CTI All-Stars – CTI Jazz at the Hollywood Bowl: Live One (1977)

CTI All-Stars – Live One (Summer Jazz at the Hollywood Bowl)
Vinyl rip in 24 bit 192 khz | Photos and art scans at 300 dpi
1977 CTI Records – CTI 7076

01 Grits Bowl 8:09
Written-By – Hank Crawford

02 Inner City Blues / What’s Going On 8:46
Written-By – A. Cleveland, J. Nyxw, M. Gaye, R. Benson

03 California Dreaming 8:36
Written-By – J. Phillips, M. Gilliam

04 First Light 8:27
Written-By – Freddie Hubbard

Record Company – Creed Taylor, Inc.
Published By – Jobete Music Co., Inc.
Published By – Char-Liz Music, Inc.
Published By – Wingate Music Corp.
Published By – Hubtones Music
Mixed At – Electric Lady Studios
Recorded At – Hollywood Bowl

Credits

Bass – Ron Carter
Drums – Jack DeJohnette
Flute – Hubert Laws
Guitar – George Benson
Keyboards – Bob James, Deodato, Johnny Hammond
Percussion – Airto
Saxophone – Grover Washington, Jr., Hank Crawford, Joe Farrell, Stanley Turrentine
Trumpet – Freddie Hubbard
Vibraphone – Milt Jackson
Vocals – Esther Phillips

Engineer – David Palmer
Design [Album] – Sib Chalawick
MC – Leonard Feather, Rick Holmes
Photography By – K’Abe
Producer – Creed Taylor
Recorded By – Wally Heider

Matrix / Runout (Runout A): 87738A1
Matrix / Runout (Runout B): 87738B11

RIPPING INFO
CTI 7076 vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE with Audio Tecnica AT440-MLa cartridge; Speedbox power supply); Creek Audio OBH-15; Audioquest King Cobra cables; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 192khz; clicks and pops removed with Click Repair on light settings, manually auditioning the output; further clicks removed with Adobe Audition 3.0; dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced. Converted to FLAC in either Trader’s Little Helper or dBPoweramp. Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.


I had intended to post this for the American Labor Day weekend, the unofficial end of summer in the country that doesn’t recognize May Day as the real labor holiday.  This and the other two volumes were nearly ready to go when I received crappy professional news that I took personally.  At this point, not posting on the blog when I get bad news is the equivalent of “my dog ate my homework”.  When some good news finally comes in I’ll probably have to shut the blog down completely, it will be such a disruption from the pattern of the last three years.

Of course immediately after that holiday weekend, I was propelled into full-on disaster preparedness mode for the impending apocalypse, as discussed in my last post, which failed to actually occur.  It did happen in the Caribbean, and now Mexico and Puerto Rico are being smitten by the hammer of the gods.  I also hear that THE RAPTURE is imminent, so there may still be a chance to see the end of the world before the month is out.  Meanwhile, why not groove to the proto-smooth-jazz of the CTI All-Stars while waiting for the four horseman of the Book of Revelations to crash through your bedroom wall like the map thieves in Time Bandits?   Obviously I’m not really “feelin'” this post right now but I had it prepared for you and, in the northern hemisphere, it is the official last day of summer so I might as well post part 1 of 3 of a summer jazz festival.

Calling the CTI All-Stars “proto-smooth-jazz” is slightly cruel but still not altogether wrong.  The MC who opens the show (either Leonard Feather or Rick Holmes, I can’t tell), opines, “If jazz is dead, this is the biggest funeral I’ve ever seen.”  Somehow this doesn’t inspire confidence in me at all.  After all, jazz has always had a lot of friends and relations, and I’d expect a big turnout at its interment.  Nevertheless, this concert was recorded in 1972 and so it is legitimately pretty funky and soulful jazz. A listener might hope – what with this being live on stage, and not a tightly controlled Creed Taylor studio production – that the musicians would let loose more, take more risks, really let it rip.  Instead this is still largely a polished diamond, all the rough edges shaved down to gleaming facets, and if that’s how you like your jazz then you will revel in this.  Although I’m tempted to think of the presence of Creed Taylor anywhere in the vicinity to be a bit like the unseen policeman in the tower in Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon, compelling all the musicians to stay on their best behavior and discipline themselves, the truth is probably less cryptic.  This is an “All-Star” band comprised of around a dozen people who were all good bandleaders in their own right.  You get the feeling that everybody is being respectful and not wanting to step on anybody else’s toes by grandstanding too much.

I’m not sure what the story is in the five-year lag between the recording of this concert and its release on album.  The fact that it was done in three separate installments, and at the very end of CTI’s partnership with Motown Records, makes me inclined to think this was a contractual obligation thing.  I suppose three budget-priced LPs might sell a little easier than a deluxe triple disc set, but then again anybody still closely following CTI in the late 70s, when the label had pretty thoroughly run out of steam, probably would have bought it no matter how it was packaged.  As it stands, these three volumes seemed to get relegated to the cut-out bins pretty quickly and are pretty easy to find on the cheap.  All of mine were ‘new old stock’ so they made for a nice and easy vinyl transfer.

I’ve already described the music in general terms.  I could get specific but then I would have to complain about the silly police siren in the Marvin Gaye sandwich of Inner City Blues/What’s Going On.  Oh my, I guess I just did.  Listen to the incomparable Jack DeJohnette on his drum kit chaffing at the bit on this piece, trying to inject a little improvisational excitement into the careful, reverential arrangement, and you might see why I’m being kind of dour.  I still dig it, but it’s not a “you gotta hear this!” kind of cut like a roster of this much talent merits.  Still, this concert is an opportunity to hear some of the people whose careers took off in the 70’s while they were still young and hungry – Grover Washington, Jr,  and George Benson often don’t get their due credit, and that’s largely the fault of their own sleepy and predictable releases as time went on and they truly became the poster children of pre-Kenny G ‘pop jazz’.  Others, like Joe Farrell, had a bunch of consistently interesting records for CTI that I really do think are unfairly overlooked.

Benson takes the lead in a version of ‘California Dreaming’ that is more exciting than it probably deserves to be.  The closer on this set, Freddie Hubbard’s “First Light” is the most compelling thing here.  Which isn’t too surprising – Hubbard turned in some of my favorite CTI releases, which I think rank among the best LPs of his career, in particular Red Clay and Straight Life.  It’s solid and makes you want to hear the next LP of this set, but ultimately the version on his own album is still better.

All three of these records are gatefolds, featuring the same photograph of a (mostly but not entirely filled) Hollywood Bowl from behind the musicians.  The graphic designers and typesetters changed the track list, but the musician credits are generic – it is up to you the listener to discern who is taking a solo at any given time, or whether that’s Bob James or Deodato on the electric piano on this or that cut.  Hell, singer Esther Phillips is credited on all three LPs but only actually appears on the last one.  If any readers happen to have a break-down of who actually plays on which tracks of this sprawling triple live project, leave a comment and if the info is reliable I will add it to the body of this post.  Meanwhile, stay tuned for the next volume which features a moody rendition of Windmills Of Your Mind that is worth a listen.


password: vibes

 

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Antonio Adolfo e A Brazuca – s/t (No.1) – 1969

Antonio Adolfo & A Brazuca
Antonio Adolfo & A Brazuca (No. 1)
1969 Odeon MOFB-3618 (Original issue)
2014 Reissue EMI: UICY 76458 Odeon: TOCP-66055
Brasil 1000 Best Collection

Japan reissue, released 23 Jul 2014

1 Juliana 3:18
2 Futilirama 2:47
3 Moça 2:51
4 Dois Tempos 2:43
5 Vôo Da Apolo 4:28
6 Porque Hoje É Domingo 3:09
7 Maria Aparecida 2:06
8 Psiu 1:56
9 A Cidade E Eu 3:16
10 Pelas Ruas Do Meu Bairro 4:05
11 Teletema 2:44
Bonus Tracks: Odeon 7BD-1203 EP (1970)
12 Gloria, Glorinha 3:07
13 O Baile Do Clube 2:07
14 Ao Redor 2:11
15 M.G.8-80-88 2:19
.

Record Company – USM Japan

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Producer – Milton Miranda

Assistant Co-producer – Tibério Gaspar
Conductor – Laércio De Freitas
Cover – Victor Fernando
Musical director – Lyrio Panicali
Technical Director and engineer – Z. J. Merky
Orchestrated By – Antonio Adolfo
Photography By – Carlos Ribeiro, Franklin Corrêa, Victor Fernando

Recording engineers – Jorge, Nivaldo
Technician – Reny R. Lippi


 

“This is great summer smoothness.” – blog reader Verge

Listening to this breezy offering of carefree carioca tunes, I get the impression that – had he been inclined to move to the United States and and start recording anglophone versions of Brazilian hits – Antônio Adolfo could have beat Sérgio Mendes at his own game.  But Adolfo was a busy guy in the 1960s, playing in various jazz-bossa and bossa-jazz combos and even backing up Elis Regina and Milton Nascimento for a short while.  The first of two records with his short-lived group Brazuca, this one is immediately accessible and charming, if a bit less adventurous than their second album.  The back cover features blurbs from celebs, a bit like book endorsements, from the likes of Carlos Imperial and Roberto Carlos, who likens them to an old tradition with a new sound.   Adolfo and his writing partner Tibério Gaspar were frequent contenders in the televised song competitions of the day – they won 2nd place with “Julianna”, featured above.  The whole album is very much of its time, its mini-skirt and Vespa vibe has a certain innocence to it where you would hardly know there is a dictatorship going on in the country where this was recorded.  Lyricist Gasper, who passed away to little fanfare last February, says as much in “Hoje é domingo,” where the listener is encouraged to leave their troubles behind and enjoy the nearly-universal day of peace and quiet.    Insisting on carrying on with a smile is its own kind of resistance, I guess.  Adolfo and Gasper were responsible for quite a few songs in Brazil when that became huge hits for other artists.  “Teletema”, which closes this album (it is followed by bonus tracks on the CD) is one of those.  It was featured in a telenovela in a cloying version by “Regininha” later in the year, but I prefer the original

They also wrote the funky BR-3 for Toni Tornado, but probably their best-known hit was ” Sá Marina” as recorded by Wilson Simonal.   You can go google that one up yourself but I feel obliged to share this cool clip of Stevie Wonder singing an anglicized version of it on Brazilian TV, renamed “Pretty World,” when Simonal’s version was still fresh in the collective memory. It starts out  a little shaky but quickly picks up.  I like his cute “obrigado” when he finishes.  For those interested, you can find the whole hour-long TV special on YouTube as well.  YouTube has kind of made blogs like mine a bit obsolete, hasn’t it?  I mean you can find anything there, what do you need me for?  Anyway, I still soldier on.

If the album is guilty of anything, it may be excessive cuteness.  Dois Tempos is a kind of musical pun, a composition combining two time signatures with lyrics sketching a portrait of a person who seems to inhabit both a vanished past and contemporary space tinged with uncertainty, a sepia-toned photograph come to life, a sort of decadently picturesque anachronism.   It’s a bit precious, and while some listeners may be charmed by that very quality, it’s one the group largely shed on the second album.  Even the obligatory song dealing with space flight (because its 1969), Vôo da Apolo, starts like its going to blast off into some sort of exciting space bossa-funk number, but then kind of settles into something more pedestrian.   On the second album, Adolfo and company would  push the envelope a little further with songs like Transamazônica, named after the pharaonic project of constructing a massive highway connecting parts of the Amazon region with the rest of the country.  The lyrics there are nothing special really, but musically the group is bolder and taking more chances.  But don’t let me sour anybody on this very fine album, because it’s  solid.  It just happens to be one of those cases where I was introduced to what I consider their superior effort first, so I can’t help making the comparisons between the two.  And idiosyncratic, impressionistic descriptions of long-player albums is what has made this blog tick for nine year so don’t expect me to change things too much now!  Anyway, enjoy this groovy debut from Antônio Adolfo e A Brazuca.

 


password: vibes

David Axelrod – Earth Rot (1970)

David Axelrod
EARTH ROT
1970 Capitol Records SKAO-456
Genres: Jazz, Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Eschatological Funk

“A musical comment on the state of the environment.   Contemporary music with ancient yet timely words set to the theme of ecology.”

Lyrics adapted by Michael T. Axelrod from The Book Of Isaiah, The Old Testament and adapted from Song Of The Earth Spirit, A Navajo origin legend.”

    The Warnings
A1     Part I     2:48
A2     Part II     4:28
A3     Part III     5:04
A4     Part IV     3:08
    The Signs
B1     Part I     3:44
B2     Part II     3:43
B3     Part III 5:41

 Composed By – David A. Axelrod

Bass – Robert West (Except B3)
Chorus – Clark Eran Gassman, Diana Lee, Gerri Engemann, Jacqueline Mae Ellen, Janice Gassman, Jerry Whitman, Jon Joyce, Lewis E. Moreford, Tom Bahler
Drums – Earl Palmer
Guitar – Dennis Budimir, Louis Morell
Piano – Don Randi
Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Flute – Jack Kelso, William E. Green
Tenor Saxophone, Flute – Ernie Watt
Trombone – Richard Hyde, Richard Leith
Trumpet – Allen De Rienzo, Frederick Hill
Vibraphone – Gary Coleman
Track B3 only:  bass – Arthur Wright, vibraphone – Sonny Anderson

Produced by David Axelrod
Lyrics adapted by Michael T. Axelrod
Recording engineers – Gene Hicks, Rex Updegraft
Cover painting – Renate Drutts

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Vinyl ripping info: First pressing Capitol vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE with Audio Tecnica AT440-MLa cartridge; Speedbox power supply); Creek Audio OBH-15; AUdioquest King Cobra cables; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 192khz; clicks and pops removed with Click Repair on light settings, manually auditioning the output; further clicks removed with Adobe Audition 3.0; dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced. Converted to FLAC in either Trader’s Little Helper or dBPoweramp.  Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.

Continue reading

Charles Earland – Odyssey (1976)

CHARLES EARLAND
ODYSSEY
Released 1976
Mercury SRM-1-1049

After the phenomenal double-LP ‘Leaving This Planet’, which featured Freddie Hubbard and Joe Henderson as rocket fuel, Earland continued in a similarly cosmic-jazz direction.  He made one more LP for Prestige, a live album of new material called Kharma, and then began a new phase at Mercury Records with this jazz-funk-latin-disco-rock fusion called Odyssey, which also became the name of his spaceship, I mean vehicle, for releasing this kind of thing for the next few years.  This album has never ever been issued on CD.  Meet you after the jump to continue the voyage.. Continue reading

Ben Sidran – Don’t Let Go (1974)

Ben Sidran
Don’t Let Go
1974 Blue Thumb BTS 6012 


A1 Fat Jam 3:23
A2 House Of Blue Lites 3:08
A3 Ben Sidran’s Midnite Tango 2:40
A4 The Chicken Glide 3:43
A5 She’s Funny That Way 3:34
A6 Monopoly 1:27


B1 Don’t Let Go 3:18
B2 Hey Hey Baby 3:30
B3 The Foolkiller 3:45
B4 The Funky Elephant 3:27
B5 Snatch 3:48
B6 Down To The Bone 1:08

Alto Saxophone – Bunky Green
Bass – Kip Merklein (tracks: B4), Phil Upchurch, Randy Fullerton (tracks: A1 to B3, B5, B6)
Drums – Tom Piazza (tracks: B2)
Drums, Percussion – Clyde Stubblefield, George Brown, Phil Upchurch
Guitar – James P. Cooke, Phil Upchurch
Harmonica – Jerry Alexander
Organ – Jim Peterman
Piano, Vocals – Ben Sidran
Tenor Saxophone – Sonny Seals
Horns arranged  by Sonny Burke

Strings arranged by Les Hooper
Art Direction – John P. Schmelzer

 

Vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE with Audio Tecnica AT440-MLa cartridge; Speedbox power supply); Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 96khz; clicks and pops removed individually with Adobe Audition 3.0; resampled using iZotope RX 2 Advanced SRC and dithered with MBIT+ for 16-bit. Converted to FLAC in either Trader’s Little Helper or dBPoweramp.  Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.

Possibly it is because of his uncanny resemblance to Neil Innes – or the suspicious fact that nobody has ever seen them both in the same place, at the same time – but  sometimes I don’t know how seriously to take Ben Sidran.  But I doubt that fact would bother him, because he’s been far too busy accomplishing an insane amount of things in his long and prolific career for my perplexity to concern him at all.  Although at this point in his life as an artist, Ben Sidran is pretty firmly ensconced in the “jazz” area of your local record store, his overall vision and his diverse body of work taken as a whole is pretty hard to categorize, and there is a touch of whimsy to much of it.  Plus, his records are always fun, a word that doesn’t get paired with “jazz” nearly enough.

In his early days, he flirted with the life of rock stardom when he teamed up with his old college friend Steve Miller.  Sidran contributed extensively to his most interesting record (Brave New World), co-wrote his most charming hit single (Space Cowboy), stuck around for a few more records before going back to his old home base of Madison, Wisconsin, where he has essentially stayed ever since. He published his doctoral dissertation (which he earned in England in the 60s while moonlighting as a session man) as a book, back when dissertations were actually readable,  called ‘Black Talk’.  He hosted a late-night television show as idiosyncratic as he was, called “The Weekend Starts Now,”  in which he had guests like Kinky Friedman and Jane Fonda when she was at her anti-war finest, as well as jazz heavies like McCoy Tyner and Danny Richmond.  He’s worked with Tony Williams, Jon Hendricks, Phil Upchurch (who appears on the album here), and produced records for Mose Allison, Van Morrison, and Georgie Fame.  And somehow he has managed all this while also hanging out with Eric Idle and George Harrison and producing an entirely separate body of work under the name Neil Innes.

On his own albums, Sidran’s stable of musicians was always interesting.  For “Don’t Let Go” we have fellow Madison resident Clyde Stubblefield on drums, Phil Upchurch on bass and guitar, and saxophonists Sonny Seals and Bunky Green all joining the party.  Jim Peterman, a colleague from his Steve Miller days, provides some organ on a few tracks. The original songs here are all compelling, and Sidran seamlessly blends in jazz chesnuts from other composers: a very free and liberal interpretation of fellow Wisconsin-ite Freddie Slack’s “House of Blue Lites” seasoned with some profanity and jabs at New York snobbery,  a similarly stylized “She’s Funny That Way” (recorded by Gene Austin), Bud Powell’s brief ‘Monopoly’, and “The Foolkiller” from Sidran’s most obvious musical idol, Mose Allison. The original tracks span jazz, funk, and even soul in the song “Hey Hey Baby,” which is almost catchy enough to be a hit, as soon as understated Mose Allison-like beatnik crooning comes back into style.    Allison’s “Foolkiller” is arranged in an unrecognizable way and ornamented with greasy slide guitars and harmonica.  The only track that really nods to his past as a denizen of 60’s swinging London is the group composition (mostly likely emerging from an improvised jam) titled The Funky Elephant,which sounds like Dr.John dropping acid with The Beatles.  But not the 1968 Beatles so much as the 1974 Beatles, so basically a few years before they formed Klaatu, I guess.  The cut “Snatch” showcases Stubblefield at his best on the drum kit, tossed over a bed of mixed Wurlitzer and piano, and horn and string charts that make it all sound so easy. (It also makes an appearance on Flabbergasted Freeform Fourteen.)

A curious bit of trivia about the title track of the album: it was written for the original television series adaptation of “Serpico” but was shelved when the project was put on hold for several years due to legal complications.  When the show finally took to the airwaves in 1976 (for only one season, alas), Sidran’s track was not used.  It was written for a scene in which Frank Serpico is a given a surprise birthday party by the rest of his precinct and gets all teary-eyed and starts hugging and kissing everyone.*

Sidran appears to be, constitutionally speaking, a workaholic unable to simply take it easy.  He continues to record, perform, and write.  One of his most recent endeavors is a book regarding the role of Jews in the music business, titled “There Was a Fire: Jews, Music, and the American Dream.”  I’m sure archive-based historians might turn up their noses a bit at his interloping, but as a Jew and a musician I think he’s got a right to explore the subject, and seems to have kept busy on the lecture circuit talking about the book over the last few years.  You can catch some of his talks on his YouTube channel.  This channel, incidentally, is one of the more impressive artist channels I have seen on YouTube, as somebody (if not Sidran himself, then a stalwart staffer) has uploaded a ton of archival material, including lots of clips from the aforementioned television program from the early 1970s.  Check it out here.

(*Disclaimer: this trivia fact may or may not have any basis in our consensual reality.)

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