The Basement Tapes, Vol. I features unreleased demos and alternates by New England rock and roll band Hap Snow’s Whirlwinds made in a basement home recording studio in Weston, Massachusetts between 1958 and 1959. The opening track is a newly discovered early take of “Banshee,” an instrumental the group later released as a single on Fleetwood Records.
The second track is the full version of “Chop It,” an original rocker featuring a blazing sax by Harry Lewis and some of Art Bearon’s most inspired piano play. The 1959 song also has a wacky comedy skit in which one band member plays the role of teacher. Which member is uncertain, though, as neither Hap Snow nor Stefano Torossi were sure who played the part when interviewed in 2013. An early version of band favorite “Macabre,” which later evolved into “Banshee,” is also included. “Piano Blues,” a Bearon instrumental composition again showcasing the sax chops of Harry Lewis is on the EP as well as the fifth song, a Chuck Berry cover.
Each of the three planned volumes of The Basement Tapes features pianist Art Bearon, saxophone player Harry Lewis, guitar player James K. “Hap” Snow, and drummer Stefano Torossi. The first volume starts and ends with original compositions co-written by Art Bearon, Hap Snow, and Stefano Torossi, “Banshee” and “Macabre.” Band originals “Chop It” and “Piano Blues,” penned by Snow and Bearon, respectively, are also included, along with Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen,” sung by Snow–efforts to improve sound quality are still underway and it is hoped these downloadable reference recordings will be replaced with higher quality versions in the near future:
A zipped file of The Basement Tapes, Vol. I EP, with album art, is available in MP3 format:
Last month’s EP, In The Studio: The Complete Recordings 1959-1964, is:
And a video album of The Basement Tapes, Vol. I. Note it does not correspond directly to the audio version as the “Banshee (Early Version)” used for the EP was only recently uncovered and the “Chop It” video is an extended version using more than one take.
“Flying High” from France’s C’est merveilleux… Compilation
The drummer on these five tracks, Stefano Torossi, continues to have a steady stream of original compositions licensed for compilations, soundtracks, and American TV programs, the latter including HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm and Big Love, Lifetime’s Roseanne’s Nuts, and ABC’s new series Twisted.An excellent compilation was released by French label Luxophonic in 2007, “C’est merveilleux…” Besides offering Torossi’s 1974 groove
the CD includes a pair of tracks by one-time Torossi collaborator, Edda Dell’Orso. In 1968 she sang on the theme of Stefano Torossi’s L’Età Del Malessere, as well as the title track for Ennio Morricone’s Once Upon A Time In The West:
Easy Tempo Experience – The Third Dimension Compilation
Another unique collection, Easy Tempo Experience – The Third Dimension from 2000, offers a DJ Vadim remix of “Walking in the Dark.” The original version of this track as well as “Flying High” is 1974 album Feelings by Jay Richford and Gary Sevan (better known as Stefano Torossi). All eleven tracks of the Easy Tempo album are available for listening at the myspace.com link below.Unlike typical label products that use original Italian music from the 60s and 70s, this collection consists entirely of remixes, including half a dozen Piero Umiliani tracks. The full album is on MySpace.com:
Three other Easy Tempo titles to keep an eye out for, all which offer excellent music collections at a reasonable price, are Easy Tempo, Easy Tempo Vol. 5 – A Slammin’ Cinematic Experience, and Easy Tempo Vol. 8. Not coincidentally, Stefano Torossi’s tracks are found on all three compilations.The U.S. release, Easy Tempo, contains “Running Fast” and “Fearing Much,” which both first appeared on Feelings. Motivated parties should be able to locate a legal copy fairly easily.
COMING SOON: An LP spotlight on Give No Quarter, the 2013 album from trio Ab Baars, Meinrad Kneer, and Bill Elgart, the second appearance by the former Whirlwind drummer on Evil Rabbit Records. Here’s a sneak preview of tenor sax Baars, double bass Kneer, and Elgart recorded live at the Konfrontationen Festival in Nickelsdorf, Austria in July 2012 (posted by Muzica de Vest on YouTube on 31 Oct 2013):