Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Vince Martin - If The Jasmine Don't Get You... The Bay Breeze Will (1969 us, fantastic jazzy folk psych rock, 2006 remaster)

Vince Martin first emerged in the late 1950s as a folk-blues singer around Greenwich Village...of the tendency which kind of avoided the academic approach. A friend of commercial folk-pop group The Tarriers, he was the lead singer on their 'Cindy Oh, Cindy' 45, a monster hit and one of the first real big successes to emerge from the Folk Boom. Vince, lending not only a gritty edge of authenticity, but a note of wistful yearning no amount of study can bring, in the early 1960s, gravitated toward the intense club nights presented by black activist and broadside editor, Len Chandler. Starting a celebrated partnership with fellow maverick Fred Neil which stretched over live appearances which influenced a generation, David Crosby, Mama Cass, Richie Havens, you name them... and cutting an acclaimed and now-classic album for Elektra.

It was Vince who started the to-ing and fro-ing of the folk scene players between Greenwich Village and Florida's Coconut Grove, a place he discovered by chance in 1961, later immortalized in a song by Fred Neil covered by everyone. All of this is perfectly captured on Vince Martin's 1969 album, If the Jasmine Don't Get You ... The Bay Breeze Will, one of that decade's overlooked gems, and a record whose title truly says it all, and whose time has come. From the opening cut, 'Snow Shadows,' the sound is an airy blend of folk spirit and rock dynamics. Softly brushed drums push forward behind propulsive flat-picked twin acoustic guitars; Martin's high tenor sings of romantic loss, quivering over the lines 'Stumbling through the snow..../Nothing waitin' for me like I'm leaving behind..../Cities are meant for leaving before I get too black and blue.' 

As the song builds, the drummer dramatically downshifts, cracking his snare with a full stick. Martin's voice in turns seems to lift off with a thrilling effect, soaring, as he croons, 'Heading south without you like a wild bird flying blind/Someone should have told me I'd never go home.' Produced by infamous A&R man/producer Nickolas Venet at Capitol's studio in Nashville, Tennessee, this record came in out on Capitol releases which included Euphoria, Gandalf, and Karen Dalton's self titled album... strange company indeed
1. Snow Shadows - 06:59
2. I Can't Escape From You (Hank Williams) - 03:14
3. Summerwind - 03:46
4. Danville Girl (Traditional) - 04:36
5. Yonder Comes The Sun - 08:09
6. Jasmine - 13:17
Words and Music by Vince Martin except where noted

*Vince Martin - Vovcals, Guitar
*Charles R. McCoy - Harmonica
*Fred F. Carter, Jr. - Guitar
*Henry P. Strzelecki - Bass
*John Buck Wilkin - Guitar
*Kenneth Buttrey - Drumms
*Lloyd Green - Dobro, Steel Guitar
*Murrey M. Harman, Jr. - Drums