Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Twenty Fifteen

New Year's greetings from our pals at Down Beat, circa 1947, back when the editors were printing on cheap newsprint in an effort to control costs. By the end of the year, readers' complaints made them switch back magazine-quality paper, and our archivist is very glad they did. From Gems' DB collection

Another year come and gone, and still so many Gems yet to share. Happy New Year to all our friends out there in the ether and best wishes for a prosperous, swinging 2015! 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Relatively Lucky

A dapper Lucky Thompson, decked out ala mode Parisian. In the end, despite being one of America's greatest tenor players, he had little to smile about. Photographer unknown

Here's another jazz treasure, courtesy of WJFF's annual music sale, held every year right around Thanksgiving time. It's an event definitely worth giving thanks for if you're a vinyl hound like myself. We've posted record sale items here on Gems before, and this year's haul was especially good. Chief among the rarities was this long-out-of-print, wildly obscure LP by Eli "Lucky" Thompson. I snagged it, and now you can have a copy, too.

A few more gems from the music sale. Note the other Lucky Thompson, this one on ABC, made just prior to Lucky's heading off to Europe. A must-have LP, too, and readily available.

After spending half-a-dozen productive years in Europe, Lucky returned stateside in 1964 to have another go at making a living in the land of his birth. He waxed several very good LPs for Prestige and then somehow hooked up with a start-up company called Rivoli. The label's output was limited to a few short years before it went under, but in that time span Thompson recorded two excellent albums for Rivoli. This is the second of the two and it is Lucky's tribute to his roots – his "kinfolks."

In other news, gang, your humble interlocutor has returned to the airwaves at the esteemed broadcaster mentioned above, namely WJFF 90.5 FM in Jeffersonville, NY. That's right, I'm back hosting a weekly two-hour radio show, this time featuring 60 minutes of jazz followed by 60 minutes of blues. The program's called "Blues Connotation" (thank you, Ornette) and so far my tens of listeners seem to like it. You may remember that I ended my previous show on the station a few years back so I could spend a more time with my family (that's what what you're supposed say). I'll post a link to the new one on the column to the right in case you should find yourself with nothing else to listen to one day.

One other thing – WJFF has the distinction of being America's only hydro-electrically powered radio station, courtesy of nearby Jeffersonville Hydroelectric Co. There's a lake next to the station that lets Jeff Hydro generate the juice that lights up the board in Master Control and allows jazz-obsessed gents like myself to disseminate America's classical music for 60 miles in all directions. What power!

The mighty dam on Lake Jefferson in Jeffersonville (can you tell our little burg likes the country's third president?), the power source for WJFF. To give you a sense of its size, the spillway is about three stories high. Gems photo
So here's another Gem to celebrate this blog's host returning to the airwaves, and to share a once-in-a-lifetime find with all our screen-staring friends in the blog-o-sphere. As always, these files were ripped from the original vinyl with no, nada, cleaning of the sound. Dig!

Kinfolks Corner
Lucky Thompson and Friends
Rivoli 44
Lucky Thompson, ts, ss; Tommy Flanagan*, p; Frank Anderson, org; Wally Richardson, g; Willie Ruff, b; Oliver Jackson, Walter Perkins*, d.
New York City, NY; 1966

1. You Stepped Out of Dream*
2. Kinfolks Corner (Thompson)
3. Open Haus* (Thompson)
4. I'll Be Around*
5. Star Eyes*
6. Poor Butterfly
7. Anthropology*
8. Who Can I Turn To?
9. Caressable* (Thompson)

Find it here: