Saturday, January 31, 2015

true colours

Split Enz crested with the teasing melodic frenzy of this new wave shark attack.  The New Zealand musical collective had gone through myriad changes since their formation in 1972 by students at Auckland University.  Their sound developed from the theatrical progressive rock of Mental Notes and Second Thoughts to a more melodic pop sound with a new lineup that saw founding members Mike Chunn and Phil Judd being replaced by Nigel Griggs and Neil Finn.  Neil was the younger brother of founder and new bandleader Tim Finn and his relative inexperience led the group to simplify their arrangements for Dizrythmia and Frenzy.

Tim would explain:  "We concentrated on the music, not the theatrics: skimmed off the fat and left the bare bones of it. What we've got now is simpler and more effective. I got sick of looking like a parrot, singing love songs."

Neil would reflect:   "We never consciously sat down and said 'Let's be commercial.' Maybe there was a subconscious desire to sell records, but we were writing deliberately simple songs because we were sick of 'clever' arrangements."

'True Colours' features Tim Finn on vocals and acoustic guitar;  Neil Finn on vocals and guitar;  Noel Crombie on vocals and percussion;  Malcolm Green on drums;  Nigel Griggs on bass guitar;  and Eddie Rayner on keyboards.  The sessions were produced and engineered by David Tickle with assistant engineer Scott Hemmings at Armstrongs in Melbourne.  It was the first Split Enz album to feature Neil's songs.  

'True Colours'  charted at number forty in the US, thirty-eight in the UK, and number one on Australia and New Zealand.  The US version featured lazer etched vinyl with shapes and colors that could catch the light and was released in several different color configurations.

"I Got You" became a smash hit for the group and broke them around the world, going to fifty-three in the US, thirteen in Canada, twelve in the UK, and number one in Australia and New Zealand.

I got you, that's all I want
I won't forget, that's a whole lot
I don't go out, now that you're in
Sometimes we shout, but that's no problem

I don't know why sometimes I get frightened
You can see my eyes, you can tell that I'm not lyin'

Look at you, you're a pageant
You're everything, that I've imagined
Something's wrong, I feel uneasy
You show me, tell me you're not teasin'

I don't know why sometimes I get frightened
You can see my eyes, you can tell that I'm not lyin'

There's no doubt, not when I'm with you
When I'm without, I stay in my room
Where do you go, I get no answer
You're always out, it gets on my nerves

I don't know why sometimes I get frightened
You can see my eyes you can tell that I'm not lying
I don't know why sometimes I get frightened
You can see my eyes, you can tell that I'm not lyin'
I don't know why sometimes I get frightened
You can see my eyes, you can tell that I'm not lying

"I Hope I Never" hit thirty-three in New Zealand and eighteen in Australia.

"Poor Boy"

'True Colours' 
full album:

All songs written and composed by Tim Finn unless noted.

Side A
1. "Shark Attack"   2:52
2. "I Got You" (Neil Finn) 3:24
3. "What's the Matter with You" (N. Finn) 3:02
4. "Double Happy" (Eddie Rayner) 3:15
5. "I Wouldn't Dream of It"   3:14
6. "I Hope I Never"   3:24
Side B
7. "Nobody Takes Me Seriously"   3:32
8. "Missing Person" (N. Finn) 3:32
9. "Poor Boy"   3:19
10. "How Can I Resist Her"   3:26
11. "The Choral Sea" (T. Finn, N. Finn, Rayner, Noel Crombie, Malcolm Green, Nigel Griggs) 4:29

Tim Finn interview 1980

Friday, January 30, 2015

there is love in you

Four Tet found a subtle unfolding bliss in the angel echoes and layered loops of this folktronic love cry.  London born Kieran Hebden formed Fridge with classmates at the Elliott School in Putney and signed a deal with the Output Recordings label at the age of fifteen.   Within a year he was releasing material with Steve Reid as Four Tet.  Over four albums ( Dialogue , Pause Rounds , and Everything Ecstatic )  they developed a sound that was completely unique. 

Hebden says  'There Is Love In You' was influenced by two years of playing the London club circuit:   “This album’s more about bliss!  It’s about being completely lost in music in some ways. To me, music’s like this sacred thing; it’s like my escape, the thing that helps me through life. When I started making this album, I wanted to make music that touched on those moments that make me feel on fire inside, make me feel sublime. I think that ties in the DJing a lot...When I started DJing at The End it was like being thrown in the deep end. I was scared again. It was new to me. And also around that time dance music was so uncool, this was in 2007: Justice or whatever was around but in general it was like the Kings Of Leon or something; rock bands were getting all the press. It felt like there was no one there because they’d read about it in ID Magazine.” 

 'There Is Love In You' reached one hundred and eighty nine in France, one hundred and fifty seven in the US, ninety-four in Belgium, and thirty-five in the UK.

full album:!/album/There+Is+Love+In+You/3929173

All tracks composed and arranged by Kieran Hebden.

1. "Angel Echoes"   4:00
2. "Love Cry"   9:13
3. "Circling"   5:18
4. "Pablo's Heart"   0:12
5. "Sing"   6:49
6. "This Unfolds"   7:55
7. "Reversing"   2:40
8. "Plastic People"   6:34
9. "She Just Likes to Fight"   4:34
Total length:          47:15
There Is Love In You: Four Tet [Part 1 of 3] from Ray Concepcion on Vimeo.
There Is Love In You: Four Tet [Part 2 of 3] from Ray Concepcion on Vimeo.
There Is Love In You: Four Tet [Part 3 of 3] from Ray Concepcion on Vimeo.

Thursday, January 29, 2015


Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings took their heavy funk and soul revival to the next level with the instinctive and irresistible grooves of this sultry sophomore sensation.  The group had formed in Brooklyn, New York from the ashes of the Soul Providers and Desco Records, when Gabriel Roth (aka Bosco Mann) and Neal Sugarman  started Daptone Records.  Roth and Sugarman also formed a new band The Dap-Kings and recorded 'Dap Dippin' with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings'

Jones says:  "Until the ’90s, major labels were looking for a certain look. This Sony guy told me I was "too black, too fat, too short, and too old." Told me to go and bleach my skin. Told me to step in the background and just stay back. I had the voice, but I didn't have the looks. I knew that God had blessed me with a gift, so that's when I went and took jobs in corrections [at Riker's Island], sanitation, postal offices. You couldn't be in any kind of musical career and work in corrections too. You're working on the wheel, 11 at night till 8 in the morning, then the next time you're on at 8 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon. I left there and went to Wells Fargo to work security. I was still doing the Wells Fargo thing when I met the Dap-Kings, and that's it. I just thought, "One day. One day." And that day came when I met those guys."

Their second album, 'Naturally' was recorded on a sixteen track analogue tape machine at the new Daptone Recording Studio with Sharon Jones on vocals;   El Michels on baritone saxophone;  Neal Sugarman on tenor saxophone;  Dave Guy on trumpet;  Homer "Funky-Foot" Steiweiss on drums;  emcee Binky Griptite on guitar and , and back-up vocals;  Boogaloo Velez on congas; Tommy "TNT" Brenneck on guitar and piano; and bandleader and producer Bosco "Bass" Mann on bass, piano, vibes, tambourine;   with Lee Fields lending guest vocals to "Stranded in Your Love";  Alex Kadvan and cello;  Antoine Silverman and Entcho Todorov on violin;   Stuart D. Bogie on jaw harp on "Fish In My Dish";  and Earl Maxton (Vicktor Axelrod) on organ on "All Over Again".   

Roth reveals:   "I was never really that ambitious with the music stuff. We were just trying to make good records for fun. And me and my friend Phillip [Lehman], and my friend Mike Wagner, we were just messing around, man. Just like a lot of people, we were in a basement or in a friend’s studio or something. Just recording, just kind of doing it ourselves. It came out of that. We weren’t really taking anything that seriously. It wasn’t like we were gonna hire engineers or producers or arrangers or anything. We were just jammin’, just making up songs and recording them ourselves and stuff like that...Sometimes I’m doing interviews and stuff and people talk about me being a White kid trying to make soul music, or Black music, and stuff like this. I really, personally, never tried to be somebody I’m not. Or tried to emulate some music, or tried to steal some history or tradition that I’m not a part of. What I try to do is make records that sound good to me and make honest records. I really try to write with my heart and play with my heart. I think the reason why we’ve been successful is that I’ve really been able to surround myself with a lot of singers and musicians that are able to play from the heart and play with some sincerity. Whether it’s Otis Redding, or Fela, or Mavis Staples, in any of its many forms, I think soul music is just music that comes from the heart. It’s pure music. I think the way Sharon usually puts it is, “What comes from the heart reaches the heart.” I think that’s what soul music is about, really."

"How Do I Let a Good Man Down?"

"Stranded in Your Love"

"This Land Is Your Land"

"You're Gonna Get It"

"Things Got To Get Better" Marva Whitney cover

full album:

All songs written by Bosco Mann, except as noted.
"How Do I Let a Good Man Down?" – 3:02
"Natural Born Lover" – 3:04
"Stranded in Your Love" – 5:47
"My Man Is a Mean Man" – 3:16
"You're Gonna Get It" – 4:59
"How Long Do I Have to Wait for You?" – 4:03
"This Land Is Your Land" (Woody Guthrie) – 4:31
"Your Thing Is a Drag" – 3:33
"Fish in the Dish" – 3:18
"All Over Again" – 4:43

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

giant steps

John Coltrane leaped forward with energetic and emotional sheets of condensed notes that created a sweeping new jazz sound.  After recording his first album as a band leader with 'Blue Train' on Blue Note Records; he played with the Miles Davis on his seminal  'Milestones' and 'Kind of Blue'  albums.  It was during this time that Davis' manager Harold Lovett helped Coltrane sign a sweet deal with Atlantic Records.  His first album for his new label was recorded at Atlantic Studios in New York City with producer Nesuhi Ertegün and engineers Tom Dowd and Phil Iehle.  Most of 'Giant Steps' was cut during a session on  May 4, 1959 with John Coltrane on tenor saxophone and  Tommy Flanagan on piano; with the rhythm section of Paul Chambers on bass and Art Taylor on drums.   "Naima" was recorded on  December 2, 1959 with Wynton Kelly taking over on piano and Jimmy Cobb handling drums.   

The onslaught of notes during some of the solos was too much for some.  Coltrane would address his critics at the time:   "Maybe it sounds angry because I'm trying so many things at one time. I haven't sorted them out. I have a whole bag of things I'm trying to work through and get the one essential. There are some set things that I know, some harmonic devices that will take me out of the ordinary path if I use them. But I'm not familiar enough with them yet to take the one single line through them. So I play all of them, trying to accli­mate my ear so I can hear.   Tonewise, I would like to be able to produce a more beautiful sound, but now I'm primarily inter­ested in trying to work what I know down into a more lyrical line —That's what I mean by beauti­ful... so that it can be more easily understood."

"Giant Steps"


'Giant Steps'
full album:

All compositions written by John Coltrane.

Side one 
1. "Giant Steps"   4:43
2. "Cousin Mary"   5:45
3. "Countdown"   2:21
4. "Spiral"   5:56
Side two 
1. "Syeeda's Song Flute"   7:00
2. "Naima"   4:21
3. "Mr. P.C."   6:57

liner notes:  

Along with Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane has become the most influential and controversial tenor saxophonist in modern jazz. He is becoming, in fact, more controversial and possibly more influential than Rollins. While it's true that to musicians especially, Coltrane's fiercely adventurous harmonic imagination is the most absorbing aspect of his developing style, the more basic point is that for many non-musician listeners, Coltrane at his best has an unusually striking emotional impact. There is such intensity in his playing that the string of adjectives employed by French critic Gerard Bremond in a Jazz-Hot article on Coltrane hardly seems at all exaggerated. Bremond called his playing "exuberant, furious, impassioned, thundering." 

There is also, however, an extraordinary amount of sensitivity in Coltrane's work. Part of the fury in much of his playing is the fury of the search, the obsession Coltrane has to play all he can hear or would like to hear -often all at once - and yet at the same time make his music, as he puts it, "more presentable." He said recently, "I'm worried that sometimes what I'm doing sounds like just academic exercises, and I'm trying more and more to make it sound prettier." It seems to me he already succeeds often in accomplishing both his aims, as sections of this album demonstrate. 

This is the first set composed entirely of Coltrane originals. John has been writing since 1948. He was born in Hamlet, North Carolina, September 23, 1926. His father played several instruments, and interested his son in music. At 15, John learned E-flat alto horn and clarinet, and in high school, he switched to tenor. He studied in Philadelphia at the Granoff Studios and the Ornstein School of Music, became a professional at 19, and played in a Navy band based in Hawaii from 1945-46. From 1947-49, he worked with Joe Webb (Big Maybelle was in the same entourage), King Kolax, Eddie Vinson and Howard McGhee. Charlie Parker had become a dominant influence on his playing. 

He was on alto with the Dizzy Gillespie band in 1949, and after Dizzy disbanded, John returned to Philadelphia, discouraged and trying to find his own way in music. From 1952-53, he was with Earl Bostic, and then played with Johnny Hodges, Jimmy Smith, and Bud Powell. He first joined Miles Davis from 1955-56. Miles regards Coltrane and Rollins as the two major modern tenors. "I always liked Coltrane." Miles said recently. "When he was with me the first time, people used to tell me to fire him. They said he wasn't playing anything. They also used to tell me to get rid of Philly Joe Jones. I know what I want though. I also don't understand this talk of Coltrane being difficult to understand. What he does, for example, is to play five notes of a chord and then keep changing it around, trying to see how many different ways it can sound. It's like explaining something five different ways. And that sound of his is connected with what he's doing with the chords at any given time," 

Miles encouraged Coltrane and also stimulated his harmonic thinking. In terms of writing as well, John feels he's learned from Miles to make sure that a song "is in the right tempo to be its most effective. He also made me go further into trying different modes in my writing." After two years with Miles, there was a period in 1957 with Thelonious Monk that Coltrane found unusually challenging. "I always had to be alert with Monk," he once said, "because if you didn't keep aware all the time of what was going on, you'd suddenly feel as if you'd stepped into an empty elevator shaft." 

Coltrane worked briefly with a Red Garland quintet, then rejoined Miles, and has been with him ever since. He has nothing of his own in the Davis book at present, but he has devoted more and more of his time to composing. He is mostly self-taught as a writer, and generally starts his work at the piano. "I sit there and run over chord progressions and sequences, and eventually, I usually get a song - or songs - out of each little musical problem. After I've worked it out on the piano, I then develop the song further on tenor, trying to extend it harmonically." Coltrane tries to explain what drives him to keep stretching the harmonic possibilities of improvisation by saying, "I feel like I can't hear but so much in the ordinary chords we usually have going in the accompaniment. I just have to have more of a blueprint. It may be that sometimes I've been trying to force all those extra progressions into a structure where they don't fit, but this is all something I have to keep working on. I think too that my rhythmic approach has changed unconsciously during all this, and in time, it too should get as flexible as I'm trying to make my harmonic thinking." 

In her analysis of Coltrane's style in the November and December, 1959, issues of The Jazz Review, pianist Zita Carno pointed out that Coltrane's range "is something to marvel at: a full three octaves upward from the lowest note obtainable on the horn (concert A-flat) ... There are a good many tenor players who have an extensive range, but what sets Coltrane apart from the rest of them is the equality of strength in all registers, which he has been able to obtain through long, hard practice. His sound is just as clear, full and unforced in the topmost notes as it is down in the bottom." She describes his tone as "a result of the particular combination of mouthpiece and reed he uses plus an extremely tight embouchure" and calls it "an incredibly powerful, resonant and sharply penetrating sound with a spine-chilling quality." 

Of the tunes, Coltrane says of Giant Steps that it gets its name from the fact that "the bass line is kind of a loping one. It goes from minor thirds to fourths, kind of a lop-sided pattern in contrast to moving strictly in fourths or in half-steps." Tommy Flanagan's relatively spare solo and the way it uses space as part of its structure is an effective contrast to Coltrane's intensely crowded choruses. 

Cousin Mary is named for a cousin of Coltrane who is indeed called Mary. The song is an attempt to describe her. "She's a very earthy, folksy, swinging person. The figure is riff-like and although the changes are not conventional blues progressions, I tried to retain the flavor of the blues." 

Countdown’s changes are based in large part on Tune Up, but against that, Coltrane uses essentially the same sequence of minor thirds to fourths that characterizes Giant Steps. His solo here, and in the others as well, illustrates Zita Carno's point that Coltrane, for all he's trying to express in any given solo, has a remarkable sense of form. 

Syeeda’s Song Flute has a particularly attractive line and is named for Coltrane's 10-year-old daughter. "When I ran across it on the piano," he says, "It reminded me of her because it sounded like a happy, child's song." 

The tender Naima - an Arabic name - is also the name of John's wife. "The tune is built," Coltrane notes, "on suspended chords over an Eb pedal tone on the outside. On the inside-the channel-the chords are suspended over a Bb pedal tone." Here again is demonstrated Coltrane's more than ordinary melodic imagination as a composer and the deeply emotional strength of all his work, writing and playing. There is a "cry" - not at all necessarily a despairing one - in the work of the best of the jazz players. It represents a man's being in thorough contact with his feelings, and being able to let them out, and that "cry" Coltrane certainly has. 

Mr. P.C. is Paul Chambers who provides excellent support and thoughtful solos on the record as a whole and whom Coltrane regards as "one of the greatest bass players in jazz. His playing is beyond what I could say about it. The bass is such an important instrument, and has so much to do with how a group and a soloist can best function that I feel very fortunate to have had him on this date and to have been able to work with him in Miles' band so long." Tom Dowd's engineering, incidentally, has caught Paul's sound as well as it's ever been heard on records, and for an insight into the importance of the bass's function, it might be valuable to go through the record once, paying attention primarily to Paul. Also worth noting is the steady, generally discreet drumming of Arthur Taylor and Jimmy Cobb throughout. 

What makes Coltrane one of the most interesting jazz players is that he's not apt to ever stop looking for ways to perfect what he's already developed and also to go beyond what he knows he can do. He is thoroughly involved with plunging as far into himself and the expressive possibilities of his horn as he can. As Zita Carno wrote, "the only thing to expect from John Coltrane is the unexpected." I’d qualify that dictum by adding that one quality that can always be expected from Coltrane is intensity. He asks so much of himself that he can thereby bring a great deal to the listener who is also willing to try relatively unexplored territory with him. 

Nat Hentoff
Co-Editor, The Jazz Review 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

jerome kern

Jerome David Kern

(January 27, 1885 – November 11, 1945)

This prolific composer helped to define popular music through dozens of Broadway shows and Hollywood musicals.  Born in New York City, he learned piano at an early age and was composing for stage shows while still in high school.  He studied at the New York College of Music, studying under private tutors in Heidelberg, Germany.  He visited London, where he met American impresario Charles Frohman, with whom he made a deal to write extra songs for British musicals coming to the US.  In 1915, he would miss the boat back to the US from London, oversleeping after staying out all night playing piano and poker.  The ship was the RMS Lusitania, which sank with Frohman on board.  

In the next five years alone, he composed sixteen musicals.  In 1925, he met Oscar Hammerstein II, with whom he would collaborate for years.  Their 1927 smash hit 'Show Boat' would change the focus of musical theatre from fanciful comedy to serious storytelling.  He began working in Hollywood musicals and had massive success, winning two Oscars and receiving many nominations.  He collapsed on November 5, 1945 from a cerebral hemorrhage while walking at the corner of Park Avenue and 57th Street.  Hammerstein was at his side when Kern's breathing stopped.  When Hammerstein hummed "I've Told Ev'ry Little Star" into Kern's ear and got no response, he knew Kern had died.  Kern's list of compositions include over seven hundred songs.  

"Ol' Man River",
 (music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II) 
from Show Boat

"The Way You Look Tonight",
(lyrics by Dorothy Fields and Jimmy McHugh) 
featured in the film Swing Time
won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1936

"The Last Time I Saw Paris" 
(lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II)
Academy Award for Best Original Song
from Lady Be Good

 "How'd you like to spoon with me?" 

"Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man",
 music by Jerome Kern, and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, from Show Boat

"A Fine Romance",
composed by Jerome Kern with lyrics by Dorothy Fields, published in 1936.
 written for the musical film, Swing Time
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes",
 written by Jerome Kern and lyricist Otto Harbach for their 1933 musical Roberta.

"All the Things You Are",
 composed by Jerome Kern, with lyrics written by Oscar Hammerstein II.

"Long Ago (and Far Away)"
music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Ira Gershwin.  
sung by Rita Hayworth to Gene Kelly in the 1944 Technicolor film musical Cover Girl 

Gene Kelly and Rita Hayworth - Long Ago and Far... by wizardess

"Dearly Beloved"
Oscar-nominated tune written by Jerome Kern and Johnny Mercer

"Can't Help Singing"
Jerome Kern and EY Harburg

 "More and More"
 (lyrics by E. Y. Harburg) 

"All Through the Day"
 (lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II) 

 "Who (stole my heart away)?") written for the Broadway musical Sunny by Jerome Kern, Otto Harbach and Oscar Hammerstein II.

"'Til The Clouds Roll By"

 "I've Told Ev'ry Little Star"
 (lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II) 

'Show Boat'
full film from 1951
 based on the stage musical of the same name by Jerome Kern (music) and Oscar Hammerstein II (script and lyrics), and the 1926 novel by Edna Ferber.

"Til The Clouds Roll By"
full film
1946 fictionalized biography of composer Jerome Kern,  who died before it was completed.