John Hammond – So Many Roads (1965)

FrontCover1John Hammond jr., son of the legendary Columbia Records A&R man who had signed Billie Holliday, Aretha Franklin and Bob Dylan, met the Hawks in Toronto in 1964 and was astonished by the perfection with which these young men played rhythm and blues. After several jam sessions with the Hawks, Hammond arranged for the Hawks to back him on this third album he would cut for Vanguard, but the record company insisted that he should use bassist Jimmy Lewis and piano player Mike Bloomfield. The old-time-blues inspired album So Many Roads ended up with Robbie, Levon and Garth contributing guitar, drums and keyboards. Robertson’s guitar work is among his most exciting blues performances, what Greil Marcus described as “all rough edges, jagged bits of metal ripping through the spare rhythm section”. (by http://theband.hiof.no)

So Many Roads is Hammond’s most notable mid-’60s Vanguard album, due not so much to Hammond’s own singing and playing (though he’s up to the task) as the yet-to-be-famous backing musicians. Three future members of the Band — Robbie Robertson, Garth Hudson, and Levon Helm — are among the supporting cast, along with Charlie John Hammond01Musselwhite on harmonica, and Mike Bloomfield also contributes. It’s one of the first fully realized blues-rock albums, although it’s not in the same league as the best efforts of the era by the likes of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band or John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. In part that’s because the repertoire is so heavy on familiar Chicago blues classics by the likes of Willie Dixon, Bo Diddley, and Muddy Waters; in part that’s because the interpretations are so reverent and close to the originals in arrangement; and in part it’s also because Hammond’s blues vocals were only okay. Revisionist critics thus tend to downgrade the record a notch. But in the context of its time — when songs like “Down in the Bottom,” “Long Distance Call,” “Big Boss Man,” and “You Can’t Judge a Book By the Cover” were not as well known as they would become — it was a punchy, well-done set of electric blues with a rock touch. (by Richie Unterberger)

What a line-up !!!

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Personnel:
Michael Bloomfield (piano)
John Hammond (vocals, guitar)
Levon Helms (drums)
Eric Hudson (organ)
Jimmy Lewis (bass)
Charlie Musselwhite (harmonica)
Robbie Robertson (guitar)

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Tracklist:
01. Down In The Bottom (Dixon) 3.05
02. Long Distance Call (Morganfield) 3.22
03. Who Do You Love (McDaniels) 3.03
04. I Want You To Love Me (Morganfield) 4.09
05. Judgment Day (Johnson/Hammond) 3.26
06. So Many Roads, So Many Trains (Paul) 2.43
07. Rambling Blues (Johnson) 3.19
08. O Yea! (McDaniels) 3.36
09. You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover (Dixon) 3.32
10. Gambling Blues (Jackson) 3.14
11. Baby, Please Don’t Go (Williams) 2.23
12. Big Boss Man (Smith/Dixon) 2.41

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Shakura S’aida – The Blueprint (2008)

FrontCover1Blues singer Shakura S’Aida (pronounced “Shack-oora Sigh-ee-da”) was born in Brooklyn and raised in Switzerland before settling in Toronto. She first began singing professionally with a Toronto band called Mystique, after which she worked with the world music band Kaleefah. Simultaneously, she pursued a legitimate stage career, appearing in Canadian productions of such shows as Ain’t Misbehavin’, and acted on television and in films. As a singer, she provided backup vocals for Patti LaBelle, performed in a Ray Charles tribute band, and appeared on albums by Bill King and Saturday Nite Fish Fry. Her own debut solo album, Blueprint, released by UMI on February 19, 2008, was a collection of blues songs of the 1940s and ‘50s. Two years later, the German label Ruf Records released her second album, Brown Sugar, which consisted largely of her own original compositions, co-written with her guitarist, Donna Grantis. (by William Ruhlmann)

Shakuras debut solo album signals a new beginning with some old music. She did songs that she felt gave her something to sing about. Songs that were once sung by Big Maybelle, Memphis Minnie, Big Mama Thornton and other phenomenal women of the time become Shakuras personal anthems. Recording with the best of Toronto talent gave Shakuras blues a new canvas to paint on. (Editorial Reviews, amazon)

Blues and soul with very much emotional singing, shouting, screaming. her best (Hugo V.)

We should remember her name … what a great voice !

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Personnel:
Howard Ayee (bass)
Michelle Josef (drums)
Dennis Keldie (keyboards)
Shakura S’Aida (vocals)
Simon Wallis (saxophone)
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Harrison Kennedy (guitar, vocals, harmonica on 09., harmonica on 10.)
David Rotundo (harmonica on 07.)
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background vocals:
Jackie Richardson – Shannon Maracle

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Tracklist:
01. No More Troubles Out Of Me (McCoy/Singleton) 3.30
02. He Doesn’t Care (About My Broken Heart) (Pryce) 5.35
03. One Monkey Don’t Stop The Show (McCoy/Singleton) 3.33
04. Getting Along Alright (Sharp/Singleton) 5.07
05. Stop It Baby (King) 3.44
06. Rain Down Rain (Chase) 5.09
07. Las Vegas Blues (S’Aida) 5.45
08. Me And My Chauffeur Blues (Lawlar) 4.11
09. Big City Lights (Have U Seen My Baby) (Randle) 3.29
10. I’m Living With The Blues (B.McGhee/R.McGhee) 2.53
11. Gotta Live (S’Aida) 5.01

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Hot Tuna – First Pull Up, Then Pull Down (1971)

FrontCover1First Pull Up, Then Pull Down is the second album by Hot Tuna, released in 1971 as RCA Victor LSP-4550. The album was recorded live with electric instruments, instead of the acoustic instruments used on the previous album, Hot Tuna. The album rose to #43 on the Billboard charts. In 1996, RCA released the CD box set Hot Tuna in a Can, which included a remastered version of this album, along with remasters of the albums Hot Tuna, Burgers, America’s Choice and Hoppkorv.Helmut Qualtinger (Remigius)First Pull Up, Then Pull Down is the second album by Hot Tuna, released in 1971 as RCA Victor LSP-4550. The album was recorded live with electric instruments, instead of the acoustic instruments used on the previous album, Hot Tuna. The album rose to #43 on the Billboard charts.  (by wikipedia)

While the first Hot Tuna album had comprised an acoustic trio featuring Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady, and Will Scarlet, the second album added violinist Papa John Creach and drummer Sammy Piazza, and most significantly, it added electricity. Now the sound was closer to Kaukonen’s features in Jefferson Airplane. The highlight was the eight-minute “Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning,” although “Candy Man” also became a concert favorite. (by William Ruhlmann)

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The name First Pull Up, Then Pull Down reminds me of uh, an aerobics class! I can totally see the instructor giving the students athletic lessons that require several up and down movements. I’m sure the album title means something else entirely though. This is a pretty good live album. Not as good as their self-titled live album where the songwriting was a little sharper, but still very very impressive. An authentic blues/country album. At least it’s more energetic compared to their debut with a greater variety of instruments. Sometimes these songs drag due to jamming a bit longer than necessary, but otherwise a pretty good album.

“John’s Other” is a great instrumental. At first it seems like the kind of instrumental that might drag or seem too obvious. By that I mean for example the violin playing in the beginning. The notes aren’t very impressive and it feels safe. You’ve heard violins like this a lot. However as the song moves forward the violin gradually gets more intense, a guitar solo comes in that’s even better and the harmonica part is probably my favorite aspect of the song. Still, I wish for more violin perhaps because it’s not a very popular instrument in the world of rock compared to guitars and harmonicas so I secretly desire more of it. An impressive song either way.

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“Come Back Baby” is plodding sloppy blues with more splendid guitar playing, but at 9 minutes it’s a bit much to take. It should’ve probably been shortened a few minutes. Not one of my favorite songs. The vocal melody is typical blues and nothing extraordinary. Even the violin and harmonica plays it safe and that’s just wrong! The guitar solo in the middle and again later on is really good however. “Candy Man” opens with a gentle series of country guitar notes before the steady rhythm comes in. The vocal melody is pretty good though nothing brilliant or anything, clearly influenced by the country genre. Enjoyable harmonica too. Of course the violin is the best part. Too bad that part doesn’t jam longer! Oh wow, the bass part at the end is pretty awesome too. The violin comes back in a subtle way which is unique.

“Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning” is a familiar song. I probably heard it a bunch of times several years ago somewhere. I love the guitar intro that always reminded me of somewhere down south in the deep woods. The steady foot-tapping pace of the rhythm is really good as well. The vocals are kind of tucked in the back behind the guitar work and drumming so it’s hard to make out the lyrics, but otherwise a terrific song. The violin solo makes a wonderful appearance a few minutes in, and it’s my favorite part (especially when the pace picks up). Then again how cool is the violin/guitar jam occurring at the same time? VERY cool indeed! The song remains jamming the entire way through.

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“Want You to Know” opens with a nice guitar part. Really solid vocal melody too. This song blends country with blues in a really magnificent, stunning and authentic kind of way. One of the most underrated songs on the album. The violin even tears a hole wide open and explodes in all kinds of beauty when it makes an appearance. “Been So Long” is vocally sentimental but perhaps not quite as hard-hitting on an emotional level as the band is going for. Then again silly me! I’m still expecting Jefferson Airplane-level quality songwriting with psychedelic leanings. “Never Happen No More” is lazy day blues. Not bad but nothing that blows me away either. The song moves along at a pretty good pace at least. It does improve in a big way once the vocals come in however.

Overall First Pull Up, Then Pull Down is a mighty good Hot Tuna album. It’s not their best effort but even a weaker Hot Tuna album is enjoyable to some extent anyway right? (by Bryanam)

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Hot Tuna in 1972. Casady and Kaukonen are in front; Creach and Piazza are in back.

Personnel:
Jack Casady (bass)
Papa John Creach (violin)
Jorma Kaukonen – vocals, guitar)
Sammy Piazza (drums)
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Will Scarlett (harmonica)

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Tracklist:
01. John’s Other (Creach)  8.22
02. Candy Man (Davis) 5.53
03. Been So Long (Kaukonen) 3.45
04. Want You To Know (Carter) 4.36
05. Keep Your Lamps Trimmed And Burning (Davis) 8.19
06. Never Happen No More (Blake) 3.54
07. Come Back Baby (Traditional) 9.39

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Eric Clapton – 24 Nights (1991)

ECFrontCover124 Nights is the fifth live album by Eric Clapton, recorded at the Royal Albert Hall in London, England, in 1990 and 1991. It was released on 8 October 1991.

The album is a “best of” from the 42 concerts Eric Clapton did at the Royal Albert Hall in those two years. Clapton set a record by playing a run of 24 nights at the London Royal Albert Hall between 5 February and 9 March 1991, following an 18-night run in 1990. Clapton reportedly was not satisfied with the 1990 concert recordings and delayed the release of a CD until after the “24 Nights” of the 1991 dates. These concerts were performed with 4 different instrumental formations, 4-piece, blues, 9-piece and orchestra nights, the last featuring the National Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Michael Kamen. The cover illustration is by Peter Blake.

The 4-piece recordings “Running on Faith”, “White Room” and “Sunshine of Your Love” included on the CD and DVD were recorded on 24 January 1990. The band consisted of Clapton with bassist Nathan East, drummer Steve Ferrone and keyboardist Greg Phillinganes. The Blues Band titles “Worried Life Blues”, “Watch Yourself” and “Have You Ever Loved a Woman” Clapton recorded with Buddy Guy and Robert Cray were shot and recorded on 5 February 1990. The last of the 1990 live recording session took place on 9 February 1990 recording the Orchestra Night. “Bell Bottom Blues”, “Hard Times” and “Edge of Darkness” were used on both the CD and video recording.

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On 10 February 1991, Clapton recorded “Badge” for the CD release. Eight days later the concert for “Pretending”, “Bad Love”, “Old Love” and “Wonderful Tonight” featuring the 9-piece band lineup took place. “No Alibis”, “I Shot The Sheriff” and “Cocaine” had been released on various CD singles of “Wonderful Tonight” since. The versions of “Old Love”, “Wonderful Tonight” and “Pretending” (2nd solo only) on the “24 Nights” video are different from their album counterparts, but they were not taken from the previous night’s show. They may even have been taken the year before. The song “Hoodoo Man” featuring Jimmie Vaughan was recorded on 28 February 1991. (by wikipedia)

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Eric Clapton, who had not released a live album since 1980, had several good reasons to release one in the early ’90s. For one thing, his spare backup band of keyboardist Greg Phillinganes, bassist Nathan East, and drummer Steve Ferrone was his best live unit ever, and its powerful live versions of Cream classics like “White Room” and “Sunshine of Your Love” deserved to be documented. For another, since 1987 Clapton had been playing an annual series of concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in London, putting together various special shows (blues nights, orchestral nights, etc.). 24 Nights, a double album, was culled from two years of such shows, 1990 and 1991, and it demonstrated the breadth of Clapton’s work, from his hot regular band to assemblages of bluesmen like Buddy Guy and Robert Cray to examples of his soundtrack work with an orchestra led by Michael Kamen.

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The result was an album that came across as a lavishly constructed retrospective and a testament to Clapton’s musical stature. But it made little impact upon release (though it quickly went gold), perhaps because events overcame it — three months later, Clapton’s elegy for his baby son, “Tears in Heaven,” was all over the radio, and a few months after that he was redefining himself on MTV Unplugged — a live show as austere as 24 Nights was grand. Still, it would be hard to find a more thorough demonstration of Clapton’s abilities than the one presented here. (by William Ruhlmann)

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Personnel:
Eric Clapton (guitar, vocals)
Nathan East (bass, vocals)
Steve Ferrone (drums)
Greg Phillinganes (keyboards, background vocals)
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Alan Clark (keyboards on 14.)
Ray Cooper (percussion on 09. – 15.)
Richard Cousins (bass on 05. – 07.
Robert Cray (guitar on 05 – 07.
Buddy Guy (guitar, on 05. – 07
Johnnie Johnson (piano on 05. – 08.
Chuck Leavell (keyboards on 08. – 15.)
Jamie Oldaker (drums on 05. – 08.
Phil Palmer (guitar on 09. – 15.)
Jerry Portnoy (harmonica on 08.)
Ed Shearmur (keyboards on 14. + 15.)
Joey Spampinato (bass on 08.)
Jimmie Vaughan (guitar on 08.)
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background vocals (on 09. – 15.)
Katie Kissoon – Tessa Niles
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The National Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Micheal Kamen (on 14. + 15.)

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Tracklist:
01. Badge (Clapton/Harrison) 6.51
02. Running On Faith (Williams) 6-49
03. White Room (Bruce/Brown) 6.10
04. Sunshine Of Your Love (Bruce/Brown/Clapton) 9.07
05. Watch Yourself (Guy) 5.39
06. Have You Ever Loved A Woman (Myles) 6.52
07. Worried Life Blues (Merriweather) 5.28
08. Hoodoo Man (Wells) 5.40
09. Pretending (Williams) 7.08
10. Bad Love (Clapton/Jones) 6.25
11. Old Love (Clapton/Dray) 13.01
12. Wonderful Tonight (Clapton) 9.07
13. Bell Bottom Blues (Clapton) 6.38
14. Hard Times (Charles) 3.45
15. Edge Of Darkness (Clapton/Kamen) 6.29
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The Alexis P. Suter Band – Love The Way You Roll (2014)

FrontCover1The Alexis P Suter Band is a five piece ensemble fronted by the eponymous Ms Suter. With a growing reputation for incendiary live performances, particularly in the North-Eastern USA where they are based, Love The Way You Roll – the APSB’s sixth album – should be the catalyst that helps introduce the band to a wider audience.

Love The Way You Roll is fine slab of modern guitar-led electric blues-rock. Opening with the riff-based “Nuthin’ In The World”, Jimmy Bennett’s heavily over-driven guitar has echoes of Hendrix in his soloing style, particularly in the outro solo as he bends and releases his strings with abandon.

The most distinctive aspect of the ASPB however is Suter’s deep, husky, powerhouse of a voice. She began singing in her church choir in Brooklyn as a four-year-old, and the gospel influence is still evident in her tone, particularly on ballads such as “Anything”, which also features some lovely organ from John Ginty, or “Waiting”. Blessed with a deep bass/baritone voice, Suter is a highly impressive singer, capable of convincingly conveying deep emotional turmoil, whether it be the pure lust of “Big Mama” or the anger and resignation of “You Don’t Move Me No More.” She is well-supported throughout by Bennett’s warm, choppy guitar playing and the solidly swinging rhythm section of Peter Bennett (bass) and Ray Grappone (drums/percussion), together with Vicki Bell’s voice (which adds lovely touches to songs like “Hang On” and “Them Days”).

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Of the 12 songs on the album, various members of the band contribute 10 of the songs in different writing combinations. They cover a wide range of styles, from the funky blues of “It Ain’t Over” (with the memorably assertive lyrical punchline at the end of each verse that “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings”) to the R’n’B/pop ballad of “Them Days” and the Black Crowes-esque “Hang On.” The memorable title track features a rumbling bass and drum backing with distant and discordant slide guitar framing Suter’s voice of abandon.

VickiBellThe two covers on the album are Big Mama Thornton’s classic “You Don’t Move Me No More” (which is given a rock and roll re-interpretation with excellent jungle drums from Grappone) and Slim Harpo’s “Shake Your Hips”. The one-chord groove of the latter can be tricky to nail convincingly, but the APSB turn in a fine modern version, with Suter and Bell’s voices combining magically.

Recorded, mixed and mastered by Ben Elliott at Showplace Studios, Love The Way You Roll is a very enjoyable release and well worth checking out by fans of modern electric blues and blues-rock (by Rhys Williams)

Enjoy this album … you´ll hear nothing but the blues – very heavy blues-rock !

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Personnel:
Vicki Bell (vocals)
Jimmy Bennett (guitar)
Peter Bennett (bass)
John Ginty  (keyboards, vibraphone)
Ray Grappone (drums, Percussion)
Alexis P. Suter (vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Nuthin’ In The World (Bell/Suter) 3.48
02. 25 Years (Bell/Suter) 3.51
03. Anything (Bell/Suter) 4.58
04. Big Mama (Bell/Suter) 3.57
05. Love The Way You Roll (Bell/Bennett/Grappone/Suter) 3.45
06. Gonna Love You (Bell/Bennett/Suter) 3.50
07. Waiting (Bell) 3.52
08. You Don’t Move Me No More (Thornton) 2.49
09. It Ain’t Over (Bell/Bennett/Grappone/Suter) 2.47
10. Hang On (Bell) 4.25
11. Them Days (Bell/Suter) 3.34
12. Shake Your Hips (Harpo) 4.46

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Various Artists – A Blues Christmas (2015)

FrontCover1And now it´s Blues-Chrismas-Time:

A Blues Christmas is a vinyl release featuring the best of Alligator’s two holiday CDs: 1992’s The Alligator Records Christmas Collection and 2003’s Genuine Houserockin’ Christmas.

Neither title was ever released on vinyl, so this the first LP to ever be graced with the genuine holiday-rockin’ music of Koko Taylor, Charlie Musselwhite, Shemekia Copeland, Elvin Bishop, Marcia Ball, Michael “Iron Man” Burks and many more. All tracks have been remastered to sound even better than the original releases.

Sometimes Christmas is a wonderful “Joy” and other times it can be awfully lonely. This Blues compilation always made me feel better. They also served as an introduction to many Blues artists whom I had never heard before. The songs are sometimes traditional but my own favorites are mostly original compositions from Blues masters such as Charles Brown, BB King, and Etta James; and the Christmas albums by these artists are today, still among my favorites. Whether the music is “silly” or sentimental; it seemed that my wife and I shared more of the holiday spirit by listening to this music. The music, at this time of the year, also reminds me to celebrate our differences and be thankful to be able to share this Joyous holiday with others. I wish a Merry Christmas to those lovers of the Blues whom share my sentiments. (by Richard Ludmerer)

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Tracklist:
01. Koko Taylor: Merry. Merry Christmas 4.27
02. Ul’ Ed & The Blues Imperials: I’m Your Santa 2.55
03. Shemekia Copeland: Stay A Little Longer. Santa 4.21
04. The Holmes Brothers: Back Door Santa 3.04
05. Katie Webster: Deck The Halls With Boogie Woogie 2.59
06. Charlie Musselwhite: Silent Night 2.41
07. Little Charlie & the Nightcats: Santa Claus 2.58
08. Michael: Christmas Snow 3.59
09. Marcia Ball: Christmas Fais Do Do 3.15
10. Roomful Of Blues: Santa Claus. Do You Ever Get The Blues? 3.22
11. Tinsley Ellis: Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin1 3.23
12. Elvin Bishop: The Little Drummer Boy 2.53

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Dick Heckstall-Smith – You Don’t Know Dick (2004)

DHSFrontCover1This book is a fascinating read and well worth the cover price of £16.95, because it includes a CD of 7 previously unreleased examples of Dick’s playing, with bands that cover a large spectrum of jazz and blues. The book shows Dick to be a well educated and highly intelligent individual, equally at home in Blues, Jazz and Contemporary Music bands.

In the semi-pro world where I played during the same period, it was the guys who could not hack the Jazz or Dance Band scene that formed the blues bands. The London scene must have been very different however, Dick and his contemporaries would have been capable of holding their own in any scene.

The life and times of musicians in any touring band are always interesting and Dick’s tales of his adventures, musical and otherwise, with The Graham Bond Organisation, Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated, John Mayall’s Bluesbrakers and Jon Hiseman’s Colosseum make for a most interesting read.

Dick’s commentaries on his life and times are frank and detailed, but interestingly although he opens up to his readers on some matters, there is a reserve that somehow prevents the reader from getting a real measure of Dick until the whole of the book has been read. Whether this is intentional or it just happened that way I don’t know.

I have known other very highly talented musicians who have difficulty in coping with those things that us mere mortals find easy, one who springs directly to mind and may have been known to Dick was Brian Gray Brian was an enormously talented saxophone player but he struggled to make a living and eventually gave the business up. Dick on the other hand has ploughed on but always had to live from hand to mouth.

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Pete Grant’s part of the book attempts to analyse why this should have happened to someone as talented as Dick. His conclusion that the public are never sure whether he is in the blues world or the contemporary music world is probably correct. Before the UK public hand over their money, they want to be more certain of what they are going to get. The fact that a very large sector of the public prefer the Tenor playing of Stan Getz and Zoot Sims to that of John Coltrane, may also be a contributing factor.

The clearest insight into Dick that we get is where he writes about racism and proves quite rightly in my opinion that there can be no alternative but to classify people as those we like and those we don’t, colour race and creed have nothing to do with it. Having said that however people like people like themselves! (by Don Mather) (*)

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And here´s this very rare CD (“not for sale seperately from the book”). Maybe I will scan this book later ..

And this is not onyl a very rare CD, bit a great tribute to one of he finest Bristish Jazz musicians ever: Mister Dick Heckstall-Smith.

Listen and enjoy !

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Tracklist:
01. The Deluxe Blues Band: Heatwave (McGrath/Heckstall-Smith) 4.10
02. Dick Heckstall-Smith: Aquamarine (1) (Heckstall-Smith) 10.46
03. Jon T-Bone Taylor’s Bop Brothers: Try (Green/Plotel) 5.13
04. Dick Heckstall-Smith:  Il Collingdale (1) (Heckstall-Smith) 20.26
05. The Hamburg Blues Band: Woza Nasu (2) (Heckstall-Smith) 16.14
06. The Wentus Blues Band: Looking Back (3) (unknown) 4.38
07. The Graham Bond Organisation: Only Sixteen (4) (Bond) 3.20

(1): previously unreleased live recording, Newcastle, 1991 (Heckstall-Smith)
(2): previously unreleased live recording, Flensburg/Germany, 2002
(3): previously unreleased live recording, Helsinki/Finland, 2002
(4): previously unreleased live recording, Broadcat, 1965

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(*) Don Mather plays Tenor Sax and Clarinet and runs a Big Band and a Quartet and Quintet in Coventry, he was for five years Chairman of the Coventry Jazz Festival Committee, during which time the festival joined the big league. Don is a member of the Musicians Union and a Coventry Branch Committee man. His jazz tastes are catholic, but he confesses to be sometimes bemused by some so called ‘contemporary jazz’.