“Alexandria” drives forward immediately: clapping, scratching, and thumping. The drums circle at about the one-minute mark, at which point, the saxophone madness begins in earnest. And does not cease. This 1963 “instro” grinds in all the best ways.
“How should I respond?” you might ask. Well, we advise you to jump. “How should I execute the jump?” you might ask. Squat down low, we suggest, and propel yourself into the air. Repeat. Vary the frequency and height as you see fit.
If you have a sweetie pie, you can wave hello on the way up, and on the way down. Do you have two sweetie pies? Well, you can wave to both on the way up, and both on the way down. Of course, they may have two sweetie pies themselves. You get the idea. Lots of sweetie pies. Lots of jumping. That’s not a bad worldview, now, is it?
Some may say “jazzy” and others may say “exotica” and still others may declare “northern soul.” Okay with us. We might add rock, R&B, and the “undisciplined blowing” of the soloist. (A compliment.) Thank the heavens for those saxophonists who blow mad jumps.
|This may be the five core members of The Embers ca. 1962.|
we might know
A lot of bands called themselves The Embers, but this group likely hailed from Philadelphia. In addition to their work on Newtime, The (Philadelphia) Embers recorded on Newtown Records, also in Philly. The two labels were likely related.
As part of their output on Newtown, the group may have appeared as Ricky Dee and The Embers, a band that cut a few dance-pop sides in 1962. Their song “Work Out” will call to mind the 1962 Sam Cooke single “Twistin’ The Night Away.” Another ditty, “Tunnel of Love,” will recall the 1962 Nathaniel Mayer hit “Village of Love.”
The same group may have also appeared on the Sunset label as Pete Bennett and The Embers. This group cut two sides in 1961 — “Fever” and “Soft” — that were arranged by Bobby Martin, a Philadelphia-based producer. In fact, The Embers, if they are the same group across these three different labels, may have helped form a somewhat forgotten R&B sound pioneered by Mr. Martin in the Town of Brotherly Love.
As a “house band,” The Embers may have backed Patti LaBelle, who was associated with Newtime and Newtown. It is also possible that The Embers recorded on the New York City label, Wynne Records, in 1959. In all, they may have produced ten to twelve sides.
what we don’t know
We know very little, of course. “Alexandria” as in Egypt? We don’t know.
getting into the weeds: discography
The Embers featuring Geo. “Terror” Narr. “Burning Up The Airways.” Newtime 513A. Songwriting credit: A. Levinson, Rick Spain. b/w The Embers featuring Joe “Mack” Lackey. “Alexandria.” Newtime 513B. Songwriting credit: A. Levinson. Philadelphia, 1963.
[Comments: never underestimate the B-side. Ahem. “Rick Spain”
represents the nom de plume of the songwriter / producer Richie Rome, born
Richard V. Di Cicco. He apparently arranged the Inez & Charlie Foxx top-10 hit
“Mockingbird” in the same year. Of “Burning Up The Airways,” we will note that
it offers a mischievous and prowling score, with bari sax adding some gravity. We
recommend it, too. As for “A. Levinson” — not too shabby, mate.]
The core band members may have been: Anthony Corona aka Bobby Arnell (tenor sax); Paul Longyhore (guitar); Tony Gasperetti (bass); Orlando Capriotti (organ); Rick Wise (Drums).
Ricky Dee and The Embers. “Work Out (Part 1)” b/w “Work Out (Part 2.)” Newtown 5001. Philadelphia, 1962.
Ricky Dee and The Embers “Work Out” b/w “Tunnel of Love.” Newtown 5001. Philadelphia, 1962.
Pete Bennett and The Embers. “Fever” b/w “Soft.” Sunset 1002. Philadelphia, 1961.
The Embers. “Peter Gunn Cha Cha” b/w “Chinny-Chin Cha Cha.” Wynne W-101. New York, 1959.
with The Embers. “Hawaiian Cha Cha” b/w “I’m Glad For Your Sake.” Wynne W-104.
New York, 1959.
sources of information
45cat entry for Ricky Dee and The Embers (primary release)
45cat entry for Ricky Dee and The Embers (second release)
45cat entry for Pete Bennett and The Embers
45cat entry for The Embers on Wynne
Discogs entry for Gloria Hudson and The Embers
Billboard May 5, 1962
Billboard June 23, 1962
Billboard March 23, 1963
Wikipedia entry for Bobby Martin
Wikipedia entry for Richie Rome
Various blogs & speculation, etc.
Congratulations on wrapping up POOR GAL -- the cultural history of "Little Liza Jane" -- I look forward to its publication!
Nice cut by The Embers, and fascinating background to boot.
I hope all's well with you and your folks. We're still "in seclusion", but hope to get our bi-valent COVID boosters next week. Hopefully, it will afford us sufficient protection to venture forth among the general public before too long.
Nothing scheduled performance-wise at this point. But I'm mulling over a possible opportunity to return to the stage (at least as an improvising cello soloist -- I've picked up a brace of NS Design electric cellos) at my friend John Hallberg's (https://www.facebook.com/john.hallberg.79) Estes Mill "Appalachian Dulcimer Museum" venue out in Sperryville VA (https://dulcimermuseum.org). John is a veritable polymath who, among other things, is the videographer of the two videos of Emily Chimiak and myself (https://vimeo.com/116812037; https://vimeo.com/157677437). Emily has since moved down to Florida; we're remaining amicably in touch, albeit "on hiatus", for the time being.
Any gig at the Dulcimer museum would be a bit into the future; however, if timing and other factors would permit, I'd be delighted to have you with me on stage, introducing the set (if you'd like) and reciting and/or improvising spoken word. It's a fur piece from DC (https://goo.gl/maps/arR9cvJLprGWP57g7). There would probably little if any $$. I'd be delighted to give you a lift out there and back if you'd like.
'Nuf for now!
Thanks for the update. I'm glad to hear that you're scheming-up a return to the stage! Keep me posted and all best wishes to you and your family.
10-4 & thanks for your good wishes!
avant jumps! exotica! this makes a girl want to dance without any inhibition.
Babsy, we have lost our words. Perhaps they're being kept in a bin at the train station, along with the scarves, and sunglasses, and peanut chews that people abandon. You say "Babsy" and we say "Okay: there is 100 percent more Babsy in our lives now than ever before." See, before, there was no Babsy. And now, today, there is Babsy. We think. I admit, this is a circular construct. Well, anyhow, cheers Babsy. I hope that you're dancing some mad jumps of your own around some fabulous people in an after hours club of the mind.
Hi Dan, I am just a girl named Babsy! Well, I'm 19 and in college. We don't know each other but I love your blog. I love the old music. It's much better than most of what you heart today. Keep it up. --Babsy!
Okay. We are prepared to exchange embassies, in that we recognize Babsy as Babsy, and we further represent our sincerity by promising to never doubt Babsy ever again. If we have rankled, then we apologize. It's just that we've never had the great honor to encounter a Babsy. And with that said, we offer our hand in friendship.
LOL. Embassy exchanged. Babsy
So cool. Love the way the sax just lays down in the groove. Wish I could have heard them do "Fever."
Hi SC, thanks for taking a listen and for the kind words. Their recording of "Fever" is out there -- on YouTube, etc. Cheers, BA
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