Kendra Steiner Editions

February 16, 2019

upcoming reviews in Ugly Things #50

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 6:36 pm

The deadline for material intended for UGLY THINGS issue #50 is next week, and I’ve just finished the final review–another quick edit, and it will be on its way to editor/publisher Mike Stax.

I have 7 reviews of 8 items in the next UT:

various artists, NORMAN PETTY STUDIOS, VAULT SERIES VOLUME 6: 1965-1969 (Nor-Va-Jak CD)

norman petty 6

 

various artists, MOD JAZZ RIDES AGAIN (Ace-Kent, UK CD)

mod jazz

 

various artists, THAT’LL FLAT GIT IT!, VOLUME 30, RCA VICTOR RECORDS (Bear Family, Germany CD)

rca

 

various artists, FIDDLE  NOIR: AFRICAN AMERICAN FIDDLERS ON EARLY PHONOGRAPH RECORDS, 1925-1949 (Old Hat LP)

FiddleNoirHomePage10-18

 

JOHN LEE HOOKER, EARLY RECORDINGS, DETROIT AND BEYOND, VOLUMES 1 and 2 (Capitol/Third Man, two 2-LP sets)

johnleehooker_cover

 

ELVIS PRESLEY, THE ‘VIVA LAS VEGAS’ SESSIONS (RCA–Follow That Dream, Denmark, 3-cd box)

elvis viva FTD box

 

THE NOMADS, HITS OF THE NOMADS (Super Oldies)

6 panel wallet

Whenever a new issue of Ugly Things comes out, people put aside whatever they are doing for a few days and read the massive issue cover to cover. I’m proud to have been a part of the UT team for over 30 years. Mike Stax and UT have literally changed the way that 50’s-70’s edgy rock and roll is perceived and understood, much like the way that Something Weird Video affected the way that exploitation films and regional cinema are understood. Others have fought that good fight–the Kicks Magazine/Norton Records crew (Miriam Linna and the late Billy Miller); Chris Stigliano at Black to Comm/Blog to Comm (with whom I’ve also worked for 30+ years)–too over the decades, but Ugly Things has soldiered on, widened its distribution, and become a major player in the archival roots/punk/garage music world.

You can order the recent issues of the magazine and their music releases (it’s still 100% print and will remain so) at    ugly-things.com

Remember, the various artists compilations are in the very back of the magazine each issue, and 4 of my 7 reviews this time are of compilations. Go to back of the magazine or you might not notice most of my pieces! Thankfully, since everyone devours UT cover to cover, I don’t have to worry about people not getting around to reading my compilation reviews, which I might worry about in some lesser magazine!

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February 15, 2019

Kickstarter fund for the release of 7 BILL AND BOB silent Western adventure shorts (1920-22), with the adolescent Bob Steele

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 6:57 pm

bill and bob

Great news….Grapevine Video (I’ve been buying films from them since the 1980’s and the VHS era) has a new Kickstarter project to release 7 of the legendary 1-reel ADVENTURES OF BILL AND BOB silent shorts, dating from 1920-22 and originally released by Pathe. These are the earliest films of future Western star BOB STEELE (real name Bob Bradbury, Jr.), who is paired with his twin brother Bill….and the films were directed by a western great himself, Robert N. Bradbury, Bob’s father, perhaps best-known for directing 12 of the 16  John Wayne ‘Lone Star’ westerns in the 1933-35 period.

As a lifelong fan of Bob Steele and his director father, I have been wanting to see some of these since I first heard of them 40+ years ago….now, we finally can, thanks to our friends at Grapevine Video in Arizona. The shorts seem to be focused on the boys’ outdoor adventures–fishing, investigating wildlife in their area, tracking and trapping animals, etc.

bob steele

If you get in on the ground floor, you can guarantee the release of these films AND get your own DVD copy for only $15 postpaid (it goes up to $20 after the initial period). The campaign ends on Monday 18 March 2019.

Here is the link for the Kickstarter project: 1920-22 BILL AND BOB film shorts

The_Adventures_of_Bob_and_Bill_(1920)_-_1

I’m very much looking forward to experiencing these rare shorts when they are released…I’m sure Mary Anne and I will get a bottle of champagne and make an evening of it (freshly made guacamole will, I hope, also be involved!), transporting ourselves back 99 years with the richness of detail and immediacy than only the cinema can provide. Director Robert N. Bradbury was a master director of B-westerns, so it will be exciting to see what he can do with outdoor shorts in the early 1920’s….and since these films star his own children, I’m guessing he will bring his A-game to them!

February 8, 2019

Ernesto Diaz-Infante KSE albums reissued on Bandcamp

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 2:34 pm

ernesto-forbill-2

Very happy to announce that Ernesto Diaz-Infante, acclaimed West Coast guitar innovator, has re-issued some of his KSE albums digitally through his Bandcamp page. Ernesto did a number of albums for KSE, both solo and with collaborators such as Lisa Cameron, in the last 9 years, and they covered a lot of ground, as he would create certain methodological parameters within which he would work for each project, and he would bring a strong discipline, but at the same time, a free-wheeling creative sense, to each one. I can attest that I would receive many e-mails and texts in the first few months of release of each Ernesto Diaz-Infante album, telling me how much people were enjoying the albums, how they would put them on “repeat” for entire days, etc. When he released his first album with KSE, EMILIO, Brad Kohler texted me the day after he receiving it, “sign this man to a long-term contract immediately!”

With Ernesto on the West Coast doing a regular series of experimental guitar albums for the label, and Tom Crean on the East Coast doing a series of equally impressive albums taking the guitar into new territory, I felt that that KSE was doing a good job continuing in the tradition of the labels that issued the old Derek Bailey and Fred Frith and Hans Reichel and Sonny Sharrock that enriched my earlier life so much.

Presently, there are three of Ernesto’s KSE albums available on Bandcamp. I’ll provide a link for each, and you can also look up the name of each in the search box here on the KSE blog and read the original write-up about the album.

ernesto lovers_0001

THE LOVERS ESCAPE / LOS AMANTES ESCAPAN (originally released 1 January 2018)

http://ernestodiaz-infante.bandcamp.com/album/the-lovers-escape-los-amantes-escapan

 

ernesto album cover

WISTFUL ENTRANCE, WISTFUL EXIT (originally released 1 August 2014)

http://ernestodiaz-infante.bandcamp.com/album/wistful-entrance-wistful-exit

 

ernesto

EMILIO (originally released 1 January 2011)

http://ernestodiaz-infante.bandcamp.com/album/emilio

These albums make excellent companions–and I have friends who are painters and poets who listen to the albums while they work. I know I have put them on “repeat” while working on poetry! The downloads are reasonably priced, less than the original albums, and you can have them available on your computer or device in less than a minute!

Thanks to Ernesto Diaz-Infante for working with KSE on so many excellent albums. He was also the headlining artist at the KSE 6th Anniversary Concert at the Salvage Vanguard Theater in Austin in 2012, performing a trenchant solo set (based on Emilio) and a duo set with Lisa Cameron and Lee Dockery, the memories of which are still fresh in the minds of all who attended!

KSE APRIL 2012 POSTER

February 6, 2019

thoughts on Jack Kerouac’s SOME OF THE DHARMA

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 1:38 pm

JACK KEROUAC, SOME OF THE DHARMA

composed 1953-1956, published 1997 by Viking

8″ x 11″, 420 pages, hardcover and paperback available

some

Although Jack Kerouac has always been an essential author to me, I’ve never taken him to be any kind of model, and he himself would be the last one to ever present himself as such. An EXAMPLE, yes–but not a model. Someone who blows the rent money at the racetrack can be an example that’s negative–someone who follows their own quixotic artistic quest can be an example of many things on many levels, some good, some bad, some mixed, and really the goodness or badness is in the eye of the beholder.

People who criticize the misogyny or the over-reliance on leaps of faith or the lapses into sentimentality in Kerouac’s fiction are missing the point–he presented the 1940’s/1950’s male psyche whole and unvarnished and unedited, with all the ugliness intact. He did not edit it out and spray the finished work with Airwick. He was not concerned about making the narrative persona admirable or hip or conforming to any socially-approved norm of the counter-culture. He presented the character in all its nakedness and with all its inconsistencies, biases, pockets of ugliness, non-rational clinging to blind faith and cliche. With each passing decade, such a glimpse into the bare-naked male psyche of the generation who came to maturity in the 1940’s is of even more value, and it becomes more crystal-clear the more distance we have from it. What Kerouac provides us is almost like a case-study, or the kind of psychological study of a human subject that Gertrude Stein might have done when she was studying under William James.

Speaking of Gertrude Stein, I’m not sure how much Stein Kerouac read, and which works of hers he was familiar with, but his works also often have the transcription-of-subvocal-mind-speech qualities we associate with Stein, though the results are quite different. This quality is strongest in the less commercial Kerouac pieces such as TRISTESSA or THE SUBTERRANEANS or VISIONS OF CODY, the ones I’ve always valued most.

That quality is front and center in the 400+ page SOME OF THE DHARMA. While the initial purpose of the work was to present to Allen Ginsberg as a kind of free-associational study guide to Buddhism 101, the end result is quite unique….400+ pages, each composed in the 8″ x 10″ format, using the page as a canvas, in the manner of open-field poetic composition. The content is essentially whatever crosses Kerouac’s mind during his study of and free-wheeling meditations on Buddhist study. It is meant to be an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink inventory of thoughts, associations, puns, self-reflection, reading notes, notes for future studies, notes to oneself, behavioral observations, reading lists, paraphrases of religious texts, etc. Nothing is excluded, nothing is checked for traditional concepts of “accuracy”— it’s a transcription of thought, of consciousness (hence the Gertrude Stein reference above).

It should also be emphasized that we are presented with 400+ separate compositions-for-the-page, 400 open-field (to a large extent) works within this book. To me at least, as an open-field poet myself, that in itself is an amazing thing. This is not a book to read from cover to cover. I dip into it and essentially dialogue with the page, one page at a time, and I’ve been doing that for 22 years since the book was first published in hardback. I have a copy at home and a copy at my office at work. With the publication of some of poet John Wieners’s poetic journals in forms that seek to replicate Wieners’s layout on the page, and the strong interest in those works (which I have also spent much time with), I’d think that SOME OF THE DHARMA would have commanded more attention from commentators/readers than it has. As with most non-traditional, long-form, book-length literary works, I wonder if people just don’t know what to do with this work. It falls into no recognizable genre. You can’t point to previous works which laid a path for it to step into.

Take for instance the review it received at Kirkus Reviews, a relatively staid and unimaginative service aimed at librarians. I’ll quote some lines from that, but interrupt  here and there with my own comments in all-caps:

” Kerouac is unable to keep his mind on track, resulting in a work that’s ultimately chaotic. His technique seems sound enough: He takes a classic Buddhist philosophical statement and then decodes it for his own use.”   YES, I CAN ACCEPT THAT. IT IS MEANT TO BE “CHAOTIC,” AS OUR MINDS TEND TO BE WHEN NOT SELF-CONSCIOUSLY INTENDING TO FOCUS.

“Unfortunately, his interpretations are usually far from the point, as Kerouac is unable to separate Hinduism, Taoism, and even Catholicism from Buddhism, with repeated incorrect assessments of how the Tao affects Buddhahood (it does not) or how Jesus was a Buddha-like figure (by most accounts he was not).”  THIS IS FAULTING THE BOOK FOR WHAT IT IS NOT SETTING OUT TO DO. IT’S ONE MAN’S EXPERIENCING OF THESE TEXTS, OF THIS TRADITION. HE BRINGS HIS OWN BIAS TO THE STUDY. WE ARE EXPERIENCING HIS EXPERIENCING OF THIS MATERIAL, FOLLOWING THE WANDERINGS OF HIS THOUGHT AND HIS ATTEMPTING TO CONNECT THE MATERIAL TO KNOWN ELEMENTS FROM HIS BACKGROUND, READINGS, AND UPBRINGING. KEROUAC IS NOT WRITING ANYTHING DOCTRINAIRE HERE–HE DID THAT IN HIS WAKE UP BOOK, WHICH WAS A DRY PARAPHRASING OF BUDDHIST SOURCES. SOME OF THE DHARMA IS MEANT TO BE CHAOTIC, SELF-CONTRADICTORY, GOING DOWN BLIND PATHWAYS AND MAYBE EVEN FINDING DEAD-ENDS AND TURNING AROUND AGAIN. THAT IS PART OF THE BEAUTY AND UNIQUENESS OF THIS WORK. ALSO, KEROUAC WAS ALWAYS TRYING TO RECONCILE DIFFERENT RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS. HE DID NOT DO THAT IN A SCHOLARLY WAY IN THE MANNER OF, SAY, A THOMAS MERTON OR AN ALAN WATTS. OF COURSE, TO DO THAT HE WOULD HAVE TO BLUR THINGS, FORCE SQUARE PEGS INTO ROUND HOLES, MISCONSTRUE DETAILS, ETC. HE’S A LAY PERSON, NOT A PROFESSOR OF COMPARATIVE RELIGIONS. SO WHAT IF KEROUAC IS DRINKING, BRINGS A DEEPLY ROOTED ROMAN CATHOLIC BIAS TO WHATEVER HE STUDIES, HAS MISOGYNISTIC ATTITUDES NOT UNTYPICAL OF MANY OF HIS HARD-DRINKING, SEMI-MACHO MALE FRIENDS OF THE 1940’s AND 1950’s. WHY NOT TREAT THE WHOLE WORK AS A PIECE OF FICTION WRITTEN BY AN UNRELIABLE FIRST-PERSON NARRATOR. THINK ABOUT THE QUALITIES THE NARRATOR/PERSONA POSSESSES, THE PROCESSES OF HIS MIND, THE BIASES AND ASSOCIATIONS HE BRINGS TO HIS STUDIES, THE CHARACTER THAT WE SEE REFLECTED IN THE CONSCIOUSNESS THAT HAS CREATED THESE PAGES. THAT LINE OF ANALYSIS CAN BE INFINITELY RICH….

“Furthermore, Kerouac, by his own admission, is unable to stay sober long enough to attain any real enlightenment. He sets forth the goals of not drinking, meditating regularly, and abstaining from sex, but he makes lame excuses for his falling off the wagon, and his rationalizations for avoiding sex devolve into plain misogyny.”  HEY, THAT’S KEROUAC. IF YOU ARE GIVEN 400+ PAGES OF HIS PERSONAL NOTES ON HIS RELIGIOUS STUDY, WOULDN’T THEY REFLECT THE FLAWS AND BIASES OF THE CREATOR? AS STATED ABOVE, THIS IS AN UNRELIABLE NARRATOR WHO IS NEVER PRESENTING HIMSELF AS AN EXPERT ON ANYTHING. WE ARE SIMPLY GOING ALONG FOR THE RIDE WITH HIM AS HE RUMINATES ON THIS MATERIAL AND FREE-ASSOCIATES ON IT.

For me, Kerouac is at his best when he is least tethered to any kind of “form.” He’s at his best when the form is ever-becoming, and that form is not visible until the work is complete. That’s the reason why I tend to value TRISTESSA, VISIONS OF CODY, and THE SUBTERRANEANS over ON THE ROAD. I am also a champion of the late-period work SATORI IN PARIS—in fact, a recent collection of my own poems is titled SATORI IN NATCHEZ in homage to Kerouac. SATORI IN PARIS is a work that many find maddening, and the usual negative remarks about Kerouac’s drinking and lack of concentrated attention and scattershot observations and supposed clouding by personal bias are trotted out when people write off SATORI IN PARIS. However, those qualities are in a way the essence of the work. I’m reminded of some of the negative critical analyses of Bob Dylan’s post-1990 work or live performances. Many times the negative reviews are more on-target than the uncritical hagiographical observations of super-fans. It’s just that the negative critics view the cup as half-full–they see and hear what Dylan is doing, they describe it in a way that’s not inaccurate in a factual sense (a half-full or half-empty 8 ounce cup has 4 ounces in it, all agree) , and they just don’t care for what he’s doing. And of course that’s fine; they don’t have to like it. I’ve never developed a taste for opera or K-Pop or the films of P.T. Anderson–however, they are surely of some value in the big picture, and you may find transcendence within those works. God bless you if you do!

Not everyone wants what Jack Kerouac at his purest and most uncompromising has to offer in a work such as SOME OF THE DHARMA (by the way, note the word SOME….). Not everyone wants what Gertrude Stein has to offer in STANZAS IN MEDIATION of TO DO: A BOOK OF ALPHABETS AND BIRTHDAYS. Not everyone wants what John Wieners has to offer in his poem-journals such as A NEW BOOK FROM ROME or STARS SEEN IN PERSON or 707 SCOTT STREET: THE JOURNAL OF JOHN WIENERS. Not everyone wants an 8-cd set of field recordings from a Zurich train station. Not everyone wants 100+ variations on a Shadows painting by Warhol. Not everyone wants 48 feature films from the Bowery Boys (not even mentioning the films from the Dead End Kids, The Little Tough Guys, and the East Side Kids). Not everyone wants to read all the novels of John Galsworthy or Anthony Trollope. That’s fine, and the multiplicity of options out there for us to experience is one of the things that make life worthwhile.

However, there is a small group of people (the few, the proud….) out there who upon encountering Jack Kerouac’s infinitely rich and contradictory and human (in both the good and bad senses of that word) work SOME OF THE DHARMA will proclaim, “where has this been all my life!” I am one of those. You may be too….probably if you’ve read this far, you know whether you are or not. As I write this (February 2019), used paperback copies can be had for as little as $2 plus postage and used hardback copies (which will last you a lifetime) can be had for as little as $6 plus postage via various online booksellers. I also see this at various Half Price Books stores in my travels for under $10.

A more sympathetic interpretation of the book can be found at Tricycle magazine, an American Buddhist publication that tends to be relatively open-minded and accepting:

https://tricycle.org/magazine/some-dharma/

some

February 3, 2019

Durchs wilde Kurdistan (Germany-Spain 1965), starring Lex Barker, 2nd of the 3 ‘Kara Ben Nemsi’ films

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 12:05 am

wildkurdistan1

DURCHS WILDE KURDISTRAN (Germany-Spain 1965)

directed by F.J. Gottlieb

based on the writings of Karl May, starring LEX BARKER as Kara Ben-Nemsi

the second of three films with Barker in that role

wildkurdistan2

During the 1960’s, there was a large phenomenon in Germany and across Central Europe in general to create film adaptations of the works of adventure novelist KARL MAY, best known outside Germany for the series of WINNETOU books about the Apache character and his white friend and comrade Old Shatterhand, played by Pierre Brice and Lex Barker, respectively (with Stewart Granger as Old Surehand in a few, and Rod Cameron as Old Firehand in one, which is reviewed elsewhere on this blog), in the film adaptations. Those films were such a success that some films were made which adapted May’s works set in Central America, and these also starred Lex Barker as Dr. Karl Sternau . All of these films have been issued on DVD across Europe, though the Central American ones are not easily available in English-friendly form.

wildkurdistan3

The mania for May film adaptations was such that his somewhat philosophical and cerebral character Kara Ben Nemsi was also brought to the screen, played of course by the inimitable American actor LEX BARKER, whose name was synonymous with Karl May films, a former Tarzan who wound up being a bigger star in Europe than he ever was here in the USA. This character’s exploits took place over the Near East/Southwest Asia/Balkans area, and as with the May westerns, the character was a larger-than-life, somewhat stoic bringer-of-peace-and-understanding who was not afraid to tote a gun. I’ve read English translations of two of the Kara Ben Nemsi books (and I’ve read about a number of untranslated ones), and the three film adaptations of the character made in the 1964-1965 period tend to play down the long philosophical ruminations  found in what I’ve read of the novels and place the emphasis on a kind of stylized grandeur that leaves one speechless, at least the second and third films in the series. One presumes that the target audience would have been familiar with the books, at least in general terms, and that the memory of them would resonate as one watched the films.

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The first film in the series, DER SCHUT (The Shoot), was dubbed into English and played on American late-night television on independent and UHF stations. It was available on VHS and DVD-R and has never been hard to find.

wildkurdistan5

The third film in the series, Im Reich des silbernen Löwen (aka Kingdom Of The Silver Lion) surfaced a few years back with English subtitles, though they seemed automatically generated and didn’t always make sense. Still, it allowed English speakers to see the film and follow it somewhat. By the second or third viewing, things became relatively clear.

wildkurdistan6

The second of the three films, however, has not appeared in an English-friendly form that I’ve been able to discover until a few months ago. DURCHS WILDE KURDISTRAN (aka THROUGH WILD KURDISTAN) is now available on You Tube in a beautiful widescreen print, with English subtitles. Yes, the subtitles seem auto-generated, but they are not as bad as the ones on the third film, and anyone who knows a little German will have no problem getting the gist of what’s missed by the subtitles. I could barely order a cup of coffee or ask for the bathroom in German, and I could follow things on a surface level when the subtitles were inadequate.

You can find THROUGH WILD KURDISTAN here: https://youtu.be/APniCTMF17c

Lex Barker fans and English-speaking admirers of the film adaptations of Karl May’s works will be excited to finally see this film with subtitles.

The same person who uploaded THROUGH WILD KURDISTAN to You Tube also uploaded the other two films in the Kara Ben Nemsi series, in beautiful sparkling widescreen prints (and these films are beautifully photographed and possessing a sense of grandeur that is humbling), with English subtitles that are adequate.

DER SCHUT (The Shoot), 1st in the series     https://youtu.be/kFi4-mPO0Zs

IM REICHE DES SILBERNEN LOWEN (Kingdom of the Golden Lion), 3rd in the series https://youtu.be/kihhjCzxrn0

Let’s hope that these links will continue to work in the coming months and years.

I could comment on the significance of these films to me and on my view of the significance of the literary works of Karl May as I understand them, but this post is intended more as a resource for those who have been looking for these films. As for Karl May’s work, perhaps Hermann Hesse summed it up best when he described it as “the most brilliant representative of a truly original type of fiction–fiction as wish-fulfillment.”

Settle back and enjoy these sumptuous lesser-known films, which will take you somewhere you’ve never been before, which exists only in the imagination….and, one must admit, the imagination of the colonial age. These are NOT for everyone–they are artifacts of an earlier place in time, and when the films were released in the 1960’s they were quite old-fashioned then in terms of cultural attitudes. However, May’s wide-eyed and naïve literary quest for peace and understanding has a charming quality that can win over those capable of leaving behind the lens of present-day attitudes and dogmas to their studies of the artifacts and thought from earlier historical periods.

February 2, 2019

Commercial Radio Dramas of the 1970’s

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 6:31 pm

1962 is generally considered the final year of radio drama’s original run, one lasting over 30 years, with the passing of YOURS TRULY, JOHNNY DOLLAR on CBS, the network that held on to radio drama as a viable enterprise for the longest period. The 15-minute daily music-and-chat show with Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney on CBS also finished its run in 1962. You can find hundreds of examples of each of these fine shows at Archive.org

Commercial radio then became pretty much segregated into various formats that dominated the particular station’s schedule: music (in various styles), news and/or talk, religion, with some region-specific specialization within those boundaries.

However, in the 1970’s, there were FOUR significant attempts to bring back commercial network radio drama in a form updated for the times….all of them succeeded at least in terms of producing a quality product, and they are deserving of a survey and tribute, though none lasted beyond the early 1980’s.

THE CBS RADIO MYSTERY THEATER

In the early 1970’s, some people who had worked in radio drama and felt it could still attract an audience convinced CBS to green-light a five-day-a-week, hour-long program of new radio mysteries called THE CBS RADIO MYSTERY THEATER. The show was New York-based and benefitted from having fine casts of New York stage actors involved….people like Fred Gwynne and Tony Roberts come to mind as having acted in multiple shows. The early days of the show were hosted by E. G. Marshall, and the final period was hosted by Tammy Grimes. 1399 shows were produced between 1974 and 1982. The show tended to be aired in the period just before midnight in most markets. It aired in Denver on KOA Radio 850-AM, and I used to listen to it many nights before going to sleep. The quality of the shows varies somewhat (usually in the writing, NOT in the acting), but coming up with a daily show for so many years with ALL NEW stories each day and no recurring characters (as in a daily soap opera) must have been an incredible chore. Most all of these shows are available free online for your enjoyment, and I’ve included a link below for that.

https://www.cbsrmt.com/

 

ZERO HOUR (also known as Hollywood Radio Theater) appeared on the Mutual Radio Network, once a respected competitor to NBC, CBS, etc., but Mutual had put its eggs in the news basket a decade or two prior to this and emphasized service to smaller market stations, especially in the Midwest and West. ZERO HOUR had a somewhat different format, telling one story nightly for a week in a five-installment unit. It was hosted by Rod Serling, of NIGHT GALLERY and TWILIGHT ZONE fame, and featured theme music by Ferrante & Teicher (!!!). It ran in 1973 and 1974. I heard only a few of these at the time, when I was visiting cities where it aired. I don’t remember hearing it in the Denver market, though perhaps it did and flew under my radar. Episodes were available on cassette back in the 1990’s, and many merchants are selling CDR’s containing MP3’s of the shows, though they are not widely available online the way the CBS series is. A little searching should find you SOME of the shows online for free. I’ve included a link to a history of and episode guide for the series.

http://www.digitaldeliftp.com/DigitalDeliToo/dd2jb-Zero-Hour.html

 

THE GENERAL MILLS RADIO ADVENTURE THEATER ran for just under a year in 1977 and early 1978. It ran on CBS, was aimed at an adolescent audience, and I remember it being supported by ads in comic books of the day. The host was Tom Bosley, then well-known for his role as the father on HAPPY DAYS (the more adventurous had perhaps seen his Italian western comedy with Guy Madison, THE BANG-BANG KID, on TV at 3 a.m. some night on a UHF station). It aired twice a week on weekends, and I don’t remember hearing any of these when they were originally on. Quoting from Wikipedia, “General Mills’s advertising agency was looking for a means of reaching children that would be less expensive than television advertising. Brown and CBS were willing to experiment with a series aimed at younger listeners, reaching that audience through ads in comic books. Apart from Christian or other religious broadcasting, this may have been the only nationwide attempt in the U.S. in the 1970s to air such a series. General Mills did not continue as sponsor after the 52 episodes had first aired over the first 26 weekends (February 1977 through July 1977), and the series (52 shows) was then repeated over the next 26 weekends (August 1977 through the end of January 1978), as The CBS Radio Adventure Theater, with a variety of sponsors for the commercials.” These ARE available online for your listening pleasure, and I’ve included a link below for that.

https://archive.org/details/TheGeneralMillsRadioAdventureTheater77042424JourneyToTheCenterOfTheEarth

 

THE SEARS RADIO THEATER  initially ran on CBS and then moved to Mutual, beginning in 1979 and ending with reruns through 1981. It was somewhat ambitious with a five-night-a-week schedule, each evening devoted to a different genre with a different host: Lorne Greene, Cicely Tyson, Andy Griffith, and Vincent Price….with the Friday night slot first filled by Richard Widmark, then by Howard Duff, then by Leonard Nimoy. 103 original shows were produced, and with reruns, a total of 210 programs were aired, though local stations would sometimes play a program more than once. Many of these programs are available free online, and I’ve included a link to those below.

https://archive.org/details/OTRR_Sears_Radio_Theater_Singles

National Public Radio had a series during this period called EARPLAY, though that was aimed at a highbrow audience and included works by playwrights such as Edward Albee, and didactic religious dramas were created and aired in a variety of styles and formats, particularly the UNSHACKLED series, which began in 1950 and is still being aired today! There were locally produced religious dramas too… I can remember hearing a series of religious dramas on a small AM radio station which were aimed at prison inmates! However, this article is devoted to commercial radio drama. You’ve got links to over 1500 radio shows here, most of which are very good, and all of which are at least worthwhile. Radio drama provides a theater of the mind which is rich and of great value. It lacks the mind-numbing quality of television. Thanks to those who valiantly tried to bring back radio drama in the 1970’s. The work they created was very good, and it was very well received in its day by those who had a chance to hear it. I remember (in Denver, at least) the CBS Radio Mystery Theater being pre-empted (or played much later at night) a number of times by sports programming, and it took a certain dedication to seek it out. Thankfully, I was able to until 1979, when I left Colorado and moved to Oklahoma, where I never heard it again….

My job requires me to take a lot of work home each night, a least 2-3 hours on many evenings, and I enjoy listening to radio drama while I’m doing that time-consuming work. This huge body of little-known radio drama is out there for YOU to enjoy too. Try it….you may get hooked.

January 17, 2019

F. SCOTT FITZGERALD IN MINNESOTA, by Dave Page with Jeff Krueger

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 12:11 pm

F. SCOTT FITZGERALD IN MINNESOTA: THE WRITER & HIS FRIENDS AT HOME

by DAVE PAGE with photography by JEFF KRUEGER

Published 2017 by Fitzgerald In St. Paul/University of Minnesota Press

fitz minn 1

With the publication of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s teenage journals, THOUGHTBOOK, and yet another odds’n’sods collection of fugitive pieces, I’D DIE FOR YOU (now out in paperback), the Fitzgerald well has not yet run dry….or should I say that after digging down another 100 feet, new sources of water have been found.

For me, the most important Fitzgerald revelation of the last few years is the over-sized and over-stuffed volume F. SCOTT FITZGERALD IN MINNESOTA, assembled by Dave Page, who edited the recent THOUGHTBOOK edition and who co-edited the excellent collection THE ST. PAUL STORIES OF F. SCOTT FITZGERALD. I received this book as a Christmas gift from my wife, and we both assumed it would be a kind of coffee table book of photographs from the neighborhoods of Fitzgerald’s youth with some casual notations, something aimed at providing non-Minnesotans some specific images we could park in our memories to assist us when reading FSF’s early Minnesota-set stories. How wrong I was in that assumption.

What we have here is an amazing goldmine of images and primary research, linked to specific details in Fitzgerald’s life and, even more importantly, specific details in lesser-known FSF stories. I am not someone who was forced to read THE GREAT GATSBY in high school. My first serious reading of the man’s work (beyond a few well-known stories) was the 1979 collection of previously uncollected short fiction THE PRICE WAS HIGH, which I bought upon its release and read and re-read over the years. I eventually read everything by FSF I could find, but the work I’ve explored in the most depth and re-read the most over the years is the lesser-known magazine fiction in that book, work that FSF might have considered “work for hire” or even hack-work. I mention that because a number of these stories do have a Minnesota setting and a number of those stories are referenced in F. SCOTT FITZGERALD IN MINNESOTA.

The depth of primary research–and insightful reference to details in FSF’s lesser-known writings–in this book is stunning. If FSF attended a dance at someone’s house, there is a picture of the house, the backstory of the house and the family who lived there and knew FSF, and also a reference to how a member of the family was used as a model for a character in an obscure Fitzgerald story. Local newspapers and newsletters, and even the diaries and journals of local people from the day, are also strip-mined for details, and with the author’s knowledge of chapter and verse within the Fitzgerald canon, and a deep familiarity with FSF’s teenage journal, THOUGHTBOOK, which he edited, and a knowledge of St. Paul history that only a Minnesotan could have, we’re taken deep into the world of that city in the 1900’s and 1910’s and how it wove itself into FSF’s work in many many ways. In addition, there are large and beautifully framed color photos by Jeff Kreuger of homes and neighborhoods throughout, and where significant buildings or areas no longer exist, archival photos and clippings are used to represent what is no longer standing. While more original buildings would have existed in, say, the 1930’s or the 1950’s than still stand today (and they would also have been closer to their original form back then), it’s comforting to know that as these homes are considered “historic” today, their owners have kept them quite close to the form they would have been in when FSF was visiting them. Also, another thing to keep in mind is that, whatever has changed over the years, we are closer to the original time now that we will be in 10 years or 20 years. For anyone who has read FSF’s fiction set in Minnesota or referring to the upper Midwest, F. SCOTT FITZGERALD IN MINNESOTA opens the works up wide and shines a light into them. “Revelation” is the only word to capture the sensation the book provides. Even if you are not conversant in FSF’s work, you are taken so deep into St. Paul that you’ll feel like you are there, and the references to Fitzgerald’s dealings with the people related to the houses and places make FSF function as a character himself. A picture emerges of the young Fitzgerald beyond that which we know from the stories and the biographies.

This kind of deep primary research is difficult to do and is incredibly time- and resource-consuming, but it provides a wealth of actual details and specifics….and in the case of the hundreds of color photographs, beautiful images….that make the usual “new books on F. Scott Fitzgerald” seem unnecessary and irrelevant glosses on what really matters.

fitz st paul

I remember as a teenager growing up in the Denver area in the early 1970’s finding some of the specific “places” mentioned (sometimes in coded form) in the works of Jack Kerouac, such as VISIONS OF CODY and ON THE ROAD, and that provided a true “opening up” of those works for me, as did my visit last summer to Herman Melville’s Arrowhead property in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Multiply those experiences by a thousand, and that’s what you’ve got in F. SCOTT FITZGERALD IN MINNESOTA, a rich and important volume that will satisfy anyone who is concerned with the importance of PLACE in the work of a great creative mind like Fitzgerald’s. If you’ve passed this by thinking it might be an attractive coffee table book of photography to thumb through while you are laid up with the flu, think again….the photography is stunning, but it’s part of a deep investigative dive into FSF’s St. Paul which provides many insights into an author about whom many have claimed nothing more can be said of. Thanks to Page and Kreuger for illuminating this area so thoroughly and so richly.

You might also enjoy this article on Dave Page’s work in Fitzgerald studies, from 2013: Dave Page article

You can get a small taste of what the book has to offer at this fascinating webpage from the group Fitzgerald In St. Paul:   FSF places in St. Paul

December 29, 2018

new book-length poem, AMONG THE NEWLY FALLEN, now available in paperback

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 9:30 pm

BILL  SHUTE

AMONG THE NEWLY FALLEN

book-length poem

perfect-bound paperback, 54 pages, KSE #413

available internationally from your local Amazon outlet (just do a search for it), $9.95

in the US, order from this link:          https://amzn.to/2SNdmiV

among the newly fallen, cover

Very proud to announce the book publication of the results of my “writing vacation” earlier this year in the Oklahoma City area, AMONG THE NEWLY FALLEN, a 46-page open-field poem that is a refreshing (for me, at least) development/movement into longer-form works utilizing the page as my Projective Verse canvas. My 2006 book-length poem POINT LOMA PURPLE (published by Word Mechanics) was 3300+ lines long, and thus “longer” than AMONG THE NEWLY FALLEN, but  POINT LOMA PURPLE was a narrative poem in 18 sections/chapters. My previous pieces in the open-field form tended to be works in the 5-8 page range, necessitated by the limitations of the KSE home-printed chapbook. We retired that format with John Sweet’s early 2018 chapbook HEATHEN TONGUE (KSE #392), and with the throwing off of those shackles, instead of producing six or seven six-page pieces, I was able to compose on a larger group of canvases, taking the organizational patterns (the repeated refrains, the placement of motifs/clusters, etc.), the poetic super-structure, to a new plane.

Those who know me know that I am very much moved and humbled and fascinated by the multi-part studies and series works of painters such as Warhol, Monet, and Hockney—-one art experience that will always stay with me was when I spent 6 hours in a room with the nearly-100 painting SHADOWS sequence of Andy Warhol at the Dia-Beacon on the Hudson in New York state (while in that neck of the woods, I did readings in Hudson and Albany, as well as a reading and a radio interview in the Amherst, MA, area) in 2011. I have also always been an admirer of the structure of the later Dickens (from Bleak House on) novels and how they influenced the grammar of motion pictures as they advanced from shorts to feature films in the 1910’s. At the same time, such modern cinematic works as Godard’s KING LEAR (a huge influence on my first book-length poem, TWELVE GATES TO THE CITY: THE LABOURS OF HERCULES IN THE LONE STAR STATE, published in 2005 by Word Mechanics), Antonioni’s ZABRISKIE POINT, and Dennis Hopper’s THE LAST MOVIE were very much influences on my composition and arrangement and structure in the long-form poem, and this can be observed in AMONG THE NEWLY FALLEN, although more than anything else, it’s simply an extension of my own shorter forms. Think of someone who’d previously only recorded singles who ups the game by recording an album. Most recently, when I saw the reconstruction of Orson Welles’s THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND (which, thank the Lord, played theatrically for a few days here in San Antonio), I found it very much on the same wavelength in terms of super-structure as what I am doing in AMONG THE NEWLY FALLEN, and the Welles film really clicked with me in terms of its multi-layered, large-canvas structure. Please don’t take offense at my dropping names such as Welles and Godard and Hopper and Dickens and Antonioni here—-I’m not fit to loosen their sandal straps—-I am to those great artists what some teenage garage band from San Antonio or Wichita Falls in 1966 recording a 45 in the local radio station after hours was to The Yardbirds or The Rolling Stones. I’m well aware of my place in the order of things, but I’m swinging for the fences….listen to a Texas 60’s garage band 45 such as “1523 Blair” by The Outcasts and tell me that it does not step forward to the plate and take the strongest possible “swing” imaginable. That’s really all we can do.

I should also credit my friend and KSE recording artist MORE EAZE (aka Marcus Rubio), as the overall compositional structure and interlocking repetitions-with-variations form of his STARING AT A STATUE OF PAINT album was a big influence on me as I designed the form of and then composed AMONG THE NEWLY FALLEN. I’m presently working on another long-form poem in the 45-60 page range, one which I’ll finish in the Summer of 2019 when I take a two-week writing vacation in Tulsa, and am creating a poetic super-structure rooted in the musical fugue form, but adapted to my needs and textual form. We’ll see how that turns out.

I am hoping to create one new long-form work a year for the next few years, now that the responsibility of issuing a dozen or more KSE music albums each year is now in the past.

Until then, I invite you to take a chance on AMONG THE NEWLY FALLEN. I feel as though the richness and depth of the work has grown exponentially from the earlier six-page pieces. In the words of the late great Rick Nelson, “you can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.”

Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to read these many pieces of mine, both poetry and prose, over the years/decades….and to listen to the 150+ music releases issued by KSE in the last nine years. As they say on Southwest Airlines each time you’re about to land, “Thank you for choosing to fly with Southwest. WE KNOW YOU HAVE A CHOICE.”

Please stay with me as I move into new territory in the coming months and years—-that new phase begins with AMONG THE NEWLY FALLEN. It’s easy to order–get your copy now!

p.s., the book’s title, of course, echoes Edward Dorn’s THE NEWLY FALLEN (Totem Press, 1961), and an epigraph from that work is included on the front page, along with the epigraph I’ve used in my last three or four books from composer Morton Feldman

among the newly fallen, cover

December 26, 2018

22 new poems from LUIS CUAUHTEMOC BERRIOZABAL for Winter 2018/2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 12:52 pm

luis pic

Los Angeles poet Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozabal, widely published in the alternative poetry world, is one of the most respected American poets among his peers, the quiet shaman of contemporary poetry, a man who speaks clearly and precisely and beautifully on the page, whose work radiates beauty and wisdom, but who has no need to raise his voice or to indulge in cheap shock effects and theatrics.

Between 2007 and 2016, Luis published six chapbooks with KSE—-MAKE THE LIGHT MINE (KSE #364), DIGGING A GRAVE (KSE #174), OVERCOME (KSE #141), WITHOUT PEACE (KSE #59), KEEPERS OF SILENCE (KSE #82), GARDEN OF ROCKS (KSE #103)—-as well as doing a duo chapbook with Ronald Baatz, NEXT EXIT: SEVEN (KSE #100), and appearing in two KSE multiple poet collections….LAST POEMS (KSE #115) and POLYMORPHOUS URBAN: POEMS FOR LOU REED (KSE #272). We believe in Luis’s work here, and thus would like to share some links for recent poems of his that have appeared online in the last few months. He’s been quite active recently and every month, new pieces are appearing at respected online poetry journals. Here is a sampling for you to enjoy!

luis 1

“Cesar Vallejo’s Ghost,” at Duane’s PoeTree               Cesar Vallejo’s Ghost

“Silence,” at Subprimal Poetry       Silence

“Worrying Jabs” at Duane’s PoeTree         Worrying Jabs

“Truth Speak” at Unlikely Stories       Truth Speak

luis 3

3 new poems (Pulling The Trigger/No More/Rise) at Late Homework     3 New Poems

“Time Stops” at Yellow Mama     Time Stops

“Death Speaks” at Yellow Mama   Death Speaks

3 new poems (Boisterous Fools/From Darkness To Light/Some People are Never Happy) at Tuck Magazine   Boisterour Fools +2

luis 4

5 New Poems at Literary Yard     5 New Poems

“Behind The Clouds” and “Being The Moon” at The 2River View   Behind The Clouds +1

“Green River” at Oddball Magazine     Green River

“The Persistence Of Memory”  at Oddball Magazine    Persistence of Memory

“Moonshine” at Runcible Spoon   Moonshine

 

Those of you who have enjoyed Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozabal’s KSE chapbooks over the years will be excited to read new work from this contemporary master…just pretend these pieces are collected in a new chap! Congrats to Luis on the wide readership he’s built over the  years/decades. He is a beacon of sanity, of elegance, and of deep life-wisdom in a world that isn’t exactly overflowing with any of these qualities!

Enjoy…..

December 17, 2018

Savoy Jazz R&B Reflections Completer Disc

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 5:27 pm

SAVOY JAZZ R&B REFLECTIONS COMPLETER DISC

CD Released in 1995 in Japan by Savoy Jazz/Nippon Columbia (Denon)

savoy completer

1. In A Sentimental Mood – Billy Eckstine
2. Blues For Sale – Billy Eckstine
3. Serenade In Blue – Billy Eckstine
4. Solitude – Billy Eckstine
5. Sophisticated Lady – Billy Eckstine
6. Careless Love – Big Joe Turner
7. Last Goodbye Blues – Big Joe Turner
8. Whistle Stop Blues – Big Joe Turner
9. Hollywood Bed – Big Joe Turner
10. Howlin’ Winds – Big Joe Turner
11. Because I Love My Baby – Johnny Otis
12. Beer Bottle Boogie – Johnny Otis
13. Uneasy Blues – Johnny Otis
14. Love Will Break Your Heart For You – Johnny Otis
15. Rockin’ Blues – Johnny Otis

Here’s an album you might not own…although it’s not a rarity and you can get a mint used copy for four dollars and a new copy for eight dollars, and I’d highly recommend that you do should you have a taste for mid-to-late 40’s R&B. Savoy was one of the great indie jazz labels from the 40’s through the 60’s, although its bread and butter was always Gospel. Its jazz albums tended to be more like the one-take blowing sessions of Prestige than the more rehearsed, more elegant sessions of Blue Note, but they also recorded a lot of R&B. Many will remember the series of Arista-Savoy reissue albums of the 1970’s, many of them 2 LP sets, always generously programmed with knowledgeable liner notes and attractive packaging with similar art style and fonts so an entry in the series could be identified at 50 paces in the rack at your local record store. For many years after that, fewer new Savoy reissues appeared….though the old Arista ones were never hard to find (and still aren’t). As with the free-jazz reissues on Arista-Freedom, a lot of promo copies were in circulation and the print-run on many of the items was not small.

That availability of Savoy material changed radically in the early 90’s. Here is a passage from the LA Times in 1992: “When be-bop came to prominence in the mid-’40s, Savoy Records was right there in the thick of things, recording such now-classics as Charlie Parker’s “KoKo” and “Parker’s Mood” and Fats Navarro’s “Nostalgia.”
Many of these seminal recordings–and others from the ’50s and ’60s, all available only intermittently in recent years–are now being reissued on CD by Denon Records USA. Two years ago, Denon purchased the Savoy catalogue from Joe Fields, who owns Muse Records.
Denon is planning on issuing 10 Savoy CDs a month for the next two to three years, said label spokesperson Melanne Sacco. The initial releases, in the stores now, include “The Genius of Charlie Parker,” “The Charlie Parker Story,” “Presenting Cannonball Adderley,” “Introducing Lee Morgan” and “Opus de Bop,” with Stan Getz and Navarro’s “Nostalgia. “
The recordings have all been completely remastered, Sacco said, and will be issued with original album cover art and liner notes. Suggested retail price is $7.99.” 

The Japanese technology company Denon (associated with the Nippon Columbia organization, no relation to the US Columbia) purchased the Savoy catalogue and made the decision, no doubt liked by its shareholders, to “monetize the assets,” and then a steady stream of Savoy material on Japanese CD began to appear. While some were reissues of the Arista-Savoy vinyl reissues, many others were exact reissues of Savoy and Regent (a subsidiary label) LP’s, with fold-out inserts where the front and back covers were scanned–and those covers were often used ones with ring-wear and scratches, but were directly scanned with no touch-ups. I should point out that these were JAPANESE cd’s, though they were widely available. I used to see them appear, 10 a month, at my local Best Buy, and for a few years I made a point to leave some money in my monthly budget to buy them. They offered a wide variety of jazz styles—-mainstream, bop, hard bop, chamber-jazz, even the occasional Eddie Condon-esque session (and Condon himself). As with most labels, they had some artists in whom they believed but who did not record widely elsewhere or come to wide popularity (pianist Ronnell Bright comes to mind–my only other album by him is on a French label).

Looking back at that period in the early-to-mid 90’s when these Japanese exact reissues of Savoy jazz albums appeared en masse every month at my local Best Buy–which is now 25 years ago!–for seven or eight dollars each is something to marvel at, in hindsight. I have always kept these together in my collection–which I usually do not do–and I’m sure I’ve got at least 50 of them, if not more. Label owner Herman Lubinsky and later producer Ozzie Cadena (father of Dez Cadena, my favorite Black Flag frontman) knew what they were doing and had superb taste and understood what qualities were essential for solid jazz albums and, prior to that, R&B and jazz 78’s. Anyone with any taste would clearly have paid seven or eight dollars for the original LP’s–if they could even find them so cheap– so to get quality Japanese exact reissue CD’s of the material at that price was something that raised the quality of my life then and now.

This “Completer Disc” is a curious animal. It only exists due to the time limitations of the CD format. During the Arista-Savoy period of reissues, 2-LP sets with 28 or 32 tracks were issued on Billy Eckstine, Big Joe Turner, and Johnny Otis. I owned the later two on vinyl way back when (alas, I sold them along the way), and I had a European cassette of the Eckstine set (which eventually broke). When these old 2-LP sets were transferred to CD by the new Japanese owners of the masters, they could not fit the entire contents on the CD, so five tracks were left off those CD’s (and for the record, the 2-LP sets reissued on CD  were BILLY ECKSTINE, “MR. B. AND THE BAND”; HAVE NO FEAR, BIG JOE TURNER IS HERE; and THE ORIGINAL JOHNNY OTIS SHOW).

I do not know what logic, if any, was  used to decide which five tracks were left off the CD’s and shunted off to this COMPLETER DISC. I don’t have copies of the two-LP sets handy, so whether the tracks were cut due to their being the last ones recorded, or the last ones on side 4 of the LP, or whether someone made the subjective decision that they were the weakest cuts, I do not know.

However, we are in luck in that all the performances are first-rate and taken from a prime period of a great label. This album is an inexpensive way to get five tracks each from three great artists, with amazing backing bands, tracks NOT available on the more common reissue CD’s.

The Eckstine sides were recorded in 1946 and 1947 in L.A., produced by Herb Abramson, and the sidemen include both Sonny Criss on alto and Wardell Gray on tenor.

Big Joe’s sides were recorded in Chicago in 1947, also produced by Abramson, with a band featuring Riley Hampton (long associated with BB King) on alto.

The Johnny Otis sides were recorded in NY in 1950 and 1951 and produced by Ralph Bass., with a band that includes Lorenzo Holden on tenor and Pete Lewis in guitar, vocals provided by Little Esther, or Mel Walker, or Marilyn Scott/Mary DeLoatch. (note: many years ago, I reviewed in UGLY THINGS magazine a British collection of Otis’s recordings for Mercury and Peacock, the labels he recorded for after he left Savoy….and before he signed with Capitol and began the “Willie And The Hand Jive” era).

The most surprising thing about this album–and perhaps this is the reason why it’s been sitting in used record stores unsold for years–is that it starts off with the weakest track, a track totally untypical of the rest of the album. Billy Eckstine, the ultimate sauve African-American vocalist of the 1940’s, a heart-throb to women of all backgrounds (my mother was a devoted fan), was quite a hip individual himself and an early champion of Be-Bop. The man had a whole contingent of boppers among the ranks of his band. His timing and phrasing were always impeccable and he usually avoided the trap many similar “romantic” vocalists of the day fell into, that of being lugubrious. He was NOT going for the same market as a Wynonie Harris. Four of the five tracks here are fine small-group jazz-flavored R&B, including haunting and smoldering versions of the Duke Ellington chestnuts “Solitude” (what a beautiful reading he gives it….I’d bet the Duke loved it!) and “Sophisticated Lady.” Unfortunately, the track that is a treacly string-laden ballad, “In A Sentimental Mood,” leads off the album, and I can just imagine used record store owners listening to five seconds of the first track and then tossing this album WAY back in a stack at the rear of the store. That’s a shame because every other track is strong, beautifully transferred, and the highest level of quality 40’s rhythm’n’blues (or in Eckstine’s case, cocktail R&B).

Big Joe Turner–who like Jimmy Rushing was synonymous with “blues shouting,” over jazz-flavored ensembles of many kinds– began recording in the late 1930’s and was recording small group jazz sessions for Pablo 45 years later, and for much of that period he was re-working similar songs but every performance was different and fresh. He could re-invent himself to work in a number of genres–boogie woogie, rock and roll, small group jazz, R&B, big band, etc.–without really changing the essence of what he did, always a sign of a master and an artist totally comfortable and at ease. He even recorded with Bill Haley in Mexico in the mid-1960’s! The five songs here, including such Turner staples as “Careless Love” and “Hollywood Bed” (aka Cherry Red), are prime Big Joe Turner, and many may enjoy them even more than his better-known 50’s rock and roll singles for Atlantic.

As for Johnny Otis, his recordings for Savoy (and before that, for Excelsior) are among his best-ever, and the club-owner/band-leader/taste-maker was on a roll at that time and at the peak of his popularity. His Savoy material is collected on a Billy Vera-curated 3-CD box set which should be in all homes, but if you don’t have that, these tracks are a nice introduction. His band could be both sleek and stylish while being rootsy and raw—-few have ever walked that line more skillfully than the dapper Mr. Otis. Otis’s unique vibes are not on all the tracks (when I’m listening to a compilation or a playlist and hear those vibes integrated into an R&B format, I will often tell whoever is with me that the track must be either an Otis record or an Otis production or a record where Otis’s band is backing someone else–it’s THAT distinctive of a sound), but still this definitive 40’s and early 50’s nightclub-R&B master has an instantly recognizable sound and who can ever get enough of the vocals of Little Esther or Mel Walker or Marilyn Scott.

Except for the string-laden opening track (which is fine in its own way, just not to my tastes), this is a dynamite collection of high-quality, lesser-known sides from the Savoy family of labels. It’s a relatively unknown album (my friends who are into this kind of music do not own it, surprisingly!), and you can still get it cheap.

Your quality of life will be improved if you do score a copy ASAP. The affordable series of Japanese Savoy reissues in the early-to-mid 1990’s were a godsend for the jazz lover, and I’m glad I purchased them regularly at the time. I may well write more about entries in the series. While some have became big-ticket collectibles, many still remain cheap, and should be grabbed while you can still get them. Quality archival CD’s from the 1990’s, the golden age of archival CD reissues of historic material, will some day become as collectible and high-priced as vinyl has become. It’s hard to believe that there was a time when you could walk into your neighborhood chain record store and on payday pick up, say, a 2-CD archival set of Tommy McClennan on a major label. There was more to buy than one could afford. That period lasted for about ten years and is now only a dim memory. Grab what you can at low prices while you still can. It’s timeless material, but time will eventually run out as more people wise up to the situation.

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