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, November 24, 2014
The Carnaby Street Set might have had the original version of I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman (CBS [U.K.], 1967), as claimed on the picture sleeve of this 45, but the hit recording, on the Deram label, was credited to the fictitious Whistling Jack Smith.
The claim that the Carnaby Street Set were first out of the gate with this novelty tune seems somewhat dubious since the Whistling Jack Smith version was the product of the song's composers, Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway. It's not likely that the songwriters would have let someone else have the initial crack at the song if they were planning their own version.
What is certain is that both records were issued around the same time in 1967 and both were recorded by mostly anonymous groups of British studio musicians. Here's the recording credited to the Carnaby Street Set.
I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman
I prefer the oompah-marching brass sound of the Carnaby Street Set to the whistling-dominated hit recording. I believe whistling novelty tunes should be taken in small doses or perhaps ignored entirely. Some sources suggest Mike Sammes, leader of the Mike Sammes Singers, well known to British fans of easy listening, was the whistler on the Whistling Jack Smith recording. Another musician posed as Smith for public appearances.
If you look hard (and really, really must have it) I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman by Whistling Jack Smith is available on the major download sites, but the Carnaby Street Set version seems to be confined to vinyl singles and, of course, YouTube.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
Great Themes from TV and Motion Pictures appeared on Columbia's Harmony budget label in 1969 as the tenure of Jerry Murad's Harmonicats with the company ended. The 10 tracks were assembled from LPs released on the main Columbia label over the previous few years.
Several came from The Love Song of Tom Jones and Other Great Movie Hits (1964), which you can read about and listen to a sample in this previous post. The earlier blog entry also has a bit of background on the group.
The Pink Panther Theme, of course, is very familiar thanks to Henry Mancini's hit version from the original soundtrack that featured the sax of Plas Johnson. Surprisingly the substitution of harmonica for sax works quite well in the Harmonicats' version, which was on both Great Themes and Love Song of Tom Jones.
The Pink Panther Theme
The content of Great Themes does not appear to have been released digitally.
Note in the video below that the cover for the British release of the LP (on Hallmark) was changed to highlight Theme from "The Avengers," the highly popular U.K. TV series that ended its run of eight-plus years in May of '69.
Saturday, November 15, 2014
Chicago-based pianist and organist Floyd Morris, who released just this one LP and a handful of singles between 1965 and 1972, spent most of his time backing other artists (Gene Chandler, The Impressions, Etta James) in recording sessions. For more details on Morris and the album The ConSoul of Floyd Morris, read this earlier post.
Saxophonist Buddy Lucas shares the spotlight on the stomping title tune.
The ConSoul of Floyd Morris remains unavailable in a digital format, so here's Big News, another sample from this fine LP.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
Alto saxophonist Curtis Peagler (1929-1992) and a group billed as the Jazz Disciples recorded this one-off single for Columbia in 1961 after he had recorded two well-regarded LPs for the New Jazz label. The group was known as the Modern Jazz Disciples for those albums.
For background on Peagler and to hear the flip side of this 45, It's a Blue World, go to this previous post. There's no indication whether the personnel on the single is the same as it was on the LPs.
The quality of this recording is not the greatest. The speed sounds a bit wonky and it's possible this side of the single was pressed a bit off-center. I don't have it handy to check. Unfortunately neither side of the 45 has received a digital release.
Peagler played with Ray Charles's orchestra in the mid- to late '60s and followed that with a seven-year gig with Count Basie. In later years he performed as a solo act, mainly in southern California, and played with the San Diego-based Sweet Baby Blues Band.
The first of the two Modern Jazz Disciples LPs for New Jazz was a self-tiled effort released in 1959. At the time Peagler did not receive a separate billing from the group. Disciples Blues was written by Peagler and another group member, William Kelley.
Monday, November 10, 2014
Vibraphonist Red Norvo had one of the longest careers among swing era musicians, beginning in Chicago with a group called The Collegians in 1925 and continuing until the mid-1980s when a stroke forced him into retirement. He died in 1999 at age 91.
Among the bands graced by Norvo's talents were those of Paul Whiteman, Benny Goodman, Charlie Barnet and Woody Herman. As well, Norvo led a popular big band of his own from 1936-1942, scoring two No. 1 hits in 1938, Please Be Kind and Says My Heart, both with vocals by Mildred Bailey.
In 1949, when Norvo ran into trouble forming a big band, he put together a trio with the novel combination of vibes, guitar, and bass.
Red Norvo in Hi-Fi (RCA Victor, 1958), a big band date, came just past the mid-point of his remarkable career. The LP featured vocals by Helen Humes on tunes like I Was Doing All Right, a Gershwin tune from 1937.
I Was Doing All Right
Red Norvo in Hi-Fi has not received a CD release and the download version is from the dub-it-quickly-from-vinyl Hallmark outfit. Unfortunately, used vinyl copies of this album are pricey.
Here's Red Norvo with a nine-piece group. Under a Blanket of Blue, released on a Capitol 78, was recorded in 1947, featuring Eddie Miller on tenor sax.
Saturday, November 08, 2014
Beginning with Continental Visa in 1958, a handful of orchestral LPs credited to Raoul Meynard were issued by Warner Brothers. The releases ended in the early '60s.
There appear to be no other Meynard releases on Warner Brothers or any other label. As well there is not a shred of biographical information in the album notes on any of the LPs, other than a vague, and quite likely fibbed, reference to European hotel appearances.
This leads me to suspect that these recordings may well have been done not in Europe but in the U.S., a suspicion reinforced by the fact that the producer of the third Meynard release, Continental Visa Renewed (1959), was Alvino Rey, the American guitarist and bandleader. It stretches credibility to believe that he would have been sent to the Continent to record a European orchestra.
In any case most of the Meynard LPs evoke echoes of Europe through generous use of mandolins, accordion, etc., as well as titles like the previously mentioned Continental Visa pair, Carte Blanche/Continentale, Strolling Mandolins and Continental Host.
The Poor People of Paris is the first track from Continental Visa. In France this song was known as La goualante du pauvre Jean (The Ballad of Poor John) and was a big hit for Edith Piaf. In English markets most recordings of The Poor People of Paris have been instrumentals, with Les Baxter's version topping the U.S. chart in 1956. In Britain pianist Winifred Atwell had the hit recording. Here's the Raoul Meynard version.
Several of the Raoul Meynard LPs, including Continental Visa, are available via download from most of the major sources. The releasing company is listed as Marathon Media and tellingly there's no sign of the Warner Brothers logo on the cover art. That undoubtedly means these releases were put together without access to the master recordings and without the blessing of whoever owns the Warner catalog these days.
Funiculì, Funiculà is a famous Neapolitan song composed in 1880 to mark the opening of the first funicular (inclined railway) on Mount Vesuvius. Raoul Meynard's version comes from his 1961 LP Continental Host. It's also on the download released pictured in the video.
Thursday, November 06, 2014
Arranger and conductor Joe Reisman (1924-1987) recorded a number of tracks in the 1970s that were packaged into easy listening box sets that Reader's Digest sold through mail order. Although Reisman did include a few standards among his recordings most were cover versions of recent easy listening hits.
Reisman's take on the Carpenters' 1970 hit (They Long to Be) Close to You turned up in the various artists set Sweet with a Beat, released in 1972.
(They Long to Be) Close to You
Generally speaking, the Reader's Digest LP boxes have not been transitioned directly into digital releases, but the individual tracks have been repackaged in a number of compilation CDs and downloads. Reisman's Close to You, for instance has turned up on both CD and download. Those vinyl box sets are also frequent visitors to the bins at thrift and record stores. Whatever format you choose you'll find that most Reader's Digest recordings are technically excellent.
Reisman was a producer and arranger at RCA Victor and Roulette Records from the 1950s to the '70s. After that he formed his own production company. Among the artists he worked with were Henry Mancini, Patti Page, Sarah Vaughan and Perry Como. As well, he recorded several LPs under his own name. And Reisman composed the instrumental Joey's Song, a hit for Bill Haley and the Comets in 1959.
Isle of Capri was recorded by Reisman for a Reader's Digest session on Jan. 7, 1971. It was included on the 1978 eight-LP box Thanks for the Memories, although it may well have been included in other sets as well.
Monday, November 03, 2014
Duane Eddy had a surprise hit in the U.K. in 1975 when Play Me Like You Play Your Guitar made the Top 10. The song was written by producer Tony Macaulay, who had worked with the Fifth Dimension, and Keith Potger, a former member of the Seekers.
The sound of the record, with its female vocal chorus, hearkened back to Eddy's 1962 hit (Dance with the) Guitar Man. For more information and to listen to Play Me Like You Play Your Guitar, go to this previous post.
Play Me Like You Play Your Guitar was followed in short order by two more singles, neither of which gained any notice. One of them, Love Confusion/Love is a Warm Emotion, was a one-off release on the Target label. It again was written and produced by Macaulay and had a very similar sound to the hit.
The only appearance of the Target single in a digital format that I'm aware of was on a bootleg CD of poor quality issued around 2008. No legal download version exists. However, copies of the vinyl single seem to be fairly common and often quite reasonably priced.
Duane Eddy appeared on an episode of American Music Shop in 1990 and played the western swing classic Detour, with Denis Solee on sax and Mark O'Connor on fiddle. Eddy had included Detour on his first LP, Have Twangy Guitar Will Travel, in 1958.
Saturday, November 01, 2014
Judging from the cover of this late 1950s release from Waikiki Records, it was aimed squarely at the crowd of mainly U.S. tourists who were flocking to the islands as Hawaii approached statehood, which became effective on Aug. 21, 1959. The music would make the ideal background for that Tiki party back home.
Poolside Music Hawaiiana is credited to Pua Almeida and his Polynesians and like all releases from Waikiki Records the album features genuine Hawaiian musicians. The label was founded in 1958 by engineer Young O. Yang and businessman Tommy Kearns and churned out Hawaiian LPs and singles from its Honolulu studio until about 1966.
Almeida was a steel guitarist, composer, arranger, singer and bandleader who began playing in clubs in the Hawaiian capital before World War II. Beginning around 1945 he performed with his group the Sunset Serenaders for about a dozen years at the Moana Banyan Court. Almeida also played for 17 years on the Hawaii Calls radio show from Waikiki. He died in 1974.
From Poolside Music Hawiiana comes Hula Blues, written by John Avery Noble (music) and Sonny Cunha (lyrics), and published in 1920. The song is a prime example of what came to be known as the hapa haole style, which combined traditional Hawaiian music with English lyrics.
It doesn't appear that any of the material recorded by Waikiki Records has had a legitimate digital release. However, it's possible that some of the company's recordings have found their way onto the multitude of poorly credited (in some cases that's deliberate) compilations being sold as downloads. Many LPs on the Waikiki Records label command collector prices.
Pua Almeida also recorded for MGM in the 1950s. South Sea Island Magic came out as a 10-inch LP in 1955 and two years later as a 12-inch. Note the dance band style brass on the title tune.