Listen To:


Selected MP3s of guitar instrumentals, jazz, big band, and classic easy listening from the original vinyl.

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.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Tiny Bradshaw - Heavy Juice (single)


The career of bandleader Tiny Bradshaw (1905-1958) spanned both the swing and rhythm-and-blues eras. He made his first recordings under his own name for Decca in 1934.

Bradshaw struggled over the next decade or so and when he got his band into the recording studio again, in 1944, he'd more or less left swing behind, opting for jump blues and R&B.

All of Bradshaw's best known R&B sides were cut for King Records in Cincinnati, with the majority coming between 1950 and 1954.

The instrumental Heavy Juice came out in 1953 and was reasonably successful as a followup to Bradshaw's big hit of 1952, Soft. Saxophonist Red Prysock is listed as co-writer of Heavy Juice and since he was a member of Bradshaw's band around this time, I'm assuming it's him playing the brief, but rousing, sax solo.

Heavy Juice



Most of the sides that Bradshaw recorded for King are available on Heavy Juice: The King Recordings 1950-55, a 32-track CD compilation issued by Rev-Ola in 2006.


The CD is out of print, but copies appear to be still available from the long-established and reliable Raucous Records, based in the United Kingdom. Postage rates for international customers are reasonable and the price ends up being half of what most North American sources are charging.

Bradshaw's King recordings are available on a number of download collections. I'd probably opt for The EP Collection... Plus, from the British See For Miles label, primarily because of the company's reputation for quality recordings.

I mentioned this one earlier -- Bradshaw's 1952 hit, Soft.


Friday, June 27, 2014

The Windmill Orchestra - Instrumental Gold


Instrumental Gold was a TV-advertised double-LP set issued in Canada in 1976 on the Windmill label. The tracks were recorded in England and credited to the Windmill Orchestra. The tunes ranged from instrumental rock to easy listening and movie and TV themes.

A similar Instrumental Gold set with almost exactly the same cover was issued by Warwick in the U.K. the same year. It was also advertised on TV.


The track listing was different from the Canadian version, but a few cuts appeared on both releases. However, the U.K. release, on a single LP, credited the tracks individually to various artists, including the Bev Phillips Orchestra, Terry Walsh and the Phantoms and Don Lusher and His Trio.

The British version was issued in Germany in 1978 by K-Tel with this cover.


Anyway, back to the Canadian version. This release contained several then-recent movie and TV themes that were not included in the U.K., including Shaft, S.W.A.T. and The Rockford Files.

The Rockford Files



The Windmill Orchestra take on the Theme from The Rockford Files is very close to that of the original by Mike Post.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Bud Shank - California Dreamin'


Alto saxophonist and flutist Bud Shank (1926-2009) helped define the "cool jazz" sound that developed on the U.S. West Coast in the 1950s. Later he was the among the musicians who introduced North American audiences to Brazilian music.

But a series of albums Shank recorded for World Pacific in the 1960s had little to with jazz and everything to do with appealing to a pop audience and garnering radio airplay. That's not to say these were bad albums -- they weren't.

But with titles like Michelle, Girl in Love, A Spoonful of Jazz and Magical Mystery listeners knew exactly what to expect -- jazz-flavored easy listening versions of current pop hits. Tracks from these LPs turned up regularly on the playlists of radio stations that featured what was then known as "good" or "beautiful music" -- in other words easy listening with a heavy emphasis on instrumentals. Jazz stations also played these albums, but mainly in the daytime.

Shank's cycle of pop-oriented albums began with California Dreamin' (1966). Interestingly he had played a flute solo on the Mamas and Papas original recording in 1965, but here Shank sticks mainly to alto although there is a brief flute interlude. Trumpeter Chet Baker contributes a few licks as well.

California Dreamin'



Shank's California Dreamin' album has appeared on CD only on a Japanese import, which goes for anywhere from $23 to $40. It's also not available as a legal download in North America though a version does appear on iTunes in the U.K. I can almost guarantee that the releasing company didn't have access to the World Pacific master recordings, so proceed with caution.

Used vinyl copies of California Dreamin' have appeared recently online for a s little as $5. And if you live near a good used record store (or two) check them out as well. You shouldn't have to pay more than the aforementioned five bucks -- and perhaps even less.

Here's another cut from Bud Shank's California Dreamin'.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Jerry Fielding - When the Saints Go Marching In (track)


In 1992 Bainbridge Records released Brass Menagerie: Big Band Brass of the Sixties, a selection of tracks from the catalogue of Time Records. Bainbridge re-released a lot of the output of Time, a label that was much favoured by stereophiles in the 1960s.

Brass Menagerie included tracks from the orchestras of Jerry Fielding, Jim Tyler, Hugo Montenegro and Mel Davis. One of the selections from Fielding was the Dixieland warhorse When the Saints Go Marching In, which first appeared on his 1961 Time LP Magnificence in Brass. (To hear a selection from Mel Davis, visit this previous post.)

                                      (Photo from Unearthed in the Atomic Attic blog)

Fielding's take on Saints is certainly unique, containing elements of big band, Dixieland and exotica. The MP3 is taken from a cassette version of Brass Menagerie, so there's a fair amount of tape hiss.

When the Saints Go Marching In



Magnificence in Brass and Near East Brass, another Fielding LP from the 1960s, are favoured by exotica enthusiasts. Fielding became a sought after soundtrack composer, receiving Oscar nominations for The Wild Bunch (1969), Straw Dogs (1971) and The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976).

Fielding died of a heart attack in 1980 while in Toronto scoring the cheap horror flick Funeral Home. He was 57.

Here's another track from Magnificence in Brass. This is also on the Brass Menagerie CD.


NOTE: The Brass Menagerie CD is out of print, but cheap copies seem to be plentiful. Here's one source. Brass Menagerie is also being sold as a download by all the major sources.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Curtis Peagler and the Jazz Disciples - It's a Blue World (45 single)


Alto saxophonist Curtis Peagler (1929-1992) fronted a group known as the Modern Jazz Disciples, which recorded two well-regarded LPs for New Jazz (an offshoot of Prestige) in 1959 and 1960.

The group had a rather unique easy swinging sound, due in large part to the use of a normaphone, played by William Kelley. This instrument is a valve trombone in the shape of an alto sax.

The Modern Jazz Disciples disbanded after the two New Jazz LPs and Peagler moved over to Columbia where he recorded a one-off single, It's a Blue World/Low Life, in 1961. This 45 did not lead to an album, a rather rare occurrence when you're talking about a jazz artist, and is now a collector's item.

Peagler is top billed (he wasn't on the LPs) and the "modern" has been dropped from the Jazz Disciples' name.

It's a Blue World



There is no indication of the personnel on this single and I'm not sure if the trombone sound is that of a normaphone. The two sides have not been released digitally.

Peagler went on to spend three years with the Ray Charles orchestra and seven years with Count Basie. He also worked in the recording studios and put out a couple of albums under his own name.

Here's Curtis Peagler with the Modern Jazz Disciples from one of their LPs recorded for Prestige.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Avengers VI - Real Cool Hits


The Avengers VI were a clean-cut surf band from Anaheim, Calif., whose one and only album, Real Cool Hits, was issued in 1966 as a promo for Good Humor ice cream. The group's name wasn't even mentioned on the cover although it was pictured on the kick drum.

The LP, recorded by producer George Garabedian for his Mark 56 label, was sold from the Good Humor ice cream trucks and has since become a highly-valued collector's item. In 2008 a copy went for $315 in an online auction.

What set the Avengers VI apart from many of the other surf groups was their superior musicianship. Guitarist Jim Ferguson was reported to practise eight hours a day while organist Mike DeYoung had formal musical training and a wide knowledge of classical music.

The group's repertoire, which encompassed covers of popular surf instrumentals, mood music, movie themes and some first rate originals, attracted both teens and adults to their appearances in southern California.

Heartbeat, the lead-off track on Real Cool Hits, is an original by guitarists Ferguson and Rick Bastrup.

Heartbeat



The Avengers VI had largely been forgotten, except by die-hard collectors, until Bacchus Archives reissued Real Cool Hits on both vinyl and CD in 2001.


The vinyl reissue has itself become collectible, bringing prices of $30 and up. But the CD release can be had online for about $10 in the Discogs marketplace. There have been several unauthorized releases of Real Cool Hits as well.

An abridged version (six tracks) of the album from Bacchus Archives is available on iTunes and may be on other download sites as well.

The Avengers' cover of Henry Mancini's Peter Gunn figured prominently in the group's live appearances.


Monday, June 16, 2014

Ted Mazio Percussion Group - Dancing Percussion...Music of the 30's


Although the album's cover might not look particularly promising, Dancing Percussion...Music of the 30's is as fine a slice of space age pop as you could wish for.

This early 1960s LP on the International Award Series budget label is credited to the Ted Mazio Percussion Group. The name is probably manufactured as there is no other reference to Ted Mazio other than a couple of low-budget albums like this one.

In any case the real stars are percussionists Ted Sommer and Bill Lavorgna. Sommer, born in 1924 in New York City, played drums and other percussion instruments, including vibraphone. His name appears on some of the Command label releases by pianist Dick Hyman, Terry Snyder and others.

Lavorgna (1933-2007), as well as being a world class drummer, was a conductor and musical director for both Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli. Others he worked with included Frank Sinatra and Dizzy Gillespie.

Sommer and Lavorgna also collaborated on another budget label LP, Cole Porter in Pleasing Percussion. This album, from the same time period as Dancing Percussion...Music of the 30's, features a Lowery organ, which is somewhat of an acquired taste -- one that I have not embraced.

Interestingly Dancing Percussion...Music of the 30's had another release on a different budget label, Pickwick's Grand Award Series. The title was slightly altered to The Dancing 30's in Percussion and there was a different cover.


I believe that both the International Award Series and Grand Prix Series labels were products of the Pickwick group of budget imprints.

No matter what title it appears under, this album is one worth pulling out of those thrift store bins. Here's a sample track, in mono unfortunately. Still the sound quality is excellent considering that this was an LP that sold for less than $2 when new.

There's a Small Hotel



There's no indication that Dancing Percussion...Music of the 30's has received any kind of legal digital release. But vinyl copies seem to be very common and you shouldn't have to pay more than a couple of bucks to pick one up.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Various Artists - South of the Border (Reader's Digest box)


The supply of LP box sets put out by Reader's Digest in the 1960s and '70s seems endless. Most of these can be bought for peanuts at garage sales and thrift stores, so you can safely ignore the mostly ridiculous prices being demanded online.

These recordings may be cheap to obtain, but don't make the mistake of thinking they are substandard in quality. For the most part the Reader's Digest boxes are excellent technically. Musically most of them tend to stick to easy listening and background music, with occasional forays into light classical and jazz. Many of the tracks were repackaged, often several times, in different box sets. This continued into the CD era.

Like many of the sets South of the Border (1968) mines the vaults of RCA Victor. The majority of the tracks on the four LPs were recorded by RCA in Mexico and their release by Reader's Digest was their first appearance in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.

Among the Mexico-recorded tunes is Cachita by Tonio Rivera and His Orchestra. This name does not seem to exist outside the Reader's Digest releases and is likely a moniker assigned to a studio group.

Cachita



Since the music on Reader's Digest box sets has been endlessly repackaged, both on LP and CD, it's difficult to tell what, if anything, is available from South of the Border. Best bet, as I said at the start, is to watch the garage sales and thrift stores for the vinyl.

One of the most common Reader's Digest boxes is Mood Music for Listening and Relaxation (1963). This must have been a pretty big seller, judging from the number of copies still around. Here's a sample track, which was likely recorded in England.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Uncredited - Wheels (cassette track)


One wonders what the targeted market was for Pop Jewels, a grab bag cassette of cover versions of instrumentals that were hits in the 1950s and '60s. Admittedly there are some pretty decent guitar instrumentals here -- eg., Ghost Riders in the Sky (original: Ramrods), Apache (Jorgen Ingmann) and Dance with the Devil (Cozy Powell). But with the originals of all of these readily available who exactly is going to buy this except for obsessive collectors.

This collection also includes its share of dreck including two songs you hope never to hear again -- Dance Little Bird (otherwise known as Bird Dance, Chicken Dance, etc.) and the repetitive electronic bleating of Popcorn.

It's obviously not the same group playing all 12 tunes as they vary greatly in instrumentation, sound quality and musical expertise.

I've always liked the String-A-Longs hit Wheels (1961). The version by Billy Vaughn is OK, too. But the one on Pop Jewels has to be heard to be believed. It's only a bit over two minutes but it seems to plod on forever, complete with fluffs by the guitarist and electronic strings that are so far in the background that they sound like the wind whistling through a crack in a leaky window. Picture a Legion or Elks hall on a Friday-Saturday night in the '60s and you'll get the idea.

Wheels



Pop Jewels was put out by the Quebec-based Madacy label, probably in the early 1980s, although there's no date or any recording information on the insert. It was sold mainly in discount stores. Watch those thrift store bins for your own personal copy.

For those of you who've stuck with me this far here's the String-a-Longs original of Wheels.


Monday, June 09, 2014

The Kingpins - In the Pocket (45 single)


This 1967 single has saxophonist King Curtis recording under the name of his band, the Kingpins. In the Pocket is the "B" side of yet another cover of Ode to Billie Joe, which actually was a moderate hit for Curtis under the Kingpins name. Apparently some pressings of the single give Curtis top billing, probably after Ode to Billie Joe got a fair amount of airplay.

In the Pocket was one of the few originals recorded at a session on Aug. 24, 1967, at American Studios in Memphis. It's a real "B" side gem. Listen to the MP3 taken from the original Atco single.

In the Pocket



In the Pocket has turned up on several King Curtis compilations and re-releases in the digital age, both on CD and as a download. On CD the one to go for is Instant Soul: The Legendary King Curtis from the well-regarded Razor & Tie label. You can get a used copy on Amazon for about $11.

The "A side of the single sounds like this.


Saturday, June 07, 2014

The Hawaiian Hula Boys - Hi-Fi in Hawaii


It's hard to know what to make of an album that lays some Hawaiian steel guitar on top of an aggregation that mixes elements of Dixieland jazz and sweet dance bands (think Guy Lombardo or Freddy Martin).

But that's what you get on Hi-Fi in Hawaii (Columbia [UK], 1958) by a group calling themselves the Hawaiian Hula Boys. I'd bet that most of these "hula boys," perhaps including steel player Billy Bell, never set foot on the islands, despite liner notes that indicate otherwise.

The Hawaiian Hula Boys are all British studio musicians and this was the only LP put out under that name. The session was done in stereo with Capitol in North America releasing it as the title-reversed Hawaii in Stereo (1960). At least the cover was a bit more fetching.


Speaking of fetching covers -- take a look at this one for the Japanese release.


By now you're probably wondering what the music actually sounds like. The odd pastiche kind of grows on you, I think.

Hawaiian War Chant



Hi-Fi in Hawaii is available as a download in some countries, but not in the U.S. or Canada, at least under that title. But several sites have four tracks from the LP, in stereo yet, available as Hawaii in Stereo. Look for this cover, which was originally used on a Columbia 45 EP in Britain.


Several selections by the Hawaiian Hula Boys are also on the various artists download compilation Vintage Songs of Hawaii.


It's widely available.

Here's a further sample of the Hawaiian Hula Boys.


Thursday, June 05, 2014

The Monte Carlo Strings - Music for Moonlight Madness


Music for Moonlight Madness (1959) by the Monte Carlo Strings is a first-rate LP of orchestral easy listening produced by Enoch Light for his Grand Award label. Light would go on to delight early stereo enthusiasts with his high quality releases for Command Records.

No musicians are credited on Music for Moonlight Madness, but the arrangements are by Lew Davies who would continue to work with Light at Command.

This record seems to attract the attention of a fair number of collectors, probably due in large part to the cover art. It's done by Tracy Sugarman (1921-2013), who illustrated hundreds of books and LP covers during his 50-year career. Most of his album cover work was done for Grand Award and its predecessor, Waldorf Music Hall, a label formed by Light and two partners in 1954. Waldorf's 10- and 12-inch albums were sold exclusively in Woolworth stores until the label ceased operation in 1959.

Among the tunes on Music for Moonlight Madness is These Foolish Things. This standard dates from 1936 when there were no less than five hit recordings of it. Benny Goodman and His Orchestra (with vocalist Helen Ward) had the most success, holding down the No. 1 spot on the charts for two weeks.

These Foolish Things



Music for Moonlight Madness was the only release credited to the Monte Carlo Strings and it has not been released on CD. A download version, which is more than likely taken from a vinyl LP, is available in the U.K. but not in North America.

Here's another sample tune.


Monday, June 02, 2014

Wild Bill Davis - Free, Frantic and Funky

                                                                 (Photo from Groove Addict blog)

Before Jimmy Smith came along in the mid-1950s Wild Bill Davis (1918-1995) was considered the leading jazz organist.

Davis's original instrument was guitar and he played and arranged for the big band of Milt Larkin, a Texas aggregation that included horn players like Arnett Cobb and Illinois Jacquet. From 1937 to 1942 Davis was an integral part of Louis Jordan's band, the Tympany Five, at the height of their popularity, playing piano and arranging.

Davis switched to organ full time in the late 1940s and continued recording and performing into the early 1990s.

Free, Frantic and Funky was recorded for RCA Victor in 1965. As the title indicates it was very much in the R&B and blues vein, with titles like Hit the Road Jack, Well Git It and the standard C.C. Rider.

C.C. Rider



Besides Davis on organ the personnel on C.C. Rider includes Bob Brown on flute, Dicky Thompson on guitar and Jimmy Hopps, drums.

Free, Frantic and Funky has not received a CD or legal download release.

Here's what Wild Bill Davis sounded like when he was leading a popular organ trio in the early '50s. Things Ain't What They Used to Be was released as a two-part single (45 and 78) by Okeh in 1954.