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, March 30, 2014
Hot rod music was an extension of the surf music genre, but apart from monotonous hot rod and dragster sound effects on many LPs, like the Deuce Coupes' Hotrodders' Choice (Del-Fi, 1963), there was little to distinguish hot rod from surf.
The Deuce Coupes began life as the Avantis, a southern California surf group formed by brothers Lolly and Pat Vegas. The siblings went on to form the 1970s rock group Redbone.
Hotrodders' Choice, recorded with session musicians who included guitarists Glen Campbell and Tommy Tedesco and pianist Leon Russell, was the group's only album. Another session group calling itself the Deuce Coupes recorded an LP for the budget Crown label the same year, but there was no connection between the two bands.
You can listen to one of the tracks that isn't burdened by those annoying dragster SFX from the link below.
Hotrodders' Choice came out on CD in 1995 and although it's out of print, you can buy cheap copies on Amazon and elsewhere. It's also available as a download.
Another track from Hotrodders' Choice, Nite Prowler, frequently shows up on compilation CDs. It was also on the soundtrack of Home Alone 3.
Friday, March 28, 2014
The Johnny Williams Orchestra Plays Sounds from Screen Spectaculars (Craftsmen, 1957) spotlighted future composer and conductor John Williams at the beginning of his career as a pianist and studio musician.
This was long before Williams gained wide fame for his scores for such movie blockbusters as Jaws and Star Wars, and for conducting the Boston Pops Orchestra.
This budget label LP does not appear to have sold very well and within a year it was reissued with a new title, Big Hits from Columbia Pictures, and a far more sales worthy cover featuring cheesecake portraits of Kim Novak and Rita Hayworth.
This version came out on no less than three different labels -- Tops, Golden Tone and Mayfair -- in 1958. All the labels were owned by the same company, with the Golden Tone and Mayfair releases including stereo versions of the LP.
Note that the album is now credited to the Hollywood Grand Studio Orchestra conducted by John T. Williams.
The Latin standard Brazil was among the tracks on the LP due to its inclusion in the film The Eddy Duchin Story, which came out in 1956. The orchestra sits out for this tune: It's just Williams on piano with a small combo.
This early album by John Williams gained new life in the digital age when it was released on a Pickwick CD in 1996.
Movie Memories was mastered from the original stereo tapes and the sound quality is excellent. The CD is out of print but there are plenty of cheap copies for sale online. The album is also available as a download.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
For an album with the uninspired title of Golden Hits of Guitar this cassette release contains some pretty fair guitar instrumentals. The cassette was manufactured in Canada and released on the SuperSound label, but the sound of the guitars indicates that the music on this mysterious release originated in Europe.
There is no information other than song titles and a catalogue number on the insert -- no date, no recording information, no artist, nothing. And what's with that cover picture?
Some of the guitar instrumental warhorses are here, Guitar Boogie Shuffle, Apache and Sleep Walk among them. Then there's this piece entitled The Dream. When you listen to it you'll probably recognize Romanza, a familiar classical piece by an anonymous composer that probably dates from the late 19th century. In recent times it's also often recorded under the title of Forbidden Games (Jeux interdits) because of its use in the 1952 French film of that name.
I'm sure these recordings have been endlessly repackaged under various titles, as is usually the case with these anonymous recordings. And who knows, you might even spot this cassette at a garage sale or thrift store. Who could resist cover art like that?
Here's a more classical interpretation of Forbidden Games. It's a nice clean digital recording, but again credits are sadly lacking.
Monday, March 24, 2014
Organist Sam Lazar's I Ain't Mad at You was released as a single on both the Argo and Checker labels in 1962.
I Ain't Mad at You
One of the members of Sam Lazar's group when he was playing in his native St. Louis was guitarist Grant Green. They played at the Holy Barbarian night club when it opened in December 1959. But within weeks local authorities closed the club after management hired an underage waitress.
Soon after this performance, which is available on CD and as a download, Green departed for New York to begin his recording career with Blue Note.
Saturday, March 22, 2014
Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich are generally acknowledged to have been the greatest drummers of the big band era. Krupa, of course, gained fame with the Benny Goodman orchestra before leading his own band.
The stars of the highly regarded Krupa band, besides the leader, were trumpeter Roy Eldridge and singer Anita O'Day. The March 1941 New York session that produced Georgia on My Mind was O'Day's first-ever recording date. The 78 single on Columbia's OKeh label, with another O'Day vocal, Alreet, on the flip side, was released later that year and was a fairly substantial hit.
Georgia on My Mind
The Krupa orchestra's Columbia recordings have been endlessly repacked on vinyl and CD and as downloads. Take particular care in choosing downloads as many of them have been taken from substandard vinyl.
Anita O'Day was with Gene Krupa from 1941-43 and again briefly in 1945. She's heard in a brief vocal chorus at the end of this May 1941 recording of Green Eyes. Roy Eldridge and male vocalist Howard Dulany are also featured.
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Drummer Joe Morello's first album under his own name carries the fitting title It's About Time (RCA Victor, 1962). Morello of course held the drum chair in the Dave Brubeck Quartet from 1956 to '67 and this LP was released just after Brubeck reached the peak of his popularity with the hit single Take Five.
Brubeck's group was known for playing in somewhat unorthodox time signatures and there's some of that on Morello's LP as well. But this sextet effort (there's a big band on a few cuts) seems looser than a lot of Brubeck's output of the period. Alto saxophonist Phil Woods, who sounds a bit like the Brubeck quartet's Paul Desmond on some cuts, and Gary Burton on vibes get much of the solo space. Also on the date are pianist John Bunch and bassist Gene Cherco.
Here's a sample track.
Time After Time
Most of the cuts on It's About Time turned up in 1989 on an RCA/Bluebird CD titled simply Joe Morello.
It's long out of print and commanding prices of $40 to $100 and up on Amazon and eBay. I did see one reasonably priced copy on Groove Collector, a long-established European site.
There doesn't seem to be a legal download version of the It's About Time tracks, so here's another sample.
Sunday, March 16, 2014
An encyclopedia of biographical and discographical information on Belgian-born French guitarist Django Reinhardt (1910-1953) is available in print and online, so I'm not going to repeat much of it here. Suffice it to say that Reinhardt is generally regarded as one of the greatest guitarists in jazz history and was among the first European jazz artists to have a major influence on the genre.
Reinhardt waxed the Latin standard Brazil three times between 1947 and 1953. The first version was among eight titles recorded on July 18, 1947, in Paris. The session featured Hubert Rostaing, clarinet; Emmanuel Soudieux, double bass; Andre Jourdan, drums; and Eugene Vees, rhythm guitar. Brazil was issued on a 78 rpm disc on the Blue Star label.
Although Joseph Reinhardt is listed on the label as the rhythm guitarist on Brazil most discographies and reissue CDs credit Eugene Vees.
Like most of Django Reinhardt's recordings the 1947 session that generated Brazil has been repackaged numerous times on CD and via downloads. The easiest, and cheapest, to find is the album Django's Blues (Gitanas Jazz Productions, France, 2001), which also contains tracks from a second 1947 session on Oct. 4.
This is available via CD or download from all the major sources. I'd opt for the CD as it's really cheap.
For comparison here's the recording of Brazil made by Reinhardt on March, 10, 1953, with pianist Maurice Vander, bassist Pierre Michelot and drummer Jean-Louis Viale.
Footnote: The original title of Brazil, written in 1939 by Ary Barroso, was Aquarela do Brasil (Watercolor of Brazil). But it's commonly referred to in the English-speaking world as Brazil because of the numerous popular recordings (Xavier Cugat, Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Dorsey, etc.) that used the shortened title.
Friday, March 14, 2014
The Steel Guitar Hall of Fame, a collection of instrumentals by some of the top country and western steel players, has a long history, beginning with the Starday label release from 1963 pictured above. It had 14 tracks.
The album surfaced again on a Starday subsidiary, Nashville, in 1968, but with the number of tracks cut to 10.
And finally the 10-track version was issued on CD and as a download in 2013, with different cover art.
One selection that appears on both versions of The Steel Guitar Hall of Fame is Tennessee Plowboy by Little Roy Wiggins (1926-1999), who played with Eddy Arnold in the late 1940s and early '50s. "Tennessee Plowboy" was a moniker bestowed on Arnold early in his career and this is Wiggins's tribute to him. The MP3 is taken from a cassette copy of the 1968 release.
Little Roy Wiggins recorded instrumentals for Starday, Dot and several smaller labels and later worked with such Grand Ole Opry acts as George Morgan, the Willis Brothers and Ernie Ashworth. In later years he operated a theater and music store in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Here's a song from Twin Steel Guitars, an album Wiggins recorded in 1970 with Kayton Roberts, who was the steel player for Hank Snow's Rainbow Ranch Boys.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
It's not surprising that this single from Detroit drummer Paul Humphrey has one foot in the disco camp, since it's from the soundtrack of a 1974 blaxploitation flick, Black Fist, in which star Richard Lawson plays a streetfighter who goes to work for a gangster.
Philip Michael Thomas (Miami Vice) and Dabney Coleman are the most recognizable names in the cast, which also includes Edward James Olmos making his screen debut.
Although the film came out in '74 the soundtrack album, featuring disco and funk tracks from various artists, wasn't released until 1977.
Paul Humphrey's contribution was also released as a single (b/w Bionic Salsa).
Neither the Black Fist soundtrack nor any of Paul Humphrey's recordings, including his 1971 hit Cool Aid (credited to Paul Humphrey and the Cool Aid Chemists), are available as downloads, despite what iTunes may think. That site has managed to confuse the drummer with a Toronto-based singer of the same name. The Paul Humphrey and Cool Aid Chemists album (1971) is available on a Japanese CD, but prices start at about $30.
So, in the meantime here's Cool Aid.
Monday, March 10, 2014
The Surfaris who are credited on this budget release (Diplomat, 1965) are not the ones who recorded the big hit Wipe Out in 1963. There were two groups called the Surfaris in southern California at the time and there was a lawsuit over the name. The group with the hit won, but the other group was allowed to call itself the Original Surfaris, apparently because it was formed first.
Wheels-Shorts-Hot Rods was put together to cash in on the short-lived fad for hot rod music, an offshoot of the surf sound that had emerged on the U.S. West Coast. The tracks on this LP for the most part bear little relation to surf or hot rod music and were likely recorded several years earlier -- and only the opening tune, Delano Soul Beat, is actually by the Original Surfaris. For example, Gear Down Boogie is a sax-driven stomper that sounds like it could have been made in the 1950s. All the tracks were apparently recorded by producer Tony Hilder at his small California studio but the groups were not credited, nor were they paid according to various sources.
Gear Down Boogie
By the time Wheels-Shorts-Hot Rods was released the Original Surfaris had disbanded. The group had been planning a true surf music LP for 1963 but the project was shelved in the wake of the legal action involving the other Surfaris. The album finally surfaced on LP and CD in 1995 thanks to Sundazed Records.
Saturday, March 08, 2014
The subtitle of this vinyl box set says it all -- "Music for Listening and Relaxation." Stardust Memories, issued as a set of eight LPs by Reader's Digest in 1973, was culled from the vaults of RCA Victor. The easy listening set had actually begun life as a single LP the previous year.
Whether this single album was designed as a teaser for the box set or whether sales justified an expanded edition is unclear.
Like many Reader's Digest boxes the majority of selections on Stardust Memories had been recorded in the U.K., with some contributions from U.S. artists like Henry Mancini and Chet Atkins. There were even a few tracks that were likely recorded for RCA in Mexico. Among them was Time Was by Diego Lopez-Diaz & His Orchestra.
I can find no reference to Lopez-Diaz other than his recordings included on several Reader's Digest sets. This track sounds only vaguely Latin, but is a very pleasant listen nonetheless. Time Was is of Latin origin (Spanish title: Duerme), however, written by Miguel Prado and Gabriel Luna. Xavier Cugat and Helen O'Connell with Jimmy Dorsey and His Orchestra had hits with it in the 1940s.
The Stardust Memories box set was also issued in the U.K., but with a different cover.
The set has not been issued as such in a digital format, but some of the tracks from it are included in various Reader's Digest compilation CDs and downloads.
To close, another sampling of Diego Lopez-Diaz and His Orchestra. This track is taken from the box set South of the Border (Reader's Digest, 1968).
Thursday, March 06, 2014
This 1971 box set from Reader's Digest has nothing to do with Mexico and everything to do with the popularity of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.
Like many of the Reader's Digest LP box sets of the 1960s and '70s, most of the selections on Tijuana: Fun with the Mexican Brass were recorded in England featuring some of the U.K.'s top arrangers, conductors and musicians.
Among the artists featured on this set is arranger and conductor Arthur Greenslade (1923-2003), a frequent contributor to Reader's Digest compilations. He often worked in films and television and served as musical director for Engelbert Humperdinck and Shirley Bassey.
Greenslade's tracks on Tijuana: Fun with the Mexican Brass included Brasilia, composed by Julius Wechter of the Baja Marimba Band and included on the group's LP Baja Marimba Band Rides Again (A&M, 1965). It was also later recorded and turned into a hit by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.
Brasilia - Arthur Greenslade & His Orchestra
From YouTube here's the original recording of Brasilia by the Baja Marimba Band.
Strangely Tijuana: Fun With the Mexican Brass was also issued in 1971 under the title Mexican Brass: Happy Hits with a Happy Beat with the same cover painting.
And the set came out again in 1974 as Tijuana: A Touch of Magic, with different cover art.
The Reader's Digest box set hasn't turned up in a digital format, although selections from it may well be included in other Reader's Digest albums on CD or via download.
Here's another selection by Arthur Greenslade from the Tijuana box set.
Sunday, March 02, 2014
While some copies of this European album (Point Productions, 1991) credit Dorsey Dodd, others, like my cassette copy, contain no credits of any kind other than the record label.
Many of the tracks on 20 Golden Hammond Hits were originally released on the Vedette label in Italy in the late 1960s and early '70s under Dodd's name, one of the half dozen or so pseudonyms used by keyboardist Francesco Anselmo.
There is certainly a wide spectrum of styles on this release, ranging from pseudo R&B to space age pop tracks that sometimes veer dangerously close to Ken Griffin/skating rink sounds, like this version of Tea for Two.
Tea for Two
Although 20 Golden Hammond Hits isn't available per se as a download there are a number of Dorsey Dodd albums, including many of the tracks from Golden Hammond Hits, listed on iTunes and elsewhere. These are being marketed by the original Vedette label so the quality should be reasonably good. The best source for Hammond Hits on CD is probably thrift stores as the album was sold in Wal-Mart and similar outlets.
Here's Francesco Anselmo, this time using the name Cesco Anselmo, with Chocolate Beat, taken from a 1969 Italian LP of library music.