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Philadelphia Music Alliance to honor the MFSB Orchestra, XPN’s Gene Shay, Joel Dorn, Salsoul Orchestra and others on 10/24

Yes, that's the legendary Gene Shay with his wife Gloria.
Yes, that’s the legendary Gene Shay with his wife Gloria.
The Philadelphia Music Alliance Walk of Fame, along the Avenue of the Arts, will welcome seven new inductees on Thursday, October 24th. In addition to the induction of the “Dean of American Folk DJs” – XPN’s Gene Shay – other inductees include producer and label executive Joel Dorn (“Killing Me Softly”); songwriting team Madara & White (“At the Hop”); producer-songwriter-publisher Jerry Ross (“I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” with Gamble & Huff; “Venus”); producer-arranger-conductor Vince Montana Jr., (whose work with TSOP and the Salsoul Orchestra is legendary) John Davis & The Monster Band (who had the 1976 disco hit with a cover of Cole Porter’s “Night and Day,”) and Macy’s Grand Court organist Peter Richard Conte. The ceremonies, free and open to the public, are scheduled at Noon on 10/24 in front of the Doubletree Hotel along the Avenue of the Arts.

The Philadelphia Music Alliance is using this ceremony as a means to renew the organization’s activity in the city. Founded in June, 1986 as a “community based, not-for-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of Philadelphia as a vital contributor to the international music landscape,” the PMA has created a musical instrument donation program in partnership with the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, an annual piano competition, the Philadelphia International Airport Music Project, Music In The Schools, music education scholarships and grants, a speakers bureau, as well as music business seminars and workshops. The PMA’s Walk Of Fame has been on of the organization’s most high profile programs.

For more information about the ceremony and the PMA here.

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RIP Vince Montana, Jr. (member of MFSB and founder of the Salsoul Orchestra)

vincemontana According to a message on his Facebook page, the legendary Vince Montana, Jr. passed away today. Born in South Philadelphia, we was 85 years old. Montana was a producer, arranger, writer, vibraphonist, and percussionist. He was one of the founding members of MFSB, the studio band that played on hundreds of The Sound of Philadelphia recordings, the founder and conductor of the Salsoul Orchestra, the Montana Orchestra and Goody Goody. Montana also expanded his musical language to include house music working with the likes of Masters At Work, Dimitri From Paris, David Morales, and the Pet Shop Boys.

According to this interview on Disco Music.com by Bernard Lopez, during the Fifties Montana performed in jazz clubs around Philadelphia, did studio work at Cameo-Parkway Records in the Sixties and was followed by a year long stint in the band on the Mike Douglas television show. After leaving the television show he reconnected with Thom Bell, Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff from their previous days at the Cameo-Parkway label. Gamble & Huff went on to form Philadelphia International Records and the birth of MFSB, in which Montana played an integral part. Montana left behind an impressive discography filled with some of the most influential songs ever recorded.

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The Best Album from Philly International Records You Never Heard

Ask any fan of soul and R&B music to name some of their favorite albums and artists and chances are one of the many iconic releases from Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff’s legendary Philadelphia International Records are on the list. Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes, Teddy Pendergrass, Lou Rawls, Billy Paul, McFadden and Whitehead, The Intruders, The O’Jays and dozens of more musicians released some of their finest records through Philly International. Working with the remarkable MFSB house band, PIR churned out one hit after another; songs like “Backstabbers,” “Me & Mrs. Jones,” “Love Train,” “The Love I Lost,” “Love TKO,” are forever ingrained in our lives.

Looking over PIR’s impressive discography though, there’s probably one name you won’t recognize: Dick Jensen. Jensen’s self-titled 1973 release on PIR recently came to my attention by way of this review by music writer Joe Marchese on The Second Disc, a music web site that has news and review about music reissues, box sets and compilations. As Marchese writes: “If you’re a fan of Philly soul, classic pop vocals, so-called “MOR” or just plain R&B, there’s something for you here. This is one white hot album you’ll want to add to your library and revisit again and again.”

The Hawaiian born Jensen was born in Kahlihi in 1942 and passed away in 2006. Known as “The Giant,” Jensen performed in his homeland and performed in Mexico City, Las Vegas and New York. Jensen released his debut record, White Hot Soul, in 1969. His 1973 release for Philly International had all the makings of a classic. Marchese writes:

The line-up recorded at Sigma Sound Studios is quintessential: co-producer Leon Huff on piano, Norman Harris, T.J. Tindall, Bobby Eli, and Roland Chambers on guitar, Earl Young on drums, Ronnie Baker on bass, Larry Washington on congas, Lenny Pakula on organ and Vince Montana on vibes. Don Renaldo brought his Horns and Strings, and the Sweethearts of Sigma (Carla Benson, Barbara Ingram and Evette Benton) were on hand for the background vocals. Gamble and Huff, Bunny Sigler and Thom Bell all contributed production, while Bell, Montana, Harris and Bobby Martin all wrote arrangements for Jensen’s artistic rebirth.

Long out of print, the album is available again through Big Break Records; you can purchase it here. Below, listen to a couple of songs from the album.

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