Soul Fantasy

Friday, November 28, 2008

William "Sonny" Criss

Alto saxophonist William "Sonny" Criss was an anomaly of the jazz musicians who came up during the bebop era. Criss moved to Los Angeles from Memphis at the age of 15, and at 19 played in Howard McGhee's band with Charlie Parker and Teddy Edwards. As was the norm for every alto player, Parker exerted a huge influence on Criss' playing. His beefy, earthy tone can be heard on a number of Savoy sessions beginning the next year. Criss drifted, playing in jazz and R&B groups, including those led by Johnny Otis, Billy Eckstine, and Stan Kenton. After joining Buddy Rich in 1956, Criss recorded Jazz U.S.A. for Imperial as a leader; it's one of the true underground classics of the hard bop era. Imperial -- mainly an R&B label specializing in New Orleans acts such as Fats Domino -- put no promotional push behind it. Nonetheless, he was able to cut two more sessions for the label: the excellent Go Man! and Sonny Criss Plays Cole Porter. Still playing with Rich, Criss cut At the Crossroads while on tour in Chicago for the Peacock label; the set featured Wynton Kelly and was critically well received. The saxophonist continued to work, fronting his own band in Los Angeles and gigging with others for brief out-of-town jaunts. He signed with Prestige in 1965 and issued a host of fine recordings, This Is Criss! and Sonny's Dream among them. Criss also cut various sessions for Xanadu, Muse, and ABC/Impulse near the end of his life. He committed suicide in 1977 due to the painful consequences of stomach cancer.
Before he committed suicide he recorded two albums. The first was entitled "Warm and Sonny" and the second "The Joy of sax".

From Lp "Warm and Sonny" on ABC/Impulse Records in 1976, I have chosen one of the best instrumentals entitled "Sweet summer breeze". Concert Master by Charles Veal. Produced by Esmond Edwards

Note: The above posted track is not played in full

Biography by Thom Jurek, All Music Guide

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Richard Stepp

Richard Stepp's first taste of fame came when he joined rock group The Northwest Company in 1967. They were often the opening act for visiting groups like The Who and The Byrds. After their lead singer departed, Richard found himself pulling triple duty as drummer, lead singer and songwriter. His songs were also picked for the A side for the groups last three singles.

After the NW Co broke up in 1974, Richard landed a deal with the brand new Mushroom Records and then with Casino Records with veteran producer Andy DiMartino. Fronting a new band, Shakedown, he became a strong draw in western Canada, playing clubs, doing TV, and concerts with Chuck Berry, Trooper, and Long John Baldrey.

Andy DiMartino recognized Richard's obvious talents, and took him to Los Angeles where they recorded an album of strong MOR/AR music using some of LA's top players. The album Holiday In Hollywood was released on MCA's speciality label Infinity Records and the title track was released as a single, doing very well in Richard's native Canada, as well as several European countries, South Africa, and Australia and New Zealand.

Holiday In Hollywood was recorded in Hollywood in 1978 and 1979 using members of Toto and Frank Zappa's group. The producer was Andy Di Martino, who had previously procuded a range of artists like Glenn Yarborough, Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band, and The Cascades' "Rhythm Of The Rain". The strings were scored by movie great Jimmy Haskell and conducted by Sid Sharp. The backup vocals were handled by the Waters Family singers.
The MCA/Infinity Records release of "Holiday In Hollywood" earned Stepp a Maple Leaf award for songwriting, as well as a Juno nomination for best new male vocalist in 1980. The record was well received around the world, though Infinity's demise cut sales short.
Two songs from the newly remastered CD have recently been released in the UK, where they are dance club hits. They are also available on a compilation CD in the UK.
The "Holiday In Hollywood" CD was remastered from the original master studio tapes, and repackaged with the original cover plus a booklet with full credits and all the lyrics.

Andy Di Martino
Drums: Ralph Humprey, Ed Greene, Mike Baird
Bass: Dennis Belfield, David Hungate, Ray Pohlman
Guitars: Thom Rotella, Ben Benay
Keyboards: Bill Cuomo
Synthesizer: Bill Cuomo
Sax: Pete Chrislieb
Background Vocals: Maxine Willard, Julia Tillman, Oren Waters

Richard Stepp - When we meet again 1979 (Sample)

It was enough to earn him a nomination as "Best New Male Artist" in the 1980 Canadian Juno Awards ,along with Bryan Adams. He won a PRO Canada 'Maple Leaf Award' for songwriting that year. Richard Stepp's self titled second LP was released on Vera Cruz Records in late 1981, in Canada only.

A lot of demos were recorded during the rest of the eighties, and more serious recording was done in 1990 with Bill Cowsill and Prism's Lindsay Mitchell. These recordings have remained unreleased. Richard has performed mostly as a solo for the last 20 years, working on the cruise ships, travelling the world, with extended stops in Sweden, Germany and The Netherlands. A Christmas CD was released in 1997. Currently he is recording songs for an upcoming CD, and playing piano around town to fans of his rockin' piano, strong vocals, and rootsy style.



Time For Everyone/She's A Woman Apex Records 1968

Can You Remember/Sunday Song Apex Records 1969

Rock'n'roll Lover Man (Stepp)/Let It All Coast Records 1971

Everybody's Got To Care (Stepp)/Don't Hear Me Complain Coast 1971

Sweet Suzy (The Bandit) (Stepp)/Ain't Nothing Wrong Stamp 1973

History Of Vancouver R'N'R Vol. 3 Neptoon/VRCA 1983

History Of Vancouver R'N'R Vol. 4 Neptoon/VRCA 1992


Good To Have You/Driving Down The Freeway Casino 1977


Chasing A Dream/You On My Mind Mushroom 1975

Holiday In Hollywood/If I Could Write A Song Infinity 1979

Holiday In Hollywood/Good To Have You Harbour (UK) 1979

Can You Feel My Love/Imagination Vera Cruz 1981

Sooner Or Later/Summer Love Vera Cruz 1982

Holiday In Hollywood Infinity 1979

Richard Stepp Vera Cruz 1981

Hooray For Santa Claus RS Records 1997

Don't Steal My Feel RS Records 2007

Holiday In Hollywood remastered RS Records 2008

All the above information was given to me and Nicolas by Richard himself.

Note: The above posted single is not played in full

Monday, November 24, 2008

Charles Johnson - Good good lovin' 1980

Scholars researching the influence of Batman on soul music including rap and hip-hop should put the name of Charles Johnson in bold-face type, providing they can figure out just which Charles Johnson is under discussion. Not to be confused with the gospel guitarist, to name just one possible case of mistaken identity, this Johnson has more than three decades of experience as a performer and began toiling as a producer in the early '90s. In this period he began constructing his dream recording studio, a facility that came to be known as the Funkcave because of Johnson's adoration for the aforementioned masked and caped crusader. This led to a record label called Funkcave in 1996, founded by Johnson and his best friend, the late Eddie Dean, Jr.

Johnson is considered something of an innovator in the recording craft, his ideas in the area of sound design unique and refreshing. His most devoted fans look for traces of his talent in even his earliest collaborations, while collectors of the so-called Northern soul style seem to be willing to part with as much as a thousand bucks for a mint copy of Johnson's own singles such as "Never Had a Love So Good." Cheapskates can find the song on several compilations, including Essential Modern Soul, Vol. 1 and Soul Underground, Vol. 2.
Also he recorded another one 7 inch single on Dash Records in 1980. Distributed by T.K.Productions. Produced by Horace Straws & Nathaniel Dean.
This track is also my ring tone!

Note: The above posted single is not played in full.

Biography by Eugene Chadbourne, All Music Guide

Friday, November 21, 2008

Joyce Cobb

Joyce Cobb is recognized as one of Memphis Tennessee's finest vocalists. For decades, Joyce Cobb has been delivering her unique elegant style of jazz, pop, contemporary, and soul music to audiences throughout the mid-South region and across the country! Joyce Cobb definitely has one of the deepest song lists you'll ever hear, - everything from jazz to blues, standards to pop, r&b to country, and even some "scattin'" and reggae thrown in for good measure. Joyce Cobb is a master at reading the audience and playing to them, and leading them on a magical musical journey!

Not only is Joyce Cobb one of the most versatile vocalists in the region today, but she can also scale her show to your needs, performing as a trio, quartet, large band, and even a full orchestra! Her seven piece band is comprised of some of the finest players in the region: Joyce Cobb: vocals & harmonica; Jim Arnold: guitar; Mike Adams: electric & upright bass; J.T. Page: piano; Kim Trammell: drums; Nokie Taylor: trumpet; Sonny Williams: saxophone.

As a singer, teacher, and actor, Joyce has done it all: Signed a deal at Stax Records, cut a Top 40 hit, "Dig The Gold," for the Cream label, opened shows for The Temptations, Muddy Waters, and Al Jarreau, toured Europe, performed with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, and starred in local productions of Ain't Misbehavin' and the Center For Southern Folklore's Beale Street Saturday Night (which she co-created).
In 1979 Joyce Cobb was the lead vocalist for Disco group THP (Three Hats Production). She also recorded some singles. One of them is "That's what love will do" in 1980.

Born in Oklahoma and reared in Nashville, Joyce has been immersed in music since her childhood days singing in her grandmother's church. A popular and sought-after performer, she is also an adjunct faculty member at the University of Memphis' Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music, where she teaches jazz vocals.

Joyce Cobb's many awards and honors include:

* Best Female Singer (The Recording Academy/NARAS)
* Best Memphis Band (Memphis Flyer Readers' Poll)
* Music Pioneer Award (United Music Heritage)
* Women of Achievement Award for Initiative
* Beale Street "Walk of Fame" Brass Music Note
* W. C. Handy Heritage Award (2007)
* Honorary PhD in Music (Grand Valley State University)
* Only Woman to Have a Beale Street Club Named in Her Honor

In 2004 and 2006 Joyce received rave reviews and was nominated for Ostrander Awards for her performance in Theatre Memphis' one-woman musical plays Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill and The Devil's Music: The Life and Times of Bessie Smith.

You can hear Joyce Cobb on the radio every Tuesday 2-4 pm and Wednesday 8-10 pm central time on WEVL FM 89.9 in Memphis!

Biography by Memphis Sound Entertainment

William Eaton - Friends and lovers 1977

William Eaton recorded in 1977 on Marlin Records the album entitled “Struggle Buggy” which features appearances by Ralph McDonald ,Steve Gadd, Michael & Randy Brecker, Eric Gale ,Tom Scott and some vocalists as Patti Austin , Vivian Chery and Zack Sanders. I chose the track “Friends and lovers”. Vocal by Zack Sanders. Tenor sax solo by Michael Brecker. Produced by Ralph McDonald, William Salter & William Eaton. Enjoy it.

Note: The above posted track is not played in full

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I'm back

I'm back. I experienced a minor health problem. Thanks for being patient all this time. Making up for lost time, I decided to post the incredible talent of DEMO CATES.

Demo Cates - Memories of moments 1981

Canada has not been kind to creative artists in general and black artists in particular. Consider the fact that Rick James, Claudja Barry, Eric Mercury and Gino Vanelli all had to leave before the international spotlight shone on them.
Demo Cates’s second solo album Memories and Moments should reverse this situation. The obvious questions is who is Demo Cates and what’s so special about his album Memories and Moments?

Demo wears many hats as a producer, arranger, songwriter, musician and vocalist. He hails from Detroit, a city that he credits for giving him his awareness of a wide spectrum of music. Today he resides in Canada.
His roots are based in Jazz, which can be traced to when his mother gave him a saxophone at age 10. He grew up listening to Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderly, Joe Henderson and Eddie Harris. He plays alto, tenor and soprano saxophones as well as the flute.
Demo was an intricate part of the Counts, local legends in Detroit for 12 years and he credits them with drawing him closer to gospel and rhythm ’n’ blues. But, he’s quick to point out, he drew them into jazz. “It was a good marriage,” says Demo.
As a vocalist, Demo’s style can simply be called “smooth”. His vocal influences include Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway and Lou Rawls.
Demo’s talents have been recognized by some of the giants of black music. In 1974 he was offered a job with Miles Davis. He received a call from his friend Michael Henderson, who has playing bass with Davis at the time. Henderson said “Ya man, Miles heard you on tape and he wants you to come to go to Brazil with us”.
Demo declined because he was going through some changes in his life and didn’t want to deal with the touring end of the business and wasn’t sure if he wanted to continue in music period. Lucky for lovers of good music he didn’t drop out of the business.
Memories and Moments is a potpourri of sophisticated funk, Latin, jazz fusion and easy listening. It showcases Demo’s versatility as a vocalist, musician, songwriter, arranger and producer.
Demo is in the vanguard of helping to shape the sound of Toronto. Memories and Moments bring together people from different cultures and backgrounds.
Says Demo,“I feel that Toronto can develop into quite a musical capital of the North. All the elements are here for a fusion of West Indian, American black music and Canadian music both black and white. There is a new sound coming out of Toronto that is a fusion type of sound.”
Demo wants his music to reach every corner of the earth. “I try to write and arrange my music so it will have an international appeal. Because I love Latin, it will have a Latin feel to it. It will have some rawness from the funk side and of course it’s going to have some jazz, because that’s what comes out of me,” says Demo.

Note: The above posted track is not played in full

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The story behind Richard Stepp's success!

About a year ago, I and my friend Nicolas Drosos ( found an unknown sample. A week later we sent this sample to Paul Collins known for his Radio show “The Soul Cellar” on Solar Radio. Paul found this unknown track. The track was “Caught up in a whirlwind” by RICHARD STEPP from 1979 !!! Then Paul bought the original LP and played this track on his show. In a few days this track became big success (Top Ten on Radio stations in England). After one year, Expansion Records released it as a 7”inch reissue and also was included in the recent Soul Togetherness Vol 8 compilation.

Even CD BABY re-released this week Stepp's album on CD !!!!

Enjoy this special arrangement here below.

Note: The above posted single is not played in full

I would really appreciate your comments on this one.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Wee - I want to show you 1977

Wee was an obscure soul group from Columbus, Ohio. Norman Whiteside was the Band leader especially as songwriter, Glen “Spanky” Jones on bass, Benji Harris on drums, Victor Martin (childhood friend with Norman) and Bimbo Brown. They recorded one and only ultra rare Lp in 1975-76 and released in 1977 on Owl Records. The pressing was a modest 1000 copies. Recently the label Numero Group re-released on CD. I chose unreleased track "I want to show you".

Note: The above posted track is not played in full

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Ronnie Foster - When will I write you a song ? 1979

Since his initial solo style favoured funky vamps instead of risky improvisation, organist Ronnie Foster was frequently dismissed by jazz purists during the peak of his career in the first half of the '70s. However, he was a talented mainstream funk and soul-jazz keyboardist who managed to cultivate a successful career as a sideman (working frequently with George Benson, in particular) and producer during the late '70s,'80s and '90s. Furthermore, his '70s records for Blue Note became cult items among a new generation of listeners raised on acid-jazz. Even if he rarely led a session after 1979, Foster wound up playing a some sort of a role in mainstream and funk-jazz during the '80s and '90s.
I have got two albums by Ronnie Foster on Columbia Records. From Lp in 1979, I chose sweet track “When will I write you a song?” Drums by Leon Ndugu Changler, bass by Robert Popwell, keyboards and lead vocal by Ronnie Foster, background vocals by Phyllis Hyman, Khabir Ghani and Jim Gilstrap. Produced by Jerry Peters.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Carlton Robinson & (Tomorrow's People) - Ain't nothing to it, but to do it

Carlton Robinson is a guitarist, bassist and the leader from the group Ujima (1972-75) and Anglo Saxon Brown (1976). He is also the uncle of Stacy Henry who had a group named "The Majestics" from mid-60's to the early 70’s. This 12 inch is an obscure and rare. The style is boogie/jazz. Carlton Robinson recorded for Style Records And Tapes with the jazz band Tomorrow’s People around 1982. Produced by August Moon and Carlton Robinson.
Carlton Robinson also together with August Moon produced a single for R.L.Jackson circa 80s.
August Moon was the producer of "The Whole Darn Family" album in 1976.

Note: The above posted single is not played in full.

Did Carlton Robinson release any other records? If you know then please email me at the address above.