June 24, 2015

Development of the British Blues and Rhythm
  --- show 30 ---   6-24-2015

American Folk Blues Festival     1966
John Mayall: USA Union                     1970
American Folk Blues Festival     1967
John Mayall: Jazz Blues Fusion     1972

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With the fourth of July coming up before our next show, it’s time again to play some American Blues artists as they traveled across the pond to make the European tour known as The American Folk Blues Festival.  Having already covered the first four editions, we are now set for the 1966 and 1967 lineups.
The set taken from 1966 starts off with a couple of pianists; Roosevelt Sykes returns after his appearance at the last year’s concerts and the lesser known Eurael “Little Brother” Montgomery and both are backed up by this year’s exceptional rhythm section of drummer Freddie Below and bassist Jack Myers.  They were both part of one of Chicago’s most highly respected combo, the Aces, led by Louis Myers (not in this concert) on either harmonica or guitar, depending on who might be fronting the band.
Most notable where Louis was merely the guitarist was when the group backed a couple of harmonica players.  The Myers brothers originally went by the title the Deuces until they came across he jazz-tinged drummer Below, who would have a long career as one of the city’s most sought-after studio men.  As the trio was playing upstairs at a private party, a passerby went up and asked to sit in; this was the start of their time spent backing Junior Wells, a function they were serving at the time of this concert series.  They were with Junior right up to the time Little Walter received recognition enough to depart Muddy Waters’ gigging band (although he was still Muddy’s first choice in the studio) and the band went with him as Little Walter and his Jukes.  It didn’t work out that badly for Wells either as Muddy kept him working as his club harmonica player.
Although Louis Myers is not here, one of the few guitar players to be a better choice would be Otis Rush.  Along the classic lady singers of the Blues would be Sippie Wallace and the “front porch” style of acoustic Blues are represented by Robert Pete Williams and the vocal duo of guitarist Sleepy John Estes and Yank Rachell on mandolin.

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This year, instead of mixing in some American artists as they were backed up the local British performers, we will take a listen to a couple of albums where the well known British singer, composer, harmonicist and piano player John Mayall had moved to the States and began using some of this country’s top talent to continue the ever-changing direction of his presentation of the Blues.

When we last saw Mr. Mayall in November, we wound up with his 1968 album, Blues from Laurel Canyon, the first LP where he stopped referring to his band as the Bluesbreakers.  On that disc, he did one song (The Bear) talking about how he had met the southern Californis group Canned Heat, highly relevant to today’s show because two of the players on USA Union came directly from that band. 

Guitarist Harvey Mandel first came to our attention from his appearance on Charlie Musselwhite’s first LP, Stand Back, before he had a few albums under his own name and ultimately wound up with Heat.

For my money, the best Blues bass player is Larry Taylor going back to his days with Canned Heat and through a handful of LPs with Mayall.  The last I heard, “The Mole” was still playing with some of LA’s best Blues bands, most often on standup bass.

We have passed over a couple of albums but will come back to them before the end of this seemingly never-ending project, most notably 1969s Turning Point where Mayall experimented with a drummer-less four piece ensemble.  This is again the model for this album and the interesting choice for the fourth member is violinist Don “Sugarcane” Harris, who had made a minor impact in the R&B world as half of the team Don and Dewey.

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For the 1967 concert selections, this one of those live albums that puts the intro to the next song on the tail end of the last one and for that I apologize; it is truly a pet peeve of mine.

Okay, enough complaining already!  For the core of the electric Blues, we have drummer Odie Payne (Jr.?) whom I know from Magic Sam’s band and, I believe before that, Elmore James’, an unfamiliar name in bassist Dillard Crume, the vocals of both guitarist Hound Dog Taylor and harp man Little Walter as well as the fine singing of Koko Taylor, surely Chicago’s best Blues lady of the time.  And plenty on the acoustic side with the guitars and vocals of Bukka White, Son House and Skip James as well as the duo of Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee.  Brownie even throws in kazoo on a couple of the tunes.

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Larry Taylor is back again holding down those heavy bottom notes as Mayall takes on an excellent Jazz front line including Freddie Green on guitar, Blue Mitchell on trumpet and Clifford Solomon manning the saxes.  Ron Selico is behind the drum kit and Mayall never tries to restrict his bass player so this album, Jazz Blues Fusion, is probably my favorite of Taylor’s recordings.

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We have just completed a successful Blues marathon over the weekend but if you didn’t get a chance to acquire one of the B.B. King t-shirts they will be available probably through the weekend.  Of course, I am always happy to take your calls whether you wish to pledge or not.  Jim Thomas has once again outdone himself and this will be among my favorite Blues marathon t-shirts (and I have all but one from the last 24 years), but don’t take my word for it; check it out at our website, KKUP.org.

And so many thanks to all who took part in the marathon this year, from the pledgers to the phone answerers to the DJs to the musicians who played live to the sound man to the many businesses that helped us out one way or another.  And don’t forget Gil de Leon who both opened up and closed down the event; he probably felt like he was here the whole time!

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Running the Blues
   Roosevelt Sykes
I Keep on Drinking
   Little Brother Montgomery
You Shouldn’t Do That
   Yank Rachel and Sleepy John Estes
All Your Love
My Own Fault
   Otis Rush
Checkin’ Up On My Baby
Tribute to Sonny Boy Williamson
   Junior Wells
Suitcase Blues
   Sippie Wallace
Louise
   Robert Pete Williams
Flip Flop and Fly
Roll ‘em Pete
   Big Joe Turner

Nature’s Disappearing
You Must Be Crazy
Night Flyer
Possessive Emotions
Where Did my Legs Go?
Took the Car
Deep Blue Sea
My Pretty Girl
Off The Road
   John Mayall

Aberdeen Blues
   Bukka White
Got a Letter This Morning
   Son House
Hard Luck Child
   Skip James
I’m Gonna Move Across the River
   Brownie McGhee
The Sky is Crying
   Hound Dog Taylor
You Be So Fine
   Little Walter
Wang Dang Doodle
What Kind of Man Is This
   Koko Taylor
Walk On
Rock Island Line
   Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee

Exercise in C Major for Harmonica,
    Bass and Shufflers
Country Road
Mess Around
Dry Throat
*Got to Be This Way (time permitting)
Good Time Boogie
   John Mayall

June 10, 2015


Development of the British Blues and Rhythm
  --- show 29 ---   5-27-2015
Duster Bennett                 1968
Ten Years After               1968

Just some quick, somewhat unorganized notes about today’s show:

We start off today’s show with a recording of a June 28th concert at the Fillmore West by Ten Years After which was provided by one of my listeners and likely unavailable almost anywhere else.  TYA’s first two albums were released in 1968 so this has to be from their first American tour.  We’ll be using Help Me and Spoonful which had appeared in studio form on their 1968 debut LP (simply titled Ten Years After) and on a later set Crossroads, which was recorded during those same sessions but did not appear until Deram released an album of outtakes in 1972.

Sandwiched in between the first two songs is a version of Rock Me Baby, but the vocal is too low in the mix to know how faithfully they followed the original B.B. King version.  If I had the option to not include it in the set I might have gone for that, but the disc I got this from was not divided by title, just one long track of the original concert.  Another fault of the recording is that the bass is too low and only shows up on the three solos Leo Lyons takes, two of which we will hear.  Essentially the guitar is overly dominant but the excesses of Alvin Lee were pretty much what audiences paid to hear, myself included.  I had the pleasure of seeing them twice before the release of their performance at Woodstock, but likely not on this first tour.

The fourth and final song of our opening set is I May Be Wrong, but I Won’t Be Wrong Always, a Count Basie tune (I did not know that until Alvin announced it at the start of the number) which comes from their second release Undead, recorded live at Klook’s Kleek.  Like the Woody Herman tune (Alvin tells us that on the LP) Woodchopper’s Ball,

I opted for the superior musicianship and recording quality of the Undead album.  From that same CD, I’ve chosen Summertime / Shantung Cabbage over the Fillmore version and the Undead original version of I’m Going Home, the tune that kinda made the band famous when they performed it at Woodstock, after which the band went downhill into a pop-rock mode.  So that’s today’s opening and closing sets, but we also have a twenty minute set from their debut studio LP release right in the middle of the show.

I believe there was a lot of criticism of Alvin Lee as just a sped up imitation of Eric Clapton but that was okay by me.  In addition to the outtake Crossroads (which Clapton had done in the studio with the Powerhouse and live with Cream), there were two more songs previously recorded by Eric that appeared on the first lp -- I Want to Know (Powerhouse) and Spoonful (Cream).

I want to thank Mike for providing the Fillmore session and Bobby G for editing it down for me.

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I never really knew anything about Duster Bennett aside from the fact that that he was a harmonica playing buddy of Peter Green and that he was often referred to as a tortured soul who authored one of Peter’s favorite songs, Jumping at Shadows.  I often wanted to look into his sound but always had other priorities for my purchases, until I found this comprehensive 2CD set of his Blue Horizon recordings.  I must admit I had been missing out on an interesting part of the late 60s British Blues scene.

Bennett was the only English one man band that I am aware of.  To back up his vocals, Duster would pick his guitar with a harmonica rack resting on his chest while he kept rhythm with a bass drum and hi-hat, but he also played Blues harp in the familiar handheld style when he performed in band situations.

With four exceptions, our first set has Bennett’s one man setup.  On the songs Times Like These, Shady Little Baby and the Magic Sam tune My Love is Your Love, Duster’s guitar and harmonica essentially front Fleetwood Mac – Peter Green, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie.  For Slim Harpo’s Raining in My Heart he is joined by a couple of Blue Horizon label mates from Chicken Shack, drummer Dave Bidwell and Andy Silvester providing more vocal.

Likewise, the second Bennett set is made up of his one man act except Talk to Me and Bright Lights, Big City, which add the Yardbirds pre-Clapton guitarist Top Topham and vocalist Stella Sutton.  The credits also list both Peter Green and Tony Mills on bass guitar.

Duster fell asleep as he was driving home from a gig and died in the ensuing accident.

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I May Be Wrong but I Won’t Be Wrong Always
Help Me
Rock Me Baby
Spoonful
   Ten Years After

Hard to Resist
It’s a Man Down There
Trying to Paint it in the Sky
Worried Mind
Jumping at Shadows
Forty Minutes from Town
Times Like These
Got a Tongue in Your Head!
My Love Is Your Love
Raining in My Heart
Shady Little Baby
Jumping for Joy
   Duster Bennett

I Want to Know
Adventures of a Young Organ
Love Until I Die
Feel it for Me
Don’t Want You Woman
I Can’t Keep From Crying Sometimes
Losing the Dogs
   Ten Years After

God Save the Queen / She Lived Her Life
      Too Fast
Just Like a Fish
What a Dream
Just Like I Treat You
Talk to Me
My Babe / She’s My Baby
Honest I Do
Bright Lights, Big City
Fresh Country Jam
   Duster Bennett

Crossroads
Woodchopper’s Ball
Summertime / Shantung Cabbage
I’m Going Home
   Ten Years After

May 27, 2015


Development of the British Blues and Rhythm
  --- show 28 ---   5-13-2015

T.S. (Tony) McPhee and the Groundhogs                 1968-70
Colosseum                                                                  1968-71

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I would like to thank Jim Thomas for covering for me two weeks ago.
No write-up for this show, just a playlist.  It consumes a lot of my time and I’ve had no one mention they enjoyed it lately, so if you would like me to continue just tell me and I will do so happily once I know someone is actually reading it.

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Rocking Chair
Early in the Morning
Walking Blues
Married Men
No More Dogging
Man Trouble
You Don’t Love Me
   The Groundhogs

Walking in the Park
Debut
Plenty Hard Work
Mandarin
Beware the Ides of March
Backwater Blues
Those Who Are About to Die
   Colosseum

*B.D.D.   (add time permitting)
Times
Mistreated
Express Man
Natchez Burning
Light Was the Day
   The Groundhogs

Elegy
Butty’s Blues
The Valentyne Suite:
     Theme One – January’s Search
The Valentyne Suite:
     Theme Two – February’s Valentyne
The Valentyne Suite:
     Theme Three – The Grass is Greener
   Colosseum

Strange Town
Darkness Is No Friend
Soldier
Thank Christ for the Bomb
   The Groundhogs

April 21, 2015

Development of the British Blues and Rhythm
  --- show 27 ---   4-22-2015     (Jazz)

Ronnie Scott                               1956, 1957  
Tubby Hayes                              1957, 1966
Ken Colyer                                 1950, 1951
Humphrey Lyttelton                   1948, 1951, 1956
Johnny Dankworth                     1955-1961

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What with KKUP’s annual Jazz Marathon so close at hand, it is once again time for me to put in my two cents on the Jazz that I enjoy.  In keeping with our ongoing Brit Blues theme, I kept the talent from within the U.K.  Unlike last year when I tried to cull some jazzier tunes from John Mayall’s recordings, etc., I have purchased CDs from some of the true Jazzmen whose names kept coming up in my readings and have found an excess of show-worthy music for today.

The opening two sets feature a drummer I have come to enjoy: Phil Seamen.  Ginger Baker spoke of him in reverential terms and considered him the main drummer he wanted to emulate.  It is unfortunate that the few albums put out in his name are not readily available but I do have a few sessions with him as a sideman.  His career was hampered by his drug use and, while many were impressed with his skills, he was just not reliable as far as showing up to gigs.

I am not necessarily a fan of drum solos but felt that the best way to focus attention on Seamen was to open with Phil’s Tune, a number that, as it progresses, pushes the drummer more and more center stage.  The set is culled from a two CD anthology of Ronnie Scott’s 1956-1962 output titled Soho Blues and were originally released on the album Presenting the Ronnie Scott Sextet.  Recorded in July 1957, along with tenor saxist Scott and drummer Seamen, the players were Kenny Napper on bass, Derek Humble on alto sax and Jimmy Deuchar on trumpet.  Norman Stenfalt is pianist on most of the set but Stan Tracey is heard on Bass House and Squeeze Me.

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Today’s blog is a little bit shoddy as I intended to only post the playlist and then kinda changed my mind and then put in some half-assed commentary, although the Dankworth entry is pretty much complete but not proof read.

Anyway, I left out Tubby Hayes completely on the initial posting and that is unconscionable because he impressed me the most.  Our second set of the day pairs him up with Seamen, bassist Jeff Clyne and pianist Terry Shannon on three numbers.  We only focus today on his rapid tenor sax playing but he was also fluent in the languages of the vibraphone and the flute.

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We heard a little bit about Ken Colyer on our very first show of this series as part of our Skiffle presentation.  Crane River Woman sounds much like Skiffle to me except for the more Trad Jazz instrumentation and its 1950 release predates the Skiffle rage by a few years.  The rest of the set is more Trad, or Dixieland as it was known here, and came from the earliest of four CDs in a set which includes a full disc of his Skiffle sessions from 1954-1957.


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My first purchase of a CD by Humphrey Lyttelton was inspired by the fact that Ian Armit, longtime piano player with Long John Baldry, was included on the 1960 recording sessions (also, its title Blues in the Night didn’t hinder the decision), but it was enjoyable enough to add the 2CD set of previous recordings, As Good as it Gets, from which the music presented today was gleaned.  His early music strikes me as maintaining much of the Trad Jazz feel but later more akin to Swing.  It was primarily to distinguish this difference that I included the dates on the playlist, and note that I put the three pre-50s tracks at the end to kinda break up the two styles of British Jazz.

Humphrey was born in 1921 at Eton College, where his father was a professor.  While attending the school himself, trumpeter Lyttelton put together a band as he did again when he moved on to Sandhurst.  After service in World War II, he joined George Webb’s Dixielanders in 1947 but by 1948 he was again running his own group and had made his first recordings.  The Lyttelton ensemble was part of two tours by Australia’s Graeme Bell band and he did several recordings with them,

In 1949, the Lyttelton band backed the legendary American alto saxophonist Sidney Bechet on a recording session, after which Bechet praised the playing of Humphrey’s clarinetist Wally Fawkes.  Also noteworthy was the Grant-Lyttelton Paseo Band who added Caribbean rhythms to their Jazz base.

Humphrey’s first of many autobiographies, I Play as I Please, sold well after its 1954 publication and it was around this time that he moved away from the Trad Jazz (not so coincidentally matching the departure of Fawkes in 1956), much to the consternation of his current fans, and he became just as popular in the mainstream Jazz field.

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Alto sax player Johnny Dankworth had one of the most successful British Jazz bands of the fifties and sixties in a career that spanned from the 1940s into the new millennium.  Johnny began with lessons on the violin and piano but switched to clarinet after hearing Benny Goodman Quartet recordings before he turned sixteen.  It didn’t take long for him to take up the alto saxophone after listening to Johnny Hodges’ records.  Johnny got training at the Royal Academy of Music in London, but they did not encourage his desire to play Jazz.  Very much a contemporary of Ronnie Scott, the two men served together as musicians aboard ocean liners specifically to take in the Jazz scene when they ported in New York City.  Upon returning to London, the pair had been so impressed with Bop that they opened the Club Eleven in 1948 to present the music to Londoners.  Johnny would soon join the Tito Burns Sextet as well as perform and arrange for the Ambrose band.
Dankworth actually got to play with Charlie Parker in 1949 at the Paris Jazz Festival, and it was Parker’s recommendation that hooked him up with the legendary Sidney Bechet for a short tour of Sweden.  Johnny wound up being voted Musician of the Year for 1949.
The first band of his own, the Johnny Dankworth Seven, would hold together until 1953 but when their debut performance at the London Palladium as part of the Ted Heath Sunday Swing Session on March 5th 1950 was met with less than a rousing reception, Dankworth realized the way to survive would be through compromise, toning down the Bop influence. 
While the 2CD set The Best of Johnny Dankworth contains tracks dating back to 1953, all of today’s choices come from 1955 and later.  None of these include the vocals of Johnny’s soon-to-be wife Cleo Laine, who joined the group in 1951.  To my taste, many Jazz vocalists serve to clog up a free-flowing instrumental motif.  For the Blues, of course, vocals are an integral part of the story.  The couple would ultimately be knighted individually as Lord John and Dame Cleo for their contributions to the nation’s music scene, but Cleo would leave the ensemble in 1958, beginning an internationally successful singing career as well as transitioning into acting in musical plays, at least two of which were written by her husband.  In March that year, the two were wed.
From the seven piece band Johnny would expand to a 17 piece orchestra featuring three vocalists, Miss Laine of course being one of them.  The band performed their first American concert at the Newport Jazz Festival on July 3rd 1959.  According to a critic from The New York Times, ”Mr. Dankworth's group ... showed the underlying merit that made big bands successful many years ago – the swinging drive, the harmonic color and the support in depth for soloists that is possible when a disciplined, imaginatively directed band has worked together for a long time. This English group has a flowing, unforced, rhythmic drive that has virtually disappeared from American bands". 
His band also played at New York City’s prestigious Birdland and later joined Duke Ellington’s band for several concerts and even had Louis Armstrong join them onstage for a set of a concert at New York Lewisohn Stadium.  Johnny disbanded the orchestra in 1960, only to form a new one later in the year that continued until 1964.
In 1959, Dankworth became chair of the Stars Campaign for Inter-Racial Friendship, set up to combat the fascist White Defence League.  Also late in the fifties, Johnny expanded his list of accomplishments as he took on composing for film and television, most notably including the theme for The Avengers (used from 1961 to 1964) and the score for the 1966 movie Modesty Blaise.
1956’s Experiments with Mice opens our Dankworth set, a fun little number mimicking some of the jazz greats and very similar to the closing number from the following year., Big Jazz Story.  The second song of our set, African Waltz, hit #9 in its 21 weeks on the 1961 U.K. charts and Johnny granted Cannonball Adderly’s request to record it for the American audience. 
His 1964 album The Zodiac Variations included American artists Clark Terry, Zoot Sims and Phil Woods, among others, and he appeared as himself in the film All Night Long with Dave Brubeck and Charlie Mingus.  His British and European tours of the sixties included Nat “King” Cole, Sarah Vaughn and Gerry Mulligan while he also appeared in concerts and on radio with Lionel Hampton and Ella Fitzgerald.  Some of the other American Jazzmen he performed with included George Shearing, Toots Thielemans, Benny Goodman, Herbie Hancock, Hank Jones, Tadd Dameron, Slam Stewart, and Oscar Peterson.
Some of the British names I have become familiar with who appeared at one time or another in the Dankworth bands include comedian and musician Dudley Moore, trumpeter Jimmy Deuchar, trombonist Eddie Harvey, tenor sax man Don Rendell, guitarist John McLaughlin and tenor saxist Tubby Hayes.
Dankworth took over as his wife’s music director in 1971 and cut the band down to ten pieces before trimming it to a touring quintet in the early 80s.  Johnny maintained his friendship with Duke Ellington right up to his death in 1974, after which he recorded an album of symphonic renditions of Duke’s tunes and played with the Ellington band under the leadership of Duke’s son, Mercer Ellington.  Other symphonic recordings included with Dizzy Gillespie and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra
In 1968 the Dankworths purchased Wavendon, an estate about 50 miles north of London, and converted the stables into a 300 seat concert hall.  In 2000, a larger version called The Stables was opened next to the original plot.  1969 saw the formation of their charitable Wavendon Allmusic Plan, presenting international performers with the goal of breaking down barriers between classical, popular and other music forms.  Another charity, the Wavendon Foundation, began in 1998 to financially assist both young musicians and organizations creating musical education programs.  As a professor of music at London’s Gresham College between 1984 and 1986, Johnny gave free lectures open to the public.
In order to reissue some of his past recordings (and some new ones as well), in 2003 Johnny set up his own Qnotes label.  Following an American tour with his wife, Johnny took ill in October of 2009 and passed away February 6th 2010 at the age of 86.  Both the Dankworth children are musicians, son Alec having played bass with his father’s band and daughter Jacqui, a vocalist.

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Our closing set features Seamen along with bassist Lennie Bush and pianist Tommy Shannon in the Dizzy Reece (trumpet) Quartet with Ronnie Scott on Out of Nowhere (a tune I actually heard first as the title track of New Orleans guitarist Snooks Eaglin’s CD just about twenty-five years ago) and Scrapple from the Apple.  Again the tracks came from Soho Blues, originally released as an EP and recorded July 1956.  Much later, August 1966, Seamen and Hayes performed Night and Day (from a live five song CD of the same name) with bassist Bruce Cale and pianist Mike Pyne.

Scott and Hayes would combine in putting together the dual tenor ensemble Jazz Couriers, lasting between 1957 and 1959.  Maybe we’ll hear from them next year.

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Phil’s Tune
Give Me the Simple Life
Squeeze Me
Avalon
All This and Heaven Too
This Can’t Be Love
Bass House
I.P.A. special
Pittsburg Opener
It Don’t Mean a Thing
 (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)
   Ronnie Scott (with Phil Seamen)

Tin Tin Deo
Sunny Monday
The Surrey with the Fringe on Top
   Tubby Hayes (with Phil Seamen)

Crane River Woman   1950
   Crane River Jazzmen & Ken Colyer
Savoy Blues   1951
Creole Song   1951
Hiawatha Rag   1951
Black Cat on a Fence   1951
Moonshine   1951
Salutation Stomp   1951
   Christie Brothers Stompers & Ken Colyer

*Skeleton in the Cupboard   1956
Echoing the Blues   1956
Sweet and Sour   1956
Love Love Love   1956
Swing Out (LIVE)   1956
Miss Jenny’s Ball   1948
Yes Suh!   1951
Randolph Turpin Stomp   1951
   Humphrey Lyttelton

Experiments with Mice   1956
African Waltz   1961
*Indiana   1955
Moanin’    1960
Idaho   1959
You Go to My Head   1957
Jim and Andy’s   1959
Kool Kate   1960
*Export Blues   1957
Big Jazz Story   1957
   Johnny Dankworth

Out of Nowhere
Scrapple from the Apple
   Ronnie Scott (with Phil Seamen)
Night and Day
   Tubby Hayes (with Phil Seamen)

April 8, 2015


Development of the British Blues and Rhythm
  --- show 26 ---   4-8-2015 

Savoy Brown (episode #2)            1968-69
Brunning Hall Sunflower Band    1968-70
Joe Cocker

For quite a while now I have been aware that Bob Brunning was the original bass player with Fleetwood Mac, but much more than that was out of my realm of knowledge.  It appears that prior to that, he was part of the band Five’s Company which released three singles in 1966 on the Pye label. 

In July of 1967, he auditioned for the Mac gig and helped them get established but it was agreed that he was just holding down the bass job until John McVie would leave John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, which happened in November.  He immediately found work with Savoy Brown, but that gig became short-lived as well when he questioned the band’s manager, bandleader Kim Simmonds’ brother Harry, about financial matters.  He was there long enough for two things to occur.  He was included on one single (I have no verification, but the timing seems to make it Walking By Myself) and he struck up a friendship with the band’s piano player, Bob Hall.

As far as the other half of today’s second band’s namesake players, I was much more familiar with Hall if for no other reason than his appearances on the first four albums of Savoy Brown.  It was natural for Bob to pick up playing piano as his father was also a piano player, and he became interested in Boogie Woogie in the early fifties.  This extended into the Blues after listening to records as well as the Voice of America radio broadcasts.  His first band was the Bob Hall Quintet in 1956 and about the same time he could oftentimes be found in the audiences of Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies when they were with Chris Barber’s band or listening to the Yardbirds as they backed up Sonny Boy Williamson, among other performances.

Sometime late in 1963, Hall answered a Melody Maker ad and joined the Dollar Bills, whose guitarist Tony McPhee would morph the band into John Lee’s Groundhogs, whom we already heard backing up John Lee Hooker and are coming up on their own, most likely the first half being two shows from now.  Bob also began to gig regularly with guitarist/vocalist Jo Ann Kelly, a musical synergy that lasted years despite his popularity as a part-time performer in several bands.

Hall joined John Dummer’s band early in 1966 but left to join Savoy Brown later in the year and thus was not involved in their first LP recorded in 1968, but he did join them for part of the related tour and appeared on their second album.  Another band we’ll be hearing from soon.

To Brunning’s surprise, in 1968 Saga records accepted his offer to have his band record for them so he had to hastily throw a band together.  Bob contacted Hall for the project as well as Colin Jordan, formerly Brunning’s guitar mate from his college band Five’s Company, and drummer Jeff Russell.  He actually got guitarist Mick Halls and vocalist Peter French to join by pretending to be auditioning as bassist for their band. 

The resulting LP Bullen Street Blues was issued under the name Brunning Sunflower Blues Band.  “Big Sunflower” was in reference to a fictional character Hall had created whose musical story was even the subject of an article in a reputable Jazz magazine.  The album received mediocre reviews and French was disappointed and answered a Melody Maker add to join the Black Cat Bones, taking his cousin Halls with him.

In November of 1968, Savoy Brown wanted Brunning to rejoin the band for an upcoming U.S. tour but he declined.  For their next album, Peter Branham took over on drums and Brunning used his friendship with Peter Green to get the guitarist to lay down four tracks; I have those on a different album so did not feel the need to purchase the Trackside Blues album.  All four open up our second Brunning set and are followed by selections from the third album, I Wish You Would.

Besides the Trackside sessions, Hall managed to stay busy in the studio throughout 1969 with the eponymous second Dummer album, Blue Matter and A Step Further for Savoy Brown and Dave Kelly’s first solo release, Keeping it in the Family.  But perhaps the most noteworthy was another project with Brunning that was called Tramp because, as Brunning explained, “We wanted a name in which we could utilize the skills of any musician who felt interested enough to work with us”.  First to be invited was Peter Green, who declined, but Fleetwood Mac was well represented by drummer Mick Fleetwood and guitarist Danny Kirwin.  As if that wasn’t enough, there was also the Kelly siblings, Jo Ann and Dave.  I have not been able to come across the album and, if I did find it I’m sure it would have a heavy price attached to it.  The same cast cut a second Tramp album in 1974 and that might find its way into a future show.

1970’s third album again had the Kellys, Dave providing guitar and vocal work but Jo Ann only singing, Steve Rye on harmonica, drummer Mel Wright and John Altman blowing the sax, flute and clarinet.  Hall and Dave Kelly also recorded a duet album, Survivors, in 1970 and we may include some of it in some later show but not today.

For the band’s final album, Hall’s true name actually made it into the group’s name with the 1971 album title finally being the Brunning Hall Sunflower Blues Band.  Throughout the band’s existence, neither of its leaders was a fulltime musician and instead opted for more financial stability from their chosen professions, Brunning being a teacher and Hall earning his living as a patent attorney.  Just before his July 1967 audition with Fleetwood Mac, Brunning graduated from Marjons College of Education in London.

There were a few American connections for the band in 1972 as they backed up Eddie Burns in concert and in the studio for his album Bottle Up and Go, and then one of my old favorites, bottleneck master J.B. Hutto for his Live in London LP.  I’ve loved J.B.’s raspy vocals ever since 1967 when I was exposed to Vanguard’s vinyl trilogy, Chicago, The Blues: Today, but this London album is no longer available.

Also in 1972, harmonica player Johnny Mars joined the group.  Johnny is an American, more specifically from the San Jose area who put together a Blues band based out of San Francisco in the 60s.  I had gotten to know his guitarist from that group and he brought Johnny to the studio when he was visiting from the U.K. very early in my radio show’s history.  I’ll get more into that story much later in this series when our timeline hits 1984 or so and we feature a couple of albums he turned me on to, but since we are still in the late 60s that is quite a while away.

I would like to close out this segment with the fact that just about everything in this portion came from my favorite reference book, the Blues-Rock Explosion.  Their write-up of Brunning Sunflower was less than three and a half pages, the shortest article in the book despite the fact that the authors got Brunning to write the foreword.

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As we mentioned already, Bob Hall’s piano playing was included on the first four of the Savoy Brown albums (on the first LP and previous recordings they went by the longer name Savoy Brown Blues Band), three of which are represented prominently on today’s show.  Rivers Jobe was the bass player on the Getting to the Point album and played on the first two tracks on the studio side of Blue Matter (Train to Nowhere is heard today), but Tone Stevens took over bass duties on the rest as he joined drummer Roger Earle and guitarist “Lonesome” Dave Peverett, both of whom were already on the Getting to the Point album, as was vocalist Chris Youlden.  Youlden who would depart the band for a relatively unsuccessful solo career before the Looking In LP which, along with the album Raw Sienna and likely some live material from their tour promoting the Jack the Toad LP and their Boogie from A Step Further, will all be presented on the next edition of Savoy Brown currently scheduled for July 8th.  The three instrumentalists would remain at Kim Simmonds side through all of these albums, Kim being the only constant in the Savoy Brown saga.

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Stay with Me Baby
The Incredible Gnome Meets Jaxman
Give Me a Penny
Getting to the Point
Walking By Myself
Big City Lights
You Need Love
   Savoy Brown

Gone Back Home
Hit That Wine
Bullen Street Blues
No Idea
Shout Your Name and Call It
Take Your Hands Off Me
Something Tells Me
Big Belly Blues
Sunflower Boogie
Rockin’ Chair
   The Brunning Sunflower Blues Band

Cry Me a River
Feelin’ Alright
The Letter
Jealous Kind
Love Is Alive
High Time We Met
   Joe Cocker

Train to Nowhere
She’s Got a Ring in His Nose
     and a Ring on Her Hand
*Vicksburg Blues   (add if time permits)
All Around the World
Don’t Turn Me Away From Your Door
Made Up My Mind
Sitting in the Bamboo Grove
I’m Tired / Where Am I
   Savoy Brown

Ride with Your Daddy Tonight
If You Let Me Love You
Uranus
It Takes Time
I Wish You Would
On the Road
I’m a Star
Bob’s Boogie
Mean Old 57
Bad Luck
All Right with Me
Good Golly Miss Kelly
   The Brunning Sunflower Blues Band

Louisiana Blues
   Savoy Brown

March 25, 2015


Key to the Highway, J.C. Smith Band CD debut
   3-25-2015
 
So, I got a call Monday from my very good friend Johnnie Cozmic saying he had a CD being released Friday.  Johnnie is special to me because he alternated weeks on this show for over fifteen years, not to mention he is a great guy and an excellent musician who has been able to put together and keep a tight working band.  I’m biased, of course, but I don’t think I’ve seen better stage presence from a front man in quite a while, and if I have I can’t even think who that would have been.
 
Johnnie’s personality comes through also right here at KKUP on Thursdays between three and five PM the first and second weeks of the month (I think).  For his band, he uses his true name as the J.C. Smith Band, but it never seems right when I hear anyone call him anything but Johnnie.  Anyway, he reminded me that I guess it’s become a tradition to debut his CDs on my show going all the way back to his days when he was the drummer for the Back to Back Blues Band, so we will take a three hour hiatus from the British Blues to check the new album out.  Yes, to me an album is a collection of songs (or photos, etc.) so a CD qualifies.   
 
I’ve had the opportunity to watch Johnnie progress as a guitarist and vocalist and increase the quality of the players in his band over the years with each of his releases being better than the previous, but I should warn you he might still have in his arsenal some of the worst jokes to be told and he isn’t embarrassed by telling them, even on the airwaves.  If you like what you hear (the music and the humor), you can catch his official CD release party Friday at the Poor House Bistro on Autumn Avenue near the Shark Tank, likely the last venue in the area dedicated to music every day of the week with almost all of it being the Blues.
 
I will also pay tribute to my mother just six days before what would have been her ninety-fourth birthday by playing some of her favorite music, most of which I purchased for her.  She was born on March 31st, but always said that was a day too early and should have been April Fool’s Day.  She passed away in July.  We’ll play some big band stuff and some Harry Belafonte but I’ll pass on her Perry Como and Dean Martin discs.

Sorry, this is last minute so there is not the usual playlist for today’s show.  Next show, right back to the Brits.

March 11, 2015

Development of the British Blues and Rhythm
 --- show 25 --- 3-11-2015 (St. Patty’s Day recap)
 
Nothing new this show, just a bunch of favorites from the last baker’s dozen shows.  Each of the groups presented since August of 2014 are pretty much equally represented with the exceptions being Fleetwood Mac and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, which are each given a set of their own.  We had enough quality material of Mac to include them in four consecutive shows and we also featured all of the first three Bluesbreakers lead guitarists on separate airings in that span, at least as far as American releases are concerned.  Eric Clapton also showed up in Cream and Peter Green in Fleetwood Mac.  Mick Taylor not only showed up on the Mayall sets but also joined the Aynsley Dunbar rhythm section backing up Champion Jack Dupree.
 
This pre-St. Patty’s Day show was harder to put together than I anticipated because there was just so much good material worth considering; I think the first grouping was almost nine hours before ultimately winnowing it down to some two and a half hours. It might have been easier if I just wanted to play my absolute top choices but I felt some were a little too often overplayed on shows years past (as an example, last show I mentioned that Beck’s version of I Ain’t Superstitious might be my very favorite Brit Blues tune and you won’t find it here) and I wanted to keep this fresh and had enough good stuff to make that happen. I wanted to start the show off with a tune that I just couldn’t fit into our earlier Jeff Beck Group show so that is where Hangman’s Knee comes in.  There’s probably not enough slow numbers in today’s broadcast, but when I’m trying to pick my favorite single tracks it is not surprising that they get overlooked for more raucous, up tempo tunes.  In making full sets of bands, I always fit one or two slow ones in to give a complete representation of what you would find on albums or see in concert.  
 
A couple of items of note are the back to back pairings of Dunbar’s Watch and Chain with the Kelly’s Buy You a Diamond Ring, essentially the same song but done differently enough to not seem monotonous, and a couple of classically oriented instrumentals, Sabre Dance by Love Sculpture and Drivin’ Bachwards by Bakerloo.  So just kick back and enjoy.

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Hangman's Knee
   The Jeff Beck Group (featuring Rod Stewart)
Water
   Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band
Choker
   Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page
She Said Yeah
   The Rolling Stones
Let Me Love You Baby
   The Savoy Brown Blues Band
Green Onions
   The Graham Bond ORGANization
Catfish Blues
   The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Remington Ride
   Chicken Shack
 
Go On Home
   Dave Berry
Driva Man
   Manfred Mann (with Jack Bruce)
Ever Since the World Began
   The Yardbirds
The Cat
   Zoot Money
Every Day I Have the Blues
   Alexis Korner (featuring Herbie Goins)
Bring It On Home
   Bakerloo
Watch and Chain
   The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation
Buy You a Diamond Ring
   Dave and Jo Ann Kelly
Jailhouse Rock
   The Jeff Beck Group (featuring Rod Stewart)
 
I Can’t Hold Out
No Place to Go
Hellhound on My Trail
Black Magic Woman
Evening Boogie
Preachin’ Blues
Honey Hush
Albatross
Watch Out
Fighting for Madge
   Fleetwood Mac
 
I Tried
   The Aynsley Dunber Retaliation
Paint It Black
   The Rolling Stones
It’s Okay with Me Baby
   Chicken Shack
Spirit Feel
   Manfred Mann (featuring Jack Bruce)
Don’t Gimme No Lip
   Dave Berry
Beach Bash
   Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band
Ol’ Man River
   The Jeff Beck Group
Drivin’ Bachwards
   Bakerloo
Sabre Dance
   Love Sculpture
 
All Your Love
It Ain’t Right
Dust My Broom
You Don’t Love Me
The Supernatural
Checking Up On My Baby
Snowy Wood
She’s Too Young
Vacation
   John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers
 
Change Your Low Down Ways
   The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation
Cat’s Squirrel
   Cream
I’ll Go Crazy
   Zoot Money
Stroll On
   The Yardbirds (with both Page and Beck)
Shake ‘em on Down
   The Savoy Brown Blues Band