Get this crazy baby off my head!


William Clarke


William Clarke - The Hard Way - 1996 - Alligator Records

His fourth CD from Alligator is his jazziest and bluesist recording to date. Clarke has written half of the compositions and put his own sound and style on those he did not write. Highlights include "The Boss" (inspired by saxophonist Willis Jackson) which is a fast jump that finds chromatic harp riffing along with a horn section -- some interesting ideas. Other tunes are the Benny Moten tune "Moten Swing," "My Mind is Working Overtime," (a Latin-tinged tune written by Clarke), and "Letter from Home." © Michael Erlewine, All Music Guide


1.The Boss
2.Five Card Hand
3.Fishin' Blues
5.Letter from Home
6.My Mind Is Working Overtime
7.Last Monday Morning
8.Moten Swing
9.Blues Is Killing Me
10.Don't Treat Me Wrong
11.Respect Me Baby
12.Other Side of Town


Glenn Nishida Assistant Engineer, Mixing Assistant, Engineer
Alex Schultz Guitar
Matt Minde Art Direction, Cover Design
Steve F'dor Piano
Dick Shuman Liner Notes
Jeff Dunas Photography
Bob Newham Drums
Bruce Iglauer Mastering
Jonny Viau Sax (Tenor)
Tyler Pederson Bass (Acoustic)
Fred Kaplan Piano
Dick Shurman Liner Notes
Greg Verginio Guitar
Jeff Ross Guitar
Eddie Clark Drums
William Clarke Mixing, Vocals, Producer, Main Performer, Harmonica, Liner Notes
Jay O'Rourke Mastering
Troy Jennings Sax (Baritone)
Rick Reed Bass (Acoustic)


Los Angeles harp vet Clarke essays a swinging set of tunes that combines a loose, jazzy feel with a handful of rock-solid, Chicago-style stompers. The result is an intriguing hybrid that contains allusions to several different subgenres. Indeed, Clarke's avowed intention on THE HARD WAY is to tip his hat to the tenor sax-led organ trios that were an early influence on his musical mind. That style itself-an amalgam of jazz and blues-blurred dividing lines, and Clarke's arrangements of such tunes as Muddy Waters' "Evil" and the jazz chestnut "Moten Swing" further that cross-pollination with engaging results.
Clarke takes it a step further, though, by bringing in the saxes of Jon Viau and Troy Jennings. Their instrumental voices move the music toward a swinging, jazzy feel, realising the jazz influence that's often hinted at by such West Coast harpmen as James Harman. Clarke himself is the common thread that links all these elements. His thick, dirty tone provides a direct contrast to the sharp execution and eloquent lyricism of the lines he blows on these tunes Copyright 2005 REDMuze. For personal non-commercial use only. All rights reserved. www.channel4.com/music/music-core/album.jsp?albumId=262762

The harmonica is sometimes nicknamed the "Mississippi saxophone," but only a few players achieve the thick, blustery tone of a sax. William Clarke is one of those few, and on this album, The Hard Way, he pursues the saxophone analogy from his familiar field of the blues into the new territory of hard-swinging soul-jazz. Clarke, a West Coast disciple of George "Harmonica" Smith, has long been a fan of the tenor-sax-and- organ combos led by the likes of Willis Jackson, Gene Ammons, and Jack McDuff and now being revived as "acid jazz." Honking on his chromatic harmonica over the classic swing of his rhythm section, Clarke sounds like a straight-ahead jazz cat. With a subtle shift to a boogie beat or a slow moan, he's back in the blues again. © Geoffrey Himes amazon.com
Harmonica players should purchase this album to hear some amazing harmonica playing. Blues fans should purchase this CD to hear what a harmonica can sound like in the hands of a master. Music fans should purchase this albums to get over their prejudices of the harmonica's place in the world of music.© peter krampert amazon.com


Born: 1951 in Inglewood, CA. Died: 1996 in Fresno, CA. The heir apparent to Chicago's legacy of amplified blues harmonica, William Clarke was the first original new voice on his instrument to come along in quite some time; he became a sensation in blues circles during the late '80s and early '90s, stopped short by an untimely death in 1996. A pupil and devotee of George Harmonica Smith, Clarke was a technical virtuoso and master of both the diatonic harp and the more difficult chromatic harp (the signature instrument of both Smith and Little Walter). Where many new harmonica players had become content to cop licks from the Chicago masters, Clarke developed his own style and vocabulary, building on everything he learned from Smith and moving beyond it. His four '90s albums for Alligator earned wide critical acclaim and remain his signature showcases. Clarke was born March 29, 1951, in the South Central L.A. suburb of Inglewood; his parents had moved there from Kentucky and lived a blue-collar life. Clarke dabbled in guitar and drums as a youth, and grew up listening to rock & roll, but eventually found his way to the blues by way of the Rolling Stones' early albums. He took up the harmonica in 1967, and soon found his way onto the Los Angeles blues scene while working a day job as a machinist. Clarke's early style was influenced by Big Walter Horton, Junior Wells, James Cotton, and Sonny Boy Williamson II, but he soon began to incorporate the influence of '60s soul-jazz, mimicking the lines of the genre's top sax and organ players. He was a regular in South Central L.A.'s blues clubs, often hopping from one venue to another in order to keep playing all night. In this manner, he met quite a few West Coast blues luminaries, including -- among others -- T-Bone Walker, Pee Wee Crayton, Lowell Fulson, Big Mama Thornton, and George "Harmonica" Smith, who ultimately became his teacher and mentor. Smith and Clarke first began to perform and record together in 1977, and kept up their relationship until Smith's death in 1983. In the meantime, Clarke guested on sessions by West Coast artists like Smokey Wilson and Shakey Jake Harris, and released several of his own LPs, all recorded for small labels. The first was 1978's Hittin' Heavy, which was followed by 1980's Blues From Los Angeles; both were released on tiny local labels. 1983's Can't You Hear Me Calling was more of a proper debut, though Clarke still hadn't quite hit his stride yet. That would start to happen with 1987's Tip of the Top, a tribute to Smith that was issued by Satch and earned a W.C. Handy Award nomination. Clarke finally quit his job as a machinist that year, and followed Tip of the Top with a live album, Rockin' the Boat, in 1988. By this time, his reputation was beginning to spread beyond Los Angeles, despite the fact that none of his albums had yet achieved full national distribution. Clarke subsequently sent a demo tape to Alligator Records, and was immediately offered a contract. His label debut was the galvanizing Blowin' Like Hell, which earned rave reviews upon its release in 1990 and established him as a new, fully formed voice on amplified harmonica. Clarke hit the road hard, touring America and Europe over the next year; he also won the 1991 Handy Award for Blues Song of the Year, thanks to "Must Be Jelly." His follow-up, 1992's Serious Intentions, was equally blistering in its intensity. 1994's Groove Time added a horn section, bringing some of the jazz and swing undercurrents in Clarke's music forward. He pursued that direction even further on 1996's The Hard Way, his jazziest and most ambitious outing yet, which earned strong reviews once again. Unfortunately, Clarke's health was deteriorating; always a large man, hard living on the road was taking its toll on his body. He collapsed on-stage in Indianapolis in March 1996 and was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Despite losing weight and living clean and sober from then on, the damage had been done; Clarke resumed his heavy touring schedule a few months later and seemed to have recovered, until he collapsed on-stage again in Fresno. He was admitted to the hospital with a bleeding ulcer and died the next day, November 2, 1996, when surgical attempts to save his life failed. He was only 45 and in the prime of his career. Posthumously, Clarke won three Handy Awards stemming from The Hard Way: Album of the Year, Song of the Year ("Fishing Blues"), and Instrumentalist of the Year for harmonica. In 1999, Alligator released a best-of compilation titled Deluxe Edition. © Steve Huey, All Music Guide Copyright © 2001-2004 Musicmatch®, Inc. For personal use only. All rights reserved.


Little Feat


Little Feat - Little Feat - 1971 - Warner Bros. Records

Little Feat was the eponymous debut by the American rock band Little Feat, released in January 1971. Cobbled together from a variety of recording sessions mostly between August and September 1970, its sound can be best described as the antithesis to any of the group's classic recordings (such as 1973's Dixie Chicken and 1978's Waiting For Columbus.) Featuring the Mk. 1 line-up of the group, with Roy Estrada on bass, it was the first of eight albums by the group before their 1979 break-up. The blues which accented the group's later recordings were in full force on Little Feat. Utilizing slide guitar legend Ry Cooder, the group knocked off a medley of two Howlin' Wolf songs, "Forty Four Blues" and "How Many More Years". The coming together of bizarre lyrics and superb instrumentation that dominated all Little Feat albums through Lowell George's tenure as leader were debuted with the dark "Hamburger Midnight". The brilliant slices of American life that were present on each album were debuted with "Strawberry Flats" and "Willin'" (the latter destined for a reworking on Sailin' Shoes). The tender side of the group was exemplified with tracks like "Truck Stop Girl" and "I've Been The One". The cover shows a mural in Venice, painted by the L. A. Fine Arts Squad in 1970 - "Venice in the Snow". Due to its relative failure commercially (only selling about eleven thousand copies), the group never again attempted to record anything like it. (From Wikipedia).
If you really want to know what Little Feat were all about, check out their magnificent " The Last Record Album ", truly one of the greatest rock albums ever recorded.


"Snakes on Everything" (Payne) – 3:04
"Strawberry Flats" (Payne, George) – 2:20
"Truck Stop Girl" (Payne, George) – 2:32
"Brides of Jesus" (Payne, George) – 3:20
"Willin'" (George) – 2:24
"Hamburger Midnight" (George, Estrada) – 2:30
"Forty-Four Blues / How Many More Years" (Chester Burnett) – 6:25
"Crack in Your Door" (George) – 2:16
"I've Been the One" (George) – 2:20
"Takin' My Time" (Payne) – 3:45
"Crazy Captain Gunboat Willie" (Payne, George) – 1:55


Lowell George - vocals, lead, rhythm and slide guitars, harmonica
Richard Hayward - drums, backing vocals
Bill Payne - piano, keyboards, vocals
Roy Estrada - bass, backing vocals


Russ Titelman - percussion, backing vocals, piano on "I've Been The One"
Ry Cooder - slide guitar on "Willin'" and "Forty Four Blues / How Many More Years"
Sneaky Pete Kleinow - pedal steel on "I've Been The One" Kirby Johnson - string and horn arrangements


Little Feat was formed in Los Angeles, California in 1969 by Lowell George and Roy Estrada. Both were former members of Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention. The original lineup was completed with the addition of Richard Hayward on drums and Bill Payne on keyboards. Their first two albums were Little Feat (1971) and Sailin' Shoes (1972). The albums were critical successes but failed by commercial standards.

The group split up briefly for a period in 1971-72 but reformed with new members that included Paul Barrere on guitar and percussionist Sam Clayton. Roy Estrada, who had left the group, was replaced on bass by Kenny Gradney. The first album from the new lineup was to be their most popular yet: Dixie Chicken (1973). No doubt the single of the same name, which is arguable their most well known song, was a prime reason. But the funkier, tighter sound and more prominent jazz influences, which defined this lineup, were no doubt welcome dimensions. They continued their success with Feats Don't Fail Me Now (1974) and then The Last Record Album (1975). Purportedly by then Barrere and Payne had taken over much of the song writing due to the effects of Lowell George's drug use.

Although the group had gained in popularity they did not enjoy broad commercial appeal but rather sort of a cult following. Their next release was Time Loves a Hero in 1977 and it was on the tours following that album in 1977-78 that they recorded and released the much heralded double live album Waiting for Columbus (1978). It was shortly after this period, frustrated with the bands direction that founding member Lowell George started a solo project the result of which was the album Thanks, I'll Eat It Here. With its release George declared Little Feat broken up and embarked on a solo career. Sadly, George died shortly thereafter of a heart attack in 1979. Little Feat's final album with George, Down on the Farm, was released after his death in 1979. In 1981 a rarities collection called Hoy-Hoy! was also released.

Members of Little Feat worked on various side projects and had stints in other bands after Little Feat broke up, but in 1988 Payne, Barrere, Hayward and Bradney decided to reform the group. They were joined by vocalist/guitarist Craig Fuller and guitarist Fred Tackett. Their first new release in 1988, Let It Roll, was a commercial success eventually going gold. But subsequent albums Representing the Mambo (1989), Shake Me Up (1991) and Ain't Had Enough Fun (1995) didn't quite measure up. On Ain't Had Enough Fun and albums thereafter the voice of Fuller, plugged in to sound a measure like Lowell George, was replaced by female lead Shaun Murphy. The band has since followed with albums Under the Radar (1988), Chinese Work Songs (2000), Late Night Truck Stop (2001) and Kickin' It at the Barn (2003). The group still tours to this day. © 2000 - 2007 rateyourmusic.com s.42


Rory Block


Rory Block - High Heeled Blues - 1981 - Rounder

May be the best contemporary white female blues singer and acoustic guitarist you'll ever hear. Rolling Stone referred to this album as “some of the most singular and affecting country blues anyone—man or woman, black or white, old or young—has cut in recent years.” Check out her greatest album, "Best Blues and Originals".


1.Walking Blues Johnson 2:20
2.Travelin' Blues Delaney, Johnson 2:43
3.Got to Have You Be My Man Block 2:15
4.Devil Got My Man James 2:20
5.Down in the Dumps Wilson 2:58
6.The Water Is Wide Traditional 3:29
7.Since You Been Gone Block 2:13
8.Cross Road Blues Johnson 2:26
9.Achin' Heart Block 2:16
10.Hilarity Rag Traditional 2:01
11.Kind Hearted Man Johnson 3:12
12.Uncloudy Day Alwood 2:33


This was the most blues-oriented release of the three sessions Block issued in 1989 for Rounder; it was also the most concentrated and successful. There were none of the experimental or tentative qualities that sometimes marred the other two dates; Block was in command from the opening moments of her cover of "Walkin' Blues" to the final bars of "Uncloudy Day." Her voice had fire, soul and grit, and she never sounded maudlin or unconvincing, whether doing "Hilarity Rag" or "Devil Got My Man." Her playing was also dynamic and focused, and John Sebastian obviously made a good production partner, as Block got back on track after making records that contained some good cuts but weren't as consistent. © Ron Wynn © 2007 All Media Guide, LLC. All Rights Reserved

The album High Heeled Blues was released in 1981 on Rounder Records as an LP and re-released in 1989 as a CD (Rounder CD # 3061). I was turned on to her by Bob Carlin, the folk and roots music producer/host at the National Public Radio station in Philadelphia where I was news director, producer and anchor from the late 70s to early 80s. Unlike the more sophisticated later recordings, this one has an air of breezy innocence about it, as befits a recording co-produced by the King of Breeze, her longtime friend John Sebastian, the scattered genius behind the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame band “The Loving Spoonful” (“Summer in the City”, “Nashville Cats”, “Darlin’ Be Home Soon”, “What a Day for a Daydream”). Because it is so spare in its production, and because she (and we) were so much younger then, I consider this particular album to be the most successful blend I’ve come across of a white female singer/acoustic guitarist with "real" Delta Blues. This particular CD is an absolute must for blues fans, and should be listened to before going out and getting Rory’s impressive and better-known 1995 award-winning CD mentioned above. In “High Heeled Blues” Block plays some seriously impressive acoustic guitar runs, clean and raw, faithful to the pacing, style and nuances of the original Delta Blues performers. All the songs are 4-bar blues with a couple of 5/4 runs thrown in for syncopated effect. She can sing, too, and is able to switch painlessly to a passable falsetto when she has maxed out the high-end of her vocal range. There's really not a single disappointing cut, with the possible exception of the traditional number "The Water is Wide," a nonetheless beautiful gospel blues song which isn't mixed with proper balance to my taste, especially given how well Rory sings it. But the bulk of the album is Block's stellar guitar work and passionate vocals. Robert Johnson’s "Walkin' Blues", Kind Hearted Man” and “Crossroads Blues” are arranged in authentic Delta Blues style, as is the irresistibly sexy Skip James tune “Devil Got My Man.” Proving that she can not only play the blues but write it, Block has included three truly authentic-sounding original numbers: "Since You've Been Gone," “Achin’ Heart,”and especially the sultry, pulse-quickening “Got to Have You Be My Man” (… “gonna make you sigh and moan.”). And she lets her guitar skill shine through in an arrangement of a thumb and forefinger-driven traditional instrumental number “Hilarity Rag”that brought back visions of Dave Van Ronk.(in terms of arrangement, not looks...duh!) I give a big high-five to “High Heeled Blues.” © nfp2 , June 13th, 2003 © 2007 Ciao GmbH http://cd.ciao.co.uk/High_Heeled_Blues_Rory_Block__Review_5341606
On High Heeled Blues, Rory Block is exactly what a lot of people wish Bonnie Raitt still was: a terrific singer performing mostly folk music and blues with sparse, acoustic accompaniment. Block has had her own brushes with big-time record companies – an overproduced first album on RCA, a fine R&B disc called Intoxication on Chrysalis and an indifferent followup–but she's also played with the Woodstock Mountain Revue and, in 1976, cut an eclectic, largely acoustic LP for the independent Blue Goose label. Returning to the independent world via Rounder, Block has gone back to the roots of Sixties folk music to record traditional songs, blues and gospel tunes (by Robert Johnson, Skip James, the Carter Family, et al.) in very simple guitar, piano and dulcimer arrangements. There are also a few originals. Coproduced by John Sebastian, High Heeled Blues may not be terribly ambitious, but it's thoroughly gorgeous. © DON SHEWEY © Copyright 2007 Rolling Stone


Heralded as “a living landmark” (Berkeley Express), “a national treasure” (Guitar Extra), and “one of the greatest living acoustic blues artists” (Blues Revue), Rory Block has committed her life and her career to preserving the Delta blues tradition and bringing it to life for 21st century audiences around the world. A traditionalist and an innovator at the same time, she wields a fiery and haunting guitar and vocal style that redefines the boundaries of acoustic blues and folk. The New York Times declared: “Her playing is perfect, her singing otherworldly as she wrestles with ghosts, shadows and legends.”
Born in Princeton, NJ, Aurora “Rory” Block grew up in Manhattan a family with Bohemian leanings. Her father owned a Greenwich Village sandal shop, where musicians like Bob Dylan, Maria Muldaur and John Sebastian all made occasional appearances. The rich and diverse Village scene was a constant influence on her cultural sensibilities. She was playing guitar by age ten, and by her early teens she was sitting in on the Sunday jam sessions in Washington Square Park.
During these years, her life was touched—and profoundly changed—by personal encounters with some of the earliest and most influential Delta blues masters of the 20th century. She made frequent visits to the Bronx, where she learned her first lessons in blues and gospel music from the Reverend Gary Davis. She swapped stories and guitar licks with seminal bluesman Son House, Robert Johnson’s mentor (“He kept asking, ‘Where did she learn to play like this?’”). She visited Skip James in the hospital after his cancer surgery. She traveled to Washington, DC, to visit with Mississippi John Hurt and absorb first-hand his technique and his creativity.
“This period seemed to last forever,” Block Recalls nearly forty years later.” I now realize how lucky I was to be there, in the right place at the right time. I thought everyone knew these incredible men, these blues geniuses who wrote the book. I later realized how fleeting it was, and how even more precious.”
By the time she was in high school, her family had splintered in different directions. With nothing holding her down, she left home at 15 with her guitar and a few friends—heading for California on a trip marked by numerous detours and stops in small towns. Along he way, she picked her way through a vast catalog of country blues songs and took her first steps in developing a fingerpicking and slide guitar style that would eventually be her trademark.
She recorded an instructional record called How To Play Blues Guitar in the mid-60s (she was billed as Sunshine Kate on the original recording), but then took a decade off from music to start a family. In the mid- and late ‘70s, she made a few records that ran counter to her inherent blues instincts, and the result was frustration. “Eventually disgusted with trying to accommodate a business which never seemed to accept me or be satisfied with my efforts,” she says, “I gave up totally and went back to the blues.” The result was a record deal with the Boston-based Rounder label, which released her High Heeled Blues in 1981. Rolling Stone referred to the album as “some of the most singular and affecting country blues anyone—man or woman, black or white, old or young—has cut in recent years.”
Back in a groove that felt comfortable and fulfilling, Block threw herself headlong into an ambitious touring schedule that helped hone her technical and vocal skills to a razor’s edge, and at the same time nurture a distinctive voice as a songwriter. She stayed with Rounder for the next two decades, making records that simultaneously indulged her affinity for traditional country blues and served as a platform for her own formidable songwriting talents.
The world finally started taking notice in the early 1990s, and Block scored numerous awards throughout the decade. She brought home W.C. Handy Awards four years in a row—two for Traditional Blues Female Artist of the Year, and two for Best Acoustic Blues Album of the Year. Her visibility overseas increased dramatically when Best Blues and Originals, fueled by the single “Love and Whiskey,” went gold in parts of Europe.
Block joined the Telarc label with the 2003 release of Last Fair Deal, a mix of eight original tunes and six compelling covers of early blues and gospel songs—a recording she characterized as “a total celebration of my beloved instrument and best friend, the guitar.” She joined blues soulmates Maria Muldaur and Eric Bibb less than a year later for Sisters & Brothers, a collaborative 2004 recording that captured the rootsy, gospel-flavored synergy of these three veteran performers.
Block second solo effort on Telarc is From the Dust, released in February 2005. Driven by Block’s soulful and fiery guitar/vocal attack and her impeccable rhythmic sense, the new album seamlessly merges distinctive original material from her own pen with timeless classics from some of the great bluesmen of the early and mid-20th century (Charley patton, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson and Son House). The result is a stripped-down recording—unfettered by extraneous instrumentation or superfluous arrangements—that reaches into the core of the human experience and bears witness to it in the most honest and intimate way possible. © Telarc International Corporation www.telarc.com/biography/bios.asp?aid=165



Focus - Hocus Pocus: The Best Of Focus - 1993 - Red Bullet (CD Release 2001, with bonus track 16)

A must have digitally remastered collection of Focus Greatest Songs. The collection is great and has a sampling of their classics from each of their albums. Focus was not only the "Dutch Masters of Rock," but also the masters of creative, innovative, and intelligent music. Thijs Van Leer is the Johann Sebastian Bach of Rock and some say that Jan Akkerman was on a par with Eric Clapton. The fact that Focus never achieved the commercial success of other super groups is a tragedy and oversight that will be corrected by history and the power of the Internet.


- Jan Akkerman / guitar
- Thijs Van Leer / keyboard, flute, vocals
- Colin Allen / drums
- Hans Eric Cleuver / drums
- Martin Dresden / bass
- Cyril Havermanns / bass
- David Kemper / bass
- Bert Ruiter / bass
- Pierre VanDer Linden / drums


1. Hocus Pocus (6:42)
2. Anonymus (6:36)
3. House of the King (2:52)
4. Focus [instrumental] (9:49)
5. Janis (3:10)
6. Focus II (4:05)
7. Tommy (Eruption) (3:27)
8. Sylvia (3:33)
9. Focus III (6:09)
10. Harem Scarem (5:53)
11. Mother Focus (3:07)
12. Focus IV (4:01)
13. Bennie Helder (3:33)
14. Glider (4:40)
15. Red Sky at Night (5:49)
16. Hocus Pocus [US Single Version] (3:24)


Has it really been over 30 years since this terrific group of musicians from Holland scored a huge success with their "Moving Waves" album, and the highly original signature tune, "Hocus Pocus" ? Time flies--but, in the case of Focus, time has been kind--their music still sounds fresh, melodic and exciting. The band went through some personnel changes, but the key members were Thijs Van Leer ( keyboards, flute, vocals ), and guitar whiz, Jan Akkerman. I have fond memories of seeing them live in Montreal--an awesome concert. This CD is an excellent retrospecive of their most memorable numbers. Their music was primarily instrumental,and "progressive" in the most positive sense. The "focus" here--if you'll pardon the pun--was on musicianship--these guys could really play. I suspect Akkerman and Van Leer might have had some classical training in their youth. All their well-known numbers are included--"Harem Scarem", "Sylvia", "Janis" and two different versions of "Hocus Pocus". The 70s was an era where bands flourished who had only the most talented musicians. Later, progressive rock groups were often labelled pretentious--usually by critics who could only appreciate three-chord boogies ! Well--this "pretentious" music gave us some of the most incredible musicians rock has ever had--Steve Howe, Tony Banks, Keith Emerson, Dave Gilmour, Phil Manzanera, Robert Fripp, Daryl Way and--yes--Jan Akkerman. When I hear some of the junk that is selling today, I don't know whether to laugh or cry ! OK--I'm off my soapbox ! Bottom line--Focus were easily one of the best 70s bands, and this CD is a worthy compilation. Recommended. © peterfromkanata (Kanata, Ontario Canada © 2007 Amazon.com, Inc. and its affiliates. All rights reserved


Barb Jungr


Barb Jungr - Every Grain of Sand - 2002 - Linn Records

With her unique vocal style, critics have compared her to Nina Simone, Peggy Lee and Edith Piaf - Village Voice (New York) declaring that “(Barb Jungr) is one of the best interpreters of Jacques Brel and Bob Dylan anywhere on this angst ridden planet today”. Since 2000, Jungr’s releases on Linn Records have brought her to the world stage and revealed her to be one of Europe’s most exciting voices. Billy Bragg described her as "possibly the best interpreter of Dylan's songs". In this view he is not alone as Jungr has been wowing audiences and critics worldwide with her astonishingly powerful interpretations of this great songwriter's work. A great album, and if you are a Dylan fan you may be amazed at these superb interpretations of his songs. Also check out Barbs album "Waterloo Sunset".


I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" (Bob Dylan) – 4:06
Originally from the Bob Dylan album John Wesley Harding (1967)
"If Not For You" (Dylan) – 3:09
Originally from the Bob Dylan album New Morning (1970)
"Things Have Changed" (Dylan) – 4:57
Originally from the soundtrack to the film Wonder Boys (dir Curtis Hanson) (2000), and from the Bob Dylan album The Essential Bob Dylan (2000)
"Ring Them Bells" (Dylan) – 3:14
Originally from the Bob Dylan album Oh Mercy (1989)
"Not Dark Yet" (Dylan) – 4:36
Originally from the Bob Dylan album Time Out of Mind (1997)
"Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" (Dylan) – 4:37
Originally from the Bob Dylan album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1963)
"Is Your Love in Vain?" (Dylan) – 3:29
Originally from the Bob Dylan album Street Legal (1978)
"It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" (Dylan) – 4:10
Originally from the Bob Dylan album Bringing It All Back Home (1965)
"I Want You" (Dylan) – 3:13
Originally from the Bob Dylan album Blonde on Blonde (1966)
"Sugar Baby" (Dylan) – 7:40
Originally from the Bob Dylan album Love and Theft (2001)
"Born in Time" (Dylan) – 3:10
Originally from the Bob Dylan album Under the Red Sky (1990)
"What Good Am I?" (Dylan) – 3:58
Originally from the Bob Dylan album Oh Mercy (1989)
"Tangled Up in Blue" (Dylan) – 5:33
Originally from the Bob Dylan album Blood on the Tracks (1975)
"Forever Young" (Dylan) – 2:57
Originally from the Bob Dylan album Planet Waves (1974)
"Every Grain of Sand" (Dylan) – 4:22
Originally from the Bob Dylan album Shot of Love (1981)


All vocals & vocal arrangements: Barb Jungr
All Piano: Simon Wallace except Ring Them Bells, I Want You and Tangled up in Blue Russell Churney.
Julie Walkington: double bass
Sonia Oakes Stuart: cello
Sonya Fairburn: violin
Kim Burton: accordion
Gary Hammond: percussion
Mark Lockheart: soprano & tenor saxophones
Barb Jungr: harmonica
Arrangements: Simon Wallace, James Tomalin, Barb Jungr, Russell Churney, Julie Walkington and Sonia Oakes Stuart.


Every Grain of Sand is a breathtaking revelation on several fronts. First, Barb Jungr treats Bob Dylan as one of the great tunesmiths of the American popular tradition. Not merely as rock & roll's preeminent songwriter, the direction from which virtually all others have approached his canon, but as a sophisticated composer the equal of the Gershwins, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, or Cole Porter. Jungr dramatically re-reads that canon and she fearlessly reshapes it in the process. To cite the most radical instances, she turns "Things Have Changed" into an Eastern European jig and "Tangled up in Blue" into a jaunty, jazzy western, while "Born in Time" is a marvel full of Baroque voicings. One may quibble — and Dylan fanatics, known to be provincial on occasion, certainly will, perhaps vociferously — with an arrangement here or a lyrical interpretation or subtle shading there without — and here is the magic of the album — in the least invalidating the singer's choices. Indeed, part of the sublime beauty of Every Grain of Sand is that it inspires, even challenges, one to make personal revisions and reinterpretations. Ultimately, Jungr is one of the few artists who has managed to not only come out on the other side of this songbook unscathed, but to actually come out having enhanced its gravity, significance, and unvarnished beauty as well as her own. She is not merely singing, but telling stories. She opens up a window of vulnerability and sensuality that had previously sat stoic beneath the surface of these songs and suffuses them with such a delicate, gauzy luminosity that they seem to glow from the inside out. Her singing is soulful and emotionally naked, and the performances are so expressive that you take something new away with each listen. The treasures ("I'll Be Your Baby Tonight," "Ring Them Bells," "Not Dark Yet," "Is Your Love in Vain?," and "What Good Am I?") tucked away here are endlessly rewarding. If you think you've heard Bob Dylan — or Barb Jungr — before Every Grain of Sand, you are, simply put, mistaken. © Stanton Swihart © 2007 All Media Guide, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Was there ever a more fastidious school of amateur pop critics than the Bob Dylan fan club? As obsessive as professors of hieroglyphics, his admirers will have plenty to say about Barb Jungr's new album of Dylan songs. Responses will no doubt soon be winging around the many websites dedicated to the grand old man of the singer-songwriter set.
For those of us who have never signed up to the appreciation society, Jungr's collection, Every Grain of Sand, comes as a quiet revelation. If, like me, you have always found Dylan's reedy voice an insurmountable obstacle, Jungr's sensual performance casts the songs in a fresh light. Acclaimed as an ambassador for the neglected art of chanson, the Rochdale-born singer views the material through the prism of Leo Ferre and Jacques Brel - two of the artists who inspired her last album, Chanson: The Space in Between.
The British never quite know what to make of performers who interpret cabaret and theatre songs as well as jazz. So Jungr has for the most part operated below radar level in this country, quietly building a following through appearances at events such as Pirate Jenny's, the monthly cabaret showcase organised by singer-songwriter Des De Moor. (The pair recently collaborated on De Moor's absorbing show, Darkness and Disgrace, devoted to the music of David Bowie.)
Jungr has spent so much time championing the virtues of European song that she seems almost embarassed that her latest venture draws its inspiration from the other side of the Atlantic. But she also happens to be an authority on American popular song - she is a contributor to the forthcoming Cambridge Companion to Blues and Gospel. And given her interest in approaching songs as "texts", she made a logical candidate.
When the time came to assemble the Dylan songlist, she initially rifled through the celebrated LPs such as Blonde on Blonde and Blood on the Tracks (which respectively yielded up I Want You and Tangled up in Blue). But she was also draw to the less fashionable, later work. One of her favourites, Sugar Baby, comes from last year's release Love and Theft. It is, Jungr insists, one of the finest songs she has heard in the past 25 years.
Even so, it took her a while to come to terms with Dylan's idiosyncratic singing voice: "I used to dislike his voice for all the reasons people usually mention," she explains. "It seemed very nasal and whiny, and it was impossible to hear a word. And then there's the harmonica playing, of course.
"But I've actually come to believe that he's a really good singer. There's a lot of subtlety in his singing that I wasn't aware of before. I will say the arrangements on the albums were not the best in the world - you get a lot of bog-standard rock. But the more I heard, the more I realised I was wrong about his voice.
"I think you have to listen to him in the context of the blues, and then you understand what's going on. If you listen to a song like Isis, for instance, you find he's doing this extraordinary thing which you hear in a lot of blues performers. he's going through these tiny glissandi all the time. If you scored it all out, you'd be amazed."
It is somehow typical of Jungr's passion for music that she can wax lyrical over a song which is not actually on her album. Other singers would be focused on self-promotion; Jungr simply follows wherever her enthusiasm carries her. It is just as well she is so bouyant, because much of the time she is swimming against the tide. She tours constantly abroad; here she is working at the margins.
"The rest of Europe is much more receptive to singers," she says. "I don't know why it is, but this country is overly focused on youth culture. We have an age problem which makes it difficult to find room for anything else. I went to see Barbara Cook in the West End last summer. She was wonderful - I was so moved I cried. But the theatre wasn't even half full on the night I saw her. That's absurd." © Clive Davis, 18 March 2002, The Times © Linn Records 2007
"Shockingly expressive, with an astounding palette of colours…I just hope that Dylan himself has a listen and starts writing her direct." - The Observer

"A good deal more than mere cover versions of the songs." - Variety


In an era during which rap and electronic music rose to commercial ascendancy, cabaret music could have easily become, to say the least, a quaint, pass? art form. But during the last quarter of the 20th century, an alternative cabaret circuit developed and actually began to thrive throughout pockets of Europe. One of its catalysts and mainstays was Barb Jungr. Among Great Britain's best-kept secrets, she helped spread the word as a writer, advocate, and educator, but more importantly as one of the genre's most bracing and distinctive practitioners; a "chansonnier" who extended the French and German art song tradition into a new millennium by mixing it with jazz, blues, folk, world, and pop music.Barb Jungr arrived in London in the mid-'70s from the northwest of England and quickly became involved in its music, theater, and film worlds. Soon thereafter, CBS Records released her fist single, "He's Gone," and NME selected it as one of its "Singles of the Week." With Jerry Kreeger and blues guitarist Michael Parker, she formed in the waning years of the decade the Three Courgettes, which got involved at the very beginning of the city's alternative cabaret scene. The vocal trio was discovered by Island Records busking new wave versions of gospel songs in the Kings Road and Portobello Market. They released a pair of well-received singles on the label, ultimately leading to tours with such acts as Sade and Kid Creole & the Coconuts.After the Courgettes came to an end, Jungr released a solo album on Magnet Records that would eventually become a collector's item, before reconvening with Parker in the early '80s as the duo Jungr & Parker. They would spend the next 13 years touring extensively and internationally, as well as frequently performing their quirky mix of folk, blues, and jazz on British television and radio, ultimately winning a prestigious Perrier Award for their trouble. They also released six records, including one on Billy Bragg's Utility label.By the outset of the 1990s, however, it was the ambitious, thematically assembled live shows that had become Jungr's primary artistic outlet. She spent the first half of the decade developing and directing the acclaimed showcases, both for groups and as solo pieces. The shows were usually tied together conceptually and, drawing on her background, presented theatrically at such esteemed venues as the Purcell Room and Pizza on the Park. Chief among these were "Hell Bent Heaven Bound" (with Ian Shaw, Christine Collister, and Parker), another Perrier pick, and "Money the Final Frontier" (with Mari Wilson and jazz singer Claire Martin), which were eventually combined on the cassette Hell Bent Heaven Bound II by Jungr, Collister, Parker, and Helen Watson.In the midst of her busy performing and touring schedule, Jungr also found time to pursue a plethora of extracurricular projects. With co-writer James Tomalin, she began composing the music for a variety of television programs and theater companies. She also became a director of workshops for vocalists, and arranged for and conducted various choral groups and choirs. In addition, Jungr began to research, teach, write, and speak about the voice and European cabaret. In 1996, she earned a master of music degree in ethnomusicology from Goldsmith's College, which led to the formation of the trio Durga Rising (originally called JBC) with tabla player Kuljit Bhamra and longtime piano accompanist Russell Churney. They recorded and released the one-off project Durga Rising that same year.By the end of the decade, Jungr had begun to contribute songs to various cabaret compilations, often for Irregular Records, which also released the singer's Bare, a collection of intriguing covers (Jacques Brel, Ray Davies, Kris Kristofferson) and original compositions. It was not, however, until her next record, Chanson: The Space in Between, that the full range of her abilities were brought to record. Released on Linn Records, Chanson was full of beautifully expressive performances of songs by Brel, Jacques Pr?vert, L?o Ferr?, and Cole Porter, often in fresh, specially commissioned translations and with unique arrangements. Britain's Sunday Times named it to its year-end jazz Top Ten list. Jungr followed up the album with the luminous Every Grain of Sand, a whole set from the pen of Bob Dylan, who she treated as a stylist on a par with the greats of American song. The album was launched live in England with a sold-out run at the Soho Theatre, and led to a traveling showcase that Jungr took to New York City in the autumn of 2002. In the meantime, she also continued work on a musical, The Ballad of Norah's Ark, set for release the following year, and recorded classical composer Jonathan Cooper's "Moon Cycle" (written especially for her voice) in anticipation of its premier in 2003. © Stanton Swihart


Down To The Bone


Down To The Bone - Spread Love Like Wildfire - 2005 - Narada

Great jazz funk album with programmed grooves. Not just music for the dancefloor, this is an exceptional jazz fusion album, very reminiscent of the 60s and ’70s San Francisco groove West Coast sound.

Artists & Instrumentation

Jeremy Steig — flute Neil Cowley — Rhodes, Hammond B3, piano, clav Richard Sadler — bass, percussion Paul “Shilts” Weimar — sax solos Tony Remy — guitar Neil Angilley — Rhodes, Hammond B3, piano N’Dambi — vocals on Angel Baby Neal Wilkinson — drums Grace Ackroyd — lead vocals on Wildfire Woman Ian Crabtree — acoustic guitar Simon T. Bramley — bass Tim Best — Rhodes, piano Julian Crampton — bass Adam Riley — drums Bruce Knapp — acoustic guitar Jon Scott — trumpet solos Mike Kearsey — trombone solos M.J.R. Horns (Mike Kearsey: trombone, Jon Scott: trumpet, Richard Wargent: sax) — horns


1.Memphis Groove
2.Mystic Samba
4.Angel Baby
5.Pure Funk
7.Wildfire Woman
8.Gotta Get Back To You
9.Lightning Rod
10.London Life
11.Latin Sagebrush


Chilled down and grooved up, the masters of the U.K.’s jazz scene, Down To The Bone, issue another powerhouse with SPREAD LOVE LIKE WILDFIRE. Killer horns, funked rhythms, and Neil Cowley’s signature down-tempo keys give the set a cool,
retro vibe that begs to be danced to. Play it loud.
“The sound on this album,” reflects founder and architect Stuart Wade, “is much funkier and more energetic. The jazz/funk and fusion of the ’60s and ’70s had a great deal
of influence on me. Put this all together with today’s retro/club/dance influences and you have the sound I am trying to create. I feel this is exactly what the band’s sound is.” To do so, Wade brought on an incredible horn section — Richard Wargent (sax), Mike Kearsey (trombone), and Jon Scott (trumpet) — that gives the tunes a powerful punch of funk. Also joining the collective is flutist Jeremy Steig on Wildfire Woman and Memphis Groove. The latter tune marks Wade’s nod to Herbie Mann’s R&B-infused jazz flute on MEMPHIS TWO-STEP and MEMPHIS UNDERGROUND. Wildfire Woman calls to mind freewheeling ’60s and ’70s San Francisco. “It has that West Coast groovy funk and folk feel that came out of that city’s musical melting pot, where rock met up with all sorts of sounds and styles,” Wade explains. “You can hear my love of some of the ‘Blaxploitation’ soundtracks of those decades and, of course, the Brazilian and samba feel that I love so much.” © 1999-2005 Narada Productions, Inc. All rights reserved.

Heavy duty grooves where soul, funk, hip-hop, retro jazz and house music intersect are the domain of the U.K. based band Down to the Bone. With their sophomore effort for Narada, the band continues to do what they do best - present aggressive smooth jazz with cross-genre appeal (especially funk - there's a lot of funk here). SPREAD LOVE LIKE WILDFIRE is the group's hardest album to date; full of rough beats, explosions of brass (sax and trumpet) and keyboard action that transports the listener back to the 60's/70's. Of note is "Tiburon," a melodic song with a touch of salsa in the rhythm, and "Wildfire Woman," an uptempo tune that sports a mean flute (courtesy of guest artist Jeremy Steig). © 2006 Jazz Monthly LLC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
These British dudes play some impressive jazz-funk grooves, and seem intent on adding a little hipness to the smooth jazz crowd. Heck, it might even be worth some aspiring DJ’s time to remix these guys into something hot for the underground. Ultimately, though, Spread Love Like Wildfire is missing one all-important ingredient to make this record appeal to funksters – a big, booming, reach-up-from-the floor-and-grab-you-by-the-ass drum sound. The mostly wimpy beats are what keep the album from being the second coming of the Headhunters. Instead, it comes off like remembering the Headhunters, playing the record in your head without being able to feel the floor shake beneath your feet. Some damn fine solos scattered throughout the disc, though – these guys do know how to play, no doubt about that. © Michael Fortes www.rasputinmusic.com/manifesto_web/reviews/0305/downtothebone.html
With Spread Love Like Wildfire, Down to the Bone gets back to the original musical vision its leader, Stuart Wade, had for the band. This 2005 release is much funkier and more energetic than Cellar Funk, the 2004 hit offered by the jazz/groove collective. The music -- jazz-funk fusion combined with modern retro/club/dance influences all grooved up -- is documented on 11 great tracks that feature the group's core members enhanced by a dynamic horn section, the jazz flute of Jeremy Steig, the organic soul sound of vocalist N'Dambi -- formerly of Erykah Badu's group -- as well as live drumming incorporated with the programmed grooves. "Memphis Groove" kick starts the set. It is a funky set that pays homage to Herbie Mann's jazz flute style on Memphis Two-Step and Memphis Underground. "Wildfire Woman" has that West Coast groovy funk and folk feel that came out of the '60s and '70s San Francisco scene. "London Life" reflects the cityscape of the English city and the band's creative base, while "Mystic Samba" has exotic Brazilian and samba flavors. Overall, this diverse recording with its funky beats and hot dance tunes should keep listeners entertained and definitely entice others to hit the dancefloor. © Paula Edelstein, All Music Guid


Far from your run-of-the-mill contemporary jazz chart-toppers, the duo of Stuart Wade and Chris Morgans come from a long line of British advocates of jazz including the Brand New Heavies and Us3. Their first album as Down to the Bone, 1997's From Manhattan to Staten, did predictably well around their base in Chobham, Surrey, but also transferred to American smooth jazz charts. Their second album, The Urban Grooves, featured a track recorded with one of Wade and Morgans' original inspirations, organist Reuben Wilson, and topped jazz charts in America after its 1998 release date. Spread the Word: Album III followed in early 2001, with Crazy Vibes and Things coming the next year. After moving to Narada, Down to the Bone released Cellar Funk and Spread Love Like Wildfire in 2004 and 2005, respectively. The label celebrated the band's ten years in the game by issuing the greatest-hits album The Best of Down to the Bone in early 2007. © John Bush, All Music Guide

Rodney Jones


Rodney Jones - Soul Manifesto - 2001 - Blue Note

Terrific soul jazz/funk album from the great underrated jazz guitarist, Rodney Jones . Check out his albums, The Undiscovered Few, X Field, Dreams and Stories.


1.Groove Bone Part 1
2.Soul Makossa / Wake Up Call - (interlude)
3.Soul Manifesto / Roll Call - (interlude)
4.One Turnip Green
5.Ain't No Sunshine
6.Mobius 3
7.Soup Bone
8.Soul Eyes
9.Groove Bone Part 2 / Last Call - (interlude)


Rodney Jones: Guitars
Maceo Parker: Alto Saxophone
Arthur Blythe: Alto Saxophone
Dr. Lonnie Smith: Hammond B-3 Organ
Lonnie Plaxico: Bass
Idris Muhammad: Drums.


Guitarist Rodney Jones departs from the mainstream fare of his most recent recordings ( The Undiscovered Few, Blue Note 96902, 1999 and My Funny Valentine, Timeless 162, 2000) and testifies his funk philosophy on Soul Manifesto. Joined by Funk/R&B specialists Maceo Parker, Arthur Blythe, and Dr. Lonnie Smith, Jones weaves a hypnotic tapestry with a limbic collection of originals and standards so funky the listener might have to leave the room or succumb to the groove.
The foundation of Jones's Soul philosophy is grounded in Gospel, Funk, and the Blues. He began playing guitar at age 6, beginning formal lessons age 8. He saturated himself with the Funk-forefront of the day: Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone, and the formidable James Brown. “You have soul that was created by God, and you have soul created by James Brown. I've always been fascinated by that connection,” says Jones. Jones joined the James Brown Mythology when he linked up with Brown alto saxophonist Maceo Parker for Parker's breakthrough Roots Revisited (Verve 843 751, 1992). Jones went on to work with the funkmeister for five years (and that definitely shows on this recording).
Jones bookends this recording with the original “Groove Bone, Parts 1 and 2.” He establishes the mood of the recording with these pieces while jamming through the other funky tone orgies “Soul Makossa,” “Mobius 3,” and “One Turnip Green.” Standards include a soulful “Ain't No Sunshine” and “Soul Eyes.” The band was well chosen, particularly Maceo Parker and Arthur Blythe. They truly reveal the soulfulness of the alto saxophone. Makes one wish King Curtis was on hand for the tenor chair. Is this Jazz? Quoting Mark Corroto in his primer on funk, “As the tee-shirt sez, 'F*** Art, Let's Dance.” Review © Michael Bailey (allaboutjazz.com)

Soul is the truth. It’s what is real. From deep inside, Soul is who you are.
Here, we are presented with a soul manifesto. It’s not taught. It’s caught. It’s not about the beat. It’s about the vibe. It’s no fad or trend. It’s a place where it starts and how it ends. Soul is life itself.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone this is the manifesto put forth by Rodney Jones, one of the brightest, most idea-wise guitarists in jazz. Still, “Soul Manifesto” hardly seems a logical sequel to 1999’s “The Undiscovered Few,” a lovely tribute to the affirming and affecting influences in the guitarist’s being.
Rodney Jones is a deeply reflective young man, perhaps even erudite. Instead of a dissertation, however, he delivers feeling. One listen and you can feel the warmth and profound depth he coerces from a hollow body of wood and six strings. He’s got soul. He’s just serious about it.
He’s got credentials too. Mr. Jones has a particular gift for getting heard in good company. He’s waxed four sides with Maceo Parker, got down to the get down with James Brown and fired up some of Jimmy McGriff’s funkiest moments. He’s also played it straight with Dizzy Gillespie, Ruth Brown and Lena Horne and, for Blue Note, arranged Ellington in a classical setting for the conductor Simon Rattle.
The “Soul Manifesto” is delivered by nothing less than a dream team of soul men, all especially chosen by the guitarist for the occasion. These guys are rooted in soul credibility. Rodney puts it this way, “they can reflect, reach deep and get you shakin’ your money maker too.” Call it a truth summit. These cats couldn’t fake a note if they tried.
Up front, Jones is joined by former James Brown sax man (and the guitarist’s former boss) Maceo Parker, jousting on wings of fire – for the first time ever – with Arthur Blythe, whose rich, soulful flights of freedom first touched Jones when they worked together in Chico Hamilton’s group.
Rodney’s rhythm engine here is positively nuclear: organist Lonnie Smith, who Rodney first jammed with in Harlem when the guitarist was a mere 15, bassist Lonnie Plaxico, Rodney’s bassist of choice and, of course, His Majesty, King Breaks, Idris Muhammad, who laid down the sound, who “originated the stuff.”
There’s no posturing among these men. This is truth telling. They reflect on several influential moments in Rodney Jones’s life, from Manu DiBango’s “Soul Makossa” and Bill Withers’s “Ain’t No Sunshine” to Mal Waldron’s lovely “Soul Eyes” and lay down their own heavy-duty grooves in the bookending “Groove Bone” and the bluesy “One Turnip Green” (inspired by Rodney’s guitar heroes: Grant Green, Kenny Burrell, Nathen Page, Barney Kessel, George Benson and Wes Montgomery).
But just listen. Feel it. A few bars is all it takes. Rodney’s three-year-old daughter, Cara, heard it right away. From the first few notes, she jumped up, danced around and said out loud – this is the soul manifesto! That’s what it’s really all about, isn’t it? © Douglas Payne www.dougpayne.com
Who's got the funk? Well, this month's answer to that age-old question is Blue Note. Not jazz-funk, mind you, or any new-fangled variant, but proper old-school funk with a few jazz licks thrown in. This disc could have been cut 30 years ago. As the contributors include Dr. Lonnie Smith, Maceo Parker, Arthur Blythe and Idris Muhammad, the actual band could have probably made this record back then. Choice of material such as "Soul Makossa" and "Ain't No Sunshine" only adds to the time-warp effect. It is very strange. Don't get me wrong, Soul Manifesto is a solid and pleasurable set but it is hardly the most forward-looking release of the year.
If such resolute back-turning on the contemporary doesn't bother you and if the JBs meet Jimmy McGriff or Grant Green sounds like fun then Rodney Jones and friends will have you happily toe-tapping for hours. It must initially be admitted that Jones, though a supreme rhythm-maker, is a fairly characterless soloist. No real worries, as the above mentioned stalwarts more than compensate in the solo stakes. Furthermore, as with all the best funk outfits, the groove is the thing, not any individual flashiness. And groove there is -- by the bucketload. This is a no-frills operation -- tightly organised, rock-steady and built to last.
Just a glimpse at the song titles tells you what to expect. The album opens and closes with the horn led "Groove Bone" -- a more relaxed JBs-early Kool and the Gang, riff-led excursion. "Soul Manifesto", "One Turnip Green" and "Soup Bone" are titles that could be found on any number of late-'60s, long-deleted albums. File under Rare Groove (Revisited). Like those forebears, Manifesto could have been a bit wearing in one take and there is reason to be thankful for the downtempo numbers, which save the listener from too one-dimensional an experience.
As it is, there is just enough going on to keep matters fresh. The standard of playing helps, of course. Jones has gathered together some of the best and they are all in good form, to the point where he is, if anything, overshadowed by his fellow funksters. Pride of place, for me, goes to the good Dr. Smith -- who is cropping up all over the place just lately. His left-of-centre Hammond style is just what this project needed and on the, otherwise pointless, cover of Manu Dibango's Afro-Funk, Loft anthem, "Soul Makossa" he outdoes himself. Little flicks and melodic stabs are his specialty and he has saved some of his juiciest for this session. His solo on "Mobius 3" is just about B-3 heaven.
What can be said of Maceo? He is surely the king of this genre. He does nothing new here but neither does he do anything wrong. Never the sort of player that you particularly remember for this or that solo, he simply and effortlessly delivers a sound you know so well and love like an old friend. He has worked with Jones before (and vice-versa). They seem to have formed a close musical bond -- and it shows in the seamlessness of their exchanges. Arthur Blythe comes from a different soul background (more Philly) and is also closer to the mainstream jazz tradition. Though never in trouble, he is at his most entertaining when he can fly the coop a little, as he does on the old Coltrane ballad "Soul Eyes". Blythe has been out of the spotlight in recent years. It hasn't hurt his tone -- which still has that sweet, swaying quality which made him so popular back in the '80s.
Drummer Muhammad and bassist Lonnie Plaxico do what is required and do it well. Often Muhammad adopts an almost Memphis, fatback style that really works and Plaxico, too, keeps it very rhythm and bluesy, to considerable effect. "Soup Bone" -- which has a Booker T ring about the very title -- harks back to the days of Sonny Thompson or Maxwell Davies. It conjures up a world of small clubs on the black touring circuit with the band warming the crowd up for the big singing star. Similarly, on the long, outro version of "Groove Bone" the James Brown band of Famous Flames vintage is evoked rather than the post-Bootsy era. There are some deep roots behind each and every song.
Jones himself presides over and adds to this rich mixture. If he does not quite have Smith's individuality or Parker's authority, he nonetheless knows how to work a riff for all it is worth. I think he is essentially a sideman but his own compositions stand up well to the covers, so he is no slouch in that area. I prefer him chording to using single string runs, although occasionally he does surprise and get fast and fluid ("Groove Bone" again for the best example).
A quick word about "Ain't No Sunshine". Now, the last thing the world needs is yet another version of this chestnut. In fact, the reading of it here is delightful and gives Maceo a chance to show that he can be as sensitive and full of feeling as the next man. Slipped in between the more driving numbers, it comes across far less creakily than it has any right to. Which, indeed, is a case for the album as a whole. It should have been a stale exercise, a mere re-hashing of former glories -- but it isn't. At times it does drift towards the mundane. Mostly (with particular reference to the organ) it is crisply played and very alive.
Safe and certainly not innovative, Soul Manifesto is still worth catching up with. Its very lack of pretension is surely part of its charm. Like all the funkiest albums, from the flares and Afro, brass led affairs to the Hammond groups of the sixties, it never tries to over-complicate or do anything that gets in the way of the groove. When Blue Note updates its excellent Blue Funk series in a few years time, tracks from this album will find a ready home. © Maurice Bottomley © 1999-2007 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
Rodney Jones’ Soul Manifesto, alongside the powerhouse jazz musicians that comprise his band, is nothing short of a legendary performance. Most notable in Rodney Jones’ discography is arguably his tenure as guitarist for Maceo Parker. But even with his extended history of playing with the greats of the jazz and funk genres, Jones comes alive with this band. Soul Manifesto, the album, features an all-star lineup of the greatest living members of the jazz world. Maceo Parker, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Arthur Blythe, Lonnie Plaxico, and Idris Muhammad worked exclusively with Jones on the album, and initially, I was somewhat disappointed that they weren’t his touring band. When I arrived on campus for this show, I’d soon find solace in the enchanting talents of several other globally renowned players. Bassist Lonnie Plaxico is Jones’ common link between his touring band and the Blue Note recording. Plaxico’s playing is mind-blowing, to say the least. His skill is light years beyond my own comprehension, and his soul and deep-rooted rhythms had the audience gripping their armrests so as not to fall out of their seats. Oliver Von Essen, a native of Frankfurt, Germany, played keys as a mythical creature would terrorize a medieval British township. He was a monster, displaying the power and control of his sound as only the best in the world can manage. Tenor Saxophonist, David Mann, laid out all the complexities that a horn can offer on top of the driving funk. In classic jazz style, he meandered seamlessly between the high-end viscosity of good funk to the soulful and haunting melodies of slower tempos and melodic prose. Drummer, Ray Marchica, rounded out the band at it’s base elements. His percussive skill is a feat to watch and hear, and his subtle transitioning between solos was both traditionally and progressively masterful.
Rodney Jones, the captain of this flagship, used both his modesty and intensity on guitar to remind us that music has the ability to pick us up when we’re down, calm us when we’re tense, and heal us in times of need. Not since I discovered Grant Green several years ago have I been so speechlessly impressed with a guitarist. I had the honor of seeing this show front row with seven or eight students of guitar at the Oswego school of jazz. Simply put, Rodney Jones made them cringe in their seats. “This,” I could imagine them thinking, “this is what I’m in it for.” The show wasn’t the end of the road for us that night, however. It was merely the beginning. When the show ended, we made our way to a bar down the road where the late night jam-session was to take place. The boys of Soul Manifesto graced us with their presence. For approximately the next three hours, everyone, including Jones and co., rotated around the instruments, taking turns in a show-down like setting, grooving together and battling with solos and tonal ideas. It was intense. The students from the school drew their guns against the big cats. And they won. It wasn’t a measure of skill that won the battle. It was the experience. Certainly, we were all schooled when Jones ripped through a hundred and eighty seven notes in approximately four seconds. We were toppled when Plaxico stampeded across his electric bass’ fret board, sending us sprawling from our seats in jubilant hysteria. But the students got to play, if only in a brief, free-form setting, with the greats. By the end of the night, we were all enlightened to some extent. We had transcended the turbulent world around us and experienced something that words fall short of describing. It was music: soul-infecting, groove-you-till-you-drop music. And man was it cookin’. © Kyles Davis http://stateofmindmusic.com/articles_read.php?articleId=36


Born: Aug 30, 1956 in New Haven, Connecticut .An underrated cool-toned guitarist who sounds at his best in straight-ahead settings, Rodney Jones had his highest visibility during his period with Dizzy Gillespie (1976-1979), when he was in his early twenties. Jones had previously worked with Jaki Byard and recorded with Chico Hamilton, and he would follow the association with Gillespie by working for a time as Lena Horne's accompanist. As a leader, Jones has recorded for Timeless (in 1978 and 1981), the RR label, and in the late '80s for Minor Music. © Scott Yanow, All Music Guide


Freddie King


Freddie King - Burglar - 1974 - RSO

A great pure blues album from the late Freddie King, a major influence on many of the great modern rock and blues artists today, including the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Eric Clapton. This is Chicago blues at it's best. Sadly, Freddie King died before he achieved his full potential. Give this album a listen. Also check out Robert Lockwood Jnr, a major influence on Freddie King, and the great Peter Green who in turn was very much influenced by Freddie King.



Pack It Up - G. Chandler, Gonzales
My Credit Didn't Go Through - G. Johnson, G. Perry
I Got The Same Old Blues - J.J. Cale
Only, Getting Second Best - M. Vernon, R. Hayward
Texas Flyer - King, Vernon, Davies, Tench, Harper, Ferrone


Pulp Wood - King, Wingfield, Davies, Tench, Harper, Ferrone
She's A Burglar - J. Ragovoj
Sugar Sweet - M. London
I Had A Dream - I. Hayes, D. Porter
Come On (Let The Good Times Roll) - E. King


Eric Clapton - guitar
Steve Ferrone - drums
Freddie King - vocals, guitar
Pat Arnold - background vocals
Steve Gregory - tenor saxophone
Chris Mercer - tenor saxophone
Bud Beadle - baritone saxophone
DeLisle Harper - bass
Mick Eves - tenor saxophone
Roy Davies - elctric piano, Clavinet
Ron Carthy - trumpet
Misty Browning - background vocals
Brian Auger - organ


Produced in part by Mike Vernon, who worked on The Legendary Christine Perfect Album, this is an entertaining and concise package of ten songs performed by the late Freddie King and a slew of guests. Opening with Gonzalez Chandler's "Pack It Up," featuring the Gonzalez Horn Section, the youthful legend was only 40 years of age when he cut this career LP two years before his death. Though no songs went up the charts like his Top Five hit in 1961, "Hide Away," Burglar is one of those gems that journeymen can put together in their sleep. Tom Dowd produced "Sugar Sweet" at Criteria Studios in Miami, FL, featuring Jamie Oldaker on drums, Carl Radle on bass, and guitarists Eric Clapton and George Terry, which, of course, makes this album highly collectable in the Clapton circles. The sound doesn't deviate much from the rest of the disc's Mike Vernon production work; it is pure Freddy King, like on the final track, E. King's "Come On (Let the Good Times Roll)," where his guitar bursts through the horns and party atmosphere, creating a fusion of the pure blues found on "Sugar Sweet" and the rock that fans of Grand Funk grooved to when he opened for that group and was immortalized in their 1973 number one hit "We're an American Band" a year after this record's release. Sylistically, Freddie King is from the same school as Buddy Guy, two men instrumental in bringing this art form to a mass audience. King stretches those sounds with great fervor on the Hayes/Porter number "I Had a Dream," containing the strength Mark Farner said the blues artist displayed in concert, which could snap a guitar neck. The voice of Freddie King is what drives J.J. Cale's "I Got the Same Old Blues," the horns and the guitar battling between verses and uniting to ooze under the guitarist's vocal expression. Rhythm guitarist Bob Tench, producer Mike Vernon, bassist DeLisle Harper, drummer Steve Ferrone, and pianist Roy Davies all co-write "Texas Flyer" with Freddie King, a prime example of the modern blues this artist was developing. With Brian Auger and Pete Wingfield contributing to the title track, Jerry Ragovoy's "She's a Burglar," this project stands as a solid representation of an important musician which is as enjoyable as it is historic. © Joe Viglione © 2007 All Media Guide, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


Guitarist Freddie King rode to fame in the early '60s with a spate of catchy instrumentals which became instant bandstand fodder for fellow bluesmen and white rock bands alike. Employing a more down-home (thumb and finger picks) approach to the B.B. King single-string style of playing, King enjoyed success on a variety of different record labels. Furthermore, he was one of the first bluesmen to employ a racially integrated group on-stage behind him. Influenced by Eddie Taylor, Jimmy Rogers, and Robert Jr. Lockwood, King went on to influence the likes of Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Lonnie Mack, among many others.

Freddie King (who was originally billed as "Freddy" early in his career) was born and raised in Gilmer, TX, where he learned how to play guitar as a child; his mother and uncle taught him the instrument. Initially, King played rural acoustic blues, in the vein of Lightin' Hopkins. By the time he was a teenager, he had grown to love the rough, electrified sounds of Chicago blues. In 1950, when he was 16 years old, his family moved to Chicago, where he began frequenting local blues clubs, listening to musicians like Muddy Waters, Jimmy Rogers, Robert Jr. Lockwood, Little Walter, and Eddie Taylor. Soon, the young guitarist formed his own band, the Every Hour Blues Boys, and was performing himself.

In the mid-'50s, King began playing on sessions for Parrott and Chess Records, as well as playing with Earlee Payton's Blues Cats and the Little Sonny Cooper Band. Freddie King didn't cut his own record until 1957, when he recorded "Country Boy" for the small independent label El-Bee. The single failed to gain much attention.

Three years later, King signed with Federal Records, a subsidiary of King Records, and recorded his first single for the label, "You've Got to Love Her With a Feeling," in August of 1960. The single appeared the following month and became a minor hit, scraping the bottom of the pop charts in early 1961. "You've Got to Love Her With Feeling" was followed by "Hide Away," the song that would become Freddie King's signature tune and most influential recording. "Hide Away" was adapted by King and Magic Sam from a Hound Dog Taylor instrumental and named after one of the most popular bars in Chicago. The single was released as the B-side of "I Love the Woman" (his singles featured a vocal A-side and an instrumental B-side) in the fall of 1961 and it became a major hit, reaching number five on the R&B charts and number 29 on the pop charts. Throughout the '60s, "Hide Away" was one of the necessary songs blues and rock & roll bar bands across America and England had to play during their gigs.

King's first album, Freddy King Sings, appeared in 1961, and it was followed later that year by Let's Hide Away and Dance Away With Freddy King: Strictly Instrumental. Throughout 1961, he turned out a series of instrumentals — including "San-Ho-Zay," "The Stumble," and "I'm Tore Down" — which became blues classics; everyone from Magic Sam and Stevie Ray Vaughan to Dave Edmunds and Peter Green covered King's material. "Lonesome Whistle Blues," "San-Ho-Zay," and "I'm Tore Down" all became Top Ten R&B hits that year.

Freddie King continued to record for King Records until 1968, with a second instrumental album (Freddy King Gives You a Bonanza of Instrumentals) appearing in 1965, although none of his singles became hits. Nevertheless, his influence was heard throughout blues and rock guitarists throughout the '60s — Eric Clapton made "Hide Away" his showcase number in 1965. King signed with Atlantic/Cotillion in late 1968, releasing Freddie King Is a Blues Masters the following year and My Feeling for the Blues in 1970; both collections were produced by King Curtis. After their release, Freddie King and Atlantic/Cotillion parted ways.

King landed a new record contract with Leon Russell's Shelter Records early in 1970. King recorded three albums for Shelter in the early '70s, all of which sold well. In addition to respectable sales, his concerts were also quite popular with both blues and rock audiences. In 1974, he signed a contract with RSO Records — which was also Eric Clapton's record label — and he released Burglar, which was produced and recorded with Clapton. Following the release of Burglar, King toured America, Europe, and Australia. In 1975, he released his second RSO album, Larger Than Life.

Throughout 1976, Freddie King toured America, even though his health was beginning to decline. On December 29, 1976, King died of heart failure. Although his passing was premature — he was only 42 years old — Freddie King's influence could still be heard in blues and rock guitarists decades after his death. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine & Cub Koda © 2007 All Media Guide, LLC. All Rights Reserved


808 State


808 State - Ninety - 1989 - ZTT Records

An excellent house/techno electronic album. This is an ingenious blend of ambient, acid jazz, hip-hop, disco and rock, and is not exclusively music just for dancing to. Give it a listen.


"Magical Dream" – 3:52
"Ancodia" – 5:47
"Cobra Bora" – 6:36
"Pacific 202" – 5:43
"Donkey Doctor" – 5:24
"808080808" – 4:20
"Sunrise" – 6:33
"The Fat Shadow" – 0:59


Graham Massey
Martin Price
Gerald Simpson
Andrew Barker
Darren Partington


808 State's debut album release on ZTT Records wasn't the first major U.K. house/techno release, but arguably, it was the most important at the time, gaining a reputation over the years as a true classic in the field of electronic music. While not remarkably different from its many American precursors, 90 not only established that Britain could do things just as well as the States, it also helped to fully lay the groundwork for the '90s electronic revolution that continues to play out in the U.K. Arguably, 808 at this point weren't always pushing edges: "Magical Dream" and "Ancodia" have a decided gentility to their grooves. That said, "Cobra Bora" has an aggro edge, mixing gentler impulses with something more clipped and rough, not to mention a wickedly clever sample of the a cappella opening to Van McCoy's "The Hustle," clearly pointing the way to the monstrous groove of Cubik in a year's time. "Pacific 202," 90's classic number, fuses the two strains perfectly, with its soft synth and sax combination riding an insistent bass groove that's just a little bit more forceful than might be expected. The concluding tracks, such as "808080808," are closer to being in-your-face danceable, though with interesting tweaks along the way, such as "Donkey Doctor"'s echoed vocal sample and sudden mid-song break to a softer groove. © Ned Raggett © 2007 All Media Guide, LLC. All Rights Reserved
Despite having disappeared into relative obscurity within recent years, today's UK club scene would be very different without 808 State's influence. We're now a couple of generations removed from the “Madchester” explosion and the fledgling Ibiza pilgrimages of the late 1980s and early 1990s, but 808 State's influence remains.
As their peers continued to churn out repetitive, uninspiring Latino house music, 808 State refined their innovative blend of acid house, Detroit techno, ambient, jazz, hip-hop, disco and rock. Despite a couple of low-key (but nevertheless groundbreaking) albums on Creed Records and a devoted following in their native Manchester, it wasn't until the awesome, gorgeously melodic and uplifting Pacific State hit the shores of Ibiza that people began to sit up and take notice. Not least 80s uber-producer Trevorn Horn, who immediately signed them to his cult ZTT Records label.
Ninety succeeded on two levels. Not only did it have the power to crowd out the dancefloors, but it was also something you could chill out to on your stereo at home. Whilst this duality is common (if not essential) in this day and age, it was a very rare thing back in 1989.
Part of 808 State's success lay in the diversity of experience of each of the group's members. Graham Massey was an experienced jazz musician and electronic experimentalist, Martin Price ran his own record shop, whilst Andrew Barker and Darren Partington were two fresh-faced young DJs who gigged endlessly around Manchester. Despite having left the band a few years previously, Gerald Simpson's appreciation of funk and soul also left its mark upon 808 State.
To this day, Ninety remains a refreshing, exciting slice of progressive dance. After all, it was considerably ahead of its time upon its initial release in 1989. From the sparkling album opener Magical Dream (a casual pro-'E' anthem), through the dirty jazz-funk of Ancodia, the iconic Pacific and blissed-out ambience of Sunrise, Ninety pretty much maps out the evolution of British dance music right through to the mid-1990s.
Anyone out there interested in exploring the formative years of British progressive dance should pick this album up as a matter of course. Then check out S'Express' Original Soundtrack, Bomb the Bass' Uncharted Territory, LFO's Frequencies, Orbital's Green Album, The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld and Future Sound of London's Accelerator. To listen to them is to experience history in the making. This review was originally written for Amazon UK in May 2001 http://momentum.insertdisc.com/archives/2004/05/05/retro_review_808_state_90.html
808 State's studio and stage talents have pleased crowds and helped the group to consistently pioneer and push the envelope of the techno genre. Their list of remix credits is also endless, with the band's favorite collaborators being David Bowie, Jon Hassel I, Quincy Jones, R.E.M., Rolf Harris, and Tom Jones. Through it all, 808 State have never stopped expanding their style and have never been afraid of surprising their audience. As of 2000, the group left ZTT Records and was looking for a new recording contract. © Thomas Dorst © 2007 eNotes.com LLC. All Rights Reserved

BIO (Wikipedia)

808 State is an English electronic music outfit formed in 1988 in Radcliffe, Bury in Greater Manchester, taking their name from the Roland TR-808 drum machine and the "state of mind" shared by the members. They were formed by Graham Massey, Martin Price and Gerald Simpson (later to record as A Guy Called Gerald) and released their debut Newbuild in 1988. Autechre and Aphex Twin have often cited Newbuild as being enormously influential, and the group achieved some degree of chart success in the United Kingdom in the early 1990s with releases of their "Pacific State", "Cubik" and "In Yer Face".

Flim and the BBs


Flim and the BBs - Tunnel - 1984 - DMP Records

Flim & the BB's are a contemporary jazz band that formed in the late seventies and are the first jazz band to appear on compact disc. The band's name comes from the nickname of Jimmy Johnson and the initials of the other two members, Bill Berg and Billy Barber (Dick Oatts, a woodwind player, would join the group in 1984.) They are most notable for the 90's theme song to the American soap opera All My Children and for making one of the first all-digital recordings in 1978 (though the prototype machine which was used was the only machine able to read the master tape.) The band, with Johnson's pioneering five-string bass from Alembic, went on to create five critically acclaimed albums for DMP Records before signing with Warner Bros. Records Their albums Tricycle, Tunnel, and Big Notes all won Digital Audio's "Jazz CD of The Year" award. Reminiscent of Spyro Gyra, this is light jazz fusion at it's best. The musical artistry on this album should appeal to lovers of all types of jazz, and indeed, to anybody who appreciates good music.


Light at the End of the Tunnel
Room With a View
Man Overboard
Surprise Party
Innocent Bystander
Ivory Tower
Momentary Truce
High Roller
November Nights


Billy Barber - keyboard
Bill Berg - drums
Jimmy Johnson - bass
Dick Oatts - reeds


One of the most popular fusion and light jazz groups to emerge during the 1980s Flim and the BBs comprised bassist Jimmy Johnson keyboardist Billy Barber percussionist Billy Berg and reeds player Dick Oatts For the record Flim was an old nickname of Johnsons while the BBs originated from Barber and Bergs shared initials Debuting in 1982 with the album Tricycle Flim and the BBs fusion sound proved ideally suited for the onset of the compact disc boom they were among the first artists to record utilizing digital technology and albums like 1985s Big Notes and 1987s Neon quickly found a following not only among contemporary jazz fans but also among tech-heads After 1988s Further Adventures the quartet departed indie label DMP for Warner Bros making their major-label debut a year later with New Pants 1992s This Is a Recording was their final effort © Jason Ankeny All Music Guide

Box Of Frogs


Box Of Frogs - Box Of Frogs - 1984 - Epic

Not a brilliant album, by any means, but still quite enjoyable. Typical of early 80's releases, the album is full of drum machines, synthesizers, and overly produced vocals. However, there is quite a good blues rooted sound underneath all this, with some fine guitar from Jeff Beck. Can anybody provide details on the tracks featuring Rory Gallagher?


A1.Back Where I Started (3:54)
A2.Harder (3:44)
A3.Another Wasted Day (4:12)
A4.Love Inside You (2:47)
A5.The Edge (4:02)
B1.Two Steps Ahead (4:33)
B2.Into The Dark (4:07)
B3.Just A Boy Again (5:38)
B4.Poor Boy (4:26)


John Fiddler - vocals, guitar (worked with Medicine Head, British Lions, Mott The Hoople)
Chris Dreja - guitar (worked with the Yardbirds, Jeff Beck)
Paul Samwell-Smith - bass guitar (worked with Carly Simon, Jeff Beck, Cat Stevens)
Jim McCarty - drums and percussion (worked with the Yardbirds, Renaissance, Jeff Beck, Cactus, Dave Edwards, Buddy Miles, Sesame Street)
Jeff Beck - guitar [Special Guest] Beck plays on "Back Where I Started", "Another Wasted Day", "Poor Boy" and "Two Steps Ahead".
Rory Gallagher - guitar [Special Guest]


In 1982 former Yardbirds members Chris Dreja, Jim McCarty and Paul Samwell-Smith asked John Fiddler to front their new band Box Of Frogs. The band released two albums, with guest guitarists such as Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Steve Hackett, Rory Gallagher - and Ray Majors!

Spyro Gyra


Spyro Gyra - Access All Areas - 1984 - MCA

Brilliant contemporary pop jazz release from Spyro Gyra, who seem to have been around forever. For some unknown reason, the track "Old San Juan" , which was on the original 1984 MCA vinyl LP, is not included on this CD release. If you know of a CD with this track included, please post info. Try and listen to "Fast Forward", another great Spyro Gyra album.


1. Shaker Song (6:57)
Jay Beckenstein

2. Serpent in Paradise (5:52)
Jay Beckenstein

3. Heliopolis (11:12)
Jay Beckenstein

4. Harbor Nights (6:52)
Jay Beckenstein

5. Conversations (8:16)
Tom Schuman

6. Schu'S Blues (4:36)
Tom Schuman

7. Morning Dance (5:25)
Jay Beckenstein

8. Islands in the Sky (6:21)
Jeremy Wall

9. Sea Biscuit (5:22)
All Members

10. Latin Streets (7:58)
Jorge D'Alto/Gerardo Velez


Jay Beckenstein
Saxophones, Lyricon

Tom Schuman

Eli Konikoff

Kim Stone

Chet Catallo

Dave Samuels
Vibraphone, Marimba

Gerardo Velez

Recorded live in Florida from November 17-19, 1983. Producers: Jay Beckenstein, Richard Calandra (tracks 1-10). Recorded live in Florida from November 17-19, 1983. All songs written or co-written by members of Spyro Gyro except "Islands In The Sky" (Jeremy Wall).


Founded in 1974 by altoist Jay Beckenstein, Spyro Gyra has consistently been one of the commercially successfully pop-jazz groups of the past 20 years. Although originally a studio group, the band became a full-time venture in 1979 and has been touring ever since. Critics love to attack this band's lightweight and rarely changing music, which combines R&B and elements of pop and Caribbean music with jazz, but its live performances are often stimulating -- unlike many of its records, which emphasize the danceable melodies at the expense of improvising.
The roots of Spyro Gyra lay in Buffalo, NY, in the early '70s. Beckenstein and his longtime friend, keyboardist Jeremy Wall, had been leading a group with a revolving membership; every one of the many members in the band were loosely involved in the local jazz and rock scenes. Around 1974, the group was beginning to gel and cultivate a following. A club owner who wanted to advertise an upcoming appearance by the band asked Beckenstein for the group's name. The saxophonist told him "Spirogira," a word he learned in a college biology course. The owner misspelled the word as Spyro Gyra, and the band fell into place, featuring Beckenstein, Wall, electric guitarist Chet Catallo, bassist David Wolford, drummer Eli Konikoff, and percussionist Gerardo Velez. Not long afterward, the group added keyboardist Tom Schuman.
Spyro Gyra independently funded and recorded their debut album, releasing the record on the local independent label Amherst in 1976. The record slowly became a success and Amherst sold the rights to the band to Infinity Records, a division of MCA. Morning Dance, their first album for Infinity, was released in 1979. The record became a major hit, spawning a Top 40 single with "Morning Dance" and going platinum. In the wake of the record's success, Wall retired from live performance, leaving Schuman as the group's main keyboardist; Wall stayed with the band as an assistant producer and occasional composer.
Morning Dance firmly placed Spyro Gyra as one of the most popular artists in contemporary jazz, and throughout the '80s, their popularity continued growing. Their albums were consistent best-sellers, and their concerts often sold out. In 1983, vibraphonist/marimba player Dave Samuels -- who had played on several of the group's albums -- became a full-fledged member of the band. Over the course of the '80s, the membership of Spyro Gyra fluctuated, but Beckenstein and Schuman remained at its core, keeping the group's signature sound intact.
In 1990, MCA's jazz roster was absorbed by GRP, so Spyro Gyra switched labels, releasing Fast Forward, their first album for GRP, later that year. In 1993, Samuels left the touring band, but he continued to play in the studio. By the late '90s, the band featured Beckenstein, Schuman, Julio Fernandez, Joel Rosenblatt, and Scott Ambush, and released Got the Magic in 1999. Two years later the band moved to the Telarc-affiliated Heads Up label and released In Modern Times in 2001, followed by Original Cinema in 2003. Drummer Rosenblatt left the band and was replaced by Ludwig Afonso for 2004's Deep End. A fourth Heads Up album, Good to Go-Go, was issued in 2007. © Scott Yanow & Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide


Robert Lucas


Robert Lucas - Luke & The Locomotives - 1991 - Audioquest (CD release 2002 Audioquest)

Ths great album, highly recommended by A.O.O.F.C contains originals and some classic blues cover versions. The hugely underrated Robert Lucas demonstrates here what the blues is all about. "Luke & The Locomotives" was so impressive both sonically and musically, JVC decided to press their own high end XRCD version. Try and find his albums, "Built For Comfort", & "Completely Blue"


Good Morning Little Schoolgirl (Sonny Boy Williamson) 4:28
Big Man Mambo (Robert Lucas) 3:58
Slide On Outta Here (Robert Lucas) 3:20
Worried About It Baby (Chester Burnette) 2:50
Shed A Tear (Robert Lucas) 3:42
Feel Like Going Home (McKinley Morganfield) 6:09
Don't Your Peaches Look Mellow (Robert Lucas) 2:59
Meet Me In The Bottom (John Lee Hooker) 3:47
Stranger (Elmore James) 3:58
I'm So Tired (Robert Lucas) 4:33
Good-bye Baby (Robert Lucas) 3:52


Robert Lucas - vocals, slide guitar, harmonica
Paul "Pops" Bryant - guitar
Al "Bedrock" Bedrosian - bass
Bob "Max" Ebersole - drums


Paul Bryant (Guitar), Luke & the Locomotives (Performer), Robert Lucas (Harmonica), Robert Lucas (Vocals), Robert Lucas (Slide Guitar), Robert Lucas (Main Performer), Robert Lockwood, Jr. (Liner Notes), Robert Lockwood, Jr. (Author), Al Bedrosian (Bass), Dixon (Liner Notes), Bob "Max" Ebersole (Drums), Steve F'dor (Piano), Peter Grant (Design), Bernie Grundman (Engineer), Joe Harley (Producer), Joe Harley (Author), Allen Sides (Engineer), Akira Taguchi (Producer), Alan Yoshida (Mastering), Wayne Thomas (Art Direction), Wayne Thomas (Design), Willie Dixon Band (Author), Sam Gay (Director), Sam Gay (Creative Director), Michael C. Ross (Engineer), Steve McCormack (Liner Notes), Steve McCormack (Photography), Al "Broderick" Dedrosin (Bass), André Felix (Photography), André Felix (Cover Photo), Paul "Pops" Brant (Guitar), Chris Niswander (Assistant Engineer)


Crying out the pains and joys of the blues is not just an act for this band -- it genuinely bleeds through. Don't believe it? Look at the back liner note endorsements by Willie Dixon and Robert Jr. Lockwood. Even more brilliant is Lucas' songwriting, poking fun at himself in "Big Man's Mambo," and offering the advantages of having a large frame to the ladies. His moaning harmonica effectively plays into the subject of growing old with its aches and pains in "Shed a Tear," and is equally as effective in "I'm So Tired." © Char Ham, All Music Guide

"Hello Ladies and Gentlemen, I am Willie Dixon and I would like to tell you about this blues recording. The blues is music about the facts of life and all the different experiences in life, are what make all the different sounds in the blues. This young man and his band play so many styles of blues that brought back so many good memories to me. From the Mississippi delta to the south side of Chicago, they do it all. The guitar, the harp and the rhythm from the bass and the drums is just beautiful and the wisdom of the words in Lucas' songs are those of a true bluesman. Why this band hasn't made it a long time ago I don't know I but I guess they never got the chance. I don't go out on a limb too often and I'm telling you true, if you love the blues then you'll love this band and you'll have to have this record. Thank you very much." © Willie Dixon July 17, 1991 © http://valley-entertainment.com/index.html


West Coast vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Robert Lucas has been forging a path for himself in the blues world since his much-hailed 1990 self-produced debut cassette, Across the River. Lucas, based in Long Beach, California, records for the Audioquest label out of San Clemente.

Lucas was born into a middle-class family in Long Beach and was 14 or 15 when he started getting seriously into blues-rock. He had started to play guitar then, inspired by Jimi Hendrix, but gave up on it, concluding his hands were too small. He started playing harmonica instead, listening to recordings by John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers before going back to source material, including the recordings of Little Walter Jacobs, Sonny Boy Williamson, George "Harmonica" Smith, Snooky Pryor and James Cotton.

Lucas began playing the National steel guitar at 17 when a co-worker at the Long Beach Arena sold him the instrument. Lucas hooked up with guitarist Bernie Pearl and began taking lessons from him. After joining Pearl's band as a harmonica player, he got to play behind the likes of Big Joe Turner, George Smith, Pee Wee Creighton, Lowell Fulson, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, Percy Mayfield and other West Coast bluesmen. He carefully honed his singing and playing, with Pearl's band and on his own, for several years before forming Luke and the Locomotives in 1986.

Lucas' career as a national touring act was launched when his Across the River tape got a rave review in a Los Angeles newspaper. As a result, one of the Audioquest warehouse workers came to see him at a Los Angeles sushi bar. The employee called the company president, who came to hear Lucas that same night.

Lucas is a multi-talented harmonica player, guitarist, singer and songwriter who can do it all: on one recording for Audioquest, Usin' Man Blues, he plays solo, and on another, Luke and the Locomotives, he performs with his band. The sound on all of his albums is raw and gritty, with just a few originals on each album. Classic blues fare like Sonny Boy Williamson's "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" and John Lee Hooker's "Meet Me In the Bottom" are given new life with Lucas' talented hands and vocal chops.

Lucas pays homage to traditional blues but has carefully crafted his own singing and slide guitar style. These talents are on ample display on his albums for Audioquest. His albums include Luke and the Locomotives, Usin' Man Blues, Built for Comfort, Layaway and Completely Blue, all recorded since 1990. © Richard Skelly, All Music Guide


Tony Bennett & Bill Evans


Tony Bennett & Bill Evans - The Tony Bennett Bill Evans Album - 1975 - Fantasy

In 1975, Tony Bennett was not known for small-scale, cabaret-style sonic settings. Nor was jazz innovator Bill Evans known for working with "pop" singers. As this landmark collaboration (so satisfying it prompted a successor) proved, the pair were eminently compatible. Both possessed an unparalleled sensitivity and an ability to scale dynamic extremes from subtlety to bravura. Bennett sings with unprecedented delicacy and intimacy over Evans's technicolor arrangements. The latter's piano textures are complex, elegant and endlessly shifting as they accompany Bennett's tender ministrations on a program of mostly standards. So definitive is the singer's work here that Bennett neophytes could safely begin their exploration with this album. Recorded at Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California between June 10 & 13, 1975. This album is magnificent, and a true jazz classic. Highly recommended by A.O.O.F.C


"Young and Foolish" (Albert Hague, Arnold B. Horwitt) – 3:55
"The Touch of Your Lips" (Ray Noble) – 3:57
"Some Other Time" (Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden, Adolph Green) – 4:44
"When in Rome" (Cy Coleman, Carolyn Leigh) – 2:56
"We'll Be Together Again" (Carl Fischer, Frankie Laine) – 4:39
"My Foolish Heart" (Ned Washington, Victor Young) – 4:50
"Waltz for Debby" (Bill Evans, Gene Lees) – 4:06
"But Beautiful" (Johnny Burke, Jimmy Van Heusen) – 3:37
"Days of Wine and Roses" (Henry Mancini, Johnny Mercer) – 2:21


Tony Bennett - vocals
Bill Evans - piano


Having completed his relatively brief sojourn with MGM/Verve in 1973, Tony Bennett was in the midst of forming his own label, Improv Records, when he made a deal with jazz pianist Bill Evans to cut two LPs, this one for Evans' label, Fantasy Records, with another to follow on Improv. The singer and his collaborator ("accompanist" does not adequately describe Evans' contribution, and in any case he received co-billing) got together in a recording studio over four days in June 1975 with no one other than the producer, Helen Keane, and an engineer present, and quickly recorded one of the best albums of either's career. For Bennett, it was a dream project; for years (decades, actually), he had been balancing the demands of commerciality with his own inclinations toward jazz and affection for the songs of Broadway masters and of the Great American Songbook. Left to himself with a jazz partner, he naturally gravitated toward both interests. There were songs here that he had already recorded, but never in so unadorned, and yet fully realized a fashion. Evans was an excellent accompanist, using his steady left hand to keep his singer centered, but ready, whenever the vocals were finished, to go off into his characteristically lyrical playing. Bennett could seem a bit earthbound when he came back in (he still wasn't really a jazz singer), but his obvious enthusiasm for the project, coupled with his mastery of phrasing in songs he understood perfectly made him an equal in the partnership. As far as the major-label record business was concerned, the 46-year-old singer might have been over the hill and indulging himself, but in fact he was in his prime and finally able to pursue his ambitions unfettered, and that would prove itself a major boost to his career over time. For the moment, he'd made an excellent jazz-pop hybrid in which both musicians were shown off to advantage. © William Ruhlmann © 2007 All Media Guide, LLC. All Rights Reserved
Bill Evans rarely accompanied singers. Tony Bennett's flawless ear told him that Evans' sensitivity, touch and deep harmonic wisdom would make him a perfect collaborator. Evan's lyrical, singing piano lines illuminate Bennett's supreme interpretation of lyrics. "Overall, this fine new audiophile remastering reinforces the warmth of the sound and the rich intimacy of the two innovators, seemingly overheard in the process of pure creation." © Chip Stern.

Bill Evans (Bio)

Bill Evans was one of the most influential pianists of jazz. He developed the style of "rootless voicings" in which the chord emphasizes some essential notes, but the bassist will often play the root. Evans also used the sustaining pedal extensively but subtly. His impressionist, classical inspired playing was an influence on Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, and Chick Corea. Evans felt pianists should be proficient in technique and harmony in order to best express themselves. He also increased the interplay between the leader and the bassist and drummer in his piano trios.
Evans was born in 1929. While in college, he played with Mundell Lowe and Red Mitchell. Evans made his recording debut as leader of a trio in 1956. He also recorded with Charles Mingus and George Russell. In 1958 Evans playedon Miles Davis' Kind Of Blue album. His 1959-61 trio with Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian was one of the greatest of the genre. LaFaro died in a car accident and later recordings featured Eddie Gomez most extensively on bass and Marty Morell on drums. Gary Peacock, Philly Joe Jones, Jack DeJohnette, and many others also passed through his trio. Evans also recorded solo, in duos, and in large groups with Lee Konitz, Zoot Sims, Freddie Hubbard, and others. In 1978 he formed a new trio with Marc Johnson and Joe LaBarbera which was considered his best since 1961. Evans drug problems contributed to his death from a stomach ulcer in 1980. Copyright © 2007 Princeton Record Exchange, Inc. All rights reserved

Tony Bennett (Bio)

Tony Bennett's career has enjoyed three distinct phases, each of them very successful. In the early '50s, he scored a series of major hits that made him one of the most popular recording artists of the time. In the early '60s, he mounted a comeback as more of an adult-album seller. And from the mid-'80s on, he achieved renewed popularity with generations of listeners who hadn't been born when he first appeared. This, however, defines Bennett more in terms of marketing than music. He himself probably would say that, in each phase of his career, he has remained largely constant to his goals of singing the best available songs the best way he knows how. Popular taste may have caused his level of recognition to increase or decrease, but he continued to sing popular standards in a warm, husky tenor, varying his timing and phrasing with a jazz fan's sense of spontaneity to bring out the melodies and lyrics of the songs effectively. By the start of the 21st century, Bennett seemed like the last of a breed, but he remained as popular as ever.
Bennett grew up in the Astoria section of the borough of Queens in New York City under the name Anthony Dominick Benedetto. His father, a grocer, died when he was about ten after a lingering illness that had forced his mother to become a seamstress to support the family of five. By then, he was already starting to attract notice as a singer, performing beside Mayor Fiorello La Guardia at the opening of the Triborough Bridge in 1936. By his teens, Bennett had set his sights on becoming a professional singer. After briefly attending the High School of Industrial Arts (now known as the High School of Art and Design), where he gained training as a painter, he dropped out of school at 16 to earn money to help support his family, meanwhile also performing at amateur shows. Upon his 18th birthday in 1944, he was drafted into the army, and he saw combat in Europe during World War II. Mustered out in 1946, he went back to trying to make it in music, and he attended the American Theater Wing on the GI Bill. By the end of the 1940s, he had acquired a manager and was working regularly around New York. He got a break when Bob Hope saw him performing with Pearl Bailey in Greenwich Village and put him into his stage show, also suggesting a name change to Tony Bennett. In 1950, Columbia Records AR director Mitch Miller heard his demonstration recording of "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" and signed him to the label.
Bennett's first hit, "Because of You," topped the charts in September 1951, succeeded at number one by his cover of Hank Williams' "Cold, Cold Heart." Following another five chart entries over the next two years, he returned to number one in November 1953 with "Rags to Riches." Its follow-up, "Stranger in Paradise" from the Broadway musical +Kismet, was another chart-topper, and in 1954 Bennett also reached the Top Ten with Williams' "There'll Be No Teardrops Tonight" and "Cinnamon Sinner." The rise of rock roll in the mid-'50s made it more difficult for Bennett to score big hits, but he continued to place singles in the charts regularly through 1960, and even returned to the Top Ten with "In the Middle of an Island" in 1957. Meanwhile, he was developing a nightclub act that leaned more heavily on standards and was exploring album projects that allowed him to indulge his interest in jazz; notably 1957's The Beat of My Heart, on which he was accompanied mainly by jazz percussionists, and 1959's In Person With Count Basie and His Orchestra. By the early '60s, although he had faded as a singles artist, he had built a successful career making personal appearances and recording albums of well-known songs in the manner of Frank Sinatra.
In 1962, Bennett introduced "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," a ballad written by two unknown songwriters, George Cory and Douglass Cross, who had pitched it to his pianist, Ralph Sharon. Released as a single by Columbia, the song took time to catch on, and although it peaked only in the Top 20, it remained on one or the other of the national charts for almost nine months. It became Bennett's signature song and pushed his career to a higher level. The I Left My Heart in San Francisco album reached the Top Five and went gold, and the single won Bennett Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Best Solo Vocal Performance, Male. Bennett's next studio album, 1963's I Wanna Be Around, also made the Top Five, and its title track was another Top 20 hit, as was Bennett's next single, "The Good Life," also featured on the album. For the next three years, Bennett's albums consistently placed in the Top 100, along with a series of charting singles that included the Top 40 hits "Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)" (from the Broadway musical +The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd) and "If I Ruled the World" (from the Broadway musical +Pickwick).
By the late '60s, Bennett's record sales had cooled off as major-record labels like Columbia turned their attention to the lucrative rock market. Just as Mitch Miller had encouraged Bennett to record novelty songs over his objections in the 1950s, Clive Davis, head of Columbia parent CBS Records, encouraged him to record contemporary pop/rock material. He acquiesced on albums such as Tony Sings the Great Hits of Today, but his sales did not improve. In 1972, he left Columbia for MGM Records, but by the mid-'70s he was without a label affiliation, and he decided to found his own record company, Improv, to record the way he wanted to. He made several albums for Improv, including a duet record with jazz pianist Bill Evans, but the label foundered in 1977.
By the late '70s, however, Bennett did not need hit records to sustain his career, and he worked regularly in concert halls around the world. By the mid-'80s, there was a growing appreciation of traditional pop music, as performers such as Linda Ronstadt recorded albums of standards. In 1986, Bennett re-signed to Columbia Records and released The Art of Excellence, his first chart album in 14 years. Now managed by his son Danny, Bennett shrewdly found ways to attract the attention of the MTV generation without changing his basic style of singing songs from the Great American Songbook while wearing a tuxedo. By the early '90s, he was as popular as he had ever been. The albums Perfectly Frank (1992, a tribute to Frank Sinatra) and Steppin' Out (1993, a tribute to Fred Astaire) went gold and won Bennett back-to-back Grammys for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance. But his comeback was sealed by 1994's MTV Unplugged, featuring guest stars Elvis Costello and k.d. lang, which went platinum and won the Grammy for Album of the Year. Bennett became a Grammy perennial, also taking home Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance awards for Here's to the Ladies (1995) and On Holiday: A Tribute to Billie Holiday (1997). In 2001, he released Playin' With My Friends: Bennett Sings the Blues, an album of duets. © William Ruhlmann, All Music Guide