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WEATHER REPORT CO-FOUNDER PASSES

Friday, 19 October 2007 03:35 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

WEATHER REPORT CO-FOUNDER PASSES

Jazz keyboard sorcerer and synth pioneer, Joe Zawinul, succumbed to cancer aged 75 in Vienna - his birthplace - on September 11th 2007. Though actively recording and touring until just before his death, Zawinul is best remembered as a leading proponent of electric jazz-fusion in the late '60s. His collaborations with trumpeter, Miles Davis, resulted in the landmark recordings 'In A Silent Way' (1969) and 'Bitches Brew' (1970). In 1971, Zawinul co-founded the group Weather Report with fellow Miles Davis alumnus, saxophonist, Wayne Shorter. After an experimental phase, the group reached their commercial apogee in the late '70s with the album 'Heavy Weather' (1977), featuring the infectious and much-covered track, 'Birdland.' Zawinul's name is also a familiar one to many soul fans - 'Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,' a song he originally penned for saxophonist Cannonball Adderley, was a Top 40 R&B hit for singer Marlena Shaw in 1967.

(CW)

 

BOBBY BYRD RIP

Thursday, 18 October 2007 15:34 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

BOBBY BYRD RIP

Bobby Byrd, the James Brown sidekick and collaborator whose gruff voice counterpointed the Godfather's vocals with the chant 'Get On Up' on the funk classic 'Get Up (I Feel Like Being) A Sex Machine,' died from lung cancer on September 12th aged 73. Georgia-born Byrd met James Brown in the early 1950s when his devout Baptist family was instrumental in helping Brown negotiate an early release from a juvenile correction facility. Brown joined Byrd's devotional harmony group, The Gospel Starlighters, which eventually metamorphosed into The Famous Flames and signed to King Records in 1956. By that time, Brown's showmanship had earned him separate billing. The Brown-fronted group struck chart gold the same year with the Top 10 R&B smash, 'Please, Please, Please.' In the '60s and '70s, Byrd was credited as co-writer on several of Brown's big hits, including 'Licking Stick,' 'Talkin' Loud & Sayin' Nothing,' and 'Get Up (I Feel Like Being) A Sex Machine.' Byrd also recorded a clutch of collectable singles under James Brown's production stewardship, among them 1971's 'I Know You Got Soul' famously sampled by '80s hip-hop act, Eric B & Rakim. Byrd is survived by his second wife, singer Vicki Anderson - a former James Brown protégé - and several children, including UK-based soul chanteuse, Carleen Anderson.

(CW)

 

THE POET LAUREATE OF ROMANTIC SOUL DIES

Thursday, 18 October 2007 15:26 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

THE POET LAUREATE OF ROMANTIC SOUL DIES

Jon Lucien, a resonant-voiced singer-songwriter whose unique Caribbean-infused music blurred the boundaries between soul and jazz, died aged 65 from respiratory failure after surgery on Saturday August 18th.
He was born Lucien Harrigan on the Caribbean island of Tortola on January 8th 1942 and shortly afterwards moved to neighbouring St. Thomas, also in the Virgin Islands, where he was raised. His interest in music was stimulated at an early age by his guitar-playing father, who was a devotee of singer/pianist Nat 'King' Cole. In the 1960s, young Lucien left the Caribbean's sunny climes for big city life in New York, where he cut a few small label 45s.
By 1970, Lucien had inked an album deal with RCA and co-produced his debut set, 'I Am Now,' which was largely devoted to jazz covers. A three-year hiatus saw Lucien return with a stunning sophomore album, 'Rashida.' This time guitar-playing Lucien elected to pen all the material and in so doing patented a romantic amalgam of jazz and soul styles that became his hallmark. The album featured the classic title song - with beautifully opulent orchestration by jazz pianist Dave Grusin - 'Lady Love' and 'Would You Believe In Me.' A third album for RCA, 'Mind's Eye,' followed in 1974, the highlight of which was the blissful romantic ode, 'Listen Love.' The fact that Lucien's music was the sort that couldn't easily be categorised stymied the record company marketing men. As a result, Lucien couldn't buy a hit in the '70s but in a short time he built up a devoted following. A label switch to Columbia in 1975 yielded the albums 'Songs For My Lady' and 'Premonition.'
In the 1980s, Lucien's output dwindled to a solitary indie label album 'Romantico' but in 1991 at the age of 49, he signed a deal with Verve and released the acclaimed CD 'Listen Love.' The Jeff Lorber-helmed single, 'Sweet Control' even gave Lucien his first Stateside chart hit. Meanwhile, in the UK, Lucien's old RCA albums had gained him a devoted cult following and resulted in his original LPs exchanging hands between collectors for inflated prices.
A second Verve album, 'Mother Nature's Son,' followed in 1993. A switch to Shanachie in 1997 produced the albums 'Endless Is Love' (dedicated to his daughter, Dalila, who perished in an airplane crash in 1996) and 'By Request.' More recently Lucien released the albums 'Lucien Romantico,' 'Man From Paradise,' and in 2003, 'Live In New York City.'

(CW)

 

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