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Remembering Paco de Lucia

Posted by Rick Frystak, February 26, 2014 12:45pm | Post a Comment

Paco de Lucia

Today, the world lost a giant of music, as Maestro Paco de Lucia passed away, at 66 years young, from a heart attack at a resort in Mexico. “Paco lived as he wished and died playing with his children beside the sea,” said a statement from de Lucia’s family published on the websites of Spanish newspapers.

Paco took the Flamenco style and tradtition of the elders in the genre and blasted off into his own universe, to some early criticism, owning every note of his huge legacy and backing up all his moves with incredible chops and technique. I had many unforgettable chances to see Paco in person doing his thing, each a unique and unpredictable experience, except for the sheer technical mastery of his instrument always present. I also took away from these shows Paco’s palpable confidence, his air of “badass”-ness that deservedly asserted his own internal awareness of what he was doing in the moment. I lament his passing, and will miss him tremendously. Adios, Paco.

Fortunately we have much in the visual and audio realms  to see and hear Paco, and to mark the absolutely inimitable place that Paco held in the music landscape. The 2-CD set, En  Vivo Conciertos, won a Grammy and is a most enjoyable album, displaying Paco’s genius live, and represents the last tour he did almost exactly. Amoeba has some true gems of Paco’s here.

(photographer unknown)

A Fantastic New Pressing of a Miles Davis Masterstroke

Posted by Rick Frystak, January 15, 2014 01:51pm | Post a Comment

Miles Dewey Davis may have been many things, but he was certainly a forward-thinking artist with an eye out for what was happening at any given time in the musical landscape, and an urge to not repeat himself in his journey toward a newer, “hipper “style, like it or not. Some, myself included, would argue this point vigorously towards various stages of his career output, especially later. This week, the formidable Impex Record company releases one of Miles’ most contemporary and timeless albums of music and cultural relevance: 1965’s “ESP”.  

 

Miles Davis Quintet

E.S.P.

Impex Records IMP 6018

180 gram LP (2014) 

 

So… Miles Davis in 1965? ‘Trane releases “A Love Supreme”, “Rubber Soul” comes out, Horowitz plays Carnagie Hall, Otis Redding , The Byrds and Bob Dylan release classic, timeless music, and new Miles Davis Quintet members Wayne  Shorter and Herbie Hancock had just presented “Speak No Evil” and “Maiden Voyage” to the universe. Miles' previous band had already left, but he had the next great quintet already assembled, Wayne being the final glorious recruit. "E.S.P." would be their first studio recording together, and what a record it turns out to be, produced by Columbia Records' A&R man Irving Townsend, he of “Kind Of Blue”, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, etc. fame. The cover features a bewildered Miles and an adorable Frances Davis, with Miles sporting quite the flummoxed facial expression. "Man, does she have 'E.S.P.'?" 

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Rare Steve Lacy LP Shows Up In Hollywood

Posted by Rick Frystak, October 7, 2013 03:43pm | Post a Comment

Steve Lacy has always been one of my favorite horn players since I first hear him in the mid 70’s. He delivers a liquid, speech-like sound with his soprano saxophone which he plays exclusively.  Influenced by trad jazz players, Cecil Taylor, Thelonious Monk and Gil Evans, Mr. Lacy composes and improvises with a quirky sense of melody unlike any other player around at the time or since, and his compositions reveal his very personal way of telling his stories. His staccato yet fluid attack, and almost vibrato-less legato stands out within the history of his axe. He has made many, many records (hundreds) and almost each one has its own individual sound and ultimate expression. Straight up swing to musique concrete to free improvisation are where Steve could be found at any moment, often simultaneously. His accompanists range from sitar duos to big band improv to sax/synthesizer/ drum outings, exploring all avenues of audible art. He also made many solo concerts, with just his soprano sax perhaps speaking the musical dialog about what was shaking at the moment. These concerts and recordings are a wonderful document of this artist’s creative depth.

I am fortunate to have met Steve when I had an in-store appearance with him while I was managing Rasputin’s Jazz and Soul record store in Berkeley, California in 1981. Steve is second from left, just to my right in this photo of that day (Rick Gillman far left, Lacy, Frystak, Michael Finney far right).

A kind and soft spoken personality belied his passionate, forward surging playing style.  His many bay-area fans that day were in heaven to be near this musical icon, myself included. He played later in the evening at U.C.Berkeley to a packed house. Steve passed in 2004 at age 69 years young, and I was fortunate to see him play multiple times, always searching and swinging in whatever context he found himself in.

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What We're Doing With What They've Done: Amoeba's "Vinyl Vaults"

Posted by Rick Frystak, April 28, 2013 07:15pm | Post a Comment

If you don't already know, we here at Amoeba are very much underway with our monumental archiving project for our website Amoeba.com, simply called the "Vinyl Vaults". It's a really spectacular beginning to what is and will be a huge undertaking in offering to the public digital transfers of the most remarkable older, oblique and hard to find works of creative peoples around the globe throughout the history of recording. I myself, am curating a large part of this, and have been very excitedly pulling out many, many unique pieces of vinyl out of the used LP buys that we take in at Amoeba's buying counters, and sending them into the ether (ie,our great team) to be archived and considered for sale on Amoeba.com. Our sound team takes these copies of the LPs, 7" singles and 78 rpm discs and digitizes them via ProTools, into 24-bit files, and then make mp3, mp4 and 16 bit .wav files (CD quality) from the 24-bit master and split up the sides into tracks for folks to download. We sometimes offer of the highest resolution 24-bit file as well for a certain title. And in many cases the original LP or 78 or 45 we used to digitize the sides is available right there next to the download. 


How do I decide what we save to digitize and offer to the public as I go through all these LPs? The records almost speak to me as I sift over the aquisitions we've purchased in the collections we buy. If I don't  know the record, I'll see the look of the cover, the paper texture, and the era of manufacture as the first things revealed. Even the weight and smell of the "thing". Exotic LPs have a feel to them, a way they communicate to the holder that they are something interesting, distinctly special, and a thing to be investigated further. If you've held a phonograph record in your hands  you know what I mean. Often the packaging will tell me what's inside, but how many records say "vocals" or "guitar" or "piano", and yet how different can all these records be? The actual sound on the disc is an exciting mystery of immense promise before I hear it. So then, to play a little bit, I "needle-drop" (sample bits of) so many records in a day. And it just so happens that Amoeba offers 1 1/2 minutes of free sample listening for all the records' songs, so this is comparable to how I listen to potential pieces for the Vaults. Once chosen, a disc will undergo a discerning ear's analysis and judgement for condition, and a little research to see if folks already know about this record. Ultimately, the bliss of finding a transcendent musical performance by a deceased or obscure artist or on a long-defunct label is intoxicating. And to think that others can later enjoy these provocative sounds via the "Vinyl Vaults"  is exhilarating.

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Amoeba 8-track Love from Tom Schnabel

Posted by Rick Frystak, November 4, 2012 06:57pm | Post a Comment

 "....Yet Another Reason Why Amoeba Rules."

 
Our pal Tom Schnabel, NPR and KCRW-FM icon and music wizard, posted a  cool remembrance of his day with 8 track cartridges. Remember those? They were cartridges with 1/4-inch tape inside that was divided up into 4 stereo programs (8 tracks) and were looped to play continuously. I had one in my Chevy after the 4-track craze and before the cassette boom. I loved it when a song would fade out mid-chorus and start up again on the next track! Ahhh...where's my dictaphone?
 
Check it out here!! And, Tom's website is right here!!
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