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KOKO TAYLOR PASSES

Tuesday, 09 June 2009 14:39 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

KOKO TAYLOR PASSES

Soul fans of a certain vintage will know and love 'Wang Dang Doodle' by KOKO TAYLOR. Released in that golden year of 1966, it became a mod soul anthem and few records before or after has ever managed to capture its delicious mix of good times and underlying menace. Sad, therefore, to report the passing of KOKO. She died on June 3, in a Chicago hospital - from complications following surgery. She was 80.
Born CORA WALTON on September 28 1928 on a farm near Memphis, she lived with her parents and five brothers and sisters in a wooden shack with neither electricity nor running water. Although never professional singers, her parents used to sing enthusiastically while working the cotton fields, and she began to sing gospel in church. She also soaked up the blues played on local radio, which she and her siblings would surreptitiously perform with improvised home-made instruments. By the time she was 11, both her parents had died and she too was forced to work in the cotton fields.
In 1952 she moved to Chicago with her husband, ROBERT "POPS" TAYLOR, a truck driver. She found work as a domestic cleaner, but at weekends the couple enjoyed visiting the city's blues clubs. Encouraged by ROBERT, she soon began to sit in on some of the sessions, and one day in 1963, KOKO was spotted by WILLIE DIXON, then the leading writer and arranger for the legendary Chess label.
Initially however she recorded for the small USA label (debuting with the single 'Honky Tonky' in 1964) before moving to Chess. There, backed by BUDDY GUY on guitar, and with a stage name comprised of her newly-acquired marital status and a nickname recalling her love of chocolate, she gave Chess their last big hit with the aforementioned, DIXON-penned 'Wang Dang Doodle'.
With the demise of Chess, however, KOKO was forced back to her cleaning job though still recording for small, local labels. In 1975 she was signed to Alligator for whom she recorded nine albums, eventually winning a Grammy in 1984. She performed incessantly and her status as a blues icon was cemented by cameo roles in three movies - DAVID LYNCH'S 'Wild At Heart', 'Mercury Rising' and 'Blues Brothers 2000'.
KOKO TAYLOR is survived by her second husband, HAYS HARRIS, and her daughter... and of course 'Wang Dang Doodle' will live forever.

 

CALVIN DOES BOBBY

Saturday, 06 June 2009 12:30 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

CALVIN DOES BOBBY

Exciting news from the Shanachie label… insiders tell us that they're about to release a new album from CALVIN RICHARDSON which is essentially a tribute to BOBBY WOMACK - an artist with a not too inconsiderable influence on the young "Soul Prince". The label's keeping cards close to their collective chests about which WOMACK songs are covered but we have learned that there'll be one of the great PATTI LABELLE duets with the equally great ANNE NESBY reprising Ms. P's parts. Watch this space for more news on the project.

 

SUMMER SMOOTH ...

Saturday, 06 June 2009 12:29 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

SUMMER SMOOTH ...

Summer's brought a slew of smooth jazz releases - here's the pick of the crop… organized by label:

ARTISTRY - two fine sax albums on this label - RICHARD ELLIOT'S 'Rock Steady' and JACKIEM JOYNER'S 'Lil' Man Soul'. The former is a tight 11 tracker that features great covers of Curtis' 'Move On Up', Aretha's 'Rock Steady' and Eddie Kendricks' Keep On Truckin''; the latter is a looser affair but there's still plenty of soul-based grooves - notably 'Step With Me'.

NU GROOVE - the New Jersey based label continues to expand its catalogue and now offers a pair of very different guitar sets. 'The Brain Tarquin Collection' is (obviously) a collection of US guitar star, BRIAN TARQUIN'S best work between 1996 and now. There's a strong rock influence in here but soul people should check out the cover of the O'Jays' 'Darling Darling Baby'. TORCUATO MARIANO'S 'So Far From Home' is a very different affair. There's a more acoustic feel to the album and a strong Latin influence too.

HEADS UP - lots of new releases from the Cleveland company. First up there's 'Free Your Mind' from prolific sax man WALTER BEASLEY. Beasley fans will know exactly what to expect but for quiet stormers there's a pleasing vocal duet between Beasley and Lynne Fidmont - 'Love Calls'. More ultra-smooth sax on MARION MEADOWS' 'Secrets' and a fair share of vocal cuts too … Highlights? … a version of Bobby McFerrin's 'Friends' featuring Brian Chartrand, a relaxing 'Shade Tree' with Impromp2 breathing the lyrics and 'Here To Stay'. The latter - with Brian Chartrand on minimal vocals again - could please sophisticated modern room dancers. There are a couple of laid back vocals on guitar man CHUCK LOEB'S new 'Between 2 Worlds' album. 'Oh No You Don't' features LIZZY LOEB while a cover of JOBIM'S 'So Tina De Que Ser Com Voce' has CARMEN CUESTA on lead. The album also features a tribute to HIRAM BULLOCK and a cover of JAMES TAYLOR'S 'Mean Old Man'. SPYRO GYRA'S new 'Down The Wire' is … well, another SPYRO GYRA album. BEKENSTEIN and the boys plough the same old grooves on eleven self-crafted tunes. Nothing new there then! More of an oddity is CANDY DULFER'S new album - or should we say albums…The Dutch sax star has just released a new double album called 'Funked Up Chilled Out' with one CD devoted to groove-based, almost funky tunes with other odd flavours (skank and rap) in the mix and the other consisting of, obviously, more laid-back tunes of which 'Sunrise' is worth checking out. CANDY'S second release is simply 'Funked Up'. It consists of most (but not all) of the tunes from the first CD in the double pack along with a smattering of cuts from the second CD. Confused? I'm sure you must be!

ACE - Ace's BGP imprint has just reissued the JAMES TAYLOR QUARTET'S second album for Acid Jazz. 'A Few Useful Tips About Living Underground' was originally released in 1996 and, yes, we know it's not smooth jazz … in fact it's an edgy and aggressive album reflecting TAYLOR'S dissatisfaction with Acid Jazz at the time. The original eleven tracks are boosted with the addition of three cuts that have only ever been available in the US before - of which film fans will already know 'Austin's Theme' from the MIKE MYERS movies. Worth investigating.

 

LEGEND LURKING ...

Thursday, 04 June 2009 08:04 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

LEGEND LURKING ...

BUSTA RHYMES isn't the kind of artist that would normally be featured in the hallowed pages of www.soulandjazzandfunk.com, but his latest album ' Back On My Bull Shit' has a lovely little track lurking on it. 'Decision' features a stellar cast - MARY J BLIGE, COMMON, JAMIE FOXX and the wonderful JOHN LEGEND whose contribution makes the tune worth checking out. Built around an annoyingly catchy sample, it's a steady little, mid-tempo chugger that will set feet tapping … broaden your mind and check it out

 

50TH ANNIVERSARY JAZZ REISSUES

Sunday, 17 May 2009 07:24 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

50TH ANNIVERSARY JAZZ REISSUES

Sony's archival Legacy imprint is reissuing deluxe versions of three significant jazz albums on May 25th - Dave Brubeck's 'Time Out,' Charles Mingus' 'Mingus Ah Um,' and Miles Davis' 'Sketches Of Spain.' All three classic albums were recorded exactly fifty years ago in 1959, the year that also saw the release of Miles Davis' epochal and iconic 'Kind Of Blue' LP, which has already been given the deluxe treatment by Sony.
Dave Brubeck's 'Time Out,' which spawned the US hit single, 'Take Five,' includes a second disc devoted to eight previously unissued performances recorded at the Newport Jazz Festival between the years 1961-1964. Added to the package is a DVD documentary about the album featuring a recent interview with 89-year-old Dave Brubeck (who is also due to play at this year's Marlborough Jazz Festival in July).
Charles Mingus' 'Mingus Ah Um' was his debut for Columbia and featured the classic songs 'Goodbye Pork Pie Hat' and 'Better Git It In Your Soul.' Now remastered and remixed - at 24-bit resolution using a vintage Presto all-tube three-track tape machine - the album comes with a second disc of bonus tracks that include the complete album 'Mingus Dynasty' (the overshadowed follow-up to 'Mingus Ah Um' also recorded in 1959) and sundry rare and collectable outtakes.
Finally, Miles Davis' 'Sketches Of Spain' - the trumpeter's third large orchestral collaboration with arranger Gil Evans - gets a deluxe makeover that's packed with bonus material, including a live version of 'Concerto De Aranjuez,' a jazz remake of Rodrigo's classical guitar concerto that formed the centrepiece of the original album.

 

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