Sunday, June 26, 2011

StLJN Audio Archive:
Facets: The Legend Of Leon Thomas

Today, we introduce a new recurring feature, the StLJN Audio Archive, that will appear occasionally on Sundays.

As the name implies, the idea is to spotlight out-of-print recordings by St. Louis artists that are available as free downloads somewhere on the Internet. StLJN has featured this sort of thing before at irregular intervals, but after doing some concerted searching for available resources, there seem to be enough out there to warrant a semi-regular feature.

A few caveats: We will link only to recordings that are out-of-print or that never have been commercially available. The purpose of the Audio Archive is encourage discussion, appreciation and knowledge of St. Louis jazz artists, and we encourage you to support them (or their estates) by purchasing authorized recordings and merchandise or, whenever possible, attending live performances.

Note also that these recordings were not ripped or uploaded by me, although I have grabbed copies both for listening and evaluating and as safeties in case the files disappear from the net. Whenever possible, I"ll give credit to the site where the file was found and/or the original uploader, and also try to include cover art, when available, in a size that can be printed out and used in a CD case.

For the first post in the Audio Archive series, we spotlight Facets: The Legend Of Leon Thomas (pictured), a sampler album that collects recordings made between 1969 and 1973 by singer and East St. Louis native Leon Thomas. This rip comes from the blog Flying Dutchman Records, which collects and shares recordings originally issued by the label of the same name, including this one. Here's what Scott Yanow of All Music Guide had to say about Facets:
"This fine 1973 sampler LP features performances by singer Leon Thomas originally on three previous sets. Three numbers (including "Song for My Father" and a short remake of "The Creator Has a Master Plan") are taken from a 1969 album with the mysterious "Little Rock" (a psuedonym for Pharoah Sanders) on tenor. A trio of numbers feature Thomas with an R&Bish band arranged by Pee Wee Ellis (originally issued as part of Blues and the Soulful Truth) and the remaining selections ("Disillusion Blues," the downbeat "Welcome to New York" and "Duke's Place") are from the vocalist's memorable meeting with altoist Johnny Hodges and Oliver Nelson's Orchestra. Throughout, Leon Thomas (a somewhat unique singer whose career has been rather aimless since this period) is heard in prime form."
Personnel for the album includes:

Leon Thomas - vocals, percussion
James Spaulding (A1,B4), Johnny Hodges (A2,A4,B1) - alto sax
Pee Wee Ellis (A3,A5,B3) - baritone sax, organ, marimba
Ernie Royal (A2,A4,B1), Snooky Young (A2,A4,B1), Marvin Stamm (A2,A4,B1), Randy Brecker (A2,A4,B1) - trumpet
Al Grey (A2,A4,B1) - flugelhorn, trumpet
Earl Hines (A2,A4,B1), Lonnie Liston Smith (A1,B4), Neal Creque (A3,A5,) - piano
David Spinozza (A2,B1), Larry Coryell (B3) - guitar
Cecil McBee (A1,B2,B4), Richard Davis (A2,B2,B4), Ron Carter (A2,A4,B1) - bass
Bernard "Pretty Purdie, Grady Tate (A2,A4,B1), Roy Haynes (A1, B2, B4) - drums
Richard Landrum (A1, B2, B4) - percussion

Thomas' music was an interesting combination of avant-garde jazz, blues, and his concept of slick, commercial R&B, and the tracks here provide a good introduction for those who haven't had a chance to hear him before. Note also that it brings Thomas together with another St. Louis jazz legend, saxophonist and composer Oliver Nelson, who arranged the music on the three cuts with Johnny Hodges.

To download a copy, go here, click on the word "LINK" at the bottom of the post, then follow the instructions. Note that since the file resides at a free download site - in this case, Rapidshare - you may have to wait and/or click through a couple of ads to complete the download.

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