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Rahsaan Roland Kirk spoons out coke (or something) for his audience at Montreux, 1972
08:14 am


Rahsaan Roland Kirk

When I first heard the song “Seasons” over the radio in Berkeley some 20 years ago, I pulled to the side of the road, parked my car, and sat there until the KALX DJ back announced it. It’s one of those pieces of music.

Record stores being more numerous than gas stations in the East Bay of that faraway era, it was no time before I found “Seasons” on a budget four-CD set of Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s late 60s and early 70s Atlantic LPs that’s been a constant companion ever since—though I’d probably recommend The Inflated Tear first to a neophyte, unless it was the kind of neophyte who wanted to have the top of her head shorn off by the bracing music Kirk recorded as a one-man band, in which case I’d suggest Natural Black Inventions: Root Strata.

It was significant that I first encountered Kirk’s music on the radio, before I’d seen his picture; I didn’t yet know what everyone knows about him, namely that he was famous for playing multiple horns simultaneously. I just liked the tune.

Insane live footage is one reason to see the new documentary about Kirk, The Case of the Three-Sided Dream (named after one of his albums), and its insight into how myths and reputations are made is another. Kirk’s superhuman technical abilities—not just his gift for playing independent melodies simultaneously on different instruments, but his mastery of damn near every wind instrument and of the technique of circular breathing, too—actually counted against him, making his music seem like gimmickry, unserious and undignified show-off stuff. When people called him a “showman,” it was a euphemism for “freak” or “clown.” Really, what first-rate genius would play an instrument called the nose flute?

Well, just as, in William Blake’s account, God used his feet to make the tiger, Rahsaan Roland Kirk used his nose to make music, and he was fucking good at it, too. At one point in The Case of the Three-Sided Dream, when Kirk is making the case for the nostrils’ legitimacy as apertures of musical expression and chemical nourishment, I thought back to this rip-snorting performance at the 1972 Montreux Jazz Festival, where Kirk sniffed a thing or two during his set.
More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
This is Gary McFarland: The Jazz Legend Who Should Have Been A Pop Star
04:07 pm


Gary McFarland

A few months ago, I was on some music geek forum boards and one of the posters mentioned that he’d bought an audiophile download of Stan Getz’s Big Band Bossa Nova album, a 1962 recording that was arranged and conducted by a guy named Gary McFarland.

And then another poster chimed in about how this Gary McFarland fellow was once a HUGE presence on New York’s fledgling FM jazz stations in the mid-60s. How if it wasn’t music by McFarland under his own name they were playing something done in collaboration with the likes of Getz, Gábor Szabó, Gerry Mulligan, Johnny Hodges, John Lewis, Bob Brookmeyer, Lena Horne, Zoot Sims, Anita O’Day or Bill Evans. The guy’s point was that McFarland’s style of Latin-tinged orchestral jazz got lots and lots of radio airplay, at least in the New York/Long Island area, but then… you never heard from him again. The guy didn’t seem aware that McFarland had died young—a mysterious death at the age of 38 in 1971—until he read that very thread and discovered why the music stopped.

Gary McFarland was an impressive character, a charming, handsome, almost impossibly suave, ascot-wearing James Bond/Hugh Hefner/Dean Martin-like slickster with a great head of hair. McFarland was jokingly referred to by friends as an “adult prodigy” as he showed little interest in music until a stint in the armed services, after which he attended Berklee School of Music for a semester before moving to New York. He achieves some notice working with Gerry Mulligan, and with The Jazz Version of “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying” album in 1961. From there his career as a composer/arranger sees a fairly meteoric rise before his life comes to a shocking end less than a decade later, just as he was moving in the direction of scoring motion pictures and Broadway.

Like many—no doubt most—of you reading this, I had never heard of Gary McFarland before, but I found the thread intriguing and clicked over to YouTube to see what I could find. There I found some delightful soft samba Beatles covers (”Get Back” “And I Love Her” “She Loves You” “A Hard Day’s Night” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand”) and “More” (see what I did there?) often featuring vibraphone and vocalised with “ba baya” style scat singing. (Apparently McFarland had a difficult time memorizing lyrics… problem solved!). I found his incredible song cycle, The October Suite performed with Steve Kuhn, and plenty of other things.

I also read an interview with Love’s Johnny Echols who indicated how much McFarland’s Soft Samba album influenced Da Capo and Forever Changes! (Listen to “Orange Skies” after you hear some of McFarland’s material, the “ba baya” influence becomes quite obvious!)

I’m one of the world’s consummate crate diggers… and a fanatical Arthur Lee fan… HOW had McFarland’s work escaped my notice?

In any case, my appetite whet, I set about immediately picking up any and every project I could nab that Gary McFarland had a hand in. The torrents trackers offered little help, Amazon didn’t have much either, most of McFarland’s work is still trapped in vinyl, but they did have… a documentary about him!

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Hear a stellar version of ‘Impressions’ from the upcoming live John Coltrane/Eric Dolphy boxed set
10:18 am


John Coltrane
Eric Dolphy

John Coltrane
Acrobat Music is about to release the boxed set of live John Coltrane Quintet recordings, So Many Things: European Tour, 1961. The collection is billed as a sequel to Acrobat’s Miles Davis set, All of You: The Last Tour, 1960, which featured Coltrane and was his last trek with Miles. This time Trane is in charge, and the featured sideman is multi-instrumentalist Eric Dolphy. Dangerous Minds has a preview of So Many Things, a track that would become a significant Coltrane piece.

“Impressions” initially went by other names for years before it became the title song for John Coltrane’s 1963 LP. The composition was already a staple of his concerts in 1961, and would be a part of Trane’s live repertoire until 1965. One such performance of the tune took place during Coltrane’s first Finnish gig, which was held on November 22nd, 1961, in Helsinki.

In the boxed set’s liner notes, Simon Spillett writes that the version of “Impressions” from the Helsinki show “contains one of Eric Dolphy’s finest moments of the entire tour—an alto solo full of impossibly rangy lines, honks, and high harmonics,” and that Coltrane’s second solo is “overflowing with choked false-fingered passages and vocalized delves to the bottom of the horn.”
Live, 1961
So Many Things: European Tour, 1961, comes out on March 10th. Let us know what you think of “Impressions” in the comments section. We sure dig it.

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
‘You jive white motherf*ckers!’: Jazz legend Freddie Hubbard spectacularly blows his cool onstage
11:10 am


Freddie Hubbard

The year is 1966 and legendary jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard is onstage in Graz, Austria as a sideman for Sonny Rollins.

Distracted by whistling and heckling, Hubbard furiously castigates the audience:

Fuck you white motherfuckers! FUCK YOU white motherfuckers! Well, okay. I’ll go home. If you don’t like me, kiss my ass! That’s right, cuz you jive. You jive. You jive. You white MOTHERFUCKERS! You the ones who started this shit! Lemme tell you - you the ones. Fuck you! FUCK YOU, you jive white motherfuckers! If you don’t like me, KISS MY BLACK ASS! You motherfuckers! Fuck it, I don’t care!

Johannes Probst writes on Big O:

I was talking to James Spaulding, who was in that group, and he remembered the night vividly. Hubbard was drunk and started cussing out the audience. So in the intermission the police kicked in the dressing-room door and took both Hubbard and Spaulding into custody. James was very angry with Freddie, because he had to spend the night in jail.


Below, hear the influential bebop trumpeter completely lose his shit on a room full of jive white Austrian motherfuckers:

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Rare footage of New Orleans jazz bands shot by Alan Lomax
10:37 am


Alan Lomax
New Orleans

This weekend marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the inestimably important American folklorist/archivist/filmmaker/author/everything Alan Lomax. Unsurprisingly, there’s a plethora of commemorative events planned: a film marathon in Louisville, KY, a 13-hour radio marathon in Portland, a concert in London, England. And there will surely be some kind of boxed set of music. The Association for Cultural Equity (ACE), an organization Lomax Founded at Hunter College in the 1980s, is the keeper of his legacy, and is the source to keep an eye on for announcements. It’s also a treasure trove of recorded media.

Lomax started out by accompanying his famous father, the musicologist and folklorist John Lomax, on field recording trips, documenting musicians in the American South, and went from there to an incredibly distinguished career in preserving and promoting small, obscure, important pockets of America’s cultural heritage. He helped build the Library of Congress’ song archive, and played a significant role in the promotion of American folk music, helping bring the likes of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Muddy Waters, and Burl Ives to records, radio, and mass audiences. If you want the huge gaps in that bio filled in, there’s the ACE bio, and of course there are tons of books, written by Lomax, and written about him.

Since there’s just so much to his career that an omnibus post about Lomax would be an absurd undertaking, I thought it’d be a fun tribute to focus on a lesser known but still badass preservation project of his. In 1982, Lomax spent a lot of time in New Orleans with a video crew, recording that city’s famed jazz musicians, especially brass bands. There is some really hot stuff in here, including the world-famous Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and a lot these videos have criminally low view counts. Some of that footage was compiled for the DVD Jazz Parades: Feet Don’t Fail Me Now, which is viewable at no cost online here. He taped parades, funerals, indoor concerts, everywhere. So enjoy these documents of a 100% uniquely American music, and see if the Ernie K-Doe video doesn’t totally SLAY you. Captions are culled from the ACE web site.

Whole lotta Lomax after the jump!

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Root down: The Incredible Jimmy Smith LIVE in concert, 1965
03:27 pm


Lalo Schifrin
Jimmy Smith

I became a Jimmy Smith fan by way of my love of the soundtrack for Joy House, a 1964 French Alain Delon/Jane Fonda crime drama scored by Lalo Schifrin. Later that same year Smith and Schifrin, together, recorded an album titled The Cat featuring two of the film’s main themes with the Argentinian composer/conductor orchestrating a big band supporting Smith’s inventive organ playing. The results are classic. The next Smith album I picked up was his 1965 set Monster, which featured covers of “Goldfinger” (DO click on that link and listen) and the theme tunes from The Munsters and Bewitched filtered through his mighty Hammond B-3. Along with The Sermon! and his 1972 live in concert Root Down (famously sampled by the Beastie Boys) these albums are all great places to start with Smith.

I had the great pleasure of seeing the incredible Jimmy Smith in concert sometime in the early 90s in a small basement jazz club in Manhattan (I forget the name). He was great, but he did something incredibly awkward near the start of the show: There was a group of about ten older, obviously wealthy, Japanese men seated in a VIP area next to the stage. After this first number Smith—who seemed like he had a pretty good buzz on—addressed the men and thanked his “great friends” from Japan for coming to the show and then he pulled his eyes back, made like he had buck teeth and started repeating “Hong Kong Phooey! Hong Kong Phooey!” and bowing frantically towards them like it was the funniest thing in the world. No one laughed and these gentlemen just froze with that fake smile thing that the Japanese are famous for when they’re caught in uncomfortable moments just like this one.

It was a small room and I think that—drunk or not—Smith knew that he’d made a bit of an ass of himself and showman that he was, endeavored to make the crowd forget about his little “Hong Kong Phooey!” faux pas. The rest of the set astonished and getting to see HOW he played, up close, was a revelation: Smith’s feet walked back and forth across the pedals playing the bass line the entire time. By the end of his show he was drenched in sweat, having gotten quite a full aerobic workout, I can assure you. The guy played the shit out of his organ, even hitting the keys with his nose when just two hands and two feet weren’t enough.

In this half hour set taped in front of a subdued audience in 1965, Smith and his sidemen tear the place apart to but merely “polite” applause. He doesn’t try to hide his surprise at the quiet reaction to a particularly raved up version of “The Sermon.” Watch his face, it’s like he’s wondering “What more can I do for you people?”

Set list: “Theme from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” “The Sermon,” “Theme from Mondo Cane,” Wagon Wheels”

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
New boxed set reveals John Coltrane created ‘terror’ during final tour with Miles Davis, 1960
11:05 am


Miles Davis
John Coltrane

All of You: The Final Tour, 1960
In 1955, Miles Davis hired an up-and-coming musician named John Coltrane to play in his group. Over the next couple of years, the team-up produced some incredible music, but the personal relationship between the trumpeter/leader and the saxophonist was never steady. Backstage at a gig in the spring of 1957, Miles slapped Coltrane and then punched him in the stomach; Trane’s only response was to quit the band.

Coltrane returned to join Davis’ sextet later in the year, but during that short time away he had continued to make a name for himself as a group member, bandleader and recording artist in his own right. Trane played on Miles’ Kind of Blue (1959), now considered one of the cornerstones of the jazz genre, and accompanied Davis on a European tour in 1960, but mentally he was focused on his own music. Miles later admitted Coltrane “was ready to move out before we left.”
Kind of Blue
The spring 1960 European tour was spread out over twenty cities in nine countries. The new boxed set, All of You: The Last Tour, 1960 includes recordings from eight of those performances. Though the Quintet sounds fantastic as a unit, Coltrane’s solos are so unusual they caused quite a stir at the time. Kind of Blue is a lovely record that is also easy on the ears, but Trane was doing his best to make this music sound ugly.

Journalist Frank Tenot witnessed the first show of the tour in Paris: “People were very surprised why there was no John Coltrane like on Kind of Blue. So, part of the audience thinks that Coltrane doesn’t play too well, that he was playing the wrong notes, involuntarily.” Tenot went backstage after the show to tell the saxophonist, “You’re too new for the people… you go too far.” Coltrane just smiled and said, “I don’t go far enough.”

Other critics who witnessed the shows wished that Trane had held back. One reporter called his solos “scandalous,” and wrote that they “bore no relationship whatsoever with playing the saxophone.” Another writer was so horrified he equated Coltrane’s solos with the very concept of “terror.”
Trane in pain
As the leader, Davis takes the first solo during every song on these recordings, and as much as I dig Miles—his solo turns are as interesting and as exquisite as ever—after a couple of tracks, I found myself waiting for Coltrane to step up and blow me away. And he would do just that. Every time. It’s fascinating to hear him push the material—and thus, the band—especially as this was Miles’ group, not his. The fact that we now know he had mentally moved on from his role with Davis, as well as facing negative reactions to his output, only makes listening to these tracks all the more absorbing.
John Coltrane and Miles Davis
The Miles Davis Quintet returned to the states on April 11th, and it wouldn’t be long before Coltrane would make his exit. By then, Trane had made a name for himself and was well on his to becoming one of the titans of jazz.
John Coltrane
Some of the recordings on the boxed set are taken from radio broadcasts, while others were captured privately by audience members. Initially, my expectations were somewhat low as far as the fidelity of these live tapes—which date from over a half century ago—but aside from a couple of muddy sounding tracks and occasional issues with how the musicians were mic’d, the sound quality ranges from very good to surprisingly great. Hear for yourself, as we have an exclusive preview track, an up tempo version of “So What,” recorded in Stockholm, Sweden on March 22nd, 1960. The faster beat and Trane’s dissonant solo result in something excitingly different than the subdued mood created for the familiar Kind of Blue version. Enjoy.

All of You: The Last Tour, 1960 will be released on December 2nd.

Here’s a 1959 TV clip of “So What” played at a pace that more closely resembles the one found on Kind of Blue, but with Coltrane beginning to stretch, feeling his way towards the type of solos he would play on his final tour with Miles:


Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
Mingus, Monk and more: Portraits of jazz greats painted on drum skins
08:54 pm


Charles Mingus
Thelonious Monk

Thelonious Monk drum skin art by Nicole Di Nardo
Thelonious Monk
Twenty-seven-year-old Toronto based artist Nicole Di Nardo says her desire to paint portraiture on drums skins was inspired by “tondos” or “circular” works of art whose origins have been traced as far back to 500 BC in ancient Greece, then were popularized again during the Renaissance in the 14th century and in the 15th century by Sandro Botticelli. Di Nardo gives used drum skins she obtains from the Humber College of Music in Ontario a new life by hand painting images of jazz greats, especially drummers, on skins that have been worn in a way that helps illustrate the musical passion that drove her subjects to create their music. Here’s a little bit more from Di Nardo’s bio on her creative process:

I source skins that are beaten to the point of near uselessness by eager young musicians. I then repurpose the skin by selecting it based on its unique design, which corresponds to the portrait I wish to render. I am interested in painting portraits of musicians who have fire in their bellies, those that reach a transcendental state while performing which is reflected in their expression. During these moments, I believe the tarnish of life fades away and the human spirit is evident most clearly.

Di Nardo’s subjects also include a few rockers like Janis Joplin and Tom Waits, but it’s her portraits of Charles Mingus, legendary percussionist Max Roach, and modern day timekeeper Questlove that really shine. Di Nardo’s works run around $180 dollars each over at her Etsy store.  Images of Di Nardo’s works follow. Dig it, Daddy-O.
Charles Mingus drum art by Nicole Di Nardo
Charles Mingus
Max Roach drum art by Nicole Di Nardo
Max Roach
Elvin Jones drum art by Nicole Di Nardo
Elvin Jones
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Ella Fitzgerald’s totally swingin’ cover of Cream’s ‘Sunshine of Your Love’
09:10 pm


Ella Fitzgerald

In one of those often unitentionally goofy attempts of an older, established artist trying to be hep with the young cats and kittens, the great Ella Fitzgerald recorded a live set in 1969 with Ernie Hecksher’s Big Band and the Tommy Flanagan Trio in San Francisco where she mixed some pop standards of the day with some perhaps more avant garde choices. Well, at least one…

It’s fairly innocuous stuff for the most part (Bacharch and David, Lennon McCartney) but who would have expected the First Lady of Song to cover Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love”? And yet cover it she did. It’s not too bad, either. In fact, Fitzgerald made it the album’s title and a part of her live act for a while, even performing this improbable number during her concert at the Montreux Jazz Festival that year:

Thank you kindly Michael Simmons!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Home movie footage of Duke Ellington and his band playing baseball
10:51 am


Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington
Two of the greatest home-grown American inventions—indeed, grassroots institutions—are jazz and baseball. The consensus greatest practitioners of both pastimes—Louis Armstrong and Babe Ruth, respectively—were in their prime at the exact same time, the 1920s, and both men were raised in orphanages. Shit, it’s jazz and baseball, I’ve just accidentally named two Ken Burns PBS series, that’s how freaking iconic those two things are. You can tell the story of America through baseball, or through jazz. They’re both rich mines of meaning.

And if you have something that combines the two, well, that’s something I want to know about. Smithsonian Magazine recently came up with some truly remarkable footage, dating from around 1941, of the legendary jazz bandleader and composer Duke Ellington playing a little bit of baseball during an off moment with a few of his bandmates, namely cornetist Rex Stewart and valve trombonist Juan Tizol. For the record, that’s the Duke pitching and then swinging the bat from about 0:15 to 0:30. (That’s tenor sax man Ben Webster in the bathrobe at the end, clearly communicating something along the lines of “You guys can play out there if you want, I’m hung over and I’m staying right here.”)
Duke Ellington
This fantastic image actually has nothing to do with the footage. That picture was taken sometime in the mid-1950s—the massive slogan on the bus, “Mr. Hi-Fi of 1955,” in addition to being my own future nickname if I have anything to say about it, surely puts us pretty close to that year. The appearance of the neon word “Colored” at left certainly suggests that this little game of pickup ball took place somewhere in the South.



Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Cool Jazz, Cold War: Counterculture subversives at Moscow’s Blue Bird Café

Vitaly Komar and Alex Melemid’s first collaborative art show at the Blue Bird Café, Moscow, USSR, 1967.

“Today he is playing jazz and tomorrow he’ll betray the Motherland.” - Soviet era saying

The Blue Bird Café (Sinyaya Ptitsa) on Chekhov Street in Moscow opened in 1963, one of two jazz enclaves in the city. Students, nonconformist artists, writers, and musicians gathered there to listen to jazz and hold small unofficial art shows. A well-known quartet that frequently played there featured sax player Igor Itkin, pianist Mikhail Kull, bassist Alexander Chernyshev and drummer Vladimir Lesnyakov.

Painters Vitaly Komar and Alex Melamid, who founded Retrospectivism, held their first collaborative show at the Blue Bird in 1967 upon graduating from the Stroganov School of Art and Design. Other artists who displayed their paintings and sculpture at the Café in the 1960’s were Erik Bulatov, Igor Shelkovsky, Oleg Vassiliev, and Ilia and Emilia Kabakov.

Komar and Melamid described their Retrospectivism movement as featuring “three-dimensional abstract paintings in the style of the old masters and reflects a typical search for spirituality on the part of nonconformist artists working in an oppressively atheistic state.” According to the description of Melamid’s exhibit of life-size hip-hop icons in Detroit, “Komar and Melamid often faced government opposition and harassment.” So much opposition that in 1969 government censors removed their work from the 8th Exhibition of Young Artists in Moscow.

Jazz was tolerated to some degree in the USSR (unlike rock music) and had even been the music of the stilyagi (stylish) youth subculture in the late 1940’s and 1950’s. But jazz came under a new round of unwanted scrutiny in 1968 as ideologically troublesome. In Red Hot and Blue: The Fate of Jazz in the Soviet Union 1917-1991 author S. Frederick Starr describes the Soviet establishment’s hostility toward jazz:

“There was no formal campaign against jazz. Indeed, Brezhnev applauded a modern jazz quartet that performed at his dacha outside Moscow in 1970. But many protectors of Soviet orthodoxy wanted to settle old scores. The jamming of foreign broadcasts, suspended in 1963, was reintroduced in 1968. Fearing unwholesome assemblies of young people, Komsomol [the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League, the officially sanctioned youth group for people 14 and older] abolished jazz evenings at the Dream in Kiev and at similar youth Cafés in other cities. The Blue Bird (Siniaia ptitsa), which had opened only two years before on Chekhov Street in Moscow, dropped jazz entirely, and the Molodezhnoe Café cut back jazz to two nights a week. The Pechora was opened on Moscow’s Kalinin Prospect to replace these dens of iniquity; brightly lit and colorless, the Pechora at least provided a setting for open jam sessions, although it closed early.”

Gorbachev’s perestroika and the fall of the Soviet Union resulted in a proliferation of nightclubs and the Blue Bird’s elevated status as a “jazz centre.” The Café continued to be a revered attraction for jazz fans until its closure in 2010.

Above, UB40 jamming with local musicians, including Roman Suslov from polite refusal, at the Blue Bird Café, Moscow, USSR, on October 16, 1986.

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Leave a comment
Brubeck in context: The BBC’s ‘1959: The Year That Changed Jazz’

Pianist Dave Brubeck’s shedding of his mortal coil yesterday reminds us how important it is to view a figure like him in relation to his time.

Luckily we have BBC4’s 2009 documentary, 1959: The Year That Changed Jazz to do just that. Produced by documentarian Paul Bernays and UK jazz DJ Jez Nelson, 1959 scrutinizes the impact of Brubeck’s classic Time Out album alongside three others from that year: Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue, Charles Mingus’s Ah Um and Ornette Coleman’s The Shape Of Jazz To Come.

The main Brubeck segment starts 12 minutes in, and the doc explores both the racial politics inherent in the Brubeck phenomenon, and the influence of his band’s groundbreaking 1959 tour of the Soviet Bloc, Mideast and South Asia on Time Out. But the whole hour is worth watching, if only for the compelling close-readings of masterpieces like Davis’s iconic “So What,” Coleman’s intense “Lonely Woman,” Mingus’s firey “Fables of Faubus.” The doc’s juxtaposition of Brubeck’s ascendance to Mr. Cool-ness against Coleman’s Cold War-tinged urgency is also a nice touch.

With an interview roster that includes Hal Wilner, Lou Reed, Stanley Crouch, Charlie Haden, Sue Mingus, Herbie Hancock and Nat Hentoff, 1959 offers up some crucial background as to what made Brubeck and his contemporaries what they were.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Dave Brubeck Quartet: In Concert, Germany 1966


Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
Happy birthday Nina Simone
09:03 pm


Nina Simone
Happy Birthday

Nina Simone was born 79 years ago today, on February 21st 1933. Next year will mark the tenth anniversary of her passing, but for now let’s remember one of the greatest artists of the last century with her jaw-dropping performance of Morris Albert’s “Feelings” from her controversial set at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1976. Nina looks stoned here, and apparently she didn’t feel the crowd at this show were reacting appropriatley, explaining some of the tense spoken word interuptions. Still, if any doubts exist about Nina Simone’s skill or talent, watch this clip then tell me she is not one of the great artists of modern times:

Nina Simone “Feelings” Live at Montreux Jazz Festival, 1976

Thanks to Norn Cutson

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Happy Birthday Beth Gibbons of Portishead

Beth Gibbons, vocalist of both Portishead and Rustin Man, turns 46 today. Here’s to one of the best, most soulful, female voices English music has ever produced. After the jump a selection of her best clips, but let’s start with this haunting cover of the Velvet Underground:

Beth Gibbons & Rustin Man “Candy Says”

Thanks to Grizz Gom Jabbar Robinson.
After the Jump, videos for “L’Annulaire”, “The Rip” and “Glory Box” (live)...

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Dance music classics turned into jazz songs by 3iO

3iO’s Robert Mitchell
Music that has a sense of humor tends to get a hard time among people who consider themselves “serious” music fans. Why is this? Is it because music itself has to be seen to be serious? That the music makers have to mean it (maaan) and it’s impossible to wear your heart on your sleeve if it’s matched by a raised eyebrow and a smirk?

3iO are an acoustic jazz band who last year released an album called Back To New Roots, which features jazz-style covers of a host of big dance tunes from the last 15 years. LOL!! Right? Or is this an acceptable style of guffaw on a par with coffee table favourites Nouvelle Vague? Here’s a bit of info on the band via the Soundcloud page of their excellently named record label Hell Yeah

Let’s keep it simple, this dance meets jazz concept started as a joke: take a bunch of friends, discover that they are highly talented jazz musicians and propose them to do something a bit different, play and perform your favourite E-dance / alternative hits / chill out timeless classics into their contemporary jazz style…. shake it as it was your cocktail of choice and you have Serotonin Fuelled Jazz Covers.

3iO are Richard Maggioni (piano), Juan Manuel Moretti (double bass) Matteo Giordani (drums), they are not newcomers in the italian jazz circuit, they have already two albums on their back and with BACK TO NEW ROOTS they challenge themself with a new repertoire: Fat Boy Slim, Groove Armada, Chemical Brothers, Royskopp, Underworld, Spiller, DJ Shadow… just as you never heard them before.

So is this “serious” music? Or is it just a big joke that can be easily dismissed as not being worthy of much attention? While there is definitely a smirking knowingness about this project, the lol-factor is not all that great and I think some of this album actually sounds really good. But I will leave it up to you to decide whether this is “real” music or not (bearing in mind that we’re big fans of both Zappa and Sparks here, two acts who feel no fear of adding humor to their work): 
3iO “Right Here Right Now” (original by Fat Boy Slim)

3iO “Born Slippy (nuxx)” (original by Underworld)

3iO “Organ Donor” (original by DJ Shadow)

You can hear (and purchase) 3iO’s album Back To New Roots in full here.

Thanks Tara!

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
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