Tag Archives: fusion jazz

“Live” All Star album is a Masterpiece…

This is the last blog in my series on live albums.  MILESTONE JAZZSTARS IN CONCERT is a fantastic “Live” LP featuring three jazz giants:  McCoy Tyner, Sonny Rollins, and Ron Carter.  They were accompanied on drums by a much younger Al Foster.

 

This 2 record set documents the 20 concert tour of the “Jazzstars” in the fall of 1978.  McCoy Tyner (Piano), Sonny Rollins (Saxophone), and Ron Carter (Acoustic Bass) each had very different but potentially complementary styles.  They were fascinated by the musical  challenge of working together.  The only reason it was able to be done, however, is because at the time they all recorded on Milestone Records.

The Album features solo’s by Tyner, Rollins, and Carter, as well as songs performed by  duet, trio, and with the entire quartet.

I bought this LP at a garage sale.  I had never heard it before nor did I know anything about this album.  I think I paid 10 cents for it.  I was blown away by the music as well as the sound quality of this record.  Let’s give it a listen…

Side 1

The Cutting Edge

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This song was written by Sonny Rollins and it is performed by the entire quartet.  The announcer is Quincy McCoy, who also helped with staging and lighting.  This song is a tour-de-force of powerful Jazz.  You think the opening riffs of Rollins are amazing and then Tyner takes over!  Then Ron Carter lays a spell on everyone with his bass solo.  This acoustic jazz with the force of fusion jazz.  Rollins returns for an even more inventive solo, never losing any of the rhythmic power of the music.

Alone Together

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 This song was written by Howard Deitz and Arthur Schwartz.  It was first introduced in a Broadway play called Flying Colors.  The first jazz recording of this song was by Artie Shaw in 1939.  It went on to become a Jazz Standard.  This cut is a duet between Tyner and  Carter.  Tyner’s playing virtuosity defined! The bass at the end by Carter is mesmerizing.  I love the word play of the title.  They are alone, but they are also together. What a great name for a duet.

Side 2

Continuum

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 Saxophone solo written and performed by Sonny Rollins.  This is a truly historic document of a genius at work.  This solo is stunning!  Rollins improvises for over 5 minutes and never bores you or becomes repetitive.  This melody literally is a continuum.  Live in front of an audience he puts to shame every musician who ever tried to improvise a solo.  Everyone from the Grateful Dead to Coltrane must stand in awe of the genius of the man.

Nubia

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 This song was written by McCoy Tyner.  It appeared on his album Together, which was recorded and released the same year.  Together was also produced by Orrin Keepnews.  This is an emotional composition that features the entire quartet.  Return to Forever would have been proud to have written this one. Tyner takes us on a 15 minute musical journey that out Chicks – Chick Corea.

Side 3

N.O. Blues

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 This song was written by Ron Carter and features the entire quartet.  Ron Cater has played with everyone from Bill Evans to A Tribe  called Quest.  He may be the most recorded acoustic bass player in history.  This is an awesome jazz-blues number.  About half way through Cater gets his turn to solo and displays the talents that he is so revered for:  creativity, soul, and technique all in one.  I love the slide at the end of his solo that leads back into the main theme.

Willow Weep For Me

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Side three of the album is the Ron Cater Side.  He wrote N.O. Blues and then he solos on this song written by Ann Ronell.  This is a brilliant choice for a bass solo.  Once again improvisational skills are at the genius level.

Side 4

In A Sentimental Mood

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 This is the Duke Ellington classic that is performed by Rollins and Tyner.  I think The Duke would have loved this arrangement of his classic tune.

A Little Pianissimo  

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 Written by and performed solo by McCoy Tyner.  Tyner is again using word play in the title of his song.Pianissimo hints at a combination of the words Piano and Solo yet it’s meaning is quite. Translated literally, the title would mean “a little quiet”.  This composition is anything but small and quiet. It does have the “little pianissimo ”  main theme.  You can sense the spell he put the crowd under because of the slight moment of silence before the applause.

Don’t Stop The Carnival

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 This song is a traditional tune arranged by Sonny Rollins.  The song is performed by the trio of Rollins, Carter, and Foster.  It has that great Brazilian beat.  It takes me straight to the streets of Rio…  You can hear the crowd at several points in the recording and it sounds like a party’s goin’ on…  The Milestone Jazzstars leave them dancing in the aisles.

So where did they go from this tour in 1977?  Since 1996 Al Foster has been touring with his own band.  Ron Carter became a great music educator.  He recently retired from City College in New York where he was a Distinguished Professor of Music.  He currently sits on the board of the Harlem Jazz Music Center.  McCoy Tyner is still going strong.  He has a new album out called “Guitars”.  It features  Derek Trucks, Bella Fleck, Bill Frisell, John Scofiled, and Marc Ribot.  In addition the core band that plays with all of these great guitar players is Jack DeJohnnette, and of course Ron Cater!  Last, but not least is Sonny Rollins.  He went on just a few years later to record some memorable Sax solos on the 1981 Rolling Stones LP – Tattoo You.  Including the great one at the end of the song Waiting on a Friend.  Sonny Rollins has just announced that he, like McCoy Tyner, will tour in 2013.  He just tweeted that details will follow after January 1st.  What a world, what a world…

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Posted in Jazz Music, Vinyl | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Captain Beyond leaves me “Sufficiently Breathless…”

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For those of you who haven’t friended me on Facebook, (A phrase I thought I would never utter!) I spent the Fourth of July in Austin, Texas.  I went to a really cool record and CD store call “End of an Ear”.  I strongly recommend them to any and everyone.  Visit their site at:  www.endofanear.com.  I can assure you that vinyl is alive and well in Austin Texas.  For a complete list of all the cool vinyl and CD stores in Austin check out www.VinylAroundAustin.com.

I tried to resist buying any more LP’s.  but I failed badly.  I picked up four great albums:  Captain Beyond – Sufficiently Breathless, Alan Parsons – I Robot, Buffalo Springfield – Retrospective, and a blues LP by a New Orleans pianist who was know as “Archibald”.

When I found the Captain Beyond LP I flipped out!  I’ve wanted this record ever since I first heard the title cut in 1975.  Back then F.M. Radio wasn’t like it is now.  It was kind of underground radio. D.J.’s had complete freedom as to what they played.  They could play without commercial interruption for long periods of time.  If a D.J. wanted to play the entire live version of Whipping Post from The Allman Brothers Live at Fillmore East they could.  Captain Beyond was one of the “Cult Band’s” of that time.  They were a kind of Super Group.  

Sufficiently Breathless was the second LP from Captain Beyond. The LP also had different band members from the first LP.

The line up of the second LP was as follows:  Lee Dorman – Bass, Guille Garcia – Congas, Timbales, Percussion, Rhino (We will come back to him later) -Lead Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, and Slide Guitars, Rod Evans – Lead and Harmony Vocals, Marty Rodriguez – Drums, Back-up Vocals, Reese Wynans – Electric and Acoustic Pianos, and Paul Hornsby  – Organ on “Starglow Energy”.

Lee Dorman was the bass player for Iron Butterfly when they recorded the Psychedelic Rock classic “In-Na-Gadda-Da-Vida”.  Dorman received all the song writing credit for this record because everyone else was being sued at the time.  It is unlikely that he wrote all the songs by himself, but he definitely was a major contributor.  Guille Garcia had played with Chicago and also played on Joe Walsh “Barnstorming” prior to joining Captain Beyond.  

This brings us to “Rhino.”  Rhino was the nick name of Larry Reinhardt.  Larry had played with Lee Dorman after Iron Butterfly recorded In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.  He first appeared on the album “Metamorphosis”   I actually saw Rhino and Dorman perform in El Paso Texas in 1976.  Iron Butterfly had reformed and were out on tour opening for Rush on the “Fly By Night” tour.  On “Sufficiently Breathless”  Rhino is simply named as Rhino.  If you check out the pictures above there is a detail shot of the band.  The guy in black is Rhino.  He looks like Jimmy Page.  The information super-highway was years away and so a lot of  rumors got started that Rhino was actually Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin).  I think it helped sell a lot of records for Captain Beyond.  I even remember hearing DJ’s on FM radio speculate about this very thing.  It kind of was a smaller version of “Paul is Dead”.   For years I thought that Rhino was Jimmy Page!

 

This brings us to Rod Evans.  Rod Evans was the first lead singer of Deep Purple.  He was the lead vocalist on their first to big hits:  “Hush” and “Kentucky Woman”.  The other members of the band felt their sound was to “Pop”  oriented so they kicked him out of the band and hired Ian Gillian.  (Ian Gillian was every bit as revered as  Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin when I was an angst ridden teenager.)  More on Rod Evans when we get to the wrap up.

I know very little about the Drummer Marty Rodriguez.  I do know that the new producer of “Sufficiently Breathless”  Giorgio Gomelsky did not like the original drummer Brian Glascock  even though he had played with Santana; so, Guille Garcia personally recommended Rodriguez.  

Reese Wynans is a very interesting person.  Reese had been in a band called Second Coming.  This band was a forerunner to The Allman Brothers.  Second Coming had Dickey Betts and Berry Oakley as members.  When Reese joined Captain Beyond, Betts and Oakley joined the Allman Brothers.  Reese got beat out of his spot in the Allman Brothers by some guy named Gregg Allman.  I guess blood is thicker than water.  Things worked out for Reese anyway.  We will get back to his story later as well.

Paul Hornsby is better know today as a major producer than as an organist.  He produced records of The Charlie Daniels Band and The Marshall Tucker Band.  Paul got involved in the session because he knew Reese through his involvement with the pre-Allman Brothers Band called Hour Glass.  Is this a web of musical incest or what?!?!

This LP was recorded in 1973.  It is dedicated to Berry Oakley.  In a strange twist of irony.  Berry Oakley was killed in a motorcycle accident in Macon Georgia almost exactly a year after Duane Allman was also killed in Macon Georgia in a motorcycle accident.  The accidents even occurred just a few blocks apart! With all the Allman Brothers connections on this album it is not surprising that it is dedicated to Oakley.

On the inside fold out of the album and on the back of the album; the song order on side one is wrong. I have no idea why.  The song order is correct on the albums label.  So let’s hear this great cult album from one of the original “Stoner Groups” Captain Beyond!

Side 1

 Sufficiently Breathless

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The LP starts with this very cool and laid back acoustic sound.  The percussion has a Latino flavor.  Then the chorus hits you and you know you are listening to the right stuff.  The lyrics are appropriately cryptic.  At the break we get the first great guitar solo from Rhino.  The background music becomes drone-like and sounds a little Eastern influenced.  There are great harmonies here.  Evans does a great job as lead vocal. And then it all fades out…

Bright Blue Tango

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Right off the bat we get a great dose of the keyboard word from Reese Wynans.  The song has a funky swing to it.  Not exactly a Tango but it does make you want to move your body through space.  Once again great guitar work by Rhino. 

Drifting In Space

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Now Captain Beyond shows their Allman Brothers/Santana roots.  This is really great music.  It swings!  Wynans has a great solo in the middle of the song.  Evans vocals are awesome.  The rhythm section has soul.

Evil Men

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Evil men starts out with a breezy almost Steely Dan guitar sound but quickly switches to a much more sinister sound.  Next a  percussion break followed by a nice guitar solo by Rhino.   Rhino has an extended solo over a stop-start back-beat.  The vocals return.  Rod Evans sings his heart out.  Then Side 1 ends with the fade out…

Side 2

Starglow Energy/Distant Sun

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Side 2 fades in with some nice keyboard work from Wynans and Hornsby.  Don’t tell me Alan Parsons wasn’t a big Captain Beyond fan.  This cut could have just as easily been on I Robot or some other Alan Parsons Project.  Starglow energy is one of my favorite cuts on the record.  It has a majestic feel to it.  Once again Rhino and Evans shine.  Personally, give me a” taste of Starglow Energy!”  The song fades out and then there is an immediate kick of percussion that summons in Distant Sun.  The beginning of this song foreshadows fusion jazz.  The song has a very jazz like middle section too.  This is just very creative high quality rock-n-roll. These guys didn’t want to sound like someone else.  What they came up with had never been heard before.  This is why this LP is considered by many different artist to have been very influential.  The end of this song is surprisingly abrupt.

Voyage Of Past Travellers/Everything’s A Circle

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Track 3 and 4 are uninterrupted as well.  Voyage of Past Travellers (Intentionally spelled this way by the song writer.)  Is very Pink Floyd sounding and segues directly into the final song Everything’s A Circle.    Voyage fades in like a bad radio signal.  There is some nice feedback guitar and then a mysterious voice send us a message.  There is a fade into the Bass guitar and percussion.  This could easily be Santana.    I love the duel guitar sound in this song. Once again the music takes on a Latin Swing sound.  Great percussion, great vocals.  The music makes you want to move.

So I hope you enjoyed Captain Beyond – Sufficiently Breathless.  I think it is one of the great “cult” LP’s of Rock-n-Roll.

So what happened after this great record was finished?  Well, Rod Evans had trouble getting along with others once again.  As soon as the record was completed he left the band due to tensions that developed during the recording sessions.  The band later reformed at the end of 1973 and went on tour.  There is a CD of Captain Beyond recorded “Live” in Arlington, Texas at The University of Texas at Arlington.  It was recorded in 1973 but not released until 2002.  They still couldn’t work out their differences and the band split up again.  Rod Evans completely got out of the music business.  He became a Respiratory Therapist  in 1980.  He was talked out of retirement to do a “Deep Purple” reunion tour.  The problem was Deep Purple didn’t want to have anything to do with Evans.  Rod Evans did the tour anyway and got sued.  He lost the law suit along with a +$6000,00o damage judgement.  In order to pay the damages he gave up all the rights to his royalties from his Deep Purple days.  There are many people who would love to know his whereabouts today.  He has entirely disappeared.

Larry “Rhino’ Reinhardt went on to have a long but not distinguished career.  He played on several recordings of the Bobby Womack.  He had his own band, he play with a band called Mad Dancer.  In 2008 he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  He put out a CD called Rhino’s Last Dance in 2009.  Somehow he managed to survive and is still alive today.  You go, Rhino!

The last person I want to fill you in on is the keyboard player Reese Wynans.  Reese went on to play with Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble.  He played with Stevie till the day Stevie died.  I got to see Double Trouble open for The Who in The Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas a month or two before Stevie was killed in a helicopter crash in Wisconsin.  They were so good that I told my friend that I was with: “If I were The Who, I wouldn’t go on after that.”  Reese continues to have a great career.  He has toured with Joe Ely, Chris Layton, and Tommy Shannon on the Double Trouble tour “Been A Long Time” and has also played with the great Delbert McClinton.  I got to see Reese play with Delbert McClinton when Delbert was asked at the last minute to substitute for George Jones to open for The Rolling Stones.  Reese was great that night as well.

So there ends the story of Captain Beyond – Sufficiently Breathless.  This band stood at the crossroads of so many different bands and trends in Rock-n-Roll.  What is really cool about the record is that you can hear it all in the music.  I have to stop writing now I am breathless…

Another tale from the turntable.

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Posted in Life Events, Vinyl | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments