Album Review: Nick Ingman — Big Beat

Cratediggers and/or musical Anglophiles of a certain stripe will recognize the name DeWolfe Music. Established over a century ago, the British music production company carved out a unique and important niche in the music business, creating what is today known as library music. No, not something you’d listen to in your local library, but sort

The Ru-Jac Records Story, Part Two

Continued from Part One… Something Got a Hold on Me covers 1963-1964, the earliest years of Ru-Jac, ones that featured the Kay Keys Band, Little Sonny Daye, Brenda Jones, Parker, the Teardrops Band and several others. Most names won’t be familiar to most outside the Baltimore soul scene of that era, but the quality of

San Jose Winter Jazz Fest 2018

The 2018 edition of the popular San Jose Jazz Fest took place February 15-28. Here’s a rundown of some of the most interesting acts who were on the bill. Ronnie Foster Trio  – Organist Foster released a string of well-regarded soul-jazz albums on Blue Note and Columbia in the 1970s. His 1972 debut, The Two

Album Review: Stax Singles Vol. 4: Rarities & the Best of the Rest

Beginning in the early 1990s, the labels owning the Stax/Volt catalog set about releasing impressive box sets of classic material from the venerated yet ultimately troubled Memphis record label. 1991 saw the release of the large format nine-volume box set The Complete Stax/Volt Singles 1959-1968. Two years later, another nine-disc set was released; subtitled Volume

Album Review: Idiot Grins — State of Health

Isaac Hayes and Curtis Mayfield made some of the most enduring cinematic soul of the 1970s. Not coincidentally, both men created works that lent themselves exceedingly well to juxtaposition with onscreen images; Hayes composed the soundtrack to Shaft; Mayfield did the same for Super Fly. Of course their work transcended soundtrack music, but the connection

Don Bryant: This is All I Know (Part Two)

Continued from Part One… By the middle of the 1960s, the Four Kings had broken up, but Bryant remained as a vocalist with Mitchell. Between 1965 and 1969, Bryant released at least nine singles on Hi; for most of those, he penned either the a- or b-side; sometimes both. Unbeknownst to Bryant, Hi Records had

Album Review: The Fritz — Natural Mind

The phase-shifted synthesizer pads that introduce “Stuck in Between,” the opening track on The Fritz‘s new album Natural Mind, evokes thoughts of 1970s r&b outfit like the Brothers Johnson. But as soon as that thought forms, a repeating guitar figure enters, sounding like a more accessible version of the 1980s lineup of progressive rock giants

‘Stax 60’ Album Release Campaign Features 10 Albums by 10 Legendary Artists

The venerable and legendary Stax Records was started 60 years ago in Memphis, Tennessee. Originally doing business as Satellite Records, the label founded by Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton (and later hemled by Al Bell) would go on to release a catalog of staggering quality before falling victim to a host of problems that would

Jimmy Webb: A Consummate Tale-Spinner (Part Three)

Continued from Part Two… Webb thinks he knows why the songs-and-stories format works well for artists who have been around awhile. “It becomes easier with age,” he says. “I remember being in my teens and twenties and performing, and having absolutely nothing to say. Because [at that age] you don’t have much in your head.

Album Review: John Gary Williams

Memphis-based Stax Records had a long, impressive and tumultuous history. The label that was home to legendary artists like Booker T & the MGs, Otis Redding and Isaac Hayes produced a staggering amount of “southern soul” in its heyday. But bad luck and a host of other problems (best chronicled in Rob Bowman’s exhaustive history