Sunday, September 30, 2007

It's Twine Time!!!!

Browneyedhandsome Man is the name of Rob Whatman's blog, and he has some great history on R&B artists, past and present. This post is from his site on and it was respectfully borrowed from it with all of it's copywrite implications. Please enjoy and visit his site if you get the chance.

With one of the bands I play with, The DK4 with Dave Stewart, we do this song and the floor starts jumping each time we do it.
I first heard it when my sister bought the 45 RPM record, many years ago. She wore this song out from repeated playings!!

It's Twine Time!: Alvin Cash And The Registers

"The Twine, which is the title of this album, is a dance started in one of Chicago's High Schools. It is the consensus of opinion that Dunbar High School students started the dance.

Herb 'The Cool Gent' Kent, WVON deejay, popular with teenagers, picked up the name at one of his regular record hops and started talking about the WOODBINE TWINE (the title of our newest release by the Five Du-Tones). Bill Cody, who has taught choreography and dancing in and around Chicago for many years to most of the singing groups, saw the dance and brought it to the attention of Mar-V-Lus' A&R man, Andre Williams. Andre saw the dance and felt the beat - grabbed Alvin Cash and the Registers, and bingo, the rest is history. Alvin Cash, the leader of the Crawlers dance group has been on the entertainment scene as a dancer and entertainer for thirteen years. Alvin was born in St. Louis, Missouri, is now 23 years old. At the age of 10, Alvin became a close associate of his Uncle Bill Robinson Jr., who was a well known dancer in the St. Louis area; and soon after, became a part of his uncle's act. Later, when Alvin's brothers, Robert (now 16) and George (now 15), were 7 and 8 respectively, they joined him as part of his act. Robert 'B Q', a radio personality at KATZ in St. Louis, named the act (because of their ages) THE CRAWLERS. Alvin, unmarried, lives in Chicago. George and Robert, who are still attending Sumner High School, St. Louis, Missouri, commute to Chicago every weekend to work in various clubs, returning to St. Louis on Sunday for classes on Monday."

- liner notes to Mar-V-Lus LP 1827, "Twine Time" released in 1965.

The weather is still fine, and summer has not left us behind, it's time to dance but one thing is on my mind: How do you do The Twine?

I don't know about you, but not having lived through the Sixties, and living far from the talcum powdered dancefloors of northern soul, I have immense difficulties in strutting my stuff. I hear a record, my body wants to move, but I am reduced to one of three options: propping up the bar for another pint; gyrating wildly in a freestyle form of funky James Brown dance which results in injuries for other dancers; or the intense, solo dance, comprising lots of shuffling and spinning, that for some reason third-generation mods like me seem to think should accompany Green Onions.

What I really would like to be able to do is to dance The Bop, The Watusi, The Cool Jerk, The Boston Monkey, The Birdland, The Sissy Strut, The Popeye, The Funky Penguin, or just Shake A Tailfeather. The trouble is, I have never actually come across anybody who knew how any of these dances go. I suppose there is the Twist, and the Mashed Potato, but surely things used to be more exciting than that? Where did all the dancers go? Nowadays, there seem to be more people interested in learning the foxtrot than in knowing what to do when somebody yells, "It's Twine Time!". When Land Of A Thousand Dances comes on, you'll find me propping up the bar again, watching other people go, "Well, I know how to , um, and do the .. well, ..."

I am still no nearer to finding out just exactly how to dance the Twine. Maybe Sis Detroit can enlighten us?:

"I was once in a boogaloo contest in a backyard party (twenty-five cents to enter the gate.) But I was a young teen-ager. When the jerk came out, I was an older teen, and I had slowed down a bit, but tried to hang in there. The twine was quite easy, but the older I got, the less I danced, and the more I just listened and observed."

This sounds slightly reassuring, as I am now at the tender age of 34, and need to consider slipped discs, hernias etc. Meanwhile, Joe Nawrozki, a writer for the Baltimore Sun, attests to the powers of The Twine when far from home:

"I would see this again years later, stinky and scared young guys dancing to candlelight in a sandbagged Vietnam bunker, serenaded by a tropically-warped Temptations album. That
dancing was integrated [unlike in clubs in Baltimore] and I learned how to do the boomerang, shing-a-ling, the skate and the twine time. Dance was a brief connection with home for us, time out from the insanity of war."

So what is the story behind The Twine?

Alvin Cash (real name Alvin Welch) was I believe the eldest of eight children. Alvin, Arthur, George, and Robert formed a song and dance act and called themselves The Four Steps or the The Step Brothers. Alvin wanted to try to get into music, and encouraged his brothers to visit him in Chicago for dance gigs and competitions. As a dance group they were very successful. They renamed themselves The Crawlers, while Alvin formed a band of his own called the Nightlighters. It was while the Crawlers were dancing at the Budland Dance Club in Chicago that Andre Williams spotted them, and decided to try Alvin out at Mar-V-Lus back in Chicago.

The other brothers in the Crawlers were not featured on the record that came out of this, Twine Time, written by Andre Williams and Verlie Rice, following on from the tune Woodbine Twine by The Five Du-Tones. All being much younger than Alvin, nobody could quite see how they would fit together as an r&b group performing for adults. That is all bar one. While Andre was taken by Alvin's singing skills, flambouyancy and sharp, colourful dress sense, it is another brother, George, to whom much of the credit should go for crafting the dance we know as The Twine. Don on the Soulful Detroit forums recalls:

"George was the person who originated the dance moves named The Twine that Alvin adapted ... Since George was a dancer he would make up the dance routines, or would make better routines out of any regions dance moves. If anyone ever saw Alvin Cash do a concert you know what I mean."

George was so talented he is alleged to have shown Major Lance and others how to improve their moves. Not only that, but despite his young age at the time, George was know locally as a remarkable drummer, playing with local group The Vows. He could even dance at the same time, and once, opening a concert for Frank Sinatra with the Four Steps, he was invited back on to play some drums by Frank himself, while tapping! According to Don, George's drumming was so good that "[it]... even made Sammy Davis, Jr said wow!" So it is George you can hear keeping the beat on The Twine Time and many other Alvin Cash recordings. Only trouble was, due to his age, George would have to be snuck into clubs and snuck back out again as soon as the set was over:

"Since George being young, he couldn't stand around or mingle in the area because he was underage, and would have to stay in the back before the shows began and during intermissions and after."

While George was too young to latch onto the fame that went with Alvin Cash and The Registers, he went on to play drums with a number of groups, including Mothers' Finest, and continued playing with The Vows. He is married to Berniece Willis of The Kittens.

Ladies and gentlemen, you don't need to check your watches, I'll tell you what time it is!

Alvin Cash & The Registers - Twine Time (Mar-V-Lus 6002)

Alvin Cash & The Registers - Twine Awhile (from Mar-V-Lus MLP 1827)

Information from liner notes, and from the informative posts of Mel(andthensome), Sis Detroit, Randy Russi, and most especially Don on the Soulful Detroit forums
Posted by Rob Whatman at 1:49 PM 0 comments Links to this post

Labels: Alvin Cash And The Registers, Andre Williams, Dance, George Cash, Major Lance, Mar-V-Lus Records, The Kittens

Monday, September 17, 2007

Drums stop...then Bass solo starts....I know, bad joke : )

Drummer Denies He Intentionally Spooked Horse That Died

Published: September 16, 2007

In an unquiet city like New York, Fifth Avenue and 59th Street is especially known for its uproar. Double-decker buses rumble past. Taxicabs honk. Tourists mill. Workers refurbish the Plaza Hotel.

All the while, up to 20 horses quietly stand by, waiting to take passengers on carriage rides in Central Park.

On Friday, one of them bolted after it was apparently startled by a loud noise. The horse, a 13-year-old mare named Smoothie, ran nearly a block, and when her carriage became caught on a tree, she collapsed and died.

Witnesses told reporters that somebody walking past and beating a small drum may have been the source of the noise.

James Williams, the drummer who had been playing near Smoothie’s carriage, said yesterday, “We did not do anything malicious, like walk up and hit a drum in a horse’s ear.”

Yesterday Mr. Williams, who plays for tips, found himself facing the kind of attention he did not want. Reporters asked him where he had been playing and how loudly. Horse owners complained about him and the break-dancing group, Two Steps Away, that he accompanied on Friday.

The Horse and Carriage Association of New York said it planned to hold a news conference this afternoon at 59th and Fifth to call on the city to ban street musicians and “overly loud” music in the area. The group said it also would ask the city to provide secure hitching posts for the horses, which are often tethered to trash cans and street lamps.

Mr. Williams, whose stage name is Ayan, plays a full set of six drums and four cymbals. He said he did not know until yesterday morning that a horse had collapsed on Friday, and he was upset by the implication that he had scared it.

“Spooking a horse right here could mean a baby carriage getting run over, or a person hurt,” he said.

Noel Kelly, 49, a carriage driver who said he was positioned behind the carriage drawn by Smoothie, said he had seen the break dancers before, but not accompanied by drums.

“It was like a rock concert,” Mr. Kelly said yesterday. “I commented to another driver that these drums are very, very loud.” But Mr. Kelly’s horse, Chester, who is 7 years old, did not bolt.

Cornelius Byrne, owner of Smoothie and four other carriages and their horses, said yesterday, “It’s a deep human error on their part to make that music around these horses.”

Yesterday, to avoid a repeat, Parks Department officers asked Mr. Williams and the break dancers to move to another area.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

In Memoriam: Josef Zawinul in a silent way now.....

This one came out of left field for's like that "not so funny all the time" line about someone dying, and the response would be "I didn't know he was sick..."

This situation would be that for me. Just the way that Joe Zawinul would stand at his keys and have that boxing stance that came from a full knowledge of the sport and how it weaved in with what he did with his music, and his life. He seemed so pugilistic and invincible, that somehow in the back of my mind, he would be around forever, like his musical output. Sadly, I was mistaken somewhere...
Zawinul, who stood as tall as Miles Davis, in pointing the way with what music would sound like in the future with his direction and composition of such items, kept vital even to the end of his life, forcefully swinging and putting out how things would sound in a world dominated by truly world sounds, and how Jazz music was truly World music, and vice versa

From email, this next wonderful thought came from my fellow broadcaster on KBOO 90.7 FM, and generally smart guy, Dan Flessas, who's name has graced this blog before....

....mercy, mercy, mercy....another big part of my youth moves on--how i listened to music, what i listened for, what i heard, i got directly from these radical adventurers--Zawinul, Max Roach, Miles, Bird. But for a kid of the 60s and 70s bred on Hendrix and The Mothers...

Weather Report literally changed my life. Each new record seemed like a visit from the future. Zawinul and Shorter turned me on to 3 of my favorite bassists--Miroslav Vitous, Alphonso Johnson, and Jaco Pastorius (Victor Bailey was no slouch, either..), but it was always Zawinul's sound that never ceased to surprise me. Hypnotic, mystical and intensely funky, he could transport you along in concert like nobody--i often found myself taking off my clothes in the frenzy Weather Report created (well, i was younger, heh)...

He didn't just play, he told stories without words.

long live Josef Zawinul!


Jazz great Joe Zawinul dead at 75

VIENNA, Austria (AP) - Jazz keyboardist Joe Zawinul, who soared to fame as one of the creators of jazz-rock fusion with the band Weather Report, has died, a hospital official said. He was 75.

Zawinul died early Tuesday, a spokeswoman for Vienna's Wilhelmina Clinic said, without giving details. He had been hospitalized since last month.

Zawinul suffered from a rare form of skin cancer, said his manager Risa Zincke, according to the Austria Press Agency.

Zawinul, who turned 75 on July 7, won acclaim for his keyboard work on chart-topping Miles Davis albums such as "In A Silent Way" and "Bitches Brew," and was a leading force behind the so-called "Electric Jazz" movement.

In 1970, Zawinul and saxophonist Wayne Shorter founded Weather Report and produced a series of albums including "Heavy Weather," "Black Market," "I Sing the Body Electric," and the Grammy-winning live recording "8:30."

He is credited with bringing the electric piano and synthesizer into the jazz mainstream but was frustrated by the lack of respect for electric keyboards and new technology among jazz purists.

"There is no difference between a Stradivarius or a beautiful synthesizer sound . . . ," Zawinul said in a 2007 interview for Jazziz magazine. "People make a big mistake in putting down electronic music. Yes, it's been misused and abused, but that's true of every music. . .

"There is nothing wrong with electronic music as long as you're putting some soul behind the technology."

Earlier this year, Zawinul released the CD "Brown Street," a live recording made at his Vienna jazz club, Birdland, pairing his small combo and Germany's WDR Big Band, on which he revisited such vintage Weather Report tunes as "Black Market," "Boogie Woogie Waltz," and "Night Passage."

This spring, he toured Europe to mark the 20th anniversary of his world music group, the Zawinul Syndicate. He sought medical attention when the tour ended, the Viennese Hospital Association said in a statement last month.

Austrian president Heinz Fischer said Zawinul's death meant the loss of a "music ambassador" who was known and cherished around the world.

Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer praised Zawinul's "unpretentious way of dealing with listeners" and said he wasn't "blinded by superficialities."

Zawinul's son, Erich, said his father would not be forgotten.

"He lives on," Erich Zawinul was quoted as saying by APA.

Born in 1932, Zawinul grew up in a working-class family during the Second World War in the Austrian capital. He played accordion on the streets to make money and received classical piano training as a child prodigy at the Vienna Conservatory.

In the postwar years, he grew interested in American jazz, playing in a dance band that included the future Austrian president Thomas Klestil and making a name for himself on the local jazz scene in bands led by saxophonist Hans Koller and others.

"One thing about Viennese musicians, they can really groove, more than even the German bands can," Zawinul said in a 2007 Downbeat magazine interview. "It's something in our nature, perhaps. We're cosmopolitan and interracial - Czech, Slavic, Hungarian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Turkish a little bit."

In 1959, Zawinul emigrated to the United States on a scholarship to study at the Berklee School of Music in Boston but left to join Maynard Fergusion's big band. He next landed a gig with Dinah Washington. His funky piano can be heard on her 1959 hit "What a Diff'rence a Day Made."

Zawinul rose to international fame after joining alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderley's band in 1961. During his nine-year stint with the band, he composed such tunes as "Walk Tall," "Country Preacher," and most notably the gospel-influenced, soul-jazz anthem "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy," his first important recording on electric piano, which climbed the pop charts.

Zawinul's pioneering work on the new Fender Rhodes electric piano caught the ear of Miles Davis, who was impressed that Adderley's band was being booked into rock venues like San Francisco's Fillmore West.

"Miles came to all of our gigs and he told me, "That's the way music is supposed to be played - open it up," Zawinul said in the Jazziz interview.

In the late '60s, Zawinul recorded with Davis' studio band, His tune "In a Silent Way" served as the title track for the trumpeter's first foray into the electric arena.

Zawinul's composition "Pharoah's Dance" was featured on Davis' groundbreaking 1970 jazz-rock fusion album "Bitches Brew."

After releasing his debut solo album in 1970, Zawinul teamed with Shorter, who had just left Miles' band, to form Weather Report, which became the preeminent jazz-rock fusion band of the 1970s.

The band became known for its collective improvisations, innovative compositions, high-energy rock grooves, world music beats and use of cutting-edge electronics to create an orchestral sound.

At the core of the group was the interplay between the introverted Shorter and the extroverted Zawinul.

"I have no idea how we did it. It was just one of those things," Zawinul recalled later.

"It's funny how we work together. . . I have perfect pitch and Wayne is close to it. . . . He is a great poet. I don't even call him a saxophone player and I don't call myself a keyboard player. I'm a musician who tells stories and we could tell stories together."

Weather Report enjoyed its biggest commercial success with the 1977 album "Heavy Weather" which featured Zawinul's catchy tune "Birdland," which became one of the most recognizable jazz hits of the '70s after it was also recorded by Maynard Ferguson and the vocal group Manhattan Transfer.

After Weather Report broke up in 1986, Zawinul went on to form The Zawinul Syndicate, which brought together a global village of musicians who recorded such albums at the Grammy-nominated "My People" (1996) and "World Tour" (1998).

Zawinul's wife, Maxine, died earlier this year. Plans for Zawinul's funeral were unclear but Vienna Mayor Michael Haeupl told reporters Tuesday morning he would be given an honorary grave in the capital.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Albums I am playing on.....

I was searching the Google alerts, which I have a couple come to me regular-like on the email front, and I saw a blog that devoted itself to long out-of-print Jazz Fusion albums (yes kids, there was vinyl before all of the 1s and 0s...)
There was a post that contained a couple of albums I played on, so I got to thinking that I could start a farm of sorts, with the images of albums that are still available, some that aren't, and generally just things that contain my drumming/singing output.

Well, here goes something.... :)

In the early 80's, I played with a guy out of Eugene, OR, keyboardist/composer Dan Siegel, who was on the ground floor of what is now the radio format called Smooth Jazz. He still is going and is playing great music and enhancing other musicians and their endeavours with his expertise.

My output with him consisted of the following albums.....

this is an album that Dan Siegel produced and it contained many great fusion stars of the time, and I got in on a cut of the puzzle!!

I spent 13 years with Jazz keyboardist Tom Grant, over two tours of duty, along with being on 6 of his albums....

TG also is one of the first players in the genre of what is called Smooth Jazz.
He did his share of Mainstream, Fusion, Rock and Roll, amongst other styles.

My output with Tom included these albums...

Out of the Tom Grant connection came my association with his guitarist at that time, Dan Balmer, whom I subsequently
recorded 6 albums with and continue to play music with him to this day.

A recording session in the best spirit of how they used to do it....
One or two takes of a song, then move on.
Jan Celt's Flying Heart label cranked out this session in a two day period, featuring some great Portland musicians (the house band included myself, Randy Monroe, Janice Scroggins, Albert Reda) and performers (Lily Wilde, Mel Soloman, Chris Newman, Rich Halley, Johnnie Ward and others), all concerned doing it "live and off the floor" with little, or no rehearsal.

A very exciting experience, and one I hope you will search out to enjoy.

Eddie Parente's "Touraco" is one of those albums where we caught "lightning in a jar", so to speak. All of the players, arrangers, engineers were on the same page to produce one of the most listenable volumes of jazz in a long while. All being helmed by one of the nicest guys you'd ever want to play ponticello for you : )

Composer, pianist, and lover of counterpoint, Gordon Lee continues to make challenging music for all to consume. I have made a big band album, and a trio album for him, and continue to search the fruits of this association to this day.

Local singer-songwriter Jack McMahon had me in on his session for the "Better Late" album, back in the 80's
This album also featured local stalwarts Denny Bixby, Tod Carver, Tom Grant, Glen Holstrom and others. The news from Jack is this album being re-released in Japan, due to some persistence from some fans over there. I still haven't gotten my copy of the new release, but I do have vinyl.

I have an album in my head, and already have the cover for goes something!!!!

Another of the ones I watched while growing up as a young musician, passes away.

it is a tough thing to see those who were great /influential to us for a long time, finally leave us for another plain... so it is important that some document exist for all to see, and why I present it here.

The general top shelf musicianship and generous humor of Tommy Newsom always was a pleasure to see on my TV, late into the evening...

He joined "The Tonight Show" in 1962 and rose from band member to assistant music director.

Johnny Carson gave Newsom the nickname "Mr. Excitement" to make light of his low-key personality and drab brown and blue suits - a sharp contrast to the flashy style of bandleader Doc Severinsen.
and will be remembered for his own output of wit and deadpan humor.

He retired, along with Carson, from The Tonight Show in 1992

a more formal piece from the Washington Post by Adam Bernstein is respectfully offered here.


Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Jazz Saxophonist Tommy Newsom; Played on 'Tonight Show'

By Adam Bernstein
Washington Post Staff Writer

Tommy Newsom, 78, a jazz saxophonist and arranger who gained national visibility as a key member of Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show" band for three decades, and whom Carson nicknamed "Mr. Excitement" for his stone-faced demeanor and somber outfits, died April 28 at his home in Portsmouth, Va. He had bladder and liver cancer.

As a personality, Mr. Newsom pretended to have none. Carson gently taunted him for his deadpan expression and bland tastes -- his suits ran the gamut from brown to navy.
Band member Tommy Newsom, shown in 1982 on the "Tonight Show," was often the target of host Johnny Carson's jokes about his conservative attire and stiff deportment.

"As a child one time, Tommy got lost, and his parents couldn't describe him to the police," Carson once said. On another occasion, Carson said Mr. Newsom "wants to come back as a plant, so somebody will talk to him."

Periodically, Mr. Newsom topped Carson's one-liners.

When Carson asked why Mr. Newsom kept his jacket buttoned, the saxophonist replied that his rear end would otherwise fall off. This prompted executive producer Fred De Cordova to remind Mr. Newsom that the host was supposed to get the bigger laughs.

Despite the gags, Mr. Newsom was a graceful musician and veteran of bands led by guitarist Charlie Byrd, clarinetist Benny Goodman and society bandleader Vincent Lopez. Mr. Newsom became an NBC studio musician, worked for Merv Griffin and soon after was assigned to the "Tonight" program in early 1962, several months before Carson took over.

Mr. Newsom spent the next 30 years on the show, most of the time directly under the bandleader and trumpeter Doc Severinsen, who was known for his loud outfits. Mr. Newsom became assistant music director in the late 1960s and took over the baton in Severinsen's absence.

"I think the first night I took over for Doc, Carson recoiled," Mr. Newsom told the Los Angeles Times. "He was so used to having foils on either side, Ed [McMahon] over here and Doc over there, and he needed somebody to bounce something off of, so the gags began.

"I guess my cardboard-cutout style makes a good contrast to Doc's flamboyant image," he said. "Carson has really laid some heavy ones on me. One night, he said I was the only person who was going to reach puberty and senility at the same time."

Thomas Penn Newsom was born Feb. 25, 1929, in Portsmouth, where his father was a pharmacist and his mother taught kindergarten. As a child, he was exposed to opera and big band music over the radio. His mother played piano and sang.

His parents bought him a saxophone when he was 8, and he immediately launched into a Hungarian rhapsody by Brahms, albeit with unorthodox fingering. He later received formal training and, as he told an interviewer, began playing in a school band -- "two girls playing a piano, several violins, a trumpet, a clarinet or two and I had a C-melody sax."

By 13, he was playing professional engagements in the Norfolk area at school dances and for returning World War II service members.

"My parents kept a very loose rein on me," he later told a Norfolk reporter. "They were grand, but they were very lenient. They had faith in me."

By 1952, he had graduated from the Norfolk division of the College of William and Mary and the Peabody Institute in Baltimore -- taking music jobs in strip clubs to supplement his income. He spent four years in the Airmen of Note, the Air Force's big band, and received a master's degree in music education from Columbia University.

Meanwhile, he began an active freelance career based in New York. He recorded with fellow Tidewater jazzmen such as Byrd and clarinetist and vibraphonist Tommy Gwaltney. His most prestigious early job came in 1961 and 1962, when he toured the Soviet Union and South America with Goodman's big band.

While with Goodman, he wrote a well-received composition, "Titter Pipes," that became a showcase number for two other saxophonists on the Soviet tour, Phil Woods and Zoot Sims.

Mr. Newsom continued to cultivate his reputation as a solid composer-arranger. Over his long career, he arranged for Byrd (including 1964's "Brazilian Byrd" album), jazz trumpeter Buck Clayton (for whom he wrote "Kansas City Ballad") and the all-female jazz orchestra Diva. He also arranged for opera singer Beverly Sills, country singer Kenny Rogers and the Cincinnati Pops orchestra.

Mr. Newsom also did musical arranging for such TV broadcasts as "Night of 100 Stars" (1982) and the "40th Annual Tony Awards" (1986), and he shared Emmy Awards for both productions.

Long settled in Los Angeles, he was persuaded to relocate to Portsmouth by California's Northridge Earthquake in 1994. He recorded several CDs, including three for the Arbors label, and played at music festivals nationwide.

With the self-deprecation that made him a household name, he once told a festival audience: "And now we're going to render George Gershwin for a while. Probably into a bar of soap."

A son, Mark Newsom, died in 2003.

Survivors include his wife of 49 years, Pat Hernansky Newsom of Portsmouth; and a daughter, Candace Liebmann of Teaneck, N.J.