Archive for the Uncategorized Category

A musical trip to the US part 1: NYC

Posted in jazz, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 2, 2017 by crownpropeller

Update: Most pictures can now be enlarged.

gDSC_8611Elevator Button leading to
Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola

I did not post anything here for such a long time that some people might have started to think that this blog is dead. The truth is that in the first few months of this year I spent my spare time being nervous about the fact that I would be flying to the US with my friend Hubi for the first time in my life from May 1 to May 10th. To see New York – to see if it is really real – and of course to finally go to Chicago to see all the locations I always wanted to see: Places where the music dwelled in the 1940s and 1950s. As you might know – connected to my love for Sun Ra – I am especially fascinated by the jazz, r’n’b, blues, and doo wop that was played in this town during that time period.

Since this blog is about music and not about sightseeing, I am presenting you here only the music related parts of our journey.

After checking in at our hotel close to the Empire State Building we went straight to Fred Cohen’s Jazz Record Center on the eighth floor of 236 West 26th Street.

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Hubi at the  Jazz Record Center (with Vi Redd’s «Lady Soul»
in the foreground, he bought that one).

The JRC is well sorted with prices not too cheap but not too high. And you can spend hours there checking the records and after that the really huge wall with Jazz books, some of them very rare.  Or check the stuff hanging on the walls or above the record shelves – like, watch out Sun Ra fans – this rare Saturn advertisement flyer from the early 1970s:

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(Click to enlarge)
El Saturn Research leaflet at the Jazz Record Center.

Most of our second day in NYC was spent walking through Manhattan. We decided to visit Academy Records at 12 West 18th St. As a jazz fan I’d say it is worth a visit if you are in the vicinity anyway. You may well find one rare thing or another there. They also have another shop not too far away – but time was never enough to go there.

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Tuesday evening was reserved for a little club hopping. Time to get dressed up for the gig at the Village Vanguard.

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(Click to enlarge) Red marquee, red shoes, going to the Vanguard in style

So who is playing tonight?

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I had seen David Murray quite a few times before and always loved it. And with his «Class Struggle» at the Vanguard he played a mix of free bop with neoclassical elements with some beautiful ballads thrown in. A repertoire which is quite typcal for Murray. But I have to say that my friend, the late swiss jazz researcher Otto Flückiger, was right when he said that it’s different if you hear that type of jazz in an environment that is its natural home. But this impression may also be owned to the fact, that I was finally being there in the midst of it all!

Photographs are not alllowed during gigs at the Village Vanguard, so here is just one small impression from the club:

gDSC_8597A horn and Charlie Haden at the Village Vanguard.

After a set at the Vanguard we took the Subway to the Lincoln Centre at Columbus Circle to see the Grassella Oliphant Quintet at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.

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Jazz at Lincoln Center – of which Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola is a part.

gDSC_8621(Click to enlarge) Grassella Oliphant (dr) and Freddie Hendrix (trumpet)
at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, NYC, May 2, 2017

Drummer Grassella Oliphant, who is 87 now, had two soul jazz LPs on Atlantic in the mid-sixties featuring people like Grant Green, Bobby Hutcherson, Harold Ousley and Clark Terry.  It’s kind of ironic that Oliphant was playing the late night show at Dizzy’s, because this spot is reserved for “upcoming promising bands”.

Oliphant’s group featured trumpeter Freddie Hendrix, Bruce Williams on alto sax, bassist Tom DiCarlo and an unidentified pianist (replacing the scheduled Norman Simmons). It was a beautiful concert in an absolutely wonderful location. Dizzy’s stage is in front of large windows letting you see the lights of the buildings on West 59th Street from the sixth floor behind the musians. I felt like I was in a movie – ok, I did all the time while I was in NYC!

Sitting on a bench outside the building waiting for Dizzy’s doors to open I had felt terribly sick from not having enough sleep in the last 48 hours but that was over as soon as the music finally started.

The Grassella Oliphant Quintet played the kind of modern jazz you would hear in NYC in say 1959. Amongst the tunes they played was Duke Pearson’s «Jeannine» as well as a ballad medley consisting of «You Don’t Know What Love Is» and «What’s New», which I managed to record. I made a video clip of this medley featuring photos I took that evening. The clip ends where I thought that the medley had ended. But when the applause died down, the – unfortunately unidentified – pianist took his turn.

gDSC_8619(Click to enlarge) Tom DiCarlo, Bruce Williams and Freddie Hendrix
at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, NYC, May 2, 2017

I had managed to buy one of Mr. Oliphant’s Atlantic albums the day before at the Jazz Record Center. Mr. Oliphant was rather surprised when I asked him to sign it for me: “Man, you know how old that record is?”

The LP, in question, “The Grass Is Greener”,  is a great soul jazz outing, recorded in spring 1965. Hear for example “The Yodel” composed by Big John Patton and Grant Green. The band on this track consists of Clark Terry, Harold Ousley, Big John Patton, Grant Green, Major Holley and of course Grassella Oliphant.

Thanks to youtube user groove addict.

Next day we kept walking around in Manhattan, stumbling on this record store that we had not read anything about while planing our trip:

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Second Hand Rose Music has a really decent jazz section so it’s definitely worth a visit, The adress is 48 E 12th Street.

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(Click to enlarge) Hubi checking out the jazz section at Second Hand Rose Music.

And in the evening: SHOWTIME AT THE APOLLO! Amateur Night was on the programm this day which was actually James Brown’s birthday!

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(Click to enlarge) James Brown fanatic Hubi in front of the Apollo Theater
(No smoking under the marquee, please!)

gDSC_8729Billie Holiday’s name plate in the pavement in front of the Apollo.

And here are 49 not to lovingly edited minutes from the evening’s proceedings – starting with the really young artists and showing most of the elders– my favourite is the lady who made second place but the lady who made first was great as well. The presenter calls himself “Comedian Capone” by the way. Spoiler: Nobody’s performance was stopped by the famous Executioner on this night.

On Thursday our walk through Chinatown and Little Italy lead us to this litte record store:

IMG_0784 House of records(Click to enlarge) Hubi and me in front of The House Of Oldies.

First question to the store’s owner: “Do you have a jazz section?” Answer: “No!”.

gDSC_8861(Click to enlarge) Inside the House Of Oldies.

gDSC_8862(Click to enlarge) The 45 section at The House Of Oldies.
You got some time?

Just after this negative answer I turned around and saw all this rare doo wop and soul on the wall: paradise! (No, neither of us bought the 500$ “Your Favorite Singing Groups” Album!)

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Of course I should have noticed right away that the owner – a gentle salesman around 75 years old – obviously is a soul warrior!

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(Click to enlarge) The owner.

We left a quite a lot of money there and had to decline his offer to show us the 78s in the basement – how would we be carrying them anyway?

On or way back to the Hotel to relax a little bit before the evening’s concert we saw this Beat Boxer named KAZ in some subway station. Marvel how not even his billboard going down can keep him from carrying on!

Go on, KAZ!

I had great expections for the Ron Carter 80th birthday event at the Blue Note. Carter was celebrated all week, playing in different combniations each day. The band we witnessed featured Carter with Houston Person (ts), Kenny Barron (p), Russell Malone (g) and drummer Payton Crossley. It was a nice concert I guess, but I also guess that the Blue Note has seen the last of me. It was cramped inside and we got seats as far away from the stage as possible. Since we are no more in the age where you love to stand at a bar for an hour we had decided to book a table – in which case one has to eat something. So you are sitting there waiting for your food while the band is playing very quiet and lyrical accompanied by clinging glasses and rattling knives. When your food finally arrives after half of the set you payed for is over, you do not dare to eat it, knowing you will make disturbing sounds as well or push your neighbor off his chair by lifting your fork.

Fortunately our neighbors were nice people and the lady besides me even stood up for a second so I could at least make a bad pic of the band I would have loved to enjoy.

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Houston Person at the Blue Note, NYC, May 4th 2017.

We were in a little !?#!#“&¿!!! mood after the Blue Note – but this wasn’t the musical end of the evening since on our way back to the hotel we met Soul Warrior No. 2:

Unidentified soul singer in NYC subway station.

And apart from the terrible Mariachi band (no picture here, sorry) at La Guardia airport – where our plane to Chicago was delayed for five hours – that was it for the NYC part of our musical journey.

In part 2 (be patient): Chicago!

Disclaimer: I never understood English/US comma rules – and I probably never will.

 

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Wilson Pickett 1973 / Bo Diddley 1975

Posted in Bo Diddley, R'n'B, Soul, Uncategorized, Wilson Pickett with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 11, 2016 by crownpropeller

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Edwin Starr (left) and Wilson Pickett at Jazz Festival Montreux, 1973-

Hey People, it’s summer!

You need hot music! Wait, here its is:

Twenty minutes of Wilson Pickett at the Jazz Festival Montreux in 1973 featuring a guest appearance by Edwin Starr (of “War” fame), taken from a VHS cassette  in the Otto Flückiger collection. In spite of Pickett’s pleading, no Rolling Stone appears (I am not missing them). If you recognize any of the band members, please let me know.

And here’s another one:

Bo Diddley playing his signature tune “Bo Diddley” at the Philharmonie in Berlin during the “Rhythm & Blues: Roots of Rock” show of Berliner Jazztage sometime in early November 1975. (Look  here for a (german language) article dated November 7 – though it’s not clear whether this is the date of the concert or the date of publication)

Besides Bo we have Johnny Guitar Watson (guitar), James Booker (piano), Gene “Mighty Flea” Conners (trombone, tambourine), Preston Love (tenor sax), Jimmie Lee Robinson (bass), Panama Francis (drums). Thanks to David Blakey for identifying the band members (see comment section)!

Enjoy!

Art Blakey in the 1970s and 1980s

Posted in Art Blakey, Bennie Golson, clips, jazz, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 10, 2016 by crownpropeller

Bildschirmfoto 2016-01-10 um 12.19.31Art Blakey in Montreux on July 8, 1976

[UPDATE: Changed the 62 minutes Subway clip to a better version] In the 1970s and the 1980s Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers were regulars on the european jazz festival circuit. So it’s very strange that I never managed to see the band live. But then again at that time my mind was set on free jazz only and I must have thought of Blakey as old hat.

So I am fortunate that I found a lot of TV footage of Blakey among the VHS tapes of my late friend, the swiss jazz researcher Otto Flückiger. Some clips feature just one track, some are full length concerts.

 

Starting off with Blakey and the Messengers playing “Along Came Betty” on July 8, 1976 at the Jazz Festival Montreux. The band on this occasion: Art Blakey (dr), Bill Hardman (tp), David Schnitter (ts), Mickey Tucker (p), Christopher Amberger (b). According to this list, “Along Came Betty” was the third track of this concert.

On another cassette, I found another track from this concert: “Gipsy Folk Tales” (the seventh track of the concert). Unfortunately this suddenly stops around the nine minute mark in the midst of Mickey Tucker’s solo (what follows on the VHS tape is a Donna Summer show!)

If you came here for a glimpse of Wynton Marsalis, I have to disappoint you since the chronologically next clip I found is from the 1983 Umbria Jazz Festival. This festival took place from July 11-17, 1983. It’s not clear, on what day the Messengers played. Here the band consists of Blakey (dr), Terence Blanchard (tp), Donald Harrison (as), Jean Toussaint (ts), Mulgrew Miller (p), and Lonnie Plaxico (b).

They are playing “Oh by the Way”, composed by Terence Blanchard (thanks, Saxophone Freddie!)

The next clip can be dated exactly: July 23, 1983 at the Jazz Festival Montreux. The band is the same as in Umbria with Johnny O’Neal replacing Mulgrew Miller (thanks, Saxophone Freddie!). I made a mistake editing this: I did not realize that the TV station had broadcasted the latter part of the show live ( an unidentified tune, the introduction of the musicians by Blakey, an unidentified old time tune, “Polka Dots and Moonbeams and “Blues March”. Then after a break comes an  excerpt from the first part of the concert featuring “Little Man” and a another unidentified tune. Again: If you can identify the untitled tunes, I’d be grateful.

At some time in February 1984 the Jazz Messengers played at the Jazz Festival Aarau in Switzerland. I was not able to find out the exact date (McCoy Tyner played there on February 24). Again the band consists of Blakey (dr), Terence Blanchard (tp), Donald Harrison (as), Jean Toussaint (ts), Mulgrew Miller (p), and Lonnie Plaxico (b).  All in all there are more than 80 minutes from Aarau, but the source video gave me trouble. After the first 30 minutes or so, the video starts repeatedly to stall while the music goes on. That is why the first, second and fourth part have video to the audio, whereas for the third part I could not get video and audio synchroneous (i’d need weeks for that). So i just added some screenshots to the music.

Part 1 starts with Donald Harrison’s solo in an unidentified tune and commences with “On The Ginza”:

Part 2 again starts wirth an unidentified snippet of Donald Harrison which is soon followed by “Moanin'”.

Part 3 unfortunately has no footage, as I explained above. Blakey and the Jazz Messengers play “Oh By The Way” and “Tenderly”, a feature for Terence Blanchard:

Finally part 4 – again with footage – is another rendition of “Blues March”:

On March 23, 1984 the Jazz Messengers played at the 15. Internationale Jazzwoche in Burghausen (look here to see the poster, does anyone have footage from the Arkestra’s appearance on March 22?). Terence Blanchard, Donald Harrison, Jean Toussaint, Mulgrew Miller and Lonnie Plaxico are on board with Blakey. In this clip (again all I have) they are playing “Duck Soup” (I guess named for it’s composer, Donald “Duck” Harrison”, falsely titled “Duck Soup” by the TV station) and Benny Golson’s “Blues March”. Note that “Duck Soup” has already been put up on youtube by someone, but “Blues March” has not.

The next clip features the Jazz Messengers (Art Blakey (dr), Terence Blanchard (tp), Donald Harrison (as), Jean Toussaint (ts), Mulgrew Miller (p), Lonnie Plexico (b)) at the jazz club Subway in Cologne, probably on February 1, 1985. Again I could not identify the tune:

In fact there is a more than an hour of the Jazz Messengers at the Subway. I found a better version than the one I had shown here previously. Here it is:

Jumping forward four years, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers  appeared at the Jazz Festival Bern in April or early May 1989 .There the band consisted of Blakey, Brian Lynch, Donald Harrison, Terence Tony, Javon Jackson, Frank Lacy, Benny Green, and Essiet Essiet. I found over an hour of footage from this concert, for technical reasons I had to split this into three parts.

Part 1 features Wayne Shorter’s “Hammer Head” followed by J. J. Johnson’s “Lament”:

Part 2 features Walter Davis’ “Jodi” followed by an interview with Blakey (with italian voice-over) and Freddie Hubbard’s composition “The Core”.

For the last part of the show (or this broadcast?) the band was joined by veteran Messenger Bennie Golson for a rendition of Golson’s “Blues March”.

 And finally something rare and special: At the Estival Jazz Lugano in summer 1989 (exact date unknown) Art Blakey – who otherwise did not play there – was presented with an honory award for his life achievements. On that occasion he agreed to improvise a little with Guido Parini and Oliviero Giovannoni, two fine drummers from the italian speaking part of Switzerland. Blakey has to be pushed into this somewhat by the announcer, I have left this out to protect the living …

Enjoy!

Eddie Harris in Lugano 1989

Posted in clips, Eddie Harris, jazz, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on December 30, 2015 by crownpropeller

eddie_harrisEddie Harris in Lugano, Switzerland, 1989

The legendary tenor saxophonist, trumpeter, pianist, singer and pioneer-for-a-lot-of-things Eddie Harris is one musician I never saw live, although he sometimes appeared in places not really to far from me. But I was a free jazz only guy at that time and arrogant at that.

Happily in my late friend Otto Flückiger’s collection  I found TV footage from Harris’ appearance at the Estival Jazz Lugano in 1989, where he was accompagnied by Ronald Muldrow on guitar, bassist Ray Peterson and drummer Norman Fearrington.

So as my present for the end of the year to you all here is the Eddie Harris quartet in Lugano 1989 in two parts.

 

Enjoy!

About Ornette Coleman (1930–2015)

Posted in Ornette Coleman, Uncategorized with tags , on July 3, 2015 by crownpropeller
by Armin Büttner

The history of jazz can be read as a story of men who seemingly came from nowhere and made everything that came before  look terribly old. It all began in the twenties with Louis Armstrong who literally invented the jazz solo. In the fourties it was Charlie Parker who made a whole generation lay ever more complex chord structures  over  the good old harmonies. Everyone wanted to be like Bird, including his heroin addiction.

Ornette Coleman who passed on June 11 aged 85  was such a singular figure. Coleman as well as tenor saxist John Coltrane were central to the free jazz revolution of the early 1960s. When Coltrane died in 1967 he left behind an army of epigones trying to get ever closer to the creator by means of exotic scales. Looking back the heritage of Ornette Coleman is much greater: It is not about doing justice to the expectations of the critics, the audience, or to the musical conventions of one’s time. It is about relying on oneself as a thinking, feeling and intuitively creative human being.

 

Is the future bound to squawk?

«Something Else!!!!», «Tomorrow Is the Question», «The Shape of Jazz to Come», «Change of the Century»: The future is here,  announced the titles of Coleman’s first LPs released between 1958 and 1960. These titles  – invented by the record company – let people expect a poser and pretender.

John Lewis, the Modern Jazz Quartets pianist, had brought Coleman from Los Angeles to New York City in 1959 and introduced him into the important jazz circles. But a lot of the established musicians could not get what Coleman – the shy man with the seemingly wrong notes, the wrong technique and the false sense of harmony – should have to do with the future of jazz. And that squawky plastic saxophone! And why did Don Cherry, Coleman’s partner in crime, play such a funny pocket trumpet?

But many influential critics, fans and musicians heard where Coleman was coming from musically, heard where he wanted to go – and were enthused. Instead of imitating his playing, they let themselves be inspired by his attitude: Do what ever you think is musically right in any moment, throw your creativity in a pot with other people’s creativity – and you will reach an “unison”.

 

Ways into the wonderful

Ornette Coleman was born into a poor family in 1930. Already as a teenager he tried to earn some money playing r’n’b in the blues bars of his home town Fort Worth. Because of his often strange sounding playing – autodidact Coleman had misunderstood important parts of classic harmony – he was thrown out of several bands. After a gig in a small town somewhere he was battered by a bunch of dissatisfied white people, they also smashed his instrument.

Coleman was not willing to give up, his initial harmonic misunderstanding had opened wonderful worlds for him that he decided to never leave again: dissonances that do not sound ugly but intuitively right. Tone sequences against doctrine that are of a surprisingly forceful logic. Abstractions which are full of – however veiled –the communicative powers of Texas blues.

Ornette Coleman’s music is easily recognizable, no matter if he is composing for an orchestra or a string quartet, grabbing trumpet or violin or if he leads his free funk band Prime Time. «Harmolodics» is  what Coleman called his system with which he tried to give equal importance to the elements harmony, melody, tempo and rhythm.  When Coleman talked about it this concept his speech was filled with metaphors and oscillating terms («unison», «love») that he left the critics more confused than undelighted.

The logic of intuition

When in 1987 a german TV reporter asks Coleman what the term «Harmolodics» means, he replies that it’s an attempt “to transfer human logic into music”. This may sound like a construction plan for a cold and rational music. In reality it’s a fitting description of Coleman’s friendly, universalitic and deeply humanistic music. Because human beings do not think in bits and bytes, but in analogies and associations, mental connections. And they have feelings that tend to dance with their logic, they are intuitive.

For Coleman the latter never meant to just blow as if there is no tomorrow. He did not like the term “Free jazz” – again the invention of some record company’s PR person.  «I am a composer», Coleman says to the TV-Reporter, «everything I do is based on a thought out concept.»

With his concept Coleman revolutionized jazz like Picasso did with painting or James Joyce with literature: Nobody’s  music has ever sounded like Ornette Coleman’s music. But without Coleman countless musicians would not sound the way they do. Coleman had shown them that it’s possible to leave the system.

Again! DJ Crown Propeller meets Herr Wempe!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on January 30, 2014 by crownpropeller

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?

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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)!

DJ Crown Propeller meets Herr Wempe!

Posted in Uncategorized on October 11, 2013 by crownpropeller

First: Sorry for the empty last post – here comes the second try:

Since I guess I have about 3 1/2 readers in Zurich, I rarely advertise my own DJ gigs here. But surely this one has to be an exception:

imageFor tomorrow night  Herr Wempe (aka DJ Soul Sonic) and DJ Crown Propeller (yours truly), the most beloved vintage black music DJs in town, will for the first time ever swing and funk up the Helsinki Klub – home turf to both – together! You can’t miss that!

Enjoy!