Saturday, February 17, 2018

Sonny Rollins - 1956 [1999] "Saxophone Colossus"

Saxophone Colossus is a studio album by American jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins. It was recorded on June 22, 1956, with producers Bob Weinstock and Rudy Van Gelder at the latter's studio in Hackensack, New Jersey. Rollins led a quartet on the album that included pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Doug Watkins, and drummer Max Roach. Saxophone Colossus was released later that year by Prestige Records to critical success and helped establish Rollins as a prominent jazz artist.

In 2017, Saxophone Colossus was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or artistically significant."

There are five tracks on the album, three of which are credited to Rollins. "St. Thomas" is a calypso-inspired piece named after Saint Thomas in the Virgin Islands. The tune is traditional and had already been recorded by Randy Weston in 1955 under the title "Fire Down There". (In the booklet provided with the boxed set, The Complete Prestige Recordings, Rollins makes it clear that it was the record company that insisted on his taking credit.) In any case, the piece has since become a jazz standard, and this is its most famous recorded version.

Finally, "Blue 7" is a blues, over eleven minutes long. Its main, rather disjunct melody was spontaneously composed. The performance is among Rollins' most acclaimed, and is the subject of an article by Gunther Schuller entitled "Sonny Rollins and the Challenge of Thematic Improvisation". Schuller praises Rollins on "Blue 7" for the use of motivic development exploring and developing melodic themes throughout his three solos, so that the piece is unified, rather than being composed of unrelated ideas.

Sonny Rollins recorded many memorable sessions during 1954-1958, but Saxophone Colossus is arguably his finest all-around set. Joined by pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Doug Watkins, and drummer Max Roach, Rollins debuts and performs the definitive version of "St. Thomas," tears into the chord changes of "Mack the Knife" (here called "Moritat"), introduces "Strode Rode," is lyrical on "You Don't Know What Love Is," and constructs a solo on "Blue Seven" that practically defines his style. Essential music that, as with all of Rollins' Prestige recordings, has also been reissued as part of a huge "complete" box set; listeners with a tight budget are advised to pick up this single disc and be amazed.

Rollins remains one of the most popular draws on the international jazz circuit, and the qualities that have led to him being dubbed "the greatest living improviser" are still abundantly audible. Last November, at London's Barbican Hall in the city's annual jazz festival, Rollins played without a break for an hour and three-quarters. He rolled through characteristically rough-hewn ballads, blearily soulful blues, unquenchable uptempo bebop runs in double-time full of mocking, police-siren warbles and boneshaking low notes, and wound up on his signature calypso, Don't Stop The Carnival. It was the kind of tour de force this saxophone colossus has been delivering for half a century.

The phrase "saxophone colossus" regularly comes up when Rollins is discussed – not just because he continues to be one, but because the album of that title was the high point of the astonishing creative breakout he made in 1956. Through a succession of improvisational masterpieces that year, his torrential inventiveness began to inspire sax-players everywhere, including John Coltrane. Though he had been the dominant partner in recordings with the Modern Jazz Quartet, Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk that had begun several years before, it was from early 1956 that Rollins really took off. The saxophonist's personal merging of tenor-founder Coleman Hawkins's big-toned gravitas and harmonic sophistication, Charlie Parker's uptempo intensity, and Lester Young's lyricism opened a new chapter of jazz soloing possibilities on a saxophone. During this period Rollins had joined trumpeter Clifford Brown, pianist Richie Powell, bassist George Morrow and former Charlie Parker drummer Max Roach in a group that, under Roach's and Brown's joint leadership, became one of the standard-bearers of a pungent new jazz style dubbed "hard bop". In the clip above, you can hear that band in March 1956 on the Rollins original, Valse Hot.

Rollins's powers seemed to be expanding by the week in this period, and in May he made the Tenor Madness album with fellow saxophonist John Coltrane and Miles Davis's rhythm section of the time. Then in June came Saxophone Colossus. The most thematically interesting and improvisationally unfettered Rollins recording of that year, it featured the calypso St Thomas (the saxophonist's parents came from the Virgin Islands, and calypsos remain a feature of his music still), a reworking of Mack the Knife as the drily eloquent Moritat and a long, steadily-building, tonally colourful and intricate improvisation on a mid-tempo blues (Blue Seven) that came to be widely regarded as one of the great recorded jazz solos.

This eruption of spontaneous music didn't come from nowhere. Rollins had immense natural gifts, but he also grew up in Harlem in the 1930s with some of the most famous musicians of the day - including Duke Ellington and Coleman Hawkins - living around the corner, and pianist Thelonious Monk was a childhood friend who opened his ears to unusual melodies and harmony. Rollins led a high school band that included the Charlie Parker-ish alto saxist Jackie McLean, and Miles Davis was a regular playing partner between 1949 and 1954. After that, the saxophonist was ready to run his own show, as he has done ever since - though the tragic deaths of Clifford Brown and Richie Powell in a car crash, just days after Saxophone Colossus was recorded, undoubtedly brought a shattered Rollins's career as an ensemble sideman to an end sooner that he could have imagined.

Track listing:

1 St. Thomas 6:45
2 You Don't Know What Love Is 6:28
3 Strode Rode 5:13
4 Moritat 10:04
5 Blue Seven 11:17

Personnel:

Sonny Rollins — tenor saxophone
Tommy Flanagan — piano
Doug Watkins — bass
Max Roach — drums

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Jeff Coffin Mu'tet - 2008 "mUtoPIA"

A member of roots-fusion mavericks Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, GRAMMY-award winning saxophonist Jeff Coffin is one of the world’s most visible hornmen. As his insightful yet incendiary playing with the Flecktones demonstrates, Coffin possesses the rare ability to fuse the improvisational intensity of modern jazz with a wide range of influences.

Aided by an all-star cast of jazz, jam, bluegrass, and funk musicians, Jeff Coffin explores an impressive variety of textures and styles, gracing each with his peerless energy, musicianship, and technique. On Mutopia, Coffin presents the most complete picture yet of his eclectic musical vision. Two steps beyond an otherworldly fusion of Ornette Coleman, The Meters, and Medeski, Martin, and Wood, Mutopia puts Jeff Coffin at the forefront of a new generation of improvising musicians for whom boundaries are meaningless and everyone is invited to the party.

Jeff Coffin's work with Béla Fleck's Flecktones has only been somewhat reflective of his efforts as a leader. The saxophonist/composer is quite able in a more progressive, accessibly contemporary style to express his personalized music, which is in many ways substantive and cleverly rendered. While recent efforts have veered toward a commercialized approach, this CD with his Mu'tet bears distinct elements of the Jazz Crusaders and the first bands of Derek Trucks. No doubt the addition of a stout horn section on a few selections, and collaboration with the keyboardist and flute player Kofi Burbridge -- well known for his work with the Trucks band -- has a lot to do with how this group reacts and responds. All in all, there's some very hip music here, ranging from the 7/4 funk with dual electric bass guitarists on "Al's Greens" including a banjo solo from boss man Fleck, to "Move Your Rug" with varying beats in six and seven mixing up the complicated and simplistic horns with a New Orleans beat. The outstanding, developed, dramatic, Middle Eastern flavored "L'Esperance" is introduced by Coffin's resplendent, floating mbira, then his tenor sax and flute foreshadowed Burbridge's desert-to-jungle flute solo. "Turiya" is a calm, serene, and beautiful tribute to the late Alice Coltrane with Coffin on soprano sax and Burbridge on acoustic grand piano. The molasses slow "Sweet Magnolias" offers a legitimate blues framework for Coffin's legato tenor, and a bonus track, "Emma Ya," is a soul deep, light reggae tune. Trombonists Barry Green or Roy Agee are added for the funk-with-a twist track "Tag" or the Stax style soul pop cut "One In, One Out" respectively, with Burbridge jammin' on the Hammond B-3 organ. Agee, trumpeter Rod McGaha, and sousaphonist Joe Murphy expand the horizons of "Move Your Rug." Also present is electric bass guitarist Felix Pastorius, one of the twin sons of the legendary Jaco Pastorius, and fellow Flecktone, drummer Roy "Future Man" Wooten. The collective energy, team work, and top-drawer ability of Coffin, not to mention the diversity of the recording, is hard to deny. This might be the best effort yet for the Mu'tet, top to bottom.

When saxophonist Jeff Coffin joined Béla Fleck & the Flecktones in 1997, he righted their ship. That quartet had released three stellar CDs during 1990-1992, but when original keyboardist/harmonica player Howard Levy left, a void was created. The remaining trio of Fleck (banjo), Victor Wooten (bass) and Futureman (drum synthesizer) drifted before Coffin contributed to Grammy-winning comebacks from Outbound (2000) to The Hidden Land (2006).

Like all Flecktones, Coffin is better suited within that ace improvising quartet than on his own, yet two new solo projects point out his versatility. Coffin’s latest self-titled Mu’tet release improves upon his handful of preceding solo CDs, mainly because of his surrounding, interactive cast. Arc of the Circle, with keyboardist Charlie Peacock, is its polar opposite, an improvisational blend of modern classical and ECM-like influences.

On Mutopia, Futureman (Roy Wooten, Victor’s brother) plays acoustic drums throughout, rather than his guitar-shaped electric SynthAxe, and Fleck and Wooten appear on one track each. But it isn’t the Flecktones’ presence that makes Mutopia tick. Fleck’s cameo is on “Bubble Up,” a buoyant number in 7/8 time that’s highlighted by the Hammond organ lines of Kofi Burbridge (who adds piano and flute elsewhere) and Coffin’s two-man horn section with trombonist Roy Agee. On the dreamy “Al’s Greens,” Wooten trades solos with primary bassist Felix Pastorius, the 26-year-old son of late bass great Jaco. Their exchanges are so seamless that it’s difficult to tell them apart-no small feat, considering Wooten’s musical athleticism.

Coffin plays tenor, alto and baritone saxes on the New Orleans-tinged pieces “One In, One Out” and “Move Your Rug.” The saxophonist, who also plays soprano, flute and percussion, must be given additional credit for the coming-out party of Pastorius, the bravest young musician since Ravi Coltrane took up saxophone. Futureman’s dexterity on actual drums, and Burbridge’s all-purpose playing, add to a CD worthy of Flecktones comparisons.

Arc of the Circle merits no such comparisons, but that’s by design. Coffin and Peacock (who plays piano, synthesizer, Wurlitzer and toy piano) completely improvised the basic tracks before Marc Ribot (electric and resonator guitars), Tony Miracle (electronics and laptop computer) and guest players contributed to the derangements. Peacock may be best known as a producer who’s covered a wide spectrum from Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe to Amy Grant. He uses both grand and toy piano on the opening title track, engaging Coffin’s tenor sax into a game of musical tag.

Ribot and drummer Derrek Phillips contribute heavily to the subsequent, nearly accessible “Rice Dice Mice,” but most of the remaining pieces purposely avoid having a rhythmic anchor. Phillips plays on two other abstract pieces, “Downstairs Room of You” and “Redux: Porky, Boots and Floyd.” The remainder is mostly freeform Peacock and Coffin (on tenor, clarinet, bass clarinet, flute and percussion). If your tastes run toward the Flecktones, Mutopia is the choice of these two releases; if you lean toward free jazz and Charles Ives, it’s Arc of the Circle.

Track listing:

1 Tag 3:29
2 Al's Greens 7:25
3 Bubble Up 5:26
4 One In, One Out 6:06
5 Turiya 10:14
6 L'Esperance 7:49
7 Sweet Magnolias 9:19
8 Move Your Rug 7:18
9 Emma Ya (Hidden Track)

Personnel:

Saxophone, Flute – Jeff Coffin
Drum – Roy Wooten
Electric Bass – Felix Pastorius
Piano, Organ, Keyboards, Flute – Kofi Burbridge
Guest – Alana Rocklin, Barry Green, Black Cat Sylvester, Béla Fleck, Chris Walters (5), Doug Belote, Pat Bergeson, R. Scott Bryan, Rod McGaha, Roy Agee, Victor Wooten

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Jethro Tull - 1968 [1987] "This Was"

This Was is the debut album by the British progressive rock band Jethro Tull, released in 1968. Recorded at a cost of £1200, it is the only Jethro Tull album with guitarist Mick Abrahams, who was a major influence for the sound and music style of the band's first songs. When the album was released the band was already performing at the Marquee Club in London, where other successful British groups, such as the Rolling Stones and The Who, had started their careers.

While vocalist Ian Anderson's creative vision largely shaped Jethro Tull's later albums, on This Was Anderson shared songwriting duties with Tull's guitarist Mick Abrahams. In part due to Abrahams' influence, the album incorporates more rhythm and blues and jazz influences than the progressive rock the band later became known for. In particular:

The music to "My Sunday Feeling", "Some Day the Sun Won't Shine for You", "Beggar's Farm" and "It's Breaking Me Up" are based on blues progressions, with "Some Day the Sun Won't Shine for You" arranged similarly to Big Bill Broonzy's blues standard "Key to the Highway".
"Cat's Squirrel" (included in the album "because people like it", according to the liner notes) was written by Doctor Ross and covered as an instrumental by numerous 1960s British blues bands, including the supergroup Cream. Abrahams would later perform the song in his post-Jethro Tull blues band Blodwyn Pig.
The album includes a cover version of Roland Kirk's jazz standard "Serenade to a Cuckoo". According to the liner notes, "Cuckoo" was one of the first tunes Ian Anderson learned to play on the flute.
The coda of "My Sunday Feeling" incorporates quotes from two well-known jazz tunes, Henry Mancini's "Pink Panther Theme" (specifically the song's bass line, played as a short solo by Glenn Cornick) and Nat Adderley's and Oscar Brown, Jr.'s "Work Song".
This Was also contains the only Jethro Tull lead vocal not performed by Ian Anderson on a studio album, in "Move on Alone". Mick Abrahams, the song's author, provided vocals on the track; David Palmer provided the horn arrangement.

Abrahams left Jethro Tull following the album's completion in a dispute over "musical differences". Thus, the album's title probably refers to Abraham's' blues influence on the album and how blues weren't the direction Anderson wanted the band to go. As said in the liner notes of the original record, "This was how we were playing then – but things change – don't they?"

The song "Dharma for One", a staple of Tull's early concerts (usually incorporating an extended drum solo by Clive Bunker), was later covered by Ekseption, Pesky Gee! and The Ides of March. This song featured the "claghorn", an instrument invented by Jeffrey Hammond. Anderson also claims to have invented the instrument.

Jethro Tull was very much a blues band on their debut album, vaguely reminiscent of the Graham Bond Organization only more cohesive, and with greater commercial sense. The revelations about the group's roots on This Was -- which was recorded during the summer of 1968 -- can be astonishing, even 30 years after the fact. Original lead guitarist Mick Abrahams contributed to the songwriting and the singing, and his presence as a serious bluesman is felt throughout, often for the better: "Some Day the Sun Won't Shine for You," an Ian Anderson original that could just as easily be credited to Big Bill Broonzy or Robert Johnson; "Cat's Squirrel," Abrahams' big showcase, where he ventures into Eric Clapton territory; and "It's Breaking Me Up," which also features some pretty hot guitar from Abrahams. Roland Kirk's "Serenade to a Cuckoo" (the first song Anderson learned to play on flute), their jazziest track ever, is one of the best parts of the album. The drum solo on "Dharma for One" now seems like a mistake, but is understandable in the context of the time in which it was done. The one number here that everybody knows, "A Song for Jeffrey," almost pales amid these surroundings, but at the time it was a superb example of commercial psychedelic blues. This would be the last album of its kind by the group, as Abrahams' departure and the lure of more fertile inspiration tugged them toward English folk music. Curiously, the audio mix here is better than that on their second album, with a much stronger, harder group sound overall. In late 2001, This Was was reissued in a remastered edition with much crisper sound and three bonus tracks. The jazzy improvisation "One for John Gee" (a reference to the manager of the Marquee Club), the folky "Love Story" (which marked the end of Mick Abrahams' tenure with the group), and the novelty piece "Christmas Song" have all been heard before but, more to the point, they're worth hearing again, especially in the fidelity they have here.

In June 1968, just before this album was recorded, Jethro Tull began a residency at London’s famed Marquee Club (where the ‘Stones and The Who also launched their careers). Band advisers failed to get Ian to give up the flute and let Mick do all the singing. The album was recorded without any record company contract presuming, correctly, that a deal could be made afterwards.

Tull began their first US tour in January 1969, immediately after securing the services of guitarist Martin Barre.

The album had little commercial impact in the US charts (#62) but the U.S. tour did earn the band a strong cult following.

Track listing:

01 My Sunday Feeling 3:38
02 Some Day The Sun Won't Shine For You 2:42
03 Beggar's Farm 4:19
04 Move On Alone 2:00
05 Serenade To A Cuckoo 6:01
06 Dharma For One 4:11
07 It's Breaking Me Up 4:56
08 Cat's Squirrel 5:36
09 A Song For Jeffrey 3:18
10 Round 0:50

Personnel:

Ian Anderson – lead vocals (1–3, 7, 9), flute, mouth organ, "claghorn", piano
Mick Abrahams – guitar, backing and lead (4) vocals, nine-string guitar
Glenn Cornick – bass guitar
Clive Bunker – drums, hooter, charm bracelet

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Oriente Lopez - 2012 "Aguas Profundas"

Oriente López - Aguas Profundas

For those not familiar with the talented Oriente López , as a way of introduction, we had the pleasure of experiencing him play at the Southampton Arts Center  in Southampton, New York with Nilson Matta's Brazilian Voyage  in late March 2017 where he played with Nilson and Mauricio Zottarelli, who plays on Aguas Profundas,  and were impressed with his mastery and style on both piano and flute. In addition to being a musician, he is also a musical director, composer, arranger, producer, and multi-Grammy winner (2004 - Land Of The Sun with Charlie Haden and Gonzolo Rubalcaba, and 2001 - Paquito D'Rivera Quintet Live at The Blue Note with Paquito D'Rivera), he won an ASCAP plus USA award for composing from 2000 - 2011, and received the EGREM award from Cuba for two 1988 recordings, Eclipse de Sol with Afrocuba, and Causas Y Azares with Silvio Rodriguez and Afrocuba.

The 13-track release opens with the lively Centro Habana featuring the legendary 14-Grammy award winner, Paquito D'Rivera on alto sax joining Oriente, Itaiguara Brandão, and Mauricio Zottarelli. Next in the line-up is the title track, Aguas Profundas with special guest, Brazilian Jazz guitarist, Romero Lubambo working his magic, and Oriente playing both piano and flute on this amazing track that flows effortlessly, then segues into the song AEIOU where special guest Henrik Meurkens layers in the harmonica. 

Drum enthusiasts will appreciate Mauricio Zottarelli's long drum solo on Hurry Up, followed by the track, Chase where once again Romero Lubambo joins the trio and blends in his guitar rhythms. The release continues with the track Congoja, a perfect vehicle to highlight Oriente López 's exceptionally fine piano work. Carrusel is just the trio and that is more than enough to create a dynamic piece, and on Midtown Waltz, Henrick Meurkens returns to add harmonica. 

The release continues with Sabor Intelectual, which translates from Spanish to Intellectual Flavor, which indeed it is, with Cuban-born Paquito D'Rivera on clarinet, Cuban-born Oriente López on piano, and Brazilians Romero Lubambo on guitar, Itaiguara Brandão on electric bass, and Mauricio Zottarelli on drums and percussion. The track Wait once again features the core trio.

SOS opens with special guest Luis Felipe Lamoglia layering in the tenor sax, then the trio finishes strongly with the track, Tornado, and the closing track Umbral, which slows the pace, and brings the listener down gently to reflect and catch one's breath on this masterfully crafted release. From start to finish, Aguas Profundas is like a long, cool drink of water on a hot day; completely satisfying.

Rhythmically complex acoustic music ensemble with strong melodies and virtuosic performances.

Oriente López wrote all the music for Aguas Profundas, as well as produced it for OHL Music.

Recorded October 2009 by Michael Brorby - Acoustic Recording, Brooklyn NYC, and February 2010 by Sal Mormando - Kaleidoscope Sound, Union City NJ,

Mixed and Masterized May 2011 by Dave Darlington - Bass Hit Recording Manhattan NYC,

Art Work: "Vision Of Sound" by Yanusz Gilewicz,

Photo by David Zacks

All songs written by Oriente Lopez OHL Music

Track listing:

1. Centro Habana 4:20
2. Aguas Profundas 4:53
3. Aeiou 4:51
4. Hurry Up 5:02
5. Chase 4:35
6. Congoja 3:28
7. Carrusel 4:53
8. Midtwon Waltz 4:52
9. Sabor Intelectual 4:49
10. Wait 3:04
11. Sos 5:03
12. Tornado 5:06
13. Umbral 4:07

Personnel:

Oriente Lopez - Piano, Keyboards, Voice, Flute & Alto Flute
Itaiguara Brandao - Electric Bass
Mauricio Zottarelli - Drums & Percussion
Paquito D'Rivera - Alto Sax, Clarinet
Hendrik Muerkens - Harmonica
Romero Lubambo - Guitar
Luis Felipe Lamoglia - Tenor Sax

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Dave Holland - 2006 "Critical Mass"

Critical Mass is a 2006 album release by the Dave Holland Quintet, and the first to feature drummer Nate Smith. This is the first Dave Holland Quintet album to be released outside the ECM label, through which he had released all of his albums since his 1972 debut as leader, Conference of the Birds.

It's been five years since the last studio record by Dave Holland's quintet. But between touring on its own and as the core of Holland's big band, which was responsible for the outstanding Overtime (Dare2, 2005), the unit shows no sign of slowing down. Critical Mass proves that when the chemistry is right, even longstanding bands can continue to improve by introducing new elements, without forgetting what made them great in the first place.

The quintet has been together for close to a decade with only two changes. Saxophonist Chris Potter, who replaced Steve Wilson after Points of View (ECM, 1998), quickly evolved a virtually telepathic link with trombonist Robin Eubanks that has been one of the quintet's signatures. Despite the concern about drummer Billy Kilson leaving the group over two years ago, newcomer Nate Smith has already proven that while his overall approach is lighter, he's equally capable. Critical Mass is his first recording with the group, and there's been no loss of chemistry or distinct identity.

Always a democratic leader, Holland has once again encouraged everyone to contribute compositionally. The leader wrote half of the album's eight tunes, the other players one tune apiece. The group's sound has always been defined by its unique instrumentation: there isn't a sound like it anywhere else. Steve Nelson's vibes and marimba provide a chordal foundation for a trombone/saxophone front line. But even a unique textural conception can grow tiring after a number of years, and it's to these musicians' credit that this quintet remains as vital as ever.

Holland's "The Eyes Have It opens the disc on a familiar note; the bassist and drummer's inescapable groove makes even the most complicated bar shifts feel natural. Potter gets better with each passing year, employing the perfect combination of melodic invention and passionate energy. But it's after Holland's solo, where Potter empathically solos in tandem with an equally intuitive Eubanks, that we're reminded of this group's real magic.

Holland revisits the Middle Eastern vibe of Points of View's "Bedouin Trail, but "Secret Garden feels more authentic, the result of Smith's rhythmic yet textural approach, while Eubanks' "Full Circle proves that it's possible to swing in any time signature.

But the real surprise is saved for last. Nelson's own records have been decidedly mainstream efforts. On "Amator Silenti he's written an episodic composition that goes from a rubato tone poem to a lyrical ballad to angular free play, and that's something new for the quintet. After building to a fever pitch, it ultimately returns to its more melodic beginning.

Proof that it's possible to retain one's identity while breaking new ground, Critical Mass continues a streak of winning records for Holland that shows no sign of letting up.

Bassist extraordinaire Dave Holland believes that like fine wine, music shouldn't be unbottled before its time. Holland and his highly regarded quintet spent a year and a half honing and retooling the music on their new album until it reached the point he calls "critical mass, where "it has become what it's going to be.

That patience, care and commitment to getting things right is evident throughout Critical Mass. This is the work of a working band, a group with five distinct, creative personalities that's been together almost in its entirety—with the exception of new drummer Nate Smith—for nearly a decade. Under Holland's generous leadership, each member of the quintet gets plenty of room to solo and contribute his own ideas to the mix. Each also contributes an original composition, to go along with four from Holland.

The result is some of the most exciting, serious jazz around, a superbly crafted mix of the mainstream and the avant-garde, the cerebral and the swinging. From Holland's hypnotic, Middle Eastern-influenced "Secret Garden to the exploratory funk of Robin Eubanks' "Full Circle, the group exhibits impressive passion, cohesion and sense of adventure. In a band filled with stars, Chris Potter stands out for his tour de force saxophone work, weaving edgy, serpentine lines above Eubanks' steady, more laid-back trombone. Longtime Holland cohort Steve Nelson again shines on vibes and marimba; Nelson wrote the album's most challenging tune, the evocative "Amator Silenti.

This particular lineup of Dave Holland's longstanding quintet had apparently been working for eighteen months prior to recording this disc, and that simple fact oozes out of every note played. There is a level of cohesion and empathy here that arguably can come only from such longstanding associations.
Holland is anything but despotic in his leadership responsibilities, and every member of the group gets a composer's credit here. The result is a diversity of approaches that makes for rewarding listening, and there is an object lesson in this for countless other groups working in this modern mainstream field.

In addition to Holland's bass, the rhythm section is rounded out by Steve Nelson, principally on vibes, though he makes some telling contributions on marimba, and drummer Nate Smith. They give the music an airy, perhaps understated quality, at times taking in earthy funk in a satisfyingly contradictory way, while Robin Eubanks' trombone takes the music in the same direction. The resulting balance is down entirely to the musical personalities of the players involved.

This is perhaps best exemplified on Holland's "Easy Did It," where for once a title is apt for all the right reasons. Chris Potter plays soprano sax here, and his work on that horn has arguably greater character than his tenor playing. While he doesn't approach the individuality of, say, Steve Lacy on the straight horn, he does have an exceptional grasp of tonal nuance.

There's an awful lot of music in this vein out there at the moment, and whilst it's always faultlessly played, it can be a little wearing having to try and identify soloists through note patterns alone. There is no such concern here, which makes this disc a rarity. The soloists have identities of their own and there's nothing in the way of the usual overstatement here. What emerges instead is the impression of a band mining a rich musical seam with skill and aplomb.

http://jazz-rock-fusion-guitar.blogspot.com/search?q=dave+Holland

Track listing:

1 "The Eyes Have It" (Dave Holland) - 7:00
2 "Easy Did It" (Dave Holland) - 11:16
3 "Vicissitudes" (Chris Potter) - 9:56
4 "The Leak" (Nate Smith) - 5:42
5 "Secret Garden" (Dave Holland) - 8:42
6 "Lucky Seven" (Dave Holland) - 8:35
7 "Full Circle" (Robin Eubanks) - 12:11
8 "Amator Silenti" (Steve Nelson) - 9:17

Personnel:

Chris Potter - tenor & soprano saxophones
Robin Eubanks - trombone
Steve Nelson - vibraphone, marimba & tambourine
Dave Holland - double bass
Nate Smith - drums

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Gabor Szabo - 1967 [1997] "The Sorcerer"

The Sorcerer is a live album by Hungarian jazz guitarist Gábor Szabó featuring performances recorded in 1967 for the Impulse! label.

Gabor Szabo's quintet featuring Jimmy Stewart was one of the guitarist's very best units. Live performances like this, recorded at Boston's Jazz Workshop, document some of the excitement the group stirred in 1967-1968. Included in the 1997 CD reissue are three excellent tracks ("Los Matadoros," "People," and "Corcovado") recorded at the same concert, which originally appeared on More Sorcery. The playing seems inspired, and the interplay within the group is something to behold -- even when performing lightweight tunes like "The Beat Goes On."

Hungarian guitarist Szabo got his start with drummer Chico Hamilton (who also discovered Eric Dolphy and Charles Lloyd, among others), but was soon off on his own with a unique hybrid of jazz improv and a twang reminiscent of surf guitar. By the 1970s he had descended into Donovan and Carpenters covers (and even those are pretty groovy in a hip-kitsch manner), but this CD combines two LPs that captured him live at his 1967 peak. Well, there is a Sonny and Cher tune, but it's a good one. Also featured is a second guitarist, Jimmy Stewart, and the meshing Eastern-tinged comping of the two is as hypnotic as the title.

My introduction to Gabor Szabo was back in the late 1960s when the older brother of a girlfriend turned me on to his music and the music of a great many others. I was only twelve or thirteen at the time, but even at that age could see that this was something special.
Over the years, I ended up buying this album and a few other early Szabo albums and even had the good fortune to see him perform live at the Boojum Tree in Phoenix in the mid-70s.
I hadn't listened in years, however, until recently a friend I was visiting had it on his CD player.
Ah! The memories it brought back! When I got home, I ordered it here and when it arrived the music instantly transported me back to those halcyon days of long ago. My favorites here are Little Boat, Lou-ise, Space, Mizrab, and the magnificent Spanish-tinged tour de force, Los Matodoros. Szabo's play is redolent of the mysteries of the Old World and with Jimmy Stewart playing in counterpoint to him, your listening pleasure is doubled.
Though I agree with some of the reviewers that The Beat Goes On, People, and Corcovado are cheesy, their inclusion on this CD does not detract from its five-star rating. Those who know the music of Szabo know he had an odd fondness for some songs that have no musical merit but there is less of that kind of pap here than on some of his later recordings.
Anyone who is enjoys jazz or simply great guitar playing should be interested in hearing this. The Sorcerer epitomizes late 60s jazz and that makes it an essential addition to any serious fan's CD library.

The first fusion recordings are atributed to Miles Davis' late sixties quintet with Wayne Shorter, and perhaps this is correct, but the jazz/rock/world music (Brazilian/Spanish/Indian) brew that Gabor Szabo was concocting in this 1960's session cannot be overlooked as something inconsequential. It's not only Szabo's pop/rock leanings but his approach to playing the guitar which should assure his inclusion among the pioneers of the musical genre that was later to be called fusion. He often uses sound effects and drone tones as well as chords and single-note techniques that were quite outside the standard jazz vocabulary of the time. Aside from that the record is thick with the late 60's atmosphere - I can just picture a smoky coffee house filled with smells of coffee, cigarette smoke and incense. It is no surprise that Carlos Santana quotes Szabo as one his earliest influences.

Some songs meander meaninglessly without developing a cohesive solo, but there are some others with some nicely done solos as well. He does a great job on the bossa novas - some people will say they are cheesy, but you have to remember that in the sixties, bossas were absolutely in vogue, and therefore super cool.

A nice album that will definetly appeal more to the fusion fans than jazz purists.

Time is a funny thing. Dig, today a lot of folks don’t know his name, but back in the day, Hungarian gypsy guitarist Gabor Szabo was The Guy. His crystalline, single-note bursts of emotional swing and baroquely romantic effluence made him a latter-day Django. An immensely popular guitarist, Szabo’s music was the soundtrack of choice for the hip ’70s careerist. At first, known only to the jazz world, Szabo was elevated into the larger pop consciousness with his album The Sorcerer. A beguiling blend of eastern motifs, Old World noblesse oblige and ripe drama, The Sorcerer was recorded at Boston’s legendary Jazz Workshop with his working quartet (Jimmy Smith, guitar; Louis Kabok, bass; Marty Morell, drums; Hal Gordon, percussion). Convincing proof that it is high high time for a major reappraisal of Gabor Szabo’s works.

Track listing:

Recorded at The Jazz Workshop in Boston, Massachusetts on April 14 & 15, 1967

"The Beat Goes On" (Sonny Bono) - 4:52
"Little Boat (O Barquinho)" (Ronaldo Bôscoli, Roberto Menescal) - 4:23
"Lou-Ise" (Jimmy Stewart) - 4:17
"What Is This Thing Called Love?" (Cole Porter) - 5:18
"Space" - 6:40
"Stronger Than Us" (Francis Lai, Pierre Barough) - 4:13
"Mizrab" - 6:58
"Comin' Back" (Clyde Otis, Gábor Szabó) 1:56
"Los Matadoros" - 12:09 (Bonus track on CD reissue)
"People" (Jule Styne, Bob Merrill) - 5:18 (Bonus track on CD reissue)
"Corcovado" (Antônio Carlos Jobim) - 3:22 (Bonus track on CD reissue)

Personnel:

Gábor Szabó - guitar
Jimmy Stewart - guitar
Lajos "Louis" Kabok - bass
Marty Morell – drums
Hal Gordon - percussion

Friday, February 2, 2018

Various Artists ‎– 1993 The Rolling Stone Collection - "25 Years Of Essential Rock" [7 CD Box]

Various Artists ‎– The Rolling Stone Collection - 25 Years Of Essential Rock

Not everyone who was a rock music fan during at least part of the 25 years covered by the seven CDs in this collection will agree on what was the most "essential rock" of this era. Since this collection is associated with Rolling Stone magazine, you would be correct if you assumed that some of the magazine's favorite artists would be included here: Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, The Who, Prince, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Byrds, and Talking Heads. But also here are cuts by Led Zeppelin, a group the magazine generally did not consider to be anything special. The collection includes one #1 hit single, "I Want to Know What Love Is" by Foreigner; many non-hits, such as "The Crystal Ship", the B-side of the Doors #1 smash, "Light My Fire" (which is not included in this collection); some well-regarded efforts that were only available as album tracks; and some selections that are unknown singles by unknown artists to most rock fans, such as "See No Evil" by Television. For most potential buyers it will include some selections they already have on a CD and others they've never heard before. It may even introduce them to some artists they will grow to love. By the way, the sound quality of this collection is uniformly excellent.

This collection retailed for $100.00 when first released in 1993.There has never been a better collection of Rock Classics -- probably never will be, what with the difficulties of gaining clearances and gathering the best materials. The seven CDs are divided into the years covered: 1967-69; 1969-70; 1971-73; 1973-77; 1977-82; 1982-86; 1986-92. Enclosed in each CD is a booklet with a capsule history of the music and a complete artist/title list. All of which contain from 15 to 17 tracks, for a total of 110.

A 7 CD, 110 song collection that includes Casey Jones and Touch of Grey by the Grateful Dead. Also includes tracks by Quicksilver Messenger Service, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother & The Holding Company, Santana, Moby Grape, Bob Dylan, Sly & The Family Stone and the Steve Miller Band.....and MANY more!

Artists - Tracklist:

CD 1
1967 - 1969
01 Bob Dylan  -  Like A Rolling Stone
02 Buffalo Springfield  -  For What It's Worth 
03 Moby Grape  -  Omaha 
04 Quicksilver Messenger Service  -  Dino's Song 
05 Donovan  -  Season Of The Witch 
06 The Doors  -  Crystal Ship 
07 The Jimi Hendrix Experience  -  Spanish Castle Magic
08 Cream  -  Crossroads 
09 The Who  -  I Can See For Miles 
10 The Jimi Hendrix Experience  -  All Along The Watchtower
11 Jeff Beck Group  -  Beck's Bolero 
12 Big Brother & The Holding Company  -  Piece Of My Heart 
13 The Band  -  The Weight
14 The Byrds -  Wasn't Born To Follow 
15 Johnny Winter  -  Highway 61 Revisited 
16 Jefferson Airplane  -  3/5 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds 
17 Traffic  -  Dear Mr. Fantasy

CD 2
1969 - 1970
01 MC5  -  Kick Out The Jams 
02 Santana  -  Everybody's Everything 
03 The Steve Miller Band  -  My Dark Hour 
04 Neil Young  -  The Loner 
05 Bob Dylan  -  Lay Lady Lay 
06 Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young  -  Ohio 
07 Boz Scaggs  -  Loan Me A Dime 
08 The Jackson 5  -  I Want You Back
09 Sly & The Family Stone  -  Thank You (Falletin Me Be Mice Elf Agin) 
10 John Lennon and The Plastic Ono Band  -  Working Class Hero 
11 Creedence Clearwater Revival  -  Fortunate Son 
12 Eric Clapton  -  Blues Power 
13 Grateful Dead  -  Casey Jones 
14 The Allman Brothers Band  -  Dreams 
15 Led Zeppelin -  Friends 

CD 3
1971 - 1973
01 Rod Stewart  -  Maggie May 
02 The Who  -  Won't Get Fooled Again 
03 Stevie Wonder  -  Superstition 
04 Marvin Gaye  -  What's Going On 
05 Joni Mitchell  -  California 
06 Paul Simon  -  Mother And Child Reunion 
07 Randy Newman  -  Sail Away 
08 The Eagles  -  Take It Easy 
09 Bonnie Raitt  -  Give It Up (Or Let Me Go) 
10 Little Feat  -  Dixie Chicken 
11 The Allman Brothers Band  -  Ramblin' Man 
12 Derek & The Dominos  -  Bell Bottom Blues 
13 Mott The Hoople  -  All The Young Dudes 
14 Lou Reed  -  Walk On The Wild Side 
15 Bob Dylan  -  Knockin' On Heaven's Door

CD 4
1973 - 1977
01 David Bowie  -  Rebel Rebel 
02 Ry Cooder  -  It's All Over Now 
03 Bob Marley & The Wailers  -  No Woman No Cry 
04 Elton John  -  Daniel 
05 James Taylor  -  Mexico 
06 Bob Dylan  -  Simple Twist Of Fate
07 Neil Young  -  Tonight's The Night 
08 Led Zeppelin  -  Trampled Under Foot 
09 Bruce Springsteen -  Born To Run 
10 Graham Parker  -  Heat Treatment 
11 The Ramones  -  Blitzkrieg Bop 
12 Fleetwood Mac  -  Go Your Own Way 
13 Bonnie Raitt  -  Runaway 
14 Jackson Browne  -  The Pretender 
15 The Eagles  -  Hotel California 
16 Wings  -  Maybe I'm Amazed

CD 5
1977 - 1982
01 The Sex Pistols  -  God Save The Queen 
02 Television  -  See No Evil 
03 Elvis Costello  -  Watching The Detectives 
04 The Patti Smith Group  -  We Three 
05 Ian Dury And The Blockheads  -  Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll 
06 Warren Zevon  -  Werewolves Of London
07 Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers  -  Refugee 
08 Ry Cooder  -  Little Sister
09 The Kinks  -  A Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy 
10 Dire Straits  -  Sultans Of Swing 
11 The Cars  -  Just What I Needed 
12 The Clash  -  Train In Vain (Stand By Me) 
13 The Pretenders  -  Brass In Pocket 
14 U2 -  I Will Follow 
15 Prince  -  When U Were Mine 
16 Richard And Linda Thompson  -  Wall Of Death 
17 Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five  -  The Message

CD 6
1982 - 1986
01 Eurythmics  -  Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) 
02 The J. Geils Band  -  Freeze Frame 
03 Prince  -  Little Red Corvette 
04 Talking Heads  -  Life During Wartime 
05 Sting  -  If You Love Somebody Set Them Free 
06 Don Henley  -  The Boys Of Summer 
07 Prince  -  When Doves Cry 
08 Bruce Springsteen  -  Born In The USA 
09 U2  -  Pride (In The Name Of Love) 
10 Madonna  -  Borderline 
11 Cyndi Lauper  -  She Bop 
12 Paul Simon  -  Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes 
13 John Mellencamp  -  Rain On The Scarecrow 
14 Jackson Browne  -  Lives In The Balance 
15 Foreigner  -  I Want To Know What Love Is

CD 7
1986 - 1992
01 The Bangles  -  Manic Monday 
02 Run D.M.C.  -  Walk This Way 
03 Robert Cray Band, The  -  Smoking Gun 
04 Living Colour  -  Cult Of Personality 
05 The B-52's  -  Love Shack 
06 Grateful Dead  -  Touch Of Grey 
07 Don Henley  -  The End Of The Innocence 
08 Tracy Chapman  -  Talkin' Bout A Revolution 
09 Public Enemy  -  Fight The Power 
10 The Vaughan Brothers  -  White Boots 
11 Bonnie Raitt  -  Thing Called Love 
12 The Black Crowes  -  Hard To Handle 
13 R.E.M.  -  Losing My Religion 
14 Robbie Robertson  -  Shake This Town 
15 Spin Doctors  -  Little Miss Can't Be Wrong

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Various Artists - 2009 "This Is Fusion Guitar"

Over the last ten years Tone Center has become the leader of the jazz/fusion guitar genre and is known for it's recordings of players who possess the highest quality of musicianship. This significant compilation of the BEST OF TONE CENTER is a proud moment for Tone Center and it's faithful followers.

Track listing / Artist:

01 Becks Bolero - Eric Johnson
02 Oye Como Va - Mike Stern
03 Extraction - Greg Howe
04 Funhouse - Chris Poland
05 Freeway Jam - Steve Morse
06 Dr. Hee - Scott Henderson
07 All In Your Head - Frank Gambale
08 Colliding Chimps - TJ Helmrich , Brett Garsed
09 Pickled Hearing - Jimmy Herring
10 Plankton - Larry Coryell
11 D'Funk'D - Dave Fiuczynski
12 Terrabill Blues - Bill Connors

Contributing Artists:

Larry Coryell, Eric Johnson, Frank Gambale, Steve Morse, Mike Stern, Chris Poland, Scott Henderson, Greg Howe, Bill Connors, Jimmy Herring, TJ Helmerich, Dave Ficuzynski

Producer:

Larry Coryell, Victor Wooten, Frank Gambale, Steve Smith, Tom Coster, Mike Varney, Jeff Richman, T Lavitz, Robert M. Biles, Ricky Keller, Stuart Hamm, Greg Howe, Pat Thrall, Brett Garsed, Kim Plainfield

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Brian Bromberg - 1993 "Brian Bromberg"

Brian Bromberg (born December 5, 1960) is an American jazz bassist and record producer who performs on both electric and acoustic instruments. Though he tends to gravitate towards the genre of smooth jazz, Bromberg has released some straight-ahead jazz records in which he performs with a trio, and has even ventured into more rock-oriented jazz fusion territory as of late. His innovative and technically demanding style of playing extends to both electric and upright bass. On his acoustic bass albums, Bromberg performs jazzy interpretations of various pop and rock staples from the 1960s and '70s completely solo. Regarding his work with electric bass, Bromberg, among other bassists, helped popularize the piccolo bass, or bass with each string tuned an octave up, by releasing several albums in which he plays both the bass line and melody. For instance, upon first listen many will be surprised to learn that, although soaring guitar can be heard throughout the album, Bromberg's 2005 release Metal contains only Bromberg on two overdubbed basses, one of which is heavily effects-laden to make it sound like an electric guitar.

A very versatile acoustic and electric bassist capable of playing straight-ahead jazz, funk, and fusion, Brian Bromberg is also one of the few bassists to master the tapping technique made famous by Stanley Jordan, sometimes sounding like three bassists at once during his often-thunderous solos. Although he was a drummer at the age of 13, the following year Bromberg started classical lessons on bass. He developed quickly and by the time he was 19, he was part of Stan Getz's group. Bromberg has been a valuable sidemen with many bands since including those led by Horace Silver, Monty Alexander, Dizzy Gillespie, Richie Cole, Lee Ritenour, Dave Grusin, and Freddie Hubbard.

He recorded his first album as a leader in 1986 (A New Day for the Black Hawk label) and has since led sessions for Intima and Nova. Into the next century, Brian Bromberg remained one of the most underrated bassists in jazz. That would change. Bromberg's initial albums as a leader were smooth jazz affairs, including 1986's A New Day, 1988's Basses Loaded, and 1989's Magic Rain, but he switched gears for 1991's It's About Time: The Acoustic Project, a more mainstream acoustic jazz record. The next release, though, 1993's self-titled Brian Bromberg, saw him return again to the smooth jazz feel of his earlier albums. Signing with Zebra Records, Bromberg released 1998's You Know That Feeling, which featured Rick Braun, Joe Sample, Jeff Lorber, Everette Harp, and other notables from the smooth jazz genre.
WoodBromberg next went back to straight jazz for 2002's Wood, followed by a tribute to bassist Jaco Pastorius -- simply titled Jaco -- a short time later in 2003. A sequel to Wood, Wood II, appeared in 2005, and Bromberg had clearly moved out of the box of his smooth jazz phase, particularly with the rapid-fire, amazing bass solos that made up Metal, which appeared later in 2005. He also became a highly sought after record producer, with several charting projects in his résumé.
It Is What It Is Continually stretching himself on bass, Bromberg moved farther outside of the box with 2009's It Is What It Is. The following year, he paid tribute to guitar legend Jimi Hendrix with Bromberg Plays Hendrix. He then gathered an all-star cast of musicians, including Alex Acuña, Randy Brecker, George Duke, Béla Fleck for 2012's Compared to That.
Full Circle Taking time out from his solo work, Bromberg appeared on albums by Till Brönner, Andrea Bocelli, Andreas Varady, and others. In 2016, he returned with Full Circle, which included guest appearances from Arturo Sandoval, Kirk Whalum, and others.

On his self-titled album for Nova, bassist Brian Bromberg employs a who's who of smooth jazz and fusion talent for a varied outing that runs the gamut. Kenny Rankin appears on the vocal version of the hit "Her Eyes, Her Heart," -- its instrumental is also included -- while guitarist Lee Ritenour, keyboard and programming whiz Jeff Lorber, and Kirk Whalum trade places with the likes of jazz harmonica boss Toots Thielemans and saxophone master Ernie Watts, who get in the groove too. Ivan Lins lends his vocal talents to a few numbers as well. In some ways, this is a very schizophrenic recording, though it works well. There are groovers like the opener "Summer Afternoon," which walks the jazz-funk tightrope, smooth cuts like the aforementioned, "My Brother," and "Intimadagé," and knotty fusion workouts such as "Tunnel Vision," and "Sedona," and even big groovers like "Yo!," with Thielemans, and Bob Boykin's "Bern City." What makes the album hold together so beautifully is sequencing. It's a big, glossy production handled by Bromberg's brother David (no relation to the American roots music master), but gives listeners a bit of everything.

Track listing:

01 Summer Afternoon 4:50
02 Bass Face 5:12
03 Her Eyes, Her Heart 4:59
04 My Brother 4:56
05 Tunnel Vision (For Miles) 4:59
06 I'll Be Around This Time 4:58
07 Intimadagé 4:50
08 Yo! 4:03
09 Bern City 4:03
10 Sedona 6:51
11 The Blessing 5:55
12 Her Eyes, Her Heart (Vocal Version) 4:59
13 My Bass 3:42

Personnel:

Brian Bromberg - Bass [Nylon String Piccolo Bass, 4-String Contra Bass, Stereo Panning String Bass, 4-String Bass, Tenor Bass, Nylon String Fretless Bass, Piccolo Bass, Fretless Bass, Stereo Panning String Piccolo Bass, Signature Peavey 4-String Bass]
Lee Ritenour - Acoustic Guitar
Jeff Lorber - Keyboards, Drum Programming
Joel Taylor - Drums
Paul Jackson Jr. - Rhythm Guitar
Toots Theilemans - Harmonica
Kirk Whalum - Tenor Saxophone
Everette Harp - Tenor Saxophone
Doug Webb - Tenor Saxophone
Michael Shapiro - Percussion
Marc Hugenberger - Piano, Programmed By [Keyboard Programming]
Bob Boykin - Rhythm Guitar
Mitchel Forman, Tom Zink - Keyboards
Bill Cantos,  Ivan Lins, Kenny Rankin - Voice
Tony Guerrero, Gary Grant - Trumpet
Ernie Watts - Saxophone
Bill Reichenbach  - Trombone

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Lavitz, Weckl, Gambale, Goodman, Patitucci & Morse - 2007 "School Of The Arts"

School Of The Arts: The brainchild of keyboardist extraordinaire T Lavitz (Dixie Dregs, Jazz Is Dead), SOTA culls the supreme talents of such fusion and progressive instrumental music heavyweights as drummer Dave Weckl (Chick Corea) bassist John Patitucci (Corea, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter), guitarist Frank Gambale (Corea, Vital Information), electric violinist Jerry Goodman of Mahavishnu Orchestra, Shadowfax, and Dixie Dregs fame, and T's longtime friend, Dregs mastermind, and Magna Carta label mate, monster axeman Steve Morse. “School of the Arts is different from every album I've ever done as a leader," says Lavitz.

Keyboardist T Lavitz’s fusion credits include the Dixie Dregs and Jazz Is Dead, but he gets extra points for craftiness in putting together this collective. Lavitz seemed to realize that an electric fusion outing by this cast would be deemed predictable, so outside of the occasional electric violin by Jerry Goodman and bass by John Patitucci, he went all acoustic. That element of surprise, and musical chemistry (Lavitz, Goodman and guitarist Steve Morse play together with the Dregs; Patitucci, drummer Dave Weckl and guitarist Frank Gambale with Chick Corea), make for inspired playing. Goodman sounds better than ever, including during his 1970s stint with the Mahavishnu Orchestra. His unison lines with Lavitz’s piano, along with Weckl’s intricate drums and percussion, energize “No Time Flat.” The guest appearances by Goodman and Morse (on the Dregs-like “On Fire” and neo-classical “Portrait”) create highlights throughout.

Lavitz was never a major composer in either the Dregs or Jazz Is Dead (a highly intricate Grateful Dead cover band), yet he wrote nine of the 11 pieces here. The results are mixed, ranging from the off-timed, Goodman-enhanced “Like This” to his predictable “High Falutin’ Blues.” Gambale’s “Gambashwari” and “Teaser” seem designed, as do most of his solos, to showcase more technique than soul. More problematic is the fact that Lavitz recorded his piano in Massachusetts, Weckl recorded his drums in California, and some of Patitucci’s bass lines were captured in New York. It’s a system of convenience that never works as well as recording collectively in the same room. Weckl is a wonder on the percussive showcase “A Little Mouse Music,” but elsewhere his free-rein tracks occasionally cross the overplaying line. For School of the Arts, Lavitz and company get a passing grade, but don’t always show their expected A-worthy work.

Cutting-edge compositions, beautiful sinuous melodies, and massive chops make School of the Arts (SOTA) a truly rare confluence of influences and musical styles, pushing jazz and jazz-fusion into another dimension.

With SOTA, Lavitz (with four decades experience in the music biz - having played with such wide-ranging musicians as Widespread Panic, Bill Bruford, Billy Cobham, Nils Lofgren, Pat Benatar, Jefferson Starship, Mother's Finest, Dave Fiuczynski, Peter Himmelman, Dennis Chambers, Jeff Berlin, and Scott Henderson) is top dog, playing acoustic piano (an instrument close to his heart), and composing most of the material for the band's debut.

Underscoring Lavitz's empathy and musical instincts, is the keyboardist's ability to spearhead and hold together the SOTA project, despite each member's busy schedule: Morse is constantly touring with Deep Purple (occasionally with the Dregs); Jerry Goodman is an in-demand electric violin trailblazer; Patitucci and Weckl crisscross the globe with various artists and solo work; and likewise for Gambale, who recently finished a tour with Billy Cobham.

“The music is definitely interactive," Lavitz says. “When I take a solo, there's Frank Gambale answering me, like something you'd hear on a gig."

Case in point: the Afro-Latin acoustic jazz tune “Gambashwari." Sinewy guitar and piano chords/notes weave around one another in syncopated patterns, stating main, contra and counterpoint melodies. It's breezy, not cheesy, jazz -- the kind that possesses sophistication without being elitist, boring or unlistenable. It's utterly infectious jazz-fusion with aspirations toward chamber or classical music, with rock's reckless abandon simmering just under the surface.

Other tracks include, “High Falutin' Blues" (an appropriate title for a song that crosses the boundaries of country, blues, and jazz), “Like This" (listen as Weckl locks into Patitucci's sparse bass line all the while commenting on Goodman's and T's jazzy/bluegrass-esque soloing acrobatics), and “Teaser" (a Chick Corea-style acoustic rocker, complete with trill-filled piano performances, blanketed by Weckl's silky stream of beats). “Dave Weckl laid down some of the best drum tracks I've heard in a while," Lavitz says.

Despite the obvious -and some might say inevitable--chops heard on this record, the high level of musicianship never detracts from the overall flow of the compositions. In fact, the record has a ring of newfound freedom; of a songwriter allowed to spread his compositional wings, which recalls the artistic creativity and motivation that drove Lavitz to create his 1986 solo debut, Storytime - an album produced in the wake of a Dregs' breakup. “I am very excited about this, because not only did I get to write the bulk of the music, but I produced, played and played only acoustic," says Lavitz. “While it has elements from other recordings I've done, it seems, at least to me, to stand out as being very different."

Track listing:

01 Fairweather Green 5:29
02 No Time Flat 4:49
03 On Fire 4:54
04 Portrait 6:19
05 Like This 4:55
06 High Falutin' Blues 5:10
07 Gambashwari 5:01
08 Dinosaur Dance 6:09
09 Teaser 5:09
10 A Little Mouse Music 7:41
11 Maybe Next Time 3:58

Personnel:

• T Lavitz: Piano
• Dave Weckl: Drums & Percussion
• Frank Gambale: Acoustic Guitar
• Jerry Goodman: Violin (Tracks 2, 5, 8)
• John Patitucci: Acoustic & Electric Bass
• Steve Morse: Acoustic Guitar (Tracks 3, 4)

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Deep Purple - 1972 [1990] "Machine Head"

Machine Head is the sixth studio album released by the English rock band Deep Purple. It was recorded through December 1971 in Montreux, Switzerland, and released in March 1972.

Machine Head is often cited as a major influence in the early development of the heavy metal music genre. Commercially, it is Deep Purple's most successful album, topping the charts in several countries following its release. The album reached number 1 in the United Kingdom and stayed in the top 40 for 20 weeks. It reached number 7 in the United States, remaining on the Billboard 200 for 118 weeks.

Deep Purple initially planned to record Machine Head in December 1971, at Montreux Casino in Switzerland. A mobile recording studio owned by the Rolling Stones had been booked and hotel reservations made, but lead singer Ian Gillan contracted hepatitis. Cancelling a forthcoming tour of America, the band placed all their plans on hold, and Gillan was advised by his doctor to spend the next few months recuperating. Nevertheless, enthused by the new project, the band travelled to Switzerland to begin recording. The Casino was a large arena built in a complex of casinos, restaurants and other entertainment facilities. The band had performed there in May 1971 and enjoyed both the location and Claude Nobs, founder and general manager of the famous Montreux Jazz Festival. Amongst others, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath had all performed there. The Casino closed for refurbishments each winter, and so the band arrived there on 3 December. One last concert date remained, following which they were to have the location to themselves.

Frank Zappa's concert of 4 December at the Casino was made infamous when a member of the audience fired a flare into the building's roof. Although there were no fatalities, the resultant fire ruined Deep Purple's plans. Nobs relocated the band to a nearby theatre called the Pavilion, where they recorded the basic tracks for a song provisionally named "Title No. 1". Bass player Roger Glover said he woke up one morning saying the title "Smoke on the Water" out loud. Later Gillan, based on the title, wrote the lyrics describing the band's experience in Montreux, recording the Machine Head album. A photograph of the burning Montreux Casino would ultimately be included in the gatefold of Machine Head's album cover.

Led Zeppelin's fourth album, Black Sabbath's Paranoid, and Deep Purple's Machine Head have stood the test of time as the Holy Trinity of English hard rock and heavy metal, serving as the fundamental blueprints followed by virtually every heavy rock & roll band since the early '70s. And, though it is probably the least celebrated of the three, Machine Head contains the "mother of all guitar riffs" -- and one of the first learned by every beginning guitarist -- in "Smoke on the Water." Inspired by real-life events in Montreux, Switzerland, where Deep Purple were recording the album when the Montreux Casino was burned to the ground during a Frank Zappa concert, neither the song, nor its timeless riff, should need any further description. However, Machine Head was anything but a one-trick pony, introducing the bona fide classic opener "Highway Star," which epitomized all of Deep Purple's intensity and versatility while featuring perhaps the greatest soloing duel ever between guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and organist Jon Lord. Also in top form was singer Ian Gillan, who crooned and exploded with amazing power and range throughout to establish himself once and for all as one of the finest voices of his generation, bar none. Yes, the plodding shuffle of "Maybe I'm a Leo" shows some signs of age, but punchy singles "Pictures of Home" and "Never Before" remain as vital as ever, displaying Purple at their melodic best. And finally, the spectacular "Space Truckin'" drove Machine Head home with yet another tremendous Blackmore riff, providing a fitting conclusion to one of the essential hard rock albums of all time.

Released in 1972, Machine Head become the benchmark against which everything that followed would be judged against. In the canon of heavy rock this is an album replete with classic tracks. Concise in nature, killer punches are only ever a minute away no matter which song you play. Vocalist Ian Gillan excels himself on “Highway Star,” and “Never Before”, the latter an excellent single, released ahead of the album covering both pop, rock and some righteously funky turn-arounds. Blackmore dominates the album turning in some of his most understated and reflective playing on “When A Blind Man Cries” (the b-side to the single and not included on the original album) and of course, “Smoke On The Water.”

Its devastating simplicity is the foundation stone of the whole record and one of rock’s most archetypal riffs. Not only heavy as hell, it was insanely catchy and the long-haired denim-wearing world grasped it to their bosom without a moment’s hesitation. Detailing the burning of the casino near Lake Geneva (which caused yer actual smoke on the water), the lyrical content perhaps presaged the internal fires that would consume the group.

Released in May it went straight to number one but by August Gillan had resigned. Though he would stay on to record the live Made In Japan and the lack-lustre, Who Do We Think We Are, the mark II line-up was all over bar the shouting – and there was going to be plenty of that. Machine Head however remains their finest hour.

Tracks Listing:

1. Highway Star (6:05)
2. Maybe I'm A Leo (4:51)
3. Pictures Of Home (5:03)
4. Never Before (3:56)
5. Smoke On The Water (5:40)
6. Lazy (7:19)
7. Space Truckin' (4:31)

Line-up / Musicians:

- Ian Gillan / lead vocals, harmonica
- Ritchie Blackmore / guitars
- Jon Lord / keyboards
- Roger Glover / bass
- Ian Paice / drums, percussion

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Kevin Eubanks Group - 2001 "Live"

Kevin Tyrone Eubanks (born November 15, 1957 in Philadelphia) is an American jazz and fusion guitarist and composer who was the leader of The Tonight Show Band with host Jay Leno from 1995 to 2010. He also led the Primetime Band on the short-lived The Jay Leno Show.

Eubanks was born into a musical family. His mother, Vera Eubanks, is a gospel and classical pianist and organist. His uncle, Ray Bryant, was a jazz pianist. His older brother, Robin Eubanks, is a trombonist, and his younger brother Duane Eubanks is a trumpeter. Two cousins are also musicians, the late bassist David Eubanks and the pianist Charles Eubanks. Kevin studied violin and trumpet before settling on the guitar.

As an elementary school student, Eubanks was trained in violin, trumpet, and piano at the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia. He later attended Berklee College of Music in Boston and then moved to New York to begin his professional career.

After Eubanks moved to New York, he began performing with noted jazzmen such as Art Blakey (1980–81), Roy Haynes, Slide Hampton and Sam Rivers. Like his brother Robin, he has played on record with double bassist Dave Holland. In 1983, while continuing to perform with others, he formed his own quartet, playing gigs in Jordan, Pakistan, and India on a tour sponsored by the U.S. State Department.

His first recording as a leader, Guitarist, was released on the Elektra label when Eubanks was 25 years old. It led to a seven-album contract with the GRP label and four albums for Blue Note. In total, Eubanks has appeared on over 100 albums. In 2001, he founded the label Insoul Music on which he has released six albums.

Eubanks has taught at the Banff School of Fine Arts in Canada, at Rutgers University, and at the Charlie Parker School in Perugia, Italy. In 2005, Eubanks received an honorary doctorate degree from his alma mater, Berklee College of Music. He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and has served as an active member of the Artistic Advisory Panel of the BMI Foundation since 1999.

http://jazz-rock-fusion-guitar.blogspot.com/search?q=kevin+eubanks

Track listing:

1 Red Ant (Live) 14:21
2 Spider Dance (Live) 5:25
3 Prelude to Spider Monkeys (Live) 2:55
4 Spider Monkeys (Live) 10:34
5 Embryo (Live) 7:58
6 Jungle Blood (Live) 14:05

Personnel:

Kevin Eubanks - Guitar
Marvin "Smitty: Smith - Drums
Charnett Moffett - Bass
Bill Pierce - Horns

Friday, January 19, 2018

Steps Ahead - 1989 "N.Y.C."

Steps Ahead is a jazz fusion group formed by vibraphonist Mike Mainieri in the 1970s. The lineup consisted of Mainieri, Michael Brecker, Don Grolnick, Eddie Gómez, and Steve Gadd and would change often over the years. Steps Ahead fused elements of rock, funk, jazz, and rhythm and blues.

The group arose out of spontaneous sessions at Seventh Avenue South, a jazz club in New York City owned by saxophonist Michael Brecker and trumpeter brother Randy Brecker. The first three albums were released under the name Steps, later changed to Steps Ahead, on Nippon Columbia in Japan, starting with the debut live album Smokin' in the Pit (1979), followed by Step By Step (1979) and Paradox (1981).

The shifting roster has included saxophonists Bob Berg, Bendik Hofseth, Bill Evans, Ernie Watts, and Donny McCaslin; pianists Eliane Elias and Rachel Z; guitarists Mike Stern, Chuck Loeb, and Steve Khan; bassists Darryl Jones, Tony Levin, Victor Bailey, and Marc Johnson; and drummers Peter Erskine, Steve Smith, and Dennis Chambers.

Steps Ahead was active during the 1970s and '80s, intermittently during the 1990s, reunited for concerts in the mid-2000s, and released a new album in 2016.

In 1989, Steps Ahead consisted of Mike Mainieri on MIDI vibraharp, synclavier and acoustic piano, the young saxophonist Bendik doubling on keyboards, guitarist Steve Kahn, Tony Levin on electric bass and Chapman stick, and drummer Steve Smith. The powerful band did not have a great deal of subtlety by this era, but it helped to keep the much-maligned genre of fusion alive, mixing the sound of rock with jazz improvising. The 11 selections on this obscure effort were all written or co-composed by Mainieri and Bendik and make up in intensity for their lack of dynamics. Rock listeners will most enjoy this decent, if not too substantial release.

I have just about all the albums by steps/ahead and I think I would probably give them all five stars although some I haven't listened to a great deal yet. One song I particularly liked was lust for life. If you check the NYC web site you find a review of this album that indicates that the saxophonist composed four songs on this album including that one I particularly liked. Besides that, I like his playing. The guy has earned my respect. That review I mentioned indicated that mainieri felt the compositions were an even greater virtue than the instrumental prowess of the steps/ahead group. I would say at the very least, listeners should give due credit for composing excellence. I consider mainieri a first tier jazz composer, and bendik has shown he can compose at that level as well.

There appears to be an overwhelming "old camp" fan base of Steps, regarding other reviewer's opinions. While having enjoyed several of the older recordings and different lineups of players, this recording (NYC)was my first introduction to the group, and understandably my favorite. I cannot understate the deep, soulful emotion being poured out on several of these tracks. I must address the reference to Michael Brecker's absense as noted by another reviewer. Yes, he is to be revered, and I respect him. However, In spirit of a true step forward, this album's sax player, Bendik, is unbelievable. I cannot sit back and watch him be discredited for not being the previous player. Get real! I cannot recall a player who can conjure such emotion while coaxing the strange, twisted sounds he produces. Some of you may understand that a piece of music can touch you so deeply as to bring tears to your eyes. This album truely touches my soul. Not to mention, I am a bassist / Chapman Stick player, inspired by the legendary Tony Levin, who is not normally seen in this genre. His playing naturally is a departure from the standard/bop sound in some ways, but he also does perform some selections on upright, and does them a great justice. If you appreciate not just what was done on previous recordings, but welcome an embracing of new techniques / technology, this album is a perfect, natural transition to the future. Mike Manieri did a fine job of tipping his hat to his original sound and fan base, while enthusiastically embracing new directions. In the true spirit of Steps Ahead, you must open your mind and give this a try. If you simply enjoy the fulfilment of honest, inventive, fresh, inspired music, you need this recording.

World class musicians playing great music!

http://jazz-rock-fusion-guitar.blogspot.com/2015/07/steps-1979-1999-smokin-in-pit-nyc.html

http://jazz-rock-fusion-guitar.blogspot.com/2016/01/steps-ahead-1992-yin-yang.html

Track listing:

01 Well, In That Case 5:08
02 Lust For Life 4:16
03 Senegal Calling 4:58
04 Red Neon, Go Or Give 2:48
05 Charanga 5:02
06 Get It 3:15
07 N.Y.C. 5:08
08 Stick Jam 4:54
09 Absolutely Maybe 3:51
10 Festival 5:08
11 Paradiso 3:01

Personnel:

Mike Mainieri - Synthesizer [Midi Vibraharp, Synclavier], Piano [Acoustic], Percussion
Steve Kahn* - Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar (tracks: 2 to 9, 11)
Tony Levin - Electric Bass, Chapman Stick
Steve Smith  - Drums (5)
Bendik* - Saxophone, Keyboards
Bruce Martin - Keyboards [Additional], Programmed By [Synclavier], Percussion
Magatte Fall - Percussion [M'beung-m'beung - Rythmic Drum], Talking Drum [Tama]
Abdoulaye Diop - Percussion [Lamb - Bass Drum]

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Doors - 1972 [2014] "Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine"

Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mine is The Doors' second compilation album (following 13) and first to be released after the death of Jim Morrison, in January 1972. The album's title is a lyric from the song "The End". The album was released on compact disc for the first time on 19 May 2014 (almost exactly a year after keyboardist Ray Manzarek died). The album was certified Gold by the RIAA. The album cover was designed by Bill Hoffman, with inside band shots by Joel Brodsky.

Two of the songs on the compilation, "Who Scared You" and "(You Need Meat) Don't Go No Further," were originally released as B-sides to 1969's "Wishful Sinful" and 1971's "Love Her Madly," respectively. They were not available again until "Who Scared You" appeared in The Doors: Box Set in 1997 and "(You Need Meat) Don't Go No Further" appeared in the 2006 Perception box set.

The version of "Who Scared You" that was released on The Doors: Box Set is an edited version, as part of the last verse is omitted. The full length song was released in 1999 on Essential Rarities and later on the 2006 remastered release of The Soft Parade as a bonus track.

The Doors now make their legendary, long out-of-print compilation Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine available for the first time as a 2-CD set. Originally released in 1972, this gold-certified double album was the first compilation to be released after Jim Morrison's death in 1971.

The 22 songs that appear on the collection provide a wide-ranging introduction to the music recorded between 1967-71 by the original quartet, John Densmore, Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek and Jim Morrison. The band's longtime engineer Bruce Botnick remastered the music heard on this reissue, which takes its title from a lyric in "The End. "

Mixing familiar cuts and deep tracks from six studio albums, Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine touches on everything from hits like "Break On Through" and "Love Her Madly" to unexpected delights like "The Spy" from Morrison Hotel and "Running Blue" from The Soft Parade.

Adding yet another dimension to the album's track list is the inclusion of two stellar b-sides: "Who Scared You" which appeared in March 1969 as the flipside to "Wishful Sinful, " and a cover of Willie Dixon's " (You Need Meat) Don t Go No Further" which was paired with the smash "Love Her Madly" in 1971.

One of my all time favorite Doors compilations..... "The End" brings back memories. It's a look back but it was a beginning for many of us to look at the world differently. If you liked Jim Morrison & the Doors, then you will like this album.
It did not come out on CD until May 2014, it sure took a while & could have been improved with remastering but it is what it is.
Cheers.

Originally released in 1972, Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mine was one of the earliest "best-of" Doors collections, compiling 22 tracks from the band not just limited to their many ubiquitous hits but including some more experimental tunes and a few obscure B-sides. This strange and sprawling playlist is heavy on material from L.A. Woman, and seems particularly invested in the darker, more sinister side of the band. Lesser-known songs here include "Who Scared You" and the goofy, awkward blues run "(You Need Meat) Don't Go No Further" sung by keyboardist Ray Manzarek. With the exception of a few pop moments, this lengthy collection sets a heavy and sometimes menacing mood, highlighting the Doors' most depraved, shamanistic moments in tracks like the brooding "The End," "Maggie McGill," and the absolutely evil groove of "When the Music's Over."

The Legendary Band Reissues Its Rare 1972 Compilation "Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine" As Two-CD Set And Digitally Following Limited Edition Record Store Day Vinyl Release.

After releasing a now sold out, limited edition vinyl pressing for Record Store Day 2014, The Doors now make their legendary, long out-of-print compilation WEIRD SCENES INSIDE THE GOLD MINE available for the first time as a 2-CD set and digitally. Originally released in 1972, this gold-certified double album was the first compilation to be released after Jim Morrison's death in 1971.

The 22 songs that appear on the collection provide a wide-ranging introduction to the music recorded between 1967-71 by the original quartet, John Densmore, Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek and Jim Morrison. The band's longtime engineer Bruce Botnick remastered the music heard on this reissue, which takes its title from a lyric in "The End."

Mixing familiar cuts and deep tracks from the band's six studio albums, WEIRD SCENES INSIDE THE GOLD MINE touches on everything from hits like "Break On Through" "Love Her Madly," and "L.A. Woman," to unexpected delights like "The Spy" from Morrison Hotel and "Running Blue" from The Soft Parade.

Adding yet another dimension to the album's track list is the inclusion of two stellar b-sides: "Who Scared You" which appeared in March 1969 as the flipside to "Wishful Sinful," and a cover of Willie Dixon's "(You Need Meat) Don't Go No Further" which was paired with the smash "Love Her Madly" in 1971.

Track Listing

Disc One
1. "Break On Through"
2. "Strange Days"
3. "Shaman's Blues"
4. "Love Street"
5. "Peace Frog/Blue Sunday"
6. "The Wasp (Texas Radio & The Big Beat)"
7. "End Of The Night"
8. "Love Her Madly"
9. "Spanish Caravan"
10. "Ship Of Fools"
11. "The Spy"
12. "The End"

Disc Two
1. "Take It As It Comes"
2. "Running Blue"
3. "L.A. Woman"
4. "Five To One"
5. "Who Scared You"
6. "(You Need Meat) Don't Go No Further"
7. "Riders On The Storm"
8. "Maggie McGill"
9. "Horse Latitudes"
10. "When The Music's Over"

Personnel:

Jim Morrison – vocals
Robby Krieger – guitar
Ray Manzarek – piano, organ, marimba, bass, vocals on "(You Need Meat) Don't Go No Further"
John Densmore – drums

Additional Personnel:

Paul A. Rothchild – producer of all the tracks except the ones from L.A. Woman
Bruce Botnick – co-producer of the L.A. Woman tracks and engineer of all the tracks including the former mentioned
Douglass Lubahn – bass on tracks 2, 4, 9, 16, & 21
Harvey Brooks – bass on tracks 3 & 14
Jerry Scheff – bass on all the L.A. Woman tracks
Ray Neapolitan – bass on tracks 4 & 10-11
Leroy Vinnegar – acoustic bass on track 9
Paul Harris – orchestral arrangements on track 17
George Bohanon – trombone on tracks 14 & 17
Champ Webb – English horn on tracks 14 & 17
Jesse McReynolds – mandolin on tracks 14 & 17
James Buchanan – fiddle on track 14
Marc Benno – rhythm guitar on track 15
Lonnie Mack – acoustic bass on track 20

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Pat Metheny - 1977 "Watercolors"

Watercolors is Pat Metheny's second album, released in 1977.

The AllMusic review by Richard S. Ginell awards the album 4 stars and states: "Metheny's softly focused, asymmetrical guitar style, with echoes of apparent influences as disparate as Jim Hall, George Benson, Jerry Garcia, and various country guitarists, is quite distinctive even at this early juncture. Metheny's long-running partnership with keyboardist Lyle Mays also begins here, with Mays mostly on acoustic piano but also providing a few mild synthesizer washes."

“Pat Metheny was virtually defining a new musical form on this 1977 date, blending folk, country, and pop elements with jazz and creating a gentler, more intimate idiom than fusion had been. His distinctively chorused electric guitar often floats over the smooth textures created by his own acoustic six-stringer, Lyle Mays’ piano, and Danny Gottlieb’s discreet drumming, while Eberhard Weber’s electric and acoustic bass lines rise to ricochet with the guitar leads. The song titles abound with watery images, and they’re perfectly in keeping with this flowing music, which tends to a pale, even pastel, palette and an ethereal lightness. “River Quay,” particularly, suggests the sound of the Pat Metheny Group that would come later.”

From the opening strains of Pat Metheny’s second album, we immediately know that we have a calming yet powerful journey ahead of us. The present company—among which keyboardist Lyle Mays, a Pet Metheny Group fixture, makes his first appearance—renders his characteristic combination of form and style into an instinctive wash of comfort. Mays’s pianism proves the perfect complement to the guitarist’s untainted sound. Just listen to the way he buoys the music in the opening title track, and his fluent solo in “River Quay,” and you will hardly be able to imagine the music without him. We get a lingering look at Metheny’s own abilities in “Icefire,” in which he solos on a cleverly tuned 12-string that lobs between solid chords and higher callings. Midway through, the music melts into its second titular half, flowering in a cluster of Ralph Towner-esque harmonics. “Oasis” introduces the harp guitar, a sympathetically strung instrument that shines in Metheny’s hands like the charango in Gustavo Santaolalla’s. A mournful electric sings at its center, ever shielded by an unrequited embrace of acoustics. Varied rhythms and bold chord changes animate its otherwise stagnant beauty. After these quiet submersions, we come up into air, and into light, with the beautiful “Lakes,” which positively glows with quiet ecstasies. Again, Mays broadens the edges to new waterlines, cresting like a wave that never crashes upon its thematic shores. A two-part suite proves a complex call and response with the self before the 10-minute “Sea Song” reprises the harp guitar for its swan song. The music here is beyond aquatic, and could easily have seeded a Ketil Bjørnstad project. Eberhard Weber’s smooth bass introduces the morning’s regular activities with the first rays of sunrise in countless awakening eyes, before rolling out once again, drawn back into the depths like the tide that gives them life.

Metheny’s precision dives and soars, a most selfless bird, his fingers running together like the colors of the album’s title. His supporting crew is in tune at every moment (and one mustn’t fail to praise Dan Gottlieb’s drumming in this regard), protecting every melody with passionate detail. This is perfect music for travel, for the music travels itself. It’s a plane ride above a shimmering landscape, a hang-glide over open valleys, a dive into crystal waters—and yet, our feet never leave the ground. One might call it otherworldly, were it not so firmly rooted in the earth in all its glory. Pure magic from start to finish.

Pat Metheny emerges on his second album, Watercolors, as an ECM impressionist, generally conforming to the label's overall sound while still asserting his own personality. As the title suggests, there are several mood pieces here that are suspended in the air without rhythmic underpinning, a harbinger for the new age invasion still in the future. Metheny's softly focused, asymmetrical guitar style, with echoes of apparent influences as disparate as Jim Hall, George Benson, and various country guitarists, is quite distinctive even at this early juncture. Metheny's long-running partnership with keyboardist Lyle Mays also begins here, with Mays mostly on acoustic piano but also providing a few mild synthesizer washes. Danny Gottlieb is on drums, and ECM regular Eberhard Weber handles the bass. This is essentially the first album by the Pat Metheny Group per se, although the band had yet to find its direction in this somewhat diffuse showing.

Track listing:

1 Watercolors 6:28
2 Icefire 6:07
3 Oasis 4:02
4 Lakes 4:43
5 River Quay 4:56
6       Suite- I. Florida Greeting Song 2:30
7       Suite- II. Legend Of The Fountain 2:28
8 Sea Song 10:16

Personnel:

Pat Metheny – 6-and 12-string electric guitar, 15 string harp guitar
Lyle Mays – piano
Eberhard Weber – double bass
Danny Gottlieb – drums