Friday, December 3, 2010

Gerald Wilson Orchestra: On Stage, 1965

Gerald Wilson always blows me away with his arrangements, both for his sound and how effective he is at writing for his musicians. Everything on this album is great, but I was especially impressed with the version of Ellington's El Viti and Anthony Ortega's (I think it was him) solo on it. Tons of amazing musicians in Wilson's orchestra, especially around this period. Personnel on Los Moros de España, Musette, Lighthouse Blues and Perdido:
Trumpets: Al Porcino, Jules Chaikin, Freddie Hilll, Nat Meeks, Mel Moore and Gerald Wilson
Trombones: Bob Edmondson, Les Robertson, John Ewing and Don Switzer
Reeds: Teddy Edwards, Harold Land, Curtis Amy, Jack Nimitz and Anthony Ortega
Piano: Phil Moore Jr.
Guitar: Joe Pass
Vibes: Roy Ayers
Bass: Herbie Lewis
Drums: Chuck Carter
Recorded on January 13th, 1965 at Capitol Studios, Hollywood, Calif.

Personnel on Who Can I Turn To, In the Limelight, El Viti, Ricardo and Lately:
Trumpets: Jules Chaikin, Bobby Bryant, Freddie Hilll, Nat Meeks, Mel Moore and Gerald Wilson
Trombones: Bob Edmondson, Les Robertson, John Ewing and Earnie Tack
Organ and piano: Jack Wilson
Piano: Phil Moore Jr.
Guitar: Joe Pass
Vibes: Roy Ayers
Bass: Victor Gaskin
Drums: Chuck Carter
Reeds and flutes: Bud Shank, Anthony Ortega, Teddy Edwards, Harold Land and Jack Nimitz
Recorded on March 10th, 1965 at Pacific Jazz Studios, Hollywood, Calif.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Joe Loco: Bailemos Con Joe Loco Su Piano y Ritmo

On this record, Joe Loco plays arrangements of romantic classical songs backed by a rhythm section and a vibraphone player. Loco's salsa-tinged style on the piano makes the fusion between these genres feel comfortable and natural. The bass lines are simple, the percussion is full and heavy, and the piano tends to focus more on harmony with relatively few melody-based solos. Not sure of the year on this one, but I would guess it is from some time in the 1950's. From the Tropical label.

Piano Concerto by Easyjams

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Etoile de Namaco: La Mauvaise Politique, 1981

A great album from from either Cameroon or Gabon. I've been told both, but I suspect that the band is from Gabon because they sing about Gabonese politics. This one is a personal favorite of mine. The second track, Chere Maman, is a French cover of Sweet Mother by Prince Nico Mbarga from Nigeria. The last track is addressed to Omar Bongo, then-president of Gabon, who was widely known for the extent of his corruption. He recently died and was succeeded as president by his son. Great guitar work and solid musicianship throughout. The last track was also posted here:

La Mauvaise Politique by Easyjams

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Lobo y Melón: s/t, 1959

This is a great son record by the Acapulco-based band led by percussionist Lobo and singer Melón. Lots of solid short cuts with plenty of percussion. For some reason, there is some line noise here that was actually recorded onto the album and never lets up, but the recording was good enough that I decided to post it anyways.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

George M'lely: Trio, 1981

On this album, pianist George M'lely's trio is made up of Peter Barshay on bass and Eddie Moore on drums. Most of the compositions are by M'lely, and the whole band shows a real competence in playing them. They manage to keep it straight ahead but their playing, especially M'lely's, is pretty unique. The album was released on the label Alternatives in American Music, which seems to have only released M'lely's music. From what I can gather on M'lely, he was enjoying a reasonable amount of success in the early 80's but stopped playing professionally in 83, not making his comeback until the early 2000's. Trio was recorded in the bay area, but M'lely now lives in Hawai'i.

An April Piece by Easyjams

The Silvertones: Don't Cry, 1972

This great 7" inch comes out of Studio One. It features a warm, full horn section and smooth harmony singing. Part 1 on the A side seems more like a radio vocal mix and the B side mix is more instrumental, with the vocals cut out at points.

Don't Cry (Part 1) by Easyjams

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ray Sylvester Orchestra: My Elusive Dreams, 1976

Impressive big band music from Trinidad bandleader Ray Sylvester. Mostly slower romantic songs, but there are a couple upbeat ones in there as well. He mixes in a lot of different genres including calypso, salsa, and of course the classic big band sound, but his style is really unique. Not a lot of solos, but the arrangements and execution are great. This is the band's fourth album, arranged by Art de Coteau and produced by Max Serrao. I was not able to find much information on Sylvester other than that moved to Trinidad from Grenada as a young child, that his band was the resident band at a nightclub in Port-of-Spain, and that he died in 2002. No last names were listed in the musician credits, but here's what they gave us:

Timbales: Ronnie
Percussion: Felix, Bobby
Congas: Cummings
Drums: Keith
Organ: Davy
Bass: Winston
Tenor sax: Bert
Alto sax: Mackie
Trumpets: Joe, Granger, Guerra
Trombone: John
Guitar: Cito

Endless Vibes by Easyjams

Friday, September 24, 2010

Linc Chamberland and David Friesen: Yet to Come, 1981

Linc Chamberland is an incredible guitarist. I once heard a story that he turned down an opportunity to place in Miles Davis's quintet because he could make more money giving private lessons. Although this album is not as popular as the earlier A Place Within, which you can find here:, this album is definitely also essential. I've never really heard anyone play like Chamberland, but the other musicians on this album (David Friesen on bass, Gary Hobbs on drums) do a fine job keeping up and contribute well with their own playing. As far as I know, Yet to Come and A Place Within are Chamberland's only two commercially available recordings. Chamberland would die 6 years after recording this album, but his legacy as a musician is sure to live on through his recordings and his many students.

I Hear a Rhapsody by Easyjams

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Zaire Volume 2- The Kinshasa United Artists: Dr. Nico et L'Orchestre African Fiesta b/w Orchestre Bana Mambo, 1981

This is a split LP between the great Docteur Nico (Side A) and Orchestre Bana Mambo (Side B). Both sides are full of great soukous. Docteur Nico's contribution is solid, but I was especially impressed with the Bana Mambo tracks. Although they are not as percussion-heavy as the songs on the A side, the two tracks making up the B side are full of intricate, inspired, driving guitar lines with a really raw sound. From what I can gather, Orchestre Bana Manbo was a short-lived project (this might have been their only release,) featuring singer Kanda Bongo Man, who would go on to have a very successful career. The record was a little warped, so both sides, especially the A side, start off with some record noise, but the sound quality is pretty good otherwise.

Mwana Na Ngai Pt. 1 & 2 by Easyjams

Monday, September 6, 2010

George Russell Sextet: At Beethoven Hall II Guest Don Cherry, 1965

George Russell kicks off this album with a 10+ minute long cover of You Are My Sunshine that ranges from very abstract to almost straight ahead. He always amazes me with his compositions and arrangements. He had been exploring the sextet format for some years by this point and you really get the sense how comfortable he was with a combo of that size by the time of this recording (although there are actually 7 musicians on this session.) As far out as this album is, you still get the sense that every note is perfectly placed. Strong performances all around.

George Russell: piano, leader, composer, arranger
Don Cherry: trumpet
Bertil Loevgren: trumpet
Brian Trentham: trombone
Ray Pitts: tenor saxophone
Cam Brown: bass
Al Heath: drums

You Are My Sunshine by Easyjams

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Gonzalo Castro: El Arpa de Gonzalo Castro con el Conjunto Los Gatos

Gonzalo Castro apparently is (or was) a heavy hitter in Ecuadorian music. I think I remember hearing that his sons are also successful musicians today too. The blog has put up some nice albums of Castro playing with other musicians and of the backing band from this album, Los Gatos, backing up some other leaders. For me, though, the combination of the songs, execution, and instrumentation on this album (all strings) makes it really unique. For some reason the dynamics on this rip seem off on some sound systems. The lower ranges can be barely audible, but in my experience it's always sounded fine over headphones. I'm not sure of the year, but I would guess it's from some time in the 70s.

Corazon by Easyjams

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Prince Adé-Oyé: Juju Music Made in R. Benin, 1995

The composition and execution of this album totally blow my mind. As far as I can tell, this is the only album recorded by Prince Adé-Oyé. Too many guitars to count, talking drums that reproduce vocal melodies and seem to take the only solos that weren't prewritten. It was recorded in Benin by producer Nel Oliver, the first Black African to own a recording studio in Europe. The production quality is so clean that when I first heard it I thought the cowbell and shaker were played on a drum machine. You can hear how meticulous Oliver was about every sound on this disc, and the result is unlike any album I've heard. The musicians are:
Prince Adé-Oyé: Lyrics, composition, solo guitar
Zannou Guy: Solo guitar
Kounasso Laurent Lolo: Hawaiian guitar
Adanvo Pierre: Rhythm guitar
Assogba Fredy: Tenor guitar
Rock Dedegbé & Kounaso Rene Zom'bo: Bass guitar
Daouda Abdouyale & Ajinakou Pascal Gobi: Talking drums
Assogba Bonito: Keyboard
H. Gervais, A Mechac, & A. Chedrac: Agogo-glocke
Prince Adé-Oyé, Kounasso Laurent Lolo, Assogba Bonito, Jean da Silva, & Jean-Claude Kakpo: Chorus

Adé-Oyé Ni Mon DJè (Instrumental) by Easyjams

Mariachi Mexico de Pepe Villa: El Auténtico Son Jalisciense

This is the best recording I have heard of Mariachi Mexico de Pepe Villa, one of the greatest Mariachi bands of all times, and it's one of my favorite albums of any genre. The musicianship and production on this album are totally insane, and the dynamic sound makes these takes on classic sones both heavy and fun. I'm not sure when this first came out, but my guess would be the late 50's.

El Carretero by Easyjams

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Boulou Ferré Quartet: Confirmation, 1989

A live recording of a quartet comprised of Boulou Ferre and Elios Ferre on acoustic guitars, Ed Thigpen on drums, and Jesper Lundgaard on bass. On Confirmation, you can hear a strong affinity for bop forms that I think the brothers eased up on later. Serious acoustic guitar shredding.

Satin Doll by Easyjams

Monday, July 26, 2010

Anthony Ortega: On Evidence

Here the great LA expat Anthony Ortega leads a quartet of French musicians in a laid back session from 1992. Ortega plays alto, soprano, and flute, Manuel Rocheman plays piano, Didier Levallet plays bass, Jacques Mahieux plays drums, and Sylvain Kassap plays bass clarinet on the last track. Some nice ballads, good solid brush work, and great dynamic control by Ortega.

Avignon by Easyjams

Fists of Fury: Essential Selections

I'm not sure if these cuts are from the original sound track or from one that was added when they did the English dubs, but either way there's some good lo-fi jams to be had. Not sure about the composer or the band on this one, sorry.

Opening Theme by Easyjams