Cal Tjader – Solar Heat (1968)

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Cal Tjader
“Solar Heat”
Released 1968 on Skye Records (SK-1)
Reissued 1994 on DCC Jazz Compact Classics (DJZ-618)

1. Ode To Billy Joe 2:55 (Gentry)
2. Never My Love 2:48 (D. R. Addrissi)
3. Felicidade 2:35 (Jobim , De Moraes)
4. Mambo Sangria 2:38 (Tjader)
5. Here 3:25 (David MacKay)
6. Fried Bananas 2:36 (McFarland)
7. Amazon 2:25 (Donato)
8. La Bamba 2:56 (Tjader)
9. Eye Of The Devil 2:16 (McFarland)
10. Solar Heat 2:30 (Tjader)

Arrangements by Gary McFarland

This is a short but sweet record by the still-under-appreciated Cal Tjader. Two things happened to me this week in relation to this album. I found myself listening to this in my car, twice on the same day (a rarity in itself), and then later received an email from a blog follower who mentioned that he first came to this blog expecting to find lots of albums featuring the vibraphone. And that got me reflecting — DAMN! There really aren’t that many records featuring the vibes at Flabbergasted Vibes. How did that happen? And particularly – Cal Tjader has been on my “short list” for a post since the beginning, but alas, that list has grown ever longer since then.

So here it is, the first of several Cal Tjader posts, and this one is a solid winner. Just look at the lineup of musicians, to start with:

Vibraphone – Cal Tjader, Gary McFarland
Upright Bass – Bobby Rodriguez
Electric Bass – Chuck Rainey
Electric Piano, Harpsichord – Mike Abene
Organ – João Donato
Percussion – Orestes Vilato , Ray Barreto
Drums – Grady Tate (who is left off the album jacket, but credited in the liner notes…)

“Solar Heat” was the first of a handful of albums that Cal recorded and released (in rapid succession) for the short-lived Skye label, for which this record was the inauguration. The title cut is one bad-ass piece of soul-jazz groove that does everything exactly right in performance, production, conception, and pure coolness. I almost feel like you don’t deserve to preview the track before hearing the whole album, that you have not earned the right… But then I discovered the tune was released as a 7-inch single anyway so my sanctimonious fanfare comes crashing down. Check it out and watch the record spin:

Still not convinced you need to embrace this record like a lost orphan? Well then check out this uptempo version of Vinicius & Jobim’s “Felicidade.” It shouldn’t work as well as it does – it’s upbeat happy foot-tapping buoyancy is practically the antithesis of bossa nova, enough to make João Donato’s comadres back home roll their eyes and make jokes about him as a male piano-tickling Carmen Miranda. (*note: I have no proof that this ever happened.)

Speaking of things that don’t work, I always hated the song “Never My Love.” For the first few bars of this version, I held out a hope that Cal Tjader could rescue the tune from the schmaltz graveyard in the sonic netherworld to which it has been banished in my universe, but even he is not powerful enough to inject integrity into this godawful tune. This would be more forgivable if the song didn’t follow a good version of Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billy Joe” which is a GREAT song that nobody can ruin. Well you can’t have everything, I suppose.

Other noteworthy nuggets are João Donato’s own ‘Amazon’, another smoking jazz-bossa, and the two Gary McFarland compositions “Fried Bananas” and “Eye of the Devil,” which was written about McFarland’s membership in and subsequent disillusionment with Anton Lavey’s Church of Satan. But what is more demonic about all this is – DOUBLE VIBES PENETRATION! Two vibraphones, at the SAME TIME!

Did I mention that Ray Barreto and Bobby Rodriguez are on this album? Those guys are great. I really like those guys. Oh, and Chuck Rainey. He is a swell guy too.

This album’s rarity was briefly alleviated by VampiSoul issuing it together with “Cal Tjader Sounds Off on Burt Bacharach”, but if I am not mistaken that disc is out of print. I have never had that pressing but this DCC reissue almost certainly sounds much much better in terms of audio quality.

Joe Henderson – Canyon Lady (1975)

joe henderson

Joe Henderson
Canyon Lady
1975 Milestone Records

A1 Tres Palabras 10:11
A2 Las Palmas 9:54
B1 Canyon Lady 9:07
B2 All Things Considered 8:38

Recorded in October 1973 in Berkeley, California, at Fantasy Studios
Originally released in 1975 as Milestone M-9057

Congas – Francisco Aguabella , Victor Pantoja
Drums – Eric Gravatt
Engineer – Jim Stern
Flute – Hadley Caliman (tracks: A1, B1-2) , Ray Pizzi (tracks: A1) , Vincent Denham (tracks: A1)
Piano – Mark Levine (tracks: A1, B1-2)
Electric Piano – George Duke (tracks: A1-B1)
Tenor Saxophone – Joe Henderson
Timbales – Carmelo Garcia
Trombone – Julian Priester (tracks: A1, B1-2) , Nicholaas TenBroek (tracks: A1)
Trumpet – John Hunt (tracks: A1) , Luis Gasca (tracks: A2-B2) , Oscar Brashear (tracks: A1, B1-2)

Produced by Orrin Keepnews

joe henderson
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The first album I ever heard by Joe Henderson was “Inner Urge” and I wondered why I had never listened to him before. With Elvin Jones and McCoy Tyner on loan from Coltrane, and Bob Cranshaw holding down the double-bass, the record just blew me away. Thereafter I took it upon myself to seek out his other Blue Note recordings and continued to find myself consistently enjoying them. It was a long time, however, before I began paying attention to his Milestone albums, like the one featured here.

For a person who had such a long career, Henderson is one of the most underrated jazz musicians of his generation. In some ways this is understandable — although he has released plenty of material, in terms of recorded output he was much less prolific than many of his peers, at times taking breaks of two years or more between releases. It is particularly unfortunate that the Milestone albums are still overlooked, with the majority of them not seeing a release on CD until the 1994 boxset titled, appropriately enough “The Milestone Years.” For most of that material, the box is the only legitimate release in the digital realm, with the individual albums still never having been issued as separated compact discs, making them accessible only to those willing to invest in a hefty boxset. A few exceptions were issued as part of the Fantasy’s ‘Original Jazz Classics’ series, which includes this set recorded in San Francisco in 1973 and released two years later as “Canyon Lady.” Less experimental than most of his other early-70s material, it is an intriguing mixture of Latin and soul jazz topped with Henderson’s passionate tenor sax. The configurations of musicians are stellar and feature arrangements by Luis Gasca who also contributes trumpet as well as a handful of other instruments like flugelhorn and assorted percussion. George Duke features on electric piano on some of the album, and tight grooves are underscored by the congeros Victor Pantoja and Francisco Aguabela and timbale player Carmelo Garcia. Pianist Mark Levine is prominent throughout and also contributes half the compositions on the album.

The album didn’t grab me right away, starting out rather slowly with the heavily-orchestrated “Tres Palabras” which builds into a more sweeping, gripping crescendo about two thirds of the way through. The following number “Las Palmas,” the only Henderson original here, quickly picks up the pace and kicks the album into high gear. Ten minutes of riffing in an angular 6/8 time signature, it is the most “out” that this record gets and it is pure joy to listen to. The second half of the album does not disappoint either. Levine’s compositions veer towards a more mainstream Latin jazz sound, but punctuated with trippy electric piano by George Duke and Henderson’s ability to be both rough and sensual simultaneously, it never gets boring. The final cut features an all-out percussion jam at the five minute mark that goes on for nearly three minutes before leading into the final choruses that close the album. Production-wise the record has a slickness very much in the style of CTI Records so popular at the time, and while this can often be a shortcoming in that label’s stable of artists, this album somehow avoids the sterility endemic to Creed Taylor’s production skills. This may not be the most adventurous place to dip into Henderson’s Milestone period, but it is not a bad place to start nonetheless.

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Willie Bobo – Feelin' So Good (1967)

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Willie Bobo
“Feelin’ So Good”

Recorded in New York City on September 27 & 28, 1966
Verve Records (V6-8669) in 1967

A1 Sunshine Superman 2:57
A2 Call Me 2:30
A3 Dichoso 3:17
A4 Sunny 2:48
A5 Reza 2:50
B1 Feelin’ So Good 2:58
B2 Yesterday 2:04
B3 Sockit To Me 3:25
B4 Tahiti 1:50
B5 To Be With You 2:51
B6 Li’l Red Riding Hood 3:01

Artwork By – Acy R. Lehman
Engineer – Val Valentin
Photography – Ken Whitmore
Producer – Pete Spagro , Teddy Reig

Transcription specs:

Music Hall MMF.5 Turntable with Goldring 1012GX cartridge, Gyger II diamond stylus, and MK II XLR Ringmat –> Projekt Speedbox II -> Parasound Z Phono Preamp -> Marantz PMD 661 digital recorder at 24/96khz

Declicked on very light settings with Click Repair -> DC Offset and track splitting in Adobe Audition 2.0
Resampling, dithering using Mbit+ via iZotope RX Advanced
Converted to FLAC and mp3 with DbPoweramp

Ripped by Flabbergast

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Willie Bobo (born William Correa, 1934) had stints as a percussionist early in his career with some of the greatest of the greats – Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Cal Tjader – before leading his own group and recording for the Tico, Fantasy, and Verve record labels in the 1960s. This is the third of seven albums he made for Verve, and though much lesser-known than “Spanish Grease” it’s still quite solid. He sings a lot on this record, and his technique can be a bit schmaltzy — Exhibit A being “Yesterday”, but then if the music police were handing out citations for cheesy versions of this Lennon-McCartney nugget, they would be rich indeed. His vocals fare much better on tunes like “Call Me” and “To Be With You.”

Truth be told it takes a certain tolerance for cheese and maybe even planting your tongue firmly in cheek to appreciate these early Bill Bobo records; at least that is the case for me. I mean, anyone who can’t dig his super-groovy instrumental version of Donovan’s “Sunshine Superman” is just taking himself way too seriously. Of course, I also love Donovan. I suppose if you hated Donovan you might run from the room with your thumbs in your ears. But be cool man, it’s a gas.

His 60’s records are known for their embrace of boogalo and soul-jazz, and there is an absence of ‘straight-up’ Latin jazz on this one. But one golden big delight here is an interpretation of the popular Edu Lobo – Ruy Guerra tune “Reza,” which has been recorded by bunches of Brazilians*, but as far as I know this is the sole version out of Spanish Harlem. This tune sounds even better when you turn it up really loud, and features some great sax playing (uncredited, sadly) and guitar. I personally wouldn’t mind if they stretched this one out to about ten minutes but, alas, ’twas not to be.

*These bunches of Brazilians include Edu himself (“Edu Lobo 63”), Walter Wanderley (“O Auténtico Walter Wanderley”, 1965, released as “Organ-ized” in the US), Elis Regina (“Samba Eu Canto Assim”, 1965, and live on her show ‘O Fino da Bossa’ and released in various collections), and even interpolated briefly on Caetano Veloso’s 1972 album ‘Transa’ where the chorus shows up in “Triste Bahia.” )

The players on this album are uncredited.

For your pleasure I have included a little something I picked up from my brief time living in Recife, Brazil: the gratuitous and unnecessary remix! Here it is, soon to hit the dance floor at your favorite all-night hipster party, “Sockit To Me – DJ Flabber Remix”

Alright, well, admittedly that isn’t much of a remix, but I had fun doing it.
** Para quem não pode ler ingês, esse ‘remix’ não é sério, ok?

Willie Bobo – Feelin’ So Good (1967) in 320kbs em pee tree

Willie Bobo – Feelin’ So Good (1967) in FLAC LOSSLESS AUDIO

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Paulo Moura – Fibra (1971)

Paulo Moura
“Fibra”
Released 1971
Reissue 2007 on Coleção Galeria / Atração

01. Fibra 2:35
02. Ana Lia’s Blue 3:26
03. Filgueiras 2:58
04. Samba de orfeu 3:33
05. Tema dos deuses 3:04
06. Vera Cruz 3:30
07. Aquarela do Brasil 3:20
08. Cravo e canela 2:47
09. General da banda 2:50
10. Bitucadas nº2 3:16

Obituary from the New York Times

July 18, 2010
Paulo Moura, a Force in Brazilian Music, Dies at 77
By LARRY ROHTER

Paulo Moura, a virtuoso instrumentalist and a composer, arranger and orchestrator of numerous styles of Brazilian popular music, died on July 12 in Rio de Janeiro. He was 77.

Mr. Moura’s death was announced on his Web site, paulomoura.com. According to reports in the Brazilian news media, the cause was lymphoma.

A master of both the clarinet and the saxophone, Mr. Moura was known for his versatility, playing and writing music that ranged in style from jazz, chorinho, samba and bossa nova to classical. His first solo recording, released in 1956, was a version of Paganini’s “Moto Perpetuo,” and late in his career he wrote, performed and conducted “Urban Fantasy for Saxophone and Symphonic Orchestra.”

In 1992 Mr. Moura won a prize as best soloist at the Mozart Festival in Moscow, and in 2000 he was awarded a Latin Grammy for the recording “Pixinguinha,” live performances of a collection of songs associated with the composer of that same name, who is considered the father of Brazilian popular music.

Mr. Moura had a long connection to the great Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim. During the bossa nova boom of the late 1950s and early 1960s, Mr. Moura played with Jobim and other luminaries of the genre, among them Sergio Mendes. As a member of the group Bossa Rio, which also included Mr. Mendes, he participated in a bossa nova night at Carnegie Hall in November 1962, and played on the American saxophonist Cannonball Adderley’s album “Cannonball’s Bossa Nova” that same year.

More recently he released a CD called “Paulo Moura Visits Gershwin and Jobim” and toured internationally with other Brazilian artists as part of the show “Homage to Jobim.”

“I used to rehearse by day at the Municipal Theater and play live at night on TV Excelsior,” Mr. Moura recalled years later when asked how he came to be involved with bossa nova. “The bus would leave Ipanema for downtown and pass through Copacabana, and sometimes I would get off the bus midway so as to be able to meet up with colleagues” like Mr. Mendes and Jobim.

Paulo Moura was born in the interior of the state of São Paulo on July 15, 1932, one of 10 brothers and sisters who were taught to play different instruments by their father, a saxophone and clarinet player, with the idea of forming a family orchestra. As a teenager he moved to Rio de Janeiro to enroll in the National School of Music, and he soon began playing in nightclubs and on radio stations there.

By the late ’50s, Mr. Moura had also won a spot as lead clarinetist in the orchestra of the Municipal Theater in Rio; he played a Debussy rhapsody at his audition. But at the same time he was working as an accompanist to visiting American artists like Lena Horne, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald and Sammy Davis Jr. That dual situation persisted until 1978, when he decided to quit the orchestra and dedicate himself exclusively to a solo career.

Over the next 30 years he made numerous recordings. The last, issued in July 2009, was “AfroBossaNova,” a collaboration with his fellow Brazilian musician Armandinho. Mr. Moura also wrote the soundtracks for several Brazilian films and television series, occasionally appearing as an actor, and arranged music for Milton Nascimento, Elis Regina, João Bosco and other singers. In addition, for two years in the 1980s he served as director of the Museum of Image and Sound in Rio.

Mr. Moura’s survivors include his wife, Halina Grynberg, a psychoanalyst who also served as his business manager, and two sons, Pedro and Domingos.

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Obituary from the Folha de São Paulo

Obra de Paulo Moura ficará como exemplo de liberdade

Carlos Calado
Folha de S.Paulo . 14/07/2010

A música brasileira perdeu um de seus instrumentistas mais brilhantes.

Morreu anteontem, vítima de linfoma (câncer no sistema linfático), o clarinetista, saxofonista, compositor, arranjador e regente Paulo Moura. Nascido em São José do Rio Preto (SP), ele completaria 78 anos amanhã.

Sua trajetória musical foi incomum. Filho de um mestre de banda de coreto, radicou-se com a família em 1945, no Rio de Janeiro.
Aos 19 anos estreou como solista da Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira. Foi clarinetista da Sinfônica do Teatro Municipal carioca, mas a formação erudita não o impediu de cultivar sua intensa paixão pela música popular brasileira e pelo jazz.

“Praticamente, me criei na gafieira”, dizia Moura, que na década de 1950 também tocou em bailes e emissoras de rádio, integrando as orquestras de Zacharias e Oswaldo Borba, época em que acompanhou cantores de sucesso, como Nelson Gonçalves, Dircinha Batista e Carlos Galhardo.

Já na década seguinte, frequentou o Beco das Garrafas, templo da bossa nova e do samba-jazz.

Como saxofonista do sexteto Bossa Rio, liderado por Sérgio Mendes, em 1962, tocou até no histórico concerto de bossa nova no Carnegie Hall, em Nova York, ao lado de Tom Jobim, João Gilberto e Luiz Bonfá, entre outros.

Em meio a uma carreira musical tão eclética, uma das contribuições mais originais de Moura surgiu em 1976, sinalizando seu reencontro com o universo do samba e do choro.

INOVAÇÃO
Depois de tocar por alguns meses com o sambista Martinho da Vila, gravou o inovador “Confusão Urbana, Suburbana e Rural”, álbum que contribuiu ativamente para reacender o interesse pelo samba-choro das orquestras de gafieira.

Esse projeto também marcou de forma definitiva sua obra. Na época voltou até a tocar em uma gafieira da praça Tiradentes, no centro do Rio, despertando a atenção de outros músicos, que iam ouvi-lo.

Desde então seu crescente interesse pela rítmica brasileira gerou outros álbuns nessa linha musical, como “Mistura e Manda” (1983), “Gafieira Etc. e Tal” (1986) e “Pixinguinha” (1988).

Ainda na década de 1980, sua prolífica parceria com a pianista Clara Sverner, registrada em três álbuns com repertório erudito e popular, abriu caminho para preciosas colaborações com outros figurões da música instrumental, como Raphael Rabello, Arthur Moreira Lima, Wagner Tiso, Nivaldo Ornelas, João Donato e

Yamandu Costa, todas registradas em disco.

A associação mais recente, com o bandolinista baiano Armandinho, rendeu o CD “AfroBossaNova” (2009).
Num cenário em que ainda se insiste em criar fronteiras rígidas entre gêneros e estilos, a música do grande Paulo Moura ficará para sempre como um exemplo vital de liberdade.

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From Paulo Moura’s official website, about the reissue of this album:

Por fim, de 1971, temos “Fibra” – que já recebera uma caprichada
edição norte-americana em CD, em 2002, e uma brasileira, bem
parecida com as cópias piratas que vemos hoje em dia, sem data, sem
créditos aos músicos, com os nomes das músicas errados, etc. Neste
disco, Paulo Moura volta à formação com sete músicos e, além de seu
sax alto, temos novamente Oberdan Magalhães – sax tenor e flauta -,
Cesário Gomes, trombone, Wagner Tiso – piano e órgão -, Luiz Alves –
contrabaixo e violão -, além de Márcio Montarroyos, no trompete e
flugelhorn, e Robertinho Silva na bateria e percussão. O disco tem,
ainda, as participações de Tavito tocando guitarra em quatro faixas e
Milton Nascimento tocando piano em uma. “Aquarela do Brasil”, “Cravo
e canela”, “Vera Cruz” e “Tema dos deuses” são algumas das músicas
do disco que traz, ainda e de novo, “Samba de Orfeu”, “General da
banda” e “Bitucadas nº 2”, presentes em “Paulo Moura Hepteto”, mas
com diferenças de arranjos que músicos diferentes na banda sempre
impõem.

As capas originais dos LPs são mantidas nos novos CDs, acrescidas de
uma moldura que chancela o nome “Coleção Galeria” que a Atração
Fonográfica está dando a este relançamento.

Paulo Moura, como músico e comportamento artístico, é dono de uma
trajetória irrepreensível. Prefere todos, entre os vários estilos musicais,
o que vem permitindo, ao longo de sua carreira, tocar em gafieiras,
cafés, grandes orquestras, pequenos conjuntos e grupos de choro,
acompanhar e fazer arranjos para diversos e grandes nomes, como
Dalva de Oliveira, Elis Regina, Milton Nascimento e João Bosco, escrever
para orquestras sinfônicas, tocar em duo com violonistas – como com
Raphael Rabello, em 1992, e Yamandú Costa, em 2004 -, ganhar o
prêmio de melhor solista no Festival Mozart, em Moscou (Rússia, 1992),
junto com o pianista norte-americano Cliff Korman tocar Gershwin e
Jobim (1998) e promover o encontro entre as obras de Pixinguinha e
Duke Ellington (1999) e, mais recentemente, gravar com o cantor
pernambucano, Josildo Sá, o disco “Samba de Latada”, lançado este
ano. O que poderia parecer falta de estilo, ou ecletismo barato, em
Paulo Moura é definição de versatilidade e genialidade.

Na contracapa do LP “Fibra”, em 1971, Moura escrevia: “Aqui são raras
as oportunidades que tem o solista de mostrar suas possibilidades. (…)
O artista consciente que, dia a dia, vem procurando aperfeiçoar seus
conhecimentos, fatalmente se distancia de um gosto médio. Nem
mesmo saberia como fazer as tais concessões que lhe são solicitadas.”

A carreira de Paulo Moura é um exemplo eloqüente de que não é
necessário fazer concessões para alcançar os mais altos patamares.

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Flabber-blurb:

Before I say anything else, I should warn the prospective listener that if you are planning to hear Paulo’s (snake)charming clarinet, you won’t find any of it on this album. He sticks to the alto saxophone and flute on this one. Also, no choro. This is early-70’s post-bossa jazz fusion before it became the Devil’s plaything. His band includes Wagner Tiso on piano, who would remain a frequent collaborator throughout the years, as well as Milton Nascimento (playing on one song, but contributing with some writing credits). The lineup also includes the ubiquitous Robertinho on the drum kit and Oberdon Magalhães, who would later come to notoriety as part of Banda Black Rio, on tenor saxophone.

In fact in terms of production and execution this record sits quite nicely with the early Clube de Esquina work. Moura would appear on their landmark album released the following year, and also Milton’s most adventurous record ‘Milagre dos Peixes’, and the repertoire includes several compositions from that collective (“Tema dos Deuses” from Som Imaginario, “Vera Cruz” from Milton’s ‘Courage’, and “Cravo e Canela”, the one painfully weak song here, which – as far as I know – had yet to be released in any form yet). “Cravo e Canela” would be interpreted by a whole slew of people, often very badly, although oddly enough one of the more interesting versions would appear on Banda Black Rio’s ‘Gafieira Universal’. The rest of the tracks include one composition from Moura (“Fibra”), a few from Tiso, and some Brazilian standards (“Samba de Orfeu,” “Aquelera do Brasil”, “General da banda”). The album is recorded and mixed wonderfully, with that slightly trippy and psychedelic tinge familiar to those Mineiros mentioned above. Robertinho’s drums are mixed with a rather strong plate reverb panned to the left channel that sounds pretty cool but eventually becomes a little cloying, making me wish they would have used the technique a little more sparingly and only on a few cuts. Is this a typical, characteristic Paulo Moura album? Probably not, but then what IS a typical album from a guy who recorded so much and in so many contexts. To say he will be missed is to put it rather mildly – over the last week there has been a mournful but warm response to the news in Brazil for an artistic life well-lived.

Gato Barbieri – Bolivia (1973) with Lonnie Liston Smith

gato

Gato Barbieri
“Bolivia”
1973 on Flying Dutchman Records (FD-10158)
This pressing 2001, BMG France

Merceditas
Eclypse / Michellina
Bolivia
Niños
Vidala Triste

Produced by Bob Thiele

Bass – J.-F. Jenny-Clark , Stanley Clarke
Drums – Airto Moreira, Pretty Purdie (Merceditas only)
Guitar – John Abercrombie
Percussion – Airto Moreira , Gene Golden , James M’tume* , Moulay “Ali” Hafid
Piano, Electric Piano – Lonnie Liston Smith
Tenor Saxophone, Flute, Vocals – Gato Barbieri

The corporeal memory of pleasures briefly known and longing barely quenched. Her skin still ageless, her scent rich in my lungs, we drifted off together in exhaustion. She left me there sleeping, a note on the kitchen table. She left me there dreaming the Bolivarian dream of an America united across the hemispheres. She left me a folheto she bought from a street hawker who recited it for us from beginning to end and offered to continue with more. She may have bought it just to silence him and send him on his way, a bribe to leave us to our own private somnambulist poetry. A crowded street in the old city, as he walked away from us I barely noticed that all sound faded into a steady hum of a single note in the dark regions of my awareness, hearing only her voice; of all color fading into a uniform grey, seeing only her pale skin in the half-light. All senses withdrawn into one still point of awareness. She left me lost in the Bolivarian dream as she went back to the arms of the beast that bore me, the colossus of the north yawning and stretching its million arms to every corner of this dying earth. Our homes were exchanged in a backroom trade between our saints arm-wrestling the invisible hand that feeds us. They lost. The body memory of longing never quenched and peace in the future conjunctive. Even the strongest of unions could barely hold out against the fading of that dream.

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This is another beautiful record from Gato Barbieri, making music quite unlike anything else going on at the time and with an ensemble that’s hard to beat. Lonnie Liston Smith receives co-billing on the front cover, and its no coincidence as his Cosmic Echoes band was putting out their first album on Flying Dutchman the same year. The opening track “Merceditas”, having no less than Pretty Purdy, Airto, and M’tume playing together, would seem to be a climax before foreplay, and in any other hands that might be the case. Barbieri pulls this off, though, as the strength of the rest of material is more than enough to carry the album. The title track is particularly rich, beautiful and terrifying. It is difficult for me to write about this record because the liner notes from Nat Hentoff, a much better writer than I’ll ever be, humble the movement of my pen. I will, however, freely quote from him:


“The life-affirming, surging spirit of these performances – with their supple range of colors, rhythms, soaring melodies – is the essence of that basic, visceral beauty that gives hope to lovers and revolutionaries and to all those who believe in real life before death. His music is an embodiment of perennial possibility that is made of blood and flesh rather than vaporous dreams. Gato, in sum, is among the the least abstract of musicians because he is so explosively, specifically alive.”

gato


in 320 kbs

in FLAC

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Monna Bell y Aldemaro Romero – La Onda Nueva en Mexico


Monna Bell y Aldemaro Romero
“La Onda Nueva en Mexico”
Released 1970 on Discos Musart
Reissued on VampiSoul, 2007 (Vampi CD 087)

01 – Que Bonita Es Mi Tierra (Ruben Fuentes)
02 – La Bamba (Arr. Tony Lucio)
03 – Cucurrucuccu Paloma (Tomas Mendez)
04 – El Balaju (Andres Huesca)
05 – Cielito Lindo (Arr. Tony Lucio)
06 – La Bikina (Ruben Fuentes)
07 – Guadalajara (Pepe Aguilar)
08 – Xochimilco (Ma.Teresa Lara)
09 – El Jarabe Loco (Arr. Garcia Peña)
10 – La Malagueña (Elpidio Ramirez, Pedro Galindo)
11 – La Negra (Ruben Fuentes, Silvestre Vargas)
12 – Tres Consejos (Fuentes, Cervantes)

A Venezuelan arranger, pianist, and conductor welding his country’s joropo with Bossa Nova, roping a Chilean singer as a collaborator in his schemes, and recording an album in Mexico City with a repertoire of jazzed-out Mexican compositions, shake well and add a sepia-toned album cover depicting the entire ensemble as Mexican revolutionaries. What’s not to like about this? Apparently the Mexican government of 1970 didn’t like it much as they basically squashed the album’s chances of reaching much of an audience by ‘strongly encouraging’ radio DJs not to play it. Eventually it saw a reissue with a less “controversial” front cover but by then the moment had passed.

Aldermaro Romero, a contemporary of the much weirder oddball conductor Esquivel, had come into international claim with his “Dinner in Caracas” album in the 50s. There he was credited as the catalyst for the Onda Nueva sound, a blend of traditional Latin American rhythms and melodic figures with pop music, bossa nova, jazz, and lush orchestrations. Monna Bell (born Nora Escobar) had made her name as a singer in Spain with a bunch of records, before relocating to Mexico sometime around when this album was recorded, where she would live until her death just a few years ago. The taste for Bossa Nova in Mexico City had led a lot of Brazilian musicians to take refuge there (as talked about a bit in this Carlos Lyra post) by the end of the 1960s. Monna Bell had been turned on to the new beats, as proven in this 1964 film clip from the film “Buenas Noches, Ano Novo”, in which she sings ‘Desafinado’ flanked by dancing white women who successfully hypnotize two flabbergasted black men with their circular hip swinging and willow-tree-swaying-in-the-breeze arm movements.

This videoclip has nothing at all to do with this album, but wasn’t it fun?

The original album liner notes in Spanish provide a somewhat lofty and all-over-the-place context for the emergence of these new musics through the vehicle of “transculturation” (an idea and term coined by Cuban anthropologist Fernando Ortiz in the 30s and virtually ignored by Anglophone academics until recently). La Onda Nueva en Mexico embodies these lofty ideals quite perfectly, blending the diverse elements with enough subtlety that its uniqueness is almost masked by its naturalness. Some of the musicians playing on it include: Victor Ruiz (bass), Alvaro López, Salvador and Félix Agueros (drums, percussion), Julio Vera (congas), Los 4 Soles y Gasparin (vocals), Enrique Sida and Jaime “La Vaca” Shagún (trombones), Tomás “La Negra” Rodriguez, Armando “El Kennedy” Noriega and Rodolfo “Popo” Sánchez (saxophones), Ramón Flores and Chilo Morán (trumpets), Pablo Jaimes, Jorge Ortega, Enrique Neri, and Aldemaro Romero (electric and acoustic piano). Gualberto Castro sings with Monna on “El Balajú”. Since only 3000 copies of this gem were originally pressed, good luck finding an original on vinyl (although there was a repress later in the 70s, with the aforementioned different cover). So, kudos to VampiSoul for making this one available to the world again, and enjoy La Onda Nueva en Mexico.

 in 320kbs em pee tree
 in FLAC LOSSLESS AUDIO