sliding out of the Ska and into the 60′s Rhythm and Blues with this cut from the Vibrations. A vocal group who first appeared on the scene as the Jay Hawks in 1956 and had a ‘hit’ with; Stranded in the Jungle, (remind me to dig it out from the vaults and lay it down), as well as notable early ‘Soul’ cuts Oh Cindy, Since I Fell For You, the Watusi, Peanut Butter and the classic My Girl Sloopy.
Don Pedro shares a West Coast connection with these cats who hail from the City Of Angels in California. the Don took up residency there for many years after deciding it was time to leave the auld Country and head out West to stroll the Boulevards.
Back in the day the Don and I used to be found frequenting ‘Mod’ hang outs. I had become disillusioned with the rare Funk clique and was in between scenes and even though it was my second time, (once a mod/ern/ist always a mod/ern/ist), the scene had evolved, (or maybe it was us who had evolved??), anyway we had some memorable times together and it was there that my love and respect for the Don was born…again I digress so i’ll leave it there. Suffice it to say that the music connects us and i Know that he will enjoy this one… recorded for and released on Atlantic in 1964.
sticking with the Rhythm and Blues selection for round two with more Don Pedro Philosophy..but before, during or after the cut i hope you will lend me your ear as i wax philosophically on this thing called Life…
the age old question of meaning is one i often ponder as i walk down the road and the longer the journey goes on the clearer i can see the path. for me life’s meaning is in the relationships we forge. not the aquaintances, the authentic connections to each other. the ones that present us with the opportunity to be ourselves, without fear or damnation. In the play Macbeth, Shakespere wrote the words:
“Out, out brief candle, life’s but a walking shadow a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more; it is a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signyfying nothing”
is it? … I have been honoured to share the journey with Giants along the way and regardless of how long we rolled together they continue to have a positive influence on me. They are by no means angels of virtue but their actions and non actions have touched the depths of me soul.
Don Pedro is one of them giants and the relationship will always be a cherished one.
This selection is taking shape serendipitously as today’s cut features the Gigantic Joe Morris, (another major player at the forefront of the shift from big band swing to small band jump/rhythm and blues), who, in his brief career, journeyed with some heavyweights such as Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Big Joe Turner, Dinah Washington, Wynonie Harris, as well as being the unoficial house band at Atlantic records in the early 50′s when Cats like brother Ray and Lowell Fulsom were cutting their R&B teeth. His candle went out at the tender age of 36 but half a century on and his voice is still heard loud and clear…
cracking on with a new selection in tribute to a genuine living legend who i call Don Pedro, a KING amongst pawns who is an inspiration. Before i kick off though allow me to talk a while.
Hopefully everyone knows a ‘Don Pedro’ one of them Cats whose actions speak MUCH louder than their words. Trailblazers who lead, Shepherds not sheep who ‘Walk the Walk’ rather than ‘Talk the Talk’. I first met Don Pedro in my late teens, the man was sharp like PAPER. Never settling for anything less than the best that life was offering. International traveller with a taste for the fine things. Don Pedro hustled with the best and could sell snow to eskimos. The best hustlers are the ones that present opportunities rather than try to take you for what you’ve got and Don Pedro was right up there with the champions. Life was/is NEVER dull when you are rolling with the Don. Memories are made of these connections and relationships like these are rare and full of life. Pedro lives life to the FULL and this selection is in his honour. Enough with the words and on with the music. STRICTLY boss tunes for the Don from across the musical spectrum
Roll on DON Pedro you touch and continue to inspire everyone who has the fortune to call you friend…
First up is a slice from one of the Rhythm and Blues pioneers whose Tympany 5 was instrumental in changing the direction of urbanmusicology from Big Band Swing to Small Band Rhythm & Blues and in the process inspired a new genre. a GENUINE legend Louis Jordan and Don Pedro speak the same language, sing from the same hymn sheet, blow the same horn and would have rolled together in the 1940′s. NO doubt.
Fitting start to the selection as Don Pedro ALWAYS made sure to ‘Let The Good Times Roll’
Sliding out of the Cool Ruler tribute, (farewell Don Gregory gone but NEVER forgotten), into a new selection..
Don’t know how many of you are aware of the two Cats on this recording? but one in particular, (pianist, vocalist and songwriter Leroy Carr), almost originated the sophisticated Urban Blues style which in turn led to Rhythm & Blues.
Many a Rhythm & Blues legend such as Count Basie, Charles Brown, Ray Charles, Muddy Waters, Amos Milburn, T-Bone Walker, (to name a few), paid tribute to Leroy Carr.
Before Leroy, blues was distinctly ‘Country’…raw, rough and ready. Jazz was the ‘Urban’ sound for obvious reasons but it was, (predominantly), Leroy Carr who made the change and inspired all the Big Town Playboy’s who followed in his footsteps..from the Slick suits to the conversational, laid back style of singing and playing it begins with Leroy Carr in 1928 with his recording of ‘How Long, How Long Blues’ who epitomised ‘Urban Slick’. Today’s cut was recorded with his partner and friend Francis ‘Scrapper’ Blackwell in New York City on August 16th 1934 and released as a 78 on Vocalion. Leroy Carr died at the tender age of 30 less than a year later but his legacy is plain for all to hear.
Waiting for the inspiration for a new theme it suddenly arrived yesterday out of nowhere… Soul. Why? well…above all musical genres Soul is in my flesh, blood and bones. Deeply ingrained from before I was born. allow me to outline my historicity
My mum and dad were both Original London Mod/ernists from 1962 and anyone who knows will agree that the authentic soundtrack to Mod/ernist is Soul…Rhythm & Blues too of course but whereas Rhythm&Blues had been around for many years Soul was ‘modern’ (albeit a fusion between Doo Wop and Gospel).
Between 1958 and 1960 the seeds of Soul were sown as the cultural boundaries began to be crossed in earnest and as is often the case it was music that blew the trumpet for change loud and clear. No more would the universal language be categorised strictly by ‘Race’ (my belief is that it’s the only language that speaks to all regardless of colour, nationality or creed). Artists such as Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, James Brown, Smokey Robinson, Jerry Butler, Curtis Mayfield, Gene Chandler, Dee Clark, Otis Redding, Solomon Burke, Wilson Pickett, Marvin Gaye, (along with a whole host of lesser known but just as illuminating singers, songwriters and musicologists), began to flex their musical muscles and craft the ‘new lick’ without the backing of Corporate thieves and vultures.
In December 1968 themusicologist was born with the soundtrack of Soul ringing in my heart and soul and from that day to this it has been ever present. Beginning with the ‘classics’ I have matured throughout the 70′s 80′s 90′s and into the 21st Century with the heartbeart of such priceless musicology as the soundtrack to my existence. There have been and are many other genres that have had a profound impact on the I but Soul still is (and always will be), my first musical love.
Kicking off with one of my favourite early Soul cuts courtesy of the pioneering ‘Miracles’ who first recorded in 1958 for Chess, but it wasn’t until hooking up to Berry Gordy’s fledgling Motown Label that the musical sparks began to truly fly. Just like to add that without doubt The Miracles were a foundation stone on which the Berry Gordy empire was built…
(Little Miss Cornshucks – Try A Little Tenderness)
Shooting The Monkey (freedom from the distracting ego)
‘Has your majesty never observed the bounding monkeys?’ answered Chang to the King of Wei. ‘If they can reach the tall cedars or camphor trees, they will swing and sway from their limbs, frolicking and lording it in their midst, so that even the famous archers Yi or P’eng Meng could not take accurate aim at them, But when they are attracted to what they suppose are delicacies and find themselves among the prickly mulberries, brambles, hawthorns, or spiny citrons, way below their loftier arena, they must move with caution, glancing from side to side, quivering and shaking with fear.
‘It is not that their bones and sinews have become suddenly stiff and lost their suppleness. It is simply that the monkeys find themselves in a difficult and disadvantageous position, one where they cannot exercise their abilities to the full. And so it is when Man becomes full of himself. His attraction to what is seemingly of benefit and greater security to him actually distracts him from expressing himself in his full light.’
‘I like that tale, ‘ said the King of Wei, ‘but knowing you as I do, I have no doubt that the monkey is merely a metaphor for Man’s own mischievous self. Our fall from our true identity causes us to improvise and clutch at a false identity with the same desperation as someone falling continuously into the abyss.’
‘Exactly so!’ said Chang gleefully. ‘In the absence of the true knowledge of who we really are, our adopted self must keep alive its fictional existence with convincing, albeit empty, chattering.’
‘Chattering which is taken to heart rather than ignored,’ said the King. ‘Incessant and sweet chattering thoughts that, while sometimes a nuisance, sweetly persuade, convince, cajole, even scare us into believing that if we want protection, security and peace of mind, there is no other self worth listening to.’
‘And if such a self was indeed a monkey, how would you, as a sagely king, deal with it?’ enquired Chang.
‘Why I would ensure that both Yi and P’eng Meng practised harder, until they were successful,’ his monarch replied with amusement.
‘And how so for your own self, is it also a case of shooting the monkey?’ asked Chang.
‘Again, I would employ and develop those decisive archer parts of my own being to unmask myself.’
‘Well said, my King, for only by such action will you rid yourself of a fictional power that ultimately renders you powerless.’