Sunday, July 27, 2008

Urbie Green - Green Power

"The superb Urb on reverb," it says on the back. The concept for this Project 3 Total Sound Stereo album from 1971 is to have master trombonist Urbie Green use some effects on his trombone. The effects are tape reverb (on "Spirit in the Dark") and the "King-Vox Ampliphonic Unit" on "Green Power," "Comin' Home Baby," and "Sidewinder." The Ampliphonic Unit "electronically duplicates each of his notes one octave lower," so the three tracks it's used on have an extra fat trombone sound. "Green Power," Green's sole original composition on the album, is also the funkiest, with tasty breakbeat drumming by... well, the drummer isn't credited, but it's probably Grady Tate, who is the only drummer credited on any of the tracks. The liner notes have a track-by-track breakdown; they are so informative (and amusing) that I've transcribed them here:

Spirit in the Dark A piano chord, a tentative statement by Urbie, and before you know it, everybody is swinging: "funk" style! Urbie wanted to come as close as possible to the feeling established by Aretha Franklin on this tune, while imparting his own interpretation to it. Notice how subtly Urbie leads the rhythm section in and out of double time feelings. The "mysterious" tape-reverb sections were conceived by Urbie, who also had a hand in its execution, along with engineer Don Hahn.

A Time for Love Don Heitler on electric piano (left) and Dick Hyman on organ (right) provide an intimate setting for Urbie's very personal and beautiful rendition of this Johnny Mandel masterpiece. Urbie's control of the instrument and his superb phrasing combine to make this an unforgettable performance. The tune fades out in a mist of delicate tones from the two keyboards.

Green Power This is Urbie's own composition, and it takes someone of Urbie's abilities to play it! Urbie uses the specially amplified trombone on this tune, which electronically duplicates each of his notes one octave lower. As usual, Urbie is "all over the horn", and his exciting performance here includes some remarkable "triple-tonguing" sections. The electric piano solo is by Dick Hyman, and the unusual musical and percussive effects emanating from your left channel are from Vinnie Bells' guitar.

Easy Come, Easy Go Dick Hyman's Lowrey organ, recorded in stereo, together with Jule Ruggiero's driving fender bass line and Grady Tate's "shuffling" drums pave the way for Urbie's commanding trombone. Solo work is shared by Urbie and Dick Hyman. As the tune closes, listen to Urbie hit a series of high "B♭'s" (almost two octaves above middle "C") and then effortlessly jump down three octaves for the final note!

Comin' Home Baby Urbie uses a larger ensemble on this tune and on "Lumps." Adding to the power here is Marion Milam on trumpet, George Opalisky on soprano sax, Jay Leonhart on fender bass, Tony Mottola and Howie Collins on guitar and Kathy Preston vocalist. After the first rocking chorus of this tune, Urbie switches to amplified trombone for an incredible display of the technique of articulation. Dick Hyman's organ solo is followed by a free for all jazz chorus. As the tune draws to a close, Urbie plays a masterful cadenza. Some additional ensemble "wailing" is climaxed by a long unison "fall-off".

Secret Love A Latin flavored rhythmic feeling (bossa-rock) is established in the introduction and forms the background for Urbie's handling of the tune. Urbie plays this tune with a mute, which gives a new sound "color" to the album. Notice the marvelous counterpoint of Russell George's repeated bass notes in the first chorus. A brief drum break by Grady Tate announces Urbie's jazz chorus. Dick Hyman is featured on the organ and his jazz work is wonderfully compatible with Urbie's.

This Is All I Ask Urbie's mellow trombone sings out the introduction of this Gordon Jenkins standard. As the first chorus begins, Dick Hyman's piano interlude tastefully embellishes Urbie's phrasing. A subtle but insistent rhythmic pulse (established by Julie Ruggiero on fender bass, Grady Tate on drums and Don Heitler on organ) carries through both choruses until Urbie's cadenza brings the tune to a close.

Sidewinder The combination of Russell George's fender bass, Grady Tate's drums and Dick Hyman's electric piano establishes the perfect feeling for this tour-de-force by Urbie. Urbie is playing the specially amplified trombone, which magnifies the power of his unique playing. Also featured in this arrangement are Dick Hyman on electric piano and Vinnie Bell, whose guitar solo is punctuated by Urbie's insistent rhythmic accompaniment.

Isn't It Odd This lilting bossa nova (in waltz time!) is the product of the creative mind of composer, Dick Hyman, whose piano playing begins the arrangement. Urbie glides his golden sound through the melody with supreme control. Also "gliding" (or is it "sliding"?) is the rhythm section as it wends its way through an ingenious structure of chords and rhythmic accents. Vinnie Bell's guitar provides the sitar-like sounds in the second chorus, as well as the "waterfall" effect of the introduction.

Lumps Dick Hyman, composer of this tune, starts off on the electric piano (right) and is answered on the left by Howie Collins' guitar. Urbie's melodic phrases are answered by the ensemble in like manner. The addition of Phil Bodner on baritone sax adds to the power. Urbie plays an incredible three and one half octave fall off at the end of the chorus. Solo work is again shared by Urbie and Dick Hyman throughout the tune which rocks its way into the fade ending.
(Yes, they did spell "fender" with a lower-case "f" throughout.) In case you didn't figure it out from the liner notes, Dick Hyman is all over this album with plenty of electric piano and organ pyrotechnics. The Project 3 label was not known for anything funky, so it's pretty surprising to hear a few of these tunes "swinging 'funk' style," as the notes say. Green's trombone prowess is amazing; he really can make the horn seem to speak, with as much expression as a singer. The "ampliphonics" may have been just a gimmick, but they're are fun to listen to for three tracks. Get the vinyl rip here or here.


elektro80s said...

Hi, thanks for this awesome blog. I want to share the Ceramic Hello: The Absence of a Canary [1981] album from your wantlist...

Here the link:

Please return to the mediafire (badongo is very problematic, the download not starts...)

Do you know this song from 1986?


Fantod said...

Thank you so much for Ceramic Hello! I used to have the album but sold it about ten years ago, and I've regretted it ever since. It's wonderful to hear it again at last! I'm glad you've found so much here to like.

Regarding the file hosting, mediafire is my first choice, but I am having trouble uploading to it lately. I will keep trying.

I have listened to some of your clips on zshare, and some of them sound familiar, but I am not sure of anything yet. Again, I will keep trying, I love a musical challenge. Thanks for your visits and kind words,


Fantod said...

Badongo link now replaced with mediafire!

elektro80s said...

THANKS for mediafire!
I'm downloading at top speed, pleasure...

You can be sure that I will visit your blog frequently, I can't stop, this blog is very addictive for me.


litlgrey said...

I know it's very late in the day, but thanks for posting this... I only found it now!

Richard said...

This is kinda cool. :-)

I'm a bass guitatist, and use something very similar to the "ampliphonics" the trombonist uses to fill out my sound - quite a few of us do these days - so you might say they beat us to the punch!

Anonymous said...