Tuesday, April 29, 2008

It's a Stevie Thing . . .

I'm usually not one for Mash-ups but my man Ionic hooked me up with this one and when DJ Shuffle played it for me on my Ipod I nearly lost my cool. I also had never heard Odyssey's version of "Going Back To My Roots" that is mashed with Stevie's "Superstition" here. It works very nicely.

Team 9 - It's a Stevie Thing (Stevie Wonder vs. Odyssey mash-up)

Spotlight on: Dom Salvador

As I wind down my time on the East Coast I'm trying to connect with as many NY-based musicians before I'm no longer local and it gets more difficult to arrange interviews. Dom Salvador is one such individual. As you might remember from this older post, Dom lives in New York and plays nearly daily at either the River Cafe in Brooklyn Heights or the Water Club on the East River in Manhattan. I'll be meeting with the man later today to interview him about his career and I hope to write something up for inclusion in something like Wax Poetics in the near future.

This guy is truly a legend in the Brazilian music industry, that is for the ten years he was part of it. In 1973 he left Brazil and came to New York and has been living and working here ever since. While he was in Brazil he played with and recorded with the following musicians: Jorge Ben, Elis Regina, Elza Soares, Edu Lobo, Pixinguinha, Tim Maia, Toni Tornado, Dom Um Romao, Durval Ferreira, Mamao (of Azymuth), Geraldo Vespar, and future Banda Black Rio founder Oberdan among others. Once in the US he worked with Charlie Rouse, Harry Belafonte, Robin Kenyatta, and Herbie Mann among others. In honor of this monstrous talent and a very kind gentleman, here are a few of my favorite songs from his late-60s through mid-70s.

Dom Salvador e Abolicao - Uma Vida
This is the lead song from one of the greatest Brazilian Soul albums ever. This album more than any other merges Brazilian music with North American Soul sounds. The band is composed of many future greats of the Black Rio scene, namely Oberdan. Check out this great video on Soul Spectrum Videos of Elis Regina standing in for the original Abolicao vocalist, Maria, on the same track.

Dom Salvador - Tio Macro
This is the lead-off track from Dom's 1969 solo album that first shows off a taste for Soul music. Dom informed me that Mamao (later of Azymuth) plays drums, Cassiano is on guitar and Durval Ferreira either produced the album or played some other role.

The Charlie Rouse Band - Waiting on the Corner
Charlie Rouse approached Dom to put this album together and he included a few of his songs on the album, including this number. I slept on this one for years but it popped up on the ipod a couple months ago and knocked me flat. Kinda reminds me of a rootsier Deodato brazilian-disco groove.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Marcos Valle . . . Beyond the 'Classic Years'

There are many favorite artists of mine that I have yet to discuss in this space, but Marcos Valle is by far one of the most important. When I was first exploring Brazilian music and starting to collect vinyl I took a chance on a record I saw reviewed at dustygroove called "The Essential Marcos Valle, Volume 2" (I had to wait a couple years for Volume 1 to get repressed before I could pick that one up). It took me a few listens to figure out what I was listening to and trying to fit it into my limited understanding of Brazilian music, but pretty soon Marcos became a cornerstone of my love of 1960s and 1970s Brazilian pop music alongside Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil and Jorge Ben.

Marcos Valle was an extremely prolific music writer and recording artist from 1963 until 1974 with 11 albums under his own name as well as regular Brazilian soap-opera soundtracks, movie soundtracks, the occasional one-off album without his name attached and even the soundtrack to the Brazilian Sesame Street, Vila Sesamo!

But when you look at his discography there is a major gap from 1974-1981 when he didn't release a single album in the U.S. or in Brazil. This always bewildered me especially as Marcos' releases were always such quality products and he is a very well known artist in Brazil. Upon further research we find that after his self-titled 1974 album Marcos came to the U.S. to try his hand for the second time in the American music business. Upon arrival in the U.S. he connected with a diverse group of musicians including Motown recording artist and producer, Leon Ware, the band Chicago and David (well-known songwriter and leader of the band Toto) and his father, Marty Paich, the veteran jazz arranger. It was through Marty that Marcos was introduced to Sarah Vaughan who was beginning a project covering Beatles' songs and wanted a Bossa Nova treatment for the George Harrison tune, "Something." This linked interview gets some of the details wrong (the song was "Something" not "Yesterday" for instance) but shows Marcos discussing this part of his career with an Australian radio journalist.

Sarah Vaughan - Something (with Marcos Valle)
I've always liked Sarah Vaughan, but I can't say this is one of my favorite albums of hers. I picked this one up recently purely on Marcos' participation. I do love his arrangement of this song and especially his Portuguese lyric at the end. Sarah's vocals are a bit strained and overpowering for the gentle arrangement, but it's an interesting listen nonetheless.

Marcos Valle - Paraiba Nao e Chicago (with Chicago)
Marcos returned to Brazil in the early 1980s and made this LP upon his return. It features a handful of songs that he co-wrote with Leon Ware while in L.A. and this song here is no exception. Peter Cetera, before his Karate-Kid soundtrack days, also chips in on back-up vocals and writing credits. It's cool to listen to this album and Marcos's next album from 1983 alongside Leon Ware's two Elektra albums to hear the American and Brazilian versions of the same songs. For instance, Ware's version of this song is called "Baby Don't Stop Me" and is off of his 1981 album "Rockin' You Eternally." Peter Cetera's vocals are pretty clear in the background on this one.

Marcos Valle - Agua de Coco
Here we have a much later Marcos cut from his 2003 album, "Contrasts" on Far Out. I completely dismissed his newer albums until a friend, Elan, suggested I give them a closer listen. This track is one of my favorites of his newer stuff. I hope to meet Marcos some point in the future. We spoke a couple times on the phone last time I was in Brazil, but we couldn't figure out a time to get together . . . If only he would play New York sometime soon.

I've posted some other Marcos Valle videos over on SS Videos . . .

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sorry for the absence . . . But if You're in NYC this weekend . . .

As some of you out there may have already heard I will soon be leaving New York for the Left/Best/West Coast and the fair city of San Francisco, but not before we can get down en masse TWO more times.

The first will be this Saturday when I will share duties with selectors Radio Rios and DJ Okay, who will inherit this coveted Saturday night slot following my departure.

The second will be next month, May 24th and will be the OFFICIAL farewell party for yours truly and the Neal Cassady to my Kerouac, Jamie Brown, for our impending road-trip out west. So mark you calendars!

Let's hope this great weather holds up for Saturday and we can enjoy the kick-ass backyard deck at Huckleberry Bar.

Check out the flyer (courtesy of DJ Okay) . . . invite your friends . . . and say "hi" when you arrive and maybe I'll share some of my cheese plate with you.

The Ambassador presents . . .

The Rio Deal

and introducing two new regular DJs: Radio Rios & DJ Okay

Saturday, April 26th
10pm - 4am

Huckleberry Bar
588 Grand Street
@ Lorimer
Williamsburg, BK

Take the "L" train to Metropolitan or the "G" train to Lorimer (MAP)

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Happy Birthday Mr. K!

First off, heads up that I posted the Jackson Sisters re-edit of "Miracles" on the previous post "Disco Monster #3". I did some research and cannot definitively say that the re-edit was by today's featured artist/DJ, Danny Krivit. I ripped my 12" as part of this post, but I don't want to give credit where credit is not due, but either way, you should check out the re-edit as it improves on an already awesome song.

But we do have some excellent re-edits from Mr. K today in honor of his birthday, which I helped celebrate last Sunday at 718 Sessions. As my good friend Brigham astutely pointed out, the phenomenon that was Body & Soul (launched in 1996 with three of the seminal architects of dance music: Krivit, Francois K. and Joaquin 'Joe' Claussell. The party was known for its open-minded music policy, incredible vibe and soulful ethos. Having rinsed out New York, the club has since toured Italy, Portugal, Brazil, Japan and the UK) continues with the party's founding DJs, but each has taken that vibe into different directions. Francois K. does more of a world-music/tribal take on house music while Danny favors a more soulful approach to house music. I can't say I know what Claussell's thang is. Anyway, I'm not a huge fan of house music, but of the house music I've heard, Danny does it best. His mixes are seamless, the sound-system is phenomenal (loud, but not too loud) and everything he spins has lots of interesting changes and musical elements and a whole lot of soul.

While he is best known for spinning a variety of tunes that made him famous with Body & Soul, he's consistently turned out excellent re-edits of old-school and old-school-sounding tunes. This approach hints at his history beginning in the late 1970s and DJing at legendary clubs like Paradise Garage and his stint as the resident DJ at the Roxy for four years beginning with its launch. Check out his bio here.

A couple years back Strut Records put out a compilation of some of his re-edits which is a must-have for fans of funky dance music. This site also lists some of his re-edits and mixes that may or may not be available for purchase. Since I already posted the Sisters Love re-edit from the aforementioned CD, I have dug deeper and included a great re-edit of a classic Southern Funk scorcher from Betty Wright.

Betty Wright - Where Is the Love? (Danny Krivit re-edit)
This is such a great track to begin with and Danny nicely extends the intro and plays with the breakdown section. Another improvement over the original.

Orgone - Funky Nassau (Danny Krivit re-edit)
I included this one because it shows that Danny keeps very current with the music scene and went a re-edited this newish cover by the L.A. based Orgone. I also included this because during his Sunday night set he let the music completely go silent, which never happens, and then dropped a re-edit of the original Funky Nassau by Beginning of the End. My mind was nearly blown as were my knees and ankles as I danced harder than I remembered I could. Hearing an old-school track like that on a top-notch sound system is like hearing it for the first time and the re-edit he played really brought out the way that that classic tune is built on an amazing groove, a killer hook and some phenomenal playing. This is one of those songs that everyone at least recognizes, but is still underground enough that heads won't scoff when it moves the dance floor.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Muxtape: Horrible Name, Great Concept

Thanks to Michelle, for forwarding me this site. It's super easy to use and really captures some of the magic of the mix-tape phenomenon. I made my first tape this morning in between other tasks. Check it out here:


Or make your own here.

Free Pass #1: Bobby Caldwell

Being a certifiable record-nerd there are many occasions when I sit, stand, smoke around with like-minded individuals. One of the more frequent sessions takes place on the back porch area of my all-time favorite bar in Brooklyn, or anywhere for that matter, Black Betty, where the night's DJ and I can shoot the shit, talk about records for from the din of the sound system. The other night i was back there with DJ Greg Caz of Brazilian Beat Brooklyn fame and I don't know how we got to talking about this, but what I remember is this concept of "Free Pass" - all credit to Greg for this idea. Basically, the "Free Pass" means that an otherwise fair-skinned singer/musician gets respect from Black fans as if this individual were actually Black themselves. The names thrown out that night were Hall & Oates, Michael McDonald, Michael Franks and even Kenny Loggins. This is not say that these artists' entire body of work is exempted from ridicule by the R&B crowd, but maybe for a few songs or an album, they get a "Free Pass."

I already discussed one such artist in the early days of Soul Spectrum, when I profiled Heatwave leading man and Quincy Jones prodigy, Rod Temperton. I like the "Free Pass" concept and I'm gonna make an amendment and allow some artists to only receive a "Day Pass", while others get more leeway with with a "Free Pass."

Today we're gonna start with Bobby Caldwell, who's a classic example of a "Free Pass", though he might only qualify for the "Day Pass" . . . I'm still figuring this guy out and he may indeed have more to offer than this sublime tune off of his debut album, released in 1978 on the T.K. subsidiary, Clouds label. Word just in . . . evidently he's got another gem on his second album, Cat in the Hat, called "Open Your Eyes." I'll have to track it down and post it here soon to see if Bobby gets more than a "Day Pass" . . . until then the jury is out.

Bobby Caldwell - What You Won't Do For Love
This track is just a perfect slice of smooth soul and stands up on its own in addition to its credentials in the sample-game: Aaliyah, Guru, Kool G Rap, Master P and Tupac. Most white R&B singers reveal their true melatonin deficiency in their vocal delivery in very subtle ways, but Bobby is an exception to the rule along with Michael McDonald and maybe Darryl Hall, but we'll get to these guys later . . .

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Disco Monster #3: Do You Believe in Miracles?

The first time I heard this track, I knew I had to have it. Luckily around that time there was a re-edit that was fairly easy to get my hand on, but sadly it's now out of print. I had it in my mind that it was done by Mr. K, aka Danny Krivit, but I can't seem to find any information confirming this, which doesn't necessarily mean that it's not his handy-work. It does have a very similar build and style as the Mr. K touch on "Give Me Your Love" by The Sisters Love. Check out the story behind this little-known band with no relation to the other famous Jackson siblings. Interesting side-note: Bobby Taylor wrote this track and was once in a band called The Vancouvers with Tommy Chong on guitar!

Jackson Sisters - Miracles

Jackson Sisters - Miracles (Re-edit)