Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Monday, August 22, 2011
Jerry Leiber "Hound Dog" songwriter dead at 78 - LA Weekly
For I know just as well as I'm standing here talking to you,
when that final moment comes and I'm breathing my last breath,
I'll be saying to myself,
Is that all there is? Is that all there is?
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
-"Is That All There Is?"
Lyricist Jerry Leiber passed away earlier today. Alongside his writing partner Mike Stoller, they wrote some of the most enduring hits of the '50s and '60s, including "Jailhouse Rock," "Love Potion #9," "Yakety Yak," and "Stand By Me." He was 78 years old.
Leiber and Stoller quickly grew to become the most successful writing duo in R&B, breaking open the market to white teenagers eager for new 45s. "We lived a black lifestyle as young guys. We had black girlfriends for years," recounted Leiber. "In the general sense, it was extreme. But not in the environment that we moved in. They were amused by us, two white kids doing the blues. They thought it was goofy, a lot of fun." That fun also turned into bundles of royalty checks.
In the mid-'50s, they sold their newly-formed label Spark to Atlantic Records and became hired hands for numerous Atlantic acts like the Drifters, producing "There Goes My Baby" and co-writing "On Broadway" alongside Brill Building songsters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. "Jerry would write in a much more abstract way, kind of throwing out lines. I was always very linear," recalled Cynthia Weil to Taxi.com. " I had to be a good girl and finish verse one before I would allow myself to have the pleasure of verse two. But Jerry said, 'Just loosen up, woman, and let's just write the song. We'll throw out lines that we think are good, and then we'll see where they go and if we can use any of them.' That's the way we kind of approached it. Then it all came together."
Their success continued through the '60s starting with productions for Ben E. King ("Spanish Harlem" and "Stand By Me") and closing with the cabaret-inflected "Is That All There Is?" - a top ten hit for Peggy Lee. The duo's last major hit was as producers of "Stuck in the Middle With You" - the rambling Dylan-esque song performed by Stealers Wheels and immortalized by Quentin Tarantino.
The music industry, from the executives to the consumers, was forever changed because of the contributions of Jerry Leiber. His clever lyrics and straight-forward rhymes were accessible to hundreds of artists and millions of listeners. He broadened the listening base for R&B and helped the lead the charge for countless musical trends for over twenty years, helping to shape the sound of rock and roll. His unparalleled legacy will be revisited for untold generations to come. He will be missed.
Jerry Leiber @ LA Weekly
Thursday, August 18, 2011
"That particular score just emotionally captured something very unique. It created a sense of drama that was very heroic. It was a period piece. James Horner's use of choir along with orchestra sometimes that stuff can go a little over the top but that wasn't the case with that score. Very tastefully done." 5. James Horner
Friday, August 12, 2011
This Sunday at the Hollywood Bowl you'll be able to catch Larry Graham, wedged between performances by sand-swept Spyro Gyra and saxophone loverboy Dave Koz. But, Graham is a pioneering funk bassist, so why the heck is he a part of the Bowl's Smooth Summer Jazz concert?
Thursday, August 04, 2011
Madeleine Peyroux - Standing on the Rooftop
Vocalist Madeleine Peyroux, with her Eleanora Fagan
croon and marquee-ready name, is the perfect
songstress for quiet rooms and even quieter thoughts.
Since her debut 15 years ago Peyroux has built a
comfortable niche that peaked in 2004 with the millionselling
album Careless Love. Peyroux’ fifth album,
Standing on the Rooftop, contains a balance of original
songs and covers that should easily satisfy her fanbase
and record label, with A-list contributions from
guitarist Marc Ribot, drummer Charley Drayton,
pianist Allen Toussaint and violinist Jenny Scheinman.
The album opens with a sedate, countrified cover
of The Beatles’ “Martha My Dear”. The only thing
missing is the sound of crickets to capture that frontporch
feel. Considering that she sold millions of
records by singing other people’s songs it is curious
that the album’s sequencing is set up to put the hit first
and pray that listeners stick around. Should the listener
invest they will be treated to a solid collection of tunes
that rarely raises the blood pressure. “Fickle Dove”,
her first of back-to-back co-writes with Scheinman,
finds Peyroux channeling Santo & Johnny while the
title song and closer “The Way of All Things” adopt an
ethereal boogie that provide the most uptempo
moments of the album. Dylan’s “I Threw It All Away”
gets a choppy reading while the original “Don’t Pick a
Fight with a Poet” has a nice bouncy refrain with Peyroux’ lilting
vibrato carrying the weight.
Looking as barefoot and bemused on the cover of
this record as she was on Careless Love can’t be a
mistake. Although she is often referred to as a jazz
vocalist, Peyroux rarely swings on this record and the
soloing space is fairly limited. She is simply an
excellent vocalist who can be a country singer, a cabaret
chanteuse or a misty-eyed crooner. It is not a wide
range but it is always well done - whether she sells a
million records or not.
Madeleine Peyroux @ NYC Jazz Record
David Gibson - End of the Tunnel
Any group that employs an organist, regardless of the
bandleader’s instrument, becomes an organ band. In a
way that no other instrument can dominate, except
perhaps for a set of bagpipes, the Hammond B3
possesses the power of a freight train that can be hard
to tone down. On his newest album End of the Tunnel
trombonist David Gibson, along with saxophonist
Julius Tolentino and drummer Quincy Davis, give
ample room to organist Jared Gold, who provides two
of his own tunes and plenty of soul.
The album opens with Herbie Hancock’s “Blind
Man, Blind Man”, quickly setting the tone for a
straightforward blowing date with Gibson taking the
first of several gurgling solos. The following track,
“Wasabi”, one of five Gibson compositions on the
album, takes a stylistic Hancock leap ten years forward
with a more Headhunters-ish feel - punctual horn
unisons ride over Davis’ popping drum line. Davis
also carries Gibson’s title track to its abrupt ending,
which features the horns in fluttering harmonies before
they rocket off into a pair of impassioned solos.
Gibson’s “The In-Whim” is decidedly out. What starts
slow and modal grows as Tolentino wails away over
Gold’s sharp chordal jabs, growing more manic with
each passing measure. “Preachin’”, Gold’s bluesinflected
contribution, finds Gibson loping through a
building solo while the organist does his best to
summon the spirits of the chicken shack. The last track,
a take on Jackie McLean’s “Blue Rondo”, brings the
album back to where Gibson started: Englewood Cliffs,
1963. The horns exchange 12-bar bouts while Davis’
cymbal drives the battle into a solo of his own.
Over nine tunes Gibson and his cohorts display
their love of a solid groove, rarely straying too far from
the center of the pocket. The soloists swing hard with a
dominating organ presence looming just behind them
at all times. Gibson has taken the classic organ quartet
and injected just enough dissonance to create a fingersnapping
dose of 21st century soul-jazz.
David Gibson @ NYC Jazz Record