Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

“Baia”: Carol Kaye as Bandleader

One weekend in late March 2009 I was listening to Bob Edwards‘ radio show while on my way to an event and had to pull over to finish listening to the rest of his interview with legendary session bassist, Carol Kaye – who is estimated to have played on more than 10,000 [!] recording dates.  Bob was a total fanboy as he interviewed this pivotal musician who, quite literally, played on all the hits, and his enthusiasm was infectious.

I have since come across a great instrumental – “Baia” – by Carol Kaye (And The Hitmen) in a rather rare turn as bandleader, and I am stunned to discover that this 1965 recording seems not to have been released on vinyl back in the day:

Baia

Carol Kaye And The Hitmen (1965)

Thirty years later, “Baia” would see light of day on a CD anthology from Germany that showcased Carol Kaye as recording artist – author of three of the eleven songs on this collection – although Discogs notes that this 1996 CD is a bootleg and points you instead to Kaye’s own authorized CD release from 2004

Check out the lineup of musicians who contributed to these recordings:

Bass Guitar – Carol Kaye & Rene Hall
Double Bass – Al McKibbon
Drums – Earl Palmer
Flute – Bill Green
French Horn – Dwight Carver
Keyboards – Ray Johnson
Lead & Rhythm Guitar – Carol Kaye
Percussion – Gary Coleman
Saxophone – Jim Horn & Bill Green
Trombone – Lew McCreary & Dick Leith
Vibraphone – Gary Coleman

Producer – Carol Kaye
Arranger – Carol Kaye & H.B. Barnum
Engineer – Bob Ross
Reissue Producer – Bert Gerecht

Recorded at Harmony House Recorders in Hollywood c. 1965

Kaye’s CD liner notes —

Having been an in-demand studio guitarist 1957-mid 60s (after playing a lot of good jazz in L.A. jazz clubs in the late 1950s and beyond for awhile), I did become very busy as a first call recording bassist from 1963 on in all the Hollywood recording studios.  But by 1965, I was missing playing jazz guitar and was determined to record a good commercial album as a means to get back to playing guitar again.  However, my least-liked cut, Ice Cream Rock, a good recording but not what I wanted to play for the rest of my life, got on the charts so I decided to have them stop the promo, and was resigned to just recording bass in the studios after that.

This has some of the finest musical energy on it you’ll ever hear.  It was cut when our chops were at their height.  You can hear Earl’s super drumming, Rene’s great bass groove, and all the rest on it – it literally sparkles with the spirit and the excitement of the unparalleled 1960s musical performances. 

(image courtesy of Discogs)

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“The Clique” vs. “The Wrecking Crew”

Carol was part of a group of in-demand musicians, who are commonly referred to as “The Wrecking Crew,” although Carol strictly insists she and her colleagues referred to each other as “The Clique:

From Kaye’s own website —

The 50-60 of us (out of 400+ hard-working recording musicians) were sometimes called the CLIQUE and most were successful jazz musicians with fine reputations before ever doing studio work.

Click on the link to order an autographed copy of Kaye’s autobiography, Studio Musician: Carol Kaye, 60s No. 1 Hit Bassist, Guitarist.

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