Archive for Blues

R.I.P. Mose Allison

Posted in jazz, Mose Allison with tags , , , , on November 20, 2016 by crownpropeller

moseMose Allison (1927–2016)

The news of singer/pianist Mose Allison’s passing on November 15 made me quite sad as I had the feeling to have lost a friend I never knew.

From 18 to 26 I was one of those truly dislikeable Frank Zappa fans who run around all day pestering people who he thinks are just too ignorant and dumb to understand what a genius Zappa is.

Nowadays Zappa leaves me cold (except his first couple of LPs with the Mothers Of Invention and his orchestral music).

But I have to thank Zappa for several things:

a) teaching me there is more to music than 4/4.

b) making me love Doo Wop

c) making me love Edgar Varèse

d) making me listen to Mose Allison.

At some time in the late 1980s there was an article in the german magazine “Tempo” (which was published from 1986 to 1996) titled “50 rock stars talk about their favourite artists” or something to that effect. Frank Zappa was quoted with “I always listen to Mose Allison on my Walkman.” So the next day, I went to town and bought this record:


And I absolutely fell in love with the man, his music and his lyrics right away. Mose was witty, wise and cool and straightfaced sarcastic and laconic and sometimes very funny and on top of that a very fine pianist.

On a Prestige 2LP compilation of Mose Allison’s early works, Pete Townsend of The Who is quoted:

“When I heard that [Allison’s LP “Back Country Suite”] I swore he was as black as Cow Cow Davenport (Was Cow Cow Davenport black?)”

Two things about that statement. First: Cow Cow Davenport was black. Second: I think Mose Allison’s secret was that he sounded very white if one can say so, but he sounded cool and hip nonetheless. His way of playing and singing the blues is sophisticated and down home at the same time – a hard task.

Strangely enough all of my jazz friends never shared my enthusiasm for Mose Allison, “Yeah, nice, but not my style”, was all I could ever get out of them. So after a while I stopped with my new hobby: running around all day pestering people who I think are just too ignorant and dumb to understand what a genius Mose Allison is!

So after that it was just a thing between me and Mose, the cool poet. And Mose the prophet: Here is what he had to say – in 1968 – about the state of things in 2016: “Jus Like Livin'” – the first piece of Mose’s that I’ve ever heard – was recorded in Los Angeles on July 9, 1968 with Red Mitchell on bass and Bill Goodwin on drums.


Blues Queens on TV: Alberta Hunter, Big Mama Thornton, Sippie Wallace, Jeannie Cheatham

Posted in Blues, clips with tags , , , , on January 1, 2015 by crownpropeller

The new year did not have a chance yet to proove whether it is going to be good or bad, but I already have the blues. Because while going through the old VHS cassettes of my friend the late jazz researcher Otto Flückiger, I found two wonderful TV documentaries about female blues legends, made in the 1980s. So I have decided to put them up here – although the picture quality is not too good.


The first one is “My Castle’s Rocking”, Stuart A. Goldman‘s beautiful portrait of Alberta Hunter (1895–1984), made around the time she had her comeback at age 82.

The second one is the award-winning PBS feature “Three Generations Of The Blues”, which, made in the early 1980s shows a concert by Sippie Wallace (1898–1986), Big Mama Thornton (1926–1984) and Jeannie Chatham (1937–).




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.


Memphis Slim in Montreux (1973)

Posted in Blues, clips with tags , , , , , , on February 17, 2013 by crownpropeller


snapshot from video

While digitizing the Donald Byrd footage from Montreux, I discovered a nice thirty minutes of video featuring blues piano legend Memphis Slim from the same festival. Since I synchronized the whole VHS cassette, I thought I might as well put it up on youtube as well. Memphis Slim is one of my favorite blues singers, and I hope you like this clip as much as I do.

Slim is accompanied by legendary session guitarist Mickey Baker, bassist Benny Turner and drummer Charles Meyers.

Note: I just got the message from youtube that this video might not be viewable in different countries. So I am sorry if this happens in your country.


James Blood Ulmer in Zürich, 2013

Posted in Blues, clips, James Blood Ulmer, jazz with tags , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2013 by crownpropeller

During all of the 1980s, one of my favorite musicians was guitarist James Blood Ulmer. At that time he was playing with his band Phalanx (with tenor saxophonist George Adams) as well as with his “Odyssey” Band, featuring violinist Charles Burnham and drummer Warren Benbow. I managed to see Phalanx live several times then, but I never got to see the Odyssey band.

I lost my interest in Ulmer a little after his 1990 release “Blues All Night” which in my ears was totally overproduced and sounded much too clean. Although I bought the Music Revelation Ensemble’s 1994 CD “In The Name Of” when it appeared (a great album by the way), I never came to see Ulmer live again since 1989 or so. So it really was a nice surprise when I opened up the morning paper last wednesday and noticed that James Blood Ulmer’s “Black Rock Experience” was to play at the Moods Jazz Club in my town that night. The band as announced was to be Ulmer with bassist Mark Peterson and drummer Grant Calvin Weston and singer Queen Esther. I somehow had the feeling that the music might be in the vein of the “Blues All Night”, which I relistened just before going to the gig only to find out that I still do not like it too much.

Much too my surprise the personnel for this evening turned out to be Ulmer with the old Odyssey band: Charles Burnham and Warren Benbow. And featuring Queen Esther. And it turned out to be a great evening of deep Blues from earthy to abstract, splashed with dots of free funk, and salted with harmolodic spices.

I made some nice photos during the concert, which was started off by Ulmer doing a slow and melancholy – nearly painful – solo rendition of the U.S. National Anthem.


(click to enlarge) James Blood Ulmer at “Moods”, Zurich, January 23, 2013.
© Armin Büttner

After that he brought the band on:

(click to enlarge) James Blood Ulmer and Warren Benbow at “Moods”,
Zurich, January 23, 2013. © Armin Büttner


(click to enlarge) Charles Burnham at “Moods”, Zurich, January 23, 2013.
© Armin Büttner


(click to enlarge) Queen Esther at “Moods”, Zurich, January 23, 2013.
© Armin Büttner

I had a tele lens on my camera, that is why you never get to see the whole band at once.


(click to enlarge) James Blood Ulmer and Warren Benbow at “Moods”,
Zurich, January 23, 2013. © Armin Büttner


(click to enlarge) Charles Burnham at “Moods”, Zurich, January 23, 2013.
© Armin Büttner

I would have loved to hear more of Queen Esther who really has a great voice. One of the evening’s highlights was her acapella rendition of “We’ll be Together Again”.


(click to enlarge) Queen Esther at “Moods”, Zurich, January 23, 2013.
© Armin Büttner

While drummer Warren Benbow had an indifferent look on his face during the whole evening and never even had a faint smile on his face (absolutely no indifference in his playing though), violinist Charles Burnham got really involved:

(click to enlarge) Charles Burnham at “Moods”, Zurich, January 23, 2013.
© Armin Büttner

Although I originally did not plan to – else i would have taken a small tripod – I filmed parts of the concert. I had a very unconvenient standing position so you might get seasick when watching the three tracks I have edited down from the footage. I would say that the nauseating shakiness takes any commercial potential out of this clip, but if someone with the right to object objects against this video being on youtube, I’ll be taking it down in a hurry.

I managed to come a little closer and take some nice shots of Ulmer after the concert when he was selling and signing CDs from the stage.


(click to enlarge) James Blood Ulmer at “Moods”, Zurich, January 23, 2013.
© Armin Büttner


(click to enlarge) James Blood Ulmer at “Moods”, Zurich, January 23, 2013.
© Armin Büttner


Mama Yancey: Make Me A Pallet On The Floor (1980)

Posted in Blues, clips with tags , , , on May 6, 2012 by crownpropeller

Hello, again

I know it has been a little quite on this blog for some time now – which had several reasons. First there was a lot of work at the office – which in turn made me want to do absolutely nothing when finally time for my holidays came up. Then again these holidays were overshadowed by the passing of a friend from cancer of the pancreas two weeks ago. Tomorrow there will be a memorial event in the club where this friend – a bass player – played in a C&W/R’n’B/Surf/Polka trio every sunday for years. I visited him in the hospital a few days before his passing and that’s when he asked me to supply the music for his memorial event, since I was his favorite house DJ of the club over all this years – “and make it happy music”.

To put on happy music tomorrow will not be easy, to say the least. But of course I will try to oblige.

In dedication to my deceased friend I offer you an excerpt from the german 1980 TV documentary “Chicago Melodie”  which involved german Boogie Woogie pianist Axel Zwingenberger visiting, playing with and interviewing several Chicago Blues Legends. This one here shows Estelle “Mama” Yancey (January 1, 1896 – April 19, 1986) singing “Make Me A Pallet on the Floor”, an often recorded song that goes back to the 19th century.  Yancey is accompanied on piano by Irvin Helfer. Someone did already put this up on youtube, I know, but unfortunately that version is not synchronous.


Muddy Waters/Clark Terry: Stormy Monday Blues (Nice, 1977)

Posted in Blues, Clark Terry, clips, Muddy Waters with tags , , , , on January 29, 2012 by crownpropeller

Here is another clip from the same TV series (La Grande Parade Du Jazz) that the Gatemouth Brown clip comes from. This time you get the Muddy Waters Blues band featuring guest trumpeter Clark Terry playing T-Bone Walker’s classic “Stormy Monday Blues”. This was filmed in Nice, Southern France on July 10, 1977. Besides Clark Terry, Muddy’s band consists of Bob Margolin (eg), Guitar Junior (e.g.), Pinetop Perkins (p), Calvin Jones (eb) and Willy “Big Eyes” Smith (dr). Harmonica player Jerry Portnoy was also a member of Muddy’s band at that time, but he is not featured in this number.


Gatemouth Brown in Nice, July 14 1977

Posted in Blues, clips, Gatemouth Brown with tags , , , , , , , on January 28, 2012 by crownpropeller

“Jump, Jazz, Jive, Vintage R’n’B” my blog is bylined. But what about the blues, you may ask. Well, yes! So here I present you part of a concert the multitalented Clarence Gatemouth Brown (April 18, 1924 — September 10, 2005) gave in Nice in Southern France on July 14 1977. This is from an old VHS cassette that contains the french TV broadcast. Brown (voc, eg, violin) is accompanied by Billy Mitchell (ts); Lloyd Glenn (p); George Duvivier (b) and J.C. Heard. The tune’s title is “Dollar’s got the Blues”.


Cecil Payne on Decca: Angel Child

Posted in 78 rpm, Cecil Payne, documents, jazz, R'n'B with tags , , , , , , , , on June 5, 2011 by crownpropeller

After reading my entry on Cecil Payne’s Hippy Dippy, Dani Gugolz has sent me this ultra rare photo of  Brownie McGhee (left) and Cecil Payne at the club Jazzland in Vienna, Austria:

Brownie McGhee and Cecil Payne at "Jazzland", Vienna 197X

(click to enlarge)

Thanks, Dani! The photographer of this shot from an unknown date in the mid-seventies is not identified. Brownie McGhee recorded with Cecil Payne on Payne’s second session for Decca on November 25, 1949. Here McGhee was named “Henry Johnson”, a pseudonym he used at different times in his career. The full band:

Leonard Hawkins (tp), Cecil Payne (as, bar, ldr), Ray Abrams (ts), Billy Taylor (p), John Simmons (b), Joe Harris (dr), Brownie McGhee (“Henry Johnson”) (voc).

McGhee sang on two tracks, the mock sermon The Worst Is Yet To Come and the slow blues Angel Child, on which Cecil Payne plays alto sax. You can hear Angel Child here:

Cecil Payne / Brownie McGhee: Angel Child (1949)

The music is taken from an original 78 rpm copy of Decca 48127 from the Otto Flückiger Collection. Dani has also send me a better version, but it’s on my other computer right now. But this one sounds fine enough, i think. Enjoy!

Black Gospel, Blue Jazz and Yellow Blues: Cawthron and Allegro Records

Posted in 45 rpm, Allegro/Cawthron, Blues with tags , , , , on January 20, 2011 by crownpropeller

For quite some time now I have been working on a discography for the Cawthron, C&C and Allegro labels, all one-man-operations owned by one Dunlap J. Cawthron from 1959 to around 1965. Cawthron released mostly gospel, the first recording of St. Louis organist Sam Lazar’s “Space Flight”, a handful of 45s by ex-chicago tenor saxophonist Claude McLin – and one  record by blues singer/guitarist  Curtis Griffin – as “C.C. Griffin”.

Recently I received three nice records that are now pictured in the Allegro/C&C/Cawthron discography:

a) Allegro 9003/4 by gospel singer Vermya Phillips (He’s a Friend Of Mine/Somebody He Can Use). I knew from Vermya’s husband John Phillips, that “He’s a Friend Of Mine” was released on a 45 rpm , but not what the flip was.

and b)

The Sam Lazar  Trio playing “Space Flight Part 1” from a blue wax copy of Cawthron 507, recorded in 1959. The Trio consists of: Sam Lazar (org), Grant Green (eg), possibly Chauncey Williams or Phillip Wilson (dr). Since what is everywhere described as Grant Green’s first recording session (the one with Jimmy Forrest) took place in december 1959 and the Cawthron record was definitely pressed in 1959. It may well be that indeed this is Green’s first recording date. Note that this version is not identical to the one recorded for Argo in 1960 with a similar personnel.

Next up is …

… my own copy of blues singer/guitarist C.C Griffin’s “Sitting here Waiting” on a yellow/red pressing of Allegro 2001. It is now pictured alongside Victor Pearlin’s gorgeous copy on the Allegro/C&C/Cawthron discography page.

Now I need to know: Where is Claude McLin’s Allegro 1461? I am sure it exists!