So since i don’t have a so called real life i might as well create another edition of wosm. Today i’m gonna continue with a visit in one of most sacred rooms in a home…when lights are down or off and there might be some things going on between the sheets… Anyway today’s artist is called Michael Franks and well he’s not a typical “bedroom jazz” artist but i’ve found one tune that goes under that criterion.
As always let’s go way back to September 18 1944 in La Jolla, California cause that was the day and location of his birth. He grew up with his parents and 2 younger sisters although none of in the family played any instrument his parents loved swing. His early influences were Peggy Lee, Nat King Cole, Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Johnny Mercer. At the age of 14 he bought a japanese guitar with 6 private lessons which happens to be his only music education!
At University High, San Diego he was drawn to poetry and especially the works of Theodore Roethke and his off-rhymes and hidden meter. During this period he began singing folk-rock accompanying himself on guitar. Later he studied at UCLA and here he disvored the jazz of Dave Brudbeck, Patti Page, Stan Getz, Joao Gilberto, Antonio Carlos Jobim. The last 2 men are from Brazil and especially Jobim, whom is the father of Bossa Nova, has had a huge impact on Michael i’d say. This since his music often is very bossa inspired. Another inspiration of Michael was trumpet player Miles Davis.
Before he relased his eponymous in 1973, picture above, he did some soundtrack for a few movies. Blues duo Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee recorded 3 of Michaels songs including “White Boy Lost In The Blues” on their album Sonny & Terry. Frank played guitar, banjo and mandolin on the album and also did some touring with them. Then in 1976 his second album was released on Warner Brothers and this was the beginning of a long relationship with Warner. Eventually he moved to New York and hired many of the best cats there on his albums.
Picture above shows Michael’s second album from 1976 “The Art of Tea”.
His third album, Sleeping Gypsy, released in 1977 which contains the song “The Lady Wants To Know” was partially recorded in Brazil. Around this time, percussionist Ray Armando gave Franks a Cabasa, a precussion instrument, see picture below.
This type of instrument kind of became a signum of Frank since he played on stage when not playing guitar. So how does Franks music sound like, jazzy or funky? He is a cross over artist meaning that he mixes, as i already mentioned, bossa rythms with pop chords with jazz harmonies. His style is easy listening yet not mainstream or like cheap. It’s all good productions with always top noth musicians and producers thou they aren’t that slick in general. He has played/performed and recorded with many different artists such as Patti Austin, Brenda Russell, Art Garfunkel, David Sanborn, Yellowjackets to name some. The music world is not so big since everyone knows and have played/performed/recorded with pretty much everyone!
If you look closely on this pic above you can see that Michael actually is playing a Cabasa. Ok finally time for the song then and it’s taken from an album, picture below, which was released in the early 80:s more exactly 1982. Since this blog is about slick i managed to found a song that is both quite slick and is good for bedroom jazz and the song is called “No One But You”.
Enjoy your listening!!
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