Monday, June 29, 2015

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Carmen McRae

Artist:Carmen McRae
Song:Listen To Monk
Album:Carmen Sings Monk

Carmen McRae was one of the all time great jazz singers. Her career began in the 40s and she remained active until her 1991 retirement and 1994 death. Carmen Sings Monk is from late in her career that you might overlook but you shouldn't. She was born Apr. 8, 1920 in Harlem, New York. She began piano lessons at age eight and she met Billie Holiday at age 17. Teddy Wilson had Billie record one of Carmen's songs. Carmen has always acknowledged Billie as her biggest influence. While working as a secretary, Carmen played piano at the New York jazz club Minton's Playhouse. Dizzy Gillespie saw her and he got her a job in Benny Carter's big band. She also worked with Count Basie and Mercer Ellington. Then Milt Gabler signed her to Decca Records in 1948. She recorded for Decca in the 50s including two albums with Sammy Davis Jr. She moved to Columbia in the early 60s and worked a lot with Dave Brubeck including Brubeck's The Real Ambassadors project which also featured Louis Armstrong. She recorded for Atlantic from the mid-60s to the mid-70s. She also recorded for Blue Note. At Concord, Carmen recorded with George Shearing and Cal Tjader and a tribute to Nat King Cole. Carmen Sings Monk was released in 1988 on RCA's Novus label. It's a tribute to Thelonious Monk. Jon Hendricks was brought in to write lyrics to some of Monk's best known songs. Listen To Monk is based on Rhythm-A-Ning. Musicians on the album include Charlie Rouse on tenor sax who played with Monk, Clifford Jordan on sax, Larry Willis and Eric Gunnison on piano, George Mraz on bass and Al Foster on drums. RCA released Carmen Sings Monk as a budget CD in 2001 with bonus alternate takes. You don't want to overlook this album just because it was late in Carmen's career. After recording one more album in 1990, Carmen McRae retired from music. A long time smoker, Carmen suffered respiratory failure and retired in 1991. She died on Nov. 10, 1994 at age 74. Here's Carmen McRae with Clifford Jordan, Eric Gunnison, Scott Colley and Al Foster performing Listen To Monk at the 1988 Montreal Jazz Festival. This was released on DVD but is out of print.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-John McLaughlin

Artist:John McLaughlin f/Carlos Santana
Song:A Love Supreme
Album:The Best Of John McLaughlin

Guitarist John McLaughlin was a significant figure in jazz fusion of the early 70s. He is probably best known for his band The Mahavishnu Orchestra. A Love Supreme is from a 1973 album McLaughlin recorded with Carlos Santana when Santana was a big rock star. McLaughlin was born Jan. 4, 1942 in Doncaster, Yorkshire, England. His mother was a concert violinist so he studied violin and piano as a child until he took up the guitar at age 11. He moved to London in the 60s and played with guys like Alexis Korner, Georgie Fame and Brian Auger. Then he moved to New York City as a member of The Tony Williams Lifetime. Williams was in Miles Davis' band and McLaughlin appeared on Davis' pioneering jazz fusion album Bitches Brew. Of course he went solo and this led to the formation of The Mahavishnu Orchestra. At the time, McLaughlin was a disciple of guru Sri Chinmoy and called himself Mahavishnu John McLaughlin. McLaughlin introduced Carlos Santana to Chinmoy and Santana was called Devadip. Of course Santana was a big rock star but he wanted to record jazz. Columbia Records head Clive Davis warned Santana that recording jazz would hurt his career. He had already gone in a jazz fusion direction with the 1972 album Caravanserai. Of course Santana didn't listen to Davis. McLaughlin and Santana recorded the 1973 album Love Devotion Surrender as a tribute to Chinmoy and John Coltrane. A Love Supreme kicks off the album. The musicians are a mix of guys from Santana and The Mahavishnu Orchestra led by pianist Larry Young who played with McLaughlin in The Tony Williams Lifetime. Also Jan Hammer on organ, Doug Rauch on bass, Billy Cobham, Don Alias and Mike Shrieve on drums and Mingo Lewis and Armanda Peraza on percussion. The album sold well but it was heavily criticized by reviewers and especially Santana fans who thought he shouldn't play jazz. Try out this budget comp which has a couple of tracks from the album. Of course both guys have done plenty of things individually that are impossible to cover in one post. I've written about both of them in the past and I will probably do so again. McLaughlin and Santana reunited at the 2011 Montreux Jazz Festival and that concert is available on DVD. Here's John McLaughlin with Carlos Santana, David K.Mathews on  keyboards, Etienne Mbappe on bass, Cindy Blackman (Santana's wife) and Dennis Chambers on drums and Raul Rekow on congas performing A Love Supreme at the 2011 Montreux Jazz Festival. This is from the DVD Live At Montreux 2011: Invitation To Illumination.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Robben Ford and the Blue Line

Artist:Robben Ford and the Blue Line
Song:Top Of The Hill
Album:Handful of Blues

Guitarist Robben Ford has been around since the 70s. He's a very versatile guy but he's mainly known as a blues guitarist. This 1995 album Handful of Blues straddles blues and rock. He was born Dec. 16, 1951 in Woodlake, CA and he grew up in Ukiah, CA. Ford and his brothers played as the Charles Ford Band as teens named after their dad. At age 18, Ford played with legendary blues harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite and he recorded a couple of albums as Charles Ford Band. Ford also recorded with Jimmy Witherspoon and he was a member of Tom Scott's jazz fusion group L.A. Express. They recorded albums and they toured with Joni Mitchell. In the 80s, he recorded for Warner Bros. and he was a member of the jazz fusion group The Yellowjackets. He also played with Miles Davis in the mid-80s. Ford credits Tom Scott for his ability to play any kind of music. Ford left Warner Bros. in 1988 and signed with Chick Corea's Stretch Records in 1992. Stretch was distributed by GRP/Universal. Handful of Blues was released in 1995. It was produced by session guitarist and veteran producer Danny Kortchmar. Musicians include jazzman Henry Butler on piano, Roscoe Beck on bass and Tom Brechtlein on drums. Butler has recorded as a leader since the 80s. Beck and Brechtlein are veteran session musicians. Beck has worked with Jennifer Warnes and Leonard Cohen. Brechtlein has worked with Chick Corea and Wayne Shorter. Guests include Ford's brother Mark Ford on harmonica and Ricky Peterson on organ. In recent years, Ford recorded for Concord and now for the Dutch label Provogue owned by Mascot Label Group. His latest CD Into The Sun was released Mar. 2015 and includes guest appearances by Keb Mo, Robert Randolph, ZZ Ward, Warren Haynes and Sonny Landreth. Most of Ford's tour this year will be in Europe but he will also make a few appearances in the US and South America. Here's Robben Ford performing Top Of The Hill.

Friday, June 26, 2015

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Buddy Guy

Artist:Buddy Guy f/Jonny Lang
Song:Midnight Train
Album:Playlist: The Very Best Of Buddy Guy

Of course today Buddy Guy is one of the all time blues greats. But there were times especially in the 80s when he couldn't seem to get a decent record deal. This is about his 90s comeback after he signed with Silvertone Records. And Guy still records for Silvertone. Of course Guy recorded for Chess Records in the 60s. But there were so many blues legends recording for Chess, Guy always seemed to take a back seat to those guys. So in the mid-60s, he formed a group with harmonica legend Junior Wells and they recorded classic albums for Delmark. But by the end of the 70s, Guy wasn't working with Wells anymore and he didn't have a record deal. He continued to tour in the 80s and record occasionally for labels like Alligator, Blind Pig and JSP. And he even opened his own Chicago club Buddy Guy's Legends. But after a 1991 appearance with Eric Clapton at Royal Albert Hall in London, Guy signed with Silvertone and his 1991 album Damn Right, I've Got The Blues was certified Gold and won a Grammy. Special guests included Clapton, Jeff Beck and Mark Knopfler. His career revival continued through the 90s including the 1998 album Heavy Love. Teen blues guitarist Jonny Lang was a big deal at the time. And his producer David Z (David Rivkin, brother of Prince's drummer Bobby Z) also produced Heavy Love. Some might think that Midnight Train must be an old blues song. But it was written by Jon Tiven and Roger Reale of The Jon Tiven Group from Branford, CT. David Z heard the song when Reale, a schoolteacher in his real life, pitched it to Paul Rogers. David Z brought it to Guy and Guy and Lang make it sound like a blues standard. Guy told Reale that he really identified with the song. it reminded him of his days struggling to make ends meet in Chicago. Guitarist Steve Cropper also guested on Heavy Love and Richie Hayward of Little Feat played drums on the album. Heavy Love is available as a budget CD. But I suggest this budget comp which is a very good intro to Guy's Silvertone recordings. Silvertone was taken over by Jive Records in 1998 and it's now part of Sony so Guy currently records for RCA. His new CD Born To Play Guitar will be released July 31, 2015. Special guests include Van Morrison, Joss Stone, Billy Gibbons and Kim Wilson. Of course Guy is on tour so you should see him if he's coming your way. Here's Buddy Guy featuring Jonny Lang performing Midnight Train on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno 1998.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-The Submarines

Artist:The Submarines
Song:Brighter Discontent
Album:Declare A New State!

The husband and wife duo the Submarines are a pretty good indie band who got some buzz when one of their songs was used in an Apple iPhone commercial. That's how bands get traction these days. Lead singer Blake Hazard is from Burlington, VT. In the 90s, she was in the band Starhustler. After graduating from Harvard, she started hanging around Boston clubs and she met John Dragonetti in 2000. He was born in Jackson, MI but he grew up in Dubai. Upon returning to the US, he settled in Boston. In the 90s, his band Jack Drag had a deal with A & M Records. But when A & M was swallowed by Universal, Jack Drag was dropped. Blake and Dragonetti began a relationship when she came to his recording studio. He produced her 2002 CD Little Airplane. It was an on and off relationship until Dragonetti figured that if Blake was going to write all of her songs about their relationship, they might as well work together. Of course it doesn't hurt that Blake is attractive and a great singer. The Submarines were born. they moved to Los Angeles and signed with Nettwerk Records. Declare A New State! was their 2006 debut CD. The music is the two of them in his recording studio. They occasionally bring in outside musicians and they hire musicians for touring. Of course they got married too. Their big break came when the songs You, Me and the Bourgoise and Submarine Symphonika were used in Apple iPhone commercials. The song Brighter Discontent appeared in the season four finale of the popular FX series Nip/Tuck. They are certainly worth checking out. The Submarines have recorded three albums and two EPs. Their latest EP was released in 2012. Dragonetti has been concentrating on composing music for film and TV recently so the duo doesn't seem to be active right now. I expect The Submarines to return in the future. Here are The Submarines performing Brighter Discontent on the TV show M Vids.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Paige VanZant vs Alex Chambers added to Sept. 5 UFC show

Paige VanZant, Alex Chambers
MMA Sucka reported today that Paige VanZant vs Alex Chambers has been added to UFC 191 Sept. 5 in Las Vegas. Though some believe Paige has star quality because of her looks, she needs to improve as a fighter if she's going to get anywhere. Apparently Paige asked to be on this show. Though Paige won by unanimous decision over Felice Herrig, I thought she won because Felice had cardio problems that we don't normally see from her. Paige got off to a slow start and I thought Felice won round one. But Paige came back and won the next two rounds mainly because Felice ran out of gas. Her other problem is the same problem I see with a lot of female fighters. She has no punching power. So she needs to improve her striking technique. I think she's a work in progress. Guys, it's not enough to be pretty. Alex is from Australia. Her nickname is Astro Girl because she's an astro physicist. At age 36, her age to experience level is not in her favour. She knows this is her last shot. She was lucky to win over Kailin Curran in Australia in May. Alex lost the first two rounds and in the third round, Kailin made a mistake and fell into an armbar finish. Alex has some ground skills but she's a terrible striker. I'm not sold on either of them.

Maryna Moroz vs Valerie Letourneau added to Aug. 23 UFC show

Maryna Moroz
For the first time, the UFC is going to Saskatoon, SK Aug. 23 at the SakTel Centre. A women's Strawweight bout was one of the fights announced at a press conference. This show will air on Fox Sports 1 and TSN but I expect this fight will be on the prelims. It will be Maryna Moroz vs Valerie Letourneau. Maryna won her UFC debut with an upset win over Joanne Calderwood in Poland in March. She used an armbar from bottom position which seems to be her favourite move. I wasn't surprised that she won but it was quicker than expected. She trains with her husband in the Ukraine and he's a former boxer. So I think she has some skills and she should be the favourite in this fight. I bet when she was told she was fighting in Saskatoon, she had to look it up on a map. As the very first Canadian female MMA fighter, Valerie has already fought across Canada. She dropped to 115lb for her last fight in Montreal in March and she beat Jessica Rakoczy easily by unanimous decision. I wasn't impressed with either of them and Valerie admitted the weight cut was difficult. These days she trains at American Top Team in Florida. Valerie is mainly a striker but I see her having problems with Maryna's quickness and strength. I think she has to cut too much weight to be effective and I would rather see her fight at 125lb. in Invicta.

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Olivia Newton-John

Artist:Olivia Newton-John
Song:I Honestly Love You
Album:Magic: The Very Best Of Olivia Newton-John

I Honestly Love You was Olivia Newton-John's first number one pop hit in 1974 and she became one of the biggest stars of the 70s. She started out as a successful country music singer and crossed over to pop and even films. She was born Sept. 26, 1948 in Cambridge, England but she grew up in Melbourne, Australia. Her mother was born in Germany the daughter of Nobel Prize winning physicist Max Born. As a teen, she performed on Australian TV as Lovely Livvy and that's where she met John Farrar who would become her producer. He was part of the early 70s group Marvin, Welch & Farrar, a spinoff of The Shadows. After a talent contest win, Olivia moved to England and recorded a 1966 single for Decca. Then she formed a duo with Pat Carroll who she knew in Australia. Pat would later marry John Farrar. Then Don Kirshner recruited Olivia for the group Toomorrow which was a failed attempt to recreate the success of The Monkees. She recorded her debut album If Not For You in 1971. She had a couple of hits in England and appeared regularly on Cliff Richard's variety show. But she floundered for a couple of years until Let Me Be There was a top ten country and pop hit in 1973. This was followed by If You Love Me (Let Me Know) which was actually a bigger country hit. Finally Olivia topped the Billboard Hot 100 with I Honestly Love You in 1974. The song was written by Brill Building legend Jeff Barry and Aussie legend Peter Allen who first recorded it on his album. This was followed by a second number one hit Have You Never Been Mellow. When her career started to fade, Olivia starred in the 1978 film musical Grease and scored a number one hit with her duet with John Travolta You're The One That I Want. Also, that film gave her sex appeal that she didn't have before. Of course she also appeared in the 1980 film musical Xanadu which bombed. She topped the charts in 1981 with Physical but that turned out to be Olivia's final big hit. You can get all her hits on this comp. She got into other things like her clothing store chain Koala Blue and and as I think most are aware, she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992. Since she left MCA in 1998, she has recorded for Hallmark, Festival, EMI and most recently for Warner Bros. in 2008. She has a live CD coming out next week which she recorded with Aussie music legend John Farnham. And Olivia will be in residence at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas this summer. I never cared for her voice but I'm sure she has plenty of devoted fans. Here's Olivia Newton-John performing I Honestly Love You 1974.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-D'Angelo

Song:Untitled (How Does It Feel)

Though not his biggest hit, Untitled is probably D'Angelo's best known song because of the video which emphasizes his sex appeal. D'Angelo would be a much bigger star if he recorded more. He has recorded three albums since 1995. He was born Michael Eugene Archer Feb. 11, 1974 in Richmond, VA. His dad was a Pentacostal preacher so he grew up singing and playing piano in church. After winning Amateur Night at The Apollo in New York City in 1991, D'Angelo left high school and moved to New York City. He signed a publishing deal with EMI Music in 1991 followed by a record deal with Virgin Records in 1993. He co-wrote and produced the 1994 hit U Will Know for the R & B supergroup Black Men United which appeared in the film Jason's Lyric. Then he released his 1995 debut album Brown Sugar which D'Angelo wrote and produced. The album didn't sell at first but it picked up when the single Brown Sugar was a top five R & B hit and then lady hit the pop top ten. It's his only pop top ten hit to date. Then D'Angelo didn't release his album Voodoo until 2000. He had writer's block for a while and he also split with his manager Kedar Massenburg. He was finally inspired to write again by the birth of his son with girlfriend Angie Stone. The first two singles from the album were not hits because he missed MTV's deadline. But the third single Untitled came with with a music video where D'Angelo is not wearing any clothes. D'Angelo wrote and produced Untitled with Raphael Saadiq. Voodoo was certified Platinum. But the success of the video made D'Angelo uncomfortable with his sex symbol status. He didn't think fans were interested in his music. Then he started having drinking problems. In 2005, he left Virgin, split with his management and checked into rehab. Then he was charged with drug possession and was in a car crash. Eventually he got back on the rails with a 2012 European tour. And this got him back into recording again. He was under contract to J Records which was absorbed by RCA. Black Messiah was released Dec. 2014 and it has done very well. D'Angelo is on tour with his band Vanguard. Maybe he's back and D'Angelo will record more frequently. He's certainly a talented guy. This budget comp covers his Virgin recordings. Here's the video for Untitled (How Does It Feel) by D'Angelo.