George Cromarty ‎– Grassroots Guitar (1973)

FrontCover1George Cromarty (September 15, 1941 – February 12, 1992[) was an American folk guitarist and singer. He is best known as the co-writer, with Ed Rush, of the song Plastic Jesus, though he went on to record three albums of solo guitar music in the 1970s and 1980s. The Folk Music Sourcebook likened his playing style to John Fahey’s, and George Winston cites Cromarty as a musical influence. His music has been heard on the soundtracks of many films, including the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis. The “Columbia record exec” in Inside Llewyn Davis was named “Mr. Cromarty” in honor of Cromarty.

Cromarty met Ed Rush while they were students in Fresno. They first performed together at Kalisa’s restaurant in Monterey, California as The Goldcoast Singers. They moved to San Francisco and, after performing in clubs there, they were invited to perform before an audience of 1,000 at the San Francisco State Folk Festival. The audience responded enthusiastically, and the duo played five encores, closing with Plastic Jesus. The recording of this performance was released in 1962 as Here They Are! The Goldcoast Singers.

In 1963, Cromarty was drafted into the army. He later settled in Morro Bay, California. His first solo album of acoustic guitar music, Grassroots Guitar, was released in 1973 on his own label, Thistle Records. His next release, The Only One, was ostensibly an album of songs for children. Cromarty’s third and last album, Wind in the Heather, was recorded for George Winston’s Dancing Cat Records in 1984.

Cromarty died on February 12, 1992. He was 50 years old.

In 2014, Cromarty was co-nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song for “Please Mr. Kennedy,” from Inside Llewyn Davis. His co-nominees were Ed Rush, T Bone Burnett, Justin Timberlake, and Joel and Ethan Coen. (by wikipedia)

GeorgeCromartyGeorge Cromarty had already experienced a weird brush with fame before he recorded his debut album in 1973. As co-writer of the song “Plastic Jesus,” he and collaborator Ed Rush are probably the only people to be covered by both Paul Newman (in the film Cool Hand Luke) and the Flaming Lips. But Cromarty had left that type of novelty folk song long behind by the time he created his masterpiece, Grassroots Guitar. I first became aware of the album via the Numero Group’s excellent Guitar Soli compilation from a few years back, which featured Cromarty’s “Flight,” a gorgeous slice of fingerpicked nirvana. But even in these magical Internet days, when rare and out of print recordings are usually just a few clicks away, Grassroots Guitar remained out of reach, despite dogged Googling. This year, thanks to a kind donor, I finally heard the complete album — and it did not disappoint.

Though Grassroots Guitar was originally distributed by John Fahey’s Takoma Records, and although it is made up of almost entirely solo acoustic guitar pieces, it’d be a mistake to call it Fahey-esque. There’s little to no blues influence, for one thing, which was the cornerstone of everything Fahey did. A closer comparison would be the precise, crystalline solo recordings of Pentangle guitarist John Renbourn, or perhaps the more classically influenced Leo Kottke jams. There’s even a dusky melancholy reminiscent of Nick Drake present in the grooves here. But Cromarty was an original, apparently developing his style all on his own. Grassroots Guitar features 13 perfect guitar reveries (plus one vocal number), each one packed with plaintive melodies and quietly dazzling technique. Cromarty went on to record a children’s record, plus an equally great solo LP for Windham Hill, Wind In The Heather, before passing away, forgotten by all but a few, in the early 1990s. But take a listen to a couple of samples from Grassroots Guitar and you’ll agree it’s a work that should be more widely known. words (by T.Wilcox)

BackCover1Personnel:
George Cromarty (guitar, vocals on 14.)

KellerCromarty1
George Keller & George Cormarty

Tracklist:
01. Flight 3.23
02. Rose And Briar 2.04
03. Topinambour 3.19
04. Langostino 3.07
05. Buena Vista 1.56
06. Poppyfield 3.21
07. Symmetry 2.26
08. Renaissance Faire 2.47
09. Rainsong 2.33
10. Bavarian Zither 2.06
11. Arboretum 1.46
12. Southern Sunday 3.06
13. Harpsichord 2.23
14. Little Children 2.40

All compositions: George Cromarty

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Bob Mintzer Quartet – In The Moment (2006)

FrontCover1Horror writer Stephen King once wrote that you can drink vintage wine out of a piece of fine crystal or out of a Flintstones jelly glass. The drink is the same but there is a difference. In the realm of mainstream jazz, there’s a similar difference between playing all the right notes and actually meaning them. Given the number of mainstream records released every year it’s a challenge to separate those that speak the truth from those that simply speak. Saxophonist Bob Mintzer’s In the Moment is a clear case of a fine drink in an equally fine glass.

More often than not, when not recording and touring with the contemporary Yellowjackets, Mintzer’s own projects have focused on larger ensembles, like Old School: New Lessons (MCG Jazz, 2006) and Live at MCG with Kurt Elling (MCG Jazz, 2004), both with his longstanding big band. In the Moment keeps things small and simple, with a crack quartet featuring pianist Phil Markowitz, bassist Jay Anderson and drummer John Riley. It may not rattle any cages, but it’s a thoroughly captivating set of Mintzer originals, with one tune by Markowitz and a couple of covers thrown in for good measure.

There’s plenty of straight-ahead swing on the aptly titled “Straight Ahead, with Anderson and Riley sticking to traditional roles but remaining responsive in ways that are more often felt than heard. Anderson also takes a well-constructed solo that begs the question of why, when he’s appeared on over two hundred recordings since the late ’70s, is he not better known outside of musician circles?

BobMintzerElsewhere Mintzer mines modal territory (“Aha ), gentle balladry (“Simple Song ), mid-tempo “I Got Rhythm changes (“What’s the Word ) and light bossa (“Play Pretty ). Markowitz is a player with an encyclopedic knowledge of the tradition and just enough zest to set it subtly on edge now and again. Economical without sacrificing energy, he provides meaningful pushes that underscore Mintzer, while being equally adept at solos with substance.

The quartet swings comfortably on the Styne/Cahn standard “Time After Time and brings out some soulful funk on the Eddie Harris staple, “Listen Here. Mintzer’s “Blues is, indeed, a conventional albeit soulful blues, with Mintzer making a difference by leading the quartet on bass clarinet.

Mintzer manages to combine a stylistic physicality, regardless of context, with a thoughtful approach that avoids overstatement. Lyrical, lithely swinging and with nothing to prove, Mintzer’s In the Moment makes it clear that there’s plenty of room for unassuming straight-ahead jazz, as long as it’s played from the head and heart. (by John Kelman)

Tray1Personnel:
Jay Anderson (bass)
Phil Markowitz (piano)
Bob Mintzer (saxophone, clarinet)
John Riley (drums)

BackCover1
Tracklist:
01.Straight Ahead (Mintzer) 4.35
02. Listen Here (Harris) 5.20
03. Time After Time (Styne/Cahn) 5.35
04. Aha (Mintzer) 5.24
05. Simple Song (Mintzer) 5.29
06. What’s The Word (Mintzer) 4.51
07. Play Pretty (Mintzer) 6.31
08. Blues (Mintzer) 5.56
09. Forgiveness (Markowitz) 6.18

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Corky Laing – Makin’ It On The Street (1977)

FrontCover1Makin’ It on the Street is such a good album it should really get Mountain fans angry, as well as calling to arms the followers of the brief but important West, Bruce & Laing. The title track, a Corky Laing co-write with F. Conroy, is in the pocket, vocally and instrumentally, and beyond that it is simply great. Laing’s voice is very appealing and the music drives with precision and heart. “See Me Through” beats Bruce Hornsby at his own game (and predates his rise to fame by a good nine years). John Sandlin’s production is understated; it is your typical West Coast sound that Linda Ronstadt and the Eagles were emphasizing, but the feel is straight out of Delaney & Bonnie Bramlett. Horns chirp in and out and there is none of Leslie West’s crunch, though he did co-write the first track with Laing and M. Jones. Remaking Barbara George’s 1961 R&B hit, “I Know,” is a perfect New Orleans addition to this surprisingly fine record. Why it was released on Elektra is a mystery, as it sounds nothing like the Doors, Neil Sedaka, Carly Simon, Queen, or the Stooges. OK, CorkyLaing1maybe it’s a bit like Carly Simon when she and James Taylor did “Mockingbird,” but still, it is not often that a hard rock drummer can deliver something so powerful straight out of left field. Eric Clapton’s appearances have made discs by Yoko Ono and others highly collectible, but Makin’ It on the Street seems to have slipped through the cracks. The bizarre cover, with Corky Laing as a guitar-strumming minstrel (the drum sticks are in his back pocket), isn’t as effective as the inside photo of a smiling shirtless Laing on horseback. It’s not often a musician gets to step out of the genre he’s associated with to make such a musical album totally on his terms. As stated above, it should make fans of both Mountain as well as West, Bruce & Laing quite angry; his talents were under-utilized on those projects and could have lifted them to loftier heights. The Southern rock slant and multitude of friends — including but not limited to Eric Clapton, Joe English, Paul Hornsby, Vanetta Fields, Clydie King, Sherlie Matthews, Randall Bramlett, and so on and so forth — combine to manifest a true musical anomaly that is as satisfying as it is surprising. (by Joe Viglione)

And “Growin’ Old With Rock & Roll” ist not only the best song Corky Laing ever written, but one of the most important songs for me !

CorkyLaing (2)Personnel:
Calvin Arline (bass)
Randall Bramlett (horn)
Pete Carr (guitar)
Venetta Fields (backgropund vocals)
Clydie King (background vocals)
Corky Laing (drums, percussion, vocals, guitar)
Neal Larsen (keyboards)
Sherlie Matthews (background vocals)
Tommy Talton (guitar)
Frank Vicari (horn)
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The Muscle Shoals Horn Section:
Charles Rose, Harrison Calloway, Harvey Thompson, Ronald Eades
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Dickey Betts (guitar on 01.)
Eric Clapton (guitar on 01.)
George Terry (guitar on 01.)

BackCover1
Tracklist:
01. On My Way (To The River) (West/Laing/Jones) 3.40
02. Makin’ It On The Street (Laing/Conroy) 5.22
03. Two Places At One Time (Laing) 3.16
04 See Me Through (Laing/Conroy) 2.58
05. Don’t You Worry (Laing/Conroy) 3.46
06. I Know (George) 3.54
07. Somebody Told Me (Laing) 4.08
08. Growin’ Old With Rock & Roll (Laing) 4.22
09. Heaven (Laing) 4.14

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Dave Mason & Cass Elliott – Same (1972)

FrontCover1When Dave Mason left Traffic he produced a number of strong albums fresh out of the gate. “Alone Together”, “It’s Like You Never Left” and “Dave Mason” among many other gems. This terrific album is also part of that set of classic releases. Recorded just after he left Blue Thumb Records over a contract dispute (it would take some years and a bankruptcy to free him from the label). Featuring Cass Elliott on harmony vocals, Mason turns in some of his best material and guitar playing on this terrifc album. Cass appears as lead vocalist on her lone songwriting contribution “Here We Go Again” and its a reminder of what a terrific vocalist she was. She and Mason should have continued on as they generate magic on this terrific album.

This is one of Mason’s finest albums and it’s interesting to compare this along with his first solo album to the albums by Traffic after he left–they were on somewhat similar roads musically but its quite clear why Mason’s vision for the band conflicted with Winwoods with Mason relying much more on traditional song structure vs. more jamming approach of Winwood’s efforts with his band.  (by Wayne Klein)

DaveMasonLive1971
Dave Mason, live 1971

Well, I bought the original Elliot/Mason band album in 1971.I could never stop listen to it.It’s always fantastic.The combination of the two voices could not be better.She only sings lead in two tracks: Something To Make You Happy which is a pretty good tune wrote by her and Dave Mason and Here we go again ,wrote by her and Bryan Garo.Since Wild Women, from the The Big Three,it’s the first time Cass co-write songs for her albuns.The vocal structure it’s almost the same as it used to be in the Mamas & Papas albuns, the group sung together most of the songs,and Cass does only two solos. Songs like On & On in which Cass made her superb backing vocals,as well as Pleasing You, Sit & Wonder and Next To You, has always been my home soundtrack.The duet between her voice and Mason’s acoustic guitar solo in Glittering Facade it’s rhythmcally incredible.It’s a great CD and it’s a pitty that MCA doesn’t release the tapes from the concert that The Elliot/Mason Band did in 1971 at Winterland,San Francisco, as a Collector’s item. (by Celso Eduardo Franco)

BookletAPersonnel:
Cass Elliott (vocals)
Bryan Garofalo (bass)
Paul Harris (keyboards, strings)
Russ Kunkel (drums)
Dave Mason (guitar, vocals)

BackCover1Tracklist:
01. Walk To The Point (Mason) 4.00
02. On And On (Doheny) 3.35
03. To Be Free (Mason) 3.34
04. Here We Go Again (Garofalo/Elliott) 2.49
05. Pleasing You (Juster Written/Mason) 3.02
06. Sit And Wonder (Mason) 3.30
07. Something To Make You Happy (Elliott/Mason) 2.15
08. Too Much Truth, Too Much Love (Mason) 3.49
09 .Next To You (Garofalo) 2.31
10. Glittering Facade (Mason) 4.45

 

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Miles Davis – Tutu (1986)

FrontCover1Tutu is an album by the American trumpeter Miles Davis, released in 1986 by Warner Bros. Records. It was recorded mostly at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles and Clinton Recording in New York City, except the song “Backyard Ritual”, which was recorded at Le Gonks in West Hollywood.Davis received the 1987 Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Soloist Grammy Award for his performance on Tutu

Originally planned as a collaboration with pop singer/songwriter Prince, Davis ultimately worked with bassist/multi-instrumentalist Marcus Miller. Miller wrote and arranged all the songs, except “Tomaas” (co-written by Davis), “Backyard Ritual” (by keyboardist George Duke), and “Perfect Way” (by pop group Scritti Politti). The music is strongly inspired by mid-1980s R&B and funk, with heavy use of synthesizers, sequencers and drum machines.

As indicated in the notes accompanying the album, Tutu was produced by Tommy LiPuma and Marcus Miller, with the exception of “Backyard Ritual”, which was co-produced by Duke and LiPuma.

The album is named in tribute to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the first black Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa. The track “Full Nelson” refers to South African politician Nelson Mandela. Davis’ much earlier 1947 composition, “Half Nelson”, was named after bebop jazz bassist Nelson Boyd.

The cover was designed by Eiko Ishioka and photographed by Irving Penn. Eiko Ishioka received the 1987 Grammy Award for Best Album Package for her work as the art director. (by wikipedia)

The controversial but memorable Tutu is mostly a duet between Miles Davis and the many overdubbed instruments of producer Marcus Miller (although violinist Michal Urbaniak, percussionist Paulinho da Costa, and keyboardist George Duke are among the other musicians making brief apperaances). Certainly the results are not all that spontaneous, but Davis is in top form and some of the selections (most notably the title cut) are quite memorable. (by Scott Yanow)

BookletAPersonnel:
Miles Davis (trumpet)
Jabali Billy Hart (drums, percussion)
Marcus Miller (bass, guitar, synthesizers, drum machine programming, clarinet, saxophone)
Jason Miles (synthesizer programming)
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Paulinho da Costa (percussion on 01., 03. – 05.)
George Duke (all instruments except percussion, bass, and trumpet on 05.)
Omar Hakim (drums and percussion on 02.)
Adam Holzman (synthesizer on 04.)
Steve Reid (percussion on 04.)
Bernard Wright (synthesizers on 02. + 07.)
Michał Urbaniak (violin on 07.)

Sleeve02

Tracklist:
01. Tutu (Miller) 5.15
02. Tomaas (Davis/Miller) 5.38
03. Portia (Miller) 6.18
04. Splatch (Miller) 4.46
05. Backyard Ritual (Duke) 4.49
06. Perfect Way (Gamson/Gartside) 4.35
07. Don’t Lose Your Mind (Miller) 5.49
08. Full Nelson (Miller) 5.06

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Kevin Lamb – Sailing Down The Years (1978)

FrontCover1Kevin Lamb – folk and rock musician, known as Oldham’s Bob Dylan, spent his early musical career living in Royton, Oldham, Greater Manchester, before going to London to record. As well as recording his 1973 and 1978 solo albums, he joined Rare Bird for two LPs.

Kevin eventually left the British music scene for the lure of LA and Nashville. He sadly passed away in 2008 but left behind some beautiful songs and recordings including an album recorded with some luminaries such as Andy Summers of The Police.

Kevin started playing guitar and harmonica at the age of fifteen. He was influenced by Elvis, Eddie Cochran and many other major musicians of the time. Kevin had played mostly folk clubs in the North of England from his home base in Royton, where he lived near the Railway pub (which established a reputation later as a music venue). Kevin was in a trio during his time in Royton, one of the other members being Pete Royle. Folk and blues musician Pete Farrow, who was also a resident of Royton at that time, recalls them all going through the songwriting phase together but Pete says Kevin was far more of a natural for such things. Pete Farrow describes Kevin, “He was such a quiet, unassuming person until he actually started to play a song”. Kevin at one point had a flat on the Sholver Estate and had already been to America and been given a Martin acoustic guitar whilst on a visit there. He brought this back into England and decided to put it up for sale to fund further trips to the USA. A possible guitar buyer turned up on the doorstep at his flat and Kevin thought he had made a sale of his Martin acoustic until the buyer produced ID to say he was from the Customs and Excise and they were confiscating the guitar as Kevin had paid no duty bringing it into the UK. Kevin was devastated.

KevinLambI can recall seeing Kevin perform his own material and superb versions of Dylan songs around the folk clubs of North West England and you could see he was one of those determined people who was going to pursue his rock and roll dream and head for a permanent life in America in due course.

Kevin recorded his first album which was called “Who Is The Hero” and even this included one great Bob Dylan cover. After this, one of the tracks from this album caught the attention of a well-known London band Rare Bird and the song “Who Is The Hero” was recorded by them for their “Born Again” album. Kevin is also a featured musician on this album and he wrote the lyrics for several of the songs together with Steve Gould. The titles include “Virginia”, “Lonely Street” and of course “Who Is The Hero”. Kevin, in fact, became a member of Rare Bird for two albums.

“Who Is The Hero”, Kevin’s 1973 album, gave him the nudge to become a part of the London music scene.

The material for the two Ozit CDs has been culled from Kevin’s own tapes/mixes.

Inlet02A

“Sailing Down The Years”, Kevin’s second LP, was recorded in London in 1978. It was produced by Gary Lyons, who also produced the first of many albums by Foreigner. A song from this second album, titled “On The Wrong Track”, written and played by Kevin Lamb, reached Number 62 on the Top 100 Billboard chart in 1978. Kevin then travelled to the United States and made the US his home, playing the LA music scene for many years. He played many venues since that time, stretching from LA to Nashville and up the East Coast. He had written many new songs over the years but none were ever issued.

Many people have written great things about Kevin’s songs, for example Bruce Eder: “Kevin Lamb’s bittersweet, melancholic (but catchy) ‘Far Between The Morning’ and the gorgeous ‘Sad Lady’, a ballad worthy of Dave Cousins, ought to have gotten a lot of airplay at the time on WNEW FM and other open-format, progressive stations.”

Kevin Lamb passed away March 5th 2008 and is buried in Louisville, Kentucky.
“Kevin Lamb and some fantastic musicians on this 1978 album. Includes Andy Summers from The Police on some tracks … I enjoyed every track … Definitely worth buying this album Sailing Down The Years (by grateful dead fanatic)”

Indeed: a real great album !

AlternateBackCover1
CD backcover

Personnel:
Ray Cooper (percussion)
Dave Dowle (drums)
Mickey Feat (bass)
Steve Gould (guitar)
Kevin Lamb (guitar, vocals)
Billy Livesey (keyboards)
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B. J. Cole (pedal steel-guitar on 06. + 07.)
Geff Daly (saxophone on 05.)
Stevie Lange (background vocals)
Junior Marvin (guitar on 05.)
Andy Summers (guitar on 01. – 03. + 10.)
Chris Thompson (background vocals)

BackCover1Tracklist:
01. Sailing Down The Years 5.12
02. Back On The Farm 3.47
03. Too Late Now 4.48
04. On The Wrong Track 3.37
05. Bitter Harvest 4.31
06. Night Hours 3.27
07. There’s A Darkness 3.38
08. Sign Of The Times 3.56
09. When My Love 3.32
10. Room Service 4.09
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11. A Place In Your Heart 5.12
12. How Could You Ever Have Known It 5.10
13. Woman 2.58
14. It´s Not the Way I Planned It 4.06
15. They Ain´t Coming Back 3.51

All songs written by Kevin Lamb

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Paul Desmond – Take Ten (1963)

FrontCover1Now listeners enter the heart of the Paul Desmond/Jim Hall sessions, a great quartet date with Gene Cherico manning the bass (Gene Wright deputizes on the title track) and MJQ drummer Connie Kay displaying other sides of his personality. Everyone wanted Desmond to come up with a sequel to the monster hit “Take Five”; and so he did, reworking the tune and playfully designating the meter as 10/8. Hence “Take Ten,” a worthy sequel with a solo that has a Middle-Eastern feeling akin to Desmond’s famous extemporaneous excursion with Brubeck in “Le Souk” back in 1954. It was here that Desmond also unveiled a spin-off of the then-red-hot bossa nova groove that he called “bossa antigua” (a sardonic play-on-words meaning “old thing”), which laid the ground for Desmond’s next album and a few more later in the decade. Two of the best examples are his own tunes, the samba-like “El Prince” (named after arranger Bob Prince), an infectious number with on-the-wing solo flights that you can’t get out of your head, and the haunting “Embarcadero.” Hall now gets plenty of room to stretch out, supported by Kay’s gently dropped bombs, and he is the perfect understated swinging foil for the wistful altoist. There is not a single track here that isn’t loaded with ingeniously worked out, always melodic ideas. (by Richard S. Ginell)

BackCover1Personnel:
Paul Desmond (saxophone)
Connie Kay (drums)
Jim Hall (guitar)
Gene Wright (bass)
+
Gene Cherico (bass on 01.)
George Duvivier (bass on 09.)

AlternateFrontCover
Alternate frontcover

Tracklist:
01. Take Ten (Desmond) 3.08
02. El Prince (alternate take) (Desmond) 5.35
03. El Prince (Desmond) 3.23
04. Alone Together (Schwartz/Dietz) 6.51
05. Embarcadero (alternate take) (Desmond) 4.54
06. Embarcadero (Desmond) 3.59
07. Theme From “Black Orpheus” (Bonfa) 4.10
08. The Night Has A Thousand Eyes (alternate take) (Bernier/Brainin) 7.18
09. Nancy (Van Heusen/Silvers) 6.03
10. Samba De Orfeu (Bonfa) 4.19
11. The One I Love (Belongs To Somebody Else) (Kahn/Jones) 5.36

LabelA

 

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