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St. Clair Pinckney at 33:09

5 Apr

What better than a screeching solo from the late great St. Clair Pinckney to herald a costume change from black tux, black shirt, black bowtie to jade green jumpsuit and jerkin?  Of course I recommend the whole video, but if you’ve only got a minute for now, St. Clair’s solo is the height of horn-chic.  If you’re on leisure time start at the top and enjoy the mindblowing performance by BB King and glimpse MJ in the house too.

Rip Rig & Panic and Pigbag were the kinds of bands that made me want to play sax.

13 Oct

Rip Rig & Panic – Early 80s Brit JazzPunk NoWavers feat. Neneh Cherry

Fela Kuti Glastonbury 1984 full show

31 Aug

Courtesy of my friend Dub Gabriel, who has all kinds of great stuff on his blog Destroy This Blog, enjoy this concert footage interspersed with interviews with Fela Kuti. One thing I love about the Kutis is that they never skimp on the horn section – nine guys including 2 bari players here, and who could deny that as charismatic as Fela Kuti is and as beautiful and gifted as the singing dancing queens are, that horn section is keeping those hundreds of thousands of Glastonbury goers JUMPING. I think if more bands used a nine piece horn section life would be more thrilling for everyone.

Most Fabulous Band The Lounge Lizards.

20 Aug

When I was a young lady saxophone player I remember being at a party in St. Kilda in Melbourne and freaking out* over a record someone put on that was the coolest thing I’d ever heard. The song was Do The Wrong Thing by The Lounge Lizards from their debut self-titled album released in 1981.

Within hours I bought the record and within months I’d practically worn it out (although I still have it and listen to it more than 25 years later). I’d never heard anybody play saxophone like John Lurie and was in love with the way he and his contemporary James Chance were reinventing the sound of the instrument. When it finally came along I grabbed No Pain For The Cakes, the second Lounge Lizards album and loved it just as much, back in the days before playlists where you could just play 2 albums back to back on the record player. When the third album , Voice of Chunk was released a couple of years later, it was only available via mail order from New York. What a hassle, but like a good super fan I went & got an international money order and put my order in the mail, along with a letter saying I was coming to New York and wished I’d be able to catch a live show while I was in town. Maybe a month later a fax came to my job at the record company from a kind soul named Ali whose gender may have been either telling me there was a gig at The Knitting Factory and my name was on the guest list – New York City, just like I pictured it! I went to the show at the Knitting Factory on Houston Street found Ali who turned out to be a girl, met a beautiful girl called Rene who turned out to be John Lurie’s girlfriend and somehow found myself at the afterparty at The Odeon. It was like a punkjazz no wave downtown 81 nine years on fairytale . The next day I ran into the bass player Oren Bloedow on the street and he took a picture of me at the corner of Houston & Lafayette in front of a big tinsel star in the sky above the Puck Building. Anyway, to this day when I hear the Lounge Lizards I’m reminded that John Lurie is one of my favorite saxophone players and one who I’ve always been inspired and influenced by. I only saw them twice more after that glamorous night so I was excited to find this concert online.

* Do The Wrong Thing still makes me freak out.

Cynthia Robinson & Jerry Martini – one of the jammingest and most powerful horn sections ever!

27 Dec

It’s hard to know where to begin gushing about this incredible section of two of my favorite horn players of all time; Underdog, track 1 on the first Sly & The Family Stone album “A Whole New Thing”, released in 1967 is probably as good a place as any. If you know the song you’ll want to hear it again; if you’ve never heard it LISTEN NOW. And if you’re a horn player and you’ve ever played it, you know how good it feels to play it — Mackie Riverside & The Streetpushers covers this song sometimes and when we get jamming on it I can hardly refrain from jumping up and down when the horn break comes in. Cynthia and Jerry were a powerhouse of high octane ideas, just a tenor sax and a trumpet, a boy and a girl in super groovy outfits. Every song on A Whole New Thing has a sick horn part or three and the fun was just beginning. You can stream the whole album on myspace, along with the whole CATALOG. Despite my mailbox bulging with spam, I still like myspace for this feature — MILLIONS of albums can be streamed in their entirety for free on myspace (you just have to listen to the occasional ad in between tracks).

For the next 11 years, Cynthia and Jerry prolifically recorded and toured with Sly and The Family Stone laying down some of the most distinctive and famous horn parts in the history of pop music, recognizable all over the world as well as on about 50 lesser known album tracks. I particularly love the interplay of the two horns on Fresh, such as on In Time.

Obviously it must have been incredible to see Sly & The Family Stone in concert in their heyday. Joel Selvin’s book “An Oral History of Sly & The Family Stone” describes the atmosphere in the band when they were starting out and their onstage excitement is clear in any live footage I’ve seen. Check out the jam that gets going at the 3 minute mark of this clip from Sly & The Family Stone’s performance at Ohio State where they competed for and won $10,000 for being the “Most Outstanding New Talent of 1968” – that’s kinda groovy bread!

And if you still want more, check out parts 1 through 6 of their performance at the Harlem Cultural Festival at Marcus Garvey Park in 1969.