Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Peabo Byson - "Reaching For The Sky" 1977

It's December, and it is that time of the year when things start to get busy, so I am a little behind on my posting.  
Well this post is a little different than others, in that I am posting a great 'soul' LP, more aptly referred to as 'R&B'  these days.  The hit from this LP is "Feel The Fire", and can be found on other commercially available Peabo Bryson collections. However, there are so many other cuts from this LP that are well worth the listen.  Notably, PB's  "Hold On To The World", and the bluesy "Love Walked Out on Me" and of course the title track "Reaching For The Sky".  All eight tracks on this LP are Peabo original compositions.  This archive was made from the original LP that I purchased in 1977, and provided a nice workout for the 'ClickRepair' software utility and certainly showcases it's strengths.  Hope you enjoy!

Bass - Larry Ball
Bells - Bobby Christian 
Guitar [Lead] - Ross Traut
Guitar [Rhythm] - Danny Leake
Keyboards - Paul Libman
Synthesizer [Moog] - Terry Fryer
Vibraphone [Vibes] - Bobby Christian

Monday, November 30, 2009

Billy Cobham - B.C. 1979

Billy Cobham is an excellent jazz fusion drummer, but more than that he is a great composer too.  My favorite albums from him are "Crosswinds" and "Focused".  But this LP was made in the height of the disco era and gets looked over.  I bought this LP when it was first released in  1979 and it was fresh and relevant to me then, and still sounds great today.  The driving rhythms in the first cut "Oh Mendocino" are fantastic.  Many jazz artists in that area tried to fuse too much disco sound into their music, but Cobham showed restraint here, but nonetheless, there are some casualties on this LP. By the  way, cover illustration by Elizabeth Fenimore.  I have never seen this album ever released on CD or digital download, so this is a rare one...please enjoy!

Bass - Nathaniel Phillips (tracks: A1 to B3)
Cello - Douglas David* (tracks: A1, A2, A4, B2) , Paula Hochhalter (tracks: A1, A2, A4, B2) , Robert Adcock* (tracks: A1, A2, A4, B2) , Selene Hurford (tracks: A1, A2, A4, B2)
Congas - Vance 'Mad Dog' Tenort* (tracks: A1, A4, B1)
Drums - Billy Cobham (tracks: A2, A3, B2 to B4)
Electric Piano - Bobby Lyle (tracks: A1 to B3)
French Horn - David Duke (tracks: A1, A2, A4, B2)
Guitar - Michael McGloiry (tracks: A3, B1 to B3)
Harp - Catherine Gotthoffer (tracks: A1, A2, A4, B2) , Dorothy Remsen (tracks: A1, A2, A4, B2)
Percussion - Billy Cobham (tracks: A1, A2, A4, B2)
Producer - Billy Cobham , Wayne Henderson
Synthesizer [Arp Quadra] - Bobby Lyle (tracks: A2, A3, B2)
Trombone [Tenor] - Garnett Brown (tracks: A1, A2, A4, B2)
Trumpet - Oscar Brashear (tracks: A1, A2, A4, B2)
Trumpet, Flugelhorn - Steve Madaio (tracks: A1, A2, A4, B2)
Tuba, Trombone [Bass] - Ernie Tack (tracks: A1, A2, A4, B2)
Violin - Bonnie Douglas (tracks: A1, A2, A4, B2) , Carroll Stephens (tracks: A1, A2, A4, B2) , Clayton Haslop (tracks: A1, A2, A4, B2) , Glenn Dicterow (tracks: A1, A2, A4, B2) , Gordon Marron (tracks: A1, A2, A4, B2) , Ilkka Talvi (tracks: A1, A2, A4, B2) , Israel Baker (tracks: A1, A2, A4, B2) , Jack PepperJames Getzoff (tracks: A1, A2, A4, B2) , Janet Lakatos (tracks: A1, A2, A4, B2) , Nathan Ross (tracks: A1, A2, A4, B2) , Stephen Bryant (tracks: A1, A2, A4, B2)
Woodwind - Ernie Watts (tracks: A1, A2, A4, B2) , Peter Christlieb* (tracks: A1, A2, A4, B2) , Bill Green* (tracks: A1, A2, A4, B2) (tracks: A1, A2, A4, B2) 

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Esther Satterfield "Once I Loved" 1974

As from my other post on Esther Satterfield on "The Need To Be" LP, I only recently became familiar with this LP.  I am posting this LP, because from my Sitemeter, it is clear that more people download Esther Satterfield's LP, than any other on this blog, and since I could not find this recording anywhere else, it was time to find the LP and archive it.
This was her debut solo LP in which Chuck Mangione produced both of her LP's.  He used her first as a vocalist for his LIVE album "Land of Make Believe".  She sang on three tracks "Lullaby for Nancy Carol" and "As Long As We're Together" and on the title track  "Land of Make Believe".  These three tracks alone are some of her best recorded vocal work (in my very humble opinion).  In the liner notes, for  "Once I Loved" Chuck Mangione states "Arrangers are often called upon musically to dress up a vocal by adding all kinds of instruments and sounds.  There are few voices so pure, so distinct, that one dares to let them stand alone-naked.  Esther's is that exception".
I purchased this album from eBay and was fortunate to receive a MINT condition LP so very little post -processing was needed to eliminate the clicks and crackles.  The cover art was also in MINT condition, again little photo-shopping was required.  I have not settled in on favorites yet, since it is new to me, but her voice is so pure and clean.  It is amazing to try to compare it today's pop artists and hear the difference.   It does remind me of the late Eva Cassidy's voice....Please Enjoy!

Engineer - Mick Guzauski
Producer, Arranged By, Flugelhorn - Chuck Mangione
Guitar - Don Potter
Electric and Acoustic Piano - Gap Mangione
Sax and flute - Gerry Niewood
Bass-  Al Johnson
Conga - Ron Davis

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Booker T. and the MG's - "Universal Language" 1977

What can I say, I am really not a big Booker T. fan, although I believe that much of their music was very innovative and fresh in the sea of traditional rock. Much of their fame came with the hit "Green Onions" in 1962.  They were considered "Southern Soul" or "Memphis Soul" with their instrumental renderings and that funky Hammond B-3 organ sound.  The group pretty much disbanded in 1971.

However, they did a reunion album with Asylum Records in 1977, but the sound had changed somewhat.  This pretty much explains why this album never really met with any commercial success, but it is a reason why it did receive some radio airplay on some jazz stations. Both cuts "MG Salsa" and "Reincarnation" were played somewhat over the airwaves and I really enjoyed that "Memphis Soul" sound mixed in with the 70's jazz fusion sound. But the album was never released on CD (that I am aware of) so I am posting this landmark of music from the MGs...I purchased this LP when it was released in 1977, and it still sounds pretty decent, the album cover scan took a fair amount of photo-shopping to 'clean-it' up...I love the album cover artwork and design, and it is credited to Jonathan Seay.  I am pleased with the results.  Enjoy and post with comments!
Update:  CD now finally released...please patronize the artists! (Download link removed)

Bass - Donald "Duck" Dunn
Drums, Percussion - Willie Hall
Guitar - Steve Cropper
Keyboards - Booker T. Jones
Producer, Written-By - Booker T & The MG's

Monday, November 2, 2009

Herb Alpert - "Beyond" 1980

Herb Alpert's most fame came from his music as Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass which was very popular in the early to mid 60's.  His solo work did not start till 1966 with Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66. His first major hit was the recording of Burt Bacharach's "This Guy's In Love With You" (1966) which hit #1 on the pop Billboard charts.  His next major hit did materialize till 1979 with "Rise" (instrumental) also hit #1 on the pop Billboard charts.  Herb Alpert to date is the only artist to hit #1 with both a vocal and an instrumental tune.  One of my favorite songs at the time was "Rise".  It does have a somewhat disco beat to it (it was era-appropriate at that time), but his playing hits very big notes with emphasis and power, but yet keeping all the notes in the upper part of the staff (high A is the highest note).  Since I play the trumpet, I would try to mimic that full expressive sound he would get from his horn (not as easy as it seems).  This album "Beyond" came out  the year after "Rise", but there was no follow-on hit that made it big from this LP.  However, it has some nice compositions from HA. Not sure on this LP (it did not mention), but for most of his career, HA played a Benge Chicago and Benge Burbank model trumpet. This was released on CD but has been out of print for sometime now.  There is one used one for sale on Amazon for $147.  Thus I have made this posting.  My favorite cut from this LP is "Interlude for Erica".....Enjoy!

Mastered By - Bernie Grundman

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Esther Satterfield "The Need To Be" 1976

I was introduced to Esther Satterfield's smooth and velvety vocals through listening to a Chuck Mangione "Live" recording as she performed "Chase The Clouds Away".  And then over 10 years later, a local jazz radio DJ started to regulalry play a version of  "If You Knew Me Any Longer Than Tomorrow".  For many years, this was one of my favorite jazz songs (as performed by Chuck Mangione), and to hear lyrics attached to this piece, I was immediately hooked ! I called the station, and learned to find out that this was only available on LP and out of print.  So I purchased this LP from eBay many years ago.  I just recently re-archived it for this blog.

As it turns out, her music career was very short, she released just two albums under her name ("The Need To Be" and "Once I Loved") and appears on Chuck Mangione's "Land of Make Believe".  Chuck Mangione produced both of her albums, and so its not surprinsing to see original Mangione tunes here.  She now lives in Maryland under her married name of Esther Jordan.  It was rumored that she was disenchanted by the music industry in general.  Too bad, this was all that ever produced, I hope you enjoy.

Bass - Chip Jackson
Concert Master - Gerald Vinci
Drums - Joe La Barbera
Guitar - Don Potter
Orchestra - Kai Winding
Percussion - Gerry Niewood
Piano - Chuck Mangione
Producer - Chuck Mangione

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Gino Vannelli "Crazy Life" 1973

I discovered the power of Gino Vannelli's music around 1985.  It is clear from his early works that his roots are in jazz and most of his albums clearly reveal that. Over the years, I have collected all of his recordings that I could with the exception of this one.  This LP "Crazy Life" was his first release and was produced by Herb Alpert.  It did get released to CD, however it has been 'out-of-print' and discontinued by the manufacturer for sometime now.  I purchased the LP from eBay two weeks ago, and this was my first listen, and it is clearly GV's style that many know and can appreciate.  I looked up Gino Vannelli on wikipedia.org and there was an interesting bit of trivia that Pope John Paul II requested a performance by him (sometime in the 90's), and he complied.  It turns out that the Pope was impressed by the CD Canto and became an instant fan.  My favs on this are "Crazy Life" and "There's No Time".   My other favorite albums are "Storm At Sunup" and "Brother to Brother" and "Powerful People"....Enjoy and hopefully you can purchase some of his other commercially available CD's.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ramsey Lewis "Love Notes" 1977

This album was one of my first jazz LP's I bought, back in 1977 when it was released.   I was introduced to this LP by an R and B radio station in the Washington DC area called WKYS (93Kiss), and they played a mix of jazz and soul and  disco (of course this is era appropriate).  They would play the title cut "Love Notes" at exactly 5:55 AM practically every morning.  However, they would never say the artist and title, so it took many frustrated mornings till I could get through to the DJ to get the answer.  The rest is history.  My favorite tracks here  are "Love Notes", "The Messenger" and "Spring High".

I have come to enjoy many of Ramsey Lewis' works over the years.  Other favorite albums from RL are Sun Goddess, Tequila Mockingbird and Funky Serenity.  I checked with Amazon, and it looks like they are getting ready (finally!) after 32 years to release this on CD.  It is only in pre-order status.  When this becomes available, I will get the CD version to get a clean recording of this timeless work.  This LP rip was done on my original 1977 album, sonically it still sounds pretty amazing!  If you enjoy this LP, I encourage you to go purchase the CD when it becomes available in November.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

O'Donel Levy - "Through A Song" - 1982

This LP seems to be rare or at least some of his more obscure work.  Although I feel it is carries on some of his late 70's work..  Discogs does not even list this LP in his discography.  The LP I have I purchased through eBay.  It is a signed copy from O'Donel Levy himself. I have edited out the signature (photo post-processing) for the cover art.  This LP "Through A Song" is a melodic work that features 100% vocal tracks.  Vocalists include O'Donel himself, Aleta Green (has appeared on other works by OL) and a local artist Rebecca Anderson.  The fidelity is suprisingly good.  The arrangements are cleanly recorded and are relatively uncluttered and clean.  It is produced by O'Donel Levy and shows ILM productions ILM-002, so this must be the second album release from ILM.  My favorite tracks are "I Am, I Am" and "Through A Song". Enjoy.

  1. I Am, I Am (in two parts on 1 track) - 8:39
  2. A Ship For Two - 6:50
  3. Through A Song - 4:47
  4. Love This Spring - 5:30
  5. Love Is Calling You - 6:49

The album notes that track 4 utilizes local artists, and track 5 is a composition from a friend writer Pansye S. Atkinson and Fred Hord.

 O'Donel Levy - Vocals, Guitar, Synthesizer, Bass
Dennis Chambers - Drums
Aleta Green - Vocals
Rebecca Anderson - Vocals (Track 4)
Gary Richardson - Bass
Robert Butta - Piano (Track 4)
Charles Covington - Piano (Track 5)
Morris Dow - Harmonica (Track 1)
David E. Smith - Flute, Synthesizer (Track 3)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Equipment Used for Digital Archival

Since the master tapes of these performances may never be released, I wanted to be able to archive these analog pressings in the best possible methods I can afford.  Back in the 1990's I was considered by some to be somewhat of an 'audiophile' so much of my equipment was already available to use.  I'll start in the order of the music:

1. Cartridge - Sumiko Blue Point (this cartridge has seen many, many hours of use, so it is ready to be retired.  My cartridge on my wish-list is the Grado Reference.  I have heard many very positive comments from other users.  But it will have to wait a while, till the budget $$$ comes up to speed.

2. Tonearm - SME Series III, I picked up this tonearm in the 'used' market and got a great deal on it. It is finicky to setup and to set VTA.  It is wired with 99.999% Mogami OFC wiring.
3.  Turntable - SOTA Star Sapphire with vacuum hold-down system.  This is a classic set-up that dates back to the mid-'80s.  It is belt-drive with a very heavy platter (15 lb aluminum) that rests on a single sapphire bearing (hence the name). The vacuum hold-down is the unique feature that that reduces 'LP induced rumble' via an external vacuum pump.  After the LP is held down, the vinyl feels like it is a part of the platter, very solid and thus very good low-end to the recording.  The platter is part of a 22 lb sub-chassis that floats and uses lead-shot for ballast.  All total this table weighs in at almost 50 pounds.

4.  Interconnect cables - Basically using Esoteric Audio throughout. Not sure of the type, it has been so long since it was purchased.  Cable manufacturers are not know for labeling their cables very well.
5.  RIAA Preamplifier - Using a B&K Sonata MC-101 preamp.  This preamp  uses Tiffany connectors throughout and a discrete JFET preamp for the phono stage.
6.  CDR Recorder - A Pioneer PDR-509 recorder set-up in a Tape Loop within the MC-101 preamp. This recorder has to use the CD-Music blanks where a small royalty is embedded in each blank CDR-Music sold.

The CD is recorded as Track 1 for Side A and Track 2 for Side B.  Then the CD is finalized and brought to a PC for editing.  The CDA files are converted to two large WAV files usually around 250MB a piece.

Then I use 'ClickRepair' to remove the pops and crackles that may be in the recording.  I have tried several different types of software for this, and this seems to do the best job and at the same time not affect the audio quality. For 'MINT' quality LP's I use a setting of 35, and de-crackle setting of 2. For very bad LP's, I use 50 or more and de-crackle setting of 5.  In my opinion, this is the 'secret sauce' that makes these LP's sound so great.  There is another application called 'DeNoise' which can reduce the hiss in the recordings, but for the most part, these recordings have minimal amount of hiss, and I do not find the hiss objectionable. 

Then I use "Cool Edit Pro" (now a part of Adobe Audition), to parse the 'click-repaired' files.  Divide them in to separate tracks and check for any large pops that may have been missed.  Then normalize the WAV file to maximize the 16 bit dynamic range for the format.  Then each track is converted to 320kbps MP3 or 192kbps WMA, and ID3 tags are added and album art is embedded if possible.  Then they are compressed into ZIP or RAR format and uploaded to Rapidshare.  That is the complete process that I use for digital archival of LP's. 

O'Donel Levy - "Windows" 1976

Welcome to my first post.  There is a lot for me to learn for this blogging stuff, so hopefully my posts will get better as time goes on.  I will also try to offer the best album art available (use flatbed scanner plus post photo-processing)

I became aware of this album several years after it was released.  I am not sure why it was never released on CD or digital media.  In my opinion, I consider this album to be one of his best works.  It was released by Groove Merchant, and produced by Sonny Lester.  I have noticed that slowly Groove Merchant has been releasing some works to MP3 downloads, so keep your fingers crossed for more releases.  This album contains that classic jazz-funk sound that originated in the '70's.  You also get the melodic vocal phrasings from O'Donel himself.  My favorite cuts from this LP are: "I Believe In Miracles" and "I'll Sing From My Window".  "Moisturizer" is also a worthy mention. Please enjoy and comments are welcome...

Drums - Stafford Levy
Engineer - Tony Bongiovi
Guitar, Written-By - O'Donel Levy
Piano, Synthesizer - Charles Covington
Producer - Sonny Lester
Saxophone, Flute - David E. Smith
Trumpets - Jimmy Wilson, Randy Brecker, Lewis M. Soloff
Vocals - Aleta Greene