One of the readers of The Eclectic Ear turned me on to a radio show titled “The Sound of the City” by the late Charlie Gillett.  Charlie was the ultimate musicologist and rock ‘n’ roll historian.  I had heard of his rock history book of the same name but hadn’t heard his show.  But the internet is a wonderful time capsule and listening in to one of Charlie’s shows led me to “Teasin’ You” by Willie Tee”.



Willie Tee (1944 – 2007) was an early pioneer of New Orleans funk and soul.  A keyboardist, songwriter, sand singer, Willie was on the Nawlins’ scene for more than 40 years.

Born as Wilson Turbinton, he led the band on the Wild Magnolias’ 1974 debut album and the success of that record propelled him to stardom in the New Orleans music scene.  He was the younger brother of modern jazz saxophonist Earl Turbinton and grew up on the same tough streets as The Neville Brothers.  Willie took his influences from a wide range of artists from NO dixieland jazz to John Coltrane.

Willie started recording as a teenager in 1962 and by 1965 had his first hit with “Teasin’ You” on Atlantic Records.  He had a few more hits and was a regular fixture on the New Orleans music scene.

After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Willie took a job as a visiting lecturer at Princeton University.  He eventually headed back down south and settled in Baton Rouge, LA until his death in 2007 (a month after the death of his brother Earl).




Written by the late Curtis Mayfield and recorded by Curtis and his band The Impressions in 1963, “It’s Alright” was the group’s most famous single . It’s among my favorite tunes and has been covered by numerous artists including Tommy James and The Shondells just three years later in 1966 and then by Etta James the following year. I never took to the Huey Lewis version.  Even though it was a big hit for Huey, I was never a fan of his brand of blue-eyed soul.


Although I’ve been listening to Curtis and The Impressions for decades, I loved the cover versions of their songs as showcased on the A Tribute to Curtis Mayfield recorded between November 1992 and September 1993 and subsequently released in February 1994.   Steve Winwood does a great cover of this week’s offering but there are a lot of gems on the album.  Well worth the purchase. I’ve included the original recording and Winwood’s version below.


The album has a truly all-star cast.  Check out this track listing:

“Choice of Colors” – Gladys Knight
“It’s All Right!” – Steve Winwood
“Let’s Do It Again” – Repercussions and Curtis Mayfield
“Billy Jack” – Lenny Kravitz
“Look Into Your Heart” – Whitney Houston
“Gypsy Woman” – Bruce Springsteen
“You Must Believe Me” – Eric Clapton
“I’m So Proud” – The Isley Brothers
“Fool for You” – Branford Marsalis and The Impressions
“Keep On Pushin'” – Tevin Campbell
“The Makings of You” – Aretha Franklin
“Woman’s Got Soul” – B.B. King
“People Get Ready” – Rod Stewart
“(Don’t Worry) If There’s a Hell Below, We’re All Going to Go” – Narada Michael Walden
“I’ve Been Trying” – Phil Collins
“I’m the One Who Loves You” – Stevie Wonder
“Amen” – Elton John and Sounds of Blackness

All songs written by Curtis Mayfield except “Amen”, by Mayfield and John W. Pate, Sr.





Zombie Garden Club


I’ve been digging through an inbox full of new music and came across a note from Bongo Boy records that introduced me to Zombie Garden Club.

ZGC is Johnny Douglas, a Canadian native who headed down to Nashville and is tearing up the roadhouse circuit.  He’s been quoted as saying that ZGC  “is all about fuzz tones, garage rock, Fender guitars and Vox Continental organs with a retro-modern vibe”. Works for me.

Personally, I’d change the name of the band but if you’re up from Stevie Ray Vaughan meets The Yardbirds vibe, Johnny’s your guy.

His latest release has some gems including “Burn”, and my favorite from the album “Ache of Love”.

Check it out below.







Another in an impromptu homage to the late Ornette Coleman.  This one from The Paris Review.

The Sound of Sound: Two Remembrances of Ornette Coleman.tk

Reposted from Wax Poetics – a music magazine from Brooklyn, NY.

Jazz experimenter Ornette Coleman finds the eternal. An interview from 2007.

via Jazz experimenter Ornette Coleman finds the eternal.


Ornette Coleman (1930 -2015)

Ornette Coleman died yesterday of a heart attack in New York City.  A major figure in the jazz world for decades, Ornette was the ultimate innovator in a genre hallmarked by innovation.

I blogged about Coleman last year in a review of his classic work “The Shape of Jazz to Come“. Please click the link below for that…


R.I.P. Ornette


ormp   volt

When I came across the background story on Otis Redding’s 1965 recording of Mr. Pitiful, I knew I had to include here.  Not just because Otis was one of the greats who left us too soon but because it was co-written by one of the coolest guitar players on the planet, Steve Cropper.

It was included on the 1965 album The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads.


Mr. Steve Cropper

“Mr. Pitiful” was recorded in December 1964 at the Stax studios. Redding and Cropper hadn’t collaborated before this but when local Memphis DJ “Moohah” Williams nicknamed Redding “Mr. Pitiful”, because of how he sang ballads Cropper thought it would make a great song and suggested it to Otis.  As the legend goes, they recorded it in about 10 minutes.


The song has been covered a lot including a gender-corrected version by Etta James titled “Miss Pitiful.” Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin pays tribute to Redding in the song “The Crunge” (from the album Houses of the Holy).  In addition to Otis’ version, I’ve also included a live version by The Stones.




Here’s a another pop archaeology artifact that, like “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag”, I first heard on a WNEW-FM compilation record.  Written by Teddy Randazzo and Bobby Weinstein, initially recorded by Little Anthony & the Imperials in 1964.

Randazzo, penned the song especially for the group.   A long-time friend of the band, he had written their previous Top 20 Hit “I’m on the Outside (Looking In)”.


The Imperials consisted of “Little Anthony” Gourdine (Vocals), Sammy Strain (1st Tenor), Ernest Wright (2nd Tenor), and Clarence “Wah-Hoo” Collins (Baritone/Bass).


The song was covered by artists from Frank Sinatra to The Zombies but The Imperials version is the gold standard.  The Sinatra version is done in a standard Frank style – just add a smoky lounge and some scotch.  The Zombies stuck fairly close to the original arrangement but sound more like The Four Seasons.   I’ve included a few versions below…



Jazz_Impressions_of_Black_Orpheus   guaraldi_castf

 Fantasy Records – Cat # 3337 with original and 2nd cover.

Most people are well aware of jazz pianist, Vince Guaraldi’s (1928 – 1976) connection to the music of Peanuts, the Charles Schulz comic featuring Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the rest of the Peanuts gang.  Guaraldi actually recorded compositions for seventeen Peanuts specials but topping this wonderful body of work is his soundtrack for the 1965 Charlie Brown Christmas Special.  My favorite Christmas film, I sometimes drag it out in mid-August just to be reminded of how great I feel when I watch it.  Go Linus!

What many people don’t realize is that Guaraldi, despite his death at only 47 years old, left a legacy of recorded jazz over a career that spanned 23 years and included 31 albums as a leader or co-leader and more than a dozen collaborations with jazz royalty like Cal Tjader and Stan Getz.


Guaraldi was born and raised in the North Beach section of San Francisco. He made his first recording with the Cal Tjader Trio in late 1953 and it was released as an early 10-inch LP early in 1954.  He formed his own trio in 1955, with Eddie Duran and Dean Reilly, but continued playing with Tjader.  A fixture on the North California jazz scene, Guaraldi also got his chance to shine on a bigger stage when he played with Cal Tjader at the 1958 Monterey Jazz Festival.



Early photo of Vince’s first trio

He left Tjader in 1959 to follow his own projects and hit it big when he was asked to compose a tune for the French/Brazilian movie Black Orpheus on which he had been hired to play cover songs.  He composed “Samba de Orpheus” for the film, which picked up an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, but surprised everyone with the B-side composition “Cast Your Fate to the Wind“.  He picked up a Grammy for that B-side recording and had a hit on his hands.  Throughout his career he never turned down a request to play it publicly and was happy to include it in all his live shows.


The album, however, was not a soundtrack, it contained a mixture or original Guaraldi tunes and covers and jazz-based interpretations of songs from the movie.  In addition to Guaraldi on piano, Colin Bailey is on drums and Monty Budwig handled double bass,  I have a CD of the original release. There is also a 2010 Original Jazz Classic (OJC) version that has a number of otherwise unavailable alternate takes. And, yes, it’s on my “needs” list.


$1.25 Dinner and Vince on piano.  Sounds like a good night!

“Cast Your Fate to the Wind” had more in store, however, for Guaraldi.  The legend is that Lee Mendelsohn, the producer of the Peanuts series, was riding in a taxi across the Golden Gate Bridge when CYFttW was played on the radio. He had been looking for the right accompaniment to the Peanuts work and phoned Ralph Gleason the famed jazz critic at the SF Chronicle.  Gleason connected the two and the rest, as they say, is music history.







Under the Boardwalk” was written by Kenny Young and Arthur Resnick and recorded by The Drifters in 1964.

Squeaking in  #489 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, UTB tells the tale of a young couple who plan to meet “out of the sun” under the boardwalk where it’s nice and cool and more importantly out of sight of everyone else.  With the rhythmic background scratch of the guiro and a triangle, The Drifters open the song with a reference to their previous “hot summer” hit “Up On The Roof”.

Scheduled to be recorded on May 21, 1964, the session was put on hold when the lead singer of The Drifters, Rudy Lewis, died of a suspected heroin overdose the night before. Rudy had sung lead on most of their songs following the departure of Ben E. King three years before.  Rather than reschedule the session or try to find a new singer, they brought back former Drifters lead vocalist Johnny Moore to handle the job.


Trivia note:  The mono 45 USA released version contains the backup singers line “We’ll be falling in love”. On the stereo album version, the line “We’ll be making love” is used instead.  No doubt an edit for radio play.

A personal digression here…. UTB was perfect for the times but I couldn’t help but be reminded of two of my own favorite “boardwalk” lyrics from just nine years later when Bruce Springsteen penned “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)” and the erotic imagery of the verse “…  chasin’ the factory girls underneath the boardwalk where they all promise to unsnap their jeans” and even more direct “She worked that joint under the boardwalk.”  One of my favorite Bruce tunes, “Sandy” was also the song that Danny Federici chose as the last song he played with Bruce in concert on March 20, 2008 at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis .  Terminally ill with melanoma, Danny knew that “Sandy” summed it all up for the life they had led down the shore.  He died less than a month later on April 17th.  A great song that is worth a close listen to the lyrics.  I’ve included it below.




Frances Davis (Miles’ wife) on the cover

Columbia Records – CS-8456

In what was his seventh studio release for Columbia Records, Miles Davis came into Columbia’s famed 30th Street Studio with an all-star lineup that included John Coltrane on tenor sax, Wynton Kelly on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, Jimmy Cobb behind the drum kit and Hank Mobley, in his only Miles Davis Quintet recording, on sax.  Philly Joe Jones sat in for Cobb on “Blues No.2″ (but not included on the original release) and the group laid down this masterpiece in three sessions (March 7, 20, and 21, 1961).  Miles uses a mute throughout much of the recordings – including the title track – and plays glissando – a music term which indicates sliding from one pitch to the next. Mobley is the journeyman on the title track and gets blown away by Coltrane’s solo.  In a review by AllMusic, they noted that Trane’s solo on SMPWC is “so deep within the harmony that it sounds like it’s coming from somewhere else”.

Miles Davis and Hank Mobley-Carnegie Hall

(l-r) Hank Mobley, Miles Davis – Carnegie Hall, NYC – 1961

Davis had adopted a standard approach to recording at Columbia of alternating big band projects with small group sessions. Coming off of 1960’s Sketches of Spain release (with Gil Evans producing), Miles turned to Ted Macero to take the production helm of Someday My Prince Will Come (SMPWC).

It is interesting here to look at what was going on in the jazz world in the period of 1960/1961.  Not long after the success of Kind of Blue (no doubt Davis’ masterwork), the jazz world began to embrace free jazz with Ornette Coleman leading the way.  By late 1959, Coleman had secured a residency at the Five Spot in NYC and the critical view of his purer improvisational approach on albums such as The Shape of Jazz To Come (1959) and Free Jazz (1960) took much of the spotlight away from Miles.


At the same time, Miles band was going through some big changes.  Cannonball Adderley had left to team up with his brother Nat thus making Miles’ sextet a quintet. Cobb and Kelly had come on board in 1958 but Coltrane left to form his own band and, given the stature of his talent, that was a big blow to Miles.  He went through a few sax players – including the phenomenal Sonny Stitt – before bringing in Hank Mobley in late 1960,  Coltrane did stick around for a short tour and came back to lend his talents to the title track and to track #5 “Teo”.  The rest are all Mobley.

Track Listing

  1. “Someday My Prince Will Come” (Churchill / Morey)
  2. “Old Folks” (Robison / Hill)
  3. “Pfrancing” (aka “No Blues”) – (Miles Davis)
  4. “Drad-Dog” (Miles Davis)
  5. “Teo” (Miles Davis)
  6. “I Thought About You” (Van Heusen / Mercer)

The 1999 CD reissue version provides the missing “Blues No.2″ (with Philly Joe on drums) plus a shorter alternate take of SMPWC.

The selection of tunes for the album included three originals and three pop standards but the shiniest gem on this album remains, for me, the title track. (The first track is actually the only sextet piece here as the balance of the tracks are quintet works.) The three original compositions used here are all named after people. Davis’ wife (Frances), the president of Columbia Records (Goddard), and producer Teo Macero respectively get the tributes.  In addition to SMPWC, which I expand on below, “Old Folks” is a Willard Robison tune, famous for his standard “Cottage for Sale” while “I Thought of You” is a Jimmy Van Heusen, Johnny Mercer tune from 1939 that was a very popular result of their short-lived collaboration.

With regard to “Someday My Prince Will Come”, the song is from the 1937 Walt Disney film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It is a beautiful melody and the combination of Miles’ horn and Trane’s tenor is spectacular in both virtuosity and phrasing.

The melody of SMPWC was penned by Frank Churchill in 1937.  Churchill was originally a pianist in cinema houses, went on to work with Disney on numerous films starting in 1930 and by the ’40’s had become musical director at Disney Studios. It was originally written as a waltz and Miles was not the first to provide a jazz interpretation.


Frank Churchill 

It was first performed as a jazz piece by a group of musicians (The Ghetto Swingers) at a German concentration camp in 1943. It was subsequently recorded by other musicians including pianist Dave Brubeck who included it on his 1957 release Dave Digs Disney.  (By the way, I should mention that I had the pleasure of being tipped to Brubeck’s album 30 years ago and have enjoyed it ever since.  It’s a wonderful interpretation of Disney compositions by a true jazz legend. I’ll explore that in another post.)

SMPWC remains a popular song among jazz musicians to this day. Following Miles’ 1961 treatment it was subsequently recorded by guitarist Grant Green, Oscar Peterson, Herbie Hancock, and Chet Baker. The Davis Sextet’s original pianist Wynton Kelly re-recorded it for a solo album of the same name.  Pianist Wynton Kelly, who performed on Davis’ version, recorded the track as a trio later that year on his own album of the same name later in 1961.  Kelly was always known for being at home with the great standards and this is no exception.


If you’re looking for a good introduction to Miles Davis, this is a good album to include.  If picking just one I’d recommend starting with “Kind of Blue” (the most widely sold jazz album in history) but SMPWC would be an excellent second choice.





“Mercy,, Mercy” is one of those songs that I had heard many times by different artists but, to be honest, I only heard the name Don Covay recently.  It didn’t ring a bell and neither did Don Covay and The Goodtimers.

The R&B tune is sometimes referred to as “Have Mercy”) and was first recorded by Covay in 1964.  Despite my lack of awareness, Covay’s work was not unknown to singers like Mick Jagger.  Sir Mick acknowledges that Covay had a big influence on his vocal style.  The Stones wasted no time and covered the tune a year later in 1965.


Another fascinating note here is that when Covay entered A1 Recording Studios in New York on May 13, 1964 a young studio musician named Jimi Hendrix played on the recording.  It was one of Jimi’s earliest known recordings as a sideman.


Probably the most famous cover of “Mercy, Mercy” was by The Rolling Stones.  They recorded it in 1965 just as they were transitioning from a pure blues and R&B to their more distinctive rock sound.  They recorded it at Chess Records in Chicago on May 10, 1965.  Although they mostly stuck to Covay’s arrangement you can hear two distinct differences: they amped up the wattage on the guitar tracks and you can hear that Mick was growing more and more confident in his vocal abilities.  The song can be found on their Out of Our Heads album.








The hit songwriting team of Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich penned”Do Wah Diddy Diddy” in 1963, as “Do-Wah-Diddy”, for The Exciters but it didn’t hit the top of the charts until a year later when Brit-Pop Rockers (and R&B Band) Manfred Mann recorded it.


Manfred Mann was a British pop band that had some jazz chops.  The leader / founder Manfred Mann (aka Manfred Sepse Lubowitz) adopted his last name from famed jazz drummer Shelley Manne but later dropped the “e”.  The original Manfred Mann band had hits with “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” and later a cover of Dylan’s “Quinn the Eskimo” (“The Mighty Quinn”).  The band was a predecessor to the short-lived Manfred Mann Chapter Three and the more widely-known”Manfred Mann’s Earth Band.


The song was also “covered” by Bill Murray and the late Harold Ramis in the movie Stripes.  Well done.






My parents had this record and used to play it all the time back in 1964/1965 when I was growing up.  A huge hit for Petula, and although not exactly my style of preferred music, there’s no denying the impact it had on the charts around the time when performers were basically all competing with The Beatles.

Composed by Tony Hatch, “Downtown” was the offspring of a trip Hatch took to New York City.  He later recalled  “I was staying at a hotel on Central Park and I wandered down to Broadway and to Times Square and, naively, I thought I was downtown. Forgetting that in New York especially, downtown is a lot further downtown getting on towards Battery Park. I loved the whole atmosphere there and the [music] came to me very, very quickly”.  According to Hatch he was standing on the corner of 48th St waiting for the traffic lights to change, looking towards Times Square when “the melody first came to me, just as the neon signs went on.”

Hatch thought the tune would be better as a doo-wop kind of thing for The Drifters but when he played a demo for Petula upon his return to the UK she liked it and asked to record it.  She entered a London studio and hit “record” on October 16, 1964 at Pye Studios near Marble Arch.  The desire here was to attract new (younger) fans while not alienating her (older) fan base.  Looks like it worked!


Petula Clark was the first UK female artist to have a US #1 hit during the rock and roll era.  I’ve included a studio and live version below.




I’m a relative newcomer to The Decemberists.  Founded in 2000, I first heard them a few years ago on WFMU (the free-form radio station in the NYC area).   I kept an eye out for some used CD’s from the band and recently came across this 2011 effort The King Is Dead.  It was their sixth studio album so I may have some catching up to do.

Reportedly their most “rustic”work, the album has an infectious quality of great lyrics, solid songwriting and beautiful harmonies layered over relatively simple, understated music for a group of this size.  The band’s frontman, Colin Meloy was quoted as saying:

“If there’s anything academic about this record, or me trying to force myself in a direction, it was realising that the last three records were really influenced by the British folk revival […] this whole world that I was discovering, that I was poring over, learning inside-out. It was a wanting to get away from that. And looking back into more American traditions, reconnecting with more American music.”

Meloy’s point is well-taken.  The British folk roots come through clear through out the songs.  Take a closer listen to a track like “Rox in The Box” and you can hear strains of Fairport Convention or Donovan.  The supporting staff include such music luminaries as Peter Buck (R.E.M.) and Gillian Welch (Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris).  The influences don’t end there.  Listen to the opening track “Don’t Carry It All“.  You can almost hear Mr. Young singing “Heart of Gold“.


Rolling Stone reviewed it as the “most pastoral, rustic record they’ve ever made”.  The public clearly dug it too and it reached No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart for the week ending February 5, 2011.