Amoeblog

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!!

Divine Discs of the Electronic Continuum

Posted by Rick Frystak, September 13, 2012 02:28pm | Post a Comment


I am a searcher, never quite satisfied with music and sounds that already exist. There are many like myself out there. I am consistently persuing electronics-based records like these herein that testify to the pioneering spirit of those musicians, composers and scientists in search of the newest “musical “sounds available via technology of all levels of sophistication. Throughout history the primitive object or idea will lead the way to a monumentally sophisticated one, and visa-versa, as long as one is paying attention. Take thefuzzbox for example. That thing lead a revolution of little boxes that one plugs one’s instrument into to get big, wild (and conversely subtle) effects on said instrument ranging from fuzzy distortion to multiple octave voices to…God knows what now, huge racks of processing gear for a single riff.  At the same time in another part of the culture, Joel Chadabeguys and gals in long white lab coats were fiddling with room-sized computers to get a single tone that was not produced by a musical instrument, but alas, hallehlujah, a machine did it! And other folks were stringing audio tape across rooms and cutting inches of tape recordings to compose new recordings (Musique Concrete) to make other recordings to manipulate and, well, you get it.

The sense of experimentation and the ability to manifest those ideas has never left the true creative artist. There are sonic “searchers” among us that will never be satisfied with what already exists in the known sound worlds, and it is this motivation that fuels records like these. The daring ones, without concern of peer’s criticisms or naysayer’s pessimism, have forged ahead with whatever tools available to take these ideas and run with…no, FLY with them to the edges of reality.

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A King's Ransom From Queens

Posted by Rick Frystak, July 9, 2012 03:04pm | Post a Comment
Virtuous vinyl votaries rejoice! Amoeba Music has just acquired a very choice collection of records from the Queens, NY area to resell in our Hollywood store and on Amoeba.com, a collection that is quite exhilarating to a record guy like myself, and very different from collections I've seen on the West coast or any coast. Beginning on July 21 at 10:30am, Amoeba will offer the first of these records for sale to the public at the Hollywood store, and right now some of them are online at Amoeba.com.

Eddie, the previous owner of the records, was a true record collector, but not in the sense of the must-own or traditional market-driven collectible pieces and sought-after titles. Instead he was a curator of alluring oddities, deviating from the mainstream and submersing himself in what he himself liked to listen to, always with the highest of ideals, a paradigm of good taste. He was able to keep his records in a condition that was exactly as he had bought them, and mantained the collection as if they were never played. Many of the records happen to be still sealed, as new!

Folks here in California will be awed by the breadth of the material and its integrity, consisting of mostly non-rock 'n roll genres, not-oft traded on this massive scale. Vocals, soundtracks, thousands of 20th-century classical and jazz titles, latin music and all locales of international artists are represented here, as well as folk, blues and spoken word. Rarely seen lounge sounds and easy listening cheesecake covers, great Amercan songwriters sitting right beside obscure new age and electronic music. Over 30,000 discs of very small and large labels, private pressings, boutique pressings and artist editions await inspection by Amoeba loyalists on the day these go on sale. As these discs were collected and maintained in the New York area, West Coast LP collectors will delight in perusing these platters just-in to Hollywood from 2,800 miles away!

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