Friday, January 20, 2017

Alain Caron - 1995 "Rhythm'n Jazz"

This set by bassist Alain Caron puts the emphasis on his bass solos and electronics, although he utilizes a full jazz combo. All of the music consists of Caron originals except for a tribute to Jaco Pastorius on "Donna Lee," and the colorful titles include "The Bump," "Slam the Clown," and "Flight of the Bebop Bee." However, the titles are often more memorable than the music, which -- although well played -- would have benefited from the inclusion of a few standards or better originals. Alain Caron is an impressive virtuoso, so hopefully a lot more will be heard from him in the future.

Alain Caron IMO is the best bassist composer playing this type of music. This is a great CD with wonderful tunes that are technically jaw dropping but not self indulgent. 

Alain Caron is an amazing bassist, with a great sound and frightening techincal abilities. I'll recommend bassists to find a video of his concerts, you'll learn a lot about the techinques of bass, soloing, slapping and using a 6 string bass. However, this CD is a great buy as well, because as a bassist, a CD with an amazing bassist, especially when he is the leader of his band.

It'\s a constant companion along life's highways. Quite literally, as the CD lives in my car stereo, ready to be punched into action, cranked up and for some serious grooving and moving to take place. The musicianship, production values and creativity are all maxed despite the slightly cheesy title. Make this one your next purchase, and never mind the french/english credits. Open your mind to this man's dancing fingers.

Eighteen months after his first solo album was released, Alain Caron returns with this recording, entitled « RHYTHM'N JAZZ ».

Featuring nine new songs and a Charlie Parker standard, « RHYTHM'N JAZZ » shows tremendous composing skills and a bold musical direction. Introducing the saxophone and percussion to his band, Alain has gone back to his first love and focused on rhythm'n blues and be-bop colors.

Recorded and mixed mainly at the Victor Studio in Montréal, « RHYTHM'N JAZZ » features the work of some of today's best musicians. It includes Dennis Chambers, considered by many the best drummer in the world. Dennis has played with David Sandborn, the Brecker Brothers, John Scofield, John McLaughlin and Steely Dan. Also appearing Quebecers Magella Cormier (drums), Guy Dubuc (keyboards), Francois D'Amours (saxophone), Jerry De Villiers and Benoit Charrest (guitars), Luc Boivin (percussions), James Gelfand (acoustic piano), and Benoit Glazer (trumpet).

Tracks Listing

01. The Bump (5:38)
02. Fat Cat (7:22)
03. District 6 (5:10)
04. Slam the Clown (7:41)
05. Little Miss Match (7:37)
06. I.C.U. (6:47)
07. Cherokee Drive (8:29)
08. Flight of the Bebop Bee (7:04)
09. Donna Lee (4:15)
10. Intuitions (6:10)

Total Time: 66:18

Line-up / Musicians

- Alain caron / bass, keyboards
- Dennis Chambers / drums
- Magella Cormier / drum programs
- Jerry De Villiers / guitar
- Benoit Charest / guitar, trumpet
- Guy Dubuc / keyboards
- El Exstasis, Jean-Francois Cote, Luc Boivin, Mirielle Marchal / percussion
- James Gelfand / piano 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Herbie Hancock - 1998 "Mr. Funk"

The Columbia Years Compilation (1972 - 1988)

Opening with the Head Hunters version of "Watermelon Man" and closing with the electro-embracing crossover hit, "Rockit," Mr. Funk is a semi-random skip across Hancock's Columbia recordings, and it technically spans 1973-1983 (at least going by release dates), rather than the 1972-1988 range printed on its cover. Its track list looks more like a promo sampler for a round of reissues than a proper introduction to this productive and often trailblazing phase of Hancock's career. There are some very peculiar choices here. For instance, two cuts off Secrets (1976) are included, while the 1979-1982 albums Feets Don't Fail Me Now, Monster, and Lite Me Up are shut out.

Track listing:

1. Watermelon Man
2. Actual Proof
3. Hang up Your Hang Ups
4. Heartbeat
5. Kuru/Speak Like a Child
6. Cantaloupe Island
7. Swamp Rat
8. Come Running to Me
9. 4 A.M.
10. Everybody's Broke
11. Rockit

Personnel:

    Herbie Hancock - Piano, Composer, Choeurs, Clavier, Arranger
    Harvey Mason, Sr. - Arranger, Drums
    Baba Duru Oshun - Tabla
    Raul Rekow - Percussion, Brass
    Ernie Watts, Jim Horn - Flute, Saxophone
    Dick Hyde - Bass, Tuba, Trombone
    Bud Brishois - Trumpet
    Bill Summers - Percussion, Brass
    Don Alias, Daniel Ponce, Kenneth Nash - Percussion
    Jay DaVersa - Trumpet
    James Levi - Drums
    Bennie Maupin - Flute, Saxophone, Sax (Soprano), Sax (Tenor)
    Jaco Pastorius - Arranger, Bass, Leader

Wes Montgomery - 1963 [2010] "Boss Guitar"

Boss Guitar is the ninth album by American jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery, released in 1963 by Riverside Records.
It has been reissued by Original Jazz Classics with additional alternate takes. All the tracks are available on the Wes Montgomery compilation CD The Complete Riverside Recordings.

Before he moved away from straight-ahead jazz and starting playing what is now known as smooth jazz, Wes Montgomery was one of bop's finest guitarists. Montgomery's bop period ended much too soon, but thankfully, he recorded his share of rewarding bop albums when he was still bop-oriented -- and one of them is Boss Guitar, which Orrin Keepnews produced in 1963. It's a trio recording, employing Mel Rhyne on organ and Jimmy Cobb on performances that have held up well over time; Montgomery shows how expressive a ballad player he could be on the standards "For Heaven's Sake" and "Days of Wine and Roses," but the fast tempo exuberance of "The Trick Bag" (a Montgomery original) serves him equally well. Montgomery swings the blues with pleasing results on "Fried Pies" (another Montgomery original), while Consuelo Velázquez's "Besame Mucho" (which is usually played at a slow ballad tempo) is successfully transformed into medium-tempo Latin jazz. Boss Guitar is among the bop-oriented Montgomery albums that should continue to be savored after all these years. [In addition to the eight master takes that were heard on the original '60s LP, some reissues contain alternate takes of "Besame Mucho," "The Trick Bag," and "Fried Pies" -- all of which will interest collectors.] 

All guitarists should explore work outside their genre to fully appreciate the remarkable diversity their instrument holds. In the case of Montgomery, his is the quintessential bebop flavored jazz guitar player, and in my estimation, the best ever, and that's in some pretty heavy company.
Joined by Mel Ryne on Hammond B-3 organ, "Boss Guitar" has a unique sound, as Ryne plays a wonderfully smoky and smooth organ, which compliments Wes' playing brilliantly. "Besame Mucho" starts the album off with a Latin flavor, and the CD just seems to float by. Another favorite is "Canadian Sunset", a slower but delicate song that features some of the best chord work on the CD. Fans like to comment on Wes' famous octave picking, which has been copied by tons of players out of admiration, but his truly strong suit, besides being capable of mind blowing solos, is his chordal knowledge that few ever equalled, adding breadth to the playing and more color than any single note solo could hope to do.
Wes Montgomery's late '50's work and early '60's albums are his best, where he stays true to his love of bebop, whereas later albums were more commercial and lacking in his usual technique. While they aren't bad, it's the early stuff to go after. "So Much Guitar!", "Far Wes" and "Wes Montgomery Plays The Blues" are all must haves, along with "Boss Guitar." It is a tragedy this genius only lived to 43. Perhaps no single guitarist's death had more of an impact except for Jimi Hendrix, who was known to do a little octave picking himself. It's how jazz guitar is supposed to be done.

Wes Montgomery recorded Boss Guitar at age 38, near the end of his acclaimed Riverside years and just five years before his death. While the records that followed would give him some radio hits (and lose him some fans), the 1963 session was a time when he really could make the bold claim of the album’s title. The previous year, Montgomery had placed fourth in the then influential Playboy Jazz Poll among reader ballots, and had been named “All-Stars’ All-Star Guitar” among voting musicians (an electorate that included Cannonball Adderley, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Paul Desmond, Duke Ellington, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson and Frank Sinatra, among others).

The “musician’s musician” status might be explained by his associations. He had already played with Coltrane and Lionel Hampton at the time, but most of the guitar boss’s career was spent as boss, leading bands and primarily—as on this release—leading organ trios. His finishing behind Chet Atkins, Barney Kessel and Charlie Byrd in the reader’s poll, on the other hand, might be explained by his keeping his home in Indianapolis, rather than moving to one of the coastal hotbeds.

The role of boss carries through to the way he worked with his trio. Montgomery had often employed Mel Rhyne’s organ for his sessions. Drummer Jimmy Cobb had worked with Adderley, Coltrane, Davis, Getz, Gillespie and Billie Holiday. But both were primarily backing musicians, and scarcely solo throughout the eight tracks cut for the album. It is Boss Guitar, front and center. Which isn’t too much of a good thing. Montgomery was a naturally lyrical player, hopping octaves with ease, never sounding out of place but never predictable. He sashays through “Besame Mucho” and strolls along “Days of Wine and Roses.” And while the trio mostly plays popular songs of the day, the two Montgomery compositions here stand out among the rest. “The Trick Bag” is a simmering workout with great interplay among the organ and drums, and “Fried Peas” is an infectious roll.

This issue is newly remastered (with the latest bit of logo-worthy technology) and includes the original liner notes as well as the notes from the 1989 reissue. Two bonus tracks (also on the 1989 version) don’t stray far from the original versions, but do keep the party going a little longer.

Track listing

 01  "Besame Mucho" (Consuelo Velázquez, Sunny Skylar) – 6:28
 02   "Besame Mucho" [Alternate take] (Velazquez, Skylar) – 6:24
 03   "Dearly Beloved" (Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer) – 4:49
 04    "Days of Wine and Roses" (Henry Mancini, Johnny Mercer) – 3:44
 05   "The Trick Bag" (Wes Montgomery) – 4:25
 06   "Canadian Sunset" (Eddie Heywood, Norman Gimbel) – 5:04
 07   "Fried Pies" (Montgomery) – 6:42
 08   "Fried Pies" Alternate take (Montgomery) – 6:35
 09   "The Breeze and I" (Ernesto Lecuona, Al Stillman) – 4:08
 10   "For Heaven's Sake" (Elise Bretton, Sherman Edwards, Donald Meyer) – 4:39

Personnel

    Wes Montgomery – guitar
    Melvin Rhyne – organ
    Jimmy Cobb – drums

Jack Dejohnette - 1975 "Cosmic Chicken"

Cosmic Chicken is an album by Jack DeJohnette featuring Alex Foster, John Abercrombie, and Peter Warren recorded in 1975 and released on the Prestige label.

By 1975, drummer Jack DeJohnette was just a few years removed from his sideman stint with Miles Davis and was deeply immersed in his own search and discovery mission as a composer and bandleader in his own right. Joining him on this October 10, 1975 performance at the Great American Music Hall were kindred spirits John Abercrombie on guitar, Alex Foster on alto sax and Mike Richmond on bass (the same crew that had appeared on DeJohnette's Prestige album of that year, Cosmic Chicken). With a nod to both the burgeoning fusion movement and the hippie-jazz aesthetic that had been unleashed by saxophonist Charles Lloyd in 1967 with Love-In and his popular 1968 followup, Forest Flower (DeJohnette played on both of those breakthrough recordings), these forward-thinking colleagues kept things suitably energetic, spacey and frequently wah-wah-fueled throughout their daring set.
With DeJohnette on keyboards, they open their GAMH set with a subtly playful piece, "One for Devadip and the Professor," which was written for guitarist Carlos Santana and DeJohnette's former mentor, saxophonist Charles Lloyd. The minimalist piece is marked by some probing Lloyd-inspired sax work from Alex Foster and pungent, distortion-laced guitar lines by Abercrombie, whose own potent ECM release that year (Timeless with DeJohnette and keyboardist Jan Hammer) was a significant addition to the fusion genre. Richmond, on big-toned upright bass, also feeds his signal through a wah-wah pedal for that quintessential '70s effect. Richmond then kicks off the title track of Cosmic Chicken with a wild Hendrix-inspired solo bass showcase that has him bowing his upright while simultaneously activating his wah-wah pedal and flanger effect for a startling array of tonal colors and textures. Following that extended bass intro, the band jumps in with slashing power chords and slamming beats, clearly channeling the turbulent rock power of Miles' most dynamic electric period before settling into a kind of slow-grooving, meditative ostinato that has Foster stretching heroically and provocatively on tenor sax. Abercrombie follows with a ferocious six-string onslaught over Richmond's bubbling wah-wah basslines that rivals John McLaughlin's raw, ripping, proto-punk stylings on Miles Davis' Jack Johnson or Tony Williams Lifetime's Emergency. Hardcore fusion aficionados will fall to their knees with their teeth chattering over the intense guitar solo. Next up is DeJohnette, who takes his time developing his own masterful solo, traversing the kit with quick hands, lightning instincts and signature aplomb to complete the sequence of individual showcases on this marathon 36-minute vehicle.
The quartet follows with "The Vikings Are Coming," which would later appear on DeJohnette's 1976 ECM album, Untitled. This piece is noteworthy for the leader's appearance on tenor sax, shadowing Foster's own tenor lines on the folkish theme that starts off the tune as Abercrombie and Richmond freelance behind them. Abercrombie and Foster later engage in some heated exchanges near the end of this swirling, atmospheric number. The multi-faceted, multi-directional DeJohnette opens the set-closer with a contemplative solo piano piece, "Memories," that eventually heads into just a touch of jaunty stride playing. By the time the band enters, they are swinging in straight ahead fashion on "Eiderdown" (from Cosmic Chicken), with the drummer demonstrating remarkable facility and surging sense of swing indicating that he could have easily had a whole separate career as a jazz pianist, if he had so chosen. Midway through this extended jam, the leader returns to the drum set to beautifully underscore Foster's blistering alto sax solo and Abercrombie's probing guitar solo. Richmond then takes over with an unaccompanied bass solo that again has him exploring the use of effects pedals with his upright bass (this time a volume pedal). This extended jam closes with a kinetic, conversational duet between guitarist Abercrombie and drummer DeJohnette that peaks when Abercrombie stomps on his distortion pedal and heads to the stratosphere with DeJohnette fueling his excursion…shades of John Coltrane and Elvin Jones in full stride. Abercrombie, DeJohnette and Foster then engage in a brisk exchanging of eights, in classic bebop tradition, before completing this very potent set in San Francisco.

In 1975, DeJohnette also formed the highly interactive Gateway trio with Abercrombie and bassist Dave Holland, and the three colleagues continued to record together off and over the next three decades. DeJohnette was a key member of Pat Metheny's 80/81 band (which also featured tenor saxophonists Michael Brecker and Dewey Redman and bassist Charlie Haden) and in 1985 appeared on Metheny's landmark collaboration with Ornette Coleman on the provocative Song X. The drummer-composer-bandleader continued to record prolifically through the '70s and '80s for ECM with his Special Edition, Directions and New Directions bands. For the past 25 years he has been a member of the Keith Jarrett Trio (with bassist Gary Peacock). In 2003, he recorded the Tony Williams Lifetime tribute album Suadades with Trio Beyond (guitarist John Scofield and organist Larry Goldings) and in 2005 he formed his own Kindred Rhythm/Golden Beams label, which has so far released such diverse offerings as the world music recording Music from the Hearts of the Masters, the relaxation disc Music in the Key of Om, a provocative duet with Bill Frisell entitled The Elephant Sleeps But Still Remembers, the Grammy Award-winning New Age album Peace Time and the trio recording Music We Are with bassist John Patitucci and pianist Danilo Perez. DeJohnette's most recent projects include The Intercontinentals, featuring South African vocalist Sibongile Khumalo, and his current working quartet featuring guitarist Dave "Fuze" Fiuczynski, bassist Jerome Harris and alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa.

For 1975 this album was way ahead of its time. This is very spacey jazz with great interplay, interesting compositions, and amazing playing. This is a great example of DeJohnette's "tonal"drumming. It's not just beats, he's playing notes. His organ playing (a pleasant surprise) on "Shades of the Phantom" conjured up the tunes namesake very well. I don't know what planet Alex Foster (sax) comes from, but he plays like a man on fire. Hearing Peter Warren's loopy phase shifted upright bass bowing on the title track let's you know you've just entered a different place. John Abercrombie (guitar) is the best of the Berklee guitarists (sorry Pat Metheney),and better known for his work with Billy Cobham, but his earlier work here is stellar too. "Stratocruiser" is a fast and furious ride that leaves you gasping for air. The "Last Chance Stomp" (An abridged history of jazz in five movements), is a virtual time machine. It starts off sounding like early 1920's jazz from a 78 record. The tune and the sound quality morph from a simple riff to some super fast jazz, as if it was being played by successive generations of musicians.
This album begs to be re-released on CD, but if you are lucky enough to own it on vinyl, treasure it. If you are looking for some mellow smooth jazz, RUN for the nearest exit. You won't find it here.

Track listing

    All compositions by Jack DeJohnette except as indicated

    "Cosmic Chicken" - 4:53
    "One for Devadip and the Professor" - 3:35
    "Memories" - 5:58
    "Stratocruiser" - 7:28
    "Shades of the Phantom" - 6:13
    "Eiderdown" (Steve Swallow) - 5:35
    "Sweet and Pungent" - 3:32
    "Last Chance Stomp" - 7:07

        Recorded at Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, CA on April 24–26, 1975

Personnel

    Jack DeJohnette – drums, piano, keyboards
    Alex Foster – alto saxophone, tenor saxophone
    John Abercrombie – electric guitar
    Peter Warren – electric bass

Joshua Redman - 1993 "Joshua Redman"

Nearly every once in a while, a musician encourages his or her art in any genre to embark on a bright and new direction without losing it's original power, while evolving full force with lasting results--and the same thing can be said about Joshua Redman.
For his highly acclaimed self-titled debut CD, this rising young tenor saxophonist had emerged as a young lion in 1993 who not only gave jazz another original new sound, but he was one of the few of his generation to bring the music to an encouraging and creative path while settling some arguments of where itself the music was headed at the time.
Heading a superb quartet that consists of pianist Kevin Hayes, rising young bassist Christian McBride and drummer Gregory Hutchinson, the sprawling track set features an outstanding set of original compositions like the lyrical Blues On Sunday, Echoes, Tribalism, Groove X (By Any Means Necessary) and Sublimation as well as classy takes on classic standards like Thelonious Monk's Trinkle Trinkle, a swift take on James Brown's I Got You (I Feel Good) and Body And Soul, as they demonstrate his knack for sophisticated improvisation and multi-dimensional composing skills.
As one of two blockbuster albums that he released in 1993, Redman would become an overnight sensation on the jazz scene after being discovered and signed by Warner Bros' Records and one of the new great jazz masters to have emerge in the 1990's.
Yet this is the self-titled debut album that caused the sensation that would give jazz another young icon and also gave the aspiring young tenor saxophonist- composer the commercial success he deserved and paved the way for a long mighty career.

This album was recorded and released by Warner Brothers not long after Joshua won the T. Monk jazz competition. I think it's an all around strong and entertaining 1st album. Joshua Redman is the bomb! He's so chill and watching him on the Ken Burns Jazz interviews he seems like a really cool dude. {I heard he got straight A's in school!} This self titled album also has another really bomb musician... Christian McBride on bass! My favorite numbers are the covers actually. Blues on Sunday I think is an original though. What an awesome song to stretch out on. It sounds alot like the solos on "Blue Train" from back in '57. Its so cool that these "young lion's" did James Brown's "I feel good" its so funky and joyus! {probably McBride's suggestion!} Their version of Dizzy's "Salt Peanuts" is just slammin! they really cook on that one! It makes me crack up when they shout it at the end "salt peanuts salt peanuts!" Redman plays a really pleasant duet with McBride during "On the sunny side of the street" These guys are some of the coolest cats in modern jazz! They can play very serious in a straight ahead manner. But they can get really funky and avant guard sounding as well! This Cd has it all standards, ballads, original compostions, blues, and funky old school RandB! What a great first album from a young and very gifted tenor saxaphonist!

 In the early to mid-'90s, no "Young Lion" was hyped to death by jazz critics more than Joshua Redman; to hear some critics tell it, he was as important a saxophonist as John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, or Sonny Rollins. The problem with such excessive hype is that it gives a young talent like Redman way too much to live up to at an early age; the tenor man was only 22 when this self-titled debut album was recorded, and he needed time to grow and develop. Nonetheless, Redman did show a lot of promise on this CD, which isn't in a class with Coltrane's A Love Supreme or Rollins' Saxophone Colossus (some critics really did have the audacity to make such claims) but showed Redman to be a swinging, expressive improviser who had impressive technique as well as versatility. Redman's playing is greatly influenced by funky, big-toned soul-jazz tenors like Eddie Harris, Gene Ammons, and Red Holloway, but his probing, searching qualities bring to mind Coltrane. Redman's gritty soul-jazz workout on James Brown's "I Got You (I Feel Good)" demonstrates that he isn't a stuffy neo-conservative, while his enjoyable interpretations of "Body and Soul" and Thelonious Monk's "Trinkle Tinkle" illustrate his ability to play "in the tradition," as hard boppers are fond of saying. Dizzy Gillespie's "Salt Peanuts" is pure bop, and Redman (whose acoustic support on this album includes pianist Kevin Hays, bassist Christian McBride, and drummer Gregory Hutchinson) gets into a Coltrane-influenced post-bop groove on his own "Sublimation." Joshua Redman isn't a masterpiece, but it let us know that he was certainly someone to keep an eye on.

Joshua Redman is one of the most prominent saxophonists in the world... a great interpreter, owner of great sound. Their performances are truly eloquent and "visceral". Here gives us beautiful songs like "Blues On Sunday," "I Got You" "Salt Peanuts" and "Sublimation"... of total surrender.
A cd of great quality, no doubt. Highly recommended!!!

Track listing

    "Blues on Sunday" (Joshua Redman)
    "Wish" (Joshua Redman)
    "Trinkle Tinkle" (Thelonious Monk)
    "Echoes" (Joshua Redman)
    "I Got You (I Feel Good)" (James Brown)
    "Body & Soul" (Heyman-Green-Sour)
    "Tribalism" (Joshua Redman)
    "Groove X (By Any Means Necessary)" (Joshua Redman)
    "Salt Peanuts" (Dizzy Gillespie)
    "On the Sunny Side of the Street" (McHugh-Fields)
    "Sublimation" (Joshua Redman)

Personnel

    Joshua Redman – Tenor saxophone
    Kevin Hays – Piano
    Christian McBride – Bass
    Gregory Hutchinson – Drums
    Mike LeDonne – Piano
    Paul LaDuca – Bass
    Kenny Washington – Drums
    Clarence Penn – Drums

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Return To Forever - 1977 [2011] "The Complete Concert" Live at the Palladium, N.Y.C

Live is the final album by fusion band Return to Forever. It was recorded live at the Palladium in New York City on May 20 and 21 1977 as part of the Musicmagic tour to support the album of the same name. This was the only tour to feature the Musicmagic (1977) lineup, which included original members Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, and Joe Farrell, along with newly added member, Chick Corea's wife, Gayle Moran on vocals, piano and organ, and a six-piece horn section.
Originally released as a single LP, the album was re-issued in 1978 as a 4-LP set called Return to Forever Live: The Complete Concert, which contained the full concert as heard by those who attended, including extended sections of dialogue and audience applause.

The original release was a single LP with a cover featuring Picasso's Three Musicians. A greatly expanded version of the album was released in 1978 on 4 LPs as Return to Forever Live: The Complete Concert,, showcasing the entire two-hour-and-forty-minute concert. This Complete Concert release features a plain dark blue cover with a stylized "RTF" logo and contains the entireties of pieces that had been edited down for the original one LP release, including a version of "Spanish Fantasy"; the intro to which was previously released in edited form as "Chick's Piano". Also included are spoken introductions to songs by Clarke, including one in which he is heckled by the audience for announcing the concert's final piece.
Different versions of The Complete Concert have been re-issued on CD - in both 2 CD and 3-CD sets. A Japanese 3 CD version, released in 1993, contains the complete recording exactly as found on the original 4 LP version, retaining "The Endless Night" and "Musicmagic" as two separate parts each. Corea's introduction of the musicians is appended to the end of "The Endless Night (part 2)". The first US (2) CD version was released by Columbia Legacy (C2K 47479) in 1992 with the stylized RTF logo on a red background titled simply, Return to Forever Live, and was subsequently reissued with a blue cover in 2000 (468923 2) titled, Return to Forever Live: The Complete Concert. Both of these US CD releases contain the edited versions of "The Musician" and "So Long Mickey Mouse" that were on the original single LP, while removing both the four-minute introduction of the musicians by Corea after "The Endless Night" and several extended passages of audience noise. "Chick's Piano Solo" and "Spanish Fantasy" are combined into one track, as are the two parts of "The Endless Night" and "Musicmagic". Track times differ between the 1992 and 2000 reissues, due to track intros appearing appended either before the song itself, or after the previous song; below, the 1992 times are used. Both versions have been digitally remastered directly from the original master tapes to restore the low frequencies which were rolled off on the vinyl version to minimise tracking problems.
In June, 2011, Columbia (Sony) released a 5-CD boxed set, Return to Forever, The Complete Columbia Albums Collection which includes the entire 1977 Live, The Complete Concert recording on 3 CDs together with 1976's Romantic Warrior and 1977's Musicmagic. The 3-CD version Return to Forever Live: The Complete Concert, 3-Record Set was released in Japan in September 2011 as a Blue-Spec CD limited boxset reproducing the original Japanese 1978 LP boxset. However, this 2011 reissue features "The Endless Night" and "Musicmagic" as one track each, instead of the original splits and fades of each song.

Return to Forever Live – The Complete Concert (1978): This is effectively the final Return to Forever album released and, perhaps, one of its most significant. It was recorded live at the Palladium in New York City on May 20 and 21, 1977, as part of the Musicmagic tour, which led the group to meet President Jimmy Carter the following month.

Needless to say, there is a plethora of fantastic playing to be heard here that RTF’s studio albums probably prohibited, with inventive interjections from almost all concerned, waxing eloquently over some very long passages that are sufficiently more worthwhile than their studio counterparts.

How can one review perfect music? what is perfect music? I guess it is a very personal thing... for me it is not just chops or clever arrangements, it is music that speaks to the heart, that has the ability to uplift and touch the listener. I get that feeling from Return To Forever Live, it captures that vibe perfectly, even better than the studio record. If I had to compare it with another album, I'd pick Santana's Lotus, another album with that inspirational, devotional quality. This music comes at the height of Chick Corea's creative powers (many musicians experienced that creative peak between 1970 and 1977) and is seasoned with soulful vocals from Gayle Morris and Stanley Clarke, a richly colorful brass band, and a battery of keyboards that include the Moog, the Fender Rhodes, the Mellotron and the Hammond B3. The only thing missing is the guitar, but Chick's extended solos are so spectacular that they make you forget that Mr. Di Meola is no longer part of the band. No fusion fan will be disappointed with this album - particularly the prog-heads, who love 20-minute epics and lengthy solos, will eat it up. However there are some moments that are closer to "straight jazz" - a couple of jazz standards, and a long "unplugged" piece, Serenade. Overall, though the album definitely leans towards the progressive side of things, and somehow it feels like a goodbye song to an entire era. Maybe foreseeing things to come, Chick decided to give it all he had, perhaps more, and we can consider ourselves fortunate to have a beatiful document of that spirit.

My favorite jazz act of all time -- so glad to finally obtain a complete (enough) version of this live set. Having seen&heard them live in concert during their MUSICMAGIC tour, and Chick live in other concerts, I am always returning to their music. Fast, slow, soft, hard -- doesn't matter. This set dazzles no less than any previous experience, only you get more. Their jamming is first rate. 40.0 megatons of the most liberating and exhilarate music ever created! When I put this on to hear, I often replay it for days!

This and the now very hard to find to find (on CD) "Chick, Donald, Walter and Woodrow" represent Chick Corea's best writing for Big Band. You'll find that Chick cannibalized himself somewhat for the Woody Herman recording, but it actually is a tighter representation of a great series of ideas and should not be seen as "derivative". I never thought the "Romantic Worry-wart" record was their best effort. The sonics of "Warrior" are extremely problematic. The engineering on this record is much more balanced. The Horn Section is absolutely stellar. Musicmagic should be looked to for a new appreciation as it represented a lot of the music being presented here. Seek it out, I'd much sooner see this being given the Mo-Fi treatment than a whole lot of the 90's pop stuff they've focused on in the last year or so.

I would say this was the best live recording set up by chick corea ever.Very difference from the others RTF's materials but far better in most way (i would say). Most of the songs from Musicmagic are featured here with fantastic extended solos and intros(could get enough). These are the tunes that first turned me on to the music of c corea ever since. I owned the original 4LPs set and also bought the cd-set with the red cover. In the RTF red cover cds, certain portion found on the LPs were omitted from the cd including the part when chick introduces the musicians- which was really disappointing, as the response and reaction between the audiences and the band created an upheld feeling as tho you were there at the show. Also the extended intro to 'so long mickey mouse' too was cut. However, it was still very good consider some of the materials needed to be removed to allow the 4 LPs to fit into the 2cds set. I hope this new release with today's tech.would contain the complete recordings. If 'quality' and 'timeless' tunes are what you looking for, go get it. Been listening to them for over 25 years, still sound great and fresh today. ..A t the same time, I was longing for Chick to try some of these songs in the Elektric band format, that would be mind blowing esp. for tune like 'endless night'.

Track listing:

CD 1
1     Opening '77     7:09
2     The Endless Night     20:30
3     Chick Corea: Spoken Intro Of The Musicians     3:43
4     The Musician     14:04

CD 2
1     Stanley Clarke: Spoken Intro To Hello Again / So Long Mickey Mouse     1:38
2     Hello Again     6:02
3     So Long Mickey Mouse     10:51
4     Musicmagic     27:57

CD 3
1     Come Rain Or Come Shine / Fire And Dandy     3:55
2     Stanley Clarke: Spoken Intro To Serenade     0:58
3     Serenade     13:56
4     Chick Corea: Spoken Intro To The Moorish Warrior And Spanish Princess     1:05
5     The Moorish Warrior And Spanish Princess     18:16
6     Stanley Clarke: Spoken Intro To Chick Corea's Piano Solo     2:01
7     Chick's Piano Solo     14:39
8     Spanish Fantasy     11:21
9     On Green Dolphin Street     9:30

Personnel

    Gayle Moran – vocals, piano, organ
    Joe Farrell – tenor and soprano saxophone, flute
    James Tinsley – trumpet, piccolo
    John Thomas – trumpet, flugelhorn
    Harold Garret – trombone
    Jim Pugh – trombone
    Ron Moss – trombone
    Chick Corea – keyboards, vocals
    Stanley Clarke – electric bass, acoustic bass, vocals
    Gerry Brown – drums

Robert Fripp & Brian Eno - 1975 [1989] "Evening Star"

Evening Star is an ambient album by British musicians Robert Fripp and Brian Eno. It was recorded from 1974 to 1975 and released in December 1975.

This album's recording and the preceding seven show European tour by the duo marked Fripp's first output after disbanding King Crimson and his last before temporarily retiring from music (at the time thought to be permanently) to study at the International Academy for Continuous Education in Sherborne House. Wiki.

Robert Fripp's second team up with Brian Eno was a less harsh, more varied affair, closer to Eno's then-developing idea of ambient music than what had come before in (No Pussyfooting). The method used, once again, was the endless decaying tape loop system of Frippertronics but refined with pieces such as "Wind on Water" fading up into an already complex bed of layered synths and treated guitar over which Fripp plays long, languid solos. "Evening Star" is meditative and calm with gentle scales rocking to and fro while Fripp solos on top. "Wind on Wind" is Eno solo, an excerpt from the soon to be released Discreet Music album. The nearly 30-minute ending piece, "An Index of Metals," keeps Evening Star from being a purely background listen as the loops this time contain a series of guitar distortions layered to the nth degree, Frippertronics as pure dissonance. As a culmination of Fripp and Eno's experiments, Evening Star shows how far they could go.  All Music.

his is a very difficult cd to find at present, and i was fortunate enough to get it for a reasonable price. I started looking for it after i found out that the beautiful song i'd been listening to on a friend's unlabeled mixed cd was the title track to Evening Star. The opening track (Wind on Water) is a very strangely crafted piece of music. It almost never establishes a "tonic" or resolving note, yet the whole thing sounds like home. The guitar work in it hardly sounds like a guitar, and is mixed very well with the synth in the back. the piece sounds like you're watching something naturally epic happening, like cells going through mitosis.

The title track, which is still my favorite, is probably the most visionary and picture-painting track on the cd. i don't like the word soundscape because it's so cliche and abused. robert fripp really shines on this piece, and makes his guitar expressive of things that most guitar players find great difficulty in bringing to life. the beautiful thing about this song, and really the whole album, is how *subtle* it all is. it never hits you in the face like a rock song, no matter how loud you turn it up. the whole thing plays through like a soundtrack to something wonderful happening under a microscope, or through a telescope. either way, it's very cosmic.

the only thing i'd criticize is the last track, "An Index of Metals." if you're familiar with King Crimson (Fripp's band), you'll know what i mean by this. like a handful of Crimson pieces, it takes a while to get started, with what seems like several minutes of near-silence at the beginning, and then pretty much sits back and enjoys a half hour of disturbing noise and dark ambience. it's a contrast, as the rest of the album is very light and relaxing. It's reminiscent of Crimson's "The Mincer," or "Starless and Bible Black" on the Starless and Bible Black album, so if you can dig it, then it's pretty intense.

Overall, i'd highly recommend the album, and hopefully they'll re-release it soon so everyone can listen to it without paying 40 dollars for the cd. If you're looking for truely "ambient" music (meaning not pumped up dance beats with spacey music in the back, but really atmospheric stuff), then you'll probably be more than satisfied with it. on the other hand, it might not be fully appreciated by someone who expects something much more defined and typical of a newer generation, like house music or techno-ambient stuff like Orbital. By Alex H. Miller

I've always been an agnostic when it comes to remastered versions of classic albums. However, this brilliant album was remastered by Robert Fripp himself, along with Simon Heyworth. As a result, the integrity of the music is maintained while the quality of the recording stands head and shoulders above the remastering attempts of others.

"Wind on Water," which originally sounded more or less like solid chords, is revealed as an intricate network of looped sounds. "Evensong" likewise is exposed as having much greater depth than I ever suspected. As for "Evening Star," a piece of music so beautiful it seems as though it simply dropped out of heaven, it's even richer.

However, it is "An Index of Metals" that stands as a testament to the skill of Fripp and Heyworth. I've listened to this piece hundreds of times, and it never sounded like this. The depth, the clarity, and the dynamics that are present in this remastering are unparalleled in any remastered CD I've ever heard. By The Glass Guitar.

As the name implies, Fripp & Eno is a musical pairing of two highly prolific and influential musicians. Brian Eno has worked with and influenced countless musicians with his innovative production work and solo albums that pushed the boundaries of ambient/experimental music. On the other hand, Robert Fripp is best known as the guitarist of the legendary progressive rock band King Crimson. Together they released two ambient albums in the 1970s, entitled ‘(No Pussyfooting)’ and ‘Evening Star’.

‘Evening Star’ is the album that opened my eyes to the potential beauty and purpose of ambient. The album is filled with bubbling electronics and beautifully sparse guitar melodies that intertwine with one another to make some of the most gorgeous, but subtle music I’ve ever heard. The title track, which is my personal favorite, begins with a guitar loop panned to one side with accompanying electronic keys panned to the other. As the the piece progresses, soaring waves of sound are added into the mix, resulting in an almost overwhelming sense of exquisiteness. The last half of the album is dedicated to a 28 minute sound experiment entitled “An Index Of Metals”. Layers upon layers of guitar and effects are piled upon one another, as the droning sounds slowly enter different stages of distortion. Despite its length, this track is an ultimately rewarding experience and laid the groundwork for many artists in the field of sound experimentation.

‘Evening Star’ should be one of the stepping stones for anyone who is interested in ambient music. The arrangements on the first half of the album are accessible enough for anyone with a love of music to enjoy. The carefully placed layers of sound reveal new details with every listen, which always makes for a rewarding experience. Check out this album for its innovation and pairing of two musical geniuses at the height of their game. by Kyle

Track listing

All tracks written by Brian Eno and Robert Fripp, except "Wind on Wind" by Eno.

1.  "Wind on Water" – 5:30
2.  "Evening Star" – 7:48
3.  "Evensong" – 2:53
4.  "Wind on Wind" – 2:56
5.  "An Index of Metals" – 28:36

Personnel:

Robert Fripp – guitar
Brian Eno – tape loops, synthesizer, piano

 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Brand X - 2014 "Nuclear Burn" [4 CD Box]

Brand X is a jazz fusion band, originally active between 1975–1980 and 1992–1999. Noted members included John Goodsall (guitar), Percy Jones (bass), Robin Lumley (keyboards), Kenwood Dennard (drums) and Phil Collins (drums). Goodsall and Jones were the sole constant members throughout the band's existence. In 2016, Goodsall, Jones and Dennard reunited with new musicians Chris Clark on keyboards and Scott Weinberger on percussion.

Brand X - a band most people probably wouldn't know if Phil Collins hadn't been a member for a few years during the mid-70s. Collins felt a little restricted by the Genesis live shows and wanted to play a little more freely. And so he joined Brand X in the summer of 1975 (after the Lamb-Tour.) Thus, it was in no way "his" band. Brand X played mostly instrumental  jazz-rock, also called fusion at the time. That influence very soon also affected Genesis with Los Endos, for example. The time with Brand X also saw the first published song written by Collins alone (Why Should I Lend You Mine), his first use of a drum computer (Wal To Wal), and his first songs based on a home demo (Soho and Wal To Wal)

Genesis's Label back then, Charisma Records, were also responsible for Brand X and the LP releases. The albums were then also published on CD by Virgin at the end of the 80s. Now, there is a collection with the band's first 6 albums as an inexpensive 4 CD box. Nuclear Burn: The Charisma Albums 1976-1980.

The first thing to catch the eye: Six albums on four CDs? Indeed, the albums were squeezed together on four CDs, one after the other. It's, thus, impossible to listen to three of these six albums without changing CDs - unfortunate, but probably for budget reasons. The recordings are mostly ordered chronologically by release date, only Livestock's and Moroccan Roll's position was switched. Livestock's Isis Mourning was combined to one track as "Part 1 & 2" for the first time. They used to be separate parts on both CD and vinyl.

The box was also advertised as "remastered", suggesting potential improvements in sound compared to the original - so possibly a reason for buying it. (In the best case) a remaster means creating a new transfer from the original master tapes while (in the best case carefully) compressing, equalizing, and reducing noise. However, after listening very closely and digitally comparing the old and new versions it has to be said that the new ones were NOT remastered. Only the absolute dB-level was sometimes raised very slightly, without dynamic range adjustment. The relative volume of the individual songs on an album is still the same though. The booklet doesn't mention any remastering, by the way. But no need to worry: The first CD releases already sounded pretty good and, most importantly, had a high dynamic range, meaning the absolute differences between quiet and loud parts. This goes very well with the "spicy" arrangement.

Nuclear Burn Bonus Tracks

In addition to the six albums, four exciting bonus tracks were spread over the four CDs. These are BBC recordings from 1976 (John-Peel-Sessions).

1st: The Ancient Mysteries / Born Ugly / Kubit Blitz: 26/02/1976 Maida Vale 4 Studio, London (Jones, Lumley, Goodsall, Collins). The date indicated in the booklet, 08/03/1976, is the date it was first broadcast, not the one of the recording. Moreover, according to the BBC, the song was called Kubic Blitz and not Kubit Blitz.

2nd: Malaga Virgen: 15/07/1976, unknown BBS studio, London (same line-up as above, plus Preston Heyman:  percussions) Another song was recorded during the 15/07/1976 session (Why should I Lend You Mine, When You've Broken Yours Off Already? (sic!)), which isn't included here though.

With many of their albums out-of-print, the much-over-looked British jazz-fusion group, Brand X - which included in its ranks Genesis drummer, Phil Collins - finally get a long-overdue reissue of their Charisma catalogue thanks to a fine 4-CD box set that includes all six of the albums that they recorded between the years 1976 and 1980.

The group's debut, 'Unorthodox Behaviour,' released in '76, found the quartet - then comprising keyboardist Robin Lumley, guitarist John Goodsall, bassist Percy Jones and drummer, Phil Collins - creating a distinctive and technically-accomplished brand of instrumental jazz-fusion that was tinged at times with progressive rock elements (no surprise, perhaps, given Collins' Genesis affiliation). The set's standout, 'Nuclear Burn,' sounds like a British take on US jazz-rock giants, Return To Forever, especially with Goodsall's searing, rapid-fire fretboard pyrotechnics a la Al Di Meola. Having said that, though, listening to these 4 CDs confirms that Brand X weren't mere copyists and brought a truly individual and uniquely British sound and style to the jazz-rock arena (that was especially evident in some of the band's humorous song titles, such as 'Not Good Enough - See Me!' and 'Noddy Goes To Sweden').

Their second long-player, the in-concert album, 'Livestock' - recorded in the UK at Ronnie Scott's jazz club, the Hammersmith Odeon and the Marquee - demonstrates the band's potency as a live act. Phil Collins stayed in the drum chair - and also did the occasional vocal, exemplified by the exotic 'Sun In The Night' - for the band's sophomore LP, 1977's 'Moroccan Roll' (it's title, by the way, is a play on the words 'more rock and roll'). Influenced by Eastern sounds and sonically more atmospheric and less fierce than the band's debut LP, it charted in the UK and the USA. Among the highlights is the frenetic 'Disco Suicide' and the churning, reflective 'Macrocosm.'

The band's third LP, 'Masques' - which was also eastern-themed - couldn't emulate the chart fortunes of 'Moroccan Roll' and significantly, also had Chuck Burgi replacing Collins in the drummer's chair (due to the latter becoming the lead singer as well as the sticks man in Genesis after Peter Gabriel's departure). 'The Poke' is a solid, driving, lead-off track that melds rock dynamics with jazz virtuosity while the title cut and 'Black Moon'  are mellow soundscapes dominated by Percy Jones' fluid fretless bass.

'79's 'Product' witnessed Collins return to the band but doesn't quite reach the creative alchemy of the band's earlier LPs, even though it charted in the USA. Despite this, it's a solid and enjoyable affair that showcases the band's intuitive and tightly-crafted ensemble work. The flowing, upbeat 'Dance Of The Illegal Aliens' is one of its best tracks.

The final album in the set, 1980's 'Do They Hurt?' finds Collins sharing drum duties with US Headhunters' member, Mike Clark (who had also appeared on 'Product'). It turned out that the album's seven tracks were, in fact, outtakes from the 'Product' sessions a year earlier, which may account for it being not quite as memorable an offering as its predecessor. It's not without some good, arresting moments, though. The pulsing 'Noddy Goes To Sweden,' driven by Jones' sinewy fretless bass, is a quirky but engagingly offbeat opener and the more commercial, pop/rock-oriented 'Act Of Will' is distinguished by a vocoder vocal. Underscoring the band's irreverent sense of humour is the fact that Monty Python member, Michael Palin, penned the album's hilarious and madcap liner notes, which are reproduced in full in the accompanying booklet.

The inclusion of the band's sessions for the BBC is a welcome bonus but the omission of the rare, non-album B-side, 'Pool Room Blues,' as well as the absent live EP track, 'Genocide Of The Straights,' means that some fans will feel a couple of twinges of disappointment. Even so, there's an awful lot of music to digest here, much of it still holding the attention despite being over 30 years old. Some serious listening, then, is required here for a band that never really took itself too seriously.

Tracks Listing

CD 1 (48:33)
1. Nuclear Burn (6:20)
2. Euthanasia Waltz (5:39)
3. Born Ugly (8:13)
4. Smacks Of Euphoric Hysteria (4:26)
5. Unorthodox Behaviour (8:25)
6. Running On Three (4:37)
7. Touch Wood (3:03)
8. The Ancient Mysteries
9. Born Ugly
10. Kubit Blitz
11. Nightmare Patrol (7:50)

CD 2 (75:48)
1. -Ish (8:20)
2. Euthanasia Waltz (5:30)
3. Isis Mourning (Part 1 & 2) (10:15)
4. Malaga Virgen (9:35)
5. Sun In The Night (4:25)
6. Why Should I Lend You Mine (When You've Broken Yours Off Already) ... (11:16)
7. ... Maybe I'll Lend You Mine After All (2:10)
8. Hate Zone (4:41)
9. Collapsar (1:35)
10. Disco Suicide (7:55)
11. Orbits (1:38)
12. Nightmare Patrol ()

CD 3 (67:51)
1. Macrocosm (7:24)
2. Malaga Virgen (5:06)
3. The Poke (3:17)
4. Masques (4:48)
5. Black Moon (10:54)
6. Deadly Nightshade (6:10)
7. Earth Dance (6:10)
8. Access To Data (8:04)
9. The Ghost Of Mayfield Lodge (10:08)
10. Don't Make Waves (5:08)
11. Dance Of The Illegal Aliens (6:52)

CD 4 (73:30)
1. Soho (3:47)
2. Not Good Enough - See Me! (7:27)
3. Algon (Where An Ordinary Cup Of Drinking Chocolate Costs ?8,000,000,000) (6:07)
4. Rhesus Perplexus (4:06)
5. Wal To Wal (3:09)
6. ...And So To F... (6:34)
7. April (2:40)
8. Noddy Goes To Sweden (4:30)
9. Voidarama (4:25)
10. Act Of Will (4:44)
11. Fragile (5:26)
12. Cambodia (4:30)
13. Triumphant Limp (7:28)
14. D.M.Z. (8:37)

Total Time 265:42

Line-up / Musicians

- John Goodsall / Guitar
- Percy Jones / Bass
- Robin Lumley / Keyboards (CD 1; CD 2; CD3 (1))
- Phil Collins / Drums, Percussion, Vocals (CD 1; CD 2; CD 3 (1))
- Robin Lumley / Keyboards (CD 2 (5 - 12); CD 3 (1))
- Morris Pert / Percussion (CD 2 (5-12); CD 3 (1))
- Peter Robinson / Keyboards (CD 3 (3 - 9))
- Chuck Bergi / Drums (CD 3 (3 - 9))
- Michael Clarke / Drums (CD 3; CD 4 (2))
- John Giblin / Bass (CD 3 (11); CD 4 (2))
- Kenwood Dennard / Drums (CD 1 (11); CD 2 (3))

Releases information

CD 1 - tracks from "Unorthodox Behavior" (1976) and "Livestock" (1977)
CD 2 - tracks from "Livestock" (1977) and "Moroccan Roll" (1977)
CD 3 - tracks from "Moroccan Roll" (1977), "Masques" (1978), and "Product" (1979)
CD 4 - tracks from "Product" (1979) and "Do They Hurt?" (1980)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Frank Zappa - 1996 [2012] ''Läther''

''Läther'', is the sixty-fifth official album by Frank Zappa, released posthumously as a triple album on Rykodisc in 1996.
The official version of Läther was released posthumously in September 1996. It remains debated whether Zappa had conceived the material as a four-LP set from the beginning, or only when approaching Phonogram; In the liner notes to the 1996 release, however, Gail Zappa states that "As originally conceived by Frank, Läther was always a 4-record box set." Along with most of Zappa's material, a "mini-LP" CD edition was also released by Rykodisc in Japan, with the artwork reformatted to resemble the packaging of a vinyl album. In December 2012, the album was reissued with different packaging that better reflected the intended album cover.

The recordings for the album were originally delivered to Warner Bros. in 1977. Contractual obligations stipulated that Zappa deliver four albums for release on DiscReet Records, which eventually resulted in much of the material on Läther being released on four separate albums: Zappa in New York (1977), Studio Tan (1978), Sleep Dirt (1979), and Orchestral Favorites (1979), only the first of which was produced with Zappa's oversight. Zappa had planned to include much of the material from these albums as a quadruple box set entitled "Läther", but Warner Bros. refused to release it in this format. However, bootlegs of the original recording had existed for decades before the album's official release as a result of Frank Zappa broadcasting it over the radio in 1977 and encouraging listeners to make tape recordings of it.

Gail Zappa has confirmed that the 2-track masters for the planned original album were located while producing the 1996 version. While the official CD version of Läther released is reportedly identical to the test-pressings for the original quadruple album, four bonus tracks were added to the 1996 release and the title of the song, "One More Time for the World" was changed to "The Ocean is the Ultimate Solution", the title under which the same song appears on the album Sleep Dirt. The album does not include "Baby Snakes", a song which was originally planned for the album. A version of the song served as the title of the film from the same era.

Zappa managed to get an agreement with Phonogram Inc. to release Läther in its original configuration, and test pressings were made targeted at a Halloween 1977 release, but Warner Bros. prevented the release by claiming rights over the material. Zappa responded by appearing on the Pasadena, California radio station KROQ, allowing them to broadcast Läther and encouraging listeners to make their own tape recordings. After Warner Bros. censored Zappa in New York to remove references to Angel guitarist Punky Meadows, and demanding four additional albums, a lawsuit between Zappa and Warner Bros. followed, during which no Zappa material was released for more than a year. Eventually, Warner Bros. issued Studio Tan, Sleep Dirt and Orchestral Favorites. The original cover artwork had featured a photograph of Zappa in blackface and holding a mop; this photograph was eventually used as the cover for Joe's Garage, Act I.

In the spring of 1977, Frank delivered the master tapes for a four-record boxed set called Läther (pronounced “leather,” due to the umlauts over the A) to Warner Bros., who then decided not to pay the amount they contractually owed him, oafishly thinking that he’d frivolously thrown the package together just to speed along his remaining album requirements, thereby freeing himself from his recording contract. He retrieved the tapes and offered the set to EMI instead. Warner, currently being sued by Frank (who wanted the rights to his old albums, plus damages for years of bad bookkeeping and deficient royalties), threatened EMI with a lawsuit, scaring them out of negotiations. Frank then tried Mercury/Phonogram, who was to press and distribute the set as the first release on Zappa Records; but after it had gone through the test-pressing phase and had even been assigned a catalogue number, they suddenly refused to distribute it, as someone there had noticed its “offensive lyrics.”

He resorted to splitting the set into four separate LPs, leaving out all linking transitions, adding a few songs and omitting others. He delivered the first Läther-ette, Zappa in New York, with packaging and liner notes that were preserved when Warner finally released the album on DiscReet. Shortly after providing that live double-disc, he handed over the other three all at once, fulfilling his contractual obligations anyway. Whether he planned to turn in his packaging designs upon being paid for these three, submitted designs that were ignored by Warner, or was shut out of the process as soon as they had the actual tapes, the albums were ultimately issued with sequencing and artwork that he hadn’t approved.

Before Warner could begin these staggered releases, Frank played the orignal Läther in its entirety on KROQ-FM (Burbank-Pasedena, California), encouraging listeners to record it off the radio. The conflicting report that the four separate albums came first, and were rearranged into Läther after Frank learned that Warner wouldn’t pay fairly, is false, according to Gail Zappa’s booklet notes in the CD set: “As originally conceived by Frank, Läther was always a 4-record box set.” The triple-CD package was released in 1996 on Rykodisc. Four bonus songs were added, extending the length to nearly three hours. Included were a 1993 remix of “Regyptian Strut” (spelled without the hyphen this time, as on Sleep Dirt); Frank’s opening and closing comments on the radio at the time of his broadcast; a piece called “Leather Goods,” which was made up of unused Lumpy Gravy dialogue, some Gravy-reminiscent instrumental music, and the original beginning of “Duck Duck Goose” (which included Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed and Confused” riff before the “Whole Lotta Love” one heard on Läther proper, as well as two solo breaks, tributing Jimmy Page’s in “Whole Lotta Love” and “Heartbreaker”); “Revenge of the Knick-Knack People,” heard during some of the non-stage segments in the Baby Snakes movie; and the instrumental “Time Is Money” (included on Sleep Dirt but not Läther itself).

Gary Panter, an artist best known for his work in Raw Comix, was responsible for the illustrations on the covers of Studio Tan, Sleep Dirt and Orchestral Favorites. Frank hadn’t chosen Gary’s work; one of the titles wasn’t his, either. “I might point out that [Sleep Dirt is] not the name of the album,” he told Record Review in the spring of 1979. “That’s just a further violation of the original contract. The original title of that album, as delivered to them, was Hot Rats III. I presume that’s just another snide attempt to undermine the merchandising of it. If you saw an album sitting in the rack with the title Sleep Dirt on it, you probably wouldn’t be too intrigued by it. And based on the job they did with the cover of Studio Tan, they made [all of the packaging] as unappealing as possible.”

The full saga of Läther (pronounced leather) is tangled enough to give a migraine to all but committed Zappaphiles. Basically, what you need to know is that this project was originally conceived of as a four-record box set. When record company politics prevented its release in that format, much of the material was spread over the albums Live in New York, Sleep Dirt, Studio Tan, and Orchestral Favorites. This three-CD set presents the album as it was originally conceived, with the addition of four bonus tracks at the end. It mixes previously available material, alternate mixes, and edits, and previously unissued stuff, though only the most serious Zappa fans will have a good grip on exactly what has appeared where (the liner notes are surprisingly unexact in this regard). And the music? It's almost like a résumé of Zappa's bag of tricks: Uncle Meat-like experimentation, intricate jazz-rock, straight hard rock, orchestral composition, and comedy. Some of those comedy tracks became some of his most notorious routines, like "Punky's Whips" and "Titties 'n Beer," which amounted to avant- rock for drunk frat boys and pot smoking, underachieving junior high school students. The juvenile humor, hamfisted parody of hard rock clichés, and the shaggy-dog opera of the 20-minute "The Adventures of Greggery Peccary" are outshone by the lengthy, more experimental instrumental passages. It's interesting, but exhausting to wade through all at once, and the avant-garde/composerly cuts are not as exceptional as his earlier work in this vein in the late '60s and early '70s. That means that this will appeal far more to the Zappa cultist than the general listener, though the Zappa cult -- which has been craving Läther in its original format for years -- is a pretty wide fan base in and of itself. [In 2005, Rykodisc made available the Japanese Mini LP replica version...which is a bit strange since Läther was never officially released on LP.]

Track listing

All tracks written by Frank Zappa.
Disc one
1.     "Re-Gyptian Strut"       Appears on the album Sleep Dirt (1979).     4:36
2.     "Naval Aviation in Art?"       Appears on the album Orchestral Favorites (1979).     1:32
3.     "A Little Green Rosetta"       Previously unreleased.     2:48
4.     "Duck Duck Goose"       Previously unreleased.     3:01
5.     "Down in De Dew"       Previously unreleased (Outtake from The Grand Wazoo/Waka Jawaka sessions).     2:57
6.     "For the Young Sophisticate"       Previously unreleased (Overnite Sensation Outtake).     3:14
7.     "Tryin' to Grow a Chin"       Previously unreleased.     3:26
8.     "Broken Hearts Are for Assholes"       Previously unreleased.     4:40
9.     "The Legend of the Illinois Enema Bandit"       Appears on the album Zappa in New York (1978).     12:41
10.     "Lemme Take You to the Beach"       Appears on the album Studio Tan (1978).     2:46
11.     "Revised Music for Guitar & Low Budget Orchestra"       Appears on the album Studio Tan (1978).     7:36
12.     "RDNZL"       Appears on the album Studio Tan (1978).     8:14

Disc two
1.     "Honey, Don't You Want a Man Like Me?"       Different edit of the version that appears on the album Zappa in New York (1978). The ZINY version is a single performance while the "Lather" version is a combination of two different performances.     4:56
2.     "The Black Page Part 1"       A longer take appears on the album Zappa in New York (1978) with a drum solo included.     1:57
3.     "Big Leg Emma"       Appears on the album Zappa in New York (1978).     2:11
4.     "Punky's Whips"       Appears on the album Zappa in New York (1978) with a different mix and alternate guitar solo.     11:06
5.     "Flambé"       A longer version appears on the album Sleep Dirt (1979) under the title "Flam Bay".     2:05
6.     "The Purple Lagoon"       Appears on the album Zappa in New York (1978).     16:20
7.     "Pedro's Dowry"       Appears on the album Orchestral Favorites (1979).     7:45
8.     "Läther"       Appears on the album Zappa in New York (1978) under the title "I Promise Not to Come in Your Mouth".     3:50
9.     "Spider of Destiny"       A longer version appears on the album Sleep Dirt (1979).     2:40
10.     "The Duke of Orchestral Prunes"       Appears on the album Orchestral Favorites (1979).     4:21

Disc three
No.     Title     Original release     Length
1.     "Filthy Habits"       A longer version appears on the album Sleep Dirt (1979). Outtake from Zoot Allures (1976).     7:12
2.     "Titties & Beer"       Appears on the album Zappa in New York (1978).     5:23
3.     "The Ocean Is the Ultimate Solution" (Originally entitled "One More Time for the World")     A longer version appears on the album Sleep Dirt (1979).     8:31
4.     "The Adventures of Greggery Peccary"       Appears on the album Studio Tan (1978).     21:00

Personnel:

Disc One, Track 1

    Frank Zappa – percussion
    George Duke – keyboards
    Bruce Fowler – all brass
    James "Bird Legs" Youman – bass
    Ruth Underwood – percussion
    Chester Thompson – drums

Disc One, Track 2; Disc Two, Track 7 & 10

    Frank Zappa – guitar
    Dave Parlato – bass
    Terry Bozzio – drums
    Emil Richards – percussion
    Orchestra conducted by Michael Zearott

Disc One, Track 3 (part One)

    Frank Zappa – vocal
    George Duke – keyboards

Disc One, Track 3 (Part Two)

    Frank Zappa – lead guitar
    Andre Lewis – keyboards
    Roy Estrada – bass
    Terry Bozzio - drums

Disc One, Track 4, 7 & 8; Disc Three Track 6

    Frank Zappa – guitar, vocals
    Ray White – guitar, vocals
    Eddie Jobson – violin, keyboards
    Patrick O'Hearn – bass
    Terry Bozzio – drums, vocals

Disc One, Track 5

    Frank Zappa – all guitars, bass
    Jim Gordon – drums

Disc One, Track 6

    Frank Zappa – lead guitar, vocals
    George Duke – keyboards
    Tom Fowler – bass
    Paul Humphrey – drums
    Ricky Lancelotti – vocals

Disc One, Track 9; Disc Two, Track 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8; Disc Three, Track 2

    Frank Zappa – lead guitar, vocals
    Ray White – rhythm guitar, vocals
    Eddie Jobson – violin, keyboards, vocals
    Patrick O'Hearn – bass, vocals
    Terry Bozzio – drums, vocals
    Ruth Underwood – percussion, synthesizer
    David Samuels – timpani, vibes
    Randy Brecker – trumpet
    Mike Brecker – tenor sax, flute
    Lou Marini – alto sax, flute
    Ronnie Cuber – baritone sax, clarinet
    Tom Malone – trombone, trumpet, piccolo
    Don Pardo – sophisticated narration

Disc One, Track 10

    Frank Zappa – guitar, vocals
    Davey Moire – vocals
    Eddie Jobson – keyboards, yodeling
    Max Bennett – bass
    Paul Humphrey – drums
    Don Brewer – bongos

Disc One, Track 11; Disc Three, Track 4

    Frank Zappa – guitar, vocals
    George Duke – keyboards
    Bruce Fowler – trombone
    Tom Fowler – bass
    Chester Thompson – drums

Disc One, Track 12; Disc Three, Track 8

    Frank Zappa – guitar
    George Duke – keyboards
    James "Bird Legs" Youman – bass
    Ruth Underwood – percussion
    Chester Thompson – drums

Disc Two, Track 5 & 9

    Frank Zappa – guitar
    George Duke – keyboards
    Patrick O'Hearn – bass
    Ruth Underwood – percussion
    Chester Thompson – drums

Disc Three, Track 1

    Frank Zappa – guitar, keyboards
    Dave Parlato – bass
    Terry Bozzio – drums

Disc Three, Track 3

    Frank Zappa – guitar, synthesizer
    Patrick O'Hearn – bass
    Terry Bozzio – drums

Disc Three, Track 5

    Frank Zappa – percussion
    George Duke – keyboards
    Bruce Fowler – all brass
    James "Bird Legs" Youman – bass
    Ruth Underwood – percussion
    Chad Wackerman – drum overdubs

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Alex Skolnick Trio - 2007 "Last Day In Paradise"

The Alex Skolnick Trio is an American jazz music trio comprising the guitarist Alex Skolnick, Matt Zebroski on drums, and Nathan Peck on bass. Previously, John Davis played bass for the group. The Trio is known for its inventive jazz take on hard rock and heavy metal "standards". Alex Skolnick himself is a member of thrash metal band Testament.

Last Day in Paradise is an album released on March 15, 2007 by the Alex Skolnick Trio, on the Magnatude Records label. The album was recorded from October 4–7, 2006.

When Testament guitarist Alex Skolnick jumped ship before touring for 1992’s hugely successful The Ritual, few fans seemed to notice on the initial dates (as there were no Internet postings back then). When the Return to the Apocalyptic City EP came out a year later, he was sadly absent, having been replaced by Forbidden axeman Glen Alvelais, though Skolnick’s musical career had taken a 180° turn—into jazz. He went back to school, earned a BFA, and formed the Alex Skolnick Trio, releasing their 2002 debut Goodbye to Romance, which featured jazz covers of classic rock standards. Another album, Transformation, followed in 2004, and this year holds AST’s high-water mark in Last Day in Paradise.
Opener “Mercury Retrograde” percolates with the group’s now-trademark interplay, while the laid-back title track simmers with a Rush-like ambience. Speaking of which, Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” is covered next, though listeners will be hard-pressed to discern it from the first minute or so. The band turns the tune inside out, tempos changed, and chords bent into a whole new composition that must be heard to be believed. “Shades of Grey” is another ballad-like number that precedes “Practica Que Lo Predicas,” Skolnick’s jazzy rendition of Testament’s “Practice What You Preach.” The Stevie Ray Vaughn-flavored “The Lizard” with Nathan Peck’s double-bass workout gives way to “Channel 4,” spotlighting Matt Zebroski’s exceptional drum fills. Another cover, Ozzy’s “Revelation (Mother Earth),” reveals a previously unexplored side of Randy Rhoads’ melodic soloing, and the Peck-penned “Out There Somewhere” could easily be tagged as contemporary jazz as Skolnick’s archtop guitar echoes mellifluously throughout, with more of Zebroski’s Neil Peart-like fills at the fade-out. Brandishing swatches of “Fairies Wear Boots,” the über-fuzzy “Western Sabbath Stomp” sounds like prime Sab as interpreted by Blackfoot, a forward-thinking country rocker like Steve Earle, or even the adventurous California Guitar Trio. It’s also the first time that Skolnick has played slide guitar on a record, though he totally sounds like a natural.
From the first note to the last, the band truly gels on this release, and unlike previous albums, the original compositions aren’t at all pedantic, nor are the cover songs fraternizing or too high-brow for casual fans. Since Skolnick and co. are very busy with other various projects, let’s hope that they remember that AST have not yet seen their Last Day in Paradise and will rightfully raise the ante on their next album.

The Alex Skolnick Trio, the band led by Testament guitarist Alex Skolnick, release their latest album, LAST DAY IN PARADISE. LAST DAY IN PARADISE includes the Testament classic "Practice What You Preach" reinter[reted as a Latin Jazz piece and Rush's "Tom Sawyer" in a power Jazz trio setting, along with many more. 

This is real, no messing around jazz. Skolnick is so talented, and his jazz take on Rush and Sabbath remind us that the venerable standards of the jazz canon once started out as popular songs themselves. This guy has chops and taste for days.

One of the greatest albums for AST. I am not a fan of jazz, but Alex knows how to make you fall in love in his own jazz genre. try playing this album after coming back from home and you'll see how much relaxing and energetic this music can be. i think it tops Veritas in some ways. great album! 

Track listing:

1.     "Mercury Retrograde"       4:33
2.     "Last Day in Paradise"       4:51
3.     "Tom Sawyer (Rush cover)"       6:35
4.     "Shades of Grey"       6:23
5.     "Practica Lo Que Predicas (Practice What You Preach) (Testament cover)"       5:16
6.     "The Lizard"       5:17
7.     "Channel 4"       4:26
8.     "Revelation (Mother Earth) (Ozzy Osbourne cover)"       7:20
9.     "Out There Somewhere"       4:48
10.     "Western Sabbath Stomp"       5:24

Personnel:

Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Twelve-String Guitar, Loops [Loops Programming], Vocals – Alex Skolnick
Double Bass, Vocals – Nathan Peck
Drums, Vocals – Matt Zebroski

Monday, December 26, 2016

Joe Satriani - 1988 "Dreaming #11" [EP]

Dreaming #11 is the second EP by guitarist Joe Satriani, released on November 1, 1988 through Relativity Records and reissued on May 27, 1997 through Epic Records. The EP reached No. 42 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and remained on that chart for 26 weeks. Its sole studio track, "The Crush of Love", reached No. 6 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart and was nominated for Best Rock Instrumental Performance at the 1990 Grammy Awards; this being Satriani's second such nomination. The remaining three tracks were recorded live during the Surfing With the Alien (1987) tour. The title track, absent on the EP, would later be released on Satriani's 1993 compilation album Time Machine. Dreaming #11 was certified Gold on August 15, 1991.

Dreaming #11 is something of an oddity: a mini-disc released in 1988 with three live tracks and one new studio track. The live tracks, taken from the Surfing with the Alien tour and featuring the powerful duo of Stuart Hamm on bass and Jonathan Mover on drums, showcase Satriani's outstanding talents in a live atmosphere; however, they've been heard before ("Ice Nine" was on Surfing with the Alien and "Memories" and "Hordes of Locusts" came from Not of This Earth). The studio track, "The Crush of Love," immediately became a favorite of Satriani fans everywhere, mostly because of its catchy tune and its creative use of the wah-wah pedal to give the guitar an almost human voice. A recommended disc for musicians and fans.

This is the first Satch cd I bought and boy was I amazed! I'd never heard anything that cool up to that point. I have every album he's released and as the title says, this is Joe at his peak. I saw him live a few months ago, and even then, he didn't play at this level. The first track is the studio version of "The Crush of Love," a favorite of many. The other three tracks are live and demonstrate how differently he plays songs live. Which is great for someone who already knows the studio versions note-for-note. These songs reach unbelievable heights and leave you wanting more (on the album "Time Machine" there are additional tracks recorded at this concert, so there you go.) As an interesting side point, at the soundcheck for this concert, a lighting technician high above the stage fell five feet in front of the band flat on his back and had to be revived twice with the band's collective knowledge of CPR. It is something that affected them throughout the performance that night. The tracks even had to be slightly altered because Joe didn't even notice that his guitar had become badly out of tune after awhile. Just thought you'd like to know that little bit of trivia concerning this great album. It would be a shame for any guitar fan to go through life without having heard this.  By Guybert.

Joe Satriani is not just a guitar legend, but also a very good all-round musician. Although players like Yngwie Melmstein might be slightly better technically, their compositional and group-performance skills are sometimes awful.

Satch's versatility is what makes him special, and this EP is a good example. The first track, The Crush of Love, is the only studio track on the album, and is a very catchy, pop-rock guitar piece which has some great melodies, but does not showcase Joe's technical skill as much as the other tracks, apart from excellent Wah-pedalling. Don't get me wrong, it is a flawless performance, but Satch is capable of so much more. This is more an example of Satriani's compositional skills and ever-so-lyrical guitar lines.

The rest of the album is recorded live at a concert held in San Diego in 1988. Track two is a performance of Ice Nine, with some new, cool bluesy solos which are full of fast fingerwork, pinch harmonics and wah-pedal.

Memories, the third track, is my favorite track of the album. It is around twice the length of the original, and has some very technically difficult guitar phrases. Jonathan Mover and Stu Hamm are superb on drums and bass on this track, adding another dimension to this song. Joe's solos are diverse, sometimes lyrical and othertimes utilizing dischord in traditional Satch fashion. He uses a many different techniques to achieve this. It enters many different moods to the listener as it progresses through the piece's several movements, and it has quite a different feel to the original recording (perhaps in a more rock style).

The final track on the album is also strong. It makes use of the harmonic minor scale and has quite an "Eastern" feel. It is marginally heavier than the other tracks, and the guitar lines sound almost neoclassically influenced at times, with some touches of prog. Satch again impresses with some difficult phrases, some possibly harder than in Memories (I am not a guitarist, so excuse me if I am wrong). Mover and Hamm again impress, and it is a very solid group performance.

This is a very good album, although is not the best live album from Joe Satriani; for mine his Live in San Francisco and G3 performances are longer and more diverse. However, if you are a fan of Joe it is an essential album. If you are new Satriani, The Electric Joe Satriani - An Anthology gives a good overview, while I would also reccommend Surfing With the Alien, Crystal Planet and The Extremist.
By Timephoenix.

Dreaming No. 11 is an EP consisting of 4 songs, and tries to point out Satriani's live performance. The Crush of Love is the catchy piece, which is the only song in the EP, which has been recorded in the studio, and it showcases Satch's ability to mix sadness with happiness, in a very emotional way. The professional use of wah-wah makes the guitar sing on this one.
The other 3 songs are recorded in live show and Ice 9 is the starter, and it is played mich more faster than the original with some blues stuff thrown in, making it sound very different but cool. Memories is doubled in time and this version last about 9 minutes, showing how Satch can perform songs out of limits, and make them even sound better. the band is only 3 people and yet they manage to sound incredible and catch the spirit of the songs in very different dimensions. A must have for any Satch fan!  


Recorded At The California Theater, San Diego, CA On June 11, 1988. Relativity Records (Studio/Live Recording).

Track listing

All music composed by Joe Satriani.

1.     "The Crush of Love"       4:22
2.     "Ice Nine" (live - California Theatre, San Diego; June 11 1988)     4:41
3.     "Memories" (live - California Theatre, San Diego; June 11 1988)     9:08
4.     "Hordes of Locusts" (live - California Theatre, San Diego; June 11 1988)     5:12
Total length:     23:23

Personnel:

Joe Satriani – guitar, keyboard, bass (track 1), remixing, production
Jeff Campitelli – drums (track 1)
Jonathan Mover – drums (tracks 2–4)
Bongo Bob Smith – percussion (track 1), sound replacement
Stuart Hamm – bass (tracks 2–4)