My favorite jazz guitar record might be this relatively obscure LP, Guitar/Guitar (Columbia CS 9130, stereo) by Charlie Byrd and Herb Ellis. It isn’t flashy or fast. No fretboard fireworks. Just two pros, playing together and making great music. I can listen to this quite a bit and not tire of it.
Byrd is not my favorite guitarist. He and Ellis also played together with Barney Kessel on a few LPs on the Concord label in the 1970s. Continue reading
Awhile back I was at the radio station KCSM vinyl record swap and came across an oddity. A Hank Mobley LP, Thinking Of Home (Blue Note LT 1045, stereo, 1970) in a hand made cover. Well, hand made is putting it nicely. The original cover must have been lost and someone took a Milt Jackson cover, turned it inside-out and hand wrote the LP title and song list on the ‘new’ outside cover. I had not heard of this LP, but what intrigued me was a note on the cover, “Perfect Blue Note with ears.” Continue reading
One of the great things about picking up a vinyl record is discovering that a band I thought I knew had more songs worth listening to than I was aware of. Let’s Live For Today (Dunhill DS50020, stereo), has more going for it than just the hit title tune. The Grassroots were a mid to late 60s band that had three or four hits on the AM radio airwaves that I liked back then.
No, these tunes are not ahead of their time. The ‘roots sound is firmly planted in the dirt of 1960s AM pop, and I like it that way. You probably had to be listening to this music at the time to really enjoy it. I doubt anyone under the age of 50 would find it interesting now. But if you’re of the age, there’s more to the Grassroots than their hits. Of the ten tunes (five per side), I found eight to be worthwhile. Continue reading
Ah, the songs of our youth. Well, if you grew up in the sixties, or have come to appreciate the rock and roll comin’ outta Los Angeles back then. The Wrecking Crew movie will dispel any romantic notions you may have of those bands, because the bands themselves often didn’t play their own instruments on their records. Instead, a tight group of unknown Los Angeles studio musicians did. Continue reading
This is the Compared! I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. Dexter Gordon’s GO! (Blue Note, BST 84112, stereo, 1962) is one of the greatest jazz records ever made. Every tune is terrific. I’d take it with me if I were marooned on a desert island. We’re gonna compare five (5!) versions of GO! Four LPs and one CD. You’ll hear excerpts from two tunes, Cheese Cake and Second Balcony Jump. So just who are the combatants today?
First up to bat is a Liberty Blue Note. Not much competition here. Continue reading
I know of Doc Severinsen from his days as the leader of Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show band, and always wondered what he really sounded like. Doc’s Command Performances (Command Records RS 904 SD, stereo, 1966) are like his clothing… flashy! If you watched the Tonight Show, Carson would often comment on Doc’s choice of a flamboyant coat or shirt. The man plays the way he dresses.
Command Performances is essentially a greatest hits LP. The tunes are taken from various Command Records LPs made by Severinsen.
Most of the music biographies I read are about musicians who have passed onto the great beyond, but that’s not the case in Wounds To Bind: A Memoir of the Folk-Rock Revolution by Jerry Burgan (with Alan Rifkin). While some of the members of the band have died, Jerry is very much alive, as is the band’s lead singer, the elusive Bev Bivens.
What band, you ask? In 1965, We Five was near the top of the charts, with a great tune, You Were On My Mind (Trident T-108 and A&M SP 4111*, stereo & SP 111, mono). I’d rate it among the best songs of the 60s. The band had a few other minor hits, but nothing else like this. Continue reading