Thursday, July 27, 2006

SOUL SAUCE: FUNKIER AND GREASIER

The day before the heatwave started, I told Mike about a memory I had of a blind Osmond brother who used to play the vibraphone on the Donny and Marie show, or at least on their holiday specials. Does anyone else remember this guy or am I imagining that he existed?

The next day, when the heat wave first started, I passed by a small porch sale in Park Slope. Something brightly-colored caught my eye. I stopped to take a look; it was a child-size, 8-note rainbow xylophone. Better than a xylophone, really, because it was metal instead of wood. So the sound was richer, more like that of a vibraphone. The Park Slope mom offered it to me for a mere dollar. I snatched it up in a hearbeat.

This is a small instrument that brings a big joy to our small apartment. I play it when I get up in the morning and at night before I go to bed. There's something about the light-heartedness of the sound that brings my attention right to the present. I always tell Mike that I have to come home for xylophone practice.

After we'd had the xylophone for about a week, Mike handed it to me to play while he put on a CD called Soul Sauce (say it five times, fast). He ordered me to play the rainbow xylophone to accompany the late great Cal Tjader on the vibraphone. The best number is the rough mix of Soul Sauce (Guachi Guaro!), the song.

The text on the back of the CD reads: [...] as the years wore on and band personnel came and went, [the song Guachi Guaro!] got funkier and greasier - so that by the time it was recorded for Verve in 1964, producer Creed Taylor dubbed it Soul Sauce. The single was a bigger hit than it had ever been and the LP became an instant classic.

So I played along with Cal and danced around the livingroom. You can't help but grin when you're playing a rainbow xylophone.
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