Funky16Corners Radio v.64 – Numbers (Downtempo Excursion)
Overton Berry Trio – Guacamolean Shuffle (Jaro)
Meters – Stormy (Josie)
Richard Groove Holmes – Heavy Groove (World Pacific Jazz)
The Peddlers – Impressions Part 3 (Philips)
El Chicano – Viva Tirado (Kapp)
Freddy McCoy – One Cylinder (Prestige)
Lowell Fulsom – Pico (Kent)
Rotary Connection – Respect (Cadet Concept)
Cals – Stand Tall (Loadstone)
Jackie Edwards & Soulmakers – Che Che (Daran)
Brother Jack McDuff – Moon Rappin’ (Blue Note)
Marlena Shaw – Woman of the Ghetto (Blue Note)
Cymande – The Message (Janus)
Art Jerry Miller – Moon Shot (Enterprise)
Roy Meriwether Trio – What’s the Buzz (Notes of Gold)
Merl Saunders Trio – Ode to Billie Joe (Galaxy)
Billy Larkin – Light My Fire (Pacific Jazz)
I come to you today in an unusual state of spiritual relaxation. For this we can thank both a day spent at home with my sons, and also the fact that the three of us witnessed (along with the rest of the world) the inauguration of President Barack Obama.
Heavy stuff in both cases, in the micro and macro, each one pushing me along – in its own way – in a new, satisfying direction.
The mix I bring you today, the first Funky16Corners Radio podcast of 2009, is something that I had percolating in the background for a long time, setting tracks aside as they were digimatized. The concept of the mix fully formed from the beginning, but the contents amassing gradually.
Late last week, when I saw the aforementioned events on the horizon, I thought to myself that there would be no better time to stitch the mix together.
I’m often tempted to drop something mellow in an attempt to soothe the tortured psyche (my own and those of others), usually after a particularly difficult week. This time out, the quiet, downtempo vibe of the mix is not intended as a balm (though it can and should be applied in that capacity as needed) but rather as a marker (dare I say ‘celebration’) of a new chapter in my life, and in the lives of my fellow citizens. It is a proclamation of sorts, in which the sounds have been assembled, and are presented as evidence of new equilibrium. A slice of the vibe, if you will, and at well over an hour, quite a generous slice at that.
This is a keyboard heavy mix, with lots of piano (acoustic and electric), much Hammond organ (who among you didn’t see that coming) and a couple of unusual vocal numbers.
There is an – extremely subtle – underpinning of funk, with lots of crisp drums, and plenty of soul (jazz).
We get things rolling with the meditative ‘Kenya’, from Neal Creque, from his self-titled Cobblestone LP. The album, which is excellent all the way through, is proof that although Creque is best known as a sideman (Grant Green, Mongo Santamaria), he had plenty to offer as a leader.
Next up is the interestingly titled ‘Guacamolean Shuffle’ from Pacific Northwest pianist Overton Berry and his trio.
If you haven’t already read the playlist, give the next track – a cover of the Classics IVs ‘Stormy’ – a listen, and see if you can guess who it is, I’ll bet the Meters weren’t at the top of your list.
If the bext cut – ‘Heavy Groove’ by Richard Groove Holmes – sounds familiar, it’s because it’s a reworking of Horace Silver’s soul jazz classic ‘Song for My Father’. It hails from Holmes’ ‘Live at the Lighthouse’ LP.
I continue my attempt to spread the word about the mighty Peddlers, with the inclusion of a brief interlude from their sought after ‘Suite London’ LP, ‘Impressions Part 3’.
One of the few tracks on this mix to have made a dent in the charts, El Chicano’s cover of Gerald Wilson’s ‘Viva Tirado’ is a classic.
Next up is another Funky16Corners favorite, vibraphonist Freddie McCoy with the groovy ‘One Cylinder’.
If the next track sounds familiar, it’s because Lowell Fulsom’s ‘Pico’ is the instrumental b-side of the classic ‘Tramp’. I’ve always dug ‘Pico’ for it’s somewhat haunting vibe, and I have to apologize for not having a less timeworn copy of the 45.
Things take something of a left turn with a selection from a group featured here in the last few weeks, Rotary Connection. Though some of their covers tend to go in strange directions, I think their version of Otis Redding’s ‘Respect’ is right on the money.
We head out to the San Fran Bay area for the haunting – yet groovy – organ instrumental, ‘Stand Tall’ by the Cals, yet another gem of a record that I was turned on to courtesy of my man Haim.
I’ve never been able to turn up much info on the group Jackie Edwards and Soulmakers, other than that they appear to have hailed from the Chicago area. They recorded a couple of very nice soul jazz 45s, that are definitely worth your while to track down.
If you stop by here on the reg, you are definitely familiar with the work of Hammond legend Brother Jack McDuff. The cut we bring you today is the title cut from his masterpiece, ‘Moon Rappin’. The album is a brilliant, funky, far out slice of late 60s soul jazz, and unlike almost every other Hammond record in my crates, is a start to finish listening experience.
We return to the vocal side of things with one of Miss Marlena Shaw’s finest Cadet 45s, ‘Woman of the Ghetto’, featuring a dynamite Richard Evans arrangement.
The other track in this edition of Funky16Corners Radio to have glanced the charts (in the winter of 1973) is the Message by Cymande. If you haven’t checked out the multi-layered sounds of Cymande (well represented in reissue) then you should do so post haste. They mixed funk, soul, jazz and reggae for one of the most unique and memorable sounds of the 70s.
Memphis organist Art Jerry Miller recorded a cool but hard to find LP for the Stax offshoot Enterprise in 1970. Miller worked extensively with Willie Mitchell at Hi Records, and reportedly it’s that label’s house band that backs him on ‘Moonshot’.
Pianist Roy Meriwether recorded several excellent LPs through the 60s and 70s. One of his finer small-label efforts is the rare ‘Jesus Christ Superstar Goes Jazz’ on the Notes of Gold label. ‘What’s the Buzz’ is a reworking of a tune from the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical.
Next up is a groovy cover of Bobbi Gentry’s ‘Ode to Billie Joe’ by the late Merl Saunders. The album that this track hails from was one of my personal white whales, and like Ahab, I chased it far and wide before finally (and I should note, with a bit of poetic justice) grabbing it from a friend for a very reasonable price.
Things come to a conclusion with a tune by another Pacific Northwest keyboard hero, Mr. Billy Larkin. He recorded several albums of soul jazz with his group the Delegates, as well as some as a solo. His version of the Doors ‘Light My Fire’ appeared on the 1969 LP ‘I Got the Feelin’.
That all said, I hope you dig this edition of Funky16Corners Radio, and I’ll be back on Monday with something cool.