Friday, February 27, 2009

LaMont Johnson - "Nine : A Mystical Musical Allegory" (1976)





 Time for another rhodes album ... this has been around but I wanted to up the bitrate quality because it's a fine album, and also dig into the life of the fascinating Mr Johnson ...

LaMont Johnson appeared as a post-bop pianist in the 1960s, playing on albums like "Demon's Dance" (1967) for saxophonist Jackie McClean, and winning the Downbeat Magazine Jazz Critic's poll as "New Pianist of the Year" in 1968.

Johnson was something of a renaissance man : He was an accomplished recording engineer, and built Downeast Recording Studios, the first studio in the lower east side of NYC. He put out a German-language book of poems in the early 1960s called "Schwarzer Zweifel" ("Black Doubt"); and was a co-designer of some animation techniques for Hanna-Barbera. I'm considering calling him to see if he can fix my stove as well.

In 1972 he released "Sun, Moon and Stars", on which he started experimenting with electric keyboards, bending an organ out of shape, experimenting with synths and mixing in rhodes on others. The tracks range from post-bop to funky jazz, and their titles seem to suggest some dabbling in astrology. Grab it from Ile Oxumaré. He also scored a B-film called "How Come Nobody's On Our Side ?", in which two bikers turn to astrology and drug-smuggling to get money. As you do.

Later in 1972 he helmed an ambitious independant soul-funk album called "Speed Of Light" by Mokie, J.J. and R.O.B. This time around, Johnson produced, wrote most of the tracks and played keyboards. The styles range from southern soul to orchestrated, string-and-multi-tracked vocal pieces that suggest a slightly funkier Fifth Dimension.

There's a thankyou to Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard on the cover credits for "Speed Of Light" - Johnson had also composed music for a 1970 Church Of Scientology short film called "Freedom", based on Hubbard's writings. He went on to form the first branch of the church to minister to celebrities. When he later rejected Scientology, he faced the full force of their renowned "Fair Game" revenge policy, including, it is said, having his studio burnt down.




'Thunderfist' - opening theme
DOWNLOAD TRACK as long as you don't mind a mid-section of German dialogue, a safe being cracked, the occasional gasp ... .

Moving into both film production/distribution and film composition, Lamont Johnson had an early success in 1973 with his kung fu feature "Thunderfist" (aka "Lightning Fists Of Death"), for which a promo 7" single was released. I also managed to download a section of a German-dubbed torrent of the movie, so the track in the player above is ripped from the opening sequence (but is not on the EP). I'll translate the film for you, like, next year or something ....

Between 1973 and 1976 he concentrated on film production, started two film distribution companies, and composed music for commercials, for which he won nine major awards. He continued producing kung fu films up until 1983's "When Dragons Collide".

In 1976 he came back to recording with this album - "Nine : A Mystical Music Alllegory". You can see from his cosmic notes below that numerology was now all the rage, but let's just say that Lamont would probably not have been Obama's next pick for Commerce Secretary, and get into the music.

Imagine a Lonnie Liston Smith 70s cop movie ("Calypso After Nine", "The Cat and Nine Tomorrows"), filled with rhodes, great soundtrack-like string arrangements ("Nine") and the occasional Bl*ck J*zz-ish soul-jazz workout ("Benign Beginning", "Dare To Be Different") - and you'll get an impression of this fine album. Previews above if you missed them.

It's got superb production but is never too slick, and it's got modal harmonic structures mixed with interesting touches like plucked/scraped piano strings and toy pianos. Johnson's rhodes work is dense and flowing, fully in control of the dynamics in the way he used the in-built effects.

In the string arrangements for the Karmazyn String Ensemble you can really hear that Johnson's been working on film action structures in the past few years - in fact, his co-orchestrator is Gordon Konkle, who had worked with him on the "Thunderfist" soundtrack. Other musicians include Ronnie Laws, Rudy Johnson, Ndugu Chancler and Blue Mitchell, who'd been on the "Thunderfist" soundtrack.

Check it out!

TRACKLIST 

01. 'Benign Beginning' (5:53)
The sound of love, enchanted lovers - the energy of beginning Life

02. 'Nine' (12:51)
a) 'Philosopher's Stone' - The first statement of the concept of Creation - "I AM"
b) 'Alchemy' - Positive and negative forces moulding and changing Creation - "I CREATE"
c) 'Touchstone' - The test against all odds, and arrival at Truth - "I AM INDEED"

03. 'Calypso After Nine' (5:54)
A lovers' dance, swirling, floating through spirals of Time, infinitely

04. 'The Cat And Nine Tomorrows' (13:28)
For the Cat, each moment is an eon, and he continues and continue
s
05. 'Dare To Be Different' (7:37)
Throughout the universe, each species exalts in his beingness
06. 'No, I Never End' (3:15)
Infinity achieved and exposed for all, through the knowledge of Self
All tracks composed by LaMont Johnson

LAMONT JOHNSON SAYS

"
NINE, the spiritual number, added to another number does not change the number, subtracted from a number gives you the number, and when multiplied by another number gives you itself. Explore, and you'll find many more properties for NINE.

Eight (8) represents the unity of two totalities - 0 and 0. Turned on its side, eight becomes the symbol for infinity (∞), or the Universe.

One (1), of course, is Man, or the Individual.

In composing this music, I let NINE be made up of 1 and 8, where 1 represents you (or me), and 8 represents your infinite capability (or my own). The music makes the statement - YOU AND YOUR INFINITE CAPABILITY (1 + 8) ARE GREATER THAN THE PHYSICAL UNIVERSE (∞). NINE is a song to You and Me - sublime, infinite Beings flowing and growing through time, infinitely. I sing my song to you and share with you the moment eternal.

You are infinite as am I, and we endure longer than litany, mantra, chant or prayer. I send you my love through my music, as others send me their love and one sends us his all.
- LaMont Johnson."


MUSICIANS

Keyboards, synthesisers, percussion - LaMont Johnson
Moog programming - Paul Beaver
Acoustic Bass - Stanley Gilbert
Fender Bass - Chuck Rainey, Stanley Gilbert
Drums - Leon "Ndugu" Chancler, Nate Neblett
Flugelhorn - Alex Rodriguez, Richard "Blue" Mitchell
Flute - Ronnie Laws
French Horn - Chris Boyle
Guitar - Tony Drake
Harp - Richard Kade
Sax (Soprano) - Rudy Johnson
Sax (Tenor) - Ronnie Laws, Rudy Johnson
Trumpet- Alex Rodriguez, Richard "Blue" Mitchell
Woodwind - John Kip

Strings - The Karmazyn String Ensemble 

PRODUCTION DETAILS 

Recorded and released in 1976
A MasterScores production
Produced by LaMont Johnson & Gil Rosoff
Assistant Producer - Caroline Judd
Orchestrations - LaMont Johnson and Gordie Konkle
Cover Art - Gil Rosoff / MasterScores
Photography - Bev Kelly
Artist Management - MMG-Taylor and Associates, San Diego, CA
Special thanks to : Diane Millett, Sandy Rosen, Stan Gilbert, Gordie Konkle.

POST CREDITS

Rip by Simon666Thanks to Fraykerbreaks for alerting me to this album.
Album links within the text go to Jazz Disposition, Ile Oxumare and Fraykerbreaks.
Please thank these guys if you visit them.




DOWNLOAD WAV - MP3


48 comments:

yungbdaproducer said...

much love simon much love

Wallofsound said...

As always thank you for sharing both your records and knowledge. I always enjoy reading the posts, and I'm going to give this number jazz a go!

pretoria said...

absolute Gems Simon FANTASTIC!!!!

ish said...

I could thank you TWICE as much for all your research and digging but SEVEN times would be more meaningful plus ONCE MORE for EIGHT times infinitely expressing my gratitude for yet ONE more great album from SimonSIX-SIXTY-SIX marked like a beast but eternally generous for this download of NINE revealing infinite meaning starshine broccoli.

Ms.BeatJunkie!!! said...

Woooow! That THunderfist theme is awesome...I thought I was somewhere else for a minute.

wonderful post, thanks for sharing

noreille said...

Wow! The only soundclip I heard sent me straight into cosmos! Actually downloading and sincerely giving you thanks. Yes, thanks a lot for all the good work you make was it on the quality of your shares or on all the knowledge you drop.

GHoSTFiNGeR said...

open !!!! check it!!!! amazing Blog

www.ghostfinger-digginthecrates.blogspot.com

Dante said...

thanks very much for putting this up

Miles said...

simon...

i found this over at frayerbreaks as well, but your rip is by far a better of the two. this is a title i've been hunting for quite some time. had it once, lost it somehow, got it again 30 years later.

cheers.

Simon666 said...

Thanks for the comments guys.
Not counting my own comments, that's NINE now because ELEVEN (you) minus TWO (me) equals NINE. Hope you enjoy this album until &infin :)

Arkadin said...

Thanks for you quality upgrade (I wish I had your equipment to make my vinyl-rips sound as excellent as yours)!
I was surprised to read about Johnson's book in German language - not enough he made such fine music and all those other things, he also wrote a book in German!? Well, it turned out a guy called Uve Schmidt translated Johnsons poems into German. Just to mention it :)

Simon666 said...

That's interesting Arkadin, so was there an english publication ?

GII said...

thanks

Pacifer said...

Hey Simon, I've been getting into Renee Geyer recently and I really appreciate all of the posts you've done on her. I have a cover she did of "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man" and its reeeeeally good. The only song I heard of her was this one before I found your blog. I am going to do a post for this song, you should check it out. I advise your bloggies to as well.
http://jakus.tumblr.com/

Nikki Jay said...

This is wonderful, thank you

Art Simon said...

Cool, of the time but it never crosses the line. Nice! Great Post!

Simon666 said...

rather expensive pamphlet on ebay - the text there gives a lot of detai on Lamont Johnson's early relationship with Scientology, sounding at the end like it was written by an angry Scientologist after Johnson left the church ...

Arkadin said...

I saw those pamphlets on Ebay, when I was looking for his obscure book - and obscure it is! Couldn't find out, if there's an English edition of Schwarzer Zweifel, or get some more informations about the poet LaMont Johnson. I start to doubt a bit the book really was written by him. It is credited to James LaMont Johnson. Well, I love secrets, so I'll try to get the book via my hometown university... ;-)

Simon666 said...

Hi Arkadin -
My reference for the poetry was an archived bio from 2000 of him here - his record company doesn't seem to have survived him. Intriguing how different this bio is to the one on the ebay page, it seems he led many lives.

Simon666 said...

also Arkadin, my two other references on the book were this and this - was the second of those your reference for the Uwe Schmidt translation? (i.e is "übersetz" short for übersetzung?)

Arkadin said...

It seems we came around the same sites, Simon! :)
Yes, "übersetz" is short for Übersetzung = translation, and it's Uve Schmidt, not Uwe - occasionally I got one of his books (he's a somewhat known prose-writer and poet). Like to spend 50 Euros for Schwarzer Zweifel? Buy it here:

http://www.zvab.com/displayBookDetails.do?itemId=60700461&b=1

See you!

MagicSoul said...

damn, simon, just te "calypso after nine" first secomds made sure i will d/l this in no time...appreciated :::THX

nikos1109 said...

I am always so happy to visit one of my favorite blogs.
Simon you made my day with this brilliant post. Peace.

Simon666 said...

thanks magic and nikos :)

An Arkadin : ziemlich teuer!

Djalma said...

Thank you Simon, I've been looking for this one for a long time... And you managed to come through once again! Peace bro...

bacoso said...

excellent stuff-thanks a lot,all new to me.

andy said...

Super record, great rhodes and instantly recognisable drums from Ndugu. Thanks

Jur said...

Great album. I like "The Cat And Nine Tommorows" and "Calypso After Nine" the best.

Thanks a lot!

johnv said...

Thanks for this one, Simon and for all the awesome work you do!

Gianni aka Cesare Barbetta said...

one of the best post of the year around blogworld?

thank you Simon

Simon666 said...

Hi guys, I've now posted the LaMont Johnson album after this, "Aces" from 1979

fritz the cat said...

Thanks

Julian said...

hey thanks for the share on this one. looks really cool. looking forward to unziping!

Simon666 said...

In the context of all the numerological associations with this albm, I feel compelled to point out that it's just reached 666 downloads :)

Anonymous said...

Hi

Some of this really hits the spot. It is a shame that it comes weighed down by the numerology - I find that aspect of it rather creepy.

Still, nice post.

Thanks

Regards

Dr. Feelgood said...

What a great record!!! I was looking for this many years!!!

Many thanx Simon & much respect!!!!!

Simon666 said...

You're welcome Dr Feelgood :)

Rand said...

Simon,

I want to thank you. James Paul LaMont Johnson was my father and I am eternally thankful for this post.

I actually learned a lot about my father that I didn't know thanks to your reasearch. For instance, I knew he was an artist in the truest sense (he painted, composed all his own musical scores for each instrument by hand (and they were gorgeous - I still have the original scores today) and much more, but I did not know he had composed a book of poetry. I will definitely do my best to obtain a copy now.

It has always been difficult for me to come to terms with the fact that he is actually gone. He was such an incredibly talented man and someone who inspired others to want to live up to the best aspects of his legacy.

You mentioned that he seemed to have lived many different lives. True indeed:

He was an incredibly intelligent man having been one of the first African American men to have ever earned a chemistry scholarship to NYU. He was as spiritual an individual as you will ever meet and spent much of his life in pursuit of his understanding of enlightenment - hence the attraction to the self-healing aspects of scientology. He was funny, charming, eloquent - he was my hero - still is to this day.

I could go on forever, but suffice it to say, I truly appreciate you giving me a reason to learn a little more about such an incredible human being and it is humbling to know that the rest of you have taken an interest in him as well.

Once again, thank you.

- Rand

Simon666 said...

Hi Rand,
Thanks a lot for your comment. I'm happy that my posts helped both you and your sister Kyleigh (who emailed me a while back) to find out some info about your father. He led such an interesting life that it must have been hard to keep up with all the strands!
Take care,
all the best,
Simon

Anonymous said...

Hi Simon

Just discovered this on your blog whilst listening to Calypso After Nine on DJ Mitsu One More Roses compilation.

The whole LP sounds excellent so thanks for sharing as always & for all the information you provide on your Blog I am always returning to.

Jazz Obsessive

Simon666 said...

hey Jazz Obsessive,
glad you enjoyed it. I love all of those Mitsu comps too, great stuff :)

bwana said...

this time you outdid yourself, Simon! I\m indebted for this "Calypso After Nine" gem (first heard in am Masters At Work deep house compilation). If you would like a free Sun Ra t-shirt for all your majestic music offerings just let me know (bwanadj@gmail.com)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this gorgeous music.

Simon666 said...

Hey anonymous and bwana, thanks for your comments :) bwana, am I too late for that Sun Ra Tshirt??? I missed your comment last year :)

Janet Rodriguez said...

I dated LaMont Johnson back in the 1970s. Aside from being an amazing musician, he was the most spiritually enlightened man I have met in my life. He had some amazing abilities and truly broadened my awareness in many respects. I was googling to just learn he passed in 1999 - so young - makes me feel so sad! Well, I hope wherever he is presently, he's in a much grander place - likely still creating his music
;-D. Sending you Love LaMont - as I know you are enduring - longer than litany, mantra, shan't or prayer! Thank you for being part of my life!

Simon666 said...

Thanks for sharing your story, Janet!

GettingChinky said...

Hi Simon - by any chance to you have Lamont's Scientology brochure that you can send to me? The link on this site isn't working.

Thanks!

Kyleigh Dowling (lamont's daughter)

gr8dane said...

Thank you.