The Sunday Six

Celebrating music with six random tracks at a time

Welcome to another Sunday music mini-excursion. I’m excited this is the first Sunday Six to feature music from my native country Germany, though admittedly you wouldn’t have known it if I hadn’t told you. The trip is going to involve some contemporary jazz, blues rock, rock, blues, psychedelic garage rock and R&B. It’ll be touching the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and the first two decades of the current century. I think it’s another pretty eclectic set of tunes that will hopefully have something for every reader. Hop on board!

Klaus Graf Quartett/Homezone

The first stop on this little journey in Germany and some great contemporary jazz by Klaus Graf Quartett. And, nope, that’s not a typo, “Quartett” is the German word for quartet. I have to give credit to my brother-in-law, who knows much more about jazz than I do and who recently brought the German alto saxophone player Klaus Graf to my attention. According to his website, Graf started playing the clarinet at the age of 10 but soon thereafter switched to the alto saxophone. He found his true love for jazz as a 15-year-old after he had joined a youth music school big band. Following his studies of the saxophone at Cologne University of Music, Graf mainly played as a sideman in various German and international jazz bands. In 2002, he founded his own quartet and released his debut album Changes in Life. In addition to him, the present line-up includes Olaf Polziehn (piano), Axel Kühn (upright bass) and Meinhard Obi Jenne (drums). Klaus Graf Quartett is one of various music projects of Graf who also teaches jazz saxophone at Nuremberg University of Music. Here’s Homezone, a composition by Graf from a 2007 album album titled Moving On. According to the credits listed on Discogs, the recording features all of the quartet’s current members, except for the bassist who on that album was Uli Glaszmann.

The Rolling Stones/Jumpin’ Jack Flash

Next we go back to May 1968 when The Rolling Stones first released their non-album single Jumpin’ Jack Flash in the UK, backed by Child of the Moon. The single also appeared in the U.S. the following month. Credited to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards only as usual, even though Bill Wyman contributed, this tune has one of the coolest rock guitar riffs I know. I recall reading several years ago that Richards during an interview said he still gets excited when he plays that riff – who can blame him! Speaking of Richards, according to Songfacts, he explained the tune’s title to Rolling Stone in 2010 as follows: “The lyrics came from a gray dawn at Redlands. Mick and I had been up all night, it was raining outside, and there was the sound of these boots near the window, belonging to my gardener, Jack Dyer. It woke Mick up. He said, ‘What’s that?’ I said, ‘Oh, that’s Jack. That’s jumping Jack.’ I started to work around the phrase on the guitar, which was in open tuning, singing the phrase ‘Jumping Jack.’ Mick said, ‘Flash,’ and suddenly we had this phrase with a great rhythm and ring to it.” Now you know how to write an iconic rock song! After the Stones’ psychedelic Their Satanic Majesties Request album, Jumpin’ Jack Flash was considered to be a return to their blues roots. It became a major hit, topping the mainstream charts in the UK and Germany, climbing to no. 3 in the U.S., and reaching no. 2 in France, The Netherlands, Switzerland and Australia, as well as no. 5 in Canada. Man, this just rocks!

Steve Miller Band/Rock’n Me

On October 5, Steve Miller turned 78. Amazingly, the man still fronts the Steve Miller Band, the group he founded in 1966 as the Steve Miller Blues Band. And had it not been because of this dreadful pandemic, he would probably be out on the road. As he told Billboard earlier this year, the group had to cancel a planned 55-city tour with Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives that was supposed to kick off in June 2020. On the upside, Miller put the downtime to good use and dug into his archives. Out came a concert film, Breaking Ground concert, and a companion album, Steve Miller Band Live! Breaking Ground: August 3, 1977, which were released on May 14 this year. You can watch a trailer of the film here. And here’s Rock’n Me from the companion album. Originally, the tune was recorded for the Steve Miller Band’s ninth studio album Fly Like an Eagle released in May 1976. It also appeared separately as a single in August 1976 and became the group’s second no. 1 in the U.S. on the Billboard Hot 100. It topped the charts in Canada as well. This is neat rock & roll!

Buddy Guy/Stay Around a Little Longer (feat. B.B. King)

Next, let’s slow it down for some great blues by two of the best electric blues guitarists: Buddy Guy and B.B. King. Guy at age 85 thankfully is still with us and still playing, while King sadly passed away in May 2015 at the age of 89. This beautiful recording is from Guy’s 15th studio album Living Proof that came out in October 2010. The tune was co-written by producer Tom Hambridge and country and blues singer-songwriter Gary Nicholson, who both have become frequent collaborators ever since. It’s just great to hear B.B. King sing on this tune, in addition to playing guitar. His voice sounds so good. He was 85 years at the time, Guy’s current age. I can’t deny I find this tune and clip quite emotional. That’s what great music does – it touches you!

The Fuzztones/Cinderella

After some emotional blues, it’s time to step on the gas again with a terrific tune by American garage rockers The Fuzztones. According to their profile on Apple Music, the New York City-based psychedelic/garage rock combo played a large role in the mostly underground ’60s revival during the 1980s. Led by the enigmatic Rudi Protrudi, the Fuzztones were one of the major “successes” (particularly in Europe) of the revival that flourished in 1984 and that also boasted the Chesterfield Kings, the Cynics, the Miracle Workers, and Plasticland. Their debut studio LP, Lysergic Emanations, was released in 1985. Thanks to praise from Ian Astbury of the Cult, the newly refitted Los Angeles-based Fuzztones were one of the few to get a major-label deal, and a second album, In Heat, was released by Beggars Banquet in 1989. Due to the album’s lackluster sales performance, the Fuzztones went back to the indies. That might have been the end of the story, but it wasn’t. Thanks to a hugely successful tour of Europe in 1985, the group built a loyal and dedicated fan base there, and one version or another of the Fuzztones has toured there regularly ever since. Here’s Cinderella from the band’s above noted 1985 debut album, which mostly featured covers, including this tune that originally was recorded by The Sonics in 1965. With that cool organ, the rendition reminds me a bit of The Animals. Founding member Rudi Protrudi (vocals, guitar, harmonica) remains with the band’s current line-up.

Ray Charles/Hit the Road Jack

Let’s conclude this mini-excursion with a tune that randomly popped up in my head the other day. When it did, I immediately thought it would be a terrific song to feature: Hit the Road Jack by the great Ray Charles. They didn’t call the singer-songwriter and pianist “The Genius” for nothing. Frank Sinatra reportedly said Charles was the “only true genius in show business.” Charles identified Nat King Cole as a primary influence. Others included Louis Jordan and Charles Brown. Hit the Road Jack, written by R&B artist Percy Mayfield and first recorded as an a cappella demo in 1960, was Charles’ second of three no. 1 mainstream hits in the U.S. on the Billboard Hot 100. The other two were Georgia on My Mind and I Can’t Stop Loving You. Any of them would have been great picks as would have many other tunes by Charles, but I felt like finishing with a more up-tempo song like Hit the Road Jack.

Sources: Wikipedia; Klaus Graf website; Discogs; Songfacts; YouTube

30 thoughts on “The Sunday Six”

  1. Your first choice was so good, Christian. My kind of jazz. I’ve always loved Steve Miller and glad to hear he’s got new albums out. I have one of his, “Born 2B Blue,” that I adore! Of course, The Stones, Buddy & BB, and Ray are always good choices. I like the energy of The Buzztones also.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love the Fuzztones! That tone is wonderful. The Jazz is really cool Christian… I get in moods where I let it play while I’m doing something.
    Great choices today

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Max. And kind of funny how things sometimes go. I’ve listened to German rock and pop music for years, yet it’s a jazz tune that became the first German track on the Sunday Six.

      Of course, I realize the German language is likely a barrier for most readers. For an instrumental, language doesn’t matter. Sooner or later, I’ll probably throw in a German language rock tune.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly, I guess there’s no distinct German way to blow into a saxphone or play an upright bass. But wait until I throw some German language rock at you! 🙂

        Well, of course, it wouldn’t be the first time you had seen it on the blog…

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great collection Christian. I’ve always enjoyed those Steve Miller song from the late 70s. Amazing he’s still going. And of course love the Fuzztones one – I remember hearing the original at some point. Sonics one of my favorite garage rock groups

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Landover where that concert was filmed would have been the Capitol Center our local arena. I was 13 then so wouldn’t have been there 😀but cool that it was local. For some reason whenever I tried to play the clip I kept getting an add for Samsung Galaxy phone but crazy he’s still going strong. As I think we’ve discussed it’s good to be a rough next decade or so coming up when a lot of these guys start to pass

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh man, getting a stupid smartphone ad instead of the clip sucks. I just checked and it seems to be working fine on my end. Not sure what’s going on here.

        Is it perhaps that you will have to watch the ad at least in part before you can skip it and they let you watch the clip?

        Like

      3. Thanks Christian. That’s weird. No it opens up a website with all this info on the phone. Not sure why since it should be a video right. No worries.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, CB. The man truly is a force of nature. A documentary on Guy sounds intriguing.

      Is it by any chance titled, “The Blues Chase the Blues Away?” I see something posted on his website.

      And guess what else I’m seeing. The man’s on the road again – incredible!

      Looks like he’s scheduled to play Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park in November. I know this venue – it’s great.

      If it wouldn’t be for this fucking pandemic and too many stupid, careless people, I’d seriously contemplate getting a ticket. I’ve seen Buddy twice in recent years, both very memorable shows.

      Like

      1. A lot of the great jazz men migrated to Europe and played with outstanding musicians.
        Yes thats the Buddy doc. A series called American Masters, which he is. My gal was in tears a couple times.
        Im not pushing the “getting out” thing. Have a mindset about it that works and keeps me from the madness or adding to it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks, CB. I watched the trailer on Buddy’s website, and it looks great. He’s such a soft-spoken man, yet such a beast of a guitarist!

        “American Masters” sounds like PBS. I’ll see whether I can find the film somewhere for rent. Perhaps Netflix or Amazon.

        Thanks again for flagging!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Fantastic. It really sticks to his journey and the influences he drew from. Everyone of them are people I dig. Also how much of an influence he himself was. You being a musician will really get the love of playing and respect he has for others. Plus the love for him. Let me know how you like it.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Oh, man, I just finished watching it. I guess I’m feeling a bit emotional right now. So powerful!

        I think the fee for renting the film covers 30 days. If that’s the case, I’m going to watch it again at least one more time.

        While Buddy Guy is the last man standing of the old Chicago blues guard, one thing that makes me optimistic is that you have many younger blues musicians that are keeping the blues alive.

        Among black artists, Gary Clark Jr., Kingfish and Jontavious Willis come to mind. You also have some really talented white musicians like Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Casey James. And let’s not forget about female artists like Dani Wilde, Ana Popovic and Shemekia Copeland!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Its one of the best music doc (docs period) ive seen in a while. American Masters usually get it right. Didnt Buddy tear up when he was talking about SRV?
        There’s never going to be a shortage of people carrying the torch. It speaks to to many people. Also people like yourself that get the word out on this music we love. Good stuff fella.

        Liked by 1 person

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