Stanton Davis – Things Cannot Stop Forever

Side A:

Things Cannot Stop Forever (Egon and Kelldada’s Remix)

Side B:

Things Cannot Stop Forever (Egon and Kelldada’s Instrumental Remix)

Produced by Stanton Davis.

A couple years ago, Carl Atkins of the Stark Reality called Egon and said, “I know you’re into the regional, rare funk thing and I was just talking to a friend of mine who has some master tapes for an album you might want to check out.” That man turned out to be Stanton Davis, whose original album Brighter Days, recorded with his band Ghetto Mysticism, saw regional release in Boston, MA, in the mid 1970s. An awesome mix of styles that runs the gamut from jazz, funk, soul and beyond, the high point of the Brighter Days album is arguably the epic “Things Cannot Stop Forever.” A jazz-funk number that defies categorization, we can only approximate its sound by describing it as something the Mizell Brothers might have produced, had they kept the edginess that defined their early ’70s work throughout the decade. Perfect for the Soul-Cal line.

This 12″ contains two new, Davis-approved mixes of “Things Cannot Stop Forever” – a knocking, beefed up version of Davis’s original mix and an instrumental remix by Egon and Kelldada on the flip.

The following interview was conducted by Egon with Stanton Davis in March of 2007:

Stanton Davis Jr. Born: New Orleans, LA – Trumpet/Flugelhorn

Did you grow up with music?: Of course. It’s New Orleans. But I am the only musician in my family. That often surprises people.

How were you first exposed to music?: I’d have to say church. Church’s food was music. And those second line funeral bands fill you up. They’re in the air. And there’s always some music down on Bourbon Street, in the clubs around the city. But as far as formal training, that came in school. I played in marching band and concert band.

Would you like to single out anyone in particular as pushing you down the musical path?: Foremost my family, for believing that studying piano and voice was the right way to a “proper education.” I had the seed. They watered it. I’m grateful.

What was the first musical form you fell in love with?: New Orleans music. Delta blues, gospel, R&B, Professor Longhair, the Dixie Cups, James Brown, Aaron Neville. It’s a rich, rich sound. I loved some classical styles, too. Like orchestral and opera. After all that came jazz. And for me then, that meant Miles, and Louis Armstrong, Cannonball Adderley, John Coltrane.

How did you become involved in Boston’s jazz scene?: I studied trumpet at Berklee from 1967 to 1969, then jazz composition at the New England Conservatory from 1969 to 1972. And during those years I played anywhere they’d hire me. Some of the places were in what was called the Combat Zone, a strip of bars where we often backed up strippers. Very close to that section of town was a club called the Sugar Shack, where they hired R&B bands. In 1970, I became musical director of the house band there, and we backed up many of the Motown acts like Stevie Wonder, the Four Tops, the Temptations, and the O’ Jays. I worked with Lou Rawls and Gladys Knight, and performed with super-bands like Earth, Wind and Fire, and the Parliaments. It was an amazing time. I got to see the beginning of Motown. The music scene was fresh. Really fresh.

Did you stay in Boston?: After I graduated from NEC, I stayed around Boston gigging and then I started to work as a writer/engineer in a recording studio, Dimension Sound. I learned how to write for television and industrial film projects. I worked on children’s shows like Zoom and Rebop, and produced a multimedia bicentennial project, Where’s Boston? That’s how I began to use the studio to write and produce my projects.

How did jazz fit in there?: I didn’t play that much jazz then because there wasn’t much work in jazz. I’m a jazz musician so I knew I would continue to play jazz, but I had to work the making-a-living thing in there somehow.

What led to the recording and release of the Stanton Davis LP?: I received a grant from the Massachusetts Council of the Arts for a composition entitled “Brighter Days.” That was the start of the album [same name]. During those years I put together some talented, really talented musicians to play my music, and so I was writing in a live setting. We became Ghetto Mysticism and we played all over town. I think it was successful because we played popular music and we never called it “jazz.” And, of course, we’re playing popular music, and we know that, but we’re all jazz musicians. Because of who we were individually, and definitely who we were together, we could create something deeper, something edgier; we took the sound to some amazing places. We delivered popular music, but it was infused with much more. People loved it. We did mostly originals, and some Stevie Wonder or the Meters, anything that people could take in in that way that compels you to dance. You can’t help your body moving. It’s an invasion, and it’s fun.

How did you become involved with the Stark Reality?: Through my friend and mentor Carl Atkins. Carl introduced me to Monty [Stark] and we recorded “Say Brother,” the theme for a show on PBS. Boston was great at the time; there were many young and upcoming musicians. It was exciting to perform with different instruments, and experiment with odd meter melodies over a funk beat. We were young and willing to climb into rhythms so outside we became them. We had fun.

Did you record and release any music before your LP as a leader or session player?: Yes. I played on many albums from the Caribbean, Soca? Trinidad tradition: King Wellington, Calypso Rose, and Explainer, all great stylists with heavy Caribbean rhythms. Because the studio was close by, I would usually get the first call for the date. I really learned how important it is to solo within the sound of the tunes and to use the beats of the cultures. And in 1969, I was fortunate to be discovered by George Russell, a widely known and respected jazz composer and theorist. It was at that time that I became a jazz soloist and spent many years traveling to Scandinavia, Italy, and most of Europe with him. We recorded six albums over a 15-year period and performed many live performances in the States and Europe.

Why is Brighter Days so damn hard to find?: We only made 3,000 copies of Brighter Days. The record company was mainly folk at that time. There were only two jazz recordings on the label, so they didn’t have a big distribution for my music. We just got lost in the shuffle.

Obviously, y’all were into your own bag on this record, but what musicians (commercial or otherwise) were you checking for at the time?: Well. I listened to a lot of music then. Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone. And I couldn’t leave out mentioning Ravi Shankar, Charles Lloyd, James Taylor. You can tell it was pretty wide, an eclectic mix. That’s only a very small sample. My main bag was jazz and funk bands that had horns, because I was studying composition and writing arrangements for acts and shows during that period.

How long did the band remain together? Did you record any other albums?: We played around New England between 1974 and 1978 when I accepted a position as director of the Jazz Studies Program at Third Street Settlement House on the Lower East Side. Most of the band members had joined on with “famous names” and moved in the late ’70s, so it was a natural transition for me to be in New York. And, frankly, it was becoming more difficult to keep the group together without the national attention we deserved.

What made you save the multitrack recordings after all these years?: That’s obvious. It was a hot recording, and it just didn’t get the right marketing and exposure it deserved. I’m very proud to have recorded some of the best musicians in Boston at that time, before anyone discovered them. I’m also humbled by the response we got from our local fans and how this music has carried through over 30 years and Sol Cal has reintroduced us and this sound to a younger market.

How in the hell were you able to pull off the complex mixing involved on a song like “Things Cannot Stop” without the wonders of automation or Pro Tools? Did you have an army at the mixing board?: I tell you we really knew what we were doing. Everyone has a hard time envisioning this sound having come out of the technology of that time. We were hot and smart, and clearly ahead of our time. In retrospect, that’s a great thing to be able to see and to say, and know it’s true.

Any people you’d like to thank, or shout out?: First, director/producer/screenwriter Topper Carew for assisting me in getting “Things” recorded. Jazz trombonist/educator Phil Wilson for getting the songs on his label, Outrageous Records. My family for believing in and encouraging me to go for it all. The Creator, who makes all “Things” possible. And of course, you, Egon, for listening to my music and getting it to a new audience.