The Beatles – Last Night In Hamburg(Live! At The Star-Club In Hamburg, Germany; 1962) (1977/1999)

LastNightFrontCover1Last Night In Hamburg (Live! at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany; 1962) waa a double album featuring live performances by the English rock group The Beatles, recorded in late December 1962 at the Star-Club during their final Hamburg residency. The album was released in 1977 in two different versions, comprising a total of 30 songs by The Beatles.
The performances were recorded on a home tape machine using a single microphone, resulting in a low fidelity recording. Ted “Kingsize” Taylor began to investigate possible marketing of the tapes in 1973. The tapes were eventually bought by Paul Murphy and subjected to extensive audio processing to improve the sound, leading to the 1977 album.
Although the poor sound quality limits its commercial appeal, the album provides historic insight into the group’s club act in the period after Ringo Starr joined but before the emergence of Beatlemania. The Beatles were unsuccessful in legally blocking the initial release of the album; the recordings were reissued in many forms until 1998, when The Beatles were awarded full rights to the performances.

The Beatles’ five residencies in Hamburg during 1960 to 1962 allowed the Liverpool band to develop their performance skills and widen their reputation. Drummer Pete Best was added to the band in August 1960 to secure their first Hamburg booking, where they played for 48 nights at the Indra Club and then 58 nights at the Kaiserkeller. The Beatles returned to Hamburg in April 1961 to play at the Top Ten Club for three months.
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A new Hamburg music venue, the Star-Club, opened on 13 April 1962, with The Beatles booked for the first seven weeks. The Beatles returned to Hamburg in November and December 1962 for their fourth and fifth engagements there, which had been booked for the Star-Club many months in advance. Unlike their previous three trips to Hamburg, their drummer was Starr, having replaced Best in August. The Beatles were reluctant to return for their final two-week booking, which started 18 December, as they were gaining popularity in Britain and had just achieved their first charted single with “Love Me Do”.

Portions of The Beatles’ final Star-Club performances (along with other acts) were recorded by the club’s stage manager, Adrian Barber, for Ted “Kingsize” Taylor. Barber used a Grundig home reel-to-reel recorder at a tape speed of 3¾ inches per second, with a single microphone placed in front of the stage. Taylor, leader of The Dominoes (who were also playing at the club), said that John Lennon verbally agreed to the group being recorded in exchange for Taylor providing the beer during their performances.

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The tapes were originally described as having been recorded in the spring of 1962, an attempt to pre-date The Beatles’ June 1962 contract signing with Parlophone. However, song arrangements and dialogue from the tapes pointed to late December 1962, and a recording date of 31 December 1962 (the group’s last day in Hamburg) was commonly cited. Later researchers have proposed that the tapes are from multiple days during the last week of December; Allan Williams (The Beatles’ booking agent at the time) recalled that a total of about three hours was recorded over three or four sessions between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
The tapes captured The Beatles performing at least 33 different titles, plus some repeated songs. Of the 30 songs that were commercially released from the tapes, only two were Lennon–McCartney compositions. The others were an assortment of cover versions, seventeen of which would be re-made by The Beatles and appear on their various studio albums or Live at the BBC. The arrangements played at the Star-Club are similar to the versions recorded later, albeit less refined, although there are a few cases with distinct differences. For example, “Mr. Moonlight” has a much quicker tempo, a guitar-based instrumental break, and an intentionally altered lyric with Lennon proclaiming he is on his “nose” instead of his “knees”; “Roll Over Beethoven” was described as “never taken at a more breakneck pace”.

50 Jahre Star-Club in Hamburg Der Star-Club
The recording equipment and method resulted in the tapes being unmistakably low fidelity. The vocals, even in the best cases, sound “somewhat muffled and distant”. The vocals on a few songs are so indistinct that labelling and liner notes on early releases gave incorrect information about who was singing and the exact song being performed. Much of The Beatles’ dialogue between songs is audible, which includes addressing the audience in both English and German, as well as repartee among themselves. The banter is irreverent and coarse at times, an aspect of their stage act that would soon cease under the influence of manager Brian Epstein.

Taylor said he had offered to sell the tapes to Epstein in the mid-1960s, but that Epstein did not consider them to be of commercial value and offered only £20. Taylor said he kept the tapes at home, largely forgotten until 1973 when he decided to look into their marketability. Williams related a different history than Taylor, stating that after Taylor returned to Liverpool, he left the tapes with a recording engineer for editing into a potential album. The project was never finished and the engineer later relocated, with the tapes being among many items left behind. In 1972, Williams, Taylor, and the engineer gained access to the abandoned office and recovered the tapes “from beneath a pile of rubble on the floor.”
When the existence of the tapes was first publicly reported in July 1973, Williams was planning to ask Apple for at least £100,000. Williams said he later met with George Harrison and Starr to offer the tapes for £5000, but they declined, citing financial difficulties at the time. Williams and Taylor teamed up with Paul Murphy, head of Buk Records, to find an outlet for the tapes.

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Booklet from the original double album from 1977

Murphy eventually bought the tapes himself and formed a new company, Lingasong, specifically for the project. He sold the worldwide distribution rights to Double H Licensing, which spent more than $100,000 on elaborate audio processing and mixing of the songs under the direction of Larry Grossberg. The sequence of songs was rearranged, and some of the individual songs were edited to bypass flawed tape sections or make up for an incomplete recording.
After an unsuccessful attempt by The Beatles to block it, the 26-song Live! at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany; 1962 was released by Lingasong. The album first appeared in Germany in April 1977 in association with Bellaphon Records, and was released in the UK the following month.[16] For the album’s June 1977 US release (in association with Atlantic Records), four songs were removed and replaced with four different songs from the tapes.

Over the next two decades, the recordings were licensed to several record companies, resulting in numerous releases with varying track selections. In 1979, Pickwick Records performed some additional audio filtering and equalisation of the songs on the Lingasong US version, and released it over two volumes as First Live Recordings; the set included the song “Hully Gully” that was mistakenly credited to The Beatles,but was actually performed by Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers, another act on the Star-Club bill. In 1981, Audio Fidelity Enterprises released Historic Sessions in the UK, the first single package with all 30 Beatles tracks from the original Star-Club releases.[20] Several additional songs from the Star-Club tapes have appeared on Beatles bootleg records over the years.

In 1985, a bootlegger known as “Richard”, who had already found infamy by issuing several titles with controversial covers and content, issued his own bootleg version of the Star Club tapes without any of the editing found on the official releases, entitled The Beatles vs. the Third Reich—directly parodying The Beatles vs. the Four Seasons in both name and cover.
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Another alternate front+backcover

The release of the recordings on two CDs by industry giant Sony Music in 1991 sparked renewed legal attention by The Beatles (as represented by Paul McCartney, Harrison, Starr, and Yoko Ono). Sony also produced a version specifically for their Columbia House music club, but Sony withdrew the titles in 1992 as a lawsuit was progressing. Lingasong’s CD release of the original set prompted another lawsuit from The Beatles in 1996; the case was decided in 1998 in favour of The Beatles, who were granted ownership of the tapes and exclusive rights to their use. Harrison appeared in person to provide evidence in the case, and his testimony was cited as an important factor in the judge’s decision. Harrison characterised the claim that Lennon gave Taylor permission for the recording as “a load of rubbish”, and added: “One drunken person recording another bunch of drunks does not constitute business deals.”

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The album had limited commercial success, reaching a peak position of No. 111 during a seven-week run on the US Billboard 200 album chart. Assessments of the album often weigh the poor sound quality against the historic importance and insight provided into The Beatles’ early stage act. Rolling Stone reviewer John Swenson called the album “poorly recorded but fascinating” and commented that it showed The Beatles as “raw but extremely powerful.” Allmusic, commenting on a reissue, wrote: “The results were very low-fidelity, and despite The Beatles’ enormous success, it took Taylor fifteen years to find someone greedy and shameless enough to release them as a record”. Q Magazine described the recordings as having “certain historical interest” and remarked: “The show seems like a riot but the sound itself is terrible – like one hell of a great party going on next door.” George Harrison gave the assessment: “The Star-Club recording was the crummiest recording ever made in our name!” (by wikipedia)
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Personnel:
George Harrison (guitar, vocals)
John Lennon (guitar, vocals, harmonica)
Paul McCartney (bass, vocals)
Ringo Starr (drums)
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Fred Fascher (Star-Club waiter) (vocals on 19.)
Horst Fascher (Star-Club Manager) (vocals on 20.)
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Trackist:
01. Introduction/I Saw Her Standing There (Lennon/McCartney)/I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry (Over You) (Thomas/Biggs) 5.18
02, Roll Over Beethoven (Berry) 2.14
03. Hippy Hippy Shake (Romero) 1.43
04. Sweet Little Sixteen (Berry) 2.46
05. Lend Me Your Comb (Kay Twomey/Wise/Weisman) 1.49
06. Your Feet’s Too Big (Benson/Fisher) 2.20
07. Where Have You Been (All My Life) (Mann/Weil) 1.45
08. Twist And Shout (Medley/Russell) 2.09
09. Mr. Moonlight (Johnson) 2.09
10. A Taste Of Honey (Scott/Marlow) 1.41
11. Bésame Mucho (Velázquez/Skylar) 2.02
12. Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby (Perkins) 2.22
13. Kansas City/Hey Hey Hey Hey (Leiber/Stpller/Penniman) 2.12
14. Nothin’ Shakin’ (But The Leaves On The Trees) (Fontaine/Colacrai/Lampert/Gluck) 1.21
15. To Know Her Is to Love Her (Spector) 3.03
16. Little Queenie (Berry) 3.55
17. Falling in Love Again (Can’t Help It) (Hollander/Lerner) 1.59
18. Sheila (Roe) 1.57
19. Be-Bop-A-Lula (Vincent/Davis) 2.29
20. Hallelujah I Love Her So (Charles) 2.09
21. Ask Me Why (Lennon/McCartney) 2.26
22. Red Sails In The Sunset (Kennedy/Williams) 2.02
23. Matchbox (Perkins) 2.34
24. I’m Talking About You (Berry) 1.50
25. I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate (Piron/Smith/Goldsmith) 2.19
26. Long Tall Sally (Johnson/Blackwell/Penniman) 1.45
27. I Remember You (Mercer/Schertzinger) 1.55´
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28. Complete show (uncut) 1.05.041

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Chet Baker Sextet – Chet Is Back (1962)

frontcover1Chet Is back! is a 1962 studio album by jazz musician Chet Baker.
Chet Is Back! was recorded in Rome, Italy in 1962 at RCA’s Studios, showcasing bop-oriented tunes such as “Pent-Up House” and “Well, You Needn’t”. The Chet Baker Sextet consisted of a group of up-and-coming European jazz musicians, which included Belgian saxophonist Bobby Jaspar, Belgian guitarist Rene Thomas, Italian pianist Amedeo Tommasi, French bassist Benoit Quersin, and Swiss drummer Daniel Humair.
The album features an original composition, “Ballata in forma di blues” (A Ballad in Blues Style), by Amedeo Tommasi. Ballads are featured, including “Over the Rainbow”, “Star Eyes”, and “These Foolish Things”. Compositions by other jazz musicians are also featured, such as Thelonious Monk’s “Well, You Needn’t”, Sonny Rollins’ “Pent Up House”, Charlie Parker’s “Barbados”, and Oscar Pettiford’s “Blues in the Closet”.
On the 2003 CD reissue of Chet Is Back!, four orchestral pop bonus tracks Baker recorded with Ennio Morricone in Rome in 1962 are featured, “Chetty’s Lullaby”, “So che ti perderò”, “Motivo su raggio di luna”, and “Il mio domani”, which Baker co-wrote with lyricist Alessandro Maffei. Morricone arranged the songs and conducted the orchestra. Baker plays trumpet and sings lead vocals on these four tracks originally released as 45 singles by RCA Victor in 1962 in Italy. (by wikipedia)
Recorded in Italy in 1962, Chet Is Back! showcases the “cool” trumpeter cutting loose on such bop-oriented workouts as “Pent-Up House” and “Well, You Needn’t.” Backed skillfully by a young cadre of up-and-coming European musicians, including the stellar saxophonist Bobby Jaspar, Chet Baker may have never sounded better, including on the ballads. One listen to “Over the Rainbow” and it’s clear this is an overlooked Baker classic.
(by Matt Collar)
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Personnel:
Chet Baker (trumpet)
Daniel Humair (drums)
Bobby Jaspar (saxophone, flute)
Benoit Quersin (bass)
René Thomas (guitar)
Amedeo Tommasi (piano)
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Tracklist
01. Well, You Needn’t (Monk) 6.23
02. These Foolish Things (Remind Me Of You) (Link/Marvell/Strachey) 4.56
03. Barbados (Parker) 8.26
04. Star Eyes (Raye/de Paul) 6.58
05. Over The Rainbow (Arlen/Koehler) 3.30
06. Pent-Up House (Rollins) 6.51
07. Ballata in forma di blues (Tommasi) 10.06
08. Blues In The Closet (Pettiford) 7.41
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Herbie Mann – Latin Fever (1964)

frontcover1Latin Fever is an album by American jazz flautist Herbie Mann recorded for the Atlantic label and released in 1964. The album features tracks from the 1962 sessions that produced Do the Bossa Nova with Herbie Mann with more recent recordings. (by wikipedia)
Yes, other jazz musicians played Bossa Nova in the early sixties however, they jumped on the bandwagon after Herbie Mann began the craze. From the liner notes of Latin Fever originally recorded in 1964, “In recent years jazzman Herbie Mann has been recognized as the leading exponent and interpreter of the music emanating from Latin America. He traveled throughout Brazil before the music, which came to be known as the bossa nova, had yet to be exported, and on his return to the States, Mann introduced this musical goldmine to audiences in night clubs from New York to California.”
Herbie Mann was also one of the few who recorded with musicians from the particular region that piqued his musical interest. Latin Fever features such Brazilian luminaries as Sergio Mendes Antonio Carlos Jobim and guitarist Baden Powell.(piperglenn)

Recorded in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on October 15, 1962 (track 8), October 16, 1962 (tracks 7 & 10), October 17, 1962 (track 5) & October 19, 1962 (track 9) and in New York City on October 8, 1963 (tracks 1-3 & 6) and January 29, 1964 (track 4)

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Personnel:
Otavio Bailly Jr. (bass on 07. + 10.)
George Devens (vibraphone, percussion on 01. – 03, + 06.)
Durval Ferreira (guitar on 07. + 10.)
Gabriel (bass on 08.)
Paul Griffin (piano, organ on 01. -03., + 06.)
Antônio Carlos Jobim (piano, vocals on 05. + 09.)
Juquinha (drums on 08.)
Herbie Mann (flute)
Sérgio Mendes (piano on 07. + 10.)
Paulo Moura (saxophone on 07. + 10.)
Pedro Paulo (trumpet on 07. + 10.)
Baden Powell (guitar on 08.)
Dom Um Romão (drums on 07. + 10.)
Ernie Royal (trumpet on 01. – 03. + 06.)
Bill Suyker (guitar on 01 – 03. + 06.)
Clark Terry (trumpet on on 01. – 03. + 06.)
Bobby Thomas (drums)

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Tracklist:
01. Harlem Nocturne” (Earle Hagen, Dick Rogers) – 2:15
02. Fever (Cooley/Davenport) 1.52
03. Not Now – Later On (Sherman/Meade) 1.51
04. The Golden Striker (Lewis) 2.14
05. How Insensitive (Jobim) 3.04
06. You Came A Long Way from St. Louis (Brooks/Russell) 2.28
07. Batida Differente (Einhorn/Lelys) 5.12
08. Nana (Powell) 3.59
09. Groovy Samba (Mendes) 5.06
10. Influenza de Jazz (Lyra) 5.38
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Bob Dylan – Same (1962)

frontcover1Bob Dylan, regarded as the voice of a generation for his influential songs from the 1960s onwards, has won the Nobel Prize for Literature in a surprise decision that made him the only singer-songwriter to win the award.

The 75-year-old Dylan — who won the prize for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition” — now finds himself in the company of Winston Churchill, Thomas Mann and Rudyard Kipling as Nobel laureates.

The announcement was met with gasps in Stockholm’s stately Royal Academy hall, followed — unusually — by some laughter.

Dylan’s songs, such as “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” and “Like a Rolling Stone” captured a spirit of rebellion, dissent and independence.

More than 50 years on, Dylan is still writing songs and is often on tour, performing his dense poetic lyrics, sung in a sometimes rasping voice that has been ridiculed by detractors.

Some lyrics have resonated for decades.

“Blowin’ in the Wind,” written in 1962, was considered one of the most eloquent folk songs of all time. “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” in which Dylan told Americans “your sons and your daughters are beyond your command,” was an anthem of the civil rights movement and Vietnam War protests.

bobdylan01Awarding the 8 million Swedish crown ($930,000) prize, the Swedish Academy said: “Dylan has the status of an icon. His influence on contemporary music is profound.”

Swedish Academy member Per Wastberg said: “He is probably the greatest living poet.”

Asked if he thought Dylan’s Nobel lecture – traditionally given by the laureate in Stockholm later in the year – would be a concert, replied: “Let’s hope so.”

Over the years, not everyone has agreed that Dylan was a poet of the first order. Novelist Norman Mailer countered: “If Dylan’s a poet, I’m a basketball player.”

Sara Danius, Permanent Secretary of the Nobel Academy, told a news conference there was “great unity” in the panel’s decision to give Dylan the prize.

Dylan has always been an enigmatic figure. He went into seclusion for months after a motorcycle crash in 1966, leading to stories that he had cracked under the pressure of his new celebrity.

He was born into a Jewish family but in the late 1970s converted to born-again Christianity and later said he followed no organized religion. At another point in his life, Dylan took up boxing.

Dylan’s spokesman, Elliott Mintz, declined immediate comment when reached by phone, citing the early hour in Los Angeles, where it was 3 a.m. at the time of the announcement. Dylan was due to give a concert in Las Vegas on Thursday evening.

Literature was the last of this year’s Nobel prizes to be awarded. The prize is named after dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel and has been awarded since 1901 for achievements in science, literature and peace in accordance with his will. (by Reuters)

And this was the start of a very unique career that leads to the nobel prize in 2016:

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Bob Dylan’s first album is a lot like the debut albums by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones — a sterling effort, outclassing most, if not all, of what came before it in the genre, but similarly eclipsed by the artist’s own subsequent efforts. The difference was that not very many people heard Bob Dylan on its original release (originals on the early-’60s Columbia label are choice collectibles) because it was recorded with a much smaller audience and musical arena in mind. At the time of Bob Dylan’s release, the folk revival was rolling, and interpretation was considered more important than original composition by most of that audience. A significant portion of the record is possessed by the style and spirit of Woody Guthrie, whose influence as a singer and guitarist hovers over “Man of Constant Sorrow” and “Pretty Peggy-O,” as well as the two originals here, the savagely witty “Talkin’ New York” and the poignant “Song to Woody”; and it’s also hard to believe that he wasn’t aware of Jimmie Rodgers and Roy Acuff when he cut “Freight Train Blues.” But on other songs, one can also hear the influences of Bukka White, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Willie Johnson, and Furry Lewis, in the playing and singing, and this is where Dylan bobdylan03departed significantly from most of his contemporaries. Other white folksingers of the era, including his older contemporaries Eric Von Schmidt and Dave Van Ronk, had incorporated blues in their work, but Dylan’s presentation was more in your face, resembling in some respects (albeit in a more self-conscious way) the work of John Hammond, Jr., the son of the man who signed Dylan to Columbia Records and produced this album, who was just starting out in his own career at the time this record was made. There’s a punk-like aggressiveness to the singing and playing here. His raspy-voiced delivery and guitar style were modeled largely on Guthrie’s classic ’40s and early-’50s recordings, but the assertiveness of the bluesmen he admires also comes out, making this one of the most powerful records to come out of the folk revival of which it was a part. Within a year of its release, Dylan, initially in tandem with young folk/protest singers like Peter, Paul & Mary and Phil Ochs, would alter the boundaries of that revival beyond recognition, but this album marked the pinnacle of that earlier phase, before it was overshadowed by this artist’s more ambitious subsequent work. In that regard, the two original songs here serve as the bridge between Dylan’s stylistic roots, as delineated on this album, and the more powerful and daringly original work that followed. One myth surrounding this album should also be dispelled here — his version of “House of the Rising Sun” here is worthwhile, but the version that was the inspiration for the Animals’ recording was the one by Josh White. (by Bruce Eder)

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Personnel:
Bob Dylan (guitar, vocals, harmonica)

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Tracklist:
01. You’re No Good (Fuller) 1.37
02. Talkin’ New York (Dylan) 3.15
03. In My Time Of Dyin’ (Traditional) 2.37
04. Man Of Constant Sorrow (Traditional) 3.06
05. Fixin’ To Die (White) 2.17
06. Pretty Peggy-O (Traditional) 3.22
07. Highway 51 (Jones) 2.49
08. Gospel Plow (Traditional) 1.44
09. Baby, Let Me Follow You Down (v.Schmidt) 2.32
10. House Of The Risin’ Sun (Traditional) 5.15
11. Freight Train Blues (Traditional) 2.16
12. Song To Woody (Dylan) 2.39
13. See That My Grave Is Kept Clean (Jefferson) 2.40

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congratulations

Oscar Peterson Trio – West Side Story (1962)

frontcover1West Side Story is a 1962 studio album by the Oscar Peterson and his trio.

The album featured seven interpretations of songs that had featured in the recent film, West Side Story.

Oscar Peterson discography is so immense that it’s difficult to sort through the entries. If you’re looking for a first purchase, “West Side Story” is a good pick, particularly if you are a fan of the original broadway or film soundtrack. Piano playing seemed to come so easily for Peterson that at times on records I’ve had the feeling he’s going through the paces. When he is at his best, though, he swings clean and hard and demonstrates he knows a tune inside and out. That is the case throughout this release. And he’s not afraid to turn some of the tunes in different directions. For example, he steps up the tempo on “Tonight,” a potentially risky move on an extremely romantic song, but the move works as Peterson, backed up by Ray Brown’s steady bass and Ed Thigpen’s tasteful drums, never falters. On the other hand, the pianist does not shy away from the lyricism of concertposter“Somewhere,” accenting the theme with ornate chording that mines the yearning and sadness that is at the heart of “West Side Story.” And he finds a relaxed, loping gait on “Jet Song,” a pace that for me captures the cheerful arrogance of the play’s street gang. Interpretations of “West Side Story” have been attempted before, most notably Dave Liebman’s more experimental effort a few years back. For me, Peterson’s approach is the more successful of the two in that I think he came closer to finding the pulse of the original work. This is a good addition to the mainstream section of your jazz piano collection. (hyperbolium)

West Side Story was a bit of an unusual session for several reasons. First, the popularity of both the Broadway musical and the film version that followed meant that there were many records being made of its music. Second, rather than woodshed on the selections prior to entering the studio, the Oscar Peterson Trio spontaneously created impressions of the musical’s themes on the spot. “Something’s Coming” seems like a series of vignettes, constantly shifting its mood, as if moving from one scene to the next. Ray Brown plays arco bass behind Peterson in the lovely “Somewhere,” while the feeling to “Jet Song” is very hip in the trio’s hands. The snappy interplay between the musicians in the brisk setting of “Tonight” turns it into a swinger. “Maria” initially has a light, dreamy quality, though it evolves into a solid groove. The romp through “I Feel Pretty” is full of humor, while the CD closes with a brief reprise of several themes from the musical to wrap the session with a flourish.(by Ken Dryden)

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Personnel:
Ray Brown (bass)
Oscar Peterson (piano)
Ed Thigpen (drums)

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Tracklist:
01. Something’s Coming 3.56
02. Somewhere 5.36
03. Jet Song 7.49
04. Tonight 4.36
05. Maria 4.55
06. I Feel Pretty 4.29
07. Reprise 4.18

Music by Leonard Bernstein + Stephen Sondheim

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John Hammond – Same (1963)

FrontCover1With a career that spans over three decades, John Hammond is one of handful of white blues musicians who was on the scene at the beginning of the first blues renaissance of the mid-’60s. That revival, brought on by renewed interest in folk music around the U.S., brought about career boosts for many of the great classic blues players, including Mississippi John Hurt, Rev. Gary Davis, and Skip James. Some critics have described Hammond as a white Robert Johnson, and Hammond does justice to classic blues by combining powerful guitar and harmonica playing with expressive vocals and a dignified stage presence. Within the first decade of his career as a performer, Hammond began crafting a niche for himself that is completely his own: the solo guitar man, harmonica slung in a rack around his neck, reinterpreting classic blues songs from the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. Yet, as several of his mid-’90s recordings for the Pointblank label demonstrate, he’s also a capable bandleader who plays wonderful electric guitar. This guitar-playing and ensemble work can be heard on Found True Love and Got Love If You Want It, both for the Pointblank/Virgin label.

Born November 13, 1942, in New York City, the son of the famous Columbia Records talent scout John Hammond, Sr., what most people don’t know is that Hammond didn’t grow up with his father. His parents split when he was young, and he would see his father several times a year. He first began playing guitar while attending a private high school, and he was particularly fascinated with slide guitar technique. He saw his idol, Jimmy Reed, perform at New York’s Apollo Theater, and he’s never been the same since.

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After attending Antioch College in Ohio on a scholarship for a year, he left to pursue a career as a blues musician. By 1962, with the folk revival starting to heat up, Hammond had attracted a following in the coffeehouse circuit, performing in the tradition of the classic country blues singers he loved so much. By the time he was just 20 years old, he had been interviewed for the New York Times before one of his East Coast festival performances, and he was a certified national act.

When Hammond was living in the Village in 1966, a young Jimi Hendrix came through town, looking for work. Hammond offered to put a band together for the guitarist, and got the group work at the Cafe Au Go Go. By that point, the coffeehouses were falling out of favor, and instead the bars and electric guitars were coming in with folk-rock. Hendrix was approached there by Chas Chandler, who took him to England to record. Hammond recalls telling the young Hendrix to take Chandler up on his offer. “The next time I saw him, about a year later, he was a big star in Europe,” Hammond recalled in a 1990 interview. In the late ’60s and early ’70s, Hammond continued his work with electric blues ensembles, recording with people like Band guitarist Robbie Robertson (and other members of the Band when they were still known as Levon Helm & the Hawks), Duane Allman, Dr. John, harmonica wiz Charlie Musselwhite, Michael Bloomfield, and David Bromberg.

As with Dr. John and other blues musicians who’ve recorded more than two dozen albums, there are many great recordings that provide a good introduction to the man’s body of work. His self-titled debut for the Vanguard label has now been reissued on compact disc by the company’s new owners, The Welk Music Group, and other good recordings to check out (on vinyl and/or compact disc) include I Can Tell (recorded with Bill Wyman from the Rolling Stones), Southern Fried (1968), Source Point (1970, Columbia), and his most recent string of early- and mid-’90s albums for Pointblank/Virgin Records, Got Love If You Want It, Trouble No More (both produced by J.J. Cale), and Found True Love.

He didn’t know it when he was 20, and he may not realize it now, but Hammond deserves special commendation for keeping many of the classic blues songs alive. When fans see Hammond perform them, as Dr. John has observed many times with his music and the music of others, the fans often want to go back further, and find out who did the original versions of the songs Hammond now plays.

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Although he’s a multi-dimensional artist, one thing Hammond has never professed to be is a songwriter. In the early years of his career, it was more important to him that he bring the art form to a wider audience by performing classic — in some cases forgotten — songs. Now, more than 30 years later, Hammond continues to do this, touring all over the U.S., Canada, and Europe from his base in northern New Jersey. He continued to release albums into the new millennium with three discs on the Back Porch label, including Ready for Love in 2002, produced David Hidalgo of Los Lobos, In Your Arms Again in 2005, and Push Comes to Shove in 2007. Whether it’s with a band or by himself, Hammond can do it all. Seeing him perform live, one still gets the sense that some of the best is still to come from this energetic bluesman.

By the time of his first album in 1963, John Hammond was already totally immersed in the blues, even within an era when a prescient swathe of young America was starting to seriously explore and champion the indigenous roots of American culture. The Native New Yorker, son of legendary talent scout John Hammond Sr, had begun to seek out this strange, compelling music at an early age, yet he was also young and astute enough to see the lineage from country blues to rock’n’roll, and in that respect as an interpreter, he was far-sighted. After a club apprenticeship in California, Hammond moved back to New York to take Greenwich Village by storm with his authentic interpretation of both country and electric blues, laying them bare in an intimate yet powerful acoustic setting. This is the sound of his eponymous debut for Vanguard, and the recording programme for John Hammond” established the pattern by which the singer would set the rest of his career: interpretations of blues classics old and new, delivered with an affection and attention to detail that helped stamp Hammon’s personality right on the material. (by Alec Palao)

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John Hammond + Bob Dylan (Newport Folkfestival, 1964)

Personnel:
John Hammond (vocals, guitar, harmonica)

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Tracklist:
01. Two Trains Running (Morganfields) 3.18
02. Give Me A 32-20 (Crudup) 3.37
03. Maybellene (Berry) 2.32
04. Louise (Temple) 4.02
05. This Train (Traditional/Broonzy) 2.23
06. East St. Louis Blues (Lewis) 3.01
07. Going Back To Florida (Hopkins) 2.50
08. Mean Old Frisco (Crudup) 3.13
09. I Got A Letter This Morning (House) 4.12
10. Alabama Woman Blues (Carr) 3.34
11. Hoochie Coochie Man (Dixon) 3.03
12. Cross Roads Blues (Johnson) 3.59
13. See That My Grave Is Kept Clean (Traditional/Jefferson) 5.11
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14. Drop Down Menu (Estes) 2.50
15. Me And The Devil (Johnson) 2.32
16. Ask Me Nice (Allison) 4.42
17. Hellhound Blues (Johnson) 3.35
18. Midnight Hour Blues (Carr) 4.00

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The Romeros – Celedonio, Celin, Pepe and Angel -The Royal Family of the Spanish Guitar (1997)

FrontCover1Los Romeros, The Romero Guitar Quartet, is a guitar quartet, sometimes known as “The Royal Family of the Guitar” — their personnel consists entirely of members of the Romero family.

The quartet was founded in 1960 by Celedonio Romero, who grew up in Franco’s Spain. All three of his sons, Angel, Celin and Pepe, had made their performing debuts by the time they were seven. In 1957, the Romeros moved to the United States, where they continue to reside. In 1990 Angel left the quartet, and was replaced by Celin’s son Celino. Celedonio Romero died in 1996, and was replaced by Angel’s son Lito. (by wikipedia)

If you are in the mood for some beautiful Spanish guitar music than this disc will fill that void. The Romeros have been recording elegant music for years as the gift of guitar playing has been passed down generations. What is especially nice about this disc is that it features a variety of composers major works. The Romeros interpret Issac Albeniz, Enrique Romero01Granados, Federico Torroba, Villa-Lobos and Bach amongst many others. Curiously enough, the works of Rodrigo are misssing. To avoid confusion in your buying this disc it is important to note that all the Romeros do not play guitar together on this disc. There is the occasional duet and group performance on guitar but for the most part these are individual solos. The solo guitar of each Romero is enough to capture your attention but it is important to note that Celedonio Romero dominates this disc.

The inclosed booklet is very informative and educational regarding the history of each composition; it is nice reading material while you are listening to these early music time pieces. Although the individual pieces are composed by different people there is a flow to the music. This is great music to relax the mind to , perfect for reading or participating in some quite endevor. Recommended for Spanish classical guitar aficionados. (Enrique Torres)

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Personnel:
Angel Romero (guitar)
Celedonio Romero (guitar)
Celin Romero (guitar)
Pepe Romero (guitar)

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The Romeros today

Tracklist:
01.Sevillanas (Traditional) 2.23
02. Intermezzo (Granados) 4.47
03. Llamada (Torroba) 0.45
04. Sevilla (Sevillanas) (Albéniz) 4.12
05. Etudes for Guitar, Op.31 (Obbligato on Etude No. 5 in B minor) (Sor) 2.23
06. Noche en Málaga (C.Romero) 3.55
07. Lágrima (Tárrega) 1.30
08. Romantico (C.Romero) 2.51
09. Allegretto (Torroba) 3.52
10. No. 3 in A minor (Villa-Lobos) 5.50
11. Prelude – Minuet I – Minuet II – Gavotte (de Visée) 6.08
12. 4 Variations on “Guárdame las vacas” (de Narváez) 2.00
13. Suite of 6 Dances (Anonymous) 13.03
14. No. 6 – No. 4 – No. 3  (Milan) 8.53
15. Minuet in G, BWV Suppl. 114 (Bach) 2.17
16. Suite for Cello Solo No.4 in E flat, BWV 1010 (Bach) 1.14
17. Suite for Cello Solo No.6 in D, BWV 1012 (Bach) 4.57
18. The King Of Denmark’s Galliard  (Dowland) 2.26
19. Gavotte en rondeau  (Rameau) 1.41
20. Espanoleta (Sanz) 2.08

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