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Reviews: Bayeté, Sandra Rhodes and Sid Selvidge Arrive from Omnivore

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Bayete - Worlds Around the SunIf you’re looking for a record label to do your deep crate-digging for you, look no further than Omnivore Records. The musical archaeologists there have unearthed three all-but-unknown records from artists on the fringe. But these fresh and vital discoveries from Sid Selvidge, Sandra Rhodes and Todd Cochran a.k.a. Bayeté will likely leave you wondering, “How have I missed this music until now?”

Likely on the strength of his work on Bobby Hutcherson’s 1971 Blue Note LP Head On, composer-pianist Todd Cochran was signed to venerable jazz label Prestige. The very next year, he delivered Worlds Around the Sun, one-half of his shockingly small discography as a leader. Though very much of its time, the album took jazz fusion to another level with nods to John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock and even Bill Evans. Producer-writer-performer Cochran’s fresh approach is evident from the very first track, “It Ain’t.” It doesn’t shy away from reinventing the bop idiom for 1972, and you might be snapping your fingers to Cochran’s piano. Hutcherson (playing vibes and marimba throughout the album) adds to the dreamy soundscape, with tightly blended horns and winds creating an alternate-universe cosmic MOR. Solos on bass (James Leary III) and drums (Thabo Vincar, alias Michael Carvin) show off the musicians’ improvisational virtuosity. We know that “It Ain’t” – but what is it? Whatever it is, it’s mesmerizing.

The hypnotic groove of “Bayeté (Between Man and God),” inspired by Herbie Hancock’s African explorations, builds from an almost tribal rhythm of Carvin’s drums. At twelve minutes, it’s by far the longest track on the LP, and one of the funkiest, with Cochran on Rhodes and piano. It also takes in slithering sax and lively trumpet, for a fusion-meets-free jazz free-for-all. Similarly spiritual is “Njeri (Belonging to a Warrior),” featuring Hutcherson’s shimmering vibes and Hadley Callman’s atmospheric flute, with Cochran on piano.

The most famous track on Worlds Around the Sun is doubtless “Free Angela,” thanks to Santana’s 1974 live recording preserved on his Lotus album. Inspired by controversial activist Angela Davis (also the subject of songs from The Rolling Stones and John Lennon and Yoko Ono) the tight and funky track with Cochran on clavinet takes on the shape of a mini-suite. The main theme, with its chanted refrain, melodically and stylistically shifts dramatically at about the three-and-a-half minute mark, and then once more before the song’s close.

After the jump: more on Worlds, plus Sandra Rhodes and Sid Selvidge! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 4, 2014 at 11:41

Release Round-Up: Week of March 11

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Sid Selvidge - Cold of the MorningSid Selvidge, The Cold of the Morning (Omnivore)

A long out-of-print classic, produced by Big Star producer Jim Dickinson and featuring a killer set of tunes written or arranged by the late Memphis folk master (and father of Steve Selvidge, current guitarist of The Hold Steady, who produced this new reissue) and featuring six unreleased bonus tracks.

CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Todd Cochran - Worlds Around the SunBayeté, Worlds Around the Sun (Omnivore Recordings)

The debut album by jazz keyboardist Todd Cochran, known for his work with names as diverse as Carl Palmer, Peter Gabriel and Joey Scarbury, is released on CD for the first time with two bonus tracks from the vaults. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Songs Our Daddy Taught UsEverly Brothers, Songs Our Daddy Taught Us (Varese Vintage)

Varese expands the classic Everlys collection – recently covered song for song as Foreverly by Norah Jones and Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong – with six previously unissued alternate takes of tracks including “Barbara Allen,” “Roving Gambler,” “Down in the Willow Garden” and “Put My Little Shoes Away.”  Expect a review from Joe soon! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Chicago Live in JapanChicago, Live in Japan (Rhino)

A Japan-exclusive live set released in 1972 makes its first appearance on CD in almost 10 years. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Time for Judy CanovaJudy Canova, Time for Judy Canova: The Rare Recordings 1928-1962 (Sepia)

Sepia collects 27 rare sides from singing comedienne and Republic Pictures star Judy Canova beginning with tracks recorded in 1928 and ending with her final recordings made in 1962. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Lena on the Blue SideLena Horne, Lena on the Blue Side Plus Bonus Tracks (Sepia)

This 1962 album by Lena Horne makes its CD debut outside of Japan with eight bonus tracks!   All bonus tracks are rare singles also making their CD debut, including four songs from her Broadway musical Jamaica that were recorded with Neal Hefti in pop arrangements! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Hank Snow Souvenirs Country HitsHank Snow, Souvenirs/Big Country Hits (Sepia)

This two-fer presents two complete LPs from Canadian country singer Hank Snow and adds four bonus tracks Snow recorded with Anita Carter of the Carter Family! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

LoleattaThe Salsoul Orchestra, Street Sense: Expanded Edition / Loleatta Holloway, Loleatta Holloway: Expanded Edition (Big Break)

Salsoul Orchestra: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Loleatta Holloway: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

ICON Blue NoteVarious Artists, ICON: The Best of Blue Note (Blue Note/UMe)

With an ambitious Blue Note vinyl campaign underway, UMe also honors the jazz label with a new two-disc compilation as part of the ICON series. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Omnivore Spotlights Memphis Soul and Funky Fusion On Upcoming Reissues

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Sid Selvidge - Cold of the MorningCold weather got you down?  Omnivore Recordings is heating things up with a pair of gems – hidden no more – due on March 11.  The label will bring a lost Memphis classic from artist Sid Selvidge (and Big Star producer Jim Dickinson) to CD for the first time in over two decades, along with a funk-filled fusion excursion courtesy of Bayeté, a.k.a. Todd Cochran (writer of Santana’s “Free Angela”).

Though born in Mississippi, singer-guitarist Sid Selvidge was a fixture on the Memphis music scene right up through his death last year at the age of 69 following a long battle with cancer.  Founder and executive producer of the still-thriving Beale Street Caravan radio program, Selvidge’s recording career included albums for Stax and Elektra, as well as on his own Peabody label.  Selvidge played a key role in the recording and release of the late Alex Chilton’s first official solo album, 1979’s Like Flies on Sherbert, and his C.V. also included recordings by Cybill Shepherd and baseball all-star Tim McCarver!  The Cold of the Morning, recorded for Peabody in 1975, is soon to be arriving in an expanded and remastered edition by Omnivore.

For the album sessions, Selvidge was joined by Memphis stalwarts Mudboy and the Neutrons, and producer Dickinson on piano.  The eclectic tunestack included selections ranging from “Danny Boy” to “Then I’d Be Satisfied with Life” (also recorded by none other than Tiny Tim).  But the Cold of the Morning almost didn’t see the light of day.  Omnivore explains, “With a cover photo taken by William Eggleston, it was destined for greatness, but when Peabody Records’ benefactor decided not to put the record out at the last minute, he gave the rights to the recently pressed LP to Selvidge, who drove down to the plant, loaded up his car and distributed them himself. The album eventually found its way into regional stores and the national press, even reaching the Cashbox charts, and was enough to take Selvidge to New York, but life intervened, and bigger record deals were not in the cards.”

This expanded reissue has been produced with the cooperation of Selvidge’s son Steve of The Hold Steady, and features six previously unissued bonus tracks from the album sessions.  (The CD will contain the full 18 track playlist, while the LP has the original 12 tracks with a download card for the full 18 songs.  The initial LP pressing will be on translucent blue vinyl.  Finally, the album will also be available in digital form.) Journalist Bob Mehr of The Commercial Appeal provides in-depth new liner notes.  Steve Selvidge sums it up: “He said, ‘Look, I’ve made my classic record.  It was almost like he was apart from it. It really was the perfect capturing of the perfect moment, and it made for his most perfect statement.”

After the jump: the lowdown on Bayeté’s Worlds Around the Sun! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 15, 2014 at 09:46