Melting Pot

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This might have been my longest period of time away from the KPFK airwaves since Melting Pot started…42 DAYS! Needless to say, it was nice to be back, especially since during that time there’s quite a lot of vinyl that I’d added to my collection. Our traditional end of the month, all-vinyl, show was the perfect time to return to be able to share a good bit of those discoveries with y’all. In fact, the entire second hour features music that I dug up in Havana, Cuba! Although I did get to play a number of my favorite things I got down there, there’s so much more to share (look for much more on that front this coming week). Next week we’ll be back, showcasing our particular blend of new and classic releases. Until then, enjoy the show!

Melting Pot on KPFK #205: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #205: Second Hour

Playlist: 08-28-2015
{opening theme} Boris Gardiner – Melting Pot – Is What’S Happening (Dynamic)

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Sidney Bechet – Days Beyond Recall – Jazz Classics (Blue Note)
Willie West & the High Society Bros. – Slow & Easy – Lost Soul (Timmion)
The Sandwitches – Miggy Malone – Our Toast (Empty Cellar)

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Chicano Batman – Amor Verde – Cycles Of Existential Rhyme (El Relleno)
Jards Macale – Let’s Play That – Jards Macale (Philips)
Yukio Hashi – Shikaku Michi – 7” (Victor)
Power Of Zeus – In The Night – The Gospel According To Zeus (Rare Earth)
Ronnie Vonn – Imagem – A Maquina Voadora (Polydor)
The Soul Investigators – One In A Million – 7” (Timmion)

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Nicole Willis & the Soul Investigators – Paint Me In A Corner – 7” (Timmion)
Donald Byrd – Dominoes – Places & Spaces (Blue Note)
Michael Jackson – It’s The Falling In Love – Off The Wall (Epic)
Homzsy Trio Group – Onye Dara Ada – Super Eagles Special (Homzy)

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Grupo Irakere – Iya – Irakere (Areito)
Rafael Somavilla – La Batea – Instrumental (Areito)
Las D’Aida – Exitos De Las D’Aida – Las D’Aida y Su Grupo (Areito)
Senen Suarez – En El Pico Blanco – Sorpresal Musical 7” (Areito)

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Mirtha y Raul – El Salvaje Del Amor Pierde – 7” (Areito)
Modo – Nevajag Raudat – 7” (Melodiya)
Grupo Experimentacion Sonora con Eduardo Ramos – Vocacion-Revolucion – XX Anniversario De la Cinematographia Cuba (Egrem)
Juan Pablo Torres – Extracto De Son – Con Todos Los Hierros (Areito)
Raul Gomez – Anatomia De La Problema – 7” (Areito)

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Raul Gomez – 6 Son – 7” (Areito)
Farah Maria – Un Cuento – 7” (Areito)
Vicente Rojas – Esto No Es Para Bailar – En Las 2 A.M. (Areito)
Conjunto Son 14 – A Bayamo En Coche – A Bayamo En Coche (Areito)
Omara Portuondo – Soy Cubano – Omara! (Areito)

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Chuco Valdes – Son No. 2 – Jazz Bata (Areito)

Zalatnay

Sarolta Zalatnay – Hadd Mondjam El
Sarolta Zalatnay – Egyszer
Sarolta Zalatnay – Ne Hidd El

I can’t remember exactly how I discovered this album, but at some point I saw that cover and even without hearing the music I wanted to have it just because of how beautiful it is. Turns out the music is quite good, having been dug up previously by Finders Keepers (probably the original source of my discovery) and reissued back in 2007. Sarolta Zalatnay was a Budapest born singer, with a gruff, strong voice, like a Hungarian Janis Joplin. For this album, and a few others collected on the Finders Keeper comp., she’s backed up by the band Skorpió. It only takes one listen to recognize that the real star of the show is the drummer, Fekete Gábor. These three tracks represent some of the cleanest and meanest drum breaks you’ll ever hear, all courtesy of Gábor. “Hadd Mondjam El” serves as the primary break for that Beta Club 45 I was raving about last Summer.

For whatever reason I haven’t really dipped my toes too much into Hungarian rock on this period, though it seems clear that the scene was at least as strong as the Turkish scene. Tracking this one down certainly serves as a major incentive to dig deeper in the near future.

Cheers,

Michael

FrancoMiranda

Manfred Hübler & Siegfried Schwab – Kama Sutra

As is the case with music, I’m a lover of 1960s/1970s film. Recently at a trip to my local beloved video store (an even rarer and more treasured breed than record stores these days) I saw the blu-ray edition of Jess Franco’s 1970 film, She Killed In Ecstasy, and didn’t hesitate to pick it up. The film, starring ill-fated beauty Miranda Soledad, is a revenge flick, very much like The Bride Wore Black (which would seem to have had a bit of inspiration on Kill Bill), where a wife takes revenge on the doctor’s who disgraced her husband’s experimental human embryo research, ultimately driving him insane. The film is notable for a number of reasons, especially the location, being filmed primarily at the Edificio Xanadu in Calpe, Spain, a truly stunning architectural achievement by Ricardo Bofill and for it’s extra groovy soundtrack. An added surprise with the new Blu-Ray release is that the collection of music that Manfred Hübler & Siegfried Schwab created for the film is included, after being out of print for roughly 20 years. “Kama Sutra” plays throughout the film, but is best used right from the very start with the opening credits. A nice psychedelic addition (both the soundtrack and the film) to the collection of any lover of this period of time.

CBatman

They’ve been one of my favorite LA bands pretty much since the moment they stepped on the scene and now Chicano Batman performs a sold-out show this Friday at the El Rey! It’s been fantastic to watch the band’s star rise solely by virtue of their distinctive blend of EastLos Soul and Tropicalia tinged Psychedelia. Of late the band has been in the studio working on new tracks and are likely to debut a number of new songs at the show Friday. If you want to go courtesy of Melting Pot, make sure to e-mail me by 3pm Wednesday August 26th at michael[at]meltingpotblog.com!!!

2015 has been quite a year for the band, a tour with Jack White and an appearance at Coachella, where this video was shot of “Itotiani”:

The video for the song “Cycles Of Existential Rhyme” was filmed in DTLA, primarily at La Cita, where Chicano Batman has played more than a few shows:

Finally, here is “Black Lipstick,” the latest song from the band, who seem just about ready to bless us with a new release:

FunkySoleAug2015 (10)

My summer officially ends tomorrow with the beginning of classes at Long Beach State, so it was nice to give what has been a truly eventful Summer a proper send-off with a guest spot at my favorite weekly here in LA, Funky Sole. With Rich Medina and DJ Spinna holding court upstairs in the Echo, we moved down stairs to the more spacious Echoplex. Though the venue changed, nothing changed with the crowd, as enthusiastic as ever, or the quality of music, with Miles out of town, Clifton, Mr. Mean Mustard, Connie Price and Joey Altruda held it down on the main stage and in the “Funk Yard” on the patio. We also had the great fortune of not one, but two hosts, with Myron (of Myron & E) and Black Shakespeare of the Lions on the mic.

For my part, as is usually the case, I tried to put together a set that featured a little bit of everyting, a few classics, some breaks for the break-boys and break-girls, and some more obscure tracks that I was mostly interested in how the crowd would respond. Having just returned from a far too short trip to Cuba (don’t worry, you’ll be hearing a lot about that in the next couple of weeks), I also wanted to share a few of the discoveries I dug up while there. Funky Sole2 The set begins with a class bit of Latin Funk from Irakere, a 45 that actually will be making it’s way into Music Man Miles’ collection when he comes back in town, and also features Juan Pablo Torres, Orquesta Cuba Ritmo and a later more disco inspired track from Chucho Valdes’ Irakere. We also did some soul travelin’ to Japan with Jun Mayuzumi (always a crowd pleaser), India with Asha Bhosle & Kishore Kumar, Argentina with Los Tios Queridos and even Russia, by way of Cuba, courtesy of Modo. One of my highlights of the night came from playing Pearly Queen’s “Quit Jivin'” off of my Matthew Africa tribute dub plate and having Black Shakespeare give a “This one is for Matthew Africa” shout near the end of the song.

After my set, Clifton, Mr. Mean Mustard and myself traded off, each playing a couple of records until closing time. I got a chance to play a couple of songs I was hesitant to work in a set, but have really wanted to see how they would go over, including that Precisions track I was wild about earlier in the Summer and Willie West’s “She’s So Wise.” Based on the response of both, I’ll definitely work them into my set the next time I grace the Funky Sole stage. Big thanks to Clifton, Miles, Nancy and everyone else in the Funky Sole family. I’ll see on you on the dance floor there, over at the Echo (and sometimes like this past Saturday, the Echoplex) from 10pm-2am, each and every Saturday night.

FunkySole82215FarahStop

{If you want to see additional photos from the night, make sure to click here and check out Farah Sosa’s slideshow of the whole night, including the picture of me directly above}

Guest DJ Set At Funky Sole: 08-22-2015

Funky Sole Guest DJ Set: 08-22-2015
1. Irakere – Bacalao Con Pan – 7” (Areito)
2. Marva Whitney – We Want To Paaarty – 7” (People)
3. Pearly Queen – Quit Jivin’ – Matthew Africa Dub Plate (Personal)
4. Modo – Ziedu Karalis – 7” (Melodiya)
5. Betty Davis – Anti Love Song – Betty Davis (Just Sunshine)
6. Juan Pablo Torres y Algo Nuevo – Rompe Cocoricoco – Con Todos Los Hierros (Areito)
7. Asha Bhosle & Kishore Kumar – Aa Dekhen Zara – Asha Bhosle Duets: Electrifying (Polydor)
8. Irakere – Baila Mi Ritmo – 7” (Areito)
9. Los Tios Queridos – Si Me Ves Volar – 7” (RCA)
10. Johnny Frigo Sextet – Scorpio – The Electric Jazz Of Gus Giordano (Orion)
11. Jun Mayuzumi – Black Room – Angel Love (Toshiba)
12. Franciene Thomas – I’ll Be There – 7” (Tragar)
13. Orquesta Cuba Ritmo – Chocolate Sin Menta – 7” (Areito)
14. Roger & the Gypsies – Pass The Hatchet – 7” (Seven B)
15. Robert Parker – Let’s Go Baby (Where The Action Is) – 7” (Nola)
16. Bull & the Matadors – The Funky Judge – 7” (Toddlin’ Town)
17. Nina Simone – Do I Move You? – Nina Sings The Blues (RCA Victor)
18. The Mad Doctors – The Mad Mad Doctor – Original Soundtrack: Dr. Goldfoot & The Girl Bombs (Tower)
19. The New Swing Sextet – Monkey See, Monkey Do – The Explosive New Swing Sextet (Cotique)
20. Machito – Green Onions – Machito Goes Memphis (RCA Victor)

FunkySoleAug2015 (13)

FunkySole

While I’ll be on hiatus until the last week in August, you CAN catch me over at Funky Sole on August 22nd for a Guest DJ set, likely kickin’ off ’round midnight. It’s possible we might move down to the Echoplex because that night is also Rich Medina & DJ Spinna’s Jump ‘n’ Funk Fela vs. James Brown night, which is currently scheduled for the Echo. No matter where we are, upstairs or below, it’s always an honor to share the stage with Clifton & Miles, and to play some tunes for the LA party people. I’ll likely bring along a few of the discovers I hope to discover in the next two weeks while I’m gallivanting around…hope to see you there!!!

RahsaanDream

Rahsaan Roland Kirk – Conversation
Rahsaan Roland Kirk – Freaks For The Festival
Rahsaan Roland Kirk – Portrait Of Those Beautiful Ladies
Rahsaan Roland Kirk – Dream/Portrait Of Those Beautiful Ladies
Rahsaan Roland Kirk – Side 4 Secret Conversation

{With this I’ll be formally taking a hiatus from the blog until probably the end of August.  I’m going to be doing some traveling and then getting ready for the beginning of the Fall semester at Long Beach.  When I come back, both here and on the radio, I’ll have stories to tell and (hopefully) some great records to share with you.  I’ll see you (or more accurately you’ll hear me) on August 28th when I return to the KPFK airwaves…until then, Bright Moments!}

Today would have been Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s 80th birthday, and since he IS the patron saint of Melting Pot, we always celebrate this day with a look at one his albums. In this case it’s one of his most distinctive albums, released 40 years ago (just like me!), The Case Of The Three-Sided Dream In Audio Color. This album was the follow up to Bright Moments and much of the energy from that live album finds it’s way here. The album in many ways is a concept album, connected together by interludes that seem to be connected to Rahsaan’s dreams.

Dreams were very important to Rahsaan, it’s said that he came up with the idea to play multiple instruments at once because of his dreams, and his name “Rahsaan,” came to him in a dream. Aside from the opening “Conversation” where Rahsaan is commanded to dream, the dreams themselves are audio collages mixing in a variety of sounds from trains to horses to Billie Holiday’s voice. The fact that many of these sounds repeat again and again throughout the record also connects to a clear theme for Rahsaan, in his music more broadly, but perhaps never more fully explored than on this album, the cyclical though timeless nature of music. Over the three sides of music, Rahsaan & the Vibration Society perform different versions of the same tracks, almost appearing in reverse/mirrored order. There are two versions of “Freaks For The Festival,” “Bye Bye Blackbird,” “Portait of Those Beautiful Ladies,” “The Entertainer” as well as versions of “High Heel Sneakers” and “Echoes Of Primitive Ohio and Chili Dogs.” With so much material you might think the album would get redundant, but the additional versions support and augment the dreamlike quality of the album, reminiscent of the feeling you may have when you awake from a dream and fall back to sleep into the same dream, yet things have shifted in slight ways.

The really distinctive thing about this album is the fourth side. Though the record itself says that grooves were added to the fourth side solely to protect people’s audio equipment who might have forgotten that this was a three sided album, there is something to be heard on that fourth side. It’s not something that is really easy to see when you look at the wax and so I’m sure that a lot of people might have missed Rahsaan’s message. It’s possible that I only would have realized that something was there because I first heard this album on CD, which recreated that fourth side through a hidden track.

“Hey Rahsaan, do you have a message for the people who will be listening to the part of the record that no one will be listening to?”

{Speaking in tongues}…In that, we all know that there will never be peace, I would like to say Bright Moments and joy through the universe to all the very beautiful people that might take time out to paste their ears to this very beautiful spinning piece of material that is in their presence…Bright Moments and joy, because we know that the whole thing of peace has passed us all by, but serenity and joy through the land…Bright Moments {more speaking in tongues}.”

It always makes me smile that Rahsaan and company came up with that idea and I’m sure it must have tripped people out when they discovered it for the first time. I like to think that Rahsaan’s spirit is still smiling every time someone puts needle to that part of the album to this day.

Bright Moments!

Michael

Ghostface

Ghostface Killah feat. Raekwon – King Of New York

In 2013, in a match made in Hip-Hop heaven, Ghostface Killah collaborated with Adrian Younge on the cinematic concept album Twelve Reasons To Die. Given how prolific Ghostface has been during his career, perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that just two years later we have the sequel. Volume 2 benefits from a voice that was strangely absent on the first volume, that of Raekwon, who in this case is featured on five of the album’s tracks. The two men have a habit of bringing the best out in each other, as evidenced on “King Of New York.” Based on how the story ends, it seems there will definitely be a part 3 in the near future. The only remaining question is whether or not they’ll create a feature, live action or animated, film to accompany this music once the story has been told.

RaekwonGhost

Another dynamite show and another dynamite giveaway for you readers and listeners of Melting Pot. 2015 marks the 20th anniversary of Chef Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, released August 1, 1995. To celebrate the principal voices on the album Raekwon and Ghostface Killah are doing a nationwide tour that culminates with a final show here in Los Angeles. This show might be even more special since there’s a chance that Adrian Younge and/or Bad Bad Not Good might join the MCs on stage, since both outfits will be in town. Not to be missed. If you want a chance to see the show, make sure to e-mail me at michael[at]meltingpotblog.com before Monday at 5pm, which will be when I pick the winner.

Hearing the production from this album still sends chills down my spine, with “Criminology” perhaps being my favorite track on the album:

Here Raekwon & Ghostface perform “Criminology” in Chicago during one of the early stops of this anniversary tour:

LowEndTheory

Founded in 2006, Low End Theory has been a safe-haven for forward thinking beat driven artists and listeners here in Los Angeles. The night has proved to be an incubator for some of the finest instrumental music of the 21st century, with residents Gaslamp Killer, Nobody, D-Styles, Nocando and Daddy Kev, along with frequent guests Flying Lotus, Teebs, Daedulus and Thundercat. This weekend almost all of the many DJs, producers and musicians associated with this scene will performing at the 2nd annual Low End Theory festival, this time at the Shrine Expo Hall & Grounds this Saturday August 8th. You and a guest can bear witness to what should truly be an experience if win this giveaway. Make sure to e-mail me at michael[at]meltingpotblog.com by 5pm Thursday, August 6th, for your chance to win!

In recent years, Flying Lotus has really added a significantly more theatrical element to his live shows, as this video from a show at the Wiltern can attest to:

Not sure if Gaslamp Killer will “just” be doing a DJ set, or it will be the full-on GLK Experience, but no matter, any performance is not to be missed from this man. Here’s a little video from his show at Grand Performances earlier in the Summer:

Aside from Gaslamp Killer and FlyLo, I think I’m most excited to see what Thundercat has cooked up for this special night, here’s a clip from a performance a couple years ago here in LA:

Finally, here are some highlights from last year’s festival, which was held at the Echoplex:

RonnieVonn

Ronie Von – A Maquina Voadora
Ronnie Von – Baby De Tal
Ronnie Von – Imagem

A week ago here in LA, Brasil came to town in the form of Joel Stones and his legendary store Tropicalia In Furs, roughly two years after closing down in NYC. As of yet, Stones hasn’t fully set up shop, only a pop-up store for a weekend, but from the response, he seems like he’ll be back. As a fan of Brazilian music from the 1960s & 1970s, it can be extremely difficult to get these records here in the states. Out in the wild of “regular” stores, you’d be lucky to run into a greatest hits collection. If you go the Ebay/Dicogs route, you’ll be paying shipping costs that are almost as expensive as the records themselves and waiting for a month before they arrive (IF they arrive!). So, a store like Tropicalia In Furs, dedicated to rare, psychedelic and funky Brazilian music is a dream come true. If not for my upcoming trip to Cuba, I would have gotten many more records than I did and spent significantly more money. VonnBackI was able to get a nice little haul, mostly just solid titles, but a couple of rarer ones that I’ll definitely feature here in coming months.

This Ronnie Von record was one that I tried to win from a online auction that Stones did last year. Recorded in 1970, this album walks the tightrope between the rocking MPB sounds of Roberto Carlos and the fuzzy soul of Tim Maia or Erasmo Carlos. “A Maquina Voadora” and “Imagem” both bring the fuzz and have a lovely headnodic sound. I’d heard those tracks and knew what to expect for most of the record. “Baby De Tal” was a surprise, toned down, much more soulful and emerged as my favorite track. My ears and yours are made all the better by having Tropicalia In Furs back on the scene, here’s to hoping that the store opens up full-time in the very near future.

Cheers,

Michael

Mexico68

Mexico 68 Afrobeat Orchestra – Soon Dem Come

First got a chance to see Los Angeles’ Mexico 68 Afrobeat Orchestra at Miles Tackett’s record release last Summer. I was immediately impressed with their mastery of the original sound, pioneered by Fela Kuti, and the occasional stylistic and rhythmic additions from Afro-latin music. A year later, and the group has released their debut album, featuring five original compositions. “Soon Dem Come” highlights the personal style of the group, with that indestructible afrobeat rhythm and politically charged lyrics in both Spanish and English. Keep your fingers crossed that we’ll be able to bring them into KPFK later this year, though I don’t know how or where we’ll fit all 13 musicians in the group!

Annabel (Lee) KPFK (1)

The stars finally aligned for us this past week, after not having nearly as many guests as I’d hoped, we were able to bring in Annabel (Lee) for an interview and performance, a debut in many ways for this version of the ensemble, headed up by Annabel and Richard E. As I’ve mentioned previously, the album from Annabel (Lee) is one of my favorites of the year, just the right mix of moody, nearly supernatural sounds that skirts with a variety of genres, styles and time periods without sounding firmly ensconced in any particular one. I was especially looking forward to how this music would be translated into live performance and it turns out to have been beautifully done, here as a mostly acoustic (with only the keyboards needing an amplifier) sextet, with vocals, guitar, upright bass, keys, violin and harp. From conversation with Richard and Annabel, this particular ensemble (which also might include a cello) hasn’t performed live just yet, but live shows here in LA and abroad should be forthcoming. As you can tell from the three songs they performed for us, “Far,” “Alone” and “Suki Desu,” whenever/wherever Annabel (Lee) performs, it will be an event not to be missed. Special thanks to Mark Maxwell for his sonic wizardry and to Annabel (Lee) for blessing us with a truly magical performance.

Annabel (Lee) on KPFK’s Melting Pot: 07-14-2015

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Four weeks into doing our show on Fridays, we finally have our first guests, the ethereal Annabel (Lee). The interview and performance with them takes up almost the entire second hour, with a couple of their favorite artists, Nick Drake and Nina Simone thrown in to round things out. In the first hour, we drew attention to several frees hows going on in LA via Grand Performances (Mexico 68 and Kamasi Washington perform next week, NOT to be missed!) and play a fair amount of tunes from Dungen, Kadhja Bonet, Ghostface Killah + Adrian Younge, Thundercat and more. Unfortunately, just as I’ve started to get my rhythm on Friday nights, I’ll be taking a prolonged break, with an upcoming fundraiser and a trip far out of town. My next show will be at the end of August, and my hopes are that I’ll have a boatload of new/old vinyl to share with you then. Enjoy!

Melting Pot on KPFK #204: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #204: Second Hour

Playlist: 07-17-2015
{opening theme} Booker T & the MGs – Melting Pot – 7” (Stax)

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Kamasi Washington – The Rhythm Changes – The Epic (Brainfeeder)
Ondatropica – Tiene Sabor, Tiene Sazon – Ondatropica (Soundway)
Mexico 68 Afrobeat Orchestra – Rukus – Mexico 68 Afrobeat Orchestra (Rampart)

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Norma White – I Want Your Love – 7” (Ximeno)
Katalyst feat. Stephanie McKay – Day Into Night – Deep Impression (BBE)
Kadhja Bonet – Come Wander/Iemanja – Single (Self-Released)
Thundercat – Where The Giants Roam/Field Of Nephilim – The Beyond/Where The Giants Roam (Brainfeeder)
Magnum Force – Girl, You’re Too Cool – Ultra High Frequencies: The Chicago Party (Numero)

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Ghostfact Killah w/ Adrian Younge’s Venice Dawn feat. Raekwon & Bilal – Resurrection Morning – 12 Reasons To Die II (Linear Labs)
The Royal Jesters – Take Me For A Little While – Royal Jesters: English Oldies (Numero)
Miles Tackett & the 3 Times – Just What I Need – The Fool Who Wonders (Root Down LA)
Dungen – Akt Dit – Allas Sak (Mexican Summer)
Kutiman – Inner Galactic Lovers – Single (Self-Released)
The Pops – Som Imaginario De Jimi Hendrix – Brazilian Guitar Fuzz Bananas (World Psychedelic Funk Classics/Tropicalia In Furs)

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Annabel (Lee) – Interview & Performance – Recorded Live At KPFK (KPFK Archives)

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Annabel (Lee) – Find Me – By The Sea…And Other Solitary Places (Ninja Tune)
Nick Drake – Way To Blue – Five Leaves Left (Island)
Nina Simone – That’s All I Ask – Wild Is The Wind (Philips)

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{closing theme} Dungen – C. Visar Vagen – Tio Bitar (Kemado)

Austin

Claire Austin – I’ll Never Be The Same
Claire Austin – My Melancholy Baby
Claire Austin – This House Is Haunted
Claire Austin – Can’t We Talk It Over

As I think I’ve mentioned previously, over the past year I’ve been buying many more vocal albums than normal, seemingly one of the many strange unintended consequences of my separation and soon to be finalized divorce. More so than just getting vocal albums I haven’t owned, I’ve been tracking down vocalists I hadn’t heard before. I found this album on the same trip to Groove Merchant that netted the Ensemble Al-Salaam album. The cover design was absolutely a drawing point, the stark photo, the strange greenish hue to the black and white image, the pensive woman, clearly melancholy and slightly out of focus. But what was most intriguing was the fact that there was no artist information on the cover, a very rare thin indeed. Only “When Your Lover Has Gone.” Without hearing the music or knowing who the artist was, I would have likely bought the album, solely on the strength of that cover, which is one of the most distinctively beautiful ones I’ve ever seen.

Quick flip over, identified the artist as “Clair Austin sings ‘When Your Lover Has Gone’ & other songs of unrequited love, with Bob Scobey, trumpet, Barney Kessel, guitar, Stan Wrightsman, piano, Morty Cobb, bass, Shelly Manne, drums.” I’d certainly heard of Kessel and Manne, Scobey’s name rang a slight bell, but Clair Austin was someone I hadn’t heard of. Part of the reason for that is that she really didn’t record much or for very long. Austin began singing some time in the 1930s, but WWII meant that she was separated from her drummer husband, Chuck Austin, while he was fighting. After the war, the Austin’s became accountants and settled into suburban life in Sacramento. But, at some point in the late 1940s, Austin began singing again and landed a recording gig with Kid Ory, and this one with Bob Scobey, before largely fading away again into obscurity.

Austin has a really distinctive and slightly unsettling style of singing. There’s something about her voice that sounds both wrong and right. Though I’ve seen writers compare her to Peggy Lee, I don’t hear that at all. Her phrasing is straight out of the 20s or 30s, as a strange mix of Bessie Smith & Billie Holiday with just the slightest of Swedish accents. I’m not sure if Scobey chose these songs or Austin chose them, but it’s an interesting mix, and another drawing point for me, since the majority of them are ones that I’d never heard or rarely see on other vocalists albums from this period of time. My copy of the album isn’t pristine, so my favorite songs, “This House Is Haunted,” and “My Melancholy Baby” have some assertive pops and clicks, but I share them nonetheless solely because of how lovely they are.

Cheers,

Michael

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