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HutchFan

More Favorites: Reflections on Jazz in the 1980s

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Not a big Prince fan, but I don't get the need to say how much you don't like him, unless it's an emperor's new clothes thing - that I kind of do get.  Saw him around the Twin cities a few times, dude was short!  Looking forward to being reminded of some of the great music that was done in this decade.

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As this seems to be turning into a bit of a Prince thread...I'm happy to say that I thought at the time, and still do, that he was a major talent producing some great albums - the run from 'Dirty Mind' through to 'Lovesexy' was one of the strongest of the time. He wrote some great songs, just try listening to 'Parade'.  I was hearing and buying these as they came out and I always thought 'Purple Rain' was the weakest of that fine bunch though.

 

Back to 80s Jazz, really looking forward to the blog as it runs through from the time I was starting to listen to Jazz from about 80/81 (hope that album's in the list :)

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4 minutes ago, mjazzg said:

Back to 80s Jazz, really looking forward to the blog as it runs through from the time I was starting to listen to Jazz from about 80/81 (hope that album's in the list :)

I started listening to jazz in the 1980s also.  That's one big difference between the 80s jazzblog and my 70s jazzblog.  ALL of the 70s recordings were discovered "after the fact."  I was too young to hear them as they were released.  On the other hand, some of my selections for the 80s blog I first heard in real-time, as contemporary music.   But it's only a handful of records -- relatively speaking, a tiny percentage -- because most of my earliest jazz listening was digging into the past, specifically Miles and Coltrane and (shortly thereafter) Mingus.

 

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One thing heavy-LP-collecting in the past 10 years has not changed, it is to primarily associate jazz  artists in the 80's (Pullen/Adams, Horace Silver, Sphere, Woody Shaw, Abdullah Ibrahim, Waldron etc.) to their live recordings I used to -also- heavily collect. I will be glad to read your entries to modify my perspective.

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5 hours ago, HutchFan said:

Can I ask why?  Not judging.  Just wondering.

As a teen & young adult in the 80s, I never grooved to (most) popular music during that time -- but Prince always struck me as an interesting exception, a bright spot. 

Just my take.

 

I've never found anything in his music that appeals to me. I don't like his songs, his voice, his guitar playing (even though I've heard over and over again that Prince is a great guitar player, I've never heard a solo I liked). I pretty much detached from American popular music in the early 1970s. Basically nothing that comes after that appeals to me, and that includes Prince.

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6 minutes ago, kh1958 said:

I've never found anything in his music that appeals to me. I don't like his songs, his voice, his guitar playing (even though I've heard over and over again that Prince is a great guitar player, I've never heard a solo I liked). I pretty much detached from American popular music in the early 1970s. Basically nothing that comes after that appeals to me, and that includes Prince.

O.K.  Fair enough.

 

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I hope I live long enough to find out who's got the craziest shit in the deepest recesses of their vault, Prince or Stevie Wonder? My gut says Prince, but my mind says "assume nothing".

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1 minute ago, JSngry said:

I hope I live long enough to find out who's got the craziest shit in the deepest recesses of their vault, Prince or Stevie Wonder? My gut says Prince, but my mind says "assume nothing".

Two great artists, IMO.  Good "problem" to have in either case.  :tup

I know that Questlove has said that Prince's very best stuff is way off the beaten path.  Wish I could hang out with him for an evening and hear his Prince favorites.  Supposedly, Questlove's record collection is ridunkulous.

 

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 You wanna talk about getting mindfucked out of nowhere... I still remember buying the 45 of "Kiss" to learn the words in a hurry or some tax-deductible reason, and flipping it over for this thing called ❤️ or $...

Still a gas to listen to that one...details!!! And out of nowhere. It's like the guy figures no way I ain't NOT gonna sell the fuck out of THIS record, so let me do THIS on the B-Side, I got choices here, I' m gonna make one.

It's my own personal consideration that the true mark of a Pop Artist is not the A-Side, but the B-Side. And now that there are NO sides, what kind of a trap have we sided ourselves into?

8 hours ago, JSngry said:

And Prince never used Kenny Garrett or Marcus Miller.

And Prince never(?) used Ricky Wellman either. But Chuck Brown did, so you got choices there, can't- miss choices 

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6 hours ago, kh1958 said:

I've never found anything in his music that appeals to me. I don't like his songs, his voice, his guitar playing (even though I've heard over and over again that Prince is a great guitar player, I've never heard a solo I liked). I pretty much detached from American popular music in the early 1970s. Basically nothing that comes after that appeals to me, and that includes Prince.

I love all kinds of stuff (but by no means all stuff) from the '70s on, but don't love Prince.  I honestly think there's a lot of wishful thinking/projection going on here - kid's obviously musical, let's make him the hero we've been looking for.  Looking forward to jazz in the '80s.  I know and love some stuff, but I'm sure there's plenty more I've missed.

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On 7.10.2021 at 9:43 PM, aparxa said:

One thing heavy-LP-collecting in the past 10 years has not changed, it is to primarily associate jazz  artists in the 80's (Pullen/Adams, Horace Silver, Sphere, Woody Shaw, Abdullah Ibrahim, Waldron etc.) to their live recordings I used to -also- heavily collect. I will be glad to read your entries to modify my perspective.

Yes, the first ones were also my favourites in the 80´s and I saw them live. Pullen/Adams for example just a few months after Mingus´ death, I think Cameron Brown was on the Bass. "Double Arc Jake" was the highlight of many evenings of listening to jazz with friends (in the 80´s that was still alive, friends coming at your place or you goin to their place and listen to jazz). Horace Silver might have been with Vincent Herring then, right ? Woody Shaw......some bitter-sweet memories: At the beginning of the 80s THE STAR ON TRUMPET, even praised by Miles !!! And something I never thought I might witness in the time I live was to watch how his career went down and how embarassing the last gigs were. About such sad moments I had written only in the bebop books, about the last days of Bird and Bud and so, never thought something like that could happen in the late 80s. 
Dollar Brand was not really my stuff. I heard that orchestra once at a festival, but since there were others like Joe Henderson, Rollins, Elvin Jones, it seems I completly forgot about it. 

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On 10/13/2021 at 1:59 AM, Gheorghe said:

Yes, the first ones were also my favourites in the 80´s and I saw them live. Pullen/Adams for example just a few months after Mingus´ death, I think Cameron Brown was on the Bass. "Double Arc Jake" was the highlight of many evenings of listening to jazz with friends (in the 80´s that was still alive, friends coming at your place or you goin to their place and listen to jazz). Horace Silver might have been with Vincent Herring then, right ? Woody Shaw......some bitter-sweet memories: At the beginning of the 80s THE STAR ON TRUMPET, even praised by Miles !!! And something I never thought I might witness in the time I live was to watch how his career went down and how embarassing the last gigs were. About such sad moments I had written only in the bebop books, about the last days of Bird and Bud and so, never thought something like that could happen in the late 80s. 
Dollar Brand was not really my stuff. I heard that orchestra once at a festival, but since there were others like Joe Henderson, Rollins, Elvin Jones, it seems I completly forgot about it. 

Gheorghe (and others),

I've often heard about and read about Woody Shaw's decline, but it's always been spoken of vaguely.  What was the cause?  Was it drug use? Or mental health issues?  Or mental health issues aggravated by drug use?  ... Also, people sometimes describe Woody as a "difficult" person -- even before his decline.  Again, was that a drug-fueled thing?  Or was it just his temperament?

I don't want to know this information to criticize Shaw or tarnish his reputation in any way.  I love Woody's music, and I have complete respect for it.  I just would like to know. 

 

Edited by HutchFan

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Mental health issues, failing eyesight, substance use issues, just an unfortunate combination for a brilliant mind.

 

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51 minutes ago, JSngry said:

Mental health issues, failing eyesight, substance use issues, just an unfortunate combination for a brilliant mind.

I’m normally not curious about such details, but I wonder what sorts of substances Woody might have been using (and not managing well). Just alcohol? Or illicit drugs worse than weed? No reason for my curiosity, and I’ll admit feeling a little strange wondering.

Brilliant mind — and an absolutely brilliant technique (at least for a solid decade). For a solid 5 or maybe even 10 years there, I’m certain there was no one better on his instrument than Woody. I should probably already know this, but did he top the polls much? Ever? Probably not, or he’d be better known (I have to remind myself he’s not better known now).

One other observation: I’ve heard about 3 audio-interviews with Woody over the last 10 years, and I was struck how much chutzpah he had. Some might even say to the point of arrogance, or that he even ar least sounded pretty conceited. I’m not trying to pass judgment, other than to say that whatever sort of personality traits I thought I might have heard in those interviews, they certainly didn’t match my expectations. (Granted, those were interviews, and not just recorded conversations.) Just something I noticed, that really stood out to me.

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Cocaine, for sure. Not getting into any more detail than that. Plenty of people do that and do it well, but body/brain chemistry make it a minefield.

As for the chutzpah...yeah, he knew what he could do, he knew what he was doing, he wasn't standing down in the face of competitors and or/marketplace demand, I saw him doing his Tai Chi moves during a gig, no hesitancy at all. The one thing Woody Shaw would not do would be display weakness about his position in life.

Truly a brilliant mind, an inspirational  presence with an as-it-turned-out fatal flaw.

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1 hour ago, Rooster_Ties said:

 

One other observation: I’ve heard about 3 audio-interviews with Woody over the last 10 years, and I was struck how much chutzpah he had. Some might even say to the point of arrogance, or that he even ar least sounded pretty conceited. I’m not trying to pass judgment, other than to say that whatever sort of personality traits I thought I might have heard in those interviews, they certainly didn’t match my expectations. (Granted, those were interviews, and not just recorded conversations.) Just something I noticed, that really stood out to me.

Someone on twitter recently pointed out how much of a "disconnect" there is between John Coltrane and his music on the one hand, and his voice on the other.

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I remember reading a quote by Shaw, I think on the liner notes to one of his Columbia albums, where he threw shade on the Louis Hayes/Ronnie Mathews/Stafford James/Rene McLean group he had left as not being good enough musicians for him.  Thought that was pretty arrogant.

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36 minutes ago, felser said:

I remember reading a quote by Shaw, I think on the liner notes to one of his Columbia albums, where he threw shade on the Louis Hayes/Ronnie Mathews/Stafford James/Rene McLean group he had left as not being good enough musicians for him.  Thought that was pretty arrogant.

I remember reading a report back in 1976/77 I think of an on-stage bust up between Shaw and Junior Cook when the Hayes/Shaw/Cook group was playing a season in Ronnie Scott’s. I think the group split after that. The report was in Melody Maker.

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31 minutes ago, sidewinder said:

I remember reading a report back in 1976/77 I think of an on-stage bust up between Shaw and Junior Cook when the Hayes/Shaw/Cook group was playing a season in Ronnie Scott’s. I think the group split after that. The report was in Melody Maker.

My understanding was that Shaw replaced Cook as co-leader with Hayes, and McLean replaced Cook in the lineup.

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14 hours ago, HutchFan said:

Gheorghe (and others),

I've often heard about and read about Woody Shaw's decline, but it's always been spoken of vaguely.  What was the cause?  Was it drug use? Or mental health issues?  Or mental health issues aggravated by drug use?  ... Also, people sometimes describe Woody as a "difficult" person -- even before his decline.  Again, was that a drug-fueled thing?  Or was it just his temperament?

I don't want to know this information to criticize Shaw or tarnish his reputation in any way.  I love Woody's music, and I have complete respect for it.  I just would like to know. 

 

Well, I witnessed a one night gig at a smaller cellar club as late as 1987, were I could see some things. 

I was early at the club and Woody Shaw was allready there, sitting alone at a table and having a meal (some kind of mixture of potatoes, onion and ham) and a Beer. Nothing wrong about that. But then I saw that the waiter had to bring him a lot of those small bottles of Underberg. He drank them one after the other, I was sittin at the bar, and saw how the waiter told the barman again and again "an Underberg for Woody"..... 
When the gig finally started, I wondered how he might play after all that Underberg (by the way, Underberg is a digestif bitter, I understand that some might drink one after a heavy meal, but so many of them ??????) . 


Obviously because of his failing eyesight, Woody had to be led on stage, smoking a cigarette while being led on stage (anyway he was chain smoking all the time). They started a medium tempo "Tea for Two", on which Woody sounded somewhat shaky, and anyway I wondered why the genius I saw in the early 80s with the fantastic group of Steve Turré, Mulgrew Miller, Stafford James, Tony Reedus, played such old standards instead of his own music .....
Then they played "Star Eyes" and I remember Woody announced it as "famous because Charlie Parker played it......I don´t know if you remember him"....some people laughed as this might have been a weak joke or something. 
But otherwise Woody didn´t seem to be arrogant, well he smoked always and played with the cigarette in his hand while playing the trumpet (like you see on some old Miles Davis and Fats Navarro Fotos) , throwing the cigarette ends carelessly on stage in spite of the fact that there was all those electric cables for the mikes and so.....

I think I was not the only one who was quite embarrassed to see Woody like that, because we all had remembered him as a top star. His playing in general was ok, not more than that, in any case not as exiting as he used to be.....

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For me, the 1980s signified the end of the seventies. The death of CTI and, particularly, Kudu signified an and to ersatz disco-jazz for all those musicians like Hank Crawford, Lou Donaldson, Groove Holmes etc etc who managed to avoid heading for major labels who wanted to carry it on.

I think the first guy who got back into straight soul jazz was Lou Donaldson, whose 'Fine & dandy' album, done live in Japan with Red Garland in Feb 1980, was a flag waving  item. Four more, damn good, albums with the one and only Herman Foster followed.

The following year, Jam Records started and made first class soul Jazz albums with Jimmy McGriff, Red Holloway, Gene Harris and Les McCann.

In '82, Muse, having picked up the baton from Prestige in the early 70's, began to record Melvin Sparks and David Newman, but Joe Fields also realised that, in Houston Person, he had a producer as good as Bob Porter.

And Bob Porter began to produce for Milestone, with Hank Crawford, Jimmy McGriff, Jimmy Ponder and Arthur Prysock all making very fine albums.

But one of the downsides was Black & Blue walking with a stick in the eighties after having produced during the seventies so many great recordings of people who just WOULDN'T do disco - Milt Buckner, Arnett Cobb, Buddy Tate, Jaws, Illinois Jacquet, Candy Johnson, Wild Bill Davis and many others, though they DID manage Groove Holmes & Willis Jackson at Chateauneuf du Paper in 1980, but only three more class albums before they closed in the nineties.

Another downside was Fantasy. Stanley Turrentine's Fantasy albums in the seventies weren't brilliant, with the exceptions of 'Nightwings' and 'West side highway', and in the 1980s, 'Use the stairs', though none of 'em are actually BAD. But 'Use the stairs' in 1980 seems to have been the end of Fantasy as a soul jazz label.

But the 80s still had plenty of good stuff as people began to go back to the roots of Soul Jazz.

MG

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30 minutes ago, The Magnificent Goldberg said:

For me, the 1980s signified the end of the seventies. The death of CTI and, particularly, Kudu signified an and to ersatz disco-jazz for all those musicians like Hank Crawford, Lou Donaldson, Groove Holmes etc etc who managed to avoid heading for major labels who wanted to carry it on.

I think the first guy who got back into straight soul jazz was Lou Donaldson, whose 'Fine & dandy' album, done live in Japan with Red Garland in Feb 1980, was a flag waving  item. Four more, damn good, albums with the one and only Herman Foster followed.

The following year, Jam Records started and made first class soul Jazz albums with Jimmy McGriff, Red Holloway, Gene Harris and Les McCann.

In '82, Muse, having picked up the baton from Prestige in the early 70's, began to record Melvin Sparks and David Newman, but Joe Fields also realised that, in Houston Person, he had a producer as good as Bob Porter.

And Bob Porter began to produce for Milestone, with Hank Crawford, Jimmy McGriff, Jimmy Ponder and Arthur Prysock all making very fine albums.

But one of the downsides was Black & Blue walking with a stick in the eighties after having produced during the seventies so many great recordings of people who just WOULDN'T do disco - Milt Buckner, Arnett Cobb, Buddy Tate, Jaws, Illinois Jacquet, Candy Johnson, Wild Bill Davis and many others, though they DID manage Groove Holmes & Willis Jackson at Chateauneuf du Paper in 1980, but only three more class albums before they closed in the nineties.

Another downside was Fantasy. Stanley Turrentine's Fantasy albums in the seventies weren't brilliant, with the exceptions of 'Nightwings' and 'West side highway', and in the 1980s, 'Use the stairs', though none of 'em are actually BAD. But 'Use the stairs' in 1980 seems to have been the end of Fantasy as a soul jazz label.

But the 80s still had plenty of good stuff as people began to go back to the roots of Soul Jazz.

MG

This post is 100% new material to me. I actually did not know that there was a late 70s / 80s soul jazz revival. We don't have a thread on this, do we?

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With regard to the 80s Jazz, Sting comes to mind.

Now it's almost forgotten and I guess many of you might disagree anyway, but I think Branford Marsalis and especially Kenny Kirkland's best work is heard in Sting's Bring On The Night (1986).

 

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52 minutes ago, mhatta said:

I think Branford Marsalis and especially Kenny Kirkland's best work is heard in Sting's Bring On The Night (1986).

Steve Coleman also subbed for Branford on part of that tour, as seen here…

Edit: to say that I still enjoy Sting’s first 3 solo studio albums, i.e. the “jazz-adjacent” ones (along with the live Bring on the Night) — but after that, Gordon is just hit-n-miss for me (mostly miss).

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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2 hours ago, The Magnificent Goldberg said:

I think the first guy who got back into straight soul jazz was Lou Donaldson, whose 'Fine & dandy' album, done live in Japan with Red Garland in Feb 1980, was a flag waving  item. Four more, damn good, albums with the one and only Herman Foster followed.

MG,

Just to clarify: Are these the four Donaldson albums with Herman Foster that you're referring to?

- Sweet Poppa Lou (Muse)
- Back Street (Muse)
- Forgotten Man (Timeless)
- Live in Bologna, Vol. 1 (Timeless)  

If so, which one do you like best?  The two Muses look more appealing -- but that doesn't mean they are.

 

 

2 hours ago, The Magnificent Goldberg said:

In '82, Muse, having picked up the baton from Prestige in the early 70's, began to record Melvin Sparks and David Newman, but Joe Fields also realised that, in Houston Person, he had a producer as good as Bob Porter.

Interesting.  I don't think of Houston Person's productions as quite on the same high level as Bob Porter's in terms of consistency and quality. 

To my ears, Person's productions are hit-and-miss (some terrific, some not so much), whereas Porter's are almost always on the right-on-the-mark. 

Just my preference, I guess.

 

Edited by HutchFan

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