DARONDO: DIDN’T HE TREAT US RIGHT?

IMG 1268 copy

Darondo (né William Pulliam) passed away today at the age of 67. His single, “Didn’t I” remains one of my favorite Bay Area records (and really, just an all-time great slow jam).

I interviewed Darondo back in 2006 for Wax Poetics and they just reprinted the article on their site. Here’s an excerpt:

The name “Darondo” is so unique, it’s hard to forget. But for many years, all people knew of him was only that: a name on a faded label. In his brief recording career, the Bay Area native only released three 7-inch singles, all in the late ’60s and early ’70s. In the music world, only a select circle of sweet-soul aficionados and Bay Area music collectors had any awareness of his existence, though he held his own notoriety in local cable television and, shall we say, “other” pursuits.

The thing about Darondo’s music though—especially the sublime “Didn’t I,” his best-known single—is that once you hear it, you crave more. That curiosity is largely how the Bay Area native has resurfaced after thirty years. Ubiquity recently released Let My People Go—less an anthology and more of a long-delayed debut album that combines his six songs on single plus an additional three songs taken from a previously unreleased reel of recordings from the same era. At last, Darondo is finally emerging out of obscurity, bringing his small but intriguing legacy with him.

Read the rest here.


Bonus

I forgot I had these…Justin Torres, who was a huge force behind Darondo’s rediscovery, recorded a few tracks with Darondo live and shared them with me. I shared these, in turn, on the site back in 2006 and I’m bringing ’em back:

Darondo, recorded live by Justin Torres (2005)
Summertime
What’s Going On/Mercy Mercy Me
Didn’t I

And here’s some clips from Darondo’s old local cable show:


(Title photo by Oliver Wang, 2008)

LAMONT DOZIER + RICHIE HAVENS: BACK TO THEIR ROOTS

In honor of Richie Havens, who passed away earlier this week, I’m bringing back this 2010 post. -O.W.



Lamont Dozier: Going Back To My Roots
From Peddlin’ Music On The Side (WB, 1977)

Richie Havens: Going Back To My Roots
From Connections (Elektra, 1980)

One of my best moments in a club came back in the ’00s when I was at APT during a night that Chairman Mao was spinning. I had never heard Lamont Dozier’s “Going Back To My Roots” before and I was just marveling at now just how good the song was, but that incredible change in the arrangement that drops around the 6:30 mark. It was so unexpected and sublime, one of those songs that really only could work as well as it does when you give it time to unfold on a dancefloor. Simply incredible.

Not surprisingly, it drew the attention of other artists. The best known cover is by Odyssey but…I don’t know…I think I found the vocals to be too disco-cliché. Richie Havens’ version however won me over with that intro piano (I’m a sucker for good piano intros) and though Havens has a rougher voice than Dozier’s it works well here. The “reprise” section is missing but otherwise, I find this almost as pleasing to play out.

LOU BOND: GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN

LouBond

Just heard the news that Lou Bond died. I wrote this in 2010 in regards to the long-awaited reissue of his sole LP:

Ok, I admit it – I blew it by forgetting to write about this when the reissue first dropped, earlier in the year. Kind of ironic given that when Bond’s album first appeared, it too fell under many people’s radars despite it being really incredible. Bond was signed to We Produce, the Stax subsidiary that also released albums by the Tempress and Ernie Hines, but as the liner notes (and an earlier Wax Poetics article) detailed, Bond’s career never caught fire – not gritty enough for the local Memphis crowd, not promoted enough to make a dent nationally.

The first time I heard Lou Bond, it was like discovering that Bill Withers and Eugene McDaniel had some cousin that connected the two of them. Like Withers, there’s a particular blue collar vibe to Bond – he’s not a classic, gospel-trained soul man by any means though there is still something instantly appealing in the earnest tone that reminds me a bit of Boz Scaggs but more mellow. However, like McDaniels, Bond’s lyrics were infused with an unabashed political passion. “To The Establishment,” in particular, shares much in common with the polemics of McDaniels’ Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse or Gil-Scott Heron and Brian Jackson’s 1970s collaborations.

For sheer beauty though, it’s hard to top “Why Must Our Eyes Always Be Turned Backwards.” The Memphis-based rhythm section (helped out by the Memphis Symphony Orchestra), sound amazing here and the first time I heard it, I instantly thought of all kinds of favorable comparisons to Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On album or Mike James Kirkland’s “Hang On In There.” A remarkable song by any standard.

Anyways, don’t be like me and oversleep on this. Light in the Attic gets props for putting this reissue out and we should all be so thankful to revisit an artist whose work has always deserved the recognition.

Why Must Our Eyes Always Be Turned Backwards” stays one of the greatest soul songs from the ’70s I know.

RIP Lou.

THE MANY FLIGHTS OF DONALD BYRD

Donald byrd

This isn’t some grand insight but what I find remarkable about the career of the late Donald Byrd was his ability to span so many different phases of jazz. For a cat who started in the bebop era, he bridged from there into post-bop, dabbled a bit in free, became one of the giants of the soul jazz era, and then became a massive force during the heyday of fusion. The vast majority of artists – of any genre – have trouble transitioning between even micro-changes in musical styles.1 Donald Byrd stayed relevant for at least 20 years. That’s as impressive a feat as I’ve seen by any artist above or below the platinum line.

The following playlist is absolutely not meant to be comprehensive. There’s dozens of songs I could have included but opted not to, either because they seemed so obvious to replay them would be redundant or, more to the point: they weren’t my favorites. But even this modest sampling gives you the idea of the astonishing range of Byrd’s musical genius.
Continue reading THE MANY FLIGHTS OF DONALD BYRD

  1. Case in point: the year in hip-hop in 1992.

DONALD BYRD: RIP

Donald+Byrd+poetry+in+motion

I decided, in late 2012, I really didn’t want to write RIP pieces anymore. I meant, absolutely, no disrespect to the likes of Marva Whitney or Inez Andrews or Fontella Bass or Ravi Shankar, et. al. But it is depressing when your site begins to resemble a roll call of the dead and as I’ve said in the past, for people like me, in love with music of the 1960s and ’70s, we are definitely entering into a time when a lot of our heroes and heroines will be passing away.

This all said, I can’t not acknowledge the passing of Donald Byrd, who (according to his nephew), died on Monday at age 80. There will certainly be tributes from the jazz community given Byrd’s stature and longevity but for hip-hop dudes like me, our relationship to Byrd is different, couched more in his ’70s Blue Note recordings, especially when he hooked up with the Mizell Brothers on the production trip. Not to play compare/contrast but the only other artists who were comparable to him in the world of soul-jazz would probably have been Lou Donaldson, maybe Grant Green.

Here’s just a few of my favorites from Byrd:

All soul-jazz era songs acknowledged…I don’t think if there’s a Donald Byrd song more sublime than his version of “Cristo Redentor.” 1

  1. Louis CK used this in one of the best episodes of Season 3 of his show, on the rooftop where he and Parker Posie are sitting, looking over the skyline. It’s incredible.

PEACEFUL JOURNEY, MATTHEW

It seems wrong to say I had a “great time” at a memorial but I will say: if the goal of this Sunday’s public memorial for Matthew Africa was to partake in the kind of joyous socializing and good cheer that accompanied his gigs and parties, then it did everything you could want and more. At the end, a second line band lead people through the streets of Oakland, giving Matthew a proper musician’s send-off.