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I REMEMBER JOHN ABERCROMBIE, 1944-2017

Posted by Rick Frystak, September 4, 2017 02:12pm | Post a Comment


-photo Doug Proper

by Rick Frystak

Guitarist John Laird Abercrombie passed away of heart failure last week at the age of 72, too young an age for an artist who had so many more years of creativity left. John was one of my all-time favorite guitarists, one of only a handful of unique, tasteful ''jazz-rock'' guitarists who managed to create his own style and mature with it for all the years that he was active and making records.

John's playing had a swing, a lilt, perhaps a swaying effect that was captivating and had me eagerly anticipating his notes to see where he would go with a tune or a solo. His songs were quite often effectively moody and dark which I loved, but alternately funky, and always a good melody but left room for discovery. When he really let go, as he soon highlighted on his early solo records and the Billy Cobham big band records he could bring the house down. But when he turned inward, it was like telling a secret or a heartbreaking whisper. And his compositional directions were such an amalgamation of the old standard beauty and a new, ear-bending edginess.

I first heard John on the small, independent Oblivion label album, Friends, featuring Marc Cohen playing a searing electric alto sax, inspiring John to higher highs of energy I'd rarely heard outside of heavy rock, the whole group developing music that would be years ahead of it's time. Then came his first of a 43-year ECM Records relationship, the immortal, iconic Timeless, with Jack DeJohnette  and Jan Hammer (fresh out of Mahavishnu Orchestra and Billy Cobham's fantastic Spectrum album),which took the heaviness and beauty and made some of the most intense trio jazz since Tony Williams' Lifetime. He excelled in the trio format, and in his group with Peter Erskine and Marc Johnson they swung hard, burned.  He released his last ECM record this year, Up And Coming, which would be, as the press kit notes, his first album played without a pick, just using his fingers. This sound seems more buttery and lyrical, and would be the sweetening of John's later-career approach and character.

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An Other 'Best Music of 2016' List

Posted by Rick Frystak, December 31, 2016 01:45pm | Post a Comment

 


by Rick Frystak


Here in The Choice Bin, the wealth of superior new music that I get to be exposed to is just staggering.
The wealth of music around this whole planet is astounding, limited only by one's desires, with each new release or deep-dug reissue a shiny object for us to be drawn to. Walk into an Amoeba, an indie record store or check into some genre-specific internet radio and real college radio and you'll know what I mean. And this year was no exception for those who actively seek out new and old sounds and enjoy doing so.

As a youth I was glued to my AM and then FM radio, listening to Rock, Soul, Jazz and 20th Century Classical revelation. Some hosts would even compare hi-fi gear live on the air, using the latest LP cuts. We waited impatiently for stuff we'd heard to arrive at the 3 or 4 record stores in the vicinity. Then I rode to the record shop and bought my favorites, back then in mono for $1 cheaper, and later driving into Westwood for some small-label LP or expensive import that was a must-have. 

With the passing of many of our heroes so devastating, each moment of immersing oneself in their language and legacy is a precious one. And of course, there are the highly talented younger artists that bring a fresh, but well-informed element to their work and sometimes usher in new eras. Compelling, unfamiliar music seems to be discovered by me daily. Then to hear someone say, ''...nothing's happening musically now'', just sounds goofy. 

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Composer Carl Stone's Personal Record Collection For Sale at Amoeba Hollywood

Posted by Rick Frystak, October 3, 2014 01:01am | Post a Comment

Carl Stone LP Collection

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.

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Art for Garfunkel's Sake

Posted by Rick Frystak, June 26, 2014 10:40pm | Post a Comment

 

Ever since I first heard, "Dangling Conversation" and "Old Friends", I've loved Art Garfunkel's confident, husky-angel approach to harmony singing, and earnest, determined songsmith in his lead work with Paul Simon and...him. Not to mention all the hits these gents made, their work is of the highest caliber whenever they step up to the mic. Say what you will about Art, but that guy can SING!

Art's solo career doesn't immediately pop up in most folks' minds as being stellar hit-wise.  He did hit a high point in 1979 with "My Little Town" written and featuring Paul Simon on Art's Breakaway album, and Art won a Grammy Award in 1998 for Best Children's Album for Songs From A Parent To A Child.

Art's 1979 LP, Fate For Breakfast (Doubt For Dessert)wasn't destined for any such attention. It was Art's first music release to completely miss any top 40 chart position in the U.S., but here's an interesting sales tidbit: for this LP, the United Kingdom import edition featured another track not on the U.S. version, that was used in the film Watership Down, and stayed on the UK singles chart long enough to be the best selling single in the U/K for 1979!!! Art Garfunkel!! And...the LP went to No. 1 in New Zealand and Holland! Talk about a global marketing kerfuffle!

And, as if with a premonition of sorts for all this, and, in hopes to restart Art's arty-edgy-eclectic credibility, this release would prompt Columbia Records to go all-out on the packaging concept and warrant enough art department budget as to create at least different covers for the initial U.S pressing of the disc! Huh? For Art Garfunkel? Very odd, also, that references to this package usually say "five" different covers were made, but I have found six!!!! Could there be even more?? Click on one of the covers above to see a slide show of the 6 unique covers presently residing inside Amoeba's Vinyl Vault in Hollywood.

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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)

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