Thursday, December 31, 2015
Here's the match video of Gabi Garcia vs Lei'D Tapa from today's RIZIN show at Saitama Super Arena in Japan. This match did air on the Spike TV condensed version of the show. This fight was the train wreck that I expected. Gabi is the super heavyweight BJJ champ who has wanted to fight MMA for several years. Of course the problem is there are no opponents for her. I was not surprised when I heard that mediocre heavyweight pro wrestler Lei'D Tapa was training at American Top Team in Florida to train for this freak show. This fight is on the level of one of those bar fight shows of the dark days of MMA. Were their eyes closed while they were wildly swinging? The one thing you will notice is that Gabi is huge. Tapa is a big girl but Gabi dwarfs her. Tapa drops Gabi but she doesn't know how to follow up on that to go for a finish. So Gabi comes back and inevitably drops Tapa with a back fist that seemed like an accident. Then some ground and pound and it's over. It doesn't change anything. Gabi would be an attraction if there were any credible opponents for her. But there aren't. I can't imagine who RIZIN would get to face her. Enjoy the video!
Here's the match video of RENA vs Jleana Valentino from today's RIZIN show at Saitana Super Arena in Japan. This did not air on Spike TV's condensed version of the show but I suspect devotees saw the match on the Russian feed which is where this Youtube video is from. Of course RENA is the Shoot Boxer trying MMA though she said in numerous interviews over the years that she would never do MMA. After this fight was announced, she admitted that former PRIDE owner Sakikabara threw enough money at her to convince her to do it. Based on this fight, she should probably forget about MMA unless it is in RIZIN. Because anyone who is any good would destroy her. Fortunately for RENA, her opponent is an Italian kickboxer who is even more useless at MMA than RENA. RENA trained at AACC with Ayaka Hamasaki. Another complication is that RENA injured her hand a month ago. It's likely that if this wasn't such a high profile show, she would have dropped out. In round one, what you will notice is that RENA is trying to avoid punching because of her injured hand. She does score a couple of takedowns because Jleana has zero takedown defense. And Jleana's cluelessness leads to the round two finish when Jleana stumbles into a flying armbar. Of course some moron fanboys will try to convince you that RENA was impressive. But really the only impressive thing about RENA is that she is hot. The finish is because her opponent is incompetent. And until RENA has an MMA fight against a half decent opponent, the jury is out. And for RIZIN, I don't expect her to face anyone half decent. Enjoy the video!
Early in her career, Natalie Cole had success on the pop and R & B charts with hits like This Will Be. But when she started to fade in the late 80s, she decided to aim her music at a more adult audience. And she still does that today. The 1991 album Unforgettable...With Love was a tribute to her legendary father Nat King Cole punctuated by a duet of the title song with a video. The album sold seven million copies. After her initial success in the 70s. Natalie's career went into decline after she divorced producer Marvin Yancy in 1980 and her drug problems landed her in rehab. It didn't help that Yancy died in 1985. After albums for Epic and Atco's Modern label went nowhere, she returned to EMI's Manhattan label and scored a top five hit in 1987 with a cover of Bruce Springsteen's Pink Cadillac followed by another top five hit Miss You Like Crazy. It was around this time that she met Rufus founder Andre Fischer and they married in 1989. They told EMI Natalie wanted to record a tribute to her dad. They told her she could do that for a different label. They released her from her contract and Natalie signed with Elektra. Natalie wanted to record a duet with her dad but she didn't want people to scoff at it. In 1989, Hank Williams Jr. recorded There's A Tear In My Beer with his legendary father and a video was produced. The success of this encouraged Natalie and Fischer that they could do this properly. David Foster was hired to mix Nat King Cole's original 1951 recording of Unforgettable with Natalie's new recording with pianist Michael Melvoin, bassist Ray Brown, drummer Sol Gubin, guitarist John Chiodini and a sax solo by Pete Christleib. They used Johnny Mandel's original arrangement for Nat King Cole and Foster arranged the vocals. The album was certified 7XPlatinum and it is Natalie's biggest seller to date. The album won three Grammys and PBS aired a 1992 special that was nominated for several Emmys. It successfully sold Natalie Cole to an older audience that was more familiar with her dad. The album is available as a budget CD. And since then, she hasn't bothered much trying to record pop hits. She currently records for Verve and her latest CD Natalie Cole en Espanol was released in 2013. There's no question that Unforgettable set her up for career longevity as she still tours. Here's the video for Unforgettable by Natalie Cole featuring Nat King Cole.
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Album:16 Biggest Hits
Joe Diffie scored five number one country music hits in the 90s including Pickup Man in 1994. I would place him firmly in the honky tonk tradition with a sense of humour. He was born Dec. 28, 1958 in Tulsa, OK. His parents were both part time performers and the family moved around a lot to wherever his dad found work. Diffie went to high school in Oklahoma and attended Cameron University considering medical school. Instead he got married, dropped out of college and worked in Texas oil fields while performing part time. He was sending demos to Nashville trying to get a break. In 1986, Diffie lost his job and declared bankruptcy. He moved to Nashville to work at Gibson Guitar during the day while still sending out demos. His big break came when Holly Dunn scored a hit with the Diffie song There Goes My Heart Again in 1989. Diffie had already been in talks with Epic Records and they signed him in 1990. His debut album A Thousand Winding Roads was produced by Bob Montgomery and Johnny Slate. Montgomery played with Buddy Holly in the 50s. At the time, he was head of A & R at Epic Nashville. Diffie's debut single Home topped the country music charts. Diffie continued to have success. But he really broke through with his 1994 album Third Rock From The Sun. The title song and Pickup Man both topped the country charts. Pickup Man was a slightly bigger hit after the restaurant chain Applebee's used it in a commercial. The song was written by Howard Perdew and Kerry Kurt Phillips. Perdew wrote other songs for Diffie. Phillips has written songs for Tim McGraw among others. The album Third Rock From The Sun was certified Platinum and it's his most successful CD to date. Diffie scored another number one hit with Bigger Than The Beatles in 1995. Diffie scored his only top 40 pop hit with A Night To Remember in 1999. That was his final album for Epic as Sony moved him to Monument for the 2001 CD In Another World. It wasn't successful and Diffie left Sony. You can get all of his Epic hits on this comp. Since then, Diffie has recorded for Broken Bow and Rounder. He got a boost when Jason Aldean namedropped Diffie in the 2012 hit 1994. Diffie recorded the 2013 CD All In The Same Boat with Sammy Kershaw and Aaron Tippin and they went on tour. Diffie still tours but at this point, he's probably a 90s nostalgia act. He sure had a good run. Here's the video for Pickup Man by Joe Diffie.
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Song:Mary Don't Take Me On No Bad Trip
Ellington "Fugi" Jordan was probably way ahead of his time in the late 60s when he mixed funk, psychedelia and social commentary. It was all too much for his label Chess Records. He recorded an album in 1969. And after testing the market with the single Mary Don't Take Me On No Bad Trip, Chess decided not to release the album. Jordan was born in Los Angeles but he moved to Detroit. Jordan's claim to fame is writing the 1968 Etta James classic I'd Rather Go Blind. Etta visited Jordan in jail to discuss the song. He decided not to take a songwriting credit for tax reasons but Etta wrote in her autobiography that Jordan wrote the song. Then Jordan started working with the psychedelic funk band Black Merda. He says he met them through Eddie Kendricks of The Temptations. He signed with Chess records as Fugi and recorded an album backed by Black Merda. Mary Don't Take Me On No Bad Trip was the first single. Though today the song is praised as innovative, back in 1969 Chess thought Fugi's album was too "out there" and decided not to release it. Fugi's album was discovered and released on CD in 1997. Jordan acquired the rights to the album and he released it himself in 2003. He also released the CD Almost Home as Ellington Jordan in 2005 and it is available from CD Baby. I'd Rather Go Blind has been covered by so many artists that Jordan still receives royalty cheques and that keeps him going. But he probably deserved a better fate in the late 60s. At least his recordings are now available. Here's a video for Mary Don't Take Me On No Bad Trip by Fugi.
Monday, December 28, 2015
Song:I Don't Want To Miss A Thing
Album:Devil's Got A New Disguise: The Very Best Of Aerosmith
Would it surprise you to know that I Don't Want To Miss A Thing is the only number one hit in Aerosmith's long history? I know it surprised me. Back in their heyday in the 70s, Aerosmith was more of an album and touring act. They had a couple of top ten hits but never had a number one hit. By 1998, Aerosmith had just returned to Columbia Records and their first album on their return, 1997's Nine Lives, was a big disappointment. It was slammed by reviewers and though it sold OK, there were a lot of problems with the album and it wasn't up to their standards. So both Aerosmith and Columbia were desperate for a hit single. Meanwhile, Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler's daughter Liv Tyler was to star in the blockbuster movie Armageddon. A Columbia exec asked Armageddon producer Jerry Bruckheimer what he thought about Aerosmith performing a song on the soundtrack. The band was on tour at the time. I Don't Want To Miss A Thing was written by veteran schlock songwriter Diane Warren for Celine Dion. The producers were going to have U2 record it for the movie. But instead they brought Aerosmith in to record four songs for the movie. Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry said that recording the song quickly without thinking about it much probably helped the band at the time. Armageddon was released Aug. 1998 and I Don't Want To Miss A Thing went to number one immediately. The soundtrack for Armageddon was certified 4XPlatinum. The soundtrack is available as a budget CD. But you can also get I Don't Want To Miss A Thing on a few Aerosmith comps including this budget CD released in 2006. It has some of Aerosmith's classic 70s songs and some more recent songs. The success of I Don't Want To Miss A Thing reinvigorated Aerosmith when they were at a low point and really needed a big hit. Here's the video for I Don't Want To Miss A Thing by Aerosmith.
Sunday, December 27, 2015
Album:Fame: The Original Soundtrack From The Motion Picture
Both of Irene Cara's big hit singles were from hit movies, Fame in 1980 followed by Flashdance...What A Feeling. So you can't get them on the same CD. In fact, when I wrote about Flashdance a few years ago, the soundtrack was only available with the DVD of the movie. Irene has a great voice but her own albums didn't catch on. So she has stuck mostly to acting in her career. Irene was 18 years old when she was hired for Fame. She had previously done a few bit parts in Broadway musicals. She was originally cast as a dancer. But when fame screenwriter Christopher Gore heard her voice, he decided to expand her role. She sang two songs in Fame, Fame and Out Here On My Own. Fame reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and what it really did was catapult the film to box office success. Also the soundtrack was a big seller. And the song Fame won a Best Song Oscar. The score for Fame was written by Michael Gore and Dean Pilchford. Michael Gore is the brother of singer Lesley Gore and screenwriter Christopher Gore. The record was arranged by Leon Pendarvis Jr. and the guitar solo is by veteran session musician Elliott Randall. When the producers wanted to turn Fame into a TV series, Irene turned them down and Erica Gimpel played Coco. The TV series was even more successful than the movie so that was probably a big mistake. Irene has continued to act on film and TV. She currently lives in Florida and leads her band Hot Caramel. They released a CD in 2011. Meanwhile, Fame was turned into a stage musical in 1988, And MGM produced a movie remake of Fame in 2009. Stick with the original. Here's the video for Fame by Irene Cara.
Saturday, December 26, 2015
Song:If You Love Me
Album:From The Bottom Up
The R & B girl group Brownstone had success in the 90s mostly on the R & B charts. If You Love Me was their only top ten pop hit in 1994. They only recorded two albums. The most interesting thing about Brownstone is they were on Michael Jackson's label MJJ Music. The three members of Brownstone were Nicci Gilbert, Charmayne "Maxee" Maxwell and Monica "Mimi" Doby. Nicci is from Detroit but she moved to Los Angeles and met the other two at auditions. They formed Brownstone and signed with MJJ Music with Sony distribution. Michael Jackson owned the label but it was run by veteran music exec Jerry Greenberg who was very close to then Sony Music head Tommy Mottola and Mariah Carey. Brownstone worked with various producers on From The Bottom Up. If You Love Me was the second single and it reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100. Nicci wrote the song with Dave "Jam" Hall and Gordon Chambers and Hall produced the record. He had previously worked with Mary J. Blige and Mariah Carey. The album was certified Platinum. So they're off to a good start. Then in an interview with BET host Donnie Simpson, Monica announced she was leaving Brownstone due to health problems. Later there were rumours that she wasn't getting along with the other two girls. She was replaced by Kina Cosper for the 1997 CD Still Climbing. But that album didn't do as well as the first album and there were no hit singles. Brownstone split up in 2000. Sony released a Super Hits comp. But for some reason they put the shorter radio edits of Brownstone's hits on that CD. So instead I recommend From The Bottom Up which is available as a budget CD. Charmayne released a couple of singles as Maxee on Mercury Records in 2000. Then she married Danish producer Carsten "Soulshock" Schack and moved to Europe. She died in an accidental fall in Denmark on Feb. 28, 2015 at age 46. Nicci recorded an album in 2002. But more recently she is the creator and exec producer of the TV One reality series R & B Divas: Atlanta and the spinoff series R & B Divas: Los Angeles. She has created a new reality show From The Ground Up which will profile once popular R & B singers. This is set to debut early 2016. Here's the video for If You Love Me by Brownstone.
Friday, December 25, 2015
Song:Luck Be A Lady
Album:Guys and Dolls: The New Broadway Cast Recording
Though actor Peter Gallagher has had a long career in films and especially in TV, he started out in musical theater and he has had success on Broadway especially as Sky Masterson in the 1992 revival of the Frank Loesser musical Guys and Dolls. He was born Aug. 19, 1955 in New York City and he grew up in the Westchester County suburb of Armonk. He appeared in theater groups while attending Tufts University in Boston. And after graduating, he moved back to New York City. He first appeared on Broadway in late 70s productions of Hair and Grease and he also appeared on the daytime soap Guiding Light. Gallagher made his film debut in the 1980 film The Idolmaker and then the 1982 film Summer Lovers. He then starred in the 1982 Broadway drama A Doll's Life. Gallagher won a Theater World award. He also had success in the 1984 show The Real Thing and he was nominated for a Tony for the 1986 revival of Long Day's Journey Into Night. Gallagher worked on a lot of made for TV movies until he got a lot of buzz for Stephen Soderbergh's 1989 film Sex, Lies, and Videotape. This led to more high profile film roles in the Robert Altman films The Player and Short Cuts. And it also led him back to Broadway in the 1992 revival of Guys and Dolls which ran for three years. It was very successful. A doc Guys and Dolls: Off The Record aired on PBS's Great Performances and is available on DVD from Kultur. The original cast album is available as a budget CD. Though Gallagher has returned to Broadway occasionally, he is best known for his role as Sandy Cohen on the TV series The O.C. and more recently as Deputy Chief William Dodds on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. He also appeared in a Broadway revival of the musical On The Twentieth Century which ran from Mar. to July 2015. It was intended as a limited run. He even recorded the CD 7 Days In Memphis with producer Steve Cropper in 2005. So he's a lot more versatile than you might think from his TV work. Here's Peter Gallagher performing Luck Be A Lady from the 1992 PBS Great Performances documentary Guys and Dolls: Off the Record which is available on DVD.
Thursday, December 24, 2015
Song:Emotion In Motion
Album:This Side Of Paradise
Of course Ric Ocasek is best known as leader of The Cars and they had a lot of success in the 80s. Ocasek first recorded as a solo artist in 1982. While The Cars were still together, Ocasek scored a top 20 hit in 1986 with Emotion In Motion from the CD This Side Of Paradise. It is Ocasek's only big solo hit to date. He continued to record solo after The Cars disbanded in 1988 but Ocasek has not had further success as a solo artist. He was born Richard Otcasek Mar. 23, 1949 in Baltimore. His family moved to Cleveland and Ocasek graduated high school and attended college there. He met bassist Benjamin Orr and they recorded as Milkwood for Paramount Records in 1973. In 1976, they formed The Cars with Greg Hawkes, Elliot Easton and David Robinson. After The Cars finished touring to support the 1981 album Shake It Up, Ocasek and Hawkes both recorded solo albums. Hawkes played on Ocasek's album Beatitude but Jules Shear and his band Jules and the Polar Bears played on the album. After The Cars had their biggest success with their 1984 album Heartbeat City and the smash single Drive, Easton, Orr and Ocasek all released solo albums. Elektra released The Cars Greatest Hits in 1985 to tide them over. Ocasek's 1986 album This Side Of Paradise was released on Geffen Records. Hawkes, Orr and Easton all appeared on the album. It was almost a Cars reunion except the drummer and co-producer was Chris Hughes of Adam and the Ants. Emotion In Motion reached #15 on the Billboard Hot 100. Roland Orzabal of Tears For Fears plays guitar on the song. Apparently he is good friends with Hughes. Ocasek's future wife supermodel Paulina Porizkova stars in the video as she did in the video for Drive which is probably why the song was a hit because MTV played the video to death. Other guest musicians on This Side Of Paradise were Saturday Night Live band leader G.E. Smith and King Crimson bassist Tony Levin. The album is available as a budget CD. After one more album, The Cars split up in 1988. Ocasek had recorded for Reprise, Sony and Sanctuary without much success. He last recorded solo in 2005. Benjamin Orr died of cancer in 2000. But the other members of The Cars reformed and released a new CD in 2011. They toured but have been inactive since then. The Cars are nominated as 2016 inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Maybe that will get them off their butts. Here's the video for Emotion In Motion by Ric Ocasek.
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Song:Bring Him Home
Album:Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio
Tenor sax player Melissa Aldana made a big splash last year with her major label debut Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio. She was born in Santiago, Chile in 1988. Her father is tenor sax player Marcos Aldana. At age six, she started bugging him about learning to play. He bought her an alto sax and had her learn from Charlie Parker transcriptions. After listening to Sonny Rollins, Melissa wanted to switch to tenor sax. Her grandfather bought her one and by age 16, she was playing local clubs in Santiago. When she heard that pianist Danilo Perez was coming to town with Wayne Shorter, she was determined to meet him. Perez invited her to play at the Panamanian Jazz Festival. Then he brought her to the US and got her a scholarship at Berklee School Of Music in Boston. She studied with Joe Lovano and Greg Osby. After graduation, Melissa moved to New York City and studied with George Coleman and played local clubs. After releasing a couple of CDs on Osby's Inner Circle label, she formed Crash Trio with bassist Pablo Menares and drummer Francisco Mela. She knew Menares from back home in Chile. Mela is a Cuban who has played with Joe Lovano and Esperanza Spalding. Melissa won the 2013 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition. She was the first female to win the sax competition. The jurors were Jane Ira Bloom, Branford Marsalis, Jimmy Heath, Wayne Shorter and Bobby Watson. This got Melissa a deal with Concord Jazz. Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio is her 2014 major label debut. The CD did great and Melissa is out on tour. She will be in Sweden in January and then will tour the US in the spring. If she comes my way, I'm checking her out. And so should you. Here's Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio performing Bring Him Home at The Red Room at Cafe 939 at the Berklee College of Music in Boston Oct. 9, 2013.
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Song:Drops Of Jupiter
Album:Drops Of Jupiter/My Private Nation
Drops Of Jupiter was a top five hit in 2001. It put Train on the map and they are still around today. Lead singer Pat Monahan led a Led Zeppelin cover band in his home town of Erie, PA. In 1993, he moved to San Francisco looking for better opportunities in the music business. He met former Apostles lead singer Rob Hotchkiss and the two started performing together. Then they decided to form a band with Jimmie Stafford on guitar, Charlie Colin on bass and Scott Underwood on drums. Train released a CD independently but then they signed with Columbia and they picked it up for release. Meet Virginia was a top 20 hit in 1999. For their 2001 CD Drops Of Jupiter, they were assigned to veteran producer Brendan O'Brien who was a VP at Epic Records. The single Drops Of Jupiter was released before the album was released and it reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album was certified 2XPlatinum. The strings were arranged by Paul Buckmaster known for his work with Elton John. Train was looking to replicate that sound. Hotchkiss left Train in 2003 over control issues. Monahan had become the main songwriter and singer and Hotchkiss resented it. Colin also left to go to rehab. The 2003 CD My Private Nation was certified Platinum but there were no hit singles. Train released a live album and then the 2006 CD For Me, It's You. When that album wasn't as successful as the previous albums, Train went on hiatus and Monahan released a solo CD in 2007. Train returned in 2009 with the CD Save Me, San Francisco. Hey Soul Sister reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album was certified Platinum. So that was a successful return. Columbia has not released a single CD comp. But the albums Drops Of Jupiter and My Private Nation are available as a reasonably priced 2CD twofer. Train left Columbia for Universal last year and the CD Christmas In Tahoe was released last month. Monahan and Stafford are the original members still in Train. They will begin touring in February. Here's the video for Drops Of Jupiter by Train.
Monday, December 21, 2015
Song:Joy To The World
Album:Song of Simeon: A Christmas Journey
Tenor sax player Will Scruggs is a big part of the Atlanta jazz scene. He works as a sideman but he also leads his own band and records on his own label. This Christmas CD was released in 2011. Scruggs was born in Atlanta and he learned to play sax as a child. He studied at Emory University and planned to become a music teacher. He was in the band Cadillac Jones. They recorded a couple of albums and Scruggs made enough contacts in music that he thought he could get a lot of studio work. He also formed Will Scruggs Jazz Fellowship in 2005. The Band has recorded three albums. This Christmas CD Song Of Simeon is their most recent release. Other members are Brian Hogans on alto sax, Marlon Patton on drums and Zach Pride on bass. Scruggs' highest profile gig was when he recorded and toured with Natalie Cole when she was recording for Verve. When Scruggs isn't recording or touring, he leads the house band at Ray's Killer Creek in Alpharetta, GA. This Christmas CD is expensive but worth checking out. Here's a video for Joy To The World by Will Scruggs Jazz Fellowship.
Sunday, December 20, 2015
Here's the match video of karolina Kowalkiewicz vs Randa Markos from last night's UFC show from Orlando, FL. It aired on FOX in the US and CTV2 in Canada. Of course Randa did well in TUF and she's 1-1 in the UFC. She won her last fight over Aisling Daly. Just to clarify because there was some confusion because Mike Goldberg is an idiot. Randa was born in Iraq but her parents moved to Windsor, ON when she was a child. Randa has recently moved to Montreal to train at Tri-Star. She is primarily a wrestler. She needs to improve her striking. Karolina is a striker but doesn't have the power to finish. So she's a points fighter. And that's how she beat MIZUKI in Invicta a couple of years ago. Other than that, Karolina was fighting subpar competition for KSW in Poland. They pay well so she was a tough signing for the UFC. Goldberg said Karolina was a late replacement. I think he was confusing her with Valentina Shevchenko. I scored round one 10-9 for Randa for better cage control. Karolina did land a couple of punches which might have stolen her the round with the judges. But I didn't think she was busy enough. And her corner even told her that between rounds. So it was a close round but I thought Randa won it. And Randa certainly won round two by getting Karolina's back and attempting a rear naked choke. Karolina did defend well. In round three, Randa went for a takedown but ended up on the bottom. So that killed round three. But I thought Randa won the first two rounds so I scored the fight 29-28 for Randa. The judges scored it 2 X 29-28 and 30-27 for Karolina. I thought it would be a split decision because round one was very close and I'm not big on round stealing. The 30-27 is stupid. I do think Randa needs to work on her striking defense. But points fighting is going to get Karolina in trouble. It's not always going to go her way. She may not be so fortunate next time. Enjoy the video.
Here's the match video of Valentina Shevchenko vs Sarah Kaufman from last night's UFC show in Orlando, FL. It aired on the prelims on Fox Sports 1 in the US and TSN in Canada. Valentina is a Muay Thai champ who has dabbled in MMA for several years but has started taking MMA more seriously over the last couple of years. Of course Sarah is a big step up in competition for Valentina. She trains at Tiger Muay Thai and splits her time between Lima, Peru and Houston. She took this fight on eight days notice. But they didn't tell you on the broadcast that she was training for a scheduled fight in January. Sarah is a former Strikeforce champ whose career has been on a steady decline for several years. She could be on the chopping block if she doesn't win. I thought Valentina had a good chance to win if she doesn't poop out early in the fight. She surprised Rogan and Goldberg by taking the fight to the ground in round one. I wasn't surprised because Sarah isn't very good on the ground. I think it was smart strategy. Valentina didn't try for a submission but she did enough to win the first two rounds. So going into round three, Sarah needs a finish. It's not enough to just win the round. The problem is Sarah hasn't finished a fight in several years. She has become a points fighter. So Sarah won round three by maintaining top position. But her attempts to try to get a submission were feeble at best. She has never won a fight by submission. She should have mounted Valentina and tried for a ground and pound finish. By the time she did that, it was way too late in the round. Remaining in side control for that length of time just shows that Sarah doesn't know what she is doing on the ground. And that's why her career is in decline. The competition has caught up to her and she hasn't improved enough to keep pace. She still trying to win fights the way she won them a few years ago and that's not good enough anymore. I scored the fight 29-28 for Valentina and so did two of the judges. The third judge scored it 30-27 for Sarah. The same idiot judge did this earlier in the show in the Nik Lentz vs Danny Castillo fight. I guess he's one of these Florida boxing judges who shouldn't be judging MMA. And you wonder why UFC president Dana White doesn't like doing shows in Florida. The AC there is a joke. So Valentina won by split decision but it should have been unanimous. That's why there was a delay with the scorecards. It was a great UFC debut on short notice for Valentina. Could this be the end for Sarah Kaufman? We'll see. Enjoy the video.
sarahv by AFFV
sarahv by AFFV
Song:It's All Right With Me
Album:Head To Head
There's a tradition in jazz of trombone duos going back to J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding back in the 50s. This is a modern day reinvention of that tradition featuring two of today's top jazz trombonists. John Allred is the band leader. He was born 1962 in Rock Island, IL. His dad Bill Allred played trombone. He started out in Los Angeles playing in a Dixieland band at Disneyland. He joined Woody Herman's band. Then Allred moved to Orlando, FL and he was a big part of Harry Connick Jr.'s big band. For the film My Girl, Allred taught Dan Ayckroyd to mimic a tuba player and Allred played on the soundtrack. And he worked with his dad's band. Since moving to New York City in 1999, Allred has played with The Toshiko Akiyoshi Bag Band, The Woody Herman Orchestra and The Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra and occasionally recorded as a leader. Wycliffe Gordon was born May 29, 1967 in Waynesboro, GA. His dad was a church organist and piano teacher. Gordon got into jazz in high school and his music teacher played trombone. Gordon was a member of Wynton Marsalis' band for several years. Since 1999, he has recorded occasionally as a leader. But for the most part, Gordon is still a sideman. Head To Head was released in 2002 and is clearly influenced by those 50s trombone duos. Musicians are John Sheridan on piano, Charlie Silva on bass and Eddie Metz Jr. on drums. This one off project is recommended to fans of those trombone duos. Both Allred and Gordon have returned to being sidemen and occasionally recording as leaders. Here's a video for It's All Right With Me by John Allred & Wycliffe Gordon.
Saturday, December 19, 2015
Jean Sablon is frequently described as the Bing Crosby of France. He wasn't as popular as Maurice Chevalier but Sablon had a long career spanning several decades. In the 30s, Sablon was a key figure in helping legendary guitarist Django Reinhardt establish himself in Paris. Sablon recorded about 30 times with Reinhardt. Most of those recordings should be on this comp from ASV/Living Era. A lot of fans may not know that Reinhardt recorded with singers especially in his early days. Sablon was born Mar. 25, 1906 in Nogent-sur-Marne, France. His father Charles Sablon was a composer and so was his brother Andre Sablon. His sister Germaine Sablon was an actress and singer who also recorded with Reinhardt. Sablon studied piano at Lycee Charlemagne in Paris and he studied vocal at Paris Conservatoire. He started singing in Paris cabarets at age 17. His first recordings were with the pianist Mireille and he also performed with Mistinguett at the Casino de Paris. That really helped him as she was very popular at the time. He also spent a couple of years in Brazil. Sablon moved back to France in the early 30s and that's when he met Reinhardt. Sablon helped Reinhardt get established in Paris clubs and in return, Reinhardt recorded with Sablon. The Continental was recorded Jan. 7, 1935 with Sablon on vocals, Reinhardt on guitar and Garland Wilson on piano. Wilson was best known as pianist for singer Nina Mae McKinney. He lived in Paris for a few years and moved back to the US in 1939. The Continental was written by Con Conrad and Herb Magidson and sung by Ginger Rogers in the 1934 film The Gay Divorcee. It won a Best Song Oscar so it was a popular song at the time. Reinhardt recorded The Continental a couple of months later with the Hot Club Quintet featuring Grappelli and singer Jerry Mengo singing in English. Mengo was a drummer who sang occasionally. He just wasn't that well known in France compared to Sablon. Sablon lived in the US during WWII and appeared on radio and Broadway. He returned to France after the war and had a long career until his death on Apr. 24, 1994 at age 87. Here's a video of Jean Sablon with Django Reinhardt singing The Continental.
Friday, December 18, 2015
Song:Nothing Compares 2 U
These days Irish singer Sinead O'Connor is known mainly for her controversial behaviour. So we tend to forget that she scored a huge worldwide hit with Nothing Compares 2 U in 1990. To date it is her only big hit single. She was born Dec. 8, 1966 in Glenageary, County Dublin, Ireland. Her parents separated when she was 8 years old. Sinead lived with her mother and she has claimed that the children were abused. She lived with her dad as a teen and Sinead got into trouble for shoplifting. She was sent to a couple of boarding schools and this is where she got interested in music. She was in the band Ton Ton Macoute. Record companies were interested in her and she signed with EMI's Ensign label in 1987. For her debut album The Lion and the Cobra, she was assigned a producer but they didn't get along and Sinead wrote and produced the album. The album did well in England and the single Mandinka got some airplay but it was not a hit. For her next album I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, Sinead was paired with Nellee Hooper who was a hot producer in England at the time. She again wrote most of the songs except Nothing Compares 2 U which was written by Prince for one of his side projects The Family. Sinead made the song her own and of course everyone remembers her appearance in the video which was played endlessly on MTV. The record was a worldwide chart topper. It is to date her only big hit and you can get it on this comp. She continued to have minor hits in England. And of course she is known for ripping up The Pope's picture on Saturday Night Live in 1992. That got her plenty of attention and she continues to do things like that. She was recently in the news for threatening suicide on Facebook over a family dispute. I don't think it helps her music much. Most folks just think she's weird. She still records. Her latest CD I'm Not Bossy, I'm The Boss was released last year on Nettwerk. And she became a grandmother earlier this year. That should make you feel old. here's the video for Nothing Compares 2 U by Sinead O'Connor.
Thursday, December 17, 2015
Here's the match video of Asuka vs Emma from yesterday's NXT Takeover London show. I am posting it for those who don't have the WWE Network. A couple of weeks ago, there was supposed to be an Asuka vs Dana Brooke rematch. But Emma sneaked up on Asuka and applied her Emma lock. Then the two came out to distract Asuka during a subsequent match and Asuka KOd her opponent with a spinning head kick. So that set up the match on the live show. The Aussie Emma was on the main roster. But she was sent back to NXT to reinvent herself as a heel. She's done a good job. But the crowd is chanting "Asuka's Gonna Kill You" for a reason. The crowd goes bonkers for Asuka's entrance. The match was very competitive but the finish was overbooked. Emma got her trademark moves in and Asuka sold them well. The turning point of the match is when Emma is going to curb stomp Asuka to set her up for the Emma lock. Instead, Asuka reverses it and turns it into an ankle lock followed by a German suplex and a Shining Wizard. That reversal was amazing. Then we get a ref bump. And Dana throws her belt into the ring so Emma can clobber Asuka with it. But Asuka gets it away from her and the belt is tossed out of the ring. While Asuka applies her Asuka lock finish, we get a phantom tap out because Dana distracts the ref and throws the belt back into the ring. Emma tries to hit Asuka with the belt. But Asuka nails her with a spinning head kick and the match is over. Asuka wins. Later on in the show, Bayley successfully defended her NXT Women's Championship over monster heel Nia Jax. The match was OK but Nia is very inexperienced and she hasn't figured out how to flow her work properly. At this point her matches need to be kept short. Before the match, Nia did a backstage interview. Asuka confronted her, licked her lips and smiled. So I guess they are going to do a program with these two. Someone asked me if Asuka had ever worked with Aja Kong. I don't think so. Aja works mostly for Oz Academy and Asuka never worked there. Asuka might have worked with Kyoko Inoue during her Passion Red days. But those two are experienced wrestlers and the problem with Nia is her lack of experience. We'll see if Asuka get get a good match out of her. So far she has been really good. Enjoy the video.
Asuka vs Emma by MrCena456
Asuka vs Emma by MrCena456
Album:The Principle Of Moments
Of course Robert Plant is best known as lead singer of Led Zeppelin. He went solo after they split in 1980 and Plant has had a very successful solo career. The 1983 single Big Log is his biggest chart hit to date. He was born Aug. 20, 1948 in West Bromwich, Staffordshire, England. Plant sang with various bands in the 60s before forming Led Zeppelin with Jimmy Page in 1968. After Led Zeppelin split up in 1980, Plant considered leaving music for a teaching career. But Phil Collins talked him out of that and Collins was in Plant's first band. Other members were former Bronco guitarist Robbie Blunt, former Black Sabbath keyboard player Jezz Woodroffe and session bassist Paul Martinez. This was Plant's band for his first three albums. Big Log is from Plant's second album The Principle Of Moments. It reached #20 on the Billboard Hot 100 and it is Plant's biggest solo hit to date. If you're wondering about Sea Of Love by The Honeydrippers, that was not a solo record. It was a one off side project. Plant also had chart success when he recorded a couple of albums with Jimmy Page in the 90s. Atlantic has not released a single CD Robert Plant comp. But The Principle Of Moments was released on CD in 2007 with bonus live tracks. It's available as a budget CD. Plant's current band is called Sensational Shape Shifters. The CD Lullaby and the Ceaseless Roar was released last year on Nonesuch. At the end of their 2015 tour, Plant said they will return to the recording studio to record a new CD. The music is folk rock with a West African influence. So it doesn't look like Robert Plant is slowing down anytime soon. Here's the video for Big Log by Robert Plant.
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
|Bethe Correia, Jessica Eye|
Singer songwriter Javier Garcia made a big splash in the Latin music market with the 2005 album 13. Unfortunately it's his most recent release but he is still a behind the scenes figure in the Miami music scene. Garcia was born in 1974 in Spain to a Cuban father and an Irish mother. He actually moved to Ireland as a teen but eventually he moved to Miami and he has been part of the Latin music scene ever since. He was a member of the 90s group Los Lunes. After recording a solo album in 1997, Garcia returned to writing for others. But then he resurfaced with the 2005 CD 13 on Universal Latin. The album was produced by Gustavo Santaolalla who has had success with other Latin artists. Me Gustaria was one of several hit singles from the album. That song features a trumpet solo by Cuban legend Arturo Sandoval. Garcia's music is a mix of several styles but that Cuban backbeat is the basis for everything. Garcia is still active as a producer and songwriter but it doesn't look like he plans to continue as a solo artist. He has been working on The Acoustic Guitar Project and also with Alex Cuba. 13 is worth checking out. Here's the video for Me Gustaria by Javier Garcia.
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Song:Christmas Must Be Tonight
Album:An Americana Christmas
I bet you didn't know that The Band recorded a Christmas song. Christmas Must Be Tonight was written by Robbie Robertson and Rick Danko sang lead. Robertson wrote it as a Christmas gift to his son Sebastian. The song was recorded for the 1975 album Northern Lights-Southern Cross but it didn't make the album. So instead it appeared on the 1977 album Islands. Islands was an odds and ends album that was released to fulfill The Band's contractual obligation to Capitol. So it wasn't promoted and Christmas Must Be Tonight was never released as a seasonal single. Robertson recorded his own version of Christmas Must Be Tonight for the 1988 film Scrooged. And he even recorded a third version on his 1995 album Winter, Fire and Snow: Songs For The Holiday Season. But I can't help thinking that if the song had been released as a seasonal single back in the 70s, it would be a highly regarded Christmas classic today. Christmas Must Be Tonight was added as a bonus track when Capitol released Northern Lights-Southern Cross on CD in 2001. But I think you should check out this various artists budget CD released last year by New West Records. They release a lot of roots music or I guess it's also called Americana. John Prine, Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash, Dwight Yoakam, Bob Dylan and Old 97s appear on the CD. So it looks like solid Christmas music for those interested in Americana. Here's Rick Danko performing Christmas Must Be Tonight at the Capitol Theater in Passaic, NJ Dec.17, 1977.
Monday, December 14, 2015
Song:Late Nights & Early Mornings
Album:Late Nights & Early Mornings
R & B singer Marsha Ambrosius is best known for her success as one half of the duo Floetry. She has recorded two albums since going solo and she has had success on the R & B charts. She was born Aug. 8, 1977 in Liverpool, England. She met Floetry partner Natalie Stewart while both were attending BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology. They formed Floetry and moved to Philadelphia in 2000. They signed with DreamWorks Records and had success with the 2002 album Floetic. But DreamWorks was unsuccessful and after they closed, Floetry split up in 2006. Marsha signed with Dr. Dre's Aftermath Entertainment. Nothing came from that but Marsha was still active as a songwriter working with Alicia Keys, Jamie Foxx and others. Then she signed with J Records for her 2011 debut CD Late Nights & Early Mornings. Marsha had success on the R & B charts with singles like Hope She Cheats On You (With A Basketball Player), Far Away and Late Nights & Early Mornings. She was nominated for a couple of Grammys. Marsha wrote and produced most of the album. She co-wrote and produced Late Nights & Early Mornings with Beyonce's producer Rich Harrison. After J Records was closed, Marsha was moved to RCA. Her 2014 album Friends & Lovers didn't do as well as the first album. She may be getting lost in the shuffle at RCA and it wouldn't surprise me if she went elsewhere. This year she appeared on several songs on Dr. Dre's latest CD Compton. Marsha's songwriting and production talent will assure that she has a long career in music. But she's a great singer too so maybe she needs a more supportive label. Here's the video for Late Nights & Early Mornings by Marsha Ambrosius.
Sunday, December 13, 2015
Here's the match video of Tecia Torres vs Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger from last night's UFC show in Las Vegas. It aired on the prelims on Fox Sports 1 and TSN. Jocelyn was a late replacement for an injured Michelle Waterson. The fight went pretty much as expected. Jocelyn is much bigger than Tecia but I didn't think she would be able to handle Tecia's quickness. Tecia's big weakness is her lack of ground skills. But Jocelyn isn't very good on the ground either. Tecia did what she does in all her fights. She darts in and out and lands enough punches to win the fight. Jocelyn tried to clinch with her on the fence to see if she could overpower Tecia. But Tecia was much stronger than Jocelyn. And Jocelyn needed to be more active. It's not that her punches were ineffective. She just didn't throw enough of them. She couldn't keep up with Tecia. Tecia picked up the pace in round three but she rarely finishes fights. She's a points fighter. As we saw on TUF, she has flaws. But Jocelyn was not going to be able to exploit those flaws. You get what you get with a late replacement. After the fight, the talk was that Rose Namajunas will be the likely next opponent for Tecia. Tecia beat Rose in Invicta a couple of years ago. At some point, I expect Tecia's one dimensional point fighting style to catch up to her. Maybe that will happen if she faces Rose. Enjoy the video.
Song:When I Give My Love To You
Album:The Best Of Michael Franks: A Backward Glance
He probably didn't know it back in the 70s but singer Michael Franks turned out to be a pioneer of what is now called Smooth Jazz. He was a regular on the jazz and adult contemporary charts in the 70s and 80s. He was born Sept. 18, 1944 in La Jolla, CA. He started out as a folksinger and he studied poetry at UCLA. Franks recorded and toured with blues legends Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee in 1973. They recorded three of his songs. He released an album in 1973 on Brut Records which was owned by Faberge tied in with their Brut cologne. Comedian Robert Klein also recorded for them. They were only around for a year. But it was enough to get the attention of veteran producer Tommy LiPuma who got Franks a record deal with Warner Bros. The album The Art Of Tea was released in 1976. Franks was backed up by Joe Sample, Wilton Felder and Larry Carlton of The Crusaders with guest shots by Michael Brecker and David Sanborn. LiPuma produced The Crusaders. Popsicle Toes was a minor hit single. But the album established Franks in the jazz market and that's where most of his success was for the next ten years. When I Give My Love To You is from the 1985 album Skin Dive and it features singer Brenda Russell. You'll notice a different singer in the video. Unlike most jazz singers, Franks didn't record standards. He wrote all his own songs. LiPuma thought his singing style would work better in jazz than as a typical singer songwriter. Franks was on Warner Bros. until 1995. This budget comp is a good intro to his music. He also recorded for Windham Hill and Koch. His latest CD Time Together was released on Shanachie in 2011. Franks has had some health problems in recent years. But he is recording a new album and I expect him to tour in 2016. Here's Michael Franks featuring Veronica Nunn performing When I Give My Love To You in Tokyo 1993.
Saturday, December 12, 2015
Song:Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)
Album:The Hits-Chapter One
Backstreet Boys were probably the most successful of the boy bands of the 90s probably because they were first in the marketplace. I find their music is bland but teenage girls sure loved them. Surprisingly, they never had a number one hit. But their albums were huge sellers. Backstreet Boys begins with cousins Kevin Richardson and Brian Littrell from Lexington, KY. In 1990, Richardson moved to Orlando, FL and he met AJ McLean, Howie Dorough and Nick Carter and they decided to form a group heavily influenced by Boyz II Men. Influenced by the success of New Kids On The Block, manager Lou Pearlman held auditions for a potential boy band. McLean auditioned and then the others were selected. And then Richardson brought Littrell to Orlando. They were named after Orlando's Backstreet Market which was a teen hangout. Backstreet Boys performed locally while trying to get a record deal. They signed with Jive Records in 1994. For their 1995 debut CD Backstreet Boys, they worked with several producers but they really clicked with Swedish producer Max Martin who was just starting out at the time. He's still very successful. At first they were successful in Europe. But it took a couple of years to break them in the US. I don't think radio station program directors liked their music. They had already released their second album Backstreet's Back when Quit Playing Games (With My Heart) got enough radio airplay to reach #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Jive rereleased the first album and it sold 11 million copies. Quit Playing Games was written and produced by Martin and frequent songwriting partner Herbie Crichlow. So now they have a huge fanbase of teenage girls. It doesn't matter what they do. Everything turns to Platinum. I was just surprised they never had a number one hit. But trouble was looming. Backstreet Boys sued Pearlman for fraud. Basically he was skimming their earnings. He managed several bands and they all sued him for the same thing. Now Pearlman is in prison for running a ponzi scheme. The Backstreet Boys success continued but they took a hiatus and they returned in 2004. Richardson left in 2006 but Backstreet Boys continued. They just aren't as successful as they were in the 90s. You can get all their 90s hits on this budget comp. Backstreet Boys are still around. Richardson returned in 2012 and a new CD was released in 2013. They also toured with New Kids On The Block. I guess that's a boy band nostalgia tour. Backstreet Boys recently announced they are working on a new CD for a 2016 release. Here's the video for Quit Playing Games (With My Heart) by Backstreet Boys.
Friday, December 11, 2015
Here's the match video for Kailin Curran vs Emily Peters Kagan from last night's UFC show in Las Vegas. This aired on UFC Fight Pass. Emily was in TUF 20. The last time we saw her was when she lost to Angela Hill at last year's TUF Finale. I wasn't impressed with her and considering that she is now 34 years old, I didn't think she belonged in the UFC. So now she has another chance to prove herself. Kailin is a young fighter from Hawaii. She lost her first two UFC fights. She was winning her last fight vs Alex Chambers but she got caught with an armbar. They said on last night's broadcast that Kailin's trainer Jason Parsons says that Kailin loses her concentration during fights sometimes That would explain the loss to Alex. That's a difficult problem to fix because that's not a physical problem. So both of these fighters could be on the chopping block. Round one begins well for Emily. She's going at a quick pace and Kailin didn't do enough. There was also a lot of clinching on the fence. Ref Marc Goddard warned them a couple of times but he never broke them up. I scored round one 10-9 for Emily. Kailin needed to be busier. But in round two, it looked like Emily had run out of gas and Kailin was a little busier. She was able to get Emily's back and got the win with a rear naked choke. I would not be surprised if Emily is released. And I think Kailin may have challenges with better competition. I guess a win is a win. Enjoy the video.
Here's the match video of Rose Namajunas vs Paige VanZant from last night's UFC show in Las Vegas. This aired on UFC Fight Pass but I watched it on The Fight Network in Canada. It was the main event so it was scheduled for five rounds. Joanne Calderwood was supposed to be Paige's opponent but she backed out with a knee injury and she was replaced by Rose Namajunas who I thought would be a tougher opponent for Paige. Since Rose lost in the TUF 20 finale, she has moved to Colorado and it seems that her new trainer Trevor Wittman has calmed her down. This was evident in her last fight when she beat Angela Hill. Though she was coming in with a shorter than usual training camp, I didn't see that as a big issue because she was going to be booked pretty soon anyway. Paige has had a lot of hype but Rose was a big step up in competition. If she beats Rose than I'm sold on Paige. But though Paige was the betting favourite, I expected Rose to win. I think she is a more accomplished fighter. So I was not surprised when Rose took immediate control of the fight. An elbow from top position busted Paige open and that was the beginning of the end of the fight. Rose was patient. She didn't try to force a finish. And a lot of the credit for that patience has to go to Wittman. Paige escaped several submissions including a couple of armbars. But Rose finally finished her with a rear naked choke in round five. I was really impressed with Rose's poise. She didn't get frustrated. She just followed her game plan. I don't expect her to get an immediate title shot. Claudia Gadelha will get that. But Rose might want another shot at Tecia Torres who beat Rose in Invicta. As for Paige, she has to go back to the drawing board. I thought she was overhyped and all it took was a higher level of competition to expose her lack of technique. She is young and she showed a lot of toughness. But she can't hang with high level fighters yet. I almost forgot. Rose won a $50,000 bonus. Enjoy the video.
Song:Looks Like We Made It
Barry Manilow seemed so pervasive in the 70s that it might surprise you that he only had three number one hits and Looks Like We Made It was the last of those number one hits in 1977. And though he has taken detours to jazz and Broadway style music, his biggest hits seem like remnants of the glory days of New York City's Brill Building. He was born Barry Alan Pincus June 17, 1943 in Brooklyn, NY. He took his mother's maiden name Manilow after his Bar Mitzvah. In the 60s, Manilow got into jingle writing and he was very successful. He won several Clio awards. He also worked as an arranger for CBS in New York. In 1971, Bette Midler hired Manilow as musical director for her band after catching his act. He was also attempting to establish himself as a recording artist. He signed with Bell Records in 1973 and his debut album Barry Manilow probably wasn't focused enough to be successful. All of Manilow's 70s albums were produced by Brill Building veteran Ron Dante, best known as lead singer of The Archies. When Clive Davis took over Bell and changed the name to Arista, he took charge of selecting songs for Manilow. This resulted in Manilow's first number one hit Mandy. Manilow didn't want to record it but Davis insisted. The 1974 album Barry Manilow II was certified 2XPlatinum. His third album Trying To Get The Feeling Again was even bigger and was certified 3XPlatinum. I Write The Songs was Manilow's second number one hit. Looks Like We Made It was Manilow's third and final number one hit from the 1976 album This One's For You. Looks Like We Made It was written by veteran songwriters Richard Kerr and Will Jennings. Kerr also co-wrote Mandy and Jennings has written many hits. Manilow had a few more top ten hits like Can't Smile Without You and Copacabana. But by the late 70s, he had faded significantly and he split up with Dante. The success of Copacabana sent Manilow in a more Broadway oriented direction and he also recorded a jazz album in 1984. He continues to have a loyal following though he hasn't had a big chart hit since the 70s. This budget comp covers Manilow's 70s hits. Manilow left Arista in 2000. And after two albums for Concord, he returned to Arista in 2006. He left Arista in 2010 and his latest CD My Dream Duets was released on Verve last year. It's a weird album. His duets are with recordings of deceased legends. At least he has his 70s hits to fall back on. And he was a big part of establishing Arista as a force in the music business. Here's Barry Manilow performing Looks Like We Made It.
Thursday, December 10, 2015
Song:Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24
Album:Christmas Eve and Other Stories
The Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO) are probably today's most popular Christmas act. Their albums do huge sales this time of year. Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24 is their biggest hit single to date. With that name, you might think they are from Europe. You would be wrong. The man behind TSO Is producer Paul O'Neill. He manages the hard rock band Savatage. They are from Florida. They have been around since the early 80s. Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24 appeared on the 1995 Savatage album Dead Winter Dead. It gave O'Neill the idea of starting an orchestral rock band. He got Savatage members Jon Oliva, Al Pitrelli and Robert Kinkel on board and then he got the green light from Atlantic Records to go ahead with the concept. Their 1996 debut CD Christmas Eve and Other Stories was supposed to lead to other themes. But instead they have stuck with the Christmas concept. The band name was because O'Neil had been to Siberia. And he thought it was a cool name. The album was a success. It has been certified 3XPlatinum. And Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24 charted and continues to appear on seasonal music charts. The song is a mix of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and Carol of the Bells. The plan was for TSO to tour but that was put on hold when Jon Oliva's brother and Savatage guitarist Criss Oliva died. TSO began performing live after the 1998 CD The Christmas Attic. They have become one of the biggest and most consistent concert draws in the industry. O'Neill has tried to get away from the Christmas theme. Their latest CD Letters From The Labyrinth is loosely about The Berlin Wall. It was released last month. But Christmas is a big cash cow for TSO and they will keep returning to it. Christmas Eve and Other Stories is available as a budget CD. Here's the video for Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24 by Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
Wednesday, December 09, 2015
Song:Cast Your Fate To The Wind
Album:The Very Best Of Vince Guaraldi
Pianist Vince Guaraldi is best known for composing the music for the Peanuts TV specials like A Charlie Brown Christmas. But before that, he scored a hit single with Cast Your Fate To The Wind in 1962. That song won him a Grammy award. He was born July 17, 1928 in San Francisco. For most of the 50s, Guaraldi was a member of The Cal Tjader Trio. He left in 1959 to start his own band. He signed with Fantasy Records and his first album was Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus in 1962. Half of the album was jazz interpretations of the music from the popular 1959 film Black Orpheus including Manha de Carnaval. The other half of the album included Cast Your Fate To The Wind. Musicians on the album were Monty Budwig on bass and Colin Bailey on drums. Cast Your Fate To The Wind was the B side for the single Samba de Orpheus. DJs preferred Cast Your Fate To The Wind and flipped the record over. It reached #22 on the Billboard Hot 100. I'm sure no one was more surprised by this than Vince Guaraldi. It also won a Best Instrumental Grammy. In 1964, the song was a top ten hit for the British group Sounds Orchestral. There are lyrics for Cast Your Fate To The Wind but as an instrumental, it's a jazz standard. And the song got Guaraldi the Peanuts gig. Peanuts producer Lee Mendelson heard Cast Your Fate To The Wind and hired Guaraldi to write and perform the music for A Charlie Brown Christmas. And the rest is history. This budget comp is a good intro to Guaraldi's music but Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus is also available as a budget CD with bonus tracks. Here's a video for Cast Your Fate To The Wind by Vince Guaraldi.
Tuesday, December 08, 2015
Song:Revelation Of The Heart
Album:Collective Force: The Very Best Of 3rd Force
3rd Force is a mix of jazz and electronic music. They had success on the Smooth Jazz charts in the 90s. They don't appear to be active. The leader of 3rd Force was Detroit native William Aura (real name-Bill Byerly). He started out in the 80s recording New Age music on his own label. I assume he took the name William Aura because he thought it was a good name for a New Age artist. In 1987, he signed with Virgin Records owned Higher Octave Music which was founded to distribute jazz that Virgin didn't want to release on the parent label. Meanwhile Alain Eskinasi was a remix guy working in Electronic Dance Music. The third member of 3rd Force was Craig Dobbin. They released their debut CD 3rd Force in 1994. They had success in the Smooth Jazz and Electronic Dance Music charts. Revelation Of The Heart is from the 1999 CD Force Field. It features sax player Paul Taylor and guitarist Brian Hughes. Both have recorded several albums of their own. They use several guest musicians including guitarist Craig Chaquico of Starship and they have appeared on his albums. Other guests include Peter White, Grant Geissman, Earl Klugh, Tom Scott, Dave Koz, Eric Marienthal, Boney James and Rick Braun. 3rd Force last recorded in 2005. This comp is a good intro to their music. It doesn't look like the band is active anymore. Eskinasi has returned to doing remixes and Aura occasionally turns up on albums as a sideman. Smooth Jazz fans will want to check out 3rd Force. Here's a video for Revelation Of The Heart by 3rd Force.
Monday, December 07, 2015
The smooth jazz group Hiroshima has been around since the late 70s. They probably had their greatest success recording for Epic in the 80s. But they're still around today. The most unique thing about Hiroshima is they integrate Japanese musical instruments into their sound. Hiroshima was formed in 1974 by flute player Dan Kuramoto, his wife June Kuramoto on the Japanese instrument koto, drummer Danny Yamamoto and percussionist Johnny Mori. Dan Kuramoto grew up in Los Angeles. He got interested in music while he was department chairman of Asian American Studies at Cal State University at Long Beach. June was born in Japan but she grew up on Los Angeles. She is classically trained in the koto. I won't describe it. You'll see it in the video. Meeting June gave Dan the idea of mixing jazz with Japanese music to express his Japanese heritage. The two married and Hiroshima was born. Yamamoto was a jazz drummer but Mori was general manager of the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center in Los Angeles so he was very knowledgeable about Japanese music. They recorded the 1979 album Hiroshima for Arista. Then they signed with Epic and they recorded for Epic through the 80s appearing regularly on the jazz charts. One Wish is from Hiroshima's 1985 album Another Place. Most of Hiroshima's music is written and produced by Dan Kuramoto. This budget comp is a good intro to their Epic recordings. After leaving Epic in 1992, Hiroshima recorded for Qwest, Windham Hill and Telarc. Since Telarc closed, they have their own label through CD Baby. Johnny Mori retired in 2003 and he was replaced by Shoji Kameda. Hiroshima's albums still do well in the smooth jazz market and they still perform live. Here's the video for One Wish by Hiroshima.
Sunday, December 06, 2015
Song:I Saw The Light
Of course most music fans should be familiar with Wynonna as one half of The Judds singing with her mom Naomi. They had several hits in the 80s. But it was not surprising when Wynonna went solo and immediately scored three number one country music hits including I Saw The Light. Wynonna will release a new CD in February. She was born Christina Ciminella May 30, 1964 in Ashland, KY. But she grew up in Los Angeles. After her 1972 divorce, Naomi Judd and her daughters moved back to Kentucky. They moved to Nashville in 1979 and The Judds signed with RCA in 1983. Because Wynonna sang lead on all their hits, there was pressure on her to go solo. But she was very reluctant to do that in loyalty to her mom. When Naomi retired in 1991 due to chronic hepatitis, Wynonna signed with Curb Records and recorded her 1992 debut CD Wynonna with veteran producer Tony Brown. After Wynonna performed solo on the 1992 American Music Awards, her debut single She Is His Only Need topped the Country Singles chart. This was followed by I Saw The Light and No One Else On Earth which both topped the country chart. The album Wynonna was certified 5XPlatinum. That's called debuting with a bang. I Saw The Light was written by veteran singer songwriter Andrew Gold and singer songwriter Lisa Angelle. Gold was best known for the 1977 hit Lonely Boy. He sang backup vocals on Wynonna. After a failed attempt to establish herself as a recording artist in the 80s, a few of Lisa's songs were recorded by others. I Saw The Light was the most successful of those songs. That debut album is Wynonna's most successful album to date. She scored a few more top ten country hits including the chart topper To Be Loved By You in 1996. She still does OK on the country charts. You can get all her hits on this budget comp. She married her husband Cactus Moser in 2012. He was the drummer for Highway 101. He leads Wynonna's new band Wynonna & The Big Noise. And a CD will be released Feb. 2016 featuring guest appearances by Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks and Jason Isbell. I expect they will tour to support the album. I understand Wynonna's current sound is a mix of country and blues. We all know she's a great singer. This album could be good. Here's the video for I Saw The Light by Wynonna.
Saturday, December 05, 2015
Song:I Wanna Sex You Up
The R & B group Color Me Badd had three big hits in the early 90s. I Wanna Sex You Up was the first of those hits after it appeared on the soundtrack of the popular film New Jack City. But it didn't last and Color Me Badd disbanded in 1998. Color Me Badd went to high school together in Oklahoma City. The members were Bryan Abrams, Mark Calderon, Kevin Thornton and Sam Watters. They were playing local clubs when they were spotted by Kool and the Gang leader Robert Bell. He got them a manager and they moved to New York City. They signed with Giant Records in 1990. Instead of recording an album, the single I Wanna Sex You Up was recorded for the soundtrack of the 1991 film New Jack City. That soundtrack was very successful and I Wanna Sex You Up was the biggest hit from that album as it reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was written and produced by Elliott Straite AKA Dr. Freeze and the chorus was sampled from The Brothers Johnson hit Strawberry Letter 23. Straite also wrote and produced the Bell Biv Devoe hit Poison. So Giant sent Color Me Badd into the studio to record an album. C.M.B. was the album and two singles, All 4 Love and I Adore Mi Amor, topped the Billboard Hot 100. And the album was certified 3XPlatinum. When the album was released, it was the first time fans knew that three of the four members of Color Me Badd were white. I don't think it mattered because they were already successful because of New Jack City. For their 1993 CD Time and Chance, Giant thought that if Color Me Badd worked with big name producers like David Foster and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, they would be even more successful. But it didn't turn out that way. There were no hits and the album was a commercial disappointment. The same thing happened with the 1996 album Now and Forever. They worked with guys like Narada Michael Walden, Babyface and Boyz II Men but the album was a failure. Color Me Badd left Giant for Epic. And after the 1998 album Awakening went nowhere, the group split up. The album C.M.B. is available on CD. Kevin Thornton became a minister in Fort Worth, TX and he has recorded as a Christian artist. Sam Watters has had success as a producer especially for Fantasia Barrino. He has worked with other American Idol contestants and he married AI contestant Tamyra Gray in 2006. Bryan Abrams and Mark Calderon reformed Color Me Badd in 2010 and Thornton joined soon after. Though they haven't recorded any new music, they toured Asia in 2015. So at this point, I guess they are a nostalgia act. Here's the video for I Wanna Sex You Up by Color Me Badd.
Friday, December 04, 2015
Album:Live At MCG
The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra is a contemporary big band firmly rooted in jazz tradition. This album was recorded live at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild in Pittsburgh in 2005. Bassist John Clayton, his brother sax player Jeff Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton were all successful sidemen before they formed the band in 1990. As a teen, John Clayton studied with Ray Brown. After touring with Monty Alexander and Count Basie, he spent five years as bassist for the Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. Then he moved back to the US. Jeff Clayton has toured with Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. among others and has also played a lot of sessions. The Clayton Brothers first recorded together in 1977. Jeff Hamilton worked with John Clayton in Monty Alexander's band. He was also a member of the LA Four with Laurindo Almeida, Bud Shank and Ray Brown. And he was a regular sideman for Concord Records. The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra first recorded in 1990. They have recorded several albums and have also backed up Charles Aznavour, John Pizzarelli and Diana Krall. This version of the Johnny Hodges standard Squatty Roo is from the 2005 CD Live At MCG. It was recorded in Pittsburgh. Featured musicians include Tamir Hendelman on piano, Rickey Woodard on tenor sax, Snooky Young on trumpet and George Bohannon on trombone. John Clayton writes all the arrangements and conducts the band. Big band fans should check it out. They did tour this year so I expect they will do so next year. John Clayton's pianist son Gerald Clayton frequently tours with them. Their latest CD Sunday In New York was recorded with singer Trintje Oosterhuis and it was released in 2011. Here's The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra performing Squatty Roo in Germany 2011.