Welcome to Guitars & All That Jazz

Welcome to Guitars & All That Jazz

Guitars & All That Jazz was a radio station that webcast via Live365 for 11 years, ending in June 2011. The playlist consisted of guitar instrumentals, jazz, big band, early rock 'n' roll, lounge music and classic easy listening.

I hope to share some of this music with you via this blog. Most of it will be taken from the original vinyl (LPs and 45s) , cassettes and the occasional commercially unavailable CD.

Here's hoping you'll find something to enjoy. Please note files are available only for a limited time.

I urge you to purchase the digital version of the albums featured, either on CD or via download, wherever possible.

Listen to the Music
There are now two music streams. Click the appropriate player to the right.
1. Guitars & All That Jazz: Five hours of the best in jazz, guitars and other instrumental gems. New songs are added weekly.
2. Tiki Shores: Music to sweep you away to a tropical isle, a South American dance floor or a bossa nova on the beach at Rio. About 4.5 hours of classic exotica music, Latin rhythms and bossa nova.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Peter Matz & His Orchestra - Thanks for the Memory


Composer, arranger and conductor Peter Matz (1928-2002) is best known for his work with Barbra Streisand and Carol Burnett. Matz, a Pittsburgh native, began working with Streisand in the early 1960s and won a Grammy Award himself for his work on her 1964 album People.

Matz also won an Emmy for Streisand's TV special My Name Is Barbra and an Oscar nomination for her movie Funny Lady. He won a second Emmy for an episode of The Carol Burnett Show, for which he was music director for eight years.

Since Matz played in dance bands at the beginning of his career it's no surprise that in the stereo era he should choose to resurrect the big band sound. Thanks for the Memory (Project 3, 1979) -- subtitled "Great Song Hits of the Big Band Era" -- does just that. This is actually a straight reissue of Brings 'Em Back, an earlier (1966) Matz release for Project 3.


As is usual with Project 3 releases the sound quality is first rate -- as are Matz's arrangements. Here's a sample.

Canadian Sunset



This Peter Matz album has not had a straight digital release on CD or as a download. However, the title tune of Thanks for the Memory turns up on a various artists download compilation, Memorial Day Orchestrals, which is for sale on a number of online sites, including iTunes.

Also on Peter Matz's big band tribute is Bei Mir Bist Du Schön.



Friday, July 25, 2014

Pino Calvi - Romantic N. 4


Italian pianist, conductor and composer Pino Calvi (1930-1989) enjoyed a lengthy career in his homeland, composing music for movies and TV. He also participated personally in the famous San Remo Music Festival, entering one of the oldest song contests in Europe in 1957, 1962 and 1963. Calvi conducted the festival orchestra in 1963, 1964 and 1966.

He also recorded prolifically, including a series of at least 15 easy listening LPs for the Ri-Fi label dubbed Romantic. The albums must have sold reasonably well since the series that began in 1968 lasted until at least 1982. Romantic N. 4 came out in 1974 and contained a version of Nino Rota's theme for Amarcord (1973), Federico Fellini's highly regarded comedy-drama set in an Italian coastal town in the 1930s.

Amarcord



Many of Pino Calvi's recordings for Ri-Fi have been repackaged in a series of download albums available from Amazon and elsewhere. There have been very few CD releases of Calvi's music and all are out of print.

Here's Calvi playing and conducting on Italian TV in 1968.




Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Guitars & All That Jazz Is "On Break"


Guitars & All That Jazz is on a mid-summer break. Posting resumes on July 25. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

George Cates - Polynesian Percussion


George Cates (1911-2002) is best known for his role with the Lawrence Welk orchestra and TV show. Beginning in 1957, Cates was arranger and musical director for the show, which meant he conducted the orchestra in rehearsals.

At Welk's request Cates later conducted the orchestra on camera and stayed with the program until it ended in 1982.

Cates did manage to put out a few records under his own name including a fine album of exotica, Polynesian Percussion (Dot, 1961). What made this album unique was the use of a Novachord, played by Buddy Cole.

The Novachord was the first commercially available synthesizer and was put into production by the Hammond Organ Company in 1938. The first instrument was delivered to U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt in 1940 but the 500-pound behemoth failed to find much of a market. World War II halted production in 1942 and no more Novachords were ever produced. Less than 200 of the more than one thousand instruments manufactured are believed to have survived.

The Novachord was used on movie and TV soundtracks, often in horror and science fiction (House of Frankenstein and the Outer Limits TV show are two examples) and it certainly gives an odd and somewhat unsettling dimension to Polynesian Percussion.

Ka-Lu-A



Alvino Rey is the steel guitarist on the album and Larry Bunker and Milt Holland are among the percussionists.

I don't believe Polynesian Percussion has had a CD release. There are a couple of download releases floating about but these appear to be of rather dubious origin. The best sounding one is available here. Vinyl LPs appear to be fairly easy to come by and aren't expensive.

Alvino Rey and the percussionists get a chance to shine on the George Cates version of Hawaiian War Chant.



Saturday, July 12, 2014

The 3 Sounds - Here We Come


Although their bluesy mainstream stylings were dismissed by many critics at the time The 3 Sounds turned out some of Blue Note's biggest selling LPs of the 1950s and 60s.

The trio began life in South Bend, Ind., put together by pianist Gene Harris and drummer Bill Dowdy, both natives of Benton Harbor, Mich. Bassist Andrew Simpkins became the third member.

After moving to New York and signing with Blue Note in 1958 The 3 Sounds recorded a phenomenal amount of material. According to the All Music Guide, Harris estimated in later years that the trio had released 35 albums worth of material. More remained unreleased.

The original trio remained together until 1967 when Dowdy departed. The 3 Sounds left Blue Note shortly after and although the group remained together until 1970, its peak had passed.

Here We Come (Blue Note, 1960) is pretty typical of the trio's output from its classic period -- mostly relaxed interpretations of jazz and pop standards. The title track, however, is a jumping original by Harris.

Here We Come



Here We Come's only CD issue as a standalone album was a Japanese Blue Note release in 1995. Used copies begin at about $18 on Amazon and if you're serious about the group's music this is the route to go.

Here We Come is also included in the four-CD out-of-copyright collection The Three Sounds: Eight Classic Albums from the European Real Gone Jazz label. Amazon has new copies starting at under $7, so you may want to take a chance even though these have likely been remastered from vinyl.

Various out-of-copyright download versions of Here We Go also are widely available.

The 3 Sounds' take on Gershwin's Summertime also comes from Here We Go.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Billy Vaughn - Theme from The Sundowers


Although Billy Vaughn (1919-1991) recorded with large string orchestras at the beginning of his long stint with the Dot label, it wasn't until he developed his "twin-sax" sound around 1956 that his albums began to sell in big numbers. Titles like Sail Along Silv'ry Moon, Billy Vaughn Plays, Blue Hawaii and Golden Saxophones stayed on the charts for months.

Vaughn was often pictured on the LP covers holding a saxophone (or two). But he never actually played on the albums. The twin-sax leads were double tracked by Justin Gordon, who, like the rest of the Vaughn orchestra, received no credit at the time.

Theme from The Sundowners (1960) came in the middle of Vaughn's classic twin-sax period and followed the usual formula of covering recent movie and TV themes and pop songs. But this LP marked a return to the use of strings on many of the tracks, a fact that was pointed out by the sparse and banal cover notes.


The leadoff track was Theme from The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, a well-received 1960 dramatic film that garnered a supporting actress Oscar nomination for Shirley Knight. The movie also starred Dorothy McGuire and Robert Preston. The music was by Max Steiner.

Theme from The Dark at the Top of the Stairs



Theme from The Sundowners was combined with another Billy Vaughn LP from 1960 on a two-on-one CD by the Collectables label in 2006. It is, of course, out of print and commanding the usual ridiculous prices on eBay and Amazon.

The Sundowners is also available as a download from all the major sources, but the quality is likely to be substandard. A slightly better choice would probably be the four-CD set Billy Vaughn, Vol. 2 from the Real Gone Jazz label, which specializes in releases that are out of copyright in Europe. Quality of this company's releases varies, depending largely on the source material, but the price is right. You shouldn't pay more than $10-12 for this set that includes the contents of The Sundowners and seven other Vaughn LPs. A lot of dealers have it, including this one.


Here's the title song of The Sundowners album.


Monday, July 07, 2014

Floyd Morris - The ConSoul of Floyd Morris


Pianist and organist Floyd Morris (d. 1988, age 62) spent most of his time enlivening rhythm-and-blues recording sessions in his native Chicago and had a very limited career as a solo artist, waxing half a dozen singles and the album The ConSoul of Floyd Morris (Select, 1965) between 1964 and 1972.

In the early '50s Morris appeared with a group known as the Four Shades of Rhythm at the Bar-O-Music in Chicago for several years but apparently did not record with them. He moved on to join bassist Johnny Pate's trio and then vocalist Oscar Brown, Jr. Morris settled in at Chicago's studios backing artists like Gene Chandler, The Impressions and Etta James.

That brings us to The ConSoul of Floyd Morris, a fine helping of organ instrumental R&B that also features the sax of Buddy Lucas, another veteran of the studio scene. Lucas had played on hits such Why Do Fools Fall in Love by The Teenagers and Tears on My Pillow by Little Anthony and the Imperials.

Here's a sample track from the LP, which has not been re-released in a digital format.

Call Me Darling



One of Floyd Morris's most notable appearances isn't that well known. He plays piano on Soulful Strut, which was a big instrumental hit in 1968. The record was credited to Young-Holt Unlimited, formed by two former members of the Ramsey Lewis Trio, bassist Eldee Young and drummer Red Holt. The tune had begun life as a backing track for singer Barbara Acklin's Am I the Same Girl. The vocal was stripped out and Morris's piano was added and the result was Soulful Strut, which sold two million copies.

According to Robert Pruter's book Chicago Soul neither Young nor Holt appeared on Soulful Strut, which was tracked by an anonymous group of studio players. In any case, here it is.