Showing posts with label Jazz. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jazz. Show all posts

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Moog-tinged jazz-funk from the King of Jingles: Vichyssoise - Bruce Clarke & Maryan Kenyon (1973)

Bruce Clarke was an Australian jazz guitarist, composer and founder of legendary label Cumquat Records. He was one of those diverse hired-guns of the Australian scene, active from the late fifties until the seventies when he started teaching. In 1957 he set up The Jingle Workshop, a studio and production company responsible for countless pieces of television music and soundtracks.

On this record Bruce teams up with Maryan Kenyon, a classical pianist from the Melbourne Conservatorium who worked at The Jingle Workshop. Bruce was a big fan of the Moog synth and Maryan ‘used her spare time to learn and master the equipment at hand’, so the liner notes inform us. ‘Maryan is not just a very pretty face’.

The notes, after having reassured us that the classically trained pianist featured on the album is good-looking (what about Bruce?), mostly wax lyrical about how unusual and eclectic this album is; a combination of bold, unique flavours, just like vichyssoise - a vegetable based French soup - which helps to explain why Clarke and Kenyon are posing in front of a giant leek on the cover. There is a wonderful and unexpected array of sounds to be found on this disc, mainly from the various Moogs and other electronics featuring in most songs. 

The feel of the album is dominated by white-Australian jazz funk with a hint of exotica, exemplified by the brilliant Djerba. Djerba opens with a slow, middle-eastern section scored by tom drums and a back and forth interplay between Clarke’s classical guitar and Kenyon’s wah-wah synth. The song then segues into an upbeat funk riff, allowing Kenyon some space to noodle around a bit with the synth and for Clarke to bring on some fuzz guitar.

Vichyssoise is a consistently good listen throughout due to well-chosen songs (about half originals by Clarke or Kenyon, the rest covers) and the extremely high quality of playing from the two stars and their band. Also, the very well-executed and constant presence of Moog and early synths on the tracks always keeps me entertained, setting it apart from other albums of it’s oeuvre.

Postscript: As inexplicable as it sounds, Howard Moon and Vince Noir appear to be members of Bruce and Maryan's band. Howard has a well documented love of jazz, but I'm surprised to see Vince involved. I'm pretty sure this proves the existence of parallel fiction realities.

Label: Cumquat
Released: 1973
Players: Bruce Clarke - composer/arranger/conductor, classic and electric guitars, Fender bass, Moog synthesiser, vocals
Maryan Kenyon - composer/arranger, Fender-Rhodes, acoustic pianos, harpsichord, Moog synthesiser, vocals
Brian Czempinski - percussion and special effects
Ted White - woodwinds (sax)
Llloyd Knapp - woodwinds
Barry Veith - woodwinds
Fred Hosking - woodwinds
Ron Anderson - woodwinds
Bill Harrower - woodwinds
Eddie Oxley - woodwinds
Keith Stirling - trumpets and/or flugelhorns
Bruce Gardiner - trumpets and/or flugelhorns
Reg Walsh - trumpets and/or flugelhorns
John Hughes - trumpets and/or flugelhorns
Ron Webb - trumpets and/or flugelhorns
Orme Stewart - trombones
Clive Webber - trombones
Jack Glenn - trombones
Col Williams - trombones
John Kennedy - cello
Judy Grieve - cor anglais
Maurice Sheldon - tuba

Strings uncredited.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Our man of many trumpets: John Robertson and his Multi Trumpets – John Robertson (196?)

John Robertson was a classically trained trumpeter, originally from New Zealand, who emigrated to Australia in the fifties or sixties. Despite a strong reputation as an orchestral player, he also cut a few popular LPs such as this exotica/Latin record from the mid-sixties. The reference to ‘multi trumpets’ seems to simply refer to Robertson using multi-tracking of trumpet lines and accompanying himself on most tracks – fairly standard practice, I would have thought, but I guess you’ve got market your instrumental trumpet LP somehow.

Most of the information I’ve been able to find about Robertson has been from a conversation on a trumpet forum from 2005. They’ve got some solid information about Robertson and some good stories such as this one about the musicians who were playing at Sydney’s famous Trocadero jazz venue: One of their numbers had each musician playing some novelty trick... Robbo's gimmick was to hold a high C for 16 bars revolving the trumpet on his lips, while the band played chords underneath. Apparently all the Sydney musicians would crowd in to see him do this act - couldn't believe the lack of mouthpiece pressure. And [trumpeter] George Dobson commented later about these days saying each night he (still seated) would be covered in 'a fine spray of spittle as Robbie (standing) went into act'!

Anyway, John Robertson and his Multi Trumpets is a fine set of instrumental standards played with great skill by Robertson and arranged beautifully by Thomas Tycho. The first track to really make an impression on me was Sugar Plum Cha-cha, an adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s piece of (more or less) the same name. Yes, it’s twee as fuck, but the bass and percussion is swinging and it’s ultimately quite a well executed interpretation.

Label: RCA
Released: 196?
Players: John Robertson: Trumpet and flugelhorn
Thomas Tycho: Musical director and arranger
Don Andrews: Guitar soloist on La Spagnola


Friday, 18 October 2013

Bach + koto and shakuhachi + jazz trio = ?: J.S. Bach Is Alive And Well And Doing His Thing On The Koto – Tadao Sawai et al (1971)

This rather unusual and improbably named LP marks the moment that I realised I had been neglecting the ‘classical’ bins at the record fairs. I’m not a huge fan of Bach – he’s a bit too chromatic and conventional for my tastes – but I couldn’t go past an album of his music being interpreted by traditional Japanese instrumentation supported by a jazz rhythm section.

How/why did this get made? God only knows, but I suspect that it was conceived and produced by the Japanese players who thought it would be an interesting musical exercise but that it then later made its way into the hands of an American label who thought that the only way to market such a chimera would be with a wacky angle and silly record cover. (As you can see, the cover depicts a gentleman in full baroque regalia whimsically nursing a koto in a traditional Japanese room. It's basically a direct appropriation of the cover concept for Switched On Bach.) The liner notes continue this light-hearted theme with a faux interview with Bach himself who muses on his works, gives his approval to this new interpretation of his music and cracks a few very corny gags. The LP appears to have been released in an earlier incarnation in 1969 with the (slightly) less silly title “A New Sound From The Japanese Bach Scene”.

Despite the label trying to sell this set off as a bit of a joke, the music itself is very well produced and skilfully played. The fusion of the disparate elements of Bach, Japanese traditional and jazz works seamlessly and it’s actually a very congruent listen overall.

Label: RCA
Released: 1971 (Original release 1969)
Players: Tadao Sawai - first koto
Kazue Sawai - second koto
Hozan Yamamoto - shakuhachi
Sadanori Nakamure - guitar
Tatsuro Takimoto - bass
Takeshi Inomata - drums

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Making It Happen - Eric Jupp And His Music (1969?)

Although they show up with some regularity, I’ve stopped buying Eric Jupp albums when I find them in op-shops these days. I’ve listened to a few, and Jupp’s LPs are typically schmaltzy lounge-room jazz firmly ensconced in an old-school, conservative musical mindset. It's pleasant enough stuff and features some great players, but not really my thing. I bought Making It Happen from the Salvos because it features an original composition by John Sangster, and due to the presence of some of my favourite sixties/seventies Oz jazz players (John Sangster, Don Burrows, George Golla, Derek Fairbrass, Warren Daly). 

This feels like an album where the young turks have dragged old fart Jupp into a more hip, modern set of songs. It’s not that hip though; there are still a number of soundtrack numbers and standards that are ever-present on these sorts of LPs - Theme From Exodus, Tara’s Theme from Gone With The Wind, Live For Life theme, Nino Rota’s A Time For Us from Romeo & Juliet and Hava Nagila. Most of these are pretty nice, if forgettable. 

The bulk of the set however is made up of instrumental arrangements of contemporary pop songs such as Puppet On A String (Sandie Shaw, 1967), Sounds of Silence (Simon & Garfunkel, 1966), The Other Man’s Grass Is Always Greener (Petula Clark, 1967), When I’m 64 (The Beatles, 1967), Help Yourself (Tom Jones, 1968) and Spinning Wheel (Blood, Sweat and Tears, 1969). A lot of these tracks are pretty great and the playing is always top-notch - for example, check out Burrow's echoey clarinet solo in the impossibly jaunty rendition of When I’m 64

The highlight is unquestionably Kaffir Song written by John Sangster. Most people would be familiar with this song from The Jazz Sound of The Don Burrows Quartet. In my opinion, the version on Making It Happen is superior. It’s a more fast-paced, less conspicuously ‘jazzy’ version and the interplay between the percussion and the bass is far more complex and interesting. (As amazing as the bass work is, the bassist is not credited in the liner notes - I’m guessing it’s Ed Gaston, but who knows?) It’s a looping, hypnotic trip into faux-exotica highlighted by Burrows high-pitched Bb school flute.

The other track which I really like is the Live For Life theme. From what I can tell, the original recording of this theme was a slow waltz - here Jupp reimagines the piece as a frantic whirlwind of exotic strings and horns, with the same picked bass tone as featured on Kaffir Song. It sounds like the kind of song that would played in a sixties movie over a montage of people doing important things very quickly. 

Label: Columbia
Released: 1969? (There is no date listed, but the latest of the cover songs was released in 1969). 
Players: Eric Jupp - piano, arrangements and musical direction.
Don Burrows - flutes, clarinet
Billy Burton - trumpet
George Golla - guitar
John Sangster - percussion, vibraphone
Derek Fairbrass - drums
Warren Daly - drums

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Seasons Of Love - Gerard Kennedy/Sven Libaek (1972)

I first saw this album on the old Votary Records trades page, listed as ‘for Libaek completists only’. It’s a fair assessment of this LP - Libaek merely provides accompaniment for Australian seventies television star Gerard Kennedy as he recites Rod McKuen-style poetry over a smooth jazz backing. It may be instructive to focus on the music and the poetry separately:

THE MUSIC, BY SVEN LIBAEK. Sven’s compositions on the LP are quite good, if a little innocuous (it is intended as background music after all). There are some great moments though, which is not surprising as this was recorded right in the middle of Libaek’s golden era - he would go on to record the soundtrack for Inner Space a year after this release. None of the musicians are credited, but I am pretty confident that the usual suspects are playing on this record: George Golla on guitar, Don Burrows on flutes, John Sangster on vibes and percussion and so on. Many tracks also feature the addition of string sections which tends to bring out great stuff from Sven. The frustrating thing is that there are very few moments on the LP where the music is brought to the forefront and given a chance to be heard. Autumn is one such track, where we get a chance to hear haunting flute lines cycle over orchestral strings with a cool jazz underpinning from the rhythm players. The twin, harmonising sax lines bookending Spring are another lovely touch. A few themes are repeated and developed over a couple of tracks which adds some depth, and was not something that Sven usually did. But unfortunately, any moments of Libaek goodness invariably get interrupted by Gerard Kennedy’s awkward, artless spoken word.

THE POETRY, BY GERARD KENNEDY. Let me be blunt; the poetry on this record is bad. Really bad. Really, really bad. I think I could state without risk of hyperbole that this is the worst poetry I have ever heard. Gerard affects a bad boy outsider persona for the poetry, but also injects a strange sort of cutesiness that, while not necessarily at odds with the material, fills me with an intense sort of simultaneous rage and embarrassment. Embarragement?

Throughout Seasons Of Love, Kennedy’s turn of phrase is embarrassingly unselfconscious and pretentious - I could pick almost any line from the album to illustrate this, here’s a random sample: ‘[Let’s] put up a maze of love with walls a thousand thoughts thick’ from I Think I’ll Build A Wall or “You moved [...] proud and graceful like a young gazelle picking her way through the forest.” from The Quiet Time Of Reason. There are really only two themes that are touched upon in the poems (if I was being kind, I’d call it consistency): Gerard describing how he is an outsider (Travel Broadens The Mind, I Am An Island) or musings on wanting to find love, but being too much of a free-thinking bohemian to be able to love just one woman (all the other tracks). Gerard is always alone, even in a crowd. The rain is his brother, and the wind is his friend.

Of course, Kennedy can’t be blamed for the abysmal standard of the poetry because despite the strongly personal nature of the verse, he didn’t actually write it. The poetry itself is credited to one Warwick Randall. One website I read even suggested that ‘Warwick Randall’ was a pseudonym for Kennedy, but from what I can ascertain, Randall is a real person. He has a couple of books of poetry to his name, is credited as working with Kennedy on a number of television shows and wrote for Melbourne broadsheet The Age in the early eighties. 

The fact that Kennedy didn’t even write the words that he delivers with such hammy enthusiasm only adds to the weirdness of this record. Did Kennedy recognise his limitations as a poet and outsource the job? Did he think that his friend was a criminally under appreciated poet and wanted to bring his work to a wider audience? Perhaps Gerard just wanted to portray himself as a tough yet arty nonconformist but didn’t actually have the poetic skills required for an LP of this nature and so turned to a lesser known, but confident poet whom he happened to know through work? I have so many questions about the execution and production of this LP, but I suspect that everyone involved with Seasons Of Love instantly forgot about it soon after it was released.

...And yet, I keep listening to this LP. I tend to eschew the ‘so bad it’s good’ school of music appreciation (I prefer music that’s ‘so good it’s good’) but there’s something about Seasons Of Love that keeps me coming back. There’s something mesmerising about this seventies wannabe alternative pin-up boy effusing cringe-inducing poetry (that he didn’t even write) over a backdrop of sweet, smooth jazz from a composer who was at the top of his game and probably wrote this material in his sleep. If nothing else, it’s a fascinating cultural artifact - when, where, could this have ever been considered cool?

Label: Festival
Released: 1972
Players: Gerard Kennedy - spoken word
Sven Libaek - composer, arranger
Musicians uncredited.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Wives & Lovers - George Golla (1968/70)

George Golla has played on countless records accompanying Don Burrows, Sven Libaek, John Sangster et al, but he very infrequently released LPs under his own name and own direction. This is one of those records, and it’s a nice one. Wives & Lovers is a crowd-pleasing set of standards, Beatles covers and Brazillian bossa. I recall seeing a live LP of Golla and his band which was recorded at a popular pancake eatery in Sydney - I imagine this is exactly the kind of set they would playing, one that would ensure that the punters were hearing something they were familiar with or at least something that was engaging on first listen. Only one piece, Waltz To Adelaide, is a Golla original and it’s a damn shame that there aren’t more on this record because it’s the album's standout for me - a Libaek-esque waltz with nice dynamic changes and great work from the horn section. In fact, it’s as good as Libaek’s best, and the way that it is arranged and executed as a complete, concise song actually exceeds most of Sven’s work in this regard. 

Of the two Beatles covers, Day Tripper probably wouldn’t sound out of place on an album of novelty easy-listening covers, but it’s pleasant enough. Fool On The Hill is quite an interesting interpretation of this song and reimagines it as an odd shuffle with a sort of weird sense of unease in the chorus. The standards are pretty standard, although Wives and Lovers is great, and the Brazilian stuff on side two is good, but still feeling a bit safe and diluted for a popular audience. Overall, a lovely late-sixties Oz jazz album with some unevenness in the quality, but worth it for Golla’s Waltz To Adelaide and a few others.

Label: Festival
Released: Sleeve says 1970, disc says 1968.
Players: George Golla - guitar
Don Burrows - flute, alto flute, alto sax
Errol Buddle - bassoon, tenor sax
Pete Haslum - trombone
John Sangster - vibes, percussion
Derek Fairbrass - drums
Ed Gaston - bass (credited on the back as ‘Ed Faston’ - no respect at all.)
George Thompson - bass

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Peaceful - John Sangster (1980)

This is the sort of music that ideally should be listened to while sitting on a pristine Australian beach with a beer, maybe enjoying a cheeky Winnie blue (or some of Australia's other well-loved herbal produce) while listening to the native birds calling in the coastal scrub. I'm a little surprised, in fact, that Sangster didn't incorporate field recordings of birdsong or other native bioacoustics into this LP as he has with so many of his others. (Especially with titles like 'Reed-warbler Song').

This set is quite consistent in its instrumentation, comprising acoustic guitar, vibes and other melodic percussion instruments, smooth sax and flute. Overall the LP is reminiscent of the quieter sections of Sangster's fantastic Australia And All That Jazz records. The relatively straightforward arrangements and breezy exotica feel also evoke the vibe of John Zorn pieces like The Gift.

This record is an artefact of sixties/seventies Oz exotica which evolved from an appreciation of Australia as something of a tropical paradise. (See Sangster's own aptly titled Paradise for an excellent example of this cultural phenomenon). And unlike the unobtainable island fantasies of the original American exotica wave of the late fifties, this was a paradise that was easily accessible to any Australian with a bit of time, a serviceable caravan and a desire to seek out their own Antipodean Eden. Sangster clearly loved to view Australia in this way. In a country that is often ashamed of celebrating it's own 'Australianess', Sangster's music stands out as an unabashed statement of what makes it worth celebrating.

Label: Rain-Forest
Released: 1980
Players: Errol Buddle - tenor saxophone
Mal Cunningham - flutes
Terry Walker - acoustic guitar
Tony Ansell - electric piano
John Sangster - vibraphone, marimba and percussion
Ian Bloxsom - percussion

Monday, 28 May 2012

The Australian Ark - Derek Strahan (1970)

If I had to name an all-time favourite genre it would be nature documentary soundtracks - particularly if they're Australian and from the sixties or seventies. Admittedly, it's a fairly limited genre, so at this point, finding a new one (new to me, anyway) is pretty exciting. While doing a little wandering on the internet, I found the soundtrack to Shell's Australia; a thirteen part series by Robert Raymond documenting the natural history of Australia which originally aired in the early seventies. The soundtrack, titled The Australian Ark, was composed by Derek Strahan during 1969-70 and features the talents of a number of Oz jazz players including John Sangster and Derek Fairbrass. I've only been listening to it since I obtained it this morning, but from my initial impressions, it sounds really, really good. The inclusion of Sangster on percussion lends the soundtrack a very similar feel to Sangster's own soundtrack works and also the celebrated soundtracks of Sven Libaek. I don't have a rip of this album - it was never released on vinyl, although a cassette tape was released by Strahan in 1980 - but the whole thing can be purchased on CD or mp3 from CD Baby. Strahan seems to release all his music independently, so purchasing this album will directly support this Australian composer and his fine work.

If you want to hear some of the music in context, there are a couple of videos of the original documentary available at the National Film and Sound Archive's australianscreen site.



Sunday, 27 May 2012

Don Burrows And The Brazilian Connection - Don Burrows Quintet, Sydney String Quartet, Octavio Burnier & Claudio Cartier (1979)

My view of 1970s Australia is derived entirely from pop-cultural artefacts. Through my incomplete, stochastic lens, the Australia of the seventies was a land far more isolated than today, infused with a unique kind of funky antipodean jazz. A land where flute was king, and Don Burrows reigned supreme as it’s finest exponent. It’s hard to imagine a time when a jazz flautist was the most successful and prolific of instrumentalists, but in the magic heyday of Australia in the seventies, anything was possible.
Like any prolific musician, Burrows has his hits and misses. The first record of his I ever bought - Don Burrows Presents The Brazilian Connection, is one of the hits. This is a double live LP recorded in 1978 at the Sydney Opera House and Canberra Theatre featuring the Don Burrows Quintet, the Sydney String Quartet and two Brazilian singer-songwriters; Octavio Burnier and Cluadio Cartier. Each track features a performance played by different permutations of these musicians. For example, some tracks feature just the Brazilians with the string quartet, some feature all the ensembles playing together, a couple feature the classic duo lineup of Burrows and guitarist George Golla and so on.

Although this is Don’s record, the Brazilians - Burnier and Cartier - steal the show. Tracks like 'Don João (King John)', 'Sitio Azul (A happy, country weekender)', 'Adventura Espacial (Adventure in space)' and 'Recreio (Playtime)' have a beautiful sound, particularly when the guitarists are accompanied by the string quartet. Although the overtly jazz flute feel of much of the LP has dated somewhat, the songs by Burnier and Cartier still sound very fresh and quite contemporary.

That being said, the tracks featuring all the players are amongst the best material on the LP. My favourite track on the LP is probably 'Lembrando Ed Kleiger (Remember Ed Kleiger)'. Opening with the Brazilians singing a gorgeous melody over a funky backing from the Don Burrows Quintet, highlighted with flourishes from the Sydney String Quartet which then segues into seven odd minutes of extended solos from our esteemed players. 'Lenda das Amazonas (Legend of the Amazons)' is another track where the players go all in, follows much the same format as the latter tune and is equally as good.

Don Burrow’s albums seem to be less sought out and celebrated than those by other Oz jazz players of the seventies - possibly due to their sheer abundance. This LP however, is well worth a listen and easily holds its own in comparison with other lauded Australian jazz LPs from this era.

Label: Cherry Pie
Released: 1978 (Recorded live at Sydney Opera House and Canberra Theatre)
Players: Don Burrows - flutes, clarinet, percussion
George Golla - guitar, percussion
Tony Ansel - electric piano, synth, percussion
Paul Baker - bass, percussion
Paul Jansen - percussion

Octavio Burnier & Claudio Cartier - 6 and 12 string guitar, vocals, percussion

Harry Curby - 1st violin, percussion

Derel Tincu - 2nd violin, percussion
Alex Todicescu - viola, percussion
Nathan Waks - cello, percussion


Sunday, 29 April 2012

Bush Theme/Lonely Australian Landscape - Sven Libaek (1966)

Here's another gem from Urban Bowerbird favourite Sven Libaek. These two tunes are taken from the nature documentary soundtrack Nature Walkabout, however these are quite different versions to the tracks that appear on the LP. These versions are shorter and have faster tempos than the album versions and a few changes in orchestration and arrangement. The two tracks also seem to be played by a more stripped-down version of Sven's usual ensemble - there are no saxophone, flute or trumpet parts, just piano, guitar, bass, vibes and harmonica on Bush Theme. I am unsure why different versions of these songs were released on the single - is this a standard practice? I have a 7" single from Libaek's Inner Space soundtrack (Thatcherie/Sounds Of The Deep) and it contains exactly the same versions as featured on the LP. Weird.

I always felt that Bush Theme was one of the weaker tracks on Nature Walkabout and I think the increase in tempo and the concision of this arrangement improves it immeasurably. Lonely Australian Landscape on the other hand is one of my favourite of Sven's compositions and I like it even better with this pacing and arrangement. It takes what is already a great melody and gives it an incredible urgency and energy.

Label: Festival
Released: 1966 (I assume; that's when the Nature Walkabout soundtrack was released.)
Players: Unsure, but here's an educated guess: Sven Libaek - piano
George Golla - guitar
John Sangster - vibes, percussion
Ed Gaston - bass
Derek Fairbrass - drums

Richard Brooks - harmonica


Friday, 30 March 2012

Para Ti/Warmer - Bryce Rohde (1963)

This is a single released in 1963 by Bryce Rohde, probably best known for his work in the Australian Jazz Quintet. I found this single at a second book shop in Leongatha with a bunch of other jazz 45s that were all from 1963. Both tracks on this 7" are great and have something of a cool, almost exotica, bossa feel - it reminds me of the sort of stuff they reissue on Trunk Records. This single was released by CBS during the reign of Sven Libaek who produced both tracks.

The Hobbit Suite - John Sangster (1973)

I love John Sangster. The fact that this man is not considered a national treasure may be one of the greatest injustices of Australian history. Anyway, here we find him doing what he does best: playing slightly weird, trad-ish jazz with his mates in an attempt to evoke the works of J.R.R. Tolkien (the man had vision). This record is similar to the later works that Sangster would do in this series, Lord Of The Rings Volume I (1975) and II (1976). Favourite titles are Gandalf The Whiz and Bilbo Baggins Takes A Trip. Favourite song is the awesome coolness of Beorn's Bear Dance. Just a straight-up great jazz record with a hell of a lot of personality and an incredible level of musicianship. If this album piques your interest, check out the totally brilliant Australia And All That Jazz.

Label: Swaggie, produced by Nevill L. Sherburn.
Released: 1973
Players: John Sangster - vibes, marimbaphone, celesete, percussions
Bob Barnard - trumpet, flugelhorn
John McCarthy - clarinet, soprano, tenor saxophone
Col Nolan - piano
George Thompson - bass
Len Barnard - drums, washboard
Ian Bloxsom - percussions

Here's Hawes - The John Hawes Jazz Band (1963)

There's something almost punk about this EP from 1963 - six young Melbourne lads (none of the band members were over 21) smashing out party music with this rebellious new 'jazz' sound. The first track, Dr. Jazz opens with a sample of a phone operator asking 'May I help you?' who is then greeted to John Hawes screaming over a frenetic jazz track. Although the sound of the EP is generally trad jazz, the sample and the screaming vocals give this track at least, quite a modern feel. The next track Shout 'Em Aunt Tilly (written by Duke Ellington) is my favourite, another ostensibly trad jazz piece but with slightly more edge than the rest of the record. The EP closes with another vocal track, I Want A Girl which hearkens back to an age when it was socially acceptable to sing a song about how you wanted to bang a girl who was just like your mum. In summary, it's a consistently entertaining EP from some very young, exuberant players who wanted to "achieve a 'different' sound" and to "[a]bove all 'to entertain' as this album so ably demonstrates."

Label: Crest
Released: 1963
Players: John Hawes - leader, cornet, vocals
Graeme Davies - trombone
Hamish Hughes - bass
Dave McCallum - drum-kit and interruptions
Jeff Thomas - standard banjo
Ray Rickerby - clarinet

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Northern Territory/Theme From Black Orpheus -Andy Sundstrom (1963)

(EDIT: I have found the EP from which this single was taken. It contains an additional two tracks Free Fall and Theme From An Unwritten Movie. Check it out here.)

To follow on from the previous post, here is a version of Sven Libaek's song Northern Territory recorded by Andy Sundstrom in 1963. Libaek's version of this track can be found on The Music Of Sven Libaek and based on the liner notes of that LP, was presumably featured on some sort of documentary about the Northern Territory. I can find very little information on who Sundstrom actually is, but he recorded a couple of folk LPs with Leonard Teale back in 1969 and 1970. He's clearly a guitarist as these two instrumental, guitar-based tracks attest. Northern Territory is a jaunty, tremolo-number with a distinct western feel. The B-side, Theme From Black Orpheus is an exotica-tinged, melody driven Brazilian bossa nova taken from the soundtrack of the 1959 movie of the same name.

EDIT: Found some information on Mr. Sundstrom on the back of an LP he did with Leonard Teale. Here it is verbatim:

Andy Sundstrom was born in Denmark. He studied almost every string instrument imaginable, paying particular attention to the guitar and balalaika. Most of his early youth was spent playing in various bands. He decided he wanted to travel, and with a friend, two guitars, a balalaika and $60 in his pocket he left Hanover, Germany. After 10 days the money had been spent, then the boys ‘played’ their way to Italy, Marseilles, Spain. Andy continued the journey alone to the Canary Islands, and from there helped sail a 38-foot ketch to Australia where he settled for several years. Andy has now returned to his native Denmark, and recently travelled extensively throughout Europe furthering his musical career.

Label: CBS, produced by Sven Libaek.
Released: 1963
Players: Andy Sundstrom - guitar


Saturday, 3 March 2012

The Music Of Sven Libaek - Sven Libaek (1967)

This LP seems to be one of the lesser heard of Libaek's albums from his golden era in the sixties and seventies. I can't imagine why - it's a fantastic set of music as good as (or better than) his soundtrack work which has enjoyed such a resurgence in appreciation over the last few years. In any case, the majority of the pieces on this album are from film and television soundtracks composed 'in the last year or so' and then rearranged and rerecorded for this album. The liner notes don't mention which soundtracks, but the titles give clues: Gold Coast Fanfare, Lake Moondara, Northern Territory and so on.

EDIT: I've noticed from the liner notes of the Nature Walkabout soundtrack that some of these earlier works are mentioned. Man And A Mural was from the soundtrack to an 'award winning art documentary film' of the same name which was produced and edited by Nature Walkabout producer  Bill Copland. Done Away With was part of the music Sven wrote for a 'TV play' of the same name by Pat Flowers. Versions of Northern Territory and Theme From An Unwritten Movie were released on a 1963 EP by balalaika player Andy Sundstrom on CBS when Libaek was at the helm as A&R man. I recently tracked down this EP and wrote a post on it here.

The compositions are played by that great team of Sydney jazz players familiar from countless other Australian recordings of the era: Don Burrows, Errol Buddle, George Golla, John Sangster and Derek Fairbrass amongst others. This is a superb album which deserves to be placed in the same league as Libaek's best.

Postcript: The excellent ABC podcast RareCollections recently ran a two-part interview with Libaek containing a lot of great information from Sven. Check it out here.

Label: Festival
Released: 1967
Players: Sven Libaek - piano, guitar
Don Burrows - alto sax, alto flute, flute
Errol Buddle - tenor sax
Eric "Boff" Thompson - trumpet
Richard Brooks - harmonica
George Golla - guitar
John Sangster - vibes, glockenspiel, bongos
Ed Gaston - bass
Derek Fairbrass - drums