Funky16Corners Radio v.56 – Solar Heat


Funky16Corners Radio v.56 – Solar Heat


Kool & the Gang – Dujii (Dee Lite)
Edu Lobo – Upa Neguinho (Philips)
Bob James – Take Me To the Mardi Gras (CTI)
Cal Tjader – Solar Heat (Buddah)
Peddlers – On a Clear Day (Epic)
Gabor Szabo – Divided City (Buddah)
Ramsey Lewis Trio – People Make the World Go Round (Columbia)
Jean Pace – Afro Blue (RCA)
John Klemmer – Rose Petals (Cadet)
George Benson & Joe Farrell – Flute Thing (CTI)
Maceo – Soul Power 74 (People)
Lionel Hampton – Psychedelic Sally (Glad Hamp)
Woody Herman Band – I Got the News (Century)

To hear this mix, head on over to the Funky16Corners Radio Podcast Archive

Greetings all.

I hope all is well on your end and you’re all geared up for what promises (at least here in the States) to be an excellent Labor Day Weekend.
This year Labor Day takes on extra significance to myself and my coworkers, as well as everyone else who’s job is threatened by the current economic downturn (“nation of whiners” my ass).
I work in the newspaper publishing industry (on the production side) and if you’ve been following the news – or the stock market – you’ll already be aware that newpapers as an institution appear to be on the verge of collapse, or at least a drastic reconstitution. Though this can be attributed in large part to a sea change in the way people gather and process news (via the interwebs of course, no the irony is not lost on me), we can also thank those that run the industry for approaching this challenge with a characteristic lack of direction. Where a slow, steady, focused program is in order, they have chosen instead – at the behest of the stockholders, and once again allow me to take a moment to say “fuck a stockholder” – to hack away like a machete-wielding madman in an attempt to erase what looks like an almost insurmountable tide of red tape.
At my location, we’ve lost well over 200 people, including both layoffs and buyouts. There are almost certainly more “staff reductions” in the future. I now think I know what the mighty tyrannosaurus rex felt like as he sank slowly into the tar.
I only belabor this point because Labor Day was established as a commemoration of working Americans, a species that have sadly become disposable.
That said, Labor Day has also traditionally served as a marker for the end of summer. I figured with things being what they are, I could use a lift, and I’m sure many of you out there can as well.
I wanted to put together a mix that started out bright, got thoughtful and went back out on another bright – dare I say optimistic – note. It’s the kind of mix that you can pop on the MP3 delivery system of your choice, sit back with a cold drink and watch the sky as the sun sets and gives way to dusk. It’s all about the cyclical nature of things, day to night (and on again to day), summer on the way to fall, old careers that may soon give way to new directions, or even just one breath leading to the next.
Though there is a preponderance of jazz and jazz-related material, there is also a healthy dose of the funk – including a couple of very tasty drum breaks – meditative numbers, a couple of looks at the modern side of classic jazz masters and hopefully – as always – a few surprises.
Things get rolling with what is by far my favorite Kool and the Gang track, ‘Dujii’. Written by keyboardist Rick Westfield ‘Dujii’ is a great feature for the horn section, but hang in until the horns drop out and Westfield gets his chance to solo. Very groovy indeed.
Next up is what I believe to be Edu Lobo’s original recording of his bossa standard ‘Upa Neguinho’. Covered numerous times, including versions by Caetano Veloso and Elis Regina, the tune is a short, sweet taste of the sounds of Brazil, with a propulsive acoustic guitar line and those groovy backing vocals and handclaps. If you get the chance pick up the sublime ‘Sergio Mendes Presents Edu Lobo’ LP.
Bob James’ cover of Paul Simon’s ‘Take Me to the Mardi Gras’ is most famous of course as the record that contains the Andrew Smith break that has been sampled literally dozens of times (along with the Idris Muhammad break from James’ ‘Nautilus’, one of the building blocks of hip hop). I know there are those out there that are willing to bad rap James as an easy listening cat, but his CTI albums have a great, mellow feel that always manage to take unusual turns. James takes the sweet, elegiac vibe of the Simon original and lays it on a slightly darker underpinning. It’s a great record.
We segue into another outstanding cut by a big Funky16Corners fave, Mr. Cal Tjader. I’ve always been a huge vibes fan, and Tjader is the master of this groovy axe. His 1960s and 70s recordings are the very definition of unfuckwithable, from the mighty ‘Soul Sauce’, to the subtly groovy cover of ‘Along Comes Mary’ Tjader’s sound was the very definition of cool. His Skye recording are among his coolest, and of those ‘Solar Heat’is my fave. I love the way the opening break – not too heavy – moves on into a muscular bass line, and then smoothly on into the sound of the vibes.
The next tune is one that has to be heard multiple times to be believed. I’ve waxed rhapsodic lately of my current craze for the sounds of the Peddlers. How their cover of ‘On A Clear Day’ hasn’t been chopped, lopped and sampled to the nth degree is a mystery. Coming from their 1968 LP ‘Three In a Cell’ (which also includes their blistering cover of Bob Dorough’s ‘Coming Home Baby’ soon to be featured here) ‘On a Clear Day’ is a perfect example of the bands unusual mixture of jazz, pop and a vaguely cabaret twist. I dig it the most.
Another frequent flyer on Funky16Corners Radio is guitarist Gabor Szabo. Like Cal Tjader, he spent much of the 60s recording some very groovy jazz, moving on later in that decade to co-found and record for the Skye label with Gary McFarland*. ‘Divided City’ was one of the few original tunes on his 1968 ‘Bacchanal’ LP.
Ramsey Lewis 1972 ‘Upendo ni Pamoja’ LP, which gave us his cover of War’s ‘Slipping Into Darkness’ (featured in Funky16Corners Radio v.47) also included the mellow take on the Thom Bell and Linda Creed’s ‘People Make the World Go Round’. The vibe here is quite, and not far removed from the Stylistics original.
Oscar Brown Jr. was one of the great jazz vocalists of the 50s, 60s and beyond. In the mid 60’s he wrote (with Luiz Enrique) a stage play entitled ‘Joy’ (which also featured Brazilian singer Sivuca). He didn’t get around to recording the music from the show until 1970, when vocalist (and Brown’s ladyfriend) Jean Pace recorded Brown’s lyrics to Mongo Santamaria’s ‘Afro Blue’. It’s a very subtle, sexy version of the tune.
Though John Klemmer is better known for a slightly easier variety of jazz rock, his 1960s recordings for the Cadet label have a harder, more experimental edge. ‘Rose Petals’ from 1970’s ‘Eruptions’ is an example of a kind of spacey, just inside the outside vibe that marked his recordings from this era.
Things pick up a touch with ‘Flute Thing’ from George Benson and Joe Farrell’s 1976 collaboration, entitled (not surprisingly) ‘Benson & Farrell’. Arranged by Dave Matthews (no, not THAT Dave Matthews, unless by THAT Dave Matthews you mean the guy who played with the Grodeck Whipperjenny and arranged for James Brown, which if you are, is in fact THAT Dave Matthews), ‘Flute Thing’ is a prime example of the mid-70s CTI sound, in that it’s light, but not too light, yet still creeping dangerously close to too light. I still dig it.

Right then. Mr. Parker falls by with his 1974 JB-less reworking of the Godfather’s ‘Soul Power’, in which the hard, funky edge is softened just a touch with just a soupcon of jazzy je ne sais quois. Though the Godfather is absent, the groove remains.
This edition of Funky16Corners Radio closes out with two 1970s examples of old-school jazzbos working a bit of inspired resuscitation. First up is Lionel Hampton. If you’ve been a regular reader of the Funky16Corners blog, or just a well seasoned crate digger you’ll already know that Hamp got good and funky in the 60s and 70s, recording some outstanding material for Brunswick and his own Glad Hamp label. His cover of Horace Silver’s ‘Psychedelic Sally’ appeared on his 1980 ‘Chameleon’ LP, which also included the title cut, a very nice cover of the Herbie Hancock tune.
The final cut sees Woody Herman (whose 60s Cadet LPs stand as a testament to his ability to stay current) covering Steely Dan. His version of ‘I Got the News’ appeared on the excellent 1978 LP ‘Chick, Donald, Walter and Woodrow’, which features a number of Steely Dan tunes (including ‘Kid Charlemagne’, featured in this space a while back). Herman gives the smooth groove of the original a brassy, big band edge. I wish someone would reissue this album on CD because it’s really very cool.
That all said, I hope you dig the mix, enjoy your weekend, and I’ll see you all in the middle of next week.



*Both the Tjader and Szabo cuts are from early 70s Buddah comps of their Skye material

PS Make sure to stop by Iron Leg

PSS Check out Paperback Rider as well

18 Responses to “Funky16Corners Radio v.56 – Solar Heat”

  1. Moammar Says:

    I hear you, brother. Looking down the same gun barrel here at The N&O.

    Thank god we’ve got soul music.

  2. Groovin' Dan Says:

    Amen on all of the above. If you’ll allow me to boogaloo up on to my own soapbox for a sec, I feel lucky to have been able to jump successfully from the print biz into the “series of tubes,” but it kills me to see so many other American workers (in the newspaper/mag world and elsewhere) used up and flushed like so much Charmin. Obama is not everything I’d hope for in a Presidential candidate, but I do believe he’s got our back — whereas John McCain doesn’t even believe that American workers are struggling right now. (See Phil Gramm’s “nation of whiners” comment, which McCain hasn’t exactly contradicted.)

    Ultimately, I truly believe that hope is a more powerful thing than fear. Hope is the gigantic heart pulsating at the center of every song you post on this blog. Fear is the barrier that stands between you and the celebration of all the sweet things in life; you can’t get your groove on if you’re too busy cowering in fear. Vote Hope in ’08 — and in every hour of every day of every year. Peace.

  3. funky16corners Says:

    VERY well said Dan!

  4. maxwell Says:

    It is a serious real-deal depresssion at this point. I don’t know anyone who isn’t struggling. My heart goes out to you & the rest of the print media production folks. But thanks for the mix. Gotta love the Szabo. It looks R-A-D.

  5. eric Says:

    I am in the newspaper business too, at a small paper in Illinois. Our parent corporation is swimming in red ink. I described it once as knowing what a linotypist felt like when he first saw a desktop PC or as a carriage maker confronted with his first automobile.
    What happens when internet-size revenue streams won’t produce enough to fund real news gathering?

  6. funky16corners Says:

    Does your parent company’s name start with a “G”???

    PS Your comparison of a linotype operator is apt. I was around when the switch to cold type was just a few years old and I witnessed the advent of desktop publishing. I don’t think I ever expected to see the whole thing change all over again.

  7. Vincent the Soul Chef Says:

    very heartfelt commentary… I saw the acceptance speech Tursday night and all I can do is echo your chant…

    BTW, I love that Duji track just as much as you do as well as the Ramsey Lewis… haven’t pulled that one out in a very long time 🙂
    another stellar mix my friend…

    Peace and blessings.

  8. funky16corners Says:

    Thanks Vincent!

  9. toby Says:

    yes obama he is the messiah we have been waiting for. i love him. so young and black and beautiful. my beautiful obama. we are his children. when he is our leader the world will heal. let us all sing together: obama obama obama obama obama obama obama obama obama obama obama obama obama obama obama obama obama obama obama obama obama

  10. funky16corners Says:

    Wow…that was sad. Wait’ll I tell everyone that John McCain posts on my blog!

  11. GG Says:

    Well, the vast majority of folks on the other side of the great Atlantic expanse are all rooting for you guys are gonna vote Obama. Everyone’s amazed (albeit mightily worried) McCain’s even getting a look-in. What’s with the creationist yummy mummy he’s nominated as his VP too? Obviously a feeble attempt at garnering support from both grumpy, butch Clinton supporters and the ever-important hardline religious voting contingency. I especially hate the way the media are (right from the get-go) blatantly using her son’s medical condition for subtle sympathy seeking too.

    I hope America does the right thing and sees past the blinds for a change.

    Anyhoo, thanks again for the mix. Very interested in checking out more of this Cal Tjader guy. YOu posted some Jackson 5 covers he did a while back and he’s become a regular on the playlists man!

  12. Stu Says:

    Living in Scotland I can’t vote, but I hope to god Obama gets in! McCain is just Bush III. Why do so many (although not necessarily a majority of) Americans think it takes a wizened old misanthrope to ‘defend’ America!?!? Why can’t more people be like most of the folks on here and just BE COOL!? Oh yeah… State and corporately sponsored proponganda and the encouragement of mega-materialistic ignorance. Argh! ‘Democracy’ sucks… Erm… Anyway…

    Another stellar selection of tunes, dude.

    Having your shows to listen to really makes the days so much more pleasant (and funky!).

    Good luck come decision time. Wonder how they’re gonna steal it this time around? Will Arnie run in 2012?* Now I’m just depressing everyone…


    *I know they would need to change the rules, but I would not be suprised!

  13. blue duke Says:

    All politics aside, thank you for your contibution to music appreciation. You ruled my Labor Day party, coming through with jams that held down the grown folks, but strangely inspired proto-breakdancing in some unsuspecting 3 year-olds. Your love of music has touched my entire family. You’ve got people in Texas.

  14. luky Says:

    why do you dis toby like that? he or she is just like many of us who adore barack.

  15. funky16corners Says:

    uh huh….

  16. Ray Says:

    Go get ’em Larry, it’s embarassing to be American, eight years of this repug bullshit is enough. And, yes, if I could I would leave this country, problem is we can’t afford to move to another country, and we have family here. We are in the middle of a culture war, and have been since Regan. These right wing “conservatives” are the American taliban. They will fight every chance, and will fight dirty, because their cause is “divine”.
    Bullshit. I think Obama has learned that you cannot fight the good fight against these bastards, you gotta sling it back at ’em.
    Not a happy American folks.
    Go get ’em Larry.
    Go get ’em Barack.

  17. luky Says:

    barack is love

  18. RBishop Says:

    I don’t want to rain on you guys’ parade, but are you sure Obama is quite as wonderful as he seems to you right now ? Have you forgotten his obseqious crawling to the Zionist lobby ? Do you really think if gets in, the AIPAC – from whose podium he gave one of his celebratory speeches – will not have any influence to bear ? Do you really think he will reverse everything he has said and lift even one finger for the Palestinians ? Do you think he will cut one penny of the laughably-named ‘aid’ – THREE BILLION dollars a year to a rich, rich country armed to the teeth with a few million inhabitants ?

    We in the U.K. went thru this same scenario in 1997 when a hated – by many people – government was replaced by a ground-breaking alternative. Trouble was, its policies turned out just the same. All that hope for nothing.

    Still and all, thanks greatly for your blog and the many wonderful songs you bring to us. And good luck in your employment. All the best.

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