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Great Instrumentals

Lately I’ve been on an instrumental music kick 😃, I guess it’s because I had not listened to them in a while maybe. Today, I randomly chose a really OLD  group, and I’m sure almost no one reading this post would know who they are, or perhaps remember until you listen to some of their music. Today, I’m sharing with you music from a forgotten group called “El Chicano.” They are a Mexican American 70s rock group.

It’s Difficult To Explain Their Music




It’s funny, I dug a lot of their music growing up. Now that I’m older I can’t even explain what it is. I guess it’s one of those things you just have to listen to it yourself. This is no doubt a very eccentric band. Although in general, they were categorized as a rock group; however, in my opinion they really were not. Most of their works were infused with so many different styles of music, that at times it seemed experimental. Then there are other works from them that clearly sound psychedelic, which doesn’t surprise me because a lot of people were still into that kind of music in the 70s.

El Chicano - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

Personally, I much preferred to listen to their traditional Latin jazz. In many ways some of their jazz music was reminiscent of Santana I think. One example of that is my favorite cover they done of Gerald Wilson’s “Viva Tirado (1970).” Now unfortunately, Viva Tirado only reached #28 on the Top 100 Charts. If I’m not mistaken, it was their only closest thing to a hit record. But, this is where the charts get complicated. Because, while the song had a moderate peak, it was hugely popular in New York City. I heard this all the time! I tell you, the more I blog, the more I realize these charts don’t always tell a true story.

El Chicano - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

However, on their 1998 album called “Painting The Moment,” there is a song I really like as well called “Ron Con Con.” It’s a shame this didn’t turn out to be a hit, because most definitely this song will make you move your body in any party. Listening to them perform this, was like Tito Puente himself came back to say “this is how you do it my brotha!” Although most of the original members are either now deceased, or moved on to other projects, the band is still performing.

SpotifyThrowbacks.com

Wow! Just look at how handsome these young men were back in the day!! Booker T. & The M.G.’s were shit! I mean, if after you listened to there music, and you were not inspired to at least shake your booty a little bit, you probably was one boring person. If you’re in my age group, I doubt you can call yourself a true music lover, and not know who these men were! From top left to right; Al Jackson jr, Steve Cropper, Donald “Duck” Dunn, and last but not least on the bottom is Booker T. Jones. Four talented men, who earned the right to be inducted in the Rock Hall Of Fame in 1992.

They Were A House Band For The Stax & Volt Labels




Much to my surprise, these talented men were a part of a house band for both the Stax & Volt labels; similar the the way MFSB was to Philadelphia Records. However, their sound and style were entirely different. MFSB sounds came from Philadelphia; however, Booker T. & MG’s sound came from Memphis. BTMG’s sound clearly has heavier drumbeats, with pronounced organs that eventually became one of the group’s signatures.

Booker T. & The MG's - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

So, allow me to share with you some of my favorite hits from this wonderful band. First, I love “Time Is Tight (1969),” “Green Onions (1962),” and “Hip Hug-Her (1967),” and “Melting Pot (1971),” Melting Pot still remains my most favorite, the beat if freakin’ hot! “Soul Limbo (1968),” is another nice one. Oh, I almost forgot, check out his “Tic Tac Toe (1965),” I think this has a funky Memphis beat as well. I think you’ll think it’s hot too. I encourage you to research more of their music, they’ve also produced some nice covers of other songs, purely instrumental. By the way, the MG in their name cleverly stands for Memphis Group! 😃

Herbie Mann - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

I was flipping through my album collection and thought I’d write about another forgotten composer. The late Herbie Mann was born in Brooklyn NY in the 1930s, and grew up to be a very well known musician/flutist. Herbie has performed many types of music (but mostly classical). However, in my opinion, I think it’s safe to say he is most remembered for some of his disco tunes.

His Music Was Very Popular, But His Billboard Ranks Were Mediocre




It’s kind of weird to explain Herbie’s music, because a lot of his music rankings were mediocre, yet at the same time many of his music were very popular. I guess the only possible explanation for that is his connection to the club & disco scenes. This particular album, “Super Mann,” released in 1978 I feel is his best work. My most favorite song on the album is “Super Mann.” Super Mann is a song with intense flirtatious energy and heavy dance beats. The piece peaked at #26 on the Top 100 Charts.

Herbie Mann - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

Another great composition (I think) from the same album is called “Rock Freak.” Both composition are disco infused with a Brazilian influence. Herbie had another hugely popular hit from his “Discotheque” album called “Hi-Jack (1975).” This was my jam back in the day too. This was actually an instrumental cover, taken from the original band called Barrabas.  For pure disco fans, I think the works I’ve mentioned in this article will appeal to you the most. Everything else would probably be too mellow for most disco fans. However, if you like instrumental jazz, check out his cover of “Comin’ Home Baby,” written by Ben Tucker, and originally performed by Mel Tormé w/vocals. But it was made popular by a Ray Charles TV performance. I don’t remember if it was a concert or on a variety TV show. I honestly don’t remember hearing Tormé’s original until after I heard Ray sang it. Herbie died while in Mexico c. 2003.

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Harold Faltermeyer - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

Harold Faltermeyer is a music composer and record producer born in Munich, Germany. Although I’ve tagged him as being a forgotten artists, technically he’s not depending whether or not we’re talking about the public or the movie industry. Within the movie industry, he is one of the most sought after composers I can think of.

Famous Behind The Scenes




Harold is one of those talented musicians that is famous from behind the scenes. Despite the fact that he has composed scores for some pretty big well known movies, such as “American Gigolo (1980)” starring Richard Gere, and “The Midnight Express (1978),” starring Brad Davis; composers are not given the same notoriety as lead singers to a sound track unfortunately. I’m not quite sure why is that.

Harold Faltermeyer - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

I’ve always wondered what is the method of figuring out a truly successful sound track producer? Because it’s not exactly the same thing as your traditional mainstream vocal performer right? Because part of their success is also about the success of the movie, which technically has nothing to do with each other. Someone can make a legitimate argument that people only buy sound tracks when they’re a fan of the movie.

Harold Faltermeyer - SpotifyThrowbacks.com

Harold pretty much stayed unknown to most music fans, until his success with “Beverly Hills Cop (1984).” It was so successful, he got a Grammy Award for best original sound track (co-writer) some time in 1986. The composition that blew up the charts was Axel-F. The piece shot to #3 on the Hot 100 Charts. It is probably (as far as I’m concerned) one of the few biggest dance/synth-pop tunes of all times.

Black Violin, a phenomenal musical duo! SpotifyThrowbacks.com

You know, it’s a beautiful thing as a blogger, to have literally thousands and thousands of great artists on the lists to write about!! Today, I’d like to switch gears a little bit. Violins and hip hop? How many of my readers knew such a genre called “classical hip hop” even existed? I’d like to bring to your attention, a genre within hip hop that appears to be almost ignored. Partly because I feel it’s not mainstream enough, which is a shame ’cause it would certainly add a completely new layer of diversity in regards to hip hop.

A Phenomenal Group, Black Violin




I’d like to introduce my readers to a phenomenal group, Black Violin! I’ve been a fan of theirs for a long while now. They are an extremely talented duo, that happens to be both African American, and both are classically trained violinists. Wilner Baptiste & Kevin Sylvester are from Florida, and I believe they started their group somewhere around 2003. Now, certainly Black Violin was not the first to use classical hip hip in their music. However, they are the first hip hop group I’ve ever seen that can actually not only play the violin, but are phenomenal lyricists, and creatively incorporated those skills in to their string sounds, giving us a whole new level to hip hop.

Black Violin, classically trained violinists, hop hop, SpotifyThrowbacks.com

Their cultural background speaks loudly in their work! There’s so much clean quality in their music, oppose to that same ol’ repetitive gangster shit that are burned in to the minds of the young on a daily basis. Their first CD is the one I fell in love with. However, it’s extremely hard to get. I suspect something went down between them and their label. I did manage to discover it on SoundCloud. There are a couple of nice remixes of some old classics on that album. One of the pieces I really liked from that first album is “Jammin’.” Sort of reminds me of the rapper Juvenile a little bit. You’ll know what I mean when you hear it. Also, check out “Dirty Orchestra,” which is also on the first album.

The Phenomenal Group Called, Black Violin! SpotifyThrowbacks.com

Now, there are a number of songs I do like that are available for streaming. One piece that I think is real hot is called “A-Flat,” from their 2012 album called “Classically Trained.” It’s a damn shame this didn’t even register on the billboard. Another one that I think is hot is a piece called “Stereotypes,” from their 2015 album “Stereotypes.” This piece only registered at #146 on the billboard. Most young people are not ready for this kind of music; or perhaps their just not looking for it. Despite not hitting #1 on the charts, they’ve worked with some powerful people in the music business, which includes Fat Joe & the Wu-Tang Clan. Check out their Black Violin’s website.

Take Five by Dave Brubeck Quartet recorded in 1959, is one of my favorite instrumental pieces, however originally it was recorded with lyrics added to my understanding, but I much preferred the instrumental version

I think it would be extremely rare that anybody under 30 years of age would know anything about this Quartet. “Take Five,” by the Dave Brubeck Quartet, was (and still is) my top favorite jazz piece. The piece was originally recorded with instrumentals in 1959; but Dave also written lyrics to his masterpiece, and it was rerecorded in 1961 with Carmen Mcrae on vocal. However, I much prefer the versions with out the vocals. It is my understanding that a couple of years after its first release, “Take Five” became the biggest selling jazz hit single ever made at the time. It was also used in many movie soundtracks.

Take Five by Tito Puente, cover of Dave Brubeck's 1959 piece Take Five

If you love “Take Five” like I do, there are a few re-interpretations that I think are worthy of your ear! Starting with the late legendary Tito Puente’s version of “Take Five.” Once known as “The King Of Latin Music,” Tito had the gift of literally turning any kind of music into something everybody wants to dance to. Next is a reggae version of “Take Five,” by a group called the “New York Ska-Jazz Ensemble.” I really love this version, I don’t hear reggae musicians make good classic instrumentals anymore. Next is Chet Atkins. Chet has done a wonderful guitar version of “Take Five.” Very smooth and relaxing. Lastly, a group that calls themselves “The String Cheese Incident,” has performed a really nice version of “Take Five.” Those guys know how to pick a guitar let me tell you! So, I recommend that you take a listen. I don’t think you’d be disappointing.

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