Techno Day 2013

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Starting in 1985, the first techno album on Metroplex

Model 500- No UFOs: We all know this one, bouncy pads using diminished modes
Model 500- Night Drive- Classic “Time Space Transmat” vocals. the vocals here are what make a unique track. And excellent subtle synth use

Channel One- Technicolor- Still on metroplex. Juan Atkins Kraftwerk ripoff, but more hiphop/pop inspired drums. V 80s sound.

Model 500- Play it cool- Excellent intro, some weird operatic vocals and even a guitar solo. Very

Model 500 – Testing 1-2- Roland 303 bass sound, good classic techno open
Kreem – Triangle Of Love- First Kevin Saunderson track. Vocals are pretty cheesy but its got like a Eurythmics kind of bassline that is interesting.
X-ray- Let’s Go- On Transmat records, first song from Derrick May. Good pads arpeggio and drum machine work. Cow Bell.

model 500- Make Some Noise, has a little acid from the 303

Triple XXX – The Bedroom Scene- Juan Atkins, using that classic Uh Uh Baby sample. Great snares here.

Flintstones – Party Race- Juan Atkins, the first scratch samples we’ve seen tonight. Some reverse playing too.

Model 500 – Sound Of Stereo- Not great but has some sweeping digital-y bass stabs. The metallic vocals are pretty boring.

Intercity- Groovin Without Doubt- The most HOusey of the night, First Entry from KMS (Kevin Sainderson)

Blake Baxter- When We Used to Play- Good pads, Kiyo says its kind of like deep house. Housey bass.

Rhythm is Rhythm- Nude Photo- Classic round phat pads here, classic track.

Suburban Knight- James Pennington- Great long drawn out bass on diminished modes, very cool. *BEST TRACK*

Rhythm is Rhythm- Strings Of life- CLASSICCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKK

Model 500- Inerference- Getting into Acid!!! Awesome track *BEST*
Reese and Santonion- Bounce Your Body to the Box- Alright

Inner City- Big Fun- CLASSICKCKCKCKCKCKCKKCKCK

Reese and Santonio- Sounds very lost in key and mashed together. Do not like.
Bang the Party- Release your Body- On Transmat Records, Very poppy and a little house. Not very techno.

Rhythim Is Rhythim- It is what it is- BEST MUSIC Good acidy synths and fun pads. Juan and Mayday together on this one.

COULDNT REVIEW A FEW TRACKS BECAUSE WE WUZ SOCIALIZING

Symbols & InstrumentsMood– Some digital vocals and harp samples. Soft feel.

Nexus 21- Life Keeps Moving: From a british techno duo on KMS records. Good basslines, female vocals are a bit out of place.

K Alexi Shelby- All For Lee-sah- Some acid 303 stays in the background. Interesting chopped vocals.

R Tyme- Illusion-( Juan Atkins) this is some back to basics techno done simply and eloquently.

Rhythim is Rhythim- Beyond the Dance- Excellent drums, subtle strings that are well played but ultimately sound added after the fact.

Rona Johnson – By Your Side- This is really bad poorly mixed pop. *WORST MUSIC*
DJ Reckless Ron – Here’s Your Chance Now Dance- Good techno, excellent bass, creepy strings *GOOD MUSIC*

Beyond All Praise – Hooked On The Hype- Baaaad Rap

C & M Connection Another Night – Very Housey, big pianos.
Octave One Featuring Lisa NewberryI Believe– Balearic house predecessor or at least very early on the scene

Psyche –Crack Down-More Balearic strings, pretty good techno drums. Random samples from female vocals.

Suburban Knights*The Art Of Stalking– Really good again, some kind of hiccup in the bass almost like a stutter.

Model 500 Ocean To Ocean – Decent drums and bass but clashes with the cheerful melody

Rhythim Is RhythimThe Beginning– Pretty spacy synths that mix well together.
Joey Beltram_ Energy Flash- Good beginning of the 2nd wave. Sounds like he used an actual synthesizer. The beginning of techno as we think of it today *IMPORTANT TRACK*
BFC Evolution– A Carl Craig track using those long Balaeric house strings/pads. Most creative drum beats so far.

Fade To BlackIn Synch– Getting a bit more minimal but well crafted. Some samples played in reverse.

Underground Resistance w/ Yolanda*Your Time Is Up– As the name may indicate this is back to poorly crafted housyness.

Underground Resistance Sonic– He gets lucky with tinny synths and acid bass matching up a few times but in general it is poorly mixed and written without care for the key.

PLUS8001 States of Mind – Elements of Tone- Very simple yet well produced. white techno.

Kenny Larkin, We Shall Overcome– Alright drums really inappropriate use of that MLK soundbite

Cybersonik, Technarchy– Heading more towards minimal techno monotony

F.U.S.E., Approach & Identify– Nice detuned xylophone and fairly nuanced drums

Speedy J, Intercontinental– Good long strings, more melodic and skillfully produced

Daft Punk- Lose Yourself to Dance (harmonic analysis)

This is one of my favorite tracks on the new Daft Punk album, Random Access Memories. It showcases some brilliant playing and chord use from Nile Rodgers, who is famous for infusing jazz theory into pop music.

Generally Daft Punk songs appeal to me in that they are deceptively simple. That is to say, they sound complex but are actually harmonically straightforward. If you look at one of their original compositions that did not sample any other records,  such as Something About Us, this becomes apparent. SAU is B flat Major, A minor, D minor, G Major all the way through, but it is masked slightly because their lead synth lines are generally based around the 3rd or 5th or 6th scale degree instead of the tonic.  The bass gives away the chords because it is nearly 100% tonic notes.

Rodgers takes this one step further. The chord progression in Lose Yourself to dance is Bb minor, Ab major, Eb minor, and F#/Gb Major. As a classically trained musician Bb minor is a terrible key (relative minor to C# major yuck) but for guitarists from a rock or jazz background I suppose it is just a matter of shifting things up or down slightly on the frets. On top of that, he adds a little “melody” bouncing between Ab and F, which continues over every chord. I would label it more as an inverse pedal point (I LOVE these) than a melody, but that is getting deep. Anyway here is where it gets interesting:

F is the 5th of Bb, and Ab is the minor 7th of Bb, turning the first chord into Bb minor 7

F is the 6th of Ab, and Ab is of course the tonic of Ab turning the second chord into Ab Major 6

F is the 2nd of Eb, and Ab is the 4th of Eb, making the third chord a Eb minor 11 (one of Rogers’ favorites)

F is the 7th of F#, and Ab is the 2nd of F#, making the last chord F# Major 9

I’ve looked a bunch online for the real chords for this song, and didn’t find much worthwhile (most dudes transposed it to A minor or something). Maybe the real chords are too intimidating. Nile hides all his jazz into little riffs that are almost subliminal to the audience, instead of laying it all out which might be overwhelming (although I just find it awesome).  Check out his youtube video where he explains the actual theory behind the song “I want your love”. In it he plays it once with all the chords completely laid out and it just sounds gorgeous.  He’s a true jazz man for sure.

Milesophiles

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A couple clarifying notes on our Miles birthday marathon, which you can read the notes on below:

-We listened to at least 10 minutes from each year, sometimes more in big years like 69. If any years were skipped I noted that in bold.

-The whole event lasted 8 hours which wasn’t too bad

-After repeatedly listening to boring or bad songs I sometimes turned to my fellow Miles fanatic Brendan to help describe exactly why it is terrible.

-The albums are in order of year recorded, not released, which is why it may be slightly different than what you see on wikipedia

-I’ll be editing this list slightly so that it is clearer which albums I thought were best and which were not so good. After listening to a big period of similar music it becomes difficult to compare it to earlier styles.

Thanks for following!

Miles Davis Day 2013

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We are listening to 10 mins of Miles Davis from each year he was active as a recording artist. Starting in 1947 and ending in 1991.

8:05 – Started listening to Sippin at the Bells and Milestones from off of First Miles. Short tracks, lots of outtakes, sounds like everything was recorded with one microphone. No bass. Parker overpowers Davis on a lot of the track. Max Roach on drums. Some blues with clarinet and a terrible pops singer passing as a tru blusmen.

8:15- Chasin the bird off of Enter the Cool. We got some bebop with parker and miles playing vs eachother. Budo. Youtube says “These hos sound like they were getting dopesick and wanted to hurry the fuck up end it and get to the trap for that Bobby brown”

8:50- We had pizza related troubles, but that is sorted out and now we’re listening to Birth of the Cool.  Israel was a pretty good track. Amazing at how much more is written out, with multiple instruments playing the same line in unison. More laid back tempo than mid 40s. Jeru and Rocker were in the same vein, Darn that Dream was too cheese for us. Boplicity was full of friendly harmonies and super tight arrangements.

9:00-Birdland Sessions, this is a live album. Recorded in 1950 but sounds like pre birth of the cool jazz. Bebop that is very fast. We heard Full Nelson, which was an older composition, and Max is Making Wax, a reference to Roach. A bit more harmonically complex than earlier bebop but still very fast.

9:15- “Dig”- Bluing – Brendan says this is pretty aimless. Nick says this is what people generally think of when they think of jazz. Conception is better, faster, interesting chord changes and lots of unison playing. Even some tempo changes. Good track!

9:30- “Four”- Weirdo sounded like a hardbop version of a simple blues, had some unexpected chord changes and a more aggressive feel than earlier cool tunes. Tune Up follows in a similar vein but is faster. Like a more complex version of bebop. Davis retains his more abrasive sound that was lost on birth of the cool.

9:45- “Four”- We also listened to Bag’s Groove but these weren’t that interesting. We get more harmonic complexity than bebop but the melodies were barroom-ish and forgettable mostly.

10:00- “The New Miles Davis Qunitet”- Just Squeeze Me is very very slow. Starts out with a good piano hook that set it apart from some previous work. Coltrane and Paul Chambers is with him here, so we get high level solos from him.  Red Garland on Keys. The Quintet does sound significantly stripped down from birth of the cool

10:15- “Round About Midnight”- Ah-Leu-Cha (Nick’s pick for best cool jazz period track)  showcases advanced melodic harmonies that only davis and trane could have done at the time. The two instruments weave together to create something that sounds like a solo but is actually the head melody. Ahmad’s Blues is played by Garland and then there is a bowed bass solo.

10:30- “Miles Ahead”- This album sounds like a weird james bond soundtrack. It is fairly well arranged (by Gil Evans) but it isn’t really jazz at all. Miles plays the flugelhorn.  There are 5 trumpet players on most of the tracks.

10:45- “Ascenseur”- Nothing memorable it seems in this year. A lot of standards recorded on a few different albums, and some ultra bebop that is fast and without any harmonization. Davis just farts a solo out of his ass for 10 mins.

11:00- “Kind of Blue”- Blue and Green was very slow, a lot of the tracks on this album are quite obvious and boring so we switched to milestones. Dr. Jackie (Nick’s late 50s pick) has an awesome head with long long lines of fast notes and irregular rests that are played in unison. Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley are playing sax together on some tracks on this album.  Sketches of Spain, the third album we listened to in 1959, was another Gil Evans arrangement that had more interesting elements than the bland sounds from Miles Ahead. He utilizes some Spainish flamenco scales and middle-eastern percussion to add more texture, but all in all it sounds a bit like a disney cartoon.

11:20-  “Live in Stockholm”- There was a Scandinavian tour so he recorded a lot of live albums this year. This one was pretty uninspired. All the albums contain material we have heard before, sometimes on multiple albums.

11:30- Another year with not many interesting studio albums. Some Day My Prince Will Come is disney bullshit. Night at the Blackhawk was mostly repeated tracks but Neo was a bit different, in 3/4 and hard bop.

11:40- Seven Steps to Heaven is the most advanced track of the year. Fairly uptempo hard bop with an interesting head, using a lot of space and dense notes. Recording on the bass is more rich, low notes hit hard. Coltrane is gone, but Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams and Ron Carter now get their time with Davis.

11:50- 1964 had a lot of live albums again, but his band now had Wayne Shorter.

12:00- “ESP” Finally some new material. Brendan: “Davis is playing mostly the same style as he always has but Carter and William’s playing is what changes the music. Carter is inches away from playing slap bass”.  Carter does take steps back from the bassline in key moments to lean on pedal points and build tension. Williams has some great drum solos. 81 is a loose bossa groove with creative bass lines. Piano harmonies are present. Shorter seems more comfortable to hang on dissonant tones in his solos.

12:10- “Miles Smiles” (Nick’s modal jazz pick) is another good album with all original tracks. I believe Miles Smiles is a bit of an ironic title because these are all deep modal tunes. You can hear some free jazz influence, especially in the tonic-ambiguous harmonies. Excellent bass and drums from Williams and Carter.

12:25- “Nefertiti”- Miles gets deeper into modal jazz. A lot of the bass and piano riffs get chromatic. However, there are still long passages played in unison by Shorter and Davis. Sorcerer sounds more groove based and was recorded a few months before Nefertiti.

12:40 “Filles de Kilimanjaro” Our first guitar of the night!!! First bass guitar too. On Miles in the Sky we hear the first guitar. Most of these tracks are distanced from the bebop form of playing the head and then doing solos, they are written more like a classical piece. Little Stuff has an 11/4 time signature.

1:00 “In A Silent Way (Complete Sessions)- Through way of our actions we have learned that IASW was only shitty easy listening because of the editing. In listening to the complete sessions, Directions was an excellent example of the raw jazz rock that was about to come from the early 1970s.  Dave Holland plays bass guitar, and has a good part on The Ghetto Walk. On the complete sessions from bitches brew there are some slow tracks such as Yaphet that would have been very relaxing compared to other tracks on BB, but it retains the spirit of BB through the spacey electric organ and long strung out trumpet tones. Also strange asian instruments like er-hu.

1:20 “Live Evil”- Brenday “Sideshow John McLaughlin is all over this one”. Long guitar solos at the beginning of tracks. Jack Johnson has some really strange outtakes worth checking out if you like everything to be distorted and sent through a wah wah pedal.

1:30- “What I Say” volume 1 and 2- More Wah and rock

1:40- “Complete On the Corner Sessions”- We get more solid groove here but we’re way far away from jazz. Maiysha starts smooth and continues to be smooth for longer than we expected. Really top notch groove shit here.

1:50- “Black Satin”- This was a big jam session in Shinjuku. Brendan: “It progressed more like a (…)fungal growth than a musical composition”

2:00- “Get Up With it” Rated X (Nick’s Fusion Pick) is an amazing track with an organ blasting out the same few notes for minutes at a time. The percussion is a jumbled mess of amazingness with a frantic driving bassline. Brendan “Charlie Parker: ‘I taught you well Miles'” Highlight of the mid 70s so far. “Dark Magus” is pretty out there.

2:15- “Another Unity” sounded like everyone was fumbling around on their instruments. On Pangaea there is more of a controlled groove held together with guitar and flute.

2:25- “Lost Sessions” Like Chic and not very good. Brendan: ” This is Fucking Horrible” Really sounds devoid of any influence from Davis, generic and cheesy disco pop.

For the next 5 1/2 years (’75-’81) there are no official recordings

2:36- “We Want Miles- This is a lightweight version of what he was doing in ’74. On The Man With the Horn we are treated to some awful tinny slap bass and a drum that sounds like it was programmed on a 50 dollar yamaha keyboard.

2:45- “Star People” Starts with really spacy synths and then, in a baffling move, switches into some painfully slow blues. The awful percussion and poor choice in bass continue.

2:50- “Decoy” (Worst album of the night) is very 80s fusion with some songs that sound like they were programmed by a 5 year old. Robot 415 was rock bottom for Brendan and possibly equal to his (Brendan’s) best musical productions. The sounds from the electronic instruments are not only boring but also played in an unskillful way. Miles Davis sounds equally bad. Truly some of the worst music from a professional musician I have ever heard.

3:00- “You’re Under Arrest”- Some parts of the album are listenable, but it just sounds like a worse version of mahavishnu orchestra from a decade ago. The digital instruments and recording methods make it sound very thin and compact. We get some acceptable slap bass. Miles reads out some police related things over the first track, and it sounds ridiculous.

3:10-“tutu” Again some of the instruments have a unique 80s quality and it is well-produced, but it is still pretty bland. His playing is better on this album and he is more involved in the performances.

3:20-” Isle of Wight” There is a cover of Bitches Brew, he at least uses similar instrumentation to the original and doesn’t use digital instruments. But the players are not as creative or skilled as the original members. Music from Siesta is a soundtrack that sounds like sketches of spain was shit out of an apple II.

3:30-” Aura” Fairly competent but plodding jazz rock. There are some interesting stabs from some of the synths.

3:45- “The Hot Spot” Soundtrack to the B movie the hot spot. The track harry and dolly is absurdly slow with what sounds like a baby ukelele pumping out some tinny tones every so often, and John Lee Hooker randomly moaning every so often. Those themes run throughout the album.

3:55-“Dingo” (Most boring music of the night) Some alright songwriting but by this time most of the trumpet lines were played by other trumpet players. We were trying to guess who on the album was actually Miles and who was the decoy. “Doo-Bop” was his last studio album. He hated this album so much he died to avoid finishing it. Just generic hiphop loops with a meandering trumpet played over it, probably in one take. Some terrible rap which ironically includes the line “Let me tell you about my man called Miles, He’s gonna be around for a long while”.

Doo Bop was Davis’ last album. Happy 87th birthday Miles and here’s to 87 more!!! 

Charles Mingus- Sue’s Changes (1975 live set)

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This deserves attention. Off of Mingus’ first of two “Changes” records. Mingus and Don Pullen are both incredible but Pullen steals the show. Some of the best free-jazz piano I’ve ever heard, not that this track is especially free but he gets there and had been there before on recordings with previous artists like Giuseppi Logan. I love the lens flare and the angles the cameraman pulls. Mingus’ Bass is gorgeous (the instrument, not the playing, although obviously they both qualify for the term) and somehow the terrible mic setup just makes his sound more charming. Sue’s Changes.

Herbie Hancock- Crossings

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The synth elements on almost all of Sleeping Giant are extremely subdued. This massive track is more ethnically influenced than electronically, with some random delay effects on Hancock’s playing spacing things out every so often. He lays out modal chords for 30 seconds to minutes at a time, freely improving upon them in ways that often don’t harmonically match up.  This track needs to be broken up to be analyzed accurately.

0:00-2:30 is mostly introduction and building of tension through ethnic percussion

2:30- 7:30 we get a taste of our first theme, a groove that drops in and out between Hancock’s solos

at 7:30 we hear the most cohesive “chorus” on this entire track. A few strung out bass notes and slow clashing chords from the electric piano. This builds into a gushing major ballad with harmonized horn and sax. Henderson has an excellent airy tone on this album, like baby’s humming.

at 11:00 we’re back into groove mode; this time driven by some blusey piano echoed by wah wahed keyboard. They repeat the same notes verbatim for over a minute. It’s cool though, and we get some transcendent waves blasting from the Moog as we’re taken into darker territory. It mimics the transition a bit from 7:30 and then jumps into a new groove at 14:00. This time we get more funky with a bass guitar line and some shakers and muted cowbell adding texture in the background.

Around 17:00 we call back to that uneasy transitional chorus, this time with a delayed sax solo.

18:30 gives us a theme remarkably similar to the ethnic one we started things with (recapitulation?). Finally there is just enough time to hear one more eerie slow section, which ends with more of a sultry feel as the wind instruments play up and down the first few steps of a minor scale.

It’s a great track and I’ve listened to it about a dozen times the past week or so. I’m still trying to decide if it was actually necessary to leave it at such an unwieldy length instead of splitting it up. There was obviously a good deal of composition done on it, so it wasn’t just a jam session gone wrong.  I’ve been looking at the cover, imagining a river crossing, and trying to think of the story Sleeping Giant tells in that universe. This thing is damn near sonata form and it deserves some kind of liner notes explaining more about its goal.

Quasar was written by Bennie Maupin, the sax and clarinet player on Bitches Brew. This thing is from a future we have not yet reached. Flawless basslines, luscious Rhodes chords and flute played in harmony, and incredible synth lines from Gleeson on the Moog.

If you’re not aware of Patrick Gleeson,  he played on a few Elektra and Prestige records in the 70s and 80s as well as designing soundtracks for some notable movies from the era. Originally he was just going to set up the Moog for Herbie but then H heard his playing and wanted him on the record in person. The uneasy high fluttering and low wobble he coaxes from his synth were probably completely alien to a lot of the listeners of this record in 1972. Groundbreaking track, and more electronically advanced than anything we had heard from Miles up until this year.

Water Torture is also very good but I think it is hard to outclass Quasar.  Overall this record has the same sensibilities as Mwandishi but it is more technically advanced and arguably contains better writing. This is probably one of the most important albums of the era, and you can tell the Moog is still kind of seen as more of a trick than an actual instrument. When the musicians finally let it steal some of the spotlight some completely incredible moments are created.

Crossings gets 9/10 Quasars (is that some kind of interstellar currency?) Sleeping Giant indeed.

HH Crossings B

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quasar

Donald Byrd- Black Byrd (1973)

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I only began to listen seriously to Byrd after his recent passing, but man has it been a worthwhile trip. Byrd seems to love being on the cutting edge of what is hip, but always keeps a sense of groovy and melodic music. Unsurprisingly I’ve really dug his late 60s-mid 70s stuff, and this is smack dab in the middle of that.

From 72-77 Miles Davis made a concentrated effort to market his music to African-Americans, and Byrd also hitches his train to that horse with an appropriate title and cover art.  Unlike Davis, Byrd actually succeeds in connecting to an audience of Rn’B fans, and Black Byrd became the best-selling album on the Blue Note label. This is mostly attributed to Byrd’s complete trust in Larry Mizell, the producer that shaped the popular 70s groove sound.  Black Byrd is unmistakably a motown/jazz mashup, which you may be into and you may not, but Byrd absolutely makes it work.

My favorite track after the smooth introduction is Black Byrd, which actually starts with some pretty interesting synth elements before going into shaft-soundtrack mode. It pops in and out of the classic funky groove, with some free guitar noodling and blatant repeater effects on the vocals. The words are unimportant but the male singers form a perfect harmony that is unusual for a jazz record.  I wanted more synth elements here; they would have made this a 10/10 track.

Love’s So Far Away is well-oiled perfection, with luscious rhodes, smooth horn harmonies and a subdued trumpet and flute lead line. Once again, it teases some electronic tricks at the beginning which are then forgotten. Pure liquid butter poured into your ear holes. Don’t fight it.

Mr. Thomas hits a bit harder and funkier but that is not Byrd’s forte. Sky High we see a return to soft harmonies between flute and the horns. This would all be a bit cheesy if it weren’t so perfectly executed. Or maybe it is cheesy, but I don’t care.

Slop Jar Blues finally has a synth line through the entire song, but it is also the worst and most hackneyed of the bunch. Everyone knows 12 bar blues, well, I guess this is 4 bar blues. They must charge you by the measure for synth leads, because Byrd sure is stingy with them.

Where Are We Going adds in some stank piano to the velvety equation, which actually works pretty well. And then it’s all over. Where is all the electronic influence of 3 years ago? I guess Byrd would tell you to listen to Electric Byrd and be happy that you got that much out of him. Places and Spaces in 1975 saw more of a return to electric elements, but unfortunately for Byrd, that was also nearing the end of Blue Note Records. Once BNR folded it seemed like most jazz musicians from the post-bop years were headed for doo-bop territory.


Black Byrd is an elegant specimen  of Jazz-Funk, but I wish he hadn’t shed all he learned from Electric Byrd. Experimental*Groove+Funk  is a powerful formula, and Byrd seems wary of combining the three. Maybe he thinks we can’t handle it. Black Byrd gets 7.5/10 slop jars. Listen to all of Byrd’s 70s work. I haven’t heard Stepping Into Tomorrow yet and I have unrealistically high hopes for the man on that one. He’s got all the pieces…


Bill Evans- Since We Met (Last Fake Post!)

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Been getting lazy on the full reviews but some of my CDs last week were not so interesting. Anyway this is much better than any of that stuff. Evans and crew showcases why I love 70s Jazz. Great recording quality, clean and loose playing with vast harmonic range. Around 17 minutes in it just gets painfully good, starting with See-Saw. This is probably worth owning to be honest but for now I’ll post the youtube link. Enjoy.

Cannonball Adderley – Love, Sex, and the Zodiac (1974)

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As I was flipping through the Adderley discography today I found this gem that received the lowest review scores of any jazz album from the era I’ve seen. That tempted me and hopefully it does the same for you. Recorded in 1970, it really isn’t bad and can be kinda cool in short bursts. The formula is: Cannonball ranges from funk to ballads and bebop while DJ Rick Holmes speaks about women and their sexuality depending on what month they were born in. This goes on for an hour. Enjoy?

http://royayersproject.com/2011/05/cannonball-adderley-love-sex-zodiac-1974/