Thursday, August 24, 2017

Helen Merrill & Dick Katz - 1968 - A Shade of Difference

Helen Merrill & Dick Katz
A Shade of Difference

01. Never Will I Marry 4:57
02. While We're Young 2:47
03. Lonely Woman 3:49
04. I Should Care 4:11
05. A Lady Must Live 4:44
06. I Want A Little Boy 3:15
07. Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most 6:37
08. My Funny Valentine 2:20
09. Lover, Come Back To Me 4:57
10. Where Do You Go? 2:21

Piano, Producer – Dick Katz
Bass – Richard Davis (tracks: A3), Ron Carter
Cornet – Thad Jones (tracks: A3)
Drums – Elvin Jones
Flugelhorn – Thad Jones
Flute – Hubert Laws
Guitar – Jim Hall
Saxophone [Alto] – Gary Bartz (tracks: A3)
Vocals – Helen Merrill

Originally recorded in July, 1968, at Plaza Sound Studios, New York City.

Originally put out by the Milestone label and later reissued by Landmark, this is a superior and consistently surprising effort by singer Helen Merrill. With arrangements provided by pianist Dick Katz and adventurous yet sympathetic playing by Thad Jones on flugelhorn and cornet, flutist Hubert Laws, altoist Gary Bartz (who is only on Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman"), Katz, guitarist Jim Hall, either Ron Carter or Richard Davis, on bass and drummer Elvin Jones, this is a particularly strong jazz vocal date. Merrill's voice was at its prime during the era, and her ability to tackle a wide repertoire and to bring new life to standards (including taking "My Funny Valentine" as a fairly free duet with Ron Carter) makes this a highly recommended effort.

Grant Green - 1976 - The Main Attraction

Grant Green
The Main Attraction

01. The Main Attraction 19:00
02. Future Feature 7:45
03. Creature 10:18

Baritone Saxophone – Ronnie Cuber
Bass – Will Lee
Drums – Andy Newmark
Electric Piano, Clavinet – Don Grolnick
Flute – Hubert Laws
Guitar – Steve Khan
Guitar [All Solos] – Grant Green
Percussion – Sue Evans
Percussion, Congas – Carlos Charles
Tenor Saxophone [All Tenor Solos] – Mike Brecker
Trombone – Sam Burtis
Trumpet – Burt Collins, Jon Faddis

Although Grant Green recorded more than 100 albums, including 30 as the group leader, his career was overshadowed by more successful jazz guitarists, particularly Wes Montgomery and George Benson. Known for his clear, single-note, melodic style of playing with a pick, Green avoided the chords and octaves favored by his contemporaries and was renowned for his unique tone. He was a major force in the evolution of the guitar as a lead instrument and he influenced a generation of guitar players including Carlos Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and George Benson himself. Green always played to his audience, with a variety that ranged from straight-ahead jazz standards, bebop, soul, gospel, Latin, country-western, to funk. He covered the Beatles, James Brown, The Jackson 5, and Mozart. But whatever he played, his music remained rooted in the blues. Green played a green guitar, wore green suits, drove a green Cadillac, and his song and album titles often played on his name. During the 1990s Green was rediscovered and dubbed the father of "acid jazz" and his recordings reissued.

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, on June 6, 1935, Grant was the only child of Martha, a homemaker, and John Green, a laborer, security guard, and parking-lot owner. Grant's father bought him a beat-up guitar and amplifier and, together with an uncle, taught him to play the blues. Grant plucked his ukulele in his elementary-school classroom, played drums in the school drum and bugle corps, and sang in the choir. His early influences included pioneering electric guitarist Charlie Christian, but he mainly listened to horn players, especially Charlie Parker, the originator of bebop.

By the age of 13, Grant Green was playing guitar professionally in churches, with a gospel group, and with accordionist Joe Murphy. Although he briefly studied guitar with Forest Alcorn, Green was primarily self-taught. With his parents' support, he dropped out of school before the ninth grade. Soon he was playing with jazz and rhythm and blues combos, including groups led by trumpeter Harry Edison and saxophonist Jimmy Forrest, and was a well-known figure in the St. Louis music scene. Jazz drummer Elvin Jones first heard Green in 1956. Years later, Jones told Sharony Andrews Green, Grant Green's biographer and his son Grant Jr.'s former wife: "I had never heard anybody play with that kind of purity … I always felt that this was a great artist …."

Green married Annie Maude Moody. Among his well-known tributes to her were "Miss Ann's Tempo" and "Blues in Maude's Flat." Their first child, Gregory, was born in 1956, and the couple would have three more. Gregory Green and his three younger siblings were raised primarily by their two sets of grandparents in St. Louis. Green's personal life was filled with conflicting issues. He was using heroin by his late teens, and later drugs and his gigs kept him from spending much time with his family. But Green was not an apathetic person; he held strong beliefs and was among the musicians who founded the first St. Louis chapter of the Nation of Islam, a black separatist Islamic sect.

Grant Green's first recordings were a 1959 Delmark album with Jimmy Forrest and Elvin Jones and a 1960 recording on Argo with organist Sam Lazar. Green was 24 in 1959, when saxophonist Lou Donaldson first heard him play in St. Louis. The following year, Donaldson took Green to New York City to audition for Blue Note Records, the premier jazz label of the era. He was hired immediately as the staff guitarist. Green's first recording for Blue Note was Lou Donaldson's Here 'Tis in January of 1961. Five days later he was recording his first album as leader. During 1961 Green recorded eight sessions for 17 Blue Note albums, as a sideman or leader, including his first live recording, with saxophonist Stanley Turrentine. The following year he recorded a Latin album, a gospel album, and a jazz rendering of country-western music.

Between 1961 and 1965 Green recorded with almost every Blue Note musician, on more albums than any other artist at the label. He recorded frequently with organists Jack McDuff and Larry Young, as well as pianists Sonny Clark and McCoy Tyner and tenor saxophonists Hank Mobley and Joe Henderson. Many critics consider his Idle Moments from 1964 to be his all-time best album. Meanwhile Green was becoming a force in New York's live jazz scene.

By 1966 Green had grown frustrated with his meager earnings. Blue Note could record cheaply but lacked the resources to promote their albums. He left Blue Note and recorded a few sessions on the Verve label. However, like most jazz musicians, Green rarely received royalties for his original compositions. Since he could not read music well, he got very little studio work.

As his drug habit escalated out of control, so did his debts. Drugs interfered with his live performances and he gained a reputation for not paying his musicians after gigs. In 1968 Green received a brief prison sentence for drug possession. Rather than reporting to prison, he left for a gig in California. Federal agents waited until he finished his set before arresting him and escorting him to prison for a longer sentence.

Green had always loved James Brown. By 1965 he was moving more toward pop music and funk. After his release from prison, Green returned to Blue Note to make more commercial recordings that received radio play. Between 1969 and 1973 Green's records not only scored high on the jazz charts, they hit the rhythm and blues and soul charts as well. Some critics accused him of selling out to commercialism. Green told Guitar Player in January of 1975: "You have to be a businessman first, and an artist along with it. You can't play something people dislike and stay in business."

For the first time, Green's family joined him in New York, settling in Brooklyn where his wife took a job with the New York Model Cities agency. The reunion didn't work out. An aunt found the children living alone and she took the youngest, Grant Jr., to California for the summer. Green and Moody divorced. Moody remarried and took the other children to live in Jamaica with her new husband.

However by 1970 Green had made enough money at Blue Note to leave New York and buy a home in Detroit, Michigan, where his children joined him. The family played music in their basement and Green became a local star. His friends included city commissioners and Coleman Young, Detroit's first black mayor, and he played regular benefits for local black organizations. Green continued to follow Muslim traditions, for a time eating mostly kosher and East Indian foods. However his penchant for women made him unwelcome at the black Muslim mosque. Around this time, drugs again distracted Green when he took up using cocaine and a codeine syrup.

In 1971 Green was asked to record the soundtrack for the film The Final Comedown. He began dreaming of becoming an arranger and producer. His last album for Blue Note, Live at the Lighthouse, was recorded in Hermosa Beach, California, in 1972.

By the mid-1970s Green's health was in serious decline, in part from his long battle with drugs. His failure to become a big name in music, with the accompanying financial rewards, and a series of failed relationships, further demoralized him. Green married Karen Duson Wallace, a nurse, in 1974. By 1977 the marriage had failed. Dorothy Malone became his constant companion until his death.

Green recorded his last album, Easy, in April of 1978. That autumn he had a minor stroke that left him temporarily paralyzed on his left side. A blood clot was found near his heart and the doctors ordered triple-bypass surgery, but Green refused. Instead, he drove across the country for a gig in California. After the long drive back to New York, he suffered a heart attack and died on the way to Harlem Hospital on January 31, 1979. He was 43.

At the end of the 1980s, hip-hop musicians and rappers began using rhythm and blues and jazz from the 1960s and early 1970s, including the music of Grant Green. In the 1990s, the London hip-hop group Us3 digitally fused Green's 1970 live recording of "Sookie, Sookie" and turned it into a worldwide hit for Blue Note. Critics hailed Green as the father of acid jazz. His recordings began to be reissued and his original vinyl records became increasingly valuable among collectors.

Green's reissues were top sellers. In December of 1994, more than 30 years after Green recorded Idle Moments, the album was number 9 on Rolling Stone magazine's alternative chart of music played on college radio stations. His music was heard on movie soundtracks and "Sookie, Sookie" became a theme song on Home Box Office. Green's oldest son Gregory, a guitarist who sometimes performed under the name of his younger brother, Grant Green, Jr., could be heard on a tribute album featuring his father's compositions. During the 1990s, at least six other albums included tributes to Green.

Guitarist George Benson told Sharony Green: "People were always all over Grant. He was an icon…. Guitar players were trying to learn what his secret was, and there were people in general who just loved his groove. Grant made the guitar come alive and sing…. Only he could do it like that."

Typically, Grant Green's final album as a leader gets a bum rap. While it's true that this isn't one of Green's best records, it's not by any means his worst. The band here is large, and the set concentrates on groove rather than guitar flashiness. But what the hell did Green have left to prove? The Main Attraction was produced by Creed Taylor and conducted and arranged by David Matthews. This set includes only three tracks: the nearly 20-minute title track and a pair of other Matthews cuts, "Future Feature" and "Creature." Oh yeah, you get it, the movie themes. Well, don't let the cheesy cover and dumb cut titles keep you from enjoying this solid groover. Green is supported by guitarist Steve Khan, Don Grolnick on keyboards, Hubert Laws on flute, Joe Farrell and Michael Brecker on saxophones, Jon Faddis and Burt Collins on trumpets, drummer Andy Newman, and bassist Will Lee, just to name a few of the players on this slab. While it's also true that these jams sound a bit dated with the phase shifters on the rhythm guitars, it doesn't hurt the punchy, funky soul-jazz riffing any. The title track is the strongest, featuring smoking solos by Green and Laws, and glorious fills by Grolnick. It's so long that it becomes hypnotic to the point that you'll think you're still hearing it well into "Future Feature," the last cut. "Creature," with Grolnick's impressionistic and heavily reverbed electric piano (à la "500 Hundred Miles High"), is a slinky, slow-moving blues tune that slips and slithers around a pair of keyboard figures and Laws' flute before Green reaches in and claims the show. Again, this is solid and greasy soul for another ten-and-a-half minutes. Contrary to jazz critics' opinions, Green had nothing to be ashamed of on Main Attraction. If funky '70s soul-jazz is your thing, you won't go wrong with this one.

George Benson - 1976 - In Concert - Carnegie Hall

George Benson
In Concert - Carnegie Hall

01. Introduction
02. Take Five
03. Summertime
04. Gone
05. Sky Dive
06. Octane

Bass – Wayne Dockery, Will Lee
Drums – Andy Newmark, Marvin Chappell, Steve Gadd
Flute – Hubert Laws
Guitar – George Benson
Keyboards – Ronnie Foster
Percussion – Johnny Griggs, Ray Armando

Recorded at Carnegie Hall, January 11, 1975.

In Concert -- Carnegie Hall is George Benson's final recording for Creed Taylor's CTI label, and was mostly recorded on one night in 1975. There was some additional recording done at Rudy Van Gelder's studio in 1976, where Taylor replaced the original rhythm section of Wayne Dockery on bass and Marvin Chapell on drums with Will Lee and Steve Gadd, for whatever reason Taylor had at the time. Regardless, this is a solid "live" effort with Benson cooking on all burners, beginning with a monster version of Dave Brubeck's "Take Five," which had been cut on an earlier album and had become a staple in the live set. Organist Ronnie Foster's backing skills here are indispensable, as they keep Benson talking to the other members of the band. The version of "Summertime" here could have been recorded by Phil Spector. The concert version of the tune -- on which Benson takes a vocal -- has been added to with the substitution of the rhythm section and the later addition of a string orchestra in the studio. (Perhaps Taylor understood Benson's crossover appeal; he would cross over into the pop charts on Warner the next year with "This Masquerade.") The crowd dug it, but it's simply OK over the test of time. Hipper is the long snaky groove of Benson's own "Gone," with begins with the steady pulse of Hubert Laws playing a counterpoint foil on flute. The entwining harmonic interplay between the two is gorgeous and goes on for over ten minutes. The band then takes on Freddie Hubbard's "Sky Dive" with real aplomb. The Latin rhythm and slippery guitar by Benson pull the rhythm section up a notch before he begins the head. His funky articulation of fifths and then eighths in his break is mesmerizing. The way Chapell rides the cymbal like a bell is particularly satisfying. The album closes on another Benson original with Laws popping in again. It's called "Octane." Over ten minutes in length, it begins with Benson in full roar before the time signature changes and triples, feeling like a bebop tune more than anything else. Foster keeps it all grounded, but this baby swings so hard it threatens to lift off. In retrospect, listening to this record in the 21st century, it's difficult to imagine Benson making the switch from a classy guitar firebrand to a pop star so quickly. 

Don Sebesky & The Jazz Rock Syndrome - 1968 - Don Sebesky & The Jazz Rock Syndrome

Don Sebesky & The Jazz Rock Syndrome 
Don Sebesky & The Jazz Rock Syndrome

01. The Word 3:35
02. Shake A Lady 3:42
03. Banana Flower 2:48
04. Meet A Cheetah 4:01
05. I Dig Rock 'N' Roll Music 2:05
06. Never My Love 3:06
07. Dancing In The Streets 3:17
08. Somebody Groovy 4:07
09. You've Got Your Troubles 2:52
10. Big Mama Cass 2:51

Alto Saxophone – Richard Spencer
Clavinet, Piano, Organ, Harpsichord, Arranged By, Conductor – Don Sebesky
Drums – Donald MacDonald
Electric Bass – Chuck Rainey
Flute – Hubert Laws
Guitar – Joe Beck
Vocals – Janet Sebesky
Electric Bass – Don Payne
Guitar – Larry Coryell

«I don't think that there is such a thing as the Don Sebesky sound. [...] I think the common denominator here is more an attitude towards music, a willingness to blend various influences without worrying about where they come from. The way I look at music is the way I look at life - I have no pre-conceived notion about either. If today I feel like doing a certain kind of music, that's what I'll do. And tomorrow, I might try a different kind. I think that if I had one sound, if I stumbled on one formula and I had to stay with that one sound and keep pushing it, I'd never be happy. That's why I said that I don't think I have a "sound". But an attitude, an approach to music, definitely, yes.»
[Don Sebesky, from an interview conducted in 1973 by Didier C. Deutsch]

Donald John Sebesky was born in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, USA, on 10 December 1937; his father worked in a steel-cable factory, his mother was a housewife. At the age of eight he started learning the accordion; he later came to realize that this instrument was the best possible choice he could have made because, as he says, «the accordion is a 'mini-orchestra' and teaches the principles of harmony from the very beginning».

Sebesky soon started learning piano too, and in high school he switched to the trombone to get into the marching band. Then he began commuting into New York from New Jersey to study with Warren Covington at the Manhattan School of Music. His earliest influences were the big bands of Stan Kenton and Maynard Ferguson.

During the mid '50s he began his professional career playing with Kai Winding, Claude Thornhill, and the Tommy Dorsey Band led by Covington. In 1958 he was hired to play the trombone in Maynard Ferguson's band appearing on their album "A Message From Newport"; on such occasion he signed two compositions: "Humbug" and "Fan It, Janet".

He also played briefly with Stan Kenton appearing on "Viva Kenton!" in 1959, but at the turning of the decade he decided to give up trombone playing and devote himself full time to writing and arranging, working out an individual style based on a combination of Jazz and Classical music.

In 1965 Don Sebesky joined Verve Records when Creed Taylor was still a producer for the label. One of his most distinctive and successful arrangements was for Wes Montgomery's album "Bumpin'" released the same year.

In 1967, when Taylor left the company to launch his own CTI, Sebesky joined the newborn label as staff arranger, giving his precious contribution in creating many hit records.

During the late '60s / early '70s, his orchestral backgrounds helped make artists like Montgomery, George Benson ("Shape of Things To Come", 1968), Paul Desmond ("From the Hot Afternoon", 1969) and Freddie Hubbard ("First Light", 1971) acceptable to audiences outside of Jazz.

Sebesky's arrangements have usually been among the classiest in his field, reflecting a solid knowledge of the orchestra, drawing variously from Big Band Jazz, Rock, Ethnic music, Classical music of all eras and even the Avant-garde for ideas. He once cited Béla Bartók as his favorite composer, but one also hears lots of Stravinsky in his work.

In 1968 he debuted as a solo artist with "Don Sebesky & The Jazz-Rock Syndrome", the subject of this post, an albums intended to merge - as per its title - Jazz and Rock music. This record was soon followed by "The Distant Galaxy", a weirder affair that combined exotic and electronic instruments with unusual arrangements; this precious gem will hopefully appear on these pages sometimes soon.

In the late '60s / early '70s Sebesky also arranged for Carmen McRae, Tamiko Jones (...her album "I'll Be Anything For You" is available here on Stereo Candies...), Peggy Lee, Hubert Laws, Kenny Burrell and Dionne Warwick, to name just a few, but the list is so much longer... In 1971 his song "Memphis Two-Step" was the title track of the Herbie Mann album of the same name.

In 1973 Sebesky released his opus "Giant Box", a double LP for which he employed musicians that makes the term 'all stars' sound like an understatement; this may have been Creed Taylor's most ambitious single project.

Among the numerous artists gathered together for the occasion were Paul Desmond, George Benson, Randy Brecker, Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Freddie Hubbard, Milt Jackson, Airto Moreira, Grover Washington Jr., Jackie Cain and Roy Kral.

The album reached number 16 on the U.S. Billboard Jazz Albums Chart and was nominated for a Grammy. Later on, this step out into the spotlight was followed only by sporadic releases among which we remember "The Rape of El Morro" (1975), "Three Works For Jazz Soloists & Symphony Orchestra" (1979) and "Full Cycle" (1983).

Active as a teacher since the 70s, Sebesky is the author of "The Contemporary Arranger", an authoritative easy-to-understand text covering all aspects of arranging for Jazz bands and other Contemporary / Pop ensembles, which is used in colleges and music schools all over the world.

He has worked with such orchestras as the London Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, the Boston Pops, The New York Philharmonic, the Royal Philharmonic of London, and the Toronto Symphony.

As a recording artist and in collaboration with other artists, he has won three Grammy Awards and has been nominated for 27 more, won a Tony and has been nominated for two more, won two Drama Desk Awards and four Clio Awards.

During the years, he has composed and arranged music for Christina Aguilera, Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Britney Spears, Chet Baker, Vanessa Williams, Bette Midler, Barry Manilow, Liza Minnelli, Cyndi Lauper, and a host of other pop stars.

Sebesky has composed and orchestrated for several films, including the Oscar-nominated short subject "Time Piece" (1965) starring and directed by Jim Henson (...available here, it is worth your precious time, believe me!), "The People Next Door" (1970), "F. Scott Fitzgerald and 'The Last of the Belles'" (1974), "The Rosary Murders" (1987) with Donald Sutherland (for which Sebesky also conducted), and "Julie & Julia" (2009) with Meryl Streep.

Sebesky's work for television has garnered three Emmy nominations for "Allegra's Window" on Nickelodeon, "The Edge of Night" on ABC, and "Guiding Light" on CBS.

His Broadway theater credits include "Porgy and Bess" (London production by Trevor Nunn), "Sinatra at The Palladium", "Sweet Charity", "Kiss Me Kate", "Bells Are Ringing", "Flower Drum Song", "Parade", "The Life", "Cyrano", "The Goodbye Girl", "Will Rogers Follies", "Sinatra at Radio City", "Pal Joey", "Come Fly Away" and "Baby It's You".

One of the most highly regarded arrangers in the business, Sebesky's work is precise and elegant, yet bristles with ideas and always displays his sure grasp of instrumental potential and the abilities of the performers for whom he writes.

Recorded between June 1967 and January 1968, and bearing catalogue number V6-8756, "Don Sebesky & The Jazz-Rock Syndrome" was released on Verve Records during the first half of 1968. The album comes in a beautiful gatefold sleeve with colourful pictures by Joel Brodsky which is a real pleasure for the eyes.

As the 'V6' prefix in the catalogue number implies, the album is recorded in full stereo, althought mono copies were also pressed as promotional items for radio stations.

The following liner notes printed on the inner gatefold were written by Cool Jazz musician and author Michael Zwerin.

«Big bands are not coming back. Let's face it. The old style, rooted in the swing era, is an anachronism. Those bands will hang around only as long as that generation is alive; they are relics, museum pieces - still groovy, but relics nonetheless.

Basie, Herman, James and the few others still carrying on will not survive their own generation. They have no issue; young cats do not generally form swing bands these days. They play Rock and Roll, whether we like it or not.

But something else has been coming-on lately. It has been called 'Jazz-Rock', a budding love affair between a raw but vital, enthusiastic child and a somewhat weatherbeaten but dapper older gentleman.

Basically the one-eyed monster killed old-style dance bands, along with a lot of other things. For awhile, when the tube was still a novelty, nobody did anything else at all but sit in front of it. Then came the Twist and people began moving out again - to dance. The Twist really buried big bands; four electrified kids could produce the volume of fifteen unamplified guys, a lot cheaper. And the other eleven musicians starved or became school teachers.

It may have been a blessing in the long run. The new beat spawned dancing as a worldwide participation sport. For the first time, you don't have to know the steps; anything goes. Just move out on the floor, stay loose and swing.

As the dances became more abstract and creative, more permissive and popular, the music kept pace - becoming more and more complex until, suddenly, we find Jazz peeking through the door again. Many straight-ahead Rock groups are beginning to add horns. Some will inevitably add more and, since there are few sounds as exciting as seven brass and five saxophones wailing, new-style big bands will soon begin criss-crossing the country just like the old once did; not museum pieces, but contemporary, communicating dance organizations. People will once more dance to big bands - which will sound like this record.

Though he just turned 30, Don Sebesky is a product of the big band tradition, having played trombone with Warren Covington, Stan Kenton, Claude Thornhill and Maynard Ferguson. His big writing break came through Maynard and he has since scored albums for Wes Montgomery, Astrud Gilberto, Erroll Garner and Kenny Burrell.

When Don started to think about this album, he "wanted to come up with something new. It seemed to me that the style in which I had been writing - traditional Holman-influenced Basie - had become a dead end for me. It was either a matter of getting more complex and involved, or simpler. I chose the latter, or rather it was chosen for me. I discovered The Mamas and the Papas and their light, groovy approach influenced my thinking tremendously."

So there are very few hard, 'shouting' big band moments here. Instead, it sings with unisons and counterpoint. The tunes themselves reflect the Mamas and the Papas influence: "Somebody Groovy", a John Phillips tune, "Dancing in the Street", in which Don based the writing on Cass Elliot's phrasing of the same tune, and "Big Mama Cass" which is of course dedicated to her.

The musicians - who were all chosen "for their ability to swing in a Jazz way and yet relate to a Rock feel at the same time" - evidence obvious enthusiasm playing Sebesky's music. I particularly call your attention to Don MacDonald's drums, to Chuck Rainey's really astounding Fender bass - and to two young men you're going to be hearing from a lot, Larry Coryell and Dick Spencer.

Coryell, who's already made quite a name for himself with the Gary Burton group, is perhaps the personification of the Jazz-Rock movement among musicians. He plays real Jazz guitar - writing his own line, improvising on the changes - but unlike some of his colleagues he has also taken the time and trouble to master the electronic effects available on the amp. As a result, Coryell has virtually cornered the market on the wailing, haunting kind of guitar you hear on "Dancing in the Street" and, most especially, on "The Word" - a too-much tour de force right down to the closing cadenza.

Spencer likewise epitomizes the new generation of horn men - guys who grew up with Jazz and Rock in the unswerving belief that the twain shall meet. It's his soulful alto that puts the groove in "Somebody Groovy", the personality in the portrait of "Big Mama Cass". On "Meet a Cheetah", Spencer gets together with Joe Beck (another very now guitarist) and Sebesky himself - who, like Bob Brookmeyer, turns out to be a trombonist who also plays a mean piano. And organ (on "I Dig Rock 'n' Roll Music"). And harpsichord (on "Banana Flower"). And clavinet (dig his dialogue with Coryell on "The Word").

Don feels that "this is the first big band of the Rock era, bringing the influences of traditional big bands and combining them with the music being written today by John Phillips, the Beatles, the Beach Boys and other meaningful groups in an instrumental way, featuring a good strong rhythm section and blues-influenced soloists."

Obviously, Don Sebesky has found an alternative, a way to move ahead while still acknowledging his musical roots. Jazz-Rock is the turning point. Listen, dance and rejoice to it.»

Produced by Esmond Edwards. In the Hippie age, Verve, Impulse, Blue Note and other jazz labels tried to stay hip and cool, and issued albums like this one, where you can find Beatles, Association, Martha & the Vandellas etc. covers, and a song called "Big Mama Cass". I can see the RYM jazz contingent roll their eyes :-) . 
Well, this is certainly not "art", but for what it is , it is quite good and entertaining. After all, the musicians include Joe Beck, Larry Coryell, Hubert Laws and Chuck Rainey ... 
Before being a social and intellectual status enhancer for  intellectuals, jazz was just party music. This is party music. An, oh yes, it is not "jazz-rock" as we mean it !

Cal Tjader - 1968 - The Prophet

Cal Tjader
The Prophet

01. Souled Out 4:17
02. Warm Song 3:41
03. The Prophet 4:30
04. Aquarius 3:39
05. Cal's Bluedo 5:34
06. A Time For Love 3:05
07. Tema Teimoso 2:51
08. The Loner 3:52

Bass – Red Mitchell
Drums – Ed Thigpen
Flute – Hubert Laws
Organ – João Donato
Trumpet – Marvin Stamm
Vibraphone – Cal Tjader

Recorded in New York and Los Angeles, 1968.

Cal Tjader was undoubtedly the most famous non-Latino leader of Latin jazz bands, an extraordinary distinction. From the 1950s until his death, he was practically the point man between the worlds of Latin jazz and mainstream bop; his light, rhythmic, joyous vibraphone manner could comfortably embrace both styles. His numerous recordings for Fantasy and Verve and long-standing presence in the San Francisco Bay Area eventually had a profound influence upon Carlos Santana, and thus Latin rock. He also played drums and bongos, the latter most notably on the George Shearing Quintet's puckishly titled "Rap Your Troubles in Drums," and would occasionally sit in on piano as well.

Tjader studied music and education at San Francisco State College before hooking up with fellow Bay Area resident Dave Brubeck as the drummer in the Brubeck Trio from 1949 to 1951. He then worked with Alvino Rey, led his own group, and in 1953, joined George Shearing's then hugely popular quintet as a vibraphonist and percussionist. It was in Shearing's band that Tjader's love affair with Latin music began, ignited by Shearing's bassist Al McKibbon, nurtured by contact with Willie Bobo, Mongo Santamaria, and Armando Peraza, and galvanized by the '50s mambo craze. When he left Shearing the following year, Tjader promptly formed his own band that emphasized the Latin element yet also played mainstream jazz. Bobo and Santamaria eventually joined Tjader's band as sidemen, and Vince Guaraldi served for a while as pianist and contributor to the band's songbook ("Ginza," "Thinking of You, MJQ"). Tjader recorded a long series of mostly Latin jazz albums for Fantasy from the mid-'50s through the early '60s, switching in 1961 to Verve, where under Creed Taylor's aegis he expanded his stylistic palette and was teamed with artists like Lalo Schifrin, Anita O'Day, Kenny Burrell, and Donald Byrd. Along the way, Tjader managed to score a minor hit in 1965 with "Soul Sauce," a reworking of Dizzy Gillespie/Chano Pozo's "Guacha Guaro," which Tjader had previously cut for Fantasy. Tjader returned to Fantasy in the 1970s, then in 1979 moved over to the new Concord Picante label, where he remained until his death.

One of the last albums that Cal Tjader ever cut for Verve – and it's also one of the best! The great Joao Donato's sitting in on piano, and the set has a beautiful mix of Brazilian and Latin grooves, with added Verve groovy touches thrown in for good measure! Don Sebesky did the arrangements, and the album really is some of his finest work from the 60s. Cal grooves nicely throughout!