I actually made this mix for a dear friend over a year ago. I kind of gave up on posting public mixes as I feel outdone by both AI and the many human DJs with better skillz than me, but what the hell, why not. Continue reading
Chico Freeman – The Search
Vinyl rip in 24-bit/192 kHz | FLAC | Web scans | Jazz
1.52GB (24/192) + 806 MB (24/96) ||
1983 India Navigation IN 1059
I have not posted on this blog in nearly 6 months. For those of you still hanging around, I hope you are all doing well. A lot has been happening in the world, and in my personal and professional life, that have kept me away. But I will try and check in more frequently.
Ramsey Lewis passed away at a dignified age as an elder statesman of jazz since I last posted. Gal Costa, among the first artists to attract my ears to Brazil, passed away this week suddenly and in a manner that sent the country into a spasm of collective grief. At least she got to see the country kick the fascist scum Bolsonaro out of office. I don’t really do “memorial blog posts” any longer but I will probably post about both of those artists in the coming weeks and months. Meanwhile, I have been listening to a lot of Chico Freeman lately, who is alive and well.
The search for peace in times of war, for stillness in times of agitation – that is the basic sentiment that motivates, opens, sustains, and closes this nonchalantly beautiful record by Freeman (who is from a prolific jazz family that includes his father Von Freeman and brother George). It builds on a tradition of ‘spiritual jazz’ whose efflorescence was happening when Freeman was just getting started, and brings it into that most un-spiritual of decades, the 1980s. But there is nothing nostalgic or backward-looking about this record; it could have been made at any time in the last fifty years. And Freeman is still out there making good music, having recently returned to New York after a long period living in France.
This album was never released on CD and it is very, very good. It is one of several examples of great work Freeman has done with jazz vocalists — in the year following this album, he also released a collaboration with Bobby McFerrin, titled ‘Tangents’, which is excellent as well. Vocalist Van Eley is better known for her work in musical theater than for jazz sessions (this is her only credit on the resource Discogs); a few years before this she participated in the and this appears to be her one and only album credit, so that is a bit mysterious.
I have a handful of Freeman’s output on India Navigation (not all of them, but getting close) as well as stuff he recorded for other labels. I’ll make a banal observation about a difference between the worlds of jazz and pop music here: the ability, or maybe insistence, of artists not to be tied to exclusive contracts is interesting to me (although it can also work the other way around – the unwillingness of major labels to commit to promoting and fostering an artist in the long-term). Freeman maintained a relationship with the indie label India Navigation that allowed him to continue his warm embrace of the modal and the experimental at the same time he was releasing more commercial recordings on labels like Elektra. The interested vinyl collector will be happy to know that you can find those releases on Elektra and other labels like Contemporary on the cheap out there at your local record shop — and they are all solid and worth picking up. . The India Navigation titles will cost you a bit more.
An example of the Freeman’s ease with taking risks can be found as soon as the needle hits the vinyl here, opening with the only the voice of the relatively unknown Van Eley reassuring us that there IS peace, if we look within. It is one of those sentiments that sounds trite when spoken, but get a good vocalist to SING it on a jazz record and it becomes an invocation, or at least an invitation – Freeman has a message he wants us to hear, something he feels strongly enough about that a purely instrumental jazz record just won’t cut it. As bold a statement as the opening title cut, things really get moving with the second piece, which heavily features Brazilian percussionist Nana Vasconcelos doing all the things he does, opening the track with one of his trademark musical invocations on the berimbau. Cecil McBee contributes a pretty traditional jazz balad, Close To You Alone, which is an refreshing grounding back in the element of Earth and the more ordinary varieties of love and loneliness. Soweto Suite brings back the hard edges and merges Earth and Spirit, a drum solo from Billy Hart near the beginning along with an urgent vibraphone riff as a base, the angular melody of Val and Chico blending voice and saxophone, cascades of piano from Kenny Barron, and the whole structure subjected to a controlled demolition in several places of free-jazz skronk. Although I don’t hear any musical nods to the rich South African jazz scene, I’m not actually trained in this stuff so maybe someone else can illuminate me if I missed it. I assume the subject matter is more concerned with the abomination of apartheid.
To the best of my knowledge, this album has never been released on CD or on a digital streaming platform. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Tracklist A1 – The Search (10:50) A2 – Illas (11:40) B1 – Close To You Alone (07:25) B2 – Soweto Suite (12:15)
Total length: 42:10
More information: https://www.discogs.com/release/1134622-Chico-Freeman-The-Search
Published By – Nisha-Ayl Publishing Company
Published By – LeMac Music
Mastered At – Europadisk
Bass – Cecil McBee
Berimbau, Percussion – Nana Vasconcelos
Drums – Billy Hart
Piano – Kenny Barron
Tenor Saxophone, Flute – Chico Freeman
Vibraphone, Marimba – Jay Hoggard
Vocals – Val Eley
Design – Tan Ohe
Photography By – Beth Cummins
Producer – Bob Cummins
LINEAGE: 1983 India Navigation IN 1059 pressing; Pro-Ject RM-5SE with Audio Tecnica Signet TK7E cartridge; Speedbox power supply; Pro-Ject Tube Box S2 preamp; Audioquest Black Mamba and Pangea Premier interconnect cables; RME Babyface Pro interface ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 192khz; Click Repair with output monitored manually; further clicks and pops removed manually 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.
Next to Alice Coltrane, Dorothy Ashby is easily the best-known proponent of “jazz harp.” I mean, it’s not exactly a crowded scene, is it? This record stimulates all my auralgenous zones, drawing on ‘soul jazz’, pop, Latin, post-bop, R&B and proto-funk. It may even evoke “exotica”, but only in the best ways: the lead-off track has a theremin in it, FFS. It’s the kind of thing jazz purists used to overlook or disdain, with many nods to contemporary pop (“The Look of Love” closes the record, and “Theme from Valley of the Dolls” is a pleasant addition). The musicians are uncredited, but Phil Upchurch has a writing credit and is mentioned as the guitarist on the title track (where he is misidentified as “Paul” Upchurch). The producer on this was Richard Evans, of Ramsey Lewis and The Soulful Strings fame, but given that Cadet issued it, I can’t help wonder if he drew from the stable of musicians used by Charles Stepney for projects like Rotary Connection. It’s got a similar baroque-psych/soul-jazz quality to it. If you like this, you could do worse than to check out her album The Rubáiyát Of Dorothy Ashby for similar good vibes.
The transfer featured here is from the 2018 reissue, and was done before I upgraded my DAW and a few other components, but I haven’t posted anything in a while and this is worth hearing in any format. I’ve been stupidly busy but it has been a cold winter-y week where I’m at, so it’s a good day to give the blog a little love. Also, I neglected to post anything here in the entire month of March, so I’m going to try and make up for that in April.
Label/Cat#: Geffen Records – B0028591-01, UMe – 677 046-1, Cadet – LPS-809 Country: US, Year: 14 Sep 2018 Genre: Jazz, Funk, Soul Style: Jazz-Funk. Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Reissue, Stereo Tracklist A1 – Soul Vibrations (03:15) A2 – Games (03:58) A3 – Action Line (03:40) A4 – Lonely Girl (03:12) A5 – Life Has It’s Trials (04:35) B1 – Afro-Harping (02:59) B2 – Little Sunflower (03:45) B3 – Theme From ‘Valley Of The Dolls’ (03:32) B4 – Come Live With Me (02:35) B5 – The Look Of Love (04:05)
LINEAGE: 2018 Geffen B0028591-01 / UMe 677 046-1 vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE with Audio Tecnica Signet TK7E cartridge; Speedbox power supply; Creek Audio OBH-15; Audioquest Black Mamba and Pangea Premier interconnect cables; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 192khz; clicks and pops removed manually with Adobe Audition 3.0; resampled and dithered using iZotope RX Advanced. Converted to FLAC in either Trader’s Little Helper or dBPoweramp. Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.
Eddie Harris – Bad Luck Is All I Have
Vinyl rip in 24-bit/192 kHz | 300 dpi scans | Jazz, Jazz-funk 1975 Atlantic Records SD 1675, Presswell
This is an under-the-radar album, never released on CD, from the eclectic Eddie Harris, who gets help from Willi Bobo and Bradley Bobo in the rhythm section (as well as Calvin Barnes, who only has a few sessions to his name). Strangely, for a jazz-funk album from the middle 1970’s, there is almost no trap kit drumming on this, instead relying on timbales and other percussion for most of the groove. Some fun trumpet work from Oscar Brashear on this too. It’s an essential album by any means, but the eclectic Eddie Harris was always worth a listen. Continue reading
Grant Green – Alive! 2019 Blue Note 80 Series BST-84360 – Original Release 1970
Absolute barn-stormer of classic soul-jazz funk with a lineup that can’t be beat. Idris Muhammad is at his funkiest, but the other show-stealer is Ronnie Foster on the organ. Lean and mean stuff, if you dig this then you need to hear the Live at Club Mozambique from this same era, but which wasn’t issued until the 00’s. I=
Dollar Brand (Abdullah Ibrahim) Mannenberg ~ ‘Is Where It’s Happening’
EMI – CDSRK(WL) 786134, The Sun – CDSRK(WL) 786134
Format:CD, Album, Reissue
Country:South Africa Genre:Jazz, Style:Cape Jazz
I wasn’t planning on posting this record for the 12 Days of Christmas, insofar as there was ever a plan, which there wasn’t, but then who knew we would lose “The Arch”, Desmond Tutu (followed by an unnerving fire that destroyed the South African Parliament… the good news is they apparently saved the library). But the township of Manenberg – as well as this song named after it here, and the exiled South African artist formerly known as Dollar Brand – were all important to the story of resistance to the Apartheid government. The song even has quite an extensive Wikipedia entry. Today we would refer to the original release as an “EP”, featuring only two songs that clock in at under 27 minutes. One thing that has always struck me about South African / Cape Jazz is just how uplifting it sounds, and this track embodies that pretty well. One note about the artist’s name: Brand had converted to Islam in the late 60’s but continued to use his former stage name on recordings for quite a few years.
1. Mannenberg 13:36 2. The Pilgrim 13:00
Published By – As-Shams Music
Marketed By – As-Shams Music
Distributed By – EMI Music
Alto Saxophone – Morris Goldberg
Alto Saxophone, Flute – Robbie Jansen
Bass – Paul Michaels
Composed By, Arranged By, Photography By – Dollar Brand
Drums – Monty Weber
Piano – Dollar Brand (Abdullah Ibrahim)
Tenor Saxophone, Flute – Basil Coetzee