Saturday, March 27, 2021

Pat: Baris Manco


purchase [ choose one  ]

In the bi-weekly notice to the SMM team for this theme, I jokingly threatened to include something Turkish. A remark from Seuras about the paucity of posts this time around prompts to me follow through with the challenge - even if it is my second post of the day and it doesn't really make up for my slacking off for two weeks. But hey ... the more the merrier, and this one is kind of merry - in a kind of out-of-the-box way, as someone suggested might be appropriate here.

Not too many Turkish musicians make a dent in the international music scene. Baris Manco did (and I use the anglicized spelling without Turkish characters that would confound your screen - it would be phoneticized as barish mancho). You can Wikipedia him yourself, but the essentials are that (a) he's sadly no longer with us ('43-'99), (b) was a prolific composer primarily of a genre known as Anatolian rock and (c) his songs have been translated into more languages than you can shake a stick at. Oh, yes, and since I have been here most of my life, I have been listening to his music since I started listening to rock (and there aren't many Turkish musicians that I relate to that well.)

There's a folky style to his "rock" that you may not fancy. I assure you that millions of Turks do - to this day. It helps if you have references that help you relate, and that, his songs do. This one in particular incorporates the sing-song (if not pitter-patter) of vendors who ply the streets of Turkey's cities even to this day. Singing the names of their wares as they cruise the neighborhoods slowly in their pickup trucks loaded with fruit and vegetables brought to the street in front of your house, in this case: "tomatoes, peppers, eggplants".The Turkish for eggplant/aubergine being PATlican (the Turkish letter c is pronounced like the J in John).

Pat: Metheny


purchase  [ New Chautauqua ]

The term “record label” has almost become irrelevant. As we consume more and more of our music in digital format, record labels as such have become more or less invisible or irrelevant to the consumer. Not so 50 years back. Musicians we both tied to and touted by the labels. If you were purchasing music in the 60s and 70s, you knew what to expect from a Tamla, an Atco, a Polydor. You knew what you were likely to get if the label was ECM.

I knew ECM was European, north European. I knew it was independent. I knew it meant progressive Jazz. I didn’t know it was short for Edition of Contemporary Music. I knew the label included among its artists Keith Jarrett, Jan Garbarek, Chick Corea, Eberhard Weber, Ralph Towner and John Abercrombie because I no small part of my LP collection included them. My collection also included a bit of Pat Metheny.

I tend to skew more toward the guitar than piano or sax, and a number of the above fit my prefs. Although Metheny started out solo (supported by some of the ECM crowd), he is mostly associated with the self-named Pat Metheny Group, which was releasing records up until about 10 years ago. He released an album titles From This Place about a year ago, and then Road to the Sun a couple of weeks ago (March 2021). And speaking of record labels, it caught my attention that most recently, his music has been appearing on the Nonesuch label, which I knew as a kid because a lot of my parents’ classical collection was on that label (a budget classical label in the 60s that has :developed into a label that records critically acclaimed music from a wide variety of genres” –Wikipedia)


Thursday, March 25, 2021

Pat: Patrick O’Hearn

Group 87: Future of the City

When I suggested this theme, I was trying to think of a St. Patrick’s Day theme that didn’t fall back on some variation of Irish music, so it is kind of funny that I’m writing about a guy named Patrick O’Hearn (although it sounds Irish, it turns out that it may more likely be English). 

Frankly, what I knew about Mr. O’Hearn before starting this piece was that he was once in a band that I liked back in the 80’s called Group 87, but I didn’t even know what instrument he played. The band put out a self-titled album in 1980 that was given pretty heavy airplay at WPRB, but I’m guessing that most people reading this have never heard of it. 

Group 87 is an instrumental album that mixed rock, jazz, fusion, and what would eventually be called new age music, and it was really well done (it rocks more than it “new ages,” if that’s a phrase, and we all know it isn’t). Considering the style, and the time, it isn’t surprising that the album went nowhere, and the band was cut by Columbia Records, only to re-emerge in 1984 with a second album on EMI that I have never heard. All because the same A&R guy who signed them at Columbia had moved to EMI—Bobby Colomby, who had been the drummer for Blood, Sweat & Tears. 

But it turns out that O’Hearn, and the rest of Group 87 have had pretty interesting and fairly successful careers, pretty much off of the Jordan Becker radar. Group 87’s trumpeter was Mark Isham, who had played with, among others, Van Morrison, before becoming a new age and soundtrack star and in-demand session musician. The guitarist, Peter Maunu, is also a prolific session musician, with credits that range from Jean-Luc Ponty, and The Commodores. And while not an official member of the group, the drums on their debut were played by Terry Bozzio, who had played with Zappa and U.K. before forming Missing Persons with, among others, his wife Dale Bozzio and other former Zappa band members. 

But this is about O’Hearn, who started as a bass player, and began playing professionally at 15. Moving to San Francisco, he played mostly jazz, playing bass for well-established artists such as Charles Lloyd, Joe Henderson, Dexter Gordon, Joe Pass, Woody Shaw, Eddie Henderson, and Bobby Hutcherson, as well as musicians who were his contemporaries, and eventually joined Frank Zappa’s band, where he began experimenting with synthesizers. 

In 1979, he joined friends Isham, Maunu (and Bozzio) to form Group 87. Bozzio then recruited O’Hearn to move into the new wave world, joining Missing Persons, where he played both synthesizer and bass, and hopefully cashed in on their popularity. When that band broke up in 1986, O’Hearn eventually started a solo career in the new age and ambient genres, where he has been quite successful, as well as working on soundtracks. To date, he has released 13 solo albums. And, in another genre-bending move, he played bass with John Hiatt on tour from 2007-2010 and in the studio through 2012 (so he wasn’t there when I saw Hiatt at the Tarrytown Music Hall in 2014). 

Although one of the things I like about writing these little blog posts is that I get to write about stuff that I know, the best part is finding out things that I didn’t know.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021


Mindful there has not been too much a pitter-PATter of posts arriving under this banner, time to think out of the box. And what could be better than a cake box, something that may have me awarding me a pat, SWIDT, on the back for inspiration. Of course, Cake are no strangers here, usually courtesy their way with quirky covers, enough to endear themselves to me bigtime. But they are more than just novelty revisionings, having a wealth of their own penned material on hand as well. As I have discovered.

With a modus operandi of always avoiding the obvious, this was apparent from the start by the prominence of trumpet, lead trumpet even, an instrument more reviled than revered in rock and pop, delegated, where I thought it should be, to old man's music like jazz or, within reason, the unison brass parts of soul music. I had utmost suspicion of the instrument, feeling it as uncool as short hair and straight trousers. Until then, just to damn my eyes, short hair and straight trousers came back in. My version of punk coasted into post-punk and an enduring love of Chumbawamba, another band with trumpet, forcing me to swallow my prejudice, luckily also coinciding with the astonishing discovery that jazz was OK too. (And that I preferred jazz trumpet solos to saxophone solos, despite sax being just about allowed a seat at the table of my earlier rockist tastes. And since you ask, Chet more than Miles.)

Rock'n'Roll Lifestyle/Motorcade of Generosity (1994)

Cake I first heard through their astonishing de- and reconstruction of I Will Survive, reeking so of mariachi I had to go and gather that whole style into my body of required and allowable listening. It has been touched on here. I bought the parent record. The second single from their second album, it came out in 1997 and made the indie charts at home, managing a 29 in the UK, and higher in some other european countries. Given their first album was all originals, and largely damned either by faint praise, or just plain damned, this left the band with a dilemma, one that never quite lost them, continuing arguably to be better known for their covers, despite barely doing any others over the next few records. (Having a self-penned song called Jolene on their debut arguably didn't help, allowing the lazy to make assumptions: I certainly downloaded the track on that basis!!) 

The Distance/Fashion Nugget (1996)

Never There/Prolonging the Magic (1998)

In researching this piece I was, therefore a little surprised to see their last record, 2011's Showroom of Compassion actually hit the coveted Billboard #1 slot, if only for a week, albeit based on the then lowest sales to attain that slot. And not a cover in sight. (Well, one, actually.) Also that all the four ahead of that had entirely satisfactory sales, with only the very first failing to make any splash, so bang goes my assertion. But maybe the fact they refused a greatest hits, and released instead the only other record of theirs I own, b-sides and Rarities, which is nearly all cover versions, explains my fallacy. 

Comfort Eagle/Comfort Eagle (2001) 

Sick of You/Showroom of Compassion (2011)

Scattered through this prose are a few of their finest. If you are unfamiliar, listen. If you know them, re-aquaint. The trumpet of Vince DeFiori is certainly not the only cause to celebrate, the caustic and conversational singing of John McCrea, also the main songwriter, being a joyful characteristic of the sound. These two are the sole permanently present members of the band, as they seemed to get through a slew of rhythm sections along the way. Just two lead guitarists, though, with a special mention for Greg Brown, no, not that one, there from the start, who left in 1997, if still making later guest appearances, his spiky playing adding to the overall counter-intuiveness of the whole. But for the last ten years there has been little sight or sound. There was promise of new material as far back as 2018, with only a single video, below, sneaking out. A demo leaked in January this year, so maybe we haven't quite had all our Cake yet. 

Sinking Ship (2018)

Eat some!