David Amram on Mimi Perrin. Following my tribute last Sunday to the late French vocalese artist Mimi Perrin, I asked David Amram, who lived in Paris in the early 1950s, for his insights. [Pictured: Mimi Perrin and Quincy Jones in July 1963]
Here's David's response:
"Mimi was singing in Paris in '55, but she was better known at the time as a fine jazz pianist. Like Roger Guerin, the outstanding trumpet player, Mimi could sing and loved to scat at various jam sessions.
"After I left Paris in the fall of '55, I didn't hear about Mimi again until she formed The Double Six—the vocal harmony group that Roger was in, too. [Pictured: Paris in the mid-'50s.]
"Like her buddy Blossom Dearie [pictured], Mimi could play and sing at the same time. And like Roger, she had the ability to sing different harmony parts of complicated horn arrangements and create different ways of phrasing that were instrumental and vocal sounding.
"King Pleasure, Eddie Jefferson, Annie Ross and many other singers were doing this as soloists, and it was great to see Mimi get recognized for what she did with the groups she formed and worked with.
"Mimi was a great friend of Roger's and all the French musicians I knew during this era who had a reverence and respect for jazz that was inspiring."
More David Amram. After my posted interview with David Amram on his 80th birthday, JazzWax readers asked about the compositions David mentioned during our conversation. Here's his response:
"Symphonic Variations on a Song by Woody Guthrie can be downloaded for free from Symphony Silicon Valley's website here featuring a great live performance conducted by Paul Polivinick.
"The symphonic version of In Memory of Chano Pozo [pictured] will be online at YouTube soon, with guest soloists Candido and Bobby Sanabria joining the Queens College Orchestra. I conducted the orchestra during my 80th birthday celebration at New York's Symphony Space. Mark Morganelli played the trumpet solo and I played piano, penny whistles and other instruments.
"The first movement of Ode to Lord Buckley can be accessed on Youtube via my webpage. This concerto for saxophone and orchestra was filmed live with the Louden Symphony, with Noah Getz as soloist.
"Also, thanks to Bill Kirchner for letting us all know that John Benson Brooks recorded a version of Shenandoah in 1956 on Folk Jazz USA—a year before I did. John was a terrific musician and composer, and an old friend. I never knew until now that he had recorded it. So you can teach an old dog new tricks!"
Bob Cranshaw and The Sidewinder. Fillmaker and documentarian Bret Primack recently taped an interview with bassist Bob Cranshaw here about Lee Morgan's hit recording The Sidewinder and the role bassist Cranshaw played in its development...
Jim Hall. Pianist Joe Alterman relayed a humorous story about famed jazz guitarist Jim Hall:
"The other day I ran into Jim Hall on the street in front of the jazz and contemporary music building of the New School in New York. Jim was walking his dog. I introduced myself, and we ended up talking for a while. As we spoke, student musicians were walking by oblivious to who he was. Jim told me he's rarely recognized by them anymore and asked if I'd like to see something funny.
"He walked up to a student holding a bass and asked, 'Is that a walking bass?' The kid just shook his head and walked away. Jim was laughing so hard. He said, 'I do that all the time. I think it's funny. They just think I'm a strange old man now.'
"Boy, if only that kid knew who he had just brushed off!"
Down Beat donation. Lucky East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania. Reader Donna Wilcox and her husband Bob just donated their collection of 1,303 Down Beat magazines to the college's Al Cohn Jazz Collection. By the way, if you're unfamiliar with The Note, the university's magazine that's devoted to all things Al Cohn, go here and subscribe for free. Editor Bob Bush does a fantastic job.
CD discoveries of the week. If Concord's newly released reissue of Band on the Run is any indication of what we can expect from its association with Paul McCartney, we're in for quite an archival treat. Band on the Run is the first in a series of Wings album restorations from Concord. While I initially questioned what was to be gained by reissuing Wings material that is already in play, Concord's packagers have answered the question with a resounding, "Plenty."
In addition to a CD of the original 1973 recording remastered and a second CD devoted to outtakes, the big news here is the third disc—a DVD. On the disc is footage of virtually the entire album being recorded in the studio by Paul and Linda McCartney and Wings, as well as home movies and the recording of Live and Let Die, their theme for the 1973 James Bond film of the same name.
Band on the Run was Wings' third and most successful album. The concept deftly combined rock and pop, resulting in a blend that was both uplifting and immensely sing-able. The album, recorded in Lagos, Nigeria, is easily the most cohesive post-Beatles recording by McCartney, and it remains a friendly audio postcard from the early 1970s. The fact that this material has held up so well over time tells you how far ahead of his time McCartney was at this juncture. Hopefully new albums from the former Fab Four frontman will recapture some of the magic exhibited here.
It's one thing to hear the swelling music on this album remastered. It's another to watch song after song from the album being recorded in a studio in color, giving the music a new personal feel. The DVD alone is worth the $16 price tag. The two CDs plus single DVD package is available here. A more deluxe package is here.
Ray Charles fans will be particularly pleased with Rare Genius: The Undiscovered Masters. The 10 tracks, mostly from the 1980s, feature a highly animated Charles on tracks such as Wheel of Fortune, a funky I'm Gonna Keep on Singin' and a bluesy There'll Be Some Changes Made. Charles' Fender Rhodes work behind his duet with Johnny Cash on Why Me Lord? shouldn't be missed. You'll find this one at iTunes or here.
Oddball album cover of the week. Once again, the art directors at Coral deliver another splendid strange duck, this time for Manny Albam. This album from 1958 featured Manny arranging the music of Duke Ellington. Nice pose by our model—though the word "sophisticated" back then seems to have meant something different from its more current definition.