Steve Bailey & Victor Wooten – A Chick From Corea

Standard

 

The bass is an instrument that seldom gets the credit it deserves. It’s hard to imagine that someone like Steve Bailey is not a household name. Being able to shred on this instrument is something that people usually only hear stories about. And here Steve Bailey is doing so on a fretless bass for that matter.

Victor Wooten needs no introduction. He has been considered one of the best (if not THE best) of all time on the bass.  Now try to imagine these two jamming with “The Rhythm Devils” (Bill Kreutzmann & Mickey Hart) of The Grateful Dead and see if you can still sleep at night.

-David Galimidi

The Main Squeeze – Sun Is Shining (Bob Marley Cover)

Standard

[USE CHROME OR FIREFOX TO VIEW THIS VIDEO]

Have you ever wished that you could watch a music video and have complete freedom over which musician you wanted to focus on? Some people do a lot of hearing with their eyes, as it’s easier to distinguish between different instruments when you see them being played. Well, now you can be your own cinematographer with Freshest Clams 360 degree music videos. You can have a full Virtual Reality experience with the help of an affordable Google Cardboard head mount, or if you want to ball out you can use an Oculus Rift. It’s like being in the middle of the studio with the band, as the video moves to wherever you turn your head. Also, coming soon we’ll be posting a link to a desktop video where you can zoom and change the video projection.

We were so excited when one of the clammiest bands around, The Main Squeeze, agreed to be the first band featured here. They are an incredible band from Chicago. I first saw them on a side stage at Bonaroo in 2012. The stage had lounge chairs all around, and me and my friends were planning on watching some relaxing music while laying down and taking a breather. Within half of the first song, everyone was on their feet and raging. Since then, I have seen them around 10 times, and every time is better than the last. If you get the chance to see them live, do not pass it up. The Main Squeeze does an exceptional job at improvising, and each show is truly unique.

This is the first of 6 videos with The Main Squeeze shot in the exquisite IV Labs studio, so check back soon to see 360 videos of their original material, including an unreleased song from their upcoming album Mind Your Head

Enjoy!

The Duval Project – Bootsy Call (2013)

Standard

“Stanky.” – J.W. Diskin

The Duval Project is an English neo-soul band, based in Bristol, U.K. and modeled to approximate the funk-jazz-soul-groove of modern R&B artists like D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, and Jill Scott. The band’s leader and mastermind, Gary Alesbrook, honed his style playing with neo-soul musician Raphael Saadiq, whose influence is present throughout the Duval Project catalog.  The lineup features bassist Richie Blake, drummer Danny Cox, keyboardist Andy Nowak, vocalist Marie Lister, and the versatile Alesbrook alternating between trumpet, flugelhorn, and keyboard.  Recently, the band has been experimenting with hip hop artists and a string section on some tracks.

This song invokes the name of the great Bootsy Collins, who earned credibility as James Brown’s bass player during the seminal Sex Machine-Super Bad period, later becoming an iconic member of George Clinton’s P-Funk ensemble.

Reminiscent of Soulive’s signature sound, “Bootsy Call” is a laid-back, grooving funk track that highlights Alesbrook’s dexterity on both keys and horns.

– JS

Dr. Dre – Compton: A Soundtrack (2015)

Standard

compton

In a fit of confusion, my head swung around like a sacrilegious chant had just been uttered. Had my friend really just said the words, “Dr. Dre’s new album” in succession? At first, I passed it off as a jape, a trick; “Good one”, I thought. But then I got angry, “That’s really not something to joke about”.

It’s been years since the music listening community had to come to terms with Detox’s scrapping and even longer since rumors of its inception surfaced. What instantly became one of the most anticipated works in the music industry slowly dwindled to a fable poking you in the back of your mind, reminding you of what could have been. In it’s place were released two mediocre singles, I need a Doctor and Kush, that, like most mediocre singles do, garnered much commercial success and a few 100 millions view on YouTube, then quickly lost all notoriety, unable to keep up with the attention span of pop-radio audiences. Though maybe the death of Detox was for the best. Dr. Dre himself admitted the album wasn’t up to his standards stating, “It just wasn’t good.”

“Yeah,” my friend continued, “It’s called Compton: A Soundtrack.” And so that night upon my return home, I immediately rushed to my computer and on to a certain internet community of swashbuckling music marauders.. And there it was. The first link titled Compton by Dr. Dre, with date confirmation just a few pixels to the right, [2015]. Earlier in the evening, my friend further explained that it was announced only a week prior to its release on Dr. Dre’s Apple Music radio show, The Pharmacy. However, by the time the album was in my iTunes library and on my iPod, it was late, and having been living in the halfhearted shadow of I Need a Doctor and Kush for six and a half years, I had little motivation to give the album an immediate listen. I shut my computer and went to sleep.

The next day, on the subway on my way to work, I began my first listen to Compton. What I first heard was a resounding trumpet call, kept intriguing by three precision beats of orchestral drums, and then brought to crescendo by the introduction of a slew of symphonic sounds, greatly resembling the 20th Century Fox theme. This brief moment, unfamiliar to the hydraulics-powered, funk-drunk tones made famous by Dre, and that would become a staple of the 90s/early 2000s hip-hop era, gunned me into a deeply penetrating and hurtfully real description of life in the ghetto and the emotional turmoil and burden faced by Dre during his assent to hip-hop stardom.

The album is introduced by a brief oral history of Compton, an attempt to bring the American dream into fruition by the black community only for it to dissolve into an extension of the L.A. ghetto. Then, the explosive momentum of sounds uniquely unfamiliar to the Dre I was expecting send me billowing down the I-710 highway south from downtown Los Angeles. The sun is high, the smog is thick, and palm trees pass through the rearview. Dre takes exit 10 onto Rosecrans Avenue, bringing me into the heart of Compton and to the front of the mind of a ghetto kid with great ambitions and nowhere to go but dead ends. Dre, along with rappers of lyrical pungency including the likes of Kendrick Lamar, meticulously paints the socio-economic warzone that surrounded the young Dre; a community raised to depend on gang violence and crime for survival.

While life in the ghetto is no new topic for hip-hop artists, (Nas’ Illmatic, Kendrick’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D City), there is a raw, inexplicable culture shock felt from Compton that kept me listening to it on loop every day as I went to and from work. Every beat keeps the engine growling, winding me through the turns and alleys of the L.A. ghetto. Where Dre would take his newfound mastery of carefully nuanced and highly progressive production techniques was, with every track, as unpredictable as a life ravaged by police brutality and gang violence.

Each beat is layered with rhythmic and melodic castings of the textures of Compton. Steady percussive grooves under the steal ringing of guitar is the chain line efforts of survival in Compton, the beads of sweat forming on your temple under the beating of an L.A. sun. Battle marches are ominously brushed by punk hummings and elusive drum fills readying you for the distant likelihood of being added to the body count. Trembling trap quavers are supported by deep, rolling piano riffs, raising and letting fall the crowd at a midnight block party like the ebbing of the sea. The impellent funk of a baseline pulsates like your heart with the pistons as you shift into high gear, flying through a city as callused as it made you.

With his lyrics, Dre chronicles the constant, unrelenting grind he lived though to achieve fame–the pressure he faced from his surroundings and affiliates, and the hopeless, drowning sensation felt by so many impoverished youth living in ghettoized areas (climaxing with the chilling account of a man literally drowning). Every song turns a page in the confessions of man unresolved with his career, growing more disconnected with the struggle of living in Compton (“Don’t ever call me fortunate, you don’t know what it cost me/ So anybody complaining about they circumstances lost me, homie”), and grappling with a society that now funds his luxurious lifestyle but still doesn’t respect him as a black man.

But with the sounds of a man washing up on shore, alive and inhaling the breaths of air he thought he never would comes revelation. Out from the troubled psyche of one of hip-hops most prolific characters is a hope of ending the systematic racism that perpetuates the condition of African Americans. Dre calls upon the rap industry to change its obsession with the superficial and focus on bringing passion back to the black community. We even see Dre reconnect with Compton, reconciling with the astronomical odds of his success as a black man living in America. (“Some of us was unbalanced but some us used our talents, shit”)

The album closes with the familiar sound of a trumpet cry; however, this time around channelling the spirit of the Dr. Dre’s African American musical predecessors of the jazz era with a delicate and pneumatic solo that slowly fades into the music of Dre’s now. Thus ends what Dre has announced to be his final album, and undoubtedly the magnum opus of his career. Like 30 years ago, Dre is on the cusp of musical innovation. The production feat of Compton sets a new standard for the rap industry and its complex and thematic lyricism follows closely behind Kendrick Lamar’s masterpiece To Pimp a Butterfly released earlier this year. Basically, follow Eminem’s advice…don’t forget about Dre. Ever.

– Noam Fleischmann

The New Review – Biznis (2015)

Standard

Sound the alarms for a new funk/soul band alert. The New Review put out their debut, self-titled album a couple days ago. They have it all. Great instrumentation, tight and deep pockets, nasty double-time horn lines, hip-hop, jazz, and nu-soul hints, and a great singer in Aubrey Haddard. Her vocal control is on point and she has this smooth tone (kinda like Jose James at times, or Rachael Price) yet she’s got the power to turn up at any point. Hope ya dig! If you do, for the sake of inspiring more golden music like this, go support their Bandcamp. 

George Porter, Jr. [Interview, 10/16/2013]

Standard

George Porter, Jr. is best known as the bassist for The Meters, a legendary New Orleans band and R&B rhythm section (also including Art Neville, Leo Nocentelli, and Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste). Despite their lack of popular recognition during the early years, The Meters were immeasurably influential in introducing New Orleans music into mainstream R&B. The Meters recordings from the late 1960s and early ’70s are now revered as historically significant, due to their foundational role in the development of a new genre – funk music.

Besides being one of the progenitors of funk, George Porter, Jr. currently tours with his long-standing solo band, The Runnin’ Pardners.

I interviewed him over the phone for KWUR 90.3 FM in Clayton, MO, to promote a Runnin’ Pardners gig in St. Louis. “I’m in a cheesy motel and the internet service and the phone lines here are terrible,” he warned. The following is a partial transcript of the interview.

– Jared Skoff

10155677_10151940500731436_357922514_n

When did you start playing bass?

I started playing bass around 12 or 13. I mean, I studied classical guitar ages 8 to 10, and when you’re playing classical guitar you also play bass parts, so I guess I started playing bass when I was 8.

When did you start playing with the other members of the Meters?

I played with Art, Zig, and Leo, and a saxophone player named Gary Brown at a club called the Nightcap. That was like ’65 and ’66. Then in the middle of ’66 we moved to the French Quarter and started playing down there, and then we started going on the road. We first recorded “Sophisticated Cissy” and “Cissy Strut” in the middle of ’67. I was 20 years old.

When you were laying down “Sophisticated Cissy” and “Cissy Strut” did you see yourself as breaking new ground?

No I don’t think we saw ourselves as breaking new ground, not at all.

Was there a moment that you realized you were creating a new genre of music?

No, I think that moment passed us by. Frankly, I don’t believe the band knew what we did or what we were doing. We just wanted to be more competitive in the age of music, with the Commodores and folks like that. So we abandoned the syncopated instrumental part of our repertoire, to try and make us more of a Top 40 kind of band. That may not be a great answer, but that’s what happened.

Do you ever get tired of playing Cissy Strut?

Yes, I do. But it’s just something you can’t get away from. In my solo band, Runnin’ Pardners, we don’t play Cissy Strut anymore.

What was the most exciting recording session you’ve worked on?

That would have to be my last Runnin’ Pardners record, Can’t Beat The Funk, where we re-recorded 16 of the original Meters songs that were never performed live by The Meters. I had the most energy and excitement and felt absolutely overwhelmed that I got this project recorded, because it was wonderful Meter music that had been totally ignored, and we had some great songs. I mean I played so many sessions that I loved over the past forty years, some of them I don’t even remember.

Tell us about The Meter Men, your newest incarnation of the original band.

That band consists of Leo Nocentelli, original Meters guitarist, Ziggy Modeliste, original drummer from the Meters, and Page McConnell [from Phish]. Page McConnell has done more shows than any other keyboard players but we’ve also used John Gros from Papa Grows Funk, and Rich Vogel from Galactic. That band is going to be performing more in the coming years, I’m hoping, but we know that Page is not available all the time so we also use other keyboard players.

George Duke was on the table for being one the keyboard players in The Meter Men, and we were going to use him, but then he passed away. That was on my wishlist to get George Duke on the gig. That would have been KILLER. I’m interested in getting a jazz keyboard player, everyone else is leaning towards the young jamband community of keyboard players. My next step is to go for Herbie Hancock. Aim high!

Does your music have a message?

It may have a message of feeling good. I always play happy music. Some of the grooves are kind of laid back but it’s still great grooves. On Can’t Beat The Funk we were going for some of the songs that The Meters never touched again because the songs may have been too laid back for the band. I’m not afraid of that slow funk stuff. There are some Meters songs that I like to play really slow. I’ve slowed down “People Say” in my band. When we did our first reunion with the original band, I started playing “Just Kissed My Baby” and Zigaboo said, “Whoa, that’s way too slow, man, this is the tempo.” I like it slinky and slow, slow and slinky, I like that. And greasy.

Junior Mance – Don’t Cha Hear Me Callin’ To Ya (1970)

Standard

Junior Mance’s mother wanted him to be a doctor, but he dropped out of college to play jazz. Originally from Evanston, he gigged around Chicago, playing piano for Gene Ammons who took him on tour. Mance got his big break when jazz legend Lester Young saw him play in New York and poached him to fill in for Bud Powell. In the ’50s he backed up Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins, and Cannonball Adderley, who got Mance a gig in the 36th Army Band in Fort Knox when he was drafted in 1951.

Junior Mance is solidly a hard bop pianist, and this track explores his funkier side. The song is driven by piano and anchored by the grooving bass. Recorded for the album With A Lotta Help From My Friends, the song is a collaboration between Mance and an all-star rhythm section, comprised of world-class fusion drummer Billy Cobham, bassist Chuck Rainey, and Stuff guitarist Eric Gale.

– JS