Monday, October 27, 2014

Toni Basil & the TAMI Show - KPCC

Audio available on link below
On Oct. 28 and 29, 1964, 50 years ago this month, thousands of screaming teenagers flocked to the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium to witness one of the most famous concerts in the history of American music. The T.A.M.I. show — short for "Teenage Awards Music International" or just "Teen Age Music International" — was a variety show featuring performances from some of the most important acts in pop music at the time: Jan and Dean, the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, the Rolling Stones and James Brown, who gave a genre-defining performance.
On top of all the musicians, the shows' producers recruited some of Hollywood's best dancers to accompany the musicians, and that included 21-year-old assistant choreographer Toni Basil. Basil would later go on to record "Mickey," the 1982 hit single. But as she tells "Off-Ramp" contributor Sean J. O'Connell that the T.A.M.I. show was one of the most important moments of her career. 
For Basil, the highlight from the two nights was James Brown's performance:
"James was just amazing that night. He did, what, how long? How long did he do? At least 15 minutes? My god! Nothing short of Shakespearian.
"If you really think about what he did with that cape, falling to his knees, and Bobby Burnett and putting that cape around him, and getting him up. And walking him off in this extremely dramatic, theatrical way. And James threw the cape off and came back and dropped to his knees again!
"I remember when I saw James hit those steps, I was so perplexed by them I actually ran up to the second floor, where there was a full mirror in the ladies room. And I tried to do the step. And then I'd run back downstairs and look at the step — because he was on forever, doing that step. You know, there was no video like now where you rewind and look at it!"
Basil says the performance changed her dance career completely. "I look back at it and I see how fun and interesting and what a change dance was taking," she says.
TAMI Show @ KPCC's Off Ramp

Emil Richards: Six Decades of Music - KCET's Artbound

Odds are you have heard the work of percussionist Emil Richards. The 82 year old musician has contributed to hundreds of recordings including TV theme songs for Mission Impossible and The Simpsons as well as movies like Fantastic Voyage and nearly every soundtrack from Danny Elfman. He has been a fixture on the Los Angeles music scene since the first day he arrived in 1959.
Through the late 1950s, the Connecticut-raised Richards spent four years on the road with British jazz pianist George Shearing, taking one week off of touring per year. He was getting worn out and needed a change. Upon a chance encounter with arranger Billy May, Richards was convinced to head to the west coast. "Billy told me if I'm going to scuffle, I may as well scuffle where the sun is shining" says Richards calling from his home. "It went uphill right from there. My first gig was the first night I got into town. I worked that day on a recording session and at night I worked with Paul Horn at a club called the Renaissance. Lord Buckley and Lenny Bruce were the two comedians working opposite of us. I learned all about the Nazz and all the different shtick."
Richards had the benefit of the sunshine and the work, finding his way into the film music scene and the occasional high profile tour. The same year he arrived in L.A. Frank Sinatra hired him for a tour of Mexico. Richards described the relationship simply: "He liked me enough to keep me around as long as I wanted." And that relationship lasted decades.
It was because of Sinatra that Richards began collecting what would become a legendary collection of percussion instruments from around the world. "It happened in 1962. Sinatra asked me to go with a sextet on a world tour. Jack Kennedy had asked Sinatra to do a tour for underprivileged children around the world. The state department would fund the trip. Frank says I'll go one better 'I've got my own jet. I'll pay for it myself.'"

With the blessing of the President of the United States and liberal duty free standards, Richards traveled the world. "Kennedy said 'I'll have ambassadors meet you in each country so you don't have to go through customs,'" recalls Richards. "I filled the belly of that plane. Every time I made a trip after that, other trips with Frank to South America and a lot in the U.S., I just started collecting."
He amassed more than two thousand percussion instruments as he criss-crossed the globe, dotting his home with delicate teak gamelan artifacts and Cuban hand drums. "My collection of percussion instruments was pretty vast, larger than anybody I can think of in the U.S. I certainly studied a lot of percussion instruments from around the world. I got to play them and learn from them and buy them."

As a result he became something of a specialist in unique percussion sounds. "Anytime I came back from a trip at least a half a dozen people would call and ask 'what's new? What've you got?'" says Richards. "I used to try to instruct the composers that you mix all kinds of saxes and clarinets to get different sounds why not percussion? But nobody mixed percussion. They wanted to hear a percussion sound out by itself. With so many instruments in the world of percussion, you marry the woods and the metals and the glass, you can come up with another array of colors that even synthesizers can't do."
Despite all of the time he has spent in recording studios, Richards has only sneaked out a few times to record under his own name. A partnership with Impulse! Records in the 1960s helped Richards share his new discoveries with the world. His Microtonal Blues Band introduced a wealth of new sounds that ran from killer to kitsch over the course of a few sides.

In the last few years, Richards has sold most of his collection. The Percussive Arts Society in Indiana took a large portion while a world famous film composer and frequent employer got first dibs on the bounty.
"I found a vibraphone that had double bars, one right next to the other that was an octave apart," says Richards. "I said 'what the hell is this for?' It was kind of cheating because you could make it sound like you were playing octaves really fast. There were only one or two of them made and one just happened to come to me. I guess when you are a collector things just happen that way. Well, Danny Elfman freaked over that one. He's got it now!"

Roberto Magris Septet: Morgan Rewind Vol 2 - DownBeat

Roberto Magris Septet
Morgan Rewind: A Tribute to Lee Morgan, Vol 2

Cut down at the age of 33, hard-bop trumpeter Lee Morgan made a sizable impact as a leader and Jazz Messenger, leaving a body of work that was artistically engaging and commercially viable.

Nonetheless, aside from a few big hits, Morgan's compositions have not entered into the standard language like many of his contemporaries' did. Italian pianist Roberto Magris is doing his part with his second volume of Morgan tunes but considering this album's length, the two-disc set could've just as easily been released separately as Vol. 2 and Vol. 3.

While 2010's Vol. 1 feature Tootie Heath on drums, Magris' follow-up septet does not feature any marquee names. Throughout the set, Magris sets a swinging tone, dispensing a strong left hand and confident lines. Trumpeter Hermon Mehari has the biggest shoes to fill and he does so admirably. He summons blistering chops for a hard-swinging performance that anchors the set. Dense tunes like "Zambia" from Morgan's Delightfulee are pushed by the twin rhythmic team of drummer Brian Steever and percussionist Pablo Sanhueza. While the original recording of "Gary's Notebook" from The Sidewinder revels in frenetic energy, Magris' rendition is a little too busy with his piano and Peter Schlamb's vibraphone rolling together but the tune rights itself with fine solo spots.

Magris even has the hubris to sneak in a few of his originals. Thankfully, they fit the Morgan mold with "A Summer's Kiss" reaching for a "Ceora"-like bossa vibe. This is a fun set of hard-driving swing that upholds the spirit of its honoree, shining a light on the trumpeter's lesser-known compositions.

Roberto Magris @ DownBeat

Mark de Clive-Lowe: Church - DownBeat

 Mark de Clive Lowe

A night at keyboardist-producer-beatmaker Mark de Clive-Lowe's "church" is a sermon through the history of popular music. He's as comfortable playing in a straightahead trio as he is remixing a bank of heavy beats. There are psychedelic dreamscapes like "The Processional," given wings by Low LEaf's harp and the blistering trumpet work of Josiel Perez Hernandez, while an impassioned guest spot from de Clive-Lowe's wife, Nia Andrews, on "Now Or Never" adds an r&b swagger. "Sketch For Miguel" explores shag carpet soul behind violist Miguel Atwood-Ferguson's meaty bow, while the lone cover, Dollar Brand's "Imam," highlights the funky cymbals of Nate Smith. There is a bottomless undercurrent of groove on this recording but it isn't for purists of any genre. Sounds bend and fade, sharp horns blend with electronic fuzz and de Clive-Lowe keeps one hand on the keyboard and one on the knobs. One of his most impressive skills is his ability to do all of this live in small, dark rooms around the world. He doesn't take advantage of studio trickery but unfortunately that isn't apparent in this recording because the result has a professional polish.

Mark de Clive-Lowe @ DownBeat