Saturday, May 24, 2008

Bill Connors - Of Mist and Melting

An atmospheric jazz album, it includes Jack DeJohnette (d), Gary Peacock (b), and Jan Garbarek (ts).

1. Melting
2. Not Forgetting
3. Face In the Water
4. Aubade
5. Cafe Vue
6. Unending


Horace Silver - Silver's Blue

Killer early work from Horace Silver -- and a rare non-Blue Note session from the 50s! The album's Horace's only date for Columbia, and it's got a feel that's similar to some of the Jazz Messengers' hardbop recordings for the label at the time -- cooking with a soulful intensity at the bottom, yet taking off with some tremendously well-carved solos on the top! The group's an all-star ensemble that includes some of the best hardbop players of the time -- Hank Mobley on tenor sax, Donald Byrd and Joe Gordon on trumpet, Doug Watkins on bass, and Kenny Clarke and Art Taylor on drums -- all grooving together with Horace as if they'd been backing him up for years. Titles include great originals "Silver's Beat", "Shoutin' Out", and "Hank's Tune -- plus versions of "I'll Know" and "The Night Has A Thousand Eyes".

1. Silver's Blue
2. To Beat Or Not To Beat
3. How Long Has This Been Going On?
4. I'll Know
5. Shoutin' Out
6. Hank's Tune
7. The Night Has A Thousand Eyes


Horace Silver - Song for My Father

An incredible record -- the kind of album that only Blue Note could put out, and an instant classic that will sound wonderful forever! The album's truly one of the great ones -- one of those Blue Notes that still makes you stop and pause when you hear it, even though you've heard it a million times in Starbucks and places like that. Horace Silver is working here at the height of his powers -- lyrical, free, yet also damn soulful, in a style that makes for some of the most evocative jazz-based grooves cut to wax at the time. Carmell Jones is in the group, and plays some of his best trumpet ever -- and Joe Henderson really drives the whole session home with some incredible tenor work. Other group members include Teddy Smith on bass and Roger Humphries on drums -- and titles include the instantly famous "Song For My Father", plus "Que Pasa", "The Kicker", and "Calcutta Cutie".

1. Song for My Father
The The Natives Are Restless Tonight
Calcutta Cutie
Que Pasa?
The Kicker
Lonely Woman
Sanctimonious Sam [*]
Que Pasa? [Trio Version][*]
9. Sighin' and Cryin' [*]
Silver Threads Among My Soul [*]


Horace Silver - Total Response

Funky work by Horace Silver -- with a spiritual and political edge! Volume 2 (or "Phase 2") in Horace's United States Of Mind series has politically-oriented and self-reflective vocals by Andy Bey and his sister Salome -- with lots of trippier elements, and a sinister soul & funk groove! Horace plays electric piano, and the band includes Cecil Bridgewater on trumpet & fluegelhorn, Harold Vick on tenor sax, and Bob Cranshaw on bass, Richie Resnicoff on guitar and Mickey Roker on drums. The titles probably give more information about the tracks than we ever could, and include "Acid, Pot, Or Pills", "Soul Searchin", "What Kind Of Animal Am I" (which amazingly blends gospel, funk and honky tonk) , "I've Had A Little Talk" and "Big Business".

1. Acid, Pot Or Pills
2. What Kind Of Animal Am I?
3. Won't You Open Up Your Senses
4. I've Had A Little Talk
5. Soul Searchin'
6. Big Business
7. I'm Aware Of The Animal Within Me
8. Old Mother Nature Calls
9. Total Response


Friday, May 23, 2008

Cold Blood - Sisyphus

Sisyphus -- Cold Blood's second release for Bill Graham's San Francisco label -- was a shift to a more aggressive and decidedly funkier sound. Taking their cues as much from James Brown's J.B.'s as from their Bay Area contemporaries and labelmates Tower of Power, Sisyphus is a much more cohesive and concentrated effort compared to their 1969 eponymous debut. The infusion of strong original material certainly did not hurt either -- as five of the disc's six tracks are credited as original band compositions. From the opening edgy/up-tempo instrumental "Shop Talk," the change in Cold Blood's direction is evident. This extended jam showcases the entire ensemble -- sans vocalist Lydia Pense -- including the band's latest addition, Sandy McKee (drums/percussion). The track also features notable assistance from original Santana bandmember Chepito Areas (congas/timbales). The driving rhythms are punctuated by the three-piece brass section, whose contributions are infinitely less obtrusive, especially during the dramatic segue into "Funky on My Back" -- one of Cold Blood's most definitive compositions. Highlighted by Pense's dramatic and sensual vocals, the track recalls the laid-back, soulful style of their first album. Another throwback is the slightly gospel-influenced cover of "Your Good Thing" -- originally performed by Stax diva Mable John -- which also features background vocals from the Pointer Sisters. The second half of Sisyphus consists of up-tempo groovers "Too Many People," "Understanding," and "I Can't Stay," which is not only the hardest-rocking track on the disc, it also features a lead vocal from percussionist McKee. The song actually comes off sounding like an early Santana cut rather than anything else on the album. This probably has to do more with the frenetically inspired fretwork of Larry Fields than the absence of Pense. In 2001 the Collectables label reissued Sisyphus -- along with their first self-titled album -- as part of two LPs on one CD set. Although the release is marred by sloppy mastering, it is recommended as the only place to hear much of these albums. ~ Lindsay Planer, All Music Guide

1.Shop Talk
2.Funky on My Back
3.Your Good Thing (Is About to End)
5.I Can't Stay
6.Too Many People


Cold Blood - Cold Blood

Cold Blood was one of the Bay Area's non-psychedelic contributions to pop music in the late '60s and early '70s. Their R&B-influenced combination of rock, blues, and jazz stood out from the guitar-driven acid rock bands most identified with that scene. After establishing themselves at dancehalls such as the Avalon or Bill Graham's Winterland Ballroom, Cold Blood became one of the first acts signed to Graham's Fillmore record label -- which was named after another one of his venerable venues. Their 1969 self-titled debut -- although somewhat contained in comparison to their live shows -- is a good representation of their soulful, horn-driven funk. One of the major reasons for the band's success is the unadulterated and otherwise raw vocal style of Lydia Pense. The album features a mixture of dramatic ballads -- such as the medley of "I'm a Good Woman" and "Let Me Down Easy" -- as well as full-blown R&B rave-ups on the cover of Sam & Dave's "You Got Me Hummin'" or their freewheeling version of "I Just Want to Make Love To You." Keyboardist Raul Matute's contribution, "If You Will," is a perfect vehicle for Pense's vocals as it glides between licks from lead guitarist Larry Fields and the five-piece brass section. Inevitable comparisons have been made between Pense, Janis Joplin, and Lynn Hughes -- of another San Fran rock and soul combo, Stoneground. However, there is a smoky scintillation to Pense's approach -- particularly potent on the gospel-tinged opener, "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free" -- that is downplayed or altogether lacking from her contemporaries. This intangible quality would become increasingly pronounced and evident on Cold Blood's follow-up LP, the classic Sisyphus(1971). In 2001 Collectables reissued this album along with Sisyphus as part of two LPs on one CD collection. Although marred by sloppy mastering, it is recommended as the only place to hear this album in its entirety. ~ Lindsay Planer, All Music Guide

1.I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free
2.If You Will
3.You Got Me Hummin'
4.I Just Want to Make Love to You
5.I'm a Good Woman
6.Let Me Down Easy
7.Watch Your Step


Friday, May 16, 2008

David Matthews & The Electric Birds - Cosmic City

Keyboardist and arranger David Matthews did this album in 1980 for King Records, the all-star cast includes David Sanborn, Mike Mainieri, Jeff Mironov, Cliff Carter, Mark Egan, Allan Schwartzberg, Sammy Figueroa, Frank Floyd, Zak Sanders and Babi Floid.

1. Cosmic City
2. Show Me How You Make It Sexy
3. Lonely Promises
4. Good Time
5. First Blood
6. American Road
7. I Didn't Mean To Hurt You
8. Special Delivery


Gene Dunlap - It's Just the Way I Feel

There's no denying drummer Gene Dunlap's résumé -- stints in support of Grant Green and Roy Ayers are the funk equivalent of earning Ph.D.s from Harvard and Yale -- so it's little surprise that his debut LP, It's Just the Way I Feel, is such an effective and engaging listen. Dunlap's operating well outside the jazz sphere, however, and despite some obvious fusion-inspired moments, this is first and foremost a straight-up soul album, with a strong balance between slick, dancefloor-ready groovers and heartfelt ballads. Most impressive is the handful of tracks featuring the Ridgeways, an all-girl vocal trio whose sexy harmonies mesh perfectly with Dunlap's crisp, supple rhythms. ~ Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide

A review from Dusty Groove
An excellent fusiony soul album on Capitol, recorded and released during the crucial years of the "Capitol Rare" sound! Gene Dunlap is a jazz drummer at heart -- but he's got a flair for the modern soul song, and in the same style as Norman Connors or Harvey Mason before him, he manages to put together a strong record of grooves and ballads from behind the kit! The strongest point of the record is work by The Ridgeways, a female soul trio who sing on the best tracks, giving them a smooth Jones Girls-ish kind of sound. The album includes two modern soul classics -- "Before You Break My Heart" and "It's Just the Way I Feel" -- plus "Love Dancin", "Rock Radio", "I Got You", and "Surest Things Can Change".

1. Intro
2. Rock Radio
3. Before You Break My Heart
4. I Got You
5. Love Dancin'
6. It's Just the Way I Feel
7. Should I Take Her Back, Should I Let Her Go
8. Surest Things Can Change


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