Funky16Corners Radio v.68 – A New Note
Funky16Corners Radio v.68 – A New Note
Blackbyrds – Spaced Out (Fantasy)
1972 Verona High School Jazz Ensemble – Synthesis (edit)
Woody Herman – Smiling Phases (Cadet)
Doc Severinson – Footprints of the Giant (edit) (Command)
Lou Donaldson – Caterpillar (Blue Note)
Grant Green – California Green (Blue Note)
Backyard Heavies – Soul Junction (Scepter)
Gene Harris – Don’t Call Me N*gger Whitey (Blue Note)
1970 Ohio State University Jazz Ensemble – Far West Suite Pt1
Ernie Wilkins Big Band – Big Foot Blues (Mainstream)
The Peddlers – Working Again (Philips)
Lou Donaldson – (Don’t Worry) If There’s a Hell Below We’re All Going to Go (Blue Note)
To hear this mix, head on over to the Funky16Corners Radio Podcast Archive
I hope all is well on your end.
If things have gone as planned, as you’re reading this I’m up in Maine, hunting lobsters and vinyl, with my wife joining me on the former and diverging on the latter in search of her own obsession, that being things yarn and yarn-related.
Despite the current life situation changing the digging situation (careful distribution of funds related), I have managed in the last few months to get some nice stuff. This had a lot to do with taking my DJ earnings and rolling them back into the crates (always groovy) combined with a couple of inexpensive finds.
When I was down in DC, my man DJ Birdman was kind enough to hep DJ Prestige and I to a couple of cool digging spots, and then we get to Richmond and our host Troy just happened to have a nice stack of 45s that he was willing to part with. In addition to a great couple of nights behind the turntables, we both came home with lots of new records.
The mixes that I will be bringing you today (and again in a couple of weeks) are two sides of that haul, both jazzy. The first you see before you leans a little on the heavier side, the second on the mellower tip.
Things get started with a great DC area (all members hailed from Howard University) band, the Blackbyrds. ‘Spaced Out’ is one of the funkier cuts from ‘Flying Start’, the album that featured their biggest hit ‘Walking In Rhythm’.
The next cut was from an NJ find. The crate diggers of the world are always on the lookout for high school/college band records (i.e. bands from their music programs), since in a certain era they often contain funky sounds. The cut ‘Synthesis’ is from the Verona, NJ High School Jazz Ensemble, which actually traveled to Montreaux in 1972 and recorded their performance. The tune starts off with a weird, avant garde interlude, before descending into something that sounds like it belongs on a Lalo Schifrin soundtrack.
Woody Herman’s work for Cadet records has appeared in this space before. Herman led one of the truly great big bands in jazz history. The 1960s were not a good time to keep a large band going, but Herman managed it, in part by staying current. The two albums he recorded for Cadet (with the help of Richard Evans among others) feature some very cool versions of contemporary material, including the track included here, a wailing, uptempo take on Traffic’s psychedelic tune ‘Smiling Phases’.
To paraphrase Robert Plant, “Does anybody remember Doc Severinson?” If you’re old enough, and remember the Tonight Show back in 70s, Doc was the trumpeter, and bandleader on the Tonight Show, as famous for his garish wardrobe as he was for his talents as a Maynard Ferguson-esque high-note artist. His 1970 album ‘Doc Severinson’s Closet’ – the cover of which features several of the aforementioned suits – features a great band, including many Tonight Show bandmates, as well as the mighty Ray Barretto. This excerpt from ‘Footprints of the Giant’ moves along at a brisk pace, with some wild Varitone sax solos and a fantastic percussion breakdown.
Lou Donaldson’s 1971 ‘Cosmos’ LP includes covers of both Bread and Curtis Mayfield (more on that later). The album includes a hot band, with Idris Muhammad, Melvin Sparks and Leon Spencer, and a number of tunes with vocals. The best of those is the extremely funky ‘Caterpillar’.
Grant Green’s 1971 ‘Shades of Green’ session sees him in the middle of his ‘funky’ period, covering (and re-covering) a lot of contemporary material with a band that included several members of the Crusaders. ‘California Green’ is a great slice of funky soul jazz, with lots of Green soloing and some grooving clavinet by Emmanuel Riggins.
You can read more about the Backyard Heavies here, but suffice to say, they weren’t exactly a jazz group. That said, ‘Soul Junction’ would not be out of place on a Brother Jack McDuff album from the same period, with its laid back groove, and organ lead.
Gene Harris is best known as the pianist with the Three Sounds. Though he recorded under that name into the mid-70s, he also released some albums under his own name, including 1974s ‘Astral Signals’. The album features a number of excellent tracks (including an unusual cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Green River’), but the best (and the funkiest, natch) is a P-Funk-ish take on Sly & the Family Stone’s ‘Don’t Call Me N*gger Whitey’.
Speaking of college jazz bands, the last time I was digging in Upstate NY, I grabbed an LP by the 1970 Ohio State University Jazz Band. ‘Far West Suite Pt1’ is yet another cut that sounds like it was lifted from a funky early-70s detective movie soundtrack.
Ernie Wilkins was a sax player and arranger who worked with a number of bands (mainly Count Basie) through the 50s and 60s. He also recorded under his own name, and the finest of those dates is the LP ‘Hard Mother Blues’, one of the funkiest big band dates on the Mainstream label. ‘Big Foot Blues’ features a blazing horn arrangement, as well as some very funky guitar.
We dip once again into the catalogue of the mighty Peddlers with a cut from their 1970 ‘Three For All’ LP. ‘Working Again’ is a kind of a jazz take on the storied “road song”, with a solid vocal by Roy Philips who also brings the Hammond heat.
Lou Donaldson is back to close out this edition of Funky16Corners Radio, with a cover of Curtis Mayfield’s epic ‘(Don’t Worry) If There’s a Hell Below We’re All Going To Go’. This time, in addition to his duties on the sax, Lou falls by with some vocals.
I hope you dig the mix. I won’t be back until next Monday, but if you get bored you can always bore into the Funky16Corners Radio Podcast Archive and see what you dig.
Until then, stay groovy and I’ll see you when I see you.
PS – Make sure to fall by Iron Leg for a swinging 60s mix.
PSS Make sure to hit up Funky16Corners on Facebook