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JAZZ: BLUE NOTE RECORDS - ALFRED LION AND FRANCIS WOLFF

75 years ago Blue Note Records was started by two German immigrants who loved jazz and believed that the music should be heard and preserved. Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff collaborated and built the Blue Note vault of music that included the artistry of immortals: Miles Davis, Sonny Clark, Sidney Bechet, Clifford Brown, Art Blakey, The Jazz Messengers, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, and Horace Tavares Silver, from Norwalk, Connecticut.

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Alfred Lion & Francis Wolff had a deep love & respect for Jazz & the musicians. They were passionate fans of the music making the albums they themselves wanted to hear. When he founded Blue Note 80 years ago in 1939, Alfred wrote: “Blue Note Records are designed simply to serve the uncompromising expressions of hot jazz or swing, in general. Any particular style of playing which represents an authentic way of musical feeling is genuine expression. By virtue of its significance in place, time and circumstance, it possesses its own tradition, artistic standards and audience that keeps it alive. Hot jazz, therefore, is expression and communication, a musical and social manifestation, and Blue Note Records are concerned with identifying its impulse, not its sensational and commercial adornments.”

Looking back in 1985, Alfred said “There are some ardent jazz fans who don't want to know about fusion. I'm not one of them. I'm for whatever it takes to embellish the music. Being an ardent jazz fan, I don't want to stop with any one sound. I started with Dixieland and ended with Cecil Taylor. And I'm still digging new sounds.”

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PHOTOS:

Alfred Lion, Dexter Gordon and Francis Wolff

Hank Mobley and Alfred Lion, Englewood Cliffs, NJ 1960

Alfred Lion and Thelonious Monk, Thelonious Monk Sextet session, WOR Studios, New York, NY, May 30, 1952

ROY AYERS IS ALIVE

Abby O'Neill -- Roy Ayers arrived at his Tiny Desk performance beaming with positivity. The 77-year-old funk icon and vibraphonist sauntered through the office with a Cheshire grin on his face, sharing jokes with anyone within earshot. Accompanying him was a trio of brilliantly seasoned musicians — keyboardist Mark Adams, bassist Trevor Allen and drummer Christopher De Carmine. Later during the performance, pride washed across Ayers' face as his bandmates took the spotlight. (Be sure to watch as Adams woos not just the room but brightens Ayers' face during his solo.)

The set began with one of Ayers' more recognizable hits: an extended version of "Searching," a song that embodies the eternal quest for peace and love. During "Black Family" (from his 1983 album Lots Of Love), you'll hear him call out "Fela" throughout. That's because Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti was a huge influence on Ayers in the late 1970s; the two eventually collaborated on an album, 1980's Music Of Many Colors. "Black Family" is, in part, a tribute to Fela, even if the original version didn't include his name.

Concluding this mini-concert, Ayers closed the set out with his signature tune, "Everybody Loves the Sunshine", a feel-good ode if there ever was one. The essence of this song flowed right through him and out to the NPR audience.

ROY AYERS: I AM YOUR MIND PART 2

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If you believe in yourself
You'll know the real you
It's coming from within
Sincerely, sincerely
You subject yourself to being vulnerable
Not knowing why you fall in love
And so you become
What you are made to become
It's not at all fair that I feel as I do
Tell me something to make me feel better

My sister, I am your mind. Within you there's a never-ending magnitude of infinite strength, wisdom and will. You travel my roads through life never knowing your own true reality because my thoughts remain like distant quasars. You abuse me by never letting me say and do as I feel. Our thoughts split from love affairs to choice of friends. We argue like two enemies yet we are good friends.
Now, there are moments when we harmonize with each other, and become one with nature and reality. But these times are few. When after you have replenished yourself, the fear of the truth sets in. We split, and you start to run again. Running, running, running. Running through women, men, jobs, people and life looking for the answer when I had it all along. But I smile... because I am your mind.

I was your mind yesterday; I am your mind today; and I'll be your mind tomorrow. And as our end draws near we will become closer. But you and I, you and I, we will never be one, for I will part from you and you will part from me; you finding another mind and I another soul. And we'll travel on and on.

By the way, I need more than sex to nourish my equilibrium. But I do need sex. I also need sun, trees, stars, creativity and love. But you saturate my soul with too much of one and not enough of the other. Therefore I cry. But why do we cry? Because tears cleanse the windows of our minds. I am your mind.

Tell me something to make me feel better
All your thoughts inside your mind wanting to be free

Well, now you've got the chance to let your mind grow... and be free. Because the music is just trying to say things to free your mind. And if you let your mind be free, then you can understand mine. There's no need to be afraid of me. I want to be your friend. I'm just trying to give you music from deep, deep, deep within.

And on and on, and on and on

Tell me something to make me feel better

All of your dreams can become reality. My dial reaches full, but you've only been turning me halfway. Turn me up, and alpha and theta waves will spew from your pores. Knowledge, peace, happiness and prosperity will be placed at your feet. Let's, let's create. Solve. Love. Accomplish. And unify. As-Salaam-Alaikum.

LARRY HEARD

Steve Winwood once said “If You See a Chance, Take It’ and I say if you see a record with a celestial cover like this, buy it. This Larry Heard album, particularly ‘Summertime Breeze’ IS #sundayvibes. And my old favorite Horace Silver’s ‘United States of Mind: Phase 3’ will give you an extra 5 years of life.

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BILL EVANS - A TRIBUTE

Some of my favorite collaborations only happened where the sole reason the artists were together was to celebrate the life of another. The Stevie Ray Vaughan tribute concert was perhaps THE best musical firework display and it took place 5 years after his death.

I recently came across another group for greats… those who recorded songs for a Bill Evans tribute album. Bill Evans: A Tribute and was released in 1992. Over a series of 4 sessions, some of the best musicians of the time including George Shearing, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and McCoy Tyner recorded tracks for the record.

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MILES DAVIS

MILES DAVIS’ FUNERAL READ HERE

“I looked around in the room. I’d say there were four or five hundred people—quite a few I didn’t know, and a lot of the musicians from my period with Miles whom I hadn’t seen in twenty years, as well as familiar faces like Jack DeJonette, Wayne Shorter, Dave Holland, and Herbie Hancock. I realized the common bond between all of us was we had been with Miles when we were young and impressionable, not fully formed. For each of us, he had been our first big break. That bonded the fifty or so musicians attending who were lucky to have played with him over the past forty-five years.”

MILES DAVIS’ PRINCE OBSESSION READ HERE

“Prince is like the church to gay guys. He’s the music of the people who go out after ten or eleven at night. He comes in on the beat and plays on top of the beat. I think when Prince makes love he hears drums instead of Ravel.”

PHOTO: Jim Marshall

PHOTO: Jim Marshall

ANDY BEY is GAY?

Two years ago I found the Horace Silver album ‘All’ (The United States of Mind Phase 3); a jazzy, thought-provoking album featuring Andy Bey singing about how to lead a spiritually righteous life. The lyrics and Andy Bey’s vocals hit me round the head!

I just read that Andy Bey is gay and HIV positive and it also hit me round the head! He revealed his sexuality and health status on NPR in 1996 at the age of 56 and is still singing today at 79. The heroism of aging performers is so underrated!

While reading a story about Homophobia in Jazz, I read the following about Bey…

“Still boyish at 62, Bey is at a peak of acclaim after decades of obscurity. His last three solo albums, Ballads, Blues & Bey (Evidence, 1996), Shades of Bey(Evidence, 1998) and the new Tuesdays in Chinatown (N2K) have introduced a wide audience to his cool, ethereal vocals, darkened with tinges of gospel, blues and jazz, and filled with eerie silences. Prestige has released Andy Bey & the Bey Sisters, a CD of two albums he made with his sisters, Geraldine and Salome, when they formed a funky vocal trio in the late ’50s and ’60s. Bey went on to sing with such hard-bop leaders as Horace Silver and Gary Bartz.

“Black, gay and HIV-positive—that’s kind of a heavy load!” he says, laughing. “I always experienced some kind of phobia, that’s for sure!” The musicians he knew spent a lot of time bragging about their women, which of course he didn’t. He felt their “cold-shoulder brush” of disapproval.

In 1996, without prodding, he revealed his sexuality and his health status to NPR’s Linda Wertheimer and to Andrew Velez in Out. “I knew I had nothing to lose,” he says. “I knew I had talent whether I was straight or gay. It was liberating, because I didn’t have to hide anymore. Like I’ve often said, being HIV-positive was a blessing in disguise. It took this major crisis in my life to probably help me make some of the best music I’ve ever made in my life, just to feel like a freer human being.”

Bey says, convincingly, that he doesn’t care what anyone says about him. “I think what matters is the individual himself, how he perceives himself. Who wants to be recognized by a bunch of assholes, anyway? What do you want from them? What can they give you? I can understand getting laws passed so you don’t go around bashing people, but you have to recognize yourself. I wouldn’t care so much if somebody called me a faggot now. At least I have an identity.”” - STORY by JAMES GAVIN

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KISS ME L.A. by ANGELYNE

Today we played ‘Angelyne’ a 1982 picture disc by Angelyne which we found in a Minnesota record shop. This first track, “Kiss Me L.A.”, was later used in the movie "The Malibu Beach Vampires".

I also recommend Angelyne’s 1986 album “Driven To Fantasy” featuring my favourites Dreaming About You, My List and Skin Tight.

CARAVAN TO MIDNIGHT by ROBIN TROWER

I first heard Robin Trower’s ‘I’m Out to Get You’ on KCSN FM a couple of months ago and shazamed it almost immediately. It turns out it’s from an incredible 1978 album by Trower who is still performing today and came to LA while I was in England! I’ve found so much incredible music through KCSN that when my granddad passed in April during KCSN’s annual pledge drive, I made a donation to keep the station alive in his name.

Prince in the LIFE Archive

LIFE photographer Gjon Mili once wrote that the best portrait is when the subject is “free and easy…in the line of the body.” By that logic, it was impossible for Prince to take a bad picture.

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AMAZING GRACE by ARETHA FRANKLIN

Since I could only attempt to begin to do this film justice, I’ll paste a few words hear that might entice you to devour it yourself…

Aretha Franklin’s Amazing Grace Is a Truly Religious Experience

The 1972 concert film, finally released, is a worthy tribute to one of the finest recording sessions in music history.

K. AUSTIN COLLINS

Early in Amazing Grace, Reverend Dr. James Cleveland—the Grammy-winning choir director and, to many, the “King of Gospel”—reminds us why we’re here. This is a “religious service,” he says to the bustling crowd filling the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church, in Los Angeles. But it’s also a recording session. Here are the mics; there’s the recording equipment; and all around is the camera crew assigned to make a movie.

“And if things should happen,” says Cleveland at the start, “and we have to take it over—you know how that is. So if you said ‘Amen’ on it first, and we have to take it over, when we get back to that spot you say ‘Amen’ again, hear?”

Cleveland already knows what listeners of Amazing Grace, the album being recorded over course of those two days in January of 1972, would soon discover for themselves: gospel is a collective experience. It is as much a matter of the voices soaring over the pews as it is of the voices amplifying that spirit by shouting back. It’s the mere fact of wanting to shout back in the first place—of being impelled to catch the spirit by forces much greater than you, no matter how secular you are. Amazing Grace—Aretha Franklin’s canonical gospel masterpiece—is a case in point. So please, have your Amens ready… Read More

ALIEN by LARRY HEARD

POINCIANA by AHMAD JAMAL