Wes Montgomery

By Wes Montgomery (1923-1968) I have over 2 mp3 collections Finger Pickin’ (1996) live December 1957, Movin’ Along (1960), Boss Guitar (1963), Guitar on the Go (1966) includes tracks recorded in 1959 and October and November 1963, Bumpin’ (1965), Dynamic Duo with Jimmy Smith (1966), Further Adventures with Jimmy Smith (1966), California Dreaming (1966), A Day In The Life (1967). As stand alone: Impressions; The Verve Jazz Sides 1995 2cd compilation.

My introduction to Wes was late in his career by A Day In The Life by which time he was on the A&M label with producer Chip Taylor. I loved his mellow electric-elastic guitar tone & was amazed by his covering of pop songs like Windy & A Day In The Life. Listening to them now they are a bit too reverent & verge on muzak. But this was the Chip Taylor style.

Many jazz players enlivened their careers by working with contemporary pop material to appeal to younger  listeners. His earlier work is much jazzier in a tradition way – his playing is always precise & tasteful. I love the two lps he recorded with organist Jimmy Smith & they are well worth having. The Verve sides are a delight too. 

Rounding out the mp3 cds are: Herbie Mann and Dave Valentin: Two Amigos (1990); Herbie Mann and Phil Woods: Beyond Brooklyn (2004) – two fun jazzy sets with Herbie Mann. Good solid work that verges on easy listening.

Art Pepper (1925 –1982): The Return of Art Pepper (1956), Artworks (recorded 1979 released in 1984). His career was repeatedly interrupted by several prison stints stemming from his addiction to heroin. His sax is slightly aggressive, propulsive & adventurous but rarely becomes squawky. He covers jazz standards & originals.

Chico Hamilton (drummer): Man From Two Worlds (1963) Gábor Szabó, The Further Adventures of El Chico (1966). Gábor Szabó is another of my favourite easy to enjoy jazz guitarists. I picked up a double lp while I was living in Cape Breton & loved it. Another jazz player who did excellent covers of pop music. On the hits lp were tracks he recorded with Chico, so I eventually added some Chico to my collection. Solid, sometimes intellectual jazz, old-school & fun to listen to.

Here too is Wilbert Longmire’s Revolution (1969) – another jazz guitarist in the Montgomery mold in a fun funky set of mostly covers – including the Beatles’ Revolution. Finally Art Farmer (Trumpet): Crawl Space (1977) – a fine, moody, romantic set of excellent jazz that is a good introduction to jazz in a more exploratory & relaxed style.

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Gunn Mann

Soundtrack composers are easy to dismiss for the mass appeal of their work – populist & therefore shallow. Henry Mancini is one such composer. The range of his musical ability is staggering when one looks at the span of his career. Academy awards only testify to the popularity of his work not of its quality.

Also with time, even his timeless pieces have taken on a sort of nostalgic campy quality. A song like Moon River seems quaint. I have always loved his music for Peter Gunn & have the original TV soundtrack. When you get past the Arch of the Cue Balls you have a fine, state-of-the-jazz art album that can stand with anything by, say, Horace Silver.  Quincy Jones Plays Mancini is a great set of covers. I love Baby Elephant Walk.

I guess I am a Herbie Mann fan, at least of his work up to the mid-70’s. The first Herbie Mann I heard was Push Push way back in 1971. I loved it & the use of harp in jazz was a revelation. I had that lp & replaced it with the cd. I found the double lp Evolution of Mann remaindered at Zellers & it covered the earlier part of his career, eventually I did the conversion from lp to cd. Stone Flute, & Gagaka I also had as lps at one time & both are stunning sets.

As mp3 I have by Herbie Mann:  Flute Flight 1957, Flute Soufflé 1957, Do The Bossanova 1962, The Complete Latin Band Sessions w Chick Corea 1965, Impressions of the Middle East 1966, Gagaku & Beyond 1976, Two Amigos 1990 w Dave Valentine, Beyond Brooklyn 2004 w Phil Woods. Stand-alones: lp to cd transfer of Evolution of Mann: a sort of hits collection; Stone Flute 1969 meditative with strings includes stunning take on The Beatles ‘Flying’, Push Push 1971 w Duane Allman Gene Bianca on harp. 

Mann was a world music fan before it was on trend. He explored Latin, Japanese, Northern Africa music with musicians from those areas. He steeped himself  in the sound & sensibility & co-created memorable music. I love the Gagaku work. Where to start? I’d go with Push Push. Don’t let his hairy shoulders put you off.

Rounding out the Mann mp3 cd compilations are: Wes Montgomery: Fingerpickin’, Moving’ Along. Early work by Wes with his trademark fluid jazz guitar. Stanley Jordan: Magic Touch – modelled after Wes, another deft guitarist. Art Pepper: The Trip – excellent sax with more of a hard bop edge. Some mid 50’s sleaze adventures, where you feel the tassels twirling around your nose as you listen: Strip Tease 50’s Classics: by the likes of Dave Rose, Sonny Lester – songs like Strip Poker, The Stripper; Buddy Bregman: Swinging Kicks. Burlesque A Go-Go: various rock-a-billy for peelers.

Perhaps the ultimate Bond soundtrack by John Barry: Goldfinger. Shirley Bassey delivers the best Bond title song of all time. Finally as a break from all that:  Don Slepian: Electronic Music From The Rainbow Isle – a moog, computer music pioneer; Szatvari Csaba: Galilei’s Nightmare – new ageish sound textures.

Take The Plunge

the room was full

maple leaves sumac oak

aspen poplar beech

more leaves than the eye could see

could gave names to

rose lilac no flowers just leaves


each one tagged 

ready to be discarded


leaves fluttering chafing rustling

at each breath I took

whispering to each other

that I was there


at the sight of my rake

they feared the rake


the brown big bag behind my back

wasn’t going to hold them all

I’d need more bags

more rakes


the leaves trembled in anticipation

to be stuffed crammed

longing to be taken outdoors

to become compost

for future leaves


I didn’t know where to begin

were there stairs

the house was crammed

floor to ceiling

nothing could be seen

leaves crumbling 


over one another

more arrived every minute

squeezing though cracks in the wall

down the chimney


it was an endless task

I began raking 

pulling them from under chairs

bag after bag

line the curb

yet the house never emptied

all around me 

the swirl of leaves

green red black pointed waxy

I couldn’t get down the stairs

my rake was useless

they no longer had fear

no bags left and there were more


catalpa palm smoke tree

I climbed out to the porch roof

the street was an ocean

the bags I had tenderly packed

had all broken open

children where running and playing

diving through the leaves

never touching the ground

unaware of the dangers

beneath the glorious tempest of leaves


I took the plunge


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Kenny Burrell

I was introduced to Kenny Burrell by a jazz-head co-worker when I actually worked, on the east coast. He had a huge jazz lp collection that he selectively loaned to me & I recorded those lps onto cassettes. One of those lps was The Tender Gender. I loved it.


Burrell’s sound is fluid & bouncy, similar to Wes Montgomery. Tender swings and I always enjoyed it but was more caught up by the jazz-rock fusion than this sort of retro smooth sound. I love the chattery guitar work on Girl Talk. I have that Tender dupe replaced on an mp3 collection that includes it along with Burrell’s Men At Work, Ode to 52nd Street & Blusin’ Around. All fine, tasteful & satisfying recordings. Some live, some with a quartet & some solo work. Tucked away in my Coltrane collection is their sweet collaboration.


To round out the mp3 cd I added Gary McFarland & Gabor Szabo’s Simpatico: I love Szabo (more about him when I get to Sz). This is a fine set that includes the jazz classic Spring Song.  Both Szabo & Burrell enjoy latin rhythms so it seemed fitting to include Herbie Mann: Do The Bossa Nova – the bossa nova was a jazz trend at one time. Mann is a master flute player & on this he works with master musicians in Rio.crystal0

To mix things up I rounded this cd off with the legendary Gil Evans: The Music Of Jimi Hendrix – this is a crazed lp of jazzed up Hendrix. I’d heard about this recording for years but could never find it – but thanks to iTunes I was able to get it. Massed tubas on Crosstown Traffic. The somewhat cheesy electronica is annoying but plays such a minor role I stop hearing it. Hendrix’s songs stretch out in ways you wouldn’t expect.


I also have, as a stand alone, Burrell’s Ballad Essentials. A Concord completion that spans his career with a great set of standards: Body & Soul, Blue in Green. His playing remains solid through out but if it weren’t for actually dates on the tracks this could have been recorded at any point in his life.


Body Talk

Oprah:   Good afternoon. On today’s show we will be talking with Duncan’s brain.

Brain:  Excuse me, Oprah, but you are talking to a brain period. That I’m Duncan’s, or anyone else’s, is merely a coincidence.

Oprah:  But surely you don’t deny you hold the memory, the personality of Duncan.

Brain:  No more than a floppy disc holds an identity for a computer. All that info can disappear at any time, you know, but my essential function can go on.

Oprah:  Yes,  well I see, but without Duncan you wouldn’t have a sense of identity would you.

Brain:  Much of what I do is irrelevant to identity. It takes as much unconscious brain power to breath as it does to make me conscious of the identity Duncan. That cognition doesn’t affect my other functions.

Oprah:   So you are saying that without you there’s be no Duncan but without Duncan there would still be a you?

Brain:  Exactly.

Oprah:  All brains aren’t the same are they.

Brain:  Put it in a row of  twenty jars and could you tell one from the other?soon

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo



January 20, Wednesday: judging at Hot Damn! it’s a Queer Slam – featuring  Dominic Berry Supermarket Restaurant and Bar 268 Augusta Ave., Toronto, Ontario M5T2L9



September 1-5: attending FanExpo 2015expo16


November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo




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Toshiko Akiyoshi

I have a a fair bit of Toshiko Akiyoshi in my jazz collection: one mp3 cd Top of the Gate/Ginko Nuts/Toshiko/NYSketch Book (which includes work by Herbie Mann; Don Sebesky); Lp to cd transfers: Tales of a Courtesan, Road Time Shuffle, Insights (which includes: Oscar Peterson: Swinging Brass): and stand alone’s: Remembering Bud, Desert Lady Fantasy, Hiroshima.

expo03 Lego FanExpo 2013

You could say I like the lady’s style. Some recordings are spectacular big band work with Lew Tabackin – I can’t remember where I first heard (way back in mid-70’s) Village on Tales but its rollicking piano work and dynamic horn section sold me as it told me she could take big band beyond Ellington or Herb Ellis.

expo01 let’s go to FanExpo 2013

Her work often incorporates tradition Japanese elements – voice, percussion. Road Time Shuffle is a dynamic 2 lp live recording – Henpecked Old Man give Tabakin an amazing sax workout. Bud is her tribute to Bud Powell. She is a powerful pianist & a brilliant arranger.

expo02 Lego FanExpo 2013

Don Sebesky is best known for his jazz production & arrangements & released a few records of his own. In this collection is his Big Box – I used to borrow this double lp set from a friend of mine on the east coast & finally made a cassette dupe of it, eventually replaced that with crisp mp3 download – great, fun stuff – Fire Bird Suite combined with Birds of Fire is amazing. Easy to take in but not ‘easy listening’.


(another piece from 1999)


The phone had rung six separate times already in the past half hour. By the time I had gotten the various bits of scotch tape, ribbons or wrapping paper out of my hands, off my fingers, out from underfoot, the ringing would have stopped.

It didn’t matter how close I brought the phone. It would always start just as I had finally gotten curled ribbons at the right point along the package – oblong box – bottle – whatever – that I was wrapping.

What the world needed was an extra hand to hold things in place while the other two cut ribbon, pulled off another piece of tape, or scratched my nose.

I had at least another fifty gifts to wrap. The twenty I had done already were lined up in the hall way waiting for pick-up. My handiwork looked too good to unwrap. Who would want to tear aside that rich brocaded paper, or rip apart those lace bows just to get at the gift? Who?

Damn there goes the phone again.

I was able to get to it after two rings this time.

“Wrap-a-rama. Can I help you?”

“You muse be Busy? I’ve been calling all morning and you …”

“Yes I am busy very and will be busy for the rest of the week. So let’s cut to the chase just what is you want wrapped?

“Well – I was wondering …”

“Wondering what? Spit it out. No, wait. Let me guess. You have something you need wrapped. Something special for someone special. Isn’t that it?”


“Okay. Now I need to know how large.”

“Umm … Average size. Compact you might say.”

“Compact, as in car?”

“Yes. Small though. Sporty.”

“Look, I am not doing any sports cars this year. They take too long for the cost.”

“I’ll double your usual fee. You don’t have to wrap the … ”

“Sorry. No automobiles. No helicopters or speed boats either.”

“Jez that doesn’t leave much does it. Why bother running a wrapping service at all if you won’t take on the real challenges.”

“You have point. How about you paying me as much to wrap it as you paid to buy it.”

“What? Are you nuts?”

“No. If you want me to do something I don’t want to do then I’m going to make really worth my while.”

“It just gift wrapping for Christ sake, not rocket science.”

“Then get a rocket scientist to wrap your car. Good bye.”

I grabbed the stuffed dog that was to wrapped unboxed but in such a way as not to revel what it was. The kind of challenge I was up to.

The phone rang. Call display said it was the guy who I hung up on. I ignored it. For once I was thankful I didn’t have that third arm.

expo notplushie smile please

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