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.
Vocalist/cornet player Al Basile's longtime friend Duke Robillard gets front cover billing, as well he should, as co-producer and guitarist on this impressive outing. The album, Basile's fifth, was even recorded at the guitarist's Pawtucket, RI studio called the Mood Room, hence the album's title. Musically, it's a combination of old-school R&B ("Baby Sister," "Be a Woman"), swamp-tinged rock & roll ("I'm in a Mood"), mid-tempo, Chuck Berry styled groovers ("Coffee and Cadillacs"), grinding blues ("Picked to Click") and even a jump blues throwback to the duo's Roomful of Blues days ("She's on the Mainline"). Robillard keeps the sound full yet stripped down – most of the tracks feature a standard three-piece – bass/drums/guitar setup – which leaves space for Basile's sly vocals and snappy lyrics. Basile, a teacher and fiction author who also has a Master's degree in creative writing, not surprisingly crafts lyrics that are far more imaginative and original than most blues artists'. But they never detract from these melodies that glide along sparked by Robillard's tasty licks.
The widely heralded recordings made of Duke Ellington & His Orchestra during a 1940 concert in Fargo, ND, have been justifiably praised for their historic value as well as for the surprisingly good sound obtained by a pair of young amateur engineers with a portable disc cutter. Both the soloists and Ellington's unique-sounding blend of reeds and brass are very distinct. Some of these tracks previously appeared on the Jazz Society label, followed by a Book-of-the Month Club set, and all of them appeared on the now-defunct Vintage Jazz Classics, but this latest version tops them all for sound quality.
This most unusual Duke Ellington record includes two selections featuring nine symphonic percussionists on timpani, vibes, marimbas, and xylophones. Dizzy Gillespie makes a historic appearance with Ellington's orchestra on "U.M.M.G."…
Though Duke Ellington called his first concert of sacred music "the most important thing I've ever done," it might have been more accurately called the most controversial thing he had ever done – even more so than the so-called "Controversial Suite." The year was 1965; institutions of all kinds, including organized religion, were under fire; even Time magazine dared to run a cover with the legend "Is God Dead?" In response to progressive members of the clergy, jazz musicians like Ellington, Lalo Schifrin, Vince Guaraldi, and a bit later, Dave Brubeck took up the challenge of fusing Christian texts with jazz – and no project had a higher profile, nor drew more fire, than Ellington's.
Duke Robillard has always had one foot in the blues world and one in the swing/jazz universe. He loves both styles of music and enjoys not only playing them separately but combining them together. The founder of Roomful of Blues back in 1967, Robillard has led dozens of projects throughout his career, including collaborations with guitarist Herb Ellis, Jimmy Witherspoon, and Jay McShann. On A Swingin Session, he plays with some of his favorite musicians, many of whom originated (like he did) in Rhode Island. While six horn players participate, there are no more than four on any one selection, and some numbers do not have any. The contrasting tenor solos are fun to hear, with Scott Hamilton sounding smooth and mellow on his numbers while Sax Gordon is greasier and much closer to Illinois Jacquet. Present throughout are Bruce Katz (mostly on organ), one of three bassists (usually Marty Ballou), and drummer Mark Teixeira. Robillard takes vocals on half of the selections in his personable way, but it is his guitar solos, which hint at both Charlie Christian and T-Bone Walker, that often take honors.
Duke Ellington was the most important composer in the history of jazz as well as being a bandleader who held his large group together continuously for almost 50 years. The two aspects of his career were related; Ellington used his band as a musical laboratory for his new compositions and shaped his writing specifically to showcase the talents of his bandmembers, many of whom remained with him for long periods. Ellington also wrote film scores and stage musicals, and several of his instrumental works were adapted into songs that became standards. In addition to touring year in and year out, he recorded extensively, resulting in a gigantic body of work that was still being assessed a quarter century after his death.