Jess Roden New York
Jess Roden New York 2
'It’s where, via the television, I became a huge, almost nerdy fan of Jackie Gleason’s The Honeymooners. During my time in NY, I must have watched the famous 39 episodes at least a dozen times each.
Joel Dorn“Joel also introduced me to Leon Pendarvis whom he suggested should arrange the songs for recording.
‘Leon was soft-spoken and appeared to me like a man at ease with all that surrounded him.
‘He and I worked up the tunes in the apartment and then he scored the charts for the musicians.
‘He picked all the hot players of the time and I remember being completely awe-struck when they did the first run through of the material.
Leon Pendarvis‘The line up for the basic tracks consisted of drums, bass, percussion, piano and two guitarists.
‘Rob Mounsey played piano and added some synthesiser pads and Joel bought in Shirley Scott to add organ, Milt Hinton (vibes), Scott Hamilton and Harold Vick (saxaphones).”
ROB MOUNSEY – “I moved to New York on my twenty-fourth birthday – December 2nd, 1976. I’d been involved before that with Leon Pendarvis who is a wonderful arranger, pianist, producer, songwriter and so on. He still runs the Saturday Night Band…
Rob Mounsey“So, ‘Pen’ was really my contact and he booked me on all his dates and one of the first ones… there were several with Joel Dorn… one was Jess and one was Steve Goodman – a folk singer who wrote City Of New Orleans, a wonderful guy who made a really interesting record.
“Joel Dorn used to really frighten me. He was such a big, wild man. About 6’4” and a great big bushy beard and a very streetwise personality, a big joker. Remarkable guy, absolutely unique character.”
“Leon called me in to play and I ended up doing some arrangements with Joel and his right hand man, the engineer Vince McGarry at the old Regent Sound.
“Regent Sound was very small, very out of the way, in a midtown New York building.
“Nothing too special really, small and kinda cramped and some very old fashioned equipment in there.
“I was very young, very new and was very excited to be part of it and, of course, it meant being amongst players of the calibre of Crusher Bennett... Crusher was very popular with the ladies… very good looking, tall.”
“When all the basic tracks had been cut, strings, brass, background vocals and other embellishments were over-dubbed.”
“Lee (Goodall) is originally from Southampton; and, he was a big pal of the Iguana boys and a fantastic musician as well. I didn’t know about Lee when the JRB got together, and he and Webbo and John were big friends – but he was a bit of a loner really, probably not through choice – if he could have been a member of Iguana he probably would have been.
“He was an absolutely brilliant guitar player, so multi-talented – I was always in awe of the instruments that John could play – the only thing he said he couldn’t do was sing but he could actually. But, Lee… wow, he was a good jazz drummer, pianist, a really melodic sax player, flute player, excellent guitarist but he could actually, he was fantastic… could play like Barney Kessel – ohh, fantastic… I was awestruck by the fella.
“Anyway, when I was at the tail-end of recording the Stonechaser album, Lee moved over to New York. John and Jakki were over there then too, and Lee went to live somewhere in the Bronx or Brooklyn; there was quite a little incoming of the Southampton crowd, there was another guy called Mick who played double-bass but I never actually worked with him.
“Lee then fell in love with a local girl who was a cartoonist on the New Yorker and Village Voice, she was terrific… they got married and… he was just tremendous and toward the end of the sessions for Stonechaser, when things had been sort-of shelved and re-dug up, Lee came in and started adding bits and pieces.”
LEE GOODALL – "The original Love Will Grow session was with Joel Dorn and we tracked an arrangement of mine with four concert flutes. This was one of John (Cartwright’s) songs… it was recorded again as well… but, for some reason or other, I don’t think it ever got finished."
ROB MOUNSEY – “The Quiet Sound... now, that is something Pendarvis and I would do all the time… he would write out the piano parts – then one of us would play the grand piano and the other would play the Fender Rhodes.”
“I think Joel suggested that The Quiet Sound… maybe Leon (Pendarvis)…
"Joel had a little crowd that was around him – Hal Wilner and all those kind of people and they would tip him off to who was writing things and if there was a young guitar player in the city.
"Plus, Joel knew all the old-timers… all the great musicians… and Hal kept him abreast of new things that were going on.
Solo in New York
DOC POMUS – “I was never one of those happy cripples who stumbled around smiling and shiny-eyed, trying to get the world to cluck its tongue and shake its head sadly in my direction. They’d never look at me and say, ‘What a wonderful, courageous fellow.’”
“I was always too fucking mad and didn’t have a chip, but a great big log on my shoulder, daring the world to get in my way or mess with me. I walked slow and straight and never swung my legs fast and awkwardly like the rest of the gimps who got around with braces and crutches. My main thing was to act and look cool – angry, and cool and sharp.”
“But, underneath I was a frightened little kid – afraid that my limited physical equipment was not enough to get me any kind of piece of the action out there.”
“Scared I would end up a street beggar hustling quarters, or be just another bed in a cold state institution, or live in a welfare hotel sharing a toilet with some diseased junkie or hooker.”
“Most of the time I shut this out with the help of booze, pot, insanity or blindness; or a combination of any or all of it. But once in a while I would lay in a sleazy hotel room with the soiled bedcovers over my head – too scared to move, sometimes for days and nights – sleepless and trembling. And when it got like that I never knew when it would end, or how it would end, or if it would ever end, but it always did.”
“Now, thirty or forty years later, it happens less and less, and I’ve found corners of myself and the world that I own more than once in a while. And some mornings when I wake up and look around, I even smile deep and feel like it’s good to be here and to be me. But it sure took a long fucking time.”
(Excerpt from Doc Pomus’s uncompleted memoir, February 21, 1984)
The Quiet Sound & Stomu
Go Too was the third in a trilogy of albums masterminded by Japanese master-percussionist, composer and all-round keyboard whizz, Stomu Yamash’ta.
He first attracted mainstream attention when he brought the Red Buddha Theatre to Europe (acting as their director-cum-composer-cum-producer) presenting the multi-media extravangaza The Man from The East. The soundtrack to which was picked up by Island.
Go was, essentially a collaborative Jazz-fusion / Space-rock supergroup, and formed on the back of that. Its core featured Yamash’ta together with Steve Winwood, Al Di Meola (guitar – from Chick Corea’s Return To Forever), Klaus Schulze (synths – from Tangerine Dream) and Michael Shrieve (Santana’s drummer).
Two albums resulted including the Live double – Go Live From Paris. Line-up and label changes ensued with Winwood moving on to other things and a switch from Island to Arista.
Go Too was recorded in New York with the nucleus of Yamash’ta, Schulze, Shrieve and Di Meola along with Peter Robinson (keyboards), Doni Harvey (guitar), Brother James (percussion) with Jess and Linda Lewis sharing lead vocals. Although (surprisingly) unaccredited, the string arrangements were by Paul Buckmaster.
The album – for many years unavailable – has recently been re-released as part of The Go Sessions (The Complete Recordings) as well as in its own right.
“I got a lot out of working with them. It wasn’t just a great honour, also – again – the way those guys just, sort of step on it immediately.
‘I got the same impression with Leon Pendarvis as well – in a different way; he was a serious arranger. In the same way he’d hear the guitar part and doing his Fender Rhodes bit, he could hear what the horns should be doing. All up in his head. Such is the multi-task. but, when you listen to the songs, they are all so integral – why would you write a riff like…
‘When we did the Stonechaser album the first tunes we had were Bird Of Harlem, One World, If Ever… and pretty much the one’s that I’d written with Maggs…
‘In fact, If Ever... goes back to JRB days…
‘But, with that album, we recorded a lot of it but then it was put on the shelf for about four months, at which point I started writing other bits and pieces. I did some things with Steve Dwire and Doanne, made some demos.
‘And then, ‘cos Chris again didn’t think it (Stonechaser) was particularly good – in fact, what he was probably saying was …’we’ve spent an awful lot of money doing this, and what have we got… four tracks?’
‘In fact, we had eight tracks but they weren’t finished.
‘So it was put aside while he figured what else to do. And then Lionel Conway (head of Island Publishing at that point) came out and said, …’the four tracks they’ve finished are really good… so if we had four others, we’ve got an album’.”
Lionel Conway is one of Music Publishing’s most experienced and respected figures. His career began at Dick James Music working The Beatles’ catalogue as well as with Elton John / Bernie Taupin.
He moved on to run the publishing arm of Island Records – signing Cat Stevens, Dave Stewart, Robert Palmer, Andy Fraser, Tom Waits, Jimmy Cliff, U2 and Jimmy Cliff as well as Jess among many others. Over twenty years later, Lionel relocated to LA to open up the company’s West Coast office.
In 1992 he moved over to Maverick, working closely with Madonna. From 2001 he joined the Mosaic Media Group (administering the catalogues of ZZ Top and Aerosmith as well as over 40 #1 Country hits among others) and is currently President of its North American operation.
“So, then, when Lionel said…’four more and we’ll be alright…’ then that’s they took me out to California to work with ‘songwriters’ and…
‘I think its quite obvious that I worked with a couple of people – that’s how Prime Time Love and Deeper In Love came about… but, they’re very much turn of the seventies / eighties pop songs… very much set within a time…
‘I’d forgotten that Andy Fraser wrote Loving You… that must’ve been given to me when I was out in California and I think I wrote Brand New Start out there.
‘But… they were arranged by Leon in such a way that they were pop as opposed to… if you listen to his arrangements for the first album that I recorded over there – Misty Roses and things like that – they’re absolutely top drawer but, he too must have been under instruction. …’these have to be hits… we’re not doing his Jazz thing, these have to be hit records...’
‘I have no idea how to make hits but what I do know is you can try to hard.”
Bronfman the writer
The Quiet Sound was written by Bruce Roberts (no, not that Bruce Roberts) and Edgar Bronfman Jnr (yes… that one).
This particular Bruce Roberts (pictured left) is one of the unsung songwriter heroes – penning tunes with the likes of Bette Middler, Carole Bayer Sager, Burt Bacharach, Andy Goldmark and more for Dionne Warwick, Jermaine Jackson, Roberta Flack, Barbra Streisand, Donna Summer, Smokey Robinson among others.
Roberts has also recorded his own records (his second album featured Elton John, k.d.lang and Luther Vandross).
That Edgar Bronfman Jnr, on the other hand, is one of the most powerful figures in the music industry today and enjoys a significantly higher profile – he’s been CEO of Warner Music Group since 2004; prior to that he was CEO of Seagram and chairman of Universal.
Prior to his more conventional day job, he was a songwriter, often collaborating with Bruce Roberts (cf Dionne Warwick’s cover of Whisper In The Dark) but, equally often, under the pseudonym of Junior Miles.
The Player Not The Game
1. Misty Roses
3. Lonely Avenue
4. The Quiet Sound of You and I
5. The Hardest Blow
6. Drinking Again
7. Woman Across The Water
8. In Me Tonight
Jess Roden – Vocals
Charlie Brown, Cliff Morris, Franklin Micare, Jeff Mironoy, John Tropea, Lance Quinn – Guitars
Buddy Williams, Gary Mure– Drums
Leon Pendarvis, Rob Mounsey, Shirley Scott – Keyboards
Anthony Jackson, Francisco Centeno, Milt Hinton – Bass
Earl ‘Crusher’ Bennett, Rubens Bassini - Percussion
David Carey – Vibes
Harold Vick, Scott Hamilton – Saxophone
Arnold McCuller, Benny Diggs, Delores Hall, Michael Gray, Jess Roden – Backing Vocals
Leon Pendarvis – Arrangements
Produced by: Joel Dorn
Label: Island ILPS 9506
Recorded and mixed at Regent Sound Studios, New York
Cover Photography: Richard L. Shaefer
1. Prime Time Love
2. Deeper In Love
3. Brand New Start
4. Believe In Me
5. Bird Of Harlem
6. If Ever You Should Change Your Mind
7. Loving You
8. One World, One People
Label: Island ILPS 9530
Side 1 mixed at The Power Station, engineer: Bill Scheniman and Produced by Leon Pendarvis
Side 2 mixed at Regent Sound, engineer Vince McGarry and Produced by Joel Dorn
Recorded at The Power Station, Regent Sound and Counterpoint in New York
Engineers: Gary Chester, Bob Clearmountain, Andrew Sufer, Vince McGarry and Bill Scheniman.
Cover Photography: Wayne Masser & Elaine Roden
The Best Of...
1. Ballad Of Big Sally (5.47)
2. Blowin’ (3.26)
3. You Can Leave Your Hat On (4.09)
4. Stonechaser (5.38)
5. Reason To Change (3.54)
6. Woman Across The Water (4.08)
7. In A Circle (5.30)
8. Trouble In Mind (3.54)
9. Me And Crystal Eye (4.14)
10. In Me Tonight (4.30)
11. Can’t Get Next To You (7.01)
12. What The Hell (4.54)
13. I’m On A Winner With You (3.19)
14. Deeper In Love (2.58)
15. Lonely Avenue (3.33)
16. If You Change Your Mind (3.26)
17. Jump Mama (3.59)
18. All Night Long (3.34)
Label: Lemon Recordings – licensed from Universal Music Operations.
Released: June 2009
Album compilation: Brian French
Photos: courtesy Steve Webb Archives
Design: Jim Phelan
Liner Notes: Dawm Lanten
Move To The Groove - The Best 1970’s Jazz / Funk
CD 2 / Track 3 - Jess Roden, On Broadway
Label Polygram Records
Released: September 1995
2 CD, 29 Track compilation
Mojo Club Presents - Dancefloor Jazz Volume 5
Track 7 - Jess Roden, On Broadway
Label Motor Music, Germany
19 Track Compilatio
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