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November 30, 1984 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 1984-11-30

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The Michigan Daily - Friday, November 30, 1984 - Page 7

Thompson brings staying power to


By Joseph Kraus
() ver the last fifteen years in pop
music, protest rock has had its
moment, disco has come and gone, and
hundreds of slickly marketed boy and
girl wonders have faded from memory.
There have been a few names that
have remained in the limelight but even
then they tend, like Jefferson Starship
or the Rolling Stones, to become
associated with one genre and seem to
run out of new ideas.
Richard Thompson is an exception.
He began his career in the late '60s with
Britain's Fairport Convention and since
then has. explored traditional folk
music, electric folk, and rock.
RECORDING A string of albums
with his wife, Linda, as well as a couple
of solo attempts, he has forged a
musical identity that's tough to pin
down since its ever in flux.
Pushing the boundaries of both folk
and rock he writes and sings songs
about such taboo subjects as breaking
up with his wife (a true-life incident and
a song that came on their last
collaborative venture) and bizarre car-
nival sideshows.
His music is a strange blend of tra-
ditional melodies in contemporary set-

tings. Even in his early Fairport days,
where he served as lead guitarist and
chief songwriter (in tandem with Dave
Swarbrick) his style made them into
England's leading folk innovators even
though their style often slipped into
CRITICALLY, Thompson's recor-
ding career has been con-
sistent-everything he's done has been
acclaimed. His final album with Linda,
Shoot Out the Lights, made Time
magazine's list of best albums of the
year, and won co-album of the year
(with Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska
from Rolling Stone magazine.
Unfortunately his record sales
haven't mirrored his critics beliefs
Signed to the independent Hannibal
Records, he seems to sell enough with

each release to guarantee another, but
never enough to reach the stardom that
his talent and originality promise.
As a live musician Thompson is easy-
going and filled with fun. He made two
stops in Ann Arbor last year, one at the
Second Chance with a full rock band
behind him and one at the Seventh An-
nual Folk Festival by himself '(which
featured his memorable encore duet
with Dave Bromberg).
THOMPSON plays at the Ark at 7:30
and 9:30 in one of this month's biggest ,
shows. Tickets are $9.50, which may
sound a bit steep, but for an introduc-
tion to an artist of his stature, it's worth



Winter '85

w lll


Veteran performer Richard Thompson brings his varied musical talents to the Ark tonight.

Heard holds court at Nectarine

By Marc S. Taras
It seems a little strange to me now
that people are still discovering J.C.
Heard. Miles Davis has called him "one
of the best living drummers." He told
me once that Buddy Rich (a notorious
egotist) introduced him as "the second
best drummer in the world!" If you are
already in the know, you'll be delighted
to hear that starting tonight J.C. Heard
and his orchestra will be featured every
Friday night at the Nectarine Ballroom
in a program of Big Band Dancing. If
you are unfamilier with this grand
master of jazz, read on; it's my
pleasure to introduce you.
J.C. Heard was a Detroit resident
when he joined pianist Teddy Wilson in
1938. He moved to New York at this
time-one of the most catalystic scenes
and eras in the history of music. It was a
period of tremendous variety and in-
The Big Bands were the popular
music of their day and in clubs like Min-
ton's the music that was to be called,
BeBop was evolving among young lions
such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy
Gillespie, and Thelonious Monk.
J.C.Heard worked with the top names
-in the jazz world in New York for fifteen
years. At this time he was playing and
recording with Billie Holiday, Lester
Young, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah
-Vaughan, Count Basie, and many
others. He was one of the few players
who was able to deal with BeBop (the New
-Music of its day) as easily as the swing
stylings which preceded it.
I own a recording of J.C. playing
-alongside Charlie Parker and Dizzy
Gillespie; he propels this session with
,the geniuses of Bop with the same power
:and grace (and enthusiasm!) that he
brought to the many swing sessions in
which he was featured. He worked for
four years with Cab Calloway, the 'Hi-
De-Ho Man', before forming his own
group. This original orchestra worked
-for two years at the legendary Cafe
Society in Grenwich Village.

Heard introduced New York audien-
ces to the likes of Sarah Vaughan and
Lena Horne at this time. His Cafe
Society orchestra played host to such
luminaries of early jazz as Art Tatum,
Albert Ammons (Heard would record
with his son Gene Ammons years
later), Pete Johnson, and Meade Lux
In the early Fifties J.C. Heard was
enlisted by producer Norman Granz to
participate in the first Jazz at the
Philharmonic tour of Japan. Granz's
visionary concept brought together
the greatest players in jazz for wild,
straight ahead blowing sessions. Heard
was featured with folks like Charlie
Parker, Gene Krupa, Ben Webster, and
Johnny Hodges. This was the first ex-
posure of American jazz artists to the
Japanese audiences; the two have
glommed on to each other with a fever
ever since! These 1953 sessions were
thankfully issued in a three record set
on RCA's Pablo label. Heard is in top
form here as the drummer for Ella's
quartet andthe All-Star group.
This tour also changed Heard's life.
The Reception was so incredible that
when local promoters urged J.C. to stay
over after the tour, he agreed. He made
Japan his home, met his wife there, and
led a series of amazing local bands in-
cluding the young Toshiko Akiyoshi.
His bands toured the entire Eastern
realm from Hong Kong to India and
the Philippines.
Heard returned to America during
the rock 'n' roll sixties where he led
small groups in extended engagements
in L.A., New Orleans, Detroit and other
urban centers. He still tours with
J.A.T.P. occasionally and has finally
started to achieve the recognition he so
richly deserves. He currently leads a
variety of groups including a quintet
and the present orchestra which offers
special tribute to the music of
America's foremost composer, Duke
Ellington. For this group Heard has
assembled some of the greatest players
in the Detroit (or any other!) area, in-
cluding Doc Holliday on baritone sax.

pianist Earl Van Riper, and trombonist
Sherm Mitchell.
J.C. Heard will leave you breathless.
He is truly a musician's musician and
an entertainer's entertainer. He's the
kind of fellow who will spend his break
time with members of his audience.
He brings an enthusiasm to the music
that is normally reserved for the fans.
Listen to him talk of Ellington ("This
was the band of your dreams!") and
you'll see. His own playing is a com-
bination of unchecked swing and
strength, amazing stamina, and in-
comparable grace and touch.
His cymbal work is- the finest I've
ever heard. He can drop bombs on the
tom-toms that will make you shudder.
He'll bring out the brushes for a ballad
and play so sweet you'd like to weep.
And he'll laugh and love every minute.
The man lives the Big Beat; it is his
heart and soul.
The past few years have seen J.C.
Heard bring Detroit and Ann Arbor
audiences some of the most important
concerts in the history of music. There


was the Montreux-Detroit reunion with
Teddy Wilson and Slam Stewart
(glorious!), the local engagement with
Big Joe Turner at Joe's Star Lounge
(which featured local players George
Bedard and Mr. B.), and most recently
the Eclipse-sponsored reunion with
Toshiko Akiyoshi (ah, so!).
Now Ann Arbor is in for the finest
treat of all. J.C. Heard and his or-
chestra beginning a weekly
engagement at the Nectarine Ballroom
playing the music that is dearest to his
heart: Ellington and more!
I'm telling you folks-dust your dan-
cin' shoes, put on some sparkling duds
and sashay on down to Liberty Street
for a night of lovin' fun such as you've
never known! Once you've heard the
word-J. C. HEARD that is-you'll be
coming back again and again. It's a
sure fired cure for your blues.
Nectarine Ballroom 9:00
Over 21, proper I.D. and at-




lie at

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