Tag Archives: composers

JAZZ ELEPHANTS STAMPEDE!


Jazz Elephants Stampede in Temecula,California 

One of the reasons I love covering jazz artists and groups that last long enough to see growth as a group , not just the individuals. I’ve worked with Don Littleton as a spoken word artist, MC and Promoter.. This group is a can’t miss act.. Right out the gate, Elephants nda Park dug into a Monk classic ,Bye-Ya.. A 32 bar ditty with added afro cuban Clave. Powerful playing by full band, but Pianist Mahesh Balysooria, demonstrated why he is becoming a first call jazz musician in Los Angeles..Mahesh is a USC music major alum and a busy pianist around town.

Great foundation laid-out by Mahesh on piano.. He then busted into,IMHO, a cross between McCoy Tyner and Omar Sosa intense solo, followed by drums and congas trading fours before returning back to the melody. A most improbable tune I didn’t see coming was, Giant Steps by John Coltrane, into massive bullet-trains of ideas moving through those Coltrane “changes” on saxophone by Pablo Cologero, Don’s right hand man in arrangements and directions for the band musically. 

Another great tune the band tackled was a doozy by George Coleman, Amsterdam After Dark. 

This ditty works its way around a great bassline and simple melody, but the Clave took over and had the electric audience up and on their feet. They were warned in the beginning that a stampede or house on Fire might come over the evening’s activity.  This band has started to raise a lot of eyebrows in So. Cal region and is open to going on the road to showcase this great group of musicians. The Bandleader , Don Littleton , a jazz veteran on percussion and traps. He was mentored by Billy Higgins, played with George Coleman, Hank Crawford and a who’s who in music, jazz in particular. 

Don dropped his latest group recording last year, Don Littleton and Elephants Nda Park ( see CD baby or your favorite download database under Don Littleton & Elephants Nda Park)     https://youtu.be/e5tfvno-29k 

Jazz lovers in Temecula  California , have been enjoying great straight ahead jazz at the Merc for the last 12 + years, hosted and curated by Ms. Sherry Williams, Vocalist/jazz presenter.  Everybody  loves to see her smiling face in the house, because you know it’s going to be great.

Sherry and her winning personality and smile, as she goes about the business of curating some of the best musicians jazz has to offer locally. The Merc has Jazz every Thursday evening @7:30pm ..for the rest of 2021. KEY concerts: Sept. 16th. Benn Clatworthy quartet.. Sept 23rd. “SOLD OUT” Al Williams for more info go to The Merc’s Website http://www.temeculatheater.org 866-653-8696

OLD SCHOOL R&B LOVEFEST: EVENT IN SEARCH OF AN AUDIENCE


https://www.switchentertainmentworld.com/gallery

 Red Marine Entertainment Presents the OLD SCHOOL R&B LOVE FEST
SWITCH , SURFACE , GAP REVIEW  BALL HOOKER. (opening act..)
Real Old School Show: In Search of an audience.. I have been around or involved with the entertainment field for well over 50 years,music in particular. I know a good show when I hear or see one by individuals who really know what to to do with a chord or note. I was pleasantly surprised a few evenings ago as I sort of bumped into a great show. Just helping out my sister as a vendor at the California Education & Performing Arts Center in Ontario California,  11255 Central Avenue. Ontario,Calif.
RED Marine Entertainment recently presented an Old School R&B Lovefest… an evening of solid entertainment by classic Old School groups, Switch , Surface, The Gap Review(Tribute Band) along with opening act Kimball Hooker, male vocalist with some chops.. tagging and paying homage to artists like Keith Sweat.
DYNAMICALLY hosted by LA’s very own, ANGEL BABY – DJ Radio Host.
when you’re a vendor at these productions, you have to arrive early to load-in and get setup . get out of the way of artists moving in equipment, doing sound checks for next two hours. While I had lots of time on my hand, it also gave me an opportunity to move around , be curious as a journalist, as to who and what and why.
I chatted it up with some members of the various bands, production crews and VIP guests , who also arrived early for publicity pictures, video interviews and miscellaneous activities one does before show begins.
At first when my sister told me an old school show, my head automatically thought some mediocre wanna-bees. NOT!!
Listening to sound check of the various groups and singers/musicians, I quickly got a sense of “Oh Wow”, I just wish I had known about this show in advance.  I have my own opinions about that, but, leaving that to the side . Looking inside the cavernous hall with so many empty seats once the show began, I was shocked. Its like you and your lady or gent are all dressed up but no where to go. You just focused on how you looked and not how you were going to get there.
During the early to mid-’70s, Bobby DeBarge, Eddie Fluellen, Phillip Ingram (brother of James Ingram), Jody Sims, and Gregory Williams were in the Ohio-based White Heat, which subsequently morphed into Hot-Ice, an outfit that featured DeBarge, Sims, and Williams, as well as DeBarge’s brother Tommy. That band released an album on Polydor in 1977. Shortly thereafter, Jermaine Jackson helped them secure a contract with Motown offshoot Gordy. All of of this after a very awkward meeting in the Motown building in Hollywood.

As Switch, the band proved to be popular in clubs, as well as within the quiet storm radio format. Their singles There’ll Never Be” (1978), “I Call Your Name” (1979), and “Love Over and Over Again” (1981) reached the Top 10 of Billboard’s R&B chart. Throughout the 2000s, the band’s recordings were sampled by the likes of De La Soul (“A Brighter Tomorrow”), Ne-Yo (“It Just Ain’t Right”), Rich Boy (“Throw Some D’s”), and Erykah Badu (“That Hump”). Ingram, Williams, and Fluellen reunited, added new members, and have been bringing down the house ever since!

The Gap Band Review pays homage to The Gap Band, which is one of the most popular funk groups of the late ’70s, ‘80s to present time.  15 Top Ten R&B singles ranging from ferocious funk anthems to gorgeous slow jams. Many of their hits, such as “Burn Rubber (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)” and “You Dropped a Bomb on Me,” featured instantly memorable, rippling synthesizer bass-lines.

The Gap Band’s  run of hits spanned nearly 20 years, from 1977 through 1995. Their hits continued with “Shake”, “Open Up Your Mind”, “Don’t Stop the Music”, “Yearning for Your Love”, “Early in the Morning”, “Outstanding”, the title song to Keenan Ivory Wayans’ “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka” and more!

I wanted to catch the SURFACE show but was too busy by the time they were onstage. the little I did hear, was simply off the charts.. They performed without a band just DAT and  Flute with strong vocals.. my cut Get Closer ..The ’80s soft soul vocal trio known for such lush ballads as “Closer Than Friends” and the million-selling singles “Shower Me With Your Love” and the number one pop hit “The First Time” had one of its first charting records as artists signed to dance music pioneer Salsoul Records. “Falling in Love,” co-written by Surface member David Conley, doesn’t have much in common with the aforementioned titles other than the group name and a (presumably) Conley flute solo. The single made it to number 84 R&B in summer 1983 and the U.K. pop charts. Singer Bernard Jackson who grew up in Stamford, CT, got into the music business through his cousin who lived in New York.
Seizing the opportunity, he relocated to New York and began performing around the city. While doing a show in Stamford, his godfather suggested that he contact his nephew David Townsend who was also in the music business. Townsend, a former touring guitarist for the Isley Brothers, was the son of singer/songwriter/producer Ed Townsend who had a hit with “For Your Love” in summer 1958 and wrote the Impressions‘ “Finally Got Myself Together (I’m a Changed Man)” and co-wrote Marvin Gaye‘s “Let’s Get It On.” Around 1973, Townsend joined a band called the Port Authority where he met David “Pic” Conley. Townsend, whose father shared hit songwriting tips with him, began writing songs with Conley. After Townsend and Conley met Jackson it was decided that they’d write songs together. The trio became staff writers for EMI Music. Their songs were covered by New Edition (“Let’s Be Friends” from their 1985 MCA LP All for Love) and Sister Sledge (“You’re So Fine”). The trio became performers using the name Surface and moved to Los Angeles. An EMI Music executive brought one of their songs, “Let’s Try Again,” to the attention of Larkin Arnold of Columbia Records. Arnold‘s previous successes include Natalie Cole and Peabo Bryson. He signed the group to Columbia and their first single “Let’s Try Again” charted number 80 R&B in late 1986.
The debut album Surface included the smooth and sweet “Happy,” which hit number two R&B for two weeks in early 1987, “Lately” (number eight R&B), and the reissued “Let’s Try Again.” The next LP, 2nd Wave yielded “I Missed” (number three R&B), “Closer Than Friends” (number one R&B for two weeks in early 1989), the wedding standard “Shower Me With Your Love” (gold, number one R&B/number five pop), “You Are My Everything” (number one R&B for two weeks), and “Can We Spend Some Time” (number five R&B). Jackson brought the sheet music to a song he had written in 1986 to his friend, songwriter Brian Simpson, who had a recording studio in his garage. After listening to the finished demo tape, Jackson thought that he had a hit. Hiring a mobile 24-track recording studio truck to capture his vocal in the best professional conditions, Jackson sang “The First Time” in Simpson‘s house. “The First Time” was the first single from Surface’s 3 Deep album and went gold hitting number one R&B and holding the number one pop for two weeks in early 1991. While “The First Time” was topping the charts, Surface was one of the presenters at the American Music Awards and were enthusiastically congratulated. The hits continued with “All I Want Is You” (number eight R&B, early 1991) and “Never Gonna Let You Down.” “You’re the One” billed as Surface featuring Bernard Jackson made it to number 24 R&B, summer 1991. The group’s last charting single was “A Nice Time for Lovin'” included on their 1991 greatest hits LP The Best Surface: A Nice Time for Loving. Conley and Townsend also produced sides on Rebbie Jackson (“Reaction”) that are on The Rebbie Jackson Collection from U.K. label Expansion distributed by Sony/3MV. 

SAXOPHONIST TEODROSS AVERY QUARTET EXPLORES MONK & COLTRANE


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a recently held concert on the campus of my Alma Mater, California State University Dominguez Hills, Dr. Teodross Avery addressed a SRO audience on the rare compositions of Jazz icons John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk.  Avery , a professor of music at the university, curated an eclectic list of compositions by the two masters. Several of the tunes , rarely played on bandstands today, offered as proof of the complexity and challenges of playing compositions by Monk or Trane. a couple of favorites of mine were presented in their full, regal splendor, Trinkle Tinkle by Monk and The Promise by Coltrane.

As a musician, Dr. Teodross Avery stands as one who defines live music—best experienced in front row, and full throttle. His commanding presence, on stage and off, reflects his musical ingenuity and skill. With an outstanding pedigree, both professionally and academically, Teodross is a saxophonist to watch, as evidenced by many of today’s biggest names in music relying on his wide musical reach.

While growing up in Oakland and Vacaville, California, Teodross’ parents exposed him to a wide range of music including traditional Eastern and Western African music, Soul, Rock, and Jazz.  Dr. Avery put together a very solid jazz unit for the Thursday night crowd at the school.

In the band with Teodross was, veteran bassist, Henry “Skipper” Franklin, former drummer for Jay Leno’s TV show, Marvin “Smitty” Smith, journeyman pianist, Theo Saunders. Saunders was on fire on several tunes by Monk.    (https://www.teodrossavery.com) the rare composition “The Promise” was opened with a Franklin pizzicato solo for a great introduction to this spiritual composition.

 

 

 

https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipNYy0Lnml3w_fJ7ngHkXSRNrucUZg5r3r07GKub

 

 

 

ARETHA FRANKLIN QUEEN OF SOUL ~ THE END OF AN ERA ~1942 – 2018


 

As a baby boomer, I grew up 1950s-60s, being only 8 years behind Aretha. I was digging on all that good music from those people my parents liked, James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Brook Benton, Dinah Washington, BB King, Bobby Blue Bland, Lloyd Price. Then the Motown thing hit L.A. starting with a group from Detroit named the Miracles (Shop Around 1960).

but, I also begun to get into jazz as I got older and started playing an instrument. From early 1961 to 1963, this Motown sound was picking up steam and other entertainers from Detroit, Chicago and New York were spawning new and younger acts. A couple more years passed with no acts “jumping out” there like Motown was producing at the time. Hits from Mary Wells, The Marvelettes and The Temptations really shot out there with My Girl (1964), that was followed by the Supremes and Martha & the Vandellas, “Dancing in the Streets” & “Heat Wave”. This was the phenoms from Motown that was eating up all the airwaves on the radio back then.  But, by 1966, other “Acts” started to come into sharp focus.

The Impressions, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and even Soul Brother #1, James Brown was sounding different. One evening, I was watching a local TV dance show, and this young spunky, bouncy  singer came on with this big bellowing voice.. WoW!! Who is that?? I never heard again from her until 1967, when she came on the radio with “Respect”… Man-o-Man!  I immediately recognized that voice from only a year past , this was different. She sounded like she was speaking truth, had pain from her experiences and I was relating big time.

Before  I could get to school that morning,  I heard that song about 5 times in less than an hour, by 3:pm  after school, it was all over the radio. It was on the lips of older and young people..R_E_S_P_E_C_T, Take care , TCB!! It was on like popcorn then . Her song made it to #1 in the US in 1967. This song charted to number 2 in Canada, number 10 in the UK, number 11 in the Netherlands, and number 15 in Australia. This was the beginning of a musical legend. As far as I was concern , and many of my peers agreed with me, she was as big as James Brown.. Finally we had a Queen of soul go with the King of Soul ,JB. The consistency and relentless  energy and ability to take you to church whether you wanted to go or not.

She had all that stuff inside her playing and singing you would hear in Church coming up in the black community. She had that extra gear. Her signature “hollers” was like saying “Amen to what she was putting down on the record”. That even transferred over to her live shows on TV’s Ed Sullivan, Merv Griffith and the Johnny Carson shows.

Rolling like a runaway train with hit after hit, leaving high water marks everywhere she appeared…as part of the black political and social experience, we adopted Aretha’s phrases from her songs, TCB, RESPECT, a Do Right Woman or Man. 1968 rolled into place with a plethora of hits like Dr. Feel Good, Think, Chain of Fools, and Ain’t No Way. Included in that was a song she sung at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral.

I know I will never forget about Aretha Franklin. I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that, she will never grace a stage on earth again. I feel like I’m the lucky one, because I saw the Queen “blow-away” all comers, top shelf entertainers and anybody, male or female from that perch multiple times, over decades. 40+ Grammy nominations with 18 Awards in her quiver. Masterful achievements.

As I get ready for my 50th high School reunion, I know we will be playing lots of Ree-Ree from her debut hit, “RESPECT” to her last recordings unreleased yet. There are only a handful of miracles, not the Motown kind, but could include them also on another level. But, artists like Billie Holiday, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder..well there’s your handful. ha ha ha!! The mold was broken and never again will there be another.  Good bye Queen, I salute you with my favorite “Retha” cut…ENJOY! 

JOSE RIZO’S MONGORAMA LATIN JAZZ ORCHESTRA~ BAILA QUE BAILA!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Latin Jazz in the Park, Saturday  August 11 was headlined by Jose Rizo’s Latin Band, “MONGORAMA

Pots and Pans were being “cooked-on” and at a high temperature in my opinion. The mood was set just right as the Weather was low 80’s degrees. Sponsored by LACMA Programs  and KKJZ FM 88.1FM. I have seen this wonderful band many times over the years, in various city-wide festivals. But somehow this particular day was special. I was still celebrating my birthday from August 7th which fell on a Tuesday. I was ready with my light snacks and beverages . Jose Rizo hosted the afternoon sets by introducing the band and tunes that were being played , most of which were from the new CD , Baila Que Baila!  Featuring young violinist, Dayren Santamaria, and Justo Almario tenor sax  Vocalists & Conguero Alfredo Ortiz & James Zavaleta lead vocalist.. They were the jet fuel of this band for two hours of Latin soul and pyrotechnics.  the X factor all afternoon were the dancers who were relentless, never stopped, never gave in an inch . as long as the band played , dancers had A-game moves on the dance floor. At one time the floor was so pack , They just started dances in aisles and pathways. Beautiful people of Southern California (Los Angeles) were out in droves with babies, Pets and, even the eclectic and bazaar! All of this added up to a wonderful day of fun and eye candy.

Dayren Santamaria on Violin with Christopher sitting in with band

Jose Rizo’s Mongorama 

Justo Almario

Vocalists James Zavaleta & Band Leader Jose Rizo

 

 

 

photos taken from Jose Rizo’s MongoRama Page-  https://www.facebook.com/JOSE-RIZOS-MONGORAMA-122415531112929/

 

 

 

JAZZ THEMED-PAINTER SAM PACE TALKS HIGH MODES , WET STREETS & DARK SHADOWS


Journalist,Actor/Poet, Robert J. Carmack  sits down for a chat with the powerful Jazz painter, SAM PACE.

COMING IN AUGUST 2018 @ Hipster Sanctuary… 

SUN RA- “Space is the Place”

 

“Fiddler Blue” Not the official title, Just what I call it” -RJ Carmack

MONK- Well You needn’t”- not artist title my name..Lol!

 

 

TWO HIPSTERS CELEBRATING BIRTHDAYS IN AUGUST~ ROBERT J. CARMACK & EDDIE CARTER


Robert J. Carmack ~ August 7th  Editor in Chief & Founder

Our Newest Contributing Southern Region  Jazz Editor Mr. Eddie Carter of Atlanta August 4th  

 

 

CHARLES OWENS QUINTET! LIVE AT THE MERC!


The Charles Owens Quintet Live at The “MERC! “~ Temecula California.

In a recent concert in Temecula, California at the famous “Merc” performance venue, veteran Jazz artist and saxophonist, Charles Owens appeared with his Quintet.

Owens, a Los Angeles based musician performed two very stellar sets for a jazz hungry audience. Being familiar with that music space,  I was able to get there early before the first set to grab a quick chat with the quite humble saxophonist. He shared with me many anecdotes and road stories along with who played a major role in influencing his play,style and approach. “As far as influences, Charlie Yardbird Parker and Wardell Gray for sax. The Modern Jazz Quartet and Art Blakey Jazz messengers in how I approach the music as a player or bandleader.” said a relaxed Owens. “But, I enjoy leading my own bands,however, I really loved my experiences playing with two iconic big bands. Duke Ellington’s Orchestra under the direction of his son, Mercer Ellington and the great Count Basie band.”  

This particular evening’s affair was very special to him as he’s performing with some old friends and solid jazz musicians. On the bandstand with Charlie were bassist, Henry Franklin,friends for over 40 years, Pianist Theo Saunders,whom he met in L.A. in 1977, veteran drummer Don Littleton, over 30 year relationship and his old bandmate from the Basie band, trumpeter Scotty Barnhardt, current Director of the Count Basie Orchestra.  

The SRO crowd were treated to a plethora of popular compositions, all performed with Charles Owens unique touch. First set opened with a Owens original entitled Wild Fire , a fiery piece with a great melodic line and solid enriched harmonies. Charlie and Scotty took some blistering solos, especially Barnhardt who weaved webs of delightful, above the line flurries of notes on his custom built trumpet. That was followed up by a lovely version of the perennial fave, Embraceable You. Barnhardt offered great artistry and sublime technique on this classic ballad. The Quintet quickly moved on the moment by playing a Sonny Rollins tune, Airegin (Nigeria spelled backwards) In my opinion, Scotty conjured up memories of icon, Woody Shaw as he peppered a white-hot solo. That song’s conclusion morphed into Ellington’s Take the A-Train! which ended the first set.

Highlights of the second set included equally great compositions by legends like Freddie Hubbard, Billy Strayhorn,Dizzy Gillespie with a surprise finale of the rarely heard cut, Don’t Get Around Much Anymore. This was quite the treat for me and the audience as Barnhardt reached into his magic bag of techniques and growled at the audience with his “Plunger” mute and choked notes..

Charlie Owens reputation as one of the most gifted and versatile musician in Los Angeles since 1972. Part of the attention had  to do with his craftsmanship with drummer Buddy Rich Big Band and latin great, Mongo Santamaria. In addition he added stints with English Blues King , John Mayall . Owens told me he was whisked-away from Mayall by music iconoclast, Frank Zappa.  Whether he’s asked to appear in a Oscar-winning film LA LA Land or staying fresh and current by working with young musicians on various bandstands, or teaching a weekly class at UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music. “During the break of the second set, he told me the reason he chose Frank Zappa. “I found Frank’s music more challenging than Mayall’s,.. I could have easily made more dough, but the challenge was calling me, as Zappa’s music was unique and quite eclectic.

Charles Owens was born in Phoenix, Arizona, grew up in San Diego California. One of his closest friends growing up was ,the late saxophonist Arthur Blythe or AKA, Black Arthur.”

Throughout the course of the evening’s performances I witnessed what most people always conclude, this is a very passionate player and humble almost to a fault. at one point in the second set, Owens and Barnhardt engaged in old-fashioned BeBop playing, to a song by Dizzy entitled the same, BeBop. the tune showcases long arpeggios and multi-note phrasing on top of mercurial-chord changes, played at break-neck speed by the entire band. At times, the rhythm unit of Franklin, Littleton and Saunders were like a giant bellows machine, stoking the coals to unheard of Fahrenheit-levels to the soloists.

Today’s young players can learn a lot from Uncle Charlie Owens. Even saxophone sensation, Kamasi Washington took a class or two at UCLA with Charles while eventually tweaking his already big sound and approach on his horn.  Whether you experience Charles Owens in a Big Band setting or a small combo, one thing for sure is, You will never forget that moment in time.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/P3q81hJckFjAop648

HIPSTER SANCTUARY NEW JAZZ EDITOR EDDIE CARTER & JAZZTRACKS SERIES


eddie Carter Jazz archivist 2018

Our Newest Contributing Jazz Editor Mr. Eddie Carter of Atlanta..FOLLOW the JAZZTRACKS

Words from Publisher/Founder Robert J. Carmack

“welcome aboard Eddie its good to have your wise advice and keen knowledge when it comes to jazz.” R.J. Carmack

 

Jazztracks Logo by eddie Carter

Eddie Carter – Southern Region – Jazz Editor ~ Eddie’s love for jazz began at the age of eight years old and learned all he could about the bands, groups, musicians and vocalists who created the music.  He began writing reviews of CD’s and LP’s in 1991 for The Atlanta Audio Society and covered concerts including The Tri-C Jazz Fest, The Cincinnati Music Festival and The Atlanta Jazz Festival for WCLK’s On the Air Magazine and Strictly Jazz Magazine.  He currently writes jazz reviews for The Atlanta Audio Club web page and three Facebook pages.

The Jazz Crusaders – Lighthouse ‘68

By Eddie Carter  

My choice from the library to talk about this time is by four friends from Houston, Texas who began performing locally in 1956.  They were originally known as The Swingsters and The Nite Hawks, but moved to Los Angeles in 1961, changed their name and became one of the best West Coast ensembles of the sixties, The Jazz Crusaders.  I first discovered their music in 1962, the year I became a jazz fan thanks to one of my heroes on the airwaves, Chuck Lansing of WCUY 92.3 FM.  He began his nightly show with The Young Rabbits, the last track on their second LP, Lookin’ Ahead (PJ-43/ST-43), also released that year.  The song became a huge hit for the group and I loved the sound of the trombone-tenor sax front line.  The quartet consists of Wayne Henderson on trombone; Wilton Felder on tenor sax; Joe Sample on piano; Stix Hooper on drums with Jimmy Bond, Victor Gaskin, and Herbie Lewis filling the bass chair on their records during the decade.  Lighthouse ’68 (ST-10131) documents the group performing live at one of the premiere West Coast clubs, The Lighthouse Café, in business since 1949 and now a multi-genre venue which features jazz twice weekly.  The bassist joining the quartet on this date is Buster Williams and my copy used in this report is the original 1968 US Stereo release.

The set opens with Oogo-Boo-Ga-Loo, an infectiously danceable audience grabber by Stix Hooper which begins with a lovely introduction by the trio, then blossoms into a sanctified styled theme treatment.  Wilton goes to work first with a soulfully flavored, funky performance that calls to mind the sound of tenor man Willis Jackson and will have you tapping your toes and wanting to get up and dance.  Joe takes over for a brief performance of irresistibly appealing phrases on the closer, leading to the theme’s reprise and audience’s appreciative applause.  Eleanor Rigby by John Lennon and Paul McCartney is one of The Beatles most famous and recorded compositions.  The quintet’s rendition does the song proud with a mid-tempo version which begins with them exploring the melody collectively.  Sample is the song’s only soloist and he gives an extended performance of dazzling melodic lines which are consistently creative and exquisitely presented.

The tempo moves up for Native Dancer, the first of two contributions by Buster Williams which gets off to a roaring start with a nimble melody presentation.  The aggressive opening statement by Joe moves swiftly through each verse like a musical twister, then comes Wayne who makes his first solo appearance next with a jubilant spirit during his performance which is remarkable.  Wilton steps into the spotlight next for a swinging reading of limitless energy.  Buster takes over for the finale with a delightful interpretation that is a model of spontaneous construction, showing off his agility as an improviser and extraordinary inspiration as a composer effectively.  Sample’s Never Had It So Good starts the second side with an easy spirited beat that leads us back to church with a bit of boogaloo in the imaginative display of harmony during the group’s opening melody.  The solo order is Felder, Henderson and Sample, and each man preaches their part of this sermon weaving a series of rhythmic ideas which swing comfortably to the delight of their extended congregation, the Lighthouse audience.

The Emperor, also by Williams takes us back to straightforward bop with the solos in the same order as the previous tune.  Wilton starts the soloing with a passionately personal opening statement with each phrase beautifully articulated as he weaves gracefully in unison with the stunning foundation provided by Joe, Buster and Stix.  Wayne sustains the relaxing beat with an attractive reading possessing a great amount of warmth and excitement.  Joe makes a succinct statement with a full-bodied interpretation of finesse which is skillfully performed.  Buster eases into the final interpretation with a performance as mild as a smooth sherry and a sound that goes straight to the heart.  The album ends with John Coltrane’s Impressions, taken at breakneck speed with an invigorating introduction by the trio and theme statement led by the horns.  Henderson takes off first with a jet-propelled interpretation followed by Felder who infuses the second solo with searing fire for an energetic workout.  Sample comes next with an exhilarating performance of fierce intensity and Stix exchanges a few clever comments with both horns prior to the effervescent ending.

Three years after this album was recorded the quintet would shorten its name to The Crusaders, moving towards Jazz-Fusion, Jazz-Funk and Smooth Jazz.  Their biggest hit would come four years after Henderson left the group to become a record producer in 1979 with Street Life (MCA Records MCA 3094) featuring Soul vocalist Randy Crawford.  The remaining members would stay together until 1983 when Hooper left to pursue a solo career.  In 1991, the surviving members Sample and Felder released what would be their final album as The Crusaders, Healing The Wounds (MCA Records 09638 – GRP 9638).  In 1995, Wayne Henderson revived The Jazz Crusaders name for a CD-album, Happy Again (Sin-Drome Records SD 8909).  Henderson who suffered from diabetes, passed away from heart failure on April 5, 2014 at age seventy-four.  Joe Sample passed away five months later on September 12, 2014 from Mesothelioma and Wilton Felder passed away one year later on September 27, 2015 from Multiple myeloma, both were seventy-five years old.  Stix Hooper and flutist Hubert Laws who (I didn’t know was a founding member) left the group in 1960 to attend The Juilliard School of Music are the only surviving members of the original group.

Dino Lappas, the engineer on Lighthouse ’68 has also worked on their second live album, Live at The Lighthouse ’66 (PJ-10098/ST-20098); their fourth and final live album, Lighthouse ’69 (World Pacific Jazz – Pacific Jazz ST-20165); The Three Sounds Live at The Lighthouse (BLP 4265/BST 84265) a year earlier in 1967 and also in 1972 on Elvin Jones Live at The Lighthouse (BN-LA015-G) and Grant Green Live at The Lighthouse (BN-LA037-G2) on Blue Note.  The sound quality is splendid throughout with plenty of clarity across the frequency band of treble, midrange and bass.  This is particularly noticeable with a good set of headphones; the benefit is the richness and detail of each instrument and specifically Buster Williams’ bass which is outstanding.  If you only know of this talented group of musicians from their records as The Crusaders, I invite you to audition Lighthouse ’68 during your next vinyl hunt for a spot in your jazz library.  The album will transport you back in time to that intimate Hermosa Beach venue, The Lighthouse Café to hear The Jazz Crusaders at the top of their game playing some of the best Hard-Bop and Post-Bop you’ll hear!  The last vinyl pressing of Lighthouse ’68 (APBL-2312) was issued by Applause Records in 1982 and is out of print.  The CD-album released in 2004 by Pacific Jazz Records adds four additional tracks to the LP track listing, Cathy The Cooker by Wayne Henderson; Shadows by Buster Williams, Tough Talk by Stix Hooper, Joe Sample and Wayne Henderson, and Third Principle by Wilton Felder, and is to my knowledge out of print as well!

Cathy The Cooker, Happy Again, Healing The Wounds, Elvin Jones at The Lighthouse, Grant Green at The Lighthouse, Dino Lappas, Live at The Lighthouse ’66, Lighthouse ’69, Shadows, Street Life, Third Principle, Tough Talk – Source: Discogs.com

Jimmy Bond, Randy Crawford, Wilton Felder, Victor Gaskin, Wayne Henderson, Stix Hooper, Hubert Laws, Herbie Lewis, The Julliard School of Music, Joe Sample

© 2018 by Edward Thomas Carter

 

LIGHTHOUSE 68″ ~ JAZZ CRUSADERS LIVE ! CELEBRATING 50 YEARS…STILL FUNKY FRESH


posted by Robert J. Carmack

The Lighthouse Café is a nightclub located at 30 Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach, California. It has been active as a jazz showcase since 1949 and, under the name “The Lighthouse”, was one of the central West Coast jazz clubs from the 1950s through the late 1970s. Purely talking Jazz years, It has been a long time, since I personally use to frequent these digs as a very young budding saxophonist growing up in the early 1960s Los Angeles. Listening to two jazz stalwarts on the radio at the time in KBCA FM 105.1 & the KNOB “JAZZ KNOB” out of Long Beach. hipster Jocks ruled the radio waves back then LA. Tommy Bee, Jammin’ Jai Rich, Rick Holmes, Chuck Niles, Les Carter, Tollie Strode with “Slow traffic to the right” , “while travelin’ in my Electro-Magnetic Bag.”

AllMusic rated the album with 4 stars noting: “Feel is what dictates the material and its execution on this set, without unnecessary attention paid to crowd or recording apparatus. This is one the most intimate jazz shows captured on tape during the 1960s. It gives record buyers the sound of a band in full possession of their considerable capabilities, celebrating them in a relaxed environment, playing their own brand of grooved-out ’60s jazz”.  I actually had the opportunity to catch this very lively and “Funky as it wanted to be band” ,to borrow a catch-phrase from the era describing the feel and sound of the times. Borrowing heavily from the fresh pop culture and songs the crusaders were able to marry the hard bop edginess and the approachable groove-based chart-topping style. Jazz Crusaders were starting to dominate the west coast appeal and the young fans like myself. I was all of 17 in the fall of 1967, when this was recorded, but released in early 1968.

The best part about growing up in the early 60s and loving live jazz , You could actually go see who was playing the music you heard on radio. Because of the policy for “under -21” fans who obeyed the rules and “maintained their cool” under the fire of the electrifying bands that appeared at the beach venue.. IMHO, You might as well considered the Crusaders the House band, they appeared hundreds of times over the years, but recorded almost all of their most classic of all records with that great Lighthouse crowd over the microphones too. All of which gave it that “Flavor” like a great Gumbo meal. I would be here all day trying review all the great music from the pen or horns of Jazz crusaders, starting in 1962 , one could catch the very best in music, bar none, and be on the “hippest scene” while doing it at the Lighthouse.

I invite you to pick up a copy of this great album or whatever choice of media format is today vinyl, CD or downloads. GET IT!!

Join me ,along with some very special musicians in Los Angeles June 22 Friday night at 9pm as we turn back the clock 50 years and perform the best of the jazz crusaders: the early years up to late 70s. I have culled simply the best compositions and recordings for the featured band Crusader Legacy 5 Plus.. hand-picked stellar musicians for this event at the World Stage Performance Gallery  4321 Degnan Blvd. L.A. California 90008 – $25

Go online at http://www.eventbrite.com under title of Street Life: The Magic and Music of the Jazz Crusaders  ….

Track listing

  1. “Ooga-Boo-Ga-Loo” (Stix Hooper) – 6:39
  2. Eleanor Rigby” (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) – 7:32
  3. “Native Dancer” (Buster Williams) – 8:52
  4. “Never Had It So Good” (Joe Sample) – 7:15
  5. “The Emperor” (Williams) – 8:50
  6. Impressions” (John Coltrane) – 6:12
  7. “Cathy the Cooker” (Wayne Henderson) – 6:22 Bonus track on CD reissue
  8. “Shadows” (Williams) – 4:03 Bonus track on CD reissue
  9. “Tough Talk” (Henderson, Hooper, Sample) – 8:01 Bonus track on CD reissue
  10. “Third Principle” (Wilton Felder) – 8:45 Bonus track on CD reissue

Personnel