A YEAR OF GOOD VIBES — PART 2

JULY

Gary BurtonLofty Fake Anagram (1967)

Gary Burton is an absolute giant of the instrument, having taken the four-mallet technique to the next level. This LP and Duster (also 1967) are super examples of his skill as a jazz composer, improviser and arranger. Larry Coryell’s guitar plays an excellent supporting role as part of a first class rhythm section. The only puzzle is the name. The anagrams I came up with don’t seem to illuminate the album much: “Folky Fate”, “Alt Key Off” and “Toffy Lake”. 

AUGUST

Gary BurtonGood Vibes (1970)

Without doubt Good Vibes is the closest Gary Burton came to jazz-rock, the inclusion of three electric guitarists adding muscle and attitude to the record. Not that Burton is simply an observer of this edginess. The opening cut, “Vibrafinger” snarls out of the speakers in a most un-genteel way. It’s like the mallet man was determined to take the pristine vibraphone and rub its nose in the dirt. From the soulful blues of “Pain in my heart” through the funky swing of “Leroy the Magician” to a beautifully balanced version of “I never loved a man (The way I love you)” the playing is intense yet uplifting. Bernard Purdie (drums), Richard Tee (piano/organ) and Steve Swallow (bass) join Eric Gale, Jerry Hahn and Sam Brown (the guitarists) on this terrific album. Good vibes indeed.

SEPTEMBER

Gary Burton—Chick CoreaCrystal Silence (1972)

Put the master vibist with one of the finest pianists ever to explore electric pianos and you get an album of shimmering beauty and ethereal melody. Like standing in the butterfly house at a zoological garden, this is wondrous music that flitters and dances on unseen currents. Pure magic.

OCTOBER

Roy AyersCoffy (1973)

No need to read the words with this one. Just take in the glory of the album cover and hand over your money. “Coffy” is a classic of the 70s blacksploitation sub-genre. Pam Grier plays a nurse turned vigilante, there’s a dude who wears capes, the cars are the size of basketball courts, and the body count higher than a pair of red platform boots. There is even a brawl between the very handy Ms Grier and some bad guy’s, er, lady friends. It’s got everything. 

Musically, the thoroughly entertaining soundtrack covers every base from steamy jazz-funk through soul to a harpsichord eulogy. It is Roy Ayres at his best as composer, arranger, and (vibraphone) musician. Don your flairs and listen to the album. You won’t regret it.

NOVEMBER

Dave PikeTimes Out Of Mind (1976)

Although Pike courted the 1960s lounge jazz demographic, his early albums are pretty much straight ahead bop and very pleasing too, not least because Pike’s Peak (1961) features Bill Evan’s on piano.

But after listening to a selection of Dave Pike albums, the one I opted to feature is a mid-70s set that brazenly includes contemporary touches such as some funky bass lines (Luther Hughes) and a dollop of synth; there’s even a Debussy quote in opening piece “Dance of the Grebes”. Though there may be a lack of cohesion (the romp through jazz standard “Wee” sticks out a bit) this is great fun and that uncommon thing, a jazz album accessible to anyone who loves those mid-decade analogue sounds (Tom Ranier’s electric piano work is top class). The mellifluous Kenny Burrell adds guitar to three tracks, a notable bonus.

DECEMBER

John Sangster and Alan LeeDouble Vibes: Hobbit (1977)

Australian jazz legend John Sangster was an extraordinarily prolific composer. His Tolkien-inspired releases alone number more discs than an average career. Sangster’s hobbit obsession began (musically speaking) back in 1973 with the release on Swaggie Records of The Hobbit Suite. Lots about Sangster’s Middle Earth music in these pages (beginning here) so we’ll cut to this very enjoyable LP of some re-interpretations of earlier compositions plus some new pieces. Sangster recruited another mallet veteran for the date, and he and Alan Lee play up a storm on these (sometimes tenuously related) hobbity tunes. Lee’s marimba appears on several tracks, enriching the tonal palette and allowing a fascinating comparison of the instruments.

*

This action shot of Dave Pike giving it some mallet was too good not to share

*

There we are then. Commission fulfilled with lots of vibes.

Though now I’m wondering. Was the initial request simply for some good time music and not about vibraphones at all?

37 comments

  1. Am I brave enough to use an obvious shocker of a pun? Oh yeah. A weekend of home imprisonment is reason enough to try for a vibrant weekend.
    Of these I only have Crystal Silence, which is a bit too mellow for me. I usually prefer the edge of something like Evolution (Grachan Moncur lll) but I reckon it will be an enchanting and possibly expensive weekend.

    Thanks Bruce.
    DD

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This selection is certainly less ‘pure’ jazz, as I’m sure you clocked DD.

      Only have one disc by the wonderfully monikered Grachan Moncur III, the one after ‘Evolution’. Sadly, it doesn’t have Bobby Hutcherson on it (though it’s a fine, if somewhat serious, album).

      On-line music shopping is the cure for the lockdown blues. Good hunting.

      Like

      1. I’ve just got home and have (a) optimistically called to defer our planned trip to Mildura (b) converted the couch to its bed function, complete with doona, and am now (c) lying on it with phone poised to search for Good Vibes as soon as I’ve sent this.
        It is a tasty menu you’ve laid out, so this is the least I can do.
        I hope your weekend will be as productive.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Sounds cosy and very promising, DD. Hope the supine position is indicative of relaxation, not unwellness.

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          1. I’m mainly under the doona because the bloody Space heater spaced out last night. So the listening position is more or less dictated by necessity, even if it is a good place to listen to Good Vibes.
            Meanwhile, your mention of Grachan Moncur lll has got me searching for his albums with Jackie MacLean. Now that particular rabbit hole looks about as expensive as a long weekend in some kind of Paradise.
            PS
            I could easily live with Good Vibes.

            Have a good one.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I finished this dive into the vibraphone On a Quiet Note. Thanks Bruce, this was a really nice diversion.

              Liked by 1 person

            2. A pleasure, DD. A quiet Blue Note?

              Like

            3. Well there was certainly a dive into The Blue Yusef along the way.

              Liked by 1 person

  2. Very curious on the Pike recordings. Kenny Burrell doesnt hurt

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Kenny was a class act.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Ill take your word for it. Looking forward to checking out the music.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I thought u meant Dave. Just checking that one out now. Didnt take long to grab me.
        Kenny just celebrated a birthday. A friend ordered a bunch of vinyl off of Blue Note.
        I have a KB take coming up on his ‘Midnight Blue’ album. Funny how things related start popping up.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Neat synchronicity. Midnight Blue is an essential jazz LP. Look forward to your take, CB.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I told my friend to order that one. I guess they were bundling up Kenny’s records to celebrate his birthday. My buddy has been on a vinyl binge. He found some lost cash. I think his wife was hiding it. She will be pissed but he’s happy for the moment.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. You know me and my love of album art…that Sangster and Lee cover is an absolute winner. I’d like to get my hands on that font.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is a most bodacious font, to be sure. The design is very neat too.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Thanks for this excellent survey, I had no idea all these vibraphone albums even existed. I have heard Crystal Silence, great late-night-stretch-out-on-the-couch album. Hard to believe the Pam Grier cover wasn’t a spoof, that’s a lot of offensiveness to pack into one illustration but a great cheesy time piece.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Every kind of ‘sploitation, Robert!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Are you Melbourne’s foremost vibraphone collector?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That stats suggest that in a city of 4m there are 3.7 other collectors, but I’ve not met them.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s a secretive calling, I’d imagine.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Other than the annual vibe-o-thon, yes.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. I have an old LP of Crystal Silence (and one other by the pair) and they’re something else. Love this series! Great stuff.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. So glad you’ve enjoyed it Aaron. That other Corea/Burton would either by the one with the butterfly cover or the live double. Both are super!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I consulted my inventory list, the other one I have is called Duet.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Fine LP. Might give it a spin now, before bed.

          Like

  7. Great posts, and still laughing with your end pun, Bruce! I love it when you tackle jazz albums. I do love the sound of vibes, though I see now there is still a lot more for me to discover! Thanks for this survey!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Guy. That’s lovely. I do appreciate hearing when jazz posts are enjoyed. I hope you discover some vibes albums that ring your bells!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m sure I will! Only album from your survey I own is the wonderful Bags & Trane. But I will now definitely check out some Gary Burton and Dave Pike! Cheers!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. As you’d likely guess, we folks here in the Virginia hollers don’t know much ’bout no vibraphone. But, I love me some Chick Corea and remember mentions of his collaborations with Gary Burton in prior VC writings, so the albums mentioned above and in the comments, Crystal Silence and Duet respectively, are now on my “Buy If Seen” list.

    Never would have expected to see it in a VC piece but I have watched Coffy within the last year. Wouldn’t want to watch it with the spouse or the offspring as I don’t think they’d be able to suspend disdain for the various ‘sploitations long enough to enjoy the fun — which is probably a good evolution of awareness overall. That said, the movie is a freaking blast; I’d love to have one of those old Caddies or Towne Cars now, and Pam Grier is one sexy bad ass…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Brilliant film review, CB.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Has CB reviewed this one?? Link please.🙂

        Like

        1. Sorry, mislead you Vic. It was attempted humour relating to CB’s comment. “The movie is a freaking blast”. Having watched it meself, cannot disagree.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. Pam Grier makes me forget about the vibraphone, Bruce. 🙂 Great cover! – Marty

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Why’s that, Marty? 😅

      Liked by 2 people

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