The “Real Smooth Jazz” Podcast

So when you hear or read the term “Smooth Jazz” , what music do you associate with it? I’m sure “Kenny G” comes into mind and that same “Melodic Beat” over and over, of what sounds like an automated electric drum. Over and over, every song has that beat and only the saxophone or trumpet varies. It’s the format for every song considered “Smooth Jazz” and which only “Limits” the artist and prevents him/her from improvising. It is so anti-creative and anti-Jazz. How it became famous to the point of destroying the future of “Real” Jazz musicians, is a mystery to me. I know that real Jazz musicians are not happy with this “sound” because it is not actual Jazz. Maybe you should ask Donald Byrd who by mistake and along with a manipulative Mr. Larry Mizell created this new “genre” and decided to place the word “Jazz” in it. The culprit, the Black Byrd Album. It was this simple album with simple music that severely damaged the integrity of Jazz.

It’s a crime to me, how the followers of “Smooth Jazz” do not know anything about Jazz music itself, they are totally unaware of it’s roots and frankly don’t care. The uneducated listener and their stubbornness to understand.

Note to all new readers of the Cubanology MediaBlog: All the podcasts are located in the beginning and end of the post. I suggest opening up the podcast by clicking on “Play in new window” so you can scroll through the post itself and visit the links and/or go on with your business and listen in the background. Thank you and enjoy!

1. Lee Morgan “I’ll Never be the same” 2. “Stormy Weather” From the “Sonic Boom” CD Album:

Sonic Boom was not released until 1979 and then remained in print only for a brief time before eventually being reissued years later. In addition to the great trumpeter Lee Morgan and a fine rhythm section (pianist Cedar Walton, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Billy Higgins), the well-rounded set is a bit special for it allows the often R&B-associated tenor David “Fathead” Newman an opportunity to stretch out in a more challenging setting than usual. Highlights include the funky “Fathead,” the complex “Sneaky Pete,” Morgan’s lyricism on “I’ll Never Be the Same,” and the infectious rhythms on “Mumbo Jumbo.” This is an undeservedly obscure session. ~ Scott Yanow

Recorded at The Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on April 14 & 28, 1967 and on September 12 and October 10, 1969. Originally released on Blue Note (987) and BNLA (582-2). Includes liner notes by Michael Cuscuna, Bob Blumenthal.

Personnel: David “Fathead” Newman (tenor saxophone); Lee Morgan Quintet (trumpet); Julian Priester (trombone); Harold Mabern, Cedar Walton (piano); Mickey Roker, Billy Higgins (drums)…..Read More

3. “Fifty-First Street” Charles Mingus’ “East Coasting” CD Album.

4. Buddy DeFranco “Sophisticated Lady” From the “Gone With The Wind” CD Album.

5. “Amor Sin Esperanza” 6. “Corazon Partio” From Paquito D’Rivera “100 Years of Latin Love Songs” CD Album.

Biography:

Born on the island of Cuba, Paquito D’Rivera began his career as a child prodigy. A restless musical genius during his teen years, Mr. D’Rivera created various original and ground-breaking musical ensembles. As a founding member of the Orquesta Cubana de Musica Moderna, he directed that group for two years, while at the same time playing both the clarinet and saxophone with the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra. He eventually went on to premiere several works by notable Cuban composers with the same orchestra. Additionally, he was a founding member and co-director of the innovative musical ensemble Irakere. With its explosive mixture of jazz, rock, classical and traditional Cuban music never before heard, Irakere toured extensively throughout America and Europe, won several Grammy nominations (1979, 1980) and a Grammy (1979)……Read More

7. Dusty Springfield “The Windmills Of Your Mind” From “The Very Best of Dusty Springfield” CD Album 8. “The Look of Love” From “The Dusty in Memphis” CD Album.

About Dusty Springfield:

Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien[note 1] OBE (16 April 1939 – 2 March 1999), known professionally as Dusty Springfield, was a British pop singer whose career extended from the late 1950s to the 1990s. With her distinctive sensual sound, she was an important white soul singer, and at her peak was one of the most successful British female performers, with 18 singles in the Billboard Hot 100 from 1964 to 1970.[1] She is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the U.K. Music Hall of Fame. International polls have named Springfield among the best female rock artists of all time.

Born in North London to an Irish Catholic family that enjoyed music, Springfield learned to sing at home. She joined her first professional group, The Lana Sisters, in 1958, then formed the pop-folk vocal trio The Springfields in 1960 with her brother Dion.

Her solo career began in 1963 with the upbeat pop hit, “I Only Want To Be With You” (1963). Among the hits that followed were “Wishin’ and Hopin’” (1964), “I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself” (1964), “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” (1966), and “Son of a Preacher Man” (1968). A fan of American pop music, she was the first public figure to bring little-known soul singers to a wider British audience, when she created and hosted the first British performances of the top-selling Motown artists in 1965.[2] By 1966, she was the best selling female singer in the world, and topped a number of popularity polls, including Melody Maker’s Best International Vocalist.[3] She was the first British singer to top the New Musical Express readers’ poll for Female Singer.[4] Her image, supported by a peroxide blonde beehive hairstyle, evening gowns, and heavy make-up, made her an icon of the Swinging Sixties….Read More

9. “What a Difference a Day Makes” 10. “I Get a Kick out of You” 11. “Manhattan” 12. “Cry Me A River” 13. “Love For Sale” 14. “Dream” From the “Smoke gets in your Eyes” CD Album:

FIRST ISSUE contains 46 tracks presented in roughly chronological order beginning with Dinah Washington’s first recordings for Keynote with Lionel Hampton in 1944 and concluding with her Mercury tracks from 1961. This 2-CD set includes never-before-published photos by Chuck Stewart, plus liner notes and annotations by jazz historian Chris Albertson.

First Issue, which coincided with the United States Postal Service’s issue of a stamp bearing the image of Dinah Washington, is a two-disc, 46-song anthology of her recordings for Keynote, Mercury, Verve, Wing, and EmArcy from 1943-1961. The set chronicles Washington’s evolution from a strictly jazz and blues vocalist in the Bessie Smith tradition to an important crossover artist who could appeal equally to the pop audience. The collection is not entirely hit-oriented — although it rounds up her important R&B and pop singles, including the crossover hits “What a Diff’rence a Day Made” and “Baby, You’ve Got What It Takes” (a duet with Brook Benton), there is also an early bluesy session with Lionel Hampton and a few notable album tracks that show the variety of material she handled. Some of her Top Ten R&B hits are omitted, but Washington was a prolific hitmaker beyond that which a two-disc set can contain…..Learn More

15. “Sunday” 16. “What is this thing called love” From the “Gerry Mulligan Meets Ben Webster” CD Album:

The swing and bop start right here on this legendary 1959 session between baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan and tenor man Ben Webster. The opening track, Billy Strayhorn‘s “Chelsea Bridge,” is lush and emotional and truly sets the tone for this album. With Jimmy Rowles on piano (his intro on “Sunday” sounds like a ragtimer like Willie “The Lion” Smith just pushed him off the stool before the band came in), Mel Lewis on drums, and always superb Leroy Vinnegar on bass present and accounted for, the rhythm section is superbly swinging with just the right amount of bop lines and chords in the mix to spice things up. The ghost of Duke Ellington hovers over every note on this record (Billy Strayhorn was one of his main arrangers), and that is a very good thing indeed. There’s a beautiful understated quality to the music on this session that makes it the perfect “relaxing around the house on a rainy day” disc to pop in the player. File this one under cool, very smooth, and supple……..Read More

17. “Duerme” Bebo Valdez MP3 from “Before Night Falls” soundtrack

Bebo Valdez Biography:

Through the 1940s and 1950s Bebo Valdes was one of Cuba’s premier pianists, composers, arrangers, and bandleaders. After the Cuban revolution Valdes left, never to return. He continued to play, but did so in obscurity at a Stockholm piano bar. Almost 35 years after his exile, Valdes has risen out of that obscurity to bring the classic Cuban sound to a new generation of fans and musicians.

Born Ramon Valdes in 1918 in Quivican, Cuba, Valdes studied music at a conservatory in Cuba. Valdes explained to Fernando Gonzalez in a Washington Post article, “I was a jazz musician from a very young age. I first started playing like the first jazz pianist I heard, a guy who was popular when I was a kid: Eddy Duchin.” Valdes’s list of other inspirations includes American jazz greats such as Fats Waller, Art Tatum, and Bill Evans.

From the 1940s through the late 1950s, Valdes was the musical director for Havana’s most famous music club, the Tropicana. While working there he performed with some legendary artists including Nat “King” Cole and Sarah Vaughn. Valdes was in demand as an arranger as well, working with Cuba’s top talent. He even had his own publishing house. By the late 1950s, however, the Communist revolution in Cuba was beginning to take hold, and life in Havana was changing. As Valdes told Fernando Gonzalez in the Miami Herald, “Things got very bad. People could not go to Tropicana because of the bombs, cars were set on fire…. I decided to leave the club.”

After leaving the club, Valdes found it hard to hold a job and claims he was chased from many of them. Frustrated with his inability to find work and with Cuba’s political situation, Valdes decided it was time to leave the country. In 1959 he formed his own orchestra called Sabor de Cuba, telling Gonzalez, “I’ve never really wanted to have an orchestra. It’s way too much work…. But it was a way for [singer Rolando] Laserie and I to leave Cuba.”

On October 26, 1960, Valdes, along with Laserie and Laserie’s wife traveled to Mexico, ostensibly to fulfill a contract. It was a ruse to get them out of the county, and it worked. In Mexico City Valdes was able to get work playing gigs and selling recordings he had made in Cuba so that he could leave the country without having to carry money with him. The recordings were enough for two albums, which were released in Mexico.

Valdes spent almost two years in Mexico City before going to Spain. There he became associated with the Lecuona Cuban Boys. He toured Europe extensively as the band’s arranger and musical director. It was a gig in Stockholm, however, that changed his life.

In the spring of 1963 the Lecuona Cuban Boys traveled to Sweden to perform. Valdes explained to Pulse! magazine what happened, “After a show, I saw this red-haired girl that I liked…. I asked her if she liked the performance, and we went to get a cup of coffee. Six months later, we got married. I’ve been in Sweden since then.” Valdes continued to tour with the Lecuona Cuban Boys for about a year, and then decided to settle down with his wife….Read More

18. “Willow Weep For Me” 19. “Stairway to the Stars” From the Dexter Gordon’s “Our Man in Paris” CD Album:

This 1963 date is titled for Dexter Gordon‘s living in self-imposed Parisian exile and recording there with two other exptriates and a French native. Along with Gordon, pianist Bud Powell and Kenny “Klook” Clarke were living in the City of Lights and were joined by the brilliant French bassman Pierre Michelot. This is a freewheeling bop date with the band working out on such categoric standards as “Scrapple from the Apple,” and “A Night in Tunisia.” In addition, American vernacular tunes such as “Willow Weep for Me” and “Stairway to the Stars” are included. Gordon is at the very top of his game here. His playing is crisp, tight, and full of playful fury. Powell, who at this stage of his life was almost continually plagued by personal problems, never sounded better than he does in this session. His playing is a tad more laid-back here, but is nonetheless full of the brilliant harmonic asides and incendiary single-note runs he is legendary for. The rhythm section is close-knit and stop-on-a-dime accurate. This Rudy Van Gelder-remastered edition of the CD features the same extras the original CD issue did, but with marginally improved sound; these were derived from two-track masters anyway so they already sound great…..Read More

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