Friday, April 12, 2013
Many music worlds lost a man of great talent and unrecognized influence on Wednesday night when Donald Blackman passed away at the age of 59. I don't want to get into too much of a biography, because Google does a better job at that than I ever could anyway. "The Godfather", as he was called amongst his group in the GRP family, had his hand in the jazz-funk sound of Jamaica, Queens residents like Tom Browne, Marcus Miller and Bernard Wright. The blend of heavy groove based funk with the musical sensibility and harmonic style of jazz is one that was unmistakably his own, and his 1982 self-titled album has been so heavily sampled in modern hip-hop that it deserves as wide recognition as the other funk-break albums by people like Bob James and David Axelrod.
When I finally found his original self-titled album in an antique store in Pasadena, I wrote the email address listed on his website asking if he would ever play any shows in California (or the United States at all for that matter). To my surprise, it was actually his personal email address, and through a series of genuine and humble emails it was clear that Don Blackman was a kind and approachable human being who appreciated music and music lovers more than fame or popularity.
I will close this post with a few of my favorite songs of his (either performed or written by him):
Sunday, February 17, 2013
I guess the ongoing joke is that I'm Mr. Make-A-Mix-Once-A-Year. I was in Rio for about a month, and spent most of my time digging. Here's a mix of some of the coolest stuff that I found. All vinyl, recorded straight to tape. Download enabled.
Insane absence, but there will be more music to come. I'm changing my format - more frequently, but probably not entire albums.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
It's been a long time.
Here's a little something for download - a free Valentine's Day mix. Smooth and relaxing, just like Valium. All vinyl, straight to tape.
Download it mp3 (320 kbps) here.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Label: Jive Afrika
1. Sakhile (We Have Built)
2. Idayimane (Diamonds)
3. Ubuhkebakho (You're So Beautiful)
4. Mantombi (No Literal Translation, A Girl's Name)
5. Isililo (A Mourning Song)
6. Beautiful Feeling (Isimo Esimnandi)
7. A Night To Remember (Ubusuku Obumnandi)
8. Kusinwa Kudedelwane (It's My Turn, Now)
Sipho Gumede: Bass and 8-string bass, vocals, percussion
Khaya Mahlangu: Tenor and Soprano saxophones, vocals, percussion
Themba Mkhize: Keyboards, vocals
Menyatso Mathole: Guitar, vocals
Madoda Mathunjwa: Drums, vocals
Mabi Thobejane: Percussion
I found this one at a book store up here in Berkeley, amongst a strangely good collection of other foreign vinyl.
Sakhile ("We Have Built") was a South African band that gained notoriety in the early 1980's through their many live shows, for they never had wide commercial acclaim. "We Have Built" as a name was a strong cultural reaction to the oppressive Apartheid regime, a system that needed dismantling, and their music was "built" on a blend of South African traditional music and 70's era fusion and funk. You can find more information on them here and here.
This album was released in the US through Arista records, though as mentioned the band only had limited radio support. The Afro-fusion blend is prevalent throughout all the tracks, with one genre more dominant than the other in certain cases. A few of the tracks sound close to Weather Report fusion, others to Fela-esque afrobeat, and my favorites sound like American funk and soul with an African feel. "Sakhile" (the title track, and the band name...?) has a great drum beat and a hard, punchy bassline, and "Kusinwa Kudedelwane" has elements reminiscent of War, Cymande, and Bob James, all combined into something uniquely Sakhile.
Here's the title track for you check out:
Ripped from vinyl at 320 kbps (mp3). Download the album here.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Artist: Eugene Blacknell
Album: I've Been (Down So Long) - Single
Label: Seaside Records
1. I've Been (Down So Long)
2. Holding On
I've been really busy lately, but here's a quick post just to keep things going. I found this single in a box outside of Rasputin's record store up here in Berkeley. Eugene Blacknell was a funk and soul guitarist from the Bay Area (Oakland, to be specific). You can read a short bio on him from AllMusic here. Not mentioned in this bio is that he died sometime in the 1980s, clearly much too young.
Apparently, he never released a full-length album, just various singles. With that in mind, it's a little sad to see "from the Forthcoming L.P." on the left-side of the label; I wonder why he never was able to release an entire album, and what it might have sounded like. If anything like the B-Side of this single in the video below, then we really missed out:
According to some info on him from a Ubiquity Records video, "[Eugene's] musical career stretched from the early 1960s to the end of the 1980s and during that time he established himself as an East Bay original, an entrepreneur, an activist, and a family man. With so many accomplishments it's an irony of fate that he died before releasing an album despite having recorded enough material for several."
Ubiquity Records released a compilation album of Eugene Blacknell's work, which you can purchase here. For now, I hope you enjoy the single.
Ripped from vinyl at 320 kbps (mp3). Download the single here.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Artist: Bob Shaut
Album: Shaut's Thoughts
Label: Bee-Ess Records
2. Sayin' Yeah
4. What You've Done For Me
6. Clark's Calypso
8. This One's For My Lady
Bob Shaut: saxophones, flute
Joe Lomoriello: electric & acoustic basses
Chris Starpoli: drums, percussion, synare
Danny Schliftman: keyboards
Dave Pratt: trumpet, flugelhorn
Ira Getter: keyboards on "Mystery"
Paul Rossman, Ron Lapierre: percussion
Frank Molley: acoustic guitar on "What You've Done For Me"
I found this one at a thrift store in Los Angeles, and as always, I was intrigued by the fact that it was obviously a private pressing and appeared to have mainly jazz instrumentation. I really enjoy this whole album, with jazz tracks that go from upbeat CTI-Kudu fusion ("Bumps" and "Worms") to warmer and more mellow ballads ("Serenity" and "Mystery"). The back provides Bob Shaut's thoughts about the songs on the album:
Serenity and Mystery are two movements from a jazz suite entitled 'Quiescence', which I composed as a peace piece during the Vietnam War. Coincidentally, its first complete performance as the week of the peace treaty signing.
Departure comes from 'Space Music' for saxophone octet. The drum effect was produced by hitting the keys of a tenor saxophone. The 'bird' sound is a soprano saxophone mouthpiece with added echo.
Sayin' Yeah is for my parental family. Hi Mom!
Clark is my cat with a crooked ear. He enjoys jumping on recently washed Lincoln Continentals.
Use your imagination for Worms and Bumps.
Special thanks to My Lady, Linda, and my little man Dan, for being patient, for being inspiring, and for just being. What You've Done For Me has been to show me love and beauty.
When trying to find information about Bob for my own benefit, I discovered that there was a high school jazz teacher in the New York area by the same name, and wondered if it was in fact the same man. I found the website of the man's daughter, also a musician by the name of Andrea Shaut, and I sent a message asking if the jazz band instructor was the same Shaut from the album. I received this response:
My daughter Andrea forwarded your note, regarding "Shaut's Thoughts". This is pretty cool - that was recorded in 1980 and was the last one that I did, so I hope that you like it. I just retired from a teaching gig that kept me from recording, so I'm hoping to get into the studios soon. The logo of a little kid playing a soprano sax (on the back of the album) is my 1 year old son who is now 31, plays saxophone and took my position as a music teacher. Let me know if you have any other questions about the album.
Thanks for interest.
With that, I highly recommend you check out this album, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Ripped from vinyl at 320 kbps (mp3). Download the album here.
Friday, March 18, 2011
So I've been really busy this past week, and I have not been able to post a whole album and a review. Instead, I thought I'd just post this cool "Herbie Hancock Demonstrates The Rhodes Sound," a promotional flexi-disc with Herbie explaining the Rhodes and the different sound modulations he uses. It even has a little jam on "Actual Proof" at the end of Side B, from the "Thrust" album, and also the title track from the soundtrack he did for "The Spook Who Sat By The Door".
This was sent to me by a friend, and as a result it was not imported at high-quality 320 kbps. However, it still sounds good and would be great for any little instrumental fills or vocal samples.