You may remember him as the leader of the All-Star Frogs (1970-1983) and the Power Trio (1983-present), doing humorous and raunchy blues originals such as “Tie You Up!” and “More Love, More Money”. You may remember the Tumatoe tours of local clubs and endless spins of his songs on college radio in the ’70s and ’80s. You may not know that he played in a FIJI house band (Lothar and the Hand People) at the University of Illinois, the band name created by Bill Geist, CBS Sunday Morning News Correspondent; recorded for Warner Bros. (I Like My Job, produced by John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival fame); and was a member of REO Speedwagon — he left in 1969, evidently taking all rocking bluesy rootsy-ness with him — and he grew up on the South Side of Chicago, a blues-loving youth who hung with the legends.
Digitally remastered two CD set containing a pair of albums from iconic New Orleans singer/songwriter Mac Rebennack AKA Dr. John. By the end of the '90s, Dr John was again embracing the mysterious bubbling gumbo of his Gris-Gris era, which was music to the ears of a generation of younger British musicians such as Paul Weller, Gaz Coombes of Supergrass and Jason Pierce of Spiritualized. While Pierce is credited with producing two tracks here, the lion's share of ANUTHA ZONE was helmed by UK producer legend John Leckie. Although much of the album was recorded in New York in 1998, six tracks were recorded at Abbey Road, with guest appearances from the UK stars above. The following year saw Dr John pay his respects to the music of Duke Ellington - like he says: 'Doesn't sound like these tunes were written by a hundred year-old cat, but they were. You want to know the ticket to immortality, write a bunch of tunes that people keep on singin' and playin'. The package includes 24 page booklet is fully annotated by Paul Myers.
At age 83, pianist/vocalist Jay McShann was still at the top of his game and providing many lessons for the younger "swing" cats and kittens. He is the epitome of what can be done when jazz and blues are mixed equally, especially when the fun factor is liberally added in. While some might find this typical, many others should revel in the sound of one of this music's last living legends who is still doing it, and doing it very well at that. The chemistry between McShann and guitarist/session leader Duke Robillard is considerable and undeniable, and makes Still Jumpin' the Blues enjoyable throughout. With such solid support from Robillard and the band, McShann has nothing to worry about. Everything you might want is here: classic versions of "Goin' to Chicago," "Ain't Nobody's Business," and "Trouble In Mind"; a nice rearrangement with tempo shift from mellow to mid-tempo on "Sunny Side of the Street"; Maria Muldaur's sultry singing on "Come on Over to My House," and especially the Bessie Smith evergreen "Backwater Blues"; wonderful instrumentals like "Moten Swing" and "Say Forward, I'll March"; and even a little Hawaiian slide accenting "Hootie's K.C. Christmas Prayer".
This is a not very challenging, but thoroughly charming, summit meeting between a blues guitar master and a jazz guitar legend. Taking four classic swing tunes ("Just Squeeze Me," "Avalon," "Stuffy," and, inevitably, "Flyin' Home"), two Robillard originals, and a jointly composed slow blues, and helped out by bassist Marty Ballou and drummer Marty Richards, Duke Robillard and Herb Ellis deliver a 48-minute swing guitar master class, Conversations in Swing Guitar. Ellis comes from jazz and Robillard from the blues, so their approaches are just distinct enough to keep things interesting; although both play with a clean, fat jazz tone and no one ever really hauls off and shreds, Robillard tends towards bent notes and funky chordal things while Ellis thinks a bit more in terms of long lines and florid ornamentation. Every so often you might find yourself wishing that the edges were just a bit rougher, but both of these guys are clearly having a great old time, and you will too.
A brilliant player on both acoustic and electric basses, Stanley Clarke has spent much of his career outside of jazz, although he has the ability to play jazz with the very best. He played accordion as a youth, switching to violin and cello before settling on bass. He worked with R&B and rock bands in high school, but after moving to New York, he worked with Pharoah Sanders in the early '70s. George Duke showed a great deal of promise early in his career as a jazz pianist and keyboardist, but has forsaken that form to be a pop producer.
This oddly titled CD (which was issued in 1997, hardly the 20th anniversary of Duke Ellington's death in 1974), seems to be a recording that was made by a member of the sound crew for a 1963 concert in Switzerland, including roughly the first half of the show. Although the instruments are all audible, the rhythm section is picked up far better than the reeds or brass on several selections, which also have been resequenced instead of leaving them in the order in which they were performed. On these tracks, the microphones sound as if they are at the back of the stage, making the full band sound rather muffled. Yet clarinetist Jimmy Hamilton is very audible in "Silk Lace," while members of the brass section play various percussion instruments to back violinist Ray Nance in the exotic "Guitar Amour."
This album has an excellent performance by the Duke Ellington Orchestra at a time when its commercial fortunes were near the bottom. The struggles however are not reflected in the music, which is full of enthusiasm and creative invention with trumpeter Clark Terry, tenorman Paul Gonsalves and trombonist Britt Woodman (on "Theme for Trambean") standing out among the many stars during a well-paced program.
Duke Ellington is featured in a complete performance at Basin Street East in New York City on this CD, as it was originally broadcast on WNEW, complete with his verbal exchanges with host William B. Williams. Unlike many of his concerts, there is no long medley of hits; instead, Ellington offers an interesting mix of old and new songs. The newer material includes his "gutbucket bolero," known as "Afro Bossa" (also titled "Bula"), featuring the gruff, muted trumpet of Cootie Williams, and the high-note theatrics of Cat Anderson. "Silk Lace" is a brisk rhumba featuring clarinetist Jimmy Hamilton, while the band (except for the rhythm section) sits out Ellington's masterful ballad "A Single Petal of a Rose."
During the 1960s and early '70s, Duke Ellington toured his orchestra all over the world, widening and broadening the scope of his travels to include as many nations as humanly possible. BGO's 1999 release, The English Concert contains music that was actually recorded at three different concerts. The first occurred at the Odeon Theatre in Bristol England on October 22, 1971; the other two performances, presumably a matinee and evening show, both took place at the Birmingham Theatre in Birmingham on October 24, 1971.