Sandy Bull iTunes Tracks

Sandy Bull

But for his presence on prestigious folk label Vanguard, there would be many to think fusion guitarist BULL was not exactly a bona-fide folk artist, more like jazz, gospel, classical and Middle Eastern, with the traditional genre thrown in for ethnicity. Long before 60s greats such as ROBBIE BASHO, RICHARD THOMPSON, BERT JANSCH and LEO KOTTKE, Sandy/Alexander (born February 25, 1941, New York City, NY, but raised in Florida) was delivering album material such as FANTASIAS for GUITAR & BANJO (1963) {*7} and INVENTIONS for guitar, banjo, oud, etc (1965) {*7}. Augmented only by jazz sticksman Billy Higgins (a one-time Ornette Coleman sidekick), the main characteristic of the former set was the side-long `Blend’, while the latter diversity comprises a lengthier, 24-minute `Blend II’ alongside versions of Guillaume de Machaut’s `Triple Ballade’, Luiz Bonfa’s `Manha De Carnaval’, topped off with the rather schizoid rendition of Chuck Berry’s `Memphis, Tennessee’.
The long-time-coming but somewhat disappointing E PLURIBUS UNUM (1969) {*6}, was a record split into two extended tracks, the jam-packed `No Deposit – No Return Blues’ (at 17 minutes) and the neo-psychedelic noodlings of `Electric Blend’ (at nearly 22 minutes!). To complete his tenure at Vanguard, BULL issued his final mainstream LP, DEMOLITION DERBY (1972) {*6}, a self-described euphemism for his drug-induced life at the time; he would go into rehab in ‘74. For fifteen long years, during which time early respect had dissipated for the one-time guitar maestro, he couldn’t buy a record contract – so to speak.
But in 1988, ROM Records released his comeback set, JUKEBOX SCHOOL OF MUSIC {*4}, an unexpected pot-pourri of organically motivated sounds: salsa, country and even Sandy on piano (with Higgins returning on one track, `Truth’). Timeless Recording Society released a couple of further Nashville-meets-West Coast-styled CDs, VEHICLES (1992) {*4} and STEEL TEARS (1996) {*3}, but this wasn’t the SANDY BULL of old. Sadly, he died of lung cancer April 11, 2001 in Franklin, Tennessee.
© MC Strong/MCS GFD // rev-up MCS Sep2019

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