SOUTH AFRICAN MUSICIAN HUGH MASAKELA JOINS THE ANCESTORS-RIP 1939-2018


posted by Robert J. Carmack

It seems that a bevy of greats have left the stage and building since January of 2017. I realize that’s just life as we know it. Nothing to say about it case closed. However, I did not want to allow the sudden death of a great man and musician go by without saying anything about it. First, my exposure to Hugh Masakela goes back beyond 50 years(1966). I lived in Los Angeles and was studying music in high school and two off campus jazz bands  too. Soon summer 1966 arrived and I was quite anxious because, word had it, the very first WATTS FESTIVAL was coming to reality.  Heavy announcements of Music, Art and Pageantry to replace all the violence and melee that happened only one year prior.

The opening act was this new guy we had been hearing about from Africa that was making a lot of noise in New York.

Hugh Masakela was the Kick-off concert at Jordan High school gym that launched the 1966 Watts Festival & Cultural events. I can remember like yesterday as me and a group of guys who loved jazz, was quite excited about the possibilities and the fact it would be my first time seeing anyone from Africa that was not a cliché of Hollywood racists attitudes about portraying ,anyone from the motherland. That night was very special in more ways than the obvious. I was 16 and thought I was a grown man…the other was coming from a sociopolitical viewpoint. Black people were making a transition from being negro or colored people to Black people or Afro-American (first popped up as a description of black people at this time). Anyway, back to the music, Hugh was every bit an image and role model for us young men. he had a very interesting hair-style  or “Natural”, wore full African regalia, including “NO Shoes” as he went through the recently released album cuts of 1966 “The Americanization of Ooga-Booga.” Which I know now, was a title given and sanctioned by the marketing department at the record company. I assure you, mine and most of us were concentrating on the musical style of his trumpet playing and the rhythms being crafted by the unit led by Hugh. Larry Willis on piano, Henry Jenkins on Drums, Henry Franklin on Bass and Percussionist Big Black pounding out the beats on African drums and Congas.

Hugh was a master of blending the American style of jazz bop and blues idioms juxtaposition with African Rhythms. The eclectic mix of originals showcased his masterful composing skills . He introduced a whole generation of black folks and others to “South-Africanized” jazz. which was quite different in what we had heard by Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakeley or Randy Weston and their  interpretations. He was bringing it “Straight with No Chaser”.

Some of the highlights of the evening’s performances was a composition by Herbie Hancock, Cantaloupe Island. Two other originals jumped out at the crowd which spawn several standing ovations when they ended.. Hale Se Di Li  Kanna(the Dowry song) and Bajabula Bonke (the Healing Song).

The influence of Dizzy Gillespie and Freddie Hubbard can be heard, along with McCoy Tyner in the playing of pianist Larry Willis, and he shows his debt to John Coltrane as an inspiration on “Mixolydia” as well as his affinity for Brazilian music on “Mas Que Nada.” But the core sound was what Masekela called “township bop” — his short trumpet bursts, sometimes seemingly approaching micro-tonal territory, are engrossing celebrations of the melodies of his repertory, which is mostly of South African origin. The buzz after the concert was so loud  and the cultural wave became a Tsunami of positive vibes for brother Hugh as he was affectionately called after that night.

 

 

 

 

By the fall ,I was still hearing rumblings about that summer concert.. only to find out that the very same group was scheduled to perform at our school sometime before the Christmas break. Man! what a blessing! Twice in less than two months. By the time they appeared  at our school, most of us was sporting Naturals and wearing sandals, some even wore  traditional Dashiki garb and begun learning more about the continent of Africa, particularly, South Africa. I became a life long Hugh Fan, even as he became more and more commercial in his albums, he always brought it back home with a solid menu of fan favorites like Bajabula Bonke, and Cantaloupe Island at the Live concerts.

I will always believe to my dying breath, he believed he was put here to bring joy from the motherland and  shine a light on freedom and respect for every one. His Nelson Mandela anthem (Bring him back Home) was globally huge and played a strong role in keeping the fire to the feet of the world powers. I know I will miss him and his musical spirit, but the whole world will miss his humanity. Rest in Heavenly Peace Brother Hugh!

COMING JULY 2017 TODD BARKAN KEYSTONE KORNER 45TH ANNIVERSARY


JOIN TODD BARKAN & FRIENDS at

KEYSTONE KORNER 45th ANNIVERSARY

A Celebration of the North Beach Jazz venue in San Francisco

(Established July 7 1972)

Three Exciting Dates of Electrifying Music for You

July 7th 2017 – KUUMBWA JAZZ CENTER  7pm- Santa Cruz,CA.

July 8th 2017 – BACH DANCING & DYNAMITE SOCIETY – 2pm HALF MOON BAY,CA.

July 8th 2017 – PIER 23 on the EMBARCADERO -7pm            San Francisco, CA.

The action gets started with legendary artists performing

Charles McPherson..Gary Bartz.. Azar Lawrence.. Eddie Henderson.. Mel Martin.. Ray Drummond.. Kenneth Nash.. Benito Gonzalez.. Denny  Zeitlin & quite a few Surprises  &          BRIGHT MOMENTS!!

MORE INFORMATION and DETAILS Follow Hipster Sanctuary E-zine’s coverage and backstories in the coming weeks…#@blues2jazzguy

Coming soon in coming weeks Interviews with Mel Martin, Chuck McPherson , Azar Lawrence and others..

REMEMBERING FREDERICK DEWAYNE HUBBARD: “HUBB”


written by Robert J. Carmack  #@blues2jazzguy

As this writer was trying to decide on subjects and artists to write about during Jazz appreciation month, “Hubb”, BKA Freddie Hubbard, came into my mind

It’s not easy to write about an eclectic figure like Frederick Dewayne Hubbard. So I’m just going to go against all traditional musings about Hubbard, as viewed by the “jazz-elite”press corps.

I’m more inclined with the hip-crowd of admirers and fans that marvel over the fire, passion and gymnastics. He had all that going for him, that flowed from his body like sweat on a star athlete having a two-hundred rushing yards day, or a 50 point basketball night.

I was first introduced to “Freddie” on Herbie Hancock’s fourth album on Blue Note, Empyrean Isles,1964. At the time I was studying music and saxophone in junior high. First,  I was drawn into the groove of Cantaloupe Island, but, as I listened more to the whole album, I became impressed with the trumpeter.

He didn’t sound like any of the other trumpeters of the era I had been listening to,like Miles, Donald Byrd, Nat Adderley, Dizzy or Clark Terry. It was Hubbard’s dexterity and mastery of his horn, plus the “swag” and POWER! To coin another sports phrase Freddie was like a Power back among a field of average running backs, He just hit a little harder than the others. Man.. those “runs” and glass-shattering high notes that seem to flow so easily from Hubb.

I had not even seen Freddie live yet until early 1967. He was touring with a concept co-op band called the Jazz Communicators that included Joe Henderson, Herbie Lewis, Kenny Barron, and Mr. straight-ahead himself, Louis Hayes.

One day while lunching at school a few of the cats from the school jazz band and myself agreed to catch this group over the weekend. since they were appearing at the famous Lighthouse Jazz café in Hermosa Beach, a local venue inside the metro los Angeles area. We were so anxious, or, I was at least…I could hardly get through the week doing my homework and band practice.

Friday finally arrived , and we got such an early start ,we were the first ones to arrive at the club as only the workers were coming to punch-in for work that night . The anticipation of the frontline was just overwhelming to us. Wow ! Joe Henderson and Freddie Hubbard. We decided to walk around to kill some time , one of the guys brought a joint that was rather poorly rolled in wheat straw papers and looked pregnant. (Lol) so, we veered down to the far end of the Pier, away from prying-eyes. The five of us proceeded to enjoy the libations, though it was quite comical in our inexperience in these type matters.. the real comedy came as we began to experience the mini-explosions of burning seeds and stems as we laughed uncontrollably until we finished it. Then walking back to the front door , we were met by the ever-smiling Bassist/Manager, Howard Rumsey. He just said as we came in, “You Cats know the rules ,so enjoy yourselves.. We took our up close seats” and ordered our “soft Cokes,” with strange assortments of cherries, limes and oranges garnishing the glass . that made us feel like we were fitting-in with the very hip and rather chatty crowd. Without any further delay, Howard came over  the loudspeaker, “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Jazz Communicators!”

Bam!. Right out the gate Freddie Hubbard kicked off a Jazz Messengers favorite and, Hubbard’s standard, “Crisis”. I don’t know what its like to ride a bull in a rodeo, but I do know what its like to punch a super-charged Corvette Sting-Ray for the first time.. Zero to 60 in a matter of a few seconds. with my heart and my “stones” jumping out of my body. That’s what it was like with Freddie and Joe opening with a slightly faster version of Crisis. He played, I listened to his very powerful playing up-close and personal. He took at least six courses. OMG!! I had no idea.

The Power, the flow of ideas, trills ,choke notes Highs-lows ascending-descending, those long lung-busting phrases. Oh yeah, those little counter-melodies and rich harmonics,chock full of surprise quotes from classic tunes fused in-between, the sinewy side-bar lines Freddie is known for as a signature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joe Henderson’s solo was no less electrifying as only Joe could do. Quick power phrases, built on Flat fives and 9s..squawks,growls followed by machine gun like notes pouring out of his horn, riding the rhythm and comping by Louis Hayes and a young Kenny Barron. All held together by the “glue” of bassist Herbie Lewis.

I had seen lots of groups  come to the lighthouse ,but this was a special night. Unbelievable on many levels to this writer. First, The group kept elevating, We stayed from the first to the last set and there were no “Let-Ups” in intensity. Second..I never forgot that evening’s performances. Third, Here it is now 50 years later, and I’m still remembering it as if it was only yesterday.

A couple of us guys that’s still here often reflect on that evening’s fun and camaraderie.. But, the artistry of Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson,Kenny Barron, Herbie Lewis and Louis Hayes still DISTRIBUTE GOOD THOUGHTS IN GREAT TIMES, IN OUR HEADS.

July 2003, I was producer/MC for a Jazz series in San Francisco-Knob Hill  project called “Celebrate a Legend-Jazz In July” a month long 7 days a week series featuring Freddie Hubbard, Freddie Coles, Vanessa Rubin, Doug Carn, Sonny Fortune, Andy Bey, Calvin Keyes, to name a few.  All participating and receiving lifetime achievement awards. We brought in Freddie special for five days, even surprising Freddie with an old friend in Billy Paul making an cameo performance of the “Old folk”. During the course of the five days , I had my hands full with “Hubb just being Hubb”.. some of you will know what I mean..(smile)  But at the end of the day, I felt blessed from the thought of coming from a 15 year old kid in a school band practice room, trying to understand all of what was happening on the “Night of the Cookers” album. Then, flash forwarded to 2003, and i’m now booking and presenting Freddie Hubbard to a hip and sophisticated San Francisco audience. a real dream deferred!  P-baron

Freddie Hubbard was many things to many people including a husband, a father, and a human being with warts and all that comes with that too. Most importantly, he had the respect of his family, friends and fans alike. Certainly mine. I miss Hubb on the scene with all his swag, panache with that biting humor of his.

Its with all due respect I am remembering, Federick Dwayne Hubbard, April 7 1938 – December 29 2008

JAZZ LEGENDS BAND THE COOKERS POURS ON HARD BOP LEGACY


cookers-band-feb-17-2017

Posted by Robert J. Carmack & photos by George Jeffries & Robert Hill

Recently in Los Angeles on a stormy Friday night the heavens opened up due to The Cookers Band performing at the Nate Holden Center for the Arts. A truly rare Los Angeles appearance by 7 legendary Jazz Band, that included Tenor saxophonist Billy Harper, Trumpeter David Weiss, Bassist Cecil McBee, Trumpeter Dr. Eddie Henderson, Alto Saxophonist Donald Harrison, Veteran Drummer Billy “Jabali” Hart, and substituting for pianist George Cables was Journeyman, Stephen Scott on Piano. Once the audience settled in their seats, the group wasted no time taking us on a blissful journey.

Most tunes were expansive in content as far as improvisations, yet melodically pleasing on all fronts, whether they were “blistering” tempos in odd meters, or alternating 3/4 to 4/4. 

stephen-scott-don-weiss-cookers-concert-laOne could only have wished for being back in time via Time machine. Hard Bop was the call of the day and the prince of night in the New York haunts and all over the east coast hot spots during the 50s and 60s .

Billy Hart with jazz journalist Robert J. Carmack

 

 

 

 

 

 

This particular Friday night was unusual as it was raining very hard(Stormy Weather) and my getting to witness one of the last of the true Hard Bop bands ever assembled since the Jazz Messengers. cecil-mcbee-cookers-concertHanging out in LA is not like it use to be when I was a young pup. Hitting the spots that reeked of Jazz on a 7 nights a week basis, primarily from mid 60s up to the end of the 70s. By then, L.A. was hardly a Mecca for jazz musicians as a new form of music was dominating the radios and car tape players and later CDs.

One of the special treats for me was seeing Billy Harper play that big “Texas Tenor” approach to jazz and his very spiritual compositions in rather odd meters. I had not seen this group since I moved back to Los Angeles from the San Francisco bay area in 2009. They were frequent visitors on the circuit of clubs, festivals and wineries in northern California. I took full advantage of the presentations. A remarkable bassist, Cecil McBee was on this trip and a very good conversationalist, we spoke about jazz in general and his old days with Charles Lloyd. His resume is over flowing with a virtual who’s who in Jazz.

billy-harper-rjc-cookers-concertbig-chief-don-harrison-cookers

 

 

 

 

Missing from the lineup was in my opinion one of the most under-rated Jazz pianist since John Hicks and Bobby Timmons, George Cables, who was still in rehab from health challenges. Incidentally, The Cookers group chose another young man who has been “putting-in” his work. Steady on the scene “quiet as kept”, Mr. Stephen Scott. He filled in admirably and commendable with those blistering solos on classics like the jazz messengers favorite by Freddie Hubbard, “Crisis” and “Croquet Ballet” by Billy Harper. The band took the audience on a celestial journey with another Harper composition, If Our Hearts Could Only See, beautiful solos by members of the band, including somewhat new to me seeing him in this type of setting of late, Mr. Donald Harrison on alto, in the past I have seen Craig Handy or the master woodwinds icon, James Spaulding. Spaulding by the way is one of four surviving original musicians on the 1965 “Night of the Cookers date, featuring a battle Royale between Freddie Hubbard and Lee Morgan…Both Titans of the time, when this writer was in high school.

cecil-mcbee-patrick-gleeson
shown backstage L-R: Cecil McBee & Patrick Gleeson producer/keyboard programming pioneer

dr-eddie-henderson-and-rjcThe band did not disappoint with a litany of great compositions from the past and present. where the improvisations were strictly top shelf.

Dr. Eddie Henderson’s playing, along with David Weiss kept me and the rest of the audience on the edge of our seats, clamoring for more even after a one and a half-hour set. “No Seven ways about it, Pound for Pound, The Cookers are the Rolls Royce on the scene, keeping the Flame nicely stoked.”

 

 

JAZZ MASTER BASSIST BOB CRANSHAW DEAD AT 83


posted by  #@blues2jazzguy   Robert J. Carmack

The Great Bassist from Indiana, who more times than not was the steady bass player for Sonny Rollins. Cranshaw had been battling a series of challenging ailments. but it’s believed that he succumbed to his battle with Cancer. Cranshaw, IMHO, was one of the top five bassists in modern jazz history. My first experience hearing Bob Cranshaw was on the Blue Note Records classic by Lee Morgan, The Sidewinder, One of of the most commercially successful record ever recorded in Jazz. (1964)

The title track Sidewinder  was the very last song added to complete the album, according to Cranshaw. Lee came up with the melody while on break from the session,  Lee then asked Bob to come up with a pick-up line .The now famous bass-line pickup to begin the groove is talked about in detail via an interview from a documentary on Blue Note Records.

One other note at some point as he got older, Cranshaw chose not to play the upright Bass, which seemed awkward at first since he was performing with the great Sonny Rollins for decades. I have seen many concerts with Sonny Rollins over my lifetime, with most of those “gigs” with Cranshaw on Electric Bass, by closing your eyes one could hardly tell the difference.

We in the jazz community will sorely miss Bob Cranshaw out there, bringing smiles to our faces as he practiced his craft for over 7 decades .  Rest in Loving Peace Bob & Join the Jam session in the sky where all the greats go.

Bob Cranshaw
Bob Cranshaw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KEVIN GOINS ~MUSIC MAN OF THE AGES: RUDY VAN GELDER MEMORIAM


by Kevin Goins – Music/Media Consultant/Contributor

Rudy Gelder Kevin NOW2

 

 

 

 

RUDY VAN GELDER – IN MEMORIAM…..
Damn, Grim Reaper…bad enough we’ve seen many folks go to the Great Beyond before we hit mid-year, no thanks to you. And this week, you just had to go for the flippin’ trifecta. Toots, Steven Hill, and now this great master of recording engineering.
If you own any jazz albums released on labels such as Blue Note, Prestige, Verve, Impulse, MGM, CTI or KUDU, the name of RUDY VAN GELDER would be found in the credits.
A New Jersey native of which optometry was his original profession, Van Gelder began recording jazz musicians within the living room of his parents’ home in Hackensack (they later built an extension to their house to serve as a full-functioning studio). Word spread quickly to jazz labels, which resulted in many great, classic recordings being made with Rudy overseeing the engineering, mixing and mastering.
In 1959, five years after he launched his career, Rudy Van Gelder opened the now famous recording studio in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. And the records kept on coming.

Okay, the short list….
John Coltrane – A Love Supreme, Blue Train
Miles Davis – The Musings of Miles, Blue Moods, Walkin’, Miles Davis/Milt Jackson Quintet/Sextet
Charles Earland – Black Talk!
Jimmy Smith – The Cat, Bashin’, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Monster, The Sermon
Wes Montgomery – Tequila, Bumpin’, Goin’ Out Of My Head, A Day In The Life
Lee Morgan – The Sidewinder,
Thelonius Monk – Hackensack
Modern Jazz Quartet – Concorde, Django
Hank Mobley Sextet – Hank
Sonny Rollins – Moving Out, Saxophone Colossus
Quincy Jones – This Is How I Feel About Jazz, Gulu Matari, Walking In Space
Herbie Hancock – Maiden Voyage, Speak Like A Child
Ray Charles – Genius +Soul=Jazz
Stanley Turrentine – Sugar
Willie Bobo – Spanish Grease
Cal Tjader – Several Shades of Jade
George Benson – Good King Bad, Body Talk, The Shape of Things to Come, The Other Side of Abbey Road
Deodato – Prelude, Deodato 2
Grover Washington, Jr. – Mister Magic
Esther Phillips – From A Whisper To A Scream

Rudy Gelder Kevin Goins

 

Like I said, folks…the short list. The man engineered over 2000 albums Y’all can Google the rest.

What made Van Gelder’s work stand out above the rest of the engineers? It was the way he was able to capture a warm, full sound via his mixing and engineering. Yes, the man had a penchant for reverb (listen to the Verve and A&M/CTI recordings) but at the same time, it did help create a dynamic effect.
Fast forward to the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the millennium – Van Gelder was commissioned by EMI to remaster his prior Blue Note works under the RVG Remastered Series – which also included recordings released on Capitol Records (Cannonball Adderly’s Mercy, Mercy, Mercy and Miles Davis’ Birth of the Cool albums).
Sadly, Rudy Van Gelder passed away Thursday, August 25th, at the age of 91.
What else can be said? Coming from yours truly, my appreciation for not only jazz but the way music and artists were recorded came from listening to the albums Rudy Van Gelder engineered and mastered. As a college student earning my degree in audio production, studying the man’s works was an absolute must.

As far as the time spent as a radio DJ at Ithaca College, one of many who hosted WICB-FM’s Jazz Impressions (1985-1988), there wasn’t a record I spun that didn’t have Van Gelder’s touch
.
To Mr. Van Gelder, thank you for making music and records sound so damn good .

Hard to choose one recording, so here are a few links….
MILES DAVIS/THELONIOUS MONK – “BEMSHA SWING”
http://bit.ly/2bKRrpD
HERBIE HANCOCK – “CANTALOUPE ISLAND”
http://bit.ly/1vwteUM
JIMMY SMITH – “THE CAT” – http://bit.ly/1S2vAux
ESTHER PHILLIPS – “HOME IS WHERE THE HATRED IS”
http://bit.ly/1XJCPa8

RUDY VAN GELDER: THE FINAL NOTE 1924 – 2016


posted by Robert J. Carmack   #@blues2jazzguy

Rudy Van Gelder
Rudy & Alfred Lions of Blue Note Records

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rudy Van Gelder, a renowned recording engineer who captured jazz greats Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and many others in his parents’ Hackensack living room and later in his Englewood Cliffs studio, died Thursday, August 25 at the age of 91. He is truly a Jazz master in the technological sense. Many of his recording sessions were great records because of the combined efforts of musicians and engineer, capturing the most-pure extract of Jazz at the highest level.

Rudy van Gelder TRane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A LOVE SUPREME by John Coltrane 

The Ultimate masterpiece in jazz recording. No one knew how to deliver the best of “Trane” better than Rudy Van Gelder. It will take decades to analyze all of his work to put him into the proper perspective regarding the Legacy.

Rudy Van Gelder NOW

 

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