modern harmonic Archive

Album Review: Nancy Priddy — You’ve Come This Way Before

In 1967, a young singer named Nancy Lee Priddy was part of a group of musicians assembled to assist in the making of Songs of Leonard Cohen, the debut release by the Canadian songwriter, poet and novelist. Priddy provided backing vocals on three of the album’s tracks, “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye,” “So

Album Review: Eddie Senay — Step by Step

Clarence Avant was a Detroit entrepreneur, a figure who wanted to bring to the world Detroit music beyond that which Berry Gordy was doing. In the early ’70s his Sussex label did just that, releasing some astoundingly good albums by the likes of Dennis Coffey and Bill Withers. Instrumental funk was more or less Sussex’s

Album Review: Iceberg Slim — Reflections

If I told you that a key inspiration for the slice-of-street hip-hop of Ice-T was an earlier recording artist going by the name of Iceberg Slim, you’d likely develop some immediate preconceptions as to what the earlier iceman sounded like. But I’m here to tell you that you’d probably be way off base. Iceberg Slim

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

Album Review: Little Willie John — Fever

Little Willie John’s time in the spotlight was relatively brief; his album-making career on King Records lasted only from 1956 to ‘62. His debut LP, Fever, founding him roaring out of the gate: a dozen songs, all killer, no filler. Albums weren’t the primary musical format in ‘56, so Fever is to some extent a

Album Review: The Vettes – Rev-up

Man, those Wrecking Crew guys and gals were a busy bunch. Of course in their 1960s heyday, the loose studio aggregation wasn’t known by that label – ace bassist (and guitarist) Carol Kaye argues the name is a later-day Hal Blaine invention – and in fact their were rarely if ever credited on the records

Album Review: Johnny “Guitar” Watson – s/t

When one thinks of the bluesy masters of the electric guitar, the name Johnny “Guitar” Watson is sure to be mentioned. Watson’s second guitar LP mines a variety of styles; “Posin’” feels a bit like Philly soul, with massed backing vocals and Watson’s blues-shouted lead vocal. But when the master of the Stratocaster launches into

Album Review: Mel Henke — 77 Sunset Strip-per

For a lot of Americans in the late 1950s and ‘60s, jazz wasn’t something they went to clubs to hear. If they heard it at all, jazz was often presented in the context of television and film theme music. The brash, hard-swinging sounds of big band jazz lent an exuberant (and wordlessly carefree) vibe to

Album Review: The Cyrkle — ‘The Minx’ Original Soundtrack

Here’s as unlikely a pairing as you’re likely to encounter, even within the context of 1960s pop culture. The Cyrkle were an American pop group whose greatest claims to fame were twofold: one, they recorded and released a single, “Red Rubber Ball,” written by one Paul Simon. Two, they were part of the package of

Seven Jazz Archival/Reissue Releases

Monty Alexander – Here Comes the Sun (MPS) Jamaican pianist Alexander has a bright, flowing and lyrical approach to his instrument. Originally released in 1971, Here Comes the Sun was Alexander’s sixth album. Working with three other musicians (bass, drums and percussion), the pianist is at the center of the arrangements on all seven of