By Brent James
Nestled inconspicuously on 12th Street in West Oakland in a neighborhood known as Prescott (or the “Lower Bottoms” to the longtime residents of the area) is a quaint little building that you will probably miss if you blink. A structure of brick and hardwood and matted red carpets that haven’t been touched since the 1960s, the building standing at 1658 12th Street is the Continental Club – a once a mighty Jazz and Blues supper joint that helped Oakland and the East Bay Area garner the reputation of being the “Motown of the West.” Along with Slim Jenkins’ Supper Club, Esther’s Orbit Room, and dozens of other nightclubs that sprawled along 7th Street, the stages in these rooms once hosted the likes of Jackie Wilson, Aretha Franklin, Lou Rawls, Etta James, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Ike and Tina Turner, and even Jimi Hendrix. The list goes on and the stories are endless if you’re lucky enough to get some face time with the “old timers” of the area. In this neighborhood, people still say “good morning” and spend many a Summer night on their porches, so that’s pretty easy to do.
By Brent James
They say music can be life-changing. I’ll buy that. Probably the most important and profound post-Beatles record in my Jazz life, or even my musical, personal and business life (you’ll see), was Emergency! by the The Tony Willams Lifetime. That’s a big sentence for an LP fiend like me. ONE record led by a drummer did all that? To me, Jazz is a huge, beautiful expression of the American Classical music, no small accomplishment in the last 100 years with everything out there. And I remember as if was yesterday how this record came to change my life.
In high school and later I was in a bluesy, Procol Harum-meets-Jefferson Airplane-style outfit called Moonfleet, after the film. We had the town and the era by the ear, so naturally we were asked to play our own Senior Picnic close to graduation at Westchester High School (still there), near the beach in L.A. I had played drums at another Senior picnic and I knew the picnics were free-for–all's in those days. We were excited to blow our fellow student’s minds, with coffins and dancers and fiery entertainment, with myself on guitar then.
As per our gig deal, the school had hired a PA system for our show. The day came and we pulled in for a sound check with our equipment. What the hell? It’s a flat bed truck set up on the Jr. Varsity lawn!! With nice club-PA speakers! Loud!! With audio guys that knew what they were doing!! We had a big stage with good sound. But, hey, that music, coming over the system?
Calling all Jazz vinyl hounds! A fantastically huge and choice used LP collection pressed in the late 1950s to the late 1960s hits the floor here at Amoeba SF this Saturday, October 11th. Expect true gems on Impulse, Blue Note, Verve, and Prestige from artists like John Coltrane, Shirley Scott, Donald Byrd, Stanley Turrentine, Red Garland, Lee Morgan, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Wayne Shorter, and so many more.
The LPs are in excellent condition and they won't last long! Come early for the best selection.
Amoeba Hollywood has purchased one of the finest record collections that I have ever set eyes upon in my record store days (and that's about 13,870 days)!! Here we have obscure gems aplenty, many I've only seen perhaps once in my life, but here they are, side by side with records I've never ever seen before, and ones previously only legendary. In other words, a wonderful, rare collection!!!
Yes friends, I have negotiated a mutually satisfactory agreement that has allowed Amoeba to obtain the personal record collection of Mr. Carl Stone himself. Yes, THAT Carl Stone, composer and electronic sound artist extraordinaire, 21st-Century cultural icon, and truly a connoisseur of recorded sound in the left-of-center areas of many genres, and they are all here in the collection for sale in Amoeba's Hollywood store beginning the weekend of October 11 & 12: Avant Garde, Electronic, Musique Concrete, Experimental, Renaissance, Baroque, Medieval, Classical, New Music, World music, Jazz, No Wave, New Wave, Power Pop, Punk rock, Post-Punk, Industrial, and various "roots" musics. All are original 1st pressings of mostly small, independent labels with loads of private pressings and imports.
Just, like, two words: mind blowing!!
This array of breathtaking LPs reflect Carl's usual pattern of being dead-center, ground zero, really at the apex of "what's happening" in music, never more true than in the pre-CD days of this collection...a forward-thinking and quite wide-minded person's...one that doesn't come along very often. Don't think for a second that Professor Stone hasn't been feeding a constant, perhaps life-sustaining hunger to hear for himself the latest, most creatively interesting and challenging music (and in his case, even the sound of a big-piped sports car or machinery), from all over the world and across all genres. I presume he always has, and this collection of vinyl reveals that fact in every liner note and cover spine. Collectors like this are searchers, never quite satisfied with what is, what was, or even what "shall" be, barely trusting word of mouth and the writing on the walls. We collectors shake down anything that could offer that special chord combination, the emotional rush, the personal spirituality button pushed, or a memory bubbling over God-knows-how and why. Often these elusive platters make just a brief appearance in our airspace, only to become a faded memory, "Yeah, I saw that once at Amoeba…", or more likely, a 3 a.m.-tossing-and-turning-I'm-going-back-first-thing-in-the-morning-I-hope-it's-still-there angst-filled moment. Carl looked high, low, in, out and around for significant records. Carl got beaucoup promos sent to him. Carl had people hold things for him. Artists sent Carl their records out of the blue. Carl impulse-bought. Good record labels covered Carl. Carl special ordered records. Carl travelled the world and bought records as meals for his soul.
Some of our staff have picked out essential albums from Blue Note Records that should satisfy both the purist and the newcomer to go along with Sonos Studio’s brilliant exhibition celebrating the label's 75th anniversary.
A bit about Blue Note’s history: The label was in 1939 by Alfred Lion and Max Margulis, getting its name from the “blue notes” of blues and jazz, or notes sung a bit lower than the major scale for expressive purposes. Moving from traditional jazz to some bebop (including artists like Thelonious Monk) in the 1940s and hard bop (artists such as Horace Silver) in the 1950s, Blue Note distinguished itself by paying musicians for rehearsals as well as recordings, in order to ensure a better final product. With iconic album artwork by Esquire designer Reid Miles (using photographs of the musician in session, taken by Blue Note’s Francis Wolff), Blue Note made its name as one of the most influential labels in jazz music, later issuing records by free jazz musicians like Ornette Coleman and popular musicians like Herbie Hancock, having records sampled in hip-hop records by the likes of Madlib and, now, seeing massive success with mainstream artists like Norah Jones.