Music Routes Blog

Alvin and the Chipmunks to Brother Jack McDuff (SMLP #9: Special Halloween Edition)

31 October 2009

Last week, I mentioned that I made the rookie error of not checking that a record isn't hopelessly warped before buying it.

For this week's listening party, I would like to mention an even more fundamental error. I failed to make sure that the record in the sleeve was the one specified on the sleeve itself.

Thus, The Chipmunks Sing The Beatles Hits came to the listening party in a Halloween costume as Screamin' by Brother Jack McDuff.

The route from Alvin and the Chipmunks to Jack McDuff starts with the Chipmunks singing "Can't Buy Me Love".

The Chipmunks recorded a record with Canned Heat. I'm not kidding.

Canned Heat guitarist Henry Vestine had previously played on some early Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention demos. These demos were eventually released on a CD called Joe's Corsage. Here is "Any Way The Wind Blows" which was later re-recorded for Freak Out! and Cruising With Ruben And The Jets. If you click over to YouTube, ignore the credits listed there. They are from the version on Cruising With Ruben And The Jets.

Now that we've arrived at Zappa, we can turn in a jazzier direction to try to end up at Brother Jack McDuff. Zappa's The Grand Wazoo featured his idiosyncratic take on big band music. The title track includes a trombone solo by Billy Byers.

Byers played on the eponymous record by The Jim Chapin Sextet.  Chapin is a drummer best known (to me, at least) for having authored Advanced Techniques For The Modern Drummer (1948).  It's a bummer that I can't find a recording online of "Cherokee" from that record.  "Cherokee" is, of course, a jazz classic, and this version features Byers, Chapin, and alto saxophone icon Phil Woods.

Phil Woods was in the ensemble that recorded the soundtrack for the film Alfie.  The music was penned by tenor saxophone collosus Sonny Rollins.  Jazz guitar great Kenny Burrell was also on the session.

This brings us at last to Brother Jack McDuff, as Kenny Burrell is on McDuff's Screamin' album. Alas, it's another track ("One O'Clock Jump") that I can't seem to find online. Given that lack of availability, you can imagine my disappointment when I went to put this record on only to discover that I had been sold a Chipmunks record in a Brother Jack McDuff sleeve.

Best in set: "Alfie's Theme"