John Martyn – Solid Air (1973)

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Iain David McGeachy OBE (11 September 1948 – 29 January 2009), known professionally as John Martyn, was a British singer-songwriter and guitarist. Over a 40-year career, he released 22 studio albums, and received frequent critical acclaim. The Times described him as “an electrifying guitarist and singer whose music blurred the boundaries between folk, jazz, rock and blues”.

Martyn began his career at age 17 as a key member of the British folk music scene, drawing inspiration from American blues and English traditional music, and signed with Island Records. By the 1970s he had begun incorporating jazz and rock into his sound on albums such as Solid Air (1973) and One World (1977), as well as experimenting with guitar effects and tape delay machines such as Echoplex. He struggled with substance abuse and domestic problems throughout the 1970s and 1980s, though continued to release albums while collaborating with figures such as Phil Collins and Lee “Scratch” Perry. He remained active until his death in 2009.

Solid Air is the fourth studio album by British folk singer-songwriter John Martyn, released in February 1973 by Island Records.

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The album was recorded over eight days and features instrumental contributions by bassist Danny Thompson and members of Fairport Convention. “Solid Air”, the title track, was dedicated to a friend of Martyn’s, Nick Drake, who would die of an antidepressant overdose 18 months after the album was released. Martyn said of the track “It was done for a friend of mine, and it was done right with very clear motives, and I’m very pleased with it, for varying reasons. It has got a very simple message, but you’ll have to work that one out for yourself.” The album features an avant-garde cover of Skip James’ “Devil Got My Woman,” here retitled “I’d Rather Be the Devil” and performed with heavy use of Martyn’s Echoplex tape delay effect.

“May You Never” became something of a signature song for Martyn, becoming a staple of his live performances. Released in November 1971 as a single in an early form, the song JohnMartyn02was re-recorded during the Solid Air sessions.[8] Eric Clapton covered “May You Never” on his 1977 album Slowhand. When Martyn was presented with a lifetime achievement award by Phil Collins (a collaborator of Martyn’s) at the 2008 BBC Folk Awards, In 2006, Martyn performed the album live in its entirety as part of the All Tomorrow’s Parties-curated Don’t Look Back series and subsequently toured the UK.

A remastered CD was issued by Universal Records in October 2000. This CD was packaged in a card slipcase, and featured a remastered version of the original album with the addition of a live version of “I’d Rather Be The Devil”. Solid Air was given a further remastering and repackaging when a double CD reissue curated by John Hillarby was released in 2009, and which included several alternate studio and live versions.

The album cover is an example of schlieren photography demonstrating the ‘solid’ nature of air.

Solid Air was rated as the 67th Greatest British Album Ever by the British music magazine Q, and was also included in their list of Best Chill-Out Albums Of All Time. The album is included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery. It was voted number 826 in Colin Larkin’s All Time Top 1000 Albums 3rd Edition (2000).  (by wikipedia)

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Solid Air is one of the defining moments in British folk, in the same league as Fairport Convention’s Liege & Lief, Richard & Linda Thompson’s Shoot Out the Lights, and Michael Chapman’s Rainmaker. Martyn stepped out of his comfort zone to record and produce it, including not only jazz and blues but rock and plenty of sound effects, and featuring Rhodes piano on some of its tracks, dismaying some fans while winning a ton more for its genre-blurring presentation. A number of its cuts — such as the title track (written for Martyn’s friend, Nick Drake), “Over the Hill,” “I’d Rather Be the Devil,” and “May You Never” — remained staples in his live sets until the end of his life. (by by Thom Jurek)

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Personnel:
Neemoi “Speedy” Acquaye (percussion)
John “Rabbit” Bundrick (keyboards, clavinet)
John Martyn (guitar, vocals, keyboards on 09.)
Dave Mattacks (drums)
Dave Pegg (bass)
Danny Thompson (bass)
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Tristan Fry (vibraphone on 01.)
Tony Coe (saxophone on 01. + 06.)
Sue Draheim (violin on 02.)
Simon Nicol (autoharp on 02.)
Richard Thompson (mandolin on 02.)

Booklet
Tracklist:
01. Solid Air (Martyn) 5.47
02. Over The Hill (Martyn) 2.51
03. Don’t Want To Know (Martyn) 3.02
04. I’d Rather Be The Devil (James) 6.19
05. Go Down Easy (Martyn) 3.36
06. Dreams By The Sea (Martyn) 3.18
07. May You Never (Martyn) 3.43
08. The Man In The Station (Martyn) 2.55
09. The Easy Blues (Martyn) 3.22

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JohnMartyn03John Martyn (11 September 1948 – 29 January 2009)

 

Joe Pass – The Stones Jazz (1966)

FrontCover1The Stones Jazz is an album by jazz guitarist Joe Pass that was released in 1967. Except for one song, all tracks are jazz covers of songs recorded by The Rolling Stones. (by wikipedia)

An album of songs by the Rolling Stones hardly sounds like promising material for any jazz release, even in the hands of a master guitarist like Joe Pass. Featuring ten of their hits with arrangements by Bob Florence and an unidentified cast of musicians, other than tenor saxophonist Bill Perkins, this LP was clearly one for a paycheck when most jazz players were scratching for work. Unlike the works of Lennon and McCartney of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones’ music doesn’t lend itself to jazz. Pass doesn’t solo with the gusto one came to expect from his many great sessions from the 1970s to the end of his life for Pablo and elsewhere. Even the closing blues “Stones Jazz,” credited to Florence and Pass, sounds severely dated and not worth a second hearing to today’s jazz listener. A very unlikely candidate for reissue on CD, this record will be sought by Joe Pass fanatics only. (by Ken Dryden)

This was recorded for the Pacific Jazz label in Los Angeles in a single session on July 20, 1966.

JoePass01I grew up listening to the stones and even playing their music in a garage band circa 1964-65, so this album piqued my interest.

To be perfectly honest, this is an album of somewhat lopsided arrangements that no neither jazz nor the Stones justice in my opinion. Yes, the musicianship is excellent. No doubt about that. The song selection is also representative of what the Stones recorded (except for track 11, which is Pass’ composition). Why I probably am not as excited about this as I should be is I covered these tunes back with I was a teen drummer, and before I discovered jazz in a bigger way.

Above I described the arrangements as lopsided. That is because the main two instruments are a three piece guitar section and a four piece trombone section, the latter of which adds a lot of low end to the music. Those are augmented by a lone tenor saxophone, and a typical rhythm section comprised of a piano, bass, drum kit and percussion. As expected, the songs are going to sound completely different than the ones the Stones recorded. I wish there were sound samples to convey this. Also, just because I am not totally fond of this album is not to be construed as it’s bad – I am expressing my personal taste. You may actually love it. (Mike Tarrani)

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Personnel:
Milt Bernhart (trombone)
Ray Brown (bass)
Dennis Budimir (guitar)
Victor Feldman (percussion)
Bob Florence (piano)
John Guerin (drums)
Dick Hamilton (trombone)
Herbie Harper (trombone)
Gail Martin (trombone)
Joe Pass (guitar)
Bill Perkins (saxophone)
John Pisano (guitar)

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Tracklist:
01. Play With Fire (Nanker Phelge = Jagger/Richards) 3.00
02. 19th Nervous Breakdown (Jagger/Richards) 2.59
03. I Am Waiting (Jagger/Richards) 3.05
04. Lady Jane (Jagger/Richards) 2.51
05. Not Fade Away (Holly/Petty) 2.35
06. Mother’s Little Helper (Jagger/Richards) 2.52
07. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (Jagger/Richards)
08. Paint It Black (Jagger/Richards) 3.34
09. What A Shame (Jagger/Richards) 2.58
10. As Tears Go By (Jagger/Richards/Oldham) 3.04
11. Stone Jazz (Pass) 2.46

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Digno Garcia Y Su Trio Del Paraguay – Rythmes d’Amerique Latine (Mid 60´s)

FrontCover1Digno Garcia was born in the Paraguayan village of Luque, not far from the capital Asunción in 1919.

When Digno was a boy, his father forbade him to play harp, so he temporarily changed to guitar. At the age of 17 his uncle took him to the harbour of Asunción in search of suitable wood to build a harp. With the harp he made, he introduced a whole new style, with a very distinctive Digno Garcia rhythm. On that same harp he composed his first great success, Cascada, a harp solo inspired by the Chololo waterfall in Piribebuy.

Luckily, a record company attended one of his performances and offered him a contract. He then toured South America and Mexico.

In the early fifties, Paraguay entrusted its top 3 musicians with a 2-year mission during which they would travel around the world as the country’s cultural ambassadors Trio Los Paraguayos. This trio consisted of Agustín Barboza (known as king of the Guárania – Paraguayan love song), Luis Alberto del Parana as lead vocalist and Digno Garcia, harpist.

Via Genoa, Italy, the trio arrived in Europe in 1954. From there, it went to Belgium. Famous in South America, they were completely unknown to the European public. The Paraguayan consul in Belgium was given the task of launching the trio. Thanks to the intercession of the consul, the director of the casino in Knokke gave the trio the opportunity to open for Gilbert Becaud for an 8-day trial period.

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The success was huge. After three days, the trio was given a contract for July and August. The record company Philips soon learned about the success and offered the trio a record deal.
From Knokke they went to the Monte Carlo Sporting Club, where they were asked to perform on Aristotle Onassis’s yacht. Lobster and crayfish were a whole new experience for the musicians who were used to eating steak and who originated from a country that is landlocked. It was then that Onassis asked Digno if he would play the harp just for him.

After playing in Gstaadt, Switserland, they toured the major European casinos. In the summer of 55, again via a 2-month tour, their succes lead to the Ostend casino doubling the fee they had received from the Knokke casino. There, they were also invited to do a television broadcast from the Philips studios in Hilversum.After that summer and with the cultural mission completed, Perez Prado (known as king of the Mambo) invited the trio on a world tour. Luis del Parana was very enthusiastic, but the other two felt that they could easily continue on their own and that there was no need for them to link up with a mambo orchestra.

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This difference of opinion heralded the end of the trio that, under the name of Trio Los Paraguayos, recorded 3 traditional Paraguayan folk albums (10-inch record) for the Philips label. Luis then called on his brother from Paraguay to form a new trio in Germany and continued to work for the Philips label. Agustín Barboza returned to Paraguay making it his base. Although the three Paraguayans who formed the original trio each went their own separate musical ways, they remained friends for life.

Digno Garcia stayed in Belgium and had a trio come over from Paraguay. From 1957 and 1959, the four of them formed Digno Garcia y su Trio del Paraguay. Between 1959 and 1964, Digno formed the Trio Digno Garcia, together with Felix Rolon and Daniel Cardozo.

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In the meantime, Digno had signed up with Jacques Kluger, the boss of World Music in Belgium. During his Belgian tour in Knokke, Digno met his future wife, Vera Engelen. They married in 1962 and settled in Geraardsbergen where he lived until his death in 1984.

From 1964 till the end of his career, Digno worked with a new trio, Digno Garcia y sus Carios. He played with Lucho Marin and Miguel Angel Gamarra, who were later replaced by Ricardo Ortiz lead singer, and Alfonso Irala, also from Luque, second voice who specialised in playing the requinto guitar. Alfonso joined the trio in spring 1970 and at that time the lead singer was Julio Rojas, who on leaving the trio shortly afterwards, was replaced by Ricardo Ortiz.

Digno Garcia scored his greatest hits with his own rendition of the Cuban traditional song ‘Guantanamera’, and with his personal interpretation of ‘La Felicidad’ and ‘Brigitte Bardot’.
All that time, he continued to make his own harps for which pinewood was imported from Yugoslavia. From Geraardsbergen they toured the globe. Eastern Europe stayed out of their reach, but they did play in Japan, the Philippines, Iceland, the USA, Thailand and Lebanon.

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Every summer Digno returned to Estartit, Spain, from where he toured the Costa Brava. There, he wrote the song ‘Costa Brava’ which topped the charts in Spain for two years in a row (’67-’68). He wrote 80 songs and made about 40 records, which are still very popular today due to their timeless sound.

In 1994, the first posthumous CD was released. In that same year, the first memorial concert ‘Digno Garcia para Siempre’ was organised in Geraardsbergen in Belgium. The memorial concert was such a big success that it had to be moved to the Okapi Forum in Aalst (also in Belgium) where, since 1997, it has its own place in the Flemish music scene.

Digno Garcia specialised not only in playing the harp & Paraguayan folklore but also Spanish & Latin American classics He & his companions toured the world bringing this hitherto almost unknown music to millions. (dignogarcia.com)

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And here´s a nice French sampler from the mid 60´s … with music he recorded during the 50´s.

His Paraguayan pop songs specialize in brilliant sound, unusual repertoire and smooth trealment … 

Listen and enjoy !

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Personnel:
Digno Garcia Y Su Trio Del Paraguay

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Tracklist:
01. Lupita (Traditional) 3.06
02. Virgen del Campo (Vargas) 2.11
03. Cielito Lindo y Carnavalito (Traditional) 2.29
04. Reicito (Garcia/Alvarez) 2.15
05. India (Guerrero/Flores) 3.56
06. Aurora Divina (Peralta/Aquino) 2.13
07. Me Voy Pa’ El Pueblo (Valdez) 3.15
08. Entre San Juan y Mendoza (Traditional) 2.36
09. En Vano (Ortiz/Garcia) 2.51
10. Cascada (Garcia) 3.34
11. Pasito (Godoy) 2.52
12. Ya Me Voy (Gil) 3.17

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Digno García (Luque, 1919 – Geraardsbergen, 4 February 1984)