Monthly Archives: April 2016

Fred Mills: THE COLLEGE ROCK CHRONICLES, PT. 8 – The Sidewinders

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Dreaming about the bad, crazy sun that gazes down upon Tucson.

BY FRED MILLS

Ed. note: For this installment of my ongoing “College Rock Chronicles” series (previously excavated: features on Big Star, Dumptruck, The Gun Club, Dwight Twilley, Winter Hours, Green On Red and Thomas Anderson) I’m turning shamelessly nostalgic. My reverie was prompted earlier today when my good friend (and BLURT publisher) Stephen Judge sent me a short video clip from Austin featuring Arizona desert rock legends The Sidewinders performing at our annual day party during SXSW at the Ginger Man Pub. There they were, my old pals Dave Slutes, Rich Hopkins and the gang, ripping through one of my all-time favorite songs by the band, “Doesn’t Anyone Believe.” Cue up (a) a ton of regret for not being able to attend SXSW this year; (b) fond memories of our 2013 day party during SXSW when the band also performed, not to mention even fonder memories of seeing them numerous times in the ‘90s when I was living in Tucson; and (c) about an hour’s worth of revisiting Sidewinders videos, reading old clips on the band, and more. Translation: another unapologetically rambling missive from yours truly. Feel free to change the channel now, but if you harbor even the faintest good memories of the group, I trust you’ll appreciate this one in the spirit with which it is served up. As the saying goes—so it’s truth that you desire? Read on….

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“Now I couldn’t tell you what I know/ It changes like the weather/ But what I know is what I feel/ What I feel is enough to get me / Out of life and everything it means/ None of this is really what it seems…” — “Doesn’t Anyone Believe,” from 1990’s Auntie Ramos’ Pool Hall

Sometime around 1987 or ‘88 a record turned up in my mailbox. Hardly an unusual occurrence; at the time I was working as a music critic for a number of regional and national publications. Most likely the package was posted my way in hopes of securing a review in East Coast rock mag The Bob, which at the time had achieved a degree of prominence, both for its championing of the burgeoning alternative rock movement—at the time, in this pre-Nirvana era, we called it “college rock”—and for its inclusion, in each issue, a limited edition flexi record, which to date had included then-unreleased material by everyone from R.E.M. to Camper Van Beethoven to The Church. A lot of bands jostled for coverage back in those so-much-younger-than days.

But unlike much of the musical flotsam and jetsam that arrived on a daily basis, this particular artifact established its sonic prominence from the very moment the needle hit the grooves—clear vinyl grooves, at that. (Side note: a cassette copy of the album was also in the package, thereby allowing me a nice sonic preview of the music in the car on the drive home from the post office.) Titled ¡Cuacha!, the debut from Tucson’s Sidewinders was at once familiar and foreign to my ears, a mélange of part-jangly/part-distorted guitars, tuneful-yet-aggressive vocals and thundering rhythms (the familiar part) and otherworldly ambiance steeped in a subtextual yearning that suggested exotic locales and a romance with purpose (the foreign part).

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Thus began a musical love affair that has endured for nearly three decades, and I’m proud to report that my initial instincts were accurate: in their lifetime the Sidewinders—or Sand Rubies, the other moniker they operated under for a number of years during the ‘90s due to legal issues arising from a dispute with a lawyered-up North Carolina-based cock-rock/Pat Benatar clone band called Sidewinder—would craft some of the most memorable and timeless tunes ever to emerge from the Arizona scene.

Witchdoctor said to me/ ‘You got no heart/ And you got no soul/ And you’ve got no life of your own/ Surrender what’s left/ And then I’ll set you free’…” —“Witchdoctor,” from 1989’s Witchdoctor

Certainly on their earliest recordings, including the aforementioned indie debut, Witchdoctor and Auntie Ramos’ Pool Hall (both released on RCA via N.C.-based Mammoth), one can hear the vestigial remains of the mid-‘80s college rock scene that initially spawned the band (thank you, R.E.M.). The Sidewinders’ proud D.I.Y. ethos is fully evidenced as well, particularly considering that by the tail end of that decade thousands of bands were already tuning in full time to the nascent, noisy rumblings of the Northwest and those who still dared to wield a jangly riff or to sing in a voice south of a shriek risked excommunication from the Temple Of Hip. (My fellow Tarheel Mitch Easter, reflecting on his own band Let’s Active’s experience, told me that by the late ‘80s, anyone who came out on stage with a 12-string was just asking to have his ass kicked.)

Too, key roots and influences jostled for position in the group’s sonic tableaux, from the brawny pop raveups of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and Neil Young’s Crazy Horsian gallop to the undulating psychedelia of the ‘60s-era Bay Area bands and—speaking of hip—the classic singer/songwriterdom of Neil Diamond, whose “Solitary Man” found its way into the Sidewinders’ setlists and soon became a performance mainstay.

Still, as with the proverbial “whole/more than the sum” distinction, what you got from the Sidewinders was considerably greater than what appeared to go into the band. First of all, founders Rich Hopkins (guitar) and Dave Slutes (vocals) carried the torch for immaculately-crafted, dynamically-rendered pop out of the ‘80s and into the ‘90s under the somewhat nebulous but still fitting banner of “desert rock.” 1993’s Sand Rubies album, cut for a short-lived subsidiary of Chrysalis Records and by some measures one of those “great lost…” records of the era thanks to a series of label and management missteps, is one of the most powerful documents of the era, panoramic in its sonic detail, richly evocative in its lyric nuance—and still capable, to this day, of taking the listener’s breath away with its scope and power.

And the Hopkins-Slutes duo, along with their shifting array of bandmates, helped lay the groundwork for similarly-inclined younger artists who, after weathering the ensuing decade’s worth of corporatized alterna-rock and its numerous hyphenated variants, would eventually go about the business of restoring the ideals of self-directed and –sustained D.I.Y. to rock ‘n’ roll. Although the Sidewinders/Sand Rubies would wield their greatest impact regionally—hugely respected by the Arizona music community, they were also very vocal and active boosters for scores of other groups—it wasn’t uncommon to find pockets of rabid fans in other locales across the country and around the globe. (I should know; living on the East Coast at the time, I was one of those fans who’d succumbed to the group’s charms. More on that in a sec.)

This was during the pre-Internet age, when following a band involved a lot more than calling up a Wikipedia entry and a Facebook page or clicking on an MP3 download link, and the resulting degree of devotion could be profound to the point of startling. Even as I was corresponding with the band prior to my 1992 relocation from N.C. to A.Z., writing about them for The Bob, England’s Bucketful of Brains and elsewhere (including the official Trouser Press entry), and swapping live tapes with fellow collectors from all points of the globe, other fans, scribes and collectors were doing likewise. You could label this somewhat naively along lines of “grassroots,” but the bottom line is that the Sidewinders/Sand Rubies built up a huge store of goodwill during their initial music industry foray, and no amount of subsequent rock world ups and downs will ever be able to take that away from us or the band.

Legacies are forged over time, of course, and the years have seen a fair share of personal and professional vicissitudes for both Hopkins and Slutes (one feature written about the band called ‘em “Arizona’s ultimate bad luck story”), with albums typically bookending protracted periods of inactivity for the band. More than once, they’ve played an Arizona “farewell” show, including as recently as 2011. Here in 2016, it strikes me as criminal that they haven’t recorded any new music in well over a decade; the Austin performance at this year’s SXSW mentioned in the intro above is but one of just a handful they’ve done since last year’s SXSW, and gig announcements only come sporadically at their Facebook page. That said, Rich and Dave live in different cities nowadays, so we fans will take what we can get.

But the music they’ve made together is permanently woven into the fabric of America’s grand tapestry of rock. 10, 20 or 30 years from now, when some kid encounters a futuristic variant of the mixtape containing, I dunno, the brooding psych-noir of “Bad Crazy Sun,” lush jangler “We Don’t Do That Anymore,” scathing/searing rocker “Goodbye” (one of the greatest kiss-off songs ever), or even the ethereally romantic Old Pueblo travelogue “Santa Maria Street,” he’ll be inspired to investigate further, and in digging deeper will ensure that the Sidewinders legacy continues to be carried forward.

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A caveat: A portion of the foregoing was adapted from the foreword I penned for the 2011 book Came On Like the Sun: Collected Photographs of the Sidewinders and Sand Rubies, published by Hopkins and Doug Finical. In drafting my commentary, I compiled enough notes to disappear down the proverbial band rabbit-hole that we writers are prone to, having hung out with and interviewed the musicians numerous times over the years, dating back to the time of the arrival of that first Sidewinders album in my mailbox. Sometimes your objectivity gradually dissolves, and I will freely admit to being completely biased when it comes to their music.

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Indeed, more than one friend has heard me talk about the time, circa 1991, when my wife and I were sitting around in our Charlotte, NC, house drinking wine and trying to decide whether it was time to seek out greener pastures, having grown weary and frustrated with our workaday routines in sales for a local shopping mall store chain. One tends to get restless every ten years or so, and thus there we were, literally on the verge of throwing a dart at a map of the United States to see what might be a viable destination. Among our options: New Orleans and Memphis, because we knew it would have to be a music town to make such a move worth cashing in our profit-sharing plans and surrendering our job security.

On the stereo that night were our favorite band, The Sidewinders, and mystically enough, at that precise decision point, “Get Out of That Town” from Auntie Ramos’ Pool Hall came on. Against a sturdy backbeat and a bristly-jangly Hopkins guitar riff, vocalist Slutes offered this semi-sage lyrical advice:

“Now I know I’m crazy like a TV evangelist

But that town thinks it’s Los Angeles

And you know what’s worse? It’s trying to be it!

You gotta get out of that town…

And if you don’t know how,

We’ll find a way.

Anything that will allow you

To move out—and get away…

You gotta get out of that town,

Get out of those shopping malls—

C’mon down here!”

Certainly the song was born of the musician’s urging a friend or lover to ditch Phoenix—its sprawl, its plasticity, and yes, its shopping malls—to “c’mon down here” to Tucson. But in that instance, we knew they were surely singing to us as well. Two cross-country fact-finding and house-hunting vacations later, we had hired Mayflower movers to truck us and our stuff out to Tucson. Once we got there, it was not all moonbeams and tequila, of course; no overly romanticized notion ever fulfills itself. But the friends we made were lasting, and the memories we built were permanent. We even decided to have a child, something we’d resisted for ages, feeling that the time just wasn’t yet right for us. In Tucson, though, it finally felt right.

“At night you’ve got to stay awake/ The desert sun won’t even let you think straight…” — “Bad Crazy Sun,” from 1989’s Witchdoctor

Ironically, around the same time we were arriving in Tucson, the Sidewinders were finding themselves in the throes of the aforementioned legal woes, ultimately leading to the name change, a delay in the release of the much-anticipated fourth album, and a series of lineup changes. Within a few years, there would be a breakup and extended hiatus. I distinctly recall feeling, at one point, mildly betrayed: How dare they split after all the energy and emotion I’d put into them.

Maybe that’s why the subsequent Sidewinders reunions have had a certain bittersweet edge for me. Watching that brief video clip of the band live in Austin the other night that Stephen Judge sent me was, well… like I said, I got pretty nostalgic. Happy to see Rich and Dave enjoying themselves (knowing, too, that Stephen was there filming the clip and probably pinching himself with delight), but sad I wasn’t there to be front and center, punching my fist in the air and singing along. Lord knows I have the lyrics to every one of their songs memorized. (Below: a live clip of the band doing “Bad Crazy Sun” from earlier this year.)

Postscript: Years before I moved to the desert, I was dreaming about it. Not just imagining what the desert must be like, or playing back scenes from classic films, but literally: I’d find myself transported to a sandy, saguaro- and yucca-dotted expanse while a bad, crazy sun scorched the back of my neck and an equally blazing brace of guitars played across a background soundtrack like the rumbling of a distant, incoming monsoon. I must have had those dreams for nearly four years before actually arriving in the desert in the summer of ’92, on a wish and a prayer that the physical change in locale—from N.C. to Tucson—would provide me with the psychological change I’d been needing in my life.

It did, and the ten years I spent in the desert remain among my most vivid, productive and alive. For those, and so much more, I have Rich Hopkins, Dave Slutes and the myriad members of their extended family largely to thank. I plan to get back there one of these days.

Every person needs a rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack to his or her dreams, and the Sidewinders are mine.

“In this corner, by candlelight/ And that’s where we’ll meet/ On Santa Maria Street” —“Santa Maria Street,” from 1993’s Sand Rubies

Bill Kopp / The Blurt Jazz Desk: New Archival Releases

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Thank you, Zev Feldman, of the Resonance and Elemental labels. Examined: Sarah Vaughan, Wes Montgomery, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, João Gilberto & Getz, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, and Art Pepper.

BY BILL KOPP, BLURT JAZZ DESK EDITOR

Lovers of the classic era in jazz and/or modern jazz owe a debt of gratitude to Zev Feldman. The head of a pair of modern-day jazz labels (Resonance and Elemental) has been exceedingly busy of late, rescuing heretofore unheard recordings of great historical import. Kicking off with a bang a mere four years ago, Feldman unearthed a cache of Wes Montgomery recordings, and released them as Echoes of Indiana Avenue. At the time, the source tapes for that set were thought to be the earliest extant recordings of the acclaimed jazz guitarist. But in 2015 Resonance roared back with In the Beginning, a 2CD set of even more (and even earlier) Montgomery.

Other projects have included a remarkable Bill Evans Trio recording from Greenwich Village (Live at Art D’Lugoff’s Top of the Gate) and a John Coltrane set, Offering: Live at Temple University. The latter earned liner note essayist Ashley Kahn a Grammy award.

But the last several months have seen a flurry of activity from Feldman’s labels that suggests those early successes were merely warm-ups. No less than seven (actually eight) archival releases – all featuring previously-unheard music – have been released by Resonance or Elemental.

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Sarah Vaughan – Live at Rosy’s

The celebrated jazz singer was in her mid-fifties at the time of this recording, taped in New Orleans for an NPR broadcast in May 1978. At the time, Vaughan was enjoying something of a renaissance. Stephen Sondheim‘s “Send in the Clowns” – a reading of which is included on this 2CD set of mostly standards – had become Vaughan’s signature tune. “Sassy” Vaughan had built her reputation fronting big bands, but here she takes a totally different approach form her earlier work. With a spare band – piano, bass and drums – the focus here is wholly on Vaughan and her voice. Because this recording was professionally made for radio broadcast, the sound quality is quite good. The accompanying booklet is generous with both vintage photos and interview content.

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Wes Montgomery – One Night in Indy

Zev Feldman clearly has a thing for the work of Wes Montgomery, and who can blame him? His brief but informative liner note essay tells the story of how he came to release this CD of a 1959 open reel recording. Even with Feldman’s understated description of event, readers will get a sense of the thrill he experienced. And the recording is of more than historical import: playing with The Eddie Higgins Trio, the focus her is squarely on Montgomery’s already fully-developed technique. Those who bemoan his later A&M and Verve outings into reading of pop will appreciate this six-song set of tunes from the songbooks of Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Cole Porter, Neal Hefti and more. Sound quality is simply superb for what was clearly an unofficial recording.

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Bill Evans – Some Other Time: The Lost Session from the Black Forest

Here’s a rare treat. Bill Evans was quite prolific in his day, but until now there have been no studio recordings of his short-lived lineup of his Trio featuring bassist Eddie Gomez (Scott LaFaro‘s different but superb replacement), and drummer extraordinaire Jack DeJohnette. These recordings were overseen by MPS head Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer, the so-called “man from the Black Forest.” As with virtually all recordings made at MPS Studios, the music lives and breathes on this recording. Based on the customary run time of albums at the time these recordings were made (June 1968), had this material been released, it likely would have been spread across two or perhaps three record albums. There’s but one breakdown (“It’s All Right with Me”) and one alternate take (“You’re gonna Hear From Me”). Otherwise it’s all new material, a mix of standards. Some tracks feature the Trio; some are duos, and a few feature Evans alone at the piano. Five days prior to this session, the Trio was in Montreux, Switzerland, performing at the annual jazz festival. Feldman’s brief essay reveals the back story of these tapes, and other essays (from critics, Gomez and DeJohnette) provide all the context one could ever wish for.

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Stan Getz Quartet – Moments in Time

The first of two releases chronicling tenor saxophonist Stan Getz’s May 1976 residency at San Francisco’s Keystone Korner, this is a thrilling single-disc collection of live music by Getz and his three sidepeople (Joanne Brackeen, piano; Clint Houston, bass; Billy Hart, drums). Superb song selection and even better musicianship are the dual highlights of this timeless set, which sounds (stylewise) as if it could have been recorded any time between the late 1950s and the following three decades. Again, our intrepid jazz archivist Zev Feldman tells the story of how he found these tapes and brought them to current-day listeners. His Q&A with drummer Billy Hart – and a short note from Getz’s son Steve – round out a nice booklet that also contains some good live performance photos. Apparently some “sound restoration” took place on these tapes, but by the sound of them, you’d never know the CDs weren’t sourced from pristine pro tapes stored in some climate-controlled vault for forty-plus years.

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João Gilberto & Stan Getz – Getz/Gilberto ’76

The provenance of these recordings is the same as the above title, and the lineup is the same, with the addition of Brazilian vocalist and guitar sensation João Gilberto, he of “Girl From Ipanema” fame and so much more. The program here is give over almost wholly to Gilberto’s original material (no “Ipanema”) and similar material. By its very nature, this material is far more subdued than the Monents in Time set, and – other than some nice sax solos – Getz’s band rarely takes the spotlight. Feldman includes another whole interview’s worth of conversation with drummer Hart for this set.

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Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra – All My Yesterdays: The Debut 1966 Recordings at The Village Vanguard

Few would make the case that big band jazz was anywhere near its peak in the mid 1960s. But likely you couldn’t tell that to bandleader Jones and drummer Lewis; this set finds the big band playing like their lives depended on it. There’s a swinging vibe that – while not exactly loose – feels miles away from the stiff arrangements and readings sometimes associated with large jazz orchestras. The material is built upon a repertoire of standards, yet has the energetic vibe of Buddy Rich‘s pop-leaning shows of the same era. For this set, Feldman made the unusual decision to package the CDs and book in a larger-than-standard case; apparently this engendered complaints and backlash from OCD-leaning consumers who need their CD sets to be either standard size or a box set (a point of view I appreciate), so he’s vowed not to do it again. That issue aside, this is a wonderful set of music in a lovely package.

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Art Pepper – Live at Fat Tuesday’s

Heading in more dissonant and wild direction than most of the other titles discussed here, this live recording of a 1981 concert in New Your City focuses on material that lends itself to ambitious interpretations: Monk’s “Rhythm-a-ning” is the best example. And when they slow it down, as on Gordon Jenkins‘ “Goodbye,” thee band shows off their skills in a different manner. Zev Feldman’s in-depth interview with the saxophonist’s widow Laurie Pepper forms the backbone of a characteristically excellent liner note booklet. This is little more than conjecture on my part, but perhaps the reason this title is released on Elemental (as opposed to Resonance, under the umbrella of the not-for-profit organization Rising Jazz Stars) may have to do with Pepper’s estate owning the material. Omnivore Recordings has also released several Pepper titles over the last year or so.

Note that another title, jazz organist Larry Young‘s In Paris: The ORTF Recordings has also been released recently by Resonance; a review copy was not available at the time of this writing.

The release schedule for Feldman’s labels would be impressive by the standards of a mid-sized record label; that these releases come form a tiny label specializing in jazz, and a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization at that – is truly remarkable. Tantalizingly, and judging by Feldman’s regular Facebook dispatches from locations across the globe, there’s every reason to suspect more jazz treasures will be revealed in the near future.

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Bill Kopp is a music journalist, editor of Musoscribe.com, and editor of BLURT‘s newly-launched jazz desk. He has written liner notes for several jazz reissues, including Cannonball Adderley‘s The Price You Got to Pay to Be Free and Music, You All, both due out in May.

Bill Kopp / The Blurt Jazz Desk: Herbie Mann

Herbie Mann (w/ Will Lee)

Previously-unheard 1969 live tapes from jazz flautist and his band make it clear that Mann was nothing if not underrated. “Herbie was pushing the envelope,” says album producer Pat Thomas. “He always had his ear to the ground,” agrees Mann biographer Cary Ginell.

BY BILL KOPP, BLURT JAZZ DESK EDITOR

Nominally a jazz musician, flautist Herbie Mann (1930-2003) enjoyed crossover appeal and success that brought his music to a much wider population than simply jazz aficionados. Mann released dozens of albums, and restlessly explored different styles of music. He sold a lot of records, won numerous DownBeat polls, and was a reliable concert draw for decades. But along the way, his interest in different musical forms sometimes worked against him: today, many regard him as little more than a dilettante at best, and at worst a shameless, commercially-driven hack.

That’s largely unfair. He did churn out some rather disposable pop, especially in the 1970s, with hit singles like “Hijack” (#14 on Billboard‘s Hot 100, and #1 on their Disco Action chart) from 1975’s Discothèque LP), but he was a true innovator, an artist who was always looking for the cross-fertilization of genres that is vital to music’s ongoing development.

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A new 2CD set from Real Gone Music should help rehabilitate Mann’s undeservedly tarnished reputation among jazz lovers, and among musically adventurous listeners in general. Live at the Whisky 1969: The Unreleased Masters compiles previously unreleased tapes from Mann’s week-long engagement at Hollywood’s famed Whisky a Go Go. The set features performances of Mann with his stellar band – bassist Miroslav Vitouš, who would later go on to found Weather Report; vibraphonist Roy Ayers; saxophonist Steve Marcus; drummer Bruno Carr; and avant-jazz electric guitarist Sonny Sharrock. And the set’s second disc includes a rare gem: Sharrock’s wife Linda Sharrock joins the band onstage for some free-form avant-garde vocals that some have likened to the early work of Yoko Ono. By design, this new 2CD set has no overlap with the music released in 1969 as Live at the Whisky A Go Go.

The archival project of rescuing these performances from obscurity came to light thanks to the efforts of Pat Thomas, producer of many reissues and author of Listen, Whitey: The Sights and Sounds of Black Power and (with soul jazz legend Les McCann), Invitation to Openness: The Jazz & Soul Photography of Les McCann.

Thomas explains how the project came about. “I had been a big Herbie Mann fan. And his live albums, of course, are only 30-40 minutes. So it was obvious to me that they didn’t go in and record four songs and leave. I thought that since this was a small club gig, it would be more interesting than, say, a show at Madison Square Garden.”

Thomas “bugged the powers-that-be at Atlantic Records,” but says their response was along the lines of, “’Oh, we can’t find the tapes,’ blah blah blah. So when I moved to L.A. and started doing more reissues and more research, I hooked up with Bill Inglot; he’s done a million research projects for Rhino and other labels. He told me, ‘I found the tapes you’ve been looking for.’”

That entire week of shows at the Whisky had been taped by famed engineer Bill Halverson, who recorded Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young‘s 4 Way Street. “The tapes sounded great, and were really easy to mix,” says Thomas. “We pulled the tapes out of the vault. Brian Kehew – who does a lot of mixing; he mixed that big Yes box set [Progeny: Seven Shows from Seventy-two] – and I mixed the tapes.”

What they found was that the tapes from the first night didn’t even feature the band’s leader. “That first night, Herbie was sick, so the band played without him,” Thomas says. “I was really hoping that there could be some wild jams, just based on the fact that they didn’t play a real set. But unfortunately, they noodled! They got levels on their instruments and didn’t really play.”

But as Thomas and Kehew dug deeper, their efforts paid off in a big way. They discovered “two versions of “If I Were a Carpenter” that are really just extended jams. I could hear that Herbie was really stretching out. And the most surprising thing was that Linda Sharrock was in the audience, and Herbie brought her up onstage. They did these Sonny and Linda Sharrock songs from the album Black Woman, songs that they had only recorded in the studio three weeks earlier.”

The audience at the Whisky would likely have been mystified by Sharrock’s unexpected and very out-there performance. “Herbie was pushing the envelope,” Thomas chuckles. “The Whisky A Go Go is known for great music, but it’s not exactly an avant-garde jazz haven. So I’m sure there were people in the audience scratching their heads, thinking, ‘What is this Linda Sharrock shit?’”

There was some precedent for the unusual musical direction Mann took his band with Linda Sharrock. “Herbie was very kind to his sidemen,” Thomas points out. “He made sure that all of them wound up putting out a solo album.” That generosity extended to the wife of his guitarist, an avant-garde singer who would release the highly-regarded Black Woman, her first album with husband Sonny, for Mann’s Vortex label, not long after the Whisky dates.

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And Sonny himself was considered by some an unusual choice for Mann’s group. His style is closer in spirit and texture to Jimi Hendrix than, say, Joe Pass. But it’s a major highlight of Herbie Mann’s acclaimed 1969 LP, Memphis Underground.

“In the ‘60s, Herbie wanted to appeal to younger audiences,” observes Cary Ginell, author of several books including The Evolution of Mann: Herbie Mann and the Flute in Jazz. “And the way to do that was through rock ’n’ roll. He always enjoyed challenging his audiences and thumbing his nose at his critics, and when he got a hold of Sonny Sharrock, he did that and more. He was really deliberately antagonizing people by getting the most ‘out’ Hendrix-styled guitarist he could find, and letting him have at it.”

Ginell notes that “Herbie never told his musicians what to play; he figured they knew what they were all about. Sharrock was the first of a run of musicians Herbie hired who stepped out of the jazz mainstream and played from another perspective.”

Real Gone’s Live at the Whisky 1969: The Unreleased Masters puts the exciting, adventurous side of Herbie Mann’s music on full display. “I think this album – for those who are paying attention – is going to establish Herbie more in that Miles Davis camp of groundbreaking progressive jazz,” says Thomas. “That’s a part of his legacy that doesn’t get into the history books, because most people think of him as a sort of pop-jazz hack.”

“Obviously there were points in his career when they did take him seriously,” says Thomas. “But I think that the more casual jazz fans certainly didn’t like the more pop aspects of his work; by the mid-1970s, he went very pop. And then there are these people – I call ’em jazz Nazis – who always tell me that soul-jazz and funk-jazz are not jazz. ‘Oh, Les McCann? That’s not jazz!’ And Herbie Mann gets tossed in that pool.”

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Ginell agrees, noting that “critics never liked Herbie, possibly because he got tired of playing the pigeonhole game. They liked him when he played straight-ahead jazz, and then when he ventured into Afro Cuban jazz. But as soon as he started having crossover success, they started accusing him of selling out.”

Ginell points out that in the 1960s, Mann “started recording covers of songs on the pop charts — things by the Beatles, Donovan, etc. — and that alienated him further from the intelligentsia. Crossover success has never been popular among jazz critics,” he says. “They’ve always wanted jazz to themselves; anyone who is successful is accused of selling out.”

Mann’s abilities as a musician are underrated, too, according to Ginell. His research turned up what he calls “mixed messages on how Herbie was viewed as a musician. Some, like vibraphonist Dave Pike, thought Herbie was a phony with limited talent. [Vibraphonist] Terry Gibbs told me he thought Herbie was a terrible musician. Personally, I don’t see it,” Ginell says. “He had great chops, an excellent rhythmic and melodic sensibility, but could get bogged down in simplistic patterns. Herbie was all about excitement, though, and knew how to be a showman. That was his strength.”

That, and putting together excellent bands, and reaching beyond the confines of his genre. “I think he has been vastly underrated as a musician who expanded jazz’s horizons, most notably in mixing jazz with world music,” says Ginell. “Herbie’s efforts helped call attention to jazz among young listeners. He always had his ear to the ground to see about the new styles of music that were coming into vogue and what young people were listening to.”

Ginell observes that “styles always change, and Herbie never wanted to be pigeonholed or forced to play just one kind of music. For that, purists called him a commercial sellout. He refused to play their game. They wanted him to play straight ahead bebop forever, but he abandoned that in the late ‘50s.”

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Herbie Mann was “the first American to record with Brazilian musicians,” says Ginell. “He used integrated bands with musicians from other countries, he experimented with Japanese, Eastern European, and other musical areas that other jazz musicians wouldn’t touch. He was curious and was a musical explorer.

“But,” Ginell concludes, “he never gets credit for these things, because he was always looking at music with a commercial eye.”

For those who appreciate Herbie Mann’s music, there’s even more on the way. “I just put together a collection of Herbie Mann seven-inch singles for Varese,” says Thomas. “There are some incredible non-LP funk singles in that collection. There’s no release date for that yet; probably late this year or 2017. It’ll be all over the map, because it’s going to have ‘Hijack’ on it along with some pop stuff, but it’s also going to have a funk single circa 1970 that had a rapper over the top of it! That’s something that the fan will want to chew on.”

Pat Thomas says, “I think Live at the Whisky 1969: The Unreleased Masters will help set the record straight. I think people will be pleasantly surprised, for sure.” He smiles and adds, “Projects like this are what get me out of bed in the morning; this is what it’s all about.”

Main photo credit by Tom Marcello, via Wikipedia Creative Commons

***

Bill Kopp is a music journalist, editor of Musoscribe.com, and editor of BLURT‘s newly-launched jazz desk. He has written liner notes for several jazz reissues, including Cannonball Adderley‘s The Price You Got to Pay to Be Free and Music, You All, both due out in May.

 

 

Fred Mills: 15 Questions for Fort Lowell Records of Raleigh

Tracy James

And… here’s the fourth installment in the BLURT series in which we profile cool independent record labels. What are the criteria for inclusion in the “cool” category? Hey, ’cos we say they are cool, that’s what! We’re making the rules around here, kids. Keep your eyes peeled for the next installment, coming soon, and meanwhile, go HERE for entry #1 (Slumberland Records), HERE for #2 (12XU), HERE for #3 (Saint Marie), and HERE for #4 (Trouble In Mind). Coming soon: Chunklet. [Pictured above: James Tritten and Tracy Shedd, presumably in earlier days…]

BY FRED MILLS

As the editor of this fine publication and website, I am frequently surprised and delighted by the gems — obviously gleaming and in the rough — that my crew of contributors unearth for us. Longtime writer Tim Hinely, also a blogger for us, has frequently been the source of such riches, and his ongoing “15 Questions For…” indie label feature has yielded more than its share. Around the time he launched the series I met James Tritten of the Fort Lowell Records label; James and his wife, musician Tracy Shedd, had recently moved from Tucson, Arizona, to Raleigh, North Carolina, where, coincidentally, I was living and working (in addition to doing BLURT) at indie record store Schoolkids Records. We hit it off — not the least of reasons being that I had lived for 10 years in Tucson myself during the ‘90s and we had a number of friends and plenty of landmarks in common — and I always looked forward to our in-depth music conferences whenever he and Tracy would drop by the store to put Fort Lowell items in the bins or just yak about stuff.

(As an aside: My abiding love and respect for indie labels runs deep, as I’ve been writing about their bands and their releases pretty much all of my adult life, at least since the late ‘70s when I was doing my own series of indie rock magazines. I also used to contribute to Magnet magazine’s monthly feature in which an indie label was profiled via a template of more-or-less stock questions that served to get the word out about the label and also to give the readers and consumers a sense of who was actually working behind the scenes to get the label up and running — and of course ongoing. That, then, has gone into what Tim Hinely and I are trying to accomplish with our own series here at BLURT.)

Ergo, this “15 Questions For…” James and Fort Lowell. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve dug, literally, every piece of wax he’s put in my hands. How do I count the ways? From our feature on Saint Maybe, erstwhile Patti Smith Group Oliver Ray’s project, as well as the feature on Tracy Shedd, to reviews of moyamoya (glom onto that sweet colored wax!) and La Cerca and the Good Graces, that’s how. Among many. A couple of ’em also landed on my Top Albums of 2015 list, recently published here at BLURT as part of our 2015 best-of roundup. Yeah, you might say I’m biased. But that’s what love is, ya know?

I’m also pretty damn chuffed about his and Tracy’s new collaboration, Band & The Beat (they’ll be touring in January; dates started in Charlotte on Jan. 9 HERE or after the main text), so in a final flourish of pure unbridled subjectivity, I’d like to kick off the feature with their new single. Enjoy…

BLURT: When did the label form / what was your original inspiration?

JAMES: It was November 2009 in Tucson, AZ, when the idea popped in my head to start up a record label. I was home sick with a Man Cold, sleeping on the couch next to our record collection. The 7inches caught my attention, and I took a sharp turn onto Memory Lane, listening to all of the old singles from my youth of growing up on the East Coast; bands like Common Threat, Greensect, Gizzard, The Raymond Brake, Mercury Birds, #1 Family Mover, Jennyanykind, etc.

Back in the ’90s, everyone released 7inch singles because it was cheap and easy, and it’s just what you did. You’d swap them with other bands on the road like business cards. I remember it costing close to about $1.50 a record to produce, and most of us just recorded the music in our homes. Black and white photocopied covers usually manufactured at your place of employment without your boss knowing; the whole project was very low-fi, and those records are some of my favorite to date.

When my wife Tracy Tritten, otherwise known as singer-songwriter Tracy Shedd (who has released albums with Teen-Beat, Devil In The Woods, Eskimo Kiss Records, and New Granada Records), and I moved to Tucson in 2006, we noticed that not many of the younger local bands were releasing their music on vinyl. Usually they would have a CD-R at best, but most would just tell you to download their music… for free, off of their website. (Music for free?)

It’s not to say no one in Tucson was releasing vinyl. Golden Boots was probably putting out some of the best packaged records, along with Naïm Amor. And yes, of course, Howe Gelb, Giant Sand, and Calexico releases were coming out on vinyl. But the kids, the new bands in town, playing at The Red Room (RIP) or The HangArt were not quite there yet (the whole indie / punk tape craze hadn’t even happened yet).

At that same time, I was coming up on a year anniversary for me driving a Vespa scooter to and from work each day. I had bought a 1976 CJ-5 Jeep with 35″ tires and a 4″ lift a few years earlier when we first moved to Tucson (featured here in Tracy Shedd’s video for “Whatever It Takes”). It was a real “Rock Crawler”: something to do for fun on the weekends. However, with only about 8-miles to the gallon for gas usage, driving that beast to work every day was not the most economically sound choice, so I bought a scooter to handle that daily trek and save some money.

One day as I passed the Jeep that had been parked, unused, for countless weeks, I had a vision of selling the Jeep and putting the money to better use: starting up a record label. I remember standing next to that Jeep and calling Zach Toporek from Young Mothers to pitch the idea of releasing his band as our first record. He said yes, and the Jeep went on the market immediately. The rest is history, as they say.

Who designed your logo? Do you only have one?

The only Fort Lowell Records logo is actually a silhouette of the statue that stands in Fort Lowell Park in Tucson AZ. Fort Lowell was the neighborhood that I lived in while in Tucson, so for me (personally) it made sense to call the record label Fort Lowell Records, to mark that time in my life. I also knew that there was only one Fort Lowell in the world, in Tucson, and I wanted something the city itself could own: a record label that was obviously tied to Tucson (and I believe Cactus Records was already taken).

I felt the label’s logo had to represent the area of town, and there is nothing more iconic that the statue that stands on Craycroft Road. So, I walked outside my house down to the park and snapped a picture of the statue. Then, got onto Photoshop to make it what it is.

It also reminded me of Vanguard Records’ logo, and I am huge fan of Vanguard. Not sure if anyone else knows this, but the band Stereolab actually got a lot of their artistic design for their earlier releases from old Vanguard records. In fact, I am pretty sure that name itself was a term Vanguard used, much like RCA Records’ “Living Stereo” series.

Fort Lowell logo

What was your first release?

It was a 7-inch record for Young Mothers, for a song called “Come On, The Cross.” The B-side features what is still quite possibly my personal favorite song that Fort Lowell Records has released: a track called “Good Sword.” I’ll drop the needle on “Good Sword” from time to time, and I swear life just stands still, it is so captivating. Have you ever heard a song like that; one that just takes over everything within you and around you? Zach Toporek nailed it with that song. He’s even got some twelve-part harmony in there; it’s breathtaking.

I knew Young Mothers were going to be our first release from the first time I saw them. Tracy Shedd (who I play guitar with) was booked with Young Mothers at The Living Room in Tucson. Zach did not know us, and we had never met him. Within the first few strums of his guitar and belts of his huge live vocals, we were hooked. At the time, the music reminded us of our old friends from Austin TX, Silver Scooter; just good old American indie-pop (pure and fun).

The music made me get up and dance. At that moment, they were the best band in the world to me. So when the idea of Fort Lowell Records came about, I knew exactly who I wanted to call first. I think that is how it should be for a label owner: you should be that ‘freak fan’ that just can’t get enough of the band you are releasing. And that’s what a band should want from their label: an overabundance of enthusiastic support.

Were there any label(s) that inspired you to want to release records?

Sarah Records, Teen-Beat, Pop-Narcotic, Decoder Ring Records, Magic Eye Singles, as well as the band from Boston – Charlene – and their self-released singles on their own label, SharkAttack!. At the time, it was all about the 7inches, and these labels had it down, especially Sarah Records. Studying their releases really helped me be creative with presenting a professional design for each record, but keeping costs down and staying under or within budget. I spent months researching various options and ideas, yet insuring that quality was never compromised. I’d like to think we were successful with this challenge; I’m very proud of the records we’ve released.

If there is one band, current or present, you could release a record by who would it be?

Two bands… Schooner and Gross Ghost; both bands from North Carolina. We’ve been fans of each band before ever moving here; we have actually played shows with Schooner in the past when touring through North Carolina. In fact, when we did a show at Slim’s Downtown with Schooner back in 2011, we made a promise to them that if we moved to North Carolina, we’d release a record for them. The delay is totally my own fault, and I am hoping someday to live up to that promise. [Count the BLURT braintrust among the fans of those two bands, James! –Tarheel Ed.]

Both bands are simply amazing and very much underappreciated; more people need to know about these guys. Their music is pure, honest, and simply great. The songwriting is there, the live performance is there. I would love to have an opportunity to record a record with each of them, and welcome them to the Fort Lowell Records family.

What has been your best seller to date?

Hands down, Howe Gelb’s 7-inch record that was part of Record Store Day 2011. It was actually a split release between two of his own projects: ‘Sno Angel, which features a choir from Canada, and Melted Wires, which is a jazz quartet made up of members from Giant Sand and Calexico. Neither track on the 7inch had been released on vinyl before, and they are both simply stunning. “Spiral” is the ‘Sno Angel track, while “Cordoba In Slow Motion” – the Melted Wires song – really showcases Gelb’s Thelonious Monk influence. We technically sold out of the record in three weeks, but then about a year later we had some returns from our distributor. I was actually very thankful to have a few records sent back to us, since there were so many people that missed out on it the first time. Now I’ve seen that record go for up to $40.00 on eBay, which I find somewhat flattering (in a weird way). I’ve bought my fair share of over-priced hard-to-find records on eBay, just because I had to have it.

Honorable mentions for best-selling records go to Young Mothers….music video?, our split between Wet & Reckless and Tracy Shedd, and the Luz de Vida Compilation, all of which have also sold out (from our inventory) over time. (That reminds me, I need to update our website and take some of those down.)

Who is the most famous artist on your label, and why do you think that is?

With the exception of Howe Gelb, which is the obvious answer, there are three artists that share the limelight:

Tracy Shedd has had a lucrative career all on her own, without any influence from Fort Lowell Records. Tracy has a number of albums out with Teen-Beat, as well as a few individual releases with Devil In The Woods, Eskimo Kiss Records, and most recently New Granada Records. She has been featured on TV shows such as Dawson’s Creek and One Tree Hill, as well as had her music in one of Catherine Zeta-Jones’ movies. Having Tracy as a part of the Fort Lowell Records’ roster has definitely helped with developing an audience for the label, which we are very thankful for. Tracy is also sharing her latest project with Fort Lowell Records: a duo dream-pop / synth-pop project called Band & The Beat, and their debut release “21 [Digital 45]is Fort Lowell Records’ latest release.

Next would be La Cerca. I learned about La Cerca back in 2001 when Tracy Shedd released her first track on a compilation from The Unlike Label which also featured La Cerca. During the time I lived in Tucson, I would often go on record stating that Andrew Gardner from La Cerca was one of the most under-appreciated songwriters in Tucson. [Amen. –Old Pueblo Ed.] I was over the moon when the opportunity came up for Fort Lowell to release La Cerca’s latest album ‘Sunrise For Everyone.‘ [Go HERE to read the Blurt review of the album.] So the day Andrew called me to tell me that Xemu Records wanted to sign his band and re-release their album, I knew Andrew had finally receive the recognition that he deserved. In no way was I upset; I was simply proud of Andrew, and extremely happy for La Cerca. Being picked up by another label to help grow your career, I feel, is a sign of success. I would never want to hold anyone back from that.

Recently, the Good Graces experienced every band’s dream: having a national artist ask to take you on the road as their opening act, giving you exposure to thousands of people, and not mention an amazing experience altogether. ‘Close to the Sun,’ the Good Graces’ latest album, just happened to get into the hands of The Indigo Girls, who fell in love with their music and asked the Good Graces to join them on the road for their summer tour. The Good Graces had an awesome time, and gained a lot of attention from the opportunity. Since the tour with The Indigo Girls, the Good Graces have been featured on Daytrotter, had a few live television appearances, and are now heading out for a West Coast Tour in 2016. We are looking forward to share more of their successes in the coming years ahead. [Go HERE to read the Blurt review of the album.]

Are you a recording/touring musician yourself, and if so, do you use your label as an outlet for getting your stuff out to the public?

As stated before, my wife is Tracy Shedd, whom I have been playing guitar with since high school, so I was on her 7inch and Luz de Vida track with Fort Lowell Records. I am also the other half to Tracy’s new duo project, Band & The Beat, which is the newest release for Fort Lowell. Band & The Beat is meant to be a “husband / wife” project, while Tracy Shedd was specifically Tracy’s own songwriting. With Band & The Beat, it is the very first time that I am playing keyboards / synthesizers. We started the project back in June of this year, and I have been diligently learning the ivories ever since. I would not object to partnering with another record label for future Band & The Beat projects, if it made sense. We were simply so excited about Band & The Beat, and the first two recordings: “21” and “Buoy,” we just wanted to get the music out right away to the public.

Regarding social media, which have you used and what to you are the pros and cons of using it?

For social media, I have used it all. From Friendster, to MySpace, to everything that people can’t live without today. It was four years ago when I stopped using Facebook and Instagram with Fort Lowell Records. I decided I was going to only use Twitter to promote the record label. Then, on January 1, 2015, I dropped Twitter as well (I stopped using it, but still have not deleted the account). On the internet, Fort Lowell Records only exists as our website: http://fortlowell.blogspot.com. The website is a blogsite, because I like the format of it. I post things on there, the same way others might do so with social media, and I’ve been much happier; much more focused on what is important.

Is the local music community supportive of the label?

Fort Lowell Records’ success has been the support of the local music communities (note: “communities” being plural). Tucson is where Fort Lowell Records was born, but Tucson is not where we are personally from. Tracy and I are from Jacksonville, FL, but now we are making roots in Raleigh, NC. The local communities of all three areas have actually been extremely supportive of Fort Lowell Records. Tucson will always be home to Fort Lowell Records, and that is what I would want for the label; that is why I gave it an indigenous name. I want to continue to support artists from Tucson, and be involved as best as we can. With the recent release of two bands from Jacksonville, moyamoya and Hey Mandible, the Bold New City of the South has embraced the label with open arms. We recently hosted a label showcase with moyamoya, the Good Graces, Hey Mandible, and the debut of our new project Band & The Beat; the show was billed as Tracy Shedd, but we performed as Band & The Beat. All of the record stores in the Triangle Area (as well as all over the state) of North Carolina have shown great supportof Fort Lowell Records with record sales. Schoolkids Records in Raleigh NC has sold the most copies of La Cerca’s ‘Sunrise For Everyone.’ I think once we get into releasing more North Carolina bands, Band & The Beat being the first, we will start hosting more live performance with label-mates in the region. [Below: La Cerca]

La Cerca

Have digital sales been significant or nominal?

I would have to report the digital sales have been a good continuous revenue stream for Fort Lowell Records. We partner with both The Orchard as our main digital distributor, and we use our own Bandcamp page (which gives direct sales to Fort Lowell Records). Having the digital outlets seems to work well for the out-of-print records too, or for fans overseas; giving people an economical choice. I find having the digital option does not hurt us in any way, which is why I have always made it available. Personally, I don’t buy my music to listen to digitally, but I do understand that there are customers that prefer this service, and I don’t feel we should limit our outlets when it honestly costs our label no extra money to have the digital option available.

For Band & The Beat [pictured below] the release is currently only available as a Digital 45 (or what I like to call a “Virtual 7inch”). This decision was made simply because of the “speed to market”: the track “21” was written, recorded, mixed, mastered, and released all within the month of October (in less than four weeks’ time). Band & The Beat was heading out on tour, and we wanted to have a release out for people to enjoy. I can see doing more Digital 45s with Fort Lowell Records, especially to help bands in similar situations.

Tracy James by John McNicholas

What are your thoughts on the current vinyl resurgence?

I think it is a fantastic thing, although I am also one of those guys (there are a few of us) that find it hard to call a “resurgence;” I believe vinyl never went away. But I get it; no, Barnes & Noble and Best Buy were not carrying vinyl records 5-10 years ago, and now they are, which, again, I think is great. I’ve been buying music on vinyl ever since I was a kid, and I am happy that is so much easier to find vinyl records in almost any store; heck, Guitar Center is carrying them now.

It is a fact that this resurgence, or increase in demand, with vinyl has caused a shift with the manufacturing timeline of the records themselves. This is evolution at its finest; those who will survive will be those that can evolve. You now see a lot of labels going from standard vinyl releases to limited lathe cut releases, simply because they can get a lathe cut record out faster. Cassettes tapes are also receiving a lot of attention and support these days. I attribute this to the longer production times (and increasing costs) for vinyl records; again, evolution. A cassette tape can be manufactured and released much faster, and cheaper (overall). And if the kids are buying it, and they have the tape decks or Walkman units to listen to the music, then evolution is a success, and this vinyl “resurgence” is driving creativity; survival of the fittest. For Fort Lowell Records, you are seeing our very first digital-only release for Band & The Beat, as well a sign of the times.

Hey Mandible vinyl

What is your personal favorite format to release music? Thoughts on other formats?

I like releasing vinyl records, as well as making music available for radio airplay. At our house, this is how we listen to music. There is only a record player hooked up to an amplifier that has a built-in receiver. If we are not listening to an album on wax, we are tuning in the airwaves. We are extremely lucky to live in Raleigh, as Raleigh has what I feel is the best “Indie Rock” radio station in the country: WKNC 88.1FM. Now, let me add, I believe KXCI 91.3FM in Tucson is the best “overall” radio station in America; they are a publicly supported radio station, as opposed to one that is part of a school, college, or university. KXCI is very diverse, and open and supportive to all aspects of their community; KXCI is a major part of the spirit of Tucson AZ. But when it comes to my own personal taste in music, WKNC here in Raleigh, hands-down, spins some of the best new, fresh, solid Indie Rock, Indie Pop, Dream Pop, etc., as well as Hip-Hop, I have ever heard. Every one of my favorite new bands has come from listening to WKNC via the airwaves. I am always happy letting the needle rest and dialing into 88.1FM.

So, when I am not listening to WKNC for new music, I am enjoying music on my turntable; there is nothing else like it. That is my favorite format to use when releasing new music. I’ve been collecting records ever since I was turned onto Echo & The Bunnymen in 6th grade. But it wasn’t until purchasing Stereolab’s “Ping Pong” 7inch back in the early ‘90s that I actually understood the difference. I had already owned their ‘Mars Audiac Quintet’ album on CD at the time, and the 7inch was given to me as a promo. When I got home and heard the single, I noticed that there were elements of the music that I did not recognize with the CD version. I turned around, went back to Now Hear This (record store in Jacksonville, FL; RIP) and bought every Stereolab album on vinyl, and have been purchasing all music on vinyl ever since.

I’ve succumbed to the convenience of MP3s. With Fort Lowell Records, we do offer a digital download with all of the vinyl records, and as a customer, I too enjoying having this added benefit. I keep my latest favorite albums on my phone, and plug in where ever I am, without having to carry around a CD or cassette case filled with albums. I get it; it is much easier to take MP3s with you than CDs or cassettes. Because of this, I’ve dropped all CDs and Cassettes for my personal collection. I do understand that there are customers that still purchase these formats, so I can’t say Fort Lowell Records will never release either. But I have stuck to vinyl and digital formats, along with getting music on the radio, for Fort Lowell Records simply because that is how I personally listen to music.

What new(er) labels these days have captured your attention?

I’ve been a big fan of People In A Position To Know (PIAPTK), Captured Tracks, Burger Records, and Trouble In Mind (TIM). I love everything that all of these labels are doing. PIAPTK has been releasing limited edition lathe cut records before anyone even knew how to pronounce the word “lathe.” Their releases are some of the most innovative records cut; I promise you Jack White’s Third Man Records has been taking cues from PIAPTK for years. Captured Tracks simply can’t go wrong with whatever band / artist they release; their taste in music is impeccable. Burger Records is changing the game for everyone, and I love it; they are at the forefront of this evolutionary change that we are all witnessing, and they will be the first to survive. I always admired Trouble In Mind’s direct approach, especially when they first launched their label. TIM would drop a stack of new releases (7inches) for various amazing new unheard-of bands, with no artwork, just TIM’s standard low-fi produced label sleeve ,and each record would blow your mind. Out of nowhere, “BAM!,” TIM was on the scene, killing it. All four of these record labels continue to force feed the world with some of the greatest new music and freshest ideas available.

Do you accept unsolicited demos?

Absolutely!

[Pictured below: Fort Lowell LP by Tucson’s Saint Maybe, featuring Winston Watson and ex-Patti Smith Group guitarist Oliver Ray. The band was profiled at BLURT in 2013.]

Saint Maybe sleeve

***

Fort Lowell Records Website: http://fortlowell.blogspot.com

Social Media: none

 

THE BLURT JAZZ DESK

md

THE BLURT JAZZ DESK IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS! Announcing our newest department, which we hope will intrigue, enthuse, energize and – if we do our job correctly – even aggravate, thereby prompting a back-and-forth dialogue. Please say hello to veteran Asheville-based music journalist BILL KOPP, the editor of the Jazz Desk. Incidentally, Kopp also publishes his Musoscribe Music Magazine, which can be found right here.

Up first from Dr. Kopp: “Jazz Nazis, Fuck Off: Herbie Mann”, in which he offers the late jazz flautist a reappraisal through the lens of a crucial new archival release, Live at the Whisky 1969: The Unreleased Masters, and interviews with compiler Pat Thomas and Mann biographer Cary Ginell. “Herbie’s efforts helped call attention to jazz among young listeners,” summarizes Ginell. “He always had his ear to the ground to see about the new styles of music that were coming into vogue and what young people were listening to.”

Installment #2: Latest Archival Releases (via the Resonance & Elemental labels). Examined: Sarah Vaughan, Wes Montgomery, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, João Gilberto & Getz, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, and Art Pepper.

Installment #3: New Releases, via respected labels Mack Avenue, International Anthem Recording Co., Whaling City Sound, Onyx Productions, Ropeadope, Same Island Music, Okeh, Jazzelm Music, and Orleans Records.

Installment #4: Sonny Rollins exclusive interview – and an extremely long, in-depth one with the sax legend at that.

Installment #5: Latest MPs Vinyl Reissues – the German label serves up 180-gram wax by the Monty Alexander Trio, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Baden Powell, and the Oscar Peterson Trio.

Installment #6: 7 Recent Archival Releases – A look at titles from Omnivore Recordings, Real Gone Music, TCB Music, Resonance Records and Concord Bicycle Music.

Installment #7: 6 New Releases – A look at titles from Motéma Music, Mack Avenue, Hot Club, Intuition, One Note and Challenge.

Installment #8: 3 ECM Piano Trios – Guest columnist Michael Toland takes a listen to a trio of recent trios from the venerable ECM label.

Installment #9: 6 New Releases –  A look at titles from Codes Drum, Ronin Jazz, Resonance, Mack Avenue, and Cuneiform.

Installment #10: 12 Recent Archival Releases – A dip into the vaults via titles from MPS, Omnivore, Resonance, Sam, TCD Music, and hatOLOGY.