Every bit as exciting as the hard bop emanating from the East Coast, Katanga! is a reminder of how a large segment of music from the time just seemed to get pushed aside, but is now worthy of a major rediscovery.
Curtis Amy Mosaic Select 7 Mosaic Records
I can still remember doing an interview with Mosaic's Michael Cuscuna several years back when I felt compelled to probe him about the lack of reissues from African American artists who happened to record for the Pacific Jazz label. Many still associate Richard Bock's imprimatur with the 'cool school' and such artists as Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker and fail to understand the full scope of the label's deep catalog. At the time of the interview, the Select series was years from appearance and Cuscuna bemoaned the difficulties he was having with putting out such reissues. At the current time, we can be thankful for Mosaic's efforts that brought to light the complete Pacific Jazz recordings of Gerald Wilson and a recent Select edition that for the first time put trumpeter Carmell Jones' albums for the label on CD.
The present set at hand might just be one of the most important reissues of the past five years. Saxophonist Curtis Amy never got much attention outside of his working environs of Los Angeles but was undeniably an important post swing stylist whose work has been hard to reevaluate due to its scare availability. Several years back Amy's Katanga! was available as a limited edition compact disc and a few ears perked, but now we have in this three-disc set all of Amy's Pacific Jazz output and it is uniformly inspired.
Amy's first two session would be co-led with organist Paul Bryant and originally issued as The Blues Message and Meetin' Here. The personnel is the same on both dates and it's intriguing to hear a West Coast approach to the popular organ combo genre of the early '60s. For Bryant's part, he's clearly more out of the Wild Bill Davis bag than an imitator of Jimmy Smith's histrionics. Amy shares the front line with valve trombonist Roy Brewster and it makes for a more distinctive ensemble sound. Onzy Matthews' "Meetin' Here" might serve as the perfect introduction to Amy's artistry, lively and expressive and with a round tone that at times recalls the work of Teddy Edwards.
For Amy's third Pacific Jazz album he again looks for a collaborator and profits from the efforts of drummer Frank Butler, an incredible musician who too often took a backseat to Shelly Manne in the public eye. This date is also notable for the appearance of vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson some five years yet away from his own debut on Blue Note. Amy and trumpeter Carmell Jones lock in tight for a half dozen original's from the saxophonist's pen and the results are splendid. Butler, who worked with such names as Curtis Counce and Hampton Hawes, even gets a feature of sorts on "Very Frank."
Amy's next two Pacific Jazz sessions from 1962, Way Down and Tippin' On Through , also find the vibes as an integral part of the ensemble color but this time around we're introduced to another new voice. Way before his commercial experiments of the '70s and beyond, Roy Ayers was heralded as an up and comer of some merit and it's easy to see why based on his strong showing here. Look for a very young Marcus Belgrave sitting in on three tracks from Way Down. Amy even gets to stretch out at length on the live sessions from The Lighthouse that comprise the album Tippin' On Through. The aforementioned Katanga! completes this package and the 1963 set would also prove to be Amy's last for the label. Trumpeter Dupree Bolton is as much the star on this set as is Amy and pianist Jack Wilson also makes a formidable impression. Every bit as exciting as the hard bop emanating from the East Coast, Katanga! is a reminder of how a large segment of music from the time just seemed to get pushed aside, but is now worthy of a major rediscovery.
As Michael Cuscuna points out in his postscript accompanying this set, Amy recorded under his own name only two more times prior to his death in the summer of 2002. In the interim he stayed active on the LA studio scene even recording with The Doors and Carole King. His legacy as a jazz artist permeates this long overdue set that comes most highly recommended.
DISC ONE 1. Searchin' (A) 8:44 2. Goin' Down, Catch Me A Woman (A) 9:23 3. The Blues Message (A) 8:38 4. Come Rain Or Come Shine (A) 4:55 5. This Is The Blues (A) 8:23 6. Meetin' Here (B) 7:05 7. Early In The Morning (B) 6:46 8. If I Were A Bell (B) 6:02 9. One More Hamhock Please (B) 8:00 10. Angel Eyes (B) 6:19 11. Just Friends (B) 4:10
DISC TWO 1. Gone Into It (C) 6:14 2. Annsome (C) 8:36 3. Bobbin' (C) 5:18 4. Groovin' Blue (C) 8:13 5. Beautiful You (C) 7:38 6. Very Frank (C) 1:48 7. Way Down (E) 7:38 8. Liberia (E) 6:43 9. 24 Hours Blues (D) 5:20 10. Lisa (D) 2:33 11. A Soulful Bee, A Soulful Rose (D) 6:53 12. All My Life (E) 7:18 13. Bells And Horns (E) 5:36
DISC THREE 1. Tippin' On Through (F) 8:43 2. Funk In The Evening (F) 9:47 3. For Ayers Only (F) 6:51 4. In Your Own Sweet Way (F) 6:34 5. Summertime (F) 6:55 6. Set Call (F) 0:23 7. Katanga (G) 3:02 8. Lonely Woman (G) 3:46 9. Native Land (G) 10:18 10. Amyable (G) 6:11 11. You Don't Know What Love Is (G) 5:57 12. A Shade Of Brown (G) 5:57
Personnel: Curtis Amy (tenor saxophone) with Paul Bryant, Bobby Hutcherson, Carmell Jones, Jimmy Bond, Frank Butler, Roy Ayers, Marcus Belgrave, Victor Feldman, Jack Wilson, and many others
Track Listing: Disc One: Searchin', Goin' Down Catch Me A Woman, The Blues Message, Come Rain Or Come Shine, This Is The Blues, Meetin' Here, Early In The Morning, If I Were A Bell, One More Hamhock Please, Angel Eyes, Just Friends. Disc Two: Gone Into It, Annsome, Bobblin', Groovin' Blue, Beautiful You, Way Down, Liberia, 24 Hours Blues, Lisa, A Soulful Bee A Soulful Rose, All My Life, Bells And Horns. Disc Three: Tippin' On Through, Funk In The Evening, For Ayers Only, In Your Own Sweet Way, Summertime, Set Call, Katanga, Lonely Woman, Native Land, Amyable, You Don't Know What Love Is, A Shade Of Brown, Very Frank.
Personnel: Curtis Amy, tenor sax, soprano sax; Carmell Jones, Marcus Belgrave, Dupree Bolton, trumpet; Roy Brewster, valve trombone; Bobby Hutcherson, Roy Ayers, vibes; Ray Crawford, guitar; Frank Strazzeri, John Houston, Victor Feldman, Jack Wilson, piano; Paul Bryant, organ; Clarence Jones, Jimmy Bond, George Morrow, Bob Whitlock, bass; Jimmy Miller, Frank Butler, Tony Bazley, Larance Marable, Doug Sides, drums.
I was first exposed to Jazz when a couple of dear friends of mine turned me onto it around 1971. I was already into Progressive music, R n' B, Soul, Motown, Latin Rock and other styles that were a great ladder to Jazz
I was first exposed to Jazz when a couple of dear friends of mine turned me onto it around 1971. I was already into Progressive music, R n' B, Soul, Motown, Latin Rock and other styles that were a great ladder to Jazz.
Being a Musician myself, (Lead Guitar/Bass Guitar), I studied at the Dick Grove School of Music with Dick Grove, Jeff Richman and Lee Ritenour. This was around '84-'85. I started playing the Guitar in November 1967. Playing Guitar came quite naturally to me thank goodness. Though I spent hours upon hours practicing while my school buddies were doing Sports.
It was in the early '70s that I really got into Jazz, Jazz Rock, Jazz Fusion and World Music. Seeing Weather Report, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Larry Carlton, Steely Dan, John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, RTF, Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters, VSOP, Freddie Hubbard and so many, many more amazing artists opened my eyes to the beauty and eloquent nature of Jazz. I really love the brilliant ensemble playing that is in Jazz!!
When I play and write music, it blends so many style together. Many fans ask me why my playing sounds so jazzy. It's because I understand Blue Notes, the phrasing, the tonality, time signatures and more. I can also play Rock, Folk, Soul, R n' B and other styles too. I seem to gravitate more and more as I get older to a jazzier style. Currently I'm 62 years old. I have released 2 CDs world-wide. Working on my 3rd.
I also teach Guitar/Bass/Music Theory to my students. They range from 6 years old to much, much older. (I was hired by the City of Aurora, CO to teach ages 6-13 specifically). Currently I teach 41 children in 5 classes. Additionally another 7 private students.
My wife, Meesh, and I love Jazz dearly. It was one of the things that we share together!
Most of the people that I know today do not get jazz. I try to explain what to listen for, but many times the music of Jazz is a bit much for them. So be it.
In a nutshell, I live, breath and listen to Music 24/7. No TV except the Food Channel and Weather.
I love John Kelman's articles. They are so insightful and well-constructed!
Thank you all for doing what you do.