Mark Inouye is the best kept secret in jazz in the San Francisco Bay Area. Heck, maybe the world.
“I only play jazz once a year, and tonight is it!” he said to me. “Tonight” was a concert to raise funds for the Topaz Museum in Delta, Utah. Topaz is the site where Inouye’s father, Takara, was incarcerated during World War II. Long story short is that his efforts to learn more about his father’s journey led him to play before a packed house at the Conservatory of Music in San Francisco on July 10.
The Conservatory of Music…hmm. Doesn’t sound like a jazz club, and that’s because it’s not. It’s where you would hear symphonic music. “Classical music” you might say. But not jazz. Inouye is one of the few musicians who can do both, and both are spectacular. He occupies the first trumpet chair for the San Francisco Symphony and he has been cited as among the world’s best at his craft. Continue reading
As a fan of 1950s American television, I was intrigued by this record, from a show I had never heard of, M Squad (RCA LPM 2062, mono). The cover told me all I needed to know about it, however. A hard boiled Lee Marvin, with pistol in hand, blasting away at some unseen criminal. Marvin, a terrific actor, could play a role like this easily, so I bought the LP and hoped for the best. The music, like Marvin, was excellent.
It reminded me of a more famous TV show from the same time period, Peter Gunn. Dark, smoky jazz, set in a simpler time. There were criminals, sure, but most of them were small time hoods, looking for a quick buck. Continue reading
When I heard from my sister that Paul McCartney was coming to Fresno, California, I thought it must be a mistake. Why would the former Beatle come to a medium sized town, known mostly for agriculture, in the middle of California? It’s not Los Angeles, it’s not San Francisco. It’s not Silicon Valley.
Fortunately, a friend who is a concert promoter got us three tickets, at the face value price of $250. It’s a lot of money, but it would be the first, and very likely last time I would get to see a musician from the world’s most famous rock band play live. We had great seats, about 12 rows back, then 10 rows up the left side.
Might be the best rock concert I’ve ever seen. Mostly because he played so many iconic songs that I never thought I’d hear live by a Beatle. Never thought I’d see any Beatle, ever. 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
Like many of you, I’d heard about masters and mothers, even biscuits. But this video, produced by RCA in 1942, goes into great detail about the entire process, even the shipping of the records after they’ve pressed. I didn’t realize how involved the pressing of LPs really was. And you have to wonder how noxious the chemicals were to the workers, who clearly don’t know or care.
More wonderous is that the process works at all. Who could have come up with such a convoluted process to transfer a signal from a mic, to the final vinyl product? Must have taken much experimentation and error over the years.
OK, it’s a 19 minute vid, but if you’ve got the time, you won’t regret watching this, in standard def. Don’t be put off by the guy in the clown suit… 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
You can buy records online, or at a local store, or you could try the KCSM Record Swap! KCSM is the College of San Mateo’s 24-7, commercial free jazz FM radio station (91.1) and they might be the last all jazz all the time station in the USA. Saturday they held a record swap on the campus where they broadcast from, which is about 30 minutes south of San Francisco.
This was not a gigantic flea market sized extravaganza. I estimated 19 vendors, each with a table or two, selling mostly jazz vinyl. There were a few selling CDs, another selling old posters. But the emphasis was on j-LPs. Continue reading