Mr. Buddy Rich
Funky16Corners Radio v.46 – Listen Here
Herbie Hancock – Wiggle Waggle (WB)
Buddy Rich – Chameleon (Groove Merchant)
Ray Bryant – Doing My Thing (Cadet)
Lou Donaldson – Sanford and Son (Blue Note)
Eddie Harris – Listen Here (Atlantic)
Mongo Santamaria – Windjammer (Atlantic)
Barry Miles – Woodstock (Mainstream)
Houston Person – Cissy Strut (Prestige)
Freddy McCoy – Huh! (Prestige)
Reuben Wilson – Cisco Kid (Groove Merchant)
Ramsey Lewis – The Unsilent Minority (Cadet)
I hope everyone had an excellent weekend and that your ears are clear and prepared to accept a solid dose of funky jazz.
I spent half my weekend in the living hell that is Ikea, and the other half at the Asbury Lanes Record Show/Garage sale. Guess which half made me happy? I didn’t sell a hell of a lot, but I bought (of course) a bunch of cool stuff that will eventually find its way here as individual tracks and in mixes.
The Funky16Corners Radio podcast is rapidly approaching its 50th episode (not counting a couple of non-F16Radio mixes and a number of guest mixes for other sites). I’ve been wanting to whip this particular mix together for some time, with the majority of the raw material sitting in a stack near the turntable waiting for the right time, and a couple of important tracks.
It was the recent score of a certain Freddy McCoy album (during my recent trip to Washington) that set things (finally) in motion. I took advantage of the few remaining hours of my vacation to sit down at the turntable and digi-ma-tize enough vinyl for a few different podcasts, for both Funky16Corners and Iron Leg.
Things get started with the opening track from Herbie Hancock’s 1969 LP ‘Fat Albert Rotunda’. Made up from the material Hancock laid down for the original animated ‘Fat Albert’ special, the album was his first real foray into jazz funk. Interestingly enough the band on the session was composed largely of hard bop vets like Joe Henderson, Johnny Coles and Albert ‘Tootie’ Heath. ‘Wiggle Waggle’ has a tough groove and lots of room for Herbie to work it out on the Rhodes.
Based in the premise that there’s no such thing as too much Herbie, I bring you a cover of the masters classic (and oft-sampled) ‘Chameleon’ from Buddy Rich and his band. From the 1971 LP ‘Very Live at Buddy’s Place’, the band, featuring Kenny Barron and Sonny Fortune (in the late 60’s and early 70’s some pretty heavy cats did time in Rich’s band) is featured on the cover looking absolutely thrilled to be wearing the apparently compulsory yellow turtleneck/white blazer combo. Fortunately they make up for the burden of the square threads with some tight, funky sounds.
Pianist Ray Bryant had a lengthy career as a “serious” jazzer, but like so many of his contemporaries he spent time in the 60’s and 70’s working the soulful (sometimes funky) side of the street. The records he did for Cadet (often working with the mighty Richard Evans) are all worth tracking down. ‘Doing My Thing’ appeared on 1967’s ‘Take a Bryant Step’ alongside a number of contemporary pop tunes like ‘Pata Pata’ and ‘Ode to Billie Joe’ and a great cover of Ornette Coleman’s ‘Ramblin’.
Lou Donaldson was a stalwart of the Blue Note label between 1952 and 1974 (taking time out to record LPs for Argo and Cadet in 1963 and 1964). His cover of Quincy Jones’ ‘Sanford and Son’ theme appeared on his second to last LP for Blue Note 1973s ‘Sassy Soul Strut’. It features keyboard work by longtime New York studio player Paul Griffin.
Regular visitors last heard Eddie Harris in the guest mix I did recently for Vincent the Soul Chef over at Fufu Stew. Harris is one of the true heroes of the 60s soul jazz movement, always soulful and innovative (especially in his pioneering use of the Varitone electric sax). ‘Listen Here’ appeared on the 1966 ‘Mean Greens’ LP, and soon became a jazz standard of sorts, with numerous covers including and excellent (if rare) soul vocal version by Valorie Keys on the Double Shot label, as well as instrumental takes by Brian Auger, Mongo Santamaria, Freddy McCoy and many others. This track is especially interesting because it features Harris on electric piano and Sonny Phillips on the organ playing off of each other throughout.
Speaking of Mongo Santamaria – despite what some crate diggers might say – I’ve always found his 60’s and 70’s albums for Columbia, Atlantic and Vaya to be a pretty dependable source of tasty grooves. ‘Windjammer’ was the lead-off track to his first Atlantic LP, ‘Mongo ‘70’. One of six tracks on the album composed by keyboardist Neal Creque, ‘Windjammer’ would go on to be covered by Grant Green (also featuring Creque on organ) and Mel Brown among others.
Barry Miles started out as a child prodigy on the drums, before switching to piano in his teens. He recorded several albums as both leader and sideman through the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. His cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Woodstock’ appeared on the first of two albums he recorded for the Mainstream label in 1971 and 1972. The track (the only cover on the ‘White Heat’ album) features Miles wailing on the electric piano with support from guitarist Pat Martino and some smoking flute work by Lew Tabackin.
Saxophonist Houston Person recorded a dozen albums for the Prestige label in the late 60’s and early 70’s. His cover of the Meters ‘Cissy Strut’ appeared on his 1970 LP ‘Truth’. Person and the band (which included guitarist Billy Butler) removes the second line syncopation of the Meters original, working instead in a pretty straight ahead 4/4 beat. I still dig it.
Freddy McCoy had been featured at Funky16Corners before, both on his own and as part of a previous Funky16Corners Radio mix. The vibist recorded a number of excellent albums for Prestige in the 60’s (and later for Cobblestone). Like so many of his contemporaries he covered pop material, but he always brought something new and unique to his interpretations (check out his genius cover of the Beach Boys ‘Pet Sounds’). One of the originals from his 1965 ‘Peas and Rice’ session, ‘Huh!’ is a great example of how McCoy was able to take a slow, funky groove and endow it with a real punch, thanks in large part to excellent keyboard work by Joanne Brackeen.
Reuben Wilson is known to collectors of Hammond funk, especially for the very solid material he recorded for Blue Note in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Real heads will also recommend that you seek out his earlier work as organist with the Wildare Express on Brunswick. Wilson’s cover of War’s ‘Cisco Kid’ appeared on the album of the same name, recorded for Groove Merchant in 1974. Aided by guitarist Melvin Sparks, Wilson lays down a slow, heavy groove.
This edition of Funky16Corners Radio closes out with a great electric piano feature from one of the true masters, Mr. Ramsey Lewis. Coming from his 1970 LP ‘Them Changes’ – which featured the cream of the Cadet session crew, including Phil Upchurch, Morris Jennings Jr and Cleveland Eaton – ‘The Unsilent Majority’ is a solid slice of Fender Rhodes groove.
That all said, I hope you dig the mix, and I’ll be back later in the week with more grooves.