Thursday, February 2, 2017

Celtic Comfort...
 


After a long hiatus I'm finally ready to post a new selection. Having just recently restored my old turntable and amp I decided to test drive my nearly forgotten process for recording from vinyl to digital. I selected this recent purchase from the talented couple, Philip and Pam Boulding, also known as "Magical Strings. It appears that this album is OOP so it seemed more than worthy of resuscitating here on DYHWIH. It is a truly beautiful work featuring lots of flowing hammered dulcimer and various gentle harps along with a fair share of whistles, flutes and other traditional instruments. Much of the music is presented in the familiar Celtic tradition of medley, with 2 or 3 different songs/jigs tied together in seamless fashion. These are largely of Irish, Welsh and Scottish origin with many references to Turlough O'Carolan, but they have included a few of their own compositions as well. It all goes together perfectly, some of which is of the lullaby variety. While this music is entirely engaging and impressively rendered, it is most often a very meditative listening. There are no vocals, just expertly crafted acoustic music that will excite as much as it could easily lull you into a dream state (and I mean that in a completely positive sense). This is the first I have known of this group but now that my $1 purchase has properly introduced me I will definitely be looking to hear more. Magical Strings is still active and has a website where you can hear and purchase their more recent recordings. Enjoy...

O'Carolan

Magical Strings - Spring Tide (1982)

Side 1
1 - Aurora's Lullaby (Philip Boulding) - Corolan's Welcome (O'Carolan)  6:36
2 - The Mary Medley (Traditional Irish jigs)  4:51
3 - Merch Megan Medley (Traditional Welsh)  4:51
4 - When She Cam Ben (Scottish Air) with Carolan's variations - Miss MacMurray (O'Carolan) 4:15

Side 2
1 - General Wynne - Planxty Safaigh (O'Carolan)  5:11
2 - Evening's Bewilderment (Philip Boulding)  4:04
3 - Spring Tide Lullaby (Pam Boulding)  5:18
4 - Miss Murphy (Carolan) and the Hornpipes (Traditional Irish)  4:14
5 - James Betagh - Denis O'Conor (Carolan)  4:15

Philip Boulding: Nylon & wire harps, Celtic harp, whistles, harp & hammered dulcimer,
Pam Boulding: Hammered dulcimer & field organ
Stanley Greenthal: Bouzouki
Mark Minkler: Flute
Denny Hall: Bodran

Flying Fish: FF-282

Monday, March 4, 2013

Les Miserables? Non, Les Magnifique!

Yes, Les is once again, magnificent on this OOP recording from 1964. As can often be the case with Les McCann, his music and delivery can sneak up on you or appear far too comfortable/easy to make a quick impression. But once you've paid a little attention and think a bit beyond your head boppin', toe tappin', smilin' self, you realize that this guy is just so much fun and so sensitive to the emotions of music. Through his  piano and his voice (though he does no singing on this album) he connects as only the truest of soulful musicians can do. Since the album details, including the entire liner notes from the back cover, were available on line, I've included all the details below and I probably don't need to say much else here. But I will add a few thoughts on this generally scarce LP. Side one opens with a compelling "Could Be" that delivers a variety of moods nicely while "Stragler" & "Restin' In Jail" lead smoothly into an inspiring exercise to end the side with "Bailor the Wailer". This track impresses with Les' agile keyboard work and playful feel. Side two starts off with a tender tune, "Maleah", which includes a nice acoustic guitar solo/interlude from Dennis Budimir. Dennis is otherwise generally in the background on the album, to my disappointment, put this is his showcase for the date and you can hear him pop up momentarily here and there on a few other cuts. "Lot of Living To Do" is a Broadway tune (Bye Bye Birdie) which Les really puts his stamp on nicely, delivering a spirited bit of fun along with the album's only drum solo, a crisp complement to McCann's piano work, crafted by the accomplished Paul Humphrey. "Kathleen's Theme" is a pretty number that leads into a happy go lucky "Gus Gus". All in all, another keeper from the man McCann. The Gerald Wilson Orchestra certainly does a tasteful job, ably supporting Les' trio with tasteful strings and some great brass accents throughout. It's a very natural combination. This was released in 1965 and doesn't seem to be available, except in LP format on the used market. Unfortunately my copy is a bit used as well and you can expect to notice that you are indeed listening to vinyl. I apologize for that, did remove quite a bit of the clicking but wasn't happy with what "Click Repair" was doing, so I resorted to a manual treatment which leaves some artifacts. Someone else must have a cleaner copy out there but for now, this is certainly clean enough to enjoy. In fact, once you hear Les tickle those keys...it's Magnifique!!

Magnificent


Les McCann & The Gerald Wilson Orchestra - McCann / Wilson (1964)

Released: 1965 on Pacific Jazz # PJ-91 / ST-91 (LP)

Also: on Fontana # 688-150 [U.K.] (LP): The Wailers

Side 1 - 15:40

        Could Be (Les McCann) - 6:06
        Stragler (Les McCann) - 2:36
        Restin' In Jail (Les McCann) - 3:53
        Baylor The Wailer (Les McCann) - 3:05

Side 2 - 15:10

        Maleah (Les McCann) - 4:00
        Lot Of Living To Do (Charles Strouse/Lee Adams) - 4:58
        Kathleen's Theme (Les McCann) - 2:58
        Gus Gus (Les McCann) - 3:14

Total - 30:50

Recorded: Late 1964 at Pacific Jazz Studios, Hollywood, CA

Musicians:
    Les McCann (piano)
    Victor Gaskin (bass)
    Paul Humphrey (drums)
    The Gerald Wilson Orchestra, featuring:
    Dennis Budimir (guitar)
    Teddy Edwards (tenor sax)
    Gerald Wilson (conductor)

Credits:
    Richard Bock (producer, audio)
    Woody Woodward (album design, photography)
    Thomas Knitch (cover artist)
    Les Carter (liner notes)

Liner Notes:

    This collaboration between LES McCANN and GERALD WILSON is a natural one and I think this album represents a highlight in Les' recording career. Les' playing here, as always, is positive and extroverted and is showcased wonderfully against the backdrop of Gerald's exciting band.

    It occurred to me one night, several months ago, while I was watching Gerald Wilson and his orchestra during one of their engagements at The Lighthouse, that if Gerald had chosen the media of motion pictures to express himself rather than music, he would surely have become a great director in the tradition of Kramer, Preminger, or Stevens.

    It should be known that I made this seemingly disjointed evaluation of Gerald during my seventh Cutty Sark at The Lighthouse. Often when I make such statements in this frame of mind they don't make a great deal of sense to me the following morning but the comparison between Gerald Wilson and great motion picture directors still seems valid to me.

    A director must do many things well. The director assembles the cast, brings his ideas to a script that has been selected, and uses his artistic judgements with the script and the actors to best achieve the results he wants. When the product is ready for the public it has been the director who is most responsible for its success or failure.

    Similarly, Gerald does all things well. He is a craftsman in every way. He hand-picks the musicians carefully (a glimpse at the personnel listing on this album will assure you that Gerald hasn't settled for second best), he selects the material (most of which he composes and arranges), and then he bolsters the band and the audience with his own enthusiasm and exuberance. Gerald is a total musician. He touches all bases, and like a good director he is the man in charge.

    Although Gerald has paid his dues for many years, his reputation has become more widely known in the past few years. He played in the trumpet section of the great bands of Lunceford, Basie, Ellington, and Gillespie, arranged and composed, for all of these bands, and led his own successful big band in the 40's, but even with his great success he left it all behind to continue studying music. His self-imposed exile was ended when he formed a big band that was recorded by Pacific Jazz and released in 1961. ("YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT" PJ-34). Many were able to hear this exciting, fresh band for the first time.

    Gerald's success has spread almost entirely word of mouth. Because of the economics of traveling across the country with a big band, Gerald's dates have been almost entirely restricted to California. Yet the news of Gerald's music spread rapidly after his first release and he soon became a best-selling artist in areas that had never seen him. Also Gerald has not had the television exposure that some of the older big bands have enjoyed, but a glance at the jazz polls shows him right at the top along with Basie, Ellington, and Herman (and with a sound that is the most modern of the big bands).

    Watching Gerald's orchestra in performance is always a great pleasure for me because I'm watching a man who clearly enjoys what he's doing and loves his work. He seems to enjoy the musicians in his band as much as the audience and when one takes an excellent solo, Gerald sometimes leads the applause.

    The one characteristic that Gerald has that makes him a rarity in jazz these days is his ability to communicate with an audience. It's this very characteristic that he has in common with the man he shared this record with.

    The success of Les McCann began as almost an underground movement. Les enjoyed a small but devoted following in Southern California and when his debut album was released on Pacific Jazz ("THE TRUTH" PJ-2) the support was just as loyal but the cult grew in numbers. His first album was an immediate success and Les has built a record of success that is almost unequalled among jazz musicians today.

    An aspect of Les McCann that has often been overlooked is his compositional abilities. Les is the composer of all but one of the selections in this album.

    "Bailor The Wailer" is an especially exuberant composition and performance. Les dedicates this to Elgin Baylor of the Los Angeles Lakers (who might be described as a hard-bop basketball player). And there's the beautiful "Kathleen's Theme" (arranged and conducted by Jimmie Haskell). "Could Be" has a good Basie feeling to it.

    The arrangements with the big band on this album are by Gerald Wilson based on ideas by Les McCann.

    Les is another man who is well known for doing many things well. This album is a testimony to his writing ability and his playing. It also showcases his regular trio (Victor Gaskin on bass, Paul Humphrey on drums) one of the most successful groups in jazz and constantly in demand around the world.

    Like the two personalities involved in this record, "McCANN / WILSON" shouts with enthusiasm and exuberance. No hard sell is needed to convince you that you've just made an excellent choice in picking up this album. The names LES McCANN and GERALD WILSON speak for themselves. Listen.
-- Les Carter
    KBCA Radio, Los Angeles

Friday, March 1, 2013

This Bud's for you.......

Nothing like a little comment activity to get a sleepy blog to show some signs of life, and tonight I'm happy to toast visitors with a Bud to cool and refresh your pop jazz guitar cravings. This is, I believe, the last of the original Buddy Fite recordings that was missing from this blog and I'm sorry it took me this long to get around to it, but here it is. There's not a lot to say this time around. My other four Fite posts pretty well express my great admiration for Buddy's work and frankly this album doesn't exactly enthrall me the way "Changes" did when I first discovered the intriguing guitar sound of the 6 foot, six-inch giant of the guitar. As I've stated before, though giant in stature and sound, Buddy Fite never really got the full treatment that might have more clearly revealed his skill and one-of-a-kind sensibilities. Unfortunately his recorded legacy is not only sadly very limited in quantity, but often presents varying quality in presentation as is again the case with this, his first album, "Buddy Fite!" from 1969. It presents a mixed bag of pop jazz that can dive pretty deep into the schmaltzy side, as on "Glad Rag Doll" where the saccharin muzak female chorus nearly makes you break out in laughter. But thankfully there's a healthy dose of what Buddy can really do throughout with special note to "Here's That Rainy Day", "Watch What Happens" and the lively "For Once In My Life" among others. The way he snaps the notes and chords and makes his guitar ring with emotion according to the tune, is once again signature Buddy, despite some of the creepy elevator production ploys. Once again, I'm just glad to add more to the Fite collection here on "Do You Hear What I Hear?" and some of these are keepers that could fit in with the "Changes" album that he put out the following year (1970). There were no credits offered on the album cover and frankly I don't much care who the singers were or the orchestra and strings that accompany most of this work. The focus is Buddy's sound and feel. Buddy passed away back in 2001 so enjoy what we've got here and maybe we'll dig up some more recordings somewhere...till then, this Buds for you....

Cheers!

Buddy Fite - Buddy Fite! (1969)
Cyclone Records CY4100

Side 1
Fly Me To The Moon
When Sunny Gets Blue
They Can't Take That Away From Me
Here's That Rainy Day
What Kind Of Fool Am I
The Shadow Of Your Smile

Side 2
Stormy
Glad Rag Doll
On The Street Where You Live
Watch What Happens
So Rare
For Once In My Life

Buddy Fite - guitar
No other personnel listed.
Updated 7/23/17

Friday, February 22, 2013

Those Happy Cobbles Are Some Friends of Mine...

Cobble Mountain Band was a country/bluegrass hybrid band that played in the late seventies and probably beyond. I believe they were based in New England but I'm sure they toured well beyond the region given their talents and entertaining stage presence. I had the good fortune to have enjoyed their performances on several occasions and always made a point to go see them when they were in the Danbury, Connecticut area where I grew up. I recall them appearing at a place called Stage III in Brookfield, Connecticut fairly often and I always looked forward to seeing them. They were a fun band to watch with slick guitar and fiddle work as well as some great piano work. Although this brand of music wasn't the sort of music you would expect to flourish at a popular night club located in a relatively small town area, they did get the young crowd going and they could rock pretty well despite the country focus. Well all these years later I couldn't stop wanting to find some recordings by this group. I knew they had at least one LP, the one posted here, which one of my buddies had purchased back in the day, but I was quite surprised that it was not available in digital format anywhere. I finally bit the bullet and purchased this vinyl recording off eBay, for next to nothing I might add. And now I'm very happy to share it here after a very long hiatus from the blog. Listening as I recorded each song from vinyl I was happy to confirm that my long quest was completely justified. While this recording, apparently Cobble Mountain's only LP, doesn't fully convey the somewhat more rowdy performances I recall at Stage III, it certainly does present some great country rock with bluegrass nuances that I thoroughly enjoy. I'm impressed with the production and musicianship and most of the songs are really good stuff if you're any kind of fan of the genre. "Bottle of Fire" is a smooth and energetic kick off to side one and from there, "Cotton Eyed Joe" (which I recall them cuttin' up at the live performances) keeps things lively. From there it moves effortlessly through a great assortment of up tempo instrumental work, fun vocals along with some slower, touching ballads like "Drinking and Hoping" and the closing number, "Factory Farewell" that are pretty effective by my tastes. Throughout I am probably most attracted to the impeccable country picking of both Pete Adams (pedal) and Glenn Ferrell (lead & rhythm guitars). "Fly Trouble" will remind you of "I Just Gotta Have Another Cigarette" but they do it very well here and it provides a nice complement to the rest of the selections. Overall I think you'll hear some Commander Cody, Jerry Jeff Walker and a bit of Asleep At The Wheel. Not bad company I'd say. So I hope you'll agree with me that this is a recording that shouldn't be collecting dust. Enjoy it, be a happy Cobble and a friend of mine...

Cobbled

Cobble Mountain Band - Cobble Mountain Bad (1979)

Singlebrook Record Company CMB 1579 - Rounder

Side 1:
Bottle of Fire
Glory Bound
Cotton Eyed Joe
Old Time Rhythm Of Love
Drinking and Hoping
Footprints In The Nightime

Side 2:
Back On The High Road
Carol County Blues
Fly Trouble
Been Through That Before
New York City
Only Daddy That'll Walk The Line
Factory Farewell

Pete Adams - pedal stell guitar, lead vocals on "Fly Trouble"
Ray Cuevas - drums
Glenn Ferrell - lead & rhythm guitar
Amasa Miller - piano, fiddle, lead vocals on "Cotton Eyed Joe"
Walter Palmer - lead vocals
Richard Thornburg - fiddle, lead vocals on "Old Time Rhythm Of Love"
Chris Tuttle - bass

Guest musicians;
Arlo Guthrie, Terry A La Berry, Danny Velika, Carol Ide, Steve Ide, John Pilla, Steve Asetta,
Peter McEachern, Fred Hellerman, Lee Kahn, Jesse Henderson, Jemima James, and Mary Ellen Tuttle.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Bill Morrissey...one last drink for old times sake

I haven't taken to posting YouTube stuff or any kind of videos and God knows that plenty of hugely important artists have come and gone during the few short years that this blog has been around. But a couple weeks ago I learned of the passing of Bill Morrissey, a song writer and singer that touched the folk music community and probably beyond, and one that has left more than a handful of what I will call breath taking moments. Poetry that hits home and tunes that drive into your deepest insides. Songs that will make you stop everything you're doing when you hear them. How sad to lose that artistry, that musical companion, so young (60 years old). Many people are quick to describe Bill's work as sad and depressing and although they usually mean it in a complimentary way, I don't think it quite does justice to how Bill Morrissey captured the elements of life, and when powerful words and feelings hit you just right, it's easy to say it's sad. For me, it's just right. It's what life is that flows through his lyrics and sounds. It's thoughtful, sensitive and full of irony and humor, the things that memories are made of, the things that freeze time, that take you back until you are no more, and you feel like the spirit rather than the vessel. So here I have posted a video someone has on YouTube, a song that is so Bill Morrissey and so much one of my go to songs when I need to get perspective. Somehow it always manages to leave me looking up and set for good things. I don't know how Bill does that but for me he does. And to do complete justice to this great song and the memory of the man who wrote it, I also offer the following lyrics that I deciphered on my own (so please let me know if you see any mistakes). I am very grateful for the legacy this man left behind and how he has enriched my life.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvlQFhm6X9Q&feature=related

These Cold Fingers by Bill Morrissey

Gina left town with the, first snow of the year
He drove her to the airport in his Ford.
And he, tried to propose as he ordered one more beer,
But the P-A drowned his words, and it was time for her to board.

So he walked her to the gate, he took his hat off as he kissed her,
He needed one more drink to take the chill out of his soul.
He said a quick goodbye, then spent two hours in the bar,
Finally paid his tab and kept a dollar for the toll.

(chorus)
Everything slips, through these cold fingers
Like trying to hold water, trying to hold sand,
Close your eyes, make a wish, and listen to the singer,
One more round bartender, pour a double if you can.

It’s 4 o’clock, and the sun’s gone down the drain,
It’s still late winter, but they say it’s early spring.
Lewis reads the gas pumps, Rossi counts the oils,
But me I’m done, so punch the clock and see you in the morning.

There’s nothin’ back at home that ain’t gone greasy with the stove,
I never laughed so hard as when that typewriter broke.
Think I’ll stop along the River Road for a half pint and some beer,
Well everything would be okay if these old dreams would disappear.

(chorus)

The dog can’t move no more, surprised he made it till the spring,
His pain won’t go away, and the pills don’t do a thing.
You’ve known that old hound longer, than you’ve known most of your friends,
And no matter how you let him down, he’d always take you back again

So it’s one tall glass of whiskey, one last drink for old time’s sake,
The dog just lays in bed, and watches every move you make.
Wrap him in his blanket, hold him once more close to you,
Lead him out behind the barn with a borrowed 22.

(chorus)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Singing When You're Stinking From Drinking

Here's a collection of songs from various artists from around the Danbury, Connecticut area. The theme you will see is...drinking, and the artists cover a wide range of genres. I had the pleasure of contributing the country tune here but all the tracks are great stuff, no matter what your musical preferences may be. Most of the performers can be found on Facebook or MySpace if not other sites, including i-tunes. Now pour yourself a cold one and let 'em rip!

Drinking Songs

Various Artists 
"Chowdahouse Inc. Presents DRINKING SONGS"

1 -   Chowdahouse Inc. - Coolest Motherfucker on the Planet
2 -   Not the Kid - Drinking Song
3 -   The Boardlords - I Told You
4 -   MC Sexscene & Homeblind - Give It To You Good
5 -   Brenton Vaughan - Carry Me Home
6 -   Dick Lexus - Hip Hop for the Middle Aged
7 -   Six7 - Deathstarz
8 -   Orangatwang - Fish n' Chips
9 -   Chowdahouse Inc. - Closing Time
10 - Sarianna & The Swell - Drink
11 - The Dalliance - Pain Has Gills
12 - The Reins - Give It Up
13 - Cash Fur Gold - Whiskey and Chex Mix
14 - Don Ryan - Down and Out
15 - Durge - Just An Old Cowboy Again
16 - Si Ombrellone - Moonshine
17 - Mittimus - Diamond Jim's Spirits and Rumours
18 - The Artimus Formerly Known As - Good Friday

Produced by Chowdahouse Inc. (Released July 2011)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

If Anyone Can Sing, Les Mc Can

Since the inception of this sporadic blog of mine, I've advertized my desire to track down one of the early albums by Les McCann called simply, "Les McCann Sings". I believe my familiarity with this recording came from an old 8-track I had of it back in my college years in the 70's. Some of the beautifully rendered ballads on this album provided just the right sort of fodder for those heart broken moments of my early relationships. I can remember sitting in the stairwell of the Computer Center on the Storrs campus at UCONN just singing a couple of those songs inspired by Les McCann's easy vocals and gentle piano playing. I can still hear my voice echoing up that stairwell into the emptiness of late nights waiting for my computer programming cards to finish running in the busy room outside the stairwell. I'd listen for any signs of life so I could quickly shut up to avoid any embarrassment with passers by. McCann's timing is so true and real, his delivery so perfect yet relaxed and comforting. So I wanted to recapture these tracks, so long OOP except for a few cuts on the later collection called "More or Les McCann" released much later (and also OOP). And out of nowhere came Rick with a friendly offer to deliver the tracks in their entirety so I could enjoy them fully once again and share them with you here. This is the kind of thing that makes a blog like this of value to me. Making priceless music available to the discerning listener when it is otherwise dead to the commercial world. I'm very happy to be able to post this beautiful work that ranges from Les' soulful side to his most melancholy. Not entirely different from most of his usual fine work, but perhaps one of the more elemental examples of Les' rare talent that bridges so many feelings and colors. Never a show off, just a man to capture emotions and deliver them to your ears and to wherever you want them to go. I've said too much. Just enjoy it and remember to thank Rick!

Les Sings

Les McCann - "Les McCann Sings" (1961)
Pacific Jazz # PJ-31 / ST-31 (LP) 

1.  Wonder Why (Nicholas Brodsky/Sammy Cahn) 2:58  
2.  It's Way Past Suppertime (Les McCann/Vicki Arnold) 3:06  
3.  'Deed I Do (Walter Hirsch/Fred Rose) 2:54  
4.  Since I Fell For You (Buddy Johnson) 3:37  
5.  But Not For Me (Ira Gershwin/George Gershwin) 2:58  
6.  I Cried For You (Gus Arnheim/Abe Lyman/Arthur Freed) 2:24

(side 2)

7.  Sweet Georgia Brown (Kenneth Casey/Ben Bernie/Macio Pinkard) 2:27 
8.  Please Send Me Someone To Love (Percy Mayfield) 2:32
9.  Next Spring (Marvin Jenkins) 3:21 
10.Love Letters (Edward Heyman/Victor Young) 3:16 
11.On The Street Where You Live (Alan Jay Lerner/Frederick Loewe) 3:10
12.Bye Bye Black Bird (Ray Henderson/Mort Dixon) 2:07

Aug. 1961 at Pacific Jazz Studios, Hollywood, CA (except track 9)
Mar. 1961 at Pacific Jazz Studios, Hollywood, CA (track 9)

Les McCann (piano, vocals)
Herbie Lewis (bass)
Ron Jefferson (drums)

Gerald Wilson (conductor, arranger) (tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8 & 10)



(tracks 1, 4, 6 & 8)
Harold Land, Teddy Edwards, Buddy Collette, Jack Nimitz, Charles Lloyd (reeds) Jimmy Zito, John Audino, Ray Triscari, Charlie Meeks, Bob Edmondson, John Ewing, and Kenny Shroyer (brass)

(tracks 2, 5 & 10)
Dolo Coker (rhythm piano) Jerome Reisler, Dan Lube, Carl Kalash, Darrel Terwilliger, Myron Sandler, Bobby Bruce, Edger Lustgarden, George Poole, Charles Gates (strings) (track 9) Richard "Groove" Holmes (organ) Ben Webster (tenor sax) Lawrence "Tricky" Lofton (trombone)

Richard Bock (producer, audio engineering)
Woody Woodward (cover design, back photos)
Chester Maydole (cover photo)
Vicki Arnold (liner notes)