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9 Jul 2017

Lynn Blessing "Sunset Painter" 1969 US Psych Folk Jazz

Lynn Blessing  "Sunset Painter" 1969  US Psych Folk Jazz


Vibist Lynn Blessing is best known for his membership in the jazz-rock band Advancement, who recorded a single, self-titled album in 1969, and as a member of Bill Plummer's Cosmic Brotherhood and Gabor Szabo's studio band. Previously, however, he and Plummer were also an integral part of cornet master Tommy Peltier's Jazz Corps, one of the house bands at the famed Lighthouse between 1963 and 1967. Blessing was a Midwesterner who met Freddie Hubbard in high school and formed his first jazz group with him at that time (Blessing played drums). He also worked with Paul Horn, Martin Denny, Tony Bennett, and Fred Katz. Sunset Painter is Blessing's only date as a leader and was originally issued on Epic in 1969. Produced by Paul Horn, the LP also features pedal steel guitar whiz Sneaky Pete Kleinow, bassist Wolfgang Melz, drummer Mel Telford, and guitarists John Beck and Robert Hirth. Sunset Painter is deeply influenced by sounds coming from Los Angels and San Francisco at the time, particularly those of Laurel Canyon. As such, this is not a "jazz" record per se. It is a collection of almost entirely instrumental pop tunes, four of which were written by the rock icons of the day: "Mother Nature's Son," by Lennon and McCartney; "Pinball Wizard," by Pete Townshend; "Country Pie," by Bob Dylan; and "Child of the Universe," by Roger McGuinn. The rest were either self-penned or by the sidemen on the date; Melz and Hirth wrote one apiece. The sound is loose, breezy, laid-back, and full of Eastern tinges (acoustic guitars played like sitars with open droning lead and rhythm parts as on the title track with its shimmering 12-string, and Blessing's single-note melodies). Then there is "Mother Nature's Son" done country-raga style -- no kidding. The warm feel of the set offers the same feel as many of Gary McFarland's sides on Skye but is less pop-oriented and more psychedelic in texture. The opener, "Cosmic Cowboy," features Blessing on a pair of harmonicas playing one just behind the other, a popping electric bassline, and breakbeats skittering around the middle before Blessing's vibes enter, resembling something cut out of the hoedown section of Aaron Copland's Billy the Kid. The lithe openness on most of this recording is caught perfectly in "Anacalyspsis," where the pedal steel -- playing more like a slide guitar -- engages with Blessing's vibes, and the drums widen out in a slippery country stroll given dimension, texture, and depth by Blessing's solo and sophisticated melodic improvisation. And while it's true that the album is relatively brief, clocking in at exactly 38 minutes, it is a minor masterpiece. It's very much of its time and stands in stark contrast to so much of the jazz that was being recorded on the American side of the pond at the time. In some sense, it's not a jazz record, but neither is it a pop, or psych or folk or rock record either. It is all things at once and none of them, but its sense of order, focus, and attention to melody, atmosphere, and brevity make it a wonderfully focused listen. While Charles Lloyd was messing about trying out his singing in trying to bring the rock and blues sensibilities to his records, he might have tried hanging out with Blessing, who had the boundaries down and was interested in integration more than extrapolation. Fallout Records in the U.K. reissued this gentle treasure in 2007, and it is well worth seeking out as an experiment that succeeded aesthetically, even if it failed Thom Jurek....allmusic.......

Shortly before he appeared on the landmark Advancement LP in 1969, vibraphone virtuoso Lynn Blessing released this, his only solo album. A superb fusion of jazz and laid-back psychedelia, it features musicians such as Sneaky Pete Kleinow (Flying Burrito Bros., John Lennon, Frank Zappa) and Wolfgang Melz (The Association, Gabor Szabo) and was produced by legendary jazz flautist Paul Horn (Miles Davis, Donovan). Including a handful of mellow originals alongside unorthodox covers of songs by The Beatles, The Byrds, The Who, Bob Dylan and Judee Sill, it's a laid-back delight from start to finish. As Blessing says at the outset: "sit back, relax, and take off your shoes...",...............

There’s nothing offensive about Lynn Blessing’s Sunset Painter, a mellow collection of pop interpretations by way of the vibraphone. Blessing was a session player known for his contribution to 1969’s Advancement LP. This record, featuring instrumental covers of songs from Lennon/McCartney to Judee Sill, and a few originals, is more a mood piece than an outright opus, but it’s not your typical throwaway obscurity either. Compulsive reissue buyers will likely remove it from their CD towers more than once. The cover photo is as good a visual representation of the music as could be: Blessing, in full hippie/nerd regalia, staring out pensively into a grassy field behind a translucent rendering of his own face. Simply put, endearingly cheesy, with some real talent to underscore the novelty factor. Sunset Painter is not exactly a must-have but it’s certainly nice to have around. If you buy it on a whim, chances are you won’t sell it the next day. That might not sound like praise, but given the habits of most compulsive music consumers, it’s meaningful. .......By Alex Molotkow..........

Lynn Blessing – vibes, harmonica. Born Cicero, Indiana, 12/4/38. Started playing drums at age 10, vibes at age 17, played with Freddie Hubbard in high school, 1954-57. Worked with Jay Crawford, Joe Loco, Fred Katz, Paul Horn, Martin Denny, Tony Bennett, the Advancement and the Cosmic Brotherhood. .....

“Lynn Blessing is a seeker, a man in search of himself and deeper values in life. This search for unity in a field of infinite variety is beautifully apparent in this, his first album as leader. Here Lynn combines jazz, country and folk music in a way all his own. Lynn’s background encompasses these diverse elements, and the result is a swinging, joyous and original style. So, as Lynn says at the beginning of this album: “Just sit back, relax, and take off your shoes…” – Paul Horn....................

Wolfgang Melz – electric bass
John Beck – guitar
Robert Hirth – guitar
Sneaky Pete Kleinow – steel guitar
Mel Telford – drums

A1 Cosmic Cowboy 3:14
A2 Sunset Painter 2:36
A3 Mother Nature's Son 2:20
A4 Anacalypsis 3:30
A5 From Deep Within For Lynn 2:09
A6 An Awakening 5:10
B1 Country Pie 3:10
B2 Pinball Wizard 3:11
B3 Emerald River 2:35
B4 Child Of The Universe 1:45
B5 "Monk 136" 4:15
B6 Where There Is Grass 3:06 

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