John McLaughlin “Now Here This” Interview Part 2 [Listen 28:44] – Sitting in the control room with Teo Macero and John McLaughlin S03 Ep04 (Part 2 of 2)
Special Guest: John McLaughlin: McLaughlin started his career off as a 19 year old trailblazing guitar master, blowing away audiences just as the British blues was exploding on the scene. Bands like Cream and the Yardbirds were just starting to take shape, and guitarists like Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, and Jimi Hendrix were just starting out and hoping to cut their teeth. My next guest had a different calling, going on a different tangent and taking his sound away from the blues-rock world of guitar hooks and classic rock solos and instead schooling himself on some of the most beautiful but also technically challenging music styles known in music. He delved into playing styles like flamenco guitar with Al Di Meola and Paco de Lucia; world music with people like Carlos Santana and Trilok Gurtu, and straight ahead jazz with too many jazz legends to mention. John McLaughlin was a major player in helping take jazz on one of most extreme and interesting rides ever with the sub-genre 'jazz fusion.' He is so highly respected that Miles Davis immortalized him in two songs, one of them on his landmark album, Bitches Brew, with the honorarily titled "John McLaughlin." Currently, McLaughlin and his band, The 4th Dimension, have a brand new album out called “Now Here This” an album about which McLaughlin has been quoted as saying “It’s the best thing I ever did, from the beginning until today.” In this podcast we talk about the elder blues statesman Alexis Korner and his effect on the British Blues world, John McLaughlin's days with Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce previous to the formation of their band Cream, we also get into anecdotes with Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Jimi Hendrix, the album Emergency!, Tony Williams, Larry Young, Joey DeFrancesco, Elvin Jones, John Mayall and finish off with the story of how Miles Davis came to write the song titled "John McLaughlin."
Going Thru a Miles Davis collection
Getting into Miles Davis' music for the first time can be a daunting undertaking. First off, he released many records, and many of them groundbreaking. He also changed his style quite dramatically at different time periods in his career, so where to start, and what to look for can be a little overwhelming. Of course, there are the albums that must be in the collection which are well known and loved by everyone and need to be there to say that they're into Miles Davis, according to aficionados. Then there are albums that are not necessarily must-haves but come down to being just as good, or very close to just as good, and ones that the neophyte would do better to try after they've gained some familiarity into his music. Of course, it can all come down to a matter of opinion, but take the advice from those who have gone through it and are willing to impart what they've found.
For those who get it in their blood, rich appreciation takes hold, it gets to be a hunger, and later, after having spent hours upon hours savouring every nuance and note, the albums get to be second nature and fans couldn't imagine being without the albums in their collection. For the music fan, it truly becomes a thing of beauty. But for the beginner, all these different albums and musical periods can be hard to sort through. The good news is, that for those starting out, Davis may be the most accessible jazz artist – easier to get into than later period John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy or say Ornette Coleman.
For myself, I have never come across a Miles Davis record that I didn’t like.
Here is a small sample of Davis albums. Though most fans categorize Davis’ collection according to time periods; I personally separate Davis’ playing into tempos to put on according to my mood. I have sorted this list with both categorizations in mind. If you're new to it, try it out; I hope it broadens your horizon.
Generally Davis’ playing during this period tends to be of a quick and agile straight ahead jazz. All of it is pretty accessible and sound like “Jazz” in a traditional sense.
Birth of Cool (Released in 1957) (Tempo : Mid-slow)
This is Miles Davis in a big band setting and is notable for among other things, one being the first time he worked with arranger Gil Evans. Though released in 1957, the recordings themselves actually date from 1949 and 1950. This pivotal album was Miles Davis’ first big change to the jazz world – ushering in the switch from Bebop Jazz, playing with Charlie Parker in these years, to what became to be known as “cool jazz" (in no small part because of this monumental album.) In short, a great album that goes well with any occasion.
'Round About Midnight (Released in 1957) (Tempo: mixed - Slow and Quick tracks)
A phenomenal record. After recording for smaller labels like Prestige, Davis decided to move to Columbia Records to record ‘Round About Midnight (his first album in a long career with the label). Considered his first great quintet, the album has John Coltrane, Red Garland, Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones. They really clicked on this album.
Bags Groove (1957) (Tempo: Mid to Quick)
Although this it a lot of people’s favourite record; I personally just put this record on when I feel like changing it up and listen to a Miles Davis record I haven’t heard in a while. The players on this album are an all-star roster playing at their best.
Milestones (1958) (Tempo: Quick)
Another straight ahead jazz style record and one that I reach for more often than any other of this time period; in short one of his best.
Ascenseur Pour L’echafaud (1958) (Tempo: Very slow)
This has to be one of Davis' easiest records to listen to, and one that gets frequent play. While touring Europe, Davis decided to record a soundtrack (Ascenseur Pour L’echafaud) – it doesn’t have any star players on it apart from Davis himself, but it's a great album. It has a cool minimalist quality to it. The only problem with this record is that it’s hard to find. Get it if you see it.
Generally marked by his work with Gil Evans; these are some of his most loved and sought after records.
Kind of Blue (1959) (Tempo: Mid)
Maybe the most loved Jazz record of all time. For me what differentiates this from his other records is the inclusion of Bill Evans. Not to say that Evans was the star, but I just think that he mixed really well with Davis, John Coltrane and the rest of the band.
Sketches of Spain (1960) (Tempo: Low to Mid)
A great collaboration between Gil Evans and Miles Davis that is set to Spanish folk tunes; a much loved Miles Davis record. Although I rarely put it on myself.
At Carnegie Hall (1961) (Tempo: Quick)
Having heard Kind of Blue so often, it took me a while to get into the rendition of “So What” and the other classic tunes that Davis plays with orchestration. If you find you have the same difficulty, my advice is to not give up on it; you will most likely fall in love with it after some time.
This album rings in his second great quintet and consists of Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. Each member of this band have gone on to change jazz in their own unique way.
Live at the Plugged Nickel (1965) (Tempo: Quick and Agile)
Recorded at a club called Plugged Nickel in Chicago 1965; this stuff is legendary. I play this a lot.
For some, this was where jazz stopped being jazz and turned into a free-for-all with musicians focused only onto what they were doing individually. I think less people hold this opinion in general these days; that said, this stuff isn't for everyone. Miles Davis was one of the first to plug in and has some of the most extreme examples of "Jazz-Fusion."
In a Silent Way (1969) (Tempo: Ultra slow)
Albums don`t come any better than this one. The first record that John McLaughlin played on – this record is one of the most relaxing and awe-inspiring records in my collection.
Bitches Brew (1970) (Tempo: Slow to Mid)
This is where the rubber hits the road as far as electric instruments and jazz being combined. This is a record that I didn't originally warm up to but is now one of my favorite albums of all time. If I had one complaint it would be that the `Complete Bitches Brew` needs to be easier to find and cost much less on vinyl.
Post Retirement Period
After releasing "On the Corner," Davis called it quits (for five years). After reading his autobiography, I think this wasn't the healthiest move on his part. Luckily, he released some stuff from the vaults during this time period and eventually came out of retirement. Though he didn't bring out any career changing albums, for me, he still brought out some good stuff.
Agharta (1975) (Tempo: Funky/Crazy)
Recorded February 1, 1975 in Japan, Agharta (the afternoon set) was part of a two part live release (the evening set was also released; called Pangaea). Davis has never been more crazy, wild or unapologetically funky than he was here. In fact, he was so wild that critics at the time were accusing him of not acting his age and borrowing too much from Jimi Hendrix, Sly and the Family Stone, and James Brown. What do critics know. On this album, the band is absolutely stellar and the music is totally moving. Although it's definitely not the album to start with. Not for a gentle immersion anyway.
Tutu (1986) (Tempo: Mellow/Smooth with an 80's flair)
Once you get past the dated 80’s drum machines and synthesizers sounds and settle into what's being played, you will realize that this is a great record. No, this is not as good as “In a Silent Way” or “Kind of Blue,” but it's still a great Miles Davis record.
-- Jason Hoffer
Next week: Steve Albini
Plus a bonus interview with Brett Anderson (of the Stripminers and the Donnas)
John McLaughlin “Now Here This” Interview [Listen 23:36] – Being happy and proud of what I do S03 Ep04 (Part 1 of 2)
Special Guests: John McLaughlin: McLaughlin started his career off as a 19 year old trailblazing guitar master, blowing away audiences just as the British blues was exploding on the scene. Bands like Cream and the Yardbirds were just starting to take shape, and guitarists like Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, and Jimi Hendrix were just starting out and hoping to cut their teeth. My next guest had a different calling, going on a different tangent and taking his sound away from the blues-rock world of guitar hooks and classic rock solos and instead schooling himself on some of the most beautiful but also technically challenging music styles known to music. He delved into playing styles like: flamenco guitar with Al Di Meola and Paco de Lucia; world music with people like Carlos Santana and Trilok Gurtu, and straight ahead jazz with too many jazz legends to mention. John McLaughlin was a major player in helping take jazz on one of most extreme and fun rides ever with the sub-genre 'jazz fusion." He is so respected that Miles Davis immortalized him in two songs, one of them on his landmark album, Bitches Brew, the honorary titled "John McLaughlin." Currently, McLaughlin and his band, The 4th Dimension have a brand new album out called “Now Here This” - an album about which McLaughlin has been quoted as saying “It’s the best thing I ever did, from the beginning until today.” In this podcast John McLaughlin and I talk about about the atmosphere in the studio while recording the songs: "Echoes From Then," "Take It or Leave It," "Guitar Love," and "Not Here Not There." You can hear the excitement in John McLaughlin’s voice when talking about this new album and the band he has put together.
Jazz guitarists you should know
Besides John McLaughlin, we wanted to showcase some of the other guitar legends in jazz to give you an introduction and give you some pretty pictures to look at. But besides that, look into the music they've done. Give them a listen. These guys are pioneers in the field and have pushed the frontiers of music beyond conception. While we can't cover every guitarist that should be mentioned, which often leads to objections and bitterness from fans, take note of the ones listed here, and wait for the rest to be mentioned in a later episode.
Innovative and constantly pushing the boundaries, he takes a unique approach to his music and believes music is a ways to peace.
Innovative primarily in sound and always challenging himself Metheny has evolved into new forms and a passionate fan-base. I recommend starting off with his album "We Live Here."
One of the first jazz guitarists to use an electric guitar, he influenced many others. Phenomenal skills, he apparently could match Django Reinhardt note for note.
Nicknamed "The Octopus" for his incredibly large hands and clean playing style. He only started playing guitar at age 21, but soon was playing guitar professionally. Known for only playing publicly very rarely.
Said to be the best guitar players Joey DeFancesco played with. Benson was a child prodigy, and can play a multitude of styles. He possesses impeccable technique, and can mimic his heroes perfectly at will.
A jazz guitarist of a different vein, this jazz fusion guitarist is known to have influenced players like: Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani, and even Frank Zappa. Like John McLaughlin, Holdsworth played with drumming legend Tony Williams.
Django Reinhardt deserves all the prestige placed on him. After he injured his hand in a fire, he developed a new way of playing to accommodate losing the use of his last two fingers. He's influenced multitudes of guitarists, and cemented his place as one of the greatest.
Considered by many to be the greatest Jazz guitarist of them all. Like Django Reinhardt, he is the high-watermark by which all guitarists are measured.
A sleeping giant of sorts in the guitar world, Joe Pass broke away from drug addiction and prison culture to become one of the most respected guitarists of all time.
Playing with people like Dizzy Gillespie, Bill Evans, Ike Quebec, Sonny Rollins, Jimmy Smith, Paul Chambers, and Stanley Turrentine, Kenny Burrell may have played on more of the best loved jazz albums than anyone else.
One of the world's most admired and respected guitarists living today. His style focuses more on the music rather than showing off guitar chops. He has been able to revitalize the bebop movement and make it current. One of the best for certain, and with a good helping of integrity.
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FULL CONCERT with Joey DeFrancesco live at the Old Mill Inn [Listen 1 hr 52 min] S02 Ep07 (3 of 3) Channeling Miles with Joey DeFrancesco
Interview Date: March 25, 2012 @7pm EDT
Special Podcast: Joey DeFrancesco Live at The Old Mill Inn
Special Guest: Joey DeFrancesco (Part 3 of 3) Nicknamed “the finest jazz organist on the planet,” Joey DeFranceso and GTV present you with an exclusive and in-depth interview, plus his full concert performance in Toronto.
Coming from a long line of established organ players, DeFrancesco started his career off as a child prodigy (starting at age 4) playing with all the greatest organists in the world. He has developed his skill to the point where he dominates the Hammond B3. When DeFrancesco was 17, Miles Davis called him up to ask him to tour with him and play on his 1989 album, “Amandla.” Since that time he has gone on to play with many other "who’s who" in the jazz world, and often being paired with some of the greatest guitarists in jazz, such as; Pat Martino, Paul Bollenback, Jimmy Bruno, Dave Stryker, and John McLaughlin. In this podcast, listen to his full concert performance at The Old Mill Inn in Toronto. It's only available here at GoingThruVinyl.
Check out Joey DeFrancesco's page http://www.joeydefrancesco.com/
Joey DeFrancesco's band for the performance:
He is known as the drummer and founding member for the Toronto based band "5 after 4" and is an absolute monster in this show. In between sets (about halfway through) you can hear Rezza say to Joey something about "getting all emotional" about Joey's ablity to channel Miles Davis with his horn. Although I couldn't agree with Rezza more, I think Rezza is channeling other famous jazz players himself (notably, Art Blakey). I also thought I might comment on the band: the night of the taping, I happened to be pretty nervous and was overly worried about placing the recorder in the right spot to record the show (I only had one shot at it). Vito Rezza and the rest of the band were really kind and helpful (Rezza was as cool as they come). Thanks for your help; the recording came our great!
Quinlan is one of Canada's best jazz guitarists and teacher. In this set, his playing is as absolutely cool, smooth, and refined (cool as a cucumber salad in a Canadian winter). He is both a session player and the head of the Guitar Department at Humber Collage in Toronto. He has played with Chet Baker, Freddie Hubbard, Jimmy Smith, Michael Brecker, Dave Holland, Maria Schneider and Dave Liebman. Needless to say, this guy can really play.
Lastly, I'd like to thank the Old Mill Inn for allowing me to record there. If you are in the Toronto area you might want to check the schedule of the Inn to see who is playing; they have some of the best jazz acts in the city. The rooms are nice, the food is great, the decor is what you'd expect of a classy jazz club. http://www.oldmilltoronto.com/
The Soul Jazz Chayot Ha Kodesh and debate primer
It seems that a heated debate occurs whenever a genre of music gets a label attached to it. It gets fuelled by whichever adherent or so-called expert who chooses to pick up the sword and dive into what defines the genre, what constitutes it, and what nuance necessarily makes someone or some composition excluded from the genre. Such is the case with soul jazz and hard bop. Whether soul jazz is actually hard bop and the reasons why or why not is not going to be debated here. What I want to focus on here, is some of the history and highlights. Despite which side of the battle lines you fall, the legends and landmarks introduced here have left an impact regardless where you wish to pigeon-hole them. For those who know them already, take it as a tribute and a reminder to pull them out again for a spin on the turntable, for those who don't know everyone on the list, take it as an introduction into the highlights of what jazz was producing from the glory days. For those who are discovering (or rediscovering) the Beastie Boys, you may want to pay attention; the impact some of these artists have had on the Beastie Boys' music is pretty distinct. From “Groove Holmes” from Check Your Head to Jimmy Smith's “Root Down” and a smattering of samples throughout, the degree of separation is a small one from the soul jazz greats to the Beastie Boys
Joey DeFrancesco Interview [Listen 30:40] – S02Ep07 (1 of 3) – Riding the Big Wheel with Joey DeFrancesco
Interview Date: March 25, 2012 @12pm EDT
Special Guest (Audio) Joey DeFrancesco (Part 1 of 3): Nicknamed “the finest Jazz organist on the planet,” Joey DeFranceso and GTV present you with an exclusive and in-depth interview, plus his full concert performance in Toronto.
Coming from a long line of established organ players, DeFrancesco started his career off as a child prodigy (starting at age 4) playing with all the greatest organists in the world. He has developed his skill to the point where he dominates the Hammond B3. When DeFrancesco was 17, Miles Davis called him up to ask him to tour with him and play on his 1989 album, “Amandla.” Since that time he has gone on to play with many other "who’s who" in the Jazz world and often being paired with some of the greatest guitarists in Jazz such as Pat Martino, Paul Bollenback, Jimmy Bruno, Dave Stryker, and John McLaughlin. In this podcast we talk about his early years, playing with the greats, and his introduction to Miles Davis
Special Guest (Print) John Broven (Part 1 of 1): I have been in contact for quite a while with John Broven, the author of one of my favorite music books, “Record Makers and Breakers: Voices of the Independent Rock ’n’ Roll Pioneers.” The book chronicles the history of the independent rock’n’roll record industry, covering the beginning in the 1940’s through to the 1960’s. It tells the amazing story of the record industry; it covers topics like how and why we went from the 78rpm to the 45rpm format, the history of the independent music scene, the musical significance of the jukebox, and even how the record store was born. Through his research, he was able to talk to, interview, and recount the amazing stories of people like Marshall Chess (Chess Records), Jerry Wexler, Ahmet Ertegun, and Miriam Bienstock (Atlantic Records), Joe Bihari (Modern Records), Art Rupe (Specialty Records), Sam Phillips (Sun Records), and a ton more. He goes into topics like the trade magazine “Cash Box,” Payola, and Nashville radio station WLAC, and he describes how they affected how we listen to music today. We are both hoping to post a full written interview to the site sometime in the future (when he gets off his world tour for his book). Until then, he was kind enough to send me an unpublished questionnaire on "Record Makers and Breakers" just after his book came out.
I agree that the indie record business is “an ode to the genius of American capitalism.” Somebody told me recently, “This is a great American story.”
I think it’s fair to say that as the interviews and research progressed, I realized:
(1) Just what a small industry the indie record business was at the start – I called it a “cottage industry”;
(2) How the record men had to learn the business from scratch: not just the art of recording but also building pressing plants themselves, setting up distribution systems, learn publishing, etc. etc. (see Art Rupe's wonderful new rules, chapter 25).
(3) How everybody seemed to know each other and worked together to a large extent;
(4) How the nascent industry was dependent upon several integral cogs in the machine i.e. record distributors, jukebox operators and distributors, radio/television, disc jockeys, promo men, retail outlets, trade magazines etc. It wasn’t just about the record makers – or indeed the artists.
(5) I was aware of the cover version syndrome and like everybody else put the blame on the "nasty" major labels, but then I began to understand that indie publishing companies were pitching their hit songs to majors – and recorded covers themselves. So it wasn't all one-way traffic.
(6) Must admit I didn't realize the full extent of the majors poaching the indie hit artists until I started listing the artists and the labels.
* Tell me about the importance of the jukebox market (compared to radio and retail).
Just to say that, as stated in the book through New Orleans’ Cosimo Matassa early on, the jukebox operators were terribly influential in dictating the sound of the record, also the length of the record – the shorter the record, the more plays. Basically jukebox play was free promotion – and represented bulk sales to the indies. The jukebox people, whatever their business practices, were very important cogs in the rock ‘n’ roll machine.
March 16, 2012
Interview Date: August 24, 2011 @7pm EDT
Special Guest: Jimmy Scott (a.k.a. "Little" Jimmy Scott) the Jazz Legend who sang in the early days for Roost, King and Savoy Records. He is famous for among other things, singing the most beautiful ballads in the most hauntingly high unwavering alto voice and for his unique relaxed behind the beat delivery. He is known in jazz circles as having both a tragic and inspirational life and career. Marvin Gaye once said “his entire career he has long to sing ballads... with the depth of Jimmy Scott” Frankie Valli called him “A towering influence on a whole generation on young singers” and Lou Reed said that “he is the greatest jazz singer in the world.” Jimmy Scott who is known by some as “Little” Jimmy Scott has work with some of the most iconic people in the music industry people like Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, Billy Holiday, Stan Getz and Charlie Parker just to name a few.
Jimmy Scott, Herman Lubinsky and Savoy Records
There are days when I turn on the TV or check the news that I get a sudden gut-wrenching feeling of anger mixed with defeat. Hearing the banks and Wall Street unapologetically exploiting and stealing from the masses I get miffed. Yes, there are days