Saturday, February 28, 2009
Artist:Little Esther & The Robins
Album:Night Train Vol. 3: Classic Railroad Songs
Despite her premature death due to drug addiction, Little Esther Phillips had a long career of several decades. She was a star at age 13. She was born Esther Mae Jones Dec. 23, 1935 in Galveston, TX. She grew up singing in church. When her parents divorced, she moved to Los Angeles with her mother. In 1949, her sister entered her in a talent show at a club owned by bandleader Johnny Otis. He liked her so much that he took her into the recording studio and added her to his Johnny Otis Revue billed as Little Esther. Esther's first success as a recording artist was in 1950 with a series of singles with The Robins on Savoy Records. Their biggest hit was Double Crossin' Blues but Mainliner was part of those sessions. The songs were all written and produced by Jerry Lieber, Mike Stoller & Johnny Otis. You can get a taste on this various artists comp but these recordings are available on the 1999 CD Better Beware on the Charly label. Esther left Otis over money in 1953. She struggled for several years until her top ten hit Release Me in 1963. But her biggest hit was with the disco version of What A Diff'rence A Day Makes in 1976. Of course Esther was a big fan of Dinah Washington. Her drug addiction caught up with her and Esther Phillips died of kidney failure on Aug. 7, 1984 at age 48. Here's Esther Phillips performing Release Me at the 1970 Monterey Jazz Festival.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Album:Easy Rider Original Soundtrack: Expanded Edition
The Flying Burrito Brothers were an excellent and very influential country rock band that was a spinoff of The Byrds. Chris Hillman (born Dec. 4, 1944 in Los Angeles) was a founding member of The Byrds. Gram Parsons (born Nov. 5, 1946 in Waycross, GA) joined The Byrds in 1968 and was a major contributor to their classic 1968 album Sweetheart Of The Rodeo. They left and decided to form their own band in 1969. Parsons borrowed The Flying Burrito Brothers name from his previous band International Submarine Band. Other members were pianist bassist Chris Ethridge, Byrds drummer Michael Clarke and pedal steel guitarist Sneaky Pete Kleinow. My Uncle is from their 1969 debut The Guilded Palace Of Sin. It's an anti war song about the draft. The album didn't sell that well but Bob Dylan & The Rolling Stones were fans of the group. And a lot of country musicians have acknowledged the album as a major influence. This 2CD expanded edition of Easy Rider has a second CD of songs inspired by the film including My Uncle. There are also some Flying Burrito Brothers comps available. Ethridge left before their 1970 album Burrito Deluxe and was replaced by future Eagle Bernie Leadon. Then Parsons left for a solo career and was replaced by Rick Roberts. He died of a drug overdose on Sept. 19, 1973 at age 26. Gram Parsons has become a legendary figure over the years and The Flying Burrito Brothers legend has grown as well. The band continued to exist in various forms until 2001. Their early music is essential. Here's a video for Christine's Tune (Devil In Disguise) by The Flying Burrito Brothers.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Guitarist James Blood Ulmer came along at a time when fusion music was very popular. His mix of Ornette Coleman influenced free jazz and gut bucket funk found an audience in the 80s. He's still experimenting today. He was born Feb. 2, 1942 in St. Mathews, SC. He moved to Pittsburgh in 1959 and started out playing in funk bands. He lived in Columbus, OH & Detroit before moving to New York in 1971. Ulmer joined Ornette Coleman's band in 1973 and his time there led to a contract with Columbia in 1981. The 1983 album Odyssey is the third of his three albums for Columbia. The astonishing thing about Odyssey is how Ulmer is able to create such a big sound with only three musicians. Ulmer on guitar, Charles Burnham on violin and Warren Benbow on drums. It's not for everyone but aspiring rappers might be interested in sampling it. In recent years, Ulmer has worked a lot with sax player David Murray and his Music Revelation Ensemble and guitarist Veron Reid who produced Ulmer's 2007 CD Bad Blood In The City: The Piety Street Sessions on Joel Dorn's Hyena label. Here's James Blood Ulmer performing Church in Warsaw, Poland Oct. 1983.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Song:American Life In The Summertime
Fearless was the major label debut for British singer songwriter guitarist Francis Dunnery. But as seems to happen a lot in the music business, things didn't go well and he now owns his own label. He was born Dec. 25, 1962 in Egremont, Cumbria, England. His older brother Barry was guitarist for the heavy rock band Necromandus and that influenced Francis to get into music at an early age. Dunnery was first noticed as part of the band It Bites in 1982. They recorded three albums for Virgin Records and did OK in England but split up in 1990. Dunnery was living in Los Angeles. He recorded a solo CD in 1991 for Virgin but it was only released in Japan. He joined Robert Plant's band as lead guitarist. Plant's manager Bill Curbishly got Dunnery a contract with Atlantic and Fearless was released in 1994. American Life In The Summertime charted and it did reasonably well. He's a pretty good songwriter. Dunnery moved to New York and his 1995 CD Tall Blonde Helicopter was more acoustic based and less mainstream. I guess Atlantic didn't like it so Nunnery moved to Razor & Tie for his 1998 CD Let's Go Do What Happens. He Became disillusioned with the music business and moved back to England in 2000 and started his own Aquarian Nation label in 2001. His most recent CD The Gulley Flats Boys was released in 2005 but he has a new DVD called Louder Than Usual coming out in March. He is also in demand as a session guitarist most notably with Lauryn Hill, Elton John & Carlos Santana. Francis Nunnery is someone you might not be aware of but check out the video for American Life In The Summertime.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Album:Jazz 'Round Midnight
Stephane Grappelli is one of the all time greats of the jazz violin. He became famous for his work with guitarist Django Rheinhardt but Grappelli's music is simply delightful. He was born Jan. 26, 1908 in Paris. He started playing violin in the streets of Paris at age 12 and studied at the Conservatoire de Paris from 1924-28. He met Rheinhardt in 1933 and they formed the Quintet of the Hot Club of France. They were in London when WWII broke out in 1939. Rheinhardt returned to France but Grappelli stayed in London and formed a group with pianist George Shearing. Grappelli and Rheinhardt reunited after the war but Grappelli continued to work on his own music. Grappelli was unknown in North America until the 70s when he started appearing on the Violin Summit tours with guys like Stuff Smith and Jean-Luc Ponty. He toured and recorded with all kinds of musicians. And he appeared in the 1978 film King Of The Gypsies with mandolin player David Grisman. This 1992 Verve comp is probably a reasonable introduction to Grappelli's music. It has a wide range of music from the 30s to the 70s. Makin' Whoopee is from a 1976 album Grappelli recorded with George Shearing called The Reunion. Stephane Grappelli continued to tour and record until his death on Dec. 1, 1997 at age 89. Here's Stephane Grappelli performing Makin Whoopee on Jazz At Studio 4 Dec. 1961.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Of course everyone knows that Ringo Starr was drummer for The Beatles. All of the Beatles have had some success as solo artists. To his credit, Starr is aware of his limitations and doesn't try to overreach so his music is unpretentious. He had a lot of success in the early 70s with songs like It Don't Come Easy and Back Off Boogaloo. But by the 80s he was having trouble getting distribution for his records. But he continued to tour with his All Starr Band. He returned to recording with the 1992 album Time Takes Time and then signed with Mercury Records in 1997. VH1 Storytellers is a tie in with the TV series where the artist tells stories about the songs and then performs them. La De Da is actually from Starr's 1997 album Vertical Man. No doubt Mercury insisted that some current material be included. Starr wrote the song with producer Mark Hudson. He's one of The Hudson Brothers and has produced Aerosmith. There's even a video for the song. Starr is a nostalgia act and La De Da will remind you of his other music. Starr's latest CD Liverpool 8 was released by Capitol in Jan. 2008. He split with Hudson and Dave Stewart finished the album. He's currently touring with his latest All Starr Band. Here's the video for La De Da by Ringo Starr.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Song:No Me Vayas a Enganar
Album:Buena Vista Social Club Presents Omara Portuondo
The fabulous singer Omara Portuondo has been a star in Cuba for years but the film The Buena Vista Social Club made her an international star. Like her long time pal Ibrahim Ferrer, she is mesmerizing to listen to. Omara was born in Havana in 1930 one of three daughters of a baseball player. Her older sister Haydee was a dancer at the Tropicana and Omara joined in 1945. She also started singing in groups and in 1952, she formed Cuarteto d'Aida with Haydee and Elena Burke. Omara made her solo debut in 1959. Of course the Cuban Revolution prevented Omara from performing outside Cuba. She continued to record in Cuba for decades but had semi-retired when Ry Cooder saw her perform in 1995 and she was the only female vocalist featured in Buena Vista Social Club. This CD was released in 2000 on World Circuit/Nonesuch and features Ruben Gonzalez, Eliades Ochoa & Compay Segundo. It is highly recommended if you like great singers. Her latest CD Gracias was released in Sept. 2008 by World Village Music which is owned by the French classical label Harmonia Mundi. Omara Portuondo continues to tour the world today and entrance fans with her superior vocal abilities. Never seen her? Here's Omara Portuondo with the Afro Cuban All Stars, Ruben Gonzalez & Ibrahim Ferrer performing Quizas, Quizas, Quizas at the Heineken Concerts in Sao Paulo, Brazil Apr. 1999.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Album:Meet Betty Carter And Ray Bryant/Little Susie
Ray Bryant has been one of jazz's most reliable pianists for over 50 years. I guess he's just not as flashy as others but his music is very enjoyable.. He was born Dec. 24, 1931 in Philadelphia. His older brother is bassist Tommy Bryant and he's uncle to well known jazz musicians Kevin & Robin Eubanks. Bryant started out in the 40s with Tiny Grimes and became house pianist at the Blue Note in Philadelphia backing up touring musicians. This led to sessions with Miles Davis & Sonny Rollins. His first recording with his name on the cover was the 1955 album Meet Betty Carter And Ray Bryant on Epic. He also recorded with Roy Eldridge & Coleman Hawkins at the 1957 Newport Jazz Festival. He finally moved to New York in 1959 and along with continuing to play sessions, he formed his own trio. Little Susie was actually a top 20 R & B hit for Signature Records but Bryant rerecorded it for this 1959 album on Epic with Tommy Bryant on bass and either Gus Johnson or Eddie Locke on drums. Little Susie is available as a twofer with Meet Betty Carter And Ray Bryant on Collectibles. Ray Bryant last recorded in 1997 so I guess he's retired but he's always worth a listen either on solo piano or in a trio. Here's Ray Bryant performing Blues No. 6 at the 1977 Montreux Jazz Festival.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Song:I Wish It Would Rain
Album:Soulsville Sings Hitsville: Stax Sings Songs Of Motown Records
When a black singer sings country it's known as country soul. Of course Ray Charles started this and Charley Pride was very popular. Unfortunately O.B. McClinton never had that kind of fame and died way too young. He was known as The Chocolate Cowboy. Obie Burnett McClinton was born Apr. 25, 1940 in Senatobia, MS and got interested in country music listening to Hank Williams records as a child. Though he wrote several songs for R & B stars James Carr, Clarence Carter & Otis Redding, he was unable to break into R & B as a performer. He met Charley Pride while in the Air Force and Pride encouraged him to try country music. While working as a DJ in Memphis in 1970, he met Stax Records president Al Bell and played his demo tape for him. O.B. McClinton became the first country music artist signed to Stax. A series of singles were released on Enterprise. The most successful of these was Don't Let The Green Grass Fool You in 1972. This version of The Temptations classic I Wish It Would Rain was released in 1973. It doesn't appear that Stax ever released an O.B. McClinton album and other than this song on the Soulsville Sings Hitsville various artists comp, his music doesn't seem to be available. Hopefully Concord Music will correct that. After Stax went broke in 1975, McClinton recorded singles for Mercury, Epic, Sunbird & Moon Shine without much success. He continued to be a popular live act on the country circuit. McClinton recorded the album The Only One in 1987 and successfully sold it through direct marketing with TV commercials. Epic picked up the album and just as it was climbing the charts, O.B. McClinton died of cancer on Sept. 23, 1987 at age 47. A very sad end to a very underappreciated singer. Fortunately, I have found this clip of O.B. McClinton performing Country Roots in 1977.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
The Ultimate Warrior Challenge's show this Saturday at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA will have a women's match between Felice Herrig & Iman Achhal. Both fighters are making their MMA debuts. Of course fans are aware that Herrig is a veteran kickboxer so there's been a lot of talk about her. But no one knows anything about Achhal. She was born in Morocco and lives in Annandale, VA so The Washington Post has done a video feature on her and you get to watch it right here on the blog. Enjoy!
Album:The Doo Wop Box
The Chords' 1954 hit Sh-Boom was one of the first black doo wop songs to cross over to the pop charts. It's probably one of the most memorable songs of the doo wop era. Like a lot of doo wop groups, The Chords started on the streets of the Bronx in 1951. Former Keynotes Floyd "Buddy" McRae (second tenor) and William "Ricky" Edwards (bass) decided to form a group with first tenor Jimmy Keyes of the 4 Notes. Keyes recommended brothers Carl Feaster (first tenor) and Claude Feaster (baritone) of The Tunetoppers. They eventually added pianist Rupert Branker. At the time, the rumour was that Sh-Boom was about the atom bomb. According to McRae & Keyes, Sh-Boom was simply a nonsense song based on street slang used in the Bronx. In 1954, the group was brought to Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler and he wanted them to record a cover of the Patti Page hit Cross Over The Bridge. Wexler didn't like Sh-Boom but it was released on the B-side of Cross Over The Bridge in Apr. 1954. DJs started turning the record over so Atlantic rereleased Sh-Boom as a single in June. It reached #2 on the R & B charts and #5 on the pop charts. It was very common for black doo wop songs to be licensed to record companies so a white group could cover it. Mercury Records had The Crew Cuts record it and it was #1 on the pop charts for nine weeks. There's no question The Chords version is superior but many radio stations would not play black music. There was another group named The Chords so the new name was The Chordcats and then The Sh-Booms. They released unsuccessful follow ups in 1955 and left Atlantic for Vik records in 1956. They split in 1959 but reunited on Atlantic in 1960. Then they split up for good but a new version of The Chords led by Jimmy Keyes started in 1979 and they toured the oldies circuit. Sh-Boom was a one hit wonder but the value of Rhino's 4CD The Doo Wop Box is you can get all those hits in one comp. Here's The Chords performing Sh-Boom in 1980.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
JEWELS held an exhibition at today's Frontier fashion show at the National Yoyogi Gymnasium in Yoyogi. Of course the fashion show is showing the spring fashions but it's a free show so it was a good opportunity for JEWELS to promote their May 16 Shinuku FACE show. This included a couple of exhibition bouts. So I thought I would post a few pics from the show. In the top photo, the participating fighters left to right were Misaki Takimoto, Shizuka Sugiyama, Saori Ishioka and Megumi Fujii. And a couple of pics from the exhibition matches. Any Megumi Fujii sighting is worth noting. She looks great and I can't wait to see her in the ring again.
Song:A Thousand Stars
Album:The Doo Wop Box II
Here is yet another classic from Rhino's 4CD Doo Wop Box II. The Rivileers 1953 song A Thousand Stars is probably perceived as a bigger hit than it was at the time. The group started in 1952 in the Jamaica Queens neighbourhood of New York City. The leader of The Rivileers was former member of The Embers Eugene Pearson. They went through different lineups but the best known lineup was Milton Edwards, Errol Lennard, Herb Crosby & Alphonso Delaney. They started out calling themselves The 5 Bells and a Chime and then The Harmoneers but they decided on The Revelers which turned into The Rivileers. Milton Edwards worked at a drug store and the owner knew a record salesman named Sol Rabinowitz. After unsuccessfully trying to sell the group to other labels, Rabinowitz started Baton Records in 1953. The Pearson song A Thousand Stars was released in Dec. 1953 and was a regional hit in New York & Los Angeles but it never was distributed nationally. Some of the group members quit and Pearson went into The Marines but The Rivileers split up for good in 1957. What gave The Rivileers and A Thousand Stars a second life was that teen pop group Kathy Young & The Innocents had a #3 hit with the song in 1960. Then when you listen to the original, you wonder why it wasn't a bigger hit because it's so much better. But that was the nature of a lot of doo wop songs that never got decent distribution and that's what makes The Doo Wop Box II so valuable. Eugene Pearson joined The Cleftones and later The Drifters and then became a cop on the New York Transit Authority and died in 2000. Here's video for A Thousand Stars by The Revileers.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Sarah Stock is a native of Winnipeg. She started out wrestling across Canada under various names. But her last minute fill in appearance on the 2002 WXW Super 8 tournament in Pennsylvania seemed to get the attention of promoters and fans. She was added to the tournament when Phoenix couldn't make the show due to car trouble. She wrestled as Griffin as a rib on the name Phoenix. It was supposed to be spelled Gryphon. Sarah decided to further her wrestling education by moving to Monterey, Mexico in 2003. Her trainer Eddie Watts suggested she wear a mask. She struggled for a while working for the LLF but she was soon hired by AAA. But she left AAA because they told her she would wrestle and it became apparent they had no intention of using her as a wrestler. At that time, CMLL was just getting back into women's wrestling and Sarah was brought in as the masked Dark Angel. She became one of Mexico's biggest stars and is still very popular there. Sarah also went to Japan to work for A To Z in 2005 and she has also worked for SHIMMER since 2007. Sarah Stock has worked very hard to become one of the most sought after women wrestlers in the world today and has the talent to be an even bigger star as long as TNA doesn't mess up. I expect her to continue to work for SHIMMER as they have an agreement with TNA. But I don't know if she will continue to work for CMLL. I look forward to seeing Sarah on my TV each week. As a special treat for readers of this blog, here's Sarah Stock vs Mariko Yoshida Nov. 27, 2005 in Tokyo. It's a great match so enjoy it!
Album:James Brown's Funky People
Lyn Collins was an underrated singer best known for her association with James Brown in the 70s. She was known as the Female Preacher and though many music fans aren't aware of her, hip hop guys know all about her and constantly sample her music. She was born June 12, 1948 in Abilene, TX. She married a man who was the local promoter for the James Brown Revue. Lyn sent Brown a demo and he hired her to replace Marva Whitney in 1970. But Vicki Anderson rejoined the group so Brown kept Lyn on standby until Vicki left again in 1971. Brown started People Records in 1972 to showcase his crew and Lyn recorded Think (About It) in 1972. It turned out to be her biggest chart hit but is probably best recognized as the song sampled on the rap classic It Takes Two by Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock. Mama Feelgood is a great song and was originally on Brown's soundtrack for the 1973 film Black Caesar. The CD James Brown's Funky People is a must for funk fans featuring Lyn Collins, Fred Wesley & Maceo Parker. The album was so successful that Brown produced two more volumes. Lyn Collins became a studio singer in the late 70s and then a disco diva in the 80s. She was very popular in Europe. Lyn got a big boost in 1993 when Jamaican singer Patra asked her to appear on her remake of Think (About It). Lyn Collins continued to tour until her death from a heart attack Feb. 13, 2005 at age 56. She is a fabulous and very underappreciated singer. Here's Lyn Collins performing Never Gonna Give You Up on Soul Train in 1975.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Song:Praisin' My Lord/I Feel Good
Album:The Soul Seekers
The Soul Seekers are a contemporary black gospel group heavily influenced by the quartet gospel sound of groups like The Canton Spirituals. The group is a side project of gospel music and R & B uberproducer Warryn "Babydub" Campbell. You'd think he has enough to do already. Gospel fans know him as the husband of Mary Mary's Erica Atkins and a very busy producer. But Campbell has said in interviews he has always wanted to do a tribute to quartet style gospel. It was just a matter of having the time to put the group together. Campbell plays bass. His brother Teddy Campbell is the lead singer. He's married to Mary Mary's Tina Atkins. Other singers include Nisan Stewart & Gerald Haddon. He's Dietrick Haddon's brother and is a busy producer himself. John "Jubu" Smith & Charlie Bereal play guitar, Craig Brockman is on organ and Eric Seats is the drummer. They first got together in 2000 and occasionally played at Los Angeles churches for a few years. They signed with GospoCentric in 2004 and recorded this CD at the Greater Emmanuel Temple in Los Angeles. The album did well on the gospel charts and includes a guest appearance by Harvey Watkins Jr. of the Canton Spirituals. Gospel music fans should check it out. The Soul Seekers recorded a follow up in 2007. But I don't think it's been released and with GospoCentric being swallowed by Zomba, I'm not sure if they're still on the label. Warryn Campbell is already busy with his own My Block label and his various projects so it wouldn't surprise me if we don't hear much from The Soul Seekers in the future. Here's a video for He's Here by The Soul Seekers.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Mayumi Ozaki also successfully defended her Oz Academy Chamionship over Sonoko Kato. They did this at the beginning so Ozaki could do two matches. It was the usual Ozaki Army foolishness. They all ganged up on Kato with chair shots. When ref Sachiko Ito tries to take the chair from Ozaki, the Ozaki Army comes back in and beats on Kato some more. Kato comes back and gets a near fall. But it all turns into a big mess and When Ozaki nails Ito with a backfist, she ruled it a no contest at 11:50. Kato yells at Ozaki for a restart with no weapons or seconds. Ozaki agrees and the match restarts. Kato hits a guillotine legdrop for two and then rolls Ozaki up for two. Ozaki hits Kato with the backfist and the Ozakick for the win at 4:17. The other half of this equation had Dynamite Kansai vs Takako Inoue with Police as ref. Of course this gave Takako the edge at first but Kansai overcame that and won with a diving footstamp at 7:12. It was revealed afterwards that Cutie Suzuki was in attendance and she will be Kansai's second when she challenges Ozaki for the Oz Academy Chapionship on Feb. 22.
When I read in the results that Hiren won over Manami Toyota, I simply waited for details to see what really happened. It was billed as an Education Match so it was supposed to be more of a workout than a match. Of course the whole thing was a rib. First Toyota demonstrates proper kicking technique followed by punching techniques. Then Toyota demonstated a plancha and Hiren does one too. Now it's time to teach Hiren how to do a proper missile dropkick. Toyota doesn't think Hiren gets high enough so she has Mika Nishio hold a baseball bat at shoulder level and Hiren aims for it. After a couple of tries and more discussion, KAORU holds the desk board up and Hiren aims for that. Then Toyota tells Hiren to hit her with a missile dropkick. She does and rolls up Toyota for the win at 6:39. Uh huh. Hiren realizes her mistake and begs Toyota for forgiveness. Toyota doesn't look happy. The only reason I can think of for Ozaki to do this is to have Toyota eventually get pissed off enough to turn on the Ozaki Army. So was it a big win for the underdog Hiren? Not really. The other match on the show had Ran YuYu, AKINO & Ayumi Kurihara over Chikayo Nagashima, Carlos Amano & Tomoka Nakagawa when Ran hit Nakagawa with a forearm smash at 20:19. So just another day at the office for the gang at OZ Academy.
Song:Someday We'll Be Together
Album:Soulsville Sings Hitsville: Stax Sings Songs Of Motown Records
This cover of The Supremes hit Someday We'll Be Together is another great cover from this great various artists comp. It's from Frederick Knight's 1973 album I've Been Lonely For So Long. Knight had a hit with that but turned to producing in 1975 and still does that today. He was born Aug. 15, 1944 in Birmingham, AL. After studying music at Alabama A&M College and unsuccessfully trying to launch a music career in New York, he moved back home and signed with Stax after sending them a demo. I've Been Lonely For So Long was a top ten R & B hit in 1972. Knight started his own Juana label in 1975 and is probably best known for writing and producing Anita Ward's 1979 smash hit Ring My Bell. I'm sure he's still getting royalty cheques today. Knight turned Juana into a gospel label in 2000 and with distribution from Malaco Records, he continues to produce music from his home in Birmingham. Be sure to check out the great Soulsville Sings Hitsville comp. Here's a video of Into The Mystic by Frederick Knight.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Album:The Doo Wop Box
Barbara Ann is best known as a #2 hit for The Beach Boys in 1965. But it was originally written and recorded by the doo wop group The Regents and reached #13 on the pop charts in 1961. That the song even got released was an accident. The Regents were a standard Bronx doo wop group called The Montereys. They were formed in 1958 by Guy Villari (lead), Sal Cuomo (first tenor), Ernie Maresca (baritone) and Chuck Fassert (second tenor). They signed with Seville Records but after two songs weren't released, Maresca left and was replaced by Donnie Jacobucci. Maresca would go on to write Runaround Sue & The Wanderer for Dion and also had a hit as a singer with Shout Shout (Knock Yourself Out) in 1962. The group name was changed to The Regents but they were unable to sell their songs to record companies and they split in 1959. They were revived by accident. Jacobucci's younger brother Eddie Jacobucci had a group called The Consorts. He found a demo of Barbara Ann (written by Fassert's brother Fred Fassert) and recorded it. Cousins Records decided to release it by The Regents instead of The Consorts and Eddie replaced Villari as lead singer. Barbara Ann was leased to Roulette for national distribution and it hit #13 on the charts in 1961. The follow up Runaround also did well but then they petered out and split in 1963. Barbara Ann is one of many doo wop classics in The Doo Wop Box. The Regents reformed in 1964 as The Runarounds. That was unsuccessful and a version of The Regents has toured the oldies circuit since 1973. Here's a video of Barbara Ann by The Regents.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Of course we're all aware of the tragic plane crash of Flight 3407 over Buffalo. It is being reported this afternoon that veteran jazz sax player Gerry Niewood died in the crash along with guitarist Coleman Mellett. Niewood is best known for his long time association with the popular flugelhorn player Chuck Mangione. But he's also played plenty of sessions over the years. They were to perform with Mangione tonight at Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo. He was born Gerald Navidosky Apr. 6, 1943 in Rochester. He received a Bachelor Of Music from Eastman School Of Music in 1970 and that's where he met Mangione. Niewood was a big part of Mangione's 1970 breathrough recording Friends And Love. Niewood plays several types of saxes along with flute. He toured with Mangione until he went solo in 1977 and released Gerry Niewood and Timepiece on A & M Records. Unfortunately Niewood wasn't successful as a solo artist but he continued to play on sessions by Walter Bishop Jr., Gil Evans, Gerry Mulligan, Mark Murphy, Lena Horne, Cleo Laine, Peggy Lee & Nneena Freelon. Most significantly he played sax on Simon & Garfunkel's 1981 Central Park concert. He also led bands with Dave Samuels and later Joe Beck. Niewood returned to Mangione in the mid-90s and has toured with him ever since. Niewood's son Adam Niewood is a very popular sax player and has produced one of his dad's albums. Gerry Niewood is underrated mainly because his solo career never took off but he was a fine musician and he will be missed especially as a musical leader in Western New York. Here's Gerry Niewood playing soprano sax with Chuck Mangione performing Ichano at the 1975 Monterey Jazz Festival. RIP Gerry Niewood.
Eddie "Son" House Jr. was a pioneer of Misissippi Delta Blues and of acoustic guitar technique. Like a lot of legendary bluesmen, he lived in obscurity until the 60s folk boom. He was born Mar. 21, 1902 in Riverton, MI. He started out as a Baptist preacher and didn't even pick up a guitar until age 25. In 1928, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison for killing a man apparently in self defense. He only served two years and the judge threw him out of Clarksdale. He started traveling with legendary bluesman Charley Patton they wound up in Wisconsin recording some very influential music for Paramount. House had a low profile after Patton died in 1934 but musicologist Alan Lomax found and recorded him in 1941 for the Library Of Congress. House then retired from music and moved to Rochester, NY and then was rediscovered in 1964. His performance at the 1964 Newport Folk Festival gave him a new audience and House started touring regularly. Death Letter Blues was a song House performed at Newport. This various artists comp is from the Martin Scorsese produced PBS series. It's a bit of a mishmash but there is also a CD devoted to Son House. The popular group The White Stripes dedicated their 2004 debut CD to Son House and covered Death Letter Blues. House started having health issues in the early 70s. He was forced to retire in 1976 and died on Oct. 19, 1988 at age 86. Son House was an innovator of slide guitar and is worth checking out. Here's Son House performing Death Letter Blues in 1965.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Song:You Put A Move On My Heart
Album:Q's Jook Joint
Of course Quincy Jones is a legend of popular music. He's done so many things that it would be impossible to cover them all. The 1994 CD Q's Jook Joint was the last in a series of albums designed to showcase various R & B artists. These albums were very successful in the 80s. But Jones started in jazz. He was born Mar. 14, 1933 in Chicago and grew up in Seattle. He started out as a trumpeter but Dizzy Gillespie hired him in 1956 and this led to Jones becoming an arranger and bandleader in the 60s. That in turn led to him composing music for films and TV and producing albums for Frank Sinatra and many others. A 1974 life threatening brain aneurysm convinced Jones to cut back on his workload and he got into producing all star R & B albums. He would use established singers like Chaka Khan and his old buddy Ray Charles. He also liked to work with studio singers like Siedah Garrett. And he also liked to expose new artists like James Ingram. These albums were very successful through the 80s. Some of the featured artists on Q's Jook Joint include Ray Charles, Queen Latifah, Stevie Wonder, Bono, Brian McKnight etc. Jones met 19 year old Canadian R & B singer Tamia Washington at a party for Luther Vandross and he immediately took her into the studio to record You Put A Move On My Heart. The song was written by long time Jones associate and Michael Jackson producer Rod Temperton. The song was a top ten R & B hit and served to launch Tamia's solo career. Q's Jook Joint didn't do as well as earlier albums so Jones hasn't done any more R & B albums. But you never know. He might get interested in doing them again. He does plenty of other stuff. Here's the video for You Put A Move On My Heart by Quincy Jones featuring Tamia.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Here's the video of Awesome Kong defending the TNA Knockouts Championship against ODB from Sonday's TNA PPV. It's pretty clear that TNA has painted themselves into a corner by making Awesome Kong invincible. And the big problem is she needs time off because she hurt her back when she was in Japan and is also having knee problems. Normally, Kong moves very well for someone of her size but she just can't move right now. She's a gamer but she needs to rest. TNA doesn't know what to do anymore. As over as ODB's crappy character seems to be in Orlando for her goofy ring entrance, she gets no reaction for her ring work. And she doesn't have any chemistry with Kong. So the match itself was not very good with a senseless abrupt ending. ODB controlled most of the match in an unconvincing manner and I don't think anyone believed that she could win. Kong's lack of mobility really hurt the match. She had trouble getting up. It looks like the plan is to rest her between PPVs but I don't think that's much of a solution. TNA has to figure out something else. Enjoy the match!
The Canadian post grunge band Default had some success with their 2001 debut CD The Fallout. They're more popular in Canada than the US and after their label went broke, they are looking to make a comeback. The group started as The Fallout in 1999 by guitarist Jeremy Hora and drummer Danny Craig. They were both veterans of the Vancouver music scene. A demo got the attention of Nickleback leader Chad Kroeger and he agreed to help them. They auditioned several vocalists and decided on high school pal Dallas Smith. They started playing around Vancouver and won a spot on the Vancouver Seeds 2000 comp CD. They added bassist Dave Benedict, changed their name to Default and Deny became a big hit on local radio. This led to a contract with TVT Records and their 2001 debut CD The Fallout was produced by Rick Parashar (Pearl Jam). Kroeger helped with some of the songwriting. The singles Wasting My Time and Deny did well and the album went platinum in Canada. They also won a Best New Group Juno in 2002. Their 2003 CD Elocation and 2005 CD One Thing Remains did OK in Canada but didn't catch on in the US. Default had a CD ready to be released when TVT Records declared bankruptcy in Mar. 2008. The assets were sold to indie distributor The Orchard and according to the band's website, their new CD Still Standing will be released in Mar. 2009. It remains to be seen if Default can return to prominence but they're a pretty good mainstream band. Here's the video for Deny by Default featuring boxer Laila Ali.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Here's a video of Ito Dojo visiting Nikkan Sports to promote this Sunday's show. The video begins with Ayako Sato & Ayumi Kurihara talking about their match against veterans Yumiko Hotta & Takako Inoue. Sato says Kurihara is a great partner and they plan to win the match. I believe them. Well, not really. They sure look cute. Then we have Ayako Hamada looking all scholarly in her glasses talking about her match with Kaoru Ito. It looks like the planned angle is Ayako says she'll leave Japan if she loses. I dunno about that. She says this will culminate at Ito's 20th anniversary show in October. There's also some action footage and a confrontation between Ayako & Ito. Enjoy the video!
Today it's hard for folks to understand how difficult it was for Nat King Cole to be a black pop music star in the 50s. There was not only the obvious racism but Cole was lambasted by jazz critics who thought he was betraying them by singing pop music. Nat King Cole was a pioneer of popular music. Unforgettable is his signature song and this 4CD box set is the perfect comp for all his hits. He was born Nathaniel Adams Coles Mar. 17, 1919 in Montgomery, AL and grew up in Chicago. His dad was a Baptist minister and his mom played the church organ. Cole hung around Chicago clubs as a teen and idolized legendary jazz pianist Earl "Fatha" Hines. He formed a band with his brother Eddie and acquired the nickname King from the Old King Cole nursery rhyme. Cole was on tour with Eubie Blake's revue Shuffle Along when the show abruptly shut down in Long Beach, CA. He decided to stay in California. Cole started performing in Los Angeles clubs with his trio and sang between instrumental numbers. He signed with Capitol in 1943 and remained until his death. He also played piano on sessions and was involved in the original Jazz At The Philharmonic concerts. He started recording as a pop singer in the mid 40s and continued to record jazz. But his 1946 hit The Christmas Song convinced Cole and Capitol to emphasize his vocals. The 1951 hit Unforgettable was one of many hits and is acknowledged today as Cole's signature song. Jazz critics accuse Cole of selling out but he continued to record jazz occasionally. I prefer his jazz recordings too but some of the pop recordings are good too. On Nov. 5, 1956, Nat King Cole became the first black to host a prime time TV show on NBC. Unfortunately the show had trouble finding sponsorship and Cole pulled the plug in Dec. 1957. He continued to have some success as a singer and started doing films. Cole smoked three packs of cigarettes a day and died of lung cancer on Feb. 15, 1965 at age 45. This 4CD box set has everything you could possibly want. Of course we're all familiar with his singer daughter Natalie Cole and she did a 1991 tribute video of Unforgettable. I've decided to go with this version of Nat King Cole performing Unforgettable on the Nat King Cole Show in 1957.
Monday, February 09, 2009
Strikeforce owner Scott Coker told Sherdog that they have picked up 42 fighter contracts from EliteXC. Now he has announced that Cristiane Cyborg has signed a four fight deal with Strikeforce. They say that as part of the agreement, Cyborg will not fight Marloes Coenen on on the Feb. 27 XMMA show in Montreal. But XMMA matchmaker Joey Benoit says she will be on the show. The source of the confusion likely lands at the feet of Chute Boxe in Brazil who may be playing fast and loose with contracts that may not mean much to them. The fight in Montreal could happen but it's more likely that someone will toss them some cash to compensate for losing Cyborg. If Strikeforce can smooth over the XMMA situation, it's likely that Cyborg will be on their Apr. 11 show. Coker said they're still in talks with Gina Carano but have not signed her yet. She is probably looking for a big upgrade in pay over her existing EliteXC contract. Strikeforce said that even if both are signed, they won't fight each other on the Apr. 11 show. They'll save that fight for the first CBS show.
Here's a video from Nikkan Sports with several joshi wrestlers offering autographed Valentine's Day cards. I guess if you got to the website url in the video, you can buy the cards from Nikkan Sports. Of course you can only do that in Japan but you do get to watch the video. We've got messages from Fuuka, Arisa Nakajima, Ayumi Kurihara, Aoi Kizuki, Hanako Kobayashi and the Shirai Sisters. You'll notice they didn't choose any grizzled veterans. Enjoy the video!
I featured the first version of Blood, Sweat & Tears in September. This is the version of the band fans are more familiar with. Spinning Wheel was one of several hits from their second album Blood, Sweat & Tears. When Child Is Father To The Man didn't sell as well as Steve Katz and Bobby Colomby thought it should, they blamed Al Kooper's lead vocals. Kooper's deal was he would stay with the band as long as he was in charge so he left. Trumpeters Randy Brecker & Jerry Weiss also left. The band could have ended right there but Katz & Colomby decided to keep it going and auditioned new singers. Stephen Stills auditioned and BS&T got as far as rehearsing with legendary songwriter Laura Nyro. But folksinger Judy Collins told them about a singer she saw in a New York club. David Clayton-Thomas was born Sept. 13, 1941 in Surrey, England and grew up in Toronto. He moved to New York in 1967 and was leading his own band when he was deported back to Toronto. Colomby offered him the job with BS&T. Dick Halligan was moved from trombone to keyboards and Jerry Hyman replaced him on trombone. Trumpeters Lew Soloff & Chuck Winfield relpaced Brecker & Weiss. Though BS&T was still viewed as jazz rock, Colomby wanted to go in a more pop direction and brought in Buckinghams producer James William Guercio to produce. The album was huge and won the 1969 Best Album Grammy. The Clayton-Thomas song Spinning Wheel was probably their most memorable hit. You can get them all on this comp. The Clayton-Thomas blues based vocal style was exactly what Colomby was looking for. The group made a deal with the US government. They agreed to tour Eastern Europe for the US State Dept. in exchange for a work visa for Clayton-Thomas. This didn't endear the band to young people. They continued to have some success with two subsequent albums but there was conflict within the band mostly from the jazz oriented guys who didn't like the pop direction. David Clayton-Thomas left to go solo in 1972 and was replaced by Jerry Fisher. The group's records were not successful but continued to tour. Clayton-Thomas had fronted various versions of Blood, Sweat & Tears until leaving in 2004. Bobby Colomby led the band for a couple of years and Steve Katz leads them now. Here's Blood, Sweat & Tears performing Spinning Wheel on what appears to be an early 80s TV show.
Sunday, February 08, 2009
Most fans think of Miles Davis' Birth Of The Cool when talking about the "cool" jazz of the late 40s. But pianist Lennie Tristano is the now forgotten other major innovator of "cool" jazz and sax players Lee Konitz & Warne Marsh were his primary disciples. I've featured Konitz before. This particular CD is unusual but recommended to jazz fans. Tenor sax player Warne Marsh was born Oct. 26, 1927 in Los Angeles. He played with Hoagy Carmichael and then Buddy Rich until he joined Tristano's band in 1949. Intuition consists of two different 1949 sessions. Lover Man is from a Marsh recording with Ted Brown on tenor sax, Ronnie Ball on piano, George Tucker on bass and Jeff Morton on drums. The CD also has legendary music Tristano recorded with Marsh, Konitz and others. The CD is recommended mostly for those tracks. I don't know why Capitol released them this way. The Marsh tracks are very good but not essential. Marsh always remained loyal to Tristano and reunited with him over the years. He took up teaching and was also a member of the popular 70s Charlie Parker tribute band Supersax. Warne Marsh died onstage while playing at Donte's in Los Angeles on Dec. 17, 1987 at age 60. His laid back style is considered very influential in retrospect. Here's Warne Marsh performing with Lee Konitz, Billy Taylor, Don Elliott, Ed Safranski, Mundell Lowe & Ed Thigpen on the 1958 TV show The Subject Is Jazz.