Saturday, December 26, 2009

Guest Flute Players with The Grateful Dead: June 13, August 3 and August 21, 1969

I recently wrote about the Grateful Dead's performance at the Aqua Theater in Seattle, WA on August 21, 1969. During this show, they were joined by a flute player for a few numbers, the third time it happened in 1969. This peculiarity has never been directly discussed, to my knowledge, so I will address it here.


Charles Lloyd

I was recently looking at an excellent blog post that summarized all the known guest appearances with the Grateful Dead from 1967-75. Clicking on all the links, mostly to the archive site, I was reminded that every time a flute or saxophone player sat in in with the Grateful Dead, people have always asserted that it was Charles Lloyd. This gets repeated so often that it became gospel, and the archive site lists Charles Lloyd as the guest on Aug 21 (with a question mark), with similar (albeit skeptical) comments on June 13, 1969 in Fresno and August 3 at The Family Dog.

In fact, I think there is a lot less evidence that Charles Lloyd played with the Grateful Dead after 1967, much as he may have wanted to, and that the flute player on the August 21 Seattle show and the June 13 Fresno show was actually one of the horn players for the group San Paku, although I have not been able to determine that individual's name. August 3 is a different matter, which I will deal with at the end.

Charles Lloyd and The Grateful Dead
Charles Lloyd was an exceptional modern jazz musician who excelled on both the tenor saxophone and flute. He rose to prominence with drummer Chico Hamilton's great Los Angeles groups in the early 1960s, featuring Gabor Szabo on guitar and Albert Stinson on bass. In the mid-1960s Lloyd formed his own quartet, with Keith Jarrett on piano, Ron McClure on bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums. Lloyd was one of the first jazz musicians to see the commercial and musical possibilities of crossing over to the Fillmore market, and he played the Fillmore and Avalon a number of times (His Atlantic album Love-In was recorded at the Fillmore on January 27, 1967, when he was opening for Paul Butterfield).



Exactly where Charles Lloyd met the Grateful Dead isn't clear, but he was part of the San Francisco music scene in early 1967. In early January 1967 group was playing a club near the Haight called The Both/And (at 350 Divisadero--the ad above is from the January 24, 1967 Chronicle) and somehow Lloyd ended up onstage with the Grateful Dead at the Human Be-In, adding flute to "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl." A few months later, Lloyd played several nights with the Grateful Dead at a place on Mission Street called The Rock Garden, and probably jammed with them there as well. Lloyd and Garcia apparently hit it off, but efforts to record or tour together never came to fruition. Lloyd largely dropped out of playing live jazz for most of the 1970s, although he returned fully charged in the 1980s and remains an exceptional performer today.

Although Lloyd actually played more tenor sax than flute, Lloyd was one of the few flautists playing aggressive Coltrane-style jazz on the instrument (Eric Dolphy and arguably Herbie Mann and Jeremy Steig were among the others). Some of Lloyd's recordings, such as his great 1965 Columbia album Of Course, Of Course (with Szabo, Ron Carter and Tony Williams) were seminal recordings for jazz flute. As a result, Lloyd is so influential as a flautist that even though the August 21 flute playing (on "Minglewood" and "China Cat Sunflower") sound like Lloyd, most modern jazz flute players owe a lot to Lloyd, and most rock ones too (Ian Anderson certainly included). So the fact that the flute-playing on the August 21tape sounds like Charles Lloyd means less than you think, since most forward looking players at the time owed a lot to Lloyd.

Charles Lloyd is a great musician, and I love the idea that his 1967 jamming with the Dead was so memorable that he turned up in Fresno, San Francisco and Seattle two years later to sit in with them. I just don't think there's much evidence beyond wishful thinking to support it. A hard-nosed look at the history of Grateful Dead guests always points towards members of bands on the bill or players who live or have a gig in the town the Dead were in. I find the idea that Lloyd played tenor sax on "Dark Star" at the Family Dog quite plausible, since the Southern California based Lloyd might have had reason to be in San Francisco, but from that point of view John Handy is more plausible, and Lloyd in  Fresno and Seattle are an awful reach, much as I'd like it to be so. Lloyd wasn't working much in 1969, for personal reasons (he was interested in Transcendental Meditation) but I actually think that makes him less likely to go to strange places to jam with his peers.

San Paku
San Paku was a now little known band managed by the Bill Graham organization, and booked by Bill Graham's Millard Agency. During the 1968-69 period, the Millard Agency also booked the Grateful Dead. Other groups working with the Millard Agency included Santana, Elvin Bishop, Cold Blood, Aum and Its A Beautiful Day. A look at Northern California and West Coast rock poster from late 1968 through 1970 shows that all these bands played together many times, so the musicians all must have hung out regularly. It is not surprising to find out that members of those bands were periodic guests, studio collaborators or jamming partners with the Dead or Garcia: Bishop, Wayne Ceballos (of Aum), David LaFlamme (IABD) and Santana band members (including Carlos) were among the most prominent.

Its my understanding that San Paku was an eight-piece jazz rock group, perhaps with a Latin tinge, and they played with the Dead a number of times. I just find it more plausible that a guy from the opening act was a jamming partner in a place like Fresno or Seattle, far from home, than a jazz musician with no specific ties to either area. There are no circulating recordings of San Paku, so I have to guess as to their true sound. I know their lead singer was Rico Reyes, who worked with Santana and Quicksilver and later helped lead the fine group Azteca, and the guitarist was Sacramento musician Mark Pearson, later of Nielsen/Pearson Band. Supposedly they were a hopping group, but they broke up in Fall 1969, and I have been unable to follow up on my theory--hopefully a San Paku band member is out there and can confirm or reject my theory that the flute on the June 13 and August 21 shows was actually one of the players in San Paku.

August 3, 1969 The Family Dog At The Great Highway

The Grateful Dead played The Family Dog At The Great Highway on Sunday, August 3, and for the first three numbers ("Hard To Handle", "Beat It On Down The Line" and "High Heeled Sneakers") they are joined by flute and electric violin and later "Dark Star" they are joined by a tenor sax and electric violin. The archive notes list David LaFlamme on violin and Charles Lloyd on tenor, both of which seem like conventional choices. However, since there is flute on the first number and great tenor sax on "Dark Star", Lloyd seems like a pretty likely possibility. Lloyd probably lived in Los Angeles at the time, but its not so unlikely to think he would be in San Francisco (as opposed to Fresno).

There were so few electric violin players in San Francisco, or anywhere, that LaFlamme is a reasonable choice too. However, I wouldn't rule out Michael White as a possibility. White had pioneered electric violin playing in jazz with John Handy's mid-1960s group, based in San Francisco. By 1969, White was in the jazz rock group The Fourth Way, who were regulars at The New Orleans House rock club in Berkeley. In fact, The Fourth Way were scheduled at the New Orleans House on August 3, but that gig may have been earlier in the evening (bassist Ron McClure, formerly of Lloyd's quartet, was in The Fourth Way, so there were plenty of connections).

To my ears, the playing on "Dark Star" sounds more like White than LaFlamme to me, but we'll have to wait for some firmer evidence, as LaFlamme is still a plausible choice. The presence of the electric violin and tenor sax on this night make the "Dark Star" very different than most 1969 versions, and that is why I am inclined to think top-of-the-line players like Charles Lloyd and Michael White are participating. The version of "High Heeled Sneakers" is unique as well, with the electric violin triggering the song and a strange swinging tempo.

13 comments:

  1. Lloyd shared a festival bill with the GD in '68 at the Newport Pop Festival (August 4, 1968, Orange County Fairgrounds, Costa Mesa, CA), FWIW.

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  2. Hi there-- I was told (I think by Ihor Slabicky, author of the Dead Discography) that David LaFlamme has said that it was not him on 8/3/69. The White suggestion may be really good-- I seem to remember that Ihor also told me that the John Handy band also played that night, either on the same bill or somewhere else in the city. I lost this email correspondence with Ihor Sablicky so I'm doing this by my own failing memory! This is a very cool Dark Star-- reminds me more of the much later ones with Branford Marsalis.

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  3. There's a lot of great tenor saxophonists, and at least some great flute players, but how many electric violinists were there in 1969 willing and able to play at the Grateful Dead's level? If LaFlamme has eliminated himself (and it doesn't sound like him), my money's on Michael White.

    Jean-Luc Ponty had in fact played the week before in Los Angeles (at Thee Experience in Hollywood, with the George Duke Trio), so its not inconceivable that its him.

    And just to close off the question, Papa John Creach had not met the Airplane yet, and in any case it doesn't sound like him.

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  4. Thanks for noting my blog!
    Lost Live Dead is a great site & I'm very impressed by your researches.

    On the subject of guests, I was listening again to the (very hot) 6-13-70 Oahu show....deadlists notes that Gary Duncan & Dino Valenti are on Good Lovin' & Lovelight. But I wonder about this....granted the sound isn't pristine, nor are my ears, but I didn't hear anyone else in Good Lovin', and maybe a third guitar in the middle of Lovelight. (There is some unexpected piano in New Speedway, from Pigpen.) Someone should try to settle this.... (I wonder if they appeared in the 6/12 show, which isn't circulating.)

    Anyway - in my blog posts "The Strange Case of 1970" and "Missing Shows of 1969 & 1970" there are lists of bunches of shows which are possible candidates for your blog (& some here already) - there are probably quite a few blank spots you'd be able to fill in!

    Also - pardon the digression - there was a question on the Archive Forum recently, about the allstar-jam at the Carousel on 5/21/68, whether this was a frequent (or even weekly) event there, since there was another similar benefit advertised for June 4 '68. (The list of Carousel shows over at chickenonaunicycle looks like it may have some gaps.)
    Seemed like the kind of thing you'd know, and perhaps have already posted about....

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  5. To answer the question raised by "Light Into Ashes" in respect of the Carousel Ballroom. You are right about some gaps at Chicken On A Unicycle - but I have taken the hint and uploaded my latest list to http://www.chickenonaunicycle.com/Carousel%20Shows.htm

    As for the "jams", the first I know of was the May 21 event which led to the advertising of "Tuesday Night Jams" - and they are known to have taken place on May 28, June 4, June 11, June 18 and June 25. The Carousel's lease was taken on by Bill Graham - who ran it as the Fillmore West (leaving the Carousel sign intact throughout). There were regualr shows on Tuesdays under BG so the jams would have halted. Those shows that took place whilst Bill Graham held the lease (July 5, 1968 to July 4, 1971) but were not promoted by Graham still utilised the Carousel Ballroom name.

    An interesting point is that if Bill Graham had have waited a further week before putting on shows at the Carousel, the final weekend would have seen Jimi Hendrix and BB King performing. The artwork for Rick Shubb's poster is currently being restored and will miraculously appear at a later date. There was at least one month's notice given for the cancellation.

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  6. There is an ad for a "Jam Session with Jerry Garcia and Others" on 5/22/68 in the Express Times, but unfortunately I don't have the bibliographic details.

    Also, just checked your Carousel list, YS, and you have Mr. Cooke's name misspelled Curly, when it is actually Curley.

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  7. I have added the May 22 listing but have so far I have been unable to add any other details. Mr Cooke's name has been amended. Interestingly, whilst looking May 22 show I found details that it was Mad River who replaced Big Brother and the Holding Company who had cancelled out of the May 24-26 shows.

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  8. Nice Blog!
    I was the road manager for Sanpaku and am the unofficial archivist. We open a number of shows for The Dead in 1969, including Seattle (w/NRPS) and Fresno (w/Aum). Sanpaku had 2 horn players, one is deceased and I located the other one a few months ago-40 years after the crime. He remembered the Seattle gig clearly, including the name of the nightclub we invaded on the rain delay night. I'll ask him if was the flautist. Also I am looking for any tapes of Sanpaku that might exist out there in GD land. All known recordings were lost, taped over or lost in a tragic house fire. Sapaku was a short-lived but fantastic group - think Sons of Champlin or Buffalo Springfiels with horns and chemicals. I'll be in touch.
    Hewitt
    jttiweh@yahoo.com

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  9. "somehow Lloyd ended up onstage with the Grateful Dead at the Human Be-In, adding flute to "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl.""

    I am going through some duplicate copies of Blair Jackson's masterful magazine Golden Road and coming across a bunch of stuff. In no. 13 (Winter 1987), pp. 20-21 there's a brief 20 year look book at the Human Be-In. Among the photos is one by Jim Marshall of Casady and Kantner playing, and an unidentified flute player blowing right into a vocal mic. This is a scraggly-looking white guy. I have always assumed that Lloyd was black. Is that assumption wrong? If not, wouldn't it be weird if two separate flute players stepped up to play with the JA and the GD on the same day? I don't know that evidence there is, but I am obviously opening the question of whether it was this white guy, and not Lloyd, blowing with the GD at the Human Be-In on January 14, 1967.

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  10. Charles Lloyd isn't white. The one picture I saw of (ostensibly) the Dead at the Be-In had a black guy on stage with him, but he was playing harmonica, and it wasn't Charles Lloyd.

    The original theme of my post was that Deadheads always assume any flute player with the Dead was Charles Lloyd. Maybe Lloyd didn't play with them at all on that day, even if he was around town and (probably) at the Be-In.

    There are a lot of mysteries, because everyone was high. Could the Airplane guest have been Quicksilver equipment manager Steven Schuster (better known as Jack Bonus)? I believe Schuster married Ginger Jackson, who was an old housemate of Kantner's (and Crosby, Freiberg, etc).

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  11. Over on dimeadozen, someone has raised the possibility that the electric violinist on August 3, 1969 was Jerry Goodman of The Flock (later of Mahavishnu Orchestra). Although The Flock were Chicago-based, this isn't as far fetched as it might sound. The Flock were touring California in the month of July, and had played Fillmore West fairly recently (July 22-24, opening for Ike & Tina).

    Of course, it seems more likely they would have a weekend show outside of San Francisco, but maybe they were hanging around on Sunday. The Flock had a whole horn section, too, so that might explain the other guests as well.

    My money is still on Michael White and either Charles Lloyd or John Handy (or both), but Goodman and some other players from The Flock is definitely a viable choice.

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  12. Apropos of nothing, an old 1967 album called Jerry Hahn and His Quintet came up on my iPod. The album was recorded for Arhoolie, and features Hahn on guitar and Michael White on electric violin. I hadn't heard this album in a while, but having heard it, I'm more convinced than ever that Michael White was the electric violinist on the August 3, 1969 Family Dog show. There aren't many choices in any case, and I'm certain it's not David LaFlamme, so my money is very definitely on Michael White.

    It's a great album, by the way. The other players are all great as well: Jack DeJohnette on drums, Ron McClure on bass and Noel Jewkes on flute and tenor sax. Actually, I should at least consider the possibility that Jewkes was the guest on flute and sax on August 3, as he was definitely socially connected to the rock crowd.

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