Marshall Allen / Kash Killion: “Two Stars In The Universe”

Posted in 33 rpm, Free Jazz, jazz, Marshall Allen, Sun Ra with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2014 by crownpropeller

SOME COPIES STILL AVAILABLE!

As vaguely announced at the end of this post, my friend Hubi and me along with sound engineer Dario went to Poschiavo in summer 2012 to see the Sun Ra Arkestra under the direction of Maestro Marshall Allen and make a recording of  Allen to be released on a limited edition vinyl LP.

Crown Propeller’s blog announces that this record, “Two Stars in The Universe”, featuring duets by Marshall Allen with masterful cellist, bolon/bolong and sarangi player Kash Killion, will now be released as Little Rocket Records LP001 on May 22nd!

So what does it sound like? Have a glimpse at our little  promotion video to get an idea:

Note though, that the sound on all video clips in this blog post is directly from the camera’s microphone. The LP sounds much better. A short mp3 excerpt from the original master can be had on request.

cover-goldLittle Rocket LP 001 will be released on May 22nd, 2014

So how did this come to happen? My friend Hubi  and me are long time devotees of that cosmic being called Sun Ra. And we both developed a deep love for the idiosyncratic sound of  alto saxophonist and now Arkestra leader Marshall Allen.

So when in spring of 2012 we heard that the Arkestra will be accompanying two theatrical productions during three days at the Uncool Festival  in Poschiavo (at the the south-eastern end of Switzerland), we had the idea to record Allen playing solo, since we wanted  to capture his sound pure and unaccompanied. Since we both are also what you would call vinyl junkies it was decided there and then that we will be trying to release a limited edition vinyl LP and found a little record company that will exist until the copies are sold out.

allen:killion_black_gold

Marshall Allen and Kash Killion in Poschiavo, June 21, 2012

We decided to try to reach Marshall via Cornelia Müller who runs the Uncool Festival. Finally a week before the Poschiavo event,  Marshall let us know through Cornelia that he was ready and willing. Cornelia promised to get a room organized for thursday, June 21. So Hubi, me and our engineer Dario on wednesday made the six hour car ride to see the Arkestra’s evening show and record Marshall the next day.

road

On the way to Poschiavo in the beautiful Poschiavo valley

I had become sick a day right before our trip and had a bad fever when we arrived in Poschiavo and were told by Cornelia that it was hard to organize a room and that maybe we should ask around the small village for a room to record in on the next morning. I thought: ok, this is the end of our little adventure, as I could not imagine knocking at unsuspecting people’s doors and asking them if we could maybe record some free jazz in there barn or their living room. Nonetheless I managed to enjoy the three hour Arkestra gig that evening. Marshall – at that time 88 years old – was blowing, directing the band, singing, dancing all evening through without ever sitting down for a minute – clearly music is his fuel. Excerpts from that concert can be found here.

marshall_on_stageMarshall Allen fronting the Arkestra in Poschiavo, June 20, 2012.

marshall_on_stage_2Marshall Allen on stage in Poschiavo, June 20, 2012.

I had a sleepless, fevery night and on the next morning Dario, our italian speaking and good looking sound engineer, talked a hotel maid into letting us use the Hotel’s diner room. But then on our way to breakfast we met Cornelia again who told us that she managed to get a room anyway and Marshall would be ready to meet us at 12 o’ clock.

 

spazioLo Spazio in Poschiavo

The room turned out to be Cornelia’s living room in her house and artists’ space “Lo Spazio”. The room had very beautiful acoustics – so we were happy. But then Marshall appeared and told us he really was not in the mood for playing solo since he needs (an)other person(s) to react to: “I am a band musician”. So this again sounded like the end of it – but we had the  idea to ask Marshall if there is someone in the band he’d like to record in a duo context with. Marshall said that yes, he’d like to record with Kash Killion who is playing cello with the Arkestra on and off since 1991. This sounded very promising to us, so we gathered some more cash together to be able to pay Kash something as well.

dario_allen

Sound engineer “Il Nuovo Presidente” Dario and Marshall Allen

We phoned Kash who was ready to come over from his hotel at once and brought along his cello, a Sarangi – the queen of indian instruments because it is so close to the human voice (Killion has studied  the instrument with the great indian master Ali Akbar Khan) – as well as a Bolong (also spelled Bolon) – a harp from west africa that also functions as a percussive instrument when you hit the neck and the gourd.

setting_upSetting up: Dario, Marshall Allen and Kash Killion in Poschiavo, June 21, 2012.

Marshall and Kash played beautiful improvised music for two and a half hours without ever talking about what to play next and visibly having fun all the while. We just sat there in awe not daring to interfere or make any suggestions like true producers are supposed to do (or are they?).

sessionOff we go: Marshall Allen and Kash Killion at the Little Rocket Records
recording session, Poschiavo, June 21, 2012.

Here’s a little view into the recording session, Marshall Allen on flute and Kash Killion on Sarangi playing an improvisation they later titled “India Reflections”:

happyIt’s done: Marshall Allen, Armin Büttner, Hubi Horst and Kash Killion,
Poschiavo, June 21, 2012.

¨allenkilliondarioAfter the session: Marshall Allen, Dario and Kash Killion

 Apart from choosing the tracks for release we did not do any editing or massive post production. We just choose complete tracks as Dario recorded all of this so perfectly – standing in a half bowed, body devastating position in front of the musicians all this time, a little digital recorder in his hands.

“Two Stars in The Universe” as the LP was titled by Marshall and Kash is a beautiful, surprisingly quiet and moody but also very joyful record of many colors. Besides alto saxophone and flute Marshall also plays one of those old small Casio keyboards. I always think he is channeling messages from Sun Ra with it. If you listen to his Casio playing on “Cosmic Blues-Life Of Two”: Hearing the rattling sound of it’s keys struck by Marshall, you’ll notice that he uses the same fluttering up and down hand movements  that he uses when producing the freaky alto sounds he is known for. Here is an excerpt from “Cosmo Blues-Life of Two”:

 

I had to be back at the office the next day, so we had to return. But after I told my girlfriend about the experience, she went down to Poschiavo for the last Arkestra show a day later. After the – again very long concert – Marshall and Kash Killion sat down stage front after most people had already left and played kora and bolon for a while. You can see again that they really enjoy playing together:


(Video courtesy of The Sun Ra Arkestra)

All 250 copies of the 180 gram vinyl  LP  “Two Stars In The Universe” have handprinted (silk-screened) covers. Some are printed in gold on black, some in silver, blue, or white, we think it came out very nice. Here is a little clip from the silk-screening process. Music for this video is an excerpt from an unreleased track, recorded with a photo camera after session for the LP had already ended.

silk_screenBeautifully designed (thanks, M.!!!) and freshly silk-screened

Unfortunately this did not make the thing cheap. This beauty will cost 35 Dollars (postage – which is high – not included). This will hopefully allow us to get back our expenses if nothing more.

The record will be officially released at the Arkestra concert in Zurich on May 22nd, Sun Ra’s 100th Arrival-on-Earth-Jubilee. Since there is no real distribution, the way to go is contact me directly if one wants to obtain a copy. Please use the comment section of this post to get in contact.

Enjoy!

Montreux Solo Piano: Ray Bryant / Andrew Hill

Posted in Andrew Hiill, clips, jazz, Ray Bryant with tags , , , , , , on October 16, 2014 by crownpropeller

rayshotRay Bryant in Montreux 1972.

hillshotAndrew Hill in Montreux 1975.

In the 1970s the Montreux Jazz Festival alwas presented at least one solo piano concert. For example in 1974 there were concerts by Earl Hines and by Cecil Taylor, which I did present here.  Since I noticed that that blog entry gathered some interest, I decided to look if there’s some more solo piano from Montreux in the vast collection of my late friend Otto Flückiger. And there is!

 

First from June 23, 1972, we have Ray Bryant’s appearance. At least parts of his set were released on this Atlantic LP

rblp

Since I do not own this LP, I can not tell you what parts of it are in the TV footage. Bothe the record and the video start with Gotta Travel On.

The other solo piano clip from Montreux I found comes from July 20, 1975. This concert by Andrew Hill also resulted in an LP:

ahlp

But again, I am not able to compare the contents, also because I do not know Hills 1970’s repertoire very good.

Enjoy!

Rex Stewart in Europe (1947/1948)

Posted in documents, jazz, Rex Stewart with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2014 by crownpropeller


 rexpic

Rex Stewart. Photo: Gottlieb

In Otto Flückiger’s collection I found some nice souvenirs from Rex Stewart’s late 1947 / early 1948 european concerts. The most beautiful item is a program from the Tabaris-Bar in Lausanne (in the french speaking part of Switzerland), probably from November 1947 or from spring 1948. It has been autographed by nearly everybody in the band: Rex, trombonist Sandy Williams, tenor sax man Vernon Story whose only claim to fame is his short stint with Stewart, pianist Don Gais and drummer Ted Curry. Missing is only the bassist (if indeed there was one).

rex_autographs

Back of autographed program for the Rex Stewart appearance at the Tabaris-Bar in Lausanne, late 1947 or early 1948. From the Otto Flückiger Collection

As you can see from the program’s inside, Rex Stewart “et son orchestre de couleur américain” were not the evening’s only attraction:

rex_innen

(Click to enlarge)

In fact the Tabaris’ management obviously thought more about Borrah Minevitch, as his picture is featured on the program’s front (Rex’s is on the back).

minevitch

The second item I found in relation to Rex Stewart’s european sojourn is another program – this time it’s (almost) only about Rex.

rexprog2

(Click to enlarge) Program for a Rex Stewart appearance in Switzerland, late 1947 or early 1948. From the Otto Flückiger Collection

“Almost” because there are also piano solos by Bernard Pfeiffer mentioned. The program was printed in Lausanne, so it might well be also from the Tabaris-Bar (maybe after Minevitch went out or before he came in?).

  largea

(Click to enlarge) Program for a Rex Stewart appearance in Switzerland, late 1947 or early 1948. From the Otto Flückiger Collection

What you can not really see on this scan is that the original owner of the program marked the pieces played that night and also added pieces that were played but not announced in the printed program. So the band played (in an unknown order of course) Georgia on My Mind, The Jeep Is Jumpin’, Boy Meets Horn, The Man I Love, The Mooche, Just Squeeze Me, Jazz Me Blues, Stompin’ At The Savoy, Body And Soul, Storyville, Honeysuckle Rose and – probably as closer – Goofin’ Off.

Of course you would like to know what that sounded like. There are no recordings from Lausanne although there are three dates from Basel (November 1947 as well as April 30 and May 5, 1948) in the standard discographies. I do not have these in my collection, instead I am offering you four tracks as recorded by Rex’s group in Paris in December 1947. First here is “The Man I Love” as recorded live at the Salle Pleyel on December 5:

And here’s the band three days later on a studio in Paris playing “Just Squeeze Me”:

From the same date comes Roy’s old feature number with Duke, “Boy Meets Horn”:

And finally here is Rex going with the times by offering “Be-bop Boogie”, which also offers a rare glimpse of tenor man Vernon Story:

Finally here is (part of) an enthusiastic though paternalistic review of one of Rex’s appearances probably from a swiss newspaper:

rex_ad

(Click to enlarge) Undated review of a Rex Stewart appearance, probably Switzerland, early 1948. From the Otto Flückiger Collection

Whereas Rex had used John Harris on clarinet and alto in Paris, this review mentions alto saxophonist George Kennedy and makes a point of him being the only white guy in the band. That again points to indeed no bassist playing at least on the evening which was reviewed here.

Enjoy!

McCoy Tyner with Hubbard, Henderson, Scofield (1986)

Posted in clips, Freddie Hubbard, jazz, McCoy Tyner with tags , , , , , , , on October 7, 2014 by crownpropeller

tyner_umbriaMcCoy Tyner in Umbria, 1986

After this, this and this post, I was sure that I had digitized all of the McCoy Tyner videos I could find in Otto Flückiger’s VHS collection. But I was wrong. Because recently I found two 1986 TV broadcasts featuring a Tyner band with Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, John Scofield,  Louis Hayes and Avery Sharpe.

So here to definitely close the series of Tyner clips up are nearly 30 minutes of the band at the Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland on July 14, 1986:

And here, from a  day later, is almost an hour of the same group at the Jazz Festival in Umbria, Italy, on July 15, 1986.

Enjoy!

Johnny Griffin in Warsaw (“Jazz Greats” Series)

Posted in jazz, Johnny Griffin with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2014 by crownpropeller

griffin_mcs

In the collection of my late friend, swiss jazz researcher Otto Flückiger, I recently found four MCs containing Johnny Griffin’s concerts at the Jazz Jamboree in Warsaw Poland in 1973 and 1977. They are obviously from a larger series of bootleg tapes that probably someone from Poland manufactured. The Griffin concerts are parts 1 and 2 each of “Jazz Greats 10″ (the 1973 concert) and “Jazz Greats 22″ (the 1977 concert).

On October 26, 1973 Griffin was accompagnied by pianist Kenny Drew, danish bassist Mads Vinding and drummer Art Taylor.

Here – directly from the MC – is Griffin’s own “Soft and Furry”. A beautiful rendition, I think, and sound quality – most probably from a radio broadcast – is fine enough.

 

 

Four years later, on October 24, 1977, Art Taylor was still the drummer, but now Mark Johnson played bass and the pianist was Pat Coil.
As I am just in a ballad mood, here’s one from that concert: 18 minutes of “Body and Soul” – no further words necessary:

Has anyone seen any other MCs from the “Jazz Greats” Series? I would sure like to know what’s on them!

 

 

The Sam Lazar discography

Posted in 33 rpm, 45 rpm, Cawthron, Discography, Grant Green, Sam Lazar with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 10, 2014 by crownpropeller


lazar_red

Sam Lazar

Organist Sam Lazar from St. Louis is a mysterious figure about whom not very much is known. His (very small) fame among jazz fans is based on the fact that guitarist Grant Green’s first recordings were done in groups led by Lazar.

Lazar, who was born around 1933, vanished from the scene at sometime in the early sixties and nobody seems to really know what became of him (and I am 99 percent sure that the – unsourced – stories about his later life in Lazar’s Wikipedia entry are bogus (so I do not link to that entry) – or are they?

Anyway, since I think it’s worth to listen to Lazar also if Green is not part of the proceedings, I decided to make an illustrated discography of Sam Lazar’s recorded works. Some of the entrys are linked to audio files or youtube videos – just in case you want to listen to Lazar while reading about his works.

lazar-ad

Enjoy!

Sun Ra in Lugano 1985

Posted in clips, Sun Ra with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 2, 2014 by crownpropeller

I managed to see the Sun Ra Arkestra under the direction of Marshall Allen three times this year (more about that on this blog soon). The last concert I saw was in Lugano on July 11, where after the concert I had the chance to talk to percussionist/tour manager Elson Nascimento for a while. Elson remarked that the last time he played in Lugano was in 1990, when Sun Ra was still on this planet. I told him that there was footage from the 1990 concert on youtube as well as from the Arkestra’s 1985 Lugano appearance. I was wrong about the 1985 concert though. I thought I had seen it there, but maybe it has been taken off again.

So I have put it up again.  Boring technical problems unfortunately made me cut it into three parts. Furthermore there are some fade-ins and fade-outs – but with really not much missing in between tracks.

The Arkestra on this date: Sun Ra (ldr, p, synth, voc), Ronnie Brown (tp), Tyrone Hill (tb, voc), Marshall Allen (as, fl, picc, perc), John Gilmore (ts, cl, timbales, voc), Ronald Wilson (ts, picc), Danny Ray Thompson (bars, fl, bgo), James Jacson (bassoon, fl, Infinity Drum, Eloe Omoe (bcl, as, perc), Bruce Edwards (g), Rollo Radford (eb), Avreeayl Amen Ra (dr), unidentified (dr), June Tyson (voc, dance tambourine); unidentified (dance).

So: Enjoy!

 

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

 

 

 

 

 

Blues masters galore: Muddy, Gatemouth, Witherspoon, King, Rush and King

Posted in B.B. King, Blues, clips, Gatemouth Brown, Jimmy Witherspoon, Muddy Waters, Otis Rush with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2014 by crownpropeller

When the weather is hot like it’s now, there only two kinds of music I can listen to: Old school dub reggae or the Blues. Since I guess there might be some people among my subscribers who love the Blues as much as I do, I am offering you a bunch of rare concert clips – some of them actually quite long – featuring masters of classical electric blues playing.

The first clip features something different though: Legendary singer Jimmy Witherspoon who is more out of the vintage r’n’b /jazz school. Here is Witherspoon in Nice on July 9, 1979 .

 Witherspoon is accompagnied by Eugene Edwards (g),  Roy Alexander (org) and Maurice Simon jr. (dr). They are playing Everyday I Have The Blues,I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water, See See Rider, and Jimmy Reed’s Big Boss Man.

And here are 26 minutes from the same festival featuring the Muddy Waters Blues Band on July 10, 1977

With Clark Terry (tp) as a guest on one track (I had published that on youtube before) , Bob Margolin (eg), Guitar Junior (eg), Pinetop Perkins (p), Calvin Jones (eb) and Willy “Big Eyes” Smith (dr).

They Are Playing:

Honeydripper Intro, Soon Forgotten, Baby Please Don’t Go, What’s the Matter with the Mill, Stormy Monday Blues (feat. Clark Terry) and Everything Gonna be Alright

The next clip comes from still the same festival. Here multiinstrumentalist Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown is featured with the Wallace Davenport New Orleans All Stars giving us some Street Corner business.

 

Gatemouth Brown appeared at the festival again on July 14 1977 accompgnied by Billy Mitchell (ts); Lloyd Glenn (p); George Duvivier and J.C. Heard (dr). I had already put up a part of that gig on youtube and had presented it in this blog entry. In this part here they are playing: Lets Groove (you know that ain’t it’s title) and If You’ve Ever Been Mistreated in which Brown changes to violin. Gatemouth Brown deserves to be much better known!

 

Next up is half an hour of B.B. King from the 1984 Montreux Jazz Festival. A lot of B.B.’s Montreux apperances are already on youtube, but this one wasn’t up to now. If you know who is playing with B.B. here, please let me know. I do not have the patience to check the setlist right now, but I know you enjoy checking it yourself:

And here is another one from Montreux, this time from 1989: The man with the Flying V, Albert King. Playing with Albert are Amar Sundy (guitar); Nate Fitzgerald, Steve Wilson, Wayne Preston (horns); James Washington (keyboards); Lonnie Turner (bass); Joe Turner (drums) (Thanks, Marc D.!)

 

And finally from Chicago here is Otis Rush, filmed in an unidentified venue somewhere in  Switzerland around 1986 (not from Montreux  as far as I can see). Otis is playing with Professor’s Blues Revue: Professor Eddie Lusk (keyboards), Anthony Palmer (guitar), Fred Barnes (bass), Eddie Turner (drums). (Thanks to Mark D. for information!) Beware though: It takes a while before Mr. Rush appears.

Enjoy!

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