Size: 115 MB
Mark Naftalin (born August 2, 1944) is an American blues keyboardist, composer, and record producer.
Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States, Naftalin is the son of former Minneapolis mayor Arthur Naftalin; he is married to third wife Ellen Naftalin. His son is the San Francisco Bay Area artist, David Normal.
He moved to Chicago in 1961, and graduated from the University of Chicago in 1964, where he performed on piano at campus "twist parties," popular at the time. It was at these parties that Naftalin first played with blues harmonica player Paul Butterfield and guitarist Elvin Bishop, the nucleus of what was to become the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.
He is known for his role, from 1965-1968, in the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. On certain albums by this group he is credited as "Naffy Markham". In the late 1960s, after the first four Butterfield albums, Naftalin went out on his own, settling in the San Francisco Bay Area. There he put together the Mark Naftalin "Rhythm & Blues Revue" and has been active in blues and rock recording sessions, solo gigs and revue shows, and as a producer of concerts, festivals and radio shows. He also played with Mike Bloomfield as a duo and in a band (most often called Mike Bloomfield & Friends) from the late 1960s through the mid-1970s, and hosted Mark Naftalin's Blue Monday Party, a weekly blues show (1979-1983) that featured over 60 blues artists and groups and was the scene of 86 live radio broadcasts and three TV specials.
Naftalin has produced the Marin County Blues Festival (1981-2000), and has been the associate producer of the Monterey Jazz Festival's "Blues Afternoon" (1982-1991). His weekly radio show, Mark Naftalin's Blues Power Hour has been on the air almost continuously since 1979 on San Francisco's radio KALW-FM.
Naftalin co-founded the Blue Monday Foundation and, in 1988, started his own label, Winner Records, which has issued recordings by artists including Paul Butterfield and Percy Mayfield. He continued to perform, both solo and in an ensemble, in the Bay area and elsewhere, often with longtime associate slide guitarist, Ron Thompson.
Naftalin has also recorded with many blues players including John Lee Hooker, Otis Rush, Percy Mayfield, Lowell Fulson, Big Joe Turner, James Cotton, Mike Bloomfield, Jake Walker and Van Morrison, and as a sideman on over 100 albums.
1973 BEGAN WITH Michael Bloomfield getting involved with one of several ill-fated projects. For the first time in four years, he agreed to participate as a leader on a recording session. His longtime friend, guitarist and singer John Hammond, asked him to collaborate on an album of blues and funk. Hammond had also gotten Dr. John to sign on, and had scheduled studio sessions for January. Michael, intrigued by the opportunity to work with the New Orleans pianist, agreed to play though he was leery of getting involved in another “supergroup.”
The sessions didn't go smoothly, however, and Hammond eventually replaced some of the sidemen. Dr. John wasn't happy either, and though he and Mike had good times together at Reed St., he eventually went home to New Orleans. The remainder of the album was completed by the principals overdubbing their various parts. Columbia issued the result as "Triumvirate" in June of 1973, just as the company's president, Clive Davis, was being investigated by the FBI for embezzling funds.
Hammond arranged for the trio to tour in support of the album, and he had high hopes for a commercial breakthrough. But after he, Bloomfield and Dr. John had completed just one appearance – a Los Angeles performance that was that was also carried on TV's "In Concert" – Davis was fired and all of Columbia's projects were put on hold.
The "Triumvirate" tour was cancelled and the record received almost no promotion. Critics had panned the album anyway, faulting it for its flat, overproduced sound and undistinguished performances. Many reviewers were particularly disappointed that Bloomfield seemed not to find his solo voice. For Michael, it was another unpleasant instance of hype and its ensuing expectations – a circumstance he was now more determined than ever not to repeat.
In the spring of 1973, Bloomfield took a group to New York City for an appearance at the newly-opened Bottom Line. At the same time, he was working on a second solo album for Columbia, as was specified in his original contract with the label. Working with Nick Gravenites, Mark Naftalin and other members of his Friends aggregation, Michael concentrated on his writing skills and labored to produce a recording of high quality and broad appeal. Joining the band for the first time was a bass player and singer named Roger Troy. Nicknamed "Jellyroll," Troy had come west from Cincinnati where he had worked for the Bihari Brothers as a session man at Crown Records. Not only was a he a talented bass player, but he was a remarkable singer with near-perfect pitch, an extraordinary range and a thorough understanding of blues and soul styles. His talents added a new versatility to the Friends, allowing Michael to do soul and country-style tunes with a real authority.
Michael worked on his second Columbia album throughout the year, composing a slew of new tunes, including six of the eleven that would eventually be selected for the record. One, called "Midnight on the Radio," happily recalled Michael's early days listening to blues on his transistor radio. Another – "When It All Comes Down" – recounted a troubled relationship, but did so from a place of strength and resolve. Gone were the intensely personal and pained confessions of his first Columbia solo effort. Mike featured his vocals on a number of the performances, but Nick and Jelly Roll also were given prominent vocal spots. Bloomfield's guitar playing, though still largely in the background, again reflected the broad range of his musical interests by evoking the styles of Pop Staples, Eric Gale, Tampa Red and B.B. King. On the blues "Your Friends," the Bloomfield of the Butterfield Band and the Electric Flag was turned loose and his trademark Les Paul sound was given free reign. The album was to have a healthy mix of pop, rock, blues, soul and gospel selections, and would have likely been a commercial success.
Despite the time and effort Mike put into the sessions, however, Columbia was hesitant to take another chance on a Bloomfield production and decided against going ahead with the release. "Try It Before You Buy It," as the album was to be titled, was shelved. Though it would later be issued in a limited edition on Columbia Special Products imprint, most Bloomfield fans only heard its tunes when Michael performed them live.
And there was much opportunity to catch Bloomfield live in 1973. It during was that year that he finally began to perform in public with more regularity. There were several extensive tours that took his quartet to places as distant as Miami, Boulder, Chicago, Bangor, Boston, Toronto, Buffalo and Woodland, Alabama. Michael's working band now included his close friend and musical partner Mark Naftalin, bassist Roger Troy and drummer George Rains. Rains, a native of Fort Worth, had been a member of Mother Earth and had met Michael through Mark. The group worked together frequently enough that they developed a tight, cohesive sound, often inspiring Michael to new heights as a soloist.
In August, Bloomfield had an unexpected visitor, someone he hadn't seen in years. His old friend, Bob Dylan, dropped by Reed St. for what amounted to an audition. Over the course of several hours, Dylan ran through a series of new tunes without pause while Michael tried to play along. Bob was soon to go into the studio to record "Blood on the Tracks," and he felt that the quality of the tunes merited the playing of his old "Highway 61 Revisited" collaborator. But Michael was thrown by Dylan's D–tuning and odd fingerings, and he had trouble following the singer's changes. He suggested that Dylan give him a chance to learn the songs and work out parts, but Bob was only interested in a quick run–through. The superstar left the get together without comment, but he later decided against using Michael on what would be an historic session. Michael was nonplussed by the whole experience.
Mike Bloomfield & Mark Naftalin – 1973-04-22
The Record Plant, Sausalito, California
SOURCE: FM radio broadcast (KSAN)
01. KSAN introduction
02. Sonny Boy
03. Love Me Woman
04. Winter Time Blues In B-Flat
05. talking / announcements
06. I'm Blue, Really Blue
07. The TV Hymn
08. I Wonder Why [instrumental]
09. I Will Always Love You
10. At The Cross [instrumental]