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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Jimmie Spheeris - The Dragon Is Dancing / Ports Of The Heart (1975-76 us, brilliant folk jazz prog silk rock, 2014 double disc set remaster)



One of Jimmie Spheeris' Epic titles of the 1970s was his third album, a classic titled The Dragon Is Dancing. The album was produced by Henry Lewy, a well-respected producer/engineer who had an impressive track record when he entered the studio with Spheeris in 1975. 

In addition to working with Joan Baez, Neil Young, and Procol Harum, Lewy was the engineer on many of Joni Mitchell's best albums. Lewy always had an ear for singer/songwriters, and he proves to be quite an asset to Spheeris on reflective, contemplative gems like "In the Misty Woods" and "Blue Streets." Between Spheeris' heartfelt singing and writing and Lewy's imaginative production, The Dragon Is Dancing never fails to hold the listener's attention. 
by Alex Henderson

"Tonight we're going to take your mind on a ride outside this universe," Jimmie Spheeris' trademark half whisper taunted the throng of 10,000 rowdy Cheech and Chong fans. In the ensuing 10 seconds, he had their attention riveted to his haunting piano intro for "The Nest".

Jimmie's hushed, airy tones, banshee wails and snake charmer vocal riffs sent rapturous thrills through many enormous crowds in the early '70s, initially impatient audiences of unruly kids who came to see big name hard rock acts, only first to be surprised and tamed by a true dream weaver.

It was my great fortune to be sometimes part of his troupe of time-travelling gypsies; a band consisting of piano, guitar, bass, flute and myself on viola, endeavoring to conjure up a whole orchestra to carpet Jimmie's musical visions. Wherever Jimmie performed, his listeners were drawn into his unusual world.

He invoked a similar spell in the studio, always singing his own songs: artfully fashioned gems that could only originate from Jimmie Spheeris. On his fourth album, Ports of the Heart, he added to this delicious mix some classic songs by other writers. The vocal magic continued as if they were songs of his own creation. I still can feel the sensation from one summer evening session, as if my mind were floating in an air-cooled stream, as Jimmie wafted the melody of Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry", backed by Jim Cowger's sonorous sax lines. Another unforgettable session had Jimmie playacting the romantic mood of an earlier classic, "It's All in the Game", composed in 1912 from a poem written near the turn of the century.

Most of the album, of course, is filled with songs of colorful vision, fantasy and sensuous life, all written by Jimmie, straight from his unmistakable creative world. When I listen to it now the music brings on the memory of how it felt in the living room of Jimmie's Venice, California beach house, where the room seemed always to glow from the spark of his most recent creations and with the energy and affection he inspired in his many close friends.

I'd have thought by now that another singer would have achieved something similar to his unique voice, in the way that artists from prior eras become major influences on younger singers. So far, no one has.
by David Campbell


Tracks
Disc 1 The Dragon Is Dancing 1975
1. The Dragon Is Dancing - 3:14
2. Sighs In A Shell (Jimmie Spheeris, Michael Mallen) - 3:21
3. Tequila Moonlight - 3:24
4. Snake Man - 2:44
5. Love's In Vain - 4:32
6. Lost In The Midway - 3:09
7. Eternity Spin - 4:35
8. Sunken Skies - 3:31
9. Summer Salt - 2:52
10.In The Misty Woods - 3:13
11.Blown Out - 4:00
12.Blue Streets - 3:47
Music and Lyrics by Jimmie Spheeris unless as else indicated


Disc 2 Ports Of The Heart 1976
1. Child From Nowhere - 3:12
2. Emerald And The Dream Dance - 3:20
3. It's You They're Dreaming Of - 2:58
4. Captain Comes Cold - 2:33
5. Bayou Eyes - 3:43
6. It's All In The Game (C. Sigman, C. Dawes) - 3:12
7. Hills In My Head - 3:49
8. Whirlpool - 3:02
9. Sweet Separation - 3:08
10.So Darkly Fall The Shadows - 3:28
11.Nightingale Come Sail - 2:44
12.I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry (Hank Williams) - 4:11
Music and Lyrics by Jimmie Spheeris unless as else stated

Musicians
The Dragon Is Dancing 1975
*Jimmie Spheeris - Acoustic Guitar, Piano, Vocal
*Bart Hall - Drums, Percussion
*Johnny Pierce - Bass
*Geoff Levin - Electric, Acoustic Guitar, Backing Vocals
*Jim Cowger - Flute, Sax
*Chick Corea - Electric Piano, Mini-Moog
*Jane Getz - Piano
*Mike Mallen - Acoustic Guitar
*Paul Lewinson - Arp, Piano
*Dorothy Remsen - Harp
*Henry Lewy - Birds, Percussion
*Morgan Ames - Backing Vocals
*Jim Cowger, Chuck Findley, Robert Findley - Horns
*Gary Barone, Jonathan Ellis - Horns

Ports Of The Heart 1976
*Jimmie Spheeris  -  Acoustic Guitar, Piano, Voices
*Chick Corea -Electric Piano
*Johnny Pierce - Bass
*Stanley Clarke - Bass
*Bart Hall, John Guerin - Drums
*Jim Cowger - Sax, Soprano Sax, Flute, Clarinet, Piano
*Geoff Levin - Guitars
*David Campbell - Viola
*Jay Ellington Lee - Arp
*Robin Williamson - Oud
*Dan Orbach - Mandolin
*Emile Pandolfi - Piano
*Richard Feves - Bowed Bass
*Charles Veal, Robert Dubow, Gordon Marron, Mary Ann Ringgold - Strings
*Haim Shtrum, Janice Gower, Sheldon Sanov - Strings
*Lya Stern, Mareia Van Dyke, Dan Neufeld - Strings
*Pamela Goldsmith, Paul Polivnick, Ronald Strauss, Rollice Dale - Strings
*Arthur Royval, Ronald Cooper, Dennis Karmazyn  - Strings
*David Spelz, Richard Feves - Strings
*Jackson Browne, Geoff Levin, Johnny Pierce - Backing Vocals

1971-73  Jimmie Spheeris - Isle Οf View / The Original Tap Dancing Kid (2008 remaster)

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