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The Soulful Strings - The magic of Christmas

December 23rd, 2012

The Soulful Strings - The Magic of ChristmasTHE SOULFUL STRINGS

  • The magic of Christmas
  • Cadet Records
  • 1968
  • USA

Let’s start with Richard Evans. This 1976 deceased producer, arranger, bassist and songwriter was one of the key figures behind Cadet records in the 1960s. During his relatively short career he produced and arranged plenty of big names such as Marlena Shaw, Terry Callier, Dorothy Ashby and Woody Herman to name a few. Despite the wide range of music he produced, he is however best known for is his own band The Soulful Strings, and particularly his masterpiece of a song “Burning spear”, later covered by S.O.U.L., Jimmy Smith, Kenny Burrell and many others. The whole idea behind The Soulful Strings was to answer to the growing “beautiful music” boom that rose during the 1960s. Together with some pretty famous musicians of the time - Charles Stepney (vibraphone, organ), Billy Wooten (vibraphone), Phil Upchurch (guitar), Cash McCall (guitar) Cleveland Eaton (bass), Lennie Druss (flute) and Morris Jennings Jr. (drums) among others - they recorded seven albums in six years. Although the music was quite close to the easy listening stuff, it was still very different. The heavy feel of funky jazz was always there with their music.

One of the seven albums released was called The magic of Christmas. It was released in 1968 and as you can tell by the name, it was filled with covers of traditional Christmas standards. While half of the tracks are very mellow and occasionally hava a quite strong easy listening feel in them, there’s several funky and groovy takes too. The opening track “The little drummer boy” for example. It’s a track that for some reason is playing in my head every Christmas, but still I like it. And the version on this album is among the best released. The version of “Santa Claus is coming to town” is a pretty good one too. The cover of “Sleigh ride” has a nice funky beat in it and the “Jingle bells” take even has a fat break in the beginning. The last track “Parade of the wooden soldiers” is worth to mention as well. Along the Joulusoitto album by Esko Linnavalli, The magic of Christmas is clearly one of the best “traditional” Christmas albums ever made.


The little drummer boy


Santa Claus is coming to town


Sleigh Ride


Jingle bells


Parade of the wooden soldiers

Written by Mista Tibbz, at 20.00, filed under christmas, jazz, north america | No Comments »

Raulzinho & Impacto 8 - International hot

August 9th, 2012

Raulzinho & Impacto 8 - International HotRAULZINHO & IMPACTO 8

  • International hot
  • Equipe
  • 1968
  • Brazil

1934 born Raul De Souza - actually his real name is João José Pereira De Souza - is a well known trombonist from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. He started his career in the mid 1950s and has played with many of the key figures in the Brazilian music scene. In the mid 1960s he released his first solo album - using his pseudonym Raulzinho (little Raul) and the second album with his group Impacto 8 was released in 1968. Within his career, Raul De Souza has played with Sergio Mendez, Flora Purim, Airto Moreira, Milton Nascimento, Sonny Rollins, Cal Tjader among countless others. After spending great share of his career in United States he has returned to his home country Brazil. Not to rest though, as he’s still active composer and trombonist today.

The album starts and ends with the same song, a heavy latin take of Herb Alpert’s “Treasure of San Miguel” here named “Teasuro de Sao Miguel”. It’s very dancefloor friendly with banging breakbeat drums and catchy horns that follow quite strictly the original. The only minus is the length, it’s only one minute and fortyfive seconds long. The second song on side a is a heavy Portuguese version of “Spinning wheel” with nice organ work. Originally recorded by Blood, Sweat & Tears, it’s somehow similar to Doors hit “Light my fire”, almost all the versions are good. Then comes a funky uptempo boogaloo track called “Boogaloo Bill no. 2″ with two very short but really banging breaks that somehow remainds me of the legendary “Amen” break of The Winstons. Next up is the uptempo latin track “Two beat manchild” followed by uptempo breakbeat latin jazz take “Fried bananas” and a nice version of Brenda Holloway’s “You’ve made me so very happy”. B-side opens with heavy organ driven midtempo soul jazz version of Marvin Gaye hit “Mercy Mercy”. It’s followed by a mellow groover “Hello Monalisa”. Next is a heavy downtempo take of Herbie Hancock’s “Cantaloupe island”. Then comes another highlight of the album, an uptempo and funky take of “I’ve got the feelin’” with raw vocals of Raul De Souza. Needless to say it’s a very dancefloor friendly with tight breakbeats and catchy horn stabs. Finally comes uptempo “slick” before the replay of “Teasuro de Sao Miguel” ends the album.


Teasuro de Sao Miguel


Spinning wheel


Boogaloo Bill no. 2


Two beat manchild


Fried bananas


You’ve made me so very happy


Mercy Mercy


Hello Monalisa


Cantaloupe island


I’ve got the feelin’


Slick

Written by Mista Tibbz, at 18.00, filed under funk, jazz, latin, south america | No Comments »

Merit Hemmingson - Plays

August 3rd, 2012

Merit Hemmingson - PlaysMERIT HEMMINGSON

  • Plays
  • RCA Camden
  • 1968
  • Sweden

In the mid and late 1960s there started to appear soul jazz recordings in Scandinavia. One of those was Merit Hemmingson’s Plays. 1940 born Merit Hemmingson is an organist, composer and arranger from Sweden, who started her career as a jazz pianist. In the early 1960s she had her own jazz group with four black American female jazz artists, the group was called Merit and her Girl Stars and they toured Sweden in the beginning of the 1960s. In the late 1960s she changed the jazz piano to Hammond B3 organ and started to tour with her newly reformed band The Meritones. In 1967 they recorded her first album with that group. Merit Hemmingson is propably better known for her early 1970s folk-funk albums Huvva, Trollskog or Bergtagen but this soul jazz album from 1968 is definitely worth to be brought up.

Album starts strongly with a good midtempo take of Beatles classic “Lady Madonna” followed by the mellow Louis Armstrong standard “What a wonderful world”. Next up are Cliff Richards‘ Eurovision song contest 1968 entry “Congratulations”, Bob Dylan’s “Too much of nothing” and the latin influenced Chico Buarque’s “A banda”. Then comes a midtempo take of the 5th Dimension hit “Up, up and away” followed by a pretty good downtempo version of Tim Hardin’s “If I were a carpenter”. B-side starts with more heat. First up is pretty funky version of Bar-Kays‘ hit “soul finger” followed by Evert Taube’s mellow tune “Så skimrande var aldrig havet”. Next is a another Bob Dylan song, “Mighty Quinn”. I have heard several better versions, but this ain’t that bad either with it’s tight funky drumming and grooving organ. Next is a banging uptempo breakbeat take of Miriam Makeba’s “Pata pata”. For me it’s clearly the best track of the album. Then comes another pretty good track, funky percussive uptempo groover “The letter” originally by The Box Tops. Last two tracks are heavy percussive take of Frankie Valli song “Can’t take my eyes off you” and a groovy take of “La la la”, which is a 1968 Eurovision song contest entry from Spanish singer Massiel.


Lady Madonna


A Banda


Up And Away


If I Were A Carpenter


Soul Finger


Mighty Quinn


Pata Pata


The Letter


Can’t Take My Eyes Off You


La La La

Written by Mista Tibbz, at 18.00, filed under easy listening, europe | No Comments »

Armando Peraza - Wild thing

October 12th, 2011

Armando Peraza - Wild ThingARMANDO PERAZA

  • Wild thing
  • Skye
  • 1968
  • USA

Armando Peraza was born in Havana, Cuba, ca. 1924 (due to the circumstances in 1920s Cuba, the birth date is uncertain). He was orphaned by the age of 7 and lived most of his childhood on the streets. As a natural musician, it didn’t take long until he was playing with all the famous conjuntos (small bands) in Havana. In 1948 Peraza left Cuba to join his friend Mongo Santamaria in Mexico. They arrived in New York 1949 and immediately found themselves playing with the famous latin jazz musician Machito. After a while Charlie Parker asked Peraza to join in to a recording session with him, Buddy Rich and some others. After moving to San Francisco in the early 1950s Peraza worked with with Perez Prado, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus and Dexter Gordon to name a few. In 1954 he met Cal Tjader and years later joined his band for six years. Throughout the 1960s Peraza played with various jazz and latin artists before joining the Carlos Santana’s band in 1972. He was a key player for 18 years before retiring from the band at the age of 66. During that period he was playing around the world partnering with other top class percussionists like José Chepito Areas, Mingo Lewis, Raul Rekow and Orestes Vilató.

Although Peraza never wanted to be a bandleader, preferring to be recognized as a featured musician, he released a solo album in 1968. This album, Wild Thing, was released on small Skye label that was co-owned by Cal Tjader, Gary McFarland and Gábor Szabó. Skye was active only few years releasing 21 studio albums before filing a bankcruptcy in 1970. Due to his connections, Peraza got a quite interesting set of musicians to his album. Pianist Chick Corea, flautist Johnny Pacheco, bassist Chuck Rainey, percussionists Cal Tjader and Tommy Lopez, drummer Donald McDonald and saxophonist Sadao Watanabe among some others joined him on this session.

Many of the tracks on this one are covers. First up is a nice latin groove cover of “Wild thing”, originally recorded by a New York band The Wild Ones and later made famous by the UK band The Troggs. In a weird way it reminds me more of “La bamba” than the original. Next one is a midtempo version of “Mony Mony”, originally by Tommy James & the Shondells and later covered by Billy Idol and several others. Another much covered song here is “Funky Broadway”, originally by Dyke & the Blazers. It turns out to be a great midtempo latin funk track. The last song, “Granny’s samba” - originally by Gary McFarland - is a heavy latin jam with a really long tight break in the middle. There’s also original compositions like “Red onions”, which is a really good one. As expected, this album is really percussion heavy with occasional breaks on almost every song and continuous rhythm grooviness throughout the album.


Wild thing


Mony mony


Funky broadway


Granny’s samba

Written by Mista Tibbz, at 18.00, filed under funk, jazz, latin, north america | No Comments »

James Brown - Soulful Christmas

December 22nd, 2010

James Brown - Soulful ChristmasJAMES BROWN

  • Soulful Christmas
  • King Records
  • 1968
  • USA

Like many others, also James Brown did his share on Christmas albums and this one is definitely the best of all the three he did. Even Jazzman reissued two of the tracks from this album on his 2004 Christmas 7″ release - the title track “Soulful Christmas” and the other uptempo breakbeat Christmas groover “Christmas is Coming”. And these are not the only seasonal pearls on this album, there’s plenty of other good ones too. The uptempo Christmas’ish “In the middle”, several down-tempo soul songs about Christmas in the projects and the mid-tempo hit song “Santa Claus goes straight to the ghetto” - that has also been an obvious inspiration for Snoop Doggy Dogg’s song with the same name from Christmas on Death Row in 1996.

But wait, there’s even more. Not all the songs are Christmas related. There’s “Say it loud (I’m black and I’m proud)” that’s also released on the album with the same name. Besides “Soulful Christmas” and “Christmas is coming” the standout track is the uptempo funk monster “Tit for tat (ain’t no taking back)” that is suitable for the dancefloors everywhere, anytime. Soulful Christmas is definitely among the best Christmas funk albums ever made. Nuff said. It’s quite hard to find so get it if you can.


Soulful Christmas


Christmas is coming


Tit for tat (ain’t no taking back)


Santa Claus goes straight to the ghetto


Santa Claus, Santa Claus


Let’s unite the whole world at Christmas

Written by Mista Tibbz, at 1.19, filed under christmas, funk, north america | No Comments »
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