Category: jazz rock

On this day in music history: November 21, 198…

On this day in music history: November 21, 1980 – “Gaucho”, the seventh album by Steely Dan is released. Produced by Gary Katz, it is recorded at Soundworks, A&R Studios, Sigma Sound Studios, Automated Sound in New York City, Village Recorders in West Los Angeles, CA and Producer’s Workshop in Hollywood, CA from March 1978 – September 1980. Issued as the follow up to the hugely successful “Aja”, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen spend over two years and over one million dollars in studio time working on it.  Ever the perfectionists, the duo are intent on producing tracks that are as technically perfect as possible, putting significant scrutiny on the drums. To aid in this quest, recording engineer Roger Nichols develops the Wendel II drum machine, used as the basis for many tracks, and in tandem with the live drummers on the album. The pair experience numerous setbacks during the time it takes to record the album. These incidents include the loss of the song “The Second Arrangement”, when the multi-track tape is partially erased by a tape operator across all twenty four tracks. Becker is hit by a cab and severely fractures his leg, crossing a busy New York street while walking to the studio. The duos’ notorious perfectionism is carried to a new extreme while recording “Gaucho”, resulting in them cutting and re-cutting songs or discarding them altogether. During the two and half years the recording sessions last, they accumulate over three hundred twenty reels of two-inch tape, which represents only the outtakes. Becker and Fagen also wage a bitter battle with MCA Records over the list pricing of the album, which is set at $9.98 against Steely Dan’s wishes. They are forced to capitulate when the label threatens to shelve the album, unless they agree to the higher price point. In spite of all the behind the scenes drama, the album is well received upon its release, though it ends up being the last new studio album from Steely Dan for over nineteen years. It spins off two singles including “Hey Nineteen” (#10 Pop, #64 R&B), and “Time Out Of Mind” (#22 Pop). The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2000 with new liner notes written by Becker and Fagen, and is also released as an SACD disc. It is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2008, as part of UMe’s “Back To Black” series. “Gaucho” peaks at number nine on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: November 17, 197…

On this day in music history: November 17, 1971 – “Live-Evil”, the thirty eighth album by Miles Davis is released. Produced by Teo Macero, it is recorded at The Cellar Door in Washington DC on December 19, 1970, and at Columbia Studio B from February – June 1970. The half live/half in studio recorded double LP set consists of eight extended electric based jams featuring Davis supported by musicians such as Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Michael Henderson, Jack DeJohnette, Billy Cobham, Wayne Shorter, Dave Holland, Airto Moreira, and Keith Jarrett. Originally conceived as a continuation of the landmark “Bitches Brew”, it differs greatly from its predecessor by incorporating more rock and funk elements. It is well received upon its release and is considered a pioneering jazz/funk recording, as well as one of the cornerstones of Davis’ “Electric Period”. The albums’ distinctive cover art was created by artist Mati Klarwein, best known for the cover art on Davis’ “Bitches Brew” and Santana’s “Abraxas”. Davis tells Klarwein that he wants something representing “life” on the front cover, and something representing “evil” on the back". The front features a painting of a pregnant African woman, while the back features a grotesque looking amphibian like creature in a powered wig clutching its belly. The latter painting is inspired by a picture that the artist sees of infamous FBI director J. Edgar Hoover on the cover of Time Magazine. Originally released on CD in the early 80’s, it is remastered and reissued in 1997, issued in a digipak, and eventually standard jewel case configuration. “Live-Evil” peaks at number one hundred twenty five on the Billboard Top 200, and number four on the Jazz chart.

On this day in music history: November 7, 1975…

On this day in music history: November 7, 1975 – “The Hissing Of Summer Lawns”, the eighth album by Joni Mitchell is released. Produced by Joni Mitchell, it is recorded at A&M Studios in Hollywood, CA from Mid – Late 1975. Her first studio album after the artistic and commercial triumph of “Court And Spark” and the successful double live album “Miles Of Aisles”, Joni Mitchell continues to forge the musical path begun on the previous album. For the recording sessions, she assembles a group of top rock and jazz musicians including Robben Ford, Larry Carlton, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter (guitars), Joe Sample (keyboards), Wilton Felder, Max Bennett (bass), Victor Feldman (keyboards, percussion), Bud Shank (flute) and John Guerin (drums). Graham Nash, David Crosby and James Taylor sing background vocals on the single, “In France They Kiss On Main Street” (#66 Pop,) and the Drummers Of Burundi are featured on the track “The Jungle Line”. The album also features a number of other songs that become among Mitchell’s best known and frequently covered material including “Edith And The Kingpin”, “The Boho Dance”, “Shadows And Light” and the title track. It receives a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female in 1977. The albums’ cover artwork painted and designed by Mitchell features a group of indigenous people carrying a giant anaconda with a cityscape in the background. Original LP pressings feature embossing on the gatefold jacket, that is discontinued on later re-printings. The inside gatefold features a photo of Mitchell in a bikini, floating in her swimming pool on her back taken by photographer Norman Seeff. At the time of its release, it receives highly mixed reviews from critics who are unsure what to make of Mitchell’s musical experimentation on the album. In time, regarded as one of Joni Mitchell’s best albums, with Prince frequently mentioning it as one of his personal favorites. The Mitchell tribute album “A Tribute to Joni Mitchell” released in 2007, features cover versions of “The Boho Dance” (Björk), “Dont Interrupt The Sorrow” (Brad Mehldau) and “Edith And The Kingpin” (Elvis Costello). “Edith” is also covered by George Michael, released on the EP “December Song (I Dreamed Of Christmas)” in 2009. First issued on CD in the late 80’s by Asylum Records, “Hissing” is remastered and reissued in late 90’s with high definition HDCD encoding, also restoring all of the original cover art work not replicated on the previous release. The album is also reissued on 180 gram vinyl by Rhino Records in 2010. “The Hissing Of Summer Lawns” peaks at number four on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: October 11, 1972…

On this day in music history: October 11, 1972 – “Caravanserai”, the fourth album by Santana is released. Produced by Carlos Santana and Mike Shrieve, it is recorded at Columbia Recording Studios in San Francisco, CA from February 21 – May 5, 1972. The album marks the beginning of major changes in Santana musically and personnel wise. Several members including Gregg Rolie, Neal Schon, David Brown and Michael Carabello leave the band either prior to or during recording sessions for the album. Rolie and Schon goes on to form Journey the following year, Brown play with Boz Scaggs (before rejoining Santana from 1973 – 1976), The music is more jazz oriented and experimental than the bands previous three releases. Though it is successful, it marks the beginning of Santana’s decline in commercial popularity after initially peaking with their previous album. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2003. “Caravanserai” peaks at number eight on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: October 10, 1969…

On this day in music history: October 10, 1969 – “Hot Rats”, the second solo album by Frank Zappa is released. Produced by Frank Zappa, it is recorded at T.T.G. Studios, Sunset Sound Studios in Hollywood, CA, and Whitney Studios in Glendale, CA from July 18 – August 30, 1969. His first album since disbanding The Mothers Of Invention, it consists of largely instrumental jazz influenced material and feature guest musicians Shuggie Otis, Max Bennett, Don “Sugarcane” Harris, Jean-Luc Ponty and Captain Beefheart. Technologically more advanced than his previous works, it is Zappa’s first to be recorded on a 16-track multi-track recorder, which he utilizes the expanded technology to the fullest, overdubbing numerous keyboard and horn parts (played by musician Ian Underwood) as well as using techniques like varispeed to change the texture and sound of instruments. Dedicated to his new born son Dweezil, “Hot Rats” goes on to be one of Zappa’s most popular and acclaimed recordings. The albums enigmatic infrared cover photo taken by Andee Nathanson, features Miss Christine Ann Frka of the acapella girl group The GTO’s, peeping out of an empty lily pond on the estate of actor Errol Flynn. The artwork and photo collage on the inside gatefold of the LP is designed by Cal Schenkel, also responsible for the cover art on Zappa’s “Cruisin’ With Ruben And The Jets” and “Uncle Meat” albums.  When the album is reissued on CD in 1987, Zappa extensively remixes and edits the tracks, making them longer than the first LP issue. Eventually, the original 1969 mixes are reissued on vinyl in 2009 and on CD in 2012. “Hot Rats” peaks at number one hundred seventy three on the Billboard Top 200.

On this day in music history: October 1, 1982 …

On this day in music history: October 1, 1982 – “The Nightfly”, the debut solo album by Donald Fagen is released. Produced by Gary Katz, it is recorded at Soundworks Digital Audio/Video Studios, Automated Sound in New York City, and Village Recorders in Los Angeles, CA from Mid 1981 – Mid 1982. Following the demise of Steely Dan after the release of their seventh album “Gaucho”, Donald Fagen begins work on his first solo album. With nearly all of the material being written by Fagen himself, the album is an autobiographical look at his childhood growing up in suburban New Jersey during the 50’s and early 60’s. It features a number of top notch musicians, many of which had played on past SD albums including Larry Carlton, Rick Derringer, Steve Khan, Hugh McCracken, Dean Parks (guitars), Chuck Rainey, Anthony Jackson, Will Lee, Abraham Laboriel, Marcus Miller (bass), James Gadson, Ed Greene, Jeff Porcaro, Steve Jordan (drums), Michael Omartian, Greg Phillinganes, Rob Mounsey (keyboards), Michael Brecker (tenor saxophone), and Randy Brecker (flugelhorn, trumpet). The album is a critical and commercial success, earning several Grammy nominations, including ones for Song Of The Year, and Album Of The Year in 1983. Recorded and mixed on digital recording equipment (Mitsubishi 32 track digital multi-track), the album is as lauded for its outstanding sound quality as it is for its musical content, being a pivotal release in digital recording gaining popularity in the 80’s and beyond. It spins off two singles including “I.G.Y. (What A Beautiful World)” (#26 Pop, #8 AC, #54 R&B), and “New Frontier” (#70 Pop, #34 AC).  A favorite of audiophiles since its original release, the album is released as a half-speed mastered LP by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab in 1983. It is later remastered and reissued as a DVD-A disc by Warner Bros Records in 2003, featuring the original stereo mix, a newly remixed 5.1 surround mix, and the original music video for “New Frontier” as an added bonus. Rhino Records also reissues the album as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2010. It is also issued as a hybrid SACD disc in Japan in 2011, including the original stereo mix, and the 5.1 surround mix, remixed by Elliot Scheiner. The classic title is reissued as a limited edition double vinyl “One-Step Series” LP box set by the label on October 13, 2017. Mastered at 45 RPM, the set is limited to 6,000 numbered copies. “The Nightfly” peaks at number eleven on the Billboard Top 200, number twenty four on the R&B album chart, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: September 23, 19…

On this day in music history: September 23, 1977 – “Aja”, the sixth album by Steely Dan is released. Produced by Gary Katz, it is recorded at Village Recorders in West Los Angeles, CA, Producer’s Workshop, ABC Recording Studios, Sound Labs in Hollywood, CA, Warner Bros Recording Studios in North Hollywood, CA, and A&R Studios in New York City from January – July 1977. Following the critically and commercially successful “The Royal Scam”, Steely Dan record what becomes the most musically ambitious and biggest selling album of their career. Walter Becker and Donald Fagen work with a team of top notch studio musicians on project including Chuck Rainey (bass), Bernard Purdie, Jim Keltner, Steve Gadd, Paul Humphrey, Rick Marotta (drums), Joe Sample, Victor Feldman, Paul Griffin, Michael Omartian (keyboards), Larry Carlton, Dean Parks, Denny Dias, Jay Graydon, Steve Khan (guitars), Tom Scott, Wayne Shorter (saxophones), Venetta Fields, Shirlie Matthews, Clydie King, Rebecca Louis, and Michael McDonald (background vocals). The albums title comes from the name of a Korean woman married to the brother of one of Donald Fagen’s high school friends. The elegant and enigmatic cover photo (taken by photographer Hideki Fujii) is of Japanese fashion model Sayoko Yamaguchi. The albums’ seamless blend of jazz and R&B influenced pop resonates with the public and critics alike. It spins off three singles including “Peg” (#11 Pop), “Deacon Blues” (#19 Pop) and “Josie” (#26 Pop). A favorite of audiophiles for many years for its meticulous production and outstanding sonics, the album is remastered and reissued numerous times on vinyl and CD by specialty labels like Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, Cisco Music and MCA Records. In the late 90’s, plans to re-release “Aja” with new a 5.1 surround mix as had been done previously for “Gaucho”, have to be scrapped when it is discovered that the 24-track multi-track masters for “Black Cow” and the title track are missing from Universal Music’s tape archive. To date, the masters have not been found. The album is most recently remastered and reissued as a high resolution DSD UHQCD by Universal Japan in June of 2018. In 2011, “Aja” is added to the United States National Recording Registry of The Library Of Congress, as being deemed culturally, historically and aesthetically important. “Aja” peaks at number three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: September 7, 197…

On this day in music history: September 7, 1973 – “Over-Nite Sensation”, the seventeenth album by Frank Zappa is released. Produced by Frank Zappa, it is recorded at Bolic Sound in Inglewood, CA and Whitney Studios in Glendale, CA from March 19 – June 1, 1973.  After the more fusion jazz oriented “Waka/Jawaka” and “The Grand Wazoo”, Frank Zappa once agains take another musical detour with his next release. “Over-Nite Sensation marks an important turning point in Zappa’s career, combining jazz, rock and funk, he produces a more accessible sound that brings him a wider audience and generates some of his most commercially successful work. The fifth Zappa album to feature keyboardist George Duke, "Sensation” is the first to include new drummer Ralph Humphrey and percussionist Ruth Underwood (the wife of long time Mothers band member Ian Underwood), who also become essential players during this era. Featuring guest appearances by violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, singer Ricky Lancelotti and Tina Turner and the Ikettes, the album features some of his best known and loved songs including “Dinah-Moe Humm”, “I Am The Slime”, “Zomby Woof” and “Montana”. Originally released on CD in 1995, it is remastered in 2012, and also reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2013. “Over-Nite Sensation” peaks at number thirty two on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: August 19, 1972 …

On this day in music history: August 19, 1972 – “Chicago V”, the fifth album by Chicago hits #1 on the Billboard Top 200 for 9 weeks. Produced by James William Guercio, it is recorded at Columbia Recording Studios in New York City from September 20 – 29, 1971. Recorded in just nine days, it is the bands first single LP release. Physically and creatively exhausted after a three year long cycle of having recorded three double album sets (plus a four LP live album box set), and touring extensively to support them, the band decides to take a more direct approach with their fifth album. Stepping away from the lengthy and elaborate music suites that dominated their previous LP’s, they put an emphasis on songs that are shorter in length and more radio friendly. Eight of the albums ten tracks are written by keyboard player and vocalist Robert Lamm including the hit singles “Saturday In The Park” (#3 Pop) and “Dialogue Pts. 1 & 2” (#24 Pop). “Chicago V” is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: July 10, 1972 – …

On this day in music history: July 10, 1972 – “Chicago V”, the fifth album by Chicago is released. Produced by James William Guericio, it is recorded at Columbia Recording Studios in New York City from September 20 – 29, 1971. The album is the bands first single LP release following their previous four (three were 2 LP sets, followed by a 4 LP live box set), instead opting for shorter songs rather than extended pieces and side long suites. Robert Lamm will be the dominant creative driving force of the album, writing eight of its ten songs. Recorded in a relatively brief nine days of studio time, it spins off two hit singles including “Saturday In The Park” (#3 Pop) and “Dialogue Pts. I & II” (# 24 Pop), becoming their most successful album to date. It becomes Chicago’s first chart topping album, spending nine weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200 beginning on August 19, 1972. It is remastered and reissued on CD in 2003 by Rhino Records, with three additional bonus tracks. It is also issued as a high resolution DVD-A disc, featuring a 5.1 surround mix. The 5.1 mix is also reissued by Rhino in Japan in 2011, with a 180 gram vinyl LP reissue released by Friday Music in 2012. “Chicago V” is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.