Bonnie Pruden/Otto Cesana- Keep Fit/ Be Happy Vol 2

This was one dollar.  Worth the price to check out.

Bonnie Pruden, born in New York City on 1914, was a pioneer in the field of physical fitness.  She developed programs, ran fitness centers, wrote books, recorded albums, marketed fitness equipment, and even designed clothing for fitness. She was also an expert climber. In 1976, she developed a system to use pressure points to allieve pain called myotherapy, which she devoted her later years to.  She moved out to Tuscon in 1992 to open  a physical fitness /myotherapy institute and despite suffering a broken pelvis, multiple heart attacks, cancer, replacement hip surgery,stents,d by-pass surgery, Pruden kept on chugging until her death in 2011.  She was six weeks away from her 98th birthday and apparently  she was still exercising at her hospice bed just days before her passing.

Of Prudden’s accomplishments, one such feather in her cap was her creation of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness.  In what was known as The Report that Shocked the President, Prudden submitted to President Eisenhower data that showed the comparative fitness levels of US children to their European counterpart.   This was  pretty big deal when I was going to school.  As a pupil, I was really good at 2/3’s of the systems requirements I could run in the top 10%.  I could also reach the top 10% pull ups.  However, push-ups and sit-ups were always my downfall.  Could never complete the required amount in time and thus could never win a Council medal.

This album, released in 1960, consists of 14 exercise routines along with a photo step guide, set to music.  The music is all original, written, arranged and conducted by Otto Cesana.  From what i could find on Cesana, he was perhaps an Italian-American conductor from the San Francisco area who despite being classically trained, showed a pension for jazz and produced work more suited for easy listening/ lounge/ hifi audiences.  I am assuming he is dead now.

That being said, the music is quote good on this album.  Real good.  If you can tune out the exercise steps, it makes for a good listen. It probably makes for a decent work out as well.  The back cover notes in all caps, “YOU WILL BE STILL THE NEXT DAY” so be fore-warned.

For samples, I went with the Pelvic Tilt exercise “Black Out”.  I also decided to go with Walk #1 and Walk #2, “Ridin’ Wild” and “Rush Hour”.  I felt “Rush Hour”, in particular was quite similar in the middle to”Twisted Nerve”  which came out 8 years later on a Bernard Herrmann soundtrack of the film of the same name. It was also used quite famously in Kill Bill Vol 1.

Anyway,  good little album for the price.  Satisfactory.

VA-Odessa Sound of Jazz

This was one dollar.  I got it for the Texas tie in.  Being in the  oilfield for some time, I have made quite a few trips to that lovely land we know as the Permian Basin. I have flown into Midland International with the birds flying inside the airport, stayed in some of the crappiest hotels in town (not exactly true- most hotels were more mid range crappy), seen Permian High and the football stadium, driven by the 7-11 in Friday Night Lights, and struggled to find a decent place to get a beer as most places seem hidden to foreigners.  Strange town to an outsider, none the less the traveling salesman.  If it can’t be done in the Basin, then it really ain’t worth doing to most locals.

Which strikes me as odd, then that I found this jazz album as I would not see the Basin as having a thriving jazz scene.  Most Google searches pull up the jazz events in Odessa, in Russia.  A search for Jazz musicians pulls up people from El Paso and Dallas.  A listing of jazz clubs also shot blanks. So I am not sure that these is much in the way of jazz these days in the Basin.,

But back in 1977, it was a different story.  With the help of local surgeon Dr O.A. Fulcher, jazz parties were staged (11 according to the back cover) thru private subscription.  This is the first volume of jazz from one such party, thrown at the Ballroom Inn of the Golden West.  According to the back cover, 400 people were in attendance. The liner notes suggest that this is the first in what they hoped would be a series but I am guessing it never made it that far. According to his wife’s obituary, Fulcher died in 1977 probably some time after this record.  My guess is that West Texas Jazz died with him. Incidentally, O.A. was Mary Fulcher’s third husband, and after the untimely passing of all three, remained single until her death in 2013.  I am not sure what this adds to the narrative of this post. I just found it an odd fact and a testament to people’s perseverance over personal tragedy.

Well, hold the phone with that.  It seems as of late with this blog, I have taken to writing things, then researching them , and thus having to come back and change my proclamations.  Kind of seems par for course with journalism these day.  Anyway, according to sources, the West Texas Jazz parties still happen.  The celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2013.  Sorry to poke fun, but Jazz parties just sound too much like something out of Reefer Madness especially as described in the video link.

Link to webpage about documentary of Jazz in West Texas

Decent album, as far as jazz goes.  I was a little surprised as I set my expectations low. I am assuming the musicians were not from the Odessa area.  Over all good album.  I liked a couple of tracks on here.  I felt all of side one was real good, but ultimately as I do not like posting tracks over 10 minutes if I don’t have to, had to pass it by for something shorter.

Which I found on side 2. At first I was going to go with the shortest song on the album.  But after I heard “Oh Lady Be Good”, I knew this was the song for this post despite coming in over 8 minutes.  It was probably the inclusion of vocals that hooked me to this track, Featuring Clark Terry on trumpets and vocals, Carl Fontana on trombone, Flip Philips on Tenor Sax, Peanuts Hucko on clarinet, Dave McKenna on piano, Jack Lesberg on bass, Mousey Alexander on drums, and Herb Ellis on guitar , here is that track.

Pretty decent album.  And despite being all over the place with this post, I learned something that I would have probably taken for granted.  Satisfactory.

Django Reinhart- Vol IV

For a dollar, this is a major find.  There is no greater guitarist who has influenced generations of players than the Gypsy King, Belgian-born, French-bred Django Reinhardt (1910-1953).  He wrote the book on hot jazz guitar.  He was also the first significant jazz musician to come out of Europe.  Probably still the most significant, for that matter.

And the most amazing part is that he did it with two fingers.  Due to injury from a fire in his late teens I believe, Reinhardt lost the use of his fourth and fifth finger. As a result, he re-taught himself how to play guitar with his thumb and two good digits.

Influenced by the emerging jazz sound from America, Reinhardt met violinist Stephane Grapelli who shared similar musical interests.  The two formed a quintet that played at Paris’ Hot Club from 1934 until the outbreak of WWII in 1939.  Reinhardt’s brother Joseph was also a member of this group.

Towards the end of his life, Reinhardt experimented with electric guitar and bebop.  A brain hemorrhage claimed his life in 1953.  Maybe not so young for jazz musicians of the last century, but none the less, he was 43. If not for the hemorrhage, he probably would have died of lung cancer, given all the pictures I have seen of him smoking.

The tributes to Reinhardt have been many. Although initially, jazz aficionados in the US were slow to accept the guitar as a jazz instrument, he is widely regarded as influential to the genre as Duke Ellington or Louie Armstrong. Many guitarists, too numerous to name here, have counted him as an influence.  Furthermore, guitarists such as Jerry Garcia and Tommi Iommi, both of who lost digits on their fretting hand, were influenced by Reinhardt’s handicap.  Perhaps the most amusing tribute came from Woody Allen in his movie Sweet and Lowdown. In the film, Sean Penn plays a jazz guitarist who is idolizes Reinhardt.

This is a collection of songs recorded in Paris between 1934 and 1935 with Grapelli and the quintet.  Reinhardt recorded over 900 songs during his short career.  As the title would suggest, this is the forth volume of a posthumous series.  Pretty decent collection.  As with most of the recordings, Grapelli’s virtuoso violin playing is overshadowed by the guitar. But a good collection, none the less, and it served its purpose quite well, getting an opportunity to post Reinhardt to this blog.

DJango’s discography

For a sample, I went with “Tiger Rag” as I have posted it already on this site by different artists.

Great record.  Satisfactory.  Again, I wanted to do more with this post but was sadly limited by time.

Baja Marimba Band- Heads Up

Well, finishing this anniversary month with this effort.  I am sure Herb Alpert would have been a more fitting choice, but as I do not have anymore of his albums, here is the next best thing.  This was $1.  I got it for “Georgy Girl”.

I didn’t realize it until I wrote this post, but this month’s selections are rather vibe heavy.  Well, no turning back at this point.  Released in 1967, this would have been the band’s fifth album.  It is a decent collection of songs. led by marimba-ist Julius Wechter. A decent enough track list although it has one of the more tepid versions of “Temptation” on it.

For a sample, I went with the song I liked the most, “The Cry of the Wild Goose” although it sounds very derivative of “Ghost Riders in the Sky” which was presented on an earlier post from this band. I also decided to go with “Georgy Girl” as well since it was the reason I bought this record.

Satisfactory record.  Thank you for joining me this month for what has been this blog’s second anniversary.

Lionel Hampton- Lionel Plays Drums, Vibes, Piano

This $3.  I like Lionel Hampton a lot as well as any album that has smooth vibes.  This record, BTW, is French.

Hampton, born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1908, started his life as a drummer playing around Chicago before moving out to the West Coast around 1928.  While playing drums for Les Hite in California, Hampton started picking up the vibraphone.  When Hite’s band was picked to back up Louis Armstrong, Armstrong turned to Hampton to provide the vibes on two numbers.  Thus, Hampton’s career on the instrument was born.  After work with Benny Goodman, Hampton led his own band.  His output would slow as he aged.  Hampton would die in 2002, buried adjacent to Duke Ellington and Miles Davis.

This record was released in 1958 and is around his 22nd record, give or take.  Pretty good little record here.  As the title would suggest, it features his work on drums and piano, but most importantly, the vibraphone.  Again, this album is swinging.  I wanted to use almost every song as a sample.

So far samples, I decided to go all out.  For a sample on Hampton’s vibe work, I submit Cole Porter’s “Just One Of Those Things”.  His drum work is in full effect on “Tracking Problems”.  “Blues For Stephen” showcases the piano.  Finally, what I imagine is Hampton’s vocals can be heard on “And The Angels Sing”. I realize this is four songs and a bit lazy on my part but again, this is a real good album.

Top Rated.

Al Hirt- The Horn Meets The Hornet

This was $1.  Too cheap for this record.  No way I am passing up this for $1.  As I have posted Al Hirt’s work several times on this blog as well as professed my love for the lead song on this album, it makes for a fitting choice for this month.  One of the benefits of plugging this month with musicians who I have already featured, it cuts down on the writing time for me. And in case you have not heard, we are celebrating this blogs two year anniversary this month.

This record, released by Dynagroove in both mono and stereo (this is the mono version), this record centers around TV themes, most notably the one he did for the Green Hornet.  Also as previously mentioned and linked in this blog, this song was aptly used in Kill Bill Vol 1.

Released in 1966, this album features themes not only from Hornet, but also from Batman, The Monkees, Run For Your Life, and Get Smart among others.  I was a little let down with Batman and The Monkees’ themes as I had high hopes for them.  However, I was greatly impressed with the other songs on the album.  Overall, this record features Hirt’s trademark horn sounds and is very expressive.  I like it.

For a sample, I went with “The Hornet’s Nest” as well as the theme from “Run Buddy Run”. The original theme was performed by jazz great Jack Sheldon.

Good album.  Satisfactory.

Doc Severinsen- Doc

I am two years old today.  Wow, how time flies. I am posting this album due to the fact that this blog started two years ago with a Doc Severinsen album. I probably bought this back in 2014 due to how much I enjoyed the album I first posted. This was one dollar.

Welcome to another month of Donkey Show.  Due to this being an anniversary month, I am putting albums from both artists and genres that have been frequently showcased on this site. I took a bunch of records (well, the good ones at least) out of last month to insert into this month.  I also found I had to do Sunday posts this month as I wanted to get as many records in as possible.

Anyway, happy birthday to me.  It has been a roller coaster of events which has either allowed me time to do this blog or has taken the time away from me to really elaborate on some subjects.  Regardless, here are a few links to some of my favorite posts thru the years. I have noticed that a lot of video links go dead over time and I am not going to relink them.

The Mikado with Groucho Marx

Three Penny Opera with Raul Julia

Spanish cast recording of Evita

Misc Irish Album

Rosemary Clooney and Perez Prado

Ian and Sylvia

 

This album was was released in 1972 during a string of records he made for RCA.  By then, Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show was in full swing.  Carson’s era officially ended with the retirement of Leno and Letterman, the last two retirements of his class.  Nowadays, late night talk shows have evolved into something that I can not understand or more accurately, something I am not that inclined to stay up for anymore.

Anyway, Doc brings along his fellow Command Record’s label mate and collaborator, Dick Hyman who co-produced, arranged, and conducted on this record.  The songs are a decent mix of movie soundtracks/ show tunes including themes from The Godfather, Portnoy’s Complaint, Living Free, and the Summer of ‘ 42. This is a decent album.  It really showcases Doc’s skills on the horn.

For a sample, I went with “Bonnie” which is a nice lively number that derives itself from the old standard ” My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean”, although it takes its own pleasant time getting there.

Good album.  Satisfactory.

Oscar Peterson- Golden Archive Series

This was $1.00.  Not sure why I buy albums anymore.  I think the price drove me towards this purchase.   Time has not been my friend this month.  So I am still keeping these posts as brief as possible.

Oscar Peterson was Canadian.  I did not know that.  Probably would have greatly influenced my decision to buy this had I known.  Anyway, he was born in Montreal in 1925 and became one of the world’s greatest jazz pianists.  Influenced greatly by the playing of Art Tatum, Peterson released over 200 recordings and performed continually throughout his career.  A stroke slowed him down in 1993, but he was still able to perform up until his death in 2007 from kidney failure.  A statue in Ottawa was erected in 2010 in his honor.

This was from MGM’s Golden Archive Series, a series of greatest hits records that were released in 1970.  Apparently there were 49 records in this series from various artists although some were not released. This album culminates some very fine performances from Peterson although I do not have any details.  But it is a good album.  It showcases Peterson’s skills on the ivory.

For a sample, I went with “Lollobridgida”which I assume was named after the Italian actress, Gina.

Good album. Satisfactory

Sarah Vaughn- In The Land of Hi-Fi

This was $2 at Vinyl Edge.  Probably got it for the high number of jazz standards, most notably “Cherokee”.  Still not making any extra time this week.  Seems that going to the Maple Leaf Pub’s 11th anniversary on Wednesday exacerbated this trend a bit as well.  

Sarah Vaughn, “The Divine One”, was one of the great American jazz singers of the last century.  Born in Newark, NJ in 1924, she burst on to the scene in 1942 after winning the Amateur Night contest at the famous Apollo Theater.  This led to an spot opening for Ella Fitzgerald. She worked with big bands before striking it solo.  Her best known hit, perhaps, is her rendition of “Tenderly”.  Vaughn worked steady until her death in 1990 of complications from lung cancer.

This album, from 1955, was from her stint at Mercury Records in the 50’s. Her time with the label was highly successful.  She also toured constantly in the later half of the decade.  Anyway, under her arrangement with the record label, she would record commercial material for Mercury and more jazz oriented stuff for EmArcy.  This was made for EmArcy, which should be obvious by looking at the titles.  The record features the saxophone work of the great Cannonball Adderley.  It also features Jimmy Jones on piano, Joe Benjamin on bass, Turk Van Lake on guitar, and Roy Haynes on drums.  Ernie Wilkins served as arranger and conductor.

A lot of great jazz standards on here.  I liked “Cherokee” and “Oh My” but decided to go with “How High The Moon”.

Good record. Satisfactory.

Stanley Clarke- ST

This was a dollar.  Pretty good price for a good album.  Still way behind schedule with life these days.  Looking get caught up this weekend.  Will hopefully have an Arizona post next week.

Stanley Clarke is one of the leading bass players, not only in music, but in jazz, specifically jazz fusion. Born in Philly in 1951, Clarke has played with everyone from Gil Evans, Stan Getz, and Dave Brubeck, to Stewart Copeland, Bela Fleck, and Jeff Beck.  He is perhaps best known for his radical work with Chick Corea with Return to Forever.

Clarke’s Webpage

This was Clarke’s second Solo album, released in 1974.  AT this point, he had already released several albums with RTF.  Good album.  Really covers some good ground in terms of jazz fusion.  The album features the keyboards of Miami Vice Theme composer, Jan Hammer as well as Tony Williams on drums and Bill Connors on guitars.  

I really liked all of side one as well as “Spanish Phases for Strings & Bass”.  But ultimately, I decided to go with the opening track, “Vulcan Princess”.

Good album.  Satisfactory.  Done in 3-1/2 minutes, spelling and grammar be damned.