Wednesday, June 28, 2017
|Anton, Me, Jasper, Ivo|
So anyone who reads this blog regularly will know that I am a major league jazz fan. So when the complete schedule for the Toronto Jazz Festival was announced, I went to their website looking for shows to attend. Last year was the first time in several years that I didn't go to any shows. They have a bad habit of booking artists I have already seen or some that aren't even jazz. They did some of that this year too. And they also have free concerts usually featuring local acts that don't interest me. The other thing they did this year is localize all the shows in the Yorkville area. I'm looking over the schedule and I see that they are bringing over the European jazz trio Phronesis for a free concert. Though probably unknown to casual jazz fans, I'm a hard core fan and I know all about them. And free is the perfect price for me. The venue is Heliconian Hall on Hazelton Ave. near Yorkville. Not only had I never been to this place, I've never heard of it. So my first question is can I get in there? Is it accessible? The building started out as a church in 1876. And for years it's been a women's art club. It was named a National Historic Site in 2008. I doubted that it is accessible but one never knows. It didn't say anything on the website. So I tweeted the Toronto Jazz Festival and asked about accessibility. They had someone from Heliconian Hall call me. The building was just renovated but they plan to make it accessible next year. Making heritage buildings accessible can be tricky because it has to be retro fitted. The building can't be altered. Of course next year doesn't help me now. That's what I told Toronto Jazz Festival. Festival CEO Howard Kerbel called me and apologized. I told him that accessibility as an afterthought is systemic in Toronto despite laws like the AODA that are supposed to change that. I told him they shouldn't have rented that building in the first place. And if he didn't do something about it, I could get appropriate media coverage. I've done that in the past. Ask Elections Ontario. He agreed to build a ramp. I have posted two pictures that I took with my phone. The first is what the front of the building looks like. The ramp was in the back because there is no space in the front. The only thing I was concerned about was the ramp wouldn't be adequate. But as you can see by the second picture, it was fine. The Toronto Jazz Festival has volunteers everywhere. One of them took me to the ramp. Phronesis was hanging out there so I got to meet them before the show and talk to them and take a pic afterwards. Everything went fine and I am returning to Heliconian Hall on Saturday to see The Claudia Quintet. Thanks to Howard for getting this done. I appreciate it. But it comes with a moral. Major events in Toronto had better have accessibility in the forefront. As long as it is an afterthought, it can cost you later on.
Song:Ring My Bell
Album:Ring My Bell
Anita Ward topped the charts in 1979 with the disco classic Ring My Bell. It was her only hit and she only recorded a couple of albums. She was born Dec. 20, 1956 in Memphis. She grew up singing in church. While attending Rust College in Holly Springs, MS, she was in an a capella choir. She went into teaching but music was still nagging at her. She was put in touch with Frederick Knight who had a hit in 1972 with I've Been Lonely For So Long. Then he started his own label Juana and got into production. Knight wrote Ring My Bell for teen R&B singer Stacy Lattisaw. When that didn't work out, he gave it to Anita. She didn't like it but he told her it could be a disco hit. The song is about teens who are on the phone too much so it's not surprising Anita thought it was juvenile. Knight rewrote the song with more mature lyrics. He got the disco label TK to release it. Ring My Bell topped the charts in 1979. The album was called Songs Of Love. The sexually suggestive lyrics had a lot to do with the song's success. One notable innovation was Knight's use of the Synare electronic drum, an instrument that would be a staple of dance music. Subsequent singles and Anita's second album went nowhere. There was supposed to be a third album. But Anita and Knight disagreed about direction and it was cancelled. Then she was in a car accident. Apparently Anita wanted to be more versatile as she was concerned about being a one hit wonder. She recorded a couple of albums in Europe that were never released here. This budget CD is from Unidisc in Montreal keeping disco alive. Anita Ward is still around. She released a single in 2011 but a proposed album never surfaced. Here's Anita Ward performing Ring My Bell 1979.
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Song:You Light Up My Life
Album:You Light Up My Life: Greatest Inspirational Songs
You Light Up My Life topped the Billboard Hot 100 for ten weeks in 1977. Even back then the record was criticized for being overly sappy. That didn't prevent it from being a million seller. It was the only pop hit for Debby Boone. She also had some success in country music. But mostly she has recorded Contemporary Christian Music (CCM). She was born Sept. 22, 1956 in Hackensack, NJ. Of course she is the third of Pat Boone's four daughters. And her grandfather was country music legend Red Foley. Of course Pat Boone was a big pop star in the 50s. When that faded, he turned to Christian music. All four girls toured with dad and they recorded CCM in the mid-70s. Debby was usually the lead singer. Family friend and Curb Records owner Mike Curb convinced Debby to go solo. You Light Up My Life was released as a single. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 for ten weeks. The song was written for the 1977 film You Light Up My Life by Joe Brooks. He also wrote and directed the film. Brooks started out as a jingle writer and he got into films in the 70s. In the film, You Light Up My Life was performed by actress Didi Conn and dubbed by opera singer Kasey Cisyk. Brooks knew her from the jingle business. Her version was a minor hit but Curb wanted Debby to record it. Brooks came to the studio with his backing track and Debby just sang over it. After the single was a huge hit, Curb had to scramble to put an album together. He brought in old buddies Michael Lloyd and Bob Gaudio to help and the album was certified Platinum. Debby also won a Best New Artist Grammy. It looked like she was going to be a big star. But she only recorded four albums for Warner Bros. and her only other hit Are You On The Road To Lovin' Me Again was a #1 country hit. Since then Debby has mostly recorded CCM. She's had a lot of success in that market. You can get You Light Up My Life on this Curb comp. Neither the album or soundtrack You Light Up My Life have been released on CD. Debby continued to record Christian music in the 80s. Her most recent album Swing This in 2013. It appears to be a jazz album. She also turns up on TV occasionally and she still tours. Here's Debby Boone performing You Light Up My Life.
Monday, June 26, 2017
Here's the match video of Carla Esparza vs Maryna Moroz from last night's UFC show in Oklahoma City. Carla was the first UFC Strawweight Champion. After losing the title, Carla had shoulder surgery and she just hasn't looked good since returning especially losing her last match to Randa Markos. Obviously Carla wants to get back into the title picture. But it's questionable if she's good enough anymore. She needs a big win. Maryna is from the Ukraine. She's mainly a boxer. So is her husband. She looked pretty good when she first came to the UFC. Not so much since then. She hasn't even looked good in her wins. Maryna has a big height advantage. As a striker, one would think she would use that to her advantage. But she seems content with doing as little as possible while still winning the fight. That worked in her last fight. Neither of them did much in round one. But I thought Maryna was slightly more effective so I scored the round 10-9 for Maryna. In the other two rounds, Carla was able to get her timing and that resulted in several takedowns. The problem was she didn't do much after the takedowns. That was mostly because Maryna kept her from doing anything. You don't score points for that. On one occasion, ref Mario Yamasaki told them to get busy or he's stand them up. Carla says "She's holding my wrist". Yamasaki said that was her problem. The whole fight was like that. Maryna was terrible and Carla was marginally better. She won by unanimous decision. I scored it 29-28 for Carla. So you know how fighters are. A win is a win. That's what Carla was saying afterwards. She thinks one more win gets her a title shot. I'm sure it won't surprise you that I don't buy that. She needed a dominant win. She didn't get it. A squeaker like that doesn't cut it. She would get clobbered by a really good fighter, even her BFF Felice Herrig. Several years ago, I never would have thought that Felice would be higher than Carla on the food chain. But there you have it. Enjoy the video!
Here's the match video of Felice Herrig vs Justine Kish from last night's UFC show in Oklahoma City. In her last fight, Felice beat highly touted prospect Alexa Grasso. So this past week she was wondering aloud why she wasn't fighting a ranked opponent. Though Justine won both her UFC fights, she hasn't been that effective. Her defense needs a lot of work. Her opponents were worse than her. So if she's on her game, I expected Felice to win handily. And consistency has been the big question mark in Felice's career. That's what UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby is looking for with Felice. But Felice has shown a marked improvement since training with veteran fighter Jeff Curran. And there he was in her corner. Justine trains at Black House in Los Angeles. She was supposed to be on TUF 20 but she had knee surgery. I just haven't been impressed with her two UFC wins. Her main flaw was obvious in this fight. Her defense isn't good enough. Felice kept taking Justine down and no one can win fights on defense all the time. Felice almost finished her in the third round with a rear naked choke. I don't know how Justine escaped that. Look, she's a tough girl. That's not enough to win fights. She has too many holes in her game. And as I'm sure you heard, she took a crap on the mat which has made international headlines. It was on TMZ this morning. At least she had a sense of humour about it afterwards. That's one way to become famous. Justine had nothing for Felice. I scored the first two rounds 10-9 for Felice and round three 10-8. The only thing Felice didn't do was finish. Felice won by unanimous decision. I assume she'll get what she wants now. She says she never turns down fights. What about Claudia Gadelha or maybe Cynthia Calvillo who has a fight coming up in a couple of weeks. They might as well throw Felice into the deep end of the pool and see if she swims. Either opponent would be very tough. Enjoy the video!
Song:Love Me Or Leave Me
Album:The Great Nina Simone
Today Nina Simone is so well known for her part in the civil rights movement and her turbulent personal life that I think it is forgotten that she was a very versatile singer. This recording of the standard Love Me Or Leave Me is from her 1958 debut album Little Girl Blue. It's a straight jazz album focusing on her singing and piano skills. She would stray quite a bit from that later. She was born Eunice Waymon Feb. 21, 1933 in Tryon, NC and she grew up singing in church. Then she got interested in jazz and renamed herself Nina Simone after French actress Simone Signoret so her Methodist minister mom wouldn't know Eunice was singing the devil's music. Nina recorded the album Little Girl Blue in 1958 and when the single I Loves You, Porgy got radio airplay, she sold the album to Bethlehem Records for $3,000. Boy, did she regret that. I Loves You, Porgy turned out to be the biggest hit single of her career. The album is worth getting because it's straight ahead jazz with Jimmy Bond on bass and Albert "Tootie" Heath on drums. Bond was a sideman at the time. He would be a successful Los Angeles studio musician in the 60s. Heath is the brother of sax player Jimmy Heath and bassist Percy Heath. He's still around at 82 years of age. The British label Music Club has released Little Girl Blue on CD as The Great Nina Simone. It is a budget CD and it contains bonus tracks. Love Me Or Leave Me was written by Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn for the 1928 Broadway show Whoopee! and popularized by singer Ruth Etting. Nina recorded the song again on the 1966 album Let It All Out. That's the version on any of her Verve comps. In the 60s, Nina recorded for Colpix and Philips. But though she was a civil rights activist in concert, her albums didn't reflect that until she signed with RCA in 1967. So though her RCA recordings are her most famous recordings, you shouldn't overlook her 1958 debut album on Bethlehem. Here's Nina Simone performing Love Me Or Leave Me. It looks like this might be from the CBS series Camera Three in 1962.
Sunday, June 25, 2017
Song:When I Fall In Love
Album:Sleepless In Seattle: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
The thing that I thought was unusual about this recording is it doesn't appear on any Celine Dion compilation CDs. It was recorded for the 1993 hit film Sleepless In Seattle. If you recall the film, the songs on the soundtrack and the songs on the soundtrack album are mostly standards recorded by legends like Jimmy Durante, Louis Armstrong and others. John Barry was hired to compose the score. But when he was given a list of 20 songs that had to be in the film, he left and Marc Shaiman replaced him. Shaiman started out in cabaret and Broadway and he was more suitable for this film. The music was supposed to evoke nostalgia. As I said, they used mostly vintage recordings. But they wanted a new recording as a hit single to sell the soundtrack album. David Foster to the rescue. He was one of several producers working on Celine Dion's new album The Colour Of My Love. When I Fall In Love is a pop standard written by film composer Victor Young with lyrics by Edward Heyman for the 1952 film One Minute To Zero. Doris Day scored a hit with it at the time. It was also performed in the 1957 film Istanbul by Nat King Cole. Cole's recording is the one I remember. The original plan was to have Celine sing the song with Stevie Wonder. When that couldn't be worked out, British singer Clive Griffin was brought in. My guess is there was a time crunch to get the recording done. Griffin had just signed with Epic Records and they thought this was a good way to get him out there. The single reached #23 on the Billboard Hot 100. It won a Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist and nominated for a couple of other awards. It turned out to be Griffin's only big hit. He only recorded one album for Epic. When I Fall In Love appears on the Sleepless In Seattle soundtrack and The Colour Of My Love. Both are available as budget CDs. But I guess it wasn't a big enough hit to appear on any of Celine's comp CDs. That surprised me but that's the reason I decided to feature this recording. Here's the video for When I Fall In Love by Celine Dion featuring Clive Griffin.
Saturday, June 24, 2017
Album:Rock Instrumental Classics Volume 3: The Seventies
Rhinoceros was an attempt by Elektra Records to form a "supergroup". The music was good but record sales were disappointing and the band split up after three albums. The instrumental Apricot Brandy was their biggest chart hit. Elektra Records house producer Paul Rothchild asked Frasier Mohawk to put a band together. Mohawk recruited Stephen Stills to join Buffalo Springfield. He asked Mohawk to audition musicians. This was how Moby Grape was formed. They got from the first audition singer and pianist Alan Gerber and guitarist Doug Hastings. Hastings briefly replaced Neil Young in Buffalo Springfield and a member of the Seattle based group The Daily Flash. The second audition brought them singer John Finley from the Canadian group Jon & Lee & The Checkmates and guitarist Danny Weis who was a founding member of Iron Butterfly. Weis suggested former Iron Butterfly bassist Jerry Penrod and Finley suggested former Checkmate pianist Michael Fonfara who had just left The Electric Flag. The final member was former Mothers Of Invention drummer Billy Mundi. Rhinoceros first recorded as backing band for David Ackles. Their debut album Rhinoceros was released in 1968. Apricot Brandy reached #46 on the Billboard Hot 100. But the album didn't sell. That was the story of Rhinoceros. Elektra had high expectations but they didn't get the results they wanted. For their second album Satin Chickens, Penrod was replaced by another former Checkmate Peter Hodgson who had been working with David Clayton-Thomas in Toronto. Then for their 1970 album Better Times Are Comin', Gerber and Mundi were replaced by former Checkmates Larry Leishman and Duke Edwards. So Rhinoceros became a Jon & Lee & The Checkmates reunion. In addition to all this, their manager turned down an invitation for Rhinoceros to appear at Woodstock. Imagine if they had appeared there. After three unsuccessful albums, Elektra dropped Rhinoceros. Most of the guys moved back to Toronto and recorded a 1972 album for GRT Records as Blackstone. You can get Apricot Brandy on this Rhino various artists comp. Fonfara was a member of Rough Trade in the 70s, The Lincolns and later The Downchild Blues Band. Rhinoceros reunited in 2009 in Kitchener, ON. Here's a video for Apricot Brandy by Rhinoceros.
Friday, June 23, 2017
Album:Shot Forth Self Living
Medicine is probably best known for their appearance in the 1994 film The Crow. The problem was they split up soon after. Medicine is clearly in the neo-psychedelic vein which would have been a tough sell in the early 90s. Their label sold them as noise pop. Medicine were from Los Angeles led by drummer Brad Laner. After his previous band Savage Republic split up, Laner recorded some tapes at home. Record companies told him that if he could form a band that sounded like the tapes, he could get a record deal. And Medicine was born. They signed with Rick Rubin's Def American label. 5ive is from their 1992 debut album Shot Forth Self Living. Laner produced the album and he also sang, played guitar, piano and percussion. Other members were Beth Thompson on vocals, Jim Putnam on guitar, Eddie Ruscha on bass and he also designed the album cover and Jim Goodall on drums. The album got some airplay on college radio and videos played on MTV. The problem was Medicine was a one man band. Laner could do everything if he wanted. But he needed a band to tour. By the time their third album Her Highness was released in 1995, Medicine was reduced to Laner, Thompson and Goodall. The others had left and Laner never replaced them. Medicine got a boost when they performed in the 1994 film The Crow. But by this time it was clear that Laner wasn't going to keep them together as he preferred recording in his home studio anyway. Laner joined the group Lusk led by former Tool bassist Paul D'Amour and former Guns 'n' Roses pianist Chris Pitman. They recorded one album. Laner has been in other bands and he continues to record at home. And he has reformed Medicine a couple of times. The first was in 2003 with Bruce Lee's daughter Shannon Lee. They released an album. And more recently he reformed the original lineup and they recorded two albums in 2014. Medicine doesn't seem to be active right now Laner could always reform them down the road. Here's the video of 5ive by Medicine.
Thursday, June 22, 2017
Song:Hey Mr. DJ
The female duo Zhane scored a top ten hit with Hey Mr. DJ in 1993. It turned out to be their only big hit. But the song is very durable and it gets sampled a lot by hip hop guys. Renee Neufville and Jean Norris met at Temple University in Philadelphia. They sang together on some of the same shows. After they appeared on the 1991 DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince single Ring My Bell, former Warner Bros. exec Benny Medina suggested they become a group. The name Zhane is a mix of their names. The Jah-Nay pronunciation is to make it sound French. It's not a real word. They recorded Hey Mr. DJ for the various artists CD Roll Wit Tha Flava featuring Queen Latifah. Hey Mr DJ did so well as a single from that album that Zhane got a record deal with Motown. Hey Mr DJ reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100. Most of the album including Hey Mr. DJ was written and produced by KayGee of Naughty By Nature. KayGee has had a lot of success as a producer and owner of Divine Mill Records. Renee wrote the lyrics of Hey Mr. DJ and most of the album. It samples Looking Up To You by Michael Wycoff, Step To The Rear by Brand Nubian and Troglodyte by Jimmy Castor Bunch. And Hey Mr. DJ has been frequently sampled. The rapper is Abdullah "Fam" Barr from Rottin Razkals. The album Pronounced Jah-Nay was certified Platinum. It's available as a budget CD. Zhane had a couple more hits like Groove Thang and a cover of Evelyn "Champagne" King's Shame from the film A Low Down Dirty Shame. Their 1997 album Saturday Night didn't do as well and then Zhane split up. Jean married drummer Marcus Baylor of Yellowjackets and most of her music has been with him along with studio work. Renee was lead singer of Roy Hargrove's RH Factor and she writes songs for other artists. Here's the video for Hey Mr. DJ by Zhane.