A universal truth, everyone, everything is inter-connected.
If you like Jim White and his quirky wisdom, you might enjoy seeing him in the film, “Searching for the Wrong Eyed Jesus.”
Several years ago while catching up with a friend from college, I suggested we check out Shake It an indie record store in Northside, a rough and tumble bohemian enclave west of the campus of University of Cincinnati. As friends, we have long shared an interest in music from our days on another Ohio campus, in another college town. Art honed in on Shake It’s growing musical genre referred to as Roots or Americana music. At the time, he had a program on WRUW 91.1 FM, in Cleveland, Ohio.
Art quickly pulled several CDs from among the titles, as suggested listening. Eilen Jewell’s “Sea of Tears” was one of the three CDs that found their way home that day. Since that time, while based in Cleveland, Ohio, Art Hanson’s show “Americana Breakdown” was syndicated on Washington, D.C. public radio station WAMU 105.5 FM “bluegrass country”. He plays a mix of ” bluegrass, country, country rock, and Americana.” The show is billed as “music for people who like country music… and for those who don’t… ” As a selective listener, I guess I fit into both categories.
I stumbled across Jewell’s song “Home to Me” in this winsome, unofficial video by Shaun Lee Shafer. Another, from the extensive archives of No Depression of Jewell’s “Santa Fe” features a video by Robert Greim. Certainly my list of American Roots favorites is long, but having seen Eilen Jewell and her band, including guitar phenom Jerry Miller in bijou theaters intensifies the imagery of her lyrics and Jewell’s evocative voice.
In addition to “Sea of Tears” the band’s discography includes: Boundary Country, Letters from Sinners and Strangers, Heartache Boulevard, and Queen of the Minor Key.
Quicksilver Messenger Service gained wide popularity in the San Francisco “Bay Area” and through their recordings, with psychedelic rock enthusiasts around the globe, and several of their albums ranked in the Top 30 of the Billboard Pop charts. Though not as commercially successful as contemporaries Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead, Quicksilver was integral to the beginnings of their genre. With their jazz and classical influences and a strong folk background, the band attempted to create a sound that was individual and innovative. Member Dino Valenti drew heavily on musical influences he picked up during the folk revival of his formative musical years. The style he developed from these sources is evident in Quicksilver Messenger Service’s swung rhythms and twanging guitar sounds.
Quicksilver Messenger Service released their eponymous debut album in 1968. It was followed by Happy Trails, released in early 1969 and largely recorded live at the Fillmore East and the Fillmore West. According to David Freiberg, at least one of the live tracks was augmented with studio overdubs and the tracks “Calvary” and “Lady of the Cancer Moon” were recorded in the studio just before Gary Duncan left the band.
These albums, which have been hailed as “…two of the best examples of the San Francisco sound at its purest,” define the classic period in the group’s career and showcase their distinctive sound, emphasizing extended arrangements and fluid twin-guitar improvisation. Cipollina’s highly melodic, individualistic lead guitar style, combined with Gary Duncan’s driving rhythm guitar, feature a clear jazz sound, a notable contrast to the heavily amplified and overdriven sound of contemporaries like Cream and Jimi Hendrix. In 2003 Happy Trails was rated at No. 189 in the Rolling Stone Top 500 albums survey, where it was described as “…the definitive live recording of the mid-Sixties San Francisco psychedelic-ballroom experience…” Archetypal Quicksilver Messenger Service songs include the elongated, continually re-titled suite based on Bo Diddley’s Who Do You Love?, featured on Happy Trails.
Among the many jazz albums in our private collection Latin Mann by Herbie Mann as arranged and conducted by Oliver Nelson. It relates the story of Latin Jazz citing the many influences from afro to bossa, to the blues. It includes this encyclopedic reference: Latin, adj. 1) of or relating to Latium or its people, the Latins, or the language used by the Romans or Latins 2) designating the peoples (French, Italian, Spanish, etc.) or countries whose languages and cultures are descended from the Latin. As Leonard Feather, jazz historian stated in the liner notes, “the jazz musicians and musical forms that can trace their ancestry back to Latium are a fast multiplying breed.”
As Mann wrote, “every tune in this album has some relationship to the story of the gradual blending of Afro-Cuban music and American jazz.” The musicians include Mann, Jimmy Heath on tenor sax, Carmel Jones on trumpet, Chick Corea on piano, Dave Pike on the vibes, other talents too numerous to mention. Thematically Latin, the tunes include Senor Blues, Watermelon Man, The Jive Samba, … all arranged by Oliver Nelson a modern master.
And check out the “family” tree as depicted by Herbie Mann; dig it!