Posts Tagged ‘jimmy carl black’

The Mothers of Invention – Conflicted Histories

As time has passed since the publication of The Real Frank Zappa Book, and more interviews of original band members have emerged whose individual recollections contradict was had been written (and often taken as factual history) — it further sheds light on the complexity of this band, and the need for an ongoing, objective, and scholarly view of the Mother’s history from those who were actually there (well beyond the usual pop culture biographies and rock critic hokum), the musicians themselves.

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Conversations with Jimmy Carl Black

An exceptional interview with Jimmy Carl Black by Calvin Krogh recorded at the Grand Café in Oslo in January, 2007, as well as a second interview in another hotel in Oslo later that August – and broadcast on Krogh’s new website. Now you can both play the interviews on site or download the edited sections (12 in total).

On the eve of his 69th Birthday (February 1st), having just been diagnosed with leukemia, Black was extremely open and vivid with his reminiscences. For instance, we learn how Black first becomes acquainted with Jon Larsen, his opinion of Zappa cover bands, Zappa Plays Zappa, playing with Captain Beefheart, Zappanale, Mike Keneally, and, of course, the source of his bitterness towards the ZFT:

JCB: And you know, I appreciated that out of Frank. I… to tell you the truth, man, I always loved Frank Zappa, man. Even with the lawsuits and all the fucking trouble and with all the shit and all that, it doesn’t even fucking matter, man. I still tried to get hold of him before he… you know, when I was getting ready to move over to Europe. 1992. I called Motorhead, and I said “Motor, would you do me a favour. Would you call Frank, or call Gail, and find out if it’s at all possible that I can call Frank.” I’d like to… you know, wish him good luck with his problems, and, you know. Basically, what it would have been at that time, was just “Hey, man. It’s been a pleasure knowing you. You taught me a lot.” And he did, man! I learned a lot of different things about music that I didn’t know.

CK: Hm… But what happened?

JCB: No… she said no. It’s one of the reasons why I don’t want to have anything to do with her. And the kids… the kids only know one side of the story. They don’t know our side of the story. You know, they only know her side… what she says. How bad we are. What could we have possibly done to them? We didn’t take any money from them! We didn’t steal anything from them! What could we possibly do to them? Say things? Say the truth? You mean you’re not allowed to say the truth? Fuck you, man! I will say the truth! I’ll tell you what happened! I mean, I’ll tell you the way I saw it happen! The way it happened to me.

These interviews are a rich source of oral history for any Mothers fan, in general, and Jimmy Carl Black in particular. A must listen.

Interviews are also available in transcribed text.

Strange News From Mars — Jon Larsen

strangenewsfrommars

Written, arranged and produced by Jon Larsen in its entirety, and recorded in Los Angeles in March 2007 with former Frank Zappa band alumni — Tommy Mars, Bruce Fowler, Jimmy Carl Black and Arthur Barrow (also engineered the recording) — Strange News From Mars tells the story of the spacecraft Big Ear III’s voyage to the red planet:

You are now onboard spaceship Big Ear III on the first surrealistic expedition to Mars. We have left the Earth behind, and passed the point of no return.

Three decades ago Big Ear I received an inexplicable signal from space, the mysterious WOW-signal. Whatever it was, our quest on this expedition is no less than to explore this phenomenon and try to answer two other questions that have confused our civilization for millennia.

The crew members are carefully chosen among the finest surrealists of our time, and we aim to please. However, we are in terra incognita, so be prepared for the unexpected.

Capt. Zurcon

Larsen is a guitarist, composer and painter. Painting was his first vocation, and from studying Dali and surrealism in the late 70s he eventually started infusing much of that spirit into music, especially when he took up composing in the nineties. What luck then when individual members of Zappa’s old crew, who Larsen so admired, should approach him with a desire to play on his Mars concept (when they heard of the project) when Larsen went over to LA to start the sessions.

Even though the compositions are all Larsen’s, there is no doubt that the spirit of Zappa infuses the entire album (listen to “Mutant Fromage” and “The Eons Are Closing” on Larsen’s Myspace page). This is made most evident by the key roles that these former Zappa alumni have on the record (Strange time changes, unexpected changes, extended vamps, jumpy bursts of marimba, comedic interjections and Zappa-inspired textures). Needless to say, it is Larsen’s core band of Norwegian musicians that so effectively mimic Zappa’s more jazzy excursions, whom along with and from the gathered alumni are able to build upon the Zappa oeuvre.

One of my favorite tracks on the album, “Dachs Reduction” exemplifies this:

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Musicians on Strange News From Mars:

Jon Larsen – guitar, martian
Tommy Mars – keyboards, telephone
Bruce Fowler – trombone
Arthur Barrow – general magic & bass
Rob Waring – marimba
Jimmy Carl Black – vocal, percussion
Knut Reiersrud – guitar, harmonica
Ole Morten Vågan – bass
Håkon Mjåset Johansen – drums

Strange News From Mars was the first release of Larsen’s new label Zonic Entertainment.

Note: This was a difficult album to track down. Even my usual CD ordering service had to order this one in. To save you time, I suggest you order Larsen/Zonic titles from here.

The Jimmy Carl Black Story — Jon Larsen

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Recorded prior to Jimmy’s passing from cancer in 2008, The Jimmy Carl Black Story is a double CD from Jon Larsen‘s label, Zonic Entertainment/Hot Club Records. Joined by Zappa alumni Tommy Mars (keyboards), along with Knut Reiersrud (guitar/harmonica), Ola Kvernberg (violin), Rob Waring (marimba) and Jon Larsen (guitar) — the first CD is “Part One: The Surrealistic Space Odyssey”, one hour of music inspired by Jimmy’s life:

The music is groove based R&B, laidback spacerock, and zappaesque jazz/rock, and even with some glimpses of Django. Here is also the 20 minutes adventure of Capt. Zurcon and his crew onboard the Spaceship BigEar III, on their way to the red planet Mars, and their problems with the sexually frustrated Martian (the Guacamole Queen), the mutant fromage, and a lurking whale (depicted on the cover).

The second disc is “Part Two: “The Rockumentary”, an 80 minute documentary about the “Indian of the group”. We hear about Jimmy’s start at the reservation, growing up in Texas with a racist father, The Soul Giants, Frank Zappa, The Mothers of Invention, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, mafia connections, and years of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll, but also moving stories from a long, and unusual life in music. Jimmy Carl Black is the born storyteller. An intriguing and unique addition to the oral history of rock music, with an insider’s view of life in the “Mothers”. Jimmy’s stories have a measured, thinking-out-loud quality to them as he remembers details and clarifies contradictions among seemingly muddled recollections. A must have in any Mothers of Invention collection.

Jimmy Carl Black has always held a special place among fans of the original Mothers, myself included. Jimmy might not have been the most successful of musicians, yet he always managed to live the life of a true troubadour. In his own words: “I’m famous, but I don’t have a pot to piss in,” he was fond of saying.

Although famous for his avant-garde work with Zappa, he was really more of a roots musician and worked extensively in blues, Tex-Mex, and country-rock. He came from a generation of musicians for whom working in a rock & roll band meant playing for strippers, four or five sets per night with more than one version of “Wooly Bully.”

For Black, being impoverished wasn’t just a private matter. His former boss, Zappa, had recorded band meetings and arguments, inevitably about money and the lack of it, and had edited these spoken word bits into several Mothers releases. But no matter how hard times became, Black always remained involved in some kind of musical project … He moved around the Western United States, almost always having to work at some job other than music in order to survive and support his five children.

Always an inspiration, Jimmy’s life seemed as deeply rooted as the blues he sang and played so well.

The following excerpts from The Jimmy Carl Black Story:

Hi Boys And Girls, I’m Jimmy Carl Black

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California In 1964-In Walked Roy Estrada-The Soul Giants

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Then We Went To Hawaii-LSD

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Back To L.A-Frenchy’s A Go-Go-The Original Suzy Creamcheeze

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New York City-Absolutely Free-Off-Off-Broadway At The Garrick Theatre

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Miami Pop Festival-Freak Out at the Cast Away Hotel-Arthur Brown

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Note: if we are infringing on anyone’s copyright, contact KUR and we’ll remove the offending material.

Lost KBOO Airtapes – Frank Zappa Interview


From the vaults of the popular psychedelic show ‘The Radio Lab’ which later became ‘Cryptic Propensity Projections’ and ‘Midnight Collage’ on KBOO FM, Portland, Oregon from 1971-1985, Michael Christopher, Harry Mishkin and Bill Reinhardt talk to Frank Zappa after his performance at the Paramount Theater in Portland, Oregon. In the first clip, Frank discusses Germans, pop culture, the music scene and his own dubious popularity. In the second clip, he discusses musical interests, critics, and former ‘Mothers’ drummer, Jimmy Carl Black. The third clip is a spicy stew of The Mothers of Invention and The Firesign Theater. Unavailable since it’s broadcast on the Radio Lab in 1974.

On/Off

A mix of things that you may or may not already know…

3 CDs From Crossfire Publications

What do you get a Zappa fan for Xmas who has everything (okay, well, mostly everything, then)? There’s always Freak Out ale, or a ZPZ DVD? Or perhaps even the latest offering of FZ-related merchadise from Barfko-Swill.

Myself, after enjoying my serving of Don Preston’s Vile Foamy Ectoplasm which I ordered from CD Baby earlier this year, along with Napoleon Murphy Brock’s After Frank: 1st Movement (featuring Gregarious Movement), and Jimmy Carl Black’s Where’s The $%&§#@’ Beer? I ordered three more Crossfire Publications titles from CD Baby:

Bunk Gardner — It’s All Bunk!

The first-ever Bunk Gardner solo album! It’s All Bunk! spans Bunk’s first sessions with Bud Wattles And His Orchestra (1959) to a live track with The Grandmothers in 1981. In between are post-Mothers improvised recordings done with his late brother Buzz and bassist John Balkin, and melodic pieces with the late Andy Cahan. More than half of these tracks have never been released in any form. In tribute to Buzz Gardner, Buzz’s My Love Has Gone is also included.

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B.E.P. (Jimmy Carl Black, Roy Estrada, Mick Pini) — Hamburger Midnight

Download-only release! In early 2002, former Mothers Of Invention drummer Jimmy Carl Black gave his old bandmate, bassist Roy Estrada, a call to find out if he was interested in recording an album of blues favorites and originals. Roy was completely into it and it was the first time they had recorded together since 1970. They were joined by UK guitarist Mick Pini, who had played with JCB in blues bands over the years. Recorded in Germany, the album contains the title track that Roy Estrada co-wrote and originally recorded with Little Feat. That song is presented as part of a medley and on its own for the first time. Roy also sings Little Richard’s “Directly From My Heart To You,” which Frank Zappa’s Mothers Of Invention released on the album “Weasels Ripped My Flesh.”

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The Grandmothers — Dreams On Long Play (Revised Version)

Download-only release! This edition of The Grandmothers was assembled in Austin, Texas in 1988 by Jimmy Carl Black with guitarist/vocalist Roland St. Germain, violinist Linda Valdmets, woodwind player Gerald “Eli” Smith and bassist Ener Bladezipper. “Dreams On Long Play” appears in its revised version here. For some reason, the band was unhappy with it and re-recorded most of the album (the original version is available separately). Regardless, this edition also features the bonus tracks “Taco Soup In 7/4,” covers of Frank Zappa’s “Let’s Make The Water Turn Black” and “Lonesome Cowboy Burt,” the unedited version of “The,” an edit of “Waiting” and a brilliant cover of The Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus.”

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Check out these and other Crossfire CDs at CD Baby and, perhaps, bring a smile to that Zappa-fanatic near you (and, no, I’m not receiving payola…sniff, sniff…I just dig the Crossfire catalog). The three audio tracks offered as samples are: “Qualude To Chaos And Fine”, “Slinkin’ Around”, and “Lonesome Cowboy Burt (Live at KUT)” respectively.

Note: If anyone feels we are infringing their copyright, contact us and we will remove the item in question.

A Concert For Jimmy

This just in from The Idiot Bastard — the schedule for tomorrow’s Jimmy Carl Black tribute concert:

  • 17:30 – Doors open
  • 18:00 – Introduction by MC Ben Watson
  • 18:15 – The Muffin Men
  • 19:15 – The Thurston Lava Tube
  • 20:00 – premiere of Jimmy & Candy Zappa’s Stolen Cadillac
  • 20:15 – Fraz Knapp jam session (with surprise special guest stunt guitarist)
  • 21:00 – premiere of Evil Dick’s The Horrors Of Local Government with film
  • 21:15 – That Legendary Wooden Lion
  • 22:00 – disco with DJ Chilli until chucking out

There will also be a raffle in there somewhere, with some very nice prizes… All proceeds from this event will go to the family of JCB. Tickets here.

RIP Jimmy Carl Black

Very sad news comes to us from Jerry Ford, long time friend of JCB, and caretaker of Inkanish Records:

It is my sad duty to report the news that JIMMY CARL BLACK has passed away. Jimmy left this earth around 11pm Germany time on October 31st. of cancer.

A benefit concert is being planned for December 7th in California, more information on that here (soon). And of course there’s the London benefit, which takes place next November 9.

All of us here at KUR wish to pass our condolences to Jimmy’s family. I think it’s safe to say that, through his music, Jimmy has made a lasting impression on each of our lives. He shall be sorely missed…

Stockport For Jimmy

We didn’t know about this until now: apparently there’s a benefit concert for JCB taking place before the one advertised in the banner above on Nov 9th.
This just in from El Bastardo Idiota:

Just a reminder that the first of two UK benefit gigs for Jimmy Carl Black takes place tomorrow:

“Stockport for Jimmy – Indian Aid”
Sunday 26th October 2008, 4-8pm
Bakers Vaults, on the Market in Stockport featuring The Muffin Men, Keith Wilson and The Methylated Spiritualists, and Stockport’s finest The Casualties, there will be a prize raffle and some other loony stuff.

Geronimo!