Friday, 20 November 2015

DON SEBESKY "DON SEBESKY & THE JAZZ-ROCK SYNDROME" (1968)

«I don't think that there is such a thing as the Don Sebesky sound. [...] I think the common denominator here is more an attitude towards music, a willingness to blend various influences without worrying about where they come from. The way I look at music is the way I look at life - I have no pre-conceived notion about either. If today I feel like doing a certain kind of music, that's what I'll do. And tomorrow, I might try a different kind. I think that if I had one sound, if I stumbled on one formula and I had to stay with that one sound and keep pushing it, I'd never be happy. That's why I said that I don't think I have a "sound". But an attitude, an approach to music, definitely, yes.»

[Don Sebesky, from an interview conducted in 1973 by Didier C. Deutsch]



Donald John Sebesky was born in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, USA, on 10 December 1937; his father worked in a steel-cable factory, his mother was a housewife. At the age of eight he started learning the accordion; he later came to realize that this instrument was the best possible choice he could have made because, as he says, «the accordion is a 'mini-orchestra' and teaches the principles of harmony from the very beginning».

Sebesky soon started learning piano too, and in high school he switched to the trombone to get into the marching band. Then he began commuting into New York from New Jersey to study with Warren Covington at the Manhattan School of Music. His earliest influences were the big bands of Stan Kenton and Maynard Ferguson.

During the mid '50s he began his professional career playing with Kai Winding, Claude Thornhill, and the Tommy Dorsey Band led by Covington. In 1958 he was hired to play the trombone in Maynard Ferguson's band appearing on their album "A Message From Newport"; on such occasion he signed two compositions: "Humbug" and "Fan It, Janet".


"Don Sebesky & The Jazz-Rock Syndrome" back cover

He also played briefly with Stan Kenton appearing on "Viva Kenton!" in 1959, but at the turning of the decade he decided to give up trombone playing and devote himself full time to writing and arranging, working out an individual style based on a combination of Jazz and Classical music.

In 1965 Don Sebesky joined Verve Records when Creed Taylor was still a producer for the label. One of his most distinctive and successful arrangements was for Wes Montgomery's album "Bumpin'" released the same year.

In 1967, when Taylor left the company to launch his own CTI, Sebesky joined the newborn label as staff arranger, giving his precious contribution in creating many hit records.

During the late '60s / early '70s, his orchestral backgrounds helped make artists like Montgomery, George Benson ("Shape of Things To Come", 1968), Paul Desmond ("From the Hot Afternoon", 1969) and Freddie Hubbard ("First Light", 1971) acceptable to audiences outside of Jazz.


The beautiful gatefold cover in all its glory

Sebesky's arrangements have usually been among the classiest in his field, reflecting a solid knowledge of the orchestra, drawing variously from Big Band Jazz, Rock, Ethnic music, Classical music of all eras and even the Avant-garde for ideas. He once cited Béla Bartók as his favorite composer, but one also hears lots of Stravinsky in his work.

In 1968 he debuted as a solo artist with "Don Sebesky & The Jazz-Rock Syndrome", the subject of this post, an albums intended to merge - as per its title - Jazz and Rock music. This record was soon followed by "The Distant Galaxy", a weirder affair that combined exotic and electronic instruments with unusual arrangements; this precious gem will hopefully appear on these pages sometimes soon.

In the late '60s / early '70s Sebesky also arranged for Carmen McRae, Tamiko Jones (...her album "I'll Be Anything For You" is available here on Stereo Candies...), Peggy Lee, Hubert Laws, Kenny Burrell and Dionne Warwick, to name just a few, but the list is so much longer... In 1971 his song "Memphis Two-Step" was the title track of the Herbie Mann album of the same name.


"Don Sebesky & The Jazz-Rock Syndrome" inner gatefold, left panel

In 1973 Sebesky released his opus "Giant Box", a double LP for which he employed musicians that makes the term 'all stars' sound like an understatement; this may have been Creed Taylor's most ambitious single project.

Among the numerous artists gathered together for the occasion were Paul Desmond, George Benson, Randy Brecker, Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Freddie Hubbard, Milt Jackson, Airto Moreira, Grover Washington Jr., Jackie Cain and Roy Kral.

The album reached number 16 on the U.S. Billboard Jazz Albums Chart and was nominated for a Grammy. Later on, this step out into the spotlight was followed only by sporadic releases among which we remember "The Rape of El Morro" (1975), "Three Works For Jazz Soloists & Symphony Orchestra" (1979) and "Full Cycle" (1983).


"Don Sebesky & The Jazz-Rock Syndrome" inner gatefold, right panel

Active as a teacher since the 70s, Sebesky is the author of "The Contemporary Arranger", an authoritative easy-to-understand text covering all aspects of arranging for Jazz bands and other Contemporary / Pop ensembles, which is used in colleges and music schools all over the world.

He has worked with such orchestras as the London Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, the Boston Pops, The New York Philharmonic, the Royal Philharmonic of London, and the Toronto Symphony.

As a recording artist and in collaboration with other artists, he has won three Grammy Awards and has been nominated for 27 more, won a Tony and has been nominated for two more, won two Drama Desk Awards and four Clio Awards.

During the years, he has composed and arranged music for Christina Aguilera, Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Britney Spears, Chet Baker, Vanessa Williams, Bette Midler, Barry Manilow, Liza Minnelli, Cyndi Lauper, and a host of other pop stars.


The original inner sleeve displays a few pictures of the most representative Verve artists and a list of their releases...

Sebesky has composed and orchestrated for several films, including the Oscar-nominated short subject "Time Piece" (1965) starring and directed by Jim Henson (...available here, it is worth your precious time, believe me!), "The People Next Door" (1970), "F. Scott Fitzgerald and 'The Last of the Belles'" (1974), "The Rosary Murders" (1987) with Donald Sutherland (for which Sebesky also conducted), and "Julie & Julia" (2009) with Meryl Streep.

Sebesky's work for television has garnered three Emmy nominations for "Allegra's Window" on Nickelodeon, "The Edge of Night" on ABC, and "Guiding Light" on CBS.

His Broadway theater credits include "Porgy and Bess" (London production by Trevor Nunn), "Sinatra at The Palladium", "Sweet Charity", "Kiss Me Kate", "Bells Are Ringing", "Flower Drum Song", "Parade", "The Life", "Cyrano", "The Goodbye Girl", "Will Rogers Follies", "Sinatra at Radio City", "Pal Joey", "Come Fly Away" and "Baby It's You".

One of the most highly regarded arrangers in the business, Sebesky's work is precise and elegant, yet bristles with ideas and always displays his sure grasp of instrumental potential and the abilities of the performers for whom he writes.


...and more on the back!


"Don Sebesky & The Jazz-Rock Syndrome" contains the following tracks:

01. The Word (3:46)
02. Shake a Lady (3:46)
03. Banana Flower (2:52)
04. Meet a Cheetah (4:07)
05. I Dig Rock'n'Roll (2:05)
06. Never My Love (3:11)
07. Dancing In the Street (3:21)
08. Somebody Groovy (4:12)
09. You've Got Your Troubles (2:57)
10. Big Mama Cass (2:58)

All tracks were remastered from the original vinyl in November 2015 and are available in FLAC lossless format, along with complete artwork reconstruction and printable PDF files.

Please have a look at the comments for the download link.



Recorded between June 1967 and January 1968, and bearing catalogue number V6-8756, "Don Sebesky & The Jazz-Rock Syndrome" was released on Verve Records during the first half of 1968. The album comes in a beautiful gatefold sleeve with colourful pictures by Joel Brodsky which is a real pleasure for the eyes.

As the 'V6' prefix in the catalogue number implies, the album is recorded in full stereo, althought mono copies were also pressed as promotional items for radio stations.

The following liner notes printed on the inner gatefold were written by Cool Jazz musician and author Michael Zwerin.

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«Big bands are not coming back. Let's face it. The old style, rooted in the swing era, is an anachronism. Those bands will hang around only as long as that generation is alive; they are relics, museum pieces - still groovy, but relics nonetheless.

Basie, Herman, James and the few others still carrying on will not survive their own generation. They have no issue; young cats do not generally form swing bands these days. They play Rock and Roll, whether we like it or not.

But something else has been coming-on lately. It has been called 'Jazz-Rock', a budding love affair between a raw but vital, enthusiastic child and a somewhat weatherbeaten but dapper older gentleman.

Basically the one-eyed monster killed old-style dance bands, along with a lot of other things. For awhile, when the tube was still a novelty, nobody did anything else at all but sit in front of it. Then came the Twist and people began moving out again - to dance. The Twist really buried big bands; four electrified kids could produce the volume of fifteen unamplified guys, a lot cheaper. And the other eleven musicians starved or became school teachers.

It may have been a blessing in the long run. The new beat spawned dancing as a worldwide participation sport. For the first time, you don't have to know the steps; anything goes. Just move out on the floor, stay loose and swing.

As the dances became more abstract and creative, more permissive and popular, the music kept pace - becoming more and more complex until, suddenly, we find Jazz peeking through the door again. Many straight-ahead Rock groups are beginning to add horns. Some will inevitably add more and, since there are few sounds as exciting as seven brass and five saxophones wailing, new-style big bands will soon begin criss-crossing the country just like the old once did; not museum pieces, but contemporary, communicating dance organizations. People will once more dance to big bands - which will sound like this record.



Though he just turned 30, Don Sebesky is a product of the big band tradition, having played trombone with Warren Covington, Stan Kenton, Claude Thornhill and Maynard Ferguson. His big writing break came through Maynard and he has since scored albums for Wes Montgomery, Astrud Gilberto, Erroll Garner and Kenny Burrell.

When Don started to think about this album, he "wanted to come up with something new. It seemed to me that the style in which I had been writing - traditional Holman-influenced Basie - had become a dead end for me. It was either a matter of getting more complex and involved, or simpler. I chose the latter, or rather it was chosen for me. I discovered The Mamas and the Papas and their light, groovy approach influenced my thinking tremendously."

So there are very few hard, 'shouting' big band moments here. Instead, it sings with unisons and counterpoint. The tunes themselves reflect the Mamas and the Papas influence: "Somebody Groovy", a John Phillips tune, "Dancing in the Street", in which Don based the writing on Cass Elliot's phrasing of the same tune, and "Big Mama Cass" which is of course dedicated to her.

The musicians - who were all chosen "for their ability to swing in a Jazz way and yet relate to a Rock feel at the same time" - evidence obvious enthusiasm playing Sebesky's music. I particularly call your attention to Don MacDonald's drums, to Chuck Rainey's really astounding Fender bass - and to two young men you're going to be hearing from a lot, Larry Coryell and Dick Spencer.

Coryell, who's already made quite a name for himself with the Gary Burton group, is perhaps the personification of the Jazz-Rock movement among musicians. He plays real Jazz guitar - writing his own line, improvising on the changes - but unlike some of his colleagues he has also taken the time and trouble to master the electronic effects available on the amp. As a result, Coryell has virtually cornered the market on the wailing, haunting kind of guitar you hear on "Dancing in the Street" and, most especially, on "The Word" - a too-much tour de force right down to the closing cadenza.

Spencer likewise epitomizes the new generation of horn men - guys who grew up with Jazz and Rock in the unswerving belief that the twain shall meet. It's his soulful alto that puts the groove in "Somebody Groovy", the personality in the portrait of "Big Mama Cass". On "Meet a Cheetah", Spencer gets together with Joe Beck (another very now guitarist) and Sebesky himself - who, like Bob Brookmeyer, turns out to be a trombonist who also plays a mean piano. And organ (on "I Dig Rock 'n' Roll Music"). And harpsichord (on "Banana Flower"). And clavinet (dig his dialogue with Coryell on "The Word").

Don feels that "this is the first big band of the Rock era, bringing the influences of traditional big bands and combining them with the music being written today by John Phillips, the Beatles, the Beach Boys and other meaningful groups in an instrumental way, featuring a good strong rhythm section and blues-influenced soloists."

Obviously, Don Sebesky has found an alternative, a way to move ahead while still acknowledging his musical roots. Jazz-Rock is the turning point. Listen, dance and rejoice to it.»


Don Sebesky, exact date unknown, probably late '60s / early '70s


...and to finish this post, here's the complete credits as reconstructed from the original list included on the inner gatefold and the information written on the center labels of "Don Sebesky & The Jazz-Rock Syndrome". Additional information about some of the tunes is also included, along with some clips that offer a generous preview of the remastered album, this time I couldn't help to upload less than six... Enjoy!

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Recorded in June 1967 and January 1968 at A&R Studios, New York City.

Director of Engineering: Val Valentin
Cover photo: Joel Brodsky
Painting on Girl: Mario Rivoli
Art Direction: Acy R. Lehman

Produced by Esmond Edwards.

The Word
(John Lennon / Paul McCartney - this track was also released as a single with cat. number VK-10605; the original version appears on the Beatles' "Rubber Soul" released in 1965, more information about the song is available here)
Clavinet: Don Sebesky
Guitar: Larry Coryell
Bass: Chuck Rainey
Drums: Donald MacDonald
Flute: Hubert Laws



Shake a Lady
(Ray Bryant - original version appears on Ray Bryant's "Cold Turkey" released in 1964)
Piano: Don Sebesky
Guitar: Joe Beck
Bass: Don Payne
Drums: Donald MacDonald
Alto Saxophone: Richard Spencer
Flute: Jerry Dodgian

Banana Flower
(Don Sebesky - this track was also included on Side B of the VK-10605 single)
Harpsichord: Don Sebesky
Guitar: Joe Beck
Bass: Don Payne
Drums: Donald MacDonald
Flute: Jerry Dodgian
Vocals: Janet Sebesky



Meet a Cheetah
(Don Sebesky)
Piano and Harpsichord: Don Sebesky
Guitar: Joe Beck
Bass: Don Payne
Drums: Donald MacDonald
Alto Saxophone: Richard Spencer
Flute: Jerry Dodgian



I Dig Rock'n'Roll Music
(Paul Stookey / James Mason / Dave Dixon - original version appears on Peter, Paul and Mary's "Album 1700" released in 1967; more information about the song is available here)
Organ and Clavinet: Don Sebesky
Guitar: Joe Beck
Bass: Chuck Rainey
Drums: Donald MacDonald
Alto Saxophone: Richard Spencer
Flute: Hubert Laws
Vocals: Janet Sebesky

Never My Love
(Donald Addrisi / Richard Addrisi - original version appears on The Association' "Insight Out", released in 1967; the Addrisi Brothers later released their own version in 1977 - more information about the song is available here)
Harpsichord: Don Sebesky
Guitar: Joe Beck
Bass: Chuck Rainey
Drums: Donald MacDonald
Flute: Hubert Laws
Vocals: Janet Sebesky



Dancing In the Street
(Marvin Gaye / William Stevenson / Ivy Jo Hunter - original version by Martha and The Vandellas was released as a single in 1964; the song was later covered by the The Mamas and The Papas in 1966 and by many other artists, including David Bowie & Mick Jagger in 1985 - more information about the song is available here)
Clavinet and Organ: Don Sebesky
Guitar: Larry Coryell
Bass: Chuck Rainey
Drums: Donald MacDonald
Alto Saxophone: Richard Spencer
Vocals: Janet Sebesky

Somebody Groovy
(John Phillips - original version appears on The Mamas and The Papas' debut album "If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears" released in 1966)
Clavinet and Organ: Don Sebesky
Guitar: Joe Beck
Bass: Don Payne
Drums: Donald MacDonald
Alto Saxophone: Richard Spencer
Flute: Jerry Dodgian
Vocals: Janet Sebesky



You've Got Your Troubles
(Roger Greenaway / Roger Cook - original version by The Fortunes was released as a single in 1965; more information about the song is available here)
Piano: Don Sebesky
Guitar: Joe Beck
Bass: Chuck Rainey
Drums: Donald MacDonald
Flute: Hubert Laws
Vocals: Janet Sebesky

Big Mama Cass
(Don Sebesky - this song was covered by The Buddy Rich Big Band; it appears on their "Mercy, Mercy" live album released in 1968)
Organ and Clavinet: Don Sebesky
Guitar: Joe Beck
Bass: Chuck Rainey
Drums: Donald MacDonald
Alto Saxophone: Richard Spencer
Flute: Hubert Laws
Vocals: Janet Sebesky




More information about Don Sebesky is available here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Sebesky

http://www.donsebeskymusic.com/

http://www.discogs.com/artist/45768-Don-Sebesky

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/don-sebesky-mn0000801711/biography

http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/don_sebesky

http://www.masterworksbroadway.com/artist/don-sebesky

http://www.dougpayne.com/ctiads.htm

http://www.jazzwax.com/2010/12/interview-don-sebesky-part-1.html

http://www.jazzwax.com/2010/12/interview-don-sebesky-part-2.html

http://www.whosampled.com/Don-Sebesky/sampled/


If you have any other useful information about this post, or if you spot any dead links, just get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you!

11 comments:

  1. DOWNLOAD LINK

    https://mega.nz/#!9BU...

    If you download this file please consider leaving a comment, your feedback is important!

    Please let me know if the link is broken and I'll do my best to quickly fix it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Just found this and I love it! Thank you very much, you really do a very hard work on this and share it. Very thankful!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for the upgrade, sounds great!

    ReplyDelete
  4. thanks a lot peace mate!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow, Don Sebesky. This guy is amazing. Have only 2 or 3 albums by him. All are fantastic. Thank u very much for sharing

    ReplyDelete
  6. working out an individual style based on a combination of Jazz and Classical music. cd review

    ReplyDelete
  7. great material, thanks for sharing!! :)

    ReplyDelete

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