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On this day in music history: October 1, 1977 - “Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band” by Meco hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also peaking at #8 on the R&B singles chart on October 22, 1977. Written by John Williams, it is the biggest hit for the classically trained musician from Johnsonburg, PA. Musician and record producer Domenico “Meco” Monardo, impressed with composer/conductor Williams’ score for the blockbuster film “Star Wars”, re-arranges the entire score and condenses it into a fifteen minute long disco suite that is released on the album “Star Wars And Other Galactic Funk” (issued on Casablanca subsidiary Millennium Records). The track features a group of seventy five musicians including a number of first call studio players such as Steve Gadd, Will Lee, Marcus Miller, Anthony Jackson, Neil Jason, David Spinozza, John Tropea, Alan Rubin, Randy Brecker, Jon Faddis, Suzanne Ciani, and Gene Orloff. The main theme and “Cantina Band” are extracted from the extended track and edited down under three and a half minutes for the 45 release. It is also released as a promotional only 12" single featuring an edit running 7:35. The track is the first project to be mixed at the newly opened Power Station recording studios in New York City, a former Con Edison substation in Hell’s Kitchen converted into a state of the art recording facility. Released in July of 1977, the single is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #71 on August 6, 1977, it climbs to the top of the chart eight weeks later. It’s also a big hit internationally, peaking at #7 on the UK singles chart. Out of print for many years following the demise of Casablanca Records, the promo 12" edit of the “Stars Wars Theme/Cantina Band” is reissued on “The Casablanca Records Story” box set in 1994. The album “Star Wars And Other Galactic Funk” is remastered and makes its CD debut in 1999, featuring contents of the original LP along with the promo 12" and 45 edits by Hip-O Records. It is also reissued on vinyl by UMe in 2015. “Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: October 6, 1967 - “Wave”, the fourth album by Antonio Carlos Jobim is released. Produced by Creed Taylor, it is recorded at Van Gelder Recording Studios in Englewood Cliffs, NJ from May 22-24, 1967 and June 15, 1967. Sparking the international bossa nova craze in 1962 with “Desafinado” and in 1964 with “The Girl From Ipanema”, its writer musician Antonio Carlos Jobim begins to make a major name for himself outside of his native Brazil. Considered one of the most gifted songwriters of his generation, Jobim’s songs are covered by numerous jazz and pop musicians. Recording and releasing his US debut solo album “The Composer Of Desafinado Plays” for Verve Records in 1963, he follows it up with numerous collaborations with Dori Caymmi, Astrud Gilberto, Herbie Mann and Stan Getz. After recording two more solo albums for Warner Bros in 1965 and 1966, Jobim re-connects with producer Creed Taylor when he becomes one of the first artists signed to Taylor’s new label CTI Records, distributed by A&M. Having written several new songs, the composer flies to the US in the Spring of 1967 to work on the album. Recorded at famed engineer Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Jobim is featured on piano, guitar and harpsichord, and is supported by a group of top flight musicians that include Ron Carter (bass), Claudio Slon, Bobby Rosegarden, Dom Um Romão (drums and percussion), Urbie Green, Jimmy Cleveland (trombone), Joseph Singer (french horn), Raymond Beckenstein, Romeo Penque and Jerome Richardson (flute, piccolo). The string arrangements are written by Claus Ogerman (Wes Montgomery, George Benson), conducting a group of violin players that feature Bernard Eichen, Emanuel Green, Gene Orloff, Harry Lookofsky, Irving Spice, Joseph Malignaggi, Julius Held, Leo Kruczek, Lewis Eley, Louis Haber, Louis Stone, Paul Gershman and Raoul Poliakin. The albums cover photo featuring a giraffe running along the African plains is taken by photographer Pete Turner, who becomes reknown for his distinctive cover photos for various releases on CTI, Verve and Impulse Records. Once released, “Wave” spins off several songs that become jazz standards including “Look To The Sky”, “Triste”, “Mojave” and the title track. In time, the album becomes regarded as one of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s greatest works, and a definitive bossa nova/Brazilian jazz album. Original copies of the LP feature Turner’s cover photo tinted in a red and purple hue. Later reissue pressings are printed in error in a green and bluish tint, and is not corrected for many years. First released on CD in 1986, “Wave” is remastered and reissued in Japan in 1992 and 2000 respectively, with the latter restoring the original 1967 cover artwork. It is also reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP by Speaker’s Corner Records in 2004. “Wave” peaks at number five on the Billboard Jazz album chart, and number one hundred fourteen on the Billboard Top 200.

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On this day in music history: July 12, 1975 - “The Hustle” by Van McCoy & The Soul City Symphony hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also topping the Hot 100 on July 26, 1975 for 1 week. Written by Van McCoy, it is the biggest hit for the Washington D.C. born and raised producer, arranger and composer. McCoy composes the instrumental after seeing couple do the dance in a New York disco. Working with famed producers Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore (Sam Cooke, The Stylistics), the track is recorded at Media Sound Studios in New York City. The sessions feature a number of top notch studio musicians performing on the track including Steve Gadd and Rick Marotta (drums), Eric Gale and John Tropea (guitars), Richard Tee (electric piano), Gordon Edwards (bass), and piccolo player Philip Bodner playing the song’s signature melody line. The strings are arranged by famed New York concertmaster Gene Orloff. Released on Hugo & Luigi’s (co-owned with film producer Joseph E. Levine) Avco Records in March of 1975, the song quickly becomes a smash on the dance floor, making its way on to pop and R&B radio. The single wins Van McCoy a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance in 1976. “The Hustle” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.