How Come I’ve Never Heard “Alivemutherforya?”
today at 10:03 am
I’ve been mulling over reasons why I had never heard the amazing jam session that is Alivemutherforya? I feel like I’ve seen the cover on several occasions, throughout my life, but not heard what’s hiding within the grooves of the record.
So how did I come to hear this masterpiece of jazz transfusion? My friend James, of course, a prolific record collector, music fan, and musician, who gave me a copy, though, never mentioning the genius of it. We trade records and CDs. He had given me a generous stack of vinyl, including Black Sabbath, Chick Correa, Guadalcanal Diary, Metal Church, and Miles Davis, amongst a bunch of rarities. Alivemutherforya was just another record mixed up in the stack of interesting presents he gave me. Months on, each one keeps giving back.
So, I threw it on one night, while drinking a barrel-aged porter, from Begyle Brewing, and was blown away. I went and grabbed the record cover, and it had a great write-up on the back. It’s really informative if you have time to read the liner notes.
Muther’s Little Helpers were Drummer Billy Cobham, guitarist Steve Khan, electric bassist Alphonso Johnson, keyboardist Mark Soskin, and reedman Tom Scott, on tenor, soprano & lyricon. FUN FACT #1: Tom Scott played on The Grateful Dead’s “Estimated Prophet.”
The five-piece was assembled after the success of a similar band, albeit a much bigger group of all-star musicians, took the stage at the 1977 Montreux Jazz Festival, playing a number called “Montreux Summit,” that would close out the night. This amazing jam session, released by Columbia and aptly named Montreux Summit I and II, was the aspiration for putting together a much smaller band of gypsies, if you will, to tour behind Columbia Record’s Vol. 1 of that legendary set.
The tour didn’t make it very long before the plug was pulled. The band was to perform one last show, which would be recorded at Columbia’s 30th Street Studios, in New York City. But, to the band’s dismay, it would be in front of an ‘invited audience,’ or rather, a group handpicked listeners.
There is nothing worse than performing, let alone recording, in front of a room barely full of record executives. What is the sound of one hand clapping? -Steve Khan
FUN FACT #2: Steve Kahn’s Ovation guitar was just returned that night after being repaired and he had a hard time staying in tune, especially on Tom Scott’s, “Shadows.” They tried some tricks, like chorusing the guitar, to make it work in the mix, but to no avail. So, it was left off the album.
FUN FACT #3: The crowd applause was so low from all those one-handed record execs that, during mixing sessions for the album, they had to use crowd noise from Laura Nyro and Chicago, both Columbia artists. Too funny!
Thankfully, the performances captured on Alivemutherforya were from some of the best shows played along the way.
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