Brother Jack McDuff – Oblighetto (Blue Note) – Freddy McCoy – Gimme Some (Cobblestone) – Vince Guaraldi – The Beat Goes On (WB) – Soulful Strings – (I Know) I’m Losing You (Cadet) – Hugh Masekela – Bajabula Bonke (Healing Song) (UNI) – Gabor Szabo – Gypsy Queen (Impulse) – Jeremy Steig – Howling for Judy (Blue Note) – Merl Saunders – Julia (Fantasy) – Gary McFarland – Fried Bananas (Verve) – Sly Stone – Rock Dirge Pt1 (Woodcock) – Bob James – Nautilus (CTI) – Brian Augers Oblivion Express – Inner City Blues (RCA)
Greetings and salutations to all.
This has been a good week all around. I was originally planning to drop a single track for the weekend, but sometime yesterday – like on the way home from work in the ride – I was struck by inspirado and decided to get down to it and work up a special edition Funky16Corners Radio mix.
I was listening to my collab with the mighty DJ Prestige – that being Beat Combination – and while one of the jazzier tracks came on, I cranked up the volume, let the musical vibrations slip in over the lobes and around the brain stem, and figured I ought to head home into the record cave and whip together some of my fave jazzy grooves.
I don’t remember if I’ve covered the topic here in the past, but the sounds of jazz – in pretty much all its forms, from the Original Dixieland Jazz Band right on up through Ornette Coleman – make up a huge part of my musical mindset. I grew up in a household where jazz made up a big part of the musical landscape, and spent much of my adulthood digging (both literally and figuratively) the sounds of jazz.
These experiences, crossed with my love for soul and funk led me to search for music where all of these sounds intersected. Thanks in large part to jazzbos making attempts (some more successful than others) at musical fusions (often in search of a more substantial audience) the 60’s and 70’s were filled with all manner of soul jazz, jazz pop, jazz funk and an almost infinite smorgasbord of hyphenates. This was facilitated by the fact that it was already an era of musical/cultural cross pollination, so all ears (and minds) were open wider than normal already.
As can be expected, a lot of bad rock was made by jazzers, and vice versa, but when the blends were heartfelt and handled by soulful master musicians, nirvana was never far off.
When started pulling records for inclusion herein, I was thinking about what I was feeling, and contemplated the reflection of the sun on the ocean, the smell of honeysuckle (growing right beside the house) and warm nights, and found myself drawn to sounds guaranteed to refresh your soul as well as your ears. Many of the tracks herein are longtime faves that I’ve run through my headphones countless times over the years.
A smile on my face
The stress of the working week dissipating, replaced bit by bit by – and mock me if you must for using this phrase, but it’s 100% apt – good vibes.
That said, I couldn’t come to you with the ones and zeros if there wasn’t something to make you move your feet as well. I don’t suspect you’re likely to get up and dance – though it’s not out of the question – but you will move. Think of it as a little something for the head(phones).
You beathead/trainspotters out there will definitely recognize some samples as well*. That wasn’t on my mind when I made the mix, but it is a testament to the grooveworthiness of these sounds.
Things open up with my man Brother Jack McDuff, and a 45 edit of one of the tracks from his absolutely essential LP ‘Moon Rappin’. ‘Oblighetto’ – which runs over six minutes on the LP, which I rate as essential listening – features Brother Jack on the Hammond, Joe Dukes on drums and Jean Dushon adding the ethereal vocals on the beginning and end of the track.
Freddy McCoy’s deep cut ‘Gimme Some’ appeared here by itself a while back, and I couldn’t picture a mix like this without it. The vibes produce one of my favorite musical sounds and Freddie gets on top of the groove and really draws you in.
Vince Guaraldi is best known as the man who created the music for the animated Peanuts specials in the 60’s and 70’s. His ‘Linus & Lucy’ has to be one of the best known/loved instrumentals of all time. His cover of Sonny & Cher’s ‘The Beat Goes On’ is from one of his later Warner Brothers LPs ‘The Eclectic Vince Guaraldi’. I don’t think the opening electric harpsichord line has been sampled yet, so get to it DJs. Hypnotic stuff.
I’m a huge fan of Richard Evans, and especially the Soulful Strings. This version of ‘(I Know) I’m Losing You’ is a great example of how Evans was able to create orchestral soul and still keep an edge.
Things quiet down a little bit with a cut by Hugh Masekela entitled ‘Bajabula Bonke (Healing Song)’. I was blown away the first time I heard this tune in the film Monterey Pop. This studio version of the song is a masterpiece of Masekela’s ability to take a spiritual vibe, and build a fire slowly, and then bring it all back home again with a mellow beauty. The end of the song, where Masekela’s flugelhorn solos over a gentle vamp taking the tempo down again is positively blissful.
If Gabor Szabo’s ‘Gypsy Queen’ rings a bell it because it was redone by Santana as the “second movement” of their cover of ‘Black Magic Woman’. Szabo’s original may not kick up the volume, but it is nothing if not intense, with his amplified acoustic guitar soloing over latin percussion.
Another cut that should make you sit up with the shock of recognition is Jeremy Steig’s ‘Howling for Judy’. You’ve probably all heard the repeated flute riff sampled, but few (outside of the diggers/beatmakers) have heard the original track. While the track isn’t exactly “funky”, it kind of is in a free/freaky way. Steig’s late 60’s records for Blue Note are gems of the jazzer-gone-freakout subgenre.
We take the tempo up and step back into the groove with a fantastic little obscurity from Merl Saunders. ‘Julia’ is a reworking of the theme from the Diahann Carroll TV series of the late 60’s (required watching in our house when I was a kid), with Merl working it out on the electric piano and organ over a tight groove. Merl was an interesting cat, creating stone solid organ soul in the 60’s as well as jazz, and fusion with the Grateful Dead crowd later on.
Gary McFarland was a deep, deep guy, working as a vibraphonist and arranger through the 60’s, making “straight” jazz, as well as his own groovy/experimental stuff for Verve as well as the storied Skye label. ‘Fried Bananas’ is from the 1965 LP ‘The IN Sound’ and features McFarland’s trademark vibes/singing combo over a sweet latin groove. If the guitar sounds familiar, it’s Gabor Szabo (a longtime collaborator of McFarland’s) again. McFarland met an untimely and mysterious end.
Sly Stone’s ‘Rock Dirge Pt1’ isn’t jazz by any standard, but I was feeling it, so here it is. Recorded in the late 60’s and released semi-legitimately and bootlegged over the years, it features some fat organ, raw drums and acoustic guitar.
For years I only knew Bob James and the guy that did the ‘Theme from Taxi’. Then I started to dig further when I noticed that the beatdiggers were all over his stuff. This is especially true (see list below) of the track ‘Nautilus’ from his first CTI album. This owes a lot to the presence of Mr. Idris Muhammad on the drums, as well as some crazy keyboard sounds.
The mix closes out with a very nice cover of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Inner City Blues’ by Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express. Auger started out playing jazz and R&B on the British Beat scene, carrying that vibe on through pop and psychedelia, and then into jazz fusion with Julie Driscoll, the Trinity and then Oblivion Express. Auger takes the tempo of the original and pushes the tempo up a notch, fattening up the groove in the process.
So…download the mix, find yourself an easy chair (or a chaise lounge if you’re somewhere warm and sunny), pop on the headphones and dig it.
Have a great weekend.
*‘Oblighetto’ was sampled by a Tribe Called Quest for ‘Scenario’
‘Gimme Some’ was sampled by Pete Rock & CL Smooth for ‘For Petes Sake’
‘Howling for Judy’ was sampled by the Beastie Boys for ‘Sure Shot’
‘Rock Dirge’ was sampled by Meat Beat Manifesto for ‘I Got the Fear (Pt II)’
Nautilus was sampled on the following recordings:
Chubb Rock’s “Keep it Street”
A Tribe Called Quest’s “Clap Your Hands”
All Natural’s “Think Again”
Basement Khemist’s “Correct Technique”
Camp Lo’s “Black Nostaljack”
DJ Food’s “Spiral Dub”
DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince’s “Jazzy’s Groove”
Dream Warriors’s “Voyage Through the Multiverse”
EPMD’s “Brothers on My Jock”
Eric B and Rakim’s “Follow the Leader”
Eric B and Rakim’s “Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em”
Geto Boys’s “Snitches”
Ghostface Killah’s “Daytona 500”
Group Home’s “Inna Citi Life”
Ice T’s “?”
JCD and the Dawg lb’s “Over Pussy”
Jeru’s “My Mind Spray”
Joe Budden’s “Yo, Yo, Yo”
Jungle Brothers’s “Book of Rhyme Pages”
K-Solo’s “Everybody Knows Me”
Keith Murray’s “The Rhyme”
King Sun’s “Big Shots”
Kruder & Dorfmeister’s “Original Bedroom Rockers”
Large Professor ft Pete Rock’s “The Rap World”
Leaders of the New School’s “Show Me a Hero”
Lord Shafiyq’s “My Mic is on Fire”
Lyrical Prophecy’s “You Can’t Swing This”
Main Source’s “Live at the Barbecue”
Mary J. Blige’s “Just Mary”
Mary J. Blige ft Nas & DMX’s “Sincerity”
Mekon’s “Phatty’s Lunch Box”
Mike Zoot’s “Scene”
Naughty by Nature’s “Cruddy Clique”
Nice & Smooth’s “No Delayin’”
Onyx’s “Black Vagina Finda”
Onyx’s “Throw Ya Gunz”
Organized Konfusion’s “Stray Bullet”
Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s “Take You There”
Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s “The Sun Won’t Come Out”
Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s “What’s Next on the Menu?”
Poison Clan’s “Paper Chase”
Poor Righteous Teachers’s “Word is Bond”
Public Enemy’s “Anti-Nigger Machine”
Puff Daddy ft Busta Rhymes and Notorious BIG’s “Victory”
Queen Mother Rage’s “Slippin’ into Darkness”
Red Myers’s “Shoplifter”
Run-DMC’s “Beats to the Rhyme”
Run-DMC’s “Groove to the Sound”
Salt-N-Pepa’s “Doper than Dope”
Slick Rick’s “Children’s Story”
Soul II Soul’s “Jazzie’s Groove”
Tame One’s “Torture Chamber”
The Roots ft Mos Def’s “Double Trouble”
Threat’s “Bust One Fa Me”
Tim Dog’s “Bronx Nigga”
Tim Dog’s “I’ll Wax Anybody”
Tim Dog’s “Low Down Nigga”
Ultramagnetic MCs’s “Ced Gee (Delta Force One)”
Ultramagnetic MCs’s “Moe Love on the One & Two”
Ultramagnetic MCs’s “Raise it Up”