Funky16Corners Radio v.79 – Positive Vibrations!
Jack Wilson feat Roy Ayers – Sidewinder (Vault)
Freddie McCoy – Peas and Rice (Prestige)
Jack Brokensha and the Baroqe-a-delics – Boogaloo (Contrast)
Bobby Hutcherson – Goin’ Down South (Blue Note)
Cal Tjader – Ode to Billie Joe (Skye)
Ulysses Crockett – Sunshine Superman (Transverse)
Gary Burton – Leroy the Magician (Atlantic)
Milt Jackson – People Make the World Go Round (CTI)
Bobby Christian – Mooganga (Ovation)
Johnny Lytle – Above the Clouds (SS)
Lionel Hampton- Them Changes (Brunswick)
Freddie McCoy – Beans’n’Greens (Prestige)
Soulful Strings feat Billy Wooten – One Night Affair (Cadet)
Cal Tjader – Soul Sauce (Verve)
How’s by you?
Speaking for myself, a fabulous (yet tiring) weekend was had, beginning with a stellar edition of the Asbury Park 45 Sessions. Nearing our third anniversary as the only all-45 funk/soul night in New Jersey, the 45 Sessions are running at full steam. Heavy sets were dropped by all concerned, especially DJ Prestige and M-Fasis tag teaming on the tables with a set that got the people up and moving.
I was hoping to bring you a live recording of my set, but technical ineptitude on my part (concerning setting the recording source) left me with a live recording of the DJ area, complete with conversations and other random noise running over the music. With any luck I’ll get the whole thing straightened out by the time I spin with DJ Bluewater at Forbidden City in a couple of weeks.
A few weeks back, when we memorialized the late, lamented Freddie McCoy, I mentioned that I was working on a vibes mix, and the sounds you hear today are the results thereof.
The Funky16Corners Radio experience* features mixes arising from varying levels of inspiration, many of them high-concept, long-gestating projects, others whipped together on a moments notice. Today’s edition of the podcast is one of the former.
I’ve been a huge fan of the vibraphone since I first listened to jazz as a kid. Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to see a couple of the masters of the vibes in a live setting, including Milt Jackson and Bobby Hutcherson. The vibes have their haters, mainly people who find the sound too ‘cool’, but I find that the vibraphone produces one of the loveliest, deepest sounds in all of music.
Funky16Corners Radio v.79 includes cuts by some of my favorite players, with some classics, a couple of interesting obscurities. I should also mention, in the spirit of full disclosure, that in addition to the vibraphone, you will also be hearing a couple of other mallet-driven instruments, including the xylophone and the marimba (in a few cases, during the same number).
I can remember the day many years ago when my man Haim first hipped me to Lionel Hampton’s mighty ‘Greasy Greens’. Hampton was one of the true past masters of the vibes, with a career that goes back to the classic Benny Goodman trios, and extended well into the funky 1970s. ‘Greasy Greens’ made a couple of appearances on vinyl, but the ultimate version is the one included here, which was released as a 45 on Hampton’s own Glad-Hamp label. If the groove sounds familiar, it was borrowed by Georgie Woods for the song ‘Potato Salad’.
Roy Ayers is a fave of the rare groove crowd for his 70s stuff, but the selection in today’s mix comes from the early part of his career when he was working as a sideman with pianist Jack Wilson. Their version of Lee Morgan’s ‘Sidewinder’ is a brilliant bit of soul jazz.
I focused on Freddie McCoy in this space a few weeks ago, and promised that I’d include some more of his music in this mix. ‘Peas and Rice’, from 1967 has a goodtime party vibe.
Australian-born vibist Jack Brokensha emigrated to Canada, and eventually crossed the border into Detroit where he found a spot in the Motown organization as one of the storied Funk Brothers. He came to be known as ‘White Jack’ (as opposed to Jack Ashford, who was not…). He recorded an LP with his group the Baroque-adelics (also billed as the Concert Jazz Quartet). ‘Boogaloo’ appeared on that LP, as well as the 45 from which this version was recorded.
The aforementioned Bobby Hutcherson was perhaps the greatest post-bop vibes stylist of the 1960s, the predominant master of the instrument on the Blue Note label, leading many sessions and working as a sideman on countless others. ‘Goin’ Down South’ appeared on his 1970 ‘San Francisco’ album, one of many he recorded in partnership with the great tenor saxophonist Harold Land (who had played alongside trumpeter Clifford Brown in his classic groups). The tune features Hutcherson working on both vibes and marimba. He cooks up a very tasty groove indeed.
Cal Tjader was known primarily as a master of Latin jazz styles, but found time to work in a soulful style as well. He was one of the co-founders of the Skye Label (alongside Gabor Szabo and Gary McFarland) in the late 60s. His cover of Bobbie Gentry’s ‘Ode to Billie Joe’ appeared on his 1968 LP ‘Solar Heat’.
Bay area vibist Ulysses Crockett doesn’t have an expansive discography, but what he did lay down on vinyl is certainly worth hearing. His version of Donovan’s ‘Sunshine Superman’ appeared on the flipside of ‘Major Funky’.
Gary Burton was another one of the great vibists of the 1960s, recording with George Shearing and Stan Getz, but also stretching out into the realm of the avant garde with the likes of Carla Bley. ‘Leroy the Magician’ – complete with breakbeat by Bernard Purdie – appeared on Burton’s 1969 Atlantic LP ‘Good Vibes’.
Milt Jackson was, along with Lionel Hampton the preeminent practitioner of the vibes in the bop era. He was a cofounder of the Modern Jazz Quartet, and appeared on Thelonious Monk’s seminal Blue Note sessions. Like so many of his contemporaries, he took a soulful turn in the 60s and 70s. His version of the Stylistics ‘People Make the World Go Round’ appeared on his 1972 ‘Sunflower’ LP.
Bobby Christian was a versatile instrumentalist who’s career stretches back into the 1930s. He recorded a number of albums as a leader (sought after by exotica/now sound fans) and also worked extensively as a sideman, appearing on a number of Cadet sessions, including albums with the Soulful Strings. He was nearing 60 when he recorded ‘Mooganga’ for his 1970 Ovation LP ‘Vibe-rations’.
Johnny Lytle is known to soul jazz fans for his classic ‘The Village Caller’ and his excellent work for Detroit’s Tuba label in the 1960s. ‘Above the Clouds’, from his 1969 Solid State LP ‘Be Proud’ features Lytle working it out on vibes and xylophone.
Lionel Hampton returns with his funky take on the Buddy Miles classic ‘Them Changes’.
Freddie McCoy’s 1968 ‘Beans’n’Green’ is cut from the same pattern as ‘Peas and Rice’ (aside from the obvious soul food connotations) with an in-studio ‘live’ vibe, handclaps, soul partiers and the lot. The two tracks sound as if they were recorded in the same session, but there was actually five months between the two sessions.
Billy Wooten is known to the crate digger set for his rare and highly sought after LPs with the Wooden Glass and the Nineteenth Whole. He was also a busy sideman, working on a couple of the funkier Grant Green sessions, and with the Soulful Strings. The cut included here, ‘One Night Affair’ appeared on the ‘Soulful Strings Play Gamble Huff’ and includes Wooten with an extended marimba solo.
The closing track in the edition of Funky16Corners Radio is one of the all-time soul jazz/dancefloor vibes classics, Cal Tjader with the legendary ‘Soul Sauce’. Tjader was a masterful player, and manages to really work it out n the vibes while pushing the band to its limits.
As always, I hope you dig the mix, and I’ll be back later in the week with something cool.
*Special thanks go out to Mike Karlos of Radio 95X production for putting together that snappy drop you hear midway into the mix.
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