Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Of course everyone knows that Herbie Hancock was at the forefront of the 70s jazz fusion movement along with Miles Davis. In 1973 he formed The Headhunters and was roundly criticized by jazz purists for being too commercial. In retrospect, Hancock's music foreshadows the integration of jazz and funk using electronic keyboards. And Hancock would go even farther in the 80s. Spank-A-Lee is from the 1974 album Thrust. In the early 70s, Hancock recorded experimental jazz fusion albums like Mwandishi in 1971. The albums didn't sell very well and Hancock moved from Warner Bros. to Columbia. Hancock really enjoyed the funk of artists like Sly & The Family Stone. He just wanted to mix jazz with funk. So he formed The Headhunters with Bennie Maupin on sax, Paul Jackson on bass, Bill Summers on percussion and Harvey Mason on drums. Though critics tried to place Hancock in a jazz box and hated the 1973 album Headhunters, it sold great and was certified Platinum. For the second Headhunters album Thrust, Mason was replaced by Mike Clark. This album was also successful. Hancock made several funk albums in the 70s and when you listen to the music today, it actually holds up very well. Thrust is available as a budget CD. Herbie Hancock was always experimenting. It's just that those experiments like The Headhunters weren't always well received by jazz purists. The music deserves another listen. Here's Herbie Hancock performing Spank-A-Lee 1974.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Album:I Want To Be Happy
There are plenty of jazz musicians who prefer to be in the background and make a very good career as sidemen. But you don't see that much with jazz singers who are usually hired as featured performers. Aussie Jo Lawry prefers a role as a sideman. But after touring with Sting and appearing in the 2013 Oscar winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom, she may not be able to remain in the background for much longer. Jo grew up on an almond orchard in south Australia. And after beginning her musical education at Adelaide University, she moved to the US to study at the New England Conservatory. She joined percussionist James Shipp's band Nos Novo and the two have lived together ever since. Jo recorded I Want To Be Happy in 2008 with Shipp on percussion and vibes, Keith Ganz on guitar, Matt Clohesy on bass and Ferenc Nemeth on drums. Loro was written by Brazilian guitarist Egberto Gismonti and he first recorded it on his 1983 album Works. At the same time, Jo became lead singer of The Fred Hersch Pocket Orchestra and appeared on his 2009 album Live At Jazz Standard. She also recorded with organist Dr. Lonnie Smith. When Jo auditioned for Sting, it was between her and Canadian singer Laila Biali. Jo got the gig and Sting fans heard her on the 2010 CD Symphonicities and she toured with Sting and appeared on the TV special Live In Berlin. Jo continues to tour and record with Sting and has also appeared with Paul Simon. And she is featured in the 2013 Oscar winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom about anonymous backup singers. Jo sings Lean On Me with Darlene Love, Lisa Fischer and Judith Hill. It looks like it's getting harder and harder for Jo Lawry to remain anonymous. It's time for a new album. Here's a video for Loro by Jo Lawry.
Monday, April 14, 2014
The last episode of WWE Total Divas ended with Summer Rae slapping Nattie Neidhart after Nattie called her a stripper. This episode begins with Nattie suffering from nosebleeds. Then assistant director of talent Mark tells her she will challenge for AJ Lee's WWE Divas Championship on the upcoming TLC PPV. Of course Nattie doesn't get the opportunity to be on a PPV very often. So she doesn't want to miss it. But she's having nosebleeds...or that's what the show producers want you to believe. Meanwhile, Nikki Bella has just earned her real estate license. Well, she may have passed that test but her behaviour in this episode indicates that she flunked her IQ test. Also, Trinity McCray has recorded a single and now she is filming a video. I guess these girls all want to be pop stars. To be fair, Trinity's dad is a musician. So the thing that occurred to me about the Nattie/Summer Rae stuff is that kind of behaviour would not be tolerated backstage. But they need the feud for the show. Again on this episode, Nattie looks foolish. They put her in a match vs Summer Rae taped for Superstars. And they tried to make it look like Nattie got hit in the face. She wasn't. And she went to a doctor who suggested surgery and she would be out for six months. Fortunately her husband CJ Wilson calmed her down and Nattie appeared on the PPV. Much ado about nothing. CJ is the only one who looked good. As for Trinity's music video, her costume rips and her extensions come out and maybe they forgot to get a permit. Again much ado about nothing. So Nikki starts suspecting that boyfriend John Cena is cheating. I guess this is going to happen every time he wants to surprise her. How is he going to surprise her if he has to tell her everything he is doing? So who is buying the house Nikki is trying to sell? John Cena of course. All is forgiven...until the next time. This whole storyline was laughable. Next week Trinity and Jon get married. Enjoy the video.
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AKS@@EEXTDS2E4 by WNHD2
Album:That's What Daddy Wants
Wayne Hancock is best described as an alternative country artist. There's nothing Nashville about him. If you need to place a label on him, I suppose you might call him Rockabilly. He's been a big part of the Austin music scene for the last 20 years. He was born May 1, 1965 in Rockne, TX. He played local clubs as a teen and won the Wrangler Country Showdown. But he had already enlisted in the US Marines. After a six year stint, Hancock tried to make it in Nashville but went nowhere and moved back to Texas. He was in the musical theater show Chippy with Joe Ely, Butch Hancock, Robert Earl Keen and Terry Allen. This earned him a record deal with the small label Deja Disc. His 1995 CD Thunderstorms and Neon Signs got Hancock a lot of attention for a CD on a small label. This led to a record deal with Miles Copeland's ARK 21 label. That's What Daddy Wants was his first CD on ARK 21. As with the first album, it was produced by steel guitar legend Lloyd Maines, father of Natalie Maines of Dixie Chicks. Hancock recorded three albums for ARK 21 and then moved to Bloodshot Records in 2001. His music is a mix of honky tonk and rockabilly. So if your looking for a less polished kind of country music, Wayne Hancock could be for you. Hancock's latest CD Ride was released Feb. 2013. One guy who hangs around with Hancock is Hank Williams III. You never know when he might turn up on one of Hancock's shows. Here's Wayne Hancock performing Johnny Law in Denver, CO July 11, 2009.
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Song:Reach For It
Though George Duke cut a wide swath of musical influence as a musician and producer, he decided to take over funk music in the late 70s with Reach For It. It was a top five R & B hit. He was born Jan. 12, 1946 in San Raphael, CA. Duke made his name in the late 60s and into the 70s recording first with French violinist Jean Luc Ponty and then with Frank Zappa. He also toured with drummer Billy Cobham as The Billy Cobham-George Duke Band. Then Duke signed with Epic Records and went away from jazz and into funk with the 1978 album Reach For It. The album Reach For It reached #25 on the Billboard Hot 200 and the single Reach For It reached #2 on the R & B Singles chart. Jazz fans were unhappy with Duke but his funk experiment was successful so it continued into the early 80s. Reach For It featured veteran session singers Deborah and Sybil Thomas along with veteran funkmeisters Charles Icarus Johnson on guitar, Byron Miller on bass and Leon "Ndugu" Chancler on drums. Other George Duke hit singles from the era include Dukey Stick and Sweet Baby. This budget comp covers that period. George Duke continued to record jazz albums and record as a sideman and produce other artists for many years until his death on Aug. 5, 2013 at age 67. But I guess he wanted to prove he could take over R & B and funk whenever he wanted. He did exactly that. Here's George Duke performing Reach For It.
Saturday, April 12, 2014
Song:With You I'm Born Again
Album:The Essential Syreeta
Of course most should be familiar with Billy Preston's 70s hits like Nothing From Nothing. In 1979, Preston moved from A & M to Motown and With You I'm Born Again was a top five hit in 1979. It would turn out to be the biggest hit for Syreeta Wright who had been with Motown for over a decade. She was born Aug. 3, 1946 in Pittsburgh. Her dad died in the Korean War and mom moved the family to Detroit. Syreeta took a job as a receptionist at Motown in 1965 in the hope it would lead to a singing career. It worked for Martha Reeves. Eddie Holland heard Syreeta sing and started using her on demos. She released a 1968 single as Rita Wright. But mostly she was a backup singer. When Diana Ross left The Supremes, Berry Gordy wanted Syreeta to replace her. Mary Wilson said no and they hired Jean Terrell. Then Syreeta met Stevie Wonder and they started dating. He encouraged her to write songs and she co-wrote Signed, Sealed, Delivered with Wonder. They were married in 1970. When Wonder returned to Motown in 1972, he got something that Berry Gordy vowed Wonder would never get, complete creative control. He used that to produce the 1972 album Syreeta. And though Syreeta's first couple of albums were excellent, they didn't sell. Motown tried other things with Syreeta including the 1977 album with GC Cameron Rich Love, Poor Love. By the time Billy Preston arrived at Motown in 1979, Syreeta was on her way out. Songwriter Carol Conners approached Preston about a song she had written with film composer David Shire for the 1979 basketball comedy Fast Break starring Gabe Kaplan of Welcome Back, Kotter. It was With You I'm Born Again. Preston thought Syreeta would make a great duet partner. The song was much bigger than the movie. It reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. It appeared on Preston's 1979 album Late At Night. And it got Syreeta a contract renewal from Motown. The two recorded a 1981 album together called Billy Preston & Syreeta. But by the mid-80s, Syreeta left Motown and moved to Los Angeles. She recorded a couple of albums including a 1995 gospel album. She also continued to work with Wonder until the mid-90s when Syreeta quit the music business and converted to Islam. She died on July 6, 2004 at age 57 after fighting cancer for several years. Check out this comp CD for more of Syreeta's music. Here's Billy Preston and Syreeta performing With You i'm Born Again.
Friday, April 11, 2014
Song:The Impossible Dream (The Quest)
Album:Man of La Mancha: A Decca Broadway Original Cast Album
Richard Kiley had a long acting career. But he is probably best known for his Tony Award winning performance as Don Quixote in the 1965 musical Man of La Mancha. He was born Mar. 31, 1922 in Chicago. After serving in the US Navy in WWII, Kiley worked as an actor in Chicago before moving to New York City in the early 50s. Kiley appeared in the 1953 Broadway musical Kismet and the 1959 musical Redhead for which he won his first Tony award. he also appeared in films like Pickup on South Street, The Phenix City Story and Blackboard Jungle and on live TV shows like Patterns which won an Emmy for writer Rod Serling in 1955. He returned to Broadway in the 60s in shows like No Strings and I Had A Ball. The Man of La Mancha was first a TV non musical called I, Don Quixote. it aired in 1959. It was suggested to writer Dale Wasserman that he should turn it into a musical and Mitch Leigh wrote the songs. They wanted Rex Harrison to star as Don Quixote because of the success of My Fair Lady. But he couldn't really sing and they needed a singer. Kiley was a great choice and he won a Tony award. Kiley appeared in other Broadway musicals including two revivals of Man of La Mancha. But he also won Emmys for the 1983 mini series Thorn Birds, the 1986 series A Year In The Life and for a guest appearance on Picket Fences. A lot of fans will recognize his voice as the tour voice in the 1993 film Jurassic Park. Kiley continued to appear mostly on TV until his death on Mar. 6, 1999 at age 76. The lights on Broadway theaters were turned off in his honour. Here's Richard Kiley performing The Impossible Dream on the 1971 Tony Awards broadcast.
Thursday, April 10, 2014
|Rin Nakai, Sarah D'Alelio|
I'm sure it won't surprise anyone that I am not a big fan of American Idol. The music business is tough enough without a show that mostly chews up singers and spits them out. So when CTV announced in 2003 that they were going to do Canadian Idol, I expected it to be worse and it was. Billy Klippert is a guy who never should have been on a talent contest show. But he finished third on the first season of Canadian Idol and it got him nowhere. It's unfortunate because he's a pretty good rock singer. He was born Aug. 6, 1978 in Calgary. He worked in the family music store giving guitar lessons. And he had a band with his brother called Kovered In Lies. He was an early favourite on the first season of Canadian Idol and he got a lot of praise for his cover of the Elton John classic Levon. But he didn't win. He finished third. Klippert signed with Orange Record Label and Levon was released as a single in the hope that it would jump start his career. The 2004 CD Billy Klippert was produced by Harem Scarem lead singer Harry Hess and the rest of the band played on the album. Klippert wrote most of the songs including Again. The album did well enough that he released a second CD in 2006 Naked and the Simple Truth produced by Matt DeMatteo of Danko Jones and Luke McMaster of McMaster & James. It went nowhere and that's the last we have heard from Billy Klippert. My guess is he is back giving guitar lessons at his family's music store. It looks like for him Canadian Idol was a big waste of time. How predictable. Here's the video for Again by Billy Klippert.