Monday, March 27, 2017

Sunday Music Muse Day (A day late, again) - Joe Locke Quintet, Art of Love, Steve Khan, Claude Bolling

Again, my Sunday Music Muse Day post is a day late as we were enjoying having our sons home for college spring break.  But, I still had time to pick up several new CDs and enjoy an old favorite.  First up, is a local musician I was introduced to on a Bob Sneider CD, The Joe Locke Quintet Slander (And other Love Songs).  This third Milestone records recording the talented vibraphonist, continue his nod to Film Noir in tone and content, according to the liner notes.  i definitely have to catch him live sometime soon. This is another enjoyable outing.

Next is another blind faith pick, Art of Love - Robert Sadin - Music of Machaut.  The cover art intrigued me, and I recognized several of the musicians like Milton Nascimento, Brad Mehldau, and Lionel Loueke.  It's an adventurous  re-creation of medieval and renaissance music with a very modern touch. Reader reviews on All Music website gave it 4 1/2 out of 5 stars, and the reveiwer stated,"This beautifully executed CD should appeal to fans of jazz/classical crossover."  I'll have to give it more listenings to form a final opinion, but I can say I don't hate it.

My third selection was a result of partly the love of the CD cover art, and nostalgia, and in this case, nostalgia bite me in the ass.  Bolling's Greatest Hits, is a collection of tunes from the series of Claude Bolling's voluminous output of classical/jazz suites.  Although still enjoyable, I have to admit the music sounds very dated to me, now.  Well, I still like the illustrated cover art.

Finally I dug into my old CDs and pick an old favorite, guitarist Steve Khan Let's Call This, a trio outing with Ron Carter on bass, and Al Foster on drums.  I like the CD cover art by Jean-Michel Folon and like the music more. The tone Khan get out of his guitar instantly recognizable as his own.

That's it, enjoy the week, and every music you need that gives you joy.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Dime-A-Dozen Projects #2 - Sabre Sqaud

[Dime-A-Dozen Projects is so named from a conversation with creative friends of mine as we lamented that when we were working full-time for someone else, we get these (in our minds) original million dollar ideas, that would, somehow, turn into "dime-a-dozen" ideas when we were out of work and on our own.]

Sabre Squad. (1964-1968, 14 -18 years old)


My next Dime-A-Dozen project was my first attempt at a superhero group.  Sabre Squad were agents of a secret world government organization, S.P.R.I.T.E. (Secret Police formed to Repress International Terror and Espionage) (Well, actually I got that name from the soda) They seem to spring from a several media source happening in the mid -1960s, when these first drawings were done.  I can recall, James Bond movies (Dr. No - 1962) and the spy movies and TV spin-offs, like Man from Uncle (1964), and possibly T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents comics (1965).  

 Plus, the Cold War with the Soviet Union was still in full swing. Those were more than enough to fuel my young artist mind.  I also remember making a conscious effort to draw from my imagination, not copy comic art, and to make up my own characters.

The members of Sabre Squad were Warrior, Marauder, and Ramrod.  Looking back, they are more a costume team of spies than superheroes since none of them have any super powers, just fighting abilities, hi-tech weapons. 

The Sabre Squad Members:

Warrior (Janus Gordon)

I can only go by the dates of my drawings that Warrior was the first of the Sabre Squad to be created, and his name was first Weapon Master. That make him the apparent leader of the group. I can only remember their names from a comic book script written by Terry Benjamin, friend and classmate (more on that later).

Outside of being members of spy organization, Warrior, like all Sabre Squad members didn’t seem to have any super power.  He was just a costumed  super-spy like James Bond.  A masterful fighter, an expert in weapons.  He arsenal  seems influenced my the Man from Uncle pistol the Napoleon Solo added attachments to.  I think the toy gun was sold like that (find toy ad).

Marauder (Richard Lance, also Raymond Lance)

Although member of Sabre Squad, from my drawing it seems Marauder may have started out as a independent character with a two different additional origins. I’ll mention he is also a Black character, only since at the at time there were no black comic characters.  Adding him to Sabre Squad may have been the result of watching Bill Cosby in the TV show “I Spy”. ( I admit Cosby was a childhood hero of mine, and it pains and disappoints me to see his downfall)

One of his origins has him as a willing test subject in the cross-dimensional experiment. as seen in the sketch page. There is a mountain observatory, with him in a transmission device (transporter, pre-Star Trek). He zipped across the galaxy and emerges where to have an adventure, Adam Strange like.

The other origin has him as a test pilot in a X-!5 type rocket plane  dropped from a B-52, with co-pilot.  They seem to have a successful flight.  So, I’m not sure where I was going with this story line.

As a member of Sabre Squad, Marauder is the weapons and gadget tech.  Although he also is shown being a good in hand-to-hand combat.

Ramrod (Walter Mason)

Ramrod seems to be team’s hand-to-hand combat expert, a ”savate master” from the various poses of him in karate stances, and a black belt he wear on later drawings.  Ramrods costume did go through  some revisions.

 The Villains

All heroes need villains to fight so Sabre Squad had several.  First were the Hussians, a mercenary trio.  I think the leader was called the Baron (shown with the cane), but I can’t remember the other member’s names, if they ever had one.

The Centipede  is another opponent.  He seems to be in the Dr. Octopus / mad scientist mold and like to ride a giant mechanical centipede.  He even had some costumed henchmen.

A later group was the Black Widow, a female assassin group, made up of international beauties.  I think they were my first attempt at drawing hot babes.  I never got around to naming any of them.

The Sabre Squad Comic Pages

There are two sets of incomplete attempts putting Sabre Squad on the comic page.  I started one written and drawn my myself. It a first mission, with no set up, just an excuse to show them kicking ass. Production wise, I knew nothing about how to produce comics.  I don’t think there were any book on comic book production back then, at least I don’t remember seeing any until years later.  So, my pages were drawn on regular 8 1/2” x 11” typing paper and the panels laid out like the Marvel Comics page, 3 tier, 2 or 3 panels tier.  The title was made using a common stencil guide.

The other attempt was a collaboration with  classmate who wants to be a writer.  Terry Benjamin  write the “Origin of Sabre Squad” script, and I offered to do sketches of his original property “Spy Smashers” (I’ll post that at the end of this)  This version introduces the group in training, in martial arts, and shows them getting there assignment to be Sabre Squad. Then, rather surprisingly their jump into fight jets and repel an enemy attack. WTF?  Well, this made perfect sense as novice teenage comic book creators.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Sunday Music Muse (a day Late) -Michael Melito, Peterr Erskine, Dave Holland Quintet, Lonni Smith Trio with John Abercrombie.

Sometimes It's hard to stay on schedule, so my Sunday Music Muse Day post is a day late.  (I took time out to go see a movie, and have dinner with a friend)  But, I still found time to pick up a few goodies.  First we'll be "giving the drummer some..." as Jim Brown would say.  I found another gem from Mike Melito aka Michael Melito Quartet 'Bout Time, recorded in 2000.  This is another swinging hard bop session the Mike excels at so well.  I don't try to be a completest, but I think I'm only missing one of Mike CDs to have all his sessions as a leader.  I'm keeping my eyes peeled for it.

Next up, again giving a nod to a drummer, Peter Erskine Sweet Soul, a post-Weather Report session.  Erskine is joined by guitarist John Scofield, bassist Marc Johnson, and saxophonist Joe Levano, and other named players. Rated 4 out of 5 star on the All Music website, Reviewer stated, "Throughout the date, the solos uplift the material and make this CD a worthy purchase for listeners who enjoy challenging but sometimes accessible post-bop music." I think this CD leads to the more introspect outings on ECM. I'm glad I found it. A nice personal touch to this CD is the dedication to Erskine's mother with a beautiful old photo.  That's very sweet.

Staying with a member of the rhythm as leader, here's Dave Holland Quintet Not for Nothin'.  Here's another CD that gets a 4 1/2 out of 5 star rating from All Music website, where reviewer Thom Jurek says, "This is postmodern poetic singing at its finest. Who said jazz is a dead art form? Let he or she who has the ears to hear, hear; the Dave Holland Quintet is carrying the banner of creative music in the jazz tradition in the 21st century."  This a fine ECM session and deserving of the praise.

My last selection for the week is musical tribute with twist, Jimi Hendrix music played my some impressive jazz players.  The Lonnie Smith Trio Purple Haze, featuring John Abercrombie on guitar, Marvin "Smitty" Smith on Drums, and Dr. Lonnie Smith on organ. (they note that Dr. Lonnie Smith is often mistaken for contemporary keyboardist Lonnie Liston Smith) John Abercrombie is one of my favorite guitarist in his own right, so it was a no-brainer to pick this up.  It's fun to heard these jazz guys take on the Hendrix tunes.  This is actually the second Hendrix tribute record Dr Lonnie Smith put together with these musicians, so I guess I have another CD to hunt down. (A side note: I really hate the cheesy looking cover, so I store it with the six panel page showing instead)

All in all, a nice group of CDs to explore and enjoy.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

A Dime-A-Dozen Project: In the Beginning, The Devil Bat - Demon

[Dime-A-Dozen Projects is so named from a conversation with creative friends of mine as we lamented that when we were working full-time for someone else, we get these (in our minds) original million dollar ideas, that would, somehow, turn into "dime-a-dozen" ideas when we were out of work and on our own.]

 So where do I start, well, I posted, for a Throwback Thursday, on Facebook, a pre-preview of my Dime-a-Dozen Project on this blog, where I'll be taking my old drawings, characters and concepts and use them to, hopefully, get the creative juices flowing again.   I have ton's of unfinished projects in the form of character sketches, incomplete written outlines, half drawn comic pages, and full illustrations.  You get the idea, a dime-a-dozen idea.  I feeling the need to catalog for my own sanity and for a  simple record to leave my kids, and as I said above, along the way rekindle my creative juice and start drawing again.

First order of business was to figure how to approach this.  I've make a of list of my characters, more or less, but not in any particular order.  So, I'm leaning toward going chronologically so that a I give my least developed, and maybe almost forgotten characters to chance to be seen, again.  I'll try to remember their origin story and what inspired them.

Luckily, I have most of my sketch books from my early teens.  The oldest is a collection of typewriter paper sheets from the summer of 1964, when I was 14 years old.  In scanning the drawings I can see I was reading Marvel Comics by then, as sketches of Spider-Man, Iron Man, and other Marvel characters show up.   

Appearing in the first collection a sketches is this character the Devil-Bat.

 I'm thinking it was inspired by the Jack Kirby monster comics.
Or maybe, the name is pulled form the old Bela Lugosi movie, "Devil Bat".  They ran those old horror movies on our local TV a lot.
 In any case, "The Origin of the Devil-Bat", seems to be one of my first attempts at comic page continuity.  It definitely has the Kirby six panel grid design. The Devil-Bat origin is a simple one, he is an angry, disgruntled, archaeologist who discovers ancient package containing a suit or costume .  In pure comic book fashion, he tries on the garment and activate a buckle, that unleashes the suit's power and transforms him into the Devil-Bat, an ancient demon terror.

Of course, he plans to use this new found power to seek revenge on his perceived enemies big and small, bringing him to the attention of the Avengers.
The Devil-Bat has sort sort of sonic blaster that fire from his wrist bands, and smoke screen form his boots.  Of course, he super bat-like sonic sense, echolocation, great for avoiding attackers.
Here's Devil-Bat avoiding Thor's  hammer.

I have no idea who the green bug like character is except a variation of an Marvel Ant-Man. Iron Man and an incomplete Thor is seen on the page.

So, at some point, The Devil-Bat became Demon. Not sure, why, except for the streamlined look.

Here's another variation with side attached wings and energy blast.  I have no idea why. These are the last drawing Devil-Bat.
So, that's the first installment of Dime-A-Dozen Projects.  Next up Sabre Squad.