Yma Sumac – Voice Of Xtabay (1950)

frontcover1Yma Sumac (September 13, 1922, or September 10, 1923 – November 1, 2008), sometimes spelled Yma Súmac, was a Peruvian soprano. In the 1950s, she was one of the most famous proponents of exotica music.
Sumac became an international success based on her extreme vocal range, which was said to be “well over five octaves” at the peak of her singing career.
Sumac recorded an extraordinarily wide vocal range of 5 octaves, 3 notes and a semitone ranging from E2 to B♭7 (approximately 107 Hz to 3.7 kHz). In one live recording of “Chuncho”, she sings a range of over four and a half octaves, from B2 to F♯7. She was able to sing notes in the low baritone register as well as notes above the range of an ordinary soprano and notes in the whistle register. Both low and high extremes can be heard in the song Chuncho (The Forest Creatures) (1953). She was also apparently able to sing in an eerie “double voice”.

In 1954, classical composer Virgil Thomson described Sumac’s voice as “very low and warm, very high and birdlike”, noting that her range “is very close to five octaves, but is in no way inhuman or outlandish in sound”. In 2012, audio recording restoration expert John H. Haley favorably compared Súmac’s tone to opera singers Isabella Colbran, Maria Malibran, and Pauline Viardot. He described Súmac’s voice as not having the “bright penetrating peal of a true coloratura soprano”, but having in its place “an alluring sweet darkness…virtually unique in our time”.

ymasumac01She was born on either September 13, 1922, or September 10, 1923, most likely in Callao, a seacoast city in Peru; but, possibly, according to herself, in Ichocán, an Indian village. Her parents were Sixto Chávarri and Emilia Castillo. Her father was born in Cajamarca and her mother was born in Pallasca. Stories published in the 1950s claimed that she was an Incan princess, directly descended from Atahualpa. The government of Peru in 1946 formally supported her claim to be descended from Atahualpa, the last Incan emperor”.
Chávarri adopted the stage name of Imma Sumack (also spelled Ymma Sumack and Ima Sumack) before she left South America to go to the United States. The stage name was based on her mother’s name, which was derived from Ima Shumaq, Quechua for “how beautiful!” although in interviews she claimed it meant “beautiful flower” or “beautiful girl”.

Sumac first appeared on radio in 1942. She recorded at least 18 tracks of Peruvian folk songs in Argentina in 1943. These early recordings for the Odeon label featured Moisés Vivanco’s group, Compañía Peruana de Arte, a group of 46 Indian dancers, singers, and musicians.
She married composer and best friend Moises Vivanco on June 6, 1942. She had a son, Charles, in 1949. In 1946, Sumac and Vivanco moved to New York City, where they performed as the Inka Taky Trio, Sumac singing soprano, Vivanco on guitar, and her cousin Cholita Rivero singing contralto and dancing. She was signed by Capitol Records in 1950, at which time her stage name became Yma Súmac. Her first album, Voice of the Xtabay, launched a period of fame that included performances at the Hollywood Bowl and Carnegie Hall.

In 1950 she made her first tour to Europe and Africa, and debuted at the Royal Albert Hall in London and the Royal Festival Hall before the Queen. She presented more than 80 concerts in London alone and 16 concerts in Paris. A second tour took her to travel to the Far East: Persia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Burma, Thailand, Sumatra, the Philippines, and Australia. Her fame in countries like Greece, Israel and Russia made her change her two weeks stay to six months offering fabulous concerts. During the 1950s, Sumac produced a series of lounge music recordings featuring Hollywood-style versions of Incan and South American folk songs, working with the likes of Les Baxter and Billy May. The combination of her extraordinary voice, exotic looks, and stage personality made her a hit with American audiences. Súmac appeared in a Broadway musical, Flahooley, in 1951, as a foreign princess who brings Aladdin’s lamp to an American toy factory to have it repaired. The show’s score was by Sammy Fain and E. Y. “Yip” Harburg, but her three numbers were the work of Vivanco with one co-written by Vivanco and Fain.
During the 1950s, Sumac continued to be popular, playing Carnegie Hall, the Roxy Theatre with Danny Kaye, Las Vegas nightclubs and concert tours of South America and Europe. She put out a number of hit albums, such as Mambo! (1954) and Fuego del Ande (1959). Capitol Records, Sumac’s label, recorded the show. Flahooley closed quickly, but the recording continues as a cult classic, in part because it also marked the Broadway debut of Barbara Cook. During the height of Súmac’s popularity, she appeared in the films Secret of the Incas (1954) with Charlton Heston and Robert Young and Omar Khayyam (1957).

She became a U.S. citizen on July 22, 1955. In 1959 she performed Jorge Bravo de Rueda’s classic song “Vírgenes del Sol” on her album Fuego del Ande. In 1957, Súmac and Vivanco divorced, as Vivanco had had twins with another woman. They remarried that same year, but a second divorce followed in 1965. Apparently due to financial difficulties, Yma Súmac and the original Inka Taky Trio went on a world tour in 1961, which lasted for five years. They performed in 40 cities in the Soviet Union, and afterward throughout Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Their performance in Bucharest, Romania, was recorded as the album Recital, her only “live in concert” record. Sumac spent the rest of the 1960s performing sporadically.
In 1971 she released a rock album, Miracles. She performed in concert from time to time during the 1970s in Peru and later in New York at the Chateau Madrid and Town Hall. In the 1980s she resumed her career under the management of Alan Eichler and had a number of concerts both in the United States and abroad, including the Hollywood Roosevelt’s Cinegrill, New York’s Ballroom in 1987 (where she was held-over for seven weeks to SRO crowds) and several San Francisco shows at the Theatre on the Square among others. In 1987, she also recorded the song “I Wonder” from the Disney film Sleeping Beauty for Stay Awake, an album of songs from Disney movies, produced by Hal Willner. She sang “Ataypura” during a March 19, 1987, appearance on Late Night with David Letterman. She recorded a new German “techno” dance record, “Mambo ConFusion”
In 1989 she sang once again at the Ballroom in New York and returned to Europe for the first time in 30 years to headline the BRT’s “Gala van de Gouden Bertjes” New Year’s Eve TV special in Brussels as well as the “Etoile Palace” program in Paris hosted by Frederic Mitterrand. In March 1990, she played the role of Heidi in Stephen Sondheim’s Follies, in Long Beach, California, her first attempt at serious theater since Flahooley in 1951. She also gave several concerts in the summer of 1996 in San Francisco and Hollywood as well as two more in Montreal, Canada, in July 1997 as part of the Montreal International Jazz Festival. In 1992 appeared a documentary for German television entitled Yma Súmac – Hollywoods Inkaprinzessin (Yma Súmac – Hollywood’s Inca Princess).
Yma Sumac
With the resurgence of lounge music in the late 1990s, Sumac’s profile rose again when the song “Ataypura” was featured in the Coen Brothers film The Big Lebowski.
Her song “Bo Mambo” appeared in a commercial for Kahlúa liquor and was sampled for the song “Hands Up” by The Black Eyed Peas. The song “Gopher Mambo” was used in the films Ordinary Decent Criminal, Happy Texas, Spy Games, and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, among others. “Gopher Mambo” was used in an act of the Cirque Du Soleil show Quidam. The songs “Goomba Boomba” and “Malambo No. 1” appeared in Death to Smoochy. A sample from “Malambo No.1” was used in Robin Thicke’s “Everything I Can’t Have”. Yma Súmac is also mentioned in the lyrics of the 1980s song “Joe le taxi” by Vanessa Paradis, and her album Mambo! is the record that Belinda Carlisle pulls out of its jacket in the video for “Mad About You”
On May 6, 2006, Sumac flew to Lima, where she was presented the Orden del Sol award by Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo and the Jorge Basadre medal by the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos
Yma Sumac died on November 1, 2008, aged 85 or 86, at an assisted living home in Los Angeles, California, nine months after being diagnosed with colon cancer. She was interred at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, CA, in the “Sanctuary of Memories” section.
On September 13, 2016, a Google Doodle featured Yma Sumac dressed as a Peruvian songbird (by wikipedia)
Exotica began here in this historic 1950 meeting between the Peruvian “princess” Yma Sumac and Hollywood arranger Les Baxter. Neither Inca royalty nor a Bronx girl named Amy Camus as counter-legend had it, Sumac was raised an upper middle class Peruvian, but gifted with an uncanny multi-octave range. With such a powerful instrument at his disposable, the imaginatively resourceful Baxter proceeded to patch together musical bits and pieces from around the globe–gamelon orchestra, all manner of modal scales, ethnic percussion, impressionistic strings–into a fantasy concoction that has stayed surprisingly fresh after a half a century.

There probably isn’t anything here that wasn’t first heard in Rimsky-Korsakov or Debussy, not to mention Max Steiner whose path-finding score for KING KONG remains the talisman for pop musical journeys to the unknown. Still, Baxter is a skillful orchestrator, especially of strings, and Sumac herself never falters in her tricky wordless improvisations. It was super kitschy stuff at the time and remains so, but retains a certain musical integrity, even timelessness, much like the stone god that hovers scowling above our ersatz princess on the famous album cover. (by cduniverse.com)
Yma Sumac (vocals)
Orchestra conducted by Leslie Baxter

01. Virgin Of The Sun God (Taita Inty) (Vivanco) 3.07
02. High Andes (Ataypura!) (Vivanco) 3.04
03. Chant Of The Chosen Maidens (Accla Taqui) (Baxter) 2.45
04. Earthquake! (Tumpa!) (Vivanco) 3.20
05. Dance Of The Moon Festival (Choladas) (Vivanco) 2.34
06. Dance Of The Winds (Wayra) (Vivanco) 3.02
07. Monkeys (Monos) (Vivanco) 2.40
08. Lure Of The Unknown Love (Xtabay) (Rose/Baxter) 3.19
Peruvian soprano Yma Sumac performs during the 16th edition of the Musical Spring Festival, on May 1, 1992 in Bourges, central France.

Blind Willie McTell & Curley Weaver – The Postwar Recordings 1949-1950 (2008)

FrontCover1Blind Willie McTell and Curley Weaver worked together on and off for many years, worrying their guitars and singing the blues. Aside from “My Baby’s Gone,” “It’s My Desire,” and “Hide Me in Thy Bosom,” most of their Regal recordings of 1949-1950 remained unissued for decades and took a long time to become generally available. It wasn’t until 2008 that the 1990 Document edition was reissued with the addition of three long lost selections for a total of 28 titles, and expanded liner notes by one David Evans. The newly amended titles are “I Got to Cross the River Jordan,” “How About You,” and an alternate take of “It’s My Desire.” If you want those additional tracks, go directly to the 2008 edition. Blind Willie’s voice is easily identifiable, and Weaver is clearly audible as the singer on “Ticket Agent” and “My Baby’s Gone.” The Regal material bridges the temporal gap between McTell’s Library of Congress recordings of 1940 and his last session, which took place in 1956. The Regals are more or less contemporaneous with his prized Atlantic recordings of 1949. Subject matter touches upon the usual spectrum of real life issues, with the “A to Z Blues” standing out as a nasty, violent, misogynistic remnant of minstrelsy and vaudeville. Recorded twice during the autumn of 1924, first by Butterbeans & Susie, then by Josie Miles and Billy Higgins, it is a longwinded tirade during which the singer threatens to mutilate every inch of a woman’s body with a straight-edged razor. Despite anyone’s intentions, it is not funny. When McTell for some ungodly reason chose to revive the tune in 1950, he turned it into a bouncy little strut which seems harmless enough until you start to absorb the meaning of the words. (by arwulf)

Blind Willie McTellBlind Willie McTell

Blind Willie McTell (guitar, vocals)
Curley Weaver (guitar, vocals)

CurlyWeaverCurly Weaver


Curley Weaver + Blind Willie McTell
01. My Baby’s Gone (Atkinson/Houser/Josea/Rosas) 3.02
02. Ticket Agent (McTell) 2.59
03. Don’t Forget (It) (Atkinson) 2.36
04. A To Z Blues (Traditional) 2.21
05. Good Little Things (Atkinson/McTell) 2.18
06. You Can’t Get Stuff No More (Theard) 2.56
07. Love Changin’ Blues (McTell) 2.30

Blind Willie McTell
08. Savannah Mama (McTell) 2.23
09. Talkin’ To You Mama (Atkinson/McTell) 3.08
10. East St. Louis (Atkinson) 2.38
11. Wee Midnight Hours (McTell) 3.09
12. She Don’t Treat Me Good No More (Weaver) 2.55
13. Brownskin Woman (Luandrew) 3.17
14. I Keep On Drinking (Traditional) 2.33
15. Pal Of Mine (Take 1) (McTell) 2.41
16. Pal Of Mine (Take 2) (McTell) 2.11
17. Honey It Must Be Love (Atkinson/McTell) 2.42

Blind Willie McTell
18. Sending Up My Timber (Take 1) (Traditional) 3.04

Blind Willie McTell + Curley Weaver
19. Sending Up My Timber (Take 2) (Traditional) 2.51
20. Lord Have Mercy If You Please (Chatman/McTell) 2.33
21. Trying To Get Home (Climbing High Montains) (Traditional) 2.24

Blind Willie McTell
22. It’s My Desire (McTell) 2.42
23. Hide Me In Thy Bosom (Atkinson/McTell) 2.41

Curley Weaver
24. Some Rainy Day (Traditional) 2.30
25. Trixie (Traditional) 2.02



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