Tuesday, June 28, 2011

(More) Milton Nascimento

One of the biggest musical regrets in my life in that I slept on this cat for so long.  His 70's output, from Clube Da Equina to Milagre Dos Peixes to Geraes, are all brilliant albums.  I'm finding that you have to listen to a Nascimento album all the way through, and listen to it consistently until it buries itself into your skull and never leaves you for good.  The singles I attached below don't do him justice.   Music full of sadness, joy, wonder...Milton Nascimento captures all moods.  I'll ride for his 70's albums till the day I die. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

De Wolfe Studio and other Jams from the Library Vaults

 I've been digging on a lot of  1970's British and Italian Library tracks in the last few months.  I recently picked a couple great comps by the famed De Wolfe Studio, Bite Hard, and Bite Harder.  Both have some great funky instrumental tracks, many of the tracks of which were recorded for 70's Crime shows and movies. Check out Alan Parker's 1973 cut "Hot Ice", as well as another Parker track titled "The Hawk".
Off of the De Wolfe comp Bite Harder (probably not as strong as Bite Hard, but still has some great tracks), I really dig the Peter Reno track "Silver Thrust", recorded in 1972.  Dig the speedy flute, and the wah-wah guitar!

I've also picked up a good 1970's Italian comp called Easy Tempo, as well as an album by the Italian musician Stefano Torossi.  Stefano Torossi released an album called Feelings, almost impossible to find on cd or vinyl (but I have my ways and picked it up on cd!), and is widely considered as one of the best Library albums of the 70's decade.  Enjoy the below tracks "Flying High" and "Fearing Much".

Monday, June 20, 2011

When All's "Not So Well"

I think this Sly Stone track summed up this past weekend best for me when he sang, "If I could do it all over again, I'd be in the same skin I'm in"...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Milton Nascimento, and the Breezy Sounds of Brazil

I've been getting back into the 60's/70's Brazilian tunes, which I was strongly into back in the college days, but now over 10 years later have been grooving on all my old Brazilian stuff, from Arthur Verocai, to Edu Lobo, from Jorge Ben, Os Mutantes, and Caetano Veloso, to Lo Borges, Marcos Valle, and Milton Nascimento.  There's something about the sounds from Brazil that speaks to me more than most music---it has an otherworldly, breezy quality to the recordings that can leave me transfixed.  Of course, the Portuguese language is so beautiful to listen to when sung, even though I have no understanding of the Portuguese language when spoken or sung.  Put on the first few tracks from Arthur Verocai's self-titled album and you'll see what I'm talking about in terms of the breeziness and beauty from one of Brazil's best.
I enjoy the eclectic-ness and everything but the kitchen sink approach to Lo Borges's music.  His self-titled album from 1970 has some good tracks, although not very consistent as some of my favorite Brazilian albums (Jorge Ben's self-titled album, Caetano Veloso, Os Mutantes, and Arthur Verocai's first albums, and Milton Nascimento's Clube Da Esquina album, to name a few).  Here's a track from Lo Borges that I enjoy:

As I mentioned above, I love Milton Nascimento's Clube Da Esquina album, but unlike the other Brazilian artists I mentioned, Milton didn't grow on me until recently.  I've listened to a few Nascimento albums in the past and didn't quite feel him like I thought I would...until I picked up 1972's Clube Da Esquina.  This is an absolutely stunning album.  Nascimento's vocal work is some of the most breathtakingly beautiful singing that I've ever heard.  The track below, "San Vincente", gave me goosebumps the first time I heard it, and now about six months later after I purchased this album, it still gives me goosebumps to this day:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What's Going On

We all know "What's Going On", the classic track written and sung by Marvin Gaye on his groundbreaking album, What's Going On.  It's such a powerful, well-written, and catchy song, and although it's a bit cliche to say it, it is one of my favorite soul songs ever.  You can't deny the power of it, although it has been overplayed a bit in soul circles, and actually I find Marvin Gaye's discography as a whole a bit overrated.  But What's Going On is a strong album, and the title track is an absolute classic.  Recently, I was thinking about how many different cover versions I own of "What's Going On", and it makes it all the more obvious how influential Gaye's song was. 

We all know the Marvin Gaye original:
I love the Donny Hathaway version of it, off of his 1972 album, Live.  Hathaway is one of my favorite singers of all-time, period.  He could've sang the alphabet on a recording and I would buy it.  I love this version, as Donny is playing the intro chords on a keyboard and you can hear a fan on the recording yell out "What's Going On" before Hathaway begins singing the song. 
I enjoy the Weldon Irvine version of "What's Going On", taken from his 1976 album Sinbad.  It definitely has a more jazz groove to it than the original and even without the vocals, it's still a very engaging listen. 
(Couldn't find a youtube of the track, but here's a link to take a listen)

I love El Chicano's version of "What's Going On", recorded in 1971.  It has a similar jazz-funk feel to it that Irvine's version has, but with a Latin edge.

Lastly, Delroy Wilson is one of my favorite ska reggae singers, and his version of "What's Going On" is a pleasant listen, a reggae version with tasty electric keyboards over it. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wednesday's Excursions (Random Eclectic Music Notes)

  • I'm really digging the new Ghostface Killah album Apollo Kids.  Technically, it's not new (came out over six months ago), but I slept on it for awhile, thinking that it was "just another new Wu-Tang solo joint".  Seriously, it's the best Ghostface album since Supreme Clientele, and I'm very suprised Apollo Kids hasn't been talked about more, as it's received mainly tepid reviewers among the critics.  Dig the track "2getha Baby", featuring a looped sample from Soul legends The Intruders:        
  • I like me some Blues at times, and I'm enjoying the new release by Milwaukee's own Tweed Funk.  The album is titled Bringin' It and it's a really nice combination of Blues, Funk, and Soul.  I dig the guitar work of JD Optekar, and the soulful vocals of Smokey.  "Black Coffee" is a tasty Blues jam--they are Bringin' It, and I'm feelin' it.  
  •  I was supposed to see the soul legend Allen Toussaint last week at the Jazz Alley in Seattle, and foolishly passed it up as it was a tough day at work, and I just didn't have the energy to muster seeing a live show that night, regardless of who was performing.  Toussaint is one of the most-respected soul figures with his work with New Orleans greats Lee Dorsey, Aaron Neville, Irma Thomas, Dr. John, among others, and above all, I love some of his solo albums, especially Love, Life, and Faith.  The track "Fingers & Toes" is one of my favorite soul jams, one of those tracks when you first hear it you get the goosebumps because of it's pure soul-pop perfection.  Sad I didn't get to see him, but I guess I always have the music at home to turn to.     
  • I'm currently reading Don Charnas book "The Big Payback", about the history and business of hip hop, from it's early inception of Enjoy Records and The Sugarhill Group, through Def Jam, Run DMC and beyond, and I'm right now reading about the early 90's era of hip hop, when it began being more prominently featured on pop radio stations for the first time.  It's an absolutely wonderful read thus far (I'm over halfway done), if you have any interest in hip hop, the history is all there in those 600+ pages...well-worth the read.                                           
  • Lastly, I wanted to sing the praises of Ethiopia's own Mulatu Astatqe.  I absolutely adore his late 60's/early 70's Ethiopian Jazz, and after years of not listening to it, for whatever reason, I've turned back to it over the last few nights, as it strangely calms me before I turn to bed.  

Monday, June 6, 2011

Gospel 45's

Recently, I've been into buying a lot of old gospel 45's.  I've been stacking up through buyers that sell them in bulk on ebay, and of the 45's I've bought recently, I've noticed that I enjoy about 80% of the tracks.  Generally, the more soulful sounding with funky instruments is the type of gospel I like the most...I can dig a well-sung a capella, but probably because of my love of the 60's/70's soul music, I tend to gravitate towards gospel that sounds like it could've been recorded at Muscle Shoals.  Here is a few gospel 45's that I purchased recently that I tend to like the most:

The Gospel Clefs singing "Open Our Eyes".  Man, I love Leon Lumpkins voice on this track.  I let the turntable repeat this track over and over again.  

I love the Dixie Hummingbirds and have a great full-length called A Christian Testimonial that I really enjoy.  This 45 is a collaboration they did with the female gospel group The Angelics.  Great stuff!

I also love some gospel by The Windy City Four, The Family Jubilees, Robert Turner, and The Angelic Gospel Singers.  Unfortunately, I just did a youtube search for them, as well as some others that I've purchased recently, and they are so obscure that I couldn't find the tracks I was looking for.  So I could only include my two favorite that I recently picked up.  So I'll end this post with a gospel-influenced track by David Ruffin, as I picked this 45 up recently as well.  He recorded this track for his second solo album after he left The Temptations.  Sure, it's not gospel, it's soul, but you can't deny the influence gospel had on Ruffin when you listen to this track.  This is my favorite David Ruffin track after he went solo.  Enjoy! 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Rare Grooves: Some Favorites from the Soul-Jazz Genre

 I noticed that I don't write as much about my love for the soul-jazz/rare groove genre than I should, so I figured I needed to devote a post including some of my favorites, mainly from the 70's.  Here's a few tasty tracks from some my favorite albums and artists from the Soul-Jazz Genre: 

The first track is from jazz flutist Bobbi Humphrey "Jasper Country Man" off of her excellent 1973 release Blacks and Blues.  You can always depend on Bobbi to have some great grooves on her albums, and generally it's easy to pick out a boatload of parts that have been sampled from hip hop artists.  Ice-T sampled this track for his epic song "New Jack Hustler".  

Richard 'Groove' Holmes "Groovin' for Mr. G" off of the 1971 release Comin' on Home.  I find jazz-organist Mr. Holmes to be a little spotty with some of his releases, but this song always does the trick for me.

Jimmy McGriff is another jazz-organist that I love as well.   Hate to say it, but I picked up his 1969 Electric Funk over a year ago on a whim, mainly because the album cover looked cool, and the title of the album sounded cool.  Hard to pick a favorite on this album, so I'll go with "Back on the Track", first track off the album that gets it off to a great start.

Jimmy Smith is yet another jazz-organist that I love as well, and is probably the first of the genre to really grab my attention (not including Herbie Hancock, who started out playing piano in bebop/hard bop jazz groups, and it wasn't until later that Herbie experimented with synths, organs, and electric pianos, but I feel that Hancock is so brilliant he desires his own post in the future).  I first picked up both The Sermon and then later his legendary 1972 live album Root Down.  Both are great, but I'll pick the track "Root Down" off of the album Root Down, which obviously was sampled by the Beastie Boys for their track "Root Down" off of their album Ill Communication.
I dig jazz-organist (notice a pattern here?) Brother Jack McDuff and decided to include something from him off of his excellent 1969 released Gin and Orange album.  "Theme from Electric Surfboard" was later sampled by Pete Rock.

Lastly, I thought I would include a track from saxophonist Nathan Davis off his rare and excellent 1976 released album If.  Half of the tracks on this album have some of the best jazz-funk grooves I've ever heard, and the other half is more straight-up jazz fusion.  Either way, great stuff.   Here is "New Orleans":