Plas Johnson And Carol Kaye: After Hundreds Of Pop Hits Back To Jazz

Plas Johnson California Dreamin’ on such a winter’s day: I’d go to the Jazz club Charlie O’s on January 5th, if I was in L.A. Sax legend Plas Johnson (“Pink Panther Theme”) and electric bass innovator Carol Kaye (“Mission Impossible Theme”) will share the same stage. But mind you, Carol Kaye will play guitar, not electric bass. Plas and Carol both started their careers in Jazz. In the nineteen-fifties they began working as studio musicians in Los Angeles, recording hundreds of Pop hits and movie scores.

Carol Kaye first played rhythm guitar on hits like “Unchained Melodie” and “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” (Righteous Brothers), “La Bamba” (Ritchie Valens), “What a Wonderful World” (Sam Cooke), “Surfin’ USA” (Beach Boys) and many others. Then she switched to electric bass and played unforgettable bass lines. It’s her electric bass on the Beach Boy’s “California Girls” and “Good Vibrations”, on the “The Bill Cosby Show” theme, on Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High” on Elvis’s “A Little Less Conversation”, on Simon and Garfunkel’s “Homeward Bound”, and on Ray Charles’s “I Don’t Need No Doctor”. For more of her bass credits check this list.

Like Carol, Plas Johnson played on countless records. A small sample of people he played with includes Carol King, Steely Dan, Barbara Streisand, Bobby Darin, Nat King Cole, Little Richard, and B.B. King. For more credits check this list.

Carol KayeAfter their successful careers in the music studios, Plas Johnson and Carol Kaye returned to their Jazz roots. Plas regularly performs in Jazz clubs and at festivals. Carol also gets on stage from time to time, writes bass and guitar tutorials, and teaches (check out her valuable playing tips). It’s a rare chance to hear these two great musicians together, who both contributed so much to music.

Most Perfect Sound From The Black Forest

MPS LogoWhy did Oscar Peterson record several LPs in a small town in the Black Forest? Because Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer had a dream: He wanted to produce jazz records of chosen artists in the highest possible sound quality. To fulfill his dream he founded the label “Musik Produktion Schwarzwald MPS” (“Music Production Black Forest”). In his studio in Villingen his sound engineers achieved an incredible good sound. The quality was so outstanding that jazz musicians all over the world nicknamed the MPS label “Most Perfect Sound”. Musicians like George Duke, Jean-Luc Ponty, Hans Koller and Joe Pass traveled to the Black Forest to record legendary music.

If you want to know more about Brunner-Schwer and the sound engineers and musicians who were involved in the MPS records, I recommend the documentary MPS – Jazzin’ The Black Forest. It also shows rare footage of the late Oscar Peterson and a sound engineer tells how pleased Peterson was with the sound of his piano on the MPS records.

Related: MPS Reissues

Chuck Berghofer And His Most Famous Bass Slide

Chuck Berghofer

Nancy Sinatra’s «These Boots Are Made For Walkin’» starts with the most famous bass sliding sound that has ever been recorded in pop music.

The song was arranged by Billy Strange and produced by Lee Hazlewood, who also wrote it. The simple, catchy, and ingenious slide was played on string bass by Chuck Berghofer (sometimes you find his name written «Berghoffer»). There’s also an electric bass on «Boots», played by Carol Kaye, that starts after the opening.

Chuck Berghofer (born 1937) is one of the many jazz musicians who helped with their skill to make pop and rock records sound good. In the jazz world Chuck Berghofer played with pianist Pete Jolly and drummer Shelly Manne among others. In the sixties he started playing on countless pop and rock records that were produced in Los Angeles. He kept playing jazz besides his studio work and is still active.

Here is a small sample of artists he played with during his many-sided and at least forty years long recording career as a string and electric bassist: Ella Fitzgerald, Howard Roberts, Merle Haggard, Joni Mitchell, The Beach Boys, Barry Manilow, Jody Miller, Elvis, Frank Zappa, Diane Krall, Michael Bublé, Christina Aguilera, Mary J. Blige, Dean Martin and many others.

See also: Poem For A Bass Player and Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood: The Forgotten CD

Freddie Brocksieper – Die Trommel und ihr Rhythmus

Freddie Brocksieper - Die Trommel und ihr Rhythmus

Leicht desinteressiert überfliege ich neulich bei Ex-Libris die Kiste mit den Billig-CDs. Da springt mich der Name «Freddie Brocksieper» an. Ich muss schmunzeln und nehme die CD in die Hand. Sie trägt den Titel «Die Trommel und ihr Rhythmus», auf dem Umschlag ein schwarzweisses Foto eines Schlagzeugers, vermutlich aus den vierziger Jahren. Die CD stammt aus der Reihe «Jazz Club».

Ich stutze. Jazz, vierziger Jahre und ein deutscher Titel gehen eigentlich nicht zusammen. Jazz war unter den Nazis verboten. Seit 1935 durfte Jazz im «Reichsrundfunk» nicht mehr gespielt werden. Sind das etwa deutsche Jazz-Aufnahmen aus der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus? Ein Blick ins CD-Heftchen bestätigt die Vermutung. Die Titel wurden alle 1942 und 1943 Berlin von der Schallplattenfirma Brunswick aufgenommen. Freddie Brocksieper war ein Schlagzeuger und Bandleader. Weitere Informationen sind leider nicht vorhanden. Natürlich kaufe ich diese seltsame CD.
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Classic Jazz Guitar

Guitar

Classic Jazz Guitar is a wonderful and carefully made site. It presents seminal Jazz Guitarists. There are many sound clips and recording information. A nice site to browse on a cold winter evening.