Classic Melting Pot

Jimi Hendrix is not only one of my favorite musicians, but he is also an artist who had a major influence on how I hear music as well as how I see myself and the world I live in. It’s highly likely whenever the end of November swings around we’ll be doing some type of tribute to Jimi, but this year we had the great fortune of having his 69th birthday fall on a Sunday, so we dedicated all 2 hours of the program to music from Hendrix. I’ve included a lot of personal favorites and a number of rarities that have only recently seen the light of day, including “Suddenly November Morning” from (perhaps) the last remaining Holy Grail of Hendrix recordings, Black Gold, the full side plus of music from Electric Ladyland that I like to call the “Rainy Day Suite” (kind of trippy how Mitch Mitchell’s drum pattern ends up as a classic break on this Al Green record a few years later) and we close on my single favorite Hendrix performance, “Angel” recorded just at his home with his electric guitar. Hope you enjoy the tribute, it’s always a pleasure to celebrate cherished artists and something that I would never be able to do at other stations to the degree I do it at KPFK, so thanks to all of you who support the show and the station during our fundraisers and keep KPFK free and independent.

Melting Pot on KPFK #65: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #65: Second Hour

Jimi Hendrix 69th Birthday Tribute: 11-27-2011
Playlist:

Jimi Hendrix – And The Gods Made Love…Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland) – Electric Ladyland (Reprise)
Jimi Hendrix – Love Or Confusion – Are You Experienced? (Reprise)
Arthur Lee & Love with Jimi Hendrix – Everlasting First – West Coast Seattle Boy (Sony Legacy)
Jimi Hendrix – Little Wing – Winterland (Experience Hendrix)
The Isley Bros. with Jimi Hendrix – Move Over and Let Me Dance Pt. 2 – In The Beginning (T-neck)

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Curtis Knight & the Squires featuring Jimi Hendrix – Happy Birthday – Flashing (Capitol)
Jimi Hendrix – Izabella – First Rays of the New Rising Sun (Experience Hendrix)
Jimi Hendrix – Nine To The Universe – Nine To The Universe (Reprise)
Jimi Hendrix – Can You See Me – Historic Performances at the Monterey Pop Festival (Reprise)
Jimi Hendrix – Are You Experienced? (Instrumental) – West Coast Seattle Boy (Sony Legacy)

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Jimi Hendrix – Freedom – The Cry of Love (Reprise)
Jimi Hendrix – Power Of Soul – Band Of Gypsies (Capitol)
Jimi Hendrix – South Saturn Delta – South Saturn Delta (Experience Hendrix)
Jimi Hendrix – Wait Until Tomorrow – Axis: Bold As Love (Reprise)
Jimi Hendrix – Belly Button Window – First Rays of the New Rising Sun (Experience Hendrix)
Jimi Hendrix – Castles Made Of Sand (Instrumental) – West Coast Seattle Boy (Sony Legacy)

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Jimi Hendrix – Rainy Day, Dream Away / 1983…A Merman I Should Turn To Be / Moon Turn The Tides…Gently Gently Away / Still Raining, Still Dreaming – Electric Ladyland (Reprise)
Jimi Hendrix – Lullaby For The Summer – Valleys Of Neptune (Experience Hendrix)

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Jimi Hendrix – Message To Love – Live At Woodstock (Experience Hendrix)
Jimi Hendrix – Roomful Of Mirrors – Rainbow Bridge: Original Soundtrack Recordings (Reprise)
Jimi Hendrix – Bold As Love – Axis: Bold As Love (Reprise)
Jimi Hendrix – Born Under A Bad Sign – Blues (Experience Hendrix)

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Jimi Hendrix – Suddenly November Morning – West Coast Seattle Boy (Sony Legacy)
Jimi Hendrix – Hear My Train A Comin’ – Soundtrack Recordings from the Film Jimi Hendrix (Reprise)
Jimi Hendrix – Angel – Jimi By Himself: The Home Recordings (BSP)

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{closing theme} Jimi Hendrix – Pali Gap – Rainbow Bridge: Original Soundtrack Recordings (Reprise)

Jimi Hendrix – Nine To The Universe
Jimi Hendrix – Drone Blues
Jimi Hendrix – Jimi/Jimmy Jam

Seems fitting today, on the 69th anniversary of the birth of Jimi Hendrix, to feature music from the master. Hendrix is a really important artist for me. His guitar playing is almost universally recognized as the best the planet has known, but Jimi for me was so much more than simply a guitarist. Jimi was an artist who broke down barriers and explored sound far beyond what many of his contemporaries were interested in achieving. I fell into Hendrix’s music at a young age, “borrowing” some of his cassettes from my brother. Hendrix’s music, along with a handful of others, helped me define my own identity and helped me to push for something more than just what was expected me in this society as a young black man.

I originally heard “Jimi/Jimmy Jam” from this album on WREK’s Stonehenge back when I was in high school. I’d always loved just the sound of Hendrix’s guitar and appreciated the limited amount of instrumentals that had come my way up til then. Nine To The Universe is one of the posthumous releases that have proved controversial because of the heavy-handed techinques of producer Alan Douglas. Unlike Crash Landing and Midnight Lightning, both of which featured a lot of overdubs from musicians that Hendrix never even played with, Nine To Universe features just the original players, with minimal interference from Douglas. Aside from an unnamed tambourine player that he added, this music features the musicians that were in the studio with Jimi when these loose jams were originally performed.

In recent years some of the full takes of these tracks (Young/Hendrix, Jimi/Jimmy Jam & Drone Blues) have been featured on a couple of Hendrix family releases. Having heard them, I actually think this LP is one of the rare instances where Douglas’ production is actually pretty good. Instead of 20 – 25+ jams, we have tracks that are more or less cut in half, but that sound like complete songs and are much more focused. It gives us a glimpse into Hendrix’s free-wheeling jam sessions (though, almost unbelievably, there is likely STILL more unreleased music, including performances with guitarist John McLaughlin), music that was only made for the musicians benefit, never to be released on record.

That loose nature is one of the things that makes “Nine To The Universe” such an amazing track, with a riff that will later on become “Earth Blues,” the song breaks down part of the way through into a nice Buddy Miles drum solo with Jimi in the background yelling out things like “Lord Have Mercy” and closing up with what sounds like completely improvised lyrics that might have later served as inspiration for “Message to Love” or “Power of Soul”. “Drone Blues” is one of the fastest & funkiest things Jimi ever laid down and the track that led me to this LP, “Jimi/Jimmy Jam,” with the severely under-rated Jim McCarty (of the equally under-rated Cactus, along with Mitch Ryder & his Detroit Wheels and Buddy Miles’ Express) is just plain epic.

Also intriguing are the liner notes that mention the directions Jimi wanted to take his music, influenced by Miles Davis and my personal hero Rahsaan Roland Kirk. My mind can’t fully comprehend exactly how amazing those collaborations would have sounded. Part of me hopes, against all reason, that somewhere there is some lost jam session between Jimi & Rahsaan. They would have made beautiful music together, but thankfully they left us with many beautiful bright moments to marvel at years and years after their days on this earth were done. For that I am sincerely thankful…

Cheers,

Michael

M.E.D. – Where I’m From feat. Aloe Blacc

M.E.D.’s album Classic has been out for a minute, but I’d been so busy that I hadn’t taken full account of it until recently. It’s one of several very sharp Hip-Hop releases to have come out here in the fall, after a long summer without many quality releases. Classic is M.E.D.’s long awaited second full length record, coming after his long awaited debut Push Comes To Shove came out in 2005. Featuring guest work from Talib Kweli, Aloe Blacc, Planet Asia & Kurupt and production from Madlib, Georgia Anne Muldrow and Karriem Riggins, Classic is at it’s best when M.E.D. and Co. showcase great talent and maturity on “War & Love,” “Too Late,” the title track (with Kweli) and my chosen track, “Where I’m From,” a new anthem for California love.

Even more impressive is “Blaxican” M.E.D.’s call to action and an ode to Black & Brown unity with stellar production from Madlib (with an assist from Joe Bataan’s Mestizo). As much as I dig the song itself, the video is even better. Put together by Mochilla’s Coleman and B+ the video expands on the themes of the song by presenting Los Angeles as a place of great beauty and pride, just through the simple representations of its Black, Brown and Mixed inhabitants. Videos and songs like this need to be recognized for what they are…true art.

Can’t express how thankful I am that the Boogaloo Assassins came into our studios here at KPFK. The band performed 6 songs, at the start, “Para Mi,” “Do You Wanna Dance,” and their blistering cover of Dawn Penn’s “No No No” and then after the interview you hear their version of Eddie Palmieri’s “Ay Que Rico” (one of my all-time favorite Boogaloo tracks), “Mi Heva” and the finale is a soul-clap-tastic cover of Joe Bataan’s “Magic Rose”. During the interview I talk with the band about how they found their way to this sound, the benefits and pitfalls of playing a retro style without a scene and their plans for the future, which thankfully and finally include some recordings (on vinyl no less!!!). Only unfortunate thing was that I didn’t have my camera to take some pictures, but perhaps next time. What we do have is an amazing performance from a dynamite band with the best yet to come. Big thanks to the group for coming in and to Stan Misraje for all his production wizardry…Enjoy it to the fullest!!!

The Boogaloo Assassins on KPFK’s Melting Pot: Recorded 10-12-2011

…If you’re in LA, the Boogaloo Assassins are performing quite a few shows in the next month. As you can tell from the interview/performance this a band that is built to be heard live, so take advantage of these opportunities to see this amazing band.

The Boogaloo Assassins upcoming performances in the LA area:

November 30th @ La Cita
December 10th @ The Mint
December 18th @ The Copper Door (Santa Ana)

Sunday was a rough day in terms of weather out here in LA, but we had a great show, solid new tunes from The Strange Boys, Real Estate, M.E.D. and classic reissues from Mike James Kirkland, Joni Haastrup, Creations Unlimited and more. Hour #2 starts off with a fantastic interview and performance from the OC’s Boogaloo Assassins (separate post coming!). After hearing the 6 (!!!) songs they performed for us, I simply can’t wait for their actual recordings!!! Enjoy the show, next week we have a tribute to Jimi Hendrix!

Melting Pot on KPFK #64: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #64: Second Hour

Playlist: 11-20-2011
{opening theme} Booker T & the MGs – Melting Pot – Melting Pot (Stax)

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Creation Unlimited – Corruption Is The Thing – Boddie Recording Co., Cleveland, Ohio (Numero)
Sohail Rana – Cobra Sway – Life Is Dance (Finders Keepers)
Real Estate – All The Same – Days (Domino)
Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg – 69 Annee Erotique – Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin (Light In The Attic)
Jake Wade & the Soul Searchers – Searching For Soul – These Are The Breaks (Ubiquity)

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M.E.D. – Blaxican – Classic (Stones Throw)
Joni Haastrup – Wake Up Your Mind – Wake Up Your Mind (Soundway/Tummy Touch)
Mulatu Astatke – Yekermo Sew (T’amir Remix) – Timeless Remixed EP (Mochilla)
People Under The Stairs – Talkin’ Back To The Streets – Highlighter (Piecelock 70)

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Mike James Kirkland – Where’s The Soul Of Man – Don’t Sell Your Soul (Ubiquity/Luv’n’Haight)
The Strange Boys – Over The River and Through the Woulds – Live Music (Rough Trade)
Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings – Let Them Knock – 100 Days, 100 Nights (Daptone)
Joe Bataan – It’s A Good Feeling (Riot) – Riot! (Fania)

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The Boogaloo Assassins – Performance and Interview – Recorded Live At KPFK (KPFK Archive)

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The Sandwitches – My Heart Does Swell – Recorded Live At KPFK (KPFK Archives)
The Do – Was It A Dream? – Both Ways Open Jaws (Six Degrees)
Pedro Infante – Amor De Los Dos – Siempre En El Corazon De Mexico (Peerless)

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

Magic Sam – That’s Why I’m Crying
Louis Myers – Top Of The Harp
Leo Evans and the Jazz Prophets – Coming Down With The Blues

I’m not sure where I picked up this collection, I’m thinking it was during my time in the Midwest, maybe in Rockford, IL at Toad Hall Records. Toad Hall was truly an experience, records everywhere, more or less organized, mostly less, with an upstairs, a downstairs and a bulding across the street just filled with records. When I went there (around 1998 and 1999) there was an older guy in a wheelchair in the center room who I always assumed was the owner. He’d always chat with me about the records I was looking for, generally jazz at that time, and about artists who he had seen and that he loved. I figure I got the record there just because of the condition of the LP, with a bit of mildew at the top, there were always a few water damaged LPs at that store, which is to be expected when you just have mountains upon mountains of records.

Regardless of the condition, I absolutely had to get this one, cause I’m a major fan of Magic Sam. Sam Maghett is perhaps my single favorite blues artist, certainly my favorite blues singer with a fantastic soaring tenor. His career was cut tragically short,just as it was taking off, from a heart attack at 32. Needless to say, there aren’t a lot of Magic Sam recordings out there, so seeing his name on the front intrigued me enough to pick up this record and I was overjoyed to find that 6 of the 11 songs featured Magic Sam’s distinctive vocals (especially “That’s Why I’m Crying”) or guitar stylings (“Top of the Harp” with harmonica player Louis Myers, I’ve included here, but the Eddie Shaw led instrumentals “Ridin’ High” and “Blues for the Westside” are also stellar and only found here).

The rest of this collection is really top-notch, including some fine early work from Luther Allison that is especially notable for the use of Hawaiian Steel Guitar. There’s also a mystery with this album in the form of Leo Evans and the Jazz Prophets. I’m not sure if this group ever recorded again, I haven’t been able to find any other credits though the notes mention “performances” the group recorded. The Jazz Prophets are described as an avant-garde group that played in Hyde Park, but none of the names seem familiar to me based on the Chicago Avant-Garde scene at that time. To top it all off, for some reason “Leo Evans” is listed as “Lefty Lopez” on the front of the LP, which adds a different mystery in who the hell is “Lefty Lopez”? Did someone mis-hear “Leo Evans” as “Lefty Lopez” or was this actually a person? Even the sound of “Coming Down With The Blues” is a little mysterious. The track was apparently recorded in 1968, but sounds like it could have come earlier. As much as I love Magic Sam, this is the track that I’ve come back to more often over the years. There’s just something about the sound, everything seems distant and pushed back a bit in the mix, giving it this different sonority than the other songs on the collection. Just a stunning piece of music that everytime I play it I wish there was more. I suppose I should just be thankful that this collection exists and that it made it’s way to my hands and my turntable.

Cheers,

Michael

…while looking up info on Toad Hall, I came across this nicely done promo video for them. The old guy in the wheelchair doesn’t seem to be the owner any more, but clearly the place is still a digger’s delight.

The Srange Boys – Me And You

On their third LP in exactly three years, Austin, Texas’ The Strange Boys seem to have really hit their stride. That’s not to say that their prior two albums weren’t fantastic. I’ve already declared my love for 2010’s Be Brave and included my favorite track from that album,”Between Us,” on my round-up of the best music of 2010. The band has also gotten a bit of much deserved attention after having “Be Brave” featured in an episode of the UK series Skins. “Live Music” (not “Live” as in Live & Direct, but “Live” as in you live for music) is the bands most assured recording yet. I’m not sure if it’s because of the work of producers Jim Eno of Spoon or Costa Mesa’s Mike McHugh, but the band’s sound is bigger and fuller for this album. Additionally, there seems to be a subtle change with Ryan Sambol. He still sounds like the love child of Wanda Jackson & Bob Dylan, but his vocals here seem a bit smoother. It seems he’s learned that he’s got a powerful instrument in that distinctive voice and is finally getting comfortable at employing it in a much more varied way, as evidenced here on “Me & You” and other standout tracks like the rockin’ stompers “Punk’s Pajamas” and “Omnia Boa,” the downright tender “You and Me” or my favorite track and one that will definitely be in my year end show on Melting Pot, “Doueh.”

Grace (L) and Hiedi of the Sandwitches Perform At KPFK

It was our great pleasure to welcome the Sandwitches into the KPFK studios a little while ago for a performance and interview. Because of the ongoing fundraiser we weren’t able to broadcast this session until this past Sunday, but it was well worth the wait. As I’ve mentioned here before, there aren’t a lot of bands around that sound quite like the Sandwitches. Grace, Hiedi and Roxy take a little bit of country, some indie-rock, add it to some bluesy soulful sounds and mix it all together in their music.

Roxy of the Sandwitches at KPFK

In the interview we discuss that sound, how they came up with the name the Sandwitches and a little bit on what I find to be the most distinctive quality of the band, the sound of their two vocalists. While a lot of groups harmonize their vocals, it’s rare to have two vocalists, who aren’t twins, play off of each other’s vocals like this, to the point where sometimes it’s hard to tell if there are two different vocalists. In this session, they play four songs, with Grace & Hiedi alternating lead vocals on each track. The first two songs, “The Pearl” and “Benny’s Memory Palace” are featured on their new 7″ on Hardly Art. The third song, “My Heart Does Swell,” is featured on their latest release Mrs. Jones’ Cookies on Empty Cellar records. The final song, “You Only Get What You Want” is a brand new song, previously unreleased and a special treat just for us.

The Sandwitches on KPFK’s Melting Pot: Recorded 11-02-2011

…as an added treat, here’s the performance that Roxie mentions in the interview, an acoustic version of “Summer of Love” recorded in the bathroom of Berkeley’s The Shattuck Down Low, that really shows that distinctive singing style of the group.

Back to business as usual this Sunday, after a successful fundraiser. Many thanks to everyone who supported Melting Pot and KPFK, and keep safe from corporate meddling. Yesterday’s show features the mad mix of styles you’d expect from Melting Pot. We got a bevy of new tunes from the likes of the Strange Boys, Terror Danjah, Phonte, Real Estate, Jose James and Atlas Sound, as well as some recently reissued gems from the Lijadu Sisters, El Rego, the Southland Singers, Hemany Bhole and The Matta Baby. The belle of the ball is the interview and performance from San Francisco’s The Sandwitches that starts off the second hour (separate post coming up). We pre-recorded this one a little over a week ago, but it’s well worth the wait to hear their special and haunting (especially on the last couple of tracks) blend of styles. A band definitely to watch in the next couple of years. Next week we have another recorded session (a preview of which you get in this show, their smashing version of “No No No”) that I’ve been dying to bring to you from the Boogaloo Assassins! Until then enjoy this week’s show.

Melting Pot on KPFK #63: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #63: Second Hour

Playlist: 11-13-11
{opening theme} Booker T & the MGs – Melting Pot – Melting Pot (Stax)

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Heavy D & the Boyz feat. Kool G. Rap, Grand Puba, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, Q-Tip and Big Daddy Kane – Don’t Curse – Peaceful Journey (Uptown/MCA)
El Rego – Hessa – El Rego (Daptone)
Southland Singers – Save Me Jesus – This May Be My Last Time Singing (Tompkins Square)
The Flamin’ Groovies – Headin For The Texas Border – Flamingo (Kama Sutra)
The Strange Boys – Omnia Boa – Live Music (Rough Trade)
Roy Ayers – Red, Black and Green – Red, Black and Green (Polydor)

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Roy Ayers – People and The World – Everybody Loves The Sunshine (Polydor)
Terror Danjah feat. Meleka – You Make Me Feel – 12” (Hyperdub)
Hemany Bhole – Sansani Khez Koi Baat – Bollywood Bloodbath (Finders Keepers)
Atlas Sound – Parallax – Parallax (4ad)
Eugene Blacknell – Getting’ Down – These Are The Breaks (Ubiquity)

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Jose James – Trouble – 12” (Brownswood)
Horace Silver feat. Bill Henderson – Senor Blues – Senor Blues (Blue Note)
Boogaloo Assassins – No No No – Recorded Live at KPFK (KPFK Archives)
People Under The Stairs – Too Much Birthday – Highlighter (Piecelock 70)
The Matta Baby – Do the Pearl, Girl Part 2 – Eccentric Soul: The Nickel & Penny Labels (Numero)

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The Sandwitches – Interview and Performance – Recorded Live At KPFK (KPFK Archives)

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The Sandwitches – Joe Says – Mrs. Jones’ Cookies (Empty Cellar)
Real Estate – Younger Than Yesterday – Days (Domino)
Hunx & his Punx – Too Young To Be In Love – Too Young To Be In Love (Hardly Art)

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Phonte feat. eLZhi – Not Here Anymore – Charity Starts At Home (Foreign Exchange)
The Lijadu Sisters – Amebo – Danger (Knitting Factory)
The Rock*A*Teens – Losers Weepers – Cry (Daemon)

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

Mose Allison – Wild Man On The Loose
Mose Allison – No Trouble Livin’
Mose Allison – War Horse

There are few artists I can think of who can match the quiet coolness of Mose Allison. A major part of his coolness is in his voice. Born in Mississippi, Allison’s voice has a lot of the South in it. The words roll out with this smoothness that never sounds forced, never sounds like any thing other than just the man himself. It’s easy to see why this unaffected style has been such a big influence (though much more in the UK with Georgie Fame, Van Morrison and Elvis Costello), and it also fits the personality of his songwriting perfectly. Allison writes a lot of observational songs, often with wry witticisms that you just don’t find in a lot of “jazz” singers. His classic “Your Mind Is On Vacation” is probably his best example, but on this album “No Trouble Livin'” has always been a personal fave, with that chorus, “I Don’t Have No Trouble Livin, It’s Just the Dyin’ that bothers me”.

Another representative of that trademark sly style of Mose Allison is the title track of this record. “Wild Man On The Loose” remains my single favorite track from Mose, with it’s portrait of a man out for nothing but trouble. Even though all told the story is done in just a shade over 2 minutes, the “Wild Man” is so finely characterized that I could see him easily serving as the basis of a fantastically violent and debauched film.

Look out! Stand Back!
Wild man on the loose,
Been in the country for 30 days,
Saved up his money, got some hell to raise,
Soaking up that juice,
Wild man on the loose,

Look out! Stand back!
Panther on the prowl,
Get yourself some coffee and a glass of water,
Lock up your wife and hide your daughter,
There’s one man tonight to howl,
Panther on the prowl,

Look out! stand back!
Tiger in the street,
Gonna find a woman, beg, steal and borrow,
gonna wake up feelin’ bad tomorrow,
a fight will make the night complete,
Wild man in the street,

Look out! Stand back!

What kept this album in my mind over the years (I must have owned every Mose Allison album up to 1970 back when I had a load of records, even did a two-hour tribute to him back in the day on WRAS) was not just his singing and great style, but his playing as a piano player. This album has some of his best piano work on instrumental tracks like “Night Watch,” “Power House” and “War Horse.” As well known for being a King of Cool with his vocals, Mose was and is a highly under-rated piano player and someone who should truly take his place with all the greats in the post-bop era.

Interestingly enough (and a fact I was only aware of after I’d chosen to post this record), Mose just celebrated his 84th Birthday on 11-11-11. Even into his 80s, the man still performs, even recorded a new album last year and sounds just as cool as did when he stepped fully on the scene in 1957.

Cheers,

Michael

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