Amoeblog

The Amoeba Jazz Blowout

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, August 24, 2009 02:04am | Post a Comment

In celebration of the Amoeba Hollywood Jazz Blowout sale, I’ve been spending time on my computer checking out older Jazz videos. In the process, I have rediscovered the many great performances from the Montreux Jazz Festival, which is held in Switzerland during the month of July. The festival, which started in 1967, was originally held at the old Montreux Casino until, of course, it burned down in 1971. The fire was apparently caused by “some stupid with a flare gun” while Frank Zappa was playing. You might heard about it in a little ditty by Deep Purple called “Smoke On The Water.” The casino was rebuilt but due to the enormity of the festival, it is now held at the larger Convention Centre in Montreux with two main stages and several small stages.

Perhaps every legendary jazz artist you can think of has played Montreux. Over the years the festival has become less about jazz and has opened its doors to all kinds of music. Still, for any musician, this is the place to be seen. Over two hundred thousand people attend the festival every year and even more see the performances via television, web casts and through the many DVDs that have been released over the years.

Just watching the highlights of the forty-two year history of the festival on Youtube was overwhelming. There have been thousands of solos of all kinds and excellent musicianship throughout; however, it's the vocalists that provide some of my favorites performances. I picked three videos that feature Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone and Elis Regina.

Aretha Franklin’s “Call Me” was originally released in 1970. It was a number one single on Billboard’s R&B chart. This performance is from the 1971 Montreux Jazz Festival.


You got to love Nina Simone! She takes Morris Albert’s buzz kill of a song, “Feelings,” and just takes it out! Listen to how she mocks the original song in the beginning. The audience must have been in shock that this legend would even attempt to play this shallow song. But in the end, her amazing vocal performance is only matched by her incredible piano playing, and the feelings are indeed unleashed. This performance is from 1976 and you can catch more of it on her Live At Montreux DVD.


During the mid-seventies, the festival began to open its doors to many Brazilian artists. I love this performance by Elis Regina. Not only did she perform a medley of Milton Nascimento songs, but she completely swayed a dull and bored Swiss audience by her sheer will. 


Not to cause confusion (since she's not technically jazz), but you can find Elis Regina releases in Amoeba Hollywood's World Music section, located under Brazil. Also, since Aretha is the Queen of Soul, that is is the section you'll find her in.

Amoeba Jazz Blow-Out Sale continues until August 28th. I have found some true gems for myself dirt cheap!

On Wednesday from 7-10 pm, Amoeba Hollywood's very own Rick Frystak will be doing an all jazz deejay set for your shopping pleasure. Do not sleep on this!

(In which Job learns he is no chicken.)

Posted by Job O Brother, November 10, 2008 03:17pm | Post a Comment

The view from my window. That store in the middle is Linda Thai - they have great food.

It’s a beautiful, autumn day in Hollywood. I’m sitting in my underwear at my open French doors which overlook my bustling community and writing this sentence. Well, I was. Now I’m writing this sentence.

Suddenly, I begin a new paragraph and with it, a faint sense of dread seeps in, because I realize I’m writing about writing, and there’s only so long that that is cute. It could quickly descend into obnoxiousness.

So I choose to focus on your face. Your sweet, shining face reading this blog entry. I can feel your eyes gaze on these words, and my heart grows warm. A little too warm. This is uncomfortable, actually.

I think I might be having a heart attack.

Which reminds me of that age-old question: What music would you like to be listening to when you’re experiencing myocardial infarction (or, as they call it on the East Coast, Hellmann’s)?

It’s a tricky question because you want something that will keep your spirits up as you endure the occlusion of your coronary artery following the rupture of a vulnerable atherosclerotic plaque, but you don’t want anything too loud and jarring when an unstable collection of lipids and macrophages ruptures the wall of your artery. Plus, it should be catchy. Anything that meanders like, say, late Scott Walker or Laura Nyro is going to annoy your nurses every time. Nurses hate Laura Nyro when they’re working. Also  they don’t like it when you call them “mommy”.

“My pain scale is a 5, Mommy,” is all you have to say and they’ll shoot you a look so cold you’d think you were in the E.R. for hypothermia. It doesn’t matter that you’re trying to make things more cozy and homey. Ask them “Why are you hurting me with that needle, Mommy?” and forget about it. No good pills for you. (This is different if the nurse is male, however, in which case they not only think it’s cute that you call them “mommy” but will often scribble their personal home phone number on your electrocardiogram.)

The results come back and you learn that it wasn’t a heart attack at all, rather, your heart just broke a little bit. It broke a little bit because California, the state you’re so proud of (normally) and which has for so long been on the cutting edge of liberty (normally) has decided to pass Proposition 8, which basically lets me know how the majority of voters think about my sexuality (abnormally).

The pain is compounded when you learn that the success of this measure was due in no small part to the Mormons and the African-American community. But I guess that’s to be expected, since neither group really knows or understands what it’s like to be an oppressed minority, right?

Um…
 

The new home of California politics: Salt Lake Temple, Utah

But this is a music blog, not the Huffington Post, so I’m going to separate myself from this issue which is HURTING ME SO VERY, VERY DEEPLY and concentrate on the music I’ve been listening to since Election Day, 2008.

Each selection appeals to me because it reminds me of people who have lived through harder times than myself. People who bore the brunt of tremendous injustice and still managed to create music ripe with dignity, intelligence, and unvanquished spirit. When I hear the selections below, I regain a sense of will and courage that must see me through until I am no longer an object of HATE simply because of who I choose to LOVE.

Nina Simone
Pirate Jenny
 


Paul Robeson Ol' Man River

(with alternate lyrics by Paul Robeson)



Ludwig Van Beethoven Symphony No. 3
conducted by Herbert Von Karajan



(In which Job strays, but remains Faithfull in his heart.)

Posted by Job O Brother, July 16, 2008 09:10am | Post a Comment

My apartment. ...Or wait - No, this is a picture of Dresden after the bombing.

I’m looking around my apartment for a conversational starting point. My apartment is a mess right now, so there’s a lot to see:

A full hamper of clean clothes that I haven’t yet folded and tucked away.

The (amazing and important) Paul Robeson DVD box set that Criterion released. On top of that is the Nina Simone “Four Women” anthology that Charles loaned me.

My stereo, upon which some Marianne Faithfull recordings of Kurt Weill is playing.

Books everywhere, the closest of which, to me, is “Scum Manifesto” by that blithe and sparkling literary pixie, Valerie Solanas.

A drop-leaf table from Ikea that’s nearly completed construction (since February).

A computer upon which I’m writing an, as yet, trite and aimless blog.

I really should clean this place up.

You know, speaking of Marianne Faithfull, she came into Amoeba Hollywood not that long ago. Normally, when celebrities shop our store (every hour, it seems) I turn a blind eye. I don’t want to be “that guy” that demands some stranger’s time because I “feel” like I “know them” because they played some teen star’s mom on some trite and aimless sitcom.

However, when Kim and Logan came racing back to the soundtrack section to tell me they spotted the glorious Ms. Faithfull inside, I dropped everything and gave chase. I knew, from friends’ stories, that Ms. Faithfull was gracious; besides, I admire her so much that it would be an honor just to have her snub me, so I couldn’t lose, either way.

She was already descending the stairway to the parking garage by the time I found her. She heard my footsteps on the cement above and turned around – huge, black sunglasses covering her eyes. I stopped – froze. I hadn’t thought further than finding her, and now that I had, I didn’t know what to do with the situation.

She removed her sunglasses and we made eye contact. I spoke.

Speaking of speaking, I wish everyone would learn Sign Language. There’s so many instances in which it would be helpful if y’all did. When watching a movie, as an alternative to yelling across a room, when gossiping behind someone’s back, etc.

There’s a million household uses! But none of this has anything to do with music or movies or Amoeba. As you can imagine, I don’t get a lot of opportunities to speak Sign Language, working in a record store. (Sighs.)

And what does any of this have to do with Marianne Faithfull and my story? Well… urr… would you believe there’s, like, some Da Vinci Code-like clues within the above paragraph? Like, in a couple centuries, historians and code-breakers will marvel at the intricate mysteries woven within this blog’s text?
 

Would you believe that?

My framed photograph of Pope Paul VI is askew. And that Japanese import of Christine McVie’s legendary, self-titled, solo debut “Christine Perfect” isn’t going to put itself away, you know.
 

Christine Perfect. What a great name. Why would she change it? I don’t care how much she loved John McVie.

How cool would it have been for her and Marianne to do an album together? “Perfect & Faithfull” they could have been. Both of them with their rich, husky voices and cool, British poise.

Speaking of Marianne Faithfull, I opened my mouth and a gush of admiration came out, as I thanked her for the hours and hours of joy her work had provided me. She listened with a sweet and present smile, availing herself to “our” moment – a true professional, aware of her role as someone to admire.

Not wanting to keep her from her life, I quickly excused myself. I returned to the soundtrack section feeling effervescently rad.

You know, I could blog you some facts about Marianne’s life or career or something (such as the fact that she was the first woman to perform music on the Moon, or that, at age 9, she was briefly married to Albert Einstein, just before he died*), but there’s plenty of resources that do that already. I’d just assume tell you this little story and include some of her work so you can experience it for yourself.

She covered a lot of territory in her long career, so there’s a period of Marianne for most everyone. Whether you love her folksy, Anglo-Saxony, early works...

...or her tough-as-nails, fueled by junk and NYC, pop of the 70’s/80’s...

...or her gloomy, cabaret crooning of the 90’s...

...to her re-emergence as confessional popstar with albums produced by PJ Harvey, Beck, and others.

Well… I guess that’s another blog done. And I guess it’s about Marianne Faithfull, which pleases me. But it’s done nothing to help clean my filthy apartment. My filthy, dirty apartment. Naughty, naughty apartment! You’ve been bad, haven’t you? You filthy apartment.

Why am I still writing? Stop! Stop it!

*
Not actual facts.

My soul be lifted and sanctified.

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, November 12, 2007 10:06am | Post a Comment
I look around every day and see people being awful to one another, I see everything from violence to rude. I have to say to anyone who reads this: there is no excuse for it. Not a one. Ever.



For myself, Nina Simone is the high priestess of kicking your ass, among many other talents. My day required this video, and I hope it touched your day as well.


 -The Insomniac
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