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McCoy Tyner Rests in Powerful Memories

Posted by Rick Frystak, April 1, 2020 08:01pm | Post a Comment

McCoy Tyner Enlightenment

By Rick Frystak
McCoy Tyner is a huge influence in my own musical life, and not just his physique (more on that later). Mostly as he was playing WITH John Coltrane and others, not BEHIND them, or supporting them. Whomever he played with, it was a BAND. 'Tranes group, of course as with many quartets, quintets (all of Van Gelder’s wonderful Blue Note work comes to mind), displaying his exceptional chordal prowess, especially when I could hear what he would do with 4ths and 5ths of the root note to set up a mood of mystery, swing or ANY place that he and the band wanted to go with the tune and the intervals. THEY, as a band could use. But those were HIS chords. He owned them. His passing has more depth to me as time passes. And the really raw power that man had in his hands, running down the wood onto the wires! It was clear that he was destined for greatness, and already being great because of his strength of originality.

Even though she came after McCoy in John’s group, Alice Coltrane was the logical extension of McCoy’s sound, but with naturally, a gentler touch, and therefore a direction of the tonal aspect of the band. And Mr. Tyner’s hand size could be compared to first-baseman’s mitts in size. As in, HUGE! And just by the way she stood, one could tell that Alice had a shy sensitivity that magic-carpeted the sound to its NEXT phase, post-Live In Seattle period. In fact, Live at the Village Vanguard Volume 2 is one of this group's finest hours, and if a finer Impulse! master exists someplace, or any outtakes, I would go nuts hearing it. God forbid it was in the UNI vaults and therefore the fires...

I shall never ever forget the singular time I witnessed McCoy in concert, the feeling of sitting there in that seat. It was at a club under the Redondo Beach pier, called Concerts By The Sea. Records have been made there, as it was owned by Howard Rumsey, and it was up on the pier previous to being UNDER the pier. McCoy had a powerhouse of a band then about the time of Focal Point, with Eric Gravatt on drums, Gary Bartz or Sonny Fortune (?) on alto and Charles Fambrough on double bass and Guillaume Franco on percussion. The concert seemed nothing like the LP, as if the mastering was too difficult to capture this power I speak of. Anyway, between McCoy and Eric, the front row of seats were literally blown away-the folks sitting there moved back about 3 rows, and thirsty! Doubly frustrating was the fact than in the U-shape seating there were only ten rows of seats in each section, maybe 75 seats. And add to this the very powerful presence of Mr. Gravatt on drums, fresh off the Live in Tokyo trip by Weather Report, edited down to side 2 of I Sing The Body Electric; another fantastic showcase of over-driven-Rhodes/drums/The Wayne/The Miroslav. And Eric with his 90-degree cymbal position of jazz cat lore complete with Frank Zappa hype sticker you do not see many of those). Gravatt truly has his own co-Alphonse Mouzon-ish style that fits so well with McCoy’s. It’s another match made in the cosmos. It is as if McCoy’s Sahara album is live right here and now.  Frank Zappa sticker

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New "What's In My Bag?" Episode with Lee Fields

Posted by Amoebite, November 27, 2019 03:21pm | Post a Comment

Lee Fields - What's In My Bag?

We were honored to have Soul legend Lee Fields here at Amoeba Hollywood showing us some of his favorite records and artists, such as the iconic jazz, R&B singer/songwriter Nina Simone. Fields picked up a vinyl reissue of her album Black Gold, which features the song 'To Be Young, Gifted and Black.' "In the turmoil of the '60s, it was inspiring. It was needed at the time," he told us. "She wrote the right song at the right time," he proclaimed, continuing, "people of color didn't have too many role models, and she was one. It seemed like she had attitude, but she was smooth enough to be in control of her attitude. And at the time, a person like that, being black, was someone we could look up to." Lee Fields found a killer stack of records, and lots of insightful things to say about all of them, making for a fun and meaningful What's In My Bag? video.

Lee Fields has always lived ahead of his time -- he hired Sharon Jones as a background singer and brought Charles Bradley on tour as an opener -- and his latest album, It Rains Love, drenches his time-Lee Fields - It Rains Love - Amoeba Musictested sound in the kindness, wisdom, and unyielding groove that have affirmed his position as the new godfather of soul.

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Oaktown Jazz Workshops: 25th Anniversary Celebration at Yoshi's Oakland, 11/12

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, November 5, 2019 04:30pm | Post a Comment

Amoeba is proud to be a sponsor of the Oaktown Jazz Workshops: 25th Anniversary Celebration at Yoshi’s Oakland on Tuesday, November 12th from 8pm – 10pm. Performances will feature saxophonist and Oaktown Jazz Workshops (OJW) instructor Richard Howell, pianist and MC Kev Choice, seven-time Grammy nominated percussionist John Santos, and pianist Marco Diaz, plus outstanding OJW Alumni Elé Howell, Jesse Levit, Ian McArdle, Tim McKay, Ranzel Merritt Jr., Erika Oba, Rafa Postel, Ruthie Price, and the Oaktown Jazz Workshops’ Youth Performance Ensemble. All proceeds from this benefit concert will support OJW’s music education for youth across the Bay Area.

Formed in 1994 by the late jazz trumpeter Khalil Shaheed, Oaktown Jazz Workshops is a non-profit community-based organization dedicated to passing on the tradition of jazz music to young people through music instruction and educational presentations. Located in Jack London Square, OJW continues to promote, preserve, and present jazz music so that youth develop a sense of ownership and pride in this uniquely American cultural and artistic heritage.

Get your tickets HERE!

Miles’ Bitches Brew is 50 Years Old.

Posted by Rick Frystak, September 9, 2019 01:46pm | Post a Comment
 
Miles DavisBitches Brew was hatched 50 years ago to the public. Unbelievable. Columbia did a 40 Year Anniversary box set of the record, so I don’t expect costs or sales in the current marketplace to allow a 50-year version. Bitches Brew IS NOT LIKE OTHER records of its time, or any time. It should have a hype sticker on the outside. I believe it had a ‘’2-LP’’ sticker or something to let you know, or to entice you to buy/warn you. The first time I heard any of It was on a series of bootleg LPs that sounded like it was just hard core jamming, with the gents’ strict orders to play their asses off, and LOUDLY! The music itself was more like In ASilent Way at a faster tempo, dipped in more distortion, courtesy Chick’s Rhodes set to 11, and at faster tempi. There was a bigger hit of funk in this, due to Jack Dejohnette’s evolvement in the groove that was happening. I was familiar and in awe of the players, hence my interest in the first place. 
 
Then it came out on a legit 2-fer, with German painter Mati Klarwein’s fantastic gatefold artwork, so mysterious, tribal and enticing. It contributed to many sales of the record, no doubt, and just the title-Bitches Brew-challenged the norm of the day (this was 1970), visually wreaked havoc on one’s imagination, and surely tugged at the sexuality of anyone who checked it out. And that cover REALLY made you want to check it out. To this day.
 
Miles was letting the cats do their own thing, and then Teo would edit later. These cuts (or sections of them) began showing up on the boots from 1969, and many have wonderful sound quality. Miles’ album Live-Evil held edits of some of these remarkable sessions. Differing speakers tighten the sound considerably, giving the electric pianos a sound stage that blends them into what sounds like one Rhodes Piano. On headphones, Airto has some definite African groove spinning out of his groovy Brazilian head, plus some animal effects emanating from his prowess. These are especially prominent in the live cuts released in the subsequent Bitches Brew Live album.

Miles had discarded the RMI electric pianos around this time. Good. Rhodes ruled. I love the spacey dissonance of the 2 or 3 Fender Rhodes pianos-they sound like one person with fifteen fingers. These fingers split themselves into a Zawinul, a Corea, a Hancock and on the guitar, a McLaughlin, not to give short shrift to a Billy Cobham, Tony WilliamsLarry Young and the whole, big world of jazz-rock legends that those fingers were dancing to. Listening now, can you believe that this music was the beginning of huge new styles in jazz-rock thought up in the mid-late 60’s?

OK, so then the studio record(s) came out as a 2-LP set on Columbia Records’ 360-degree label. There are SOME allusions to BItches Brew on all Miles’ discs located around this time. You’ve got Harvey Brooks,  Electric Flag’s bass player on most of the studio material, shadowing Dave Holland, but never live, so only a studio thing. Was he Miles’ choice ‘cuz he dug the Flag, or what? I guess he had worked on Betty Davis’ LP around this time, and Miles dug what he was doing. He works out about half the time, the rest of the time he’s echoing Holland with Zawinul, Jack and Chick, or just doing garage band rock grooves. It gave producer Teo Macero more stuff to edit in. You’ve got Larry Young doing his best juju, but not live. There is a treasure of known innovators here, but mostly Chick, Jack, Dave, Keith and Airto, with Zawinul, Cobham and Herbie on the studio cuts. All these ‘’complete’’ box sets show the progress of Miles’ and Teo’s thinking, and I have my favorites. Here, we’re talking Bitches Brew. Bennie Maupin’s, bass clarinet added a foreboding sense of the spookyness, perhaps the best reflection of the cover art and another stroke of genius, musically, in this particular brew de’ bitch. But it’s the foundation of later jazz-rock that we have here, so big deal, indeed.

Currently we’ve got what Sony calls, ‘’The Legacy Series.’’  These have been remixed and remastered by Teo Macero and various other engineer types in the era (Stan Tonkel, Russ Payne, etc.). Legally, I understand that Joe Zawinul had to squeeze Miles to get his name credited to some of the pieces (Pharoah’s Dance, In A Silent Way, etc) that he rightfully wrote. What’s ‘’writing’’ in this context? In A Silent Way is clearly a song Joe was working on, with extra music and changes with Cannonball and on his first solo album. 

Bitches Brew is not like other of Miles’ recordings that he recorded at that time. Live, you could hear his huge change of direction, starting with his own playing, with leaping, searching whelps of chromatic blues and then into the Jack Dejohnette/Chick Corea/ Keith Jarrett show, Jack doing his massive, rolling funk trip and Chick squeezing every sound possible from the Rhodes with distortion and a ring modulator attached. And don’t forget Keith Jarrett’s last use of electronics  (including Ruta and Daitya, cut in 1972 on ECM) before going 100% acoustic, here playing the long-discontinued Fender Contempo Combo organ which Miles must have thought blended nicely with the Rhodes. To me it sounds like something you’d borrow from the kid down the street for a garage jam, but oddly sounds wonderful in Keith Jarrett’s hands, used in unison with other riffs Keith was playing. This is best illustrated in the Complete Cellar Door sessions that Sony released from 1970 sessions at that club.
 
Do you have The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions box set? Most of the unreleased (until this box set ) cuts I like better than the actual released LP takes. You can hear Miles reaching out into differing styles much more than what we’re given in the official release, pretty much a lot of similar jams that Teo Macero and Miles chose to edit severely. In fact, this is a major editing project, one that makes the tracks blossom into ‘’songs’’ that were deemed the right direction for Miles to present to his audience as his current sound. I suppose that continuity was a factor in putting the set together as time would tell.
 
Mobile Fidelity, the audiophile remastering company has released a great sounding remastered version of the record here.  Mobile Fidelity has also released In A Silent Way, with some Bitches Brew-intended material included which were meant for some of Miles' projects. Who knows, with all the tape editing, what made it and what ended up on the floor.
  
The in A Silent Way box set (highly recommended) delivers the last of the more compositional Miles cuts, many written by Wayne Shorter. Wayne does drop ‘’Sanctuary’’ into the whole Brew, almost to add a little respite to the 15-finger sound that the rest of the tracks deliver. At this time, too, Wayne was pulling back as THE writer, saving his stuff for Weather Reportand knowing from what I hear in the live situation (Wayne didn’t make the Newport Jazz Fest at this time because of traffic getting in!), that he would enjoy less improvising, as his composing was becoming more and more interesting.
 
In this remix culture, the calls to remix this record are moot-it’s been done at least twice already. The Quadraphonic remix, which plays normally and wonderfully in stereo is available all over, (I’ve seen many copies at Amoeba Music) as many original Quad Columbia LPs are. They made a big commitment to Quad when the format came out. The Quad mixes are just a few guys in a room remixing the multitrack tapes into 4 channels. These might be 3-track mixes,( folded out? )into four. Or, they could be 8-track recordings, so says Sony engineer Mark Wilder. One hears some totally different playing, unedited by Teo, and different movement in the whole project. Absolutely fascinating. There is also a Japanese Quad SA-CD 2-disc that may be remixed by Teo. I have not heard those mixes.
 
The Legacy Edition that you get when you buy the current version states that it has  been remixed and mastered by Teo Macero. This could be in error, as Teo does not mention these in his subsequent interviews, and Miles can’t comment.
 
To read a difinitive article about the Bitches Brew album, sessions and methodology, go to Paul Tingen’s phenomenal piece in Jazztimes magazine from July 2017 here: https://jazztimes.com/author/paul-tingen/

New "What's In My Bag?" Episode with Adrian Younge

Posted by Amoebite, July 30, 2019 03:07pm | Post a Comment

Adrian Younge - What's In My Bag? Amoeba Music

LA music producer, composer, multi-instrumentalist, and sharp-dressed man Adrian Younge visited Amoeba Hollywood recently and talked with us about his introduction to jazz, the influence of David Axelrod's compositions on hip-hop, and the band that inspired him to learn how to play instruments in our latest What's In My Bag? episode.

Often fusing the genres of soul, hip-hop, funk, and jazz, Adrian Younge first attracted critical acclaim for his score to the Adrian Younge Produced By2009 blaxploitation flick Black Dynamite. In addition to his roles as producer and composer, Younge was responsible for the majority of the music on the score, performing over a dozen instruments himself with support from a handful of vocalists and instrumentalists. Wax Poetics released Younge's score later that year. The success of Black Dynamite led Younge to relaunch his earlier Venice Dawn project; as a result, Wax Poetics released his atmospheric Something About April LP in 2011.

In 2013, Younge teamed up with The Delfonics, a major influence on Adrian, for the LP Adrian Younge Presents the Delfonics. Shortly afterward, Younge joined forces with Ghostface Killah for Adrian Younge Presents Twelve Reasons to Die. His next high-profile collaboration was 2014's Adrian Younge Presents There Is Only Now with Souls of Mischief. Working tirelessly, Younge followed this up with work on Bilal's In Another Life and Ghostface's Twelve Reasons to Die II. In 2016, Something About April II came out, with contributions from Raphael Saadiq and Laetitia Sadier. That same year, Younge released The Electronique Void, a synth-heavy concept LP featuring narration from Jack Waterson, and joined forces with Ali Shaheed Muhammad on the Luke Cage soundtrack. Younge has also worked with or been sampled by Kendrick Lamar, Common, and Jay-Z. In 2019, he released Produced By Adrian Younge, which features vocals by Black Thought, Estelle, Georgia Anne Muldrow and more.

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