28 July 2006
trumpet, flugelhorn, Superbone, Super-trumpet (Firebird?)
Saxes & Woodwinds
Richard Bullock- bass trombone
Pam Tompkins - violin
Laurie Badessa - violin
Jimbo Ross - viola
Paula Hochhalter - cello
Randy Kerber - piano, electric piano, clavinet, synthesizer
Darrell Clayborn - bass
Dave Crigger - drums
Mike Englander - drums
Chino Valdes - latin percussion
Ruth Ritchie - percussion
REVIEW from DON ELLIS www.home.earthlink.net/~tfronauer/home.html
"Don's first album for Atlantic, and the first one since his heart attack. Apparently Atlantic wanted to cash in on the Star Wars craze, so not only did the band (now dubbed Survival for some strange reason) perform two tunes from the movie, Atlantic made severe edits to Don's tunes, and suggested he alter the songs' titles to fit the space theme of the album. I like how the subtitle on the cover "Featuring the Main Title Theme from STAR WARS" is bigger than Don's name. Money talks and the execs listen.
Truth is, Don's version of the "Star War" theme is pretty questionable, but the originals are decent. In particular, "Lyra" is a nice feature for Don's superbone, and I like the melody of the all-too-brief "Ursa." All of the tracks have a very late 70s sound to them…not that that's a bad thing, I have an affinity for that type of music having grown up with it. I can see Ponch and John at the roller rink enjoying these tunes. The ensemble is tight, but nobody in this large group really seems to solo on these tracks except for Don, even though some of his sidemen are guys like Ted Nash, Alan Kaplan, Glenn Stuart, and Jimbo Ross. This version of the band is heard to better effect on the Live at Montreux album."
I still think this album's pretty good but have to agree that Montreux is a killer live set and will be posting it next.
Ripped from the original vinyl-but found out when researching this post that Wounded Bird have (unbelievably)just re-issued it on cd.
25 July 2006
1973 - Don Ellis has moved his big band over to MPS from Columbia and this is the follow up to "Connection" (which you can still find posted in the archives of this blog).Dispensing with the interpretations of pop hits on the earlier lp all tracks on this are composed by either Don,Hank Levy,Sam Falzone or Milcho Leviev.
And it's a blinder going in straight for the jugular with Levy's "Whiplash" which is driven by some funky bass and clavinet with strings putting it into action movie soundtrack mode.Next up is Levievs "Sladka Pitka" which is based on his native Bulgarian folk rhythms and themes.Then for the real bomb of the album the super funky latin groover "The Devil Made Me Write This Piece"-how on earth this hasnt been picked up on any compilations is beyond me with its banging cowbell motif and rattling rhythm section.Catchy as hell too-try sitting still to this one!Begging to be sampled - or does anyone know if it has?Side 1 wraps with"Go Back Home"which was released as a single and was the the most requested encore number by the band which always had the audience on their feet.
Side 2 is a more reflective affair with a greater emphasis on the more mellow side of the band-if their could be such a thing with Don Ellis."Nicole" and "Image of Maria" point to the direction Don would go in on the next lp for MPS "Haiku"(a future post)while "Invincible"moves into sublime swinging mode after a fairly baroque start.It's left to the madly grooving and wonderfully hooked "Sidione" which combines jazz,rock,ragtime and Czechoslovakian music to hit the roof again and confirm just how fantastic this lp is.
Never released on cd this ones ripped from a nice US copy I picked up for $4 in Sacramento-what a bargain!!!
Ellis released Shock Treatment, his second studio album, in 1968. On this release, Ellis again took advantage of the studio environment to sculpt a sophisticated production that combines eclectic compositions, exotic time signatures, electronic effects, and polished ensemble performances. Shock Treatment also contains Ellis's first recording utilizing a vocal group as part of the ensemble on selections titled "Star Children" and "Night City." The 7/4 selection titled "The Tihai" was presumably motivated by Ellis's studies with Hari Har Rao and illustrates Ellis's liberated use of rhythmic superimpositions over meters with exotic time signatures. Tihai is an Indian musical term that describes a thrice-repeated rhythm played in such a manner that the last note of the phrase is elided with the first beat of a new measure. On the recording, the orchestra engages in vocally presenting the tihai using Indian rhythmic syllables in the middle of the selection. Rhythmic superimpositions that first appear in Shock Treatment ultimately became a major component in Ellis's rhythmic vocabulary.
Don Ellis was such a talented trumpeter, composer, and organizer that everything he recorded as a leader has at least some unusual moments worth exploring. His big bands were characterized by big brassy arrangements, odd meters that somehow always swung, lots of trumpet solos by Ellis, and an often visceral excitement.This late recording of Ellis' band is filled with all these traits, and thus exudes lots of excitement and electricity. At this stage in his career, the trumpeter seemed to be searching for a breakthrough, perhaps on a popular level. This manifests itself with occasional Age of Aquarius vocals and spacy harmonies that appeal to a broad audience. Even the more commercial tracks delight with unconventional characteristics, despite their somewhat compromising nature. There is plenty of the "old" Ellis in full view, however, as the band rocks with its well-known and only half in jest "Beat Me Daddy, Seven to the Bar." Ellis was an emotionally powerful and technically proficient player, something that is sometimes overlooked; his feature on "I Remember Clifford" is a minor tour de force. The trumpeter wrote regularly for his band, but also attracted some outstanding composers, such as Hank Levy and Howlett Smith.Have a listen to Smith's "Opus 5"-recorded in one take-for a fantastic piece of slow building latin influenced big band stratospherics.Takes your breath away!
23 July 2006
Here's the share of the year for me-the long deleted,never reissued,re-mortgage the house price on ebay,totally wonderful
Kenny Wheeler with the John Dankworth Orchestra - Windmill Tilter-The Story of Don Quixote.
Get it now courtesy of the great guys over at
22 July 2006
I am a massive fan of Don Ellis, Gene Hackman and William Friedkin so both French Connection 1 and 2 are perfect films for me.When I heard Lucas Kendall over at Film Score Monthly was releasing the soundtracks to both I had the credit card out and the order in on the first day of issue-I wasn't dissapointed!Its a limited press of 3000 copies but I think its still available.The cd booklet is superb with detailed analysis of each track,information about Don Ellis and the films themselves.
Read what they had to say about it at
"In 1971 Twentieth Century-Fox released a film that was a smash hit both commercially and critically. It remains a benchmark by which other police thrillers are judged and one of the triumphs of 1970s "New Hollywood": The French Connection. The true-life story of two New York City narcotics detectives who busted one of the largest drug rings in history, it made the careers of director William Friedkin as well as actors Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider.
One other name had a film career launched by the movie and that was composer Don Ellis. Although little-known to soundtrack aficionados, Ellis was a cutting-edge jazz artist who pioneered the use of unconventional time signatures, harmonies, and instrumentations in a big band setting. He toured with his big band in the 1960s and '70s (they formed the core of the French Connection orchestra) and was accepted as hip by popular audiences at a time when the genre was out of vogue. He died tragically young of heart problems in 1978 -- he was only 44 -- and might have otherwise gone on to greater success in film scoring.
As it stands, The French Connection is Ellis' greatest movie score, a dissonant, jazzy, experimental work that nonetheless fits snugly alongside cutting-edge '70s crime scores by Jerry Goldsmith, Lalo Schifrin, Quincy Jones, Jerry Fielding and others. In the film, Ellis' work was used in bits and pieces, rearranged by director Friedkin to be even more austere and strange. This first-ever release of the score presents it as conceived and composed by Ellis, supplementing the familiar segments from the movie with 20 minutes of deleted material never before heard. The cut passages add a much stronger narrative throughline and feature truly experimental techniques as well as more accessible themes for the French mobsters and the hardworking cops.
As a special bonus, the CD also showcases Ellis's complete underscore for the 1975 sequel directed by John Frankenheimer, French Connection II, in which "Popeye" Doyle journeys to Marseilles to take down the drug ring. The sequel score is in the style of the original but with all new themes and added colors. It was used in the film in a slightly more traditional and therefore accessible fashion than the original, and compares solidly with Jerry Goldsmith's "travelogue" crime scores of the era.
The French Connection/French Connection II is 75 minutes of prime '70s cop scoring - firmly of the period but enhanced with the signature of a fresh voice. The sequel score is entirely in stereo; the original is mostly stereo with some mono cues. Sound quality is clear throughout and the booklet notes explain exactly where the deleted cues were meant to go. "
18 July 2006
Here's another great soundtrack thats hasn't seen the light of day for a while .The original on United Artists goes for silly money -last spotted in an Intoxica list for £330 !!Re issued by MCA some time ago these were finally deleted and were floating around as cut outs and going for a song on Dusty Groove.In 1995 the Italian label Point re-issued it on CD as a Bacalov twofer coupling it with "A Question Of Honour".
This post is ripped from the CD issue which contains the complete expanded version - the music is presented and selected from the original 1966 stereo session tapes as recorded from the movie itself so there are some differences from the original album editing.Here the tracks are heard as in the movie presentation and the short out takes re united into the track "Suite".
So what about the music? Well, it's composed by Bacalov and arranged by Bruno Nicolai which should be sufficient recommendation for those into Italian soundtracks - or anyone else for that matter.And the sound ? A subtle blend of jazz and latin which is laced with the atmosphere of Sicily where the movie is set.And the breaks? Absolute Killers that have been extensively sampled - check out "L'Arresto","Samba "(1 & 2),"Intrigo" and "L'Aggressione".Tip top stuff!
Superb graphics and illustration for the movie poster which was also used for the LP sleeve .
16 July 2006
Symbiosis is a beautiful and vastly overlooked album in Evans’ prolific canon, yet one that needs to be seriously reckoned with. Ogerman, who had worked with Bill on two previous albums in 1963 and in 1965 (Bill Evans With Symphony Orchestra) , composed an adventurous and often hauntingly gorgeousl work in two parts. In the third section of the first movement, working over a slow and gentle jazzy swing, Bill plays long and fast- moving lines on electric piano that catch your ear with their shimmering beauty and complexity. Ogerman writes lush but never maudlin strings (and a few flutes) here in dense, often whole-tone and poly-chordal fashion underneath -- creating a perfect cushion for the pianist’s swirling right-hand lines. The Rhodes fits in well here, as it does sparingly in and out through Symbiosis’ framework. It is often used as punctuation at the end of a written ensemble phrase, or as an ensemble texture. Evans’ choices as to when to use the Rhodes or the Steinway are wise indeed, and not without great sensitivity, integrating seamlessly within the composition. Claus Ogerman as composer-arranger succeeds marvelously here with a work of great harmonic expression and rhythmic interest that showcases Evans’ lyrical expression and his obviously inherent classical strengths, yet within a composition that represents much of what jazz is about. (Ogerman would later do the same for tenor sax virtuoso Michael Brecker for his Cityscape album.) If we consider the aural comparisons to the other albums Bill did with orchestral accompaniment, it is far and away the most superior achievement, and may represent his best use of the electric keyboard in context. “Symbiosis” is far too important to be neglected as often as it has when jazz writers discuss Bill Evans albums. As biographer Keith Shadwick noted: “Evans brings to the work the consummate artistry and sensitivity that occurs when he is stretched and stimulated. His rubato playing in the opening and second movement sometimes alone, sometimes in unison with the strings, is both moving and immensely accomplished in a way that few jazz or classical pianists could have countenanced
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After a series of storming latin-jazz albums for Fantasy vibist Cal Tjader made a series of unusual 'world-jazz music' albums with producer Creed Taylor for Verve in the early-60's. The best of these were the oriental-based albums Several Shades of Jade and Breeze From the East. The albums were lavishly presented - Breeze From the East famous print by Japanese artist Hokusai. Straddling both lounge-music and jazz the albums are immaculately recorded and Tjader always manages to create wonderful moods despite the laid-back nature of much of the compositions. Whilst Lalo Schifrin scored the earlier Several Shades of Jades, arranger Stan Applebaum added guitars, flute, celeste and Dick Hyman on organ for this session. The combination of Tjaders combo and the new instruments works wonderfully - highlights being Leyte and Fujiwhich retain elements of Tjaders' latin roots despite the eastern setting.
This write up is from the excellent Kirk De Giorgio site at
15 July 2006
Ahmad Jamal joins forces with the great producer,writer and arranger Richard Evans on this swinging tour de force from 1962 on Argo.It's a series of musical impressions of South America created by Evans after a cultural exchange programme tour with the Paul Winter Sextet.To quote from the notes by Daddy-O Daylie:
"Ahmad Jamal,the driving force behind this album,is at home in Brazil.Coaxing great blocks of shimmering sound from the piano,the great pianist defends his reputation as the most rhythmic and creative artist working on the keyboard today.
Evans provides a colourful frame for the Jamal palette.Using jazz greats and conservatory trained musicians from the New York Philharmonic and other symphony orchestras he paints brilliant impressionistic portraits with strings,french horns,flutes,harps and bells.Darting in and out of the splashes of sound,Jamal rises to great heights as an artist by dominating this large and impressive orchestra."
Bogota is the stand out track on the lp for me closely followed by Haitian Market Place but its all good listening and another great example of Jazz Exotica.
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13 July 2006
Rather than deal with his usual religious themes, Axelrod dedicated this album to slavery with a picture of a slave auction on the front and back of the gatefold cover. The opening refrain Oh! Freedom is a Gospel tune, but then Axelrod quickly turns to probably one of his most straight head Soul-Funk songs with the title track powered by the drumming of John Guerin and the congas of King Errison. The song gets even better with a guitar, drum and bass breakdown in the middle. Eventually the guitar of David T. Walker fades out and bassist James Hughart gets to solo over the drums and congas. Sympathy is a slow Jazz song with female singing that begins with just the guitar and bass. The lyrics are based upon the poem of the same name by early African American writer and poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar. The piece has the famous line “I know why the caged bird sings.” Debt and Be Proud, My Race! are in a similar vein and are also based upon Dunbar’s writing. Be Proud, My Race! comes closest to the classic Axelrod sound with the group singing, although in this case it sounds like a chorus from a Show tune rather than Axelrod’s usual Gregorian Monk stuff. The album switches back to the Funk with another laidback cut entitled Freedom, before picking the pace up with the instrumental Leading Citizen that features a drum and conga break and a drum break in between hits on the bass, and a really nice solo by Walker. Joe Sample also appears, and the album was co-produced by Cannonball Adderley.Review from Soulstrut by Motown 67.
Released by Decca in 1972 this has never made a cd re-issue but it is supposed to be getting an "official"vinyl re-issue of 500 copies very shortly.
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8 July 2006
Johnny Richards put together this lp after studying the rituals of the Bantu,the family of tribes which inhabits southern Africa.Intrigued by the rhythmic possibilities he composed the six part Rites of Diablo which has been described as a sort of Black Mass during which the participants vilify,insult and by every means possible degrade the gods of evil.Augmenting his regular orchestra with SEVEN percussionists,including Sabu Martinez ,Potato Valdez and Jose Mangual,brought in to to emulate the sounds of the authentic drums used in the genuine ritual,plus the eight voiced Dave Lambert Singers,Richards took over New Yorks Webster Hall for four sessions in march and april 1958.The flaring excitement of the band ,the superlative solo work of men such as Gene Quill,Seldon Powell and Jimmy Cleveland and the meshing of the huge percussion section gives the music a unique quality.
This is another great example of jazz exotica which had been long deleted until recently when it was reissued as part of the wonderful Mosaic Select series.This rip is from the original vinyl.
Omo Ado 6:05
Kele Kele 4:18
La Pecadora 7:41
Oluo Anu 6:55
Billy Slapin Flute, Saxophone
Frank Socolow Sax (Tenor)
Al Epstein Percussion ,
Ray Rodriguez Percussion
Burt Collins Trumpet
Frank Rehak Trombone
Jose Mangual Tamboura
Sabú Martínez Bongos
Ubaldo Nieto Timbales
Jimmy Cleveland Trombone
Julius Watkins Flugelhorn
Jay McAllister Tuba
Seldon Powell Sax (Tenor)
Joe Venuto Tympani [Timpani]
Pete Terrace Percussion
Jimmy Campbell Drums
Ernie Royal Trumpet
Sol Gubin Maracas
Gene Quill Sax (Alto)
Ray Copeland Trumpet
Charlie Shavers Trumpet
Jim Dahl Trombone
Hank Jones Piano
Shelly Gold Sax (Bass)
Chet Amsterdam Bass
Al Stewart Trumpet
John Bello Trumpet
Carlos "Patato" Valdes Conga
Johnny Richards Arranger, Composer
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6 July 2006
And now for something completely different.I recently pulled out some of my heavier club orientated jazz and latin influenced tunes from the last few years and feeling inspired after a boozy night out sat down and pulled together this mash up for the dance floor.It isn't mixed, segued or blended - the tracks just start and stop but it sounds good thumping away in the car and it was fun to do.It might even help to get your party started - or possibly bring it to a grinding halt!!!See what you think....
If anybody wants more info on the tunes leave a comment in the box.
Here's the track listing:
PART 1 / 1.ZERO DB-A POMBA GIROU 2.SPIRITUAL SOUTH-GREEN GOLD 3.AZYMUTH-RODA PIAO(SPIRITUAL SOUTH REMIX) 4.JAZZTRONIK-SAMURAI 5.FRANK HERNANDEZ-BARLOVENTHO BLUES(GERARDO FRISINA REMIX)
PART 2 / 6.PAOLO FEDREGHINI & MARCO BIANCHI-URBAN SAVAGE 7.FUZZ AGAINST JUNK-LATINO(NICOLA CONTE REMIX) 8.BOSSA FREE-RISE ME UP 9.MARCO DI MARCO-TAKE OFF(NICOLA CONTE REMIX) 10.GERARDO FRISINA-LATIN SEEDS 11.UNITED EYE-SKA EAST OF THE WEST
4 July 2006
Bobby Hutcherson's late-'60s partnership with tenor saxophonist Harold Land had always produced soulful results, but not until San Francisco did that translate into a literal flirtation with funk and rock. After watching several advanced post-bop sessions gather dust in the vaults, Hutcherson decided to experiment with his sound a bit, but San Francisco still doesn't wind up the commercial jazz-funk extravaganza that purists might fear. Instead, Hutcherson and Land stake out a warm and engaging middle ground between muscular funk and Coltrane-style modality; in other words, they have their cake and eat it too. Joined by pianist/keyboardist Joe Sample (also of the Jazz Crusaders), acoustic/electric bassist John Williams, and drummer Mickey Roker, Hutcherson and Land cook up a series of spacious, breezy grooves that sound unlike any other record in the vibist's discography (even his more commercial fusion sessions). The selections -- all group-member originals -- often skirt the edges of fusion, but rarely play it as expected; they might float some spare tradeoffs over a loping, heavy bass groove, throw in an oboe solo by Land, or -- as on the slowest piece -- keep time only with intermittently spaced piano chords. It's all done with enough imagination and harmonic sophistication to achieve the rare feat of holding appeal for traditional jazz and rare-groove fans alike. It's a shame Hutcherson didn't explore this direction more, because San Francisco is not only one of his best albums, but also one of his most appealing and accessible.Steve Huey-AMG
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3 July 2006
No one ever did it better than the premier vibeist in the Blue Note stable, the great Bobby Hutcherson. From his earliest days in LA with Curtis Amy, - through the very productive years in NY with Blue Note as both a leader, a sideman (with almost all the great Blue Noters) and for years as a co-leader with the brilliant tenor man Harold Land, - Hutcherson was (and is) the heir to the instrument so ably caressed by Milt Jackson and Red Norvo. In his large and impressive catalogue, few albums come close to 'Patterns'. Recorded in 1968, 'Patterns' languished in the Blue Note vaults until 1980, which like any such sessions is amazing, since it meets, and exceeds the quality of the best Blue Note sessions
Featuring drummer/composer Joe Chambers - one of the most frequent and productive collaborators that Hutcherson ever had - criminally underrated alto/flute switch-hitter James Spaulding, pianist Stanley Cowell and Coltrane sideman Reggie Workman on bass, the high quality of the playing on "Patterns" is equaled by the writing (with four cuts by Chambers and one each by Cowell and Spaulding).
One of the highlights here is the Chambers composition 'Ankara'. This performance features the vibes and alto playing a unison line, and manages to build some real intensity on a very mellow base. Hutcherson's solo, characteristically light on the vibrato is one of his best, up there with his immaculate version of Herbie Hancock's 'Blow Up'. The surprise here is Spaulding. Coming out of a quiet, hypnotic base, the alto rises into a cutting, bittersweet solo, that at once makes the listener wonder how this great player never rated his own sessions at Blue Note.
Other nighlights are Joe Chambers' Satie-like 'Nocturnal' which is perfect for Hutcherson's vibes and Cowell's modal beauty 'Effi' which was a track that became a feature with other bands led by Charles Tolliver and Max Roach of which Cowell was part of.
2 July 2006
Bobby Hutcherson – vibes, marimba
Harold Land – tenor sax, flute
Fred Jackson – piccolo
Oscar Brashear – fluegel horn, trumpet
Todd Cochran – piano
James Leary, III – bass
Reginald Johnson – bass
William Henderson – electric piano
Mtume(?) – drums,percussion
1971 Blue Note
He hides behind his sunglasses,beneath a woolen cap,sometimes still faced,sometimes smiling the smile of someone who knows.For when the current flows,when the arc dashes,dazzling between the malletts and bars,there is nothing left unopened,nothing left unsaid.It's Bobby Hutcherson,and his music,head on.
From Colman Andrews liner notes.
There's an excellent review of this great date over at
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Medina was another Bobby Hutcherson/Harold Land Quintet session that didn't see the light of day until over a decade later (recorded in 1969, issued in 1980). Again, it's hard to see why, given the high quality of both the group and their music, which seemed to get lost in the shuffle of jazz's late-'60s upheaval. Granted, it may have been a shade less distinctive than Hutcherson's earliest sessions, but the levels of composition and execution remained top-notch. Drummer Joe Chambers, pianist Stanley Cowell, and Hutcherson each contribute two numbers apiece, and each is advanced and has at least something of its own flavor -the Erik Satie influence on Hutcherson's gentle "Comes Spring," for example, or the meditative Eastern feel of Cowell's flute-centered "Orientale." Chambers and bassist Reggie Johnson turn in some of their finest work with the Hutcherson-Land unit, as many of the pieces incorporate stuttering, rapidly shifting rhythms and frequent time-signature changes. Soulful yet firmly modern, this group was solid from top to bottom, and Medina is yet another fine piece of supporting evidence.
If you enjoyed The Peace Maker by Harold Land ,an earlier post on this blog,you will love this.
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One of Bobby Hutcherson's best albums, Stick-Up! was also his first official release not to feature drummer Joe Chambers, who was a major part of Hutcherson's outside leanings. Instead, Stick-Up! stakes out the middle ground between hard bop and the avant-garde, offering a set of structured yet advanced modal pieces indebted particularly to Coltrane. Hutcherson's originals (five out of six selections) show him at the top of his game as a composer, and the ensemble's playing is tight and focused throughout, but what really lifts Stick-Up! to the top tier of Hutcherson's discography is its crackling energy. It's quite possibly the hardest-swinging album he ever cut, and part of the credit has to go to the stellar rhythm section of McCoy Tyner on piano, Herbie Lewis on bass, and Billy Higgins on drums, who lay down a driving, pulsating foundation that really pushes Hutcherson and tenorist Joe Henderson. Tyner in particular is a standout, charging relentlessly forward on the intricate modal "8/4 Beat" and "Black Circle" and lending a Coltrane-ish flavor to the spiritually searching "Verse." The lone non-Hutcherson piece, Ornette Coleman's sometimes overlooked "Una Muy Bonita," is given a fantastic, rollicking treatment as catchy as it is progressive, proving that the piece is a classic regardless of whether it's interpreted freely or with a steady groove and tonal center. Hutcherson's originals are uniformly strong and memorable enough to sit very well next to it, and that -- coupled with the energetic performances -- ranks Stick-Up! with Dialogue and Components as the finest work of Hutcherson's tenure at Blue Note.
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1 July 2006
Tito is joined by Willie Bobo,Patato Valdez and Mongo Santamaria on this super heavyweight percussion rinse out from 1956 and it really rocks.Check out the pneumatic drill on the cover to get an idea of what a banging set of percussion workouts this is.
Killer Driller Ear Hole Filler-Hardcore stuff beginning to end.
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