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June 30, 2009

Obray Ramsey - Blue Ridge Banjo

Obray Ramsey. I don't think they make names like that anymore. Or if they do (Riley Baugus?), they're reserved for old mountain-dwelling banjo-plunkers like this one. His banjo-playing perfectly matches his singing style; he hits a high note and then immediately drops down (sometimes triply so) so there is always a yearning, mealancholy undercurrent to the sprightly and bubbling brook of his banjo and his sparklingly clear voice. Not quite as fearsome as Dock Boggs or Roscoe Holcomb, or as lonesome as Ralph Stanley, but really enjoyable.

Biography by Eugene Chadbourne

Obray Ramsey is the banjo-picking cousin of old-time music instrumentalist Byard Ray, and the two worked regularly as a duo until they were "discovered" playing at an Asheville folk festival during the folk music revival of the '60s. From that point on, the two men's musical career took a strangely twisted path. Late-night television mongers who may have made it all the way through the strange psychedelic rock western Zachariah, may wonder who the two old-time musicians are that show up in one of this epic's many strange musical wonders, and the answer would be Ray and Ramsey. The same viewer may also wonder why they have become attached to their seat with cement, the only condition under which an intelligent human being would endure the length of the aforementioned film. In 1962, producer John Simon invited the duo to New York City, or "thawt New Yawk," as it is known south of the Mason-Dixon Line. The players were swept into experimental recording projects with a strange combination of players, although perhaps something a bit more threatening than a broom was needed to get these old-timers to pick alongside players such as avant garde classical guitarist Sam Brown, studio pro and funkmeister Chuck Rainey, rhythm and blues session drummer Herb Lovelle, sarcastic pianist Dave Frishberg, and even a black gospel group, the Wondrous Joy Clouds. File Under Rock was the name of the first album edited together from these sessions, the players collectively given the ad hoc group was given the name White Lightnin', at that time a slang term for a type of LSD as well as the traditional name for home-brewed liquor from the mountains. A second album entitled Fresh Air was also released, notable for a pleasant Bob Dylan cover version featuring the old-time musicians performing with the collegiate folkies Judy Collins and Eric Anderson, resulting in a memorable meeting of the old and new in folk music.

Ramsey has also recorded on his own, including an album of folk music for Prestige International. He is considered one of the finest banjoists for accompanying singing and has been compared favorably with Doc Boggs. In the late '50s, he was a member of fiddler Tommy Hunter's Carolina String Band with the leader's sister Nan Hunter and her husband George Fisher. The archival type Deadheads might have his name on the tip of their tongue (along with lord knows what else) via Grateful Dead's cover version of Ramsey's song "Cold Rain and Snow," one of many traditional Appalachian numbers this band used to jam out on. Ramsey and his music is also credited with having a large influence on the writer Manly Wade Wellman, a creator of science fiction, adventure, and mystery stories who once beat out William Faulkner in a writing contest. Through a friendship with folklorist Vance Randolf, Wellman met Ramsey during one of several collecting and recording trips in hillbilly territory. Ramsay is also a member of an elite club of musicians that have had songs written about them, in this case the ditty "Ballad of Obray Ramsey," recorded by Matthew's Southern Comfort on their 1970 album Second Spring. Ramsey also gave some music lessons to Mel Lyman, a musician who would eventually join the Jim Kweskin Jug Band as a replacement member and go on to supposedly form his own mind control cult in the Bay Area. Despite basically being a farmer and banjo picker, Ramsey just couldn't seem to avoid contacts with weird '60s stuff.


note: the following LP is untainted by all that '60s weirdness... It was his first album, and it's pure old mountain music, just Obray and his banjer.

Obray Ramsey - Blue Ridge Banjo

Label: Washington (WLP 707)
Year: 1957

From the back cover:

In recent years, we have heard all to often about the 'dying' of folk culture in the Southern mountains. Many of the collectors who ventured into this area to record the songlore of the region in the 1930s and '40s, shed sorry tears for the passing of a beautiful and rich tradition, each proclaiming his own collection to be the "last leaves" of this once-proud heritage. So, fewer and fewer adventuresome souls have involved themselves in recording the still-living tradition of the area. Those who have, however, have been amply rewarded by finding that, even though mountain life has been completely revolutionized in the past few decades, tradition dies hard, and numerous singers may still be heard and recorded. To be sure, there are new sounds and new songs, but this material is, in many ways, as vibrant and vital as it was in the days of Cecil Sharp's pioneering collecting forays.

Obray Ramsey, whose sprightly banjo songs and instrumentals make up this LP, is living proof that this tradition still exists. And there are many more young, middle-aged and old folksingers like him, who have retained the best songs of their hardy mountain ancestors, perhaps changing some of them to suit their own artistic and performing abilities, but still retaining the best elements of old-style singing and playing.

Ramsey was born on the banks of the three Laurels at the edge of the Smokey Mountains in western North Carolina. His father's people came from the highlands of Scotland, and his mother's ancestors were Cherokee Indians. Most of his songs were learned from his mother and grandmother, both fine singers with extensive repertoires. For most of his life he has sung his songs unaccompanied, though he had learned to play the guitar when still a young boy. After he married and settled down as a successful farmer near Marshall, North Carolina, he met Bascom Lamar Lunsford, folksinger, collector, and organizer of the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival held annually in Asheville, North Carolina. Lunsford recognized his fine singing talents and encouraged him to take up the 5-string banjo, which he believed would be perfectly suited to Obray's style of singing. To show his faith in this belief, Lunsford gave Ramsey his first banjo in 1953. Now, Obray Ramsey is one of the finest banjo-pickers in the Southern Mountains. His style is a perfect compromise between old picking styles and currently popular modern styles.
- Kenneth S. Goldstein

1. The Rambling Boy
2. Keep on the Sunny Side
3. Polly Put the Kettle On
4. Little Margaret
5. I Am a Pilgrim
6. Cripple Creek
7. Down By the Sea Shore
8. Song of the French Broad River
9. God Gave Noah the Rainbow Sign
10. Shortenin' Bread
11. Wildwood Flower
12. My Lord, What a Morning
13. Lonesome Road Blues
14. Weeping Willow

twangy and transcendent.
my rip (vinyl, cleaned) | mp3 ~290kbps | w/ scans | 71mb

* definitely out of print. i don't think the label has even existed for a long time...

reccomended if you like: Buell Kazee

June 26, 2009

Rev. Gary Davis - Live at Gerde's Folk City

Sussex has passed along this amazing set from Poke. It's hot off the presses, only 47 years old... and definitely worth the wait. Through the three discs of this set, spanning several nights of live performance, replete with in-between-song banter, you begin to really get to know Rev. Gary Davis. It's as though you've been coming to his living room and sitting around for a week. And the man behind the fingers comes alive.

What emerges is a totally singular presense. The only person you could really compare Rev. Gary Davis to is Joseph Spence. Both completely improvise their playing, full of idiosyncratic syncopated intricasies (shouting encouragement and cat-calls at his guitar), and do so at such a high level of skill and inventiveness that they are totally inimitable (those bass runs! AAh!). I mean, the Rev had 'peers' in his early days - people of the 'Piedmont school' like Blind Boy Fuller, or ragtime guitarists like Blind Blake. And he had students aplenty (among them many of the best blues players of the following generations - Van Ronk, Jorma, Grossman, Woody Mann, Ernie Hawkins, Roy Book Binder, etc...). But at the time of these recordings, he was peerless: unequalled as a guitar player in New York (or America?), and carrying with him one of the most diverse and distinctive collections of folk music which became standards in the repertoire largely because of Davis. And really, though students of his have long since eclipsed his technical abilities, none have become so great a musician as he, because they were always playing towards something, meeting a goal, getting A's on their cleanlines. But with the Rev, he was never looking outside of himself (an advantage of blindness). The music came from within him, and it was different every time, based on how he was feeling that day. He could play Candyman for 24 hours straight and never repeat himself. And then he might play it on the banjo or harmonica too! And when he play Death Don't Have No Mercy, well, that's death singing to you from behind the good Rev.'s guitar. And when he sings Candyman, he's, well, a lonely housewife from 1904... or something.

And sure, he'd call out 'Praise the Lord' in between tunes. But one gets the feeling it's a New Orleansian sort of Lord he's paying homage to, a Lord who works at a candy stand and chases foxes and tears the building down with his ferocious bass runs!

Even the amazonians approve:
Three discs 53,49,61 minutes each approximately. The sound is good-much better than hoped for when taken from an old reel-to-reel tape recorder almost fifty years ago. Both the vocals and the instruments are clearly defined. The overall sound is immediate and warm, as if you're sitting near the front of the venue. The packaging is a tri-fold cardboard affair with the discs slipped into their respective holders. The notes are short - Grossman talks about the era and Davis.

These tracks were recorded by one of Davis' students (and a guitar player of some repute) Stefan Grossman. Along with the songs, Davis talks once in a while to the audience between some of the tracks. This can be an irritant or will become an integral part of the concert setting,depending on your outlook. To my ears they give a better idea of sitting in that audience on those nights, enjoying a one-of-a-kind experience, from a highly individualistic (and blind since birth) man. Included here are sing-alongs on the last two tracks on disc one,the group "New World Singers" (Gil Turner, Bob Cohen, Happy Traum) accompany Davis. At one point Davis announces that he gives guitar lessons (that a number of better known guitarists took him up on) to the audience, humbly telling the people where his "hut" was located.

Included on these discs are songs he had not yet recorded along with more well known tracks that anyone familiar with Davis will recognize. His many albums (VINTAGE RECORDINGS 1935-1949, HARLEM STREET SINGER, SAY NO TO THE DEVIL, THE GUITAR AND BANJO OF REVEREND GARY DAVIS to name a few) are all filled with gems of both guitar and (sometimes) banjo tunes,along with his harmonica playing, and, of course, his weathered, lived in voice. This set is no different-his guitar is all over this set. This is a very relaxed Gary Davis,feeling at ease entertaining the audience,who listened appreciatively to his many songs,guitar style,and voice. Additionally Davis played the harmonica in his highly rhythmic style,which is a treat to hear.

For anyone who likes Davis (who played well up until his death in 1972) his style of playing (a style that many better known guitarists,including Jorma Kaukonen of Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna to name just one,were enthralled with),or that era when older bluesmen were being rediscovered and recorded,for the "blues/folk boom" of the sixties-this is an excellent addition to your musical library. If you're not familiar with Rev. Davis, (who was ordained a minister in 1937) this is a good place to start. For this is music made by an unpretentious, warm, old-fashioned man who loved to make music. It's as simple as that.

This is not a cheesy repackaging of previous material or a desperate release of bootlegged tapes that should be left in someone's drawer. Stefan Grossman's tapes may be old, but they are golden. I've been a Gary Davis devotee for decades, and over the years have bought most everything available first on vinyl and then on disc, but this is still worth having. The sense of his playing for an attentive audience early on in the days of the Great American Folk Revival makes these three discs all the more special. And there is plenty of material we haven't heard before. The playing and singing are spectacular as always, and the chatting up the audience is all the more fun. Packaging is minimal, and there is no encyclopedic booklet or pictures/posters, but you'll still get your money's worth.

Rev. Gary Davis - Live at Gerde's Folk City
February, 1962
Recorded & Produced by Stefan Grossman

3 CD Collection
Year: 2009
Label: Shanachie: Guitar Artistry

It’s hard for me to believe. Almost 50 years has passed since I was sitting by the stage at Gerde’s Folk City in New York City with my two track Tandberg tape machine recording my teacher, Rev. Gary Davis’ performances. It was the week of February 3rd to 10th, 1962. Rev. Davis was booked along with the New World Singers (Gil Turner, Happy Traum and Bob Cohen) at the famous bar in Greenwich Village. During the week’s engagement all the new and old folk singers of the Village came by to watch, listen and pay their respects - from Dave Van Ronk to a newly arrived Bob Dylan.

When the gig at Gerde's Folk City came up I was excited, as here was a chance to record performances of Rev. Davis for a full week. I had been going down to Gerde’s for some time and Mike Porco, the owner, knew my face and would let me in for free as long as I sat at the bar (even though I was underaged!). I was also friends with Manny Greenhill of Folklore Productions. He managed Rev. Davis and was encouraging me to record Rev. Davis whenever I could. Manny wanted me to get as many songs and instrumentals recorded so that they could be published and protected. So I had the green light from all concerned and Mike allowed me to leave my Tandberg in the basement after each night’s performances.

Rev. Davis was very much part of these recordings. He wanted to play tunes that he had not yet recorded. Each set was filled with songs I had never heard.
- Stefan Grossman

Track Listing

Disc One:
1. You Got To Move
2. Intro to Come Down And See Me Sometime
3. Come Down And See Me Sometime
4. Wouldn't Say Quit
5. Oh Lord
6. Announcing Guitar lessons
7. People That Use to See, Can't See No More
8. There’s Destruction In This Land
9. Intro to Soon My Work Will Soon Be Over
10. Soon My Work Will Soon Be Over
11. Intro to Oh Glory, How Happy I Am
12. Oh Glory, How Happy I Am

Disc Two:
1. I Want To Be Saved
2. Just A Closer Walk With Thee
3. Death Don't Have No Mercy
4. Lord I Won't Go Back In Sin
5. Candyman
6. Buck Dance
7. Samson & Delilah
8. Working On The Building
9. I'll Fly Away
10. Sun Goin’ Down
11. Fox Chase

Disc Three:
1. God's Gonna Separate
2. Lord Search My Heart
3. Jesus Met The Woman At The Well
4. Say No To The Devil
5. I Am A Pilgrim
6. All Night Long
7. Trying To Get To Heaven
8. Thank You Jesus
9. Twelve Sticks
10. Intro to Tesse
11. Tesse
12. Lord They Tell Me
13. Right Or Wrong

part 1 | part 2 | part 3 | part 4
mp3 vbr >256kbps | w/ cover | 4 parts

Thanks to Poke and Sussex for providing this amazing set!

Pat Cloud - Higher Power

Another progressive out-of-print banjo album; it's not really bluegrass at all, it's entirely jazz, but played 3-finger style rather than dixieland style.

Tony Trischka says:
Pat Cloud is an elusive figure. Though some people know of him only by rumor, he is, in fact, alive, well, and playing locally in southern California. Indeed, he is one of the most strikingly original banjo players around. He combines bebop jazz lines with fiddle tunes, Django Reinhardt with Earl Scruggs, and places the entire mixture in a melodic flow that just won't quit.

Aside from being a mind-boggling player, Pat is very articulate about what he's doing, as the following interview demonstrated:

Tony: How did you get started?
Pat: I got into banjo because there was one on my wall at my stepfather's house. I picked it up and played it witha pick for about three months with three strings on her until somebody told me to get two more strings and use fingers. I was listening to Flatt and Scruggs records. I learned all of the Foggy Mountain Banjo album, started listening to fiddle tunes, I went to a lot of fiddler's conventions, a lot of things from Byron Berline. Started listening to old 78s of ragtime piano, swing, Bix Beiderbeck, Coleman Hawkins, Django Reinhardt, Benny Goodman, the boppers, and then wherever it's at today.
Tony: How did you get into doing scales and jazz chord substitutions?
Pat: I just wanted to play banjo differently because I was getting bored by playing the same. I was not getting bored by the style. I like the music a lot, but you like different things to play. Music sort of overlaps and is adaptable in context.
Tony: Why haven't people played jazz on the banjo yet? Do you think there are limitations of the banjo that prevent people from doing that?
Pat: It doesn't have eight octaves like the guitar or piano.
Tony: What would you suggest playing to get into some of the stuff you're doing?
Pat: Oh, learn all your major scales and learn all your minor scales. That includes harmonic, melodic, and natural. Every chord change can be painted by a scale. In bluegrass, I'll say one or two scales, in jazz, three or four.
Tony: You do so much practicing - two and three hours a day.
Pat: That's not true. I don't practice enough, actually. I'm lucky if I get away with four. I don't think it's easy to do at once. You have to work up to it. You have to really feel it's worth it. If you don't feel your practicing is going to do any good, you aren't inspired. It's also a matter of getting over the trauma of sounding rotten. As Richard Greene once said, "You just have to play and sound rotten until you get the hang of it; not to be afraid and traumatic, and fall on your face a bunch of times."
Tony: Do you have any other thoughts on breaking out of old patterns on the banjo?
Pat: We all have finger habits, and getting your hand in tune with your ear is the big trip. You hear a note way up there, you should try to hit it. Putting it on the spot where you want it. A lot of busy work. I'm not nearly as dedicated as I plan to become.

Pat Cloud - Higher Power

Year: 1983
Label: Flying Fish

01. Higher Power (07:01)
02. At The Banjo Cafe (05:39)
03. Mynah Blues (07:12)
04. Blackwolf (03:54)
05. San Felipe (06:17)
06. In A Mellotone (09:31)

Pat Cloud, banjo
Harry Orlove, guitar
Jim Cox, piano
Greg Cohen, bass
James Hobson, drums
Dave Stone, bass
Barry Solomon, guitar
Bob Applebaum, mandolin
Jim Garafalo, bass
Del Blake, drums, percussion

eat your heart out alison brown.
mp3 ~320kbps vbr | w/ cover | 91mb

June 25, 2009

RIP Ali Akbar Khan - Pre-Dawn to Sunrise Ragas

Ali Akbar Khan, the foremost virtuoso of the lutelike sarod, whose dazzling technique and gift for melodic invention, often on display in concert with his brother-in-law Ravi Shankar, helped popularize North Indian classical music in the West, died on Thursday at his home in San Anselmo, Calif. He was 87.

The cause was kidney failure, said a spokesman for the Ali Akbar College of Music.

Mr. Khan, who was named a national treasure by the Indian government in 1989, carried on the musical traditions of his father, Allauddin Khan, whose ashram in East Bengal produced some of India’s most celebrated musicians, notably Mr. Shankar, the flutist Pannalal Ghosh and the sitarist Nikhil Banerjee.

Unlike his father, a volatile and uneven performer, Mr. Khan maintained an austere demeanor onstage while coaxing passages of extraordinary intensity from his sarod, an instrument with 25 strings, 10 plucked with a piece of coconut shell while the remainder resonate sympathetically.

“He was not as flashy as Ravi Shankar, but he had the ability to play a single note, or a simple passage of notes, and draw out such amazing depth,” said John Schaefer, the host of “New Sounds” and “Soundcheck” on WNYC-FM in New York. “That’s why he was able to get a world of emotion and color out of ‘Malasri,’ which is often called a three-note raga. That, for me, stands as the calling card of the genius of Ali Khan.”

The violinist Yehudi Menuhin, who brought Mr. Khan to the United States in 1955, called him “an absolute genius” and “the greatest musician in the world.”

In 1971, Mr. Khan performed at Madison Square Garden with Mr. Shankar, Alla Rakha and Kamala Chakravarty on a bill with Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and other rock stars at the Concert for Bangladesh, a benefit organized by George Harrison and Mr. Shankar. The album and film of the two performances gave added exposure to Mr. Khan and North Indian music.

Mr. Khan, whose name is often preceded by the honorific Ustad, or master, was born in Shibpur, a small village in Bengal (now Bangladesh). He grew up in Maihar, where his father was the principal musician in the court of the maharajah. He began vocal training at 3 and, after studying the surbahar, sitar and tabla, focused on the sarod.

His father was a stern, sometimes brutal taskmaster, rousing his young son at dawn for several hours of practice before breakfast and continuing well into the evening of what were often 18-hour days. Allauddin Khan had elevated the status of instrumental music, previously regarded as inferior to vocal performance, by synthesizing various regional styles into a modern concert style. His son absorbed his encyclopedic knowledge of North Indian music and eventually outstripped him as an instrumentalist.

Mr. Khan’s younger sister, Annapurna Devi, who later married Mr. Shankar, developed into an equally accomplished master of the surbahar, but custom prevented her from performing in public.

At 13, Mr. Khan performed for a large audience for the first time, at a music conference in the holy city of Allahabad. By his early 20s he was music director of All-India Radio in Lucknow, broadcasting as a solo artist and composing for the radio’s orchestra.

He said his father, who lived to be more than 100 and also taught Shankar, was "very strict. He never played with me, he never laughed, never smiled. He was a tiger. I wanted love from him. . . . The motive was that if you show that, too much love, then I was spoiled. At that time I was very angry, but now I am grateful."

“My father’s main purpose was to hear me play while he was living in Maihar, because I was always being broadcast,” Mr. Khan told Peter Lavezzoli, the author of “The Dawn of Indian Music in the West.” “If I played anything wrong, he would come the next day to Lucknow, straight from the train station, tell me to get my sarod and listen to me play and correct me.”

For part of a series of 78s that he recorded in Lucknow for HMV in 1945, he composed and performed the three-minute Raga Chandranandan (“Moonstruck”), a blend of four evening ragas, which became a national hit and a signature piece for Mr. Khan. He later recorded a 22-minute version for the album “Master Musician of India” on the Connoisseur label.

After a few years Mr. Khan left Lucknow to become the court musician for the maharajah of Jodhpur. He performed, often for hours at a time; gave lessons; and composed for the court orchestra. The post vanished after the maharajah died in a plane crash in 1948, and before long the chaos surrounding independence and partition put an end to the court system, which was already in decline.

Defying his father, Mr. Khan moved to Bombay and began writing scores for films, including Chetan Anand’s “Aandhiyan” (1952), Satyajit Ray’s “Devi” (1960) and Tapan Sinha’s “Hungry Stones” (1960). His father, a friend of the director of “Hungry Stones,” went to see the film and said: “My goodness, who composed the music? He is great.” On being informed that it was his son, the elder Khan sent a telegram of forgiveness.

Although without question an innovator, Khan is perhaps most revered for his unwillingness to compromise his music, which was based on traditional Hindustani ragas, a system of melodic templates in ascending and descending scales. Unusually, he was known to play whole concerts of the alaap (the introductory section of most ragas, played in free rhythm with only a drone accompaniment), known to be most testing for a musician.

By this time the younger Khan had grown frustrated with the limitations of film work and was eager to return to classical music, though he later composed the scores for “The Householder” (1963), the first Ismail Merchant-James Ivory feature film, and Bernardo Bertolucci’s “Little Buddha” (1993). His collaboration with Ray, in particular, had been less than satisfactory. “Ray was not a connoisseur of Indian classical music,” he told The Times of India in 2008.

Intent on exposing Westerners to Asian music, Menuhin brought Mr. Khan to New York in 1955 for a performance at the Museum of Modern Art, where Mr. Khan made what is believed to be the first long-playing record of Indian classical music in the United States, “Music of India: Morning and Evening Ragas,” for Angel. He scored another first when he performed on Alistair Cooke’s television program “Omnibus.”

Western interest in Indian music soared after Harrison took up the sitar and Mr. Shankar began touring Europe and the United States. In 1967 Mr. Khan, who had founded a music school in Calcutta in 1956, started the Ali Akbar College of Music, now in San Rafael, Calif., with a satellite school in Basel, Switzerland. “Two or three generations of really fine Indian players — meaning performers of Indian classical music — have come out of that school,” Mr. Schaefer said.

Mr. Khan is survived by his wife, Mary; seven sons, including Aashish, a renowned sarod player; and four daughters. In 1989 he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian honor, and in 1991 he became the first Indian musician to receive a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant.”

He once wrote of the sarod, "If you practice for ten years, you may begin to please yourself, after 20 years you may become a performer and please the audience, after 30 years you may please even your guru, but you must practice for many more years before you finally become a true artist -- then you may please even God."

"For us, as a family, music is like food. When you need it you don't have to explain why, because it is basic to life."-Ali Akbar Khan

The classical music of North India is an uplifting and extraordinary music, dating back thousands of years. Ali Akbar Khan is one of today's most accomplished Indian classical musicians. Considered a "National Living Treasure" in India, he is admired by both Eastern and Western musicians for his brilliant compositions and his mastery of the sarode (a beautiful, 25-stringed Indian instrument). Concert violinist the late Lord Yehudi Menuhin called Ali Akbar Khan, "An absolute genius...the greatest musician in the world," and many have considered him the "Indian Johann Sebastian Bach."

Ustad Ali Akbar Khan's family traces its gharana (ancestral tradition) to Mian Tansen, a 16th century musical genius and court musician of Emperor Akbar. Ali Akbar Khan's father, the late Padma Vibhusan Acharya Dr. Allauddin Khan, was acknowledged as the greatest figure in North Indian music in this century.

Born in 1922 in East Bengal (Bangladesh), Ali Akbar Khan (Khansahib) began his studies in music at the age of three. He studied vocal music from his father and drums from his uncle, Fakir Aftabuddin. His father also trained him on several other instruments, but decided finally that he must concentrate on the sarode and on vocal. For over twenty years, he trained and practiced 18 hours a day. After that, his father continued to teach Khansahib until he was over 100 years old, and left behind such a wealth of material that Khansahib feels he is still learning new things from it. Since his father's death in 1972, Khansahib has continued his father's tradition, that of the Sri Baba Allauddin Seni Gharana of Maihar and Rampur, India.

Ali Akbar Khan gave his first public performance in Allahabad at age thirteen. In his early twenties, he made his first recording in Lucknow for the HMV label, and the next year, he became the court musician to the Maharaja of Jodhpur. He worked there for seven years until the Maharaja's untimely death. The state of Jodhpur bestowed upon him his first title, that of Ustad, or Master Musician. Many years later, he received the title of Hathi Saropao and Dowari Tajeem at the Jodhpur Palace's Golden Jubilee Celebraton in 1993.

At the request of Lord Menuhin, Ali Akbar Khan first visited the United States in 1955 and performed an unprecedented concert at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He also made the first Western LP recording of Indian classical music, and the first television performance of Indian music, on Allistair Cooke's Omnibus, sowing the seed for the wave of popularity of Indian music in the 1960's.

Khansahib founded the Ali Akbar College of Music in Calcutta, India, in 1956. Later, recognizing the extraordinary interest and abilities of his Western students, he began teaching in America in 1965. In 1967, he founded the Ali Akbar College of Music, which moved to Marin County, California, the following year. He currently maintains a teaching schedule of 6 classes a week for 9months of the year. Khansahib also opened a branch of his college in Basel, Switzerland, run by his disciple Ken Zuckerman, where he teaches yearly during his world tour. Ali Akbar Khan continues to tour extensively in Asia, Europe, The Netherlands, Australia, Canada, and the United States.

Khansahib has composed and recorded music for films throughout his career. He composed extensively in India beginning with "Aandhiyan" by Chetan Anand (1953) and went on to create music for "House Holder" by Ivory/Merchant (their first film), "Khudita Pashan" (or "Hungry Stone") for which he won the "Best Musician of the Year" award, "Devi" by Satyajit Ray, and, in America, "Little Buddha" by Bernardo Bertolucci.

1997 was a landmark year for Ali Akbar Khan. In February, he was the second recipient to receive the Asian Paints Shiromani Award - Hall of Fame, following filmmaker Satyajit Ray. He celebrated his 75th birthday in April and AACM's 30th anniversary in June. In August, the Indian Embassy requested Khansahib to perform at the United Nations in New York and at Kennedy Center in Washington DC; both performances were in celebration of the 50th year of India's Independence. In September, Ali Akbar Khan was chosen to receive the prestigious National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. It was presented by Mrs. Hillary Clinton at a ceremony in the White House.

When Ali Akbar Khan first received the title of Ustad as a relatively young man, his father merely laughed. But later, when the patriarch was a centenarian, he told his son one day that he was very proud of him: "I am so pleased with your work in music that I will do something which is very rare. As your Guru and father, I am giving you a title, Swara Samrat (Emperor of Melody)." Khansahib feels most fortunate to have received this blessing from his father, mother, and uncle.

Ali Akbar Khan - Pre-Dawn to Sunrise Ragas

Ustad Ali Akbar Khan - Sarod
Pandit Mahapurush Misra - Tabla

Year: 1967

01 Raga Bairagi
02 Raga Aheer Bhairow

mp3 192kbps | w/ cover | 57mb

*out of print

And get some more at Allegory of Allergies and WeLove-Music and A Closet of Curiosities and Bravo Juju and Magic Purple Sunshine.

Alam Khan (son of Ali Akbar Khan):

"I will leave you with this:
Last evening 6/17/09 while surrounded by his students and family here at our home, Baba said to us, "bring the harmonium."
We all were surprised, to say the least, and concerned that he should rest. He kept requesting us so I went into the next room to bring the harmonium. One of his youngest disciples whom he has been teaching since childhood began to play Sa upon his request. Soon after, Baba began to sing to us all in Rag Durga. He proceeded to teach us for the next 30 minutes and all in the room were singing and weeping. It was truly a moment in my life I will never forget and was so moving I felt as though I was living in a story one might hear of the great legends of olden times. Even while "on his deathbed" (or chair, in his case) and not being able to lift his head, our father and guru wanted to still teach us and share with us this beautiful music. God bless him... God bless him."

June 24, 2009

Ramón Montoya - Recital de guitarra flamenca

There was some interest aroused by Sabicas as to the roots of Flamenco guitar. Thanks to Miguel, we can go straight to the source

"He may be considered the creator of the flamenco concert guitar, because in spite of the decent but few predecessors that existed, he was responsible for the incorporation and improvement of all the mechanisms that are known at present". - José Blas Vega.

Ramón Montoya (November 2, 1880, Madrid, Spain – June 20, 1949, Madrid, Spain), Flamenco guitarist and composer.

Born into a family of Gitano (Romani) cattle traders, Ramón Montoya used earnings from working in the trade to buy his first guitar. He began playing in the cafés de cante before he was twenty years of age.

He formed a partnership with the flamenco cantaor (singer) Antonio Chacón since 1912 that lasted for more than a decade. These two were largely responsible for establishing the form of the various traditional flamenco cantes that are recognized today.

In traditional flamenco, the guitar was relegated to a supporting role. Cante (singing) and baile (dance) were the main performers whom the guitarist supported. Montoya was one of the first to challenge this role. His strong playing often overpowered the singer whom he accompanied. He eventually took the next logical step and began to play as a solo or lead performer in a concert setting. His performances are widely credited by flamenco historians as establishing the flamenco guitar in this role.

He was the single most influential flamenco guitarist of the 20th century. His innovations made possible the solo careers of such later greats as Sabicas, Paco de Lucía and Tomatito.

Uncle of Carlos Montoya.

Ramón Montoya is one of the timeless masters of the flamenco guitar. He has been an authentic teacher for guitarists like Paco de Lucía, Niño Ricardo and Sabicas, and he continues to serve that function for young tocaores of the present generation. All of the palos (forms) that he played still bear his imprint and the numerous features that he introduced and were unknown before him are still in use today, fifty years after his death.

He showed his skill at accompanying dancing and singing very precociously, a skill that allowed him to work with Juan Breva, Niño de Marchena, Salud Rodríguez, Antonio de Bilbao, La Macarrona and La Niña de los Peines in the café cantantes in Madrid, where he played for many years. Nonetheless, the person with whom he formed the best artistic partnership was Antonio Chacón, “the master of all the flamenco cantes”, in the words of Montoya himself, who he performed with for fifteen years.

Another great contribution made by Ramón Montoya to the flamenco guitar was that of introducing guitar concerts. Until that moment, guitarists had only made few and not very significant attempts to play the guitar as an instrument for solo concerts, without accompanying singing or dancing. It was in this facet that Montoya travelled around Europe and America, as a solo artist.

Ramón Montoya - Recital de guitarra flamenca
Primera Epoca Anos 1910-20

Year: 2003
Label: Fods Records

1. Soleares
2. Seguiriyas
3. Bulerias
4. Tangos
5. Farrucas
6. Guajiras
7. Malagueñas
8. Mineras
9. Rondeñas
10. Granaínas
11. Fandangos
12. Alegrías

scratchy and beautiful.
mp3 320kbps | w/ scans | 93mb

thanks miguel!

you want more? head over to Flamanco a Palo Seco, the mother of all flamenco blogs.

Louis Armstrong - Hot Fives & Hot Sevens

Your musical education and collection would be incomplete until you listen to these recordings. In fact, your life will be sorely lacking if you do not fully indulge in these pieces of polyphonic euphoria. As an amazonian customer said, "This is some of the most joyous music in the history of mankind, a freewheeling evocation of a lost world bursting at the seams with thrill and rebellion and sweat and booze and love and melody, with horns swirling and speaking and singing over and around each other while pianos twinkle drunkenly beneath."

Particularly impressive to me is the barely controlled chaos that runs on the cusp of everything, light the entire show explode if everybody's playing wasn't so incredibly tight and right and one the mark. This music proves that anarchy can work if everybody's just a genius, sweating and playing their jaws off and having fun. It's like, freedom, man. And lots of reefer, you can be sure.

Biography by William Ruhlmann

Louis Armstrong was the first important soloist to emerge in jazz, and he became the most influential musician in the music's history. As a trumpet virtuoso, his playing, beginning with the 1920s studio recordings made with his Hot Five and Hot Seven ensembles, charted a future for jazz in highly imaginative, emotionally charged improvisation. For this, he is revered by jazz fans. But Armstrong also became an enduring figure in popular music, due to his distinctively phrased bass singing and engaging personality, which were on display in a series of vocal recordings and film roles.

Armstrong had a difficult childhood. William Armstrong, his father, was a factory worker who abandoned the family soon after the boy's birth. Armstrong was brought up by his mother, Mary (Albert) Armstrong, and his maternal grandmother. He showed an early interest in music, and a junk dealer for whom he worked as a grade-school student helped him buy a cornet, which he taught himself to play. He dropped out of school at 11 to join an informal group, but on December 31, 1912, he fired a gun during a New Year's Eve celebration, for which he was sent to reform school. He studied music there and played cornet and bugle in the school band, eventually becoming its leader. He was released on June 16, 1914, and did manual labor while trying to establish himself as a musician. He was taken under the wing of cornetist Joe "King" Oliver, and when Oliver moved to Chicago in June 1918, he replaced him in the Kid Ory Band. He moved to the Fate Marable band in the spring of 1919, staying with Marable until the fall of 1921.

Armstrong moved to Chicago to join Oliver's band in August 1922 and made his first recordings as a member of the group in the spring of 1923. He married Lillian Harden, the pianist in the Oliver band, on February 5, 1924. (She was the second of his four wives.) On her encouragement, he left Oliver and joined Fletcher Henderson's band in New York, staying for a year and then going back to Chicago in November 1925 to join the Dreamland Syncopators, his wife's group. During this period, he switched from cornet to trumpet.

Armstrong had gained sufficient individual notice to make his recording debut as a leader on November 12, 1925. Contracted to OKeh Records, he began to make a series of recordings with studio-only groups called the Hot Fives or the Hot Sevens. For live dates, he appeared with the orchestras led by Erskine Tate and Carroll Dickerson. The Hot Fives' recording of "Muskrat Ramble" gave Armstrong a Top Ten hit in July 1926, the band for the track featuring Kid Ory on trombone, Johnny Dodds on clarinet, Lillian Harden Armstrong on piano, and Johnny St. Cyr on banjo.

By February 1927, Armstrong was well-enough known to front his own group, Louis Armstrong & His Stompers, at the Sunset Café in Chicago. (Armstrong did not function as a bandleader in the usual sense, but instead typically lent his name to established groups.) In April, he reached the charts with his first vocal recording, "Big Butter and Egg Man," a duet with May Alix. He took a position as star soloist in Carroll Dickerson's band at the Savoy Ballroom in Chicago in March 1928, later taking over as the band's frontman. "Hotter than That" was in the Top Ten in May 1928, followed in September by "West End Blues," which later became one of the first recordings named to the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Armstrong returned to New York with his band for an engagement at Connie's Inn in Harlem in May 1929. He also began appearing in the orchestra of Hot Chocolates, a Broadway revue, given a featured spot singing "Ain't Misbehavin'." In September, his recording of the song entered the charts, becoming a Top Ten hit.

The Music of the Hot Five and the Hot Seven is considered by most critics to be among the finest recordings in Jazz history. On November 12th, 1925 Louis Armstrong made his first records that bore his name as bandleader. The songs on the Okeh 78 rpm record were "My Heart", and Cornet Chop Suey. The band was made up mostly of musicians from King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band. The first version of the band featured Johnny Dodds on clarinet, Kid Ory on trombone, Johnny St. Cyr on banjo and Louis's wife, Lil Hardin-Armstrong on piano. These were informal settings that all concerned remember as a good time. Louis picked all the musicians that he wanted to play on the sessions and the record company generally left them alone to do what they wanted. The song "Heebie Jeebies" is generally the first recorded example of scat singing, although there are several examples on records that predate this recording. On the December of 1927 sides Lonnie Johnson joins the band for three tracks, "I'm Not Rough", "Hotter Than That", and "Savoy Blues". Earl Hines plays piano on all of the 1928 sessions, and the beautiful celeste parts on "Basin Street Blues".

West End Blues: Song Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

King Oliver's "West End Blues" is one of the keystones of jazz and, therefore, American popular music, but even more than that, Louis Armstrong's 1928 version, cut with his Hot Five, is a towering achievement. Not only is it the version that cemented the tune in popular consciousness, it helped define what jazz could be. Armstrong started his professional career in King Oliver's band, and he never lost sight of what he learned from Oliver, which, after all, was at the foundation of his very style. Nevertheless, Armstrong's reading of "West End Blues" still must have come as quite a shock, since it begins with a multi-layered, complex solo introduction from "Satchmo" that essentially set the standard for jazz musicians. Not just for trumpeters, either, although many strived to emulate what he achieved here. No, the lyrical phrases that Armstrong played were so wildly influential, fiercely musical, and technically devastating that it remains a hallmark for jazz musicians of all stripes. That's because it's not just a dazzling display of technique, although that's certainly part of it. It's because he applies his technique in tremendously innovative ways -- long phrases give way to furious bursts of notes, invigorating syncopations, startling high notes, and, ultimately, the slow melodic shuffle of Oliver's basic tune. Oliver's song itself is a classic New Orleans jazz piece, but it's become impossible to separate it from Armstrong's astonishing opening solo -- a solo that has defined the song as much as the melody itself.

Louis Armstrong - Hot Fives & Hot Sevens

Year: 1998/1999
Label: JSP review
Between 1925 and 1929, Louis Armstrong created one of the first great bodies of work in jazz. While he worked regularly as a soloist with big bands, he began his career as a leader with the first all-star studio group in jazz, the Hot Five. The other four musicians were Armstrong's wife, Lil Hardin Armstrong, on piano; Johnny Dodds on clarinet; Kid Ory on trombone; and Johnny St. Cyr on banjo. The music's first great soloist, Armstrong was reshaping jazz by sheer improvisational magic, gradually diminishing the role of the traditional New Orleans ensemble with the clarion brilliance of his trumpet. Possessing an uncanny blend of exuberance and creativity, he combined virtuosic declarations with a talent for the subtlest shifts in phrasing and melodic variation, creating rich emotional statements that could hint at loss in the midst of joy or the promise of better things in the most sorrowful blues. The band expands here, to the Hot Seven and larger ensembles, and it gains soloists who applied Armstrong's lessons to their own instruments--musicians such as pianist Earl Hines and trombonist Jack Teagarden--but all come under the imprint of Armstrong's flowering genius, as both trumpeter and singer.

It's almost impossible to overrate this material. It may be the most influential music in jazz history, establishing standards for originality and sustained invention that have rarely been matched. The JSP set is a superb reissue of Armstrong's essential work. The remastering is by John R.T. Davies, widely acknowledged as the dean of engineers in the field of early jazz, and the resultant sound is simply the best this work has ever enjoyed. There are alternate takes of the later material on Columbia Legacy (including Louis in New York and St. Louis Blues), so collectors will want both. But this recording is superior listening, at a price that also makes it an ideal introduction to one of the few titans of jazz. --Stuart Broomer

and a customer said:
This four disc set is indispensable to any serious jazz collection. It includes all Armstrong's classic Hot Five performances with Kid Ory, Johnny Dodds, Johnny St. Cyr and Lil Armstrong, his Hot Seven recordings, and his magnificent partnership with Earl Hines. This is some of the most important and influential jazz every recorded, marking the way ahead away from New Orleans style polyphony to the future dominance of the soloist. The last of these discs is the least essential, as Armstrong returned to commercial big band recordings, where he is often head and shoulders above both his colleagues and his material.

There is so much to savour on these discs: Louis is superlative throughout this set - hear "Cornet Chop Suey" "Potato Head Blues" and "West End Blues", in particular. Johnny Dodds is superb, incredibly impassioned on "Got No Blues" and elsewhere. The Hot Five swings like crazy on tunes like "Once in a While", and listen to "Skip the Gutter", "Muggles" and "Weatherbird" to hear one of the finest partnerships in jazz history, Armstrong and Hines. Hear also Lonnie Johnson's marvellous guitar playing at the end of the second disc. Louis' singing is heard regularly (and his slide - whistle playing once).

These CDs are also highly recommendable because of the quality of the remastering. The sound quality on the first disc in particular is better than in any other issue of these works, putting larger companies to shame.

Louis Armstrong - Hot Fives & Sevens, Vol. 1

Recording Date: Nov 12, 1925-Nov 27, 1926

Review by Stephen Cook
With superior transfers by British music engineer John R.T. Davies, this JSP reissue of the first 25 sides by Louis Armstrong's Hot Fives and Hot Sevens is a first-choice disc for newcomers, while also being a very worthwhile purchase for the discriminating fan. Columbia's more high-profile, yet poorly remastered early Armstrong releases are muddy and limp sounding in comparison. Studio discrepancies aside, these records represent one of highest achievements in jazz and all of music for that matter. Armstrong's brash and advanced trumpet playing transformed jazz from the somewhat stilted ensemble polyphony of New Orleans to the fluid art of the improvising soloist, paving the way for the advances of swing and bebop and sparking the equally bold conceptions of future jazz luminaries Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, and Charlie Parker. And although these Chicago recordings (1925-1926) do not include later milestones like "West End Blues" and "Weather Bird," there's plenty here in the way of Armstrong's innovations: his stop-time solo on "Cornet Chop Suey" and the early scat singing on "Heebie Jeebies." And beyond textbook considerations, there's Armstrong's infectious spoken commentary and vocals on "Gut Bucket Blues" and "Big Butter and Egg Man From the West," not to mention his joyous trumpet exclamations on "Yes, I'm in the Barrel" and "Muskrat Rumble." Topped off with fine contributions by Hot Five regulars clarinetist Johnny Dodds, trombonist Kid Ory, pianist and wife at the time Lil Armstrong, and banjo player Johnny St. Cyr, this Armstrong release is not to be missed. Essential music for any record collection.

1 My Heart - Armstrong - 2:27
2 Yes! I'm in the Barrel - Armstrong - 2:40
3 Gut Bucket Blues - Armstrong - 2:45
4 Come Back Sweet Papa - Barbarin, Russell - 2:32
5 Georgia Grind - Williams - 2:36
6 Heebie Jeebies - Atkins, Stothart - 2:56
7 Cornet Chop Suey - Armstrong - 3:19
8 Oriental Strut - Saint Cyr - 3:03
9 You're Next - Armstrong - 3:17
10 Muskrat Ramble - Gilbert, Ory - 2:34
11 Don't Forget to Mess Around - Armstrong, Barbarin - 3:04
12 I'm Gonna Gitcha - Hardin - 2:46
13 Droppin' Shucks - Hardin - 2:54
14 Who' Sit - 2:47
15 He Likes It Slow - Edwards - 2:44
16 The King of the Zulus - Armstrong - 3:07
17 Big Fat Ma and Skinny Pa - Jones - 3:02
18 Lonesome Blues - Hardin - 3:05
19 Sweet Little Papa - Ory - 2:47
20 Jazz Lips - Hardin - 3:03
21 Skid-Dat-De-Dat - Hardin - 3:07
22 Big Butter and Egg Man - Armstrong, Venable - 3:01
23 Sunset Cafe Stomp - Armstrong, Venable - 2:47
24 You Made Me Love You - Armstrong, Venable - 2:54
25 Irish Black Bottom - Armstrong, Venable - 2:37

the black sheep moans.
mp3 >256 vbr | w/ cover | 126mb

Louis Armstrong - Hot Fives & Hot Sevens, Vol. 2

Recording Date: May 9, 1927-Dec 13, 1929

Review by arwulf arwulf
For affordability and sound quality, JSP outshines Columbia and most other labels with its high protein four-disc Hot Fives & Sevens collection. Volume two of this set documents an especially fine segment of the Louis Armstrong story with 21 classic sides waxed in Chicago between May and December 1927. These are some of the best records Louis Armstrong ever made. They also rate among the most important jazz recordings of all time. "Willie the Weeper," for example, defines the artist, the genre and the entire human condition. Armstrong's Hot Seven swelled to ten pieces at the sessions held from May 9-14; pianist Earl Hines came aboard for these exciting dates and Carroll Dickerson acted as bandleader. All of the essential Armstrong components are here in concentrated form; "Alligator Crawl" and "Potato Head Blues" are unparalleled masterworks, and "That's When I'll Come Back to You" is a distillation of the great Afro-American vaudeville tradition. Here Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong align themselves with Butterbeans & Susie and their contemporaries Coot Grant and Kid Wilson. During the autumn of 1927 Louis Armstrong pared his ensemble back down to the original quintet. Highlights from this period include "Ory's Creole Trombone" (first recorded by Kid Ory in 1922) and Lil Armstrong's magnum opus "Struttin' with Some Barbecue." The sessions which took place on December 10 and 13 featured guitarist Lonnie Johnson, an exceptionally fine improviser who brought yet another level of artistic eloquence to this already sublimely endowed jazz band.

1 Willie the Weeper - Bloom, Melrose, Rymal - 3:10
2 Wild Man Blues - Armstrong, Morton - 3:13
3 Chicago Breakdown - Morton - 3:21
4 Alligator Crawl - Davis, Razaf, Waller - 3:04
5 Potato Head Blues - Armstrong - 2:58
6 Melancholy - Bloom, Melrose - 3:05
7 Weary Blues - Matthews - 3:01
8 Twelfth Street Rag - Bowman - 3:06
9 Keyhole Blues - Wilson - 3:29
10 S.O.L. Blues - Armstrong - 2:55
11 Gully Low Blues - Armstrong - 3:18
12 That's When I'll Come Back to You - Biggs - 2:58
13 Put 'Em Down Blues - Bennett - 3:17
14 Ory's Creole Trombone - Ory - 3:07
15 The Last Time - Ewing, Martin - 3:32
16 Struttin' with Some Barbecue - Hardin, Raye - 3:06
17 Got No Blues - Hardin - 3:26
18 Once in a While - Butler - 3:19
19 I'm Not Rough - Armstrong, Hardin - 3:05
20 Hotter Than That - Armstrong, Hardin - 3:05
21 Savoy Blues - Ory - 3:28

i'm not smooth either.
mp3 >256 vbr | w/ cover | 119mb

Louis Armstrong - Hot Fives & Sevens, Vol. 3

Recording Date: Jun 27, 1928-Mar 5, 1929

Review by arwulf arwulf
From the popping of Zutty Singleton's cymbals and Earl Hines' sparkling piano riffs on "Fireworks" to Kaiser Marshall's brushwork behind Lonnie Johnson's guitar solo on "Knockin' a Jug," Volume 3 of JSP's Louis Armstrong Hot Fives & Sevens contains 22 classic jazz sides that include some of the very best recordings that Louis Armstrong ever made. The perky humor of "A Monday Date," the beautiful vocal harmonies on "Squeeze Me," the intimate duet "Weather Bird," and the undiluted majesty of the "West End Blues" make this an excellent choice that could suffice (for a while at least) if one were to own only one Louis Armstrong compilation. Get the whole four-CD set and you'll find yourself holding one of the cornerstones of the jazz tradition.

1 Fireworks - Williams, Williams - 3:09
2 Skip the Gutter - Williams - 3:10
3 A Monday Date - Hines, Robin - 3:15
4 Don't Jive Me - Hardin - 2:50
5 West End Blues - King Oliver, Williams - 3:21
6 Sugar Foot Strut - Pierce - 3:23
7 Two Deuces - Hardin - 2:58
8 Squeeze Me - Waller, Williams - 3:26
9 Knee Drops - Hardin - 3:28
10 Symphonic Raps - Abrahams, B. - 3:15
11 Savoyager's Stomp - Armstrong, Hines - 3:13
12 No (No, Papa, No) - Spivey - 2:54
13 Basin Street Blues - Williams - 3:16
14 No One Else But You - Redman - 3:24
15 Beau Koo Jack - Armstrong, Hill, Melrose - 3:01
16 Save It, Pretty Mama - Davis, Denniker, Redman - 3:19
17 Weather Bird - Armstrong - 2:42
18 Muggles - Armstrong, Hines - 2:52
19 Hear Me Talkin' to Ya? - Armstrong, Redman - 3:17
20 St. James Infirmary - Primrose, Traditional - 3:14
21 Tight Like This - Armstrong, Curl - 3:12
22 Knockin' a Jug - Armstrong, Condon - 3:15

squeezin' me in the knees
mp3 >256 vbr | w/ cover | 121mb

Louis Armstrong - Hot Fives & Sevens, Vol. 4

Recording Date: Mar 5, 1929-Apr 5, 1930

Review by arwulf arwulf
The fourth and last volume in JSP's Louis Armstrong Hot Fives & Sevens set diligently follows the Armstrong discography from March 5, 1929 through April 5, 1930, with a couple of alternate takes tacked onto the end like marzipan truffles. Decidedly different from the preceding volumes, this disc mostly features ensembles of nine and ten players, with even the Savoy Ballroom Five weighing in as a ten-piece big band. These marvelous Okeh sides paved the way for the smoother dance and swing band sounds of the 1930s. Armstrong handles five melodies composed by his pal Fats Waller, sings a duet with Hoagy Carmichael on "Rockin' Chair" and ushers in the Great Depression with charming renditions of "When You're Smiling" and "I Can't Give You Anything But Love."

1 I Can't Give You Anything But Love - Fields, McHugh - 3:26
2 Mahogany Hall Stomp - Williams - 3:18
3 Ain't Misbehavin' - Brooks, Razaf, Waller - 3:16
4 Black and Blue - Brooks, Razaf, Waller - 3:03
5 That Rhythm Man - Brooks, Razaf, Waller - 3:05
6 Sweet Savannah Sue - Brooks, Razaf, Waller - 3:09
8 Some of These Days - Brooks - 3:07
9 When You're Smiling (The Whole World Smiles With You) - Fisher, Goodwin, Shay - 2:53
10 When You're Smiling (The Whole World Smiles With You) - Fisher, Goodwin, Shay - 3:25
11 After You've Gone - Creamer, Layton - 3:17
12 I Ain't Got Nobody - Graham, Peyton, Williams - 2:41
13 Dallas Blues - Garrett, Wand - 3:11
14 St. Louis Blues - Handy - 2:58
15 Rockin' Chair - Carmichael - 3:17
16 Song of the Islands - King - 3:32
17 Bessie Couldn't Help It - Bayha, Richmond, Warner - 3:24
18 Blue Turning Grey over You - Razaf, Waller - 3:31
19 Dear Old Southland - Creamer, Layton - 3:21
20 Rockin' Chair - Carmichael - 3:16
21 I Can't Give You Anything But Love - Fields, McHugh - 3:27

savin' my love for you.
mp3 >256 vbr | w/ cover & full scans of box set | 125mb

Note: this set was made in England, remastered from 78s which were in the public domain. And no, Columbia doesn't need to milk any more royalties out of this dead genius. So enjoy the freebie! And don't say I never gave you nuthin...

June 20, 2009

Sabicas - Recital de Guitarra Flamenca, Vols. 1-3

Thanks to the generous contributions of Miguel, we present you with 3 more discs of Sabicas! These are his vintage recordings, and they are superb. I'm pretty sure the discs were only released in Spain, so you can grab them without guilt!

Sabicas - Recital de guitarra flamenca. Vol. 1
Grabaciones de 1930-1940.

1993 Fonografica Del Sur 7019

The first volume of a compilation that covers the historical evolution of the guitar master. It includes recordings from the early period, between 1930 and 1940, a period during which the Spanish Civil War sent Sabicas into exile, and which represented a point of inflection for both his artistic and personal trajectories. In these years he travelled all over South America with the bailaora Carmen Amaya. His speed and clean execution surprised every audience. The technique of his right hand was supplemented by the meter and depth of flamenco.

1. Granaína
2. Farruca
3. Soleares
4. Garrotín
5. Rondeñas
6. Seguirillas
7. Tarantas
8. Alegrías
9. Malagueñas
10. Fandangos

Sabicas - Recital de guitarra flamenca. Vol. 2
Grabaciones de 1930-1940.

1993 Fonografica Del Sur 7037

The second volume of this compilation, which summarises the decade during which Sabicas experienced a radical change. His work accompanying the best cantaores of the time helped him to conceive a more personal form of guitar playing, with an unmistakeable technique. The freedom that he sought through his exile found its expression in the guitar.

1. Capricho Andaluz
2. Zapateado
3. Caleta y el limonar
4. Mosaico tropical
5. Bulerías
6. Noche de Arabia
7. Piropo a la bulería
8. Malagueña
9. Alegrías
10. Sevillanas

Sabicas - Recital de guitarra flamenca. Vol. 3
Grabaciones de 1930-1940.

1993 Fonografica Del Sur 7038

Sabicas introduced and developed most of the techniques used nowadays in modern flamenco guitar.

1. Bodas de Luis Alonso
2. Fantasía Inca
3. Malagueña
4. Guajira
5. Farruca
6. Zardas
7. Gran jota
8. Milonga
9. Danza mora
10. Aires del norte
11. Capricho español

3 CD's in one folder: grab the grabaciones
mp3 320 kbps | "booklet" scans | 251mb

thanks Miguel!

June 18, 2009

Jimmy Gaudreau - The Gaudreau Mandolin Album

Biography by Eugene Chadbourne

For a guy who picked up mandolin quite casually, thinking of himself as a guitarist for the longest time, Jimmy Gaudreau has accomplished giant things with the little instrument. Although many of his credentials point quite rightly to an interest in progressive bluegrass, he has also trilled his way in and out of many classic traditional bluegrass outfits, including one of the very best, the Country Gentlemen.

In the '60s, Gaudreau was just another teenager trying to learn to play rock guitar. When he became interested in the mandolin, he continued to play with many of the same fingering techniques as he had learned on the guitar. He was never particularly interested in learning the so-called "right" way of doing anything on the instrument, let alone following the course of many budding bluegrass novices and begin memorizing by rote all the standard moves of players such as Bill Monroe and Jethro Burns. An individual and unique stylist from his very first appearances with the Country Gentlemen in the late '60s, Gaudreau is in fact credited with inventing the humorous concept of "the bluegrass police." This term is a derisive description of listeners who think everything can only be done a certain way, whatever they happen to think that is. Gaudreau's allegiance to his own heart and mind has won him a proud place in some fantastic bluegrass outfits over more than three decades of picking. He has also become an advocate for electric mandolin, to no one's surprise considering his generation and outlook, and has also performed on the modern five-string version of that instrument. He joined the Country Gentlemen in 1969 and although it was early in his career, it was a move that attracted quite a bit of attention to him as he was replacing the well-loved mandolinist John Duffey. This group, under the leadership of Charlie Waller, continued to perform in early 2000, and since 1981 Gaudreau has rejoined as mandolinist off and on.

His activities in between these two stints with that band include alliances with bands that have made bluegrass history. For 11 years, he was a member of the Tony Rice Unit, recording several superb albums. Another progressive bluegrass outfit that was just as much well-loved was J.D. Crowe & the New South, bringing him together with the late, much missed, and influential bluegrass and country singer Keith Whitley, as well as with hot pickers Bobby Slone and Steve Bryant. One of the best recordings of this group in action was entitled Live in Japan and was released in 1982 on the Rounder label. From 1979 through 1981, Gaudreau was a member of Spectrum with banjoist Béla Fleck, bassist Mark Schatz, and other players. With a name more like a fusion jazz group than a bluegrass band, this group's music was enough to make the bluegrass police call the real police. Throughout he kept up collaborations with more traditional players, such as the First Generation project which brought him together with hardball banjo picker Don Stover.

The '90s continued as a time of new formations, sometimes involving old faces. An existing trio, featuring Dobro player Mike Auldridge, bassist T. Michael Coleman, and guitarist Larry Moondi Klein, called itself Chesapeake but was a much more casual, on and off again type of band until the mandolinist was brought in as a fourth member. The ensuing sparks have led to a dynamic career for this ensemble, which has stolen the show at many bluegrass festivals. Out of the Chesapeake experience has come a co-operative trio with Auldridge, Gaudreau, and guitarist Richard Bennett. This trio hasn't bothered with a name at all other than the players simply using their own. This group has released two CDs, the most recent entitled Blue Lonesome Wind, a 2001 release on the Rebel label. In 1994, Gaudreau put on a producer's hat to create Young Mando Monsters, a get together involving four ambitious, feisty pickers, including Ronnie McCoury and Alan Bibey. In terms of recordings, there is no shortage of material by any of the various bands this player has been part of, but one album that is often picked as his most accomplished is entitled The Mandolin Album and was released on Puritan records.

Jimmy Gaudreau - The Gaudreau Mandolin Album

Year: 1978
Label: Puritan Records

Review by Eugene Chadbourne

Small as its fingerboard is and played most often by trilling with a pick at high speed, the mandolin is a natural for playing fast as well as having a particularly lovely tone and an ability to ring out and fill in the spaces around other instruments. These features have helped make it a standard item in a bluegrass band, but when the instrument takes the lead in the hands of a player as accomplished as this man is, then listeners are entering a whole new world. From the title, one can assume mandolinist Jimmy Gaudreau is trying to make some kind of all-encompassing statement about what he is able to do on his instrument. It is an ambitious effort, including material that could and definitely has sunk many a lesser player. Just about everything comes off beautifully; in fact, one would have to be trying to pick a fight with mandolinists in order to make much criticism of any of the proceedings here, which include everything from straight-ahead bluegrass to Bach to the "New Camptown Races," which is given a treatment so refreshing that the artist has a perfect right to claim it as his own. Banjoist J.D. Crowe, no slouch in any setting, gets pretty inspired here. There is also tasty use of percussion, unusual for this type of session.

Liner notes:
"I will dispense with the usual polite and mushy comments often found on album liners and get to the point. In my opinion, Jimmy Gaudreau is one of the finest mandolin players in the business today. He has adapted several unique licks to the mandolin that can be called his own. In watching him perform anyone can tell that a lot of heavy concentration and thought go into his playing. I belieive that most mandolin players should find some licks they would like to learn, that is, if they can handle them!"
- John Duffey

When it was announced in 1969 that Jimmy Gaudreau would replace John Duffey in the Country Gentlemen, thousands of bluegrass fans hollered, "Who?" That an unknown (a Yankee from Rhode Island, yet!) would be hired to replace a key member of the world's most beloved bluegrass band was unthinkable!

There was little reason to worry. Not only did Jimmy's tenor blend perfectly with Charlie Waller and Eddie Adcock, but his quick, sprightly mandolin style excited audiences everywhere. Since his debut with the Gentlemen, Jimmy has brought his unique sound to the original II Generation, his own Country Store, and most recently to the hottest band in bluegrass - J.D. Crowe and the New South.

It took Jimmy five years to put together an album the way he wanted it. From the wilds of Maine he brought in his teacher, Fred Pike. Guitarist Glenn Lawson was available, and New Southerners J.D. Crowe and Bobby Slone were recruited to help out here and there. The result produced a little jazz, a bit of modern country and rock and roll, a classical virtuoso piece, and a lot of solid, hard-core bluegrass!

1 Alabama Jubilee
2 Patrick's Hornpipe
3 Fireball
4 A Maiden's Prayer
5 Blackberry Rag
6 Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
7 New Camptown Races
8 Last Date
9 Swarmin'
10 Eight More Miles to Louisville
11 Edsel's Tailpipe
12 Memphis Mandolin

you oughta see deacon jones.
from vinyl | mp3 224kbps | w/ covers | 48mb

*out of print*
for yotte

June 17, 2009


Thanks to the generous efforts of friends & readers, we now have the missing tracks and booklet for Sabicas - Grandes Figures du Flamenco, and lots more info on D.W. Griffiths (his name is Dave)

oh, and in case you didn't notice, there are a couple more Black Oil Brothers tracks up now too

keep up the teamwork, everybody! this ain't a one-man ship

June 16, 2009

Bola Sete - 2 Albums

"Bola Sete is as significant as Jimi Hendrix and Segovia, in the sense of having wisdom, knowledge, soul and passion."
- Carlos Santana

Now that you've heard Sabicas, it's time we introduce yet another nylon-string-playing Fahey-influence. I'll leave the writing to others on this one, since it's getting late and this is my second posting tonight. I've posted 2 albums, one which is more traditional and one which is more exploratory.

The following is a quote from an article John Fahey wrote about Bola Sete in 1976: "Few living people have had such an enormous influence on my life, my music, my soul, my religion -- you name it -- as has Bola Sete. I first saw him playing -- solo -- in early 1972 at David Allen's Boarding House in San Francisco. That night, I was high on drugs as I had been for several years, and -- as also had been the case for years -- I felt that I was one isolated example of an experimental species that God had forgotten about (I was wrong here). I felt I had been -- and was still -- walking and talking among shadows: 'People' who had no depth, who were not related to themselves, did not know anything about themselves -- endless, phony, shadow-people. And I was one of them. Bola played for about 45 minutes and grimaced and grunted through the whole set. Something was wrong. He couldn't 'get it out.' I knew how he felt, and I understood. Something was wrong. I was intrigued by his obvious frustration having felt that way myself almost all my life. The performance had been mediocre so far. However, the audience gave him a long ovation, and he reluctantly got up and started to play an encore, still looking frustrated, impotent, mad, seething. I knew that feeling well. But then suddenly he got hot. He got so cooking, he played song after song for another 45 minutes, forgetting (or not caring) that he was doing an encore, playing many of the same songs he had just played. My first impression that night, as I told a friend at the time, was this: Here is a man who has lived through hell and somehow miraculously got out of it. I went back to the Boarding House several times that week. I found that Bola's sets have an interesting 'plot.' They all begin and end with songs whose emotional contour is pretty, happy, light, peaceful, or ecstatic. But after the first two or three songs, the terrain gets rougher and darker, heavier and weirder. By the middle of his set, Bola is giving you pictures of hell, memories of perdition, demonic music. But then Bola gradually lightens up the spectrum of feeling and leads you out of the cave and into the sunlight, and life is paradise. Only now, one is so changed that one is temporarily aware that life really is paradise after all, the world is an ocean, etc. It is like a breath from the 19th Century or before; a breeze from times when people had passion and significance and were not mere shadows. It is as though something has finally changed. I talked to Bola's wife (I was too shaken to speak to him at the time). 'How does he keep from going crazy,' I asked her, 'when he has so much energy and tension? You can hear it in his music -- a lot of passion and tension. How did he get out of hell?' ('How can I get out of hell?' That's what I really wanted to know.) His music is so good it's eerie -- eerie because it comes from a different time, a different place, when men felt different things that we can no longer love or experience except as an echo or phantom in the best of art works. Most of Bola's music is eclectic and nongeneric. Take a song like 'Black Mommy.' Now, if you didn't know anything about Bola . . . what musical tradition, period, or era would you guess this song came from? Tasmania? Easter Island? Next door? It comes from everywhere and nowhere. The subconscious really is universal. Bola Sete's music is the best reminder of this that I have ever heard. He is a man of great spirit and great depth. Bola plays percussively, vertically, with a very heavy and insistent thumb. His playing is very masculine (the word is an anachronisism). He plays erratically and restlessly like Boll Weavil Jackson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, or Bill Monroe. But he also has inner peace and breadth . . . rhythm and dynamics are constantly changing. Bola's playing gives the impression (and like my playing it is a false impression) of being very improvisatory. His songs, on the other hand, tend to be very short and terse (unlike mine), without undue repetition. But like me, he tries to recreate each song each time he plays it, which is in effect to destroy it. . . . The only elements of a song, which change from one performance to the next, are the number of repetitions of each idea. The order of the ideas stays pretty much the same. But the speed and intensity at which they are played may vary; if Bola doesn't like the room he is playing in, or the people he is playing for, he tends to play lousy. I do the same. We both play the way we feel, but within a rigid structure. We play that way because we have to -- we can't do anything else. God help us."

-- John Fahey, "Bola Sete, The Nature of Infinity, And John Fahey," Guitar Player, February 1976.

Guitarist Djalma De Andrade, better known as Bola Sete (1923-1987) (or "Seven Ball," a reference to Brazilian billiards) was both an early exponent of Brazilian music in the United States, and a pioneer of solo acoustic guitar work. Well before the bossa nova boom hit stateside, Sete was living in California, introducing dynamic Latin styles into the various small jazz combos he sat in with. Later his style became more introspective and expressive, mirroring the shift in the acoustic guitar repertoire brought about by players such as John Fahey and William Ackerman.

Biography by Alvaro Neder

The words Bola Sete are Portuguese for the seventh ball in the billiard game, which is the only black one. He got his nickname after being the only black man in a small group. From an early age, he was habitual at the Bohemian circles of Praça Tiradentes, Rio, where musicians met. At 17, he joined composer Henricão's group, which was going to Marília for an eight-month season. Returning to Rio, he played at every available venue in Campinas SP and Niterói RJ. In 1945, Rio's Rádio Transmissora instituted a violão (acoustic guitar) contest, in which he was the winner. He continued to play through Minas Gerais and Rio. At last, he was hired contractually by Rádio Transmissora and he worked in the famous Trem da Alegria show for three years at the João Caetano Theater with Lamartine Babo, Iara Sales, and Héber de Bôscoli.

At the end of the '40s, he formed his own group, Bola Sete e seu Conjunto. In that time, Dolores Durán, who went on to be a famous singer and composer, was a crooner at the Béguin nightclub and once invited, became the group's singer at the Drink and Vogue nightclubs. In 1952, he went to Italy and played in several clubs and hotels until 1954. In that year, he returned to Brazil and formed an orchestra, with which he toured through Argentina, Uruguay, and Spain. In 1955, he toured again, this time through Lima, Peru, and Santiago do Chile. In 1959, he moved to the U.S. and in 1962, was hired directly by the general manager of Sheraton Hotels to play in the several units of that chain. In 1960, the label Sinter, which had already recorded several cuts with him, released the LP Bola Sete. He had also recorded for Odeon, which released at the same time Bola Sete e Quatro Trombones with his own compositions and Gershwin standards. In 1962, he appeared at the historic Bossa Nova Festival at Carnegie Hall in New York. He also played at the Village Gate and Vanguard. In the same year, Odeon Brasil released O Extraordinário Bola Sete and Fantasy released Bossa Nova. He was then playing at New York's Park Sheraton and later in the same year, he moved to San Francisco to play at the Sheraton Palace. Dizzy Gillespie was staying there and listened to him every night. When Gillespie's pianist, Lalo Schifrin, came to the hotel, he met Sete, with whom he had become acquainted and played with when the Brazilian toured Argentina. Invited by Gillespie, Sete played with him at the Ninth Annual Monterey Jazz Festival with great success. Following tours and a recorded album with Gillespie, Sete moved again to San Francisco and joined Vince Guaraldi's trio. This two-year association, profitable for both artists, consolidated the already expressive popularity of Sete in the U.S. They recorded together 1963's Vince Guaraldi, Bola Sete & Friends (Fantasy). Then he formed his own trio with Brazilian musicians Tião Neto (bass) and Chico Batera (drums), with which he performed at the 1966 Monterey Jazz Festival, again with great success. From November 11 to 13, 1966, Sete was featured at the Fillmore Auditorium. His releases in the U.S. include 1964's Tour de Force and From All Sides (with Vince Guaraldi), 1965's The Solo Guitar of Bola Sete and The Incomparable Bola Sete, 1966's Live at El Matador (with Vince Guaraldi) and Autentico, 1967's At the Monterey Jazz Festival, 1969's Shebaba (all through Fantasy), 1976's Working on a Groovy Thing (Paramount), 1981's Ocean and Ocean II (Lost Lake), and 1985's Jungle Suite (Dancing Cat). In 1969, he appeared at the Mexico Brazilian and American Music Festival, together with Eumir Deodato, Milton Nascimento, and Airto Moreira.

The Bola Sete Trios - Tour De Force

Label: Fantasy
Year: 1962/63 (2001 reissue)

Review by Richie Unterberger
Sete led a trio on this mid-1963 date, backed by Fred Schrieber on bass and John Rae on drums. It tilts a little to the mellower, more sentimental side than more driving sessions such as the one he did the previous year for Bossa Nova. It's still quality by-the-fire jazz bossa nova music, Sete's playing a lesson in both skill and discreet economy. While he wrote three of the ten songs, his repertoire of cover selections is fairly wide ranging, taking in "Moon River," Dizzy Gillespie's "Tour de Force," and, as a special highlight, his version of Isaac Albeinz's "Asturias," the mournful flamenco-influenced song familiar to any student of Spanish-style guitar. There's also a samba that Luiz Bonfa had a hand in writing ("Sambe de Orfeu"), and as one of the niftier detours from the usual, a solo interpretation of J.S. Bach's "Bourree." The 2001 CD reissue on Fantasy also includes the entirety of his late-1962 session Bossa Nova, which is an excellent midpoint between bossa nova and mainstream American jazz.

Recently repackaged on a single CD, these two early albums by guitarist Djalma de Andrade (aka Bola Sete) are nothing short of dazzling. While he clearly shared a rhythmic and melodic affinity with his Brazilian contemporaries, Sete was somewhat miscast as a member of the bossa crowd -- already living and working in California at the time of the Getz-Gilberto breakthrough, Bola Sete had already developed his own style, much bouncier and more overtly aligned with the West Coast jazz scene. In his quieter moments, he could easily touch on the cool reserve of the bossa scene, but he also swung with abandon, and reveled in a good, strong backbeat. Both of these albums are recorded in a trio setting, with compact accompaniment -- bass, drums and percussion -- allowing the sprightly and impressive guitar work to come through loud and clear. Highly recommended.

1. Up the Creek
2. My Different World
3. Dilemma
4. Sweet Thing
5. If You Return
6. Samba Do Perroquet
7. Manha de Carnaval
8. Brazilian Bossa Galore
9. You're the Reason
10. Wagging Along
11. Ash Wednesday
12. Without You
13. Baccara
14. Moon River
15. Mambeando
16. Ceu E Mar
17. Asturias
18. Samba de Orfeu
19. Sad Note
20. Tour de Force
21. A Noite Do Meu Bern
22. Bouree

mp3 >192kbps vbr | w/ cover | 95mb

Bola Sete - Shambhala Moon

Year: 2001
Label: Samba Moon Records

Bola Sete's solo guitar suite containing the music of hidden and magical places.

When Bola Sete's widow Anne issued "Ocean Memories", a series of solo recordings made in 1972, it marked the first time his sophisticated solo guitar music had been on CD. "Shambhala Moon" was recorded ten years later and issued originally on the Dancing Cat label. This re-issue on CD is the only known recording of Sete playing solo with a steel-string guitar.The two suites that make up this recording are, frankly, on another level entirely than virtually anything else the guitarist issued in his lifetime. His fusion of Brazilian, classical, flamenco, jazz, and numerous folk styles was unprecedented and remains unmatched.Here, while sitting in a full lotus position, Sete moves through an astonishing array of techniques and nuances of expression that make the sound of the guitar literally float, suspended outside the time-space continuum. His aren't seemingly flashy techniques, but most guitarists wouldn't even attempt them. Often utilizing bossa nova and samba chord progressions to initiate an improvisation on a theme, he will slide through cascading minor keys (as on "Morning Rises Through the Mist") to find a place to embellish them by augmentation, suspension, and even diminishment, distilling a pattern to its essence before stretching it back out again, ending in an otherworldly counterpoint to his original premise. No cut offers a greater example of this than the title piece, which Sete begins as a nocturne in E minor in the Spanish style before stretching it to A minor. Once he establishes a rhythmic and syntactic pattern on the sixth, he constructs a bridge to an augmented ninth and folds in everything he's played thus far, before tearing it back down to a skeletal whisper of a theme. For guitar students and fans or not, "Shambhala Moon" is quite simply among the most inspired examples of passionate and technically brilliant guitar playing in the recorded history of the instrument.
- Thom Jurek, All Music Guide

Literally a meditative album, this was recorded as Sete was deeply into yoga and TM... It's similar in style to the Ocean album, though without the more strident, forceful moments. Explorative solo acoustic guitar work, with curlicued variations on flamenco and classical styles -- this was one of the earlier Dancing Cat releases, and is less mellow than than its contemporary albums... Consistently probing and active, Sete's guitar work compels the listener's attention without seeming jarring or overwrought. The Shambhala Moon reissue adds one extra track to the original 1985 release, Jungle Suite. Worth checking out.

1 The Sun Pours Through the Darkness Gently, Gently
2 Moonbeams, Moonlight, Midnight Magic
3 Morning Rises Through the Mist
4 Night Shadows
5 Sorcerers, Spirits, Devas, and Delights
6 Shambhala Moon
7 Many Shades of Green
8 Devas' Lament

the land of everlasting life.
mp3 >224kbps vbr | w/ cover | 67mb

oh, and if you want to hear more of this incredible dude, check out albums at Loronix and Annäherungen.