Jon Larsen (with Jimmy Carl Black): Jimmy-As-A-Ghost
The Jimmy Carl Black Story (Zonic Entertainment / Hot Club Records ZEN 2003 & ZEN 2004)
Kirk Van Houten (keyboard), Bill White (bass), Andreas Bye (drums), Knut Reiersrud (harmonica, guitar).
Composed by Jon Larsen.
Recorded: No information given (CD released in 2008)
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
Jon Larsen's CD The Jimmy Carl Black Story was released three days before Black's death. In fact, I had just been listening to this music (which is supplemented by an extra CD of Black recounting his life and times) and preparing to write a review, when I received an email from jazz.com's Alan Kurtz alerting me to Black's death. The tragedy of the passing of this former Frank Zappa sideman is amplified by the likelihood that this smartly produced release would have given him a new boost of fame and enhanced earning potential.
Certainly this artist deserved a stroke of good luck. Back in 2001, Walter Becker used the occasion of his own induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (as member of Steely Dan) to lobby for Black's inclusion as a founding member of the Mothers of Invention. No dice. Black retained a cult following, but he never made more than a meager living from music; when an interviewer asked him about his royalties from his recordings with Zappa, he replied: "We never got anything out of the recordings. I'm still as broke as I was when I was with the Mothers."
This track concludes a long rock-jazz-blues opus that is very much in the spirit of Frank Zappa. In other words, it is zany, vulgar, transgressive, surreal, and impeccably performed. The band grooves over a sensual 12-bar blues, while Black adds a vocal. Okay, the personnel listing calls it a vocal, but it is really just Jimmy talking over the phone. "Hi, boys and girls," he announces, "I'm actually Jimmy as a ghost." Halloween took place during the few hours between the release of this CD and Black's death, but in the midst of so many tricks-and-treats, this performance was really haunting.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia
If you liked this track, also check out
The Dozens: The Jazzy Side of Frank Zappa by Ted Gioia