Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mongo Santamaria - Watermelon Man

This was one of my favorite records when I was a kid. At the time when I first heard dad play this 45, I did not know who Herbie Hancock was or that he wrote the song. All I knew was that I loved the wicked latin groove that Mongo and his band were throwing down.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mike Simpson Orchestra - Cuban Twilight / Argo Rock

I don't know much about Mike Simpson and his orchestra. Was he a clarinet player? Anyhoo, this nice little 45 on Argo was released in 1956 and features two instrumental numbers, Cuban Twilight & Argo Rock.
Argo Records was started in December of 1955 to accommodate some of the rapidly growing recording activity at Chess Records. Originally the label was called Marterry, but bandleader Ralph Marterie objected, and within a couple of months the imprint was renamed Argo. Initially, Argo offered a variety of music, including pop, blues, and even Calypso. Argo's first big hit was by New Orleans performer Clarence "Frogman" Henry, whose classic "Ain't Got No Home" came out in 1956. By 1957, Argo had become known for its jazz offerings. Jazz performers affiliated with the label included Ahmad JamalJames MoodyKing Fleming, and the Ramsey Lewis Trio. Major rhythm and blues performers on the label were Etta James and The Dells. Argo changed its name in 1965 to Cadet Records when the company discovered that an Argo Records already existed in the UK.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mongo Santamaria - The Cha Cha Blues

Here is an ultra-rare, non-LP, B-side by the late great Mongo Santamaria. I am not sure of the year, but it's from the early 60s on Riverside Records (Riverside R-4532).

Monday, April 18, 2011

Jan Davis - Hop, Skip And Jump / Malagueña

An unheralded master of cool ‘60s instrumentals, Jan Davis straddled the worlds of the Ventures, the Rockin’ Rebels and the Shadows like a guitar-wielding superhero. Problem was, none of Davis’ eye-popping singles dented the national sales charts. Here is a sweet single from 1963 featuring the catchy Hop Skip And Jump and a great version of the classic, Malagueña.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Red Callender Sextet - Voodoo

Red Callender, (March 6, 1916 – March 8, 1992), was a jazz bass and tuba player, famous for turning down a chance to work with Duke Ellington's Orchestra and the Louis Armstrong All-Stars.
Callender was born in Haynesville, Virginia. In the early 1940s, he played in the Lester and Lee Young band, and then formed his own trio. In the 1940s Callender recorded with Nat King ColeErroll GarnerCharlie Parker,Wardell GrayDexter Gordon and many others. After a period spent leading a trio in Hawaii, Callender returned to Los Angeles, becoming one of the first black musicians to work regularly in the commercial studios, including backing singer Linda Hayes on two singles.
On his 1954 Crown LP Speaks Low, Callender was one of the earliest modern jazz tuba soloists. Keeping busy up until his death, some of the highlights of the bassist's later career include recording with Art Tatum and Jo Jones (1955-1956) for the Tatum Group, playing with Charles Mingus at the 1964 Monterey Jazz Festival, working with James Newton's avant-garde woodwind quintet (on tuba), and performing as a regular member of the Cheatham's Sweet Baby Blues Band. He also reached the top of the British pop charts as a member of B. Bumble and the Stingers. He died at Saugus, California.
Here is a rare single he recorded with his sextet some time in the 1950s.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Richard Berry - You Are My Sunshine

Richard Berry wrote his classic song, "Louie Louie", at the Harmony Park Ballroom in Anaheim in 1955. Within two years, this song would be released on the FLIP record label, and was later recorded and made famous by The Kingsmen in 1963. Berry's 1957 recording tells the story of a Jamaican sailor returning home to see his loved one and has since become one of the most covered songs of all time. My dad often spoke of driving down to Harmony Park Ballroom to see Richard's band, The Pharaohs and other local rhythm and blues and rock and roll acts perform. I heard this song so many times growing up, but never really heard the flip side, "You Are My Sunshine", until I was almost 40 and starting to transfer many of dad's old records to digital format. Here it is in all it's glory.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Preston Epps - Blue Bongo

Preston Epps learned to play percussion instruments, including the bongos, while he was stationed in Okinawa during the Korean War. After his tour of duty he settled in Southern California, playing in coffee shops and working odd jobs. Art Laboe, a local disc jockey, signed him to Original Sound Records, which released his single "Bongo Rock" in 1959. The tune became a hit in the U.S., reaching #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 that year. The follow-up, "Bongo Bongo Bongo", reached #78 the following year. Original Sound released a full-length LP in 1960, which reached #35 on the Billboard 200. However, further bongo-themed singles, including "Bongo in the Congo", "Bongo Rocket", "Bootlace Bongo", "Bongo Boogie", "Flamenco Bongo", "Mr. Bongo", and "Bongo Shuffle", did not result in any further success.
Epps reappeared in 1969 as a bongo player in the film Girl in Gold Boots. He continued on as a session musician in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1973, the Incredible Bongo Band covered "Bongo Rock" and released it as a single.
Epps continued playing in clubs in Southern California into the 1990s.
From 1961, here is Blue Bongo.