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March 02, 1983 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 1983-03-02

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4

ART.S
The Michigan Daily Wednesday, March 2, 1983 Page 6

Reggae Ramifunkations

By Jerry Brabenec
R ICK'S AMERICAN CAFE has es-
tablished a local reputation as a
meeting place for student types from
the east side of town (with all that en-
tails), but Prism Productions has
provided some of the bar's musical
highlights, including many of Chicago's
finest blues musicians and last fall's
appearance by country swingers
Asleep at the Wheel. With tonight's ap-
pearance by Oliver Lake's funk/reggae
ensemble Jump Up ', Prism brings an
innovative and very danceable sound to
Rick's. Jump Up's unique new blend of
funk, jazz, and reggae is a more ac-
cessible, pop-oriented alternative to the
new electronic jazz of Ronald Shannon
Jackson, Ornette Coleman and James
Blood Ulmer: dance music for the mind
and thinking music for the feet.

Oliver Lake, alto saxophonist and
flutist, has been one of jazz's most in-
novative movers and shakers for the
last 15 years. Lake began playing sax at
the late age of 19, and soon co-founded
the St. Louis-Dased Black Artist's
Group in 1968. This group was similar to
and closely allied with the more
famous, Chicago-based Association for
the Advancement of Creative Music.
Music from this period is documented
on Lake's album, NTU: Point from
which Creation Begins, presenting a
challenging merger of black jazz roots
with the freedom of the new "Great
Black Music." As Lake explains in the
liner notes, black classical music is a
musical counterpart to the oral
tradition of African art and assimilates
all the genius of great black musicians:
"Aretha Franklin and Sun Ra is the
same folks," he says.
Lake achieved greater prominence
as alto saxophonist with the World
Saxophone Quartet. Along with Hamiet
Bluiett, Julius Hemphill and David
Murray, Lake used the full resources of
the saxophone choir to span the range
of black classical music from Scott
Joplin to Anthony Braxton, without for-
saking the swinging heartbeat of jazz.
As Lake observed on the 1978 recor-
ding Buster Bee, sax duets with Julius
Hemphill, "...the emphasis for me is on
the whole scope of styles that black
people have evolved...." The album
Prophet, released in 1980, is a tribute to
fellow alto saxophonist Eric Dolphy,

and the 1978 recording Shine combines
trios and unusual combinations of jazz
quartet and strings. Having explored
the more challenging side of black
music from many angles, Lake has ap-
parently decided to head more toward
the mainstream with his band Jump
Up, a quintet composed of sax, two
electric guitars, electric bass, and
drums. Guitarists Jerome Harris and
Brandon Ross and drummer Pheeroan
Ak Laff (a longtime Lake associate)
bring to the group their accumulated
experience with such artists as Muhal
Richard Abrams, Sonny Rollins, Archie
Shepp and Brian Eno.
The stylistic vehicle for this group is
reggae. As a compelling voice of black
social aspirations and affirmation of
black cultural roots, reggae is a natural
choice for connecting up the people.
The question of why reggae has been
barely recognized by the American
commercial entertainment establish-

ment is quite intriguing, but a
grassroots reggae movement is now in-
ternational in scope. Reggae is also
dancing music: in fact, the phrase
"jump up" is a. Caribbean term for a
dance party.
The band's album release, Jump Up,
on Gramavision Records, blends a
healthy dose of reggae with some ska
and quite a bit of basic American funk.
Critical reception has been very
positive across the board. Downbeat
said this album "...has the ferment of
invention." The Village Voice says
Jump Up is "hard, deep,
authoritatively and organically
groovalistic." Most interestingly,
Cashbox magazine was very positive,
and Billboard says the music "strad-
dles genres with no apologies and win-
ning aplomb." What they're trying to
say is that this may be the pop music of
the future. Come down to Rick's tonight
and find out.

Records

'Doo-Wap Doo-Wap All
Night Long,' The Blues
Emotions (Ambient Sound)
Remember the '54s? Bobby socks, T-
birds, and James Dean? Of course you
don't. Chances are you weren't even
born in the '50s. OK, how about
American Graffitti or Diner? Now if
you think of their soundtracks, you
think of "At the Hop" and "Barbara
Anne" and all those other "doo-wap"
songs that predominated soda shop
jukeboxes. One of their. groups was
called The Emotions and they managed

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to win Murray the K's "Swinging
Soiree" with a song called "Echo,"
which eventually made it into the
national Top 40. But after that one song,
nothing more was heard from The
Emotions until just recently, when
Marty Pekar decided to rerecord the
"new rock sound of the late '60s" on the
Ambient Sound label (under CBS).
Thus, we get this album by The Blue
Emotions, a new group consisting of
two old Emotions and three new mem-
bers.
But the sorry fact is these guys just
ain't what dey used to be. In fact,
they're downright comical. Besides the
fact that they sing off-key, the songs
themselves seem to be written as filler
material on an entirely commercial
escapade. Case in point: the first song
on the disc, "Doo-Wap All Night
Long," too closely resembles the
album's last song, "Doo-Wap All Night
Long, Again." And the second song, "I
Remember the Echo," is written about
their one hit in '62, "Echo." They also
cover Springsteen's "The River," but I
don't even want to talk about that one.
The cruel truth is that The Blue
Emotions are washed up. And I'm safe
in saying that that's probably true for
anything on the Ambient Sound label
(nothing to do with that Eno fellow). If
you want to hear "doo-wap" music, go
buy something by The Four Seasons or
the early Beach Boys. Don't waste your
money on new-fangled oldies.
-By Jeffrey W. Manning

Blues master John Hammond will entertain tomorrow night at The Blind
Pig.
Johng Hammond:
Doing right z~rby blue~s

By Julie Hinds
There isn 't much you can do with
the blues ... It's just a simple
style. It's an American classical art
form and I don't want to change it.
I just want to be able to do it better,
to do right by it. -John Hammond
JOHN HAMMOND'S credo, like the
music he sings and plays, is
straightforward, unpretentious, and
heartfelt. Doing right by the blues for
more than120 years has earned him a
place among the best blues artists in
the world-and a few commercial ven-
tures with the likes of Bob Dylan, The
Band, and Hollywood.
But success hasn't spoiled Ham-
mond's dedication to preserving an
American musical tradition. His Ann
Arbor appearance tomorrow night at
The Blind Pig (208S. First) promises to
feature an encyclopediac range of
styles, from sleepy, sorrowful rural
Delta blues to the urban anxiety of
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WHEN:

MARCH 5, 1983 1-4 PM

Chicago blues. He may throw in a little
Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley for good
measure.
Hammond acknowledges that he's
been influenced by such legendary
blues figures as Robert Johnson, Willie
Dixon, and Muddy Waters. This sort of
music rarely brings an artist wide
popular recognition, but Hammond has
gained a larger audience by delving in-
to such mass media as movies,
television, and albums: Since 1964, he's
recorded 18 LPs.
Hammond first came to prominence
at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival. A 1
rave review in The New York Times,
coupled with the release of his first
record, boosted him out of the small-
club-street-corner circuit usually
reserved for blues singers.
After touring in England, Hammond
began recording with many well-known
musicians. Highlights of his recording
career in the 1960s include an early
album with The Band and a 1967 record
with Robbie Robertson, Bill Wyman,
and Charles Otis. On later records, he
teamed up with Bob Dylan and Dr.
John.
When the blues lost favor with
big label companies in the 1970s, Ham-
mond started focusing on solo work.
During this period, he recorded the
motion picture soundtrack for Little
Big Man and worked on various an-
thology albums.
His recordings now reflect the vir-
tuosity of his one-man shows, during
which Hammond plays several guitars
and a blues harp. Last year, The Blind
Pig brags, Hammond spent six hours on
stage, doing two shows, and never
played the same song twice.
Local jazz pianist Larry Manderville
will open Hammond's 8 p.m and 10:30
p.m. performances. Tickets' are
available for $6 at The Blind Pig.

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