Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Staple Singers

All Music Guide Biography by Rob Bowman:

The Staples' story goes all the way back to 1915 in Winona, MS, when patriarch Roebuck Staples entered the world. A contemporary and familiar of Charley Patton, Roebuck quickly became adept as a solo blues guitarist, entertaining at local dances and picnics. He was also drawn to the church, and by 1937 he was singing and playing guitar with the Golden Trumpets, a spiritual group based out of Drew, MS. Moving to Chicago four years later, he continued playing gospel music with the Windy City's Trumpet Jubilees. A decade later Pops Staples (as he had become known) presented two of his daughters, Cleotha and Mavis, and his one son, Pervis, in front of a church audience, and the Staple Singers were born.

The Staples recorded in an older, slightly archaic, deeply Southern spiritual style first for United and then for Vee-Jay. Pops and Mavis Staples shared lead vocal chores, with most records underpinned by Pops' heavily reverbed Mississippi cotton-patch guitar. In 1960 the Staples signed with Riverside, a label that specialized in jazz and folk. With Riverside and later Epic, the Staples attempted to move into the then-burgeoning white folk boom. Two Epic releases, "Why (Am I Treated So Bad)" and a cover of Stephen Stills's "For What It's Worth," briefly graced the pop charts in 1967.

In 1968 the Staples signed with Memphis-based Stax. The first two albums, Soul Folk in Action and We'll Get Over, were produced by Steve Cropper and backed by Booker T. & the MG's. The Staples were now singing entirely contemporary "message" songs such as "Long Walk to D.C." and "When Will We Be Paid." In 1970 Pervis Staples left and was replaced by sister Yvonne Staples. Even more significantly, Al Bell took over production chores. Bell took them down the road to Muscle Shoals, and things got decidedly funky.

Starting with "Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom Boom)" and "I'll Take You There," the Staples counted 12 chart hits at Stax. When Stax encountered financial problems, Curtis Mayfield signed the Staples to his Curtom label and produced a number one hit in "Let's Do It Again." The Staples went on to continued chart success, albeit less spectacularly, with Warner, through 1979. One more album followed on 20th Century Fox in 1981. After a three-year hiatus, they signed a two-album deal with Private I and hit the R&B charts five more times, once with an unlikely cover of Talking Heads' "Slippery People."

The Staple Singers found a new audience in 1994 when they teamed with Marty Stuart to perform "The Weight" on the Rhythm, Country and Blues LP for MCA. Sadly, Pops passed away on December 19, 2000, shortly after suffering a concussion due to a fall in his home.


André Breton

All of the information provided below about André Breton, one of the founders of the surrealist movement, comes direcrly from here:

André Breton (1896-1966)

French poet, essayist, critic, and editor, chief promoter and one of the founders of Surrealist movement with Paul Eluard, Luis Buñuel, and Salvador Dali among others. Breton's manifestoes of Surrealism are the most important theoretical statements of the movement.

Ma Femme à la chevelure de feu de bois
Aux pensées d'eclairs de chaleur
A la taille de sablier
Ma femme à la taille de loutre entre les dents du tigre
Ma femme à la bouche de cocarde et de bouquet d'étoiles de dernière grandeur
Aux dents d'empreintes de souris blanche sur la terre blanche
A la langue d'ambre et de verre frottés
Ma femme à la langue d'hostie poignardée
A la langue de poupée qui ouvre et ferme les yeux
A la langue de pierre incroyable (...)
(from 'Ma Femme à la Chevelure de Feu de Bois')

André Breton was born in Tinchebray (Orne), the son of a shopkeeper. He spent his childhood on the Brittany coast and started early on to write poems – he knew the poet Paul Valéry while still young. Breton studied medicine and later psychiatry, and in 1921 met Freud in Vienna. He never qualified but during World War I he served in the neurological ward in Nantes and made some attempts to use Freudian methods to psychoanalyze his patients, whose disturbed images he considered remarkable. Among Breton's friends was Jacques Vaché, a wounded, rebellious soldier, who declared art to be nonsense. Vaché died of an opium overdose in 1919 in a hotel room with another young man, but his views, expressed in Lettres de guerre (1919), continued their life in the Dadaist movement.

Breton joined first in 1916 the Dadaist group, but after various quarrels continued his march forward: "Leave everything. Leave Dada. Leave your wife. Leave your mistress. Leave your hopes and fears. Leave your children in the woods. Leave the substance for the shadow. Leave your easy life, leave what you are given for the future. Set off on the road." He turned then to Surrealism and cofounded with Louis Aragon and Philippe Soupault the review Littérature. Very important for his literary work were his wartime meetings with Apollinaire. His MANIFESTE DU SURRÉALISME was published in 1924. Influenced by psychological theories, Breton defined Surrealism as "pure psychic automatism, by which an attempt is made to express, either verbally, in writing or in any other manner, the true functioning of thought. The dictation of thought, in the absence of all control by reason, excluding any aesthetic or moral preoccupation." In the Second Manifesto Breton stated that the surrealists strive to attain a "mental vantage-point (point de l'esprit) from which life and death, the real and the imaginary, past and future, communicable and incommunicable, high and low, will no longer be perceived as contradictions."

Breton and his colleagues believed that the springs of personal freedom and social liberation lay in the unconscious mind. They found examples from the works of such painters as Hieronymus Bosch and James Ensor and from the writings of Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, Alfred Jarry - and from the revolutionary thinking of Karl Marx. The Surrealist movement was from the beginning in a constant state of change or conflict, but its major periodicals, La Révolution surréaliste (1924-30) and Le Surréalisme au service de la révolution (1930-33), channeled cooperation and also spread ideas beyond France.

In the 1930s Breton published several collection of poems, including Mad Love (1937), a defence of an 'irrational' emotion of lovers, which used the Cinderella myth. Humor was an essential part of the Surrealists' activities and Breton also edited in 1937 an anthology on l'humour noir, which featured such writers as Swift, Kafka, Rimbaud, Poe, Lewis Carroll, and Baudelaire. "When it comes to black humor, everything designates him as the true initiator," Breton wrote on Swift. His prose has been more highly rated than his poetry, and among his masterworks from the 1920s is NADJA (1928), a portrait of Breton and a mad woman, a patient of Pierre Janet. The title refers to the name of a woman and the beginning of the Russian word for hope. Breton's first-person narrative is supplemented by forty-four photographs of places and objects which inspire the author or are connected to Nadja. In LES VASES COMMUNICANTS (1932, The Communicating Vessels) Breton explored the problems of everyday experience, dreams, and their relationship to intellect. "Anyone who has ever found himself in love has only been able to deplore the conspiracy of silence and of night which comes in the dream to surround the beloved being, even while the spirit of the sleeper is totally occupied with insignificant tasks", he wrote. "How can we retain from waking life what deserves to be retained, even if it is just so as not to be unworthy of what is best in this life itself?"

From 1927 to 1935 Breton was a member of the French Communist Party. Although he broke with the party in disgust with Stalinism and the Moscow show trials, he remained committed to Marxism. In Nadja he had said: "Subjectivity and objectivity commit a series of assaults on each other during a human life out of which the first one suffers the worse beating." With Leon Trotsky, whom he met in Mexico, he founded in 1938 the Fédération de l'Art Revolutionnaire Independant, and produced a paper on the civil liberties of an artist. When the Nazis occupied France, Breton fled to the United States with Marcel Duchamp and Max Ernst. He held there a broadcasting job and arranged a surrealist exposition at Yale in 1942. On a boat ride to Martinique in 1941 Breton met the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss and discussed with him artistic creation. Lévi-Strauss criticized that Breton's definition of a work of art as the spontaneous activity of the mind opens the question of the aesthetic value of the work. Breton answered that he is "hardly interested in establishing a hierarchy of surrealist works (contrary to Aragon who once said: "If you write dreadful rubbish in an authentically surrealistic manner, it is still rubbish") - nor, as I have made clear, a hierarchy of romantic or symbolist works." (from Look, Listen, Read, by Lévi-Strauss, 1997)

During the war Breton wrote three poetic epics in which he dealt with the theme of exile. After WW II Breton traveled in the Southwest and the West Indies and returned to France in 1946. He soon became an important guru of a group of young Surrealists. In the 1940s and 1950s Breton wrote essays and collections of poems, among them ARCANE 17 (1945), a mythological work set in Canada. Breton's last poetical work, CONSTELLATIONS (1959), paralleled a series of poems with Joan Miro's gouaches. André Breton died in Paris on September 28, 1966. His three-room studio at 42 Rue Fontaine became a research center, preserved by his third wife Elisa. Breton's daughter Aube from his marriage to Jacqueline Lamba decided to put his books, drawings, paintings, sculptures, photographs, and other items on the market in 2003 after the French government did not buy the personal collections.

Surrealism: A movement in visual arts and literature between World Wars I and II. Much used technique among Surrealists was automatic writing. The later influence of Surrealism can be seen in the works of such authors as Eugéne Ionesco, Samuel Beckett, Jean Genet, and other writers of the Theater of Absurd, the French writers of the nouveau roman of the 1950s and '60s. Breton's influence was wide and left impact on psychoanalysis and feminism through Jacques Lacan, on politics via Herbert Marcuse, on criticism through Roland Barthes - just to mention a few important names. - For further reading: André Breton by J. Gracq (1948); André Breton by C. Mauriac (1949); Philosophie de surréalisme by F. Alquié (1955); Le vrai André Breton by P. Soupault (1966); Surrealism and the Literary Imagination by M.A. Caws (1966); André Breton: Arbiter of Surrealism by C. Browder (1967); André Breton by J.H. Matthews (1967); André Breton: Magus of Surrealism by A. Balakian (1971); André Breton by M.A. Caws (1971); Les critiques de notre temps et Breton by M. Bonet (1974); André Breton and the Basic Concepts of Surrealism by M. Carrouges (1974); André Breton: Naissance de l'aventure suréaliste by M. Bonnet (1975); Breton: Nadja by Roger Cardinal (1987); Andre Breton: Sketch for an Early Portrait by J.H. Matthews (1986); Revolution of the Mind by Mark Polizzotti (1995); André Breton by Mary Ann Caws (1996); Andre Breton: The Power of Language by Ramona Fotiade (1999); Surreal Lives by Ruth Brandon (1999) - Suom.: Runosuomennoksia valikoimassa Tulisen järjen aika (1962) ja Tuhat laulujen vuotta, toim. Aale Tynni (1974. - See also: Guillaume Apollinaire


Selected works:

LES CHAMPS MAGNÉTIQUES, 1920 (with Philippe Soupault) - The Magnetic Fields (tr. by David Gascoyne)
CLAIR DE TERRE, 1923 - Earthlight (tr. by Bill Zavatsky and Zack Rogow)
MANIFESTE DU SURRÉALISME, 1924 - Manifesto of Surrealism (tr. 1969) - Surrealismin manifesti (suom. Väinö Kirstinä)
LES PAS PERDUS, 1924 - The Lost Steps ( translated by Mark Polizzotti)
LE SURRÉALISME ET LE PEINTURE, 1926 - Surrealism and Painting, 1926 (tr. by Simon Watson Taylor)
NADJA, 1928 - Nadja (trans. by Richard Howard) - Nadja (suom. Janne Salo)
L'IMMACULÉE CONCEPTION, 1930 - The Immaculate Conception (tr. by Jon Graham)
LES VASES COMMUNICANTS, 1932 - The Communicating Vessels (tr. by Mary Ann Caws & Geoffrey T. Harris)
QU'EST-CE LE QUE LE SURRÉALISME, 1934 - What Is Surrealism? (tr. by David Gascoyne)
L'AIR ET L'EAU, 1934
POINT DU JOUR, 1934 - Break of Day= Point du jour (tr. by Mark Polizzotti & Mary Ann Caws)
NOTES SUR LA POÉSIE, 1936 (with Paul Éluard)
ed.: DE L'HUMEUR NOIR, 1937
L'AMOUR FOU, 1937 - Mad Love=L'amour fou (tr. by Mary Ann Caws)
ANTHOLOGIE DE L'HUMOUR NOIR, 1940 - Anthology of Black Humor (tr. by Mark Polizzotti)
ARCANE, 17, 1945 - Arcanum 17: With Apertures, Grafted to the End (tr. by Zack Rogow)
Young Cherry Trees Secured against Hares/Jeunes cerisiers garantis contre les lièvres, 1946 (tr. by Edouard Roditi)
ODE À CHARLES FOURIER, 1947 - Ode to Charles Fourier (tr. by Kenneth White)
POÈMES 1919-48, 1948
MARTINIQUE, CHARMEISE DE SERPENTS, 1948 - Martinique: Snake Charmer (tr. by David W. Seaman)
LA CLÉ DES CHAMPS, 1953 - Free Rein=Le clé des champs (tr. by Michel Parmentier and Jacqueline d’Amboise)
FAROUCHE À QUATRE FEUILLES, 1954 (with Lise Deharme, Julien Gracq, Jean Tardieu)
LE LA, 1961
MANIFESTES DU SURRÉALISME, 1962 - Manifestoes of Surrealism (tr. by Richard Seaver and Helen R. Lane)
Selected Poems, 1969 (trans. by Kenneth White)
What Is Surrealism?, 1978 (ed. by Franklin Rosemont)
Poems of André Breton, 1982 (tr. by Jean-Pierre Cauvin, Mary Ann Caws)

Alvin Ailey

All of the information below on dancer and choreographer Alvin Ailey has been copied directly from the following site:

Born: January 5, 1931
Rogers, Texas
Died: December 1, 1989
New York, New York
African American dancer and choreographer

Alvin Ailey founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and won international fame as both a dancer and choreographer, a creator and arranger of dance performances.

Rough beginning
Alvin Ailey Jr. was born to Alvin and Lula Elizabeth Ailey on January 5, 1931, in Rogers, Texas. He was an only child, and his father, a laborer, left the family when Alvin Jr. was less than one year old. At the age of six, Alvin Jr. moved with his mother to Navasota, Texas. As he recalled in an interview in the New York Daily News Magazine, "There was the white school up on the hill, and the black Baptist church, and the segregated [only members of one race allowed] theaters and neighborhoods. Like most of my generation, I grew up feeling like an outsider, like someone who didn't matter."

In 1942 Ailey and his mother moved to Los Angeles, California, where his mother found work in an aircraft factory. Ailey became interested in athletics and joined his high school gymnastics team and played football. An admirer of dancers Gene Kelly (1912–1996) and Fred Astaire (1899–1987), he also took tap dancing lessons at a neighbor's home. His interest in dance grew when a friend took him to visit the modern dance school run by Lester Horton, whose dance company (a group of dancers who perform together) was the first in America to admit members of all races. Unsure of what opportunities would be available for him as a dancer, however, Ailey left Horton's school after one month. After graduating from high school in 1948, Ailey considered becoming a teacher. He entered the University of California in Los Angeles to study languages. When Horton offered him a scholarship in 1949 Ailey returned to the dance school. He left again after one year, however, this time to attend San Francisco State College.

Early career
For a time Ailey danced in a nightclub in San Francisco, California, then he returned to the Horton school to finish his training. When Horton took the company east for a performance in New York City in 1953, Ailey was with him. When Horton died suddenly, the young Ailey took charge as the company's artistic director. Following Horton's style, Ailey choreographed two pieces that were presented at the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in Becket, Massachusetts. After the works received poor reviews from the festival manager, the troupe broke up.

Despite the setback, Ailey's career stayed on track. A Broadway producer invited him to dance in House of Flowers, a musical based on Truman Capote's (1924–1984) book. Ailey continued taking dance classes while performing in the show. He also studied ballet and acting. From the mid-1950s through the early 1960s Ailey appeared in many musical productions on and off Broadway, among them: The Carefree Tree; Sing, Man, Sing; Jamaica; and Call Me By My Rightful Name. He also played a major part in the play Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright.

In 1958 Ailey and another dancer with an interest in choreographing recruited dancers to perform several concerts at the 92nd Street Young Men's and Young Women's Hebrew Association in New York City, a place where modern dances and the works of new choreographers were seen. Ailey's first major piece, Blues Suite, was inspired by blues music. The performance drew praise. Ailey then scheduled a second concert to present his own works, and then a third, which featured his most famous piece, Revelations. Accompanied by the elegant jazz music of Duke Ellington (1899–1974), Revelations pulled the audience into African American religious life.

Established own dance company
In 1959 Ailey established the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, a group of eight black dancers. One year later, the theater became the resident dance company at the Clark Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. By the mid-1960s Ailey, who struggled with his weight, gave up dancing in favor of choreography. He also oversaw business details as the director of his ambitious dance company. By 1968 the company had received funding from private and public organizations but still had money problems, even as it brought modern dance to audiences around the world. Ailey also had the leading African American soloist (a person who performs by oneself) of modern dance, Judith Jamison (1944–). Having employed Asian and white dancers since the mid-1960s, Ailey had also integrated (included people of different races) his company. In 1969 the company moved to Brooklyn, New York, as the resident dance company of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, an arts center with three theaters.

In the early 1960s the company performed in Southeast Asia and Australia as part of an international cultural program set up by President John F. Kennedy (1917–1963). Later the company traveled to Brazil, Europe, and West Africa. Ailey also choreographed dances for other companies, including Feast of Ashes for the Joffrey Ballet and Anthony and Cleopatra for the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center in New York City. Ailey worked on projects with other artists, including one with Duke Ellington for the American Ballet Theater. For Ailey the decade peaked with the performance of Masekela Language, a dance based on the music of Hugh Masekela, a black South African trumpeter who lived in exile for speaking out against apartheid (South Africa's policy of separation based on race).

Ailey's Cry
By the late 1970s Ailey's company was one of America's most popular dance troupes. Its members continued touring around the world, with U.S. State Department backing. They were the first modern dancers to visit the former Soviet Union since the 1920s. In 1971 Ailey's company was asked to return to the City Center Theater in New York City after a performance featured Ailey's celebrated solo, Cry. Danced by Judith Jamison, she made it one of the troupe's best known pieces.

Dedicated to "all black women everywhere—especially our mothers," the piece depicts the struggles of different generations of black American women. It begins with the unwrapping of a long white scarf that becomes many things during the course of the dance, and ends with an expression of belief and happiness danced to the late 1960s song, "Right On, Be Free." Of this and of all his works Ailey told John Gruen in The Private World of Ballet, "I am trying to express something that I feel about people, life, the human spirit, the beauty of things.…"

Later years
Ailey suffered a breakdown in 1980 that put him in the hospital for several weeks. At the time he had lost a close friend, was going through a midlife crisis, and was experiencing money problems. Still, he continued to work, and his reputation as a founding father of modern dance grew during the decade.

Ailey received many honors for his choreography, including a Dance magazine award in 1975; the Springarn Medal, given to him by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1979; and the Capezio Award that same year. In 1988 he was awarded the Kennedy Center Honors prize. Ailey died of a blood disorder on December 1, 1989. Thousands of people flocked to the memorial service held for him at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

For More Information
Ailey, Alvin, with A. Peter Bailey. Revelations: The Autobiography of Alvin Ailey. Secaucus, NJ: Carol Pub. Group, 1995.

Dunning, Jennifer. Alvin Ailey: A Life in Dance. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1996.

Probosz, Kathilyn Solomon. Alvin Ailey, Jr. New York: Bantam Books, 1991.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

AstroNation Mixtape Vol. 10

Artwork courtesy of Teebs

01. Yma Sumac - Chuncho (The Forest Creatures)
02. Eddie Gale - The Rain
03. Rahsaan Roland Kirk - Echoes Of Primitive Ohio And Chili Dogs
04. Bola Sete - Prelude #1
05. Don Cherry - Bra Joe Frome Kilimanjaro - Terry's Tune
06. Pharoah Sanders - Prince of Peace
07. Josh White - Miss Otis Regrets
08. Wilson Pickett - I Found a Love
09. Miles Davis - Little Church
10. Boris - Fuzzy Reactor
11. Lee "Scratch" Perry & The Upsetters - Tell Me Something Good
12. Mulatu Astatke - Dewel
13. Genius, GZA - 4th Chamber

Download an mp3 mix of this mixtape hear, this is for information only purposes, please support any of these artists on this compilation that you enjoy!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Yma Sumac

All Music Guide Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine & Cub Koda:

A singer with an amazing four-octave range, Yma Sumac was said to have been a descendant of Inca kings, an Incan princess that was one of the Golden Virgins. Her offbeat stylings became a phenomenon of early-'50s pop music. While her album covers took advantage of her strange costumes and voluptuous figure, rumors abounded that she was, in actuality, a housewife named Amy Camus. It mattered little because there has been no one like her before or since in the annals of popular music.

According to the Sumac legend, she was the sixth child of an Indian mother and an Indian/Spanish father, who raised her as a Quechuan. She began performing in local festivals before her family moved to Lima, Peru. Once she was in Lima, she became a member of the Compania Peruana de Arte, which was a collective of nearly 50 Indian singers, musicians, and dancers. Sumac married Moises Vivanco, the leader of the Compania, in 1942. Four years later, Vivanco, Sumac, and her cousin Colita Rivero formed the Inca Taqui Trio and moved to New York. By the end of the decade, they were performing in nightclubs throughout New York and playing radio and television programs, most notably Arthur Godfrey's TV show. The Trio also became a fixture on the Borscht Belt circuit and the Catskills.

Sumac was signed as a solo artist to Capitol Records in 1950, releasing her first album, the 10" Voice of the Xtabay, the same year. Voice of the Xtabay was released without much publicity, but it slowly became a hit and Capitol began pushing Sumac with a massive marketing campaign. In 1951, she made her Broadway debut in the musical Flahooley, which featured three songs written by Vivanco; the musical's lifespan was quite brief and it completed its run by the end of the year. Nevertheless, Sumac's career was ascending at a rapid rate, as she continued to release hit records and played sell-out concerts across the country, including one at the Hollywood Bowl and another at Carnegie Hall. She also toured Europe and South America, as well as Las Vegas nightclubs. In 1954, she appeared in a movie called Secret of the Incas, which starred Charlton Heston.

By the end of the '50s, Sumac's audience had begun to decline and she was no longer as hip as she was in the first half of the decade. Sensing the erosion of her popularity, Sumac retired in the early '60s, without leaving any word or her location. She performed a handful of unannounced concerts in the mid-'70s, and in 1987 she played New York's Ballroom nightclub for a total of three weeks; she also had a stint in a Los Angeles club that same year. She followed these shows with occasional concert dates around the world.

Though Sumac did not perform frequently in the '90s, she experienced a popular revival, as a cult of alternative music fans discovered the exotica records of the '50s. The ongoing interest in exotica and Sumac led to the CD release of her catalog in 1996.

Pandora Radio

From Pandora:

"When was the last time you fell in love with a new artist or song?

At Pandora, we have a single mission: To play only music you'll love.

To understand just how we do this, and why we think we do it really, really well, you need to know about the Music Genome Project®.

Since we started back in 2000, we have been hard at work on the Music Genome Project. It's the most comprehensive analysis of music ever undertaken. Together our team of fifty musician-analysts has been listening to music, one song at a time, studying and collecting literally hundreds of musical details on every song. It takes 20-30 minutes per song to capture all of the little details that give each recording its magical sound - melody, harmony, instrumentation, rhythm, vocals, lyrics ... and more - close to 400 attributes! We continue this work every day to keep up with the incredible flow of great new music coming from studios, stadiums and garages around the country.

With Pandora you can explore this vast trove of music to your heart's content. Just drop the name of one of your favorite songs or artists into Pandora and let the Genome Project go. It will quickly scan its entire world of analyzed music, almost a century of popular recordings - new and old, well known and completely obscure - to find songs with interesting musical similarities to your choice. Then sit back and enjoy as it creates a listening experience full of current and soon-to-be favorite songs for you.

You can create up to 100 unique "stations." And you can even refine them. If it's not quite right you can tell it so and it will get better for you.

The Music Genome Project was founded by musicians and music-lovers. We believe in the value of music and have a profound respect for those who create it. We like all kinds of music, from the most obtuse bebop, to the most tripped-out drum n bass, to the simplest catchy pop tune. Our mission is to help you connect with the music YOU like.

We hope you enjoy the experience!"

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Naná Vasconcelos

The biography below comes from the Europe Jazz Network

Nana Vasconcelos was born in Recife on the Northeast Coast of Brazil and, even after twenty years of playing throughout the world, his roots are apparent in everything he plays.
When Nana was 12-years-old he began playing with his father, a guitarist, and in the city's marching band. Prodded by intense curiosity and an inquisitive ear that led him from the music of Brazil's greatest composer, Villa Lobos, to Jimi Hendrix, Nana came to learn all the Brazialian percussion instruments and, by the early Sixties, came to specialize in the berimbau*. He has taken this instrument far beyond its traditional uses and is acknowledge as its foremost player.

After playing in every imaginable context from symphonic orchestras to street bands in his hometown, Nana moved to Rio de Janeiro and began to play with one of Brazil's greatest singers, Milton Nascimento. In 1970 the Argentinian tenor player Gato Barbieri was in Rio and invited Nana to join his band. They played in New York and then toured Europe, starting at the Montreux Jazz Festival where Nana caused a sensation. When the tour finished Nana decided to stay in Paris. During his time in the city he made his first recording, Africa Deus. Nana returned to Brazil and recorded his album, Amazonas, and began a collaboration with guitarist Egberto Gismonti that lasted for eight years and produced three albums of duets. Back in New York he formed Codona with Don Cherry and Collin Walcott, as well as touring and recording with Pat Metheny's band. Since 1975 Nana has recorded with everyone from B.B. King to Jean Luc Ponty to the Talking Heads, but has never allowed himself to become a studio musician. His contributions to each project are special and go beyond the usual role allotted a percussionist.

While working with Gismonti, Nana recorded his third record, Saudades, where he is accompained by a symphony orchestra. In 1983 he released Zumbi, an album where he highlighted his work with voices and "body percussion", using the sounds only he can make by slapping and otherwise provoking his own body. In 1983 he began to work with drum machines after being inspired by the break-dancing scene going on around him. He toured Europe with a group of break dancers from the South Bronx. Nana's very original use of the drum machine is distinguished by an unusually careful tuning that makes it sound almost organic and by his ability to play it live, typing out polyrhythms instead of programming them layer by layer. In 1986 Nana Vasconcelos returned to Brazil for the first time in six years and his solo tour was enthusiastically received by enormous crowds. He continued to extend the field of his collaborations, being featured on soundtracks for films by Susan Seidelman and Jim Jarmusch (Downbylaw). Nana's work over the past few months demonstrates the breadth of his musical talents. He has been a member of Norwegian saxophonist/composer Jan Garbarek's Quartet recording and touring extensively. He has continued to work with long-time collaborators Don Cherry and Trilok Gurtu, as well as forging new associations, for instance, with the Norwegian bassist Arild Anderson, with UK saxophonist Andy Sheppard, and with the French pianist Jean-Marie Machado. Amongst many records he appears on Paul Simon's Rhythm of the Saints album.

His own projects remain his first concern, however. His group, Bushdance, recorded for Antilles and worked extensively in Europe: and he is currently developing a unique solo performance, a theatrically staged piece that explores the full, fascinating range of sounds and songs that lie at the heart of his music, and which is based around his unique rapport with his audience. A further dimension to his work lies in his continuing committment to his work with children and people with learning difficulties, through workshop residencies in the UK and Italy.

Carson McWhirter - The Pompous Prince

Carson McWhirter
Courtesy of Terror Eyes TV

Carson McWhirter from TERROREYES.TV on Vimeo.

McWhirter has been in the hoots with Hella as guitarist, The Advantage as bassist, another project called Flossin among many others. Hopefully material like this will surface sooner rather than later.

My Hollow Drum

From the My Hollow Drum Myspace Page: "My Hollow Drum is a collective of aspiring deejay's/ musicians/ friends/ artists devoted to their fixation of art & sounds alike. " All ego aside," from individual and collaborative efforts, our artists collide sound collage chemistry with death drum anthems, dimlit psychedelia , sugar coated dirt, moments of melodic bliss along with the squishiest of textures, lounge boom-bap and art of all mediums."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Jimi Hendrix & Love - Blue Thumb Acetate

Jimi Hendrix and Love
12" Blue Thumb Records acetate transfer info

Rega P7 Turntable with Dynavector 17D3 cartridge>
Audio Research Phono P-5 phono preamp?>
NAIM Audio Supernait stereo amplifier>
NAD 660 CD recorder>
TDK Music CDR (purple)
with Analysis Plus Solo Crystal interconnects

ripped with xAct, no errors.
declicked by DB
balance/volume adjust by MP
> TLH FLAC Level 8

1. Everlasting
2. Easy Rider 1
3. Easy Rider 2
4. Jam

Become a member of Crosstown Torrents and download this extremely rare acetate here

Soft Machine

All Music Guide Biography by Richie Unterberger:

Soft Machine were never a commercial enterprise and indeed still remain unknown even to many listeners who came of age during the late '60s, when the group was at its peak. In their own way, however, they were one of the more influential bands of their era, and certainly one of the most influential underground ones. One of the original British psychedelic groups, they were also instrumental in the birth of both progressive rock and jazz-rock. They were also the central foundation of the family tree of the "Canterbury Scene" of British progressive rock acts, a movement that also included Caravan, Gong, Matching Mole, and National Health, not to mention the distinguished solo careers of founding members Robert Wyatt and Kevin Ayers.

Considering their well-known experimental and avant-garde leanings, the roots of Soft Machine were in some respects surprisingly conventional. In the mid-'60s, Wyatt sang and drummed with the Wilde Flowers, a Canterbury group that played more or less conventional pop and soul covers of the day. Future Soft Machine members Ayers and Hugh Hopper would also pass through the Wilde Flowers, whose original material began to reflect an odd sensibility, cultivated by their highly educated backgrounds and a passion for improvised jazz. In 1966, Wyatt teamed up with bassist/singer Ayers, keyboardist Mike Ratledge, and Australian guitarist Daevid Allen to form the first lineup of Soft Machine.

This incarnation of the group, along with Pink Floyd and Tomorrow, were the very first underground psychedelic bands in Britain, and quickly became well loved in the burgeoning London psychedelic underground. Their first recordings (many of which only surfaced years later on compilations of 1967 demos) were by far their most pop-oriented, which doesn't mean they weren't exciting or devoid of experimental elements. Surreal wordplay and unusually (for rock) complex instrumental interplay gave an innovative edge to their ebullient early psychedelic outings. They only managed to cut one (very good) single, though, which flopped. Allen, the weirdest of a colorful group of characters, had to leave the band when he was refused reentry into the U.K. after a stint in France, due to the expiration of his visa.

The remaining trio recorded its first proper album in 1968. The considerable melodic elements and vocal harmonies of their 1967 recordings were now giving way to more challenging, artier postures that sought — sometimes successfully, sometimes not — to meld the energy of psychedelic rock with the improvisational pulse of jazz. The Softs were taken on by Jimi Hendrix's management, leading to grueling stints supporting the Jimi Hendrix Experience on their 1968 American tours. Because of this, the group at this point was probably more well-known in the U.S. than their homeland. In fact, their debut LP was only issued, oddly, in the States. For a couple of months in 1968, strangely enough, Soft Machine became a quartet again with the addition of future Police guitarist Andy Summers, although that didn't work out, and they soon reverted to a trio. The punishing tours took their toll on the group, and Ayers had left by the end of 1968, to be replaced by Wyatt's old chum Hugh Hopper.

Their second album, Volume Two (1969), further submerged the band's pop elements in favor of extended jazzy compositions, with an increasingly lesser reliance on lyrics and vocals. Ratledge's fuzzy, buzzy organ and Wyatt's pummeling, imaginative drumming and scat vocals paced the band on material that became increasingly whimsical and surrealistic, if increasingly inaccessible to the pop/rock audience. For their third album, they went even further in these directions, expanding to a seven-piece by adding a horn section. This record virtually dispensed with vocals and conventional rock songs entirely, and is considered a landmark by both progressive rock and jazz-rock aficionados, though it was too oblique for many rock listeners.

Soft Machine couldn't afford to continue to support a seven-member lineup, and scaled back to a quartet for their fourth album, retaining Elton Dean on sax. Wyatt had left by the end of 1971, briefly leading the similar Matching Mole, and then establishing a long-running solo career. In doing so he was following the path of Kevin Ayers, who already had several solo albums to his credit by the early '70s; Daevid Allen, for his part, had become a principal of Gong, one of the most prominent and enigmatic '70s progressive rock bands.

For most intents and purposes, Wyatt's departure spelled the end of Soft Machine's reign as an important band. Although Soft Machine was always a collaborative effort, Wyatt's humor, humanism, and soulful raspy vocals could not be replaced. Ratledge and Hopper kept the group going with other musicians, though by now they were an instrumental fusion group with little vestiges of their former playfulness. Hopper left in 1973, and Ratledge, the last original member, was gone by 1976. Other lineups continued to play under the Soft Machine name, amazingly, until the 1990s, but these were Soft Machine in name only.