Melting Pot

April2

Adrian Younge feat. Loren Oden – Sandrine

While it’s been four years since Adrian Younge released the first volume of “Something About April,” you can forgive the man for taking that long on a sequel, because he has been a truly busy fellow. Multiple collaborations with Ghostface Killah, Bilal, Laetitia Sadier and others have graced our ears in the ensuing years between these albums, and in that time Younge’s music has taken on a very specific retro-funk sound, very specifically read through a Hip-Hop mindset. This has led to Younge being one of the few contemporary artists who music is routinely sampled in Hip-Hop. But you could make a case that Younge’s music is best when it is completely his own vision. Something About April II certainly seems to provide ample evidence to that assertion, with more than a few songs that sound nothing like anything that Younge has produced thus far. The particularities of his sound are all there, but when you hear “Sandrine,” or “La Ballade” you could be easily convinced that it is another artist’s work, that’s how new and fresh some of this music sounds. I don’t know if we’ll have to wait another four years for Part 3 (lately Younge has been busy getting ready to open up a new Artform Studio in Highland Park, which now I think will now bring the total to six of LA’s finest record stores being within 5 minutes of each other), but I sincerely hope he doesn’t wait that long to immerse us within his own personal musical world. This album is definitely a strong early contender for my “Best of 2016.”

CastorTreats

So, lately, since leaving the regularity of a weekly radio show (or semi-regularity as was often the case at KPFK), I’ve had some difficulty getting motivated enough to put together a show from home. For a period of time, it felt like I was in existential swamp, not sure what to do, where to go, feeling a bit stuck. During a bit of re-organization ’round my place, I knocked over some older mini-disks, which way back in the day I used as an archive means before the days of MP3’s and WAV’s. On a few of those, I remembered there were a few mixes that I had put together after I had moved to the Bay Area and had begun to spend a little more time on mixing and DJ-ing. These mixes were original for cassettes (it was after all back in the day when “mixtapes” were actually put onto tapes), so they end up being about 45 minutes a piece, and coming out of radio and a being a Southerner, it’s hard for me to just chop things up, so there’s only about ten songs on each. I’m thinking that there were more of these, but seems that I only archived these three sides, perhaps because I didn’t really think the others were up to snuff.

Even looking at these 16-17 years later, they ain’t half bad. I kinda wish I’d spent more time developing my mixing skills, to be able to beat juggle and match, instead of the somewhat jarring jump cuts that I employed at this time or the simple cross fade I do nowadays. Some of the songs are familiar, some a bit deeper, but there’s quality on the them all. Most importantly, I feel like listening to these snapped me out of my funk (pun intended) and helped me to get myself back on track so that I can regularly post new mixes and “Melting Pot Radio Hours” in the weeks to come. So, here you go, Funky Treats For Funky Peeps, volumes 1-3. The title now strikes me as being a little hokey, but I might resurrect it in the future…Enjoy!

Funky Treats For Funky Peeps Vol. 1
Tracklist:

1. Jimmy Castor Bunch – It’s Just Begun
2. Harlem Underground Band – Smokin’ Cheeba Cheeba
3. The Fatback Band – Mr. Bassman
4. Lee Dorsey – Occapella
5. The Chubuckos – House Of Rising Funk
6. Jimmy Smith – I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little Bit More Babe
7. Cymande – The Message
8. Blue Mitchell – The Message
9. Rusty Bryant – The Fire Eater
10. Albert Ayler – New Generation
11. Ernie Hines – Our Generation

Funky Treats For Funky Peeps Vol. 2
Tracklist:

1. King Curtis – Memphis Soul Stew
2. S.O.U.L. – Soul
3. Sir Joe Quarterman & Free Soul – I’ve Got So Much Trouble In My Mind
4. Detroit Emeralds – You’re Getting A Little Too Smart
5. Jimmy Smith – Root Down (And Get It!)
6. Herbie Hancock – Watermelon Man
7. Leon Thomas – China Doll
8. Cymande – Fug

Funky Treats For Funky Peeps Vol. 3
Tracklist:

1. Archie Shepp – Attica Blues
2. Buddy Rich – Big Mac
3. Mandingo – The Headhunter
4. Manu DiBango – New Bell
5. Gary Bartz – Follow The Medicine Man
6. The Black Byrds – Rock Creek Park
7. James Brown – A Blind Man Can See It
8. Larry Coryell – Morning Sickness
9. Miles Davis – Black Satin
10. Earth Wind & Fire – Bad Tune

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Weldon Irvine – I Love You
Weldon Irvine – Do Something For Yourself
Weldon Irvine – Music Is The Key

Because of some (fingers-crossed) big-ish plans for the 7th anniversary of this blog in July, I’ve recently tried to map out and plan some of my posts a bit more than I really ever do. As I was running through records that I wanted to share here I almost missed this album, thinking that I’d already posted something about it. What must have been in my mind was the though to post this up shortly after Don Blackman passed in 2013. Given that at the time my marriage was falling apart, it’s highly likely that that played a part in my decision at that time not to post this record. The reason for that is fairly simply. “I Love You” is perhaps my single favorite song from the 1970s. It’s an absolutely perfect, unabashedly romantic song and something that I’ve always wanted to sing to the woman I love. To date, I still haven’t had a chance to, but I’m posting this up on Valentine’s Day as a pledge to that woman, whoever she may be, that she’ll know when she hears this song exactly what it means.

In addition to the perfection of “I Love You,” Sinbad presents a cross-section of Irvine’s talents as a performer, bandleader and songwriter, with a large group including Blackman, Cornell Dupree, Eric Gale, Steve Gadd and Randy & Michael Brecker. There are crowd pleasing covers of Stevie and Marvin, funk/disco vamps like the title cut, pensive pieces like “Here’s Where I Cam In,” and Spiritual funk with “Do Something For Yourself,” and “Music Is The Key” that are representative of what I appreciate most from the career of Weldon Irvine. But ultimately it all comes back to “I Love You,” which is just one of the most absolutely perfect listening experiences from the decade of my birth. Valentine’s Day is every day with music this lovely.

Cheers,

Michael

KING

KING – The Right One

When KING debuted their self-released video and music for “The Story,” they started a legitimate phenomena. At that time, all the way back in 2011, it seemed that all of the best new indie/future soul music was being made by Europeans like Quadron and Little Dragon. KING’s music and their vocal harmonies set thousands of people’s hearts aflame, and they garnered quick and deep appreciation from heavy-hitters like Phonte Coleman, Erykah Badu and even his purple highness Prince. One of my absolute finest and most cherished moments was bringing in the trio to record a session on KPFK, and of all of the sessions we did, there is no doubt that that particular one was the most downloaded and most shared on the web. The world had to wait a seemingly endless four years after “The Story” dropped for the full-length debut to finally be released, but that wait is now finally over with the release of We Are King. It’s fitting that the release came just ahead of Valentine’s Day, since virtually every song covers matters of love. The band has re-recorded new versions of most of the songs we knew already, adding new elements to “The Story,” “Hey” and “Supernatural” and introducing us to other songs that fans had only previously heard in their live performances in LA and elsewhere. Sometimes I find it hard to describe exactly why a certain son or artist moves me in a particular way…that is not the case with KING. Musically there are definitely elements in Paris Strother’s production that recall the late 1980s/early 1990s, but the way she weaves layer upon layer upon layer of sound is distinctive and a wonder in it’s own right. The vocal harmonies produced by Amber, Anita & Paris are some of the absolute sweetest I’ve ever heard…EVER! The result is a music that envelops the listener completely, into silky pillows of sound, softly soothing but never allowing you to drift away. The music of KING holds you in it’s lovely embrace and now that we’ve finally gotten our first release, the only question is when we’ll get more, because that ultimately is the feeling you get when the debut has finished, please let there be more…and please, Paris, Amber and Anita, don’t make us wait quite so long for what comes next.

DillaPeanuts

{I know I’ve been away for a month, been going through some personal things, but I think I’ve got everything sorted out and should get back to regular posting, including a couple of mixes each month and a couple of “radio” shows here on the blog…promise.}

The past couple of months have been devastating for music fans the world over.  I can’t recall a period of time during my life where so many iconic figures have passed away so close to each other.  Every time I thought I might get together a tribute post, someone else passed away, and so it seemed best to pay tribute to them all at once.

Clarence Reid aka Blowfly – Masterpiece

Clarence Reid is perhaps best known by his alter-ego, Proto-sex rap innovator Blowfly, but for fans of 1960s/1970s soul, the influence of Reid is almost impossible to fully grasp. Like his contemporaries elsewhere, such as Allen Toussaint, Willie Mitchell, Reid was a prolific song writer and arranger, who lent his talents to an extraordinary amount of songs. “Masterpiece” is maybe my favorite song of his, sampled to great effect by the Jurassic 5, and one of the best crowd pleasing mid-tempo dance floor fillers I’ve ever had the pleasure to drop the needle on.

Lemmy with Motorhead – Ace Of Spades

Like Keith Richards, you kind of had the feeling that Lemmy might be beyond death. He certainly seemed larger than life during his time here. The first time I came into contact with Lemmy, his persona and his sound, was while watching the UK comedy series “The Young Ones” on MTV in the 1980s. It’s an iconic moment from the best single episode of the show’s run, “Bambi” and one of my favorite media moments from my childhood, something that likely had a major effect on my Rock tastes as I grew older.

David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust (Isolated Vocal)

I really had planned to do several posts connected to Bowie when he passed, but it was such a huge loss I couldn’t fully wrap my head around the work necessary to write them up. Instead I just listened to Bowie. One of the things that I discovered in those early days after his passing was this track. Hearing this reminded me of being young in Georgia and making tapes of music from 96 Rock’s “Psychedelic Saturday,” when I first heard this track. I never considered that it could be the same guy who sang “Let’s Dance” and “Ashes To Ashes.” Instead I was sure it was a band, not a single vocalist. My little brain back then couldn’t comprehend the different ways that Bowie was using and manipulating his voice to give it such different sounds as if it were different people singing about “Ziggy” instead of just that one lovely man.

Maurice White with Earth, Wind & Fire – Bad Tune

So much of my childhood was shaped by the music and message of Earth, Wind & Fire. Funky and fiercely uplifting, their hits crossed across all boundaries and much of their sound was directly connected to Maurice White. While I love the albums from the group in the mid and late 1970s, it’s that first full-length record as a group (not counting the soundtrack to Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song) and shows their unique blend of Kool & the Gang, Sly Stone and Jimmy Castor’s psychedelic soul. “Bad Tune” features White on one of the instruments that would give EWF a distinctive Afro-centric sound, the Kalimba. I don’t know where/when he picked up the instrument, though I imagine it was during his early years in Chicago, given the Africanist element of many Chicago groups, including those associated with Sun Ra and Phil Cohran. “Bad Tune” is truly that, hard and funky, with a sound that literally transports you away from wherever you are.

J Dilla – Anti-American Grafitti from Donuts

All of the icons above passed away recently, but today marks the tenth anniversary of the passing of another legendary iconic figure, James DeWitt Yancey aka J Dilla aka JayDee aka Dilla Dawg or just simply Dilla. IN the time since his passing, it’s become clear that Dilla is the Hip-Hop generation’s Hendrix, perhaps even it’s Coltrane, a true revolutionary, whose approach to beatmaking will likely influence many generations to come. This year also marks the 10th anniversary of Dilla’s magnum opus, Donuts. An album that continues to amaze and astound. My favorite song from that album continues to be “Anti-American Grafitti,” which floats some Wolfman Jack over a more complex than it seems sample from Tin Tin’s “Family Tree.” The basis of the beat occurs at the very end of the song, and isn’t full enough to exist as a loop all by itself, so Dilla chopped parts of it, extended it and gave it a song structure and logic that like so many of his samples, you’re surprised when you hear the original and realize how much care was put into creating the finished product. I’m not sure if we’ll ever get another Dilla, just like all of the other icons on this list, but I do feel thankful that I lived during their times.

At the end of 2014 I chopped things up with two of my favorite people, Anthony Valadez and Novena Carmel and earlier in the week I returned for more on their recently started “Champion City” podcast, which has already featured Chico Mann, Jeremy Sole, Dexter Story and Poetess Mayda De Valle. We talk about Cuba, the 2016 Election, some of my experiences teaching at Long Beach and the sad sad story of KPFK. You can subscribe to their podcast on Itunes or keep track of it on the Champion City soundcloud page.

Breakdown: Top 5 Songs of 2015

January 8th, 2016

Final post of this week long look back last year’s music always belongs to the best songs I heard over the past year. As with 2014, with a lot of personal matters going on, it seemed like there was less new music rolling around in my mind. But what was in there was stellar, and that’s what you’ll find here in my Top 5 Songs of 2015!

***Honorable Mentions: Hiatus Kaiyote – “Building A Ladder,” Annabel (Lee) –“Suki Desu” (Live Version Recorded Live At KPFK), Ibeyi – “River,” Vieux Fakra Toure & Julia Easterlin – “Masters Of War,” Kamasi Washington – “Henrietta Our Hero,” Kendrick Lamarr – “How Much Does A Dollar Cost?”

5. Dungen – En Gang Om Aret – Allas Sak (Mexican Summer)

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Dungen – En Gång Om Året

Allas Sak is such a good record that I almost think of it as a full document instead of a collection of songs. But from the very first time I heard the record “En Gång Om Året,” stood out. Perhaps more than any other song on this album, the individual pieces of Dungen’s sound come together fully as the song unfolds. But I think it’s Reine Fiske’s soaring guitar that is most responsible for why I love this song more than any of the others on the album and more than most every song I heard in 2015.

4. Oddisee – I Belong To The World – The Good Fight (Mello Music)

Oddisee

Oddisee – I Belong To The World

As I mentioned during the 2015 rundown, while enjoyed this song at earlier parts of the year, it really didn’t become one of my favorites until well into the Fall. I think that some of that might be related to my trip to Cuba and the kind of contemplation that comes from turning 40. The sentiment that is in the song, one of feeling both out of place and feeling that you belong to something much broader than yourself is one that resonates with me, deeply. The more I thought about that feeling in my own life the more I found myself seeing this song as one that might not only be a favorite for the year, but one that might a personal anthem for a long time to come.

3. NxWorries – Suede – Single (Stones Throw)

foto © Maxwell Schiano

foto © Maxwell Schiano

NxWorries – Suede

Few people (except perhaps the artist who is #1 on this list) had a better year than Anderson.Paak, who gained both widespread acclaim for being featured frequently on Dr. Dre’s surprise album Compton and set the indie world on fire with this collaboration with production guru Knxwledge. This song was so good that I pushed aside my usual requirement that a “Top” song is featured on a full-length album during that same year. But “Suede” is such an amazing song, with so many amazing lines and such an amazing sound that I had to include it here. I even quoted one of the lines in a class during a discussion of the many possible uses of the word “Bitch,” which rarely happens with contemporary music. More music from Anderson.Paak should be quickly approaching in 2016 and perhaps even a full-length album from NxWorries, but even if there isn’t, I’ll probably be listening to “Suede” through most of this year too.

2. The Sandwitches – Play It Again Dick – Our Toast (Empty Cellar)
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The Sandwitches – Play It Again Dick

It’s a bit of a tragedy that the single best thing the Sandwitches created is on their final recording as a band. Back in June I prophesized that this would be on this list and in the months that have passed, there isn’t a single part of what I said originally about this song that isn’t still true: ““Play It Again Dick” might stand as a signature tune from the group, featuring all the elements that endeared them to all who heard them and listened, slight country feel to Roxanne’s drumming, the twin harmonies where, in this case, Heidi sings in a lower register in between Grace’s lines and those mountains of lovely reverb on those twin guitars. Every time Grace belts out that “Honey aren’t you glad like me,” at the end it sends shivers up and down my spine.”

Even after hearing this song, now for hundreds of times, it still gives me chills during those final lines every single time. I will truly miss this band and the power Grace and Heidi were able to marshal through their voices.

1. Kamasi Washington – Malcolm’s Theme – The Epic (Brainfeeder)

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foto © Mike Park

Kamasi Washington – Malcolm’s Theme

With 17 tracks spread out over nearly 3 hours, all of it incredible, you might think it would be hard to chose just one favorite from The Epic. Pretty much from the moment I heard “Malcolm’s Theme” I knew there was no chance any other song was going to be at the top of this list. Malcolm X is a cherished hero, not only for his political beliefs and criticism of the American racial system, but particularly as a model of redemption and an example of possibilities of having a second chance. Kamasi and his band offer a rhythm worthy of the man, as vocalists Patrice Quinn and Dwight Trible sing the eulogy, delivered by Ossie Davis at Brother Malcolm’s funeral, with great spirit. The choice to include Malcolm’s voice, and to use an excerpt where Malcolm discusses his worldview, acting as a counter point to negativity often directed towards him and particular these days to Muslims more generally, is part of what gives the song a timeless quality. 50 years from now, it’s likely people will still turn to this song as a tribute to Malcolm. Truly a remarkable achievement…

BestNew2015

2015 was another year of change for me personally. The many many troubles at KPFK finally caused me to leave my show there, and the pre-emptions throughout the year definitely affected my desire to track down as much music as I normally do. All that said, 2015 still had a number of really great new releases, including several from some of my favorite bands, including the following, my top 5 new releases from 2015.

***Honorable Mentions: Kendrick Lamarr – To Pimp A Butterfly (Top Rank Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope), Hiatus Kaiyote – Choose Your Own Weapon (Flying Buddah), Nicole Willis & the Soul Investigators – Happiness In Every Style (Timmion), Holly Golightly – Slowtown Now! (Damaged Goods), Oddisee – The Good Fight (Mello Music)

5. Annabel (Lee) – By The Sea…and Other Solitary Places – Ninja Tune
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Annabel (Lee) – (1849)

One of the first real surprises of the year was this record, technically the debut album from Annabel and Richard E as Annabel (Lee). Released on Record Store Day and a bit of a mystery until we were lucky enough to have the band perform on Melting Pot (as it turns out, the final performance on Melting Pot at KPFK). My thoughts on this album from back in May still ring true, “Annabel’s vocals don’t quite sound of this world, and the production work behind her, sparse, dark and at times downright ghostly, keeps the sound floating into the kind of space you’d think a dream-time collaboration between Billie Holiday and Geoff Barrow, both at their most melancholy, would produce.” A gorgeous listening experience from start to finish.

4. Ibeyi – Ibeyi – XL
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Ibeyi – River

Much of the first part of 2015 was spent in anticipation of the full-length from Lisa-Kaindé Diaz and Naomi Diaz, French-Cuban twin sisters whose music perfectly bridges the seemingly far distance between traditional Yoruba chants and songs with 21st century production. After a teaser of an EP, we got it just after Valentine’s Day and that timing couldn’t have been better. One of my biggest musical crushes of the year and a group that absolutely delivers the same brilliant sound in live performance as on record. With the Diaz sisters only being 20 years old, we should have many more albums to marvel over in the years to come.

3. The Sandwitches – Our Toast – Empty Cellar
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The Sandwitches – Miggy

With the great anticipation of future music from Ibeyi as their career just takes off, 2015 marked the end of one of my favorite bands, Frisco’s The Sandwitches. The women of the Sandwitches will likely keep making money in their separate projects (Grace Sings Sludge, Roxanne Roxanne and Pruno Truman), but there was a truly special sound when the trio came together and especially in the harmonies from Grace and Heidi. The loss perhaps wouldn’t sting so much if Our Toast wasn’t such an exceptional album, the best the band produced and one of my faves of 2015.

2. Dungen – Allas Sak – Mexican Summer
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Dungen – Allas Sak

I’ve said it many times, Dungen is my single favorite band of the 21st century. It’s been almost 5 years since the release of the last bands album and with the talent and musicianship of this quartet it was impossible that their latest album wouldn’t be on this list. Allas Sak continues a trend that’s happened since Tio Bitar, what might be described as a “mellowing” of the band’s sound. In our interview with Dungen, Gustav discussed how the changing sound might have to do with changes that happen as we age and mature. This period of time also marked changing dynamics with the group, as it moved from being primarily based around Gustav Ejstes and Reine Fiske to truly being a band, rounded out with Matias Gustavsson and Johan Holmegard. The closeness that the members have created, playing music together for almost a decade, is really on display on Allas Sak, a record that I enjoy as much as any other in this band’s discography.

1. Kamasi Washington – The Epic – Brainfeeder
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Kamasi Washington – Henrietta Our Hero

When you decide to name your album “The Epic,” you better deliver with some epic sounds. Kamasi Washington delivers the goods in creating an album that showed that despite seemingly constant arguments to the contrary, jazz music appeals to contemporary audiences. Washington’s sound remains true to the larger spiritual jazz ensembles of the 60s & 70s, while never sounding derivative of those collectives and incorporates a variety of newer styles and sounds as if they were always a part of this genre. At the same time that I think it’s important to view this record as a “Jazz record” The Epic is an album that in some ways defies categorization. As Duke Ellington used to say, there really are only two types of music, “good” and “bad,” and Kamasi’s music is very very VERY good.

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***honorable mentions: Unwound – Empire (Numero), Stark Reality – The Stark Reality Discovers Hoagy Carmichael’s Music Shop (Now-Again),Russ Huddleston & Robert Smith, Jr. – Original Soundtrack: Manos The Hands Of Fate (Ship To Shore), V/A – Hipshakers Vol. 4 (Vampi Soul), V/A – The Brasileiro Treasure Box Of Funk & Soul (Cultures Of Soul),

5. V/A – Royal Jesters: English Oldies (Numero)
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Dimas III – I Won’t Love You Again

Ruben Molina of the Southern Soul Spinners first put the music of Dimas Garza and the Royal Jesters on my radar, during a guest DJ set back in 2013. When he dropped the needle on Dimas III’s “I Won’t Love You Again,” both myself and Oliver Wang (who also did a mini-set that day) gave each other “the look” and jumped out of our seats to see what was playing. Numero (with an assist from Ruben) did us all a solid in 2015 by releasing pretty much everything released by this San Antonio, Texas soul outfit and it’s all very necessary.

4. Gloria Ann Taylor – Love Is A Hurtin’ Thing (Luv’n’Haight/Ubiquity)
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Gloria Ann Taylor – Deep Inside Of You

The music of Gloria Ann Taylor during the early 1970s, has been among the rarer bits of deep funk, generally only available to serious collectors. We had to wait a bit longer than we originally though, but late in 2015 Ubiquity released a comprehensive collection of Taylors work with her husband Walt “Wiz” Whisenhunt, recorded for his Selector Sound imprint. What’s most interesting to me about this collection is the comparison in sound between the sides that are just Whisenhunt directed, versus the two that we know without a doubt Dale Warren was involved in. While there are similarities, the way things are arranged on the 7-inch versions of “World That’s Not Real” or “Deep Inside You” bears all the hallmarks of the master of Dark Soul, which Warren perfected with his group, the 24-Carat Black. The vaunted 12” version of “Deep Inside You” adds a bit of a disco beat, but even at a faster tempo it still has that “Warren” sound. So difficult to find, it’s nice to know that this version is available to us all.

3. Waltel Branco – Assim Na Terra Como No Ceu (Mr. Bongo)
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Waltel Branco – Zorra

2015 was very much a year of insanely rare records getting the reissue treatment, so that people can recognize just what makes them so insanely priced. This collection of Novela soundtrack instrumentals from Waltel Branco was an album I didn’t know about until very very recently when Egon played a version of “Zorra” at his pop-up record store. Much to my great surprise and joy, Mr. Bongo had just released this record so that I got a chance to hear it in all it’s glory. One of the deepest, funkiest albums I’ve ever heard out of Brazil, which is REALLY saying something.

2. Alejandro Jodorowsky, Don Cherry & The Jazz Composer’s Orchestra & Ronald Frangipane – Holy Mountain: Original Soundtrack (Finders Keepers)
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Don Cherry & the Jazz Composer’s Orchestra – Tarot Will Teach You/Burn Your Money

Jodorowsky’s Holy Mountain is one of my all-time favorite films, a psychedelic, spiritual, legendary bit of film-making. Ever since discovering it, I’ve wanted to soundtrack, only to frustratingly discover that it was never formally released. Finally,in 2007, the soundtrack (along with others) was finally released as part of the 6 disc box set of Jodo’s films. However, it took the remaining 7+ years to finally get the soundtrack released on the medium it should have been release originally. Finders Keepers does a lovely job with the packaging as always and the music speaks for itself, especially the tracks that feature Don Cherry leading the Jazz Composer’s Orchestra.

1. Bruce & Vlady – The Reality (Vampi Soul)
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Bruce & Vlady – Wild Enough/Reality Monolouge

This was such a stunning surprise, something that even now, months after first discovering it, when I drop the needle on this record I still have a hard time believing that it exists. When you consider the success of Hansson & Karlsson in Sweden and Lee Michaels over here, the idea of an Organ & Drums duo makes more sense. How LA’s Bruce & Polish drummer Vlady got themselves together I’m sure is a great story. The album itself almost unfolds like a story, as Bruce mentions at the start wanting to tell the people about Reality. A really singular listening experience and absolutely the best reissued material I heard in 2015.

Breakdown: Top 5 Finds Of 2015

January 5th, 2016

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***Honorable Mentions: Hansson & Karlsson – Monument [Atomic Records, Burbank], Vicente Rojas – A Las 2 A.M. [Tienda Seriosha, Habana Vieja, Cuba], The Perfect Circle – S/T [Atomic Records, Burbank], Horace Silver – Spiritualizing The Senses [Crate Diggers Record Fair, DTLA], Jards Macale – S/T [Tropicalia In Furs Pop-Up, Highland Park]

5. Muddy Waters – After The Rain – Cadet Concept [Gimme Gimme Records, Highland Park]
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Muddy Waters – Bottom Of The Sea

I’ve featured this record here already, but strangely enough, it seems I didn’t share the story behind how it came my way. Maybe the second or third time I’d been at the new location for Gimme Gimme, it turned out that comic Marc Maron was also there in the store. From what I hear, Maron really loves the store and has even filmed portions of his show there. On this particular day the owner was trying to get Maron interested in a couple of records that I’m extremely familiar with, the Howlin’ Wolf album and this album from Muddy Waters. Apparently he’d bought Electric Mud recently and seemed pleased with the Howlin’ Wolf record, but since this one was sealed and he couldn’t listen to it at that moment, he passed. Roughly 5 seconds after he left, I immediately went up to ask about this record, something I’d never seen “in the wild,” and a couple minutes later I was on my way. The album isn’t as wild as Electric Mud, but it’s still got that sludgy psychedelic sound, mostly courtesy of guitar master Pete Cosey. Very very happy to have this in my collection.

4. Modo – 7″ – Melodiya [Tienda Seriosha, Habana Vieja, Cuba]
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Modo – Ziedu Karalis

As I mentioned previously, I was just as excited being in Havana to dig for Cuban music as I was about the possibilities of finding music from the Soviet Bloc, Africa or other places in Latin America. Picking this one up was a no-brainer, given that it seemed to be clearly from the 1970s and the band was also billed as a “instrumental ensemble.” Turns out only the A-side was an instrumental, a real proggy one at that, but the B-side featured two hard-core funk songs, including the break-tastic song I shared from this previously and “Ziedu Karalis” which I share here. I’m looking forward to picking up more from the band this year, now that I know a bit more about them.

3. Achim Reichel – AR4 – Zebra [Crate Diggers Record Fair, DTLA]
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Achim Reichel – Vita

In terms of pure aural enjoyment, I think I’ve probably listened to this album the most in the later half of the past year. At some point in the near future I’ll share more from it in a Dig Deep post. Achim Reichel put out several Kraut-rocky albums in the 1970s. This one came my way at the inaugural Crate Diggers record fair in L.A. I didn’t have a great deal of money, but was hopeful that I’d run into some interesting titles. I didn’t even make it past the second table. Picked this up from a Vegas dealer who had a lot of solid and interesting records. This record didn’t have it’s original cover, was just in a white sleeve with “Zebra” written on the front. Perhaps because the print on the label was so small, it seemed that someone though that Zebra was the artist, instead of rightly noting Reichel’s name. Turned out to be a very good thing for me, since this record often sells for $100+ and I got it for $5.

2. Ensemble Al-Salaam – The Sojourner – Strata East [Groove Merchant, San Francisco]
Salaam

Ensemble Al-Salaam – Optimystical

Sometimes finding great records is just about timing. In this case, the record Gods smiled on me during a one-day trip to the Bay Area and to the Groove Merchant. Cool Chris wasn’t there, but B-Cause was able to call him up at the WMFU record fair to discuss the records I’d brought to trade. If not for that, I wouldn’t have had the money to pick up this record, one of the rarer ones on the already super rare Strata East record label and one of the deepest Spiritual Jazz records I own.

1. Rafael Somavilla – Instrumental – Areito [Tienda Seriosha, Habana Vieja, Cuba]
Somavilla

Rafael Somavilla – En Casa Del Pobre

Spending several days digging through the crates at Seriosha’s in Havana was one of the great vinyl experiences I’ve ever had. Part of what made it even more memorable was the process after returning to the States, spending hours cleaning off the 45s and LPs and then dropping the needle on the things that I had found. Even though I thought I knew a little something about modern Cuban music from the 1960s and 1970s, the vast majority of the records I bought were things that I had virtually no idea what they were going to sound like. As I’ve shared earlier, this Rafael Somavilla record was the one that surprised me the most, in terms of the diversity of sounds that were coming out of my speakers. All of the records I brought back from Havana were not winners, but even if 90% of them had turned out to be ruined, warped or scratched up, finding this record would have made up for them. We’ll see what I find on my second trip to Havana later this year.

Best2015

For the first time in this blog’s history, we’re doing our “Best Of” round-up from home, instead of at a radio station. It’s definitely a different experience for me, though I think things sound pretty decent with the set-up I currently have. It’s been over five years since I did online only shows, and things are really different since then, so there’s a bit of rust and some kinks (but fewer than with the Best Vinyl show), but I’ll sort all that out in time as “We Jam Econo” throughout the year. What is absolutely top quality is the music, a little over two hours of the best things I heard in 2015. As is our tradition, the rest of the week will be devoted to taking a look back at the past year in music, with posts on my favorite vinyl digs, reissues, songs and albums of 2015. Enjoy the show and thanks for listening!

Melting Pot’s Best Of 2015: Part 1
Melting Pot’s Best Of 2015: Part 2

Melting Pot’s Best Of 2015 Playlist:
{Opening theme} Booker T & the Mgs – Melting Pot – Melting Pot (Stax)

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Oddisee – I Belong To The World – The Good Fight (Mello Music)
Kadhja Bonet – Gramma Honey – The Visitor EP (Self-released)
Thundercat – Lone Wolf & Cub – The Beyond/Where The Wild Things Roam (Brainfeeder)
The Stark Reality – Shooting Stars – The Stark Reality Discovers Hoagy Carmichael’s Music Shop (Now-Again)
Bruce & Vlady – Reality/Blue Variations – The Reality (Vampi Soul)

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The Sandwitches – Play it Again, Dick – Our Toast (Empty Cellar)
Shannon & the Clams – Gone By The Dawn – Gone By The Dawn (Hardly Art)
Novos Baianos – Juventude Sexta e Saubado – The Brasileiro Treasure Box Of Funk & Soul (Cultures Of Soul)
Nicole Willis & the Soul Investigators – One In A Million – Happiness In Every Style (Timmion)
The Souljazz Orchestra – Soleil Couchant – Resistance (Strut)
Holly Golightly – As You Go Down – Slowtown Now! (Damaged Goods)
Dexter Story – Mowa – Wondem (Soundway)

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The Amazing – Captured Light – Picture You (Partisan)
Annabel (Lee) – Find Me – By The Sea…and Other Solitary Places (Ninja Tune)
Tashi Dorji – Forbidden – Appa (Bathetic)
Vieux Fakra Toure & Julia Easterlin – Masters Of War – Touristes (Six Degrees)
Don Cherry & The Jazz Composer’s Orchestra – Burn Your Money – Holy Mountain Soundtrack (Finders Keepers)

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Gloria Ann Taylor – World That’s Not Real – Love Is A Hutirn’ Thing (Luv’n’Haight/Ubiquity)
Waltel Branco – Tema De Ricardinho – Assim Na Terra Como No Ceu (Mr. Bongo)
King Midas Sound/Fennesz – Loving Or Leaving – Edition 1 (Ninja Tune)
Dimas III – I’ll Never Love You Again – Royal Jesters: English Oldies (Numero)
NxWorries – Suede – Single (Stones Throw)
Ibeyi – River – Ibeyi (XL)
Kamasi Washington – Change Of The Guard – The Epic (Brainfeeder)

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Kamasi Washington – Malcolm’s Theme – The Epic (Brainfeeder)
Kendrick Lamarr – How Much Does A Dollar Cost? – To Pimp A Butterfly (Top Rank Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope)
Hiatus Kaiyote – Building A Ladder – Choose Your Own Weapon (Flying Buddah)
Dungen – En Gang Om Aret – Allas Sak (Mexican Summer)

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{Closing Theme} Dungen – Flickor Och Pojkar – Allas Sak (Mexican Summer)

Vinyl 2015

I may not have a radio station, but I still got records, a mixer, a voice, a computer and a microphone and so, this marks the return of “The Melting Pot Radio Hour.” As has been our tradition over the past five years, I focus on the “Best Of 2015” during this first week of the new year. Normally this show, focused on the best vinyl I found in 2015, comes at the tail end of the year. But it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these shows from home, and it will take some time to figure out a workable routine. Probably won’t have things the way I like them until next month, but still it’s nice to get back to sharing music. Tomorrow I’ll post my “Best Of 2015” show and all week I’ll be focused on the best music I heard throughout last year…Enjoy!

Melting Pot’s Best Vinyl Dug Up In 2015: Part 1
Melting Pot’s Best Vinyl Dug Up In 2015: Part 2

Playlist:
{opening theme}Boris Gardiner – Melting Pot – Is What’s Happening (Dynamic)

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Rafael Somavilla – Dominga – Instrumetnal (Areito)
Nara Leao – Mamae Coragem – Nara Leao (1968) (Phillips)
The Savage Ressurection – Talking To You – The Savage Ressurection (Mainstream)
Muddy Waters – Blues and Trouble – After The rain (Cadet Concept)
The New Birth – You Are What I’m All About – Birth Day (RCA)
The Perfect Circle – Spreadin’ News – The Perfect Circle (Inner City)
Modo – Nevajag Raudat – 7” (Melodiya)
Los Tios Queridos – Si Me Ves Volar – 7” (RCA)
Rd Burman – Dil Lena Khel Hai Dildar Ka – 7” (Music India)
The Maytals – Disco Reggae – Toots Presents The Maytals (Chin Randy’s Records)
Vicente Rojas – Esto No Es Para Bailar – A Las 2 A.M. (Areito)

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Mystery Band – Mystery Song – Mystery 12” (White Label)
The Nation Of Ulysses – The Sound Of Jazz To Come/N.O.U.S.P.T.D.A. – Birth Of The Ulysses Aesthetic 7” (Dischord)
The Power Of Zeus – Sorcerer Of Isis – The Gospel According To Zeus (Rare Earth)
Ronnie Von – Voce De Azul – Minha Maquina Voadora (Polydor )
Dungen – Soda (Instrumental) – Skit I Allt Instrumentals (Subliminal Sounds)
Achim Reichel – Vita – AR4 (Zebra)

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Marinho Castellar – Atencao/Luando – Marinho Castellar e Banda Disrritimia (Novo Mundo)
Alice Coltrane – Turiya – Huntington Ashram Monastery (Impulse)
King Crimson – Lady OF The Dancing Water – Lizard (Atlantic)
Silvio Rodriguez – El Hombre DeMaisinicu – XX Aniversario De La Cinematografia Cubana (Areito)
Babu Satake – Tetego Hashi (Theme Song Lone Wolf & Cub TV Series) – 7” (Victor)
Carl McKnight – Pusher Man – Sweat & Steel (Trace)
Hansson & Karlsson – Tax Free – Monument (Polydor)

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Ensemble Al-Salaam – Peace – The Sojourner (Strata East)
Sass – I Only Wanted To Love You – 7” (20th Century)
Juan Pablo Torres – Extracto De Son – Con Todo Los Hierros (Areito)
Jards Macale – Vapor Barato – Jards Macale (Phillips)
Tatsuro Yamashita – Dancer – Spacy (RCA)
John Kasandra – The Other Brother – The True Genius (Respect)
The Precisions – What I Want – 7” (Drew)
Lorez Alexandria – Endless – Didn’t We (Pzazz)
Baden Powell – Violao – 27 Horas De Estudio (Elenco)
The Outsiders – Start Over – Calling On Youth (Raw Edge)

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{closing theme} Horace Silver – Moving Forward With Confidence – Spiritualizing the Senses ( Silveto)

PerfectCircle

The Perfect Circle – Hands Of Time
The Perfect Circle – For Your Funkification
The Perfect Circle – I’ll Always Love You (Girl)
The Perfect Circle – Peaceful Funk

PerfectCircle2As is our tradition here on Melting Pot, the final post of 2015 belongs to the last record I bought, which in this case was a pretty solid one and something that I’ve had my eye on for a really long time. This Perfect Circle record has been just chillin’ at Atomic on their wall of fame for probably two or three years (though from a comment from the owner, it’s also possible that they had a couple on hand,instead of it just being the same exact record, who knows), just begging for me to buy it, and here on the final day of the year, the stars aligned. The Perfect Circle were a funk outfit out of the Bay Area, based in Oakland. It’s exactly the kind of thing that I probably would have asked Matthew Africa about and if he were still around I’m sure he would have had a story to tell. Inner City Records seems to be a private press, and from the note on the back (Inner City Records is a division of Inner-City Attractions a product of free, black, and new America), it must have been a righteous affair. I’ve included the thoroughly funky “Hands Of Time,” “Peaceful Funk” (did the whispers) and “For Your Funkification,” as well as a slow and sweet one “I’ll Always Love You Girl.” 2015 was a stellar year in terms of tracking down records for me (as you’ll get a taste in the return of the Melting Pot Radio Hour, looking at some of the best vinyl I got in 2015) and by all indications 2016 should be as good or better. Happy New Year!

Cheers,

Michael

MinWeTunSo

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo – Min We Tun So

As you’ll see once we move into 2016 proper, there will be many changes to this blog now that I’m connected to a radio station or radio show, and likely won’t be in the foreseeable future. One of those changes is that I’ll likely not be posting as much newer music. For pretty much the entirety of this blog’s close to 6 and 1/2 years, “In Heavy Rotation” has been about showcasing newer music that I was especially digging. From here on out, it’s likely to be a category that sticks more truly to the concept, being the things that I’m listening to more than anything else that week or month. It’s possible anything might find it’s way in here, including songs that I’ve shared before, but likely under a very different context. That’s the case with this song, from Orchestra Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou. This is a song that I’ve talked quite a bit about, featured before, and even played it on my last show at KPFK. But it wasn’t until fairly recently that I actually picked up a vinyl copy of the collection, which I was very happy to find included translations from Fon into English. It’s always fascinating hearing music from languages that you don’t understand, which forces you to relate to the music “itself.” What’s equally as fascinating to me is how the songs that seem to resonate most turn out to be the ones with very satisfying lyrics and messages, which is absolutely the case with “Min We Tun So” (which translates to “Who Knows The Future?”). Based on the lyrics above I think you’ll agree this seemed like a pretty close to perfect song to close out 2015 with as we move forward to 2016.

SorpresaDos

It took a lot longer than I intended, but that longer wait, hopefully just made it all the better, especially since I get to present it as Christmas present to all of you…here (FINALLY!) is the second mix of music dug up in Cuba, this time focusing solely on LPs. Some of these records I’ve featured here, some I’ll be featuring in coming months, lots of fantastic sounds. I have no doubt that there will be more of these as I continue digging in Cuba, which I hope to get back to in May 2016. Until then..Dig On It!

Sorpresa Musical Volume 2

Sorpresa Musical Vol. 2 – Tracklist:
1. Mirtha y Raul – Ya No Habran Raices – Mirtha y Raul
2. Chucho Valdes – Invento No. 4
3. Rafael Somavilla – La Batea
4. Eddy Gaytan y Su Combo – Para Vigo Me Voy
5. Omara – Soy Cubano
6. Lucecita – So Una Raza Pura
7. Irakere – Xiomara
8. Los D’aida – Canto A Ogún/Es Mi Manera/Da Igual
9. Senen Suarez – Sonsoneando
10. Grupo Sazon – Baconao
11. Vicente Rojas – Esto No Es Para Bailar
12. Son 14 – A Bayamo En Coche
13. Pacho Alonso – El Upa Upa Del Chambelán
14. Juan Pablo Torres y Algo Nuevo – Extracto De Son
15. Juan Formell y Los Van Van – Cuentame
16. Olivia Byington – Procissão
17. José María & Sergio Vitier – Riesgo
18. Silvio Rodriguez – Cancion Tema De El Hombre De Maisinicu*

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