People Make the World Go Around

2 04 2010

CTI LogoThis is a great tune from legendary vibraphonist Milt Jackson’s CTI album Sunflower. The 70’s Philly Soul/R&B group, The Stylistics, originally wrote this song but this one is so good you might as well forget the original ever existed. The title of the album is an abbreviated take on what might be considered the title track, Freddie Hubbard’s “Little Sunflower”. Freddie plays trumpet and flugelhorn on this album as this was in the prime period of CTI when he was a regular on most of the sessions. Joining Milt and Freddie is a phenomenal line up of Herbie Hancock on piano & Fender Rhodes, Ron Carter on bass, Billy Cobham on drums. Although there are some string & horn arrangements by Don Sebesky and acoustic guitar from Jay Berliner, this song is one of the more straight forward tunes on the record that is stripped down to just the quintet. It’s for the better because they have all the room they need to stretch out and have fun with it. The entire album is absolute perfection. In my opinion, it’s not just Jackson’s best CTI album, it’s probably the greatest of his incredible career… Not to mention the album cover is super cool. The whole album is a perfect representation of the CTI aesthetic.

There are a few covers of “People Make The World Go Round”, including one by the Jackson 5 but the only one that is even close to Milt’s is this cool version by lesser known Jamaican reggae singer Hortense Ellis. Hortense is the younger sister of the more popular Alton Ellis, so it’s no surprise it’s so good.

The Stylistics original “People Make The World Go Round”

The Jackson 5’s version


More info on Sunflower from AllAboutJazz

More info on Milt Jackson from AllAboutJazz

More info on The Stylistics

More info about Hortense Ellis


Herbie in Japanese TV Ad – Straight!

29 03 2010

I recently found this funny old Japanese TV ad of Herbie Hancock endorsing Suntory Whiskey (a Japanese brand). Being a big fan of both Herbie and Whiskey makes this one a no-brainer. Tack on my fondness for the far east, specifically Japan and it goes without saying… I love it! I think the tag line “Straight!” is supposed to be a play on words referring not only to the booze but also to the concept of a straight feel versus a swing feel in music. I could be wrong though as that’s just a rash assumption based on my oh-so clever marketing prowess.

This ad is actually not that unusual as the Japanese LOVE jazz. They did decades ago and, unlike most of the rest of the world, they still do today. Almost exactly a year ago I visited “Nippon” for a few weeks and it was awesome to see how much they still appreciate what is now considered to be a dying art. The song is the original post-bop version of “Watermelon Man” (as opposed to Herbies funk fusion reinterpretation from the 70’s). In the ad it says it features drummer Tony Williams and bassist Ron Carter… all true but we only hear them in this clip, no visuals. As a little aside, it should be said that Tony and Ron make up one of the greatest drum/bass combos in all of jazz history. In my mind they’re THE best. Even better than Roach/Mingus or LeFaro/Motian or any other “giants” you might toss in there. Back in the 60’s, Ron and Tony were both called upon by Miles Davis as just kids to join Herbie and saxophonist Wayne Shorter to be in Miles’ New Quintet. The same group that has made some legendary music throughout that period. They all went on to be hugely influential in the history of jazz and music as a whole, and not just for their work with Miles. I’d love to go on and on and on but, I’ll save it for future posts.

There are also a few alternate versions from this same series. Here are 2 that feature Ron Carter. Ron is just so cool… check him out: Ron #1 & Ron #2

You may recognize the name Suntory Whiskey from the Sofia Coppola film (featuring Bill Murray) Lost In Translation. Here is the clip of Murray doing the ad in the movie… It always cracks me up. If you want to YouTube Suntory you can find a TON of hilarious commercials of famous American actors, musicians and popstars. That is what makes the Bill Murray piece so funny in the movie. Feel free to do so, and see what you find.

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