Monday, July 4, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Some sad news regarding one of our heroes. Cornell Dupree passed away on May 8th 2011 at his home in Ft. Worth Texas.
Our condolences go out to Irma, his wife of over 50 years, his family, his friends and fellow musicians.
A quiet giant, he was dubbed the ultimate un-showoff, and whether you know it or not, you've heard him.
He played on literally thousands of recordings, most famously with Aretha Franklin (Respect), but also with countless others including Donny Hathaway, Roberta Flack, Bill Withers and Miles Davis.
As part of his hometown band The Kingpins he arrived at Atlantic Studios in New York to record with King Curtis and quickly joined the ranks as the "first call" guitar for the entire Atlantic stable.
A master of understatement, Cornell was never known to play any note that did not augment the song. Listen to his work on Brook Benton's "Rainy Night In Georgia" A study in pure taste; note by note he added a depth of emotion that made the song an instant classic.
We first heard Cornell's name on "Memphis Soul Stew" from the 1971 "Curtis Live at the Fillmore West" album and it blew our collective socks off, right on cue: We were just about to record three tracks (The Denmark Street Sessions) and he helped inspire us to take the leap and form the yet-to-be-named Average White Band.
Fast forward to our fifth album for Atlantic, "Warmer Communications." We were privileged to have Cornell as a guest on the James Taylor song "Daddy's All Gone." His solo and tasteful fills still stand as a shining example of pure class, (you can't fake that!).
The soul of the man shines through, revealing the true gentleman that he was.
Average White Band
New York, May 2011.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
Following on from my recent exhortations to snap up the remaining tickets for the Ronnie Scott’s week, it appears you took heed and promptly did same, giving us an unqualified success and sold-out shows every night of what turned out to be a magic week in Soho. From what I could see and hear around me, the reaction was palpable and genuinely appreciative, and the comments relayed to us by staff and other in-house functionaries seemed to be glowing and generous, to say the least.
The band had a blast, and most of the sets exceeded our projected energy level – in no small part to the instant feedback of yourselves out there in the house – and our ability to reign in our normal concert show to such an intimate space without noticeable compromise musically or sonically was more than gratifying for us, too. It’s always rather daunting to gamble that our kind of noise will translate to a venue as venerable, and therefore as under-the-microscope as that, given our audience’s demanding nature. Our fellow musicians (and sometime critics) and the club itself must measure us against the legends that have graced that hallowed stage. It seems our fears were unfounded, but we weren’t half on a bit of ‘edge’ to begin with, until we settled in to the vibe of the place and the routine of rehearsals and nightly showtimes to hone our knives to surgical keenness for the upcoming rigours of the weekend’s double-show nights.
There were a few lighthearted moments, too; on Friday’s first show, we heard repeated squawks from a table off to the right, as a besotted (and well-lubricated) fan tried gallantly, but vainly, to interject garbled outburst of lyrics to Let’s Go Round Again between much of our set – rather like one of those motorway service station rubber toys that you can wind up & shake, and out comes a strangled Elton, Elvis or Frosty The Snowman. It gave us, and a few in the house a spot of light relief from our otherwise determined and deeply-committed set, but culminated in her getting on stage, grabbing Onnie’s mic., and proceeding to launch into a moment of spontaneous karaoke on said song. Fred, our ever-coiled ‘mossad’ security-saxophonist, leapt across, took the microphone away, and gently eased her exit from stage right with an implored, “Not now, MUM”, to the audience which gave a potentially difficult moment a light touch while we regrouped to perform the much-desired piece itself.
A standout memory from Wednesday night was the welcome reunion with old friend Jim Mullen who sat in for the end of the set with us, and played some spine-tingling guitar on Put It Where You Want It. Jim and I first met at the Blue Workshop, a mid-sixties ad hoc fortnightly jazz & blues gathering in my hometown of Perth (along with Molly Duncan & Roger Ball – later to become our ‘Dundee Horns’ – and a fledgling Robbie McIntosh, original lynchpin to the very idea of what became AWB), which saw us all delve into hitherto untried combinations of young and uninhibited ensembles, and an anything-goes approach to stuff that was mainly and patently way above our heads, but which resonated in our souls and gave us the necessary moxie to flee the coop for London one-by-one, and end up with lasting alliances and the ensuing kudos that has provided us all with a blessed existence at the heart of our, then, dreamed-of future.
Thanks again, Jim, for another magic moment for the annals, and for an obviously-thrilled house that went away with an extra story to tell. That’s what Ronnie’s is all about, as I said in my prior piece, and long may it continue to be so. Our thanks to the staff who worked their collective ass off throughout the week, ferrying vast oceans of expensive refreshments to packed houses without ever seeming to get in our sight-line or in our ‘zone’ during the quieter moments of the set. I think the exuberance of the somewhat-gruelling week physically (and mentally) for us was best defused in a moment of farce as we departed the club doorway for the final time at about 3am on Sunday morning, as a posse of Soho’s Finest beat cops were preparing to split up and end their weekend’s street vigil and patrol, right beside us. Their brisk move off coincided with young McIntyre bumbling down the steps to the pavement on his club exodus, his gig-clothes hanging-bag over his arm, whereupon one of the protruding coat hangers snagged the belt clip of one of the members of the constabulary as he strode off, trailing Onnie with him until the pair of them seemed to engage in a mutually-shocked surreal tango in mid Frith Street as each tried to extricate the other from their highly-unconventional entwinement. Had we all stopped howling with laughter, we might have considered the possible consequence of what must have seemed to the officer-in-question a likely attack on his personage, with who-knows-what results. Fortunately it provided a brilliant footnote to an extraordinary week of music and fun, and the ability for us to put to rest a sense that this had been a big missing piece in squaring the AWB circle back to where it all began for us – just two streets away, at the Marquee, in 1973.
As the lady would say in the Greek caff round the corner, “it was luvalee week, dahlin’, dunnit?”
Alan Gorrie, Sep.16, 2010
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Thursday, April 5, 2007
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Saturday, June 10, 2006
Tuesday, March 8, 2005
Friday, December 24, 2004
Wednesday, December 24, 2003
A very happy Christmas and New Year to you all, after what has been something of an up-and-down year for most people it seems. Aren’t they all, though, when you look back on it over a 12-month period – who could honestly say that their year has been nothing but joy, success and gay abandon from end to end? Maybe when you were about ten you could probably think that way, especially since almost none of today’s complex and inexplicable customs, mores and distractions were a part of life then, unless, of course, you were born after 1972 in which case forget it – none of this applies!
What does apply, though, is the fact that we here in the Over-age White Band have seen it all, and what‘s evident is what we live through today and have to deal with on an hourly basis would have sent better men than us running for cover back then if they had so much bombardment in a week or a month, even. Never mind the televisual, radiophonic and multisensual blitzes that savage our consciousness incessantly, but just the schedules and expectations put on everyone in this infancy of the 21st century are enough to keep you permanently on a state of high alert (and anxiety) and off-balance a great deal of the time, which makes any reasoned attempt to qualify a totally great year difficult, to say the least.
Nevertheless, we’ve had some great moments to carry us through this year, from the great snowfall that trapped us in DC for three days last February (albeit with a fine Irish pub in the hotel, which ensured a recent-record weekend bar tab for AWB...nothing that would have challenged the old days, you understand) to the very opposite, a fine weekend’s reward in the Bahamas and Florida as some kind of payback. That one had its own little hiccup, though, as the US base-ball season seems to go on forever and it ended up with the Florida Marlins contending for the final game on our gig night, which somewhat dented the crowd we would have had otherwise. Come to think of it, that same extended season caught us in Boston (with the same results) a week or so before that with the final couple of games of THAT series. Our usual second house at Scullers was by then delirious, drunk or delusional, depending on their team colours, and certainly were not heading for a jazz club either of these final nights. So add these elements to my aforementioned life-complications and you get the yo-yo factor I mentioned.
We had a fairly triumphant return to Japan this year after an absence of some little time, and a reintroduction to the greater audience at the Mt. Fuji Jazz Festival, which was held on one of the hottest weekends of the year there. It’s a fantastic setting up in the mountains at the old Formula-One grand prix circuit at Gotemba (now held at Suzuka, as those who follow the sport will know) and the view was incredible till the late-day heat haze blocked out the world.
The music on offer was fantastic, too, and the Brecker Brothers (who used to play on our early albums) made an appearance, closing the first night’s show with some amazing (and amusing) moments both musically and comedically. Randy is still a fine dry wit on the mic. besides one of the few trumpet players I can actually listen to, let alone enjoy. Funny, Brian Dunne and I share the same view of trumpet – if it aint the best, it’s a friggin’ test. Marcus Miller and his two ‘projects’ were on display each of the two nights, and right after us on Sunday, Nile Rogers and Chic gave a spirited performance – the first time Onnie or I had ever seen them live. The Chic girls were stunning, and seeing Omar Hakim do that set on drums, then turn around into a deep jazz thing with Marcus right afterwards was pretty amazing stuff. Unfortunately our bus had to leave before the end as the return journey to Tokyo on Sunday night totally eclipses the Long Island/New Jersey to New York City extravaganza one encounters on summer weekends, by at least double...and then we all had early morning departures back to the States and UK respectively.
While there, though, we reacquainted ourselves with the British jazzy-soul group Incgnito, which led to a double bill at London’s Forum to end out our performing year in style. This came as the finale to our European/UK tour in November – our second tour of duty there this year, after our May success – and it seems to herald another revival of sorts for us in Greater Europe. We had some success through continental Europe in the mid nineties, but have pretty much been UK-bound in most recent years, so it’s always nice to find territories opening up again as a new generation of funksters discovers the roots, and the root-ers with them. We are already set for the UK leg of next year’s first visit at the end of May/beginning of June, so hopefully we’ll be able to continue this trend past that and get a fill of food, wine and other delights of the Continent.
Whatever, we will have all our usual commitments in the States, beginning in April with a Nor’Easter lasting about three weeks or so, and taking in some of our favourites such as The Birchmere for a couple of nights at Easter, and The Keswick near Philly for a couple the following weekend, as well as other perennials like Turning Stone and Harrisburg, to mention but a few. If I miss anything, it’s because I’m a lousy ‘lister’ and it will all be available on the website, placed by our professional and fully-qualified ‘lister-of-events’ and master-of-web, himself. I’m in the wrong union for that sort of thing.
I will stick to the matter-at-hand instead, and reiterate our holiday greetings to all of you, whichever continent you’re reading this on, and whatever particular festive proclivities you have, be it Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa or Buddha’s Big Bash, and we look forward to seeing you in the year 2004...no absences accepted or excuses tolerated.