Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 - The Year in Review (Music)

       I am sure that there was a whole lot of beautiful, awe inspiring music in 2014......I just didn't get to hear it. This is not to say that I didn't listen to music in 2014....it's just that most of the music I listened to was made years ago, but one 2014 song did stay on my mind...and caught on with a millions of people around the world....it is the #1 song of 2014 "Happy" by Pharell Williams.  Listening to this song does actually make you happy. I will never forget the first time I heard it at
East Side High School in Newark. The song was played continuously over the public address system the morning after the school's basketball team won a significant game. Have you ever been in a place where hundreds of people are in a good mood with smiles on their faces?  .....well that's how it was at East Side High School that particular morning.
        I was also presently surprised to the that 36 African nations have their own version of this song.
This was an authentic R&B song, definitely not today's R&B. You can clearly hear the message, their is absolutely no profanity. It's just like something you would hear on the radio in the 60s or 70s.  Williams voice is similar to that of Curtis Mayfield on this song.

Friday, December 26, 2014

2014 - The Year in Review (Census) HORACE SILVER (1928-2014)

  Although Horace Silver was born in Connecticut his roots go back to The Cape Verde Islands of Africa. It was his father Joao Silva who migrated from Cape Verde to the northeastern part of the United States. Joao Silver changed his own name to John and changed the family name from Silva to Silver, therefore Horacio Tavares Silva became Horace Silver.
   Horace Silver's big break came when Stan Getz decided to make him part of the Stan Getz quartet. Getz was a major influence on Silver during those early sax playing days. When Horace Silver's musical interest changed from sax to piano his major influence was Bud Powell.
   Horace Silver's other major influence was Art Blakey. He became one of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers during the time of Bobby Timmons, Curly Russell and future Modern Jazz Quartet mainstay Percy Heath. Later Silver formed his own Jazz Messengers group. Most of his albums in the 49 years of activity were recorded for the Blue Note record label.
   Unlike many of his contemporaries Horace Silver refused to take drugs, which probably accounted for his youthful appearance even at an advanced age. Like so many others the song that caught my attention was "Song For My Father" which was an unexpected jazz entry in the Billboard Top 100 (#95). The man on the cover was John Silver who looked just like my dad, who wore the same type of hat and shoes. Steely Dan's biggest hit "Rikki Don't Change That Number" was an adaptation of "Song For My Father"

2014 - The Year in Review (Census) GEORGE DUKE (1946-2014)

   George Duke was among a group of three friends who started out in the music business together (the other two were Al Jarreau and Bill Withers).....all three reached world wide acclaim. George Duke was famous for his solo projects and for his production work with other acts that also reached a high level of stardom....Deniece Williams, Hiroshima, Jeffrey Osborne, Sheila E. and Philip Bailey just to name a few. Duke's signature song was a collaborative effect with his friend and fellow
jazz standout Stanley Clark. "Sweet Baby" reached #19 on Billboard's top 20 in 1981.
   George Duke was prolific, between 1966 and 2013 George Duke produced 37 albums for a variety of influential record labels that include Columbia/Epic, Electra, Warner Brothers and more. There was a surprising (at least for me) collaboration with George Clinton that paved the way for George Duke to make strong inroads into the hard core R&B market. The song that did it was "Reach For It" with that Parliament-Funkadelic groove.
  My favorite George Duke story is about the time he was producing an album for Deniece Williams and was vehemently opposed to putting the song "Let's Hear It For The Boy" on the album. He reluctantly went along with its inclusion and to his total surprise this song became a #1 smash, and thus far the only #1 in Deniece Williams' career.
   The "Master Of The Game" album had the unforgettable "I Want You For Myself" and George Duke travelled to Brazil to record "A Brazilian Love Affair" with Brazilian legends Milton Nascimento, Airto and Flora Purim. George Duke passed on at the age of 67 due to leukemia. The music world lost a true genius in 2014.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

2014- The Year in Review (Census) JOE SAMPLE (1939 -2014)

  One of my favorite jazz musicians Joe Sample, passed away on my birthday September 12, 2014. He was part of the innovative Jazz Crusaders who evolved into "The Crusaders", which were among the upper echelon of jazz bands. Sample spent many years with Stix Hooper, Wayne Henderson, Wilton Felder and at times Larry Carlton. As recently as 2003 Joe Sample won a grammy for his collaboration with long time friend and fellow artist Randy Crawford. It was Ms. Crawford who sang lead vocal on Joe Sample's signature song with the Crusaders "Street Life", which cracked the US top 40 in 1979.
   The Crusaders like the late Grover Washington Jr. helped fellow artists who were prevented from releasing work under their own name due to contractual disputes. The Crusaders played a crucial role in getting Bobby Womack's version of "Someday We'll All Be Free" to the public. They also did the same for Bill Withers' "Soul Shadows" and during the great war between Bill Withers and Columbia/Sony records Grover Washington Jr. released Withers' penned "Just The Two Of Us" that skyrocketed to #2 in 1981.
    Joe Sample's one time collaboration with B.B. King resulted in the popular "Never Make A Move Too Soon". Joe Sample succumbed to lung cancer. He may be gone but the music will still live on since there is still a body of unreleased work that is still as they say "in the can".


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

2014 - The Year in Review - (Census) POLLY BERGEN (1930 - 2014)

 Polly Bergen was a multi-talented singer, actress and writer whose work was recognized with numerous nominations for excellence in movies and television. Her crowning achievement was winning an emmy for her portrayal of Helen Morgan in the "Helen Morgan Story". She had her own variety show on network television "The Polly Bergen Show" in 1957 and 1958. As late as 2011 she was nominated for an Emmy for her role as Stella Wingfield in "Desperate Housewives".

2014 - The Year in Review (Census) ELIZABETH PENA (1959-2014)

  Elizabeth Pena was primarily a comedic actress, active from 1979 (El Super) to the year of her
death, 2014, when she starred in "Matador" She attended the New York School of The Performing
Arts, where classmates Ving Rhames and Esai Morales also achieved fame. She will be remembered
most for her roles in "Jacob's Ladder" and "La Bamba". She succumbed to Cirrhosis of the liver on
October 14, 2014.

2014 The Year In Review (Census) JOE COCKER(1944-2014)

by Claude Chaney

    During the very first public appearance of Claude Chaney and Friends in late October, 2006 at a place called "La Negrita" on the upper west side John Felder took the mike and sang "With A Little Help From My Friends" in the Joe Cocker style. The audience loved it. It was one of only two outings John had with the group but without a doubt it was among the most memorable.
    Immediately after that night I began to revisit Joe Cocker's musical legacy and found it most impressive. In the early days Joe had long hair, a raspy voice and made somewhat unusual gyrations
while imagining himself playing a guitar. After his appearance at Woodstock he immediately became a household name. I first became aware of Joe Cocker in the late sixties when I heard a Dave Mason
tune called "Feeling Alright" and I was really impressed. That song was re-released in 1972 when it made the US top forty (#33), other hits followed, the remake of the Box Tops hit "The Letter" (#7 in 1970).  Cocker also remade the Billy Preston song "You Are So Beautiful", which became his second biggest hit. In this song Cocker's voice cracked but it actually enhanced the song. This is my favorite Joe Cocker song, charting at #5 in 1975. Of course Cocker's biggest success came with Jennifer Warnes "Up Where We Belong" from the Richard Gere film "An Officer and a Gentleman" Altogether Joe Cocker had 10 top forty hits in the United States.
     Joe had soul, like his countrymen and women, Tom Jones, Dusty Springfield and Lisa Stansfield which endeared him to R&B enthusiasts. This unique performer will definitely be missed.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

I Told Jesus (Traditional)

I told Jesus it would be alright if He changed my name
I told Jesus it would be alright if He changed my name
I told Jesus, it would be alright, be alright, be alright
I Told Jesus, it would be alright if He changed by name

He said "The world will turn away from you child if I change your name
The world will turn away from you if I change your name
But I told Jesus it would be alright, be alright be alright
I Told Jesus it would be alright if He changed my name

Then He said "Your father won't know you child if I change your name
"Your mother won't know you child if I change your name
But I told Jesus it would be alright if my father turned way
If my mother turned away
If my brother turned away
Baby sister turned away
Turned away
Turned away

I told Jesus it would be alright if He changed my name.

Second song for new CD "You're In My Heart" ( "I Told Jesus") finally completed

by Claude Chaney

    Another small step towards the completion of the twelve song upcoming Claude Chaney and Friends CD "You're In My Heart" came to fruition yesterday when "I Told Jesus" became the second song completed. This came about due to the painstaking work of arranger Perry Montauredes. How this song became part of the CD is somewhat of a mystery.  I first heard the song way back in the late sixties done by Roberta Flack on her very first album "First Take". Roberta Flack at that time was influenced by another one of my favorites the late Nina Simone who also did this song.
   After going over the lyrics of the song many many times I kept asking myself what is this song about. I listened to every version I could find. Besides Roberta Flack, Jennifer Bynum, Irma Gwynn and Nina Simone the late Stanley Turrentine did a poignant instrumental of this song with his booming sax. It is my intention to do at least one religious song on all of my CDs. Thus far I have recorded "Good Morning Dear Lord" and "Lean On Him Always". I know that the song has origins that go back to slavery in the United States based on what I have seen on the internet but what is the connection? It has been called a "Negro Spiritual".
    One of the strange things I found is that all versions of the song are done by females, so maybe this is a song I should not be doing. But, if I told audiences and indicated on the CD that this song was a story that was told by a woman then I shouldn't have any problem. This is what Sam Cooke did on "Touch The Hem Of His Garment"
    Why did I decide to record this song? .....well my friend and fellow church member William G. McCleod (a great gospel singer) made it possible for me to perform at Stapleton's Restaurant in Raritan, New Jersey as part of the "Gospel In The Afternoon" program for January 18, 2015. I thought this song would be a good selection for that program since the other songs I chose were
fast and upbeat this slow song would make a good contrast. I called my guitarist Joaquin Maria and told him to watch the Roberta Flack version on You Tube and that I wanted him to play it for the January 18, 2014 showcase. I called my friend, music teacher and studio arranger Perry Montauredes and told him I would need a track for the January 18, 2014 gig. I was so excited that I told him I would also like to record it for a CD. Fate would have it that one of the performers scheduled to appear at Stapleton's on November 14, 2014 "Gospel In The Afternoon" program would not appear. William McCleod asked me to perform in place of the scheduled artist. I did perform on November 14, 2014 but I could not do "I Told Jesus" because there just wasn't enough time. Whoever I replaced on November 14, 2014 will be replacing me on January 18, 2015. (As a result I have to inform all of my friends who made plans to come to see me that I will not be on the program.)
    So I had to tell Joaquin we would have to put this particular project on "hold" to be continued at some indefinite time in the future as far as live performances are concerned, but I still wanted to record the song for a CD.
   My interpretation of the lyrics may be completely wrong, but to me it appears as if it is a testimony of a woman who is seriously considering becoming a nun, thus "change my name". In the song Jesus says"The world will turn away from you if I change your name" to me Jesus is telling her "You will have to abandon the "ways of the world", "Your father, your mother, your sister and your brother won't know you as a bride of Christ" Christ is asking her if she is willing to make that sacrifice, to which she confidently replies yes. The song with lyrics I don't fully understand has stayed in my head for 45 years. For me recording this song was a labor of love. I thank Perry Montauredes for the extra time he spent making my version a reality. This song is over six minutes long. I wonder how the public will react to it. I wonder if I will be able the give this song the exposure I feel it rightfully deserves....only time will tell.