Friday, 13 August 2010

Bobby Jackson and Smashing Pianos

No cocaine running around in my brain; instead, Chairman Of The Board’s ‘Finder’s Keepers’ for most of the day...ever since I looked at what the Finders Keepers label had to offer in their catalogue. If I looked at the RAK label, I’d probably want to go sailing but not, hopefully, find myself singing Rod’s song.
   ‘Finder’s Keepers’ is, as you know, one of the greatest singles ever made, not only because of its groove, but also the arrangement and unusual elements, one of which is the scorching trombone. ‘Bone solos are a rarity in pop tunes (if this can be called ‘pop’). They’re not too common in Funk, except where the JBs are involved. One is featured in another fabulous record, the Soul Sisters’ ‘I Can’t Stand It’, which is also one of the greatest singles ever made. A pattern emerges? To make one of the greatest dance records ever, get a good trombone player involved.
   It’s easier to find great music now than it’s ever been, especially when the likes of Jazzman do all the legwork. One great discovery I made recently through that label is Bobby Jackson’s ‘The Cafe Extraordinaire Story’. And he’s virtually unknown. A bass-player who ran a venue in Minneapolis is about all I do know. ‘Bobby’s Blues’ is a stunner, featuring Bobby Lyle on piano, in a kind of McCoy Tyner mode, with grand chords crashing down the stairs, tunefully of course.
   Saying that reminds me of the time we couldn’t move a piano up some stairs, got it wedged in a wooden rail that had metal at its core (oh, they knew how to make things last in the old days), which we discovered when we tried to saw through it. So, after some debate we kicked it back down and smashed it to pieces. I’ve haven’t had so much fun from, or got such great sounds out of, an instrument before or since. Music for an unprepared piano. Wish we’d recorded it ‘cause I just know it would have become an avant-garde classic by now.
   Bobby Hutcherson, as he recalls in ‘The Hip’, once chucked a piano from a fourth floor in New York. They got a drunk off the street to give it the final heave whilst they prepared to record it on the street – ‘ – and then WHAAAAHOOOM! And man, this chord hits and it’s just like someone flipped a switch from darkness to light! It just stayed there and swelled like an atomic bomb.’
   Anyway, Jackson’s record is damn fine, not brilliant, but surprisingly modern-sounding, as in kind of timeless. I think the year was ’66, but it has a feel to it like it could have been made yesterday. It does look foward on 'Fluck Flick', with the electric keyboard lending it a fusion feel. Rarity is no guarantee of quality but in this case Jazzman's digging has turned up a goodie.

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