DESCRIPTIVE NOTES

Submitted by johnnycase on Mon, 01/14/2019 - 12:45am

 

DESCRIPTIVE NOTES - Entry 1:

Compilation, 2019: OTHER REALMS Exploratory and Esoteric Music    

All the selections on this CD-R were recorded at my favorite studio (since 1989), hence the audio quality is fine and more consistent than with Commemoration Set, comprised of material from a wide time-span (50 years!) and from many varying circumstances, some of which were sub-professional in audio quality. That is not the only difference, of course. Here, the disc showcases the most uncommercial musical tendencies I've engaged in during the past 27 years. My prior studio recordings of extremist expression took place in 1980 and 1981. I am not including my 1969 debut record of unaccompanied, totally improvised music on vibraphone. Although Vibra-Dream Currents occupies a unique place in my recorded output, it is not a studio recording. This current production is a catholic mixture including the opening art song for soprano with jazz trio accompanyment. Song of Solange is not improvised music, it is a musical setting inspired by a passage in The Maids, a play by Jean Genet. 

Track Two, titled Run Free, is totally improvised avant garde jazz, although I freely and periodically use a melodic motif from another art song which is presented on the following track. Group interplay is of the essence in this type of music, and I was fortunate to have musicians who showed no fear of total freedom. 

Love's Bitter Rage is sung in a Spanish version by the mezzo-soprano Claudia Gonzalez.  The long intro and outro encase the core song with a hymn-like reverence for its truth and powerful social message.

From Where Strays Never Call Home presents a return to all-out improv in the free jazz mold. I am joined here by Jeremy Hull on bass and Daniel Tcheco on drums for some engaging three-way interplay

Lewis Worrell begins with piano and arco bass. There is no stated pulse until the theme is re-stated with drums added. What is perhaps not evident with the duo opening, is that the tune is a 12-bar blues. This is my tribute to a bassist heavily associated with the jazz avant garde, whose significant achievements were from 1964 through 1967, after which he left the national jazz scene and has seldom been heard from since. Byron Gordon solos with Duane Durrett on drums..

Song of No Return, is the most conventional piece heard in this set, and it concludes my portion of the CD program. It has a strong Latin flavor and includes a piano solo with solid support by bassist Byron Gordon and percusssionist Joey Carter.

Frank DeVol (1911-1999) wrote and conducted music for motion pictures, television, and the popular music market of the mid-twentieth century. Three Cues by Frank DeVol is from his soundtrack to the 1956 Robert Aldrich war film "Attack!". Having long been intrigued by this music, and the film for which it was written, I approached the talented Nathan Phelps for his assistance in making a new recording to "bring  back to life" (in Phelps' words) this unusual and haunting music for lower voices. The viola heard on Cue #2 is played by a very gifted young musician, Jacob Burk. He needed no reference note in tuning his viola, and although I had indicated I would want three takes, he played the piece perfectly the first time...then gave me two more perfect takes!  It is rare for a musician's pitch to be "dead center" in accuracy, as Burk's intonation consistently registered on the equipment at Patrick McGuire's studio. This most fitting addition to my more adventursome recording endeavors completes this 2019 CD, issued to celebrate my 50th year as an indie artist /recordist.. 

All selections on this disc were recorded at Patrick McGuire Recording in Arlington, Texas.

I wish to thank the folowing people for their help in various projects that are represented in this compilation. They are: James Vernon, Charles Whitehead, Patrick McGuire, Kitty Case, Charles Duke, Bryan English, Dr. Misha Galaganov, Nathan Phelps and Joey Carter.

 

DESCRIPTIVE NOTES - Entry 2:

Alternate compilation acknowledging my 50th anniversary as an independent artist / record producer - completed in November, 2019. 

JOHNNY CASE - PRESENCE      Musicase CD-R    catalog number 350

Descriptive Notes: This set opens with the newly recorded De Vol music which closes the two previous compilations. "Three Cues" is followed by "Song of Solange" which is the first track of the second compilation. This is followed by a long track of "Three Free Pieces" combined to represent an organic unity in commitment to freedom and expressive musical creation. The three pieces are: "Conjuration" (Parts One & Two) followed by "A Celestial Presence". The first two feature John Case piano; Mark Lignell, percussion; Chris Clarke, acoustic bass & kalimba; Don Anderson, tenor & soprano saxophones and percussion. The third piece features John Case on vibraphone. 

The entire program is presented in reverse chronological order:            Three Cues by Frank De Vol  - recorded 2019  

                                                                                                                          Song of Solange   - recorded 1992    

                                                                                                                                     Three Free Pieces:                                                                      

                                                                                                                  Conjuration (Parts 1 & 2)   - recorded 1981

                                                                                                                     A Celestial Presence  - recorded 1969

 

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STEEL REFLECTIONS   John & Jerry Case plus Pedal Steel Guitarists.  Musicase CD-R Compilation, issued in 2018.

The program: 

1. Serenade - featuring Tom Morrell; 2. Empathy - featuring Maurice Anderson; 3. Elevation - featuring Chuck Caldwell; 4. Perdido - featuring Tom Morrell; 5. In the East - featuring Tom Morrell; 6. Excursion - featuring Maurice Anderson; 7. In a Mellow Tone - featuring Maurice Anderson; 8. Steel Guitar Ride - featuring Chuck Caldwell; 9. Lawton Blues - featuring Chuck Caldwell; 10. In the Air - featuring Tom Morrell; 11. Full Moon - featuring Maurice Anderson; 12. Bags' Groove - featuring Maurice Anderson; 13. Divisio - featuring Chuck Caldwell; 14. Birderic - featuring Tom Morrell; 15. Hudson's Blues - featuring Maurice Anderson; 16. Stay Loose - featuring Maurice Anderson ; 17. Hag's Move - featuring Tom Morrell; 18. Passing Through - featuring Tom Morrell; 19. A New Moon - featuring Chuck Caldwell; 20. Excursion Out - featuring Maurice Anderson.

The featured steel guitarists are heard with:

JERRY CASE, 7-string guitar (bass 0n 9, 15 & 19); JOHNNY CASE, piano (bass on 1, 3, 5, 8, 10 & 13); JIM PERKINS, bass (2, 6, 11 & 20); CHARLES SCOTT, bass (4, 7, 12 & 17); DON SOWELL, drums (1, 4, 5, 7, 10, 12 & 17); JESS HUDSON, piano (15) & bass (16); BILL MINER, drums (11, 15 & 16); DON BRIERTON, drums (3, 9, 13 & 19); TED WASSER, drums (14 & 18); KERBY STEWART, bass (14 & 18); BILL WALKER, drums (2, 6 & 20). JOHN WESTFALL is the trombonist heard briefly on 14 & 18. On the out-chorus of Perdido, Maurice Anderson plays the first half of the bridge.

 

STEEL REFLECTIONS - Notes by Johnny Case

My entry into the music profession occurred  at the best possible time and place, given my dual interests: learning modern jazz despite logistics that restricted my actual working experience to the country swing dance bands which nevertheless nourished my love for steel guitar. Had these opposites not inhabited my reality, I would have missed the newly emerging modernity related to the instrument that had fascinated me since childhood.

Although my instrument is piano, the modernists in my midst were frequently guitarists and pedal steel guitarists. Accessibility to complex harmonies not previously heard on steel guitar was made possible by the advent of pedals. A whole generation of uniquely gifted steel players born in the 1930's were in their prime when I first began to learn about their modern steel guitar music, circa 1962. That's when I first heard Gene Pooler with the Johnnie Lee Wills band. My older brother, guitarist Jerry Case, had encouraged me to go with him to hear this top western swing band in person, playing a rodeo dance in Hugo. Oklahoma. Pooler had a full, rich tone and a harmonic concept far more sophisticated than was intended for much of the music being played. The versatility of the band, however, was such that their repertoire included Stardust, Relaxin' and (reportedly) April in Paris. The inclusion of a fine tenor saxophonist and trumpeter enabled the band to play convincing renditions of this pop material, especially with tasteful embellishment from Gene Pooler on pedal steel. In fact, Pooler often added sumptuous harmonies to the more country-oriented material as well, utilizing an abundance of sophisticated passing chords in otherwise simple structures. In my hunger to hear more of this type steel playing, savvy musician friends directed me to specific recordings on which uncredited giants such as Curly Chalker and Buddy Emmons could be heard.    

In 1963 Buddy Emmons recorded "Steel Guitar Jazz" for Mercury. I learned about it from an advertisement in the trade publication Billboard Magazine to which my mother subscribed. So eager was I to hear the new LP, I'm quite certain my special order through a local record store was among the first sales of this benchmark album. Curiously, my hometown of Paris, Texas seemed an unlikely place to hear the hottest C&W band in the nation perform live, yet Ernest Tubb and his Texas Troubadours were booked into the fairgrounds coliseum for a Wednesday night performance. My parents J.C. and Floy Case were longtime friends of Tubb, which gave us the exceptional honor of visiting with him on the band bus just prior to their show. My mom proudly told E.T. about my older brother Jerry Case playing guitar professionally, and that I was becoming a piano player. On my behalf (I was shy) she asked if Emmons was still with him. He said "no" but was quick to praise his new steel man, Bud Charleton. This primo band, which Tubb featured generously on his show, was incredibly inspiring with its front line consisting of the impressive Leon Rhodes on lead guitar and his new musical partner on pedal steel. Charleton proved to be an exciting and authoratative player. The up-tempo instrumentals designed to showcase their talents have often been labeled "Country Jazz".

When the Case family moved to Dallas in the summer of 1964, I found myself in the midst of cutting-edge steel guitar modernists. I had advance notice, having recently become aware of two particularly talented pedal steel men based in Dallas. I will give more detail elsewhere regarding the encounter of Jerry Case and Maurice Anderson in Las Vegas, and my own subsequent meeting of Maurice (at a live event where I heard him play an entire gig) that followed within two weeks in Paris, Texas.  His playing was for me an education in the expert application of modern jazz concepts to country music's jazz counterpart: western swing. During this same time frame, I had also learned about another steel master, whom I first heard playng incredibly swinging standard guitar on a live telecast. The inside word was: "You oughta hear him on steel". This individual was also a business associate of Maurice, and soon after my move to the Dallas area, Maurice introduced me to Tommy Morrell. He was frequently on the road with a legendary band, the Western Starlighters. Although I saw him quite often when he was in town, it would be a matter of years before I actually witnessed his phenomenal abilities on pedal steel. 

In 1969, Jerry Case (on bass), Tom Morrell (on standard guitar) and I performed on Volume 2 of "The Moods of Maurice Anderson".  Three more cuts with this same group appear on Volume 3 of the set that would eventually total five LPs. I felt honored to be part of these recordings. The experience helped advance my own ideas about independent representation via self-produced record albums. Before 1969 had ended, I began my own series of recordings, with a primary objective being to feature creative improvised music, totally free of commercial considerations. In the jazz sessions of the 1970's, my brother Jerry Case, a unique jazz stylist on 7-string guitar, is heard in a variety of settings. Without question, however, the most unusual feature in my series was the inclusion of pedal steel guitar on these free-wheeling jazz dates. Anderson and Morrell were described in Down Beat magazine as "premier exponents of the instrument". On these sessions Anderson and Morrell (together and separately) are documented in a manner unlike any of their other recordings. Each player often stretches out for multiple choruses, and we hear some remarkable extended improvisations, unedited and unaltered in any way. The Anderson tracks 15 and 16 are live performances from 1966 when Jerry Case was a member of Maurice's band The Triads, performing in Dallas, Texas at the Willow Club. I brought my semi-professional reel-to-reel recorder to their gig one nght and captured some 40 minutes of music. The surprising circumstance of this particular night is something I will describe in my intended article on Maurice Anderson, because its one-of-a-kind challenge and how Maurice dealt with it, exemplify this man's transcendent musical abilities. 

By 1977, I had become determined to document the obscure and elusive Chuck Caldwell from Lawton, Oklahoma. Jerry Case had worked with him in late 1963 and early '64 in the band of the ill-fated "Little" Joe Carson. Chuck played non-pedal in those years but later switched to pedal steel. Ideally, I would have liked to capture his non-pedal work which is scarcely represented on recordings. Many comments from primo western swing musicians whom had worked with Chuck attest to his remarkable prowess and the unorthodox techniques he masterfully utilized to accomplish musical statements of a poetic naturalness. The great Tom Morrell reflected on the non-pedal work of Caldwell, more than once referring to him as a "wizard of non-pedal steel". Alas, my mission came too late for the realization of such a treasure as might have been. With numerous problems to plague this project, a session in Wichita Falls yielded an album, issued on my Priority label in 1980.  Four cuts from that date appear in this compilation. In addition, the brief "Steel Guitar Ride" is a rowsing Caldwell solo excerpted from 1974 recordings furnished to me by Lawton musician and Caldwell friend, Carl Cooper. 

This 20-track set is producd in homage to these individualistic steel guitarists, the likes of whom will never be heard again. I intend to add extensive information on Anderson, Caldwell and Morrell (separate articles for each) under the Performer Profiles heading found elsewhere on this website.

TOM MORRELL (1938 - 2007)

CHUCK CALDWELL (1934 -2010)

MAURICE ANDERSON (1934 - 2013.

 

                                                                                                                                

to be continued...