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Buck Owens pre-Capitol 1950s recordings reissued on RockBeat

Buck Owens is synonymous with the Bakersfield sound of country music that also gave rise to the Maddox brothers and Rose, Tommy Collins, Ferlin Husky and in later years Merle Haggard.

Owens’ earliest recordings for independent labels in Southern California — ahead of his lucrative career on Capitol Records in the ’60s and ’70s — have been collected on Buck Owens — Bound for Bakersfield 1953-1956: The Complete Pre-Capitol Collection, scheduled for release on September 27 on RockBeat Records through e0ne Entertainment. The suggested retail price is $14.98.

The 24-song reissue opens with selections from his first known session in 1953 in Hollywood, which produced two singles (“Down on the Corner of Love” b/w “It Don’t Show on Me” and “The House Down the Block” b/w “Right After the Dance”) on Claude Caviness’ Pico Rivera-based Pep Records. It closes with a 1956 Bakersfield session that produced singles on Chesterfield Records and an album on La Brea Records. Included are previously unreleased alternate takes including an overdubbed version of “Hot Dog.”

Liner notes for Bound for Bakersfield were written by Rich Kienzle, a music historian with special expertise in West Coast country. RockBeat VP or A&R James Austin and Jim Shaw of Buck Owens’ Buckaroos compiled the collection.

According to Kienzle’s notes, “Buck Owens was 21 when he rolled into Bakersfield from Phoenix in May, 1951, a part-time musician and laborer who had his eye on a musical career. It would take some time. There were lessons to be learned and dues to be paid. But in the final analysis, the Buck of legend, of the raw honky-tonk vocals, catchy commercial tunes, twangy Fender Telecasters and churning, aggressive ‘freight train’ rhythms was forged in Bakersfield's honky tonks and recording studios there and in L.A. from 1951 to 1957.”

Owens is best known for his later Capitol Records hits like “Tiger by the Tail,” “Foolin’ Around” and “Act Naturally.” But his ’50s pre-Capitol recordings find him working in a honky tonk milieu (except for the rockabilly tracks such as the 1957 single “Hot Dog”). One can hear early flashes of the distinctive sound he'd perfect at Capitol, the sound that made him famous.

With his indie singles earning him both regional recognition and buzz from A&R departments at both Capitol and Columbia Records, Owens passed on New York’s Columbia (whose producer told Owens to “hold on” until he could come to the West Coast) in favor of Hollywood-based Capitol Records, which made him an offer on the spot. Owens was known to Capitol from his work on sessions by one of the originators of the Bakersfield sound, Tommy Collins. Buck’s own first Capitol session in 1957 aimed for a pop-rock audience, trying, as he later said, “to make the biggest hillbilly in Bakersfield into somethin’ he wasn’t.” In 1959, he was recorded as his true, honky-tonking self, with great success.

Kienzle notes, “Buck Owens was always known for his spot-on instincts. Clearly, his expectation that he’d have no recording career beyond Pep and the odd demo or two was a rare miscalculation. These raw, primal performances, blended with hundreds of hours onstage at the Blackboard (club in Bakersfield), were essentially part of a long rehearsal for the fame that came soon enough.”

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Track List:

1.            Blue Love (with Studio Chatter) (1953)
2.            Down on the Corner of Love (Alternate Take) (1953)
3.            Down on the Corner of Love (1953)
4.            It Don’t Show On Me (Alternate Take) (1953)
5.            It Don’t Show on Me (1953)
6.            The House Down the Block (Alternate take) (1953)
7.            The House Down the Block (1953)
8.            Right After the Dance (Alternate Take) (1953)
9.            Right After the Dance (1953)
10.         Hot Dog (1955)
11.         Hot Dog (Overdubbed Single) (1955)
12.         Rhythm & Booze
13.         There Goes My Love (Alternate Take) (1956)
14.         There Goes My Love (1956)
15.         Sweethearts in Heaven (Alternate Take) (1956)
16.         Sweethearts in Heaven (1956)
17.         Honeysuckle (1956)
18.         Country Girl (Leavin’ Dirty Tracks) (1956)
19.         You’re Fer Me (1956)
20.         Blue Love (1956)
21.         Please Don’t Take Her From Me (1956)
22.         Three Dimension Love (1956)
23.         Why Don’t My Mommy Wanna Stay with Daddy & Me? (1956)
24.         I’m Gonna Blow (1956)

The Heavy Pets: Illumination Tour & FREE Download!

The Heavy Pets 2011 Single "Lantern" is an breezy 6+ minute song featuring haunting pedal steel guitar and sweeping vocals over a delicately woven fabric of harmonies, horns and soft phrasing. A bioluminescent horn arrangement by Michael Kammers seems to push through the earth and sprout to life, intertwining with the boughs of the tune and eventually blossoming into a crescendo of a "violent and beautiful epiphany" as described by guitarist, Jeff Lloyd. In short, it's a trip. A song about a child's firefly lantern - or the light you choose in your own life. "Lantern" is considered by the band as their "piece de resistance" from the California recording session. "We believe this piece to stand on its own - and are incredibly excited to be releasing it in this format as our first ever single." says Lloyd.

The track was recorded with multi-platinum award winning producer Scott Mathews and engineer Tom Luekens alongside a series of acoustic songs during the bands Mill Valley, CA session where they also produced their acclaimed self-titled 2010 release, The Heavy Pets. The 2010 self-titled release has shown considerable success for the Florida based project, and was just named by the Huffington Post as one of the top 10 albums of last year; a well-deserved nod to the band known best for their endless tour schedule.

"The Illumination Tour" takes the band from VT to Florida, with stops in nearly every state along the way. For more information about the tour or the free download, check out the band at www.theheavypets.com (A 102° Artist).

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The Illumination Tour

February 19 - The Crowbar - Tampa, FL

February 23 - Live Wire - Savannah, GA

February 24 - Pour House - Charleston, SC

February 25 - Blind Tiger - Greensboro, NC

February 26 - Pour House - Raleigh, NC

March 2 - Maxwell's - Hoboken, NJ

March 3 - Jillian's - Albany, NY

March 4 - Java Barn - Canton, NY

March 5 - The Turtle Underground @ St. Michaels College - Colchester, VT

March 6 - Nectars - Burlington, VT

March 9 - Brighton Music Hall - Allston, MA

March 10 - Westcott Theater - Syracuse, NY

March 11 - Old City Hall - Oswego, NY

March 12 - The Matterhorn - Stowe, VT

March 17 - The M Room - Philadelphia, PA

March 18 - Brooklyn Bowl - Brooklyn, NY

March 19 - Mojo on Main - Newark, DE

March 22 - Jewish Mother - Norfolk, VA

March 24 - Roxy's - West Palm Beach, FL

March 25 & 26 - Green Parrot - Key West, FL

Martin Sexton in Boulder for Valentines Day

On the heels of his critically-acclaimed release Sugarcoating, blue-eyed soul singer Martin Sexton has announced dates for his 2011 winter tour.

Sugarcoating is an album that doesn’t necessarily protest, but questions. “The last couple of years have been an awakening for me about how the world seems to work and not work,” reflects Sexton. “You can’t rely on mainstream media for the truth, I’ve discovered that you’ve gotta dig if you want a real answer about what’s going on.”  He explains, “My music has always been more about inspiration and entertainment, but this time I felt the need to toss some awareness into the mix.”

Martin continues this message in his live performances.  His songs are intricate and spirited inspired by the American musical landscape of soul, gospel, R&B, country and blues.  "Martin Sexton's extraordinary voice howls, growls and purrs in the best tradition of blue-eyed soul," says the Chicago Sun Times.  "It is raw and expressive and can move in an instant from a glorious falsetto to an edgy rock plea or a simple folk lament."

A Martin Sexton show is truly unlike any other concert experience.  His performances are dynamic and bursting with depth earning him a devoted following among fans, peers and critics alike.  "A high vocal range and a sense of normal-dude humility usually don't go together, but they are the two most convincing things about … Sexton," said The Onion's A.V. Club in a recent review.

On November 12th, Martin performed at the 30th Annual John Lennon Tribute Concert at the Beacon Theater alongside Jackson Browne, Cyndi Lauper, Patti Smith, Taj Mahal and other musical icons. Martin's riveting interpretation of "Working Class Hero" received one of the only standing ovations of the evening.

Recently, Martin sat down with Brian Williams of the NBC Nightly News, to record a feature session for BriTunes. The session will be available later this month on the MSNBC website.

You can catch Martin Sexton at the Boulder Theater on Valentine's Day.

Albert King/Stevie Ray Vaughan on PBS

PBS has announced that the Albert King with Stevie Ray VaughanIn Session program will air as a special on its stations  throughout the month of December (check local listings). Grammy Award winning bluesman Robert Cray will serve as special fundraising host on the public television broadcasts.

In 1983, when legendary blues guitarist Albert King, then age 60, was joined by his disciple Stevie Ray Vaughan, then age 29, on a Canadian sound stage for the live music TV series In Session, magic took place.  Albert King with Stevie Ray Vaughan In Session is not simply a television program: it’s a summit of two master musicians. The only known recording of King and Vaughan performing together, this is the concert that blues fans in general, and Stevie Ray Vaughan fans in particular, have been waiting for.

The audio recording of the performance went on to sell more than 325,000 units from two releases: the first in 1999, the second in 2009. On November 9, 2010, Stax Records, a division of Concord Music Group, released In Session as both a DVD and a deluxe DVD/CD combination.

SonicBoomers.com noted: “Both men are gone now, but rare recordings like In Session remind us of a time when blues giants still walked the earth side by side.”

"As a document of what was probably the greatest night in the musical life of SRV (Stevie Ray Vaughan), this belongs in the collection of every true fan,” said the Austin American-Statesman.  Musicologist Samuel Charters says in his new liner notes for the package, “it’s also clear, nearly 20 years later, that this was a special moment in the careers of each of the two men.  It was evident from the first choruses that they were playing for each other. And that was the best audience either of them could ever have.”

An hour and 45 minutes, approximately, was taped of the two. What will thrill viewers who are fans of the blues, players of the blues, and who adore SRV, is that the televised concert includes at least one SRV tune — “Texas Flood” — that was not included on either of the two CD releases of the session.

The innovative Canadian television series was conceived with the intention of pairing musicians who were related stylistically, but seldom had an opportunity to play together. Albert King wasn’t sure whom he’d been booked to jam with on December 6, but he recognized the young Texan immediately — not as fast-rising star Stevie Ray Vaughan, but as Little Stevie, the skinny kid who’d been coming around and eventually sitting in every time Albert passed through Austin.

Stevie idolized Albert, as did many other “modern” electric axe-men. Albert may have been overshadowed by B.B., but Jimi Hendrix, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Robbie Robertson, Mick Taylor, and Joe Walsh — all of them listened to him, listened again and again, and were heavily influenced by his style.

At the time of the taping, the buzz may have been around Stevie, but Albert was clearly in charge of the music.  Earlier in the year, in May, David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” featuring Stevie at his blistering Albert King-inspired best, hit the top of the Billboard pop singles chart; in June, SRV’s debut album Texas Flood came out, and MTV put “Pride and Joy” into their rotation. He never looked back.

During their performance, Albert ruled over the proceedings like a benevolent father, retaining control while allowing his guest loads of solo space in which to display his awesome command of the electric guitar.  The interplay between the two blues masters is uncannily empathetic, and Albert’s fans will find special pleasure in hearing him play rhythm parts at such length.  Aside from SRV’s two vocals — “Pride and Joy” and “Texas Flood” — all the other tunes are from Albert’s repertoire.  Viewers have the ineffable treat of seeing Albert King perform “Born Under a Bad Sign,” his trademark blues hit, as well as “Call It Stormy Monday.”

Sadly, King and Vaughan would not share a stage together ever again. Vaughan, 31 years King’s junior, died in a helicopter crash in the fog on the way back from a concert in 1990. King outlived him by two years, dying of a heart attack in 1992. They didn’t meet often, and their careers took different paths. But we can all be grateful for that one long day in a television studio when sparks flew and this timeless performance was forever captured.

The PBS special Albert King with Stevie Ray VaughanIn Session contains the following songs: “Born Under a Bad Sign,” “Call It Stormy Monday,” “Texas Flood,” “Pride and Joy,” “Match Box Blues,” and “Don’t Lie to Me.”

Albert King/Stevie Ray Vaughan 'In Session'

On December 6, 1983, legendary blues guitarist Albert King joined his disciple Stevie Ray Vaughan on a Canadian sound stage for the live music television series In Session. Magic happened. The highly sought after video footage from that one-time legendary summit becomes available for the first time ever on November 9 with the release of Stax Records’ deluxe two-disc CD/DVD In Session.

The DVD contains three classic performances unavailable on the previously issued audio disc: “Born Under a Bad Sign,” the landmark title track from Albert King’s biggest Stax release written by William Bell and Booker T. Jones; Stevie Ray’s “Texas Flood,” the Larry Davis-penned title track of Vaughan’s immortal debut album; and “I’m Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town,” made famous by Louis Jordan and later, Ray Charles.

“It was evident from the first choruses,” writes liner notes author/musicologist Samuel Charters, “that they were playing for each other. And that was the best audience either of them could ever have. The music never lost its intensity, its quality of something very important being handed back and forth and there was time for Stevie and Albert to see where their ideas took them.”

Accolades have showered upon this momentous encounter. “As a document of what was probably one of the greatest nights in the musical life of SRV, this belongs in the collection of every true fan,” said the Austin American-Statesman. Sonic Boomers added, “Both men are gone now, but rare recordings like In Session remind us of a time when blues giants still walked the earth side by side.” Elmore magazine called it “an indispensible part of any blues fan’s collection.” And BluesWax noted, “thank goodness, this disc lives on and on.”

Now this one-of-a-kind visual document featuring two giants of American blues can be enjoyed by audiences all over the world. Sadly, King and Vaughan would not share a stage together ever again. Vaughan, 31 years King’s junior, died in a helicopter crash in the fog on the way back from a concert in 1990. King outlived him by two years, dying of a heart attack in 1992. They didn’t meet often, and their careers took different paths. But we can all be grateful for that one long day in a television studio when sparks flew and this timeless performance was forever captured.

John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk and Sonny Roillins get 'Definitive'

Following up on the success of The Definitive Vince Guaraldi, Concord Music Group  has assembled three new titles in the Definitive series showcasing some of the most influential figures in modern jazz. The Definitive John Coltrane on Prestige and Riverside; The Definitive Thelonious Monk on Prestige and Riverside;The Definitive Sonny Rollins on Prestige, Riverside and Contemporary not only put the spotlight on the monumental work of three individual jazz players of the 1950s, but also provide an overview of the hard-bop period, one of the most significant chapters in the evolution of jazz. Each of the 2-CD collections is set for release on August 24, 2010.

The Definitive John Coltrane on Prestige and Riverside tracks Coltrane’s artistic development from his first Prestige recording session in November 1955 for Miles: The New Miles Davis Quintet to his last sessions for Prestige (for Bahia) in December 1958.

Trane’s career was marked by various shifts in style throughout the ’50s and ’60s, “but if you like straight-ahead, yet inventive, hard-bop playing, then this collection of recordings from the mid- to late ’50s is definitely one of the sweet spots,” says Nick Phillips, Concord Music Group’s Vice President of Jazz and Catalog A&R and the producer of the Definitive series. “And yet some of what you hear in these tracks gives hints about what was to come from this restlessly creative artist.”

Extensive liner notes by veteran music journalist and Coltrane biographer Ashley Kahn provide an in-depth look at the tracks and the circumstances surrounding their genesis. “The Definitive John Coltrane offers a best-of culled from these early recordings,” says Kahn, “offering an inspiring listening session that allows for much to be gleaned: Coltrane’s talent at recasting decades-old themes with a modern touch; a penchant for brooding, minor-key melodies; the uncanny rate of his personal development — building on his strengths, articulating a signature sound; an increased ability born in the one-take fire of three-hour recording dates to toss together timeless performances.”

The Definitive Thelonious Monk on Prestige and Riverside covers an even broader span of the ’50s, beginning with trio sessions in New York featuring bassist Gary Mapp and drummer Art Blakey in October 1952 and stretching to sextet dates in San Francisco with trumpeter Joe Gordon, tenor saxophonists Harold Land and Charlie Rouse, bassist John Ore and drummer Billy Higgins in April 1960.

“This is some of the most amazing Thelonious Monk on record,” says Phillips. “Whether he’s playing a standard or one of his own compositions, he sounds uniquely like Thelonious Monk and nobody else. All of the tunes in this collection that Monk wrote have become jazz standards. Conversely, he plays standard tunes like ‘Caravan’ and ‘Tea for Two’ with such distinctive genius that you’d swear he had written them himself.”

But Monk was no overnight sensation. He made “a long, slow climb from underground to mainstream adulation, and the ten-year period represented by this collection captures that ascent,” says Kahn in his liner notes. “The one constant — creatively, promotionally, and economically — was his recordings. First for Prestige Records from 1952 to ’54, then for the Riverside label from ’55 to ’61, Monk was afforded the chance to create new music and work with a number of significant jazz peers in a number of contexts — from solo piano, to trios, to quartets, even a big band . . . Most importantly, what Monk composed and recorded during the ’50s amount to the definitive versions of some of the most enduring, joyous melodies in modern jazz.”

The Definitive Sonny Rollins on Prestige, Riverside and Contemporary comes out a few weeks ahead of Rollins’ 80th birthday on September 7. Like the Thelonious Monk release, the Sonny Rollins set also covers almost an entire decade, from a December 1951 session in New York for Sonny Rollins with the Modern Jazz Quartet to an October 1958 session in Los Angeles for Sonny Rollins and the Contemporary Leaders.

“That was such a significant period in the development of jazz in general, and Sonny Rollins was at the heart of all that was going on during that decade,” says Phillips. “Just look at the Miles Davis session where he recorded ‘Airegin,’ ‘Doxy’ and ‘Oleo,’ for example. Those are all tunes that he penned, and all remain indelible jazz standards. That’s a whole lot of jazz history that was made on just a single day in the summer of 1954.”

Liner notes for The Definitive Sonny Rollins are provided by music journalist Bob Blumenthal, co-author with photographer John Abbott of the forthcoming book, Saxophone Colossus: A Portrait of Sonny Rollins.

“That the marks of [Rollins’] genius were fully apparent in the music he made over a half-century ago has been obvious to all who have followed the trajectory of his unprecedented career,” says Blumenthal. “As a contract artist with Prestige Records between 1951 and 1956, and through his work on various labels from 1957 until the beginning of an extended sabbatical two years later, Rollins laid the foundation for his status as a master improviser, saxophonist and composer; an influence far beyond his chosen instrument and idiom; and a living icon of affirmative creativity. Concord Music Group is the steward of many of the finest Rollins performances of the ’50s, and has culled them well in presenting this short course in what made Sonny Rollins Sonny Rollins.” released in October 2009.

Frank Sinatra/Antonio Carlos Jobim reissue coming on Concord

In 1967, Frank Sinatra teamed up with Brazilian singer, pianist, guitarist, composer and songwriter Antonio Carlos Jobim to record an album that married the Chairman’s signature vocals with rhythms from the master of bossa nova. The resulting album, Francis Albert Sinatra/Antonio Carlos Jobim, reached #19, remaining on Billboard’s rock-dominated album chart for 28 weeks.

Forty-four years later, on May 4, 2010, Concord Music Group, on license from Frank Sinatra Enterprises (FSE), will release a deluxe reissue of the Sinatra/Jobim classic including all ten songs from the original album plus seven songs from a subsequent collaboration between the two, and three songs from that session that were not released until decades later, when they were included in a box set. Sinatra/Jobim: The Complete Reprise Recordings features digital remastering and expanded liner notes by Stan Cornyn, longtime head of creative services at Warner/Reprise and author of the book about the Warner Music Group, Exploding.

Sinatra and Jobim gathered at Hollywood’s Western Recorders for three nights, January 30 through February 1, 1967. Jobim brought the beat in the form of bossa nova percussionists and arrangers. Sinatra supplied the producer (Sonny Burke), the string arranger/conductor (Claus Ogerman) and the rest of the orchestra. The resulting session produced ten songs including the classic “The Girl From Impanema” plus “Dindi,” “How Insensitive [Insensatez],” “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars” and six others. (After bidding até a vista to Jobim, Sinatra, on the high of making one of his finest albums ever, stayed at the studio to record a duet with daughter Nancy that would reach #1 on the charts, “Something Stupid.”)

Two years later, Sinatra and Jobim returned to Western Recorders to record ten more bossa novas for a shorter-titled follow-up: Sinatra-Jobim. Replacing Ogerman was a 26-year-old long-haired arranger named Eumir Deodato (later to be known for his 1973 jazz version of Richard Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra [2001]”). The songs were all written or co-written by Jobim, many with unusual melodic twists.  Producer Burke enlisted conductor Morris Stoloff to ensure a pop feel to the session.

After three nights, the album was wrapped, and was readied for release in the fall of 1969. The eight-track version of the album had shipped when the call was placed to Warner/Reprise’s Burbank, Calif. offices. It was Sinatra, demanding that the label “kill the album,” so Warner recalled most of the recordings. A 2005 Goldmine story reported that the rare eight-track would command $5000.

Sinatra later agreed to permit Reprise to release seven of the Sinatra-Jobim vocal tracks on the album Sinatra & Company. It reached #73 and remained on the album chart for 15 weeks in 1971.

More than 40 years later, the airport in Rio has been named Antonio Carlos Jobim International. And an American postage stamp honored Frank Sinatra. And the Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim and Sinatra-Jobim albums have been combined to form Concord’s Sinatra/Jobim: The Complete Reprise Recordings set.

Here We Go Magic Release Black Cab LIVE Session

It's been a big year for Here We Go Magic following the release of their much celebrated self-titled debut (Western Vinyl), and now they have their sights firmly set on 2010 with a new album, a new record label, and an ever expanding sound. Having just signed to Secretly Canadian, the band is targeting Spring of 2010 to release their highly anticipated follow-up to 2009's breakthrough record.

The band have spent much of the year on the road touring with indie giants including Grizzly Bear and are currently supporting The Walkmen before playing Austin City Limits.

Here We Go Magic are also hard at work recording the self-produced sophomore album in a house they've commandeered in upstate New York, and while the first record was the result of Luke Temple getting creative in his bedroom, this release is a fully fledged team effort.

With an eye towards 2010 the band is looking forward to expanding their audience as their unique sound continues to permeate throughout the indie world.