FRITZ THE CAT Soundtrack Released 1972 (Fantasy 9406) HEAVY TRAFFIC Soundtrack Released 1973 (Fantasy 9436) 2-on-1 CD released 1996 on Fantasy (FCD-24745-2)
Fritz the Cat is also known as:
Fritz el gato El gato caliente Fritz – kova kolli Fritz il gatto Fritz le chat Fritz, o ponirogatos Katten Fritz O Gato Fritz
It has been many years since I saw either of these films, and I never realized the soundtrack had so many great musicians on it back in those days. And then I ran across a CD pressing from Fantasy containing both soundtracks and, damn, what a surprised! First a little about the films. It took me a little internet research to find a review of this film by anyone who took it halfway seriously. Here is a link to the Wikipedia synopsis of the film along with some material on its production and reception as well, including Robert Crumb’s disowning of the film.
These are very pleasant soundtracks to listen to, and the first one for Fritz the Cat should be much better known : grooving soul jazz and funk instrumentals interspersed with classics from Bo Diddley, Billie Holiday. The list of musicians is filled with some serious heavy hitters: Charles Earland, Idris Muhammad, Pretty Purdie, Cornell Dupree, Melvin Sparks, Chuck Rainey — hell, even Cal Tjader appears on one tune. I suppose this could bear a similarity to a “Blaxploitation” soundtrack even though it is about a cat, but with more jazz riffing. With the exception of the inclusion of ‘cameos’ of famous recordings, the material on this album is not found anywhere else (as far as I know) and it is exquisite early-70s soul jazz / funk. If this material had been released on individual albums attributed to the artists themselves, it would be better known and probably have made for successful titles in their catalogs — if nothing else, at least with the recognition and cult-status of a (at one time) rare record like Purdie’s soundtrack for “Leileh” released in 1974. As it stands, this soundtrack seems relatively uncelebrated by the rare-groove crowd.
The soundtrack to Heavy Traffic is also good listening but features mostly uncredited musicians (with Merle Saunders a big exception). It follows the same formula of instrumental grooves but with a few famous artists thrown in (Chuck Berry, Sergio Mendes). It’s solid but not as creative or inspired as the Fritz soundtrack, although the theme of “Scarburough Fair” running through the record is a nice touch. The storyline of this film is equally odd, if not more so, than Fritz, and a synopsis can be found at this link.
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.
Gregory Isaacs “Mr.Isaacs” Released 1977 on DEB Records Reissued 2001 on Blood & Fire (BAFCD 035)
1 sacrifice 2 storm 3 story book children 4 handcuff 5 slavemaster 6 take a dip featuring Dillinger* 7 get ready 8 set the captives free 9 the winner 10 smile ———————– 11 mr brown extended* 12 conversation* 13 mr know it all* 14 war of the stars*
*BONUS TRACKS added to original album
Producer : Gregory Isaacs & Ossie Hibbert
Engineer : Ossie Hibbert
Backing Vocals : The Heptones Backing Band : The Revolutionaries
Reggae Reissue Album Of The Month Originally released here on Dennis Brown’s DEB label in ’77, “Mr Isaacs” has subsequently been available on various weird, woefully packaged Jamaican / European CDs. Predating his honey-tonsilled loverman phase by a couple of years, this was Gregory’s first attempt at recording a whole album in one go. Here is a militant rootsman, firng off broadsides against social injustice on songs like Set The Captives Free and Slavemaster, the classic tune he delivered in the Rockers movie. In this context, covers of Smokey Robinson’s Get Ready and even Story Book Children (yes, the Roger Whittaker one) sound like natural anthems of ghetto suffering, Isaacs’ voice quavering with the anguish he’d later use to evoke his lady troubles. With five bonus tracks including Dillinger’s DJ cut of “Slavemaster” and an extended Mr Brown, it’s essential stuff. AP, Mojo (UK) April 2001
The Cool Ruler left us today, 59 years young. This post is my way of offering a eulogy. A great record and a great reissue, although I wish Blood & Fire had left the Dillinger version of ‘Slavemaster’ until *after* the original album sequence and tacked it on with the other bonus material. That’s all I am going to say about this for now. Isaac’s name and reputation is enough, as are the other players on this album.
Here is a nice obituary published in The Guardian:
Gregory Isaacs obituary
Reggae musician known as the Cool Ruler who scored a big hit with Night Nurse
David Katz guardian.co.uk, Monday 25 October 2010 18.44 BST
Gregory Isaacs, who has died of cancer aged 59, was one of reggae music’s most popular singers. Known as the Cool Ruler for his exceptionally suave and emotive voice, Isaacs scored many hits during the 1970s and 80s, including the perennial favourite Night Nurse, and remained active as a recording artist, live performer and producer in the decades that followed. Although best known for romantic ballads, delivered with a hint of vulnerability, he also excelled at songs of social protest and work that expressed unwavering pride in his African heritage. However, his long-term drug use and involvement in criminal activity led to long periods of incarceration and repeated arrests, hastening his physical decline.
Isaacs was born in Fletcher’s Land, a particularly neglected patch of the ghetto in the Jamaican capital, Kingston. His father left for the US during his childhood, so Gregory and his younger brother, Sylvester, were raised by their mother in the rough streets of nearby Denham Town. Showing a natural aptitude for singing, Isaacs began making an impact on talent contests during his teens (often as a duo with Sylvester). He was inspired by stars such as Sam Cooke and Otis Redding, as well as local acts including Alton Ellis and the Melodians, but named his mother as his first vocal role model, since he used to hear her singing while she ironed.
In 1968, Isaacs recorded and produced a duet, Another Heartache, with an aspiring singer from the neighbourhood, Winston Sinclair, but the song sank without a trace. His next effort, Ballroom Floor, was recorded for Prince Buster, after receiving a personal recommendation from a local gangster, Lester Lloyd Coke (aka Jim Brown). In the same era, Isaacs sold marijuana on behalf of Toddy Livingston, father of the singer Bunny Wailer.
Isaacs subsequently formed a trio, the Concords, with two other hopefuls, recording a number of impressive tunes for Rupie Edwards in 1969, of which the most notable was Don’t Let Me Suffer. Other stirring solo singles, such as Too Late and Lonely Man, followed. By 1970 he had formed the independent label African Museum with a fellow singer, Errol Dunkley. They found instant success with Dunkley’s Movie Star and Isaacs’s moderately popular My Only Lover (featuring the Wailers’ backing band), before Dunkley broke away to found his own label. Isaacs’s first substantial hit, All I Have Is Love, was produced by a perceptive downtown promoter, Phil Pratt, in 1973. The following year, he scored an even bigger hit with Love Is Overdue, the first of several for the producer Alvin “GG” Ranglin, who soon issued Isaacs’s debut album, In Person (1975).
As his songwriting skills matured, Isaacs shifted focus to address social injustice, in work that expressed longing for his ancestral African homeland, and grew dreadlocks as a sign of his commitment to the Rastafari faith. At Lee Perry’s Black Ark studio, he cut the anthem-like Mr Cop in 1976 and the censorious Black Against Black, which decried self-destructive ghetto violence. After the release of the self-produced concept album, Mr Isaacs (1977), he received a major career boost in 1978 by signing to Virgin Records for the album Cool Ruler and making an appearance in the feature film Rockers. The 1979 Virgin follow-up, Soon Forward, included the chart-topping Mr Brown and a popular title track which was one of the first recordings to make use of the production skills of Sly and Robbie.
A shift to Charisma Records’ subsidiary Pre in 1980 brought the album Lonely Lover and its follow-up, More Gregory, the latter featuring the Jamaican chart success Top Ten. Both albums were backed by the Roots Radics band, with whom Isaacs toured the UK in 1980-81. Night Nurse (1982), issued by Island, was his most commercially successful set to date, but just as he reached a pinnacle of popularity, problems arose. He was imprisoned in Jamaica following the discovery of an unlicensed firearm at his home, and he also served time for cocaine possession. He addressed his experiences of prison in the subsequent Island release, Out Deh! (1983).
After recording the relaxed Private Beach Party album for the producer Gussie Clarke in 1985, he cut less impressive work for a number of relatively unknown producers. Then, in 1987, another cocaine bust prompted him to go into rehab. This was followed by a more productive period that peaked with the release of Red Rose for Gregory (1988), a hit dancehall album issued by Clarke, and featuring the outstanding single, Rumours.
Although Isaacs would score a few more Jamaican chart hits, record for the British label Acid Jazz, open a recording studio in Jamaica, and launch the singing career of his son Kevin, he continued to use drugs. This resulted in several patchy releases, the loss of a number of his teeth, and a reputation for unreliability. Nevertheless, he maintained a loyal fan base, both at home in Jamaica and overseas.
He is survived by his wife Linda and several children.
• Gregory Anthony Isaacs, singer, so
ngwriter and record producer, born 15 July 1951; died 25 October 2010
TERRY CALLIER What Color Is Love? Originally Released 1972 on Cadet Records This reissue, 1998
1 Dancing Girl (Callier) 9:02
2 What Color Is Love (Callier) 4:06
3 You Goin’ Miss Your Candyman (Braxton, Callier) 7:20
4 Just as Long as We’re in Love (Callier, Wade) 3:41
5 Ho Tsing Mee (A Song of the Sun) (Callier) 4:21
6 I’d Rather Be with You (Butler, Callier, Wade) 6:40
7 You Don’t Care (Callier, Wade) 5:28
A very beautiful record, sent out to my beautiful friends out there in the blogosphere who have request a repost of this in FLAC. This album deserves a new write-up from me, because it truly is an essential record that does not bear easy comparison to anything else. With one foot still tangled in his folk roots, and the other in the Chicago soul scene (Callier participated in Jerry Butler’s composers’ workshop), it is one of those genre-transcending gems that was probably destined to go over most peoples’ heads until being “rediscovered” for the work of genius it is, decades later. The first track hits so hard and is so gripping that it takes repeated listens to appreciate the strength of some of the other material. Here is the text of my original post:
The first time I heard the song “Dancing Girl”, I stopped whatever it was I was busying my hands with at the time and just stood still as stone, listening. And then I sat down. I’d never heard anything quite like it before, and really haven’t since. Even in the repertoire of Callier it is a singular thing. To say it “defies categorization” is beside the point, as accurate an observation as that is. This song actually stands outside of time, still as stone, while making razorsharp cuts in and out of the landscape of the 1972 united states. It’s a sound sculpture, with an almost transparent artistry that deflects your ear away from its own strangeness. Again, there is little need to wax poetic over this — just listen to it yourself. This review, from Mojo magazine, fills in the pertinent details about Callier and this album.
01 – Aruandê Aruandá (Zé da Bahia) 02 – Participação (Didier Ferraz / Jorge Belizário) 03 – Meu Lema (João Nogueira / Gisa Nogueira) 04 – Ê Baiana (Fabrício da Silva / Baianinho / Ênio Santos Ribeiro / Miguel Pancrácio) 05 – Puxada da Rede do Xaréu – 1ª Parte (Maria Rosita Salgado Goes) 06 – Novamente (Luis Bandeira)07 – Misticismo da África ao Brasil (Mário Pereira / Wilmar Costa / João Galvão) 08 – Sabiá (Luis Gonzaga / Zé Dantas)09 – Rosa 25 (Geovana) 10 – A Favorita (Francisco Leonardo) 11 – Puxada da Rede do Xaréu – 2ª Parte (Maria Rosita Salgado Goes) 12 – Feitio de Oração (Vadico / Noel Rosa) 13 – Canseira (Paulo Diniz / Odibar) 14 – Morrendo Verso Em Verso (João Nogueira)
This is a vinyl rip from a nice heavy slab of Odeon vinyl. I daresay that this is probably the best-sounding digitized version you are likely to find. I DARE you to find one better, that’s right – I *DARE* YOU! Recently there was an entire boxset of Clara Nunes’ complete recordings released. I have no heard it yet, but if the last reissues I heard were any indication (`Claridade` and `Forças de Natureza’ being the culprits), I do not have terribly high hopes regarding their sound quality. Those two titles literally hurt my ears to listen to on CD — none of the depth and dynamic range of the original recordings are there, with everything sounding as equally loud as everything else, very harsh and painful to the ears.
Oh, the previous owner of this LP wrote their name on the front cover no less than 4 times. I removed it using the magic of Photoshop for this post, but I included the original inside the package, just in case YOU are that person and wish to tell me a story about some memorable experience with this album. They also wrote their name 4 times on the back cover, of which I could only remove 3 using digital trickery.
Vinyl -> Pro-Ject RM-5SE turntable (with Sumiko Blue Point 2 cartridge, Speedbox power supply) > Creek Audio OBH-15 -> M-Audio Audiophile 2496 Soundcard -> Adobe Audition 3.0 at 24-bits 96khz -> Click Repair light settings -> dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced. Tags done with Foobar 2000
Produced by Milton Miranda
Musica direction – Lindolpho Gaya
Production assistant – Adelzon Alvez
Recording engineer – Jorge E. Nivaldo
Arrangements by Maestros Orlando Silveira, Lindolpho Gaya, Nelsinho, and José Roberto (see back cover for details)
This is Clara Nunes before she was the reigning Queen of Samba during the 1970s. Her earliest albums recorded in the 60s were a combination of MPB, bossa nova, música romántica, and the occasional samba. On this 1971 outing she sounds much more confident than those records; it is as if we are listening to her finding her footing as a mature artist. Fans who know only her samba records, for which she is quite justly more renowned, might be taken aback on first hearing this one, where she incorporates the former elements mentioned above along with frevo, forró, and some jovem quarda and tropicália derivatives. I was pleasantly surprised and delighted to hear her ethereal voice in these other contexts. My badly-written description here most likely makes the album sound like a cluttered mess. But as eclectic as it might be stylistically, and featuring arrangements by no less than four maestros (one of them the ubiquitous Gaya), it all hangs together by virtue of one overwhelming unifying factor — Clara Nunes. The baião from Zé Dantas and Luis Gonzaga, ‘Sabiá’, is particularly great, and Clara would make something of a tradition of including at least one tune from the forró genre on all her records throughout the decade. Luis Bandeira’s “Novamente,” is a frevo that, like 90% of the songs in that genre, celebrate the virtues of the ‘Venice of South America,’ Recife, and praises composers Nelson Ferreira and Capiba. Clara does the song justice.
This record is historically important for at least two main reasons. One is that it is the first of her albums to prominently feature sounds and imagery from the Afro-Brazilian traditions to which Clara would become more and more involved with throughout the decade. Compared to her later musical explorations in this area, these efforts are a bit clumsy. One awkward clunker on the album is “Misticismo da África ao Brasil” whose lyrics play like they were written for a tourist agency trying to attract people interested in Afro-Brazilian roots and heritage. The original liner notes of the LP mention how the album includes material highlighting “Clara’s new audiovisual image” incorporating these “folkloric” elements or some such drivel. But, to give producer Adelzon Alvez (who wrote the notes) a fair break, these were significant valorizations of the cultural values associated with African religious practices like those of candomblé and the more eclectic (and less Afrocentric) umbanda by a public figure and pop star. Alongside the awkward ‘Misticismo’, there is also a moody, theatrical inclusion of a 2-part piece written by Maria Rosita Salgado Goes (about whom I have no information other than she was Bahian and I believe taught music or poetry at UFBA), titled “Puxada da Rede do Xaréu” and divided with one part on each side of the LP… It’s very very much in the style of Dorival Caymmi’s songs about fisherman and fishing and Iemanjá. I don’t particularly like it much and would much rather hear Clara singing a Caymmi composition.
The second historically important thing about this record is the inclusion of two songs by João Nogueira (one co-written with his sister Giselle), who was then an up-and-coming “discovery” and would release his first album the following year.
The record also features a totally groovy interpretation of a Paulo Diniz tune, whose Englishness of approach in the strummy acoustic guitar, raggedy drum beat, and sustained organ chords must have made her fellow Mineiros in the Clube da Esquina collective wet their pants with excitement.
Samba purists will not find this album essential at all, but fans of Clara Nunes as an *artist* should not miss this entry in her discography.
Gil Evans – Gil Evans & Ten (1957) Original release, Prestige 7120 This release Fantasy/Prestige (OJCCD 346-2)
Remember (Irving Berlin) Ella Speed (Ledbetter , Lomax) Big Stuff (Leonard Bernstein) Nobody`s Heart (Lorenz Hart , Richard Rogers) Just One Of Those Things (Cole Porter) If You Could See Me Now (Sigman , Dameron) Jambangle (Gil Evans)
Bass – Paul Chambers
Bassoon – Dave Kurtzer
Drums – Nick Stabulas
French Horn – Willie Ruff
Piano – Gil Evans
Saxophone – Zeke Tolin (Lee Konitz) , Steve Lacy
Trombone – Jimmy Cleveland
Bass Trombone – Bart Varsalona
Trumpet – Jake Koven , Louis Mucci
Drums – Jo Jones (tracks: 1)
Trumpet – John Carisi (tracks: 1)
Recorded by Rudy Van Gelder in Hackensack, NJ, September and October 1957
Remaster by Phil De Lancie in Berkeley, 1989
A casual look at the composition credits might tend to assessment that the listener is in for no big jazz surprises on this 1957 record, treading the songbook stalwarts of Gershwin, Rogers and Hart, and Cole Porter. But then there is the inclusion of Leadbelly, and Leonard Bernstein’s “Big Stuff” which he wrote for Billie Holiday. And the inclusion of an 11-piece ensemble on the record utilizing instruments like French horn, bass trombone, and bassoon. If Gil’s arranging skills aren’t enough to entice you, there is the buoyant bass of Paul Chambers, and great sax riffing from Steve Lacy and Lee Konitz (playing under the pseudonym of Zeke Tolin.. not sure why, contractual issues perhaps?). Jimmy Cleveland’s trombone is a treat, and Gil’s parsimonious piano never sounded sweeter. And I do mean SOUND too – Van Gelder works all his magic here, and the muted piano tones that Evans favored float nicely atop the lush sonorous carpet. Thanksfully, this is an original CD issue of the Prestige OJC pressing with Phil De Lancie’s mastering work, so we aren’t left at the mercy of Rudy’s recent travesties in remastering his own recordings… Thanks to ****** for providing the original rip of this one to me. (You know who you are.) 1957 was a very busy year for Gil Evans, and this album is among his best work.