Frank Cunimondo + The Silhouettes: Commuversations

Frank Cunimondo: Gentle One + Lush Life
From Communication (Mondo, 1968)

The Silhouettes: Norwegian Wood + Lunar Invasion
From Conversations With the Silhouettes (Segue, 1969)

Sorry I’ve taken a minute for an update. I’m back up in the Bay Area (weather has been amazing so far…damn, I miss this place) for the week and have been running around, seeing friends, eating, etc. On that note, some places I’d recommend checking out for Bay visitors (or locals):

1. Ici in Berkeley. Normally, gourmet ice cream leaves me a little skeptical, especially in an area where you can get this or this with less pretentious surroundings and equally/superior ice cream/gelato. That said, Ici was pretty damn good, especially with the hand-rolled cone. Also, if you have the patience, you can get dinner here first. Black squid ink linguini =

2. Central Park, San Mateo. A rather nice municipal park with a small train for the kiddies. Plus, it’s within 2 blocks of here.

3. And of course, no trip to the Bay Area is complete with a visit to the Groove Merchant.

It’s been a while since I wrote a GM post but on this trip, I tried to max out on some good Latin records, picked up an interesting Bay Area 45, and, ok, I admit, the completionist in me couldn’t pass up this (albeit, my copy lacks the sticker, boo hoo).

In any case, I had been meaning to post about the Silhouettes for a minute (a record I first learned about at the GM years ago, before it got reissued) and the Cunimondo was an album I picked up the last time I was back in the Bay, around March.

Cunimondo is best known, at this point, for his album with Lynn Marino but Communication was actually his first recording, a laid-back set of instrumentals with Cunimondo’s piano prominent on most of them. “Gentle One” is the kind of relaxed piano jazz that I can’t get enough of – so melancholy yet so sublime in its minimalist vibe and bluesy undertones. (For another favorite, revisit Weldon Irvine’s “Here’s Where I Came In.”)

And as for “Lush Life,” ever since I was first introduced to Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life,” it’s one of those covers I always make a point to listen to, just to see what they do with it. Cunimondo’s take is a bit more virtuostic, especially in the beginning though he takes it down a notch on the back end of the song.

The Silhouettes album is a favorite amongst soul jazz fans given its notable mesh of bossa nova vocals, jazz and funk tunes. If that sounds a bit strange, well, the album is eclectic to be sure but once you realize Nathan Davis produced it, that blend of styles makes more sense. The cover of “Norwegian Wood” is, well, strange which is why I included it. Frankly, I think every cover of this song I’ve ever heard has been a little strange which no doubt reflects the nature of the original. However, no less unexpected is the funkiness of “Lunar Invasion” which does resemble some of Davis’ If tunes.