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Author Topic:  Buddy Emmons sound
Richard Nelson


From:
Drogheda, Louth, Ireland
Post Posted 18 Mar 2017 4:21 am     Reply with quote

When discussing the 'Steel guitar jazz' album with Paul Brennan recently . he said that Buddy didn't like the sound of the steel on that album . Its certainly a lot different to his later recordings . Does anyone have the source of his comments on this recording ? Is it an interview ?
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scott murray


From:
Asheville, NC
Post Posted 18 Mar 2017 8:09 am     Reply with quote

I think Buddy's biggest regret with regard to that album was that he used a smaller amp than the 15-inch he preferred. I think I have the quote somewhere. He was doing a Ray Price tour immediately following the NYC recording session, and Ray instructed the band to travel as light as possible.
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Bobby Boggs


From:
Upstate SC.
Post Posted 18 Mar 2017 8:45 am     Reply with quote

Buddy left that session very depressed. He wasn't pleased with his sound. Song choice, or his playing. He wrote a detailed explanation ether here or on the ask Buddy section at buddyemmons.com.
b.
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scott murray


From:
Asheville, NC
Post Posted 18 Mar 2017 10:54 am     Reply with quote

here are some of the quotes I found:


Q: What guitar and amp did you use to record this album? Did the band rehearse before putting it to tape? How did the New York musicians take to the sound of the steel guitar? "Bluemmons" is my favorite!

A: I used a Sho~Bud guitar and a Standel amp with a twelve-inch speaker. We ran the tunes down to get familiar with them before going to tape. The musicians didn't know what to think about the pedal steel, as most of them had never seen one before. I recall them filing by and looking at it as if it were some sort of relic in an antique store. I didn't bring charts to the session, and when we ran out of tunes everybody knew, I made up a blues melody off the top of my head. We recorded it and I named it Bluemmons.


Q: The liner notes to your steel guitar jazz album suggest that you were unhappy or uncomfortable with the recording circumstances, but if so, it doesn't come across on tape! If your ride on "Cherokee" was not recorded under optimal circumstances, I can't imagine how much better you would have played if you were really comfortable! If you wish to do so, could you perhaps talk a bit more about the session; how did you feel while playing; how was the interaction with the other players, etc.?

A: 
My discomfort was through a series of small events. I had planned to fly commercial but Ray Price was making a trip to New York City and offered to take me in his small plane. He said to travel light, so I took a Standel amp with a 12" speaker. When I set up, I couldn't find a warm sound for chords without distorting the amp, so I ended up with ear splitting highs. I made it clear to Quincy Jones up front that I knew nothing about reading music and couldn't do the album if it required it. So, I called off the list of tunes he had sent me and found the musicians weren't familiar with the changes to some of them, so we had to come up with tunes we all knew. Also, Quincy had to fly to Paris and they subbed a producer by the name of Hal Mooney. I felt that had Quincy been there, he could have supplied charts that would have gotten me through the tunes I had taken time to learn. Hal Mooney was a producer and was married to Kay Starr at some time, but that was about the only thing I respected him for. He got hot under the collar and said, "Why in the hell don't you have charts for these tunes." My response was, "These tunes were picked for me. Why in the hell didn't you hire somebody that knew them." Because of that and a few other things, including it being my first exposure to the city and its attitude, I was ready to go home the first hour. I knew when we came to the tune "Any Time," we had scraped the bottom of the barrel. It was after Any Time, that I came up with Bluemmons and put us all out of our misery. I got along well with Art Davis and Bobby Scott, and if it wasn't for Bobby's consideration, I might have eased over the edge.


Q: 
I'm not sure how to ask this, but... were the other musicians respectful and impressed with you? It's hard to imagine them not taking notice of the boy from Indiana who could play the Hell out of that contraption, despite the circumstances.

A: 
Jerome Richardson was fairly receptive to what was going on but Charlie Persip was a bit on the cool side. I guess if I had played drums for Dizzy Gillespie, I would have been cool too. Smile Knowing he worked with Dizzy didn't make things any easier.


on Cherokee:
Before running the song Cherokee, I asked Charlie Persip to give me a four bar drum intro. He obliged by playing four incredible intros, none of which I was able to count and come in on the first beat. I was noticeably upset with myself so Art Davis (tenor sax) suggested a simple intro that ended up sounding like something you'd hear in a 40's western movie with a band of Indians on the horizon. That embarrassing incident left me thinking my name would be one that Charlie would soon forget, so I truly appreciate his comment regarding the session. (CP said he was amazed at what Buddy played on what he referred to as a "Hawaiian Guitar")

That story is a good example of the caliber of jazz musicianship I speak of that sets the specialists apart from general practitioners. It also illustrates that Charlie's having to play at my level deprived the world of his true potential. I must say though that he took no prisoners on the rest of the track.


on recording with Pat Martino:
I don't know whether Pat has the same manager now but an album with Pat and myself was to be scheduled for last Fall with his present manager's blessing, and I put it off, simply because I felt I wasn't ready for it. I was told we could reschedule it in the spring of this year if I needed the time, but I'm still not comfortable with the timing. It would be the greatest of all musical accomplishments for me to be able to do it, but I've never gotten over the first jazz album I attempted in New York and don't want to repeat the same mistake of not being prepared.
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Last edited by scott murray on 18 Mar 2017 11:15 am; edited 1 time in total
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Jim Cohen


From:
Philadelphia, PA
Post Posted 18 Mar 2017 11:02 am     Reply with quote

Thanks for gathering these quotes, Scott. Very interesting to read.

scott murray wrote:
That embarrassing incident left me thinking my name would be one that Charlie would soon forget, so I truly appreciate his comment regarding the session.


Do you (or does anyone else out there) know what "comment regarding the session" of Charlie's that E was referring to?
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Earnest Bovine


From:
Los Angeles CA USA
Post Posted 18 Mar 2017 11:08 am     Reply with quote

scott murray wrote:
I called off the list of tunes he had sent me and found the musicians weren't familiar with the changes to some of them, so we had to come up with tunes we all knew.


What were the tunes that Buddy had prepared?
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Greg Cutshaw


From:
Corry, PA, USA
Post Posted 18 Mar 2017 12:21 pm     Reply with quote

I've asked the same question many times Earnest. Wish he would have gone into the studio later and done the original list of tunes!
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Jeff Mead


From:
London, England
Post Posted 18 Mar 2017 12:44 pm     Reply with quote

Jim Cohen wrote:
Thanks for gathering these quotes, Scott. Very interesting to read.

scott murray wrote:
That embarrassing incident left me thinking my name would be one that Charlie would soon forget, so I truly appreciate his comment regarding the session.


Do you (or does anyone else out there) know what "comment regarding the session" of Charlie's that E was referring to?


Presumably the one quoted in brackets right after the reference to it?...

(CP said he was amazed at what Buddy played on what he referred to as a "Hawaiian Guitar")
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Jim Cohen


From:
Philadelphia, PA
Post Posted 18 Mar 2017 12:45 pm     Reply with quote

Geez, how did I miss that? Was it added later?
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scott murray


From:
Asheville, NC
Post Posted 18 Mar 2017 1:58 pm     Reply with quote

indeed Jim, I too was curious after reading that passage so I searched for it and edited my original post.

regarding the original slate of tunes Buddy planned to record, he was asked about it and said he couldn't remember a single one! I wish we had more to go on, but it's fun (albeit frustrating) to ponder the Steel Guitar Jazz album that never was.

what a shame for as much as the album broke entirely new ground, influenced the steel guitar world, and rotates on all our players regularly, that Buddy came away so disappointed and the album didn't give him more acclaim that he so deserved. who knows what releases may have followed if the album had made the splash that it was worthy of...
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Fish


Post Posted 18 Mar 2017 7:25 pm     Reply with quote

Earnest Bovine asked: "What were the tunes that Buddy had prepared?"

To help set the record straight, I dug into my notes and found Buddy's interview on this subject. I've decided to print his quotes (and my notes) verbatim here in order to help shed some light on this discussion.

Please keep in mind this was a long time ago and Buddy could only remember a few specifics:

From Buddy Emmons Interview Recorded 3.26.10

SF: Did all of the tunes [on the original Quincy Jones list] get tossed out?
BE: Not all of them...there were a couple...kept songs:

BE: "Gravy Waltz" WAS on the list.
"Witchcraft" was on the list.
"Where or When" may have been on the list.

SF: "Anytime"?

BE: No...(laughs) they didn’t know any Eddy Arnold songs!

Not on the list: "Bluemmons"
BE: “That was the last song because we ran out of things that we all knew.”

SF NOTES:
Buddy replied "no" when asked if these songs were on the original list:
"Oleo" was not on the list.
"Cherokee" may not have been on list.
BE: (Regarding "Back Home In Indiana"):
"We ended up doing the songs with the simple changes. 'There Will Never Be Another You' was a Nashville jam song (it was NOT on the original list)."

Steve Fishell


Last edited by Fish on 18 Mar 2017 8:50 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Doug Beaumier


From:
Northampton, MA
Post Posted 18 Mar 2017 8:10 pm     Reply with quote

And then there was the album Cover... adding insult to injury. The record company used a picture of a MultiKord on the cover. And the image was reversed, so the guitar was... reversed!



Here's what Buddy said about it here on the Forum in 2001:

Quote:
The original album was recorded on the Mercury label and the Multichord was a stock picture they had in their files. Another shot of the same guitar was used on Jimmy Day's album on the Phillips label, which was a subsidiary of Mercury.

The Mercury company hired a photographer to take pictures of me blowing smoke through my nose in a dark back lit alley, along with other types of "cool jazz" poses, but I guess none of them were cool enough, so they settled for the Multichord. I was unhappy with the cover because word had spread through the grapevine that I had a new guitar coming out.

Jazz is the most exciting music I have ever listened to, but I don't kid myself when it comes to being a jazz player. As much as we've all progressed since I recorded the Steel Guitar Jazz album, not one of us could survive a set with Dizzy, Byrd, Roach, or Coltrane in the late forties. Get a legitimate jazz rhythm section together today, call the tunes, and Shazam, you become jazz steel guitar player. Try sitting in with that same group in their element and you'll find yourself whistling past the graveyard.

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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post Posted 19 Mar 2017 1:36 am     Reply with quote

I recall reading those articles way back, I also have two SGJ LP's one with the original cover as shown above and the one produced by the SG record club which also has some pretty good liner notes with regard to the NYC session , the same story as above.

I wonder, as years went by, did those NYC cats ever look back come and to realize who they had in studio with them as he was preparing to launch his genius on the planet ? Question

I hope so...



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Steve Hitsman


From:
Waterloo, IL
Post Posted 19 Mar 2017 3:49 am     Reply with quote

I've read biographies of Bird, Monk, Coltrane, etc. The descriptions of "cutting contests" reveal a lot of ruthlessness. I'd presume that the musicians on Buddy's album had survived some of that and developed some attitude as a result. Jazz musicians today seem to be a lot more accommodating.
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Richard Nelson


From:
Drogheda, Louth, Ireland
Post Posted 19 Mar 2017 4:51 am     Reply with quote

Fantastic stuff here . Thank you all for your input . Does anyone know more about the Quincy Jones connection ? He obviously met with Quincy and planned the whole thing ? Was it Quincy's idea to do the album ? What was the Mercury records connection . Ive just transcribed the solo of 1st 2 A sections of Cherokee and it shows great maturity of playing . He plays across bar lines to create rhythmic displacement and uses the 6 and 7 pedals to play C7#4 lines at great speed and his feel and time are perfect . The guy was a genius . I'd say those NYC guys were a little afraid of him too . There's snobbery in all types of music but none worse than jazz musicians . Any of us who have played jazz have come across this . Luckily there are a lot of good guys out there who are interested in what we try to do . Don't give up ...ever .
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Last edited by Richard Nelson on 19 Mar 2017 5:22 am; edited 1 time in total
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Richard Nelson


From:
Drogheda, Louth, Ireland
Post Posted 19 Mar 2017 4:56 am     Reply with quote

Scott , can you tell me where you got that interview from ? Rich
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Charlie McDonald


From:
out of the blue
Post Posted 19 Mar 2017 5:28 am     Reply with quote

Quote:
The musicians didn't know what to think about the pedal steel, as most of them had never seen one before. I recall them filing by and looking at it as if it were some sort of relic in an antique store.

No wonder!



Is there a better way for the record company to say 'we don't take this very seriously and probably won't support it'?
It looks like a mid-sixties commercial bossa nova cover. Buddy blowing smoke not cool enough? Quincy Jones too good and a Standel amp good enough? Charts? Which charts? Who needs charts? What a typical record company deal.

Seriously, did he use the Blade on the session, and why was it called The Blade? For the pickup, or because it was his instrument of choice for cutting sessions, as I'd predisposed from his jazz background?

I actually thought Emmons came from a jazz background when I heard 'Oleo' and that ditties like 'Someday Soon' were his day job. Seriously.


"These tunes were picked for me. Why in the hell didn't you hire somebody that knew them." Buddy Emmons cracks me up.
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Joachim Kettner


From:
Germany
Post Posted 19 Mar 2017 6:30 am     Reply with quote

Actually Charlie, Mercury Records was and still is a quite good record company. They put out loads of good stuff including this album!
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scott murray


From:
Asheville, NC
Post Posted 19 Mar 2017 6:32 am     Reply with quote

Richard-
these are quotes gathered mainly from Forum and Ask Buddy archives.

Charlie-
Buddy played a Sho-Bud on the album, but was hoping his new Emmons model might get pictured on the cover.
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Charlie McDonald


From:
out of the blue
Post Posted 19 Mar 2017 9:06 am     Reply with quote

Thanks, Scott. Great post.
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Barry Blackwood


Post Posted 19 Mar 2017 11:14 am     Reply with quote

Quote:
When discussing the 'Steel guitar jazz' album with Paul Brennan recently . he said that Buddy didn't like the sound of the steel on that album .

I didn't like it either. It remains one of my most disliked steel guitar tones ever -so bad I couldn't believe it came from a Sho-Bud...
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scott murray


From:
Asheville, NC
Post Posted 19 Mar 2017 1:39 pm     Reply with quote

damn shame Buddy didn't use his preferred amp. could have made a huge difference in his overall assessment of the session, not to mention the overall sound of the album.

still, what an absolutely AMAZING record. in so many ways, it will never be topped.
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John Alexander


Post Posted 19 Mar 2017 9:39 pm     Reply with quote

Here's another account of the Steel Guitar Jazz session as told to Tom Bradshaw by Buddy Emmons. I have this in Tom's book, Pedal Steel Workshop and other Writings of Tom Bradshaw, but it is cited as coming from the May, 1976 issue of Guitar player magazine.
Quote:
In 1963, before I got my first Emmons, I recorded the Steel Guitar Jazz album. It was originally an idea of Justin Tubbs, who suggested we record an album and call it "Steel Guitar And All That Jazz." Mercury Records liked the idea, and set up a session in New York, using all jazz musicians, and I was to be the leader. I was truly petrified at that session. I had been given the titles of fifteen or twenty tunes to learn, and I made "head" arrangements of everything - no charts. When I got there, I found out that the musicians didn't know half the tunes I'd prepared, and were vaguely familiar with the rest. And of those, they didn't know them well enough to do them without charts. Plus, I instead had a small Standel amp up there, with a 12" speaker, because a big amp wouldn't fit into Ray's plane we were traveling in. If I got the right tone for single string notes, it would be too heavy for chord work and would break up; if I got good chord tone, the single-string notes would come out bad. As far as I was concerned, the session was a bomb. After that, I went home on the biggest downer of my life. The only consolation was in being the first steel guitarist to record something like that in the jazz field. On top of everything else, the cover of that album showed a Multicord steel with the negative reversed, and since this was right when the Emmons Guitar was coming out, that didn't help sales any, since it looked like the picture was of my guitar, and made for a leftie.

Anyway, I shoved that album into the back of my mind and tried to forget it. I started getting into Ray's music and digging his band . . . .
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