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“Then the jazz people starting eating on me. They had a feast on me for 10 years: ‘He’s sold out.’ Everything that’s bad was attributed to Donald Byrd. I weathered it, and then it became commonplace. Then they found a name for it. They started calling it ‘jazz fusion,’ ‘jazz rock.’ ”
Donald Byrd, 1982

A jazz album on the charts? Whatever next? This was a very big seller for Blue Note, making No. 88 on the Billboard charts, but the furore that accompanied its release, when many accused Byrd of selling out, lasted for years. This fabulous, funky album just cries out to be heard and if you haven’t heard it, then rectify the situation as soon as you can. Think Isaac Hayes’s soundtrack to Shaft with stronger jazz overtones and you have Black Byrd. And to add insult to the injured there is even a synthesizer; Blue Note had embraced a brave new world.

Black Byrd is every bit as groundbreaking as a Jazz Messengers date from the mid-1950s or a Herbie Hancock session in the early 1960s, which poses a problem for some jazz aficionados who think their music should not move on – a mindset not exclusive to jazz fans. Byrd almost takes a back seat in the overall sound of this record, although when he does come to the fore, his solos are beautifully played, as you would expect from a talented and experienced trumpeter recording since the mid-1950s. Joe Sample from the Crusaders is essential to the vibe of the record as is Roger Glenn’s flute, which locks this record into its time frame. Jazz with vocals was another point against it for some purists, but on the title track in particular they are perfect, especially when added to David T. Walker’s funky blues guitar; he was fresh from recording Let’s Get It On with Marvin Gaye.

It was recorded in Los Angeles in April 1972 and completed in November of the same year. Aside from those already mentioned there is Dean Parks on guitar, Fonce Mizell on trumpet, Wilton Felder and Chuck Rainey play bass, drummer, Harvey Mason, Bobby Hall Porter and Stephanie Spruill on percussion and Larry Mizell on vocals and as arranger.

It’s available in the Back To Blue series here

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africanherbsman1967 July 20th at 8:42pm

"Love's So Far Away"-love the percussions and flute work.

New Concord signing Dr. John will make his debut for the company by paying tribute to Louis Armstrong. ‘Ske-Dat-De-Dat…The Spirit of Satch’ will be released in the US on August 19, featuring some impressive guest appearances from the likes of Bonnie Raitt and the Blind Boys of Alabama.

The album will feature 13 tracks taken from throughout Satchmo’s long career, with Raitt duetting with Dr. John on ‘I’ve Got the World on a String.’ The Blind Boys make two appearances, on ‘What a Wonderful World’ and ‘Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams,’ while R&B singer-songwriter Anthony Hamilton is on ‘Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.’

The Dirty Dozen Brass Band feature on ‘When You’re Smiling (The Whole World Smiles With You)’ and Arturo Sandoval guests on ‘Tight Like This’ and ‘Memories Of You.’ Shemekia Copeland also appears with the good Doctor on ‘Sweet Hunk O’ Trash‘, while ‘Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen’ features another R&B name, Ledisi, and gospel-soul group the McCrary Sisters.

Mac in studio
Dr. John previously showed his respect for Satchmo by performing at the ‘Props To Pops’ concert at both New York’s Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2012 and the Hollywood Bowl last year.

The full track listing for ‘Ske-Dat-De-Dat…The Spirit of Satch’ is:

1. What A Wonderful World featuring Nicholas Payton and The Blind Boys of Alabama
2. Mack The Knife featuring Terence Blanchard and Mike Ladd
3. Tight Like This featuring Arturo Sandoval and Telmary
4. I’ve Got The World On A String featuring Bonnie Raitt
5. Gut Bucket Blues featuring Nicholas Payton
6. Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child featuring Anthony Hamilton
7. That’s My Home featuring Wendell Brunious and The McCrary Sisters
8. Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen featuring Ledisi and The McCrary Sisters
9. Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams featuring Terence Blanchard and The Blind Boys of Alabama
10. Dippermouth Blues featuring James 12 Andrews
11. Sweet Hunk O’Trash featuring Shemekia Copeland
12. Memories Of You featuring Arturo Sandoval
13. When You’re Smiling (The Whole World Smiles With You) featuring Dirty Dozen Brass Band

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RIP Charlie Haden

12th July, 2014
posted in: Uncategorized


We’ve lost another jazz giant.

“It is with deep sorrow that we announce that Charlie Haden, born August 6, 1937 in Shenandoah, Iowa,  passed away today at 10:11 Pacific time in Los Angeles after a prolonged illness. Ruth Cameron, his wife of 30 years, and his children Josh Haden, Tanya Haden, Rachel Haden and Petra Haden were all by his side.”

Tina Pelikan
ECM Records Publicity

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Privileged is the best way to describe those of us lucky to be in Edinburgh’s Usher Hall last evening to see and hear the Jazz At the Lincoln Center Orchestra under Wynton Marsalis’s direction pay tribute to Blue Note Records. The big band arrangements of classic Blue Note recordings were simultaneously a homage to the originals, while adding new and exciting depth to these classic tunes.

Wynton opened the evening saying that the great Joe Temperley was planning to be at the concert but was not well enough to fly over. Joe is Lochgelly in Fife’s only known contribution to the world of jazz and an inspirational character to boot. He had spoken to Wynton on the telephone earlier and insisted that they open with Jackie McLean’s ‘Appointment in Ghana’ and closed with some Duke Ellington…the orchestra duly obliged. There were a couple of Horace Silver tunes, including the classic, ‘Señor Blues’ and these were followed by McCoy Tyner’s excellent ‘Search For Peace ‘from The Real McCoy, which was one of the standout tunes of the first half of the programme that concluded with Herbie Hancock’s ‘Riot’.

The second half began with a trip back to Marsalis’s hometown of New Orleans and a small group workout on Sidney Bechet’s ‘Weary Blues’ that Bechet recorded  in 1945 with his Blue Note Jazz Men. Close your eyes and it was easy to imagine being in Storyville among the brothels and bars on  Franklin Street, Rampart Street or Basin Street. The whole orchestra rejoined them onstage for ‘Thespian’ from Freddie Redd’s Shades of Redd, which was another magical moment among an evening of magical moments. This complex, soulful piece was superbly arranged by trombonist Vincent Gardner.

From this point the Orchestra departed from the Blue Note script and for good reason. To everyone’s surprise Wynton introduced Scottish virtuoso violinist Nicola Benedetti who performed ‘Calling the Indians’ from Marsalis’s epic Pulitzer prize oratorio Blood On the Fields. While not quite Nicola’s hometown, it was, for the largely Scottish audience, wonderful to see one of the country’s greatest talents in this unusual setting.

As promised the main part of the concert finished with Duke Ellington, but not something that many would have necessarily anticipated; it was a part of Ellington’s ‘Black Brown and Beige’ suite with a fantastic coda at its conclusion by the five piece saxophone section. There was a deserved standing ovation and Marsalis came out with his regular quintet and did a medley for an encore that concluded with a sensuous and dazzling reading of ‘Embraceable You’. Another standing ovation and no one left thinking anything less than, “that was a brilliant.” night.”

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 “Clifford Brown, I would say, had a style akin to Fats Navarro. That was his inspiration. Clifford was so fresh, he was young, he was fresh and he was exuberant-beautiful sound, everything.” Sonny Rollins 2009

According to the opening sentence of Leonard Feather’s original liner notes for Blue Note’s Memorial Album, ‘It seems that in jazz the good, especially if they play trumpet, die young”. There’s only one thing he gets wrong: Brownie was not good, he was great! Aged just twenty-five, Brown died in a car accident on 26 June 1956 and this album, as is clear from the title and its catalogue number, was released that same year.

The tracks that make up side 2 (‘Brownie Speaks’, ‘De-Dah’, ‘Cookin’’, ‘You Go To My Head’ and ‘Carvin’ The Rock’) were recorded a few blocks from Times Square at WOR radio in New York, and mark Brownie’s debut as a leader, even if the session was billed as the Lou Donaldson-Clifford Brown Quintet. Some were originally released in 1953 as Lou Donaldson/Clifford Brown New Faces, New Sounds on Blue Note 5030, while side 1 (‘Hymn Of The Orient’, ‘Easy Living’, ‘Minor Mood’, ‘Cherokee’ and ‘Wail Bait’) came out as New Star on the Horizon, Blue Note 5032. It was produced by Alfred Lion, Blue Note’s founder, with photography by Francis Wolff and a Reid Miles cover design. You can hear the expanded Rudy Van Gelder remaster here.

Apart from the addition of Lou Donaldson on alto saxophone on the second session the two are very similar, both in ambience and feel. Brown’s brilliance on his runs, his plump tones invoking the spirit of his hero Fats Navarro who had died a few years earlier is so enticing. The speed of his playing, and the way ideas tumble from his horn on numbers like ‘Bellarosa’ and ‘Carvin’ The Rock’ is breathtaking, while Brownie makes Ray Noble’s well-known jazz tune ‘Cherokee’, entirely his own.

As exciting as his playing could be on mid- and up-tempo numbers, it is on the slower tracks such as, ‘You Got To My Head’ and ‘Brownie Eyes’, that Clifford Brown sounds utterly sublime. In his case, ‘gone too soon’ is a truly fitting musical epitaph. For a contemporary view of Brownie Quincy Jones said this in Downbeat in August 1956.

”Here was the perfect amalgamation of natural creative ability, and the proper amount of technical training, enabling him to contribute precious moments of musical and emotional expression. This inventiveness placed him in a class far beyond that of most of his poll-winning contemporaries. Clifford’s self-assuredness in his playing reflected the mind and soul of a blossoming young artist who would have rightfully taken his place next to Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and other leaders in jazz.” 

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andrewpitkinsax June 26th at 1:30pm

Despite being a saxophone player, Clifford Brown is one of my musical role models. Perfect is the only word I can think of to describe him.

Jeremy Whetstone June 26th at 6:27pm

Sorry to correct but he played trumpet!

jazzlabels June 26th at 6:30pm

We think Andrew meant he is a saxophone player and Brownie influenced his sax playing with his trumpet playing…

andrewpitkinsax June 26th at 7:23pm

Haha I meant that I was a sax player :) Clifford the trumpeter was a great role model!

Rudy June 26th at 10:50pm

he meant that despite the fact that he was a sax player, Clifford Brown is one of his musical role models even though Brownie plays the trumpet

We celebrate one of Horace Silver’s finest albums in honour of his passing. 50 years old it may be, but it sounds as fresh as the day it was recorded. 

“Dad played the violin, guitar and mandolin, strictly by ear. He loved the folk music of Cape Verde…Occasionally, they would give a dance party in our kitchen on a Saturday night. They pushed the kitchen table into the corner of the room to make way for dancing, and Dad and his friends provided the music, playing and singing all the old Cape Verdean songs.”  – Horace Silver

From the album’s oh-so-funky title track, you get a sense of how much everyone enjoyed those party nights at the Silver home in Connecticut. Thousands of miles away from the tiny group of Portuguese islands off the coast of West Africa, they came together to celebrate the music of their homeland. Yet there is more to this track than jazz fused with Portuguese rhythms: Silver had been to Brazil in early 1964 and you can just catch the spirit of the bossa nova beat. It’s also there in ‘Que Pasa?’, which seems to echo the opener.

Many years later Silver said, ‘I’ve always tried to write the kind of music that would stand the test of time. Always, in the back of my mind, I would be thinking, “Will this stand up 20, 30 years from now?” I’ve tried to write songs that would be easy to listen to, and easy to play. It’s a difficult task. It’s easy to write something simple but dumb, or something that has depth but is too complex. But simplicity with depth, that’s the hardest thing for me to do.’

Silver’s intention is carried through the album from the hard bop of ‘The Natives are Restless Tonight’ to ‘The Kicker’, a rollicking Joe Henderson tune. The only track on the album not written by Silver, it features a furious drum solo from Roger Humphries who was just 20 at the time of its recording. The closing track, ‘Lonely Woman’ is perfectly titled; Silver delicately conveys the concept with a beautiful melody while holding back on the notes to maximum effect. 

Interestingly the album was recorded at Rudy Van Gelder’s Studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, at two separate sessions almost a year to the day apart. On 31 October 1963  Silver cut, ‘Calcutta Cutie’ and ‘Lonely Woman’, recording the remainder on 26 October 1964.  You can hear it hear. It’s also available on 180gm vinyl here


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jacobaudrey June 24th at 8:19pm

Reblogged this on Musics and Souls.

giai01 June 25th at 12:44am

Reblogged this on Giai01's Blog and commented:

RIP Horace Silver

18th June, 2014
posted in: Uncategorized


Horace Silver has passed away aged 85. The Pianist and composer who started out as a tenor saxophonist before switching to the piano made a string of classic albums for Blue Note Records, including Song For My Father, The Cape Verdean Blues, Horace-Scope and Six Pieces of Silver.

He was originally discovered by Stan Getz who encouraged Silver to move to New York in the 1950s, where he formed a trio, and began performing at the Blue Note Jazz Club. Silver first recorded for Blue Note in 1952, and in 1955 he recorded with with the Jazz Messengers; he made the last recording for the label in 1979 before Blue Note went into temporary hibernation.

Bassist Christian McBride told NPR in 2008 that Silver’s music had long been his favorite. “Horace Silver’s music has always represented what jazz musicians preach but don’t necessarily practice, and that’s simplicity. It sticks to the memory; it’s very singable. It gets in your blood easily; you can comprehend it easily. It’s very rooted, very soulful.”

Silver’s family came from the Cape Verde Islands and the folk music of his homeland influenced him in his compositions. Silver wrote in his autobiography, “Occasionally, they would give a dance party in our kitchen on a Saturday night. The women fried up some chicken and made potato salad. The men would get whiskey and beer and invite all their friends, Cape Verdean and American blacks, to come and have a good time.”

His music became known to a new audience through Steely Dan using the riff that opens “Song for My Father” on their top 40 hit, “Rikki, Don’t Lose That Number.

Remember Horace Silver through his music with our newly curated playlist in his memory

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Gary Vaughan June 19th at 1:10am

I gave "Song for my Father "to my Dad after my first Tour in Nam in 1969....I felt the strong connection and spirit Mr Silver must have felt when he wrote this for his Pops....Tho my Dad has been gone now for many years ,1976,..Whenever I hear this song it reminds me of him and the connection/friendship we had ....I gave this song to my son this past Fathers' Day ,as a tribute to him becoming a new Dad this past year ....RIP Mr Silver you left behind a work that will outlive us all......Thankyou!

Marc van Dongen June 19th at 7:02am

So sad ...

Bashir Ali June 19th at 7:51am

Horace Silver, my dad and I spent many of Sunday mornings together in the yard, we listening to him via the stereo or cassettes. He was and will remain one of my favorites. 'Song For My Father' became an anthem for me and my dad's relationship.

Cliff Helander June 19th at 10:05pm

Years ago I was standing by the packed bar at the Baked Potato in North Hollywood. I turned to my left, and standing right next to me was Horace Silver.

ARQ June 19th at 11:29pm

I know what music will be playing on my stereo for the next few weeks. Thanks Horace, for your wonderful music.

Sama-Blues-Funk June 20th at 6:01pm

Rip for one great. Chao Mister Blues-Funk.

zaldy June 21st at 11:24am

goodbye mr. soulful. you'll be long remembered...

Ms. Donna July 2nd at 5:24pm

RIP, Mr. Silver. I've only known your music for a few years; but I can tell you were one of the great ones. "Song for my Father" is a really classy piece. Thank you for sharing your talents.

Wayne Shorter Remembers

13th June, 2014
posted in: Uncategorized


We were speaking to Wayne Shorter earlier today and just as we were wrapping up mentioned that the Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers’s  Africaine album was a particular favourite. It’s a significant record in Shorter’s recorded legacy in that it was his first of many Blue Note recording sessions; it was not real eased until over 20 years after it was recorded in November 1959.

“Well, thanks for reminding me. It was the first tune I wrote after I left the army. Is that the one that goes like…?” Wayne proceeded to whistle it. We confirmed that it was. “I need to check that record out again.”

You can check it out here?


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On 8 June 1939 Sidney Bechet  playing soprano saxophone, pianist Meade “Lux” Lewis, Teddy Bunn  on guitar, Johnny Williams  on bass along with drummer Big Sid Catlett were in a New York Studio and recorded a version of George Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’. This was a pivotal moment in the history of Blue Note.

The soprano saxophonist that Lion had briefly met in Germany almost a decade earlier, a man irascible at best and downright difficult at worst, Bechet turns in one of the most beautiful readings of this most beautiful song. Issued as BN6, this was not only a fabulous record, it also became the label’s first hit with as many as thirty copies a day sold at Commodore Music Shop alone. This changed the fortunes of the label and enabled Blue Note to truly think of itself as a record label – one with a future. Summertime was later released on Bechet’s album, Jazz Classics Vol.1 as a 10″ long playing record with a distinctive Paul Bacon design on the cover. Bacon was the first designer that worked for Blue Note and did much to establish the label’s look, prior to the arrival of Reid Miles.

Hear it Here



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In late1969 the jazz world was changing. Alfred Lion, Blue Note’s guiding light, had retired and the label had been bought and its new owners were seeking a new direction. Miles Davis was busy working on his Bitches Brew album which was about to take jazz off in a rock direction. Others, like Donald Byrd, were beginning to explore a soul jazz route. Meanwhile in Memphis and Detroit, Isaac Hayes had released his seminal album, Hot Buttered Soul; in December 1969 it was No.1 on the jazz chart. Read the story behind this amazing album that made No.1 on the Billboard jazz chart at uDiscover.



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