Remembering Hiram Bullock

Yesterday, the 25th of July, it was eight years ago that Hiram Bullock passed away at the age of 52. He had cancer. Hiram was a versatile musician who worked with the crème de la crème in the music industry, as a seasoned session guitarist and bandleader. Whether live and on tour, recording albums or featured in the band on television shows (Saturday Night Live and David Letterman), he was in for anything. Rock, blues, jazz fusion and ballads. Some prefer his chops as a guitar player, others praise his qualities as a singer. Think of Jimi Hendrix, Al Jarreau, Nat King Cole, Robert Kray and Frank Zappa in one voice. Yes, one of his fans compared Hiram’s singing to that of FZ!

John Beasley posted the cover of one of Hiram’s albums, Way Kool (1992), as a token of respect and remembrance.

“On the follow-up to his Atlantic debut, guitarist and producer Hiram Bullock pulled out all the stops and dove wholeheartedly onto the “funk” side of jazz-funk and left out the jazz. No, that’s not a bad thing. If anything, Way Kool feels a lot more like a funky rock record than anything else. With a handpicked cast of studio greats, Bullock set out to make a party record and he did it. From the screaming guitar work on “Da Alley,” to the deeply funky George Duke-styled keys and guitar wonk on “Show Me” (with its Prince-styled handclaps and big backing chorus), to the groovy bass pop and chunky chords on the title track, it’s all in there. On Way Kool Bullock showed that he couldn’t care less about what people thought he was or should have been doing, and he did exactly what he wanted — and this time it was making a primarily instrumental set (there are only three vocal cuts out of the ten here) that stayed close to rock and funk with up-to-the-minute production (that in retrospect sounds a bit dated). There is a jazzy instrumental ballad called “Never Give Up,” with some nice hand percussion from Don Alias and keyboard work from Dave Delhomme. But the strength of the set comes from Bullock’s guitar playing, and his screaming tone is the most enduring thing about it. Check the track that reveals its Prince influence not only in its instrumental attack but even in its title: “I No U.” The big funker “Wolfman” even contains scratching! The biggest surprise on Way Kool, however, is the cover of Lennon and McCartney’s “Dear Prudence” that closes the album. It’s modern, reverent, restrained, and quite beautiful. (Admittedly, it’s such a great song it would be tough to mess up.) Bullock’s guitar solo that takes over after the three-minute mark is killer. ~ Thom Jurek, All Music Guide”

Hiram Bullock and Jaco Pastorius were good friends. Here is their take on the Beatles song Hiram also recorded on Way Kool.

Hiram Bullock with the WDR Big Band – Foxy Lady.

Bassist and friend Will Lee talks about Hiram. And you have to wait for it. Donald Fagen is mentioned.

Yeah. It’s everything what Will Lee said in the clip above 😉

Hiram Bullock. His melody still lingers on.

Hiram Bullock played on Gaucho. On My Rival, to be precise. We’ll conclude this Mizar6 entry with that very song in a HD version.


Rabbits in the sky

“I’ve long had a thing about… well what is it about? Vanity? Success? Self-loathing? Self-appreciation? What is the deal? As I face the full theaters or the filled up clubs I notice, I take stock. I have to tell myself, it’s ok, really, no big deal, not even a question of ‘deserving’. It’s been hard for a long time. Now it’s not quite so hard. Don’t make a big deal of it.”


Can’t Cut You Loose (Skinnie dub)

He’s a man of few words who prefers a simple approach. His debut EP, My Heart Beats On The Moon (REMusic Records, 2008), a collection of five songs, is now followed by yet another mini-album of only seven compositions. Once again, Dutch singer-songwriter Skinnie makes sure he is in the best of company, this time relying on two outstanding and seasoned musicians—guitarist Martijn van Agt (Anouk, Ilse DeLange, Sarah Bettens), and multi-instrumentalist/producer Michel van Schie (Candy Dulfer, Anouk, Soulvation)—who definitely elevate Skinnie’s songs onto a higher plane.

Skinnie’s reflective lyrics about love, loss, generosity, resignation, truth, dreams, desire and playful contemplation are woven into a setting of lush musical moods leaning towards pop, country, blues and jazz in an intelligent design. The subtle tones of van Agt’s pedal steel and slide guitar characterize a sense for detail and finesse that all three musicians have in common. The disc starts and ends with “Sailing,” in a single edit and album version. It’s a catchy tune, with a likewise attractive and perhaps recognizable imagery provided by lyrics about escaping reality for a while, until a neighbor at the door complains about the trash in the garden. Skinnie delivers his songs in a warm and genuine manner with his deep and sometimes husky voice.

The title track has a few surprises, and showcases van Agt’s skills on guitar with distinctive flavors and hints reminiscent of the sound that makes the music of Steely Dan appreciated in wider musical circles. It’s an approach and arrangement that also returns in “No Little Girl, No More.” “Can’t Cut You Loose” stands out; a beautiful sensitive ballad about accepting life and relationships the way they are, after questioning their values and virtues.

It’s a very pleasant album that, like its predecessor, asks for more. If there has to be critique, then it would serve to point out some flaws in the English lyrics. A few mistakes that can easily be forgiven, as these sailing and flying Dutchmen do understand the craft of musicianship to the max. Music, after all, is a universal language; a language that Skinnie and company know how to speak very well.

source: All About Jazz


All About Jazz review: Rickie Lee Jones

(photo: Rox Curras)

If a musical career spans a period of thirty years, there’s bound to be ups and downs along the way. Rickie Lee Jones has always insisted on making her own choices, sometimes baffling her critics with yet another puzzle to work out. For her latest album “Balm in Gilead” The Duchess of Coolsville combines her multiple talents as an artist, songwriter and producer with a little help from musical friends like Jon Brion, Bill Frisell, Brian Swartz, Pete Thomas and Reggie McBride. Click here to continue reading at All About Jazz. If you’d like to hear samples and/or purchase the album, you can click here.


Living It Up

rickieShe suddenly appeared from the dark and the audience, not prepared for a quiet entrance, applauded surprised or not at all. Not everyone realized Rickie had entered the stage already. So she made a remark about it with a wry sense of humor and introduced herself again. “Here is Rickie Lee Jones,” while the audience cheered much louder and Rickie’s face lit up with a smile, in the center of a spotlight.

She sat behind the grand piano, the chords of Living It Up filled the room. Sal Bernardi and Rob Wasserman had joined RLJ on stage, awaiting their cues to step in. Most of the time she took the journey on her own, only allowing subtle input from her two musicians. And there was smoke and light effects. She liked the lights, but not the smoke. “It’s killing me, this smoke, it makes it hard for me to sing. If you don’t cut it, I’m gonna walk off stage,” she said with a clear warning to the guys who handled the effects.

And she got up alright. But didn’t walk off. Instead she smiled and said she’d try the guitar first and come back to the piano later on. The audience just held its breath. And as soon as Rickie started to play the guitar and sing, all was well again.

Remembering setlists and the order of the songs she played is not my thing, alas. There were no seats, so we all had to stand, the front row kind of leaned against the stage. Being that close, you just look at the performers, Rickie in particular, and follow her every move. Reel it all in.

Danny’s All Star Joint, Running From Mercy… songs from her new album Balm In Gilead… her voice still sounds the same after so many years, even the high notes have remained within her reach. Her technique and savvy as in how to use the microphone was just as interesting to watch, given the dynamics of her range and volume and the way she interprets her music.

There’s a huge difference in Rickie behind the piano and Rickie at the guitar. If she’s playing the piano, you can feel her strength and wide artistic palet as she plays the chords we’re all so familiar with, especially the songs we know from Pirates, her second album. If she’s at the guitar, she seems to tone down some and become more of a singer-songwriter, like one in the legion of many, albeit outstanding ones. Or maybe it’s just my own preference…

I bought Balm In Gilead at the show and even though I’d already listened to it via the player at, the tracks have most definitely gained body now that I’ve seen her perform live. The magic of Rickie Lee Jones is still there. She still taps into my soul, feed it with the same kind of energy and thrill she did when I was barely 16…

(to be continued)