Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday Music Muse Day - Duke Ellington, Ahmad Jamal, John McLaughlin & the 4th Dimemsion, and Stanton Moore Trio.

This Sunday Music Music finds the first snow of the season has come and gone, and in it's wake the dark gloomy days of Rochester weather settles in as clocks have turned back to Standard time.  Nothing helps life the gloom that good music.  To that end we have, Duke Ellington and His Orchestra The Complete Ellington Indigos.   This is a CD re-issue of all the material from the original sessions recorded in September 9 to October 14, 1957.  It seems there were numerous releases in Mono and Stereo LPs, CDs that omitted certain tunes or used alternate takes.  It nice to find re-issues like this that extra material, so you don't mind buyng it again even if you have the original LP, (which in this case I don't) Of course, I'd be remissed if I didn't mention, my father Sam Woodyard, plays drums on the sessions.

Next, Ahmad Jamal Trio Cross Country Tour 1958 - 1961.  This is a two CD set full of wonderful jazz piano from the legendary pianist.  the 32 tunes presented are from several early Jamal LPs.  His classic "Poinciana" alone is worth the price of admission.  I only have one other Ahmad Jamal LP "One" form 1978.  The set will be welcomed addition to my collection.

Next, we have John McLaughlin & the 4th Dimension Live at Ronnie Scott's. It's a nice follow up seeing him perform at his Farewell tour date recently.  This was recorded in March of this year (2017) and many of the tunes were part of the farewell tour playlist.

Just to round out things is a CD of Stanton Moore Trio Emphasis! (On Parenthesis).  Moore is a drummer, and new to me, leading this drums, guitar, organ, trio.  The CD gets a 4/5 star review on All About Jazz site by reveiwer, Doug Collette, "Yet if Moore, Walter and Bernard weren't so technically skilled or fluent in such a variety of styles, the fruits of their collaboration might reside in the dolefully predictable rut of all too much funk. Instead, Emphasis! (On Parenthesis) is alight with a fresh camaraderie that exceeds the ambitious goals of the group's leader."  I found the music to be okay, but something was missing, it didn't complete gel to my ears. I'll have to give it a couple of more listens, before passing final judge. (Okay, the cover art grab my eye)

The sky is clearing a bit, but I'll still keeping good tune.  Hope you do the same.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sunday Music Muse Day - Mike Melito Quintet, Rich Thompson Trio.

This Sunday Music Muse Day features two selections picked up the the South Wedge Record Fair, last weekend.  Both CDs are from local musicians, talented drummers, and educators, who keep the beat and the pulsing, swinging rhythm of jazz alive and well in Rochester.  (Also, who are friends I've seen perform often.)  First up, we count it off with Mike Melito Quintet The Next Step,  as the liner notes by C. Andrew Hovan, Jazz journalist, states about this 2004 session, "As a purveyor of the hard bop genre, he has been consistently deserving of wider recognition, mixing classy precision with a well-tuned drum sound and burnished cymbal accents". In short, Mike is hard swinging drummer.  I'm humbled that Mike considers my father, Sam Woodyard, who was a drummer for Duke Ellington, as a major inspiration.  There are times I can hear echoes of Sam's playing in Mike's, keeping the jazz tradition moving forward.  Thanks, Mike.

Secondly, we have Rich Thompson Trio Generations.  Rich is another local treasure. Ric Bang, of Jazz Scan, wrote, "This album is a mix of originals from Thompson and Brown, along with some great old jazz standards, I Hear a Rhapsody, Keep Me in Mind, and I Thought About You. The trio's version of that latter Jimmy Van Heusen tune is superb; you won't be able to keep your fingers or feet still".  Solid playing all around, on the standards, but to enjoy Rich including a tune, Keep Me in Mind, by John Scofield, a favorite guitarist of mine (as he does with his other group Trio East).  I'll be looking to catch Rich at another local venue soon.  Until I have this wonderful CD to enjoy.

As James Brown would said, this was a day to "give the drummer some".  They deserve every and all accolades.  Keep swinging gentlemen, I'll be there tapping my feet to music.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Dime-A-Dozen Project #8 - Joppa of Khad, BLACKWOLF - Part 1

[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.]

Coming of Blackwolf.

Like many professional artists I spent many hours of my youth drawing for pleasure. Prior to entering high school this activity was considered a hobby. Then came the fateful day that my student guidance counselor asked "the" question, what profession do you want to pursue? My first choice was to be an astronaut, (remember we're talking the 60's here, the space race was running hot and heavy). But alas, a quick glance at my math grades killed that notion. So, I figured if I couldn't fly them, I could always draw them. A commercial art career was the logical and practical career choice. With that goal in mind, I graduated high school and entered the School of Visual Arts enrolling as a illustration major. In reality, my aim was to be a comic book artist.

Comic books provided me with one of the richest sources of inspiration. This occurring in the 60's, coincided with the rise of Marvel Comics and the glory days of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and the other masters of that time. My old sketch books are full of original characters modeled after those great Marvel Age creations. Then one day, two new influences entered my artistic life. On the paperback book rack in the local newspaper and candy shop was a cover that just leaped at me, a dagger wielding, dark-haired barbarian atop a red cloaked ape. Thus, artist Frank Frazetta and Robert E. Howard's "Conan" gained a new and loyal fan. This truly "dynamic duo" not only provided endless visual and literary enjoyment but also inspiration. 

The result of that inspiration and others was Joppa of Khad, Blackwolf.
Blackwolf would become my main original character. I drew up a map of his world and slowly developed the character in a series of sketchbook drawings and various spot illustrations. These spot illustrations proved to be pivotal in Blackwolf's development. At my very first comic convention in the summer of 1970, a Phil Seuling event, held at the Statler Hilton (now the Penta Hotel), in New York City, I placed two Blackwolf illustrations in the amateur art contest.  (the one at the top of the post, and the one below)

To my pleasant surprise, I took second place. So with added confidence I entered by second year of art school that fall. Unbeknownst to me, my artwork had attracted the interest of one of the professional guest judges.

That fall at another convention at the same hotel, a classmate told me Jim Steranko, the judge at the art show, was looking for the "artist" of Blackwolf. He had been unable to locate me because he had missed the awarding ceremony. Although skeptical, I presented myself to Steranko and pulled out my Blackwolf illustrations. My skepticism gave way to excitement as Steranko confirmed my classmate's story. But the best was yet to come. Steranko wanted to publish Blackwolf in an anthology he was planning under his Supergraphics Publication banner. Blackwolf would be featured in a book along with Steranko's "Talon" an sword and sorcery character he had in development, and work by a young Howie Chaykin.
At that time there was no complete Blackwolf story. But that following spring and summer with a co-writing assist from a friend`Charlie Hunt, I completed the pencils for the story "The Black Woods" featuring Joppa of Khad, Blackwolf. I mailed the finished pencils to Jim Steranko on Sept 27, 1971.

He loved them and say as much in several postcards. It was hard to contain my excitement. Was this the big break.

Excitement was replaced by disappointment as a year passed and the anthology did not appear any closer to being published. So, with a heavy heart, I asked for the return of my artwork. As a footnote, with the exception of a poster and some promotional illustrations Steranko's "Talon" remains unpublished. As did the anthology.

As for Blackwolf and my comic art ambitions, upon graduation from art school, I made several attempts to submit work to Marvel, but with no good results. So, I placed Blackwolf and other comic projects on the back burner and proceeded with my art career, with some modest success. I progressed to animated adventure shows. I designed characters and storyboarded for the "Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers".

During my tenure at Transcom, the producers of The Galaxy Rangers, I developed a renewed interest in comic art and comic books. This interest has lead to my wanting to produce Blackwolf and other projects. I dug out the old drawing and realized they still looked good.  I was determined to bring Blackwolf to the public and contribute to the comic art and animation fields which inspired me to pursue an art career in the first place.

Next - Part 2 - Blackwolf Art gallery, support characters.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Sunday Music Muse Day - John McLaughlin and JImmy Herring Meeting of the Spirits, Farewell Tour

This Sunday's Music Muse Day post is dedicated to John McLaughlin on the occasion of his farewell tour of the U.S.  He announced last year that he was retiring from touring, and this current tour would be a chance to thank and bid farewell to his many fans here in the States.

I've been a fan of John McLaughlin from the very beginning, from his first recordings with Miles Davis on Bitches Brew, and then through his first solo works, Extrapolation (done while he was still in England, before coming to the U.S. to join Tony Williams Lifetime.  John actually turned Miles down to play with Lifetime) and My Goals Beyond, which has the core players that would later form Mahavishu Orchestra. I had the pleasure of seeing John McLaughlin play live many times throughout has career with his different versions of Mahavishu Orchestra, Shakti (his acoustic Indian music fusion band), and his trio dates with Al DiMeola and  the late Paco De Lucia. I amassed a collection 19 of his album and 20 CDs (only five being dupes of albums I already owned)  I consider McLaughlin a true music artist, always exploring new territory and never satisfied to rest on his laurels.

With the sad passing of two of my guitar heroes this year, John Abercrombie and Larry Coryell, I felt seeing a John Mclaughlin's fare well concert date was a must.  When I found out he had date set at the University of Buffalo, that make it a no-brainer.  I got tickets and last Wednesday I attended the show with Lisa, and my son Spencer, who attends UB. 

The show was great, present in three parts.  Jimmy Herring, who shares the bill with McLaughlin, open with a set with his own group Invisible Whip, that could be called an "McLaughlin cover band", but not in a bad way.  He opened with a Miles Davis tune from Bitches Brew well known for John playing on.  He definitely has the chops.  He did play like original, too. 

The second part was John McLaughlin and his group playing tunes from various catalogue, all great stuff.  Most touching was a tune dedicated to Paco De Lucia.  The final segment of the concert had Jimmy Herring and his band join McLaughlin's group to play Mahavishu Orchestra music.  I admit Jimmy Herring seemed to do a lot of heavy lifting (playing) for some of the tunes.

 All in all it was great to see the John McLaughlin perform one more time.  Hopefully, we'll still have him around and playing for years to come.

Inktober 2017 Sketches.

This past month I decided to take part in the Inktober 2017, started by artist Jake Parker.  Inktober is when you do a ink sketch for every day of the month of October and post it on line.  There is a prompt list of words to help get the creative juices flowing.

 I jumped in on the third, without using the prompt list, but stuck to it after that.  I tried to have fun with this and not get hung up on ego. Several friends joined in on Facebook which may it more fun. The following are the results.

#3 - "Poison" (prompt not used)  I just inked a sketch I was working on.
 # 4 - "Underwater" - Is inspired by Jules Verne 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and Ray Harryhausen.
 #5 "Long" - Inspired by the dialogue line by Edna Mole in the animated film, Incredibles, "no capes".
 #6 - "Sword" - My character Blackwolf holding a sword.
 #7 - "Shy" - This was just going to be a picture of a shy young girl, but as I was inking it I know I had to add a twist. This is one of my favorite drawings of month.
 #8 - "Crooked" The was one of harder to do.  I could think of good solution.  Although several friend found it funny.
 #9 - "Screech" The lettering effect is a nod to comic artist Walt Simonson, and the way he uses type in his comic art.
 #10 - "Gigantic"  Of course, a giant robot had to come to mind.
 #11 - "Run" - This is a homage to Jack Kirby's monster art.
 #12 - "Shattered" - My take on Humpy Dumpty.  I use a toy bot on my bookshelf as model.

#13 - "Teeming"  My twist on the Zombie Apocalypse.  They crave pizza instead of brains. 
 #14 - "Fierce" If you're in a relationship, you know about the toilet lip issue.
 #15 - "Mysterious" - I must confess, I stole the idea from a old art piece of mine. 
 For full disclosure here it is.
#16 - "Fat".  This was a "loaded" prompt.  What could you do that didn't run the risk of being insulting, or offensive?  I think this was a good solution.

 #17 - "Graceful" - A dancer is just a natural image for the prompt.
 #18 - "Filthy" - Raw sewage and free hugs were just made for each other. I started to get more into using the markers.
 #19 - "Cloud" - Is my favorite drawing of the month.  I might even do a more finished version.
 #20 - "Deep" - Again, a natural solution with a twist.
 #21 - "Furious"  The image speaks for itself.
 #22 - "Trail"- I couldn't resist doing a "snail" on a "trail".
 #23 - "Juicy" - I resisted going for a pic of ripe fruit, and decided to take things in whole different direction.
 #24 - "Blind"  You can't go wrong with a blind female warrior.
 #25 - "Ship" - In doing the viking ship, I got to use the lyrics of a song (a work in progress) of mine, "Norsin' around", about a hapless viking captain.
 Here the textless version.
 #26 - "Squeak" - Just a fun twist on rodent humor.
 #27 - "Climb" - Again, the prompt is so vague, there was million possibilities. But King Kong is my favorite movie, and climber, so this fit  the bill.
 #28 - "Fall" Since, what goes up must come down, this just seem right.
 #29 - "United" - I racked my mind for a solution for this prompt, then thought this historic moment in space exploration history.
 #30 - "Found" - Here my ode to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a favorite movie mine.
 #31 - "Mask"  The prompt was very timely falling on Halloween.
I actually feel a little lost with the daily prompt. I'll have to find another daily sketch challenge to keep me drawing.