Saturday, February 24, 2024

Gene Lawrence - 1977 - Sunset To Sunrise

Gene Lawrence
Sunset To Sunrise

01. Your Song
02. Sereno Sereno
03. My Cherie Amour
04. Papa Bois
05. After Sunrise
06. Feel Like Making Love
07. Marjorie
08. Men Capitan

Bass – Wayne (Barney) Bonaparte
Drums – Errol Wise
Keyboards – Gregory La Salle, Max, Robert Bailey
Keyboards, Synthesizer – Carl (Beaver) Henderson
Lead Vocals, Guitar, Twelve-String Guitar – Gene Lawrence

Gene Lawrence, is hailed as one of the Caribbean’s most versatile and accomplished musicians, and every musical thread he has woven throughout his illustrious career has turned into gold.

Born in St Vincent, he has the unique pleasure of being a citizen of T&T, St Lucia and St Vincent. Lawrence, who has been married to Katherine Buxo for 51 years, is the father of Barry Lawrence and Jodi Phillips.

Lawrence has fond memories of his childhood in St Vincent and in Trinidad, an experience which endears him to both countries. “I left St Vincent at the age of nine,” said Lawrence this week. “My family owned Brighton & Connery estates up in the country in Georgetown, but we lived in Kingstown. I lived close to a place named Victoria Park where all the major sporting activities on the island took place, like football and cricket so, as a child I enjoyed the things all boys enjoy. When the family migrated to Grenada I attended Presentation College where I wrote GCE.

“Most of my holidays were spent in Trinidad but I came to live in Trinidad around the age of 16. A lot of guys remember me from school holidays and think that I was Trinidadian. I grew up with guys like John Henderson, Syl Dopson, Willy West and John ‘Buddy’ Williams, all good musicians. The steelband and guitar were my big entry into music.” Lawrence recalled playing pan in St Vincent and subsequently adopted the guitar as his instrument of choice.

He said: “When my father went away to fight in World War II, unknown to us, he left behind a guitar which was given to me at the age of ten. At that stage I couldn’t play a guitar but I had a good ear for music. I used to tune bottles, filled with different amounts of water, and played music on them. My musical colleagues and I did a record—Kaiso 1—which was released in Trinidad in 1958. Of the guys that played on that record I am probably the only one alive. It was a super recording and was done upstairs a residence in Woodbrook. The record had only traditional Trinidad calypsoes on it.

A finger-style acoustic guitarist, Lawrence is versed in classical, folk, popular music, calypso and jazz. An original member of Silver Strings Combo, one this country’s foremost musical aggregations, a composer and arranger, Lawrence has also played with the Troubadours and was a pan player in the early days of Silver Stars steel orchestra.

He was also a guitarist in Olive Walke’s La Petite Musicale folk choir for many years.

He recalled: “I was very much involved in Olive Walke’s choir. We made songs like Mangoes and Zingay Tallala which became very popular. Denyse Plummer’s father, Buntin, and myself were the guitarists of Walke’s La Petite Musicale. We did a tremendous number of shows before I went to England to study.”

Lawrence said idleness and the restlessness of youth caused him to eventually go to Britain. He disclosed: “I was on a fast track in Trinidad, partying every night. I worked then at T Geddes Grant and used to find myself falling asleep on the job every day as almost every night I’d be out somewhere liming ‘til morning. I realised I was wasting time so decided to go to London. I didn’t have money then and bought my passage to England by selling my car. I did Building Construction at Hammersmith School of Building and Arts in Shepherd’s Bush, London.”

The late 50s were heady times for Lawrence as he played music in perhaps then the country’s top combo. “Before 1960 we started the very first combo with electric guitars and called it Silver Strings,” recalled Lawrence. “The group’s leader was Kenneth Pinheiro and the band also had Stanley Pinheiro and Dennis Garcia, known as the Elvis Presley of Trinidad. Dennis, who was from Belmont, combed his hair like Elvis, and danced like Elvis. Silver Strings became extremely popular.

“Before the electric guitar and amplification of instruments, which came into focus after the second world war, horn instruments held the spotlight. The electric guitar became something of a new instrument, taking over the lead in a band and pushing horns in the background. Coming fast and furious thereafter were combos like Cassanovas, Group Solo and Esquires. The combos had a new sound and new approach to music. It caused a marriage between combos and the big band sound. A real revolution took place in the music in the late 50s. The big bands had very little vocalists but the combos made vocalists very popular in fetes.”

Saturday Night Sunday Morning, recorded at Semp Studios, was Lawrence’s first solo LP. This disc included a unique version of Rio Mansanare. Lawrence has since done four more LPs, namely Sunset to Sunrise, Special Delivery, Together and Spirit of the Caribbean. There are several original compositions on each album.

Through the years Lawrence has worked with artistic luminaries like Aubrey Adams, Beryl McBernie, Helen Camps, Peter Minshall.

He has done it all, teaming up with Group Solo leader Robert Bailey to produce several shows, including a special performance with opera singer Monica Ortiz Ruck at Queens Hall; opened for the Spanish duo of composer Jose Greco and flamenco dancer Nana Lorca; and toured with Paul Keens Douglas on various occasions. He was the original “singing emcee” for Keens-Douglas annual Talk Tent Theatre for three years, and was a special guest at the 25th anniversary celebrations of the Talk Tent in 2008.

Having done feature performances at the Queens Park Oval in 2003 and 2004, Lawrence has accompanied several popular calypsonians including Mighty Sparrow, Relator, Terror, Gypsy and Bill Trotman.

Overseas, Lawrence formed the Triniana Quintet in England, a popular Caribbean group in London in the 60s. In England, he performed at the West Indian Students’ Centre, Oxford and Cambridge May balls, town halls, and other venues. He also played and entertained the touring West Indies cricket team at the prestigious Waldorf Hotel. Lawrence has appeared on British television, and composed and performed a special calypso for a show called This is Your Life, hosted by Eamonn Andrews, for the late Sir Learie Constantine.

Lawrence’s musical career is one that has to be the envy of many, one rarely accomplished by most. He has toured many Caribbean islands, and performed live and on radio and TV in Barbados, St Vincent, Grenada, St Lucia, St Croix, Martinique and T&T. He also performed for the first and third editions of the Story Telling Festival of the Caribbean, held in Barbados.

While resident in St Lucia, Lawrence has performed at the St Lucia Cultural Centre and other venues for that island’s Folk Research Centre, Cancer Society, Sickle Cell Association, Drug Rehab Centre, the government and numerous hotel venues.

Lawrence has the honour of composing and arranging music and lyrics for St Lucian musical The Hewanorra Story which opened at Pigeon Island Ampitheatre, and was subsequently performed through the year at local theatres. Excerpts of this work were used for the opening of the 1998 St Lucia Jazz Festival. Lawrence said he has done many compositions and arrangements of theatrical works in St Lucia. He said: “I composed and arranged music and lyrics for the plays La Chunga and Mary Could Dance, performance at Eagles Inn through the month of October 2000 and again at Bay Gardens Hotel, St Lucia. I was also presented and was featured in A Man for all Seasons, staged at St Lucia’s Tent Theatre in December 2002. This work was a two-hour long performance of mainly my own compositions. For this work I received the M&C Fine Arts Award for Best Performance 2004.”

In more recent years Lawrence has continued to create and produce excellent music, collaborating with the best in the region. He recalled: “I worked with Derek Walcott in the very early days of the Little Carib Theatre in Trinidad, and more recently in arranging and presenting the music for his play Steel as its musical director; as well as composing and arranging the music for Walcott’s play Odyssey which was performed in Italy and Spain.

“At the Trinidad Jazz Festival in March 2010, I was the featured performer at Jazz on the Greens, along with greats like Ray Holman, Douglas Redon and Michael ‘Ming’ Low Chew Tung. Three years later, I performed for the international Literary Festival (Word Alive) at Samaans Park, St Lucia. Also in 2013, I was the sole musician in the stage performance of Walcott’s Starry Starry Night, staged at Central Bank Auditorium, Port-of-Spain, in November, to sold out audiences.”

Lawrence received the prestigious music award as Honoured Composer in 2013 from St Lucia’s Cultural Development Foundation. His most recent work is the CD Melemelanj, released last month. This disc consists of several original compositions using authentic indigenous Caribbean rhythms.

Musing on the evolution of Caribbean music, Lawrence said: “The music has changed and has become much more technically sound. A lot of the young fellas now have taken the trouble to learn, to read and score the music. They have come to learn the importance of musical notation and putting proper arrangements together.

“Today’s musicians, like Dougie Redon, are much (more) proficient in music than we were back in the old days. This has also happened with the steelband and has made a significant impression on my own music. When you listen some of the intricate arrangements in Panorama are comparable to any classical piece of music you will hear.”

Exciters - 1969 - The Exciters In Stereo

The Exciters In Stereo

01. Ojos Verdes (Danzón)
02. Exciters Theme (Soul)
03. Es Amor (Bolero)
04. Nunca En Domingo (Cha Cha Soul)
05. Prisioner Of Love (Soul)
06. Ese Muerto No Lo Cargo Yo (Típico Soul)
07. Yo, Que Nada Tengo (Balada Soul)
08. I Can't Turn You Loose (Soul)
09. Cocktel Español (Balada Soul)
10. Let Your Self Go (Soul)

The Pan-Caribbean workforce brought in to build the Panama Canal shaped the musical culture on the isthmus, and it became a hot-spot for new rhythms. Growing out of the combos nacionales scene, one of the most successful funk and soul groups of 60s and 70s Panama, Los Dinamicos Exciters (later The Exciters) was led by drummer Horacio ‘Ray’ Adams. Legendary in their day, the band were booked solid for years. Their core sound was Latin soul and funk (heavily influenced by James Brown) but they also played boogaloo, calypso and ska. The US Black Power movement struck a chord, especially in the Canal Zone, where Afro-Panamanians had long suffered discrimination. Co-founders of the Instituto Soul, the Exciters were the first to invite an African-American ‘soul queen’ to lead their carnival parade in 1971.

Hailing from Panama, Los Dinamicos Exciters (later known as just The Exciters) created a core sound that was centred around Latin soul and funk, but they also played boogaloo, calypso and ska! Led by drummer Horacio ‘Ray’ Adams, this band gained legendary status in their day and were booked solid for years! They took their what inspired them, blended it with their roots and what came out was a new strain of Latin funk!!

Issuing a handful of 45’s and a few LP’s in the late 1960’s-early 1970’s, today’s instrumental delight can be found on their self-titled debut, which was released in 1969 on Panamanian label, Loyola Records

Not every track on this record is is as heavy on the funk as Exciters Theme (more’s the pity), but it’s a pleasant listen and its definitely worth checking out the rest of their repertoire if you fancy digging out some more gems?

Exciters Theme is definitely a breed apart though, and has such a lovely contrasting softness/crispness between that striking horn melody and those slinky keys. It’s so sleek and silky!

Di Melo - 1975 - Di Melo

Di Melo
Di Melo

01. Kilariô 2:49
02. A Vida Em Seus Métodos Diz Calma 3:45
03. Aceito Tudo 2:58
04. Conformópolis 2:45
05. Má-Lida 3:32
06. Sementes 1:34
07. Pernalonga 2:46
08. Minha Estrela 2:32
09. Se O Mundo Acabasse Em Mel 4:09
10. Alma Gêmea 3:59
11. João 2:28
12. Indecisão 2:00

Acoustic Guitar, Viola Caipira – Heraldo Do Monte
Backing Vocals – Coral Eloá
Bandoneon – Rafael Romero
Drums – Dirceu
Electric Bass – Claudio Bertrami
Keyboards – Luiz Melo
Keyboards, Percussion, Flute – Hermeto Pascoal
Saxophone – Bolão
Synthesizer – Ubirajara
Trumpet – Capitão

One of the holy grails of Brazilian funk - the monster album that is Di Melo’s 1975 debut. The criminally underrecorded Brazilian singer, songwriter, painter and poet released only two 45s and one album in 1975 earning him comparisons to Brazilian household names like Jorge Ben and Tim Maia, but going missing in action straight after put a stop to that, making him the stuff of legends for decades to come.

Word on the street even insisted he was dead until 2011, when a documentary called ‘Di Melo, A Imorrivel’ (‘Di Melo, the Immortal’) was released, followed by a comeback album and a series of collaborations.

‘Kilario’, ‘Vida em Seus Mtodos Diz Calma’ and ‘Permalonga’ are the most obvious entry points to this album, but it wouldn’t be right to reduce this masterpiece to nothing more than a handful of MPB funk bumpers - this is a brilliant work of art from start to finish, Di Melo’s versatility clearly displaying a singular and unrivaled genius.

Di Melo's debut album was originally released in 1975 and it's a fusion of genuinely Brazilian rhythms with Funk, Soul and the right amount of psychedelia. Di Melo is one of the main Brazilian Soul Music artists, seen by many as talented and musically creative as his peers Jorge Ben and Tim Maia. Di Melo went missing in action from 1976 to 1997, the year his song "A Vida em Seus Mtodos Diz Calma" was on the collection "Blue Brazil" from Blue Note record label. The word on the streets was that he was dead until 2011, when the documentary called "Di Melo, o Imorrvel" (Di Melo, the immortal) was released. In this 2021 edition the album contains the original 1975 insert with lyrics plus photos from personal family archives and for the first time the full credits with all the name of every single musician who tookpart,among them, Hermeto Pascoal.

Chelique Sarabia - 1971 - Revolución Electrónica En Música Venezolana

Chelique Sarabia
Revolución Electrónica En Música Venezolana

01. El Pajarillo
02. Maracaibo En La Noche
03. Polo Margariteño
04. Cantos De Mi Tierra
05. El Cumaco De San Juan
06. El Diablo Suelto
07. Polo Coriano
08. Mare-Mare / Por Comer Zopoara / El Pájaro Guarandol
09. Sombra En Los Médanos
10. Barlovento
11. Río Manzanares
12. La Bella Del Tamunangue

Musicians – Alberto Naranjo, Angel Melo, Carlos Morean, Enrique Lira, Frank Hernandez, Jorge Romero, Chelique Sarabia, Joseph Kast, Julián Romero, Luciano Hardy, Oswaldo De La Rosa, Tito Iglesias

In the early 70s, well–known composer and arranger Chelique Sarabia (who penned the famous "Ansiedad" when he was just a kid) decided to register an album of traditional & folkloric songs from Venezuela but giving them a modern touch, using especially developed equipment (M.R.A.A.), based off of the principles of the Moog.

Chelique, helped by a team of gifted musicians, employed traditional instruments like the cuatro and the bandola llanera, filtering them through oscillators, playing with feedback, tape delay, synthesized frequencies, echoing sounds...The result was "Revolución Electrónica en Música Venezolana", an album with a truly exotic, psychedelic, and ahead of its time sound.

Originally, the album was sponsored by the Shell Company in Venezuela, given away to customers, employees and friends of the company as a Christmas gift in 1973. It was titled "4 Fases del Cuatro – Música Venezolana desarrollada Electrónicamente por Chelique Sarabia" ("4 Phases of Four – Venezuelan Music Electronically Developed by Chelique Sarabia"). Once the exclusivity period with the petrol company was over, Chelique did a commercial release, this time under the name of "Revolución Electrónica en Música Venezolana" ("Electronic Revolution in Venezuelan Music"). Thanks to this, Chelique and his team were considered electronic music pioneers in Latin America.

"In the past five decades, there have been many attempts at modernizing the vast folkloric tradition of Venezuela, but nobody has reached the level of depth that CHELIQUE SARABIA did when he put his impeccable reputation as a composer and arranger at risk with this out–of–the–blue revolutionary musical manifesto in 1971.

Bobby Paunetto - 1968 - El sonido moderno

Bobby Paunetto
El sonido moderno 

01.  Aguantando 3:53
02. Mi Flor Tropical 3:44
03. Is It Tasty? 4:08
04. Alfie 2:32
05. Why Is Woody Sad? 3:30
06. Mambo Sevilla 3:25
07. El Senor Sid 4:11
08. Dig It Like It Is 2:51
09. Chinatown 2:52
10. Pero Dime Tu 5:51

Bobby Paunetto: vibes and marimba
John Marrero: piano
Art Ferrero: alto sax
Fernando Oquendo: bass
Tony Centeno: voice, pandereta (tambourine), calabaza
Ray Cruz: timbales
Ray Miranda: timbales on “Mambo Sevilla”
Tommy López: tumbadoras (conga drums)
Jimmy Centeno: trap drums
John “Dandy” Rodríguez: bongoes, cowbell and tumbadora
Henry Zapata: bass on “Mambo Sevilla”

Bobby Vince Paunetto was born in New York on June 22nd, 1944, into a family of Italians and Spanish Catalans who eventually made their home in a middle class section of the Bronx. As children, Bobby and his two older brothers would often listen to their mother sing tangos and watch her dance the lindy hop. When Bobby was but five years old his mother took him along to an audition (she was an aspiring dancer) at the famed Roxy Theatre (demolished in 1960), where he first saw the fancy footwork of Fred Astaire, no doubt getting a first-hand glimpse into the world of American show business. Undoubtedly, it was at this point that the young lad began acquiring a taste for music. In later years, she was also very helpful, writing the Spanish lyrics for his initial recordings. But English was the main language that was spoken at home, and because American radio meant everything to the post-war generation, it exposed Bobby to just about every type of music possible.

Young Bobby was introduced to jazz very early on, when he heard popular DJ “Jocko” Henderson’s radio program on WOV (changed to WADO in 1959). Most likely, it was on one of these shows that he first heard Charlie Parker, an event that changed his life forever. For him, Parker had conquered the speed of light, and would forever be his favorite alto sax man. On the other end of the musical spectrum were those lively Cuban dance rhythms, which had somehow made their way into the lives of Charlie Parker and so many other bebop jazz stars. It was – as pianist René Leyva would often say to me – fusion without confusion. It was Bobby’s older brother Raymond who would ultimately help him to make the connection. Raymond would go dancing at the Palladium and whatever he would pick up from watching the great bands of the day, he would share with his younger brother Bobby. But as fate would have it, it was neither Bird nor the Palladium that would lead him to a career in music. It would be his athletic prowess.

Bobby Paunetto was a natural born athlete. In fact, so athletic was this young man that in 1959 he was awarded and recognized as one of the top young athletes within the New York Public School system. Not long afterward he and some of his fellow basketball team mates were invited by the Police Athletic League to a concert at the Yorkville Casino in upper Manhattan. The year was 1961 and the performing jazz artist at that event was none other than Cal Tjader. One of Bobby’s friends, saxophonist Pat Patrick, introduced him to Cal, and the two immediately hit it off. At the close of the evening, Cal offered Bobby his telephone and address in California. Not much is known as to their conversation, but obviously Bobby had made some points with Cal, because the following year Mr. Tjader released his first Verve album In A Latin Bag (1962). It was for Cal, the culmination of many years of melding two distinct idioms, Jazz and Cuban music. Even today, many folks who are “in the know” have hailed that album as Cal’s crowning achievement. Included in that album was a piece that he (Tjader) had composed in honor of Bobby Paunetto. That tune was “Pauneto’s Point” (Pauneto spelled with only one n).

Mild-mannered Cal Tjader had lit the flame and it was up to Paunetto to carry the torch. Not only did Tjader inspire Bobby to take up the instrument, but it was Cal – along with percussionist Johnny Rae – that also provided him with his first set of vibes. That same year Bobby bought his first piano and started composing his own material.

Sports had by now taken a back seat to his new passion and he submerged himself in all aspects of the music. He studied ardently; theory, composition, orchestration, harmony, and he practiced his instrument up to seven hours a day. It would take him little over a year to become a professional, and as fate would have it – once again – he managed to open up for his friend Cal Tjader in 1963 at the Embassy Ballroom in New York City. Bobby Paunetto was now groovin’ in mambo heaven.

It was August of 1965 and once again fate would intervene; Bobby Paunetto was drafted into the armed forces, serving honorably until 1967. Upon his return to civilian life – and to his beloved New York – Paunetto sought out some of his old cohorts and was soon doing gigs in and around the city. Strangely, he could not help but notice that the old Cuban sound of mambo and cha cha chá had been replaced by a hybrid dance form known as “latin boogaloo”. I won’t go into the who, what, where and why of it, but suffice to say that by 1967 there were boogaloo bands in every borough of the city. The older and more established bandleaders were not at all pleased with this new form, yet they began to include boogaloos in their overall repertoire. Collectively, they knew that as a genre it would eventually have to disappear, so they nonchalantly went along with it.

1967 was the year that pianist Pete Rodríguez released “I Like It Like That”. It was an instant hit and set the bar for the remainder of the decade. Not wishing to be left out of this new money-making pop craze, Bobby Paunetto decide to incorporate the soul-montuno blend into his own format, but instead of just rehashing the same old chord changes and vocal melodies, he dug deep into the jazz idiom, as Cal Tjader himself had already done with his crossover hit “Soul Sauce”. He did not overlook any of these fine points when he began writing the music for El Sonido Moderno. Bobby’s own blend of soul sauce was both tasty (con sabor) and hip (jazzy), yet it produced two adverse effects. First, it resulted in being way too sophisticated for the record buying audience of the day. Top selling artists such as Pete Rodríguez, Johnny Colón and The Lebron Brothers had put special emphasis on raw, uninhibited vocals and a hard driving backbeat (influenced no doubt by that joyous-soul-stirrin’-gospel sound), bolstered of course by a stompin’ party atmosphere. Clave was not totally lost, but it did take a back seat, and all those fancy Palladium style steps were no longer “the thing”. The new audience was a happy let-it-all-hang out crowd, and the hybrid music mirrored that audience. It was a pre-curser to what would later come. It was latin rock in the making, sans the cool jazz element.

Secondly, the lack of promotion that was (not) given to the album was a determining factor in the lack of sales. Spanish language radio was no longer the domain of Alegre, Panart, Seeco, Tico, RCA, Decca, United Artists and Columbia Records. The airwaves in NYC were now being controlled by Cotique and Fania. The radio deejays were now speaking in English and there were new labels popping up left and right. El Sonido Moderno was considered good music by most musicians, but the dancers were not buying it, not in the middle of a dance craze that was sweeping the charts. The next three years would see a few subtle changes, but the truth of the matter was that Latin jazz had begun to wane – but not for long.

It was indeed a fad, a youthful, trendy kind of phase that began winding down around 1969. Traditional Latin American dance forms did prevail and the boogaloo bands started going back to the roots. Arsenio’s classic son montuno and guaguancó combination was now being played again, thanks to Orchestra Harlow, Charlie Palmieri and Johnny Pacheco. The big bands of Tito Rodríguez, Machito and Tito Puente played on with the old stand-by mambos and cha cha chá’s, and despite a large Puerto Rican community, bomba, plena and other genres from that island were still not quite on the horizon – not yet anyway. Within such a huge crucible as New York City, these and other rustic forms would eventually meld to form a new and unique sound. The fruits of what Fernando Ortíz termed transculturation would begin to blossom in the following decades, but not haphazardly. Bobby Paunetto, whose background came from various immigrant groups, was taking notes.

The Dominican civil war that began in 1965 kicked off a cycle of migration from that country into the U.S. and in particular to New York City. As the Dominican community skyrocket during the 70’s the island’s national dance, the merengue, began to see a rise in popularity within the hispanic community in general.

With the passing of several amendments to U.S. Immigration laws, 1965 also saw a large second wave of Colombian immigration into New York City, adding this particular group to the crucible of Latin Americans that were already here. Each subsequent wave of hispanic immigrants would invariably add their unique folkloric elements to the city’s soundscape. The Big Apple was indeed changing, quite rapidly, and musical tastes were beginning to change along with it. Right smack in the middle of all this musical conglomeration was the bebop jazz of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, and the afrocubano rhythms of Chano Pozo and Machito. Bobby Paunetto, still taking notes, must have at some point wondered out loud; will this amalgam swallow up the jazz that we loved so dearly? Will the record labels begin to cater exclusively to these new hybrid forms, undermining the rich jazz traditions of Gone City?

Not one to be discouraged, he began to look for alternatives. Armed with letters of recommendation from Latin jazz icons such as Ramón “Mongo” Santamaría, Tito Puente and Cal Tjader himself, plus invaluable financial help from The U.S. Veterans Administration, Bobby Paunetto was accepted into the prestigious Berklee College of Music, where he would be tutored by vibraphonist Gary Burton, among other professors of music. The subsequent years at Berklee would strengthen his musical foundation, broadening not only his musical abilities but his sensitivity to the time tested trinity of melody-harmony-rhythm, adding more texture and depth to his compositions.

Mr. Paunetto graduated from Berklee in 1973 and immediately set out to form his own record label, Pathfinder Records. His brother Raymond would be his partner, and future music legends from his home base, New York City, would be his support team. The synthesis of intellect and emotion displayed in his work would be long remembered by all who were involved, but it would also be forgotten within the world of commercialized music. Such is the legacy of a genius.

“Bobby Paunetto was a truly great artist, a well studied musician with big dreams. He loved Cal Tjader’s music and modeled a sextet after his, adding a saxophone later on to make it a septet. I had the privilege of working with him when we both lived in the Bronx and I even recorded with him a few times. We became very good friends and he would often sit in with me in Tito Puente’s band as a percussionist. He is, in fact, the conga drummer on Tito Puente’s version of “Maria Cervantes”, where I played timbales, Juan “Papi” Cadavieco switched to bongoes and Tito handled the vibes. Bobby was a very talented arranger and composer who focused more on the aesthetics of the music than on the commercial or business aspect. His peers will always remember him as a wonderful human being who loved his art and unfortunately, died much too young.”

– John “Dandy” Rodríguez, percussionist

In later life, health problems did not allow Mr. Paunetto to fully develop as a recording and performing artist, and he stopped performing altogether in 1978. He did however, manage to produce two masterpieces during the years between 1974 and 1976. Joining him in those later sessions were Ed Byrne and Todd Anderson (both fellow alumni from Berklee) and luminaries such as drummer Tom Sala and saxophonists Justo Almario and Bill Drewes. He also brought together some of the best percussionists in the New York City area, among them Gene Golden and Jerry González. Below is a brief review of these classic gems.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Black Sugar - 1974 - Black Sugar II

Black Sugar
Black Sugar II

01. Fuego 5:40
02. Valdez In The Country 4:38
03. Don't You Worry About A Thing 2:51
04. The Dawn Of My Madness 2:33
05. I Want To Believe 3:18
06. Checan 5:10
07. Kathy 4:49
08. All Your Love 3:45
09. Wake Up 3:30

Alto Saxophone, Flute – Pedro Gosicha.
Guitar, Percussion, Vocals – Victor "Coco" Salazar
Drums – José "Arroz" Cruz
Electric Bass – Roberto Valdez
Organ, Piano, Synthesizer [Moog], Percussion – Miguel "Chino" Figueroa
Percussion – Coco Lagos, Miguel Salazar
Tenor Saxophone, Flute – Jorge Chávez
Trombone, Vocals – Luis Calixto
Trumpet, Vocals – Antonio Ginocchio
Vocals – Carlos "Pacho" Mejía

Released in 1974 with a “quadraphonic” sound. Brilliant songs by a cohesive band that knew how to materialize a memorable and original fusion project at an international level.

If Latin funk exists, it’s thanks to pioneering bands like Black Sugar, a Peruvian group created in the early seventies that recorded two fundamental albums for the Afro-American and Latin genre. A pair of albums that are now re-released by the Valencian label Discos Monterey with the usual sound and visual quality to which we are accustomed. The roots of this band come from the Far-Fen (syllables for Farfisa and Fender), formed in the late sixties by guitarist Víctor “Coco” Salazar and Miguel “Chino” Figueroa on keyboards. One night they were spontaneously joined by the sensational voice of Carlos “Pacho” Mejía. In the seventies, in the Peruvian capital there was a shortage of “white” sugar and the darker cane sugar was consumed. Hence the group’s name. Peru was in the midst of a dictatorship and the military were against music that did not come from Peruvian folklore. Rock and roll with foreign roots languished due to the imposition of the established power, and Black Sugar emerged, whose main skill was to mix, with enormous passion and fascinating ability, Latin sounds and the funk that came from the United States.

The result is two memorable albums, with a large part of their own songs and most of them composed by Pacho. The first, with an eponymous title, was released in 1971 by Sono Radio, whose musical director Jaime Delgado Aparicio was in charge of the fiery arrangements with generous brass and energetic percussion. Released with the credits in English, they managed to break into the Top Ten of the Miami charts with the song “Too Late”. They even received an offer to record their next album in the United States, but decided to stay in their country. That second album was released in 1974 with a “quadraphonic” sound, taking advantage of the label’s magnificent studios. From the mid-seventies onwards the desertions began and it would not be until 2010 that the project would be recovered with some historical and younger musicians.

To listen to Black Sugar is to go back to the Peruvian night of the seventies with fiery music, full of sensuality and rhythm. Brilliant songs by a cohesive band that knew how to materialize a memorable fusion project, very original and at an international level. Two unique albums reissued by Monterey that will delight all lovers of Afro-Latin sounds and good music in general.

Black Sugar - 1971 - Black Sugar

Black Sugar 
Black Sugar

01. Too Late 3:00
02. Viajecito 5:42
03. The Looser 4:10
04. This Time 4:21
05. Funky Man 2:03
06. Understanding 5:06
07. When You're Walking 4:53
08. When I Needed Someone 2:42
09. Pussy Cat 4:54

Acoustic Guitar, Guitar, Tambourine – Victor "Coco" Salazar
Alto Saxophone, Flute – Jorge Chávez
Bongos, Percussion – Coco Lagos, Miguel Salazar
Electric Bass – Roberto Valdez
Organ, Piano – Miguel "Chino" Figueroa
Percussion – José "Arroz" Cruz
Trumpet, Valve Trombone – Antonio Ginocchio
Vocals – Carlos Mejía

Recorded and Mixed for P.M.I. at Industrial Sono Radio S.A. - Lima - Perú - Studio I.
Thanks to "Bolo" the Funky-Man.

Peruvian Latin funk classic from 1971. Official reissue with original gatefold artwork; black vinyl. Black Sugar's first self-titled album is filled with the band own original songs. Hot percussions, excellent brass arrangements, superb keyboards, and great guitar work with a psychedelic shade. If Latin funk exists, it's thanks to pioneering bands like Black Sugar, a Peruvian group created in the early seventies that recorded two fundamental albums for the Afro-American and Latin genre. The roots of this band come from the Far-Fen (syllables for Farfisa and Fender), formed in the late sixties by guitarist Víctor "Coco" Salazar and Miguel "Chino" Figueroa on keyboards. One night they were spontaneously joined by the sensational voice of Carlos "Pacho" Mejía. In the seventies, in the Peruvian capital there was a shortage of "white" sugar and the darker cane sugar was consumed. Hence the group's name. Peru was in the midst of a dictatorship and the military were against music that did not come from Peruvian folklore. Rock n' roll with foreign roots languished due to the imposition of the established power, and Black Sugar emerged, whose main skill was to mix, with enormous passion and fascinating ability, Latin sounds and the funk that came from the United States. The result is two memorable albums, with a large part of their own songs and most of them composed by Pacho. The first, with an eponymous title, was released in 1971 by Sono Radio, whose musical director Jaime Delgado Aparicio was in charge of the fiery arrangements with generous brass and energetic percussion. Released with the credits in English, they managed to break into the Top Ten of the Miami charts with the song "Too Late". They even received an offer to record their next album in the United States, but decided to stay in their country. That second album was released in 1974 with a "quadraphonic" sound, taking advantage of the label's magnificent studios. From the mid-seventies onwards, the desertions began and it would not be until 2010 that the project would be recovered with some historical and younger musicians. To listen to Black Sugar is to go back to the Peruvian night of the seventies with fiery music, full of sensuality and rhythm. Brilliant songs by a cohesive band that knew how to materialize a memorable fusion project, very original and at an international level.

Black Sugar is a funky Latin-rock band from Peru, mercifully reissued for a latter-day audience by Lazarus Audio Products. "Viajecito" is the essential track -- the waka-waka guitar intro is the main attraction, although the basic track is funky, Latin, and mostly instrumental. "The Looser" and "Funky Man" also are hip, but lyrics on the corny side keep them from heavy play. The lead-in tracks on each side, "Too Late" and "Understanding," are solid, and the rest are decent ballads. Although the singing is not the greatest, the acoustic guitar and conga interplay on the lighter tracks sound like something from Sabu Martinez' Groovin' with Sabu album. "Pussy Cat" is an ambitious jazz instrumental; with its Latin percussion, funky bass, and strings (not to mention the title), it could have been a cut from one of the better "blaxploitation" soundtracks. Black Sugar may not change many lives, but it does occupy a vital corner in the rare world of Latin funk.

Black Sugar, the brainchild of Victor “Coco” Salazar and Miguel “Chino” Figueroa, was formed in 1969 under the name Los Far Fen, mainly because the group had a Farfisa and a Fender amplifiers as their only electronic amplification equipment.

Los Far Fen recorded three 45 rpm records with six tunes:original compositions, pop tunes and ballads. Three of those tracks, featured on this album, show the talented arrangements of “Coco” Salazar and the inspired organ and keyboard solos of “Chino” Figueroa; also determined the future musical direction of the group and their natural ability to play Latin Funk.

In 1970 the group was given the name of Black Sugar by Jaime Delgado Aparicio, a jazz piano player and arranger that at the time was the artistic director of Sono Radio, a Peruvian label.

Delgado Aparicio, recognizing the talent of the young musicians, gave the group an opportunity to record a long play in 1971. Original compositions like “Too Late“, “Viajecito” and “The Looser” made this LP an immediate best seller. “Black Sugar” was sold in all South America and there was a release of the LP in USA by a Miami based label.

The success of Black Sugar was not due to luck or marketing. Their members were some of the finest, if not the best, young musician from Peru. The arranger, “Coco” Salazar was also a fantastic guitar player; Miguel “Chino” Figueroa was the composer of almost all the original songs by Black Sugar, besides playing keyboards, he was also an inspired organ player; Jose Cruz was one of the most promising young jazz drummers; it is hard not to mention the rest of the musicians, players like Roberto Valdez, Luis Calixto, Antonio Ginocchio, etc… deserve an extensive description of their abilities.

The last musician I want to mention is Coco Lagos, king of Latin Percussion in Peru in the 70’ s, his playing is featured in all the songs. Black Sugar recorded a second LP in 1972 and their last recording, one 45 rpm in 1978. The second LP features more original composition than the first one, also the playing and the soloing show musical maturity. Tracks like : Fuego, Kathy, Checan, All your Love , the beautiful arrangement to Stevie Wonder “Don’ t You Worry About a Thing“, etc….make this LP a jewel.

Definitely their style is unique, with influences from groups like Tower of Power, Blood Sweat and Tears and Chicago mixed with a Latin Funk flavor.

Afrosound - 1981 - Tiro al Blanco

Tiro al Blanco

01. Tiro Al Blanco
02. La Estereofonica
03. El Laguito
04. El Pantallero
05. Mercedes
06. La Mordidita
07. Lucero
08. Lo Mas Lindo De La Vida
09. Muñequita Bailarina
10. El Esclavo

Mariano Sepúlveda: guitar
Hernán Gutiérrez: piano
Fernando Villegas: congas
Rafael Benítez: timbales
Jesús Villegas: bongo
Rafico Restrepo: guiro

Afrosound was Colombia’s reaction to the early 1970′s Chicha movement that was happening in Peru at the time. José María Fuentes saw the popularity of this new type of hybrid cumbia sound and thus created a sort of Discos Fuentes super group.

Produced by Julio Estrada (Fruko El Bueno), Afrosound not only incorporated the Andean guitar laden sound, but mixed in some funk, salsa/son, tropical, disco, and afro colombian rhythms to boot. The result being cumbia party albums from start to finish.

Afrosound - 1979 - La Pichoncita

La Pichoncita

01. Pichoncita
02. La Chapolera
03. La Recocha
04. La Danza De El Lorito
05. Gaita Pa Los Niños
06. Contigo
07. La Changa
08. Vamos Pa Pereira
09. Popurri Afrosound No.1
10. El Barbuo
11. La Marcha Del Pato

Mariano Sepúlveda: guitar
Hernán Gutiérrez: piano
Fernando Villegas: congas
Rafael Benítez: timbales
Jesús Villegas: bongo
Rafico Restrepo: guiro

Afrosound's La Pichoncita is a largely instrumental album showcasing the Afro-Cuban sounds of Andean guitars over Central American rhythms and tropical percussion that comprised the Cumbia movement of the 1970s.

The music is fun, made for dancing and celebration while reflecting the folkloric origins of the Cumbia genre. As an introduction to this nouveau-folk sound La Pichoncita is an excellent route to take, being both accessible and consistently enjoyable from start to finish.

Afrosound - 1974 - Carruseles


01. Raspodia Del Chinito
02. Carruseles
03. Zaire Pop'
04. Me Voy De La Vida
05. Salsa Con Tabaco
06. Negra Suramuya
07. Banana De Queso
08. Baila Felipe
09. Negua
10. Ponchito De Colores
11. Mi Sonsito

Mariano Sepúlveda: guitar
Hernán Gutiérrez: piano
Fernando Villegas: congas
Rafael Benítez: timbales
Jesús Villegas: bongo
Rafico Restrepo: guiro

Released in 1974, Afrosound's Carruseles is the band's third long player and is one of their most sought-after records, with good reason. The recording continues the fantastic mix of psychedelic guitar, exotic keyboards, deep bass, and heavy Afro-Caribbean rhythms of its predecessors, but this time around the band really stretches out on a couple of numbers, making it arguably their most experimental and entertaining. Once again Fruko is at the helm in the studio, simultaneously holding it down and allowing the musicians to explore their most spaced-out fantasies. His trusty mentor, Mario "Pachanga" Rincón, returns to the mixing console, pulling all sorts of sonic tricks with edits, panning, reverb, and echo. Wilson Saoko adds his usual playful and wigged-out vocal bits that float over everything like some sort of twisted inner consciousness. Add to this the occasional drum machine, Moog, and Mellotron and you have a formula for a truly unique hybrid unprecedented at the time in Colombia. What makes this Afro-sonic experiment so captivating is the inherent contradictions and contrasts within the formula itself, mixing as it does conventional Latin forms like cumbia, pasebol, son pregón, descarga and salsa with rock, funk and African music as well as unclassifiable studio improvisations. The miracle is that Fuentes trusted the house musicians and their engineer enough to not only let them make a record, but to keep on producing releases through the decade and into the next, yielding a treasure trove of tunes, with Carruseles being the crown jewel on top.

Afrosound - 1973 - La Danza De Los Mirlos

La Danza De Los Mirlos

01. Caliventura
02. En La Espesura Del Monte
03. El Forastero
04. El Chorrillo
05. Esperando Por Ti
06. La Cancion Del Viajero
07. Sabor Navideño
08. La Danza De Los Mirlos
09. La Magdalena
10. Cachucha Bacana
11. Cabeza De Chorlito
12. La Sirena

Mariano Sepúlveda: guitar
Hernán Gutiérrez: piano
Fernando Villegas: congas
Rafael Benítez: timbales
Jesús Villegas: bongo
Rafico Restrepo: guiro

Afrosound was born from the desire of Discos Fuentes vice-president José María Fuentes to come up with a domestic version of the emerging African and Latin rock sounds coming from outside the country, inspired by groups like Osibisa and Santana. The mission was to emulate the guitar-heavy tropical sounds emanating from Perú and Ecuador at the time. According to various sources, the 1972 tune "La Danza De Los Mirlos" (by Peru's Los Mirlos) emerged as a great success in Colombia and with it a new way of interpreting the country's most famous musical export, namely cumbia, through a Peruvian perspective. Afrosound would cover not only "La Danza De Los Mirlos" and name their debut LP after the song in 1973, but they would also faithfully reproduce the unique sound of their guitar hero Enrique Delgado. The first Afrosound recordings were made with a fantastic rhythm section consisting of talented musicians that had played with Fruko y sus Tesos. To add to the hippie vibe, there were plenty of whacky improvised vocal asides (called "inspiraciones"), plus custom fuzz, wah-wah, flange and echo effects boxes for the guitar and keyboards. A barrage of odd sounding synths, drum machines and other electronic flourishes were sprinkled in to spice up the proceedings, providing a competitive edge that made the Fuentes sound so unique. La Danza De Los Mirlos kicks off with most famous Afrosound hit of all, 'Caliventura', a genius blend of funk and cumbia. Aside from the cumbia amazónica title tune, there are several other covers including three popular songs by Nelson y Sus Estrellas, plus radically reimagined versions of various Colombian costeño classics published by Fuentes. Mario "Pachanga" provides a sad but still groove-oriented Christmas son montuno/cumbia hybrid while Fruko brings us the bomba-funk ditty "El Chorrillo" and the rocking cumbia Andina gem "Cabeza De Chorlito" where Sepúlveda channels Enrique Delgado. Fruko collaborator Hernán "Hercovalle" Colorado Vallejo rounds things out with the melancholic psychedelic cumbia "Esperando Por Ti", proving that every tropical party has to have its down side as well. All in all, the dozen tracks on Afrosound's debut long play make for a surprisingly diverse palette from which these Colombian musicians painted their daring portrait of Peruvian cumbia, returning the favor in bold colors that still resonate almost 50 years later. 

Afrosound’s mission was to emulate the guitar-heavy tropical sounds emanating from Perú and Ecuador at the time. To add to the hippie vibe, there were plenty of whacky improvised vocal asides (called ‘inspiraciones’), plus custom fuzz, wah-wah, flange and echo effects boxes for the guitar and keyboards. A barrage of odd sounding synths, drum machines and other electronic flourishes were also sprinkled in to spice up the proceedings.

The dozen tracks on Afrosound’s debut long play make for a surprisingly diverse palette from which these Colombian musicians painted their daring portrait of Peruvian cumbia, returning the favor in bold colors that still resonate almost 50 years later.

“La danza de los mirlos” kicks off with most famous Afrosound hit of all, ‘Caliventura’, a genius blend of funk and cumbia. Also, there are several covers including various Colombian costeño classics, a groove oriented son montuno / cumbia hybrid, Fruko’s bomba-funk ditty ‘El chorrillo’, the melancholic psychedelic cumbia ‘Esperando por ti’ and the rocking cumbia andina gem ‘Cabeza de chorlito’.

Andre Tanker Five - 1969 - Afro Blossom West

Andre Tanker Five 
Afro Blossom West

01. Old Lady Walk A Mile
02. Party In The City
03. Hamburg
04. Ho Ba La La
05. Do Me So La So So
06. Lena
07. Wachi Wara
08. Are You Lonely For Me Baby
09. Don't Let Me Lose This Dream
10. Swahili

Andre Tanker - vibes, vocals.
Clarence Wears - guitar
Clive Bradley - bass.
Kester Smith - drums, timbales, vocals.

A jazzy combo from the Caribbean – led by a singer who also plays some really wonderful vibes! The rhythms are strong, with a definite dose of calypso in the mix – but the overall sound is much more in the jazz side of the spectrum, thanks to fluidly melodic sounds from Andre Tanker on vibes! Tanker also sings a bit too – but he's open to Latin modes and soul jazz styles, which makes him sound a lot different than anything you might expect from a late 60s album recorded in Trinidad! In fact, a few of these tunes even hit a boogaloo groove – which is perfect for the vibes – and others maybe echo some of the groovier Verve records modes of the time.

When this album was first released in 1969, the young combo around vibraphonist and singer Andre Tanker conveyed a new style mix, which apparently naturally merged quite different musical influences into a new whole. At the centre of the music of the Andre Tanker Five was jazz in its Caribbean, Trinidadian style, a combination of the modern jazz of those days and the sounds of the extremely popular steeldrum bands of the time. A very decisive addition is typical for Trinidad: Calypso. Calypso stands for the attitude to life of this young generation of musicians, for the 'Good Time Feeling' and the desire to incorporate danceable Caribbean rhythms and Afro-Latin grooves into their individual style.

Pete Jolly - 1970 - Seasons

Pete Jolly 

01. Leaves 1:43
02. Younger Than Springtime 2:14
03. Bees 2:54
04. Rainbows 1:11
05. Plummer Park 4:25
06. Springs 3:06
07. Seasons 3:45
08. Sand Storm 2:02
09. Autumn Festival 3:14
10. Prairie Road 2:50
11. The Indian's Summer 3:40
12. Pete Jolly 1:45

Bass – Chuck Berghofer
Drums – Paul Humphrey
Guitar – John Pisano
Percussion – Emil Richards
Percussion – Milt Holland
Piano – Pete Jolly

Producer – Herb Alpert

One of our favorite-ever keyboard albums – a rare lost session from pianist Pete Jolly – one of his only electric dates, and a completely improvised set of grooves! Pete plays electric piano, organ, and even a bit of musette – jamming in the studio with help from Chuck Berhofer on bass, Paul Humphrey on drums, John Pisano on guitar, and Milt Holland and Emil Richards on percussion – all of whom bring in some sly, subtle touches to the grooves that are totally great! The album's much more open than other keyboard dates from the time – almost in the territory of some of Herbie Hancock's most experimental work, but a fair bit more groove-based too – given that the album's filled with short, funky tracks all the way through. There's some echoes of Bob James work to come – and given the 1970 date of the record, it could almost be said that Jolly predates a whole host of 70s keyboard talents – setting his mark with this uniquely laidback set of tracks.

Pete Jolly's third album for A&M Records offers the closest recorded approximation of this musician’s talent yet offered the listener. Because in these grooves, produced by Herb Alpert, Jolly is heard not only on standard piano, but also on the Wurlitzer Electronic Piano, accordion, musette, Sano Vox, and Hammond Organ. The effect is startling to say the least, and at times a little unsettling as you wonder where the musician leaves off, and the engineer and technical studio wizards take over.

However, this album is no studio tour de force, but a "Live" recording in the sense that Jolly and fellow musicians Chuck Berghofer, Paul Humphrey, John Pisano, Milt Holland, and Emil Richards got together and improvised their way through 12 tunes in the space of four hours. The session was basically improvisational, and was completely open end, says Jolly. “We literally improvised as we went along – using visual and musical communications between ourselves to let the tunes happen, breathe and expand. It’s as simple as that. Then we edited down the four hours of tape, did a little overdubbing, and this album is the result”.

The result is a radical departure for Jolly, and a quite successful one. There are no familiar tunes here (with the exception of “Younger Than Springtime”) – no lush arrangements, or studio gimmickry. Just Pete and his friends playing for their own enjoyment, and we hope yours.

This LP, hailed at the time of release and promptly forgotten, is Pete Jolly's masterpiece, a wonderfully emotional electronic tour de force. With the exception of one cut, it was completely improvised in a single four-hour session in the studio by Jolly and a superb, versatile rhythm section: drummer Paul Humphrey, guitarist John Pisano, and the ever-present Chuck Berghofer on bass (with Milt Holland and Emil Richards contributing as well). Jolly plays not only acoustic piano, but Wurlitzer electronic piano, accordion, musette, Sano Vox and the Hammond B-3. Minimal overdubbing was done later. "Seasons" unleashes Jolly's imagination, and he creates a marvelous tapestry of sound that both moves the listener and swings spontaneously. Beautifully produced by Herb Alpert -- who brought him to A&M -- the record is structured as a continuous suite -- with only the side break on the LP interrupting the flow -- and it comes to an exciting, carefully graded climax on "The Indian's Summer," with Jolly pounding the grand piano and a sudden burst of big band fireworks courtesy of Bill Holman. It doesn't end there however, as the closing cut, a near nostalgic weeper cum slippery little funk number called "Pete's Jolly" attests, sending it out on a fingerpopping note. There is arch humor in tracks like the scurrying "Bees" and the sauntering "Plummer Park" (which has been sampled plentifully by the hip-hop generation and contains the tight popping jazz funk that defined the CTI label, as does the last tune on the LP side, "Springs"), the vivid tone painting in "Rainbows" and "Sand Storm," and the aching beauty in "Autumn Festival." Roger Nichols' wistful "Seasons" and the sole standard on the album, "Younger Than Springtime," fit seamlessly into the fabric of Jolly's improvisations, and he uses "Springtime" as a recurring motif. Nothing from his earlier recordings could prepare the listener for this record, and he did nothing comparable until his death in 2004. [In July of 2007, Chicago'sDusty Groove imprint reissued the disc on CD. The transfer is fine indeed with warm, immediate, full-range sound.]

Mustafa Özkent Ve Orkestrası - 1973 - Gençlik İle Elele

Mustafa Özkent Ve Orkestrası
Gençlik İle Elele

01. Üsküdar'a Giderken 2:01
02. Burçak Tarlaları 2:56
03. Dolana Dolana 4:35
04. Karadır Kara 2:55
05. Emmioğlu 3:02
06. Çarşamba 2:18
07. Zeytinyağlı 3:45
08. Silifke 3:35
09. Lorke 2:24
10. Ayaş 3:00

Guitar – Mustafa Özkent
Bass Guitar – Merih Dumlu
Guitar – Cahit Oben
Organ – Ümit Aksu

Mustafa Ozkent's masterpiece, originally released in Turkey in 1973. It's an all instrumental Turkish psych-funk album, filled with classic beats and breaks, that still inspires long time fans and first time listeners alike. Due to the funky rhythms, hypnotic percussion and heavy break beats, the LP is a holy grail amongst both DJ's and music fans. Only a handful of copies from the original pressing are known to exist.

Mustafa Özkent is a Turkish musician, composer and arranger. Best known for his 1973 album, Gençlik İle Elele, he also earned a reputation as an in-demand session player, arranger, and producer, "creating music that fused psychedelic and pop/rock influences with R&B grooves and jazz-influenced improvisations." He was referred by Andy Votel as the "Dr. Frankenstein of Anatolian pop".

Özkent started his professional career in the band the Teenagers in 1960. Embarking a career as a session musician and arranger, Özkent signed with Evren Records which was known for its high production standards and audiophile recording techniques. He started recording Gençlik İle Elele with a hand-picked team of musicians and released it 1973. In 1975, he went to Belgium and the Netherlands to study music. Later, he stayed musically active in Turkey, releasing solo records and producing music.

In 2006, Gençlik İle Elele was reissued by British Finders Keepers record label, achieving rave reviews and commercial success. Following the success of the reissue, Özkent embarked a tour, performing the songs off the record on festivals such as Le Guess Who? and Europalia

Monday, February 19, 2024

Ryojiro Furusawa - 1977 - Racco

Ryojiro Furusawa

01. Cum-Cum
02. Moki
03. Racco
04. La Zuguta-Ba
05. Wolf Fish
06. June Rain
07. Burning Cloud

Tomoki Takahasi - (tenor and soprano sax)
Hideaki Mochizuki - (bass)
Toshiyuki Daitoku - (keyboards)
Ryojiro Furusawa - (drums)

Deep deep sounds from this hip Japanese drummer – a set that features a fusion-styled mix of keyboards and sax, but one that comes across with a gentle feel that's light years from conventional fusion!

The balance is perfect throughout – kind of a spacey, soulful vibe – stretching out beautifully, yet never getting overindulgent – no jamming modes at all, and really a great ear for the space between the notes that keeps the whole thing on a open-handed level. One track goes slightly out, but in a way that balances the others nicely – and players include Tomoki Takahasi on tenor and soprano sax and Toshiyuki Daitoku on keyboards.

Ryojiro Furusawa - 1976 - You Wanna Rain

Ryojiro Furusawa
You Wanna Rain

01. Acoustic Chicken 
02. Snake Walk 
03. Yellow Cherry 
04. You Wanna Rain? 
05. For Heavens Sake

Bass – Mochizuki Hideaki
Drums – Furusawa Ryojiro
Piano, Electric Piano – Daitoku Toshiyuki
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – Takahashi Tomoki
Trombone – Mukai Shigeharu

Searing, soulful energy from this overlooked Japanese combo of the 70s – a crack quartet led by drummer Ryojiro Furusawa, working here with some great guest work on trombone from Shigeharu Mukai! The tunes are often very simple, but with a groove that's totally great – a bit of a modal vibe at times, and some spiritual jazz undercurrents at others – really making the record feel like some lost Strata East album, thanks to electric piano lines from Toshiyuki Daitoku and some tenor and soprano sax from Tomoki Takahashi. Most tunes are long, and very openly grooving

A great release featuring exciting post-bop and modal explorations by a really skilled ensemble. The mellow and warm classic "For Heavens Sake" closes the album with a fitting homage and some truly smooth grooves. A must have for J Jazz lovers.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Masaru Imada - 1975 - Green Caterpillar

Masaru Imada Trio +2
Green Caterpillar

01. A Green Caterpillar 11:24
02. Straight Flash 10:27
03. Blue Impulse 10:28
04. Spanish Flower 11:15

Bass – Isoo Fukui
Congas, Percussion – Yuji Imamura
Drums – Tetsujiro Obara
Guitar – Kazumi Watanabe
Piano – Masaru Imada

Recorded on January 20 and 22, 1975 at AOI Studio, Tokyo

One half of ‘Green Caterpillar’ is the sort of in your face smooth sexual funk Jazz was finding itself lovingly wrapped in by this time, nothing that could ever be criticised when it’s material like 'A Green Caterpillar’ and 'Straight Flash’ slithering up trouser legs with distorted electric piano riffs exiled from Blaxploitation flicks. Flick over, and it’s a settled conservative route, though not routine - 'Blue Impulse’ and 'Spanish Flower’ aren’t yet stuck to that 1930s colonial cocktail bar safety net act 1980’s 'Andalusian Breeze’ would demonstrate; here it is a solid musicianship that goes on semi-improvised personal forays until venturing back before nightfall, considerate but willing to have fun of its own for the heck of it. Not its genre’s most noteworthy example, its duo of dichotomies do present elements of both rough and smooth to keep you enthralled for long enough before biting on bigger fish…

Dick Griffin - 1985 - A Dream For Rahsaan

Dick Griffin
A Dream For Rahsaan

01. There Is A Time For Love 6:18
02. Darkness Of Duke 4:39
03. Come In And See 6:10
04. The Love Always Blues 5:57
05. It's About That Time 7:23
06. A Dream For Rahsaan 4:55

Alto Saxophone – Gary Bartz
Bass – Cecil McBee
Drums – Billy Hart (tracks: A2, B3), Idris Muhammad (tracks: A1, A3 to B2)
Piano – Stanley Cowell
Trombone – Dick Griffin

Recorded in New York, January 1985

Dick Griffin is one of today's leading trombone pioneers. In a career spanning over 50 years, he has performed with some of the biggest names in Jazz and Soul, as well as appearing with several symphony orchestras. A short list of the luminaries Mr. Griffin has worked with includes: Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Tito Puente, Art Blakey, Charles Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie, McCoy Tyner, Benny Bailey, Jimmy Heath, Frank Foster, Lionel Hampton, Abdullah Ibrahim (f/k/a Dollar Brand) & "Ekaya", Sam River, Archie Shepp, Cecil Taylor, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Isaac Hayes, Dionne Warwick.

A master technician on the trombone, Griffin has developed a highly personalized playing style that he calls "circularphonics". Inspired by his close friend and mentor Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Griffin’s "circularphonics" technique mimics Kirk’s unique ability to play multiple instruments simultaneously without having to stop to breathe. Griffin’s technique achieves this sonic feat on a single trombone by combining circular breathing with multiphonics. The expanded range of simultaneous sounds Griffin creates through his technique evokes the true spirit of such experimental jazz musicians as John Coltrane, Sun Ra, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Never a follower, Griffin has moved beyond the course set by these pioneering giants to develop a unique style on and for an instrument which has hardly been the most widely used in modern Jazz.

James Richard Griffin was born and reared in Jackson, Mississippi. His first musical influence was a neighbor known simply as Mr. Jesse. At evening time, all the neighborhood children would stop by to hear Mr. Jesse's impromptu blues guitar compositions with lyrics describing the day's events in rhyme. Griffin began studying piano at age 11 and, two years later, upon entering high school joined the school's marching band where he learned trombone. His professional career began as a teenager, playing piano and trombone in clubs with classmate Freddie Waits on drums. While in high school, he also sang in a doo-wop group that was invited to go on the road and perform with Sam Cooke. In junior college, Griffin won several awards for his arranging skills. In 1963, Griffin graduated from Jackson State University and then pursued graduate studies at Indiana University where he received a Masters Degree in Music Education and Trombone.

Griffin’s professional performing career advanced further when he met avant-garde jazz giant Sun Ra in Chicago. He spent several summers in the mid-1960s playing with Sun Ra's Arkestra. It was during this period that Griffin first met Rahsaan Roland Kirk, who would become a close friend. After moving to New York City in 1967, Griffin made his recording debut with Kirk on the album "The Inflated Tear". As a member of the "Vibration Society", Griffin notated and transcribed music for the sightless Kirk. He went on to record several albums with Kirk, including "Prepare Thyself To Deal With A Miracle","Rahsaan, Rahsaan", "Left & Right", and "Volunteered Slavery". In the early 1970s, Griffin also played in a big band fronted by the great bassist and composer Charles Mingus. During this yearlong association, Mingus provided priceless support by encouraging the young trombonist's writing endeavors. Around the same time Griffin also spent three years in the house band of the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem, playing for nearly all the Motown greats, including The Temptations, James Brown and Nancy Wilson.

One of the most versatile and inventive musicians of today, Griffin has played with symphony orchestras such as The Harlem Philharmonic, The Symphony Of The New World, and the Brooklyn Philharmonic. As a composer, the Brooklyn Philharmonic premiered Griffin’s work for symphony orchestra and jazz quartet entitled the “World Vibration Suite”. As a Broadway pit musician Griffin has performed in several shows including "The Wiz", "Me & Bessie", "Raisin" and "Lena" (starring Lena Horne), as well as in the Paris production of "Black & Blue" (starring Linda Hopkins). He has made many television appearances in the U.S. on shows such as "The Today Show", "Soul", "Faces", "The Ed Sullivan Show", and "Like It Is". He also has appeared in the UK on the BBC and on TV programs in Germany, France, and Italy. Finally, he also appeared in the film "The Cotton Club" and performed on the soundtrack for the movie "Gordon's War".

An avid music and art educator, Griffin taught music theory and jazz history Wesleyan University (1975-77) and later at SUNY-Old Westbury (1981-83). Currently, Griffin gives clinics and master classes at collages and schools across the world.

Griffin has also developed a side career as a visual artist. His abstract paintings and works on paper have been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions, private and corporate collections in both the U.S. and Europe. Like his music, Griffin’s paintings are influenced from his experience. “When you hear me play, what I put out there is what I’ve experienced; and when I paint, I put the same thing on canvas-in a different way” said Griffin.

Currently based in New York City, Griffin performs regularly in a variety of concerts, clubs, and other venues. Always independent, he collaborates and participates in global projects with musicians from many countries, exploring possibilities of new media and the internet. Griffin has had the opportunity to perform, tour, and exhibit his art in countries all over the world including Switzerland, Greece, Kenya, Japan, Austria, Venezuela, Cuba, and Sweden. In recent years, Griffin is the bandleader and collaborator of six projects: The Dick Griffin and Michael Wimberly Duo, The Trombone Trio featuring Joe McPhee and Steve Swell, The Dick Griffin Homage to Sun Ra Band, The Dick Griffin Rahsaan Roland Kirk Tribute Ensemble, The Dick Griffin Quintet, and the Dick Griffin Organ Ensemble.