New Arrivals, Restocks, & Reduced - fall 2017

This fiery, previously unreleased duo performance from Cleve Pozar (drums & sirens) & Gene Y. Ashton (later Cooper-Moore, piano) was recorded c. late 1973 / early 1974 at a free Sunday night concert produced by WBAI & held at a former church (now gone) on E. 62nd Street in NYC. Cleve fondly recalls the audience response to his sirens: looking around & thinking the show was going to get busted by the cops.

Some historical context: Their first solos / duos performance took place at the Cyclorama Building of the Boston Center of the Arts in January 1973. At the time of this WBAI gig, GYA / C-M had established the 501 Canal performance / living space but had not yet made his recorded debut on Alan Braufman’s Valley of Search LP, c.1975. Pozar would soon issue his Cleve Solo Percussion LP in September 1974.

Deep thanks to Cooper-Moore & Cleve for their permission to post this wonderful performance. See this interview with Pozar for much more about Cleve Solo Percussion. The extensive interview with Cooper-Moore that was published in 50 Miles of Elbow Room no. 1 is newly available online, right over here. Some recent footage of him playing a bit of spontaneous piano over brunch at Jalopy Tavern in Brooklyn is found on youtube.



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RL Boyce & the Thunder Band
Live from the Circle Bar
Go Ape Records
CD
$10

“It was Mardi Gras, and Como, MS, blues legend RL Boyce was in the Circle Bar [in New Orleans]. With the support of Paul Artigues and Todd Mathews, on loan from the Thunder Band, he settled in and grooved an incredible set of down-home, hypnotic hill country blues. This is unfiltered RL BOYCE at his very best. No guest stars. No hot leads. No slide guitar. ALL BOOGIE.” - Go Ape Records. See & hear their epic set opener.

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Eureka Brass Band
Dirges
Mississippi
LP
$13

"Recorded in a New Orleans alley on a Sunday afternoon in 1951. This is a truly unique field recording of a Jazz band playing dirges intended as a soundtrack to the parade to the graveyard during a traditional New Orleans funeral. It's beautiful mesmerizing music and about as deep as it gets. The Eureka Brass band played hundreds of funerals - dirges to the graveyard and raucous joyous sounds on the way out. Here we have just the dirges. Some of the finest trombone, trumpet, sousaphone, clarinet, sax, and drumming you're likely to ever hear. Songs include Fallen Hero, West Lawn Dirge, Garland of Flowers, and Eternity. A co-release with Singasong Fighter records." - Mississippi. Love this music. Hear West Lawn Dirge.

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Rev. Lonnie Farris
A Night at the House of Prayer
'Buked & Scorned Records
LP
$16

"Absolutely sublime gospel, from stomp to ethereal jams and back again, and all starring Farris' killer slide guitar. All music culled from small artist-run label 45s issued in the 1960s. Hand stamped covers, each unique, edition of 450." - 'Buked & Scorned Records. Hear the rousing title track & Peace in the Valley. Note that since the covers were decorated by hand, there may be idiosyncracies in the stamp &/or paste jobs.

Buy it from 50 Miles & get free MP3s of 2 songs not on the LP (or otherwise reissued, as far as I know): Bernadine Chambers singing We are Praying Your Kingdom Down / I Got His Word, accompanied by Rev. Farris & his Gospel Flames, from a 45 released on his private Farris Records label.

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Mabel Franklin
Let's Do the Wiggle / Dream I had Last Night
Ritzy Records
45rpm 7"
$7

Mabel Franklin knows what she wants and she wants you to wiggle. It must've been quite difficult to turn her down, given her intense focus & the wiggle-worthy backing band (the guitarist in particular is pretty bananas). Love that this came out on a label called Ritzy. Recent reissue. Wiggle:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XA3dJgoWH_k

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The Freestyle Band
s/t
NoBusiness Records
CD
$10

Right on time reissue of this great underground free jazz classic, complete with two previously unissued tracks totaling over 20 minutes (!) and in-depth liner notes by Ed Hazell. Nice price on this Lithuanian import due to peripheral 50 Miles involvement. 50 Miles used to offer the original vinyl pressing, and that write-up is below:

"I watch the things all around me and I shy away, reject and go away, and sometimes it's more successful." - Earl Freeman, quoted in "Freeman Fighter," written by Valerie Wilmer, published in Melody Maker, May 13, 1972.

earl freeman Earl "Goggles" Freeman (1931-1994) was an outcat's outcat: musician, poet, visual artist, and all-around interesting fellow. Born in Oakland, Freeman was a noteworthy but somewhat enigmatic musician who was most active recording-wise when he was an expat on the '60s Paris free jazz scene. His discography includes dates by Archie Shepp, Sunny Murray, Kenneth Terroade, Noah Howard, Selwyn Lissack, Mike Osborne, and even Gong's first record. A Korean War veteran, he often wore an aviator's cap and goggles, hence his nickname. (He is also rumored to have worn a parachute onstage on at least one occasion.) In 1972, French state investigators hauled Freeman in for questioning and subsequently declared that he possessed a "Dangerous Political Image." Under threat of imprisonment, he hightailed it to Amsterdam. He hung there for a while until some folks smashed his bass, signaling that it might be time for another move.

Freeman was living in New York City by the mid-'70s, where he would occasionally perform with The Music Ensemble. He also directed the Universal Jazz Symphonette, as heard on the elusive Sound Craft '75 album. While its fidelity leaves quite a bit to be desired, the LP is highly sought after because it features some of the earliest recorded work from William Parker, Daniel Carter, Raphe Malik, Billy Bang, and many other young players on the scene during that period, including Henry P. Warner and Philip Spigner, a.k.a. Adeyeme (incorrectly credited as Abe Yeme on the LP sleeve), who would later collaborate with Freeman in The Freestyle Band.

henry warnerHenry P. Warner was born in New York City in 1940. Notable early entries in his discography include William Parker's Through Acceptance of the Mystery Peace and New York Collage by Billy Bang's Survival Ensemble. He was also the music director for Bang's Outline No. 12 LP, and performed with Sun Ra, Wilbur Ware, Earl Cross, Frank Lowe, Clarence "C" Sharpe, and many others. He subsequently went on to lead his own bands, perform with groups such as the Vibrational Therapists, and take part in jam sessions in a multitude of scenes in and around New York City. He believed in the importance of the role of the musician within the community, and was a teacher of long-standing at Mind-Builders Creative Arts Center in the Bronx. William Parker's book Conversations features an extensive interview with Mr. Warner. Sadly he passed on April 9, 2014.

philip spignerBorn in Manhattan in 1951, Philip B. Spigner has led a multifaceted life that could be considered somewhat characteristic of many subterranean artists. A member of the Black Panthers at 17 years old, he was later offered a full scholarship to New York University but instead pursued an occasionally illicit underground life. He subsequently adopted the African name Adeyeme (Yoruba for "the crown becomes me") and became a hand-drummer on the NYC free jazz scene during the '70s and '80s. He also appeared at jazz festivals in France and Luxembourg. Soon afterward he relocated to Arkansas where he would play solo gigs in and around Little Rock at the YWCA, Senior Citizen's Tea, and at junior high schools. Today he continues to play "freestyle" hand drums semi-formally in California.

Warner and Spigner often performed together at a venue called The Bakery (aka The Basement) before later joining forces with Earl Freeman in The Freestyle Band. They privately pressed 500 copies of this LP in 1984, their only commercially available document, and it is one of my favorite dispatches from the free jazz underground. Freeman's bubbly electric bass and the steady patter of Spigner's percolating hand drums create an ominously undulating backdrop upon which Warner's clarinets (both b-flat and alto) flutter and fly.

Unfortunately, various circumstances resulted in making the record particularly obscure. A third party diverted overseas promoters who wanted to book the band, and eventually the group split up. A shame, as I've never heard anything else quite like this terrific album. Hear a couple clips: The Roach Approach & Pelican

Playing with Earl and Henry was like flying in formation…we took turns flying out front…we would rotate positions…we were dreaming in harmony.” - Philip Spigner, March 4, 2016

It was always such a pleasure to play music with Earl because he was so tuned in to the cosmos. He always had that thread going and there was never any hesitation in his approach. As a drummer, playing with Earl, it was just like riding on a wave of sonic bliss......virtually effortless and so inspirational.” - Roger Baird, December 17, 2016

More from 50 Miles' ongoing Earl Freeman research effort on the Freestyle Band artist page.

Credits:
Earl Freeman: bass guitar, piano
Henry Warner: b-flat clarinet, alto clarinet
Philip Spigner: hand drums

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Rev. Jodie Holmes
When I Could I Wouldn't & Now I Want to but I Can't
Detroit Gospel Reissue Project
LP
$16

"A perfect sermon recorded live with a congregation becomes something else when the band kicks in a third of the way through. They vamp their way through a dozen classic spirituals and gospel songs, behind Rev. Holmes, who recorded three LPs for Natural. “Sounds like a Velvet Underground bootleg, but it's happy!”, says Sam Hooker (Peoples Records/ Tarpit). Non-subscriber titles from the Knight Foundation-supported Detroit Gospel Reissue Project. Retail copies, limited to 450." - Detroit Gospel Reissue Project. Hear an excerpt from side 2.

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Lightnin' Hopkins
Hopkins Sky Hop / Early Mornin' Boogie
Herald
45rpm 7"
$7

Lightnin' Hopkins' discography can be tough to navigate, but a good rule of thumb is that his records on Herald are often particularly strong. This recent reissue pairs two of his most raucous sides for the label. Hear 'em: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCI4dFciWiE / http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhpEmdQrIN8

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Monroe "Guy" Jackson
Got the Boogie Woogie Blues / Lonesome Homes Blues
Rustron Records
45rpm 7"
$15

Monroe "Guy" Jackson was a blues musician who lived in the Holly Springs area of north Mississippi, and I have been told that he played mostly in & around that vicinity, though curiously he apparently made a trip to NYC to play at Lincoln Center in 1985. In a preview for the NY Times, Robert Palmer noted that Jackson was 77 years old at the time and “grew up in the northern Mississippi hill country, which nurtured a blues culture much different from that of the better-known Mississippi Delta. Living on small farms, the hill country blacks developed a lilting, strangely archaic sounding brand of music, and Mr. Jackson is a worthy representative of it.”

That's also the year when he cut this highly enjoyable record for the local Rustron label (who also released the James Son Thomas Gateway to the Delta LP that flew out of here recently) that appears to be his only release. The songs heard here have an open-ended feel that suggests a relaxed informality with his music, and he deals in a couple of the eternal themes: 1) returning to his home after a long absence, and 2) being forbidden to take part in the boogie woogie. (maybe why he left in the first place) The A-side is a droney & danceable northern Mississippi blues, while the flip has some nice bottleneck work. Great stuff, and a pretty obscure release that I'm particularly pleased to be able to offer here. Hear some of Got the Boogie Woogie Blues & Lonesome Home Blues.

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Rev. Charlie Jackson
Wrapped Up in Jesus / Lord You're So Good
Jackson Records
45rpm 7"
$25

Original copies of this very scarce 45, privately pressed by Rev. Charlie Jackson on his own Jackson Records imprint in the 1970s.

Rev. Charlie Jackson played an especially potent brand of raw, bluesy gospel. Born in 1932 just outside of McComb, Mississippi, he took up the electric guitar as a young man and started out playing the blues. Soon afterwards, he gave up the blues to serve the Lord. He developed a powerful, instantly recognizable style and often played on church programs with the legendary Rev. Utah Smith. He subsequently recorded a string of incredible and legendary 45s for Booker Records out of New Orleans.

After the Booker material went out-of-print, Rev. Jackson took matters into his own hands and started his own private press label, Jackson Records, in the late ‘70s. This 45 is Jackson 101 and it features a re-recording of “Wrapped Up and Tangled Up in Jesus,” one of his most popular numbers that had been previously released on Booker, backed by the previously unrecorded “Lord You’re So Good,” a deep and measured ballad.

This version of “Wrapped Up…” has not been reissued. Since Rev. Jackson sold these records exclusively at church services, they never entered the marketplace and therefore didn’t receive any other distribution.

Each side plays with relatively low but steady background crackle as well as the occasional pop which decreases in frequency a bit as the side progresses, probably reflection on the quality of the pressing. Generally speaking, these are quite clean copies, but there may be occasional minor idiosyncrasies in label and vinyl. Hear clips of Wrapped Up in Jesus & Lord You're So Good. Limited to one per customer.

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McKinley James
Tuskegee Boogie / Ain't Gonna Pick No Cotton
Macon Records
45rpm 7"
$6

I was born in a den
raised by a bear
I got 4 sets of jaw teeth
and 7 sets of hair
– McKinley James

McKinley James was a blues musician who was born in Macon, Georgia, in 1935 and raised in Macon County, Alabama. He cut only three 45s and this is a reissue of his debut, originally released the custom Tomahawk label out of Columbus, Georgia. Tuskegee Boogie saunters along at an easygoing pace, punctuated by harmonica and some nice and dirty slide guitar, telling the tale of Lucious Amerson (kin to Richard Amerson, I wonder?), the first black sheriff in town, and his campaign against public drunkenness. A local record through & through, the flipside is an upbeat number derived from the regional repertoire (see Albert Macon & Robert Thomas, among others) that features those snappy (original?) lyrics quoted above. Hear Ain't Gonna Pick No Cotton & Tuskegee Boogie.

Not quite sure of the vintage of this reissue (80s / 90s?). These copies show some storage warp, but should play fine. I will give it a quick test before shipping. Learn more about McKinley James in this newspaper article from 1986.

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The Johnson Spiritual Singers
Don't Let the Devil Ride
Detroit Gospel Reissue Project
LP
$16

“Extremely rare 1970s killer kid-funk gospel from this Saginaw-based family band. Remastered from original master tapes. Extensive liner note booklet inside. Mind-blowingly good. Non-subscriber titles from the Knight Foundation-supported Detroit Gospel Reissue Project. Retail copies, limited to 450.” - Detroit Gospel Reissue Project. Hear some clips on Soundcloud.

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Mississippi Fred McDowell
The Alan Lomax Recordings
Mississippi
LP
$13 (also available on cassette for $6)

“The first ever recordings of Fred McDowell!  Recorded by Alan Lomax in 1959. The first vinyl release dedicated entirely to this phenomenal recording session. 12 songs that highlight the depth of his repertoire - from droning & hypnotic versions of songs that later became blues standards such as ‘Shake Em On Down’ & ‘Good Morning Little Schoolgirl’ to his deeply felt renditions of spirituals like ‘Keep Your Lamp Trimmed & Burning’. Accompanied at times by some amazing hair comb playing & beautiful backup vocals. Comes in an old school ‘tip on’ sleeve with liner notes by Nathan Salsburg. A co-release with our friends Domino Sound. The stuff of dreams.” – Mississippi. Hear Shake 'em on Down, with Miles Pratcher on second guitar & Fannie Davis on comb.

See also this very fine PBS documentary on McDowell.

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Larry O'Williams
Hear Me Calling Baby / That's My Girl
Arhoolie
45rpm 7"
$4

I haven't been able to find out much about Mr. Larry O'Williams, but one source suggests that he was a Texan and that this cool two-sider was cut roundabout 1966. The A-side is a hard electric blues slowburner with sharp cuts of electric guitar (hear it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEFUs-D6U3Y), while the flip is a feel good soul tune on the surface but with a threatening undercurrent. His only record? Tell me more!

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Isaiah Owens
You Without Sin Cast the First Stone
Mississippi
LP
$9

Very welcome vinyl version of Isaiah Owens' CD on CaseQuarter, which turned quite a few heads upon release in 2004. "In the early 1990s, Isaiah Owens ended a distinguished 40-year career singing lead with the gospel quartet the Flying Clouds of Montgomery, Alabama in order to focus on solo performance. Early in the 1980s, Owens had begun to teach himself guitar and he soon began sitting in on local AM gospel radio broadcasts, most notably with the Montgomery Gospelaires and later with Ann Talbert’s Cheerful Angels program. Always known for his dynamic vocals and piercing falsetto, Owens augmented the initial chords he taught himself with extremely loud volume. Along with emphasizing the rhythmic over the traditionally musical, Owens was not afraid to incorporate dissonance into his playing. The merging of Owens’ unique guitar style with his accomplished vocals makes for an intriguing and original musical experience truly not heard anywhere else in the gospel world." - CaseQuarter. "Gospel meets blues at the level of raw passion in the songs of Isaiah Owens. ... he sings in a voice that rasps like a preacher and leaps into serrated falsetto, letting loose gospel fervor as an exalted frenzy." - The New York Times. Hear clips of I'll Fly Away & You Without Sin.

50 Miles of Elbow Room is grateful to be among those who came together to bring Bro. Owens to NYC for a few performances back in 2004. Tyler Bell's "Pray and Get Ready" documents this trip: https://vimeo.com/50418242

It's not credited on the sleeve, but Yancey Allison took the beautiful photos found on the front & back covers.

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Papa Lightfoot
Wine, Whiskey, Women / Mean Old Train
Imperial
45rpm 7"
$7

Papa Lightfoot was a blues artist from Natchez, Mississippi, who played harmonica and had a singing voice with so much grit and gravel that he makes Howlin’ Wolf sound like Johnny Ace.  These are powerfully rocking performances, where he sounds none too worried about the vices he swears will be his ruin.  Good attitude!  Recent reissue.  Hear Wine, Whiskey, Women: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vc8PMs_s9M

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Purple Patio
s/t
NoBusiness Records
LP
$20

Very cool & engaging session led by Nate Wooley, one of the leading young-ish trumpeters on the NYC creative music scene, with plenty of potent & pointed improvising. Limited edition of 300 copies, LP only. Hear some of Animals.

“‘Parturition’ has Wooley taking immediate inspiration from the dense mesh of percussion, embarking on a solo that splatters rapid lines and brassy blasts around the studio. He launches an unaccompanied exploration of alternative techniques to begin ‘Aurora’—evocative, strangely furtive play with air—until the drummers join in. Antunes is an exceptionally grounded bassist, with a big sound and a strong sense of line, whether insisting on a pulse or coming to the fore as an equal melodic partner on the almost balladic ‘Aurora’ or the pointed and splintering speculations of 'Sueca.' The drummers contribute as much taste and invention as sheer force: on their feature, ‘Triangle,’ the threesome construct a spacious, subtly detailed world of varied percussion sounds.” - Stuart Broomer, NYC Jazz Record

Nate Wooley: trumpet
Hugo Antunes: bass
Jorge Queijo: drums
Mário Costa: drums
Chris Corsano: drums

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Sly Fox
My Four Women / Alley Music
Spark Record Co.
45rpm 7"
$7

During a sit-down with the late, dearly missed Nathaniel Mayer at Kelly’s Drinking Society in Queens, he described a misunderstanding that took place at one of his practice sessions.  Nate had said something that offended another member of the group, but his excuse was that he was just doing what he always does at rehearsals, “talking shit and playing piano.”  It was agreed that would make for a good record by itself, and I imagine that it might have sounded similar to the gravelly voiced trash talk found on this single.  Ike Turner in the mix.  Not sober music.  Recent reissue. Hear Alley Music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXI0PPtJbyQ

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Big Mama Thornton
Swing it on Home / My Heavy Load
Arhoolie
45rpm 7"
$6

"Swing it on Home" is a great piano blues stomper, while "My Heavy Load" features Big Mama digging deep into a slow number, accompanied only by Mississippi Fred McDowell on acoustic guitar. (Note that the label says both of these cuts are from the Big Mama Thornton in Europe LP on Arhoolie.) Hear Swing it on Home.

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Various Artists
The Gospel Soul of Detroit: Sanctified Sounds from the Motor City
Detroit Gospel Reissue Project
LP
$16

“Expertly compiled by musician and gospel historian Michael Hurtt, this overview of Detroit gospel from 7”s is years in the making, and well worth the wait. Cumberland River Singer Singes, the Trumpelettes, Jericho Travelers, Rev Drayton, Pure Heart Travelers, and more. Stellar from start to finish. Non-subscriber titles from the Knight Foundation-supported Detroit Gospel Reissue Project. Retail copies, limited to 450.” - Detroit Gospel Reissue Project. Hear Rev. Drayton's By and By, one of my favorites. Full track listing here.

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Various Artists
I am on the Battlefield for My Lord
'Buked & Scorned Records
LP
$18

"Third volume of this still largely unheard, amazing music. Absolutely stellar performances from the Heavenly Dreamers, Otis Wright, and many more. Lovely silkscreened covers, edition of 450." - 'Buked & Scorned Records. Hear some of Highway to Heaven by Arthur Williams and the Joybells. Full track listing here.

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Young Jessie
I Smell a Rat / Lonesome Desert
Modern
45rpm 7"
$7

Early in his still-active career, Young Jessie cut a bunch of great R&B rockers, including “Mary Lou,” “Hit Git and Split,” and “Teacher Gimmie Back.” His first record, “I Smell a Rat,” was released in 1954 when he was only 17 years old, but his shouting voice sounded full-grown and then some. It maybe even cuts Big Mama Thornton’s version of the song, which is no small feat. If I play it once I’m usually inclined to play it several times in a row: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KvHrNWC0avU. 2011 reissue.