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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Garcia, Gravenites, Jules Broussard: ca. 1973, San Quentin Prison

**update: I have it in my mind that this never happened. I spoke with Nick the Greek once and seem to have come away with that idea**

On 4/29/90, Garcia sat in with "Nick Gravenites and Animal Mind" for a Brian Wilson Defense Fund Benefit at the South of Market Cultural Center in San Francisco. If you haven't heard it, the circulating fileset is well worth seeking out. The whole thing is great, but "Small Walk-In Box" will leave you marveling at Jerry's ability to pick up a tune (presumably with little preparation) and nail it. I tend to conceive of Jerry's various one-off guest shots from the 1986-1990 period as of a piece with each other, with a relatively healthy/happy Jerry really on his game, but that's a matter for another post or several.

What I want to mention here is an otherwise unknown-to-me gig that Garcia seems to have played around 1973 at San Quentin.  Lost Live Dead did a post on Grateful Dead performances at San Quentin, to which this might need to be added.

In Jimbo Juanis's regular Relix column that discusses the 4/29/90 thing (seemingly mis-dated 4/30, but anyway), he reports a bit of chatter with Nick Gravenites. Nick the Greek says that he had played with Garcia once before:

About 17 years ago, Garcia and I and Jules Broussard (a local sax player) played for the inmates at San Quentin Prison. All the inmates at the gig were musicians and they all brought their horns and we all played together. We did the gig in the room that used to house the gallows.

I don't have a lot to add, except that I sure would like to learn more! I wonder if records of this sort of thing might be requestable under some kind of state of California open records provision?

REFERENCE: 
(1) Jimbo Juanis, "Bay Area Bits," Relix 17, 4 (August 1990): p. 25.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Guitars Unlimited, Menlo Park

This is a bit beyond my ken, but since I have one Warlocks post, and an early Phil post, and since LLD has a Menlo Park angle, I thought I'd make a note of it. This may well be in the record, but I don't recall it. This is from a ca. early 1991 interview with John Dawson.

Describing his hook-up with the GD and eventual NRPS people, Dawson notes that Garcia and Nelson gave music lessons "at various and sundry music stores around Palo Alto." He mentions Dana Morgan's of course, but also describes Dana Morgan, Jr. leaving and Phil coming in thusly: "It was in a different music store called Guitars Unlimited, which is in Menlo Park."

Again, I haven't consulted my old GD stuff in a long time, so this could well be well-known. I thought I'd put it out there for you Menlo Park types, just in case.

BTW, Dawson also mentions a place called Pinky's Pizza in Menlo Park as the place where Dana Morgan played with the Warlocks. I have no idea if that's new information or a muddle of Magoo's, but, again, there you have it.

Source: Brown, Toni A. 1991. New Riders of the Purple Sage Interview. Relix 18, 3 (June): 19-20.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The 1974 Garcia/Saunders instrumental previously listed as "Bags' Groove"

UPDATE 1/24/2015: Commenter Nick has determined that this is actually "Darben The Redd Foxx".

For fans of Jerry Garcia's pre-1975 excursions beyond the Grateful Dead, one of the great fun things is to hear Jerry trying on really unusual material, seemingly without much preparation. I think of the instrumental versions of "Day By Day" (from Godspell--previously misidentified as Jesus Christ, Superstar-- thanks to anonymous for the correction), the Motown "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," and "Cucumber Slumber" as examples, but there are many others (and presumably more than we know based on circulating tapes).

Even more tantalizing is when there's a tune that "we" --i.e., the community of people who chronicle this stuff-- don't know. Sleuthing around and discovering the name and provenance of a mysterious jazz instrumental is a real challenge for someone as illiterate as me, but is also a lot of fun and is very rewarding when a previous unknown gets a designation.

I think we have a case of that here, though this is not 100% and should be further discussed.

The tune in question is the instrumental that appears on circulating recordings of Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders from the Lion's Share in San Anselmo on June 4, 1974, and the Keystone in Berkeley on June 6, 1974. I know of no other versions. The song has forever been listed at TJS as "Bags' Groove," but that is not what it is. I'd like to get more ears on the alternatives, so below I post (1) links to the Garcia/Saunders tunes; (2) hypothesized song titles, with links; (3) some existing analysis provided by folks more expert than me; and (4) a tentative conclusion.

(1) Here are links to the Jerry Garcia/Merl Saunders versions:

June 4, 1974: [sorry, these are dead]

June 6, 1974: [sorry, these are dead]

(2) Here are the hypotheses we have in terms of what song this is:

H1: "Bag's Groove" (Milt Jackson)
http://www.last.fm/music/Milt+Jackson/_/Bag%27s+Groove (listening link at top right)

H2: "The Crossing (Oubour)" (Salah Ragab and the Cairo Jazz Band)
http://www.rushhour.nl/store_detailed.php?item=38588, then down to the playlist for the track in question.

H3: "Ptah the El Daoud" (Alice Coltrane)
http://www.last.fm/music/Alice+Coltrane/_/Ptah,+the+El+Daoud (listening link at top right). This was first identified by nick in an email to the Jerry Site.

(3) analyses

Santos L. Halper from DNC first proposed H2. When I suggested I didn't think that was it, he replied thusly:

after a few more listens, I agree with your assessment. The Crossing and the theme from 6.4/6.6 jam aren't exactly the same, though the middle phrase is so similar that I was thinking that the G/S version could be a simplified arrangement. But the G/S version certainly lacks the second half of the head from The Crossing.

And actually, having finally tracked down a copy of Ptah last night, it also sounds very similar to the 6.4/6.6 jam, though once again, the G/S verions lack the second half of the head where the melody is resolved into deep held notes. But something by Alice Coltrane seems more likely to have been in one of their record collections at the time.

Making things even more complicated, the two Garcia/Saunders versions also take different approaches compared to each other, with the 6.4 version played as straight ahead jazz with a walking bassline and the 6.6 version played more as a march with a simpler thumping bassline.

DNCer Blacula weighed in with this:

In listening to the two sound clips you provided against 6/4/74, it is my opinion that this is the head of Ptah, The El Daoud that has been stuck on a standard I-IV-V progression. It is also in a different key.

The middle (solo) section is different, but that is like comparing two versions of Dark Star (or Don't Let Go). They both have an identifiable theme which then progresses to the solo (jam) section. The theme is typically restated at some point near the end.

The track by Salah Regab is surprisingly similar at the head, but is not the theme from 6/4/74.

Then we had a little Q&A, Qs by me and As by Blac:

Q: What does "the head" mean? I assume it's just the start, but does it have a more precise meaning than that?

A: Basically it is the theme. It is performed at the "head" of the tune, and is a basis to launch off from. There may be a more specific definition, but this is how I've always understood it.

Q: Explain for a musical ignoramous?

A: The "I" is the root, usually the key of the song. The "IV" is a musical fourth which describes the interval between the root and this note. The "V" being the fifth.

Basically in layman's terms, this means a blues progression.

Q: So, would it be most accurate to call this "Ptah, the El Daoud"? How would you refer to this?

A: That was/is a tough call. If the head is the same, but the underlying chord progression is not, can it still be called Ptah?

I say yes, if you consider that it is likely derived from Ptah and extrapolated from there.

It could be called a Ptah jam, but to my ears there is a stating of the theme, a jam/solo section, and the theme is stated again before the end of the song. My contention is that this is a complete performance of Ptah, even though it has been slightly adapted. You'll notice that the Alice Coltrane version does not restate the theme before the end of the song.

(4) tentative conclusion

I tentatively conclude that we should be calling this tune "Ptah, the El Daoud" in our Garcia setlists. Thoughts/reactions/etc. most welcomed!