Classic Melting Pot

foto © Chris La Putt

foto © Chris La Putt

{Congrats to the winners Larkin N. and Fred P.!!!}

Highlighted a bit of the music of Shannon & the Clams earlier, they’re playing a bunch of shows in the LA area over the next week or so, including an early show at the Echo. If you’re interested in seeing Shannon & the Clams, drop me a line, michael[at] by Friday at 12noon.

Here’s a taste of what to expect when Shannon and her clams hit the stage, though I don’t think it will be quite like this appearance at Chic-A-Go-Go, it would be mighty cool if there was just as much dancing, not so many kids:

Here’s a proper live video from the band, recorded nearby at the Glasshouse in Pomona:


Year 3 for Melting Pot was an interesting one. Quite a bit of it was marked by missed opportunities. Coming into April, we’d only had 2 live performances plus a few guest DJ sessions. April more than made up for the drought of guests earlier in the year with some of the best in our 3 year run. You’ll hear individual tracks from Lady, Hot 8 Brass and Chicano Batman, as well as excerpts of the Guest DJ sessions from DJ Spinna and Kenny Dope. During the first hour we replayed the amazing interview and performance from King and for the second hour we revisited the interview with Shuggie Otis. I’m looking forward to year #4, I think we’ll have our best year yet in terms of interviews and performances and hopefully a few more surprises as well. Thank you to everyone who has supported the radio show over the past three years. Keep spreading the word and I’ll make sure that music continues to move you!

Melting Pot on KPFK #128: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #128: Second Hour


Red Allen & Kid Ory – Blues For Jimmy
Red Allen & Kid Ory – Keep Off Of Katie’s Head
Red Allen & Kid Ory – Tishomingo Blues

It’s just about to become summer here in LA, the days and nights are quite as hot as they will be and most times there’s a nice breeze that for whatever reason puts traditional Dixieland/Hot Jazz sounds into my mind. AllenOryLabelSomething about the prospect of just hanging out in our house with the windows open and that breeze flowing in and those sounds pouring out of my speakers just makes my heart glad (as does the old school Verve label on the LP). It’s hard not to smile with a collaboration like this featuring two of masters at their craft. In fact, if there was a trad jazz record that someone who has never bought any trad jazz was going to get, I’d likely suggest this one. Kid Ory cut hs teeth in perhaps the first great jazz band along with King Oliver and Pops, he’s a New Orleans trombonist through and through. Red Allen always gets lumped in with the traditional crowd, but his playing on trumpet was always thoroughly modern, to the point where I doubt there are many contemporary trumpet players that could match his wit and skill when he solos. The pair together are pure heaven on the mid-tempo “blues” one of which is dedicated to Kid Ory’s former partner, a legend in his own right, clarinetist Jimmy Noone. The way the music swoons and sways always inspires me to do a little dance as if I’ve been transported back in time to a speakeasy where these sounds would have found a home in the 1930s, let alone during the revival of the late 1950s/early 1960s.

The most interesting track is “Keep Off Of Katie’s Head.” From the title alone, the song seems like a threat or a warning, but once Kid Ory tells this man to not only “Keep Of Of Katie’s Head” but also to “Please Keep Out Of Katie’s Bed” it gives the song a bt more of a playful bent, which seems to be less about domestic violence and more about some oral funtimes. If I was Katie’s neighbor I’m sure I’d probably still call the Cops on the person he’s singing to, but I think things might get awfully awkward for everyone once they showed up. For maximum effect I suggest playing the record with the windows open and loud enough to let your neighbors be aware that some misbehavin’ is goin’ on next door.




Shannon & the Clams – Into A Dream

Shannon Shaw first came onto my radar due to her work with Hunx & His Punx. As I was listening to what would become one of my favorite tracks of the year, “Lover’s Lane,” I kept getting floored by one of the voices in the mix. Equal parts sweet, sultry, gruff and wild, Shannon Shaw’s vocal style is a rare and marvelous thing. With her own band that voice is fully on display along with the group’s take on “old-school” Rock’n’Roll.


Well, I had really high hopes for this fundraising editon of Melting Pot. I’d put together an amazing 6-pack of CDs (still available if you pledge online here) with a short supply of 6 additional CDs, a few tickets for the UCLA Jazz & Reggae fest and a goal of $2,000. We didn’t come close to making our goal, making around $900. While that’s disappointing, it’s more disappointing only getting 9 new subscribers. I know there are a lot more people who listen to Melting Pot and would support the show, but for whatever reason we’re not getting the level of support that we need (and thus we’re off, yet again, for the remainder of the fundraiser and likely the next one in August or October too). I’m not sure what to do to get to the bottom of it, but I’ll likely be asking for your opinions on it in coming weeks on the show as well as trying to organize different ways to raise funds for the station that allows me to do this show. As always it was a pleasure being on air with Morgan Rhodes and despite the lack of support, it’s still the high quality kind of show you’d expect from us at Melting Pot. I hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoy putting it together, and if you can, please support KPFK and Melting Pot.

Melting Pot on KPFK #127: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #127: Second Hour


Black Ivory – Don’t Turn Around
Black Ivory – Surrender
Black Ivory – You And I

My Wife and I have been listening to a fair amount of Sweet Soul or Oldies of late. It’s interesting because we have very different relationships with this music. For me, growing up in Atlanta and the South, I always associated this music with the Northeast, since most Southern Soul is grittier and “deeper,” but the really sweet stuff always seemed to come from Philly, New York, Detroit or Chicago. It’s a sound for slow dancing late in the summer for me. My wife however grew up in the LA Area, and this style of music is really strongly connected to Mexican/Mexican-American communities out here to the point where we actually get in arguments over “Who’s Music Is This?” (which is the kind of thing that might just spark a bit of academic inquiry in the future).

What’s not up for debate is how lovely a lot of this music is. Black Ivory’s “Don’t Turn Around” has been something I’ve been on the look out for years and years, after hearing comedian Tommy Davidson request it during a radio appearance at a Bay Area station. Generally if I run into the album out and about it’s all beat up from being overplayed. With Sweet Soul on my mind more and more I made sure to pick up a decent copy off of Ebay and here it is. It’s pretty amazing to note how young all the members of this group were when they released “Don’t Turn Around”, not even in their twenties at that time. While it shares a lot of elements from other Sweet Soul tunes, slow tempo, falsetto lead, etc., it’s THOSE strings that keep bringing me back to this one again and again. It wasn’t until I came across this video of the group’s only Soul Train appearance that I realize that the dude in the center of the LP cover wasn’t singing that falsetto, but instead it was Leroy Burgess, who really was the creative force behind the band. In addition to missing harmonies like these, I really wish bands still choreographed their moves they way they used to:

“You And I” treads similar territory, but cranks up the levels of epic-ness as it builds and builds, ending with some sample-worthy instrumentation (especially after some says, “Don’t Stop Now,” in the background during that last minute). “Surrender” is a bit more upbeat, as are a couple of the other tracks on the album. But really what it all comes down to is that truly sweet soul sound. Hearing that, I don’t know how anyone could resist turning around for another glance. I’m sure you’re like me, once you’ve heard “Don’t Turn Around” you keep coming back for more and more.




The Heliocentrics – Calabash

Been a minute since we’d heard from Malcolm Catto and the Heliocentrics. I have nothing but respect for Mr. Catto, he’s probably my favorite living drummer (though Sara Lund, formerly of Unwound, is right up there) and locks into a groove like he’s the love child of Earl Palmer and Jaki Liebezeit. Though the Heliocentrics have put out some collaborations with Mulatu Astatke and Lloyd Miller, this is the proper follow-up to 2007’s Out There. Like that debut, the album is a less a collection of songs than it is a long piece of music, best listened to as a whole, akin more to a spaced out mix tape than a traditional funk, jazz or rock record. There are more than a few times where the group hits on an amazing groove that disappears or morphs into a different track or spoken word piece. Sometimes it can be frustrating, but there are so many quality tunes that I can’t fail but to be impressed by what Catto and the gang have done. Surefire addition to the best of 2013 for me.

As if a new album from the Heliocentrics wasn’t a gift enough all by itself, Gas Lamp Killer created a mix from the materials on 13 Degrees Of Reality and that really is a match made in Heaven, or perhaps some place a little darker…you can hear/download that mix by clicking here.


Mother’s Day is always tough for us, this is the 17th Mother’s Day since my mother passed, 3rd since my wife’s mother passed. But as tough as it is it’s also nice to reminisce about the times shared and pay tribute to mothers on these shows. So, virtually every set has at least one Mother’s Day song, starting off with a personal one from me, a bit of a tradition playing “Rasberry Beret” just because I heard it on repeat, back in the days before there was a repeat button, so often in the 1980s. Other Mother’s Day inspired tracks throughout the show from Pedro Infante, Lady, Sly & the Family Stone, Boogaloo Assassins and Max Roach with the JC White Singers. Lots of new tunes as well, from the King Midas Sound, Coultrain, Sharon Jones, Skip & Die and Quadron.

Melting Pot on KPFK #126: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #126: Second Hour


Wilson Pickett – Get Me Back On Time (Engine Number Nine)
Wilson Pickett – Bumblebee
Wilson Pickett – Run Joey Run

The kind of record that should be in just about every self-respecting DJs collection, Wilson Pickett in Philadelphia is a perfect combination of contrasting styles, the grit and gruff of Southern Soul with the stately fuzz of Philly’s Holland & Dozier. “Get Me Back On Time” is an absolute classic, sampled by a few. “Run Joey Run” is a fairly weak song overall, but man oh man does it have a monster introduction and “Bumblebee” is a nice tune for the dancefloors with punchy horns and big expansive drums. For years I’d always assumed that the whole “Engine Engine Number 9” line from Black Sheep was inspired by this song, but then again there’s a “Engine #9” mention in “Super Good” too, and it gets me to thinking of how little I actually know about this titular engine, since I grew up in the South and have spent most of the rest of my time on the West Coast. Maybe there are a bunch of other “Engine #9” songs out there, but even if there are, I highly doubt any are as thrilling, wild and funky as this classic.




Jaimeo Brown – I Know I’ve Been Changed

{I know what you’re thinking…as good as that King interview was, I thought about just retiring and having that be the final post. But really, I’ve just been super busy as the semester closed in Long Beach. Here’s the first in a flood of long awaited posts.}

I play far less jazz on Melting Pot than I should, particularly from more recent artists. Part of it is the nature of doing a show at KPFK without a functional music department or library. So on those rare instances where an exceptional contemporary jazz record finds it’s way into my hands I’m overjoyed. Jaimeo Brown’s Transcendence is a fascinating record on a number of levels. The playing from the trio is top-notch, but so is the approach, where Brown and his cohorts have constructed musical pieces that incorporate both live and sampled voices. While it shares some comparisons to other “Jazz with Voices” records, most notably Max Roach’s collaboration with the JC White Singers, the use of sampling and other electronic flourishes give it a unique style and sound all it’s own. Had I not read more on the album I never would have even realized the voices were sampled, which is pretty rare for someone with such sampling atuned ears. One of my favorite jazz records in recent memory and one of my favorites of 2013. Here’s to hoping that Jaimeo and crew will make their way to Los Angeles at some point so we can have them in at KPFK. I wasn’t sure how this album would translate into live performance until I saw this incredible performance of “This World Ain’t My Home”:

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