Gil Scott-Heron (1949-2011), a spoken-word singer- songwriter whose socially conscious soul-jazz albums of the '70s neatly leveraged the feel and urgency of Sly Stone, Marvin Gaye and Richie Havens, died in New York on May 27. He was 62.
Scott-Heron's albums from the '70s are essential for fans of jazz and soul. His most dynamic recordings include Pieces of Man (1971), which included Lady Day and John Coltrane, and Winter in America (1974), which featured his hit The Bottle. Often overlooked were Scott-Heron's lyrics and jazz core, which combined sermon-like messages advocating peace, justic and equality backed by the optimism of a jazz flute and piano.
For more on Scott-Heron, see Alec Wilkinson's marvelous August 2010 profile in the The New Yorker here.
Here's Gil Scott-Heron's Save the Children, from Pieces of Man, featuring Hubert Laws on flute...
Sony's complete box sets. Record companies have finally started to get their online acts together. Consider this: Sony last week announced the launch of a new e-store. But instead of selling everything and anything it offers, the label is doing things a little differently. Called PopMarket.com, the site features daily deals on special releases and box sets of complete Columbia recordings by specific artists. The boxes are discounted for brief periods of time, and the site offers daily sales (at Popmarket.com, click on the "Complete" tab).
What makes PopMarket's "complete" concept interesting is that it targets consumers who still favor CD box sets and enjoy mini-LP reproductions of the original album covers. The site also adds a level of excitement by featuring a clock ticking down the time remaining for the special offer.
For starters, Sony is selling boxes with all of the Columbia releases for Miles Davis, The Byrds, Sam Cooke, Stan Getz, Return to Forever and Aretha Franklin. Apparently, these boxes will be discounted for a short period—the month in which they are made available.
While record stores may be long gone, Sony's venture certainly gets the juices flowing again. All that's missing is the cranky old clerk with the long gray beard who wears suspenders and a belt, and the young clerk wearing too much English Leather..
Seven hours of Stax. Chris Cowles and Tom Shaker, radio's Stax-maniacs, have produced another mega-show on the Memphis label's artists—complete with interviews. Of particular note is their chat with Skip Pitts, Isaac Hayes' guitarist, on how the music for The Theme From Shaft was done. The show aired on WRTC in Hartford, Conn.
Here are the passionate podcast shows and their respective links:
Hour 1: Interviews with drummer Jody Stephens, founding member of Big Star and staff manager at Ardent Studios; and guitarist Skip Pitts. Go here.
Hour 2: Interviews with Ardent Studios founder John Fry; vocalist John Gary Williams of the Mad Lads; and engineer Terry Manning. Go here.
Hour 3: Interviews with vocalist Eddie Floyd; Rick Nuhn of Concord Music Group; and writer/singer Sir Mack Rice. Go here.
Hour 4: Interviews with former Stax singer/composure and then publicity director Deanie Parker; and guitarist Steve Cropper of Booker T. & the MGs. Go here.
Hour 5: Interviews with vocalist Sam Jones of the Astors and Tim Sampson, communications director of Stax Museum of American Soul Music. Go here.
Hours 6 & 7: Interviews with composer and singer David Porter; Sam & Dave trumpet player Newton Collier; and with piano player, arranger and composer Marvell Thomas. Go here.
Miles Davis. Bret Primack, the Jazz Video Guy, interviews saxophonists Sonny Rollins and Gary Bartz on Miles Davis. Go here.
Russ Garcia at 95. JazzWax reader John Pickworth sent along this clip from a New Zealand television show featuring Russ and Gina Garcia on Russ' 95th birthday. Go here.
Eumir Deodato Plays Marcos Valle. For those who are unable to find this out-of-print album but loved the clip I posted during my interview with Marcos, here's a YouTube of the entire album...
Lambert, Hendricks and Ross fan page. JazzWax reader Jonathan Cohen sent along a link to a Facebook page he created in tribute to vocalese group Lambert, Hendricks and Ross. Go here.
Snooky Young radio. Next Thursday, JazzWax reader and on-air host Tom Priesmeyer will host a two-hour tribute to trumpeter Snooky Young on WRVU in Nashville, Tenn. The show airs from 7 to 9 a.m. (EDT). You can listen on your computer from anywhere in the world by going here, clicking on "audio archive" and scrolling down to click on Swingshift.
WNEW jingles. For those far and wide who grew up listening to the long-gone WNEW-AM in New York (and are homesick for the Big Apple), Joe Fay has assembled a series of jingles for the station that were arranged in the styles of different big band and jazz stars. Scroll down the right-hand side to review and listen. A trip back in time. Go here.
Eric Dolphy comics. JazzWax reader and illustrator Keith Brown is creating a graphic novel on saxophonist Eric Dolphy. He's using Kickstart.com, which allows members to raise money for creative projects. Take a look at Keith's promo clip and dig the Kickstart site while you're there. You may need it someday. Go here.
Dragnet and LSD. In the wake of my interview with Grace Slick, director Raymond De Felitta unearthed a Dragnet beaut at YouTube. In this episode, Joe Friday comes face to face with the Summer of Love here...
Ronnell Bright. Pianist Ronnell Bright has always been one of my favorites, both for his taste and voicings. Sarah Vaughan thought so, which is why Ronnell was her accompanist during some of her finest years in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Here's Ronnell on The Jeffersons. If you don't have time to watch, slide the bar up to 6:05...
CD discovery of the week: Back in 1987, Stephane Grappelli recorded an album of Jerome Kern songs for GRP. The late swing violinist was backed by a rich string section conducted by Ettore Stratta. Stephane Grappelli Plays Jerome Kern soon went out of print and has never been remastered or reissued. That is, until now. Ettore and his wife Pat Philips have produced the re-release of this forgotten warm and tender Kern tribute. Each track—Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, The Way You Look Tonight and Pick Yourself Up, for example—gets your heart and foot moving. You'll find this one at iTunes and here.
Oddball album cover of the week: I don't know much about Artie Wayne, but I suspect that winning over Swedish bombshell Anita Ekberg probably required a little more than a croon from across the room. What's unclear is whether Ekberg's arms are raised in ecstasy or protest. Her expression speaks volumes.