25 April 2010


St Tropez Jazz Octet aka Johnny Dover Octet for Europa from 1969.
First time out in blogland for this great Belgian lp of swinging big band tunes. Similar in style to the Clarke-Boland sound and interesting to also note that this was apparently Marc Moulin's first recording session.
Here's an excellent write up from Blast Kid's well researched series "Focus on European Jazz" over at Laid Back. Check more of his writing out here.

‘Jazz Goes Swinging’ is the title of a late sixties record by the St. Tropez Jazz Octet, a different name for the Belgian Johnny Dover Octet. Their sound is often compared to the Clarke-Boland Big Band style, which I can understand, but certain record dealers want to make you believe that Sahib Shihab played on it to raise the price, but that’s not the fact. Information on who the players were is hard to find, and a lot of speculations have been made. I know for sure that Johnny Dover, Alex Scorier, Freddy Rottier and Marc Moulin are on the record, and although I don’t want to speculate too much, I’d dare to make an educated guess by saying that the rest of the personnel included Nicolas Kletchovsky, , Richard Rousselet a.o. (indeed, all of them would later play with Placebo).

14 April 2010


Mike Taylor Trio for Columbia Lansdowne from 1967.
Mike Taylor - Piano ; Jack Bruce / Ron Rubin - Bass ; John Hiseman - Drums.

This was reissued as part of the Impressed Repressed series on cd and is now well out of print with the only one on Amazon for sale at £140.The original lp still goes for a wallet pounding £3-600 due to it's rarity and of course it's one of Denis Preston's stellar productions for the famous Lansdowne series so you know that's a real seal of quality.Certainly one of the most challenging and powerful jazz recordings of it's time.
Here's a review from John Fordham:
Mike Taylor died, probably by his own hand, at age 31 in 1969, having realised a fraction of his potential as a composer and player, and written for the New Jazz Orchestra, singer Norma Winstone and the rock band Cream. Cream's singer and bassist Jack Bruce and Ron Rubin (occasionally) are on acoustic bass here, with Jon Hiseman on drums, a line-up that highlights the close links between 1960s Britain's creative rock and R&B scenes and the jazz of the time.
Taylor is a highly rhythmic pianist whose dense chord clusters often travel in tandem with Hiseman's sensitive and flexible percussion. His handling of standards such as All the Things You Are is enigmatically fascinating, while his own rhapsodically wayward Just a Blues is a lot more than just a blues. And the improvisation against Hiseman's brushes and Bruce's emphatically voluble bass on While My Lady Sleeps is the kind of extended long narrative on a standard that Bill Evans was feted for.
A unique and very affecting set.

First time out in blogland and you know it's gotta be .....All Killer No Filler!

12 April 2010


London Jazz Four for Polydor from 1967.

Mike McNaught-Piano,Harpsichord ;Ron Forbes-Vibes; Brian Moore -Bass; Len Clarke-Drums .

I never could and still can't stomach The Beatles but this is a real corker of an album that somehow transcends the original songs to the extent that many of the tracks don't sound like Beatles covers at all!
Here's a write up from AllAboutJazz:
This Brit quartet made the songs of the Fab Four their own, taking a lot of risk in reinterpreting many timeless classics but also approaching lesser-known Lennon-McCartney tunes (sadly, there are no Harrison compositions on the album). The result is a collection of songs that sound almost if they were completely new. For instance, "I Feel Fine" receives a Bach-like harpsichord riff that repeats itself throughout the track, the rest of the instruments basically improvising around the song's original melody.
John Lennon's Dylan-esque "Rain gives a lot of space for vibes player Ron Forbes and pianist Mike McNaught alternately to showcase their visions on each song. Gone is the song's original dark feel, which is replaced by a slow, peaceful one. The early tune "Yes It Is" is barely recognizable, featuring percussion, finger cymbals, and a triangle as backdrop for the piano, which sounds as if McNaught's fingers had a hard time moving over the keys, giving an otherwise simple song an eerie, almost ghostly feel.
The quartet swings through "Please Please Me" and "Things We Said Today", but the latter has more of a Latin jazz sound with some Afro undertones. "A Hard Day's Night" turns out to be one of the best tracks on the lp. The song morphs into a jazz waltz, which is an interesting development. Also pay close attention to the playfulness and simplicity of the musicians' take on "Yellow Submarine".

8 April 2010


Ginger Johnson and his African Messengers for Masquerade UK from 1967.

The last one in this series of latin/afro/percussion posts and it's a monster proto AfroBeat /Highlife session featuring Ginger Johnnson with his African Messengers recorded at Sound Techniques in London in the midst of the swingin' sixties.
"Talking Drum" was the bomb back in the day but its all just as good...
All Killer No Filler!

Born Folorunso Johnson in Lagos, Nigeria, Ginger got his nickname because the hot sun turned his hair red and brought out his freckles. Possibly there is some Celtic blood in him, but he only admits to African and Brazilian heritage. Leaving home during World War II, Ginger became a sailor and his roaming took him to most jazz clubs of note in the world. Finally he came to England, and during the 1950's played with such names as Paul Adam, Harry Parry and Edmundo Ros. Forming his own Afro-Cuban band was the next step , and so the African Messengers were born. " All the music that we do is based firmly on African traditions," Ginger says. "So is rhythm and blues - but we try to get nearer the source, right down to the grass roots of the jungle - the sun, the heat, the insects, the abundance of life. And we overlay the whole with jazz - saxophone, guitar, brass, flute, and sometimes piano - because jazz is also derived from the old sources of Africa." Part of the compulsive beat is supplied by the 'talking drum' once used in the famous 'bush telegraph' system. The equivalent of the bass in Ginger's band - although he also uses an electric bass guitar - is the 'bush piano' a box-like instrument of wood fitted with thin metal tongues, which when flicked with the thumb, vibrate and give off thrumming bass notes. But Ginger's favourite instruments are his elephants feet. The elephant was killed by hunters in South Africa more than 100 years ago. The feet were hollowed out and covered with skin to form drums, and Ginger has played them for many years. They are prominent on several of his most famous songs.
Excerpts from sleeve notes by Frank Smyth, taken from the album Ginger And His African Messengers African Party.

2 April 2010


Sabu and his Jungle Percussionists for Clarity from 196?.

This is a library(for want of a better word)lp from the UK label Clarity and not a record by Sabu Martinez."The ultimate in high fidelity recordings designed for your listening pleasure" is the header on the rear sleeve followed by a load of technical balls about full frequency,three track ampex recorders and Scotch 3M magnetic tape.Apparently the Sabu in the title is inspired by The Jungle Book but god knows who played on this session.I've researched it as far as possible and only know that price wise it ranges from the fiver I paid for mine some years ago to an eye watering £200 I spotted it for in some chancers list!
Sound wise it's one for the percussion beat heads - the lp seems switches between afro and latin styled percussion work outs plus chants on some.If you like the drums and chants albums from Tito,Mongo et al and you're not too bothered about authenticity you'll enjoy this one.