Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal is ever-expanding his musical capabilities with rich textures gathered from across the world stage. Taj ranges with natural motion from the blues, through calypso, diving into reggae and swaying us  like palm trees with island music.

It has been 37 years since I last saw Taj Mahal perform live at The Westport Country Playhouse in Westport, Ct on October 30, 1974.  I spent quality time with Taj Mahal that evening as I interviewed him for a local music magazine. He played a National Steel Guitar underneath the interview as we talked in his dressing room. Sitting right outside his dressing room that night was James Cotton who joined Taj Mahal  softly on his harp. That is one of my fondest backstage moments when two pivotal blues musicians broke out in improvisational song as background accompaniment in my presence.

I also saw Taj Mahal open for the Mahavishnu Orchestra at Staples High School in Westport, Ct. 1973. Taj Mahal had Howard Johnson on Tuba with him that evening and Taj’s set was reminiscent of The Real Thing recorded live at The Fillmore East in 1971.

My lovely wife Rosemary purchased tickets to see Taj Mahal and Los Lobos live at The Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport, Ct. on Saturday February 19th. My modus operandi before I attend a concert is to immerse myself in that artist’s music and read as much as  I can about them and their art. I enjoy researching the artist’s Web pages, catching up on what has been written and learned about the artist. Its going to be both fun and a challenge assimilating Taj Mahal’s 40+ year legacy in the next 10 days 😉 Thankfully I have Zune to help me do that 😉

When I attended the University of New Haven(1972-1974) I took a music course that covered the blues extensively. I chose to write my term paper that semester about Taj Mahal. Having established a nice working relationship with Ed NaHa at Columbia Records in New York City, I availed myself of CBS Record’s research department utilizing press release and extensive artist background information files. Ed was a tremendous help to me in 1973 and 1974 when I needed background information on Mahavisnhu John McLaughlin and Taj Mahal. Ed made me feel right at home at the Big Black Rock as CBS was known as in those days. He understood it was my desire as a student majoring in business and minoring in music that I wanted to work for CBS Music when I graduated. That dream never did materialize for me but I always stayed in direct touch with music as best I could over the years.

So today’s WordPress post is dedicated to old friends and the ever unfolding music of Mr. Taj Mahal. 🙂

Taj Mahal’s latest recording is Maestro, give it a listen soon 😉

 

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Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart Together Again

In the summer of 1969, July 3rd to be precise, I saw my first rock concert at the age of 17. We scored tickets to see, Soft White Underbelly (who would become Blue Oyster Cult), Jethro Tull and The Jeff Beck Group at The Fillmore East in the East Village section of New York City.

It was the first and only time I ever attended a rock concert at Bill Graham’s Fillmore East. It’s a fantastic memory in the annals of my 42 years of attending concerts.

The concert was held on the eve of the Newport Jazz Festival going Rock. Jethro Tull and The Jeff Beck Group were scheduled to change jazz festival history by being on that lineup in Newport, Rhode Island.

The Jeff Beck Group headlined The Fillmore East concert. I recall vividly 42 years ago watching Jeff Beck guitar slinging against the Lights by Pablo light show extravaganza. Rod Stewart was the vocalist extraordinaire. He was the dandy with a long scarf that he threw about his neck as he strutted the stage like a peacock.

The Jeff Beck Group that night also featured Ron Wood on bass guitar, Nicky Hopkins on piano and Tony Newman on drums. They tore the roof off The Fillmore East venue that night. Here is a vintage YouTube  video from that evening.

The concert left a lasting impression on my psyche.  I recall that on the way to the subway station we stopped at The Gramophone Record Store and I bought The Jeff Beck Group album Beck-Ola. I wore the needle down on my hi-fi system playing that record that summer.


The Jeff Beck Group broke up the following month just before Woodstock which they were scheduled to play.

A lot can happen in 42 years. Jeff Beck had a fantastic 2nd comeback year in 2010 with his recording, Emotion & Commotion which is nominated for five Grammy awards to be announced on Sunday, February 13th. Rod Stewart has being having great success with his Great American Songbook recordings. Ron Wood is the bassist for The Rolling Stones and a highly successful painter in his own right.

I was elated to learn that Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart decided over dinner in late December of 2010 to reunite and record an album together. To pick right up where they left off 42 years ago. Never say never in this life. 😉 For more specifics about this future collaboration please refer to the February 1st Rolling Stone Magazine article, Exclusive: Rod Stewart and Jeff Beck Getting Closer to Recording Together Again.

As it stands now Jeff Beck has sent Rod Stewart some tapes of the new album and Rod Stewart is adding the vocals. Should be real sweet when this recording is complete later this year.

This YouTube video will give you a taste for Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart live. Rod Stewart made a surprise appearance at Jeff Beck’s 2009 concert in Los Angeles at the El Ray, watch Jeff Beck’s reaction 🙂

The Light at the Edge of the World Through Three Unique Lens

I visualize the light at the edge of the world through three unique lens. Light defines our greater purpose as we travel ever towards it.

Sunset Over Water - Belize City, Belize
Copyright Brian Lewis

 

The first unique lens reveals rich textures of sound swirling in depths of dimensionality. The origin of the light at the edge of the world is an exquisite, ethereal instrumental written and composed by jazz saxophonist, Pharoah Sanders. Santana put me on to this jazz composition when it was included on the Hymns for Peace DVD filmed at Montreux Jazz Festival in 2004.

The video clip features Salvador Santana on piano ably leading an eclectic quartet that features Ravi Coltrane on tenor sax, Benny Rietveld on bass and Dennis Chambers on the drums. Once you connect with this instrumental you will embark upon a special journey.

While the first lens is still open I share a complimentary video of a hoped for documentary about Pharaoh Sanders.

The second lens opens wider to introduce us to worldwide indigenous cultures that have been reported studied, photographed, filmed and documented by the provocative mind of anthropologist, ethnobotanist, Wade Davis.

“The measure of a society is not only what it does, but the quality of its aspirations. – Wade Davis”

Wade Davis authored a book The Light At The Edge Of the World, A Journey Through The Realm of Vanishing Cultures. I happen to own and treasure this book. Again a direct influence from Santana, from the bookshelf of Carlos Santana.

Wade Davis produced, wrote, and hosted Light at the Edge of the World, a four-hour ethnographic documentary series shot in Rapanui, Tahiti, the Marquesas, Nunavut, Greenland, Nepal, and Peru.

Wade Davis is someone you want to listen to speak as well as read his books, study his photographs. You will gain such an appreciation for the preservation of societies, languages, cultures when you listen to his passionate articulations.

Here is Wade Davis talk from TED Ideas Worth Spreading, be ready to deeply educated. altered and changed when you open your mind and heart to indigenous cultures and how we are all one.

The third lens opens to a 1971 movie entitled The Light At The Edge of the World, starring Kirk Douglas, Yul Brynner and Samantha Eggar. The movie is based on the adventure work by Jules Verne 1905, The Lighthouse at the End of the World.

I’ll leave the connecting of the dots to these three unique lens about The Light At The Edge of the World to your discretion. Feel free to leave a comment about this blog post and let us know what you see the dots connecting to and why 😉

Instant Karma Released 41 Years Ago Today

Instant Karma!
Image via Wikipedia

I subscribe to the Moonalice legend on Facebook and today’s posting caught my eye.

According to Moonalice legend, John Lennon released the classic “Instant Karma” in the UK 41 years ago today. It ranks as one of the fastest-released songs in pop music history, recorded the same day it was written, and arriving in stores only 10 days later. John remarked to the press, he “wrote it for breakfast, recorded it for lunch, and we’re putting it out for dinner.”

We would call that a viral music release in today’s world of the Web. When  I hear or read about “Instant Karma”  I always associate with my first college radio station show on WNHU-FM 88.7 in West Haven, Ct. It was 1973 and I was attending The University of New Haven, where I majored in business and minored in music. My goal when I graduated Brien McMahon High School in 1969 was to be a radio personality. I went right from high school to Career Academy Broadcasting School in New York City.  I commuted on the New Haven Railroad from Norwalk, Ct. to Grand Central Terminal for four months. It was an exciting time in my life moving through the hustle and bustle to my school at 8 West 40th Street, which overlooked the New York Public Library and Bryant Park.

I was an inaugural year afternoon FM disk jockey on WNHU-FM. My radio show was entitled, “Instant Karma”. I would begin my Tuesday/Thursday 2-5 p.m. show with the 45 r.p.m. Apple Records single by John Lennon.

That was against the grain of the radio programming I had been taught because “Instant Karma” was a rock and roll vocal.  You were supposed to use an instrumental to begin and end a radio show. I am a non-conformist what can I say 😉

“Instant Karma” by John Lennon, Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono Band never gets tired or old.

We all shine on, Love You John and Yoko

Peace,

Ed

Grace Potter and The Nocturnals

Grace Potter & The Nocturnals star continues to ascend in 2011. I first learned about them when my son and I attended Relix Magazine’s Jammy Awards event  in 2006 at the Theater at Madison Square Garden where Grace Potter & The Nocturnals were awarded the “Best New Groove” award.

I enjoy the latest album by Grace Potter & The Nocturnals. The recording is very alive and has well written lyrics. My favorite tracks are “Paris (Ooh La La) and “Colors”.

Here they are performing “Paris (Ooh La La)” for a future (((artists den)) show for PBS.

Grace Potter has an incredible knack to sweep you along as she engages your sensibilities with the timbre and resonance of her voice. She can be gritty when it’s called for and invoke gospel that will deeply move you with “Nothing But The Water”.

I have seen Grace Potter & The Nocturnals perform live twice. Once as the opening band for Little Feat and Gov’t. Mule and once as the only act at Infinity Music Hall. Each time I was taken by the band’s raw enthusiasm and sense of fun.

This photograph is copyright of photojournalist Nanci Nutile-McMenemy. Nanci has a great collection of live concert photographs and other photography subjects at her Web site here.

If you see Grace Potter and The Nocturnals listed live near you go see them play. You’ll be rewarded by their great energy as they connect wonderfully with their audiences. Their enthusiasm is infectious, catch it!

Eddie Money’s Comeback in 2011

Eddie Money (album)
Image via Wikipedia

The year was 1977. I was the record department manager at Caldor’s Inc. a discount department store chain. My CBS Records account rep, Paul Hughes laid a “promo” copy of Eddie Money on me. Paul said to me, “Our A&R people are giving this record high marks. Give it a spin and let me know what you think when I see you next week.”

I took the record home and dropped it on my turntable. I liked what I heard immediately. I started hearing “Two Tickets to Paradise” and “Baby Hold On” on WNEW-FM radio from various disk jockeys.  I told Paul the following week, Eddie Money sounds strong. He of course said, how many copies do you think you might order for your department? I told him 50. They sold mildly at first. But I sold Eddie Money stronger the next year when he broke as a Top 40 artist.

Eddie Money has recorded some of my favorite songs.  I was pleased to learn from photographer and intense music fan Jay Blakesberg that Eddie Money was planning a comeback in 2011 with a new recording. Here is one of the photographs that Jay took of Eddie Money in San Francisco for possible promotional use. You can see Jay’s memories of the day he spent with Eddie Money here and more photos of Eddie Money here 🙂

Copyright Jay Blakesberg

It’s important to also note that Eddie Money was discovered in  San Francisco by Bill Graham’s organization. Bill Graham played an instrumental role in Eddie Money’s career. The following video, “I’ll Get By” is a moving tribute to the memory of rock impresario Bill Graham who we lost tragically in 1991. Love the youthful picture of Bill Graham that starts/ends Eddie’s video 🙂

It’s very difficult to single out what Eddie Money track is my favorite but if push comes to shove its Eddie Money with Ronnie Spector signing as a duet on  “Take Me Home Tonight”. I base that decision on the dynamics of the recording and the MTV video that pushed the track to Eddie’s highest chart positions at #4 on Billboard’s Hot 100. The tribute to the Phil Spector sound, Eddie on Sax, Ronnie Spector’s unique vocals and strut 😉 all combine to make a masterpiece of rock and roll. I grew up with The Ronettes on AM radio. The Ronettes are one of my two most favorite 60’s girl groups, The Shangri-Las being my most favorite :).

Just Like Ronnie Sang…Be My Little Baby

Take Me Home tonight will also be a new movie in March 2011.

Take Me Home Tonight Movie Trailer

Eddie Money’s bringing it in 2011 and I couldn’t be happier for him and his music career!

Anthony Braxton New Web Site Coming!

Anthony Braxton Small Ensemble
Image by Seth Tisue via Flickr

I am very excited to share with my blog readers that Anthony Braxton and Tri-Centric Foundation are relaunching his Web site. This will be a cornucopia of knowledge for scholars and jazz fans worldwide. The Anthony Braxton Web site is now offline and accepting new subscribers until the launch date.  I urge you to subscribe and together we will  be amazed at what we will be taught by Professor Braxton. 😉

Here is the information about the relaunch courtesy of Jazziz Magazine News.

On Tuesday, March 1, Anthony Braxton and the not-for-profit organization Tri-Centric Foundation will publicly launch a comprehensive new website documenting the composer’s music and legacy. The site, to be accessible at http://tricentricfoundation.org, will offer an array of unprecedented features, including exclusive access to Braxton’s extensive personal archive of live recordings and the first-ever digital downloads of the complete out-of-print catalog of releases from his own Braxton House label.

True to its name, the Tri-Centric site will be split into three parts: 1)  a one-stop informational home for the composer and the foundation;  2) a “friendly experience” section for an immersive jump into Braxton’s sound world; and 3) New Braxton House Records, an online label dedicated to offering Braxton’s music for convenient and affordable download.

New Braxton House Records will be releasing two album-length downloads per month, with material ranging from recent Ghost Trance Music concerts to rare recordings from the 1970s, from solo saxophone recitals to orchestra performances. The label’s initial release will be a Sextet (Philadelphia) 2005, a double album-length performance from Braxton’s long-time working ensemble featuring the composer on saxophones, with Taylor Ho Bynum (brass), Jessica Pavone (viola), Jay Rozen (tuba), Carl Testa (bass) and Aaron Siegel (percussion). Additionally, for a limited time the website will be offering a free album download: Septet (Pittsburgh) 2008 with the same ensemble plus Mary Halvorson (guitar). The full catalog of the old Braxton House imprint from the late 1990s will also be available in downloadable format for the first time.

Customers can buy any recording on an a la carte basis, or may choose to become subscribers, receiving each month’s two new downloads plus 10 per cent off all back-catalog items, with all proceeds from the sales directly supporting the Tri-Centric Foundation. Additionally, the website will be culling from the hundreds of unauthorized Braxton concert bootlegs available online, ‘liberating’ those with the most historical value and offering them free-of-charge.