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

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Phil’s Tune
Give Me the Simple Life
Squeeze Me
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.

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.

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
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
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.

Hangman's Knee
   The Jeff Beck Group (featuring Rod Stewart)
   Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band
   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
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
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
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
   John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers
Change Your Low Down Ways
   The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation
Cat’s Squirrel
I’ll Go Crazy
   Zoot Money
Stroll On
   The Yardbirds (with both Page and Beck)
Shake ‘em on Down
   The Savoy Brown Blues Band

February 25, 2015

Development of the British Blues and Rhythm
  --- show 24 ---   2-25-2015   

Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation   1968 & 1969
    + Dupree                                   1969
Jeff Beck Group                         1967-69

I do believe this show will wind up being one of my very favorites for this entire British Blues project.  I’ve had the second Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation album in my collection since the early seventies and played the bejeezus out of side one, but those were the days of vinyl so I seldom flipped it over to the other side.  When I saw a CD of their first two albums for a reasonable price I jumped on the opportunity and consider it one of my wisest decisions.  As you likely know by now, my preference is for uptempo, rockin’ Blues but these guys do such a good job on the slow burners that there isn’t anything for me not to like on the entire disc, but the best of the lot are still Change Your Low Down Ways, Fugitive and I Tried from that first side of Doctor Dunbar’s Prescription.

As of 2001, the year my favorite reference book (Blues-Rock Explosion) for this project was published, Dunbar had appeared on more than 110 albums with over 30 going gold or platinum.  Born January 10th 1946 in Liverpool, Aynsley started his musical experience with the violin at age nine before switching over to the drums by the age of twelve.  He started a Jazz trio after dropping out of school when he was fifteen, then joined the trad Merseysippi Jazz Band, all the while falling under the influence of more modern drummers like Art Blakey, Max Roach, Elvin Jones, Gene Krupa, and Buddy Rich. 

From August 1963 to January 1964 he was with Derry Wilkie and the Pressmen which would mutate into the Flamingos with Dunbar being one of five members from the Pressmen, the new band spending enough time at Hamburg’s Tanz Club to put out a German language single.  Returning to England, April 1964 saw the band backing up Freddie Starr, whose previous band included drummer Keef Hartley who would succeed Dunbar years later in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. Starr took the Flamingos back to Germany for a few months but by the time the group broke up in late 1964 Dunbar had moved on for a brief stint with the Excheckers.

Aynsley joined a revamped Mojos, a group that already had three singles that made the top 30 in the UK charts but split because of personality conflicts.  With Dunbar holding down the drumming, Stu James and the Mojos put out another two 45s before Aynsley’s departure in September of 1966.  Having moved to London with the Mojos, Aynsley sat in with Alexis Korner for an audition, and while not getting that job did get an invitation to try out for the band of one of the audience members, John Mayall.  The next day, Dunbar was a member of the Bluesbreakers along with Peter Green and John McVie.  “John Mayall put me into the Blues thing.  It built me up, because I was playing with good musicians, and hearing all types of Blues.  When I heard about him, I was told he was playing just country Blues.  I thought, ‘Jesus, here we go.’  But it wasn’t like that.  It was good – solid and full.”

During his time with the Bluesbreakers, two singles were released in Britain as well as the international LP A Hard Road.  They also backed the American pianist on his LP Eddie Boyd and His Band (Fleetwood Mac would back him on anther album) and put out a very hard to find EP with Paul Butterfield.  All that accomplished in about six months with the band.  In that span, Dunbar also auditioned for the Jimi Hendrix Experience, but at least partially because Mitch Mitchell was prepared to take a smaller salary Mitchell got the job.

Although there appeared to be no animous between the two (“I was grateful to John.  He introduced me to the musicians I wanted to play with, although I eventually got the sack for playing too advanced.  He wanted me to sit in the background and just play away.  I didn’t think I would progress until I left.”), the name of Aynsley’s own band was in retaliation to his termination.

Gone from the Bluesbreakers in March of 1967, in mid-April Aynsley first teamed up with Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood in the Jeff Beck Group featured in the other half of today’s show, although only for a brief stay as he gave notice that he wished to start his own group right after the 45 Tallyman / Rock My Plimsoul was released in July.  He was around long enough to be behind his drum kit as the Beck Group backed Donovan on his Barabajagal album, but Dunbar wanted to be the one setting the direction for his music: “My group will still be playing the Chicago style of Blues but we’ll be moving towards a more modern rhythm.  Not towards Jazz, we have to stay commercial.  That’s very important.”  On August 12th 1967, Aynsley pulled double duty at the Seventh Annual Jazz and Blues Festival at Windsor when his Retaliation debuted and he also fulfilled his commitment to play with Beck until they could find a replacement.  Mickey Waller took over at their next gig.

Aynsley had been working at putting together a lineup for his new band.  Victor Brox would handle most of the vocals as well as playing keyboards, cornet and violin, guitarist John Moorshead also took over on some of the vocals and bassist Keith Tillman rounded out the ensemble.  Tillman, who had previously played with Stone’s Masonry before Martin Stone left to join the earliest recorded version of Savoy Brown, would be short-lived with the Retaliation as Alex Dmochowski played bass on all but the first of the band’s recording sessions.

Brox had his own band going since 1964, the Victor Brox Blues Train, which included Tillman and Brox’ bride-to-be Annette Reis, and the couple also performed as a folk Blues duo.  Concurrent to the band, Victor was putting his Manchester University philosophy degree to use as a teacher until giving up the day job to work as a Blues duo with Alexis Korner for nine months through early 1968.

Moorshead’s first known group was the Moments when, in 1964, he replaced John Weider who left to join Johnny Kidd and the Pirates.  The other guitarist in the band, which broke up near the end of the year, was Steve Marriott.  By September of 1965, Moorshead was himself in Kidd’s Pirates, again replacing Weider.  Moorshead and two other members left Kidd to become the Pirates, but that only lasted three months before the group dissolved and John took over in Shotgun Express (featuring Rod Stewart) when Peter Green departed, again a short stay as in November John left in favor of Julian Covey and the Machine where he remained until signing on with the Retaliation.

The Retaliation’s first single (Warning, b/w Cobwebs) was released in September 1967.  It was around this time that Dmochowski took over for the departing Tillman, who was on his way to the Bluesbreakers in time to record on the Bare Wires LP.  The band rarely played their second single live, the opening number on their first LP and our show today, because they found it difficult to perform the whistling without cracking up on stage, which is too bad because it’s a great old standard.  Apparently the album was delayed because of three failed attempts to record at the Blue Horizon Club but finally hit the record bins in July 1968.

The reviews were good.  About the 45 taken from the album, Beat Instrumental considered it “a very unusual and really rather clever performance.  Lots of off-beat drumming early on; a sort of African atmosphere and then whistling and good singing.  Even if it doesn’t make it as a single then it will help boost the album …” and saying, “The group has now developed into one of the most meaningful and original Blues groups in England.”

But likely nothing meant as much to Dunbar as Mayall’s comments to Melody Maker.  “The Retaliation are a fine band.  They are one of the few British groups playing contemporary Blues music reflecting the world today and not just reproducing Blues from years ago that the audience have on record at home.”

Reviews for their second LP, Dr. Dunbar’s Prescription, were relatively good with Beat Instrumental giving a five star rating, but Melody Maker’s Chris Welch was not so pleased, suggesting that perhaps “all bands who are going to associate themselves with Blues to listen hard to themselves, maybe buy each other’s LPs, and ask themselves if they are going to be content with a scene that is rapidly becoming one of the biggest bores of the day.”

Despite Welch’s condemnation of the entire Blues genre in England, record companies were actively signing up as many bands as they could to take advantage of the lucrative market, and this was reflected by the fact that the magazine he worked for opted to put on a one day concert at the London Royal Festival Hall on November16th 1968.  Billed as the Blues Scene ’68 with a lineup including Muddy Waters, John Mayall, Champion Jack Dupree, and the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation, the show was so successful (despite the hall’s 3,000 person capacity there were many more turned away at the door) that Melody Maker followed it up by cosponsoring six tour dates in February billed as the Blues Scene ’69.  Along with the Retaliation and Dupree, the tour also featured John Lee Hooker, Jo Ann Kelly, and the Groundhogs.

The Retaliation hit the American circuit in March 1969 with Mick Weaver (aka Wynder K Frog) brought in as organist for the six week tour.  In order for Brox to put more emphasis on his piano and vocal skills along with playing the 12-string guitar and cornet, Tommy Eyre took on the organist duties upon their return to the UK.  Eyre was best known as a member of Joe Cocker’s Grease Band.

With Dunbar informing Melody Maker that their next album would be “more advanced”, the John Mayall-produced To Mum from Aynsley and the Boys was released in September.  “It’s a struggle because in England the Blues fans expect you to just bang away, or it’s not Blues.  In America, you’ve got to be advanced.  Perhaps the fans here will like it more in the end.”

Since we don’t have room for the album today, I’m sure most of it will appear as a brief segment in one of the coming month’s shows.  I don’t agree with the comparisons, but Disc and Music Echo related that “Dunbar’s third LP for Liberty is undoubtedly his best … Despite the limited eight tracks, there’s something for every Blues fan”, while Melody Maker considered it a “great improvement on his previous albums … with better recording quality and more original ideas”.

In 1970, Liberty put out a fourth Retaliation album but Aynsley appeared on only four outtakes of its ten tracks.  In the meantime, Dunbar and Eyre had left to form Blue Whale in November 1969.  As Dunbar told Modern Drummer, “The band’s ego got too much for me to cope with and I had to dump them.  They couldn’t see any farther than where they were at.  They thought that because we had got to the point we were selling out everywhere and making quite a bit of money, that we had reached stardom. … So I decided it was time to get rid of that band and start another one”.

Blue Whale would be very short-lived, lasting only two months mostly due to difficulty in holding members together.  Beginning January 1st 1970, the band embarked on a five day Scandinavian tour followed by their London debut on the 20th but ultimately broke up when Dunbar left at the end of February to join Frank Zappa and the Mothers.  The eponymous LP Blue Whale was released after the band’s breakup, but mixed reviews make it too insignificant to pursue (meaning I’m not going to waste my money.  I’ve spent enough already!)

After the sixties, Aynsley went on to a long, diverse and successful career as evidenced by the afore-mentioned gold and platinum records.  After six records with Zappa (including the LP Somewhere in the City with John Lennon and Yoko Ono), he left at the end of 1972 with Flo and Eddie, who had been with the Mothers but perhaps better known in the Bay Area as The Turtles, just after Zappa was pushed off the stage by an exuberant fan and became restricted to a wheelchair.

Aynsley was with David Bowie in 1973 and 1974 and recorded two albums with him and, also in 1974, joined Jack Bruce and Stevie Winwood in recording Lou Reed’s LP Berlin.  All in all, Dunbar recorded on twelve LPs in two years, leading him to be considered the best session man in the music industry.  Again in 1974, Aynsley joined the bay Area Rock-Jazz fusion group Journey, staying with them through four albums and leaving when they changed their focus to more pop-oriented balladeering.

Dunbar went back to being a session drummer in 1976, most notably recording for Sammy Hagar and then with Nils Lofgren.  In 1978 he joined the Jefferson Starship on stage and in the studio for four albums and stayed with them into 1982, his longest stint so far.  Ready for some time off, Aynsley retired in San Francisco until Whitesnake recruited him in 1985, staying with them through their breakthrough LP Whitesnake ’87.  Aynsley then tried for another retirement session, but in 1994 the allure of being in bands brought him back out on the road and into the studio with the likes of Pat Travers, UFO, John Lee Hooker, and Michael Schenker.  He was also active on tribute albums to Van Halen, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, Queen, and Metallica

In 1996, Dunbar joined Alvin Lee and Eric Burdon for a tour under the name Best of the British Blues, then entered the studio with Mother’s Army for the progressive Metal-Rock album Fire on the Moon.  In October 1996 he was back with Burdon on the world touring stage and, as one of the New Animals, recorded three albums and a live DVD.  In 2000 they appeared with John Mayall and Spencer Davis at the Grammy Awards and later in the year with Davis at the Democratic National Convention.

In 2003 Aynsley was awarded a Bammies Walk of Fame Award (created by our local magazine Bay Area Musician) along with the other members of Journey and similarly in 2005 a Hollywood Walk of Fame Award in recognition of the band’s album sales of over 75 million.  According to his official website, Aynsley “continues to play hundreds of live shows all over the world as well as his session work.”

Familiar names on a long list of artists that Aynsley played or recorded with that did not show up elsewhere in my reading were Herbie Mann, Keith Emerson, Shuggie Otis, and Little Chrisley.  Would it be presumptuous of me to think that last one is our own local harmonica product, Little John Chrisley?


And the other half of today's show ain't too shabby, either.  Jeff Beck might be my favorite guitar player when he’s not playing his avant garde Jazz stuff.  Loved his innovations with the Yardbirds but his stuff on the first Jeff Beck Group’s two albums (he soon afterward formed another band with the same name) was more of a heavy Blues-influenced guitar for the most part, but he wasn’t afraid to throw in an acoustic traditional British tune like Greensleeves.  His version of Willie Dixon’s I Ain’t Superstitious just might be my favorite British Blues number, period and, together with Rod Stewart’s vocals, Morning Dew and Old Man River (from the opera Porgy and Bess) provide counterpoints to the rest of the Truth album.  His long-awaited first 45 after leaving the Yardbirds, Hi Ho Silver Lining, is not what I was so anxiously anticipating but remains one of my guilty pleasures while the instrumental flip side Beck’s Bolero brings to my mind the pomposity of a conquering general returning through the gates of Rome   If the musicians would have remained together after that song’s session, it could have been another “supergroup” with Jimmy Page (I believe future Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones as well) and the Who’s drummer Keith Moon taking part.  I believe this must be the single version because it has a different intro than I am used to from the LP.  Other than a couple of Elvis tunes the second album, Beck-ola, contains only original tunes that, while obviously less familiar than the songs on Truth, still provide us with some fine musicianship. 


Along with Dmochowski, Dunbar also added a few tunes to Champion Jack Dupree’s album From New Orleans to Chicago.  I have misplaced the liner notes to the disc so cannot tell you who was playing guitar but, nonetheless, this might be my favorite album by the transplanted American pianist and he is probably my favorite pianist and personality-intense showman.  The album also includes backing by members of the Keef Hartley Band, Free, and Stan Webb from Chicken Shack, but I think this portion is, once again, my favorite.


In mid-1967 Dunbar assembled what would have amounted to another super group featuring Jack Bruce on bass (in the midst of Cream’s popularity) and Peter Green on guitar (this would have been about the time Green left the Bluesbreakers and likely just before the earliest Fleetwood Mac performances) while bringing vocalist Stewart in from the Beck Group for a session that produced our closing number, Buddy Guy’s Stone Crazy.  Although it closes out our show, this was the earliest formation of the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation.


Watch and Chain
My Whiskey Head Woman
Trouble No More
See See Baby
Double Lovin’
Roamin’ and Ramblin’
Sage of Sidney Street
   The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation
Hi Ho Silver Lining
Beck’s Bolero
Rock My Plimsoul
I’ve Been Drinking
Shapes of Things
Let Me Love You Baby
Morning Dew
You Shook Me
Old Man River
Blues Deluxe
I Ain’t Superstitious
   The Jeff Beck Group
Stumblin’ Block
Ain’t That a Shame
Who Threw the Whiskey in the Well
I’ll Try
Lawdy Lawdy
*Kansas City
   Champion Jack Dupree
All Shook Up
Spanish Boots
Jailhouse Rock
Plynth (Water Down the Drain)
Rice Pudding
People Get Ready
   The Jeff Beck Group
Change Your Low Down Ways
The Fugitive
Till Your Lovin’ Makes Me Blue
I Tried
Mean Old World
Tuesday Blues
Call My Woman
The Devil Drives
Low Gear Man
   The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation
Stone Crazy
   The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation
  (with Jack Bruce, Peter Green and Rod Stewart)