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.

Happy B-Day Parabens / Hank Mobley – A Caddy for Daddy (1966)

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Today, July 7, Flabbergasted Vibes is officially two years old! I write “officially” because it was actually migrated from a blog I had started on MySpace (who reads blogs on MySpace anyway?), and also I did not really put much thought into the posts for the first few months. It was just a way to share some enthusiasm about music for some of my friends who I often don’t get to see, which in a more broad sense it still is. So, a toast to one more year of sonic explorations and fickle musings at Flabbergasted Vibes!! Also, the age is associated with the English phrase of “the Terrible Twos”, a reference to the time when toddlers start to throw fits and scream a lot. So, when I consulted both the I-Ching and one of my Tarot decks about this, I received the divination that I will either be posting more cranky commentary, or crankier music, this year. Be forewarned.
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Normally a birthday would entail a day off for me, at least metaphorically in the sense of not working too much and-or slacking off more than usual. But since today is also Hank Mobley’s birthday, I decided to actually do a post anyway. (It is also Joe Zawinul´s birthday – two Miles Davis sidemen born on July 7! – but I happen to have this Mobley record sitting on the hard drive at the convenient moment). So why not give yourself a Cadillac on Flabbergasted Vibes’ birthday with this vintage Blue Note album featuring a ridiculous by wonderful album cover and silly title!

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Hank Mobley
A Caddy for Daddy
Released 1966 on Blue Note (BT-ST84230)
[Mono version released in 1965..]
This reissue – 2009 Analog Productions, SACD format

1 A Caddy For Daddy 9:15

2 The Morning After 9:35

3 Venus Di Mildew 7:05

4 Ace Deuce Trey 7:10

5 3rd Time Around 6:10

All compositions by Hank Mobley except Track 3 by Wayne Shorter.

Bass – Bob Cranshaw
Drums – Billy Higgins
Piano – McCoy Tyner
Saxophone [Tenor] – Hank Mobley
Trombone – Curtis Fuller
Trumpet – Lee Morgan

Hank Mobley, like a lot of Blue Note`s roster, was cranking out albums at an incredible pace in the mid-60s. This is not actually one of my favorites — I don´t think it is anywhere near as good as “The Turnaround” also from 1965.

The first track, A Caddy for Daddy, is a half-hearted attempt at soul jazz which leaves me cold. The band sounds tired and so do the arrangements. I am no jazz scholar, but I would not be surprised if this cut was an attempt to recreat Lee Morgan’s success with The Sidewinder, one of the early soul-jazz “hits”. As you can see above, Morgan is on this session as are Higgins and Cranshaw who also played on that classic tune. The album improves quickly with “The Morning After” (what is it with the oddball titles on this disc?) which is easily my favorite piece of music here. A nice surprise on this session is the expansion of Mobley’s band to a sextet, featuring the incomparable Curtis Fuller on the trombone, always a good thing. McCoy Tyner does not get a chance to shine on record the way I would have liked.

Sorry for not writing more but it should really be the blog’s day off anyway, so this is all you get from me today. Oh, and this Analog Productions reissue sounds way better than any of the RVG remasters of Mobley’s stuff, although it does use the stereo master tapes rather than the mono.

Hank Mobley – A Caddy for Daddy (1966) in 320kbs em pee tree

Hank Mobley – A Caddy for Daddy (1966) in FLAC LOSSLESS format

Hugh Masekela & The Union of South Africa (1971) (with The Crusaders)

Hugh Masekela and the Union of South Africa
Originally released on CHISA records (Chisa 808)
This reissued, Motown / MoJazz (31453-0329-2) from 1994

01 – Goin’ Back to New Orleans (5:07) (Hugh Masekela)
02 – Ade (3:47) (Caiphus Semenya)
03 – To Get Ourselves Together (2:52) (Hugh Masekela)
04 – Johannesburg Hi-Lite Jive (3:57) (Eric Songxaka-Jonas Gwangwa)
05 – Mamani (5:23) (Caiphus Semenya)
06 – Shebeen (4:02) (Jonas Gwangwa)
07 – Dyambo (3:49) (Caiphus Semenya)
08 – Caution! (5:41) (Caiphus Semenya)
09 – Hush (Somebody’s Calling My Name) (3:34) (Joe W. May)

In my morning ritual of working on this blog over some coffee, I decided that the way I was going to show my support for Brazil in today’s World Cup match would be by posting this album of anti-Dutch liberation music from Hugh Masekela & The Union of South Africa. It’s a great record and should make for a cathartic listening experience no matter how things turn out today.

It was hard to decide what songs to include on this little sample below, since they really are all excellent. I decided on one vocal number and one instrumental, because in a way the album almost sounds like it can’t decide which way to go in that respect. The instrumental numbers sound a whole hell of a lot like the early Crusaders material (unsurprisingly.. see below), while the vocal numbers are something else. Although described by some as an “Afro-rock” album, these tracks have more in common with the pop sensibilities that made Masekela an international superstar with the song “Grazin’ in the Grass.” Tightly arranged harmonies that draw as much or more from United States gospel, soul, and blues musics than from ‘traditional’ vocal styles of the Motherland. And there is absolutely no problem with that – the result is a beautiful album. Except for the tunes “Ade”, with its boogie funk and fuzzy guitar, and “Dyambo” (another funky number… can anyone out there tell me if the lyrics to this are in Swazi or Zulu, or any of the other ELEVEN “official languages” of South Africa???), there is little to be called “rock” here, unless its to be understood in the sense that The Crusaders are sometimes called “jazz rock”.

So, as I was saying… Two songs here to give you a taste – the vocal number “To Get Ourselves Together,” souljazz with a slow-funk backbeat (hmm, well the ‘turnaround’ between verses here is kind of rock-like in a delicious way); followed by “Johannesburg Hi-Lite Jive” which is kind of a High Life song as played by The Crusaders. If this doesn’t whet your appetite for more, then I simply don’t know what to say and you probably close this page on your browser and go back to listening to whatever floats your musical boat.

Although not credited anywhere on this Chisa / Motown reissue, this record (recorded entirely in Hollywood, California) relies heavily on members of the mighty CRUSADERS as the backing band, with the album jacket listing only the horn players Masekela, Jonas Gwangwa (trombone) and Caiphus Semenya (alto sax) as comprising “The Union.” I am not sure if The Crusaders members on these sessions (Joe Sample, Wayne Henderson, Wilton Fedder, Stix Hooper) were listed on the original Chisa vinyl, but if not I am sure there must have been good reasons – they were willing collaborators and had recorded for the label (even changing their name at Masekela’s suggestion).

Recording in a cluster of sessions spanning April 5 – 9, 1971, exactly who played on what is rather confusing. Thanks to Doug Payne’s excellent website, we know the following details (note that a bunch of these tracks did not appear on the original album presented here):

HUGH MASEKELA & THE UNION OF SOUTH AFRICA
Hugh Masekela
Hollywood, California: April 5, 1971
Hugh Masekela (tp, vcl); Jonas (Mosa) Gwangwa (tb, vcl); Wayne Henderson (tb); Wilton Felder (ts); Joe Sample (key); Arthur Adams, Wayne West (g); prob. Stix Hooper (d); Caiphus (Caution) Semenya? (vcl).
overdubbed in Hollywood, California: April 9, 1971
Hugh Masekela; King Errison (perc).

a. Ade (Caiphus Semenya) – 3:47
b. Dyambo (Weary Day Is Over) (Caiphus Semenya) – 3:49

Hollywood, California: April 5, 1971
Hugh Masekela (tp, vcl); Jonas (Mosa) Gwangwa (tb, vcl); Wayne Henderson (tb); Wilton Felder (ts); Joe Sample (key); Arthur Adams, Wayne West (g); prob. Stix Hooper (d); Caiphus (Caution) Semenya? (vcl).

c. Ku Ku Di

Hollywood, California: April 7, 1971
Hugh Masekela (tp, vcl); Jonas (Mosa) Gwangwa (tb, vcl); Wayne Henderson (tb); Wilton Felder (ts); Joe Sample (key); Arthur Adams, Wayne West (g); prob. Stix Hooper (d); Caiphus (Caution) Semenya? (vcl).

d. Mabasa
e. This Stuff Is Killing Me
f. To Get Ourselves Together (Hugh Masekela) – 2:52

Hollywood, California: April 9, 1971
Hugh Masekela (tp, vcl); Jonas (Mosa) Gwangwa (tb, vcl); Wayne Henderson (tb); Wilton Felder (ts); Joe Sample (key); Arthur Adams, Wayne West (g); prob. Stix Hooper (d); Caiphus (Caution) Semenya? (vcl); King Errison (perc).

g. Mamani (Caiphus Semenya) – 5:23

Hollywood, California: April 7, 1971
Hugh Masekela (tp, vcl); Jonas (Mosa) Gwangwa (tb, vcl); Wayne Henderson (tb); Wilton Felder (ts); Joe Sample (key); Arthur Adams, Wayne West (g); prob. Stix Hooper (d); Caiphus (Caution) Semenya? (vcl).

h. Goin Back To New Orleans (Hugh Masekela) – 5:07
i. Railroad
j. Johannesburg Hi-Lite Jive (Eric Songxaka/Jonas Gwangwa) – 2:52
k. Caution! (Caiphus Semenya) – 5:41
l. Shebeen (Jonas Gwangwa) – 4:02

same or similar.

m. Hush (Somebody’s Calling My Name) (Joe W. May) – 3:34

Note: Dudu Pukwana, a member of Masekela’s Union Of South Africa around this time, later authored and performed a song titled “Baloyi” on his 1973 recording IN THE TOWNSHIPS (Caroline 1504, Earthworks 90884-2 [CD]) that bears notable similarities to “Shebeen” above.

Issues: a, b, f, g, h, j, k, l & m on Chisa CS 808 (issued May 1971), Rare Earth (E) SRE-3002, MoJazz 31453-0330-2 [CD] (issued August 1994).
Singles: b (2:35 edit) & l (4:00 edit) also on Chisa C 8014F [45]. l also on Tamla Motown (SA) TMS 373 [45].
Samplers: a also on Hip-O B0007383-02 [CD] titled THE BEST OF HUGH MASEKELA – 20th CENTURY MASTERS – THE MILLENNIUM COLLECTION. a, f, g, h, j & m also on Spectrum (E) 9810227 [CD] titled THE COLLECTION. b also on Tapecar (Br) LPS X0-4 titled SOM ECODINAMIC PART TWO, Motor (Ger) 525 444-1, Motor (Ger) 525 444-2 [CD] titled MOJO CLUB PRESENTS DANCELOOR JAZZ VOLUME 4: LIGHT MY FIRE and Strut (E) STRUTLP007, Strut (E) STRUTCD007 [CD] titled CLUB AFRICA 2. b, g & j also on Verve (Ger) 06007 5328250 [CD] titled HUGH! THE BEST OF HUGH MASEKELA – PRESENTED BY TILL BRÖNNER. b, b (stereo promo version) & l also on Hip-o Select B001157902 [CD] titled THE COMPLETE MOTOWN SINGLES VOLUME 11A: 1971. l also on ? (SA) ? [CD] titled MESH MAPETLA PRESENTS JAZZ IN SOUTH AFRICA VOLUME 1.
Producer: Stewart Levine
Engineer: Lewis Peters

Bobby Hutcherson – Now! (1969) with Eugene McDaniels & Harold Land

Bobby Hutcherson – Now!
Released 1969
BlueNote Records (BST 84333)

This reissue BN 73164

The first time I ever heard Bobby Hutcherson was probably on Eric Dolphy’s “Out To Lunch.” Even though everything on that album is noteworthy, memorable, and intriguing, I found Hutcherson’s work there particularly deserving of those superlatives. Capable of delicate texture and agile flight in his playing, he more than earns his reputation of a big fish in a rather small pond (post-bop vibraphonists). This album is something of a best-kept secret – the presence of not only Harold Land, whose other collaborations with Hutcherson are acclaimed by critics and audiences, but also Eugene McDaniels and Candido, should make this record stand out on anyone’s radar.

Eugene McDaniels’ career had one of the strangest trajectories in music: coming into his art as a bop jazz crooner who would sometimes share stages with Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderley, and Ornette Coleman, and then being catapulted to pop stardom with a string of R&B hit records in the 60s, morphing into a politicized soul-jazz-funk artist who made two amazing albums for Atlantic in the early 70s, then writing some notable songs (including a #1 hit) for Roberta Flack, and then mostly disappearing. These sessions were cut slightly before his landmark “Outlaw” album was released (coming soon to a blog near you, by the way).

The usage of a vocal chorus on this album remind me somewhat of “Up With Donald Byrd” (1965) but way more abstract. The album “Now!” is associated with Black Power consciousness. McDaniels’ lyrics may not be as weirdly radical as on his own Atlantic releases that inspired Kissinger to suggest wiretapping his house or whatever, but they are still pretty out-there. They unfold more in the form of tone-poems than straightforward lyrics. Some of them are rather hard to make out (the song ‘Now!’ for example) and a search around the interwebs yielded no results for transcriptions. Here are some samples from the opening cut –

Free soul soul free touch me heal you change
Lock your lost key touch me heal you change
Free soul soul free touch me free me
Touch the spiral falling upwards
God is watching, God is dying, slow change

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Eugene McDaniels

Anchoring the quintet is drummer Joe Chambers, whose albums credits also include Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, Andrew Hill, McCoy Tyner, Charles Mingus, and Archie Shepp. His work, described somewhere as “cymbal-driven forward motion” is propulsive and staggering, bringing that motion to the brink of collapse in places, a mimetic counterpoint to the lyrics.

The next track, “Hello To The Wind”, written by Chambers, is gorgeous in description-defying ways. It would be better to let the listener to experience this with no preambling words of introduction or commentary. It grabs you from the opening measures of the guitar arpeggios and McDaniels voice. A little more than halfway through this piece McDaniels breaks into some vocalizations that fall somewhere between Qallawi singing and Leon Thomas, curling my toenails and raising the hair on the back of my neck, and Candido breaks into very heavy and relentless santería territory on the congas. This cut might well be the best example I can think of that blends accessible melodic figures (damn near ‘pop music’) dropped amid post-bop intimations of free jazz

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I was thinking the other day that I have most likely overused the word “haunting” during the nearly two years this blog has been active . What do we mean when we call a piece of music haunting? Do we mean that a melodic line lingers in our consciousness long after the music comes to a stop? Wouldn’t we just call that “catchy”? Or is it the sensation of that melody, harmonic internal, rhythmic change, coming back hours and hours later, “coming back to haunt us”? Does it remind us of things we can’t forget, or refuse to forget? Or do not want to forget. Not yet. All the tales of wandering spirits roaming among us have at least this much in common – that such shades and ghosts call to us because they have not received the proper rites required for a peaceful rest in the afterworld. This is where the difference between forgetting and letting go is salient. There are things we should not, ever, forget – the experience of love found or faded; our friends and ancestors gone from this earth; the rape of your land, your sisters and mothers; the enslavement of your people. Finding peace is no easy road and there are plenty of reasons we might not want to find it, or let it find us. We become haunted. It abets our hunger for vengeance or vindication, it is aided by the sting of slights, loss, and injustice. The song “Now!” was composed by Hutcherson for a lost friend, the bassist Albert Stinson.

After the song-suite of the first side, the second side of this record stretches out. Wally Richardson plunks down dissonant squalls of understated guitar on “The Creators,” the electric piano of Stanley Cowell punching out a carpet of sound, the bass and drums locked in a smoky and deliciously repetitive paean to the old gods ending in hand-claps and more Candido. The final cut “Black Heroes” is more hard bop and the lyrics here are the ones most obviously connected with black consciousness and civil rights. The word “now” again enters our awareness. “Lies are wearing so thin the people can see through them now. Now. Freedom now! Right now!” Harold Land takes the first solo, twisting around the main theme in contortions of Coltrane; Hutcherson follows with quick jolts to our blood pressure. Be careful. Did I mention Bobby Hutcherson is on this record? I haven’t talked about him much because it goes without saying that he is in his element here as master of ceremonies. This album qualifies for the Flabbergast stock phrase of “a singular addition to his discography.” It really is. I wouldn’t lie to you.

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After the original album are bonus tracks from a 1978 platter called “Blue Note Meets the L.A. Philharmonic” (BN-LA870) that also featured Carmen McRae and Earl Klugh. Normally these Blue Note CD’s feature alternate takes from the same sessions, a practice that tends to appeal mostly to the jazz fanatics. But this time it’s quite different, as we get to hear the song-suite from the original album’s first half played 8 years later with full orchestra and new arrangements. I miss the inspired playing of the original quintet (especially Chambers and Land) but these guys aren’t chopped liver either and Eddie Marshall lays down some serious funk. The real treat here is the orchestra, giving a fifth dimension to what were already transcendent pieces of music. The sound is nothing short of stunning on this live recording. Bereft of McDaniel’s lyrics, the orchestra still manages to bring out the grace and fluidity of his contributions, hanging in the air like an after-image on our aural retinas. After the reprise of “Now!” we can hear an enchanted audience in what is almost certainly a standing ovation. Rather than the often-repetitive alternate takes for the jazz scholar, this addition to the CD version is a wonderful coda to what may be Hutcherson’s most overlooked album.

1 Slow Change 7:14
2 Hello To The Wind 5:56
3 Now 2:44
4 The Creators 12:32
5 Black Heroes 7:03
6 Slow Change 5:05
7 Now 2:49
8 Hello To The Wind 3:06
9 Now (Reprise) 1:43

Personnel: Tracks 1 – 5: Bobby Hutcherson: Vibraphone; Harold Land: Tenor Sax; Kenny Barron: Piano; Stanley Cowell: Piano; Herbie Lewis: Bass; Joe Chambers: Drums: Wally Richardson: Guitar, Electric Guitar; Candido Camero: Conga; Gene McDaniels: Vocals; Hilda Harris: Vocals; Albertine Robinson: Vocals; Christine Spencer: Vocals.

Tracks 6 – 9: Bobby Hutcherson: Vibraphone Manny Boyd: tenor and soprano saxophone; George Cables: piano; James Leary: bass; Eddie Marshall: drums; Bobbye Porter Hall: percussion; Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Calvin Simmons.

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Nina Simone – Nina Simone Sings the Blues (1967) Japanese K2 remastering

nina

As a rule I avoid weddings and funerals. They both represent transitional stages for which I’m not ready, and – if I had my way – would put off indefinitely. However I’ve often sat around thinking about what music I would like to have playing at both of them, should I be so unfortunate as to have them occur. In particular, *who* would play, since of course it would need to be live music. Having ruled out Madonna and Roberto Carlos as outside of my budget, I content myself with fantasies of being serenaded from beyond the grave. Disembodied spirits are relatively inexpensive. Sure, obtaining the necessary components for the blood sacrifice to get them to show up on time can be a lot of work, but think of all the money you will save on lodging and air transportation. Having established at least this much, I can move on to selecting which resident of the afterlife will perform at my wedding/funeral. Now is when it gets really tricky, because a lot depends on who I am marrying and/or the manner of my demise. Isaac Hayes, for example, would seem an ideal choice but I’m not sure I could live up to the turned-on expectations he would no doubt incur in my bride. She might even run off with him, across the great divide. And Black Moses singing at my funeral would be just, well, kind of weird. Then there are the artists whose palettes are truly universal. John Coltrane would work perfectly at either of these life ceremonies, for example. The list of these candidates is few in number, but among them is definitely my High Priestess, Nina Simone.

Nina could change from Broadway show tunes, to gospel, to blues, to soul and funk without making a big deal about it, without a lot of stylistic pomp to say “hey, look at me, I am going to sing some blues for you now.” Everything she did was done with conviction. It didn’t surprise me to learn recently that Nina suffered from some variety of bipolar disorder, what used to be called manic-depression. The electrically-charged highs and lows of her emotional range and vocal register were one and the same. Whether or not she is coyly telling you how fun it is to be kissed in the dark, or asking for more sugar in her bowl, you know better than to second-guess her sincerity. Whether she is singing Gershwin, or a twelve-bar blues arrangement, or the scandalously secular gospel-cry of “Real Real,” she is never anything less than completely present, in the moment, at the piano, on the microphone, transforming a studio into a dimly-lit smoke-hazed jazz club or a back-country house party. The empress between the pillars of light and dark, her suffering is also her wisdom, and you should thank the universe for being lucky enough to have HEARD her in your short lifetime.

nina

This album was the first long-player for Nina’s tenure with RCA/Victor after leaving the Philips label. If the studio staff had anything to do with assembling the backing band for this one –and I believe they did, as Rudy Stevenson is the only musician here that had been regularly playing with her, if I’m not mistaken — well, then they deserve some mighty thanks. Bernard Purdie. Bernard Purdie! Bernard PURDIE!! The man. ‘Pretty’ Purdie once again shows his ability to play to the song, hanging back in the mix. And one of my favorite under-rated guitarists, Eric Gale, was also on the sessions. There is also a collaboration with Langston Hughes on the socially-topical “Backlash Blues.”

This record isn’t exactly obscure, but if you are thinking, ‘Meh, I’ve already heard this one,” then think again. This is a Japanese pressing made using the proprietary K2 technology developed by JVC to avoid digital artifacts in the analog conversion and reduce jitter — meticulous care is taken at every step of the mastering and duplication process, held to very exacting standards. If all that doesn’t mean anything to you, just know this: the Japanese are obsessively and famously crazy about good audiophile-quality CD pressings, and have by and large not succumbed to the “loudness wars” that have plagued CD remasters in ‘The Occident’ wherein all dynamics are made ruler-flat so that everything will sound “good” (read: the same) on your Mp3 player or in your car. I’ve heard several CDs of this material and this one is by far the most sonically stunning.

There are few things quite as annoying to me than having the same music endlessly repackaged. This goes for many of the “new” high-definition formats being shoved down consumer’s throats lately (with little knowledge at the consumption end about the realities of any actual differences), but in fact it is part of a game the music business has played for at least a half century: how to milk the most revenue out of the same piece of recorded music. In the 1990s this took the form of CD reissues that threw together a bunch of material by an artist to give you the impression that you were getting something you didn’t already have, perhaps something previously unreleased. Such was the case with a European RCA/Novus collection of Nina Simone called simply “The Blues,” which has all the tracks on “Sings The Blues” with an additional seven songs. If I had been paying closer attention when I bought it impulsively, I might have been more wary of the fact that the first half was even in the same running order as “Sings The Blues,” but I was hell-bent on getting my hands on some kind of rarities, unreleased outtakes or live recordings or some such. In fact, the CD is just a repackaging of this album with some extra material thrown in. (To be fair, perhaps the original “Sings The Blues” was not available on CD at that time, but the packaging is ambiguous to put it mildly, and this title should probably have been deleted after proper reissues saw the light of day..) There is also a recent 2006 remaster that includes two bonus tracks. As a favor (if not quite a guide) to the perplexed, I am going to compile this material into another separate post, but for now let’s just enjoy Nina Simone Sings The Blues as it was meant to be enjoyed. The booklet for the 2006 pressing, which contains both original and new liner notes, is included just for kicks here.

nina

1. “Do I Move You” (Simone) – 2:46
2. “Day and Night” (Stevenson) – 2:35
3. “In the Dark” (Green) – 2:57
4. “Real Real” (Simone) – 2:21
5. “My Man’s Gone Now” (Gershwin, Heyward) – 4:16
6. “Backlash Blues” (Hughes, Simone) – 2:31
7. “I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl” (Simone) – 2:32
8. “Buck” (Stroud) – 1:52
9. “Since I Fell for You” (Johnson) – 2:52
10. “The House of the Rising Sun” (Traditional) – 3:53
11. “Blues for Mama” (Lincoln, Simone) – 4:00

* Nina Simone: vocal, piano
* Eric Gale: guitar
* Rudy Stevenson: guitar
* Ernie Hayes: organ
* Bob Bushnell: bass
* Bernard Purdie: drums, timpani
* Buddy Lucas: harmonica, tenor sax

Gary Bartz – Anthology 1970-1977 (2004)

Gary Bartz
“Anthology”
2004 Soul Brother Records (CD SBPJ 23)
Made in England
Recordings from 1971 – 1977

1 Celestial Blues 7:35
2 Uhuru Sasa 6:47
3 Drinking Song 5:16
4 Dr. Follow’s Dance 2:39
5 I’ve Known Rivers 8:34
6 I Wanna Be Where You Are 7:14
7 Ju Ju Man 9:11
8 Sea Gypsy l 6:19
9 Gentle Smiles s 4:22
10 Music Is My Sanctuary 6:21
11 Carnaval de l’Espirit 5:55
12 My Funny Valentine 7:11

Single-artist compilations are a difficult thing. It can be hard to represent an artist’s trajectory faithfully and still produce a coherently listenable document, let alone please everyone in the process, especially if the subject in question is a jazz artist. Soul Brother Records deserves massive props for pulling this off with this Gary Bartz anthology, which presents highlights from his most inspired post-bop output of the 1970s. My introduction to Bartz was, like many people, via his work with the Mizell Brothers, but there was so much, much more to the man’s legacy. Soul Brother makes the smart move of presenting this material in roughly chronological order beginning with selections from the incredible two volumes of “Harlem Bush Music.” Spiritual, socially-conscious, adventurous and above all soulful, this stuff soars and the vocals of Andy Bey qualify as one of the best-kept secrets of the universe.

Nobody seems to have passed through the ranks of Miles Davis’ various ensembles and come out unchanged but Bartz seemed to have been doing his own thing when Miles picked him up for a brief stint that yielded the semi-live album “Live Evil” (more complete material from those concerts appearing on 2005’s “Cellar Door” release). But performing with Davis’ post-Bitches Brew lineup (at the time including Airto on percussion, Keith Jarrett on electric piano, and McLaughlin still on guitar) may have inspired Bartz to stretch out even further in his work as a bandleader. But Bartz has plenty of other credits under his belt as a sideman, most prominently with McCoy Tyner but he’s also recorded with Woodie Shaw, Pharoah Sanders, and Charles Mingus.

The playing on the tune “Drinking Song”, the oldest piece on this collection, is simply fierce as the whole band raises your consciousness out of your bohemian apathy. Bartz pays homage to Langston Hughes with the track “I’ve Known Rivers” off the live record of the same name. Four entire tracks from the Mizell collaborations (the records “The Shadow Do” and “Music Is My Sanctuary”) may be a little disproportional considering that stuff already has wider exposure, but you won’t hear me complaining because it does indeed flow very nicely. Wrapping up the set with a sultry, melancholic reading of “My Funny Valentine” with vocalist Syreeta is a very nice finishing touch to this very satisfactory anthology. It’s also good to know that this disc apparently has Gary’s own approval as he wrote short note about the release and about music as a healing force to be included in the booklet.

I am so happy listening to this collection that I am planning on a mini-flood of Gary Bartz in the weeks to come, so prepare yourselves and meanwhile enjoy this teaser to whet your musical appetite.

Bartz
Bartz

 

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