pop format. Doug Watson criticised "Automatic Man" over at freeform and was subsequently swamped with prog-scorn by prog-fanatics, who have been recently re-discovering this album and making videos for it. So I'll hush my mouth and simply review a section of my favourite evah review, by Tom Karr at "Progressiveworld" :

"The band always seemed to me to be a great approximation of what Yes would’ve sounded like if they were American, and Black. The Anglican church touch of Rick Wakeman, replaced with the gospel touch of Stevie Wonder? The style of Chris Squire exchanged with that of a funkmaster? Hyperbole? Some, I guess, but they are very, very good at what they do."

Although I must say that I enjoyed Tom's review more than the album itself, I think that what his review perhaps shows is that there were (are?) very, very few black people encountered in "progressive rock". All of the fan reviews of this album pull out the Stevie Wonder - James Brown names, yet there's very little of what you could define as "funk" or "soul" in the music itself - if you need to make an "african" connection here (which you don't really need to do just because there are African-Americans in the band), it's in the album's lyrical metaphors of science fiction, which tie directly into the afrofuturist school of science fiction political metaphor used by Sun Ra, George Clinton and others in the 70s and beyond. Bayeté's obvious interest in pan-africanist philosophies and politics from earlier in the decade makes the lyrical content of "Automatic Man" a logical follow-on.

It's notable that Bayeté had, over the two year intervening period, fully embraced creative programming of synthesisers after Hancock had set him off to explore new instruments.

If you want to delve deeper, the album is here, and there are more track previews at their Myspace fansite. The single "My Pearl" saw some chart action, but the band didn't make the impact they had hoped for.

'Give it to me' - Automatic Man 

The second Automatic Man album was "Visitors", released in 1977. Once again all tracks were written by Bayeté. Guitarist Pat Thrall was still aboard the spaceship, but Shrieve and Harvey were replaced by bassist Jerome Rimson (also from the "Go" project) and drummer Glenn Symmonds. The prog folks don't like this album as much as the first , describing it as "more commercial", "too funky", and having an "increase in the soul-funk factor" (this is an assumed negative thing). Mostly, they think it's bad because Michael Shrieve wasn't in it anymore. I like it better than the first one! Doug Watson's description is "just a mediocre shot at mesh funk-rock, although arguably ahead of its time in predicting the ghastly and overblown rock guitar productions of the 80s."

The band moved to London, which became Bayeté's base for a few years. However, once again, the album was not a great success, and the group disbanded.


'Floating in Session World'

After the breakup of "Automatic Man", Bayeté seemed to abandon his own projects for awhile, and spent the remainder of the 70s establishing a career as a studio and live keyboard player. A lot of this work seemed to be with fellow jazz musicians who were moving into fusion and pop/soul areas. At some stage during this period he seemed to drop the "Bayeté" moniker, and once again became Todd Cochran.

In 1976 he was one of the main keyboard players on the album "The Real Thing" by The Real Thing, which contained the #1 UK hit single "You to Me Are Everything". In 1977 he did backing vocals on Alphonso Johnson's "Spellbound".

In 1978 he played keyboards on Peter Gabriel's second album "2", (after which he toured with Gabriel for a few years); Wilding/Bonus' "Pleasure Signals"; and began a long association with Stanley Clarke on the album "Modern Man".

In 1979 he was on Clarke's "I Wanna Play For You", which was produced by Airto; Crusader drummer Stix Hooper's "The World Within"; Airto's "Touching You, Touching Me", and Stanley Turrentine's "Betcha".

Todd also did live work at some stage on the 1970s with people such as Dizzy Gillespie and Rahsaan Roland Kirk.
As his synthesiser programming skills came more to the fore, it looked like he was heading the Mtume disco-jazz production way, but first of all, there was to be one more shot at the rock 'n roll dream ....


'To be a Rock and Roll Star, Pt.2'

P.M - 'You're too Much' excerpt

P.M - 'Children of the air age' excerpt

The "progressive rock" group Emerson, Lake and Palmer stopped working together in 1979.

Drummer Carl Palmer formed a band called "P.M." with Todd Cochran (lead vocals, keyboards); Barry Finnerty (guitar, vocals); and Erik Scott (bass, vocals). They worked together for a year, and in 1980 released an album called "1 P.M.", on which Todd wrote half of the songs, on Arista Records. The group disbanded when Palmer left to form the "supergroup" Asia with members of Yes and King Crimson.

Barry Finnerty says :
"There were some talented people in the band, such as Todd Cochran and John Nitzinger, but it was just the wrong combination, never mind the fact that Carl Palmer himself regarded a "groove" as some kind of ethnic African nonsense that has no place on a set of drums! He really was the antithesis of funkiness! .....We did release one record, "1 P.M.", in Europe. If anyone ever hears it ... my condolences. "

Listening to the previews of these tracks, it's clear that this was an attempt to break into the pop market, with a nod to the odd American translation of post-punk "new wave" of the time - the watered-down, skinny-tie sound of The Cars or The Knack. It seems extraordinary now that Todd thought he could break into the "new wave" market with a band led by a member of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, reviled at the time as the epitome of dinosaur rock legend.


'The 80s Producer'

At this point in our cheap TV movie, we flash back to the fictional 1974 conversation with Mtume and Michael Henderson about the need to break into the disco-funk market. We flash forward to the present, and Mtume and Henderson zoom past in a red sports car filled with champagne, girls and gold records. Todd's brow furrows ... it's time to change again.

Todd was twenty-nine when "P.M" disbanded. He moved back to the USA at the start of the 1980s, settling in Los Angeles, and began work as a producer, arranger, session musician and occasional songwriter. He did hundreds of sessions, but I'll concentrate on his production and writing.

If a pattern can be drawn here, it seems that Todd Cochran's 80s production career had two strands : escorting jazz artists into the synthesised age of fusion; and attempting to revive the careers of soul-funk greats who'd been without a hit for a while.

He only had limited success in both of these endeavours, and as much as I keep looking for him in these albums, it seems that after a classical career, two jazz albums and two rock bands, in his 30s Todd Cochran took a step back into the shadows.

So put on that fluro headband, hit the play button on the Syreeta track below, and let's take a trip through the 80s....

DOWNLOAD TRACK (this will also download a fluro headband to your hard drive) 

1981 : Although Syreeta's Motown album "Set My Love In Motion" was primarily produced by Hal Davis and Ollie Brown, the track "Move It, Do It" was produced by Angelo Bond and William Weatherspoon; written by Bond, Weatherspoon and Todd Cochran; and arranged by Todd Cochran. It was also released as a 12" single with the track "Can't Shake Your Love".

William Weatherspoon had recently dissolved his long-standing Motown writing partnership with James Dean (no, not that one), with whom he'd written "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted". Angelo Bond had made a funk-soul album in 1975 called "Bondage", which I'm quite fond of, grab it from here. He went on to work on the Temptation's "Back To Basics" album in 1983 and co-wrote a few tracks with Norman Whitfield.

'Here today' - Maynard Ferguson - excerpt

1982 : Maynard Ferguson's discofied album "Hollywood", produced by Stanley Clarke, is generally regarded as one of the worst of his career. Todd was assistant producer, played keyboards, did the rhythm arrangements and wrote a track called "Here Today". Yes, it's as bad as the rest of the album ... and what is going on in that cover shot?

'Secret to My Heart' Stanley Clarke - excerpt

1982: Todd played fender rhodes on Stanley Clarke's album "Let Me Know You", Clarke's most RnB album, and wrote a track called "Secret To My Heart". I like Stanley's natural pose on the cover.

'Especially You' - Stix Hooper - excerpt

1982: Todd played keyboards on Stix Hooper's album "Touch the Feeling" and wrote the instrumental opener "Especially You".

'Champions' - Twin Image

1984 : Perhaps in an effort to match the "twin" marketing of RnB duo Twin Image on their only album "Mirror", Capitol Records got Todd to produce Side A, and Sigidi to produce Side B. Each of the producers does two ballads and two uptempo numbers. Both singles came from the Sigidi side, but neither singles nor album fared that well. "Champions" is from Todd's side.

Sigidi was a conductor and co-arranger with the Mizell brothers in the 70s. He wrote Donald Byrd's track "Dominoes" and was the singer on the Blackbyrd's track "Walking in Rhythm". In the 80s he went on to produce several albums by the SOS Band.

'Uptown Strut' - Arthur Blythe

1984 : Avante-garde saxaphonist Arthur Blythe signed to Columbia Records in the 80s, and they made a few attempts to bring him to the masses via crossover productions, something that Todd was getting a name for doing. The album "Put Sunshine In It" , arranged and produced by Todd Cochran, was regaled by jazz critics for its dominant use of synthesisers and drum machines. Soon after this, Blythe returned to more acoustic productions.

'Electrified' - Billy Griffin 

1985 : Former "Miracles" vocalist Billy Griffin had scored a hit in 1983 with "Hold Me Tighter In the Rain". His third album "Systematic" was produced by Todd Cochran and Leon Ware. More uptempo and radio-friendly than it's two predecessors, it nevertheless failed to chart well.

'Fade to Black' - Cheryl Lynn

1985 : Cheryl Lynn never really managed to recapture the success of her 1978 self-titled debut album that contained the hit "Got To Be Real". Her 1985 album "It's Gonna Be Right" was recorded at the end of her tenure with Columbia Records. It was a split affair, with Jimmy Jam / Terry Lewis and Hubert Eaves producing a few tracks each, and Todd Cochran producing four tracks that were written by Lynne herself. One of these, "Fade To Black", was released as a single and reached #85 on the RnB charts.

'No Curfew' - Cheryl Lynn excerpt

1987 : Cheryl Lynn moved to Manhattan Records to record the album "Start Over", in which, according to AMG's Jason Ankeny, "the gelatinous late-Eighties production threatens to swallow her like quicksand". Todd collaborated with Lynn to write the track "No Curfew", which I'd say would have to be considered the low point of his 80s work.

'Monte Carlos Nights' - Grover Washington Jr - excerpt

1987 : Together with Stix Hooper, Todd co-wrote the track "Monte Carlos Nights" on Grover Washington Jr's album "Strawberry Moon".

'Way Out' - Dynasty

1988 : Dynasty were a group created by Leon Sylvers in 1979 on Solar Records. They scored a few early RnB hits, but didn't manage to recapture that success on later releases. Todd arranged and produced much of Dynasty's fifth and final album "Out Of Control", though three others also have production credits.

'Back to Lovin' Again' - Freddie Hubbard - excerpt

1989 : Todd seemed to be fully in charge of Freddie Hubbard's "Times Are Changing" - he was producer, arranger, keyboard player, drum programmer, and wrote four of the seven tracks.
Other guests are Stix Hooper, Stanley Clarke, percussionist Munyango Jackson, and Michael Shrieve on electronic percussion.

'Through the Moving Window' - Juan Martin -  excerpt

1990 : Juan Martin's "Through the Moving Window" mixes flamenco guitar with some new age textures. Todd produced and arranged the album, and wrote several tracks.


Other 80s session work by Todd Cochran, usually keyboards and/or synth programming :
Aretha Franklin - "Aretha" (1980); Gene Page - "Love Starts After Dark"; Silk - "Fuse One" (1981); Rodney Franklin - "Learning to Love" (1982); Stanley Turrentine - "Home Again" (1983); Teena Marie - "Robbery" (1983); Rodney Franklin - "Marathon" (1984); Stanley Clarke - "Time Exposure" (1984); Paulinho Da Costa - "Sunrise" (1984); George Howard – "Dancing in the sun" (1985); George Howard – "Love will Follow" (1986); Howard Hewett - “I Commit to Love” (1986).

If you've got this far, and have had enough of the synthesisers, well it seems that Todd had as well ... yes folks, it's time to leave the 80s behind (phew!)


'Out From the Shadows'



"A New and Old Poem" - Todd Cochran

"People In The Night" - Todd Cochran

In 1991, Todd Cochran turned forty, and recorded his third solo album "Todd". It's an acoustic jazz album, with one vocal track, recorded live to stereo tape master with no overdubs.

Todd's on acoustic piano, joined by James Leary on bass (for the first time since "Worlds around the Sun" nineteen years before); Clyde Cameron on drums; Michael O'Neill on guitar; and Munyungo Jackson on percussion (who'd played with him on the 1989 Freddie Hubbard album).

While this is not Todd's best jazz work, there's an appealing, intimate feeling from the nature of the live recording - you can feel the room and the presence of the musicians. Leary's double bass work is great, and Jackson's subtle percussion adds to things. I end to prefer the simpler, sparser tracks like the piano solo "A New And Old Poem".

Vinyl cover, sometimes with small pic attached (see brown one above)

This album was the first in a series of audiophile recordings on Vital Records - James Leary went on to release two albums as part of the same series - one with five bass players! - and Munyungo Jackson did one as well, which Cochran played on.

"Todd" was released on a limited vinyl series (496 copies) of two 45rpm albums - there's a hopeful guy on ebay who lists one for $145 every week. The entire series of 17 CDs can be purchased on ebay here for $100, including one by "Brotherhood of Breath" which might get a few people here going. Finally, there are a few cheap second-hand copies of this CD on Amazon, I had a problem with my credit card so big THANKS to Ish for purchasing, ripping and uploading this.

alternate CD cover from a different issue

The liner notes are full of obsessive audiophile notes, so you can have a look at those in the download. There are also liner notes from Todd talking about each track.


01 . "Behind the Mask" (Cochran)
"Chelsea Bridge" (Billy Strayhorn)
"A New and Old Poem" (Cochran)
"Brilliant Corners" (Thelonius Monk)
"The River Bends" (Cochran)
"Alanna's Song"
"Lights Out"
"People In the Night"
"Lady M"
"Up Jumped Spring" (Freddie Hubbard)


Todd Cochran - piano, vocals
James Leary
- bassClyde Cameron - drumsMichael O'Neill - guitarMunyungo Jackson - percussion


Recorded at VTL Studio, Chino, California 1991Produced and engineered by David Manley
Specialist piano technician - Jim Christopher
Vital Records 001
Vital Records is a division of Vacuum Tube Logic of America
This album is dedicated to my daughter Alanna Natasha and all the people who love her.
Thanks to James and CC, Michael and
Munyungo for your very creative contributions to this recording.


'1990s : Dawn of the New Age'

In the 1990s, Todd becomes more elusive to the researcher. He owned a recording studio in Los Angeles called "The Gallery". His Kawai piano was sampled for a well-known sampler called the Ensoniq EPS-16, which I used to own - this makes me wonder whether I recorded anything in the 90s "using" Todd's piano ...

In the wake of the release of the "Todd" album, he began to focus more on the acoustic piano again, performing live in clubs, concerts and at the Monterey Jazz festival. He began to give lectures and master classes at Stanford University, Berkeley and other institutions.

'What Looks Good On The Outside' - Animal Logic 

In 1991 he played on several tracks on "Animal Logic II", the 2nd album from a project by Stanley Clarke and Police drummer Stewart Copeland, and co-wrote the track "What Looks Good on the Outside" with singer/guitarist Deborah Holland.

'Magic Ring' - Juan Carlos Quintero

'The Promise' - Juan Carlos Quintero

In 1992 he produced and arranged the album "Through the Winds" for latin-jazz guitarist Juan Carlos Quintero, writing several tracks as well, including a vocal on "The Promise". Most of the musicians from the "Todd" album were on this. Like the Juan Martin album from 1990, this was heading into new age territory ....

He's also on Stanley Clarke's 1993 album "East River Drive" and Joan Armatrading's "What's Inside" from 1995.

On October 30th, 1998, he gave a free outdoor concert in Los Angeles as part of the "Playboy Jazz Festival", alongside the Thelonious Monk Institute Student Band.

Sometime in the late 90s, he signed to the new-age label Windham Hill, who were at the time expanding their catalogue from folk-based music to include some jazz artists like Todd and Tom Scott. In 1998 he contributed a track called "She Is Gentle Rain" to an album called "Melrose Place Jazz", to be marketed with the then-popular TV soap.

'She Is Gentle Rain' - Todd Cochran

Information about his album releases at Windham Hill is sparse, particularly since the dissolution of the company. A later professional bio names an album called "Root Bohemia", which seemingly has no other references on the internet. AMG names an album from 2000 called "Crosswinds", which also proves to be elusive.

However, here are two tracks from these which have since been included on smooth jazz compilations :

'A Voice In the Forest' - Todd Cochran

'Secret Places' - Todd Cochran


'21st Century composer'

Since the turn of the century, Todd Cochran has been primarily establishing himself as a film composer, as well as re-engaging with classical composition, in effect coming full circle. (Does this mean we get more brilliant whacked-out funky rhodes jazz next??)

During the 90s, he had worked closely with Stanley Clarke on many film soundtracks for which Clarke was composer, and alongside Clarke had composed some of the music for the animated TV series "Waynehead", produced by Damon Wayans in 1996-97.

In 1999 Todd did "additional music arrangements" on Norman Jewison's "The Hurricane" , starring Denzel Washington.

In 2000 he signed with Primal Scream, a composer's agency, and wrote "period music" for the game "Return to Castle Wolfenstein".

His first full soundtrack was Doug McHenry's TV movie "Keep the Faith, Baby" from 2002, a portrait of the controversial black senator Adam Clayton Powell.

From 2002-2003 he was a composer-in-residence at the Crossroads School in Los Angeles, as part of 'The Commission Project".

On February 25, 2003, he took part in an event called "A Celebration of Black History and Labor" at Tacoma's Pantages Theatre, which featured speakers such like Rev. Al Sharpton. Todd and singer Alvin Chea (from gospel group "Take 6") perfomed "A Tribute to Black Composers: Billy Strayhorn, Duke Ellington, Marion Cook, Quincy Jones, James Weldon Johnson and Charlie Parker."


He composed a "piece for 3 pianos" that was to have premiered in September 2003. At this time he said "“Film scoring is becoming more and more interesting and rewarding to me and it feels like a natural fit. I’m very excited about the future.”

His suite for piano quintet "Tales Of The Sundial", premiered in Singapore in May 2004. Details about that can be found in a pdf program here (right click). Other recent classical works include “Eternity and love”, a flute and string quartet, and “The Shape of water”, a tone poem for piano and string orchestra.

In 2004 he composed the music for "Woman Thou Art Loosed", an adaptation of Bishop T.D. Jakes' self-help novel, chronciling a woman's struggle to come to terms with her legacy of abuse, addiction and poverty. it won the Best Film Award at the “American Black Film Festival”.

When asked how we went about writing music for a christian story, Todd said "The fact that there's a Christian message in there didn't change my approach at all," Cochran explains. "I got involved in the storytelling, which is basically about hidden truths coming to light. ... And musically, I think a lot of old boundaries have disappeared. What used to be church music has crossed into pop and jazz, and what used to be outside the church is now celebrated inside. Art is inclusive, and these kinds of projects reflect that."

On February 18th, 2005 a film called "The Black Composers" premiered at the Pantages Theater in Tacoma, and the festivities included a performance by the all-star trio of Hubert Laws (flute), Bennie Maupin (reeds) and Todd Cochran (piano). Four days later the three performed again at an event called "A Celebration of Black History - Women And Labor".

"Missing Miles"

In 2006, Robert L. Watt, Assistant Principal French horn with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, commissioned Todd Cochran to write a musical composition in memory of Miles Davis. This resulted in a piece called “Missing Miles” – a suite for horn and piano :

Film director Kim Bass made a thirteen minute film, also called "Missing Miles", which chronicled the creation of the composition and a performance of the work. The film was shown at the Pan African Film and Arts Festival. There used to be a preview there but it's gone.

In 2007, Todd scored the film "Love and Other Four-Letter Words", a tale of a Chicago talk show host who fakes her own wedding to please her dying grandmother.

L-R Composer Kurt Farquhar, AASC Co Chairs Van Hayden, Millicent Shelton and Carl Weathers (moderator), composers Patrice Rushen, Samm Brown, Gregory Smith and Todd Cochran (brown jacket) and AASC member Abdul Malik AbbottPhoto above : On Monday, April 2, 2007, the DGA’s (Directors Guild of America) African American Steering Committee (AASC) presented A Conversation with African American Composers as an addendum to its monthly meeting in the Boardroom of the Guild’s Los Angeles Headquarters.

On August 6th 2007, Todd premiered his 17 minute solo piano work "The Secret Gardener" at an event called "Voices of Hollywood, Vol.2” , held at the Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church as part of the Beverly Hills International Music Festival. The Film Music Society reviewed it as "sometimes dramatic".

In 2008, Todd wrote the score for "The Lena Baker Story", "A chronicle of the life of Lena Baker, the first woman to be sent to the electric chair in Georgia for the murder of her employer, who forced her into sexual slavery". Here's a trailer with some of Todd's music.

Todd Cochran at the Atlanta Film Festival, April 10th, 2008

There's an interesting article written by Sam Brown III in a Feb 2007 issue of "Film Music Magazine" called "Ebony and Ivory: The Door Only Swings One Way", which focuses on how black composers often only get offered "black" films, something that certainly seems to be the case with Todd Cochran, although his composing career seems to be going well.

In the article, Todd says he finds it amazing that "two people can go through the same training – the same schools – and reach the same level of ability, and as soon as they step out of the schools, (and come to Hollywood) one is a black composer, and the other is just a composer ... unfortunately the need for African American film composers to deconstruct the existing stereotypes of musical aesthetic limitations persists.”

Perhaps Todd Cochran's life itself can be seen as having played a significant role in that process of deconstruction.

Todd Cochran is 57.



2014 : It's now six years since I wrote this post. Todd Cochran is now 63.

Here's a 2014 jazz version of "It Ain't" from 'Worlds Around The Sun', which he recorded earlier this year with Courtney D. Jones on trumpet :

And here he is earlier this year discussing his life, and music that has influenced him : 

Rock N' Roll Stories: Todd Cochran from KLCS on Vimeo.



Extra, extra special thanks to
Ish, Burning Blue Soul, Bacoso, Reza, Katonah and Heiku for putting up with my relentless emails and requests in regard to this post. You guys are really the best.

Vinyl rips of "Worlds Around The Sun" and "Seeking Other Beauty" by Bacoso, first posted at "Orgy In Rhythm".

CD rip of "Todd" by Ish.

Thanks to Google, shout outs to the dentist, the lawyer, the podcasting guru and the horticulturalist.

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