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Friday, December 25, 2009

JAMES BROWN : Santa Claus Goes Straight To The Ghetto (1968)

JB says Merry Xmas! And keep a social conscience!

Song : "Santa Claus Goes Straight To The Ghetto" by James Brown
Single A-side (King 6203) Dec. 1968

Saturday, December 19, 2009

BACAMARTE : Ultimo Entardecer (1978/1983)

One of the lost masterpieces of the progressive rock genre, Bacamarte was a rare band for various reasons. One, they hailed from Brazil, which is not a country usually synonymous with prog. Second, they recorded their debut album in a time with disco was gaining enormous popularity. And third, that album took about six years to be released (into the 80s!). So basically, luck was NOT on their side. The project was mainly the brainchild of guitarist Mario Neto, and you can tell by how much of the material relys on his guitar work.
This track is the centrepiece of the album (the longest one too!), and it combines the UK symphonic prog sound with more Latin-influences. The first 3.5 minutes has a slower tempo to feature the piano & synth, as well as Portugese vocals from Jane Duboc. At 3.24, the song picks up to showcase Neto's incredible fretwork (very flamenco-oriented). At 4.07, the third section starts with an arpeggiated piano motif and another verse. At 5.50, is a flamenco acoustic piece by Neto which eventually leads into an alternate verse at 7.11. At 7.43, the intro figure is repeated in dramatic fashion until the end.
Song : "Ultimo Entardecer" by Bacamarte
From the LP "DEPOIS DO FIM" recorded 1978, released 1983

Jane Duboc : vocals
Mario Neto : acoustic & electric guitars
Sergio Villarim : keyboards
Delto Simas : bass
Marco Verissimo : drums
Mr. Paul : percussion
Get it here : Ultimo Entardecer

Sunday, December 13, 2009

NICO : I'm Not Sayin' (1965)

This week has a song from German singer, model, and actress Nico. This is the A-side of her first single. It was assumed that helped to get signed to Immediate Records because she was the then-lover to Brian Jones (from The Rolling Stones). Producer Andrew Loog Oldham wanted to mold her into another Marianne Faithfull, so he had her sing this song, written by Gordon Lightfoot. This song is significant as it has both Brian Jones AND a young Jimmy Page on guitars. A nice slice of folksy pop.

It was soon after this that Nico went to the US, and joined The Velvet Underground for their first classic album.

And here is the link to a promotional video for this song. The audio-visual sync isn't always perfect, but it IS the mid-60s...
Song : "I'm Not Sayin'" by Nico
Single A-side (Immediate 003) Aug. 19, 1965

Nico : vocals
Jimmy Page : 12-string guitar
Brian Jones : acoustic guitar

Link in comments

Saturday, December 05, 2009

ATARAXIA : The Unexplained (1975)


Part Four.

So what was next for Mort? The occult! He called himself Ataraxia, and with Moog in hand (or on floor), he composed a spooky soundscape with magic and seances. This is the title track, and you can hear the addition of a more driving (almost disco) beat to the music. This was somewhat keeping in line with the changing decade of more 'danceable' music. At 1:33, it really picks up with an great repeated riff, using the flatted-fifth for a more menacing sound.

By this point, Garson was getting out of releasing albums. He released one more LP called "Plantasia", a serene electronic album to be played for plants (!). There was one more disco single under the pseudonym Captain D.J. But he had been steadily composing themes for TV and film since the 60s (including National Geographic, and various game shows), so was continuing with that. He contributed to music for the film "Kentucky Fried Movie", and did some broadway music in the '80s. He died Jan. 4, 2008, at the age of 83.

Song : "The Unexplained" by Ataraxia
From the LP "The Unexplained : Electronic Musical Impressions Of The Occult" (RCA Victor) 1975

Get it here : The Unexplained

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Part Three.

So picking up from last time, Mort Garson was making a name for himself with a series of 'themed' electronic albums: signs of the zodiac, "The Wizard Of Oz", the musical "Hair", satanism, so what next? Right after the Lucifer project, he picked up an 'erotica' project, and released "Music For Sensuous Lovers" under the pseudonym "Z". Two tracks, one on each side of the LP. One track focusing on the female orgasm, the other focusing on the male. Strange...
Then in 1974, he did the music for an audio narration of "The Little Prince", narrated by Richard Burton. During this time, he picked up on funk music and released a single as The Lords Of Percussion. This week's track is the A-side of the single, a slinky slice of soundtrack funk, a full band complete with 'hi-yahs' and flute. This track can now be found on a number of 'rare groove' compilations'. Who knew it was the same guy??

Song : "The Kung-Fu" by The Lords Of Percussion
Single A-side (Old Town) 1974

Get it here : The Kung-Fu

Sunday, November 22, 2009

LUCIFER : Exorcism (1971)

Part Two.
From his success with The Zodiac, it seemed everyone wanted to work with Garson and this 'futuristic' new machine, the Moog. So he continued with his Moog-related concept albums. in 1968, he composed music for a takeoff on 'The Wizard of Oz', called "The Wozard Of Id". He followed that with "Electronic Hair Pieces", a synth version of songs from the musical "Hair". He also did the 12-album version of The Zodiac, with each album dedicated to a zodiac sign. In 1970, he did a soundtrack to the cult movie "Didn't You Hear?" with a young Gary Busey.

This track was from the album done under his new pseudonym, Lucifer. Unsurprisingly, the theme of this project was Satanism and black magic, due to the short popularity of 'evil'-inspired bands (e.g. Black Sabbath, Black Widow, Coven, etc).

The music on this track is very still electronic, now foregoing a proper band, and relying completely on the Moog. The piece starts off in 5/8 time with a wild synth solo throughout, but the beat breaks down at 1:20 for some otherworldly sounds from the instrument. At 2:38, the beat kicks back in for more synth noodling. Nothing complex really, but interesting sounds overall.

Song : "Exorcism" by Lucifer
From the album "BLACK MASS" (United Artists) 1971

Mort Garson : composer

Get it here : Exorcism

Saturday, November 14, 2009

THE ZODIAC : Aries - The Firefighter (1967)

Part One.
Mort Garson was a pioneering electronic musician who was primarily active in the '60s and '70s. He first garnered success writing for and accompanying pop stars and crooners of the early '60s, such as Doris Day, Mel Torme, and Glen Campbell. He was in-demand because he was capable of writing, arranging, conducting, and performing with equal ability. However, he came into his stride with the advent of the Moog synthesizer in the late '60s. He was one of the first musicians to use the Moog as the primary musical instrument on albums, along with Wendy/Walter Carlos, and Beaver & Crause. He was also the talent behind various cult electronic albums, all with different pseudonyms.

The Zodiac was Garson's breakthrough Moog project in 1967. The album had 12 tracks, each focusing on a different sign of the zodiac. Garson wrote all the music, Paul Beaver played the Moog, with narration by musician Cyrus Faryar. It is quirky novelty music, with a feel of the '60s to it. The interesting point is the dominance of the Moog as a composing instrument. This album was so succesful that Garson was soon contacted to do 12 FULL albums, each named after the various zodiac signs. These were released in 1969. By then, Garson had moved on to other projects.

Song : "ARIES - THE FIREFIGHTER" by The Zodiac
From the album "COSMIC SOUNDS" (Elektra) Nov. 1967

Mort Garson : composer
Jacque Wilson : lyricist
Paul Beaver : Moog synthesizer
Cyrus Faryar : narration
Emil Richards : exotic percussion
Hal Blaine : drums
Carol Kaye : bass

Saturday, November 07, 2009

JOE HICKS : Could It Be Love (1973)

Joe Hicks is a bluesy soul singer from San Francisco who was active from the mid-60s to the mid-70s. Most notably, he had two singles produced by Sly Stone around 1970. Stone's influence stayed with Joe Hicks, and he released just one LP afterwards for the Stax/Enterprise label. The album, encompassing soul, funk, and blues, was soon forgotten, and Hicks disappeared. This track is a sweet soul song with Hicks crooning away, and the band holding back the urge to play funky.

Song : "Could It Be Love" by Joe Hicks
From the LP "MIGHTY JOE HICKS" (Enterprise) 1973

Get it here : Could It Be Love

Saturday, October 31, 2009

EL MICHELS AFFAIR : Glaciers Of Ice (2009)

A project of sax-player Leon Michels, this group is a NYC funk combo playing mainly instrumental music. The group got the attention of hip-hop artist Raekwon, and how they are regularly used as the backing band for Raekwon and the Wu-Tang Clan.

This track, originally released in 2006, is a good example of how a live act can arrange a song that could be used as both an instrumental, as well as a hip-hop backing track. The theme of this album is songs inspired by the Wu-Tang Clan. In fact, some of the songs are actually instrumental covers of songs of the Wu-Tang's "Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)" from 1993, hence the album title.
Song : "Glaciers Of Ice"
From the LP "ENTER THE 37th CHAMBER" (Fat Beats) Apr. 21, 2009
Also released as a single B-side, 2006

Leon Michels : producer, sax, organ, piano
Toby Pazner : piano, organ
Nick Movshon : bass
Thomas Brenneck : guitar
Homer Steinweiss : drums
Aaron Johnson : trombone
Michael Leonhart : trumpet

Get it here : Glaciers Of Ice

Saturday, October 24, 2009

BANG : Come With Me (1971)

Bang was a hard-rock group hailing from Philadelphia. As a power-trio, they were groomed to have a Blue Cheer/Black Sabbath sound, but with a southern-rock flavour (acoustic passages, harmonized guitar lines). But of course, poor management prevented the group from gaining any serious recognition, and the group eventually split. They have since reunited, and are recording and touring locally from time to time. This track is from their first official album (their first recording was unreleased at the time), and has the typical '70s hard rock sound: loud guitars, a solid riff, and yelling vocals.
Song : "Come With Me" by Bang
From the LP "BANG" (Capitol) Dec. 1971

Frank Ferrara : vocals, bass
Frank Glicken : guitar
Tony D'Lorio : drums

Get it here : Come With Me

Saturday, October 17, 2009

BLUE CHEER : Summertime Blues (1968)

R.I.P. Dickie Peterson (Sep. 12, 1948 - Oct. 12, 2009)
From Dickie Peterson, the bassist/vocalist and founding member of BLUE CHEER, passed away this morning (Monday, October 12) at 5 a.m. in Germany. He was 61 years old. Peterson had reportedly been battling prostate and liver cancer, and according to BLUE CHEER's message board, had developed a fatal infection following a surgical procedure to help alleviate his fight.

BLUE CHEER was an American blues-rock band that initially performed and recorded in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and has been sporadically active since. Based in San Francisco, BLUE CHEER played in a psychedelic blues-rock style, and was also credited for pioneering heavy metal (their cover of "Summertime Blues" is sometimes cited as the first in the genre), punk rock, stoner rock, doom metal and grunge.

Throughout his life, Peterson's relationship to music has been all-consuming. He was quoted as saying, "I've been married twice, I've had numerous girlfriends, and they'll all tell you that if I'm not playing music I am an animal to live with. . . Music is a place where I get to deal with a lot of my emotion and displaced energy. I always only wanted to play music, and that's all I still want to do."Despite the fact that BLUE CHEER was considered a pioneer in many different genres, Peterson downplayed the band's influence, stating in an interview, "People keep trying to say that we're heavy metal or grunge or punk, or we're this or that. The reality is we're just a power trio and we play ultra-blues, and it's rock 'n' roll. It's really simple what we do."

From Allmusic:
Jerry Capehart and Eddie Cochran's angst-filled paen to taking time off gets one of its most robust renditions from the mega-watt ampage of Blue Cheer in what was their break-through hit. Their only hit. Phillips single #40516 went Top 15 in the spring of 1968 ten years after Eddie Cochran took his co-write Top 10. As rocking as the original might've been for the time, Blue Cheer's expansion of the sound was explosive, perhaps inspiring the world's greatest rock rhythm guitarist, Pete Townshend (a rhythm guitarist so good he got to play lead) to up the ante for The Who's Top 30 live gem a quick two years after Blue Cheer made this big noise. This song is actually the ultimate in garage rock gone metal. Pure anger and frustration, Leigh Stephens' guitar encapsulated inside Dickie Peterson's bass and Paul Whaley's drums. The three minutes and forty-seven seconds probably inspired The Amboy Dukes, The Litter and Grand Funk Railroad as well. This was the sledgehammer Blue Cheer used to tell the world it was here, the prototype of attitude fused fury.

The above says is it all. While San Francisco was celebrating peace & love, these guys seemed to have come out of nowhere to crank their amps and trounce all over the hippie movement. Wild solos, raw recording, and a lot of attitude went into their early material. They were definitely a precursor of rock music to come...

Song : "Summertime Blues" by Blue Cheer (originally recorded by Eddie Cochran, 1958)

From the LP "VINCEBUS ERUPTUM" (Philips) Jan. 1968


Dickie Peterson : bass, vocals
Paul Whaley : drums
Leigh Stephens : guitar

Get it here : Summertime Blues

Monday, October 12, 2009

FAMILY OF PERCUSSION & ARCHIE SHEPP : Here Comes The Family (1980)

Family Of Percussion was originally formed by drummer Peter Giger (who had played with German groups Dzyan, Drum Circus). After a string of percussion albums, he teamed up with legendary sax player Archie Shepp for this one-off album. This is the title track, quite funky and rare for the group in that it had vocals. By listening to the rhythm section, one can hear the array of percussive instruments they had at their disposal.
: Peter Giger :

Song : "Here Comes The Family" by Family Of Percussion & Archie Shepp (recorded Oct. 13/14, 1980)
From the LP "HERE COMES THE FAMILY" (Nagara) 1980

Archie Shepp : vocals, flute
Peter Giger : vocals, percussion
Trilok Gurtu : percussion
Doug Hammond : vocals, percussion
Tom Nicholas : percussion

Get it here : Here Comes The Family

Saturday, October 03, 2009

LIVING COLOUR : Method (2009)

Living Colour are back! This groundbreaking black rock group from the late-80s/early-90s reunite every few years to take another stab at an album, and then go on to solo projects. A new album was released a couple of weeks ago, and now they're on tour supporting it. This track showcases the dense production of the album, which fits well with the dark melody and lyrics of this song. The usual qualities of the group are here: Corey Glover's strong vocals, Vernon Reid's consistently experimental guitar, and the strong rhythm section. It's always refreshing listening to a rock band where all the musicians are highly talented.
Song : "Method" by Living Colour
From the LP "THE CHAIR IN THE DOORWAY" (Megaforce) Sep. 15, 2009

Corey Glover : vocals
Vernon Reid : guitar
Doug Wimbush : bass and ambience
Will Calhoun : drums and percussion
Get it here : Method

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

THE TRIP : Caronte I (1971)

The Trip were an early Italian progressive rock group, orginally formed by ex-pat Brits who moved to Italy. An original member was none other than Ritchie Blackmore!! He soon moved back to England to join Deep Purple. By the time of this track, half the group was Italian and under the leadership of keyboardist Joe Vescovi.
This track opens their classic second album, with overdriven keyboards and heavy classical overtones. The guitar/organ intro keeps a somewhat ominous feel. By 2:04, the band picks up a more 'classical rock' sound, sounding quite similar to The Nice (Keith Emerson is obviously Vescovi's biggest influence). The difference is the ripping guitar of William Gray, which lets loose at 3:22. At 4:39, the main theme returns with a surprising breakbeat kicking it off. The drum/keyboard interplay at 5:29 is quite impressive. At 5:45, there is a recap of part of the intro figure. The song ends with Vescovi's distorted keyboard effects.

Song : "Caronte I" by The Trip
From the LP " CARONTE" RCA Italia (1971)

William Gray : guitars
Arvid "Wegg" Andersen : bass
Pino Sinnone : percussion
Joe Vescovi : hammond organ, piano, church organ, mellotron

Get it here : Caronte I

Saturday, September 19, 2009

FLASH AND THE PAN : Captain Beware (1980)

Flash And The Pan were a late-70s/early-80s new wave project by producers/songwriters Harry Vanda and George Young. Vanda & Young were originally members of The Easybeats (see Jan. 21, 2008 entry), but soon moved on to production and songwriting. George Young is AC/DC's Angus & Malcolm's older brother. This group was their New Wave project, essentially a studio creation that brought in musicians to perform their music. This track is representative of the style of the project: synth-heavy beats, driving bass line, and vocals that speak throughout the verse, yet have a strong chorus.

Song : "Captain Beware" by Flash And The Pan
LP "LIGHTS IN THE NIGHT" (Albert) May 1980

George Young : synthesizers, lead vocals
Harry Vanda : guitar, vocals
Johnny Dick : drums
Les Karski : bass
Warren Morgan : piano

Get it here : Captain Beware

Saturday, September 12, 2009

THE HORACE SILVER QUINTET : Song For My Father (1964)

Not much to say about this one. An instant jazz standard, this song has been covered numerous times. It was inspired by Horace Silver's trip to Brazil, see below.

"Song for My Father," Horace Silver's most commercially successful song, was inspired by the Portuguese music that his father so loved. Rosenthal quotes Silver’s description of how he came to write it: "My dad through the years had always said to me, ‘Why don’t you take some of this Portuguese folk music and put it into jazz?’ I never could see it. To me it always seemed corny – because I was born here into American music, whether it be jazz or whatever. But there is a feeling there: there’s something there that’s valid. I didn’t really get in tune with that feeling until I was invited by Sergio Mendes to his house in Rio de Janeiro. I went to see Carnival and went around to different places he was playing and sat in, and I was fascinated by the musical capabilities of some of the young musicians down there. They were all into this bossa nova thing, which as you know was greatly inspired by our American jazz. I got turned onto that beat. So I got back to New York and I said, ‘I’ll try to write a tune using that rhythm.’ I started fooling around and I came up with the melody and I realized the melody I came up with was akin to Cape Verdean – like something my dad would play. That was ‘Song for My Father.’"

"Song for My Father" was introduced as the title track on Silver’s 1964 Blue Note Records album and the album cover featured a picture of Silver’s father. The album was a best seller for Blue Note and ranks as one of the greatest mainstream hard bop recordings. Its title song had a notable influence on pop music, with the jazz-rock group Steely Dan borrowing the opening piano notes for their greatest pop hit, "Rikki Don't Lose That Number", and Stevie Wonder borrowing the opening horn riff for his song "Don't You Worry ‘Bout a Thing".

Song : "Song For My Father" by The Horace Silver Quintet
LP "SONG FOR MY FATHER" (Blue Note) 1964

Horace Silver : piano
Carmell Jones : trumpet
Joe Henderson : tenor saxophone
Teddy Smith : bass
Roger Humphries : drums

Get it here : Song For My Father

Saturday, September 05, 2009

KINGDOM COME : Spirit Of Joy (1973)

Back from summer vacation! And Arthur Brown is back too! So after "The Crazy World..." fell apart, Brown tried jamming with various people (including Jimi Hendrix!). He ultimately settled on forming a progressive rock group, Kingdom Come. It continued the wackiness of his first album, but with a higher level of musicianship, and more contributions from other band members. Yet things changed quickly; after a couple of band members left, Brown decided not to use a drummer at all and replace him with a Bentley drum machine. This song is from the band's third and final album, and shows one of the earliest uses of a drum machine on a record. It's a catchier tune, but it still shows Brown's solid vocal range. Brown would basically go solo after this record.

Song : "Spirit Of Joy" by Kingdom Come
LP "JOURNEY" (Polydor) Apr. 1973

Arthur Brown : vocals, Bentley drum machine
Andy Dalby : electric guitar, vocals
Phil Shutt : bass, vocals
Victor Peraino : mellotron, piano, synthesizer

Get it here : Spirit Of Joy

Saturday, July 11, 2009

THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN : Prelude - Nightmare (1968)

Arthur Brown has always been a musical enigma. At a time of peace & love, he was screaming "I am the God of Hellfire!", he was lighting his head on fire, he carried an operatic voice in a psychedelic band, and was a poster-boy for eclecticism in music. This is the opening track to his first (and most successful album), which led into his biggest hit, "Fire". His use of theatrics and costume predated Alice Cooper, David Bowie, and glam rock. His screaming vocals inspired many rock singers of the '70s, particularly Ian Gillan (of Deep Purple). Unfortunately, Crane's career never hit these heights again.
Note: soon after this album, Brown recruited drummer Carl Palmer (of ELP fame). Palmer would stay for about a year before leaving with keyboardist Vincent Crane to form Atomic Rooster.

Song : "Prelude - Nightmare" by The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown

Arthur Brown : vocals
Vincent Crane : organ
Drachen Theaker : drums

Get it here : Prelude - Nightmare

Saturday, July 04, 2009

THE BUDOS BAND : Ephra (2009)

The Budos Band are a retro-sounding Afrobeat/funk group from Staten Island, NY. Part of the funky NY label, Daptone Records, the members sub in for other groups on the label. This song is off their newest EP, a collection of rare and unreleased tracks by the group. "Ephra" is a guitar/bass driven song, a sweet repetitive riff that when combined with the percussion section, becomes a solid smashing groove. The horns come in to top it all off, and a great trumpet solo.

Song : "Ephra" by The Budos Band
From the EP "The Budos Band EP" (Daptone) Jun. 16, 2009

LINEUP (most likely) :
Vincent Balestrino : Shekere
Thomas Brenneck : Electric Guitar
John Carbonella Jr. : Congas, Drums
Mike Deller : Organ
Daniel Foder : Bass Guitar
Cochemea Gastellum : Tenor Sax, Flute
Andrew Greene : Trumpet
Dave Guy : Trumpet
Rob Lombardo : Bongo, Congas
Brian Profilio : Drums
Dame Rodriguez : Cowbell, Clave, Tambourine
Jared Tankel : Baritone Saxophone

Get it here : Ephra

Saturday, June 27, 2009

JACKSON 5IVE : You Made Me What I Am (1973)

R.I.P. Michael Jackson (Aug. 29, 1958 - Jun. 25, 2009)

From michaeljacksonobit:
Michael Joseph Jackson was an American recording artist, entertainer, and businessman. The seventh child of the Jackson family, he debuted on the professional music scene at the age of 11 as a member of The Jackson 5 and began a solo career in 1971 while still a member of the group. Referred to as the “King of Pop” in subsequent years, five of his solo studio albums are among the world’s best-selling records: Off the Wall (1979), Thriller (1982), Bad (1987), Dangerous (1991) and HIStory (1995).

In the early 1980s, he became a dominant figure in popular music and the first African-American entertainer to amass a strong crossover following on MTV. The popularity of his music videos airing on MTV, such as “Beat It”, “Billie Jean” and Thriller—credited for transforming the music video into an art form and a promotional tool—helped bring the relatively new channel to fame. Videos such as “Black or White” and “Scream” made Jackson an enduring staple on MTV in the 1990s. With stage performances and music videos, Jackson popularized a number of physically complicated dance techniques, such as the robot and the moonwalk. His distinctive musical sound and vocal style influenced many hip hop, pop and contemporary R&B artists.

One of the few artists to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, his other achievements include multiple Guinness World Records—including one for “Most Successful Entertainer of All Time”—13 Grammy Awards, 13 number one singles in his solo career—more than any other male artist in the Hot 100 era—and the sales of over 750 million albums worldwide. Cited as one of the world’s most famous men, Jackson’s highly publicized personal life, coupled with his successful career, made him a part of popular culture for almost four decades.

On June 25, 2009, he collapsed at his home in Los Angeles. After being taken to the hospital in a coma, Jackson was pronounced dead.

There's not much needed to be said about Jackson's importance in popular music in the last 40 years. He encapsulated the pinnacle of 'entertainer', and was ultimately a victim of the media that catapaulted his career. His songs are SO well-known, that it would be somewhat redundant to post a majority of them. Instead, here is a relatively unknown Jackson Five song, from a relatively unsuccessful album, from a relatively unhappy period of the band. The Jacksons were demanding to be able to write some of their own songs, a request to which Motown chief Barry Gordy flat-out refused. The album, "Skywriter", was the first to start showing the cracks in the group's energy, plainly evident by their unhappiness on the cover! The album did moderately well, but was a step back from previous heights.

This track is a b-side from the album, written by The Corporation, and is a forgotten funky soul gem. The brothers are singing as well as ever, and the rhythm is infectious. I would LIKE to think that Tito and Jermaine were playing the guitar and bass, respectively, but who knows when it comes to Motown?

Song : "You Made Me What I Am" by Jackson 5ive
From the LP "SKYWRITER" (Motown) Mar. 1973

Get it here : You Made Me What I Am

Saturday, June 20, 2009

EMBRYO : Side Track (1974/5)

R.I.P. Charlie Mariano (Nov. 12, 1923 - Jun. 16, 2009)


Born Carmine Ugo Mariano on November 12, 1923 in Boston MA died June 16, 2009 in Cologne Germany at the Mildred Scheel Hospiz. Charlie’s music career spans from 1940 when at the age of 17 his sister Colina gave him his first saxophone to 2009 when at the age of 85 he was still performing and recording music. Charlie served three years in the Army Air Corps during World War II where he met his first wife Glenna Gregory.

Following his service in the military he became a student at Schillinger House (now Berklee College of Music) graduating in 1951. He became a well known alto saxophonist during his time with the Stan Kenton Orchestra and Shelly Manne through his West Coast era. In 1958 with wife and four daughters in tow Charlie returned to Boston to teach at Berklee where he immersed himself in the Boston jazz scene. Along with Herb Pomeroy and Ray Santisi he founded the Jazz Workshop which became a popular jazz club featuring many jazz greats. During this period he met and married Toshiko Akiyoshi and formed the Toshiko Mariano Quartet. Afterwards he also performed with Charles Mingus and appeared on the Black Saint and The Sinner Lady and Mingus Mingus Mingus albums. At this time his fifth daughter was born.

From 1965 to 1971 he raised two of his daughters as a single father while teaching at Berklee. During that time he moved to Newburyport and formed a rock fusion band called Osmosis with local pianist Charlie Bechler. Prior to moving to Europe his sixth daughter was born with his partner Charlotte Bulathsinghala. While in Europe he played and recorded in many diverse musical genres including jazz rock fusion, South Indian music and contemporary European jazz. Charlie is considered one of the pioneers of world music.

Mariano was a true musical sponge, he played with SO MANY European jazz artists, it didn't seem like he ever took a break. Notable artists he played with (especially in the '70s): Sadao Watanabe, Osmosis, Supersister, Embryo, Philip Catherine, Eberhard Weber, Rolf Kuhn, Jasper van't Hof, and of course The United Jazz + Rock Ensemble.
This obscure track is by German jazz-rock/world music band Embryo. This is from the period when they were quite funky, as you can tell by the sloppy drum groove. Mariano is one of the featured sax soloists, and you can hear him blowing after some of the verses. This was one of the many songs that fell through the cracks due to labelling. Too funky for jazzheads, too jazzy for rockers, too straightforward for progressive rock fans, and too 'western' for Europeans. But it fares better without the pigeonholing. It does have a progressive side to it, starting at 3:41, with the continued funky beat. A very underrated album, and a fantastic cover!

Song : "Side Track" by Embryo (recorded 1974)
From the LP "SURFIN'" (BASF) Jan. 1975

Christian Burchard : drums, mellotron
Roman Bunka : guitar, vocals, bass, percussion
Charlie Mariano : soprano sax
Edgar Hofmann : soprano sax, violins)

Get it here : Side Track

Saturday, June 13, 2009

SOFT MACHINE : 1983 (1973)

R.I.P. Hugh Hopper (Apr. 29, 1945 - Jun. 7, 2009)
From Jazzwise:
Bass guitarist Hugh Hopper has died at the age of 64, it was announced yesterday. The Kent-born musician is best known as the bass player in Soft Machine which he joined in 1968. He remained with them until 1972 but later became an important part of Soft Machine Legacy which has toured the world in recent years.

Before Soft Machine Hopper worked with Daevid Allen and Robert Wyatt in the Daevid Allen Trio before forming the Wilde Flowers joined by his brother Brian, Wyatt, Kevin Ayers and Richard Sinclair. But it was with Wyatt, Allen, Ayers and also Mike Ratledge that he was to make his mark on the history of progressive rock and forward-looking jazz-influenced psychedelic groups of the period and since with his innovative fuzz-bass sound.

After Soft Machine, Hopper worked with a range of groups including the influential Gilgamesh and Isotope and began an association with free jazz saxophonist Elton Dean who joined Soft Machine in 1969. Later important collaborations also included work with the late Pip Pyle, Phil Miller’s In Cahoots and since 2002 with Soft Works which later became Soft Machine Legacy. Hopper had been suffering from leukaemia in recent years.

NOTE: Hopper has also worked with Syd Barrett, and toured with Jimi Hendrix.
This strange track was his last recording with the progressive rock/jazz/psych group Soft Machine. All the fuzzy bass and sound effects were his. It's interesting that although the piano sounds almost completely random, it is actually completely written out (as you can tell by the band being completely in synch with the accents). This 'song' sounds like the soundtrack to an unreleased future horror movie, and was his jumping-off point to his first solo album, "1984". He later joined jazz-rock groups Isotope, Gilgamesh, and Soft Heap.

Song : "1983" by Soft Machine (written by Hugh Hopper)
From the LP "SIX" (CBS/Columbia) 1973

Hugh Hopper : bass
Mike Ratledge : organ, electric piano, grand piano
John Marshall : drums, percussion
Karl Jenkins : electric piano, grand piano

Get it here : 1983