Two weeks ago alto saxophonist and jazz researcher Mario Schneeberger, his wife Christel and me went to the Schloss Wartegg in Rorschacherberg for a CD release party by swiss born pianist Claude Diallo who is a Boston resident now. This afternoon concert was a bonus event to a mini-tour of switzerland that Claude Diallo had organized for legendary tenor saxophonist Andrew “Andy” Mc Ghee (born in 1927). McGhee was a member of Lionel Hamptons’ orchestra from 1958 to 1964. He then played with Woody Herman until 1966 when he joined the faculty of Berklee College of Music, where he still is listed as Professor Emeritus. Continue reading
Why, you might ask, why is this Crown Propeller guy promoting a little DJ gig in a little club in this little country called switzerland on the internet – where billions of people can see it?
The answer is: No matter where you are, it’s definitely worth the trip to the Helsinki Klub this Saturday! Because Herr Wempe (aka DJ Soul Sonic) and DJ Crown Propeller (yours truly), the most beloved vintage black music DJs in town, will be soothing your soul with fine swing, bop, r’n'b, soul, funk and blues roughly from the years 1940 to 1970.
Get dressed, they are doing it again!
Hope to see you (bar opens at 20h)!
It is only just now that I hear of the passing of trumpeter Roy Campbell jr. who died on January 9th – the same day that Amiri Baraka passed. Campbell only reached the age of 62. I saw him playing on two or three occasions in the 1980s and remember liking his playing very much. Wanting to listen to him again now, I find to my surprise I unfortunately have not one record featuring him. But only some weeks ago I happened to digitize a brilliant 45 minute TV broadcast with the quintet of another Great Black Music Legend, Billy Bang, who already had left us in 2011. Campbell is the other main solist besides Bang.
So here is the Billy Bang Quintet at the Jazztage Leverkusen on November 1, 1986. Besides Bang and Roy Campbell the band contains Oscar Sanders (g) William Parker (b) and Zen Matsuura (dr).
Maybe it is unfair to say “there was a time when more jazz was featured on TV”. I would not really know, because I stopped watching TV a while ago. Of course here in switzerland there is still some jazz on the public TV, late at night at some time.
But in the 1980s there was still some jazz to be seen and witnessed by people who did not expect to be treated with jazz when they turned on the TV. There were some broadcasts on swiss TV which you could say were in some kind of “magazine” format. Maybe some news from different regions, a talkshow guest, a funny report — you get the picture. At the end they always had a short slot for musical artists of every genre that happened to be in Switzerland – just a few minutes to promote their tour.
My friend, the late jazz researcher Otto Flückiger, must have scanned the TV program magazines every week to see if an interesting (interesting to him that is) band or musician would appear – since he managed to tape quite a lot of this jazz, blues and soul bits. I am offering you a little potpourri here of different things you could see – if you were aware when and where to look.
You may never catch me sitting at home intensely listening to an Bill Doggett LP. But when I am am doing a DJ gig, one of those old King LPs has to come with me. After more than fifty years the famed Doggett Beat is still irresistible.
Considering that Doggett really was really well known, there is surprisingly very little footage of the man in action.
On one of Otto’s VHS cassettes I found around thirty minutes of a Bill Doggett combo playing at as part of the Newport Jazz Festival on tour in the Cimiez Gardens in Nice in July 1978. I had already posted “Honky Tonk” from this concert a while ago, but well: the more the better!
So here you have Bill Doggett on organ, the legendary David “Bubba” Brooks on tenor, guitarist Pete Mays (who also sings), Larry Trott on electric bass and Howard Overton on drums.
When I began to listen to Free Jazz in the early eighties one of my favourite sounds was the hoarse wail of Archie Shepps saxophone. I remember afternoons where I listened to his version of “The Girl From Ipanema” from the “Fire Music” LP again and again and again, turning the volume a little more up after every chorus. I loved – and still do – the mixture of tunes deeply rooted in african american popular culture (ok, not the case with “Ipanema”) with Shepps aggressive but soulful cry. In those days I listened to Shepp when I needed something more earthy than Coltrane or Albert Ayler, my other favourites of that time.
When I was still living in germany, I had the chance to see Shepp every other year, mostly with his quintet. This changed when I moved to Switzerland in 1991. From that point on I saw Shepp only three times. The first time in Bern, sometime in the early nineties. This was a duo concert with Jeanne Lee. This started great with some solo songs by Lee, a tenor long solo by Shepp and a true duet number. After that, things got a little weird because Shepp had brought a tape along featuring drums, bass and piano. The latter was played by Shepp himself. It was nice, but rather devoid (naturally) of sontaneous interactions between Lee and the virtual band.
Archie Shepp at Rote Fabrik, Zürich, November 30, 2013
The next time I saw Shepp was on July 31, 1998, when he played at the Aktionshalle of the Rote Fabrik in Zürich with his quartet featuring Richard Clements, Wayne Dockery and Steve McCraven. I remember that concert as having been great and a listen to the soundboard tape that someone gave me much later tells me I am right. I went to this concert with my friend, the late jazz researcher Otto Flückiger . As followers of this blog may know, Otto tried to document – on tape and later on video – every jazz concert he witnessed. He filmed parts of the concert, sometimes only one minute long, sometimes longer. Amongst all the footage I only found one complete track. Since the audio from Ottos camera was not too good, I decided to synchronize the video with the sound from the tape.
So here’s Archie Shepp and his quartet in 1998 doing “The Reverse”, a little rap inspired tune by Shepp. If you want a nice regular issue of this track, be sure to check the three versions of this tune (two of which feature Hip Hop legend Chuck D. of Public Enemy fame) that are contained on Shepps 2CD “Gemini” released on his own label, Archiball.
And then finally two weeks ago Shepp played at the Unerhört! Festival with pianist Tom McClung. This took place at the Rote Fabrik again, but this time at the Clubraum, another Hall of the cultural space that used to be a factory.
I filmed only parts of the concert because I realized that handling the camera all the time keeps me from enjoying the music – which I did very much. As with the Matana Roberts concert last year, it looks like a witnessed a totally different concert than the reporter from the smaller of the two local newspapers, who wrote about Shepp’s “intonation problems”. If there were any, they did not disturb me at all.
So here are Shepp and the great pianist Tom McClung playing “The Stars Are In Your Eyes”, a tune of which Shepp announced that he did write it for Sarah Vaughn, but never had the opportunity to give it to her:
The next clip gives you the duo playing Fats Waller’s “Ain’t Misbehavin’” with Shepp also singing. I did not film this song, but made up a little picture show accompanying the audio recording:
I took up the video camera again only to catch the encore, a beautiful version of Thelonious Monk’s “Round Midnight” – which in fact it was when the concert ended: