Classic Melting Pot

Gil Scott-Heron is an artist that since encountering his music fully in the mid-1990s I’ve had a deep connection and identification with. As a youth I’d heard Gil without knowing it was Gil in several Hip-Hop tracks, including Stetsasonic’s “A.F.R.I.C.A.” and Boogie Down Productions, “Why Is That?” Gil’s influence on musicians and artists of a variety of genres since the 1970s is difficult in some ways to fully measure or grasp. His style is one that isn’t really easy to copy. His sound is one that isn’t easily confined to a genre. But Gil’s music, his very particular way of singing, his remarkably consistent songwriting ability and socially conscious lyrics and his very deep soulfulness has certainly been a major influence and inspiration for many including me as a DJ, teacher and human being. He will be sorely missed, but never forgotten. Peace be with you Brother Gil…

Gil Scott-Heron Tribute on KPFK’s Melting Pot 05-29-2011: First Hour
Gil Scott-Heron Tribute on KPFK’s Melting Pot 05-29-2011: Second Hour

Gil Scott-Heron Tribute: 05-29-2011

Gil Scott-Heron – Offering – The First Minute Of A New Day (Arista)
Gil Scott-Heron – It’s Your World – It’s Your World (Arista)
Gil Scott-Heron – The Bottle – Winter In America (Strata East)
Gil Scott-Heron – The Summer Of ’42 – From South Africa To South Carolina (Arista)

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Gil Scott-Heron – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – Pieces Of A Man (Flying Dutchman)
Gil Scott-Heron – Guerrilla – The First Minute Of A New Day (Arista)
Gil Scott-Heron – Johannesburg – From South Africa To South Carolina (Arista)
Gil Scott-Heron – The World – Moving Target (Arista)

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Gil Scott-Heron – Liberation – The First Minute Of A New Day (Arista)
Gil Scott-Heron – Home Is Where Is The Hatred Is – Pieces Of A Man (Flying Dutchman)
Gil Scott-Heron – Ain’t No New Thing – Free Will (Flying Dutchman)
Gil Scott-Heron – Ain’t No Such Thing As Superman – The First Minute Of A New Day (Arista)

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Gil Scott-Heron – I’m New Here – I’m New Here (XL)
Gil Scott-Heron – Back Home – Winter In America (Strata East)
Gil Scott-Heron – Must Be Something – It’s Your World (Arista)
Gil Scott-Heron – Angola, Louisiana – Secrets (Arista)

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Gil Scott-Heron – Pieces Of A Man – Pieces Of A Man (Flying Dutchman)
Gil Scott-Heron – Your Daddy Loves You – Winter In America (Strata East)
Gil Scott-Heron – Free Will – Free Will (Flying Dutchman)
Gil Scott-Heron – Lady Day and John Coltrane – Pieces Of A Man (Flying Dutchman)

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Gil Scott-Heron – We Almost Lost Detroit – Bridges (Arista)
Gil Scott-Heron – Winter In America – The First Minute Of A New Day (Arista)
Gil Scott-Heron – Peace Go With Your Brother – Winter In America (Strata East)

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Gil Scott-Heron – Alluswe – The First Minute Of A New Day (Arista)

Not the way I wanted to return to the blog after a hiatus, but word hit last night that legendary poet/soul man Gil Scott-Heron passed away at 62. I regret deeply never getting a chance to see him perform. I’d really hoped I finally would after his return to music making last year, but now that will never be. I’ve shelved the Anniversary show I’d planned for tomorrow and instead will have a two hour tribute to Gil Scott-Heron on Tomorrow’s Melting Pot on KPFK. I’ll make sure the show is archived here for those of you who miss it or want to remember all the fantastic music this man left behind for us. Peace Go With You Brother Gil…

As I take a quick break from grading, thought I’d definitely make somebody’s week with a giveaway for tickets to see Aloe Blacc @ the Music Box this Sunday night! Since releasing “Good Things” last year, a potentially career defining LP, Blacc has been up to nothing but good things, touring the world and also keeping it close to home, especially now that it’s summertime and the Do Over has started up once again. You can catch him and his group, The Grand Scheme, at the Music Box on May 22nd if you win the tickets. For your chance to win tickets to see Aloe Blacc make sure to e-mail me at michael[at]meltingpotblog.com before Friday at 5pm!!!

Here’s a taste from one of my favorite releases of 2010, “I Need A Dollar” performed live on Conan’s show:

I’m going to be taking a hiatus for about a week (with perhaps a giveaway later on in the week) as finals season approaches at CSU-Long Beach and the radio show takes a week off as the fundraiser at KPFK rounds up. Yesterday’s show was a bit more successful than last week’s Mother’s Day special. Many thanks to those of you who supported KPFK and Melting Pot, also big thanks to Oliver Wang for coming in and cutting things up with me live to help raise funds + dropping some killer gospel funk at the top of the second hour for his monthly “Side Dishes.” Until things return to normal, enjoy the rest of the music that’s here…the next radio show will be our 1 year anniversary on KPFK, with rebroadcasts of a couple of interviews and music from the other performances we had during our first year.

Melting Pot on KPFK #43: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #43: Second Hour

Playlist: 5-15-2011

{opening theme} Booker T & the MGs – Melting Pot – Melting Pot (Stax)

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Common – The People – Finding Forvever (Geffen)
J Rocc – Stop Trying – Some Cold Rock Stuf (Stones Throw)
The Echocentrics feat. Tita Lima – Jardim – Sunshadows (Ubiquity)
Femi Kuti – Africa For Africa – Africa For Africa (Knitting Factory)

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Femi Kuti – Selections from Africa for Africa – Africa For Africa (Knitting Factory)
Black Brothers – Saman Doye – Those Shocking Shaking Days (Now Again)

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Rasela – Pemain Bola – Those Shocking Shaking Days (Now Again)
Brim – Anti GanDJa – Those Shocking Shaking Days (Now Again)
AKA – Shake Me – Those Shocking Shaking Days (Now Again)

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Selections from Those Shocking Shaking Days (Now Again)

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The Monkees – I’m Not Your Steppin’ Stone – More Of The Monkees (Rhino)
The Monkees – Cuddly Toy – Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones LTD. (Rhino)
The Monkees – Peter Gunn’s Gun – Headquarters (Rhino)
Selections from the Echocentrics – Sunshadows (Ubiquity)

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Oliver Wang of Soul-Sides.Com’s Sides Dishes May 2011:
The Gospel Artistics – No Not One – The Gospel Artistics (Gospel Truth)
The Daytonians – Let Jesus Work It Out – Let Jesus Work It Out (Church Door)
The Young Adult Choir Of Peace Baptist Church – Don’t You Want To Give Your Life – For This Day (Peace)
The Souls of Unity – Reach Out And Touch – It’s Getting Late In The Evening (Major)
The Corporation – India – The Corporation (Capitol)

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Love – Midnight Sun – Black Beauty (High Moon)
Love – Lonely Pigs – Black Beauty (High Moon)
Love – Can’t Find It – Black Beauty (High Moon)

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Aloe Blacc – Selections from Good Things – Good Things (Stones Throw)

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{closing theme} Dungen – C. Visar Vagen – Tio Batar (Kemado)

McDonald and Giles – Suite in C
McDonald and Giles – Tomorrow’s People
McDonald and Giles – Birdman

After almost two years of doing this blog, I’m actually surprised that I hadn’t posted this album before, the single release from Ian McDonald and Michael Giles. Both men had just split from King Crimson, but thankfully the reasoning behind it wasn’t creative indifference. The sound has many elements of that early Crimson sound, personally for me, Giles and McDonald were the best things about those early Crimson recordings. I know that Fripp is the King and I do love his playing, but McDonald’s saxophone and Giles’ drums were what defined the Crimson sound as something special and different from other similar groups.

In fact I’m not sure if there is/was a more distinctive sounding drummer in Rock than Michael Giles. Some of it is in his style, most of it is literally in the sound of his drums. Recording here in 1970 that trademark sound is in full effect especially during what is one of my favorite funky prog songs, “Tomorrow’s People,” with that classic drums/percussion/hand clap breakdown about 2 minutes in. Those drums also go into unexpected areas on “Suite In C” and “Birdman,” as does the sound of the entire group.

It’s that sound that brings me back again and again to this LP. While the similarities to King Crimson are inescapable, this band pushes things in more interesting rhythmic ways while largely keeping brighter tones to the music (which according to the Crismon reissue I reviewed here was a main reason for McDonald’s desire to leave the group, the increasingly dark quality of its music). I’m sure the many many rhythmic changes made this record difficult for some to listen to, the fact that two songs take up 30 minutes couldn’t have helped in terms of radio play. For me they are the moments that make the album, such as when the sax, drums, guitar, hand claps and bass go off in “Birdman,” in all kinds of funky tightness a little after the first 4 minutes and then that same rhythm slows down to a crawl before bringing in the organ and continuing the verses. Those 2+ minutes are amongst my favorite from this entire period of progressive rock, and the album is filled with moments like that.

My love affair with the sound of this LP is part of the reason why I’ve now owned 3 different copies of it. The first was a Cotillion press, then a promo on Cotillion, my current copy is a mid-1970s reissue on Island. With each there’s been an improvement, and this reissue sounds the best of the bunch to my ears, I hear more of the minute elements and there is less distortion when the horns crest. From the inner sleeve it appears that the band recorded over at least three sessions to produce this album. Judging from the treasure trove associated with In The Court Of The Crimson King, that means that somewhere there are instrumental tracks of all these songs, alternate takes and other goodies yet to be discovered. I sincerely hope one day, in my lifetime, we hear even more out of this musical partnership, but for now I’ll cherish what I have.

Cheers,

Michael

p.s. one of the most surprising samples I’d heard in recent years was Amon Tobin sampling some of Birdman for his track “Ever Falling,” from the Foley Room…made me respect the man even more for such excellent taste:

J-Rocc – Don’t Sell Your Dream (Tonight)

Not sure why I didn’t feature this a couple of weeks ago when I actually had an interview with the legendary DJ, but better late than never. Some Cold Rock Stuf is the official debut recording of J-Rocc of the World Famous Beat Junkies crew. The record features a wide variety of sounds and rhythms, from the upbeat and imminently danceable “Party” to the smoked out and super trippy “Don’t Sell Your Dream (Tonight),” the latter posted above. As he described it during our interview it’s got a definite “short attention span theater” vibe to it, never staying in one place for too long, but always grabbing the attention with the beats.

I’ve watched with amusement the recent “non-troversy” over the invite of Common to a poetry event First Lady Michelle Obama is throwing at the White House. If there was one rapper that you would think would be a safe bet to invite it would be Common, who has spent the better part of 20 years as one of the most socially conscious rappers in Hip-Hop. His lyrics haven’t always been perfect, but it’s comical to hear conservatives attempt to paint the man as a “vile thug” who advocates violence.

The little row does provide me an opportunity to reflect on the best tracks from a storied career, so here are the Top 5 conscious tracks from Common, one of my favorite rappers, both for the consistency of his rhymes (Universal Mind Control notwithstanding) his pitch perfect flow and his distinctive cadence that could only come out of the Windy City.

5 ½. Black Star feat. Common – Respiration

It’s not technically one of Common’s songs, but his guest verse on this legendary track by Black Star still sends chills down my spine every time I hear it.

5. Common – Retrospect For Life

You’d think Common would get some bonus points from Conservatives for this pro-life song, one of the few where a rapper has ever thoughfully considered the consequences of promiscuity and an unplanned fatherhood.

4. Common – The People

Classic even though it’s the most recent track on this list, great production from “The New Primo” Kanye West and great lines of uplift from Common.

3. Common – The Sixth Sense

Common paired with “The Real” Primo, featuring the debut of Bilal and great autobiographical and anthemic socially conscious lyrics.

2. Common – The Light

Without a doubt the best Hip-Hop song ever written from a man’s perspective on Love…

1. Common – I Used To Love H.E.R.

Without a doubt the greatest song ever written about Hip-Hop…

Raising funds during a holiday are always difficult, but I think Mother’s Day is a particularly tough day. Being on the air from 4-6pm means it’s prime dinner time so that likely affected how well we were able to do our part this past Sunday with the fundraiser. The show however is really very solid. Even though Morgan Rhodes and I are pitching quite a bit throughout it, there’s still a ton of great music, including a short tribute to Robert Johnson on 100th anniversary of his birthday in the first hour, and at the start of the second hour an edited version of an interview and performance from the Corin Tucker Band! The band performs two songs from their new album, the first for Corin since 2006 when Sleater-Kinney went on hiatus. There’s actually another song they performed and a lot more to the interview. I’ll broadcast (and post) the full version of the interview later in the month when we celebrate our 1-year anniversary on KPFK, but for now enjoy this version and yesterday’s show.

Melting Pot on KPFK #42: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #42: Second Hour

Horace Tapscott – Horacio
Horace Tapscott – Flight 17
Horace Tapscott – Clarisse

Dug this bit of LA history up at Atomic in Burbank. Horace Tapscott isn’t particularly well known but in jazz circles he is respected as a pianist, bandleader and activist. This album was put together with a 16 piece ensemble of musicians in the U.G.M.A.A. camp, the Los Angeles answer to the A.A.C.M. in Chicago. Records from these groups aren’t particularly easy to find so when I spied this record put on on the group’s own label Nimbus, I jumped on it immediately.

Like the avant-garde in Chicago and New York, the music here is challenging and inspiring, often with African elements in the mix, particularly on “Horacio,” an upbeat number with some great flute and ensemble work to match the percussion. “Flight 17” is an extended piece, which begins with subtle notes from the piano, before erupting about 4 minutes in with the whole group in an insistent and slightly manic theme that carries through to the very end where we get some idyllic flute. “Clarisse” is truly something special, a stately melody with the full group, pensive and powerful, as was the man Horace Tapscott and the music of his groups.

Incidentally, if you want to learn more about Tapscott, the U.G.M.A.A. and the movement of musicians in Los Angeles in the 1970s, you should check out Daniel Widener’s book Black Arts West, published by Duke University Press last year. There’s a full chapter devoted just to Tapscott and these artists and their connections to the Black Panther’s and other groups. Deserving research for a deserved and dedicated group of artists.

Cheers,

Michael

The Melting Pot Summer Time 4 Pack!!!

Over the next two Sundays, Melting Pot will be doing it’s part ot raise funds for KPFK during our May Fundraiser! We’ve got a really amazing 4 pack of CDs available at $100 to subscribers including the following brand new releases:

Bing Ji Ling – Shadow To Shine – Tummy Touch
Femi Kuti – Africa For Africa – Knitting Factory
The Echocentrics – Sunshadows – Ubiquity
V/A – Those Shocking Shaking Days: Indonesian Hard, Psychedelic, Progressive Rock And Funk 1970-1978

This Sunday May 8th is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Robert Johnson, so we’ll also have the new reissued Centennial Collection of all 42 sides recorded by Johnson, available for pledges of $75. Lots of other goodies and special tickets just for subscribers, please tune in, tell a friend and support Melting Pot and KPFK!!!

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