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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 »

Jimmy Takeuchi - White X’mas

December 22nd, 2012

Jimmy Takeuchi - White X'masJIMMY TAKEUCHI

  • White X’mas
  • Toshiba Records
  • 1970
  • Japan

1930 born Jimmy Takeuchi (real name Wasaburo Takeuchi, ジミー竹内) is no doubt one of the best known and most loved jazz drummers in Japan. In fact he’s often referred as the image of the jazz drumming in the post-war Japan. He started his drumming career as early as in 1948 and it continued over 50 years until his final retirement in 2002. Although he’s propably best known for his 12 years lasting Drum drum drum series that were usually about the cover versions of contemporary songs, he also played with a whole bunch of Japanese jazz cats including Nobuo Hara, Shigenori O’Hara, Shoji Suzuki, Susumu Watanabe, Yuzuru Sera, George Kawaguchi, Hideo Shiraki and many more. Since 1967 Takeuchi also had his own group called Jimmy Takeuchi & His Exciters.

In 1970 was released the album White X’mas - in the mentioned Drum drum drum series. It’s an album full of traditional Christmas songs with heavy arrangements by Kunihiro Suzuki. There’s tracks that appear on most of the Christmas song albums like “Jingle bells”, “Santa Claus is soming to town”, “White Christmas”, “Rudolph the red nosed reindeer”, “Here comes Santa Claus” and so on. Only this time they are not that traditionally arranged. The album is full of psychedelia, fuzz guitar, wailing organs and heavy drumming with breaks - and still with that certain Jimmy Takeuchi jazz feel. Even though the cover is bit cheesy I can humbly recommend this one to be a part of everyone’s Christmas soundtrack.


Jingle bells


Douce nuit


Joy to the world


Santa Claus is coming to town


Greensleeves


White Christmas


Blue Christmas


Winter wonderland


Auld lang syne

Written by Mista Tibbz, at 18.00, filed under asia, christmas, jazz | 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 »

The Ben Bernard Group / The Paolo Zavallone Group - The ‘77 sound / Musical cocktail (no. 3)

May 29th, 2012

The Ben Bernard Group / The Paolo Zavallone Group - The 77 Sound / Musical Cocktail (No. 3)THE BEN BERNARD GROUP / THE PAOLO ZAVALLONE GROUP

  • The ‘77 sound / Musical cocktail (no. 3)
  • Bosworth Music
  • 1977
  • UK

Bosworth Music is propably the oldest production music library company around. It was established in London in 1892 for sheet music production. In the 1930s Bosworth moved to 78rpm production and finally in 1966 they started to produce 33rpm records. Despite the long period of production their output catalogue was relatively small. And although they were quite a small company, they had some well known musicians in their catalogue; Klaus Doldinger, David Snell, Syd Dale, Geoff Bastow, Johnny Teupen and Paolo Zavallone among others. Better known with his pseudonym El Pasador, Paolo Zavallone was born in Rome, Italy and did a career as a singer and a composer. I have no idea of his commercial doings, but his library stuff is pretty funky. He also did a bunch of soundtracks and some other projects under different names. Among these was a pretty good disco release in 1977, under a moniker Bimbo e i Milionari. Ben Bernard (also known as Benito Bernardo) instead was a pseudonym of soundtrack and library music composer Bernard Ebbinghouse. He was born in Germany but moved to England in 1935 at the age of eight. He did a long career and composed quite a large amount of soundtracks and scores.

This release was a split album quite typical for some library music companies where each group had their own side. A side was appointed to The Ben Bernard Group while The Paolo Zavallone Group got the b side. Ben Bernard starts his side with a midtempo groover called “Mister big”. It’s followed by a downtempo “Rings around Saturn” and uptempo “Slick Chick”, latter being actually a quite decent track. Then comes “Cockney character” and “Ducks ‘n’ drakes” that are both a way too jolly for me. Last one by Ben Bernard is called “Walkin’ easy” and it’s also a quite nice funky track. Paolo Zavallone’s side is clearly the better and more funky side. It starts with a track called “Gambling”. It starts with a nice percussive break and the same funky beat continues throughout the whole four minutes of this uptempo funker. Next up is a mellow piano driven “Patricia” followed by a little heavier cha-cha esque track “Friendly cha-cha”. Then comes the jazzy “Garden party” with a sort of a break in the end. Another good one is the last track “Subway music” that actually reminds me of their better known and compiled track “Yellow fever”. It starts with a nice break and has several other breakdowns throughout the song.


The Ben Bernard Group - Mister big


The Ben Bernard Group - Slick chick


The Ben Bernard Group - Walkin’ easy


The Paolo Zavallone Group - Gambling


The Paolo Zavallone Group - Friendly cha-cha


The Paolo Zavallone Group - Garden party


The Paolo Zavallone Group - Subway music

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

Jörgen Petersenin orkesteri - Mukana musiikki

October 9th, 2011

Jörgen Petersenin Orkesteri - Mukana MusiikkiJÖRGEN PETERSENIN ORKESTERI

  • Mukana musiikki
  • Top Voice
  • 1975
  • Finland

Jörgen Petersen (RIP) was born in Randers, Denmark, in 1931. He was a very talented child and started his first band when he was only 12. By the age of 14 he was already making his living by playing trumpet as the youngest professional musician in Denmark. In 1954 he joined the Al Stefano’s orchestra, that was the most famous Latin-American music orchestra in Denmark that time. With them he visited Finland in 1956. The same time he also met his future wife and in 1957 moved to Finland for good. Petersen started to play with various bands and orchestras until he got a vacancy in the trumpet section of Radion Tanssiorkesteri (Radio Dance Orchestra) - which lasted 13 years. In 1959 he also joined the very popular Ronnie Kranckin Orkesteri (Ronnie Kranck’s Orchestra) for eight years. It didn’t take long until Petersen found himself working for PSO - Pohjoismainen Sähkö-Osakeyhtiö (Nordic Electric Ltd.), a major record label in 1960s and 1970s Finland. He was a producer, songwriter, arranger, conductor and a trumpet player - a true jack of all trades. And a very productive one too. During his whole career he participated - as a musician, writer, arranger, conductor or producer - within over 5500 recordings. And that’s really exceptional in a small country like Finland. Petersen was also the first Finn ever to score a song in a Billboard Top 100 list - although he wasn’t actually a Finn that time. It was his breakthrough song “Boulevard of broken dreams” that hit the US charts in 1961. Petersen finally took the Finnish citizenship in 1981 and remained very active character in Finnish music scene until 1987 when his doctor forbad trumpet playing from him and he withdraw himself from the publicity. Petersen passed away in 2009 at the age of 77.

During his active years, Petersen released several albums of his own too. Either as himself or with his orchestra. In 1975 he released an album called Mukana musiikki (Including the music in English). It was a typical album for him, full of instrumental covers of contemporary songs and few original compositions - all with a certain easy listening feel of his “golden trumpet”. There’s versions of songs like “Era”, “Jeannie, Jeannie”, Ding-a-dong”, “Let me be the one”, “El Bimbo” and “Emmanuel”. All quite dull easy listening numbers. The stand out songs on this album are the first three on the side b. First up is a song called “Strip-tease”, a song written by Paul Lupano (a pseudonym of song writer and lyricist Martti Piha) that was first recorded by Petersen in 1959 - although it was a pretty different version back then. “Strip-tease” is a very funky uptempo track with a quite heavy drum and percussion beat, but with slightly easy listening feel at times. Almost like the music from Nikke Knatterton series - you all remember those, right? Next up is “Itsehän sen tein” (”I did it myself”), a funky almost downtempo track with a very melancholic trumpet. The third good one is “Yli rajojen” (”Over the borders”), a bboy friendly midtempo funk track with breaks and a quite banging percussive beat. Both of the latter are written by Petersen himself. Of all his albums, Mukana musiikki is clearly the funkiest one.


Strip-tease


Itsehän sen tein


Yli rajojen

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

Paul Kass / Simon Haseley - Prototype

September 21st, 2011

Paul Kass / Simon Haseley - PrototypePAUL KASS / SIMON HASELEY

  • Prototype
  • Music De Wolfe
  • 1972
  • UK

Established in 1909, Music De Wolfe is the originator in production music library business. They started releasing their recorded library records in 1927 with the advent of ‘Talkies’ and the company is still active in the production music scene. With it’s over 80000 titles it’s one of the main players in the industry. During the 1960s and 1970s it was also among the funkiest production music companies, together with KPM, Themes International and Peer International. Music De Wolfe had also several sublabels for production library music such as Hudson Music, Rouge Music and Sylvester Music.

In 1972 composers Paul Kass and Simon Haseley made an album called Prototype. It’s one of the funkiest among all the funky library records. It’s full of breaks, funky rhythms, groovy organs and banging beats from funky easy listening to jazz funk, funk rock sounds and beyond. For example “Filibuster” by Paul Kass starts with a break and continues as a midtempo rockish heavy funk tune having another tough break in the middle. Another great song by Paul Kass is “Causeway”, again starting with a break and continuing as a bboy friendly uptempo library funk track with heavy breaks, some percussion and nice breakbeat rhythm. And there’s more to mention. “Heavy Mob” and “Fast burner” are great funky library tracks too. Although Simon Haseley’s side is not as funky as Paul Kass‘, it still has some really great tracks. Midtempo “Hammer man” is a cheerful but at the same time quite heavy track with its funky banging drums. The last track “Response” is clearly the best one from Haseley. Funky drums and organ along the driving wah wah guitar makes it a great library funk track. What’s also nice compared to most of the production music library records around is, that most the songs are full length instead of those one to two minute themes there usually are on this type of records.


Paul Kass - Filibuster


Paul Kass - Causeway


Paul Kass - Fast burner


Simon Haseley - Hammer man


Simon Haseley - Response


Simon Haseley - Prototype

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

Adam Best - Wall of sound

February 5th, 2011

Adam Best - Wall of SoundADAM BEST

  • Wall of sound
  • Fontana
  • 1970
  • UK

Who was Adam Best? Question that still remains unsolved to this very day. Back cover of Wall of sound tells us a story of him. He was an electronics student at college and built his own instruments from the scratch in his North London coal cellar. There is strong suspicions of his relations to Music De Wolfe sound libraries due the similarity in certain library records and this one, but nothing is proved. There’s even a picture of him in the back cover of Wall of sound. Or a picture of somebody, no one knows for sure. It doesn’t matter whether he was a real person or a product of somebody’s mind, the music is still the thing here. There’s five original compositions and seven cover takes of contemporary material. First track is an fast pace cover of “I’m a man”, originally recorded by Spencer Davis group in 1967. “High in grass” is an uptempo organ grinder despite its weed referring name. Similar but more psychedelic is the title track “Wall of sound”. “You shouldn’t say” is a nice midtempo funk track instead. The Edwin Starr cover “Twenty five miles” starts with a really hectic short break and continues as an uptempo organ driven dancefloor filler. Rest of the tracks are more or less cheesy easy listening stuff with no point of interest. An obscure little groover I should say.


You shouldn’t say


High in grass


Wall of sound


Twenty five miles


I’m a man

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

Gil Ventura - Sax club number 5

February 3rd, 2011

Gil Ventura - Sax Club Number 5GIL VENTURA

  • Sax club number 5 - filmusic
  • Emi Odeon
  • 1974
  • Italy

Gil Ventura (born Marcello Olmari) is an Italian easy listening saxophonist who began his career in nightclubs in the 1960s. Since 1972 he did a lot of albums similar in every way to those Fausto Papetti saxophone records. The songs are mostly covers, mostly really cheesy and there’s a naked woman on the album cover. In his career he has recorded over 50 albums so I must admit that he’s been a quite productive musician. In this fifth volume of his Sax club -series he dives into the world of soundtracks. As you can expect, the tracks mostly really cheesy orchestrated numbers with Ventura’s wailing saxophone on top. There’s however quite decent versions of Ennio Morricone’s “Il Mio Nome è nessuno” (”My name is nobody”) and Paul McCartney’s “Live and let die” (”Vivi e lascia morire” here). Of course there’s got to be something on this album, otherwise I wouldn’t have brought it up. The standout track is the groovy version of Armando Trovaioli’s “Sesso matto” (”Mad sex” in English). You know, the track with a catchy saxophone riff borrowed from Manu DiBango’s “Soul Makossa”, nice beat thoughout the track and even a break. It doesn’t beat the original though, but it’s still a good one. And this album is not that hard to find either.


Vivi e lascia morire


Il Mio Nome è nessuno


Sesso matto

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