Saturday, October 21, 2017

Birks' Day: Diz 100

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OK, this was delayed by a police visit to the house -- roommate incident -- and my back going out, so forgive the late hour of this. I'll try to make this as good as I can given the pain.
Obviously if I need to tell you who Dizzy Gillespie is, you should just step away from the keyboard immediately. But you may not know he would have turned 100 today.
Odd that Buddy Rich was born 11 days before Thelonious Monk, and Monk 11 days before Diz. Great players are born close together, I guess.
One of the all-time architects of Bebop specifically and American music in general, there are no words to adequately assess what he means.
He died almost 25 years ago, but all over the web this afternoon I see homage after homage, and that's both a testimony to his gravitas and as it should be.
Teacher, bandleader, Jazz Ambassador to the world. There isn't any overstating John Birks Gillespie, and there never will be.
To celebrate this most auspicious centenary event, I have a quite delicious and pristinely rendered pair of mp4 files, documenting Dizzy's appearance at the 1971 Kongsberg Jazz Festival in Norway. The first one is the rehearsal and a fantastic fly-on-the-wall document of galaxy-class musicians doing their due diligence. The second is an hourlong set in front of a rapt audience.
Dizzy Gillespie
Kongsberg Jazzfestival
Kongsberg, Norway 
probably 6.27.1971

mp4 #1
01 rehearsal incl. Manteca

mp4 #2
01 Tour de Force
02 Con Alma
03 Brother K
04 Fiesta Mojo
05 One Bass Hit
06 Tangerine
07 Tanga

Total time: 1:37:45

Dizzy Gillespie - trumpet, conductor 
Jan Garbarek, Calle Neumann, Harald Bergersen, Bjørn Johansen, Helge Hurum - reeds
Frode Thingnæs + 3 unknown - trombones
Bernt Steen, Finn Eriksen + 2 unknown - trumpets
Svein Chrico Christiansen - drums
Roy Hellvin - piano
Arild Andersen (rehearsal), Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen (concert) - bass

two HD mp4 files captured from NRK web rebroadcasts, originally broadcast 4.27 and 5.3.1972
1.65 GB mp4 here
I apologize in advance for the brevity of this screed but I can barely sit without screaming in agony so it will hafta do. I shall return with the promised 4-year anniversary post for this lovely little page soon, in fact as soon as my hips don't feel like someone is stabbing them with knitting needles dipped in salt. But right now let's have you pull down this rare and vintage footage of a true and legendary master in full flight, OK? Born this day in 1917, never to be forgotten even for a moment.--J.
10.21.1917 - 1.6.1993

Friday, October 20, 2017

Gainesville Sage Shades the Depraved Mendacious

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It rained all night and the air has been laundered harder than mobsters scrub Lufthansa heist money -- by the marine layer we all rely upon for such things -- thus making the smoky times a mere memory. Let's celebrate the birthday of a recently departed icon, shall we?
When today's honoree passed from heart failure a few weeks back, I knew I'd instantly have a Facebook feed full of aggrieved heartbrokens on me, asking for me to deliver some crown jewels. Could I disappoint them?
But back to today's hero. He burst upon the scene in 1976/77, and was taken for one of the Punks... and at first he stiffed in America. Fortunately the Brits lost their minds over him pretty much as soon as his first record fell off the boat.
By his second LP he'd begun to have hits with songs that would become essential standards of Rock. Then the trouble started.
As so many aspiring music folk have done, he had earlier signed a repressive contract that robbed him of his publishing royalties. Once he began to have success and it became an issue, and he found that he would not be allowed out of the contract, he responded by filing for bankruptcy.
This sent a seismic shock wave through a music industry terrified by the precedent such a thing might set, and the labels -- not just his, but ALL of them!!!! -- flat out conspired to kill his next record and destroy his burgeoning career.
This matter spent most of 1979 and the first part of 1980 in court, and he eventually won, freeing himself from his contract and setting himself on a course of antagonism towards the suits that would only get more intense.
For me, the utmost testimony to the talent of Tom Petty was that during this period of numbing upheaval and peril, he managed to make what was up to then his biggest and most popular album. Appropriately titled Damn the Torpedoes, it would scale the charts and put him in a powerful position he utilized until the day he died.
By this point his songs were so ubiquitous that you'd turn on FM radio in 1980 and flip across the dial through five or six different hit tunes of his. But things were about to get even hotter for him, and he was set for an even more epic clash with the cold, grey men on the fourteenth floor at the record company.
It was during this era that the music business had fallen into a rut that led to the advent of the compact disc and their bright idea to sell you all the LPs you had amassed all over again. But with the CD still a few years away from commercial reliability, they had the bright idea of "superstar pricing," meaning the biggest selling acts' records would be raised, across all labels and outlets, from the then-standard $8.98 to $9.98.
Of course, the plan was to raise the price of their newest superstar's newest offering, entitled Hard Promises. What they didn't count on was a big old middle finger from Petty himself, who refused to deliver the platter unless it sold for the customary $8.98.
Once again, the colluding suits relented and the LP came out at the lower price, of course shattering the chart positions of his previous ones and scoring him his first hit on the just-launched MTV. After that he only got bigger and badder, with hit after hit through the '80s and into the 1990s. The retribution he suffered for his stance -- believe it or not, the fuckers tried to burn his house down with he and his family inside it in 1987 -- did little to deter him.
The rest is well-worn history. Tours with Bob Dylan and the advent of the ultimate supergroup, The Traveling Wilburys. More massive hits and tours, and eventual induction into the R'n'R Hall of Fame. Back in 1989, he ran up against his label again, who thought his new choice for a single was too vulnerable and soft for his image. He again insisted and ended up with Free Fallin', arguably his signature song and certainly among his most universally beloved compositions.
Into the Nineties he continued to produce smash hits and vital music, and continued to record and tour -- both with his trusty band The Heartbreakers and a reconstituted version of his original group, Mudcrutch -- up until the time he so suddenly left this realm several weeks back.
He'd have been 67 today, and to properly celebrate the occasion I have busted out seven full GB of unreleased stuff into the cloud for your enjoyment and remembrance. There's two concert videos from 1978 and 1982 that were captured for European TV and are presented here on DVDs made from rebroadcasts, and two stunningly-recorded shows taped (I think) for Westwood One radio in the Eighties that are sourced from pre-FM CDs and sound totally indistinguishable from official live albums.
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
In Concert
1978-1989

I.
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
"The Old Grey Whistle Test"
BBC Televison Theatre 
London, UK
6.8.1978

01 Queensryche ad & Glenn Tillbrook intro
02 Anything That’s Rock and Roll
03 Fooled Again
04 I Need to Know
05 Breakdown
06 Listen to Her Heart
07 You’re Gonna Get It
08 American Girl
09 Strangered In the Night
10 Shout

Total time: 56:41

Tom Petty - vocals & guitar 
Mike Campbell - guitar 
Benmont Tench - keyboards & vocals 
Ron Blair - bass & vocals 
Stan Lynch - drums & vocals

NTSC DVD of a digital capture of a 1990s VH1 Classic "Crown Jewels" satellite rebroadcast
3.52 GB here

II.
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
"RockPop In Concert"
Westfalenhalle
Dortmund, Germany
12.19.1982

01 Intro/You Got Lucky
02 Change of Heart
03 Straight Into Darkness
04 Breakdown
05 Refugee
06 Shout

Total time: 36:56

Tom Petty - vocals, guitar & harmonica
Mike Campbell - guitar
Benmont Tench - keyboards & vocals
Howie Epstein - bass & vocals
Stan Lynch - drums & vocals

PAL DVD of a HiFi VHS capture from German TV, seemingly with PCM sound
2.41 GB here

III.
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Civic Coliseum
Jacksonville, FL
7.24.1987

01 Bye Bye Johnny
02 Breakdown
03 Kings Road
04 The Waiting
05 Don't Come Around Here No More
06 For What It's Worth
07 The Ballad Of Easy Rider
08 The Image of Me
09 Here Comes My Girl
10 Should I Stay Or Should I Go?
11 You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover
12 Anyway You Want It
13 Runaway Trains
14 Refugee

Total time: 1:10:37

Tom Petty - guitar & vocals
Howie Epstein - bass & vocals
Benmont Tench - keyboards, guitar & vocals
Stan Lynch - drums
Mike Campbell - guitar & vocals

preFM CD, bootlegged as "Anyway You Want It!" on the infamous Swingin' Pig label in 1993
524 MB FLAC here

IV.
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Dean Smith Center
Chapel Hill, NC
9.13.1989

01 Bye Bye Johnny
02 The Damage You've Done
03 Breakdown
04 Free Fallin'
05 The Waiting
06 Benmont's Boogie
07 Don't Come Around Here No More
08 Southern Accents
09 Even the Losers
10 Listen to Her Heart
11 A Face In the Crowd
12 Something Big
13 I Won't Back Down
14 I Need to Know
15 Refugee
16 Running Down a Dream

Total time: 1:12:32

Tom Petty - guitar & vocals
Howie Epstein - bass & vocals
Benmont Tench - keyboards, guitar & vocals
Stan Lynch - drums
Mike Campbell - guitar & vocals

pre-FM CD, bootlegged as "Southern Choice" in 1991 on the Beech Marten label with the wrong date and venue info
505 MB FLAC here
That's a whole lotta Heartbreakers, but I put them up separately so's not to overwhelm anyone with too much awesomeness... if you wish to know the full TP story, I'd suggest watching the four-hour mega-documentary on the subject, which is on Netflix and is called Runnin' Down a Dream
I shall return in several days to mark the fourth anniversary of this silly page, but until I do please feel free to let all or several or one of these concerts fill your weekend and future days with good memories of this most adored iconoclast, born this day in 1950 and whom recently sailed Into the Great Wide Open.--J.
10.20.1950 - 10.2.2017

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Rhinestone Cowboy, Streets of London

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The fires are still raging but the East Bay smoke has cleared a little... at least I can breathe without crying today. Before the haze returns, let's fire off an anniversary special that doubles as a memorial tribute to a recently departed luminary.
Our Saturday hero left us a few weeks ago after a career spanning over 50 years and a whole host of beloved tunes. He was also one of the truly monster guitar pickers with whom we'll ever share our Earth time.
An integral part of the celebrated 1960s LA session Mafia dubbed The Wrecking Crew, he plays on about ten million Sixties hits as well as his own songs and ones he's interpreted to make famous.
As if all that wasn't impressive enough, he also subbed for Brian Wilson in the Beach Boys for several tours. This guy got around, didn't he? I think he holds the record for TV variety shows, performing and hosting them.
One of the most popular and beloved musicians of our lifetimes, can there be any argument? I can remember hearing him on the radio from early childhood. When I was a child I really loved Galveston, one of his Jimmy Webb-penned place-name smashes. Shucks, I was anti-war even at age 3!
Perhaps his finest hour came at the very end of his life, when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease and embarked on an extensive and well-documented Farewell tour before he slipped away in August.
And oh-emm-gee, could he strangle a six-string. And toggle a twelve. At the height of his considerable powers, he may have been the hottest guitar player on the planet. The only word that comes to me is blazing. Fretmelting too. OK, two words.
It boils down to the fact that Glen Campbell was and is one of the most adored musos of our lifetimes, any way you swing it. Don't be fooled by the pop success or ascribe one-dimensionality on its behalf.
When he passed a couple of months ago, I immediately thought of this BBC special from 1977 I had seen back when I was a kid somehow. I didn't have it and it really doesn't circulate in any archival form, but lucky for us the BBC fired it up a few days after Glen's death and someone captured it as an HD file off of their site before it disappeared again into the aether.
This is a Goodtime Hour and a Half for certain, with the man performing all his big chartcrushers in front of a band marshalled by Jimmy Webb himself, plus the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in the pit. And yes, it was taped for television precisely forty years ago tonight.
Glen Campbell
"An Evening With Glen Campbell"
Royal Festival Hall
London, UK
10.14.1977

01 Rhinestone Cowboy
02 Dreams of the Everyday Housewife
03 Where's the Playground, Susie?
04 If You Go Away
05 Wichita Lineman
06 Good Vibrations
07 Help Me Rhonda
08 Surfer Girl
09 Surfin' USA
10 Turn Around, Look At Me
11 Try a Little Kindness
12 Didn't We
13 Soliloquy
14 That's When the Music Takes Me
15 Streets of London
16 Classical Gas
17 William Tell Overture
18 Southern Nights
19 God Only Knows
20 By the Time I Get to Phoenix
21 Galveston
22 This Is Sarah's Song
23 MacArthur Park
24 Amazing Grace

Total time: 1:18:26

Glen Campbell – vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, bagpipes
George Green – drums
Carl Jackson – acoustic and electric guitars, banjo
T.J. Kuenster – piano
Bill McCubbin – bass
Fred Tackett – acoustic guitar
Billie Barnum, Ann White & Stephanie Spruill – background vocals
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - Alan Aynsworth & Jimmy Webb, conductors

960p mp4 file of a 1977 TV special, captured from the BBC website soon after Glen's 2017 passing
952 MB mp4 here
I shall return with more memorial musings next weekend, but right now it's time to remember this iconic singer and player who brought so much joy to so many people for such a long period. Pull down this great concert -- it was also released as a record back in the day -- recorded four decades ago and see why Glen Campbell was so on target ;D--J.
4.22.1936 - 8.8.2017

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Sphere of a Bop Planet: Thelonious Monk 100

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My neighborhood -- and my bedroom -- are full of smoke from the Napa fires and I may asphyxiate halfway through this post, but before I abandon my meager belongings for higher ground, there's a crucial birthday post to handle.
This is the second 100th birthday celebration in 10 days... Buddy Rich and today's superhero actually played together alongside Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie in 1950, on the classic Bird and Diz sessions.
I am sitting here trying to come up with a more influential and individual piano person of the 20th century and I am stuck. Bill Evans? George Gershwin, but he only played the black keys. Cecil Taylor? Without today's honoree, there likely is no Cecil Taylor.... at least not the one we recognize from ten thousand keyboard assaults.
No, our man of the hour stands alone. Or gets up mid-solo and dances around the studio alone. In the pantheon of pianistic perfection, the name Thelonious Sphere Monk peaks the pyramid.
He is 100 today, unbelievable. His compositions don't age, they actually get younger and more supple with the years. I am one of those people that thinks The Star Spangled Banner is tawdry old militarized shite, and that Epistrophy should be the National Anthem.
Blue Monk. Criss-Cross. Ruby. My Dear. Well, You Needn't. I could spend the rest of this screed just namechecking his life changing tunes and not name them all.
He was mentored by the incredible Mary Lou Williams --  there's another post for another day if ever there was one -- and beginning in the 1940s, he began to take over the cutting edges of Jazz with his completely unique, instantly recognizable style and harmonic approach.
Certainly one of the formative, unavoidably essential architects of Bebop, by the turn of the 1950s he was to be found in the company of its other acknowledged inventors, making the records that would help form its firmament.
Initially his LPs sold poorly, and his music was deemed "too difficult" for the mainstream. It got worse before it got better, when a drug bust -- and a later refusal to implicate fellow piano deity Bud Powell in the score -- cost him his Cabaret Card and he was unable to play clubs for several years.
He was unfazed, using those years to play theaters, rehearse and compose feverishly. When he re-emerged upon the live Jazz scene in full force in 1957, his star began to rise again and by decade's end he was making ageless, seminal records with the likes of John Coltrane and Miles Davis.
Eventually, with the advent of Free Jazz and the opening up of Jazz's perceived parameters, music would catch up to what he was doing, and he became acknowledged as the unprecedented creative force we think of him as today. In the 1980s -- Monk passed in 1982 -- Clint Eastwood executive produced a documentary about his life that is now considered one of the best music docs of all time: Straight, No Chaser.
There isn't a whole lot of as-yet-unissued material around on a luminary such as he, but there are a couple of things that fit the bill. Chief among these are two unreleased TV appearances dating from Europe in the mid-1960s, supplied below for your enjoyment and edification, and to celebrate this most milestone birthday of this most foundational figure.
I.
Thelonious Monk Quartet
SWF Studio
Baden-Baden, Germany
3.2.1963

01 intro
02 Off Minor
03 Bye Bye When the Morning Comes
04 'Round Midnight
05 Blue Monk
06 Criss Cross
07 outro

Total time: 24:34

Thelonious Monk - piano
Charlie Rouse - tenor saxophone
John Ore - bass
Frankie Dunlop - drums

PAL DVD of a 2007 SWF rebroadcast, reworked for better synch and w/PCM audio

II.
Thelonious Monk Quartet
unknown venue
Warsaw, Poland
4.4.1966

01 Epistrophy
02 'Round Midnight
03 Lulu's Back In Town

Total time: 26:37

Thelonious Monk - piano
Charlie Rouse - tenor saxophone
Larry Gales - bass
Ben Riley - drums

PAL DVD of a digital capture of a recent satellite rebroadcast
both DVDs zipped together
2 GB here
That's two gigs of Monk, you read that right! Look out for his go-to tenor molester of distinction, Charlie Rouse, on both of these (yes they are smokin') performances, as he melts reeds at ten paces and supplies the foil to Monk's antics as always.
I shall return on the weekend with an overdue tribute to the fallen, but for now we need to properly commemorate the centennial of one of the most important and harmonically innovative musicians of this or any lifetime, so let's get you clickin' on these TV shows before another hundred years go by! And it goes without saying how much we adore and remember Thelonious Monk, born this day in 1917 and still twisting the air into fascinating crepuscules a full century on.--J.
10.10.1917 - 2.17.1982