Give the Drummer Some's
Favorite Downloads from the MP3 Blogosphere
Consider this week's column an early Mining the Audio Mother's Day present. Sorry, no flowers or breakfast in bed are in the offing, just a feast for the ears in the form of this bouquet of aural appreciation: a dense, evocative library recording that sounds like the soundtrack to a dream of Africa; a riveting set of experimental banjo instrumentals; an earnest Czech pop group poised for stardom; some smoking hot post-bop from the City of Big Shoulders (with a bonus boogaloo track); a duo of soul songsters from deep within the vaults at Hi Records; and a sublime '70s samba-tinged original cast recording straight from the stage in Rio de Janiero. Oh happy day!
Italian film composer Piero Umiliani provided scores to scores of spaghetti westerns and soft-core skin flicks, but he will be forever beloved to Muppets Show (and Greasy Kids Stuff) fans around the globe for being the author of the enduring novelty number "Mah Nà Mah Nà," (which originally ran during a sauna scene of a Swedish "documentary.") This lush and lovely library disc of vaguely "African" sounding music would make a wonderful soundtrack. Someone make the movie already!
George Stavis ~ "Labyrinths"
(Blog: Flash Strap)
Dueling With Himself
Subtitled "Occult Improvisational Compositions for 5-String Banjo and Percussion," this 1969 debut from twang-mystic George Stavis attempted to do for the banjo what folks like Robbie Basho and John Fahey where then doing for the guitar. On this Vanguard release Stavis, instrumentally channels the likes of Fahey John Coltrane, Earl Scruggs and Ravi Shankar. (NYC readers should hie themselves to Red Hook, Brooklyn, on May 21 for a live performance by Stavis at Jalopy.)
Marie Rottrová , Petr Němec, et al. ~ "Flamingo Group"
(Blog: Iron Curtain Classics)
From the album: Tento Mladík (Spooky) (mp3) sung by Marie Rottrová
Czech Your Ego at the Door
I'm not sure if she's ever been referred to as Czechoslovakia's First Lady of Soul, but Marie Rottrová and her fellow Flamingo bandmates surely made a strong bid for this unlikely accolade. This album, recorded during a 1970 tour of the Soviet Union, features tunes with titles that translate as "Ostrich Feathers," Michael and the Slipper Tree," "Never Marry a Railroad Man," and "Spooky," which just happens to be a cover of the tune by that other First Lady of Soul, Dusty Springfield.
Paul Serrano Quintet ~ "Blues Holiday"
(Blog: Arkadin's Ark)
Simple, Soulful and Searing
Long before he was Chicago's recording engineer to the (soul) stars, Paul Serrano was a hard-bop trumpeter extraordinaire on the Windy City scene. This LP, produced by Cannonball Adderley, features a studioful of Chicago heavyweights including pianist Jodie Christian, who was one of the founders of the vaunted collective AACM. (Co-founder Muhal Richard Abrams is represented here by a version of his number "Dreams of Igor.") Want more Serrano? Check out this boogaloo number he recorded with the Latin Souls: Latin Soul Boo-Ga-Loo (mp3)
From on Hi
For more than 20 years the late producer/arranger Willie Mitchell worked miracles for Hi Records on both sides of the Royal Studios console. These lesser-known singers came under Mitchell's wing a decade apart: Former fashion model Veniece (Stalks) in 1965; gospel-soul songstress Bettye Jean Plummer in 1975.
Various ~ "Deus lhe Pague"
(Blog: Toque Musical)
Apparently it bombed, but when musical theater extravaganza "Deus Lhe Pague" hit the stage in 1976, it boasted a dozen stunning numbers written by the heavyweight songwriting team Vinicius de Moraes and Edu Lobo.
Give the Drummer Some, Fridays on WFMU, 9 to Noon (ET).
Check out every installment of Mining the Audio Motherlode