Wednesday Surprise! Wednesday Edition!
As you may have realized I am a bit of a nerd. I was ecstatic to get an email earlier today telling me that I was one of the chosen few to test out the beta version of Scrabble. I’ve had morning wood before but this made my day. Now I only hope that I am chosen to have dinner with Obama and George Clooney. (You see, I donated in time to be entered in a drawing to go to George Clooney’s house and have dinner with the both of them. Weird, yes, but intriguing.) I have a slew of questions but also musical suggestions for Mr. President. We’ll see, I guess. In the meantime I have found some really cool things that you need to know about.
I have liked soul music for quite a while but it wasn’t until recently that I began searching around for some super cool shit that may not be so well-known. This is not a hipster thing, believe me. You are the only dear souls that I share this with (unless someone asks). I happened upon one Joe Bataan, a Filipino-African American Latin soul dude that lives in New York. Where does the Latin part come in? Well, he was a gang leader for some Puerto Rican street gang in East Harlem and then served
time for car theft. When he got out he wanted to concentrate on music and started forming bands and getting influences from all corners of the globe. We are all better off for it, mind you. This fucker seems to have the ability to do anything (important when you’re a gang leader) and his albums are all over the place. Most of his stuff was put out on Fania Records (home to Reuben Blades, Bobby Valentin, Ray Baretto, and many other Latin badasses) and, well, I think he is still alive. He may not be doing much these days but listen to this album, 1968’s Subway Joe, and then realize that the poor man deserves all the rest he can get.
To stay on the soul tip, most of you are probably aware of the label Numero Group. If not you should be. It is Chicago-based and they find music from around the globe that nobody even knew existed. Seriously, these guys are amazing. I happened upon the Mighty Mike Lenaburg compilation which focuses on the Phoenix R&B/Soul scene (yeah, I didn’t know it existed, either). Born in Liverpool and raised in Pasadena, Mighty Mike grew up down the street from Don Harris and Dewey Terry, later known as Don & Dewey, and it was through them that he became enthralled with the music. His family relocated to Phoenix and he became involved with the tiny scene, eventually DJing at a soul club at the age of 16 and then becoming a producer of the struggling artists around there. He
continued through the years but, as with seemingly every person with an inch of gusto and talent, bad luck set him back and the poor (literally) fucker hasn’t done anything in decades. Enjoy this compilation which includes singles from awesomely named artists such as: The Newlyweds (they have the last track, “The Quarrel”, which is so tasty), Soulsations, Sheila Jack, and many others. Oh, and he was white, to boot.
Fuck it, have another album. On the subject of bad luck I bring to you jazz great Eric Dolphy. This dude played alto sax, clarinet, and flute, all of which are featured on this record, Outward Bound. It was recorded in 1960 by the famed jazz engineer Rudy Van Gelder (this version is remastered by the same badass), someone who everyone, except the overweight, grumpy, brilliant Charles Mingus recorded with. (Mingus stated that Van Gelder “changed the artist’s sound.”) (Also, Mingus was jazz’s Dave Mustaine, picking beefs with everyone.) Dolphy was skyrocketing in the popular jazz world of the late 50s/early 60s, playing with Miles, Coletrane, Coleman, among numerous others. The dude was straight laced, engaged to be married, and then died suddenly under conflicting circumstances. Some say he died on a Berlin stage, some say it was a hotel room. What is prevalent through all the stories is that he was diabetic, went into shock, and either the hospital gave him too much insulin or left him for dead, seeing as how he was a black jazz musician so their assumption was he was on drugs and to simply let it go through his system. The fact remains that the world lost a great man and artist and that people, even medical workers, can be racist, ignorant fucks.