Michael Franks – Blue Pacific and Walter Becker

This week, in 1990, the Blue Pacific recording by Michael Franks hit #1 on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz chart. It was really my first exposure to him. I recall that his voice surprised me. It wouldn’t be until later that I gained appreciation for the wittiness and uniqueness of his lyrics. I think I remember some excitement about Walter Becker producing some tracks. The late Steely Dan co-founder (Becker passed away Sept. 3, 2017) produced three of the ten tracks, with Jeff Lorber and Tommy LiPuma dividing up the remainder.  It was the first track, “The Art of Love,” that grabbed my attention – a good catchy uptempo track. I’m pretty sure we put that into rotation on the radio station’s late night jazz show immediately.

Blue Pacific by Michael Franks

Michael shared his memory, as well as a photo, of working with Walter Becker, saying “I’m so grateful I got to know and work with Walter- he was a gentleman, an incredibly talented musician and producer and a terrific storyteller.”

Throwback Thursday – MoJazz ad

While researching jazz magazines for something else, I ran across this 1993 advertisement from the MoJazz label. MoJazz wanted to get your attention so they did a Model of the Month.

MoJazz Model of the Month - 1993 ad

“Alicia is from Los Angeles, CA. This 5’10” Sagittarian enjoys horseback riding, stimulating conversation and romantic evenings listening to JAZZ. Her favorite Jazz Artists are ERIC REED and WAYNE JOHNSON.”

Sex sells and a barely dressed woman always gets my attention. But there is nothing about the new recordings from Eric Reed or Wayne Johnson except that Alicia likes them. Would Alicia go out with me if I bought those releases since they are her favorite?  Is Alicia the model girlfriend of the ad designer and trying to get her noticed? Where is Alicia today? Does she still spend her evenings listening to jazz?

MoJazz was Motown’s jazz label that launched with the debut recording of Norman Brown’s Just Between Us in 1992.

A little more Solsonics

One of my favorite recordings of all time is Jazz in the Present Tense by the Solsonics. It came out in early 1994 and I love every song, every arrangement, the tight sound, the playing…everything came together for me on that. Nearly 25 years later, it hasn’t aged at all.

Jazz in the Present Tense by the Solsonics

Like everything else you love, you can’t get enough of it. Other than some work on Guru’s second Jazzmatazz recording, that was it for the Solsonics. Or so I thought. I recently did some searching since there is always something new on the web. And I found something.

Solsonics founders Jez Colin and Willie McNeil appear to have penned “Yellow Butterfly” for a band called The Party. The track was produced by the Solsonics for that band’s 1993 farewell release, The Party’s Over…Thanks for Coming. The song sure sounds like it came out of the Jazz in the Present Tense recording sessions. It is the unmistakable Solsonics vibe. I love it.

I don’t see a way you can buy the track digitally. Fortunately, it’s on YouTube. Listen and enjoy: