Monthly Archives: January 2011

Ebony and Ivory – Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder

This song has been playing in my head and heart all day.  We caught Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder performing Ebony and Ivory at the White House on CT-PBS this past weekend. I think its the first time in 30 years they have ever performed this song together live. We love them both!

Ebony and Ivory live together in perfect harmony
Side by side on my piano keyboard oh lord why dont we?

We all know that people are the same where ever you go
there is good and bad in everyone
we learn to live we learn to give each other what we need to survive together alive

Written by Paul McCartney 1982

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Tagi – Charles Lloyd

Charles Lloyd wrote on his Web site,

Music is a healing force. It has the ability to transcend boundaries, it can touch the heart directly, it can speak to a depth of the spirit where no words are needed. It is a most powerful form of communication and expression of beauty. Whether in context of my “New Quartet” with Jason Moran, Reuben Rogers, and Eric Harland, or Sangam, with Zakir Hussain and Eric Harland, and more recently with Maria Farantouri, it gives me great joy to make music with each of them. Each time we play together there is a healing wholeness that permeates the atmosphere.

We must go forward, all the great ones that went before us insisted on this. For each generation, it is incumbent upon us to rise up and sing the song – the journey and pursuit is unending. I will always remember that from his death bed Master Higgins told me “We must continue to work on this music,” and as long as I am able, I will continue to do so. Each of us has his own experience, and from that experience, something is transmitted. For me, the purpose of life is to know God and the struggle of spiritual life will go on as long as I have breath. The pursuit and the music are one.

Yours in the music,
Charles Lloyd

The most reflective, uplifting moment of the Charles Lloyd New Quartet concert at Wesleyan University, now two days hence,  was the performance of the spoken word meditation, “Tagi.”

Pianist Jason Moran pulls up another chair to the piano and Charles Lloyd sits next to him swinging the microphone close to allow for his poetic narration to flow from his guiding light voice to our ears and senses.

“Tagi” is a Bhagavida Gita inspired Lloyd composition where Charles Lloyd poetically speaks in a meditative chant-like mantra on top of the arco bass of Mr. Rogers, the delicate piano tinkling of Mr. Moran and the “Om-like” baritone chants of Mr. Harland. The moment that Lloyd’s spiritual narration over the soft accompaniment creates is deeply inspiring yogi.

He knows bliss in the Atman

And wants nothing else.

Cravings torment the heart:
He renounces cravings.
I call him illumined.

Not shaken by adversity,
Not hankering after happiness:
Free from fear, free from anger,
Free from the things of desire.
I call him a seer, and illumined.

The spirituality and the healing power of “Tagi” is further accented by Charles Lloyd on tenor sax. His instrument flows with a cornucopia of colors as we regale in the splendor of the illumination.

Ah at last it has all become abundantly clear, the mirror is a reflection of our inner soul.

Namaste, Charles Lloyd and the New Quartet, until we meet again on the astral plane, Peace be with you 🙂

Charles Lloyd New Quartet @Wesleyan University Review

Rosemary and I spent a memorable evening in Middletown, Connecticut last night enjoying ourselves as patrons of the arts. First we savored a superb dinner at Tuscany Grill on College Street. The pan seared scallops over angel hair pasta served in a spicy but oh so tasty sauce was exquisite. We highly recommend this two-floor Italian restaurant. The service was impeccable. We sat upstairs in the restaurant, overlooking the bar, directly across from the high-definition TV screens mounted on the opposite side wall. CNN was broadcasting special coverage of the breaking developments in Egypt which continued to be unsettling. Change is going to come, but what will it mean for the rest of our planet in terms of next-level co-existence?

We finished our meal quickly to get to the Wesleyan University Crowell Concert Hall to hear a pre-concert talk by Sarah Politz. We got a little lost trying to find the building so we missed Sarah’s presentation. 😦 I wonder if Sarah has slides available and how I might contact her about that information? (I’m open to suggestions…)

The Wesleyan University Center for the Arts eleven-building complex houses classroom and studio facilities in support of arts programs at the university. The CFA Spring 2011 calendar offers a comprehensive choice of  leading, innovative world music performers. Anthony Braxton, noted American composer and jazz musician is a Professor of Music in the Wesleyan Music Department.

The Crowell Concert Hall is an architectural wonder with a breathtaking interior design. The stage is all housed in wood with creative textures of multi-tiered roofs that jut out at different angles. The acoustics of this 400+ seat venue are aesthetically pleasing. This was the perfect venue for the Charles Lloyd New Quartet. I felt like we had lifted and placed into the music setting that served as the backdrop for the ECM live Charles Lloyd Quartet recording Rabo de Nube.

I was finally getting to witness Charles Lloyd after many decades of  silently desiring to see him perform live. Charles Lloyd has a spirituality and presence that is very commanding yet humble. He plays the sweetest saxophone I have ever heard. His sax was constructed of soft white gold. His energy was amazing as he drew us in from the first breath.

Charles Lloyd is magical to watch. His phrasing on the sax captures your senses. He accents his saxophone playing with sweet melodic verse contrasted by spiritual meditation of the highest order. I would have to say he creates a church that effectively communicates each person’s sense of self-worship and faith. I truly loved watching him perform as he lifted his leg and knee to further accent the notes. He is a band leader who delegates telepathically and the quartet responds with instinctual punctuality.

Charles Lloyd is complemented by three super talented jazz musicians. Jason Moran on piano has the touch of the keys on the Steinway that mesmerize your senses. My wife and I have seen Jason play before with his bandwagon at Long Wharf  Theater in New Haven, where he did a recreation of Thelonious Monk‘s famous 1959 Town Hall Concert complete with black and white vintage 35mm footage. He made Charles Lloyd smile several times when he improvised or stretched out on his piano solos.

Charles Lloyd offered a varied music program.  His execution of “tenderness sutras” wove rich tapestries of the heart within us. He invited Jason Moran’s wife, Alicia Hall Moran, who is an extraordinary mezzo-soprano vocalist to accompany their version of “Go Down Moses”. Alicia’s operatic voice added a beautiful, haunting accent to the American Negro spiritual. What really struck me was the irony of hearing this song’s lyrics in light of the revolution of change happening in Egypt at the same moment in time as they played. History repeating history…

 

When Israel was in Egypt’s land: Let my people go,
Oppress’d so hard they could not stand, Let my People go.
Go down, Moses,
Way down in Egypt land,
Tell old Pharaoh,
Let my people go.

Charles Lloyd, tenor and alto saxophone, flute

Jason Moran, piano

Reuben Rogers, double-bass

Eric Harland, drums and percussion

Alicia Hall Moran, mezzo soprano

The New Charles Lloyd Quartet also features Reuben Rogers on stand up double bass. He was very relaxed in his role yet his ability to slap the notes or strum the strings earned your immediate respect.  I especially loved how into his distance he would go. taking us on that journey with him. His double bass I think was made of deep cherry red wood and it produced an eloquent resonance.

Eric Harland blew me away with his inventive drumming style. His technique and sensibilities captivated my attention as soon as he started at his drum kit. He would rest a folded over tambourine on the high hat or use the sets of bells he had on draped on either side of his drums. He had a really cool way of using his drum sticks to accent the music. He would drag the tip of the drum stick across the cymbal top at just the right point in the selection. He was never overpowering when he drummed but you paid strict attention to his drum shots and rolls as they were all very unique

Charles Lloyd made time after the concert to meet with fans and sign autographs. I was thrilled to meet him. He signed my concert program and the CD cover of his latest CD, which we heard a few songs from that night, The Mirror . I thanked him for his healing music. He folded his hands in prayer and bowed ever so slightly. I left his company elated and reassured being in his spiritual presence.


Bob Seger to Tour

Night Moves (album)
Image via Wikipedia

Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band will be touring again. Rock and Roll Never Forgets!

Bob Seger has announced initial plans to tour in the spring of 2011. Initial information is classic Seger close to the vest.

Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band will launch a new tour “to major cities across North America” starting in March, Seger’s first time on the concert trail since his tour of 2006-07.

The exact cities and dates will be announced shortly, although a map that flashes in a brief video on his web page showed Michigan, Ohio, Massachusetts, New York and Missouri.

He has the state of New York identified as a place for his tour. I’m guessing Madison Square Garden.

Join his official fan club, the Bullet Club to learn more about presales info etc.

Here is my blog post of the least time we saw Bob Seger and the Bullet Band live at Madison Square Garden in 2007.

This is righteous news for the Concert Slut.

Winter + The Blues = Johnny Winter

Winter + The Blues = Johnny Winter, so what better blues man to feature next than Texas guitarist Johnny Winter.

I recall with great enthusiasm when Johnny Winter burst upon the music scene in 1969. The force of this Texas tornado could be felt from his very first notes. What I like the most about Johnny Winter is that mean ass cat growl of his coupled with the real hot guitar slinging. You immediately feel his pain as it resonates through your bones. Johnny was promoted as the white blues superstar by CBS Records.

One of my favorite early live recordings of Johnny Winter took place at The Fillmore East on December 13, 1968. For many years these concert tapes were lost. But thanks to the efforts of Al Kooper they have resurfaced. This east coast live version of Super Session featured Al Kooper on keyboards and Mike Bloomfield on guitar. Mike Bloomfield introduces Johnny Winter with a raw intensity that sets the stage for this unique collaboration of Kooper, Bloomfield and Winter. According to Al Kooper this is the music moment that captivated the CBS Records representatives attention to pursue and sign Johnny Winter. Not bad for Johnny Winter’s first night ever in New York City at 24 years of age, don’t you think 😉

I have to give the late Mike Bloomfield credit, he non-selfishly promoted blues artists who needed the exposure with the Fillmore audiences. Mike Bloomfield was responsible for convincing Bill Graham to book B.B. King at the Fillmore West in San Francisco. This turned out to be a major cross-over moment for the King of the Blues with the flower power generation. No wonder B.B. King thought of Mike Bloomfield like a son.  Bloomfield paved the way for his old friend Johnny Winter with a strong pat on the back at the Fillmore East.

Johnny Winter’s second official album on Columbia Records, Johnny Winter exhibited Johnny’s strong command of the blues studio production. Recorded in Nashville, Tennesee with Johnny’s band Winter, which included “Uncle” John Turner on percussion and Tommy Shannon on electric bass. Tommy Shannon later played with Stevie Ray Vaughn & Double Trouble.  The Johnny Winter album also featured Willie Dixon on acoustic bass, Walter “Shakey” Horton on harp and Johnny’s brother Edgar Winter on piano and alto sax. Johnny was the producer and the ever present production genius Eddie Kramer (Jimi Hendrix’s producer) was the production consultant and photographer. Eddie Kramer shot the photograph of Johnny Winter featured on the cover.

This is Tommy Shannon’s favorite video of Winter live. It was recorded at Montreux in Switzerland in 1970. It captures the band at a high peak.

Buddy Guy Bluesman

Cover of "Damn Right I Got the Blues"
Cover of Damn Right I Got the Blues

Is it just me or is this winter giving you a major case of the blues too? Well Buddy Guy has a solid cure for the winter doldrums. Every January Buddy Guy takes up residence at his club,
Buddy Guy’s Legends in Chicago. Wish I was in Chicago catching his act at his house 😉

Buddy Guy is 74 years young. He’s been making some great music these past few years. Buddy Guy’s legacy has produced a treasure trove of classic blues gems. Three major highlights I enjoy from Buddy’s treasure chest that I play often are A Man and the Blues (1968), Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues (1991) and Sweet Tea (2001).

He’s been a major influence on Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck and other guitar greats. He’s seminal to blues and rock and roll.

I’ve seen Buddy Guy several times live. He’s always an electrifying showman. The first time I saw Buddy Guy live was at The Salute to The Blues in 2003, where he played a rocking track with Angelique Kidjo and Vernon Reid, “Voodoo Child”. This number was performed at 3 a.m. in the morning, we were exhausted after 8 hours of concert and filming set changes. But this song launched us to our feet.

I next caught Buddy Guy at Toads Place in New Haven, Ct where John Mayer showed up unannounced. That was such a cool evening, standing at the edge of the stage watching them both play the blues with such earnest and mutual respect.

I then saw Buddy Guy just up the road apiece at Gathering of the Vibes in 2007, in Bridgeport, Ct. Here’s a Go Vibes video of Buddy Guy playing “Louisiana Blues.”

The last time  I saw  Buddy Guy live was at Madison Square Garden as Jeff Beck’s guest for the 25th Anniversary Rock and Roll Concert, October 30, 2009. Jeff Beck is so in awe of him.

Eric Clapton invited Buddy Guy to play at his Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2010 in Chicago. Buddy Guy has also appeared at the 2004 and 2007 Crossroads Guitar Festival events.

Here is some video footage of Buddy Guy, Ron Wood and Jonny Lang together in 2010.

Buddy Guy’s latest recording is called Living Proof, a most appropriate title In an earlier post this week about B.B. King I featured the video of the collaboration between Buddy Guy and B.B. King, “Stay Around A Little Longer.” It is one of two guest star tracks on Living Proof. The other guest track features Carlos Santana and Buddy Guy on “Where The Blues Began”. The rest of Living Proof is solid and distinct.

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Muddy Waters

I’ve been waxing nostalgic about the blues this month. I hope you are enjoying my recollections. Today’s post is dedicated to my favorite blues artist Muddy Waters.

I was very fortunate to see Muddy Waters perform twice live in concert. The first time was on October 7, 1978 at Players Tavern in Westport, Ct. Players Tavern was a small bar and nightclub  situated on the same property with the Westport Country Playhouse. Muddy Waters and his band were the only act that night and this club held no more than 250 people. A nice intimate setting, where you could pull up a table close to the stage.

I was walking across the bar room floor, with my head down not watching where I was going. Next thing I know I bump straight into this guy who knocks me right on my ass, my glasses went flying and I was a little stunned to tell you the truth. I look up and there is this big black hand outstretched offering to help me to my feet.

“Are you alright son?”, he says. I am quite embarrassed as he helps me to my feet. I dust myself off and another person hands me my glasses.

“I am thank you sir. I am sorry for the accident.”, I say.

“No son, its my fault I was just heading to the bar to order our table some drinks. What are you drinking? I’d like to buy you a drink for your troubles.”

I realize that it is Pinetop Perkins who has bowled me over so I agree to accept his offer. I ordered a rum and coke.

“Young man why don’t you join us at our table before the show begins.”, Pinetop says as he gathers the drinks.

I smile and say, “I’d be happy to do so.” So I help Pinetop bring the drinks over to the table.

Seated at the table is Bob Margolin and Muddy Waters himself, a woman on each arm. Muddy is entertaining everyone with jokes. Pinetop Perkins introduces me.” Muddy, I knocked this young man on his kiester on the way to the bar. He was a little shook up so I I asked him to join us.”

Muddy Waters smiles at me and says. “Hello son. I trust you’re none the worse for the wear. Feel free to join our table.”

Well as a major blues fan and someone who admires Muddy Waters and his band, I have totally hit pay dirt. I got to hear some great Chicago blues stories. It was very cool to get to meet the band before the show, they were so relaxed and comfortable in this setting.

I was given a seat right in front of Muddy Waters where he sat on a stool and played harmonica and guitar. What a treat it was to be that close to a living blues legend. Pinetop Perkins would smile at me from the piano as he played.

I had a fantastic night. After the show Pinetop said I hope you won’t be too sore tomorrow. I assured him I had forgotten about the pain which was replaced by good fortune.

The second time I saw Muddy Waters was from the seventh row of the New Haven Coliseum on April 29, 1979. Muddy Waters opened for Eric Clapton that night. He had the coliseum rocking with his inimitable style. His mojo was workin. Eric Clapton joined Muddy Waters for three songs, one of which was “Key to the Highway.” I loved the respect and admiration they showed each other on stage. Eric Clapton was very humble to be with Muddy. Muddy Waters was like a father figure to Eric Clapton.

ALL IMAGES © COPYRIGHT PAUL NATKIN

Killing Floor

“No time for the killing floor

No time left for you” – “No Time” by The Guess Who

So what exactly is meant by the phrase, “Killing Floor”? Who coined the phrase?

Killing floor stems from a classic old song associated with Chicago electric blues. Killing floor is also a reference to the place in the slaughterhouse where the stock was killed and then butchered, hence a scene of danger, difficulty, bloodshed, etc. A point of no return.

“Killing Floor” is a 1964 blues song recorded by Howlin’ Wolf, a.k.a. Chester Arthur Burnett on Chess Records, the definitive blues label. The guitar riff that opens this classic blues anthem was created by Hubert Sumlin, who is still playing today. Witness this “Killing Floor” video highlight with David Johansen and Hubert Sumlin filmed at Radio City Music Hall in 2003.
Rosemary and I attended this 5 1/2 hour star-studded event which was the Year of the Blues 2003, a 100 year celebration of the founding of the blues. The concert became a Sony Picture Classics feature-length film, Lightning In A Bottle, directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) and produced by Martin Scorsese.

Musicians performing “Killing Floor”

I first heard “Killing Floor” on Electric Flag’s album, not realizing it was originally written and performed by Howlin” Wolf. It makes total sense now with Mike Bloomfield being a blues guitarist born and raised on the blues in Chicago. Electric Flag played “Killing Floor” as a great driving song with Mike Bloomfield on guitar, Buddy Miles on drums and Nick Gravenites on vocals. I really like the horn arrangement on this track from A Long Time Comin (1968).

One of my all time favorite recordings

Jimi Hendrix loved playing “Killing Floor.”  He was a fantastic blues guitarist. Here is his performance of “Killing Floor” from The Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 with The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Led Zeppelin often played “Killing Floor” in their live set during their first concert tour of the United States. Killing Floor” evolved into “The Lemon Song” (Led Zeppelin II).

B. B. King – Daily Post 2011 #23

B. B. King is a national treasure. He is the undisputed “King of the Blues”.

We have seen B. B. King eight times live in concert. He is a consummate performer.

He’s 85 years young. We’ve watched him hold an audience spellbound in the palm of his hand.

I have a couple of  favorite B. B. King concert moments to share with you.

We last saw B. B. King at the Ives Center in Danbury, CT on the Western Connecticut State University campus. They have a band shell on the water where the artists perform. B. B. King was the headliner for an all day blues festival. He received a 10 minute standing ovation when he hit the stage. He was seated on a chair at the edge of the stage. Picture B. B. King with his orchestra around him, in front of a moat that separated him from the audience.

He then said something very funny to us all. “You know, I should have brought my fishing pole.” Referring to the water in front of him. That got a huge laugh from the audience. I think of that moment often.

That’s what I really love about B. B. King. He is in command of the moment.

Another true story about B. B. King was the second time we saw him in concert at Foxwoods Casino‘s Fox Theater in Ledyard, Ct in 2004. We had front row seats that night and I was making a connection with B. B. King, seated to his left.

He had just finished playing, “The Thrill is Gone“. He then took his guitar pick and sailed it right to me. It flew through the air perfectly and landed under my seat as I tried to catch it. Try as I may I could not find it, in the darkened theater. When the concert was over several people came over to where I was sitting and tried to find the pick for themselves. I was so afraid one of them had found it. But they all walked away without it.

I had given up hope locating that souvenir. I reached under my seat for my souvenir bag that I had gotten purchasing a B. B. King t-shirt in the lobby before the show. Much to my joy I discovered the guitar pick in the bag. B. B. King had sailed his guitar pick right into my souvenir bag under my seat. How cool was that?

If you get the chance go see B. B. King in concert. You will enjoy your evening and who knows maybe he’ll throw you a souvenir at the end of the evening.

1000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die, By Tom Moon, Daily Post 2011, #22

I received the perfect book for an obsessive/compulsive music junkie like myself ;), 1,000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die by Tom Moon. The book has been in print for 2 1/2 years now (August 2008). I’ve picked it up a dozen or so times at Barnes & Noble in the past,  now I finally own a copy. It’s a great book to hunker down with and study. Its becoming an invaluable desk reference for the Microsoft Zune Web listening I love to do.

My perception was that as an avid music collector for 45 years I would probably own about 400 of the 1,000 recordings. I was quite surprised to learn I only own about 130 of what Tom has listed or 13%.  Granted my collection is more focused on rock, blues and jazz as main genres, where Tom Moon’s book covers the following genres.

Jazz, Opera, Hip-Hop, Rock, Gospel, Musicals, Country, Classical, Blues, World, Heavy Metal, Vocals, Swing, Celtic, Samba, Pop, Songbook, Folk, R&B, Dance, Punk, Doo-Wop, Psychedelic, Fado (What’s Fado?,  I learned something new today about a music genre I never knew existed…), Bluegrass, Zydeco, New Wave, JuJu, Electronica, Bossa Nova, Reggae, Soul, Rap, Rockabilly, Dub, Techno, Ska, Funk, Salsa, 39 genres in total.

This book will stretch my musical curiosity in many ways and directions. That’s my first pleasant surprise about one of the dimensions this book presents the reader.  I find Tom’s book very well researched and coördinated.

I take issue with some of Tom’s choices of the “definitive” or “essential” recordings of certain artists.  For example, he lists for R.E.M. Fables of the Reconstruction, Murmurs and Up as their essential recordings. He overlooks Automatic for the People which I find the most playable, durable recording in my entire collection.

Differences of opinion when it comes to personal musical taste comes with the territory. All in all its a great book Tom, thanks for authoring it and for the companion Web site where we can keep in touch with you.