Johnny Cash – American Recordings (1994)

FrontCover1Johnny Cash was in the unenviable position of being a living legend who was beloved by fans of classic country music without being able to interest anyone in his most recent work when he was signed to Rick Rubin’s American Recordings label in 1994. Rubin, best known for his work with edgy rockers and hip-hop acts, opted to produce Cash’s first album for American, and as he tried to brainstorm an approach that would introduce Cash to a new audience, he struck upon a brilliant idea — doing nothing. For American Recordings, Rubin simply set up some recording equipment in Cash’s Tennessee cabin and recorded him singing a set of songs accompanied only by his acoustic guitar. The result is an album that captured the glorious details of Johnny Cash’s voice and allowed him to demonstrate just how emotionally powerful an instrument he possessed. While Rubin clearly brought some JohnnyCashmaterial to Cash for these sessions — it’s hard to imagine he would have recorded tunes by Glenn Danzig or Tom Waits without a bit of prodding — Cash manages to put his stamp on every tune on this set, and he also brought some excellent new songs to the table, including the Vietnam veteran’s memoir “Drive On,” the powerful testimony of faith “Redemption,” and a sly but moving recollection of his wild younger days, “Like a Soldier.” American Recordings became a critical sensation and a commercial success, though it was overrated in some quarters simply because it reminded audiences that one of America’s greatest musical talents was still capable of making compelling music, something he had never stopped doing even if no one bothered to listen. Still, American Recordings did something very important — it gave Cash a chance to show how much he could do with a set of great songs and no creative interference, and it afforded him the respect he’d been denied for so long, and the result is a powerful and intimate album that brought the Man in Black back to the spotlight, where he belonged. (by Mark Deming)

Johnny Cash (guitar, vocals)

01. Delia’s Gone (Silbersdorf/Toops) 2.17
02. Let the Train Blow The Whistle (Cash) 2.15
03. The Beast In Me (Lowe) 2.45
04. Drive On (Cash) 2.23
05. Why Me Lord? (Kristofferson) 2.20
06. Thirteen (Danzig) 2.29
07. Oh, Bury Me Not (Introduction: A Cowboy’s Prayer) (A.Lomax/J.Lomax/Rogers/Spencer) 3.52
08. Bird On A Wire (Cohen) 4.01
09. Tennessee Stud (Driftwood) 2.54
10. Down There By The Train (Waits) 5.34
11. Redemption (Cash) 3.03
12. Like A Soldier (Cash) 2.50
13. The Man Who Couldn’t Cry (Wainwright III) 5.01


Bud Powell – Live In Geneva (1962)

FrontCover1Bop till you drop… “Bud Powell was a leading figure in the development of bebop, and his virtuosity as a pianist led many to call him the Charlie Parker of the piano.”

Bud Powell is the most important pianist in jazz and one of the most underrated because he spent over a third of his life in mental and medical hospitals. He was beaten by the police when he was 20 and he never fully recovered from that beating and, as a result, he suffered pain and had to take drugs to alleviate the pain. So he never fully recovered from that and, in spite of that, he created a whole lot of wonderful music. He was really the first guy, before Bud Powell, pianists were playing boom, chuck in the left hand and a lot of melodic figures in the right hand that tended to be arpeggios. But with Bud Powell, Bud Powell was imitating Charlie Parker. So Bud was the first pianist to take Charlie Parker’s language and adapt it successfully to the piano. That’s why he is the most important pianist in music today because everybody plays like that now. (by Bill Cunliffe)

This was an informal concert at a nightclub in Geneva called the Hot Club. The best of this numbers stand among Bud’s best recordings from any period. Bud must have been enjoying rare good health at the time of this Swiss session. The up-tempo numbers are played at top speed and, as if to show that the master is back, Bud includes many glittering runs.” (Carl Smith from the book “Bouncing with Bud: The Recordings of Bud Powell”)

Thanks to the original uploaders; and to mikey_ikey for sharing the tracks at Dime.

Recorded live at the Blue Note, Geneva, Switzerland; February 1, 1962
Good to very good radio broadcasts

BudPowell02Illustration: Judith Cameron

Jacques Cavussin (drums)
Michel Cortesi (bass)
Earl “Bud” Powell (piano)

01. Ornithology (Harris/Parker) 2.59
02. Swedish Pastry (Kessel) 8.05
03. Hot House Hot House (Dameron) 6.54
04. I Remember Clifford (Golson/Hendricks) 5.35
05. Just One Of Those Things (Porter) 6.00
06. Anthropology (Gillespie/Parker) 7.06
07. ‘Round Midnight (Hanighen/Monk/Williams) 6.21
08. Jordu (Jordan) 7.17
09. I Know That You Know (Caldwell/Youmans) 4.53
10. Blues In The Closet (Pettiford) 7.08


Over 40 years after his death, it is surprising that previously unknown live recordings by Bud Powell are still being uncovered. This concert in Geneva, probably with two local musicians who were likely playing a gig with the pianist for the first and only time in their careers, finds the pianist in good form. The recording quality is only slightly muddy and over-modulated, though the music is enjoyable. In spite of using unfamiliar players, Powell is quite comfortable playing extended versions of a number of bop favorites, including “Hot House,” “Jordu,” and his own “Swedish Pastry.” (by Ken Dryden)


Paul Simon – Songs From The Capeman (1997)

FrontCover1There is a tendency among rock and pop performers, as they progress through their career, to move into more — as they used to day — “legit” music forms. Among the rockers who have written for classical orchestra are Paul McCartney, Joe Jackson and Billy Joel, who recently announced his intent to move entirely into the classical realm. This week we have an example of one of pop music’s most respected songwriters venturing into a theatrical production, but unlike many others who have attempted to jump genres, he does it without really changing his style — at least on this recording.

Paul Simon has just released Songs from the Capeman, music from a Broadway production scheduled to debut in January. Giving it even more of a prestigious imprimatur is his collaboration with prize-winning poet Derek Walcott on the lyrics.

After his success in the 1960s with Simon and Garfunkel, a duo which helped to define the folk-rock sound of the era, Simon has been releasing infrequent but much-anticipated records, almost all being innovative in some way, especially in choice of musicians with whom he has collaborated. His 1986 album Graceland introduced American audiences to contemporary African sounds, and he did more or less the same thing with Brazilian styles on The Rhythm of the Saints.

LiveLive performance of “Songs From The Capeman” at the Broadway, New York, 1997

It was around the time of that record, six years ago, that Simon said he got the idea for this production. The music is based on what he calls a “sensational 1959 news story in New York,” during Simon’s teen years. It was a gang-related killing that has racial and ethnic tensions as a backdrop, in a reminder of who little things seem to have changed. It involves one Salvador Agron who was a member of a Puerto Rican gang called The Vampires, who were on their way to a confrontation with an Irish gang called the Norsemen, when a rumble broke out and two teenaged innocent bystanders were stabbed to death. Witnesses described Agron as a “tall Puerto Rican wearing a cape.” Thus he was called the Capeman. He was convicted and sentenced to death at age 16, but his sentence was commuted after pleas for mercy from prominent citizens including Eleanor Roosevelt. He was later released from prison after serving twenty years, apparently as a model prisoner, getting an education and becoming a political activist, before dying of natural causes in 1986 at the age of 43.

Simon was drawn to the story, which suggested a musical setting of 1950s styles and Latin rhythms, which were a part of his own formative years. He began collaborating with Walcott in 1993 to write a musical which became The Capeman.

Booklet01AThis CD is interesting in that it is not an original cast recording in the traditional sense. There are some members of the Broadway cast, but Simon performs most of the songs himself, taking on various roles. But there are also other voices who appear doing lead vocals, most notably Marc Anthony, and there is a notable cameo appearance by Ruben Blades. Most of the musicians are Latin jazz players based in New York, such as pianist Oscar Harnandez and drummer Robbie Ameen. The styles on the CD range from doo-wop acapella to rockabilly to salsa to jazzy. The 55-minute CD features thirteen songs from the more than thirty that are to appear in the stage production, hence the title Songs from The Capeman. Interspersed in the CD are snippets of old news interviews with Agron.

Though Simon tried a set of related songs on his largely unsuccessful One Trick Pony, Songs from the Capeman has a very good “book” as they say in the musical theater. The story develops well, and is nicely done on the CD, though Simon includes uncharacteristically coarse language in the lyrics. There’s also some racial epithets in what is at its core, a rather gritty story.

The songs explore both the young gang-banger Salvador and an older, more “rehumanized” version of the same character, in some instances speaking to each other. The gangsters’ mother, whom Simon met and interviewed in his research for the CD, along with the mothers of the victims are also portrayed in the lyrics, as are other gang members, girlfriends and even a jailer who thought it unfair that Agron should receive in education in prison. The result makes for satisfying listening, — music that tells a several sides of a story well, and does it in a manner unlike the what one would expect to hear on Broadway.

The CD begins with a piece called Adios Hermanos, sung as an acapella doo-wop song. It incorporates a dialogue between the older Salvador recalling his trial, and the younger version, the gang member. It effectively sets up the storyline.

That leads into one of the album’s best pieces from a musical standpoint. Born in Puerto Rice is classic Paul Simon, the world-musician, tastefully incorporating Latin influences, while providing a kind of early musical biography of Salvador Agron.

It’s doo-wop acapella for the following track Satin Summer Nights sung by Marc Anthony, taking the part of the young Salvador recalling pleasant romantic memories.

Bernadette is another love song, sung by Simon, in a style recalling Fifties rock and with a hint of jazziness.

Salvador’s initiation into his gang is the basis for the track called The Vampires, done as a tasty slow salsa.

One of the most lyrically powerful compositions on the CD is Can I Forgive Him. Interestingly, it’s a solo acoustic demo Simon recorded in his home. The lyrics are a dialogue among Agron’s mother and his those of his victims.

Once Agron is imprisoned, he pursues an education there, and that causes some ambivalence among the inmates and one of the guards. A short piece called Killer Wants to Go to College, tells the story in a Fifties rock setting.

A prison guard named Virgil in the song of the same name is resentful of Agron’s studies in prison, especially when Virgil cannot afford to send his own kids to college.

Time Is an Ocean is a dialogue between the younger Salvador and his older counterpart, with Marc Anthony and Ruben Blades singing the respective parts, in another nice Salsa arrangement.

Booklet11AThe album ends with Trailways Bus, with the main character having been released and on his way to freedom in Texas, but finding discrimination from the border patrol.

Paul Simon’s new CD Songs from The Capeman is an outstanding effort from one of our best songwriters. His first full-blown venture into musical theater, the CD is an interesting cross between a new solo album by Simon and a cast recording of the Broadway production. As usual, the musicianship is first-rate, and Simon’s own performance is very understated, sometimes almost dispassionately telling the story of crime, violence and ethnic divisions, unbroadcastable language and all. Simon and his literary collaborator Derek Walcott have created a nice new twist on an old plot line that goes back to West Side Story, in this case based on real people and events. Drawing on the sounds of the late 1950s, including doo-wop and the Latin American sounds that were part of the Puerto Rican characters background, and with lyrics that skillfully tell the story without the need for a lot of explanation, the CD is one of Simon’s most artistically successful works yet, and destined to be another classic in his career — though there’s nothing like a pop hit song to be found on the record.

In our weekly sound-quality grade, we’ll give the CD an “A.” The mix is excellent and captures everything well, but dynamic range is restricted a bit by the usual compression in mastering that is typical of major-label CD releases.

Forty years after the release of his first hit record, Hey Schoolgirl with Art Garfunkel as “Tom & Jerry,” Paul Simon has created a fascinating new work in Songs from the Capeman, turning his attention to writing for Broadway, but in the process creating a worthy new recording that reflects his own distinctive style. (by George Graham)

DerekDerek Walcott

Bobby Allende (percussion)
Robby Ameen (drums, guitar)
Johnny Andrews (timbales)
Marc Anthony (vocals)
Angelo Aponte (background vocals)
John Beal (bass)
Errol Crusher Bennett (shaker)
Karen Bernod (background vocals)
Rubén Blades (vocals)
Laura Bontrager (cello)
Bobby Bright (background vocals)
Briz (background vocals)
Marcia Butler (oboe)
Pablo Calogero (clarinet, saxophone)
Milton Cardona (background vocals, percussion)
Renee Connell-Adams (background vocals)
Richard Crooks (drums)
Steve Cropper (guitar)
Barry Danielian (flugelhorn)
David Davila (background vocals)
Ray de la Paz (background vocals)
Chris Eminizer (saxophone)
Krista Bennion Feeney (violin)
Shannon Ford (drums)
Bob Franceschini (saxophone)
Mitch Frohman (saxophone)
Tony Garnier (bass)
Hans Giraldo (background vocals)
Myrna Lynn Gomila (background vocals)
Nelson Gonzalez     Plenaro, Tres
Paul Griffin (piano)
Juliet Haffner (viola)
Kevin Harrison (background vocals)
Oscar Hernandez  (celeste, glockenspiel, piano, synthesizer, vibraphone)
Bill Holloman (saxophone, trumpet)
Derrick James (background vocals)
Kia Jeffries (background vocals)
Bakithi Kumalo (bass)
Saturnino Laboy (guitar)
Jay Leonhart (bass)
Paul Livant (guitar)
Oriente Lopez (keyboards, flute)
David Mann (saxophone)
Luis Marrero (background vocals)
Diomedes Matos (guitar)
Ozzie Melendez (trombone)
Bernie Minoso (guitar, bass)
Edgardo Miranda (cuatro)
Edwin Montalve (congas)
Ednita Nazario (vocals)
Vincent Nguini (guitar)
Pablo Nunez (percussion)
Horace Ott (piano)
Paul Peabody (violin)
Sean Pulley (background vocals)
Marc Quiñones (congas, timbales)
Angel Ramirez, Jr. (background vocals)
Sara Ramírez (vocals)
Michael Ramos (accordion)
Wallace Richardson (guitar)
Danny Rivera (vocals)
David “Piro” Rodríguez (trumpet)
Rubén Rodríguez (bass)
Teana Rodriguez (background vocals)
Stewart Rose (french horn)
Arlen Roth (guitar)
Jimmy Sabater (congas, cowbell)
Nestor Sanchez (background vocals)
Harper Simon (guitar, harmonica)
Paul Simon (vocals, guitar)
DeWayne Snype (background vocals)
Edgar Stewart (background vocals)
Dionte Sutton (background vocals)
Trent Sutton (background vocals)
Robby Turner (pedal steel-guitar)
Hechter Ubarry (background vocals)
Robert Vargas (background vocals)
Ed Vasquez (background vocals)
Ray Vega (trumpet)
John Walsh (trumpet)


01. Adios Hermanos 4.42
02. Born In Puerto Rico 4.54
03. Satin Summer Nights 5.46
04. Bernadette 3.28
05. The Vampires 5.06
06. Quality 4.10
07. Can I Forgive Him 6.02
08. Sunday Afternoon 3,25
09. Killer Wants To Go To College 1.51
10. Time Is An Ocean 5.24
11. Virgil 2.50
12. Killer Wants To Go To College, No. 2 2.10
13. Trailways Bus 5.15
Paul Simon / Derek Walcott

All songs written by Paul Simon + Derek Walcott


The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble – Same (2006)

FrontCover1The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble’s form of mutant jazz, slithers and slides…delicately painful. Each song, a little story of heartache, hope and perseverance, seemlessly fusing analogue and digital.
Soundtracks to non-existing movies, inspired by the worlds of The Quay Brothers, Hieronymus Bosch, Picasso, Goya, Murnau and Lang.

Jason Kohnen (aka Bong-Ra) and Gideon Kiers started TKDE around the turn of the century, creating new soundtracks to existing silent movies such as Murnau’s Nosferatu and Lang’s Metropolis. Both graduates of the School of Arts and majoring in audiovisuals and multimedia, the audio/visual concept developed into creating ‘visual’ music supported by existing film fragments to intensify the audio.
The Quay Brothers became a big inspiration for their debut album. Their surreal world combined many weird and wonderful aspects to strengthen TKDE’s sound.
Hilary Jeffrey on trombone joined in 2004, having performed with artists such as Nick Bullen and Patrick Pulsinger, also mastering trombone improvisation. Nina Hitz on cello and Ed Loman on guitar and Lica on vocal improvs form the TKDE live quintet or sextet, with Kiers providing drums, sequencing and visuals and Kohnen the bass, synths and sequencing. (by planet mu)


The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble (TKDE) formed in 2000 as a project to compose new music for existing silent movies. Jason Köhnen (aka Bong-Ra) and Gideon Kiers, both graduates of the Utrecht School of Arts, combined their audio and visual skills to reinterpret classic movies by F.W. Murnau (Nosferatu) and F. Langs (Metropolis). (by

Recorded and composed between 2000 and 2002.
(Re)mixed and mastered in 2005.

Nina Hitz (cello)
Hilary Jeffries (trombone)
Gideon Kiers (programming)
Jason Kohnen (bass, guitar, programming)

BookletA Tracklist:
01. The Nothing Changes 4.54
02. Pearls For Swine 5.50
03. Adaptation Of The Koto Song by Dave Brubeck 3.58
04. Lobby 6.56
05. Parallel Corners 3.34
06. Rivers Of Congo 5.28
07. Solomon’s Curse 3.20
08. Amygdhala 3.58
09. Guernican Perspectives 4.48
10. Vegas 6.09
11. March Of The Swine 19.59

composed by Gideon Kiers  & Jason Kohnen


Mitch Miller And The Gang – Sing Along With Mitch (1958)

FrontCover1This is the kind of album that Howard and Marion Cunningham (Tom Bosley and Marion Ross) and their neighbors would have been listening to together on Happy Days, if the latter had been a CBS series rather than an ABC series. Seriously, starting with “That Old Gang of Mine,” Mitch Miller and the Gang go through 16 songs (some as medleys) that, even in 1958, felt like they were 100 years old. In fairness, they don’t feel quite like they’re 150 years old when heard on the CD in 2007 — to that degree, they’ve sort of become “timeless” — but they were definitely intended to appeal to parents and grandparents at the time of the album’s release. The performances on such tunes as “Down by the Old Mill Stream,” “You Are My Sunshine,” and “By the Light of the Silvery Moon,” are bold and robust, with little touches of subtlety in TVGuidethe dynamics and the spare accompaniment — often not much more than a harmonica or an accordion, with a ukulele — and the tempos, that make them somewhat more interesting to hear as a body than they are as individual tracks. Actually, Miller and company seem to have planned this album as a total, cohesive listening experience rather than a series of separate, isolated songs, as the numbers come almost right up against each other, with virtually no pause between. Among the individual tracks, those who liked Miller’s hit rendition of “The Yellow Rose of Texas” will probably luxuriate in the version of “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” featured here. The contrasting tempos and melodies are all very carefully selected, for the greatest variety between songs, and it’s all calculated right down to the light-hearted final track, “Be Kind to Your Web-Footed Friends,” which is here as a jocular, almost self-deprecating finish. It’s almost a concept album, in that sense — and was Miller consciously stepping into territory that his one-time most outspoken in-house critic, Frank Sinatra, was staking out in his then-current berth at Capitol Records? — and a surprisingly well-crafted one. And while it is easy to scoff at this kind of music 50 years on, one should also remember that Sing Along with Mitch was one of the bigger selling albums in the Columbia Records library, staying in print for decades and racking up sales sufficient to earn it a release as part of the label’s first wave of budget-priced CDs (alongside albums such as Paul Revere & the Raiders’ Greatest Hits etc.), thirty years after its original release. (by Bruce Eder)

“I grew up watching this in the early 60’s. What a gas it was. I was in kindergarten and tried to sing along with Mitch and the gang all the time. They just don’t make programs like this anymore.” (maribellevazquez)

MitchMiller1956Mitch Miller in 1956

Mitch Miller And The Gang

01. That Old Gang Of Mine (Dixon/Henderson/Rose) 2.06
02. Down By The Old Mill Stream (Clough/Taylor) 2.37
03. By The Light Of The Silvery Moon (Edwards/Madden) 2.15
04. You Are My Sunshine (Davis/Mitchell) 3.18
05. Till We Meet Again (Egan/Whiting) 2.44
06. Let The Rest Of The World Go By (Ball/Brennan) 3.04
07. Sweet Violets (Coben/Grean) 2.42
08. I’ve Got Sixpence/I’ve Been Working On The Railroad/That’s Where My Mon (Traditional) 4.03
09. She Wore A Yellow Ribbon (Traditional) 2.49
10. Don’t Fence Me In (Porter) 2.05
11. There Is A Tavern In The Town/Show Me The Way To Go Home (King/Traditional) 3.23
12. Bell Bottom Trousers/Be Kind To Your Web-Footed Friends (Jaffe) 2.54


Pete Seeger – I Can See A New Day (In Concert) (1964)

FrontCover1I Can See a New Day is Pete Seeger’s fifth album for Columbia Records and, like its four predecessors, was recorded live in concert. But where his previous four Columbia LPs were pegged to specific venues, all in New York City — Story Songs at the Village Gate, The Bitter and the Sweet at the Bitter End, Children’s Concert at Town Hall, and We Shall Overcome at Carnegie Hall — no place of performance is indicated here. The inference is that I Can See a New Day has been assembled from various live tapes, and probably from unused songs recorded at the shows that provided the other albums. In fact, the characteristic echo of Carnegie Hall, clearly audible on many tracks, suggests that a good half of the disc is excerpted from the same June 8, 1963, show that led to We Shall Overcome. But if these are performances that were overlooked the first time around, that is not to say they are PeteSeeger1964_2unworthy. Rather, this is a typical Seeger show, mixing folk standards like the opener, Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land,” with spirituals (“Oh What a Beautiful City,” “Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd”), and politically oriented material ranging from “Viva la Quince Brigada” (Long Live the 15th Brigade), which recalls the Spanish Civil War and gets a howlingly positive response from what sounds like an audience full of Old Lefties, to the mineworkers’ laments “The Bells of Rhymney” (clearly not from the Carnegie show) and “Mrs. Clara Sullivan’s Letter,” both of which come from poems Seeger set to music. Of course, war is also decried, notably in the old folk song “Mrs. McGrath” (whose son comes back from war without his legs) and “I Come and Stand at Every Door,” the cry of a Hiroshima victim. As all this suggests, the overall tone of the disc is serious and somewhat downcast, with only the title song, “How Can I Keep from Singing,” and the new “Healing River” (co-written by Seeger’s old Weavers bandmate Fred Hellerman) providing some consolation and hope. Nevertheless, the audiences sing along in solidarity, and Seeger is as earnest as ever. (by William Ruhlmann)

PeteSeeger1964Playing the long-necked, five string banjo that was his trademark, Seeger recorded two programmes for the BBC in 1964.

Pete Seeger (banjo, vocals)
Audience (background vocals)

01. This Land Is Your Land (Guthrie) 2.38
02. Oh What A Beautiful City (Traditional) 2.58
03. Healing River (Hekkerman/Minkoff) 1.40
04. Follow The Drinkin’ Gourd (Traditional) 2.25
05. Viva La Quince Brigada (Traditional) 3.27
06. Oh Louisianna (Traditional) 3.33
07. The Bells Of Rhymney (Davies/Seeger) 5.21
08. Go Down Old Hannah (Traditional) 3.58
09. How Can I Keep From Singing (Traditional) 2.59
10. Mrs. McGrath (Traditional) 3.36
11. Mrs. Clara Sullivan’s Letter (Reynolds/Seeger) 3.31
12. (The Ring On My Finger Is) Johnny Give Me (Traditional) 2.26
13. I Come And Stand On Every Door (Hikmet/Seeger) 5.09
14. I Can See A New Day (Rice) 1.46



Maynard Ferguson His Orchestra and Octet – Band Ain’t Draggin’ (2005)

FrontCover1When he debuted with Stan Kenton’s Orchestra in 1950, Maynard Ferguson could play higher than any other trumpeter up to that point in jazz history, and he was accurate. Somehow he kept most of that range through his career and since the 1970s has been one of the most famous musicians in jazz. Never known for his exquisite taste (some of his more commercial efforts are unlistenable), Ferguson nevertheless led some important bands and definitely made an impact with his trumpet playing.

After heading his own big band in Montreal, Ferguson came to the United States in 1949 with hopes of joining Kenton’s orchestra, but that ensemble had just recently broke up. So instead, Ferguson gained experience playing with the big bands of Boyd Raeburn, Jimmy Dorsey, and Charlie Barnet. In 1950, with the formation of Kenton’s Innovations Orchestra, Ferguson became a star, playing ridiculous high notes with ease. In 1953, he left Kenton to MaynardFergusonwork in the studios of Los Angeles and three years later led the all-star “Birdland Dreamband.” In 1957, he put together a regular big band that lasted until 1965, recorded regularly for Roulette (all of the band’s recordings with that label are on a massive Mosaic box set) and performed some of the finest music of Ferguson’s career. Such players as Slide Hampton, Don Ellis, Don Sebesky, Willie Maiden, John Bunch, Joe Zawinul, Joe Farrell, Jaki Byard, Lanny Morgan, Rufus Jones, Bill Berry, and Don Menza were among the more notable sidemen.

After economics forced him to give up the impressive band, Ferguson had a few years in which he was only semi-active in music, spending time in India and eventually forming a new band in England. After moving back to the U.S., Ferguson in 1974 drifted quickly into commercialism. Young trumpeters in high school and colleges were amazed by his high notes, but jazz fans were dismayed by the tasteless recordings that resulted in hit versions of such songs as the themes from Star Wars and Rocky and much worse. After cutting back on his huge orchestra in the early ’80s, Ferguson recorded some bop in a 1983 session, led a funk band called High Voltage during 1987-1988, and then returned to jazz with his “Big Bop Nouveau Band,” a medium-sized outfit with which he toured the world up until his death from kidney and liver failure on August 23, 2006. (by Scott Yanow)

MaynardFergusonStanKentonMaynard Ferguson + Stan Kenton

This great CD was released in 2005 and it includes many of Maynard’s tracks from the early 1950s. It starts off with MF fronting what was essentially the Kenton Orchestra on the tracks Band Ain’t Draggin’, Short Wave, Love Locked Out, and Take the “A” Train (9/13/50). Next are What’s New? and The Hot Canary (5/31/51), Roses all the Way, And So I Waited Around, Homing Pidgeon, and Wow! (2/25/52), then finishes off with Thou Swell, The Way You Look Tonight, All God’s Chillun Got Rhythym, Willie Nillie, Hymn to Her, Lonely Town, and Over the Rainbow (2/19/54). Great, GREAT stuff!!!

The music on these sides is the product of different sessions that represent, between them, a veritable Blue Book of West Coast jazz. At the head of each ensemble, enjoying himself to the full, is trumpeter extraordinary Maynard Ferguson. Most of the men heard in this CD were old friends, either colleagues from the Stan Kenton band or Californians with whom he had worked on and off for several years. 18 total tracks originally recorded in 1950-54. (by amazon)

MaynardFerguson2Maynard Ferguson in 1962

Alfred ‘Chico’ Alvarez (trumpet)
Don Bagley (bass)
Milt Bernhart (trombone)
Harry Betts (trombone)
Ralph Blaze (guitar)
Kay Brown (vocals)
Bart Caldarell (saxophone)
Bob Cooper (saxophone)
Curtis Counce (bass)
Gene Englund (tuba)
Maynard Ferguson (trumpet, valve trombone, vocals)
Bob Fitzpatrick (trombone)
Russ Freeman (piano)
Bob Gioga (saxophone)
Jimmy Giuffre (saxophone)
Bob Gordon (saxophone)
John Graas (french horn)
Herbie Harper (trombone)
John Howell (trumpet)
Dick Kenney (trombone)
Stan Kenton (piano)
Barney Kessel (guitar)
Shelly Manne (drums)
Joe Mondragon (bass)
Abe Most (saxophone)
Frank Patchen (piano)
Art Pepper (saxophone)
Al Porcino (trumpet)
Shorty Rogers (trumpet)
Joe Rotundi (piano)
Jimmy Salko (trumpet)
Bud Shank (saxophone, flute)
Paul Weigand (bass trombone)

01. Band Ain’t Draggin’ (Greene) 2.10
02. Short Wave (Rogers) 2.35
03. Love Locked Out (Noble/Kester) 2.57
04. Take the “A” Train (Strayhorn) 2.53
05. What’s New (Haggart/Burke) 3.11
06. The Hot Canary (Nero/Gilbert) 2.21
07. Roses All The Way (Carpenter/Weber) 2.38
08. And So I Waited Around (Altman(Kaye) 2.52
09. Homing Pidgeon (Drake/Shirl/Jerome) 2.36
10. Wow! (Roders) 2.06
11. Maiden Voyage (Maiden) 3.00
12. Thou Swell (Rodgers/Hart) 2.44
13. The Way You Look Tonight (Kern/Fields) 2.54
14. All God’s Chillun Got Rhythm (Kaper/Jurman) 2.55
15. Willie Nillie (Maiden) 3.04
16. Hymn To Her (Maiden) 2.34
17. Lonely Town (Comden/Green/Bernstein) 3.08
18. Over The Rainbow (Arlen/Harburg) 3.03


Dutch Mason Blues Band – The Blues Ain’t Bad (1976)

FrontCover1Dutch (b Norman) Mason. Singer, guitarist, pianist, b Lunenburg, NS, 19 Feb 1938, d Truro, NS, 23 Dec 2006. Raised in Kentville, NS, he played several instruments during his youth, including drums in a jazz band. The earliest of his own groups, which worked around Nova Scotia during the mid-1950s, were in a rock ‘n’ roll or ‘rockabilly’ style. Mason, a singer, pianist and guitarist, was introduced to the blues via recordings of B.B. King, who would remain an important influence. Mason performed in Toronto as early as 1959, but based his career in Nova Scotia. During the 1970s he performed in a succession of blues bands in a variety of bars such as Sullivan’s in Halifax and the Wyse Owl in Dartmouth. He tirelessly toured Canada as part of the Dutch Mason Trio with musicians such as bassist Ronnie Miller and drummer Ken Clattenburg, building an audience for the blues and earning the nickname “Prime Minister of the Blues.”

As his reputation for being a colourful performer in a tough, fundamental, urban blues style grew during the late 1970s and the 1980s, he began working on the club circuit across the country, appearing frequently at the Rising Sun in Montreal and Albert’s Hall in Toronto.

Mason’s first LPs from 1971, Dutch Mason Trio at the Candlelight (Paragon ALS-263) and Putting It All Together (Marathon MS-2107), were followed in 1976 by The Blues Ain’t Bad (Owl Blues Productions OBP-2008), in 1977 by Janitor of the Blues (Solar SAR-2020), in 1979 by Wish Me Luck (Lon PS-733/Attic MLAT-1142), in the early 1980s by Special Brew (Attic LAT-1093) and Gimmee A Break (Attic LAT-1114), and in 1991 by I’m Back (Stony Plain SPCD-1169). In 1998, to celebrate his 60th birthday, CBC Radio recorded a live tribute CD that included Charles “Bucky” Adams (saxophone), Nova Scotia Mass Choir, Doris Mason, Sam Moon, Frank MacKay and Dutch Mason.

Mason was nominated for Best Blues Album at the 1994 Juno Awards and Half Ain’t Been Told (2004), earned him a nomination for Best Blues Album at the 2005 East Coast Music Awards.

Mason was one of the original inductees to the Canadian Jazz and Blues Hall of Fame, and in 2005, Norman Byron (Dutch) Mason became a Member of the Order of Canada.

In 2005 Dutch Mason’s son, Garrett Mason, earned a Juno Award for Best Blues album. (by canadian encyclopedia)

Great debut album from the late Dutch Mason. “The Blues Ain’t Bad” is pure, unassuming, straightforward Blues/R&B. The guy never compromised his music, and there are some great covers here of songs by Willie Dixon, Ray Charles, B.B. King, A. Toussaint, Robert Johnson and others, all played in the great traditional blues style. (by overdoseoffingalcocoa)

Gary Blair (drums)
Wade Brown (guitar)
Gregg Fancy (bass)
Rick Jeffery (harmonica)
Dutch Mason (guitar, vocals)
Peter Hysen (trombone)
Gary Johnson (trumpet)
Mike Leggett (piano)
Janet Simmons (baqckground vocals on 07.)
Joel Harris Zemel (guitar, background vocals on 07.)
01. Pawnbroker (King) 4.29
02. Diddly Diddly Daddy (McDaniels) 5.40
03. The Thrill is Gone (King) 4.48
04. Get Outa My Life Woman (Toussaint) 3-37
05. Move Up To The Country (Traditional)
06. I’m Ready (Dixon) 8.05
07. Hard Times (Ray Charles)
08. Baby Please Don’t Go (Big Joe Williams)
09. Walkin’ Blues (Robert Johnson) 3.46


Simon & Garfunkel – Back To College 1969 (1994)

FrontCover1Besides some concerts in the beginning of 1969 Simon & Garfunkel toured the US during November. Not only the campusses, which they played a lot during their career, also the larger halls like NYC’s ‘Carnegie Hall’.
Most of this tour seems to have been recorded by Columbia Records. Was a ‘live album’ in the making? Maybe. But it was also filmed for a special to be aired ABC, nation wide. A special called ‘Songs for America’.

From their November 69 tour at least one famous bootleg exists. ‘Back to college’ released on the Yellow Dog label (YD 044) in 1994.

Recorded at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, 11 November 1969. This is historically important, as it was this tour that saw the first performance of the ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ album. You can see that even here Paul was getting pissed off with Art being a movie star. By saying ‘No-one cares for the little old song writer anymore.

“… it’s fascinating to hear the songs that would be released on 1970’s Bridge Over Troubled Water in sparser musical settings, played in front of an audience that had never heard these songs before. When Art Garfunkel introduces “Bridge” by saying, “Here’s another new song, probably my favorite, called ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water,’” you can’t help but smile, knowing what’s coming for the audience.

What is eye opening on these songs is how powerful Art Garfunkel’s singing is on them. I had always thought of Garfunkel more as an appendage than as a true partner of Simon’s – but this show proves me wrong. And while the duo was backed here by their great studio band – drummer Hal Blaine, bassist Joe Osborn, pianist Larry Knechtel and guitarist Fred Carter Jr., they’re used sparingly and subtly, letting the strength, craft and skill of the songs and voices shine through. ” (by a deeper shade of soul)

Arthur Garfunkel (vocals)
Paul Simon (vocals, guitar)
Hal Blaine (drums)
Fred Carter, Jr. (guitar)
Larry Knechtel (keyboards)
Joe Osborn (bass)

01. Mrs. Robinson 4.51
02. Fakin’ It 3.33
03. The Boxer 5.28
04. So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright 3.11
05.Why Don’t You Write Me 3.38
06. Silver Haired Daddy 3.19
07. Cuba Si – Nixon No 3.27
08. Bridge Over Troubled Water 5.47
09. The Sound Of Silence 4.43
10. Bye Bye Love 2.34
11. Homeward Bound 6.28
12. At The Zoo 2.18
13. America 7.19
14. Song For The Asking 1.45
15. A Poem On The Underground Wall 3.52
16. For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her 2.29



Alternate frontcovers

Bert Jansch & Martin Jenkins – Avocet (1979)

FrontCover1n observance of Bert Jansch’s passing, I think it’s fitting to feature what’s probably my favorite Bert Jansch album, 1979’s Avocet.  Though Bert had already flirted with pure instrumentals on his solo albums, as far as I know Avocet is his only all-instrumental album.  While it may not get the attention Bert’s earlier solo records generated, I think it’s a fine showcase for Bert’s abilities as a guitarist as well as a composer, and a sort of detour I always wish he would have pursued further on other albums.

The lengthy title track occupies the first side of the album and is thus its centerpiece.  It’s easy to realize right away that this is what music critics love to call a “pastoral” album (I wouldn’t be surprised to hear the words “very British” either).  The focus, of course, is on Jansch’s fingerpicked acoustic guitar, supported by all-around double bass badass Danny Thompson and English folk journeyman Martin Jenkins on violin, flute, mandolin and mandocello (don’t get to hear that one very often), who often carries the songs’ melodic burden.  Jansch’s playing is typically beautiful, seamlessly superimposing arpeggios, single-note lines and multi-string leads on top of his characteristic Travis picking.  I’m always struck by how understated yet impressive Jansch’s playing is when viewed close-up; it doesn’t sound like he’s showing off, but the amount of string bending, pattern-changing and fluid stylistic variation is constant and awesome in its scope.  “Avocet” meanders gently through its many parts, providing plenty of melody to anchor the musicianship–though it’s not the most focused extended instrumental, it manages to weave a recurring melody across major/minor subsections that span folk, jazz and more of a renaissance flavor before gently coming to rest with Jansch’s uniquely mellow-yet-somehow-violent plucking.

InTheStudioIn the studio

Call me a rogue, but the album’s second side sounds even better to my ears–the shorter song lengths seem to lend themselves to more distinctive structures.  “Lapwing” transcends Jansch’s rudimentary piano technique to deliver a pensive minor melody, while “Bittern” introduces a hypnotic, swaying waltz melody and showcases Thompson’s righteous bass skills (I can’t decide if he’s simply an awesome bassist, or it’s just that he’s miked hotter than most, or [more likely] both).  Things get jazzy on the darker “Kingfisher,” which features some of the album’s more surprising chord changes.  The 5/4 time of “Osprey” and the lush lyricism and guitar/mandolin doubling “Kittewake” close the album at its most melodic, proving that, though the title and mood of the disc connote nature documentary background music, there’s more than enough substance here to justify close listening.  After reacquainting my ears with these songs, I think Avocet is a fitting representation of Bert Jansch the musician–unassuming and humble, yet full of complex and effortless beauty–you just have to take the time to pay attention. (by Elliott G. Knapp)

Recorded in February 1978 at Sweet Silence Studios, Copenhagen, Denmark

(Therefore I use the original cover from the danish record company and not the frontcover of Charisma Records, UK)

Bert Jansch (guitar, piano)
Martin Jenkins (cello mandoline, violin, flute)
Danny Thompson (bass)


01. Avocet (Jansch) 17.59
02. Lapwing (Jansch) 1.35
03. Bittern (Jansch) 7.49
04. Kingfisher (Jansch) 3.42
05. Osprey (Jenkins) 3.15
06. Kittiwake (Jansch) 2.49


CharismaFrontCoverCharisma frontcover