August 16, 2014


Air dates were Thursday, 8/14/2014, at 1:00 PM Central and Friday, 8/15/2014, at 9:00 PM, on KRVS 88.7 FM Lafayette. A new show airs weekly at those times. A podcast and playlist are available from the KRVS website under “Programs” - scroll down the list to Funkify Your Life and click on the show name to see the playlist(s). You’ll find the podcast(s) in the ”Music” section under the playlists - click on the link with name and date of show, then hit “Listen”.

This time out, I featured three songs with the late Idris Muhammad on drums, various tunes by recent inductees into the South Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, and some other choice tracks

“Funkify Your Life” [Intro] - The Meters - from Sundazed CD re-issue of New Directions, 2000.

“Express Yourself” (Charles Wright) - Idris Muhammad - from Prestige CD, Legends of Acid Jazz: Idris Muhammad, 1996. 
This track originally appeared on his 1971 Prestige LP, Black Rhythm Revolution. Muhammad passed away on July 29 at the age of 74. One of New Orleans’ greatest drummers, he started out life there as Leo Morris, and early on was drumming on the streets with brass bands. As a teenager, he played and recorded with Art Neville's R&B band, the Hawketts, then joined Larry Williams band playing R&B rock ‘n’ roll, then moved out into the world, playing with various national R&B and soul artists, before going to New York later in the 1960s and breaking into the world of jazz. He soon became a sought-after accompanist, and one of the innovators of the acid-jazz movement near the end of the decade, working as both a player and leader, fusing funk rhythms with jazz. He never lost his natural-born foundation in the music of his hometown.

“Door Poppin’” (C. Fran - C. Hollimon) - Carol Fran & Clarence Hollimon - from their Black Top CD, See There!, 1994. 
From Lafayette, LA, Carol is was inducted into the South Louisiana Music Hall of Fame (SLMHF) at recent ceremonies in Houma, LA that I got to attend. In her early 80s now, she has been predominantly a blues and R&B vocalist and pianist since the 1950s. This track is from the second of two CDs she made for Black Top Records of New Orleans with her husband, the well-respected blues guitarist, Clarence Hollimon. Other great players on this album were Herman Ernest on drums, Lafayette bassist Lee Allen Zeno, Sammy Berfect on keyboards, and lead saxophonist ‘Kaz’ Kazanoff with the Kamikaze Horns. There is a side of hers from from a 1960s single later in the show.

“I’m Ready Now” (Ron Levy) - James ‘Thunderbird’ Davis - from the Black Top CD, Checkout Time, 1989. 
Another SLMHF inductee, blues vocalist Davis was originally from Alabama, and found his way to Thibodaux, LA in the early 1950s, living at Hosea Hill’s Sugar Bowl club and working there with the house band. While there, he partnered and toured with the legendary Guitar Slim, a/k/a Eddie Jones,who was backed by Lloyd Lambert’s band. After Slim’s death, Davis recorded a handful ofl singles for Duke Records in Houston from the late 1950s to around 1965. This Black Top album served as a fine comeback for him late in life, with assistance from Texas guitarists Clarence Hollimon, also a veteran of many Duke sessions, and Anson Funderburgh. Lloyd Lambert played bass, David Lee, drums, with producer Ron Levy on keys, and Kazanoff on sax, among other fine horn players.

“Tell Me that You Love Me” (M. West - D. Thomas) - Willie West - from the Uptown Rulers CD, From West With Love, 1999. 
A consummate soul vocalist, Willie also was inducted into the SLMHF this year. He started out in Raceland, LA, singing with his band, the Sharks in the 1950s, as a teenager. He did three singles around 1960 for the Rustone label in Houma, then moved to New Orleans where his long performing and recording career continued until 2006, when he relocated to St. Cloud, MN. In 2008, I did a feature on his musical journey which you can consult for more details. He is still recording and performing, both in the US and Europe. Two of his earlier recordings are featured later in the show. I’m pretty sure the late, great Wilbert ‘Junkyard Dog’ Arnold played drums on this one.

“Wa-Wa Guitar Man, Part 1” (S. Jones-B. Lacour-D. Douglas) - David Douglas - from the original Hep’ Me 45 (#1), 1971. 
Yet another SLMHF inductee, Douglas is also from the Houma area and a cousin of Willie West. The two-part single is his only known recording as a featured artist. Starting in the early 1970s, he joined Fats Domino’s touring band as guitarist and later switched to bass, staying until Fats stopped performing earlier this century. For more on this track see my earlier post.

“Git It” (Sam Henry, Jr) - Sam & The Soul Machine - from the Funky Delicacies CD, Po’k Beans & Rice, 2002. 
Sam, who died a few years back, had a long musical career in New Orleans as a pianist, composer, arranger, bandleader and educator. In the late 1960s, he combined his trio with Aaron, Neville, Cyril Neville and saxophonist Gary Brown to form the Soul Machine, which became a very popular soul/funk cover band. In 1969, Sam and members of his band, plus drummer Zig Modeliste of the Meters, recorded an album’s worth of original instrumental funk in New Orleans that was not released until Funky Delicacies put it out on CD with some other Soul Machine-related tracks, over 30 years later. Back then, Sam was shooting for the hit-making sound and grooves of the Meters, and definitely succeeded in that regard. For more on his band and their close relations with the Meters, again see my earlier post.

“Said To Myself” (M. West) - Willie West - from the original Warner Bros 45 (#8087), 1975. 
Between 1965 and 1975, Willie recorded exclusively but sporadically for Allen Toussaint and Marshall Sehorn’s Tou-Sea Productions, which became Sansu Enterprises around 1970. He had singles released on their Deesu label, as well as one on Josie which had backing by the Meters, who also recorded for the label; but none had commercial success. Produced at Sea-Saint Studios, this fine WB 45 was his last for the Sansu team, and probably had at least some of the Meters on it, but did not get pushed to radio by the corporate overlords. So, it went pretty much unheard by the general public.

“Chocolate Cherry” (Anthony Dorsey) - Joe Tex Band - from Instrumental Explosion, BGP/Ace Records, 2004. 
This cut is on a UK CD compilation in my archives. I’ve got the original Dial 45 on order, but couldn’t wait until it got here. At the SLMHF ceremony, I talked with inductee Tony Dorsey a bit about this single, as he wrote and arranged both sides. From the Houma area, he played trombone and did horn arrangements for Joe Tex’s road band in the mid-1960s and confirmed that they all played on the session for this single. Most of Joe’s other Dial recordings had a mix of Nashville studio musicians and band members. Tony went on to work with Percy Sledge, among other soul acts, and toured with Paul McCartney and Wings in the 1970s. Another long-time member of Tex’s band was guitarist Lee ‘Leroy’ Hadley, Sr, who was also inducted this year. Hadley’s brother, Clarence, played bass at the time of this recording, as well. Bandleader Clyde Williams played drums; and the legendary Houston tenor saxman, Grady Gaines, was in the band then, too.

“We Got Something Good” (Maurice Dollison) - Irma Thomas - from the original Chess 45 (#2036), 1968. 
In 1967, Irma was promisingly signed to Chess records and sent to Muscle Shoals to record at Rick Hall’s Fame Studio with its killer studio band, the Swampers. The label also was sending the likes of Etta James and Laura Lee down there, looking for hits. Although Irma cut a good number of tracks, all impressive, Chess only saw fit to release three singles between 1967 and 1968. None of them got very far except the A-side of of her final single for them, “Good To Me”, an Otis Redding tune, which briefly got into the charts. I’m featuring the B-side, which also could have clicked. Unfortunately, Chess wanted to assign Irma to Phil Walden’s Macon, GA booking agency, but she refused to deal with Walden because he kept too much of the money. Thus, she missed out on the exposure of touring with some big name artists Walden represented. As a result Chess didn’t promote her records well and soon dropped her. Dat’s showbiz.

“Hurry Back To Me” (Allen Toussaint) - Diamond Joe - from the original Sansu 45 (#460), 1966. 
I did a post on Diamond Joe (Maryland), from Mechanicville, LA, near Houma, on the sad occasion of his death back in 2010. In researching the scant information available on him back then, I asked Willie West if he knew him; and, as you can read there, he and Diamond Joe were close friends. Joe, too, was honored by the SLMHF this year. An interesting tie-in to this week’s show is that early-on Joe played bass in the house band at Hosea Hill’s Sugar Bowl, which was fronted by ‘Thunderbird’ Davis.

“Willie Knows How” (M. West) - Willie West - from the original Rustone 45 (#1406), 1961.
One more this week from Mr. Willie. This cut was on the last of his three Rustone singles. The label was based in Houma, and, being small and not well-funded, lacked the ability to properly promote its productions and get much radio play. Soon thereafter, Willie moved to New Orleans, frequently performing live, and recorded a few singles for Frisco Records there, before hooking up with Toussaint.

Willie has a current CD out, Can’t Help Myself on CDS Records (I’ll get to some of that on later shows), and has been recording vinyl singles released by Timmion Records in Finland since 2009. They are preparing to release a new LP, Lost Soul, on him; and Willie will tour there in September, with hopes of a longer European tour later. Cuts from those will pop up in weeks and months to come, too.

“Oh Baby” (Larry Williams) - Larry Williams - from the Specialty CD Larry Williams: Bad Boy, 1989. 
As I said on the show, the majority of Williams’ material for Specialty was recorded in Los Angeles, where the label was based, but still had great New Orleans session musicians on it, who had relocated out there. From 1957, “Oh Baby” was one of a few tracks he cut back home at Cosimo Matassa’s J&M Studio; but I don’t think this take was released at the time. The track is notable on this show because the young Leo Morris (a/k/a Idris Muhammad), who was the drummer in Larry’s live band, played on the session. Other musicians on the date were Lee Allen and ‘Kid’ Jordan on saxes, and Frank Fields on bass. Either Art Neville or Williams played piano. Larry also recorded another song called “Oh Baby” for Chess Records later, but it is not the same.

“I’m Gonna Try” (Johnny Williams) - Carol Fran - from the original Port 45 (#3000), 1965. 
Carol recorded four worthy singles for the Port label, based in New York City in the mid-1960s. This cut was the B-side of the first of those, which had “Crying In The Chapel” on top. I have a CD compilation with all those tracks plus good notes, but can’t locate it at the moment. So, I will just assume that she cut the Port sides in NYC, although the horn arrangement in particular on this one reminds me of a Toussaint production.

“Cat Music” (Dave Bartholomew) - Dave Bartholomew - from a Mambo/Jukebox Jam re-issue 45 (#1026). 
This cut originally appeared on Imperial #5308 in 1954. I chose it at the last minute, because I needed a short song to fill in near the end of the show; and I’ve always dug the tune, which has ‘Tenoo’ Coleman on drums plus a bongo player, adding a Latin lilt to the jazzy groove. Dave’s hipster lyrics ice the cupcake.

“Cold Bear” (Turbinton-Charles-Charles-Clark-Pania) - The Gaturs - from the original Gatur 45 (#508), 1970. 
This single was re-issued nationally by Atco Records about a year later, but failed to make the charts. With the Meters’ hitmaking instrumental funk going on, groups like the Gaturs and Sam & The Soul Machine were jumping on the bandwagon, but putting their own slants on the format. 

The leader of the Gaturs was keyboardist and vocalist Wilson ‘Willie Tee’ Turbinton, who had been recording as a soul vocalist since the early 1960s. He had a hit in 1965 with “Teasin’ You” on Atlantic, which had first appeared on the local Nola label. After that he formed Willie Tee and the Souls with his brother, Earl, on sax, George French on bass, and David Lee on drums, a soul/funk band with jazz leanings who had a regular, popular gig at the Ivanhoe club on Bourbon Street. Through a friendship with Cannonball Adderley, who frequently came to New Orleans, Tee got a solo deal with Capitol Records, resulting in one pop-ish album, Man That I Am, which was not well-received. Regrouping, he formed the Gaturs, named after the record label, Gatur, he had started with his cousin, Ulis Gaines (Ga+Tur). 

A chance booking at a local festival with the Wild Magnolias resulted in a recording collaboration that fused funk and Mardi Gras Indian music on several singles and two ground-breaking LPs for the French Barclays label. In 1976, Willie recorded the impressive album, Anticipation, which failed to get any attention for the multi-talented artist, who passed away in 2007.

“Keep On Pushing” (Curtis Mayfield) - The Impressions - from the MCA CD, Curtis Mayfield & the Impressions: The Anthology 1961 - 1977, 1992. 
As I said on the show, I picked this song, recorded far from New Orleans, because Idris Muhammad, then still known as Leo Morris, played on the session. The track was cut in Chicago by the ever-impressive, hit-making group, The Impressions, with Curtis Mayfield on guitar and lead vocal, who also wrote, arranged, and produced the material. Morris/Muhammad played on a number of their recordings at the time. Besides the beauty and inspiration of the song itself, I like how Morris handled the ¾ time, managing to subtly break-up the beats a bit to give the groove a rhythmic push.

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