Wednesday, December 4, 2013

And We Danced

Celia Cruz con la Sonora Matancera
La Tierna, Conmovedera, Bamboleadora
Seeco, SCLP 9246, made in New York

Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving weekend. We sure did, good food, good weather, cozy atmosphere, and a spontaneous dance party. I picked this Celia Cruz record somewhat randomly from a stack of recently bought Latin records. I don't think I had ever played it before, but it sure turned out a good pick for dancing. We played the whole record, every track a danceable. We had no idea we were dancing to a son, a bomba, or a criolla, twerking, spinning, and swinging with lighthearted abandon. Despite my good intentions I never learned Spanish, and neither did any of us. So we danced to songs none of us understood the lyrics to. I'm sure they are as lighthearted as our moods were. Below you can listen to the first track on the album called Mi Bomba Sonó that, despite my lack of Spanish, I think I can translate as "the sound of my bomb" (or: the sound of my bomba, as it is a song style). The music is Cuban but I have no idea if Mi Bomba Sonó was recorded before or after the Missile Crisis of 1962. I assume after because the record was issued in the United States. The record titled La Tierna, Conmovedora, Bamboleadora is not listed on Wikipedia's extensive Celia Cruz discography. Úrsula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso de la Santísima Trinidad known simply as Celia Cruz, the Queen of salsa, was born in Cuba in 1925, and died in Cuba in 2003. Many of the in between years she spent in New York, become the best known and influential female figure in the history of Cuban music.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Zoya Haidai

Ukrainian-Canadian Festival
CBC Broadcast, 1946
Echo, made in Canada
I figured I would get no hits searching on line for the singer Zoya Haidai but to my amazement she had a Wikipedia page dedicated to her. True, it's a small page, but nevertheless. The page also had one link, that to a site specialized in finding grave stones. Zoya Mikhailovna Haidai is buried in Kiev, Ukraine, she died in 1965, 62 years old. The one sentence about her on the 78 rpm 4-disc-set Ukranian-Canadian Festival reveals as much about her as the Wikipedia page does: "Zoya Haidai is a People's Artiste of the U.S.S.R., Laureate of Stalinist Premium, prima donna of the Shevchenko Ukranian State Theatre of Opera and Ballet in Kiev, the capital of the Ukraine." The four discs are excerpts from a Canadian broadcast aired July 27, 28, 1946. Zoya Haidai is featured on side 8. The song is called Perepilochka. (which, when spelled perepelochka, is also a zither like Russian folk instrument.
Haidai's grave marker in Kiev

After the Canadian broadcast Zoya Haidai, together with basso Igor Patorzhinsky, set out to the U.S. "They would be the first musical representatives to come from the Soviet Union in the postwar era. The two singers had preceded their October 5 Town Hall concert by a five-week tour of Canada, and intended to continue on to several other American cities with their program of Russian and Ukrainian songs. But as soon as they entered the United States, the Department of Justice demanded that they register as foreign agents, under a penalty of a thousand dollars or two years in jail."
            (Eric A. Gordan, The Frances Goldin Literary, Mark the Music: The Life and work of Marc Blitzstein.)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

More Classical Music of Iran

Musique Folklorique du Monde: Iran
Recorded by Deben Bhattacharya
Musidisc, CV 1115, Made in France
A month after I wrote about classical music of Iran (see previous post), I found another album dedicated to this country. It wasn't precisely a thrift store that yielded this record from a series I bought five of that day, but rather a second hand record store. Vinylarchive the store is called to be more precise, back in my old hunting grounds of Nijmegen to which I returned for a few days. I paid 5 Euros for each of the five records, well above my average range of what I spend on records. But it was worth it. It's a really great record store. If I had had more money, and records aren't so goddamn heavy to schlepp across the Atlantic, I would have bought a lot more. The series I spent €25 on is called Musique Folklorique du Monde. Besides the Iranian one (cover above) I also bought volumes featuring music from Ceylon, Bali/Java, Singapore, and Morocco. I knew they would be good because several records from the series were recorded by musicologist Deben Bhattacharya. As a follower of the blog The World's Jukebox I knew Bhattacharya's recordings pretty well. This is from that site "Born in Benares, India in 1921, Deben spent most of his life on the roads of the world, recording in small villages and cities the music of the world’s people, taking pictures and making films to help others understand better the diverse cultures he encountered. When he was not traveling, he made his home in diverse cities of Europe like London, Vienna or Paris, where he ended his well-spent life in 2001, in the Montmartre village-like neighborhood he loved so well." So Iran it is again, the pick of the litter, and again I picked the one track featuring a female vocalist. It's called Ballade, but unlike the Lomax initiated recording from the previous post, the ballad singer remains anonymous. There are no recording data at all to be found on this record. (And neither are there notes on Jukebox site's page dedicated to Rytmes et melodies d'Iran –which turns out to be the very same recordings.)


Monday, June 24, 2013

Classical Music of Iran

Classical Music of Iran, Volume One
Compiled by Ella Zonis
Folkways Records FW 8831
Made in New York, 1966
This gorgeous Folkways Records album dedicated to the classical music of Iran has been sitting on a shelf next to my record player for over a month now, waiting for the right time to post on these pages. The time is now. It's been more than a year since I last found an album by Folkways at a thrift store. It's regrettably not the most likely place to find records from that label, because the price (at 99 cents) is right. I have now 40 of the 2,168 records released through them. Folkways is my favorite label, and the shelf of my record collection dedicated to it has a most prominent place. All their records come with an informative booklet, consisting of recording data, background information, and photos. This record with music from Iran was in excellent shape but did not come with its booklet. Fortunately the Smithsonian Institute, which acquired Folkways in 1986, after founder Moses Asch's death, posted most of the booklets free for download on their site. So I know now that the dastgah at the beginning of side B was sung by Miss Khatereh Parvaneh of Shour, and that the lyrics of the song are verses from the Masnavi: "Famous mystic poetry written in the thirteenth century by Jala al-Din Rumi, the founder of the Mevlevi order of Dervishes (the 'whirling' Dervishes)". And it's this song I picked to turn into an mp3 and share with you below, all ten minutes of it.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Big Reggae Haul

The haul
My wife had a huge surprise for me when she came home from work on Friday. She had a stack of 41 records with her. She found them at the Goodwill in Punta Gorda, Florida. The records were mostly reggae records, there were a few soca and calypso records, some disco records completed the haul. I was so excited seeing the records that upon my wife's announcement that there were a lot more we got into our car and drove back north to Punta Gorda. I ammassed another thirty records to complete the haul, and still left behind enough crumbs for someone else to get excited too. I picked out two records from the haul to share here. The one with my favorite sleeve, and the one with favorite (so far) song. First the sleeve: It's not specific to the maxi single inside but it's rather a label advertisement. The label is simply called Joe Gibbs, after its producer. The record inside is a tune written by Joe Gibbs (Gibson) together with Alton Ellis called Girl I've Gatta Date. It is performed by Dennis Brown. The backside, as is the case with most of the maxi singles from the haul, is an instrumental version by Joe Gibbs with his band The Professionals. I almost like the instrumental version better but share the vocal one here because it's has a bit more variation. 
Joe Gibbs 45rpm Disco Single
Dennis Brown – Girl I've Gatta Date
Joe Gibbs Music Inc. 1978, Made in Jamaica
My favorite song so far (I've not nearly played all 71 records) is Woman Come by the singer Marguerita from an LP called More Intensified! Original Ska 1963-67. It is a remarkable track in more than one way. First of all there aren't that many recordings of a female singer in the mid sixties ska era in Jamaica. But what's really history is that Marguerita was later (in 1965) murdered by her long time boyfriend, the famous trombone player of the Skatalites, Don Drummond. They are heard together on this recording. Marguerita is Anita 'Marguerita' Mahfood, an exotic rhumba dancer and singer.

More Intensified! Original Ska 1963-67, Vol. 2

various artists, Mango Records, MLSP 9597
Island Records, made in New York, 1980


Friday, May 31, 2013

Un Amor Canta al Amor

Patricia Gonzalez – Un Amor Canta al Amor
Remo Records, LPR 1561, New York
Printed in Guayaquil, Ecuador
My collection of Latin American records is growing steadily largely due to my frequent trips to Miami. The predominant language is Spanish there and in the thrift stores nearly half of the records come from one Latin American country or another. It's a bit messy, browsing through the shelves in thrift stores in Miami (that of course are the lowest ones in the entertainment section of the store). The condition of the records is mostly poor, often the wrong disc is inside a jacket, if there's a jacket at all. Sometimes you'll find the back half of the jacket in a different location than the front half, and the vinyl in yet a third location. It is hardly a deterrent for me. I may assume that those records in good shape represent less popular ones, and I assume too that I often like less popular records better than popular ones. And that introduces me to this gem I found last week in a Goodwill on Tamiami Trail on my way out of town. The gem is an LP by the Ecuadorian singer Patricia Gonzalez titled Un Amor Canta al Amor. The singer is pretty obscure, there's not much presence on line, and as far as I can tell, there's no other record by her. But it's one of the best. And if you decide to visit Miami and try to snatch the next gem from under my nose...do me favor and also visit the WDNA 88.9 FM radio station. The gallery of which houses a bunch of musician's paintings. Many of them modeled after images on sleeves of Latin records that I picked up on previous visits to that wonderful city.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Pentangle (Almost)

The Pentangle – The Pentangle
Reprise Records, RS 6315
Warner Brothers, New York, NY, 1968
Alright, it's been two months (almost), I kinda quit (almost), but after I bought this Pentangle record last week for only 50¢—green tags were half off—I just had to share it, it was too good (almost) to keep it to myself.  Now, I had never heard of the band Pentangle, but their two guitar players, Bert Jansch and John Renbourne, had been with me for as long as I was serious about my music I listened to. I was 16 and learning to play the guitar, and there was this John Renbourne tune I considered the apex of guitar playing. For years I'd study the piece, and I (almost) managed to conquer it. So the Pentangle are the who's who of British folk music (almost). For those of you who follow me here, or those who know me, know that I, when it comes to vocals, prefer a female voice over a male one. And I love Jaqui McShee, the singer of the Pentangle, she's like Sandy Denny (almost), but my pick to share with you today is the only instrumental piece on the album. It's not even the most virtuoso guitar playing (almost) that made me pick it, it's something I can't explain, there's just something magical about it. The track is simply called Bells, a title that rings magical—remember that great tune by the Dominoes, that one in which the lead singer burst into tears, or that fantastic free jazz gem by Albert Ayler—in Bells, the Pentangle hit that same kind of magic (almost).  For those of you who follow this blog too: you must know that my scanner bed only goes to nine inches, cutting off three from a 12"er. With the Pentangle record here this fact resulted in cutting off the P, leaving the word "entangle" behind. If one uninformed listener were to guess about the title of this record, or name of the band, he or she could well opt for the name, or title, Entangle. (That's how utterly sophisticated the rhythms and melodies of Bells unfold.) See for yourself.