Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Herbie Mann - Muscle Shoals Nitty Gritty

Although it followed a formula similar to the hugely successful Memphis Underground, Muscle Shoals Nitty Gritty stands on its own as a superb example of the fusion of jazz with '60s soul music, a genre that Herbie Mann stood atop at the time of its release. In addition to Mann band members Roy Ayers, Miroslav Vitous and Bruno Carr, the recording employs the Muscle Shoals rhythm section that had played together on numerous soul hits of the '60s, including those of Aretha Franklin. Standout cuts include the title track, with the its horn-driven groove; Sharrock's "Blind Willy," featuring a jew's-harp hook; and a smoldering version of Lennon & McCartney's "Come Together." Throughout the album, Mann's solos wail through the upper register of the flute, while Ayers finds interestingly funky passages on the vibes. - by Jim Newsom, AMG

TRY to do the impossible and just tune out the fact that Herbie Mann was responsible for that blasphemous "Hi Jack" thing during the depths of the disco phase in the late seventies. This remarkable album was recorded in 1970, at/with Muscle Shoals. You know all the Shoals alumni, they're all here on the record, and, funny, they don't sound a'TALL like they did with Wilson Pickett - which is NOT to be interpreted as a "slap," they're just displaying what consumate, remarkable musicians they are. If, for nothing else though, track #5, where Herbie tears into the Beatles' "Come Together" - oh, man, just dig how future Weather Report bassist Miroslav Vitous locks in with Shoals' own bassist-extraordinare David Hood - this is the only, I mean the ONLY time where a Beatles' song has been "covered" by another artist, and the new bass part isn't an insult to Paul McCartney. by "Bill Board", Amazon.com

Artist: Herbie Mann
Album: Muscle Shoals Nitty Gritty
Year: 1969
Label: WEA Japan (2014)
Runtime: 37:06

Tracks:
1.  Muscle Shoals Nitty Gritty (Herbie Mann) 6:54
2.  Claudia Pie (Herbie Mann) 4:41
3.  Can You Dig It (Edwin Birdsong) 5:17
4.  Blind Willy (Sonny Sharrock) 4:50
5.  Come Together (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) 10:10
6.  Panana Red's Panama Hat (Herbie Mann) 5:10

Personnel:
Herbie Mann (Flute)
Roy Ayers (Vibraphone)
Eddie Hinton (Guitar)
Barry Beckett (Piano)
David Hood (Double Bass)
Miroslav Vitous (Double Bass) - 5
Roger Hawkins (Drums) - 1-3,6
Bruno Carr (Drums) - 4,5
Jimmy Johnson (Guitar)
Wayne Jackson (Trumpet) - 1-4

Monday, July 14, 2014

Pee Wee Ellis - Ridin' Mighty High

The previous review should probably be ignored. The reviewer states 'He didn't do his due diligence... that this CD is gospel-based, not funk, as in Pee Wee's work with James Brown.' The first clue should have been the CD art shows Pee Wee standing in front of a church. On Amazon.com and other digital retailers, we have the opportunity to listen to track samples. It's important to actually do that. The review of one star of one star is not grading the CD for what it is, but rather what the buyer thought it should be. Pee Wee Ellis has a lifetime of soul, jazz, and gospel recording and performance, on his own, and as a sideman/collaborator with many other performers.This CD includes guest vocalists, including: Fred Ross, Lenny Williams (lead singer, Tower of Power, 1973 -1975), Shana Morrison, and Emma Jean Foster. For me, the two highlight tracks are: Gospel classic, 'How I Depend On You' - vocals - Fred Ross and 'Grandma's Hands' - vocals - Lenny Williams. - by Andrew R. Ebon, Amazon.com

Artist: Pee Wee Ellis (Alfred Elis)
Album: Ridin' Mighty High
Year: 2000
Label: Skip Records
Runtime: 66:17

Tracks:
1.  How I Depend On You (Doug Williams) 4:25
2.  What's Up With That? (Alfred Ellis) 6:23
3.  Oh My God (Chris Hayes/Alfred Ellis/Luther Carter/Scott Matthews) 5:33
4.  Grandma's Hands (Bill Withers) 5:34
5.  Shake A Hand (Joe Morris) 5:25
6.  Mighty High (David Crawford/Richard Downing) 4:25
7.  Blues Alley (Alfred Ellis) 3:44
8.  Goin' Up Yonder (Walter Hawkins) 4:43
9.  Mary Don't You Weep (Traditional) 5:44
10.  How Great Thou Art/The Old Rugged Cross (Traditional) 11:01
11.  Oh My God (d-phunk Remix) 5:04
12.  Mighty High (d-phunk Remix) 4:12

Personnel:
Pee Wee Ellis (Tenor Saxophone, Backing Vocals, Piano)
Chris Hayes (Guitar) - 1-9
Curtis Ohlson (Bass Guitar) - 1-9
John Mader (Drums) - 1-9
Jim Pugh (Hammond Organ) - 1,3-9
Nate Ginsberg (Synthesizer) - 1,6,7
Scott Mathews (Percussion, Backing Vocals) - 1-3,5,7-9
Emma Jean Foster (Backing Vocals, Vocals) - 5,7-10
Dallis Craft (Backing Vocals) - 5,7,8
Fred Ross (Vocals) - 1
Luke Styles (Rap) - 3
John Hunt (Trumpet) - 3,4
Johnny Myers (Trombone) - 3,4
Lenny Williams (Vocals) - 4
David Sturdevant (Harmonica, Backing Vocals) - 4,5,8
Shana Morrison (Vocals) - 5
Sabine Bachmann (Backing Vocals) - 5
Ron Sutherland (Piano) - 10

Monday, July 7, 2014

Duke Ellington & John Coltrane

For this classic encounter, Duke Ellington "sat in" with the John Coltrane Quartet for a set dominated by Ellington's songs; some performances have his usual sidemen (bassist Aaron Bell and drummer Sam Woodyard) replacing Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones in the group. Although it would have been preferable to hear Coltrane play in the Duke Ellington orchestra instead of the other way around, the results are quite rewarding. Their version of "In a Sentimental Mood" is a high point, and such numbers as "Take the Coltrane," "Big Nick," and "My Little Brown Book" are quite memorable. Ellington always recognized talent, and Coltrane seemed quite happy to be recording with a fellow genius. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Duke Ellington and John Coltrane are, individually, two tremendously influential and vital figures in the world of jazz who could do no wrong as far as I'm concerned. But when you combine their talents on record, then you have a recording that's not only music, it's also a piece of history. Though it's a brisk ride at 35 minutes in length, this collaborative effort brings out the best of both worlds during these seven tracks. "In a Sentimental Mood" is a stroke of brilliance: Ellington's angelic piano touches are set to Coltrane's velvet-smooth sax during this gentle number. It's a classic for the ages that must be heard to be believed. The tempo picks up in "Take the Coltrane," which has both in solid harmony. Few tracks can top the ultrasuave swagger of "Stevie," and the slow number "My Little Brown Book" has smooth touches which are underscored by Coltrane's light sax and drums by Sam Woodyard. A mastery of style, technique, and substance, this album is one of those must-have items that'll make your collection all the more complete. Duke Ellington. John Coltrane. Two visionaries. One album. Who can ask for anything more? - by The Groove, Amazon.com

Artist: Duke Ellington & John Coltrane
Album: Duke Ellington & John Coltrane
Year: 1962
Label: Impulse! (1995, 20bit remastered)
Runtime: 34:58

Tracks:
1.  In A Sentimental Mood (Duke Ellington/Manny Kurtz/Irving Mills) 4:17
2.  Take The Coltrane (Duke Ellington) 4:44
3.  Big Nick (John Coltrane) 4:31
4.  Stevie (Duke Ellington) 4:26
5.  My Little Brown Book (Billy Strayhorn) 5:23
6.  Angelica (Duke Ellington) 5:57
7.  The Feeling Of Jazz (Duke Ellington/George T. Simon/Bobby Troup) 5:38

Personnel:
John Coltrane (Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone)
Duke Ellington (Piano)
Jimmy Garrison (Double Bass) - 2,3,6
Aaron Bell (Double Bass) - 1,4,5,7
Elvin Jones (Drums) - 1-3,6

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