Jamil Nasser: Jazz in Russia

Penny Von Eschen’s Satchmo Blows Up the World — notes Muneer Nasser in 2017’s Upright Bass:  The Musical Life and Legacy of Jamil Nasser (in the chapter entitled ‘Getting the Soviets to Swing’) — “reinforces the myth that [Benny Goodman] introduced jazz to the Soviet Union”:

Benny Goodman became the first jazz musician to tour the Soviet Union for the State Department, making thirty appearances in six Soviet cities for May 28 through July 8, 1962.

Factually true but misleading, since The New York Jazz Quartet — pianist Oscar Dennard, trumpeter Idrees Sulieman, drummer EarlBusterSmith, and bassist Jamil Nasser (née George Joyner) — had performed in Moscow two years previously in July, 1960 “at clubs, private parties, and official functions.”  In fact, the year prior – in June, 1959 – The Mitchell-Ruff Duo, had “played and taught at conservatories in Leningrad, Moscow, Kiev, Yalta, Sochi, and Riga,” notes Nasser.

However, would you be stunned to learn that the first African American jazz band, according to Nasser, was Benny Payton’s Jazz Kings featuring Sidney Bechet three decades prior in 1926?  Sam Wooding, adds Nasser, toured Russia that same year, “with a mixed band, which included African-American musicians” (i.e., a European musical revue known as The Chocolate Kiddies).

The Washington Post‘s Richard Harrington — in his June 14, 1987 piece, “Into the Swing of Soviet Jazz” — would likewise attempt to clarify the historical record with regard to the under-recognized role of American jazz musicians in Russia as cultural ambassadors outside the purview of the US government:

Lest it be thought that American jazz tours were a product of the cultural exchanges of the ’60s, [Steve] Boulay [label owner, East Wind Trade Associates] points out that clarinetist Sidney Bechet and singer Ma Rainey, among others, toured Russia back in the ’20s.  ‘A lot of American jazz bands went over there.  They weren’t getting recognition in the United States so they went to Paris, and it was a natural jumping off point to exploring the continent.’

Jamil Nasser recalls the intense media interest following the New York Jazz Quartet’s 1960 Russian visit:

Seymour Krawitz, a young press agent Bill Doll had trained, called Dave Garroway and got us on The Today Show, The Tonight Show, an appearance on What’s My Line.  We were Hot.

But that wasn’t why we had gone to the Soviet Union.  We had gone, I suppose, mostly because it was there.  We wanted the experience of visiting a foreign country that had been sealed tight to American modernism.  And it all worked out beyond our wildest dreams.  We had given some Russians an ‘Opening’ to a part of our culture they had known nothing about — to the music that had been invented in America and had evolved in amazing ways over the years.  That we were the first jazz ambassadors to the Soviet Union since the 1920’s — well, that was our gift to them.

Five years prior, the United States government had seen the wisdom of deploying some of its top jazz musicians (Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington) as cultural ambassadors worldwide — thanks to the lobbying efforts of Adam Clayton Powell, who had just returned from the world’s first Afro-Asian Conference and had come to view “black culture, in particular jazz, as the best way to intervene in the Cold War cultural conflict, to win over the kind of hearts and minds of the countries in Africa and Asia,” as noted in the 2018 PBS documentary film, The Jazz Ambassadors.

Time Magazine‘s Billy Perrigo, in his December 22, 2017 piece “How the U.S. Used Jazz as a Cold War Secret Weapon,” provides some historical context —

The State Department had first realized jazz’s potential as a cold war weapon just three years before the Brubeck family found themselves in Poland [in 1958].  ‘In that moment, the US and the USSR both saw themselves as models for developing nations,’ says Penny Von Eschen, a professor at Cornell and an expert on the jazz ambassador program.  ‘They were in fierce competition to win the hearts and minds of the world.’  Adam Clayton Powell Jr., a congressman with close ties to the jazz community, first suggested sending jazz musicians around the world on state-sponsored tours in 1955.  No time was wasted, and by 1956 the first jazz ambassador, Dizzy Gillespie, was blowing America’s horn in the Balkans and the Middle East.  ‘America’s secret weapon is a blue note in a minor key,’ proclaimed the New York Times.

Jamil Nasser:
A Chronological Discography
Based on Muneer Nasser’s research from Upright Bass

[Note:  streaming audio links indicated in bold blue ink]

  • Phineas Newborn Jr.Phineas’ Rainbow [RCA LP]

Bass – George Joyner
Drums – “Philly” Joe Jones
Piano – Phineas Newborn Jr.
Guitar – Calvin Newborn

Note:  Recorded and released in 1956

Linkstreaming audio of entire album.

  • Phineas Newborn Jr.While My Lady Sleeps [RCA LP]

Note:  Recorded and released in 1957.

Linkstreaming audio of the title track.

  • Hank Mobley — Curtain Call [Blue Note LP]

https://www.zeroto180.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Hank-Mobley-LP-Japan-1984-aa.jpg

Note:  Album recorded on August 18, 1957 with Sonny Clark, Kenny Dorham, Jimmy Rowser, George Joyner & Art Taylor, though not released until 1984.

Linkstreaming audio of the title track

  • Red Garland — Soul Junction -and- All Mornin’ Long [LPs on Prestige]

Bass – George Joyner
Drums – Arthur Taylor
Piano – Red Garland
Tenor Saxophone – John Coltrane
Trumpet – Donald Byrd
Recorded By – Rudy Van Gelder

NoteSoul Junction recorded the same day as All Mornin’ Long – Nov. 15, 1957 – yet the latter album released 1958, while the former album in 1960.

Link:  streaming audio of Soul Junction [entire LP].+ All Mornin’ Long [entire LP]

  • Red Garland — High Pressure [Prestige LP]

Bass – George Joyner
Drums – Arthur Taylor
Piano – Red Garland
Tenor Saxophone – John Coltrane
Trumpet – Donald Byrd
Recorded By – Rudy Van Gelder

NoteHigh Pressure recorded Dec. 13, 1957 but not released until 1961.

Linkstreaming audio of entire album.

  • Red Garland — Dig It [Prestige LP]

Bass – George Joyner & Paul Chambers
Drums – Arthur Taylor
Piano – Red Garland
Tenor Saxophone – John Coltrane
Trumpet – Donald Byrd
Recorded By – Rudy Van Gelder

NoteDig It recorded Mar. 22, 1957; Dec. 13, 1957 & Feb. 2, 1958 but not released until 1962.

Linkstreaming audio of “Billie’s Bounce

  • Lou DonaldsonLou Takes Off [Blue Note LP]

Bass – George Joyner
Drums – Art Taylor
Alto Saxophone – Lou Donaldson
Piano – Sonny Clark
Trombone – Curtis Fuller
Trumpet – Donald Byrd

Note:  Album recorded December 15, 1957 — released 1958.

Linkstreaming audio of “Sputnik

  • Gene Ammons All Stars — The Big SoundGroove Blues [LPs on Prestige]

Bass – George Joyner
Drums – Art Taylor
Alto Sax – John Coltrane
Baritone Sax – Pepper Adams
Flute – Jerome Richardson
Piano – Mal Waldron
Tenor Sax – Gene Ammons & Paul Quinichette

Note:  The Big Sound and Groove Blues were both recorded on Jan. 3, 1958; former album released 1958, while the latter not released until 1961.

Link:  streaming audio of The Big Sound [entire LP].+ Groove Blues [entire LP]

  • Herbie Mann — Just Wailin’ [Prestige LP]

Bass – George Joyner
Drums – Arthur Taylor
Flute – Herbie Mann
Tenor Saxophone – Charlie Rouse
Guitar – Kenny Burrell
Piano – Mal Waldron
Recorded By – Rudy Van Gelder

Note:  Album recorded February 14, 1958 — released 1958.

Linkstreaming audio of entire album.

  • Phineas Newborn Jr.Fabulous Phineas [RCA LP]

Bass – George Joyner
Drums – Denzil Best
Piano – Phineas Newborn Jr.
Guitar – Calvin Newborn

Note:  Album recorded Mar. 28 & Apr. 3, 1958 — released 1958.

Linkstreaming audio of “No Moon at All

  • Evans Bradshaw — Look Out [Riverside LP]

Bass – George Joyner
Drums – “Philly” Joe Jones
Piano – Evans Bradshaw

Note:  Album recorded June 9, 1958 — released 1958.

Linkstreaming audio of “The Prophet

  • Randy Weston — New Faces at Newport [Metrojazz/MGM LP]

Bass – George Joyner & John Neves
Drums – G.T.Hogan & Jimmy Zitano
Piano – Randy Weston & Ray Santisi
Vibraphone – Lem Winchester

Note:  Recorded live at Newport Jazz Festival July 5, 1958 — released 1958.

  • Red Garland Trio + Ray Barretto — Rojo [Prestige LP]

Bass – George Joyner
Congas – Ray Barretto
Drums – Charlie Persip
Piano – Red Garland
Recorded By – Rudy Van Gelder

Note:  Recorded August 22, 1958 — released 1961.

Linkstreaming audio of “Ralph J Gleason Blues

  • Randy Weston — Little Niles [United Artists LP]

Bass – George Joyner
Drums – Charlie Persip
Piano, Written-By – Randy Weston
Trombone & Arranger – Melba Liston
Tenor Saxophone – Johnny Griffin
Trumpet – Idrees Sulieman & Ray Copeland
Liner Notes – Langston Hughes

Note:  Recorded October, 1958 — released 1959.

Linkstreaming audio of the title track

  • Melba ListonMelba and Her Bones [Metrojazz/MGM LP]

Bass – George Joyner & George Tucker
Drums – Charlie Persip & Frank Dunlop
Guitar – Kenny Burrell
Piano – Ray Bryant
Trombone – Al Grey, Bennie Green, Benny Powell, Frank Rehak, Jimmy Cleveland & Melba Liston
Trombone & Tuba – Slide Hampton

Note:  Recorded December, 1958 — released 1959.

Linkstreaming audio of the entire album

  • Lionel Hampton — Golden Vibes — [Columbia LP]

Bass – George Joyner & John Mixon
Drums – Bill Hogan
Guitar – Bill Mackel
Piano – Oscar Dennard
Reeds – Andrew McGhee, Robert Plater, Edward Pazant, Lonnie Shaw & Leon Zachery
Vibraphone – Lionel Hampton

Note:  Released 1959.

Linkstreaming audio of “Round Midnight

  • Lester Young — Lester Young in Paris [Verve LP]

Double Bass – Jamil Nasser
Drums – Kenny Clarke
Guitar – Jimmy Gourley
Piano – René Urtreger
Tenor Saxophone – Lester Young

Note:  Recorded March 4, 1959 at the Hoche Studio, Paris — released 1960.

  • Oscar Dennard — Legendary Oscar Dennard [Somethin’ Else Classics CD]

Bass – George Joyner
Drums – Buster Smith
Piano – Oscar Dennard
Trumpet – Idrees Sulieman

Note:  All selections recorded July 1958 in Tangier — recorded at Radio Tangier International Studio with Ampex Tape Recorder, one Altec condenser microphone.  Eventually released 1989. on compact disc by Japanese label, Somethin’ Else.

  • Idrees Sulieman Quartet Featuring Oscar Dennard — The 4 American Jazz Men in Tangier [Sunnyside 2-CD set]

Bass – Jamil Nasser
Drums – Buster Smith
Piano – Oscar Dennard
Trumpet – Idrees Sulieman

Note:  Tracks 1 to 7 recorded July 1958 in Tangier at Radio Tangier International Studio with Ampex Tape Recorder and 1 Altec condensor microphone.
Tracks 8 to 13 recorded in March or April, 1959 in New York (allegedly at Quincy Jones’s apartment).

Note:  Tracks 1 to 7 previously released as The Legendary Oscar Dennard — double disc set released 2017.

  • Flavio Ambrosetti — “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing” [Enja CD]

Bass – George Joyner
Drums – Buster Smith
Alto Saxophone – Flavio Ambrosetti
Trumpet – Raymond Court
Piano – George Gruntz

Note:  Track recorded at Switzerland’s RSI Lugano, Studio 2, January 19, 1962 — released in 1996 on German 2-CD Flavio Amborsetti anthology, Anniversary.

Linkstreaming audio of “It Don’t Mean a Thing

  • Buddy Collette — The Polyhedric Buddy Collette [Music Records LP]

Note:  Tracks recorded March, 1961 — released in 1961 (only in Italy) and reissued several times since, most recently 2015.

Note:  “Published in 1961 by Music of Walter and Ernest Guertler, this LP is a
must-witness the meeting of one of the most prestigious soloists Americans
visiting Italy, with jazz musicians of our house, supported by a flawless
Dusko Gojkoviv, of Slavic origin” [musician credits, click here].

Linkstreaming audio of “Blues for Nicola

  • Eric DolphyThe Berlin Concerts [Inner City LP]

Bass – George Joyner
Drums – Buster Smith
Piano – Pepsi Auer
Trumpet – Benny Bailey
Alto Saxophone, Bass Clarinet & Flute – Eric Dolphy

Note:  Recorded August 30th 1961 at Funkturm Exhibition Hall, Berlin — all other titles recorded at Club ‘Jazz-Saloon’, Berlin; first released 1978, with numerous other releases worldwide.

Linkstreaming audio of the entire album

  • Franco Cerri — International Jazz Meeting [Columbia Italy LP]

Bass – George Joyner & K.T. Geier
Drums – Buster Smith & Eberard Stengel
Guitar & Bass – Franco Cerri
Piano – George Gruntz
Alto Saxophone – Flavio Ambrosetti
Tenor & Soprano Saxophone – Barney Wilen

Note:  Italian release only — first issued 1961, reissued 2009 [“A vinyl reissue of a VERY RARE European jazz album! Only 1,000 copies pressed!”].

  • George Joyner Quartet — George Joyner Quartet [Cetra EP]

Bass – George Joyner
Drums – Mondini
Alto Sax & Flute – Pelzer
Piano – Lama

Note:  Italian EP release only — issued 1961.

  • Lilian TerryFour of Us 45 [Italian 45]

Note:  “Recorded in Milan, on December, 1961 together with the first volume.  The singer [Lilian Terry] on two exciting jazz tunes in English, still accompanied by the Swiss George Gruntz on piano and by the two Americans, George Joyner on double bass and Buster Smith on drums” — released 1962 in Italy on CGD.

  • Ahmad Jamal — Naked City Theme [Argo/Chess LP]

Bass – Jamil Sulieman
Drums – Chuck Lampkin
Piano – Ahmad Jamal

Note:  Recorded at San Francisco’s Jazz Workshop on June 26-28 1964 — released 1964,

Linkstreaming audio of “One for Miles

  • Ahmad JamalRoar of the Greasepaint Smell of the Crowd [Argo/Chess LP]

Bass – Jamil S. Nasser
Drums – Chuck Lampkin
Piano – Ahmad Jamal
Engineer – Tommy Nola

Note:  Recorded at Nola Penthouse Studio, New York City, on Feb. 24 & 25, 1965 -released 1965.

Link:  streaming audio of “It Isn’t Enough

  • Ahmad JamalExtensions [Argo/Chess]

Bass – Jamil S. Nasser
Drums – Vernel Fournier
Piano – Ahmad Jamal
Engineer – Tommy Nola

Note:  Recorded at Nola Penthouse Studio, New York City, on May 18-20, 1965 -released 1965.

Link:  streaming audio of the title track

  • Ahmad JamalRhapsody [Cadet/Chess]

Bass – Jamil S. Nasser
Drums – Vernel Fournier
Piano – Ahmad Jamal
Engineer – Tommy Nola

Note:  On four tracks, the trio is accompanied by a fifteen-piece orchestra of violins, violas and cellos — title reads Ahmad Jamal With Strings – Rhapsody.

Note:  Recorded Dec. 15-17, 1965 at Nola Studios, NYC — released 1966.

Link:  streaming audio of “This Could Be the Start of Something

  • Ahmad JamalHeatwave [Cadet/Chess LP]

Bass – Jamil Nasser
Drums – Frank Gant
Piano – Ahmad Jamal

Note:  Recorded August 1966 at Edgewood Recording Studio, Washington DC — released 1966.

Link:  streaming audio of the title track

  • Ahmad Jamal — Cry Young [Cadet/Chess LP]

Bass – Jamil S. Nasser
Drums – Frank Gant
Piano, Arranged By [Trio, Vocals] – Ahmad Jamal
Score [Vocal Scoring] – Hale Smith
Vocals [Ensemble] – The Howard Roberts Chorale

Note:  Recorded at Fine Recording Studios, New York City, June 12 & 13, 1967 — released 1967.

Note:  Album reached #19 on Billboard’s Best-Selling Jazz Albums chart in 1967 — includes Jamil Nasser composition, “Tropical Breeze.”

Linkstreaming audio of the entire album

  • Ahmad JamalThe Bright, The Blue, and the Beautiful [Cadet/Chess LP]

Bass – Jamil Sulieman
Drums – Frank Grant
Piano – Ahmad Jamal
Choir – The Howard A. Roberts Chorale*
Conductor – Hale Smith

Note:  Recorded February 12 & 13, 1968 at Fine Recording Studios, New York — Released 1968.

Link:  streaming audio of “By Myself

  • Ahmad Jamal — Tranquility [ABC Records LP]

Bass – Jamil Sulieman
Drums – Frank Gant
Piano – Ahmad Jamal
Producer – Bob Thiele

Note:  Released in 1968 — remixed for quadrophonic sound in 1973.

Link:  streaming audio of the title track

  • Ahmad JamalAt the Top:  Poinciana Revisited [Impulse!/ABC LP]

Bass – Jamil Sulieman
Drums – Frank Gant
Piano & Producer – Ahmad Jamal

Note:  Johnny Pate, associate producer — liner notes by Ralph J. Gleason; released 1968.

Link:  streaming audio of “Have You Met Miss Jones

  • The Ahmad Jamal Trio — The Awakening [Impulse!/ABC LP]

Bass – Jamil Nasser
Drums – Frank Gant
Piano – Ahmad Jamal

Note:  Recorded at Plaza Sound Studios, New York City on Feb. 2-3, 1970 — released 1970.

Linkstreaming audio of the entire album

  • Ahmad JamalFreeflight [Impulse!/ABC LP]

Bass – Jamil Sulieman
Drums – Frank Gant
Piano & Fender Rhodes – Ahmad Jamal

Note:  Recorded in performance July 17, 1971 at the Montreux Jazz Festival – released 1971.

NoteBillboard review from Mar. 4, 1972 edition:  “‘Poinciana’ impresses you from the first with its dramatic, pop-appeal power, but Jamal scores on all cuts.  A very excellent album.”

Link:  streaming audio of “Manhattan Reflections

  • Ahmad JamalOutertimeinnerspace [Impulse!/ABC LP]

Bass – Jamil Sulieman
Drums – Frank Gant
Piano & Fender Rhodes – Ahmad Jamal

Note:  Recorded in performance July 17, 1971 at the Montreux Jazz Festival – released 1972.

Link:  streaming audio of “Extensions

  • Ahmad JamalJamalca [20th Century Fox LP]

Bass – Jamil Nasser & Richard Evans
Drums – Brian Grice & Frank Gant
Vocals – Charles Colbert, Jimmy Spink, Marilyn Haywood, Morra Stewart & Vivian Haywood (Harreel)
Piano & Fender Rhodes – Ahmad Jamal
Arranger & Conductor – Richard Evans

Note:  Recorded at Chicago’s P.S. Recording Studios — released in 1974  [Inaugural album for 20th Century Fox by Ahmad Jamal, the label’s only jazz artist].

Link:  streaming audio of “Theme from M*A*S*H

  • Ahmad Jamal — Jamal Plays Jamal [20th Century Fox LP]

Bass – Jamil Nasser
Drums – Frank Gant
Congas – Azzedin Weston
Piano & Fender Rhodes – Ahmad Jamal

Note:  Recorded at Generation Sound Studios, New York City — released 1974.

Linkstreaming audio of the entire album

  • Ahmad Jamal — Genetic Walk [20th Century Fox LP]

Note:  Jamil Nasser plays bass on “Chaser” — album released 1980.

Link:  streaming audio of “Chaser

  • Al Haig & Jimmy Raney — Strings Attached [Choice LP]

Bass – Jamil Nasser
Drums – Frank Gant
Guitar – Jimmy Raney
Piano – Al Haig

Note:  Recorded at Macdonald Studio in Sea Cliff, NY — released 1975.

Link:  streaming audio of “Enigma

  • Al Haig — Interplay [Seabreeze Records LP]

Bass – Jamil Nasser
Piano – Al Haig

Note:  Recorded on Nov. 16, 1976 at United/Western Studio in Hollywood, California — released 1976.

  • Al HaigSerendipity [Interplay Records LP]

Bass – Jamil Nasser
Drums – Jimmy Wormworth
Piano – Al Haig

Note:  Recorded Feb. 18, 1977 at RCA Recording Studio in New York City — released 1977.

Link:  streaming audio of “All Blues

  • Al Haig — Portrait of Bud Powell [Interplay LP]

Bass – Jamil Nasser
Drums – Frank Gant
Piano – Al Haig

Note:  Recorded July 11, 1977 at RCA Recording Studios, NYC — released 1978 in US and Japan.

Link:  streaming audio of “Celia

  • Al Haig — Reminiscence [Progressive Records LP]

Bass – Jamil Nasser
Drums – Frank Gant
Piano – Al Haig

Note:  Recorded July 22, 1977 at Downtown Sound Studio in New York City — released 1977 in Japan; 1990 in US and Canada as Ornithology, with a couple song substitutions.

Link:  streaming audio of “Bluebird

  • Al Haig Trio — Enigma [Jazz Ball Records LP]

Note:  Recorded November 2, 1977 — released 2009 in Europe.

Link:  streaming audio of “Woody ‘n You

  • Louis Smith Quintet — Just Friends [Steeple Chase LP]

Bass – Jamil Nasser
Drums – Ray Mosca
Piano – Harold Mabern
Tenor Saxophone – George Coleman
Trumpet & Flugelhorn – Louis Smith

Note:  Recorded March 19, 1978 — released 1978 in Denmark and Japan.

Link:  streaming audio of “I Remember Clifford

  • Cybill Shepherd — Vanilla [Peabody LP]

Note:  Recorded at Phillips Recording in Memphis, Tennessee — released 1979.

  • Al Haig — Expressly Ellington [Spotlite LP]\

Note:  Recorded Saturday, October 14th, 1978 — released 1979 in the UK.

Link:  streaming audio of “Just Squeeze Me

  • Al Haig Trio — Un Poco Loco [Spotlite LP]

Bass – Jamil Nasser
Drums – Tony Mann
Piano – Al Haig
Liner Notes – Hiroki Sugita

Note:  “Unreleased recordings done in 1978 in London. This is the first release in the world” — released 1999 by Spotlite, Japanese label.

Link:  streaming audio of “Confirmation

  • Mari NakamotoSomething Blue [Zen Label LP]

Acoustic Bass – Jamil Nasser
Alto Saxophone – Frank Strozier
Drums – Louis Haynes
Electric Guitar – Joe Beck
Electric Piano – Barry Miles
Flute – Frank Strozier
Piano – Harold Mabern
Vocals – Mari Nakamoto

Note:  Recorded, editede & mixed at London’s Olympic Sound Studios on 14 May 1979 — released 1980 in Japan.

  • Harold MabernPisces Calling [Trident LP]

Bass – Jamil Nasser
Drums – Walter Bolden
Piano – Harold Mabern

Note:  Released 1980.

Link:  streaming audio of the title track

  • Al HaigPlays the Music of Jerome Kern [Inner City Records LP]

Bass – Jamil Nasser
Piano – Al Haig

Note:  Recorded at Downtown Sound, NYC — liner Notes by Leonard Feather; released 1980.

Link:  streaming audio of “The Way You Look Tonight

  • Red Garland — Wee Small Hours [FullHouse Records]

Bass – Jamil Nasser
Drums – Jimmy Cobb
Piano – Red Garland
Alto Saxophone – Lou Donaldson

Note:  Recorded and/or released February 5, 1980 in Japan.

Link:  streaming audio of “My Romance

  • Lou Donaldson w/ Red Garland Trio — Fine and Dandy [LDR Digital LP]

Acoustic Bass – Jamil Nasser
Drums – Jimmy Cobb
Alto Saxophone – Lou Donaldson
Piano – Red Garland

Note:  “Recording at The Koseinenkin Hall on 6th Feb. 1980” — released 1980 in Japan.

  • Lee Willhite — First Venture [Tampa Records LP]

Bass – Jamil Nasser
Drums – Frank Gant
Piano – Harold Mabern
Alto Saxophone – George Coleman
Vocals – Lee Willhite

Note:  Recorded October 22, 1981 — released 1982.

Link:  streaming audio of “The World Is a Ghetto

  • The Red Garland Trio — Misty Red [Baystate LP]

Bass – Jamil Nasser
Drums – Frank Gant
Piano – Red Garland

Note:  Recorded April 12-13, 1982 — first released 1983 in Japan.

Link:  streaming audio of “If I Were a Bell

  • Eddie HeywoodNow [Lyn LP]

NoteReleased [1982].

  • Kay Boyd — First Slice [Spotlight LP]

Bass – Jamil Nasser
Drums – Frank Gant
Piano – Harold Mabern
Alto Sax – George Coleman
Vocals – Kay Boyd

Note:   Recorded At Quadrasonic Sound Systems, New York City.

Note:  Album issued in the UK only — released 1983.

  • George Coleman — Manhattan Panorama [Theresa Records LP]

Bass – Jamil Nasser
Drums – Idris Muhammad
Piano – Harold Mabern
Alto & Tenor Saxophones – George Coleman

Note:  Released 1985 in the US and Germany.

Link:  streaming audio of “New York Suite

  • Randy Weston — Portraits of Thelonious Monk:  Well You Needn’t [Verve LP]

Bass – Jamil Nasser
Drums – Idris Muhammad
Percussion – Eric Asante
Piano – Randy Weston

Note:  “Digitally recorded June 3 1989 at Studio Ferber, Paris France” — released 1989. (Netherlands) and 1990 (US and France).

Link:  streaming audio of the title track

  • Randy Weston — Portraits of Duke Ellington:  Caravan [Verve LP]

Bass – Jamil Nasser
Percussion – Eric Asante & Idris Muhammad
Piano – Randy Weston

Note:  “Digitally recorded on June 4, 1989 at Studios Ferber, Paris, France” — released 1990 in the US and Netherlands.

Link:  streaming audio of “Caravan

  • Randy Weston — Self Portraits:  The Last Day [Verve LP]

Bass – Jamil Nasser
Drums – Idris Muhammad
Percussion – Eric Asante
Piano – Randy Weston

Note:  Recorded June 5, 1989 at Studios Ferber, Paris — released 1990 in France, US, Japan, and the Netherlands.

Link:  streaming audio of “The Last Day

  • Lewis Keel — Coming Out Swinging [Muse LP]

Bass – Jamil Nasser
Drums – Leroy Williams
Guitar – Jimmy Ponder
Piano – Harold Mabern
Alto Saxophone – Lewis Keel

Note:  Recorded August 9, 1990 — released 1992.

  • Randy WestonThe Spirits of Our Ancestors [Verve 2-CD set]

Musicians on “African Sunrise”:

Bass – Jamil Nasser & Alex Blake
Drums – Idris Muhammad
Percussion – Azzedin Weston & Big Black
Alto Saxophone – Talib Kibwe
Tenor Saxophone – Billy Harper & Dewey Redman
Trombone – Benny Powell
Trumpet – Dizzy Gillespie & Idrees Sulieman
Arranger – Melba Liston
Piano & Composer – Randy Weston

Note:  Jamil Nasser is on the left channel, Alex Blake is on the right channel.

Note:  Recorded on May 20, 21 & 22, 1991 at BMG Studios in New York City — released 1992 in the US and France.

Link:  streaming audio of “African Sunrise

  • James Williams (et al.) — Memphis Convention [DWI CD]

Bass – Jamil Nasser
Drums – Tony Reedus
Guitar – Calvin Newborn
Piano – Charles Thomas, Donald Brown, Harold Mabern & Mulgrew Miller
Piano, Organ & Production – James Williams
Alto Saxophone – Lewis Keel
Alto and Tenor Saxophones, Clarinet & Flute – Bill Easley
Tenor Saxophone – George Coleman & Herman Green
Trumpet & Flugelhorn – Bill Mobley

Note:  “1992 session of five Memphis piano greats organized by James Williams” – released 1993 in Japan.

  • Randy Weston & Melba Liston — Volcano Blues [Antilles/Verve CD]

Bass – Jamil Nasser
Drums – Charlie Persip
Percussion – Neil Clarke & Obo Addy
Guitar – Ted Dunbar
Guest Guitar – Johnny Copeland
Tenor Saxophone – Teddy Edwards
Trombone – Benny Powell
Trumpet – Wallace Roney
Alto Saxophone – Talib Kibwe
Baritone Saxophone – Hamiet Bluiett
Arranger & Director – Melba Liston
Piano – Randy Weston

Note:  Recorded at BMG Studios, NYC — released 1993.

Link:  streaming audio of the entire album

  • Ahmad Jamal — The Essence Part 1 [Verve CD]

Bass – James Cammack & Jamil Nasser
Drums – Idris Muhammad
Percussion – Manolo Badrena
Piano – Ahmad Jamal

Note:  “Recorded on October 30-31, 1994 at Studio Marcadet, Paris, La Plaine St Denis, France and on February 6-7, 1995 at Clinton Studio, New-York City” — released 1995.

Link:  streaming audio of “The Essence

  • Ahmad JamalBig Byrd (The Essence Part 2) [Verve CD]

Bass – James Cammack & Jamil Nasser
Drums – Idris Muhammad
Percussion – Manolo Badrena
Trumpet – Donald Byrd
Violin – Joe Kennedy, Jr.
Piano – Ahmad Jamal

Note:  “Recorded on October 30-31, 1994 at Studio Marcadet, Paris, La Plaine St Denis, France and on February 6-7, 1995 at Clinton Studio, New-York City” — released 1996 in the UK and Europe.

Link:  streaming audio of “Lament

  • George Coleman QuartetI Could Write a Book [Telarc CD]

Bass – Jamil Nasser
Drums – Billy Higgins
Piano – Harold Mabern
Saxophone – George Coleman

Note:  Recorded in Clinton Recording Studio A, New York City, January 8-9, 1998 — released 1998.

  • Calvin NewbornUp City!  [Yellow Dog CD]

Contrabass – Jamil Nasser
Drums – Tom Lonardo & Tony Reedus
Organ – Tony Thomas
Piano – Charles Thomas
Tenor Saxophone & Flute – Bill Easley
Trumpet, Flugelhorn & Arranging – Bill Mobley
Guitar & Production – Calvin Newborn

Note:  Recorded at Ardent and Avatar Studios — “originally issued as Omnivarious Music OMCD 001, 1998” [reissued in 2005].

Link:  streaming audio of the title track

  • Hideaki Yoshioka — Moment to Moment [Venus Records CD]

Bass – Jamil Nasser
Drums – Jimmy Cobb
Piano – Hideaki Yoshioka
Engineered, mixed & mastered by – Rudy Van Gelder

Note:  Issued 2001 in Japan.

Link:  streaming audio of “Don’t Take Your Love From Me

  • Ahmad Jamal — Picture Perfect [Birdology/Warner Music CD]

Bass – James Cammack & Jamil Nasser
Drums – Idris Muhammad
Violin – Mark Cargill
Special Guest Vocals – Dr. O.C. Smith
Piano – Ahmad Jamal

Note:  Recorded at Millbrook Sound Sounds, Millbrook, NY — released 2000 in Europe.

  • Ned Otter — The Secrets Inside [Two and Four Recording Company CD]

Note:  Released 2002.

“H2O Gate Blues”: Silver Spring

This piece updated 12/3/19 — scroll to “Lost 45?” appendix near the end

This piece also updated 12/27/20Lillian Claiborne tribute appended at tail end

As you may have already gathered, Zero to 180 has a soft spot for music history related to Silver Spring, Maryland.  We now know, for instance, that Track Recorders (with help from its chief engineer, Bill McCullough) was an important recording facility in the 1970s, outside of New York and Los Angeles.  We also know that Adelphi Studios (founded by Gene Rosenthal), enjoys renown for its 1960s and 70s recordings of seminal rediscovered blues artists, such as Mississippi John Hurt, Skip James, Rev. Gary Davis, and Honeyboy Edwards (tapes that were, in fact, purchased last year by Oxford, Mississippi blues label, Fat Possum).

Downtown Silver Spring [click on image for ultra-high resolution]

Silver Spring (okay, nearby Edmonston) also manufactured affordable, quality KAPA guitars in the 1960s, thanks to Koob Veneman, and even inspired a song that would be left off Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album — and thus serve as a wedge issue that ultimately helped drive the band apart.

Zero to 180 now asks – does anyone in Silver Spring remember D&B Sound StudiosGil Scott-Heron and his musical partner Brian Jackson recorded their first three albums — 1974’s Winter in America, 1975’s From South Africa to South Carolina & 1975’s The First Minute of a New Day — at D&B Sound.

H2O Gate Blues” from Winter in America was recorded in 1973, either September 4th/5th or October 15th, according to Discogs.  It’s not clear.  But wait – this Timeline of the Watergate Scandal notes the resignation of Vice-President, Spiro Agnew (and former Maryland governor) on October 10th!   Listen for yourself, and you will know:

“H2O Gate Blues”     Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson     1973

Be it thus resolved:  “H2O Gate Blues” was laid on tape the fifteenth day in the month of October, 1973.

ESPN panelist, visiting University of Maryland professor, and Washington Post columnist Kevin Blackistone would reference D&B Sound in the opening paragraph in a 2017 Post sports piece about Adam Jones that begins with a quote from Scott-Heron, who himself wrote about the experience of recording at D&B in his 2012 memoir, The Last Holiday:

Dan Henderson, who was still our manager, and his wife, Wilma, eventually moved into the house with me and Brian, too, and in the fall of 1973 we went into D&B Sound in Silver Spring, Maryland, and began recording the album Winter in America.  D&B was small, but it had a comfortable feeling — and it had [Robert] Jose Williams as the engineer.  The main room was so small that when Brian and I did tunes together, one of us had to go out in the hallway where the water cooler was located.  I did vocals for “Song for Bobby Smith” and “A Very Precious Time” from there, and Brian played flute on “The Bottle” and “Your Daddy Loves You” right next to that cooler.  A lot of people wanted to know wanted to know who it was playing flute on “The Bottle,” because it wasn’t specifically credited on the Winter in America album.  It was Brian.  He also played flute on “Back Home.”  Those are all his arrangements.  By the time we did Winter in America, Brian had become a very good flute player.  He also played Fender Rhodes on that album.

The Daily Beast‘s Marcus Baram in 2014 would provide a wider context for the artistic vision behind Winter in America:

Gil and Brian’s next album, Winter in America, on Strata-East, was credited to both Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson.  It was originally planned as a concept album called Supernatural Corner, in reference to the haunted vibe of the house at One Logan Circle [in DC].  The record was intended to tell the story of an African American soldier coming home from Vietnam to an America that was indifferent to his experience and hostile to his race and who eventually loses his mind.  The narratives in the song were taken from the soldier’s therapy sessions in a psychiatric ward, Jackson later explained.  One of the original songs, “White Horse Nightmare,” is about the veteran’s heroin addiction. But the label [Arista] considered the album too morose, and Gil and Brian took out some of the songs, leaving “Rivers of My Fathers,” “Back Home,” “The Bottle,” and a few new pieces.

They had recorded the album in the beginning of September 1973 at Dan Henderson’s D&B Sound Studio in Silver Spring, Maryland.  The space was so small that there wasn’t enough room for both of them in the studio, so Gil would sing in the studio while Brian played flute in a hallway next to a water cooler.  The tight quarters only added to Gil’s discomfort, and he complained about how long the sessions were taking.  True to the ethos of the impromptu jams and poetry readings he’d soaked in as a teenager at jazz clubs in New York, he felt alive when he was performing and disliked the recording process.  Whereas some musicians love to tweak their songs and do multiple takes in the studio, Gil tried to get it done as quickly as possible.  Engineer Robert Hosea Williams, who had recorded Roberta Flack and funk guitarist Chuck Brown, recalls, “Gil was one of the hardest I’ve ever recorded.  He had to do everything at once.”  Not only would he resist multitrack recording, in which each section of the song is isolated and separately recorded, but “he never shut up,” says Williams.  “When he would sing a verse and then start talking, it was crazy to record.  We’d have to erase those things later.”  Sometimes they would leave the mistakes in there.  When drummer Bob Adams skipped a beat at the 1:40 mark of “The Bottle,” the band wanted to rerecord the track, but Gil said, “No, that’s okay.”

Also worth pointing out that 1978’s The Mind of Gil Scott-Heron (on Clive Davis’s Arista label) kicks off with “H2O Gate Blues” — the only track on the album recorded at D&B — with the liner notes indicating that “the ‘H2O Gate Blues’ poem was originally composed in March 1973, and presented for the first time in concert at the [Berkeley] Jazz Festival in April of that year.”

Winter in America, by the way, is an album that can do fairly well at auction when all the stars are in alignment.

Bonus reading!  Richard Harrington‘s cover story of Gil Scott-Heron for the June 1975 edition of Unicorn Times.

This information is all very interesting to know, but none of it addresses the vexing question of where D&B Sound was originally located.  Zero to 180, after unsuccessful consultation with a number of Silver Spring veterans who were around in the 1970s, would seek out the assistance of a librarian — Jerry McCoy of the Silver Spring Historical Society — who knew exactly where to look:

DB Sound Studios = listed just below D.B. Creighton Associates

Thanks to the Silver Spring Historical Society’s own copy of Polk’s Silver Spring, Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Kensington, Takoma Park & Wheaton City Directory (1973 edition), we now know that D(&)B* Sound Studios [Jose Williams & Jules Da[m]ian, proprietors] once stood at 8037 13th Street in Silver Spring, Maryland, just over the Maryland-DC line.  Directly across from DB Sound at 8040 13th Street (where Kennett intersects with 13th) stood this Quality Inn Motel (where a Days Inn now occupies the entire block).

Former Quality Inn Motel directly across from DB Sound — Kennett @ 13th St

How interesting to discover that DB Sound would get name-checked by Billboard as early as their November 21, 1971 edition:

“At DB Sound in Silver Spring[s], Maryland, James Marshall and the Village Soul Choir were in for a session.  Willie Mason of Jay Walking Records also came in for a session.”

Wait — I just noticed that the studio had been referenced a couple months earlier in Billboard‘s September 18th edition:

“D.B. Sound Studios, Silver Spring, Md., had [the] Honey Cone[s] for Hot Wax Records with Greg Perry producing the Invictus artists, the Chairmen of the Board cutting their new LP [1972’s Bittersweet?].  Also in was the Masked Man (Harmon Bethea) cutting some material.”

Additionally, Ryan Little’s Washington City Paper article from the May 17, 2012 edition, “Soul Survivor:  The Lost Recordings and Magic Touch of Robert Hosea Williams,” links the name “DB Sound” to a 1974 Sarasota Tribune Herald piece that describes Williams as “the magician, a journeyman engineer who has had long experience and is part-owner of DB Studios in Silver Spring, right across the district line.”

The Former Silver Spring Motel on Georgia at 13th — steps from DB Sound

[SIDEBAR = *Ampersand or No Ampersand:  D&B Sound vs. DB Sound?
Examine the listing in the 1973 Polk’s City Directory above or the “Redskins ’74” single below, and you will notice the lack of an ampersand — thus, from this point forward, Zero to 180 will use DB Sound.]

DB Sound Studios:  No ampersand

Click on image above for Ultra-High Resolution  [45 courtesy of Bill Hanke]

Furthermore, Gregg Karukas, one of the early members of Tim Eyermann & East Coast Offering, enlightened Zero to 180 to the fact that Jules Damian is the principal figure who established Juldane Records.  The group’s debut and sophomore releases on Juldane would be recorded at DB — a memorable time, recalls Karukas:

“I’ll never forget when we were tracking the record, we did three tracks, a couple of takes, and we were in the groove, we wanted to record some more songs and Jules said ‘wait a minute’ on the talk back.  After about five minutes we went in the control room and realized that he was splicing together tape (outtakes) from other used reels in the tape room, because he had only purchased one fresh reel of tape for our session…….and he was the producer/engineer/label.  I was furious…..well, more like:  really?”

Damian’s partner. Robert Hosea Williams – of Red, Black & Green Productions – would be the subject, in 2012, of Numero Group‘s retrospective compilation, an opportunity for National Public Radio to take stock, as well, of Williams’ legacy:

Most people wouldn’t think of Washington, D.C., as one of R&B’s great cities.  Despite the fact that soul music greats Marvin Gaye and Roberta Flack grew up in D.C. neighborhoods, the city never had the equivalent of Detroit’s Berry Gordy and Motown, or Memphis’ Willie Mitchell and Hi Records.  But in the early 1970s, D.C. did have producer Robert Williams and his Red, Black and Green Productions.  A new compilation LP called Eccentric Soul:  A Red Black Green Production revisits Williams’ influence on the sound of R&B in D.C.

Thanks to the Bill Hanke Music Research Archives, Zero to 180 was able to scan information about DB Sound published annually in Unicorn Times (the October issue) for three years — 1975, 1978 & 1980 [click on images below for HIGH RESOLUTION]:

Oct. 1975 = Unicorn TImes

Oct. 1978 = Unicorn Times

Oct. 1980 = Unicorn Times

Note that for 1975 and 1978, R. Jose Williams is co-owner, as well as Creative Director and Chief Engineer, but that by 1980, Williams is no longer at DB Sound — presumably, to focus on his own Red, Black & Green Productions.  Numero Group’s liner notes for Eccentric Soul point to another recording facility in a much more suburban part of Silver Spring where Williams was likely spending his time during that period:

While not manning knobs and faders for Gil Scott-Heron, Hugh Masekela, Soul Searchers, Van McCoy, and a host of major label also-rans at Edgewood Studios, Washington, D.C.’s most opulent recording facility, producer Robert Hosea Williams worked off-hours at his own scrappy headquarters—the basement of his parents’ suburban Silver Spring[s] home on Octagon [Lane] (i.e., Colesville neighborhood). Out of those cramped quarters came the underground sounds collected here.  A Red Black & Green Production is the story of a well-connected engineer whose cabal of Beltway talent surreptitiously produced the finest black music coming out of D.C. during the midsection of the 1970s.  Though Red Black & Geen’s Garvey-colored flag flew behind the scenes, like a shadow government it changed D.C. recording culture and influenced the coming D.I.Y. movement.  

Worth pointing out that the dimensions of DB’s main recording space (22’ x 45’) are comparable to Track Recorders (25’ x 40’) just a few blocks up the road, which enjoyed much prestige on account of its Neve sound board.  And yet DB Sound was able to achieve an impressive legacy given its global reach (as you will see below) while operating in the shadows, so to speak, of the DC-area recording scene.

Sadly, as Jerry McCoy notes, “this building has been demolished.”  Do any pictures of the studio exist, one cannot help but wonder.

Also Recorded at DB Sound: 
These 45s & LPs (in chronological order)

Note:  click on all song and album titles (above/below) for streaming audio

Peggy Weston   “The Sun” b/w “Mellow”   1973

Michael Lloyd   “I’ll Go On” b/w “Search for Youth”   1973

The Summits   “Let Me Love You Again” b/w “It Takes Two”   1973

Skip McHoney & the Casuals   “Your Funny Moods” b/w “Struggling Man”   1973

“Your Funny Moods” reached #113 on Billboard‘s Pop chart on March 16, 1974.

The 2nd Amendment Band  “Backtalk (Pt. 1)” b/w “Backtalk (Pt. 2)”    1973

Note:  45 reissued in the UK in 2006 on Funk45, imprint of Jazzman Records.

Sons of Nature   “Ride the Vibe” b/w “Traveling Star”    1974

Past, Present & Future   “Love on the Line” b/w “Too Many Fish”   1974

Peggy Weston  “Night Bird” b/w [?]   1974

The Summits   “Sleepwalking” b/w “I’ll Never Say No”   1974

Skip Mahoney & the Casuals   “Seems Like…” b/w “Town Called No-Where”   1974

Skip Mahoaney & the Casuals   Your Funny Moods   1974   [LP]

Eddie Drennon & B.B.S. Unlimited   Collage   1975   [LP]

Note:  Album titled/packaged differently for the Phillipines market –

Note:  Album also titled/packaged differently for the UK & German markets –

Worth noting the number of countries to which this album was distributed.

Dyson’s Faces   Dyson’s Faces   1975   [LP – listen to entire album here]

The True Tones   Let’s Get It Together   1975   [LP – “Let Them Talk“]

J.I. Henderson (Soul Country Man)   Give a Helping Hand   1975   [LP – title track]

Promise   “I’m Not Ready for Love” b/w “I Wonder”     1975

According to the YouTube contributor who uploaded this song —

“[University Heights, Maryland*]’s Promise hit a kid-soul pinnacle with ‘I’m Not Ready For Love’ … Neither of Promise’s two 45s made much noise on the airwaves, but the group managed to open for James Brown, Stevie Wonder, and the Supremes before calling it quits later in the decade … This track comes off Numero Group‘s phenomenal Home Schooled: The ABCs of Kid Soul, which features a ton of great groups of kids singing soul music.”

*Source:  NPR profile of Robert Jose Williams from April 25, 2012

Promise   “Love on the Line” b/w “Open Up the Door”     1975

Phase II   “Phase II (pt. 1)” b/w “Phase II (pt. 2)”    1975

Willie Mason   “Same Mistake Twice” b/w “Chocolate City Boogie”  1975

Stanley Woodruff’s US Trio   “Took You So Long” b/w “Now Is Forever”   1975/76

Note:  Single would get UK distribution in 1977 on the Grapevine label

Black Horizon   “Black Horizon (Pt. 1)” b/w “Black Horizon (Pt. 2)”     1976

Note:  The “Black Horizon” 45 can earn three figures at auction

Stanley Woodruff’s US Trio   “Shadows” b/w “Walk Softly”   1976

Hills of Zion w/ Claude Alston & Dacario Darden  “Heaven Bound Train”   197?

Eddie Drennon & B.B.S. Unlimited  Would You Dance to My Music  1977   [LP]*

*Note:  Also recorded at Philly’s Sigma Sound — album issued on Casablanca, and released in Canada, UK & France.

E.L. James   The Face of Love   1977   [LP – listen to title track]

Note:  Album also recorded at Track Recorders and Future View Recording

Tim Eyermann   Unity   1977   [LP – sample track “A Time Past“]

Tim Eyermann & East Coast Offering   Go-Rilla   1978   [LP – title track]

Hilton Felton   Family and Friends   197?   [LP – reissued 2012 in Japan]

Sample tracks:  “Spreading Fever” and “Never Can Say Goodbye

Hilton Felton   Listen Lord!!   197?   [LP]

Hilton Felton   A Man For All Reasons   1980   [issued 2011 & 2012 in Japan]

Sampler alert30-second drum break loop from “Be Bop Boogie

Charanga 76   Manhattan Groove   1983   [LP – also released 1985 in Venezuela]

DB:  The Subsidiary Label

Check out these 45 releases on the db label (as in decibel) from years unknown — note the blue and orange 45s in the bottom row that indicate “Juldane Music BMI”:

{Note:  This article was updated extensively on March 21, 2019}

*  *  *   D B   S O U N D   U P D A T E:     L o s t   4 5?

On December 3, 2019, I received word from Bob Frantz — Zero to 180’s Mid South correspondent — of a fairly obscure 45 that just might possibly be connected to this story.

How curious to find only the song title identified on each side — not the name of the artist, who I can only conclude to be Anthony Dupuis, author of both tracks.  Wait a second:  Frantz assumes the artist name to be A Night and Two Days, which for some goofy reason (much smaller type size, not in boldface?) I presumed to be the name of the production team.  Furthermore, Frantz theorizes the name could be a sly reference to the group’s (possible) interracial makeup — i.e., one person of color + two pale guys.

The A-side “All Together” is a rockin’ blues with a “garage soul” feel that features a nice set of chord changes in the bridge beginning around the 1:33 mark:

The B-side “Listen” is another shot of rockin’ blues, though with a funkier JB-influenced groove underpinning the song:

Compare the catalog number of this 45 – DB100 – with the other DB singles in the cluster immediately above (e.g., DB106):  Is it possible that “All Together” b/w “Listen” is the debut single release of DB Sound’s own subsidiary label?

In addition to being issued on the DB label, Frantz’s eagle eye alerted me to a date (7/19/71), as well as the name Jose (as in Robert Jose/Hosea Williams), etched in the deadwax.

Magnified view of the deadwax etching

Frantz even managed to track down Anthony Dupuis, who was able to clarify a few things about the group and these recordings over the phone:

Dupuis is the writer of those songs.  They were recorded at DB studio.  He doesn’t remember Jose though.  The make-up of the group was Tony on lead and vocals, his brother Frank on bass and a black drummer whose name he couldn’t remember.  So my theory is correct:  a black dude and two white dudes.  He said they were offered potential contracts with Capitol and Verve, but there were apparently some “up front” expenses the group couldn’t afford, so that fell through.  Anthony was 24 yrs old at that time.  He said ‘Listen’ was a civil rights awareness/protest statement.  He said he might have another copy or two somewhere packed away.”

Mr. Dupuis was also gracious enough to respond to a few questions from Zero to 180:

Q: Do you have any photos of DB Sound?
A:  I only have slight memories of the studio.  We recorded for almost 8 hours….

Q: Did your group play live in the DC area and if so, what clubs did you play?
A: We played at Fort Meade Teen club and a few other small venues

Q: Did your 45 get any radio play and if so, which stations?
A: We did get airtime, the A side was played in New York and in Baltimore, WCAO I think, and the west coast liked side B.  I am not certain of the radio station there.

Q: How did you learn about DB Sound, and what was its reputation?
A: My brother found the DB Sound studio and took care of that end.  I am not sure about how he found it.  I’d send you to him for that, but I am not sure he is alive.

Q: What is it memorable recording at DB Sound?
A: My memory was of working so long and hard and still not feeling good about the songs, “A side” ending.

Q: Was the neighborhood around DB Sound considered “safe”?
A: Silver Spring was a very clean and safe place at that time.

Q: How were race relations in Silver Spring at the time?
A: I believe the race problem was not much of an issue at the time.  We named our group with the idea that we were not racists and hoping to use that to get into more locations for gigs.

Lillian Claiborne: In Memoriam

Hearty round of thanks to Jeff Krulik for forwarding this tribute to pioneering entrepreneur, Lillian Claiborne (DC Records co-founder), via DB Sound connection:

Lillian Claiborne: Her Art Is Lost To Us

John B. Earnshaw — May 1975 issue of Unicorn Times

Lillian Claiborne, an enterprising producer to Washington recording talent over the past 25 years, died in early April at the age of 78.

Although Lillian involved a great deal of her time with Black artists (individual and group musicians and instrumentalists alike), she herself was White: the beauty of it all was the fact that Lillian refused to bow to color line when that practice was fashionable.

Her foremost protege was the novelty vocalist Harmon “Maskman” Bethea, who first recorded for Lillian in the 1950’s. The last session she presided over (in wheelchair, accompanied by two attending nurses) was one for “Maskmen,” done at the D.B. Sound Studios in Silver Spring.

“The one [“Prices and Crisis“] was Harmon’s latest in a long series of regional hits [some with his old group, the Agents, and some like the recent sides done as ‘Maskman’] with which Lillian was associated,” recalls Sonny Damian of D.B. Sound. For musicians, A&R men, and recording men alike, says Sonny, “she was a hell of a woman.”

Here’s why: Not only was Lillian a pioneer (much like the White, female founder of the Stax label in Memphis) in helping Black talent pool their resources additionally, she introduced the 1st Negro group with a strong beat (the Heartbreakers) to RCA Victor’s once-mild realm. Then, of course, came the vigorous encouragement she gave to the growth of our area C&W market. In this regard, think about her inclusion of Jimmy Dean and Roy Clark as sidemen on some long ago (18 years or more) sessions.

With the large amount of money she poured into the “biz” over a 25-plus year period, she kept many struggling studios alive.

In the D.C. scene, Lillian was associated with a phenomenally broad range of musical styles which were grouped around three labels. On D.C., spirituals and sacred; on Loop, general range (pop, novelty, etc.); on Gamma, rhythm ‘n’ blues.

Who were her contacts? Name some names known to those in the trade — Randy Woods of Ranwood Records. Jerry “Swamp Dogg” Williams — a young blues artist with a dedicated, but mounting following. Art Talmadge of Musicor, not to mention other personalities from such labels as Dot, Pickwick, and Gotham. Locally, such fine blowers and wailers as Billy Clark and Joe Bradley will long retain fond memories of the once-renowned Cap-tans, one of the unsung names of R ‘n’ B. Likewise, Cliff Holland (radio station WOOK) and Roadhouse Oldies‘ proprietor Les Moskowitz, share grief for the departure of their old friend.

If some of these people aren’t familiar to the D.C. “scene,” it wasn’t Lillian’s fault. As a charter member in the Mid-Atlantic chapters of both BMI and ASCAP, she did her best to build a base for quality popular music in Washington. Although much of the material (particularly in the 1950’s) that Lillian Claiborne produced didn’t sell in vast quantity, the real value of her work was hardly lost to the music business—therein lines the backbone of the art.

And the backbone has lost a link with the passing of Lillian Claiborne.

The Great (Musical) Experiment

Even less seems to be written about Allen Toussaint‘s final A-side for Bell, 1969‘s populist anthem, “We the People“:

“We the People”      Allen Toussaint     1969

Imagine the magnitude of our collective output if we all directed our energies toward constructive ends instead of squabbling amongst ourselves.  Help me understand exactly how squaring off against each other will create a better future.

Unfortunately, it takes grown-ups to keep a democratic-style government from being overrun by career politicians and well-funded special interests, and too many people have bought into the “confrontational approach” to governance and public policy that passes for “civic discourse” in this country (e.g., boxing match sound effects employed by Fox News that allow you to keep score at home).  And thus, as Wall Street Journal reports, while 95% of post-recession gains (2009-2012) have gone to the wealthiest 1%, we the people fight over the crumbs, instead, and demonize each other.  Is this really the best we can do – or expect?

  Released in the US in 1969 on Bell           Released in the UK in 1969 on Soul City

Allen Toussaint 45-bbAllen Toussaint 45-b

On a technical (and much less philosophical) note, AllMusic alerts us to a cogent point about What Is Success – the 2007 CD reissue mentioned in yesterday’s piece:

“Perhaps owing to their very scarcity, the Bell Records singles ‘Get Out of My Life Woman’ b/w ‘Gotta Travel On’; ‘Got That Feelin’ Now’ b/w ‘Hands Christianderson’; and ‘We the People’ b/w ‘Tequila’ have actually been mastered from vinyl (rather than tape) sources.  While surface noise is audible throughout, each of the selections is thoroughly listenable, thanks to Rob Shread’s effective audio restorations.”

Six years prior, Toussaint (as “Al Tousan”) had issued a B-side entitled “Real Churchy,” which is exactly how I’d described the piano chording that Toussaint employs throughout — would it be wrong to tag “We the People” as “gospel“?

Tribute to MLK: Eerily Prescient

Wilson Simonal‘s tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr., a single that was released – eerily enough – the year before his assassination:

“Tributo a Martin Luther King”     Wilson Simonal de Castro     1967

Tributo a Martin Luther King” was the A-side of a single released in 1967 – around the same time Simonal hosted his own television variety show (where he can be seen singing this musical tribute to Dr. King).

Largely unknown outside of South America, Wilson Simonal – according to Jason Ankeny’s biography in AllMusic – is deemed “a seminal force in the development of Brazilian music” and the Brazilian nation’s “first black superstar,” as well as the inventor of the “pilantregem” sound – a “dynamic fusion of soul, jazz, and samba infused with rhythms inspired by the Latin American boogaloo sound.”

Wilson Simonal EPc

“Don’t Fake It”: Prophecy of a Black Presidency

As Martha Ross writes in the Contra Costa Times, cartoonist Morris “Morrie” Turner broke racial barriers in the 1960s when he became the first African-American to have a syndicated comic strip – Wee Pals – that still runs daily, despite Turner’s death this past January at the age of 90.  As Ross writes, Turner “admired Charles Schulz’s ‘Peanuts’ and mulled creating a black Charlie Brown after turning to cartooning full-time in 1964.  At one point, Turner asked Schulz, who was then a friend, why he didn’t have any black kids in his comic strip, and Schulz told Turner to create his own.”

Wee PalsRoss adds that “even though the Civil Rights movement was gaining momentum in the mid-1960s, few papers would run Wee Pals.  That changed with the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.  The tragic event helped Wee Pals gain nationwide acceptance.  The strip began appearing in more than 100 newspapers across the United States.”  Among the characters are “several African-American kids, a neighborhood bigot, some ‘Girls Libbers’ and, of course, Nipper, a boy, modeled on Turner himself, who typically wears a Civil War cap and has a dog named General Lee.” 

As Greg Ehrbar writes on the website, Cartoon Research

Wee Pals had been in newspapers for seven years before Rankin/Bass and ABC adapted it as Kid Power for Saturday morning TV, the same season that Filmation and CBS introduced Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids.

Rankin/Bass also cast young voice actors according to the ethnicity of the characters, including Donald Fullilove, who also voiced Michael Jackson for the animated R/B series, Jackson 5ive and played Goldie Wilson onscreen in the Back to the Future films. Jay Silverheels, Jr., son of the actor who played ‘Tonto’ in The Lone Ranger films and TV shows, voiced Rocky, a Native American.  Also in the cast as Connie was a preteen April Winchell, now one of Hollywood’s top voice actors (as well as a writer and satirist) whose oeuvre includes Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Despicable Me 2.

Like Fat Albert, Kid Power featured songs with messages in every episode. With mainstay musical director Maury Laws on other R/B projects, Oscar-nominated composer/arranger Perry Botkin, Jr. handled the Kid Power songs and background music, partnering with Jules Bass on the tunes created for the show.”

Kid Power LPI recently picked up a copy of the original soundtrack album at a local pawnshop, of all places.  How fascinating to hear the following track, “Don’t Fake It,” 42 years after its original release and know that the “radical” premise in the song’s spoken word intro — that of an African-American elected as our nation’s chief executive and top military commander — had, indeed, come to fruition in my lifetime:

[Pssst:  Click the triangle above to play “Don’t Fake It” by The Curbstones.]

“This Old Town”: Where Love is the Prevailing Order

In Wilson Pickett‘s town, universal respect for the humanity common to us all allows for an enlightened self-governance to rule the day.

“This Old Town”     Wilson Pickett     1970

This Old Town” from Pickett’s 1970 Atlantic album, Right On, was never to appear on a 45, which is a shame, since I think it’s a classic.

Wilson Pickett LP

The people in this town ain’t got no faces – they just got love between the races.

The people in this town don’t do no cryin’ – don’t have to rob and steal for survivin’.

The heart that should be speaking out just won’t stay silent – and everybody knows that no man is an island.

I saw a father and his son walking down the street – they walked hand in hand, what a beautiful sight to see (that makes me know)

The people in this town don’t need no soldiers – they don’t go around looking over their shoulders.

Everyone’s going around shaking hands, loving everybody and their fellow man – ain’t got no room for aggravation, what they love is communication.

Now open up your heart to harmony – give a little love, it will set you free.

You don’t have to go round searching for this town – right in your heart is where it’s found.

Song written by William Stevenson, Don Covay & Wilson Pickett

Produced by Jerry Wexler & Tom Dowd

*

Musicianship provided by The Muscle Shoals Sound Rhythm Section:

Roger Hawkins:   drums

David Hood:          bass

Eddie Hinton:       lead guitar

Jimmy Johnson:    rhythm guitar

Barry Beckett:    keyboards

Cissy Houston, Judy Clay, Jackie Vercell & Jerome Gasper:  Vocals