Sunday, September 27, 2020

Sunday Music Muse Day - John McLaughlin & the 4th Dimension, Mahavishnu Redefined (Various Artists). Warped Sky - Stray Clouds In the Blood of the Night

 This Sunday Music Muse Day, bring finds us officially beginning the Fall season and having a warm sunny day, worth enjoying while last.  I'm presenting two posts today, first one for CD selection and a second part for a Warped Sky Stray Clouds song.  By CD selections are actually connected.  First up is John McLaughlin & the 4th Dimension The Boston Record, a live set of one of McLaughlin's post Mahavishnu Orchestra groups. This was recorded on June 22, 2013 at the Berklee Performance Center, Boston. There's not much in the way of liner notes. Not that much more needs to be said about the legendary jazz guitarist, and fusion pioneer. All you need to know is in hearing the music.  I'm always happy to come across McLaughlin releases I don't have.  I'm happy to say, even after his Farewell U.S. Tour (I did get to see his Buffalo, NY date) he is still recording and touring Europe.

My second selection is Mahavishnu Re-Defined, A Tribute to John McLaughlin and the Mahavishu Orchestra. This is a 2 CD set released by ESC Records out of Germany.  I'm sometimes leery of  tribute projects, as they can be hit or miss, but I have to give this a thumbs up.  Honestly, I only knew 4 of artists out of the 25 cuts on this set, John Stowell, guitarist (who I saw perform with Bob Snieder at the Bop Shop Record last year), French-Vietnamese guitarist Nguyen Le' (I have a excellent CD of his), Drummer Gary Husband for work with McLaughlin and earlier in bands of the late fusion great Allen Holdsworth, and drummer Dennis Chambers from various groups like the Brecker Bros, John Scofield, and McLaughlin.  This is solid CD set with a nice variety of styles showing the many colors and tones of McLaughlin's music associated with the Mahavishnu Orchestra.  The one head-scratcher is a cut by drummer Ron Thaler. titled 'Some Timeless'.  Timeless was written my the late John Abercrombie, a favorite guitarist of mine, one of my all time favorite tune of his.  'Some Timeless' is a nice take on the tune, but I can't figure how it fits with this set. That may have to remain one of life's mystery's for me.

This week's Warped Sky - Stray Clouds tune is rather special to me.  "In the Blood of the Night" is the most EPIC tune of The Warped Sky Band. It ranks as our Iron Butterfly "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida". "In the Blood of the Night", is a original tune, written in 1978 by Richard Miceli, my creative partner in the Warped Sky Band, with Rodney Means . The "band" was three guys screwing around with music in our apartments, annoying the neighbors. The tune was adapted from a poem of Richard's and I came up with music for him to add a vocal and flute against. Richard is big fan of Tom Waits, and I aways hear strains of that in his poems/lyrics. I'm amazed at the off-beat and dark insights on personal relationships his lyrics reveals. The original version, with Richard's vocal and flute, and the screaming electric guitar playing of Rodney Means is included at the end of this video. The full 14 minute EPIC, false start and all. This original version is presented more as tribute the friendship and good times we shared making music, whether good or bad, doesn't matter, as we had fun and hearing our tunes brings a smile to my face.

This new version was made with my vocals and guitar playing, and using a backing track created in Band in a Box music software. I couldn't hope to outdo the original version, especially try to top Rodney's guitar playing, so I went for simple Darker version. I actually had envisioned using it in a sci-fi detective story years ago. It still be happen. I might use this Dark Hooded character for another tune. "Schizoid', soon.

As part of my Dragonfly Views blog I have a Sunday Music Muse Day post where I always hoped to present original music that I had filed away mostly unfinished and unheard, always putting it off because my playing leaves much to desired. But as I get older it becomes apparent waiting for perfect has become an excuse not to do anything. So, these music posts are a way to finish off forgotten musical ideas, for the plain fun of it. Enjoy.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Sunday Music Muse Day - Sam Woodyard - (January 7, 1925 – September 20, 1988) A remembrance.

 This Sunday Music Muse Day I have a remembrance. I usually prefer to celebrate the birthdays of the living, and departed, but this will popped up on the Duke Ellington Society group.  My father, Sam Woodyard, died on September 20, 1988, in Paris, France, of cancer.  Sam was the drummer for Duke orchestra from the the mid-1950s, most famously beginning with the famous 1956 Newport Jazz Festival concert..  Many consider him one of Duke's best drummers. Honestly, he wasn't a part of my life, as he choose his career over family, and believe me, there is no bitterness in that statement,  By way of closure, I had the chance to visit him in Paris, after the news of his illness was passed to his mother through Dizzy Gillespie,  a year before he passed, and I travel to Paris for his funeral and carried his ashes back home.  I'm proud of his musical legacy, and through the friends he made in Paris and elsewhere, I knew he was loved and comforted in his last difficult years.  His music will continue to touch jazz fan for all time. RIP Sam.

Jimi Hendrix Tribute - 50th Anniversary of his passing.

 Jimi Hendrix died on September 18, 1970. Usually, I don't like to commemorate deaths, I prefer to celebrate the birthdays of living, and departed. But since  so many remembrance popped up in news outlets and social media the event was hard too avoid.  Jimi Hendrix was one of my main early rock guitar hero (followed by Eric Clapton with Cream, and Jeff Beck). Sadly, I never got to see him play live. I was in the Basement Coffee House, a SVA and Baruch student hangout in the basement of Lutheran church on 22nd off 3rd Ave, NYC, when I heard of his death. I was stunned and shocked. Our illustration instructor assigned us to do a memorial album cover for him. I did a black on black portrait for my cover (flat and glossy acrylic paint) I still have somewhere. It's incredible how his impact is still being felt in music today, and not just an oldies Rock way.

So, Here's are my personal art tributes to Jim Hendrix, from old files.

Jimi asked "Are You Experienced?" After listening to his music we can all say, "I am".

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Sunday Music Muse Day - John Coltrane, Chick Corea, Warped Sky Stray Clouds

 This Sunday Music Muse Day start with a rainy morning and gloomy touch of the coolness of fall. Just the day for some jazz to lift the mood.  My first is John Both Direction at Once: The Lost Album.  Which is kind of embarrassing for me, since I bought the CD two years ago when it was released, and some how never posted about it. I realized my omission when I included Coltrane in the gallery of September Jazz birthday video (more on the later).  Historically this is interest set of recording, from a set tapes left in the hands of Coltrane's first wife Naima's family.  So how the session fell through the cracks of the recording studio and record company management. It  contain  several known Coltrane titles and several untitled pieces and alternate takes.  Well worth listen for Coltrane fans.

My second is Chick Corea & Friends Remembering Bud Powell.  This Tribute CD finds Chick and stellar group of jazz heavy weights celebrating the music of Earl "Bud" Powell considered "the  most influential jazz pianist of his time".  Setting "...the standard for post-Art Tatum players."  Sadly he had mental difficulties later in life. (The central character in the movie "Round Midnight" play by Dexter Gordon was base on Powell;'s later years in Europe).  This is a solid outing honor Powell music in splendid fashion. 

Next is another Warped Sky Stray Cloud tune. Finally, I can get this song out of my system. So, rough edges and all, here is the song, "Jazzy Birthday (More or Les) with vocal". Jazz Birthday is a tune, written in 1978, with the original title "More or Les". The "Les" in the title refers to a old friend of Les Bernstein, not Les Paul the great guitar player, and father (inventor) of the solid body electric guitar, although it could, also. This new version was made with my vocals (with jazz singer Giacomo Gates as my inspiration). Actually, it was the first lyrics (and last) I've wrote since the 1980's. It seems I could never pull off playing the tune and singing it at the same time. Finally technology solved the problem.

I like the way this new version turned out so much I plan to do a monthly video celebrating Jazz musicians birthdays and add it to my Sunday Music Muse Day blogs. Enjoy

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Sunday Music Muse Day - Brian Blade, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Warped Sky Stray Cloud - Sentinel

 On the picture perfect September day, the Sunday Music Muse Day find me again offering two selection win a common player as sideman and leader.  First up is drummer Brian Blade Fellowship  Perceptual with Kurt Rosenwinkle on guitars, and a guest vocal by Joni Mitchell.  Blade presents a powerful, insightful music solidly in keeping the group's "Fellowship" as apparent in the personal dedication for the songs.  Fellowship is something we should seek n these chaotic times.  

My second selection is guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkle East Coast Love Affair, one of his first recording from 1999, recorded at Small's Club in NYC in July 1996.  I admit I've only became aware of Rosenwinkle in past 10 years or, as a son of a library co-worker played with him and she brought him to my attention.  I think of him as one of new crop of jazz guitarists carrying the torch after my  70's favorites, like John McLaughlin, Pat Metheny John Scofield, John Abercrombie and Pat Martino. This definitely a solid early CD.  I actually like this more than some of his later work.

Next is another Warped Sky Stray Clouds post, "Sentinel - A Triple Play" is a original tune, written in 1978, and originally recorded as a duet with flute improv by Richard Miceli, my creative partner in the undiscovered :Warped Sky Band. The original version. with Richard's flute playing is included at the end of this video.

This new versions were made with my guitar playing, and using a backing track created in Band in a Box music software. I dedicated the title to Jack Kirby, "King of Comic Books". I also paid a musical tribute to Carlos Santana in my solo in the first version. The second version was to use a sparser arrangement closer to the original. With Band in a Box, you write in chords and a lead line and it creates a backing track, and even a solo performance, with varying degrees of success. I'm often surprised how simple tunes sound fleshed out by a full band, even an artificial one.

Again, these music posts are a way to finish off forgotten musical ideas, just for the plain fun of it. Enjoy.