Friday, December 14, 2018

Wes Montgomery - 1984 Verve "The Silver Collection"

One of the earliest Wes Montgomery collections to appear on CD (1984), this minimally (and at one point, misleadingly) annotated item concentrates mostly upon the guitarist's Verve small-group performances. Verve relies heavily upon the two albums Wes made with Wynton Kelly (Smokin' at the Half Note and Willow Weep for Me), adding a few tracks from the two he made with Jimmy Smith (Dynamic Duo and Further Adventures) and closing with a sole reminder of Wes' orchestral-backed work, Bumpin's glorious "Here's That Rainy Day." As such, we hear Montgomery stretching out with an eloquence and depth of tone that had actually deepened since his more critically celebrated Riverside period. Be warned: though the jewel box and disc claim that "Portrait of Jennie" is Track 9, the selection is actually "13 (Death March)" from the Dynamic Duo album -- a superior choice that gives you a nice Oliver Nelson big-band chart and more playing time as a bonus. Also, on "Misty," the Claus Ogerman arrangement for winds and brass that was overdubbed after Wes' death and stripped from the track later has been restored here.

If you are a guitarist or just a jazz lover, this is a must-have. This particular Wes recording is only small ensembles and truly showcases his virtuoso talent. If only he played rock and roll, he would have achieved a Hendrix status (no surprise that Jimi and Stevie Ray were Wes fans). I don't play jazz, but I love this album.

Track listing:

01. If You Could See Me Now (8:24)
02. Impressions (5:02)
03. Four on Six (6:45)
04. Unit 7 (6:46)
05. Mellow Mood (8:40)
06. James and Wes (8:09)
07. What's New (6:18)
08. Misty (6:45)
09. Portrait of Jenny (5:22)
10. Here's That Rainy Day (4:57)


Guitar – Wes Montgomery
Bass – Bob Cranshaw (tracks: 10), Paul Chambers (3) (tracks: 1 to 4, 7 to 9)
Drums – Grady Tate (tracks: 5, 6, 10), Helcio Milito* (tracks: 10), Jimmy Cobb (tracks: 1 to 4, 7 to 9)
Organ – Jimmy Smith (tracks: 5, 6)
Piano – Roger Kellaway (tracks: 10), Wynton Kelly (tracks: 1 to 4, 7 to 9)
Harp – Margaret Ross

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Sonny Rollins - 1962 [1996] "The Bridge"

The Bridge is a studio album by jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins, recorded in 1962. It was Rollins' first release following a three-year sabbatical and was his first album for RCA Victor. The saxophonist was joined by the musicians with whom he recorded for the next segment of his career: Jim Hall on guitar, Bob Cranshaw on double bass and Ben Riley on drums.

After a meteoric rise to fame in the 1950s, legendary tenor sax man Sonny Rollins had walked away from it all by the decade's end, embarking on an introspective, almost monastic three-year quest to improve his technique, during which time he would spend up to 16 hours a day playing his sax, alone, on New York City's Williamsburg bridge, and that solitary period of time spent practicing on the bridge is what gives this album its title. Although critical reception to the album was initially mixed, as many had hoped Rollins would have re-emerged from his sabbatical having developed some revolutionary new technique or with a markedly evolved style that differed more strongly from his earlier work, it was nonetheless a commercial success, and has since become regarded as one of his finest albums, even being inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2015. Featuring Rollins in a new quartet that also included Jim Hall on guitar, Bob Cranshaw on bass and Ben Riley on the drums, the album has a spare, subdued sound, which might be why the ballads are generally more evocative and memorable than the uptempo numbers, with Rollins' haunting take on the standard "God Bless the Child" being my pick for the standout track, as well as the one that probably best reflects what it must have been like to spend all that time playing alone on that bridge.

Tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins' first recording after ending a surprising three-year retirement found the great saxophonist sounding very similar to how he had played in 1959, although he would soon start investigating freer forms. In a pianoless quartet with guitarist Jim Hall, bassist Bob Cranshaw, and drummer Ben Riley, Rollins explores four standards (including "Without a Song" and "God Bless the Child") plus two fiery originals, highlighted by the title cut. The interplay between Rollins and Hall is consistently impressive, making this set a near-classic and a very successful comeback.

Sparse yet thoughful; carefree yet deliberate. Sonny's tone is in fine form: Typically powerful and muscular, and at the same time full of beauty and complexity. This album for me is a perfect example of why he ranks with Coltrane: The talent, the dedication, the forever-seeking, and the fearlessness are all on 'The Bridge'. Highly recommended for historical reference and listening pleasure.

So many times you hear about the "essential albums in jazz:" "Kind of Blue" "Blue Trane" "Time Out" "Giant Steps" ect. One absolute essential that you don't hear about very often is Bridge by Sonny Rollins. This is most unfortunate because not only is the musicianship on this recording incredible, but this album also made a leap forward in the history of jazz.

Make no mistake, Sonny Rollins is an incredible player. His tenor saxophone cuts through with that boomy, rich tone that all jazz adicts love. His solos are great, well-developed and exciting. His writing on some of the tunes on this album is quite innovative and groundbreaking. Everything that Sonny does on this disc is incredible and deeply satisfies the lovers of jazz who hear it. However, there are two words that can be used to describe what makes this album stick out from all the other jazz albums of this time period: "Jim Hall."

Jim Hall's Guitar work on this recording is very important to what makes this disc worthwhile and distinguished. He essentially fills the job description of a pianist on the guitar. The result: jazz guitar like never before. This was one of the first jazz quartets to use a guitar in place of a piano and the effects are quite satisfying. Every little nuance that Hall adds to the music complements Rollins' genius quite nicely. The chemistry is quite incredible. Each of the musicians are so into each other's heads that they produce music that is so exciting and so fresh to even the untrained ear. Basically this entire album is two geniuses collaborating to make unbelivable, quality jazz in the presence of a very solid bass player and drummer.

The album is a must have for any jazz completist. It's a nice mix of good old standards and fresh innovative originals from Sonny that makes for a very fun listening experience. Incredible musicianship is the product of the incredible chemistry on this album. Break off from the collective. Recognize the historical importance of Bridge. It will provide a pleasant listening experience time after time.

The album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2015.

Track listing:

"Without a Song" (Edward Eliscu, Billy Rose, Vincent Youmans) – 7:26
"Where Are You?" (Harold Adamson, Jimmy McHugh) – 5:10
"John S." (Sonny Rollins) – 7:46
"The Bridge" (Sonny Rollins) – 5:59
"God Bless the Child" (Arthur Herzog Jr., Billie Holiday) – 7:27
"You Do Something to Me" (Cole Porter) – 6:51


Sonny Rollins – tenor saxophone
Jim Hall – guitar
Bob Cranshaw – bass
Ben Riley – drums
Harry "H.T." Saunders – drums (replaces Riley on "God Bless the Child")

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Michael Brecker - 2007 "Pilgrimage"

Pilgrimage is the final studio album, released in 2007, by the American jazz saxophonist Michael Brecker. In 2005, Brecker was diagnosed with myelogenous leukemia, and at the time of the recording in August 2006 he was already gravely ill. He recorded Pilgrimage with the knowledge that it would most likely be his last album; he died in January 2007. The album's personnel consists of Brecker, John Patitucci, Jack DeJohnette, Pat Metheny, Herbie Hancock, and Brad Mehldau.

Despite his losing battle with leukemia, Brecker fully commands each track on the album. His sound is rich, powerful, and strong, and his tone and vigor do not suggest any illness or affliction. The other musicians on the album were all aware of Brecker's condition, and used that knowledge to encourage him and make the album a success. Herbie Hancock said of Brecker:

"Michael now has reached a new level as a composer and musician. Despite his disease, or actually because of it, he managed to climb higher mountains and to walk ahead. The best way to take a poison is to change it into a medicine. At the moment, Michael experiences something very destructive and changes it into something extremely constructive."

Brecker's compositions on the album are some of his most complex and thoroughly composed music. His positive attitude toward his disease seems to rub off in the music, especially "Tumbleweed" and "The Mean Time", as they are full of high energy and intense interaction among the personnel. The title of the ballad "When Can I Kiss You Again?" is allegedly a quote from Brecker's son, who asked him that question while Brecker was in critical care and isolation after his stem cell transplant. The album won Brecker two posthumous Grammy awards for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo (for his solo on "Anagram") and Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group.

The importance of saxophonist Michael Brecker's final recording, Pilgrimage, is densely multidimensional. The romantically inclined will attach significance to the fact that the nine compositions were conceived and recorded while Brecker was aware of the gravity of his final illness. Pilgrimage falls into an artistic/musical category that includes such disparate music as Mozart's Requiem, Puccini's Turandot, Billie Holiday's Lady In Satin and Johnny Cash's American Recordings, Volumes 5 & 6. All of these examples were conceived during the artists' autumnal periods and, in these cases, represent something of pinnacles in their outputs.

High art in the face of destiny is not always the case, however. June Carter Cash's final Wildwood Flower, while heartfelt, did the singer disfavor because she was obviously ill during the recording. Anita O'Day's final recording, Indestructible, similarly sincere, was recorded much too far past the singer's prime, and the aesthetic value of trumpeter Chet Baker's final recordings remains up for debate. So, what of Michael Brecker's final output?

In 2005, Brecker was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a diverse collection of hematologic disease all sharing in common the inappropriate production of blood cells and their propensities for transforming into acute myelogenous leukemia. Unable to find a suitable stem-cell donor, Brecker passed away on Saturday, January 13, 2007. While Brecker did remain active during the period of his illness, appearing on Beatle Jazz's With A Little Help From Our Friends and Leni Stern's Alu Maye (Have You Heard), he had been inactive a year before these recordings.

Thus, the artist's largest late effort was reserved for Pilgrimage. He is joined by pianists Herbie Hancock and Brad Mehldau, guitarist Pat Metheny, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Jack DeJohnette, all sacred to Brecker's generation of jazz musicians. The notable absence of Randy Brecker is acknowledged for the life-long collaboration he had with his brother in their various music endeavors (noting that Randy Brecker never appeared on his brother's solo projects). Save that, Brecker chose his group wisely as the results of the recording reveal.

Brecker's tenor tone is strong and muscular. His composing is the best of his career. His melodic head-lines are organic, approximating a flock of small birds flying scattered one second and then in unison the next. Brecker and Metheny share a Bill Evans-Scott LaFaro empathy throughout the recording, both buoyed by the impressionistic piano of Hancock and Mehldau. The heart of the disc exists in its center with the pieces "Tumbleweed and "When Can I Kiss You Again. On the former, Brecker sets up a fast rolling theme and harmonics over which the soloists take quick flight including an aggressively distorted Metheny solo that gives way to one by Brecker. The rhythm section of Patitucci and DeJohnette creates a funky tonk with powerful momentum. No matter what, Brecker is in complete command.

"When Can I Kiss You Again is Brecker's introspective lullaby to his children, whom he could not see while in medical isolation. Again, his superior composing provides a carefully complex melodic introduction with a modal concept over which to solo. Composition and improvisation weave in and out of one another; constructing a silken fabric over which Metheny gives one his most inspired and introverted solos. Hancock provides his trademark abstraction as solo, depicting anxiousness as music. Brecker's solo is middle to low register and impeccably structured (as are all of his solos). The disc's title cut is a moody, Coltrane-esque meditation over electric piano with bass and drums occupying all sonic spaces. The piece grows in density and freedom as an open improvisation develops over the barest harmonic structure. And that was just the extended introduction. Brecker pulls all involved into an extended obbligato that is serpentine and seamless.

How does history view Michael Brecker? Many consider him to be the most important tenor saxophonist since John Coltrane. This is at the expense of Sonny Rollins and Wayne Shorter, though Rollins and Shorter generationally overlap Coltrane. I would come closer to declaring John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Wayne Shorter and Michael Brecker the quaternary apex of the tenor saxophone since the previous generation of Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, and Wardell Gray. That excludes a lot and that exclusion is necessary. Brecker's importance specifically lies in his universality. When I listen to Oliver Nelson's The Blues And The Abstract Truth (Impulse, 1961), I think of that music as a jazz soundtrack of the 1960s. It had that sound that listeners would immediately identify as jazz: so with Pilgrimage and the opening of the 21st Century. Michael Brecker's final recording is a finely crafted jazz soundtrack for a new millennium, a hyperbright quazar, serving in honor of the late saxophonist and all of jazz.

Track listing:

All music composed by Michael Brecker.

1. "The Mean Time" 6:55
2. "Five Months from Midnight" 7:40
3. "Anagram" 10:09
4. "Tumbleweed" 9:36
5. "When Can I Kiss You Again?" 9:42
6. "Cardinal Rule" 7:31
7. "Half Moon Lane" 7:17
8. "Loose Threads" 8:34
9. "Pilgrimage" 10:02


Michael Brecker – tenor saxophone, EWI
Pat Metheny – guitars, guitar synthesizer
Herbie Hancock – piano (tracks 1, 5, 8, 9)
Brad Mehldau – piano (tracks 2, 3, 4, 6, 7)
John Patitucci – double bass
Jack DeJohnette – drums

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Yes - 1971 [1986] "The Yes Album"

The Yes Album is the third album by the English progressive rock band Yes, released on 19 February 1971 by Atlantic Records. It is their first album with guitarist Steve Howe, who replaced Peter Banks in 1970, and their last in the 1970s to feature keyboardist Tony Kaye.

On Yes' first two albums, Yes (1969) and Time and a Word (1970), the quintet was mostly searching for a sound on which they could build, losing one of their original members -- guitarist Peter Banks -- in the process. Their third time out proved the charm -- The Yes Album constituted a de facto second debut, introducing the sound that would carry them forward across the next decade or more.

 Gone are any covers of outside material, the group now working off of its own music from the ground up. A lot of the new material was actually simpler -- in linear structure, at least -- than some of what had appeared on their previous albums, but the internal dynamics of their playing had also altered radically, and much of the empty space that had been present in their earlier recordings was also filled up here -- suddenly, between new member Steve Howe's odd mix of country- and folk-based progressive guitar and the suddenly liberated bass work and drumming of Chris Squire and Bill Bruford, respectively, the group's music became extremely busy. And lead singer Jon Anderson, supported by Squire and Howe, filled whatever was left almost to overflowing.

Anderson's soaring falsetto and the accompanying harmonies, attached to haunting melodies drawn from folk tunes as often as rock, applied to words seemingly derived from science fiction, and all delivered with the bravura of an operatic performance -- by the band as well as the singer -- proved a compelling mix. What's more, despite the busy-ness of their new sound, the group wasn't afraid to prove that less could sometimes be more: three of the high points were the acoustic-driven "Your Move" and "The Clap" (a superb showcase for Howe on solo acoustic guitar), and the relatively low-key "A Venture" (oddly enough, the latter was the one cut here that didn't last in the group's repertory; most of the rest, despite the competition from their subsequent work, remained in their concert set for years to come).

 The Yes Album did what it had to do, outselling the group's first two long-players and making the group an established presence in America where, for the first time, they began getting regular exposure on FM radio. Sad to say, the only aspect of The Yes Album that didn't last much longer was Tony Kaye on keyboards: his Hammond organ holds its own in the group's newly energized sound, and is augmented by piano and other instruments when needed, but he resisted the idea of adding the Moog synthesizer, that hot instrument of the moment, to his repertory. The band was looking for a bolder sound than the Hammond could generate, and after some initial rehearsals of material that ended up on their next album, he was dropped from the lineup, to be replaced by Rick Wakeman.

Yes released two studio projects before The Yes Album came out in February 1971. But nobody but the band's most dedicated fans really know about or ever listen to those pair of records. As far as most rock 'n' roll fans are concerned, Yes started on The Yes Album.
It was the first group LP to include all original songs. More importantly, it was also the band's first album with new guitarist Steve Howe, who replaced Peter Banks the previous year. Both elements lifted the material and the way it was presented. The template for almost every great Yes song, and nearly every album they made from here on, begins on these six tracks.

A key component to this new era found the band exploring more corners and areas outside of its usual boundaries. On their first two albums, no song runs longer than six minutes; here, half of the LP's tracks reach the nine-minute mark. Keyboardist Tony Kaye, who joined the group not long after singer Jon Anderson and bassist Chris Squire formed it in 1968, expanded his role, powering the album with his mighty organ, piano and synth fills. (He'd be gone before Yes' next album, Fragile, which was released nine months later, replaced by Rick Wakeman.)

The most significant musical advancement was the addition of Howe, whose classical- and jazz-influenced playing gives The Yes Album a defining heft that was missing on the group's first two records. He's even given a solo acoustic showcase, "Clap," which is the album's shortest song and the only one recorded outside of the London studio where the rest of the LP was made. (It was recorded onstage at the Lyceum Theatre.)

Howe anchors the album's best songs -- opener "Yours Is No Disgrace," "Starship Trooper" and "I've Seen All Good People," whose first part (titled "Your Move") became Yes' first Top 40 single in the U.S. But, really, the whole group comes together here for the first time. There's a tighter sense of camaraderie among the musicians, as instruments weave in and out of each other, and Anderson glides alongside it all with some of his most graceful performances.

In a way, it's Yes' most cohesive album as a band. As the '70s dragged on, the records started to reflect the individual members', rather than the group's, aesthetics.The band also started experimenting more with its songs, developing deeper layers of harmonies and structures, and, notably at times, using the studio as a type of playground, working with backing tracks and tape loops at various points during the sessions.

It all paid off, as The Yes Album climbed to No. 4 in Yes' native U.K. and reached No. 40 in the U.S. (The first two Yes projects had failed to chart.) The bigger breakthrough would arrive within the next year, when Fragile soared into the Top 5. But The Yes Album paved the way, chipping away at a proto-prog sound that would expand, before eventually caving in under its own weight, in the years to come. But here the field is wide open.

Track Listing:

1. Yours Is No Disgrace (9:36)
2. Clap (Live) (3:07) *
3. Starship Trooper: Life Seeker / Disillusion / Wurm (9:23)
4. I've Seen All Good People: Your Move / All Good People (6:47)
5. A Venture (3:13)
6. Perpetual Change (8:50)

* Recorded Live at the Lyceum, London

Total Time: 41:56


- Jon Anderson / lead vocals, percussion
- Steve Howe / acoustic & electric guitars, Portuguese 12-string guitar (4), vocals
- Tony Kaye / Hammond organ, piano, Moog synthesizer
- Chris Squire / bass, vocals
- Bill Bruford / drums, percussion

- Colin Goldring / recorders (4)

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Various Artists - 2000 "Celebrating the Music of Weather Report"

Telarc and producer Jason Miles brought in a boat-load of contemporary jazz heavyweights to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Weather Report's formation with this recording, and quite a celebration it is. Miles and his all-star cast have managed to remain true to the original music, while updating and opening up the arrangements. Tenor saxman extraordinaire Michael Brecker smokes up "Elegant People," while alto superstar David Sanborn teams up with the final Weather Report rhythm section of Victor Bailey and Omar Hakim to take a scrumptious, synth-soaked stroll through "Cannonball." Lesser known saxophonist Aaron Heick comports himself well as he fills Shorter's shoes on "Mysterious Traveller," and Spyro Gyra's Jay Beckentein turns in a lovely soprano sax lead over Joe Sample's distinctive piano on the ballad "Harlequin." "The Man in the Green Shirt" journeys to the islands courtesy of steel pan man Andy Narell. Randy Brecker's trumpet gives a new dimension to "Palladium," while Marcus Miller and John Scofield take a loping, funky trip through "Cucumber Slumber." In fact, the only complaint about this recording is that the modern synthesizers, employed a little heavy-handedly at times by Miles, have a much cheesier sound than did Joe Zawinul's bank of organic keyboards and early synths in the band's heyday. Nonetheless, this celebration offers a bevy of delights to remind old-time Weather Report fans of the band's greatness; it may even help introduce a new generation of listeners to this superb music, hopefully enticing them to check out the originals.

With a rich subject to mine and a distinctive, creative vision, the compilation Celebrating the Music of Weather Report (Telarc CD-83473; 58:30) stands a cut above the glut of all-star tribute albums currently on the market. The common thread uniting a football team-sized cast is keyboard phenom Jason Miles, who through unique arrangements of carefully chosen pieces traces the band’s evolution and highlights its influence without wandering into cliche territory. Where “Birdland” is given a whammy-bowed, rock guitar read by Chuck Loeb, with Take 6 building rich rhythms via voice, “Cannonball” finds David Sanborn belting the alto sax melody over Miles’ lovely keyboard tones and fusion-styled breaks. “Badia” boasts exotic percussion backbeat, tribal vocals and prickly mid-eastern tones, while “Harlequin” makes an unexpectedly lush, darkly romantic statement with saxophonist Jay Beckenstein at the helm. Most startling and revealing are “Mysterious Traveler,” with Miles setting a haunted, cornered keyboard tone for Aaron Heick to set aflame with multiple squealing saxes, and “Palladium,” which starts with a music-box keyboard feel before opening into a fusion storm, with Omar Hakim’s spitfire drums and Randy Brecker’s singing, sharp trumpet line.

With a huge assembly of star performers like Marcus Miller, Dennis Chambers, Jay Beckenstein etc.,the performances are top-notch, but the overall production borders on "smooth", although some of Weather Reports' catalog is quiet catchy in a "pop" kind of way and therefore lends itself to a slightly more "poppy and smooth" version of fusion jazz.

The sonics are as usual for Telarc, fantastic, and the music is perfectly suited for 5.1, and the mix does not
disappoint, with tasteful use of the surrounds for synths, percussion and "atmosphere", but the main performance is up-front.

Track Listing:

01. Birdland
02. Elegant People
03. Badia
04. Young And Fine
05. Cannonball
06. Pursuit Of The Woman With The Feathered Hat
07. Mysterious Traveller
08. Harlequin
09. Man In The Green Shirt
10. Palladium
11. Cucumber Slumber


- John Scofield, Chuck Loeb, Dean Brown / guitar
- Randy Brecker / trumpet
- Michael Brecker / Tenor saxophone
- David Sanborn / Alto saxophone
- Joe Sample / piano
- Victor Bailey, Mike Pope, John Patitucci, Will Lee, Marcus Miller / bass
- Dennis Chambers, Vinnie Colaiuta, Steve Gadd, Omar Hakim / drums
- Aaron Heick / Soprano & Tenor saxophones
- Jay Beckenstein / Soprano saxophone
- Jason Miles / keyboards, programming, background vocals
- Tom Schuman / synthesizer
- Andy Narell / pans
- Mark Quinones, Cyro Baptista / percussion
- Mary Fahl, Porter Carroll, Take 6 / background vocals

Monday, November 26, 2018

Scott Henderson, Jeff Berlin, Dennis Chambers - 2012 "HBC"

Not simply a super-group, but more like a jazz-fusion superpower as this formidable trio melds classic fusion works amid a few originals on its debut release, although the artists have crossed paths over the years. Bios and resumes would transcend the limitations of a review or analysis. So, it's the in-your-face attitude, creative impetus, and the respective musicians' gargantuan chops that account for a passionate exposition.

Guitarist Scott Henderson's enviable technique as a monumental blues-rock soloist shines on his "Wayward Son of Devil Boy," inflicting pain on his axe via some serious shedding and molding a blues-with-a-vengeance stance with blazing fills, detuned extended notes and wailing choruses. But the preponderance of the album offers an abundance of cunning insights and spins on pieces such as drummer Billy Cobham's jazz-fusion anthem "Stratus." Then again it would be a sacrilege to ignore this trend-setting classic. Here, all-universe session drummer Dennis Chambers slams the backbeat into overdrive in concert with bass great Jeff Berlin's sinuous fretless bass lines. Owing to the original recording, Henderson abides by late guitarist Tommy Bolin's tension and release buildup, and then goes off the radar with stratospheric licks, leading to the heavy metal-like finale.

Henderson morphs polytonal chord voicings to execute a translation of pianist Herbie Hancock's funkified "Actual Proof," where Berlin unleashes a mindboggling solo, awash with twirling notes and breakneck linear runs. Henderson injects some spacey electronic treatments and spatial attributes into saxophonist Wayne Shorter's title track from Weather Report's Mysterious Traveler (Columbia, 1974), raising the bar with edgy and distorted crunch chords while reshaping and reconfiguring the primary theme, tinted with a rather ominous rite of passage.

HBC also integrates a pure jazz element into Shorter's "Sightseeing," offset by the artists' expressive solo spots and streaming background effects, all the while prepping for the kill towards the coda as Berlin thumps and plucks his bass strings into submission. Sure, he's all over the place, but lessons learned will dictate that he makes every note count, marked by his lyrical thematic statements and a technique to die for.

Other than the instrumentalists' technical mastery, these works' construction lend to a refreshing glimpse of the proverbial roads previously traveled. From a holistic perspective of the jazz-fusion genre, it doesn't get a whole lot better.

As power trios go, it doesn’t get much more powerful than guitarist Scott Henderson, bassist Jeff Berlin and drummer Dennis Chambers. Like an update of the McLaughlin/Pastorius/Williams “Trio of Doom,” HBC succeeds by putting musicality above its overwhelming technical skills-only far better than that hit-and-miss collective did.

On HBC, this trio opts for mostly modern standards by the fusion era’s elite composers. Berlin’s serpentine bassline and Henderson’s keyboard mimicry highlight Herbie Hancock’s opening “Actual Proof.” Wayne Shorter gets his due as well: Henderson’s spacey intro and Chambers’ combustible drumming highlight “Mysterious Traveler,” and the guitarist’s underrated straightahead jazz chops shine through on “Footprints” and “Sightseeing.” Another Weather Report composition-the funky, stop-and-start “D Flat Waltz” by Henderson’s onetime employer Joe Zawinul-proves the 12-minute highlight among this honorary sequence.

Other highlights: Chambers blends funk and fury on Billy Cobham’s closing “Stratus,” a homecoming of sorts for Henderson, who wowed club crowds with it in his native Florida during the ’70s. And Berlin’s solo reading of his “Threedom” provides the disc’s best original moments.

HBC is the new fusion supergroup comprised of three virtuoso musicians: Scott Henderson Jeff Berlin and Dennis Chambers who join together to create one of the most phenomenal trios in the history of jazz fusion. Rather than jumping into the studio as virtual strangers and winging it like some superstar alliances HBC hit the road first and refined a repertoire of classic fusion covers in front of thousands of hungry fusion fans. After assembling an impressive collection of road-tested masterpieces, the group, composed of all leaders, decided that it was finally time to combine their talents to make this musical statement.

Henderson is one of the most well-known contemporary guitarists in the jazz fusion genre and he has mesmerized guitar fans around the globe with his masterful phrases and unique style. Guitar fans have enjoyed hearing Scott work with Jean-luc Ponty, Chick Corea, Joe Zawinul, and power fusion trio "Henderson, Smith, and Wooten" with Steve Smith and Victor Wooten. In addition Scott has churned out an incredible body of work stemming from his other career as founding member of Tribal Tech and also a solo artist, both of which he has toured extensively to support.

Bassist Jeff Berlin is a celebrated solo artist with numerous fusion recordings under his name and affiliations with artists such as Al Di Meola, Bill Bruford, Allan Holdsworth, John McLaughlin, and Billy Cobham. Berlin is widely regarded as one of the greatest bassists in the world and is equally adept at playing hard-core no holds-barred jazz-fusion and straight ahead traditional jazz. As a bassist Berlin's tone phrasing, and keen sense of melody are a winning combination that has helped him reach the top of magazine reader's polls for years.

A formidable, ferocious, and ultra-funky presence behind the kit in such celebrated ensembles as Parlament-Funkadelic, Steely Dan, Santana, and The Brecker Brothers as well as incendiary fusion outfits led by guitarist John Scofield, Steve Kahn, Mike Stern, and John McLaughlin, Dennis Chambers is a miracle in modern music. A remarkably versatile drummer who has shown limitless ability to swing on a small kit in traditional jazz settings or flaunt his stylistic chops in fusion supersessions, Dennis Chambers is one of the most recorded drummers in the world of jazz fusion.

Track listing:

01. Actual Proof
02. Mysterious Traveller
03. Footprints
05. D Flat Waltz
06. The Orphan
07. Sightseeing
08. Wayward Son Of Devil Boy
09. Threedom
10. Stratus


Scott Henderson: guitar;
Jeff Berlin: bass;
Dennis Chambers: drums.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Dewa Budjana - 2016 "Zentuary"

New studio album (double cd) by the iconic Balinese guitarist Dewa Budjana, featuring TONY LEVIN, GARY HUSBAND, JACK DEJOHNETTE with special guests TIM GARLAND, DANNY MARKOVICH, GUTHRIE GOVAN, SAAT SYAH, UBIET, RISA SARASWATI, CZECH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA.

Indonesian guitar legend, Dewa Budjana is offering his most ambitious album to date, "Zentuary." Supported by an all-star cast of enormous proportions -- including jazz legend, Jack DeJohnette (over forty years on the ECM label), the iconic progressive bass and stickman, Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel; King Crimson), and the extraordinary superstar sideman talents of Britain's Gary Husband (Allan Holdsworth; John McLaughlin) -- Budjana offers a profusion of cross-cultural delicacies which tease, cajole, enthrall and, ultimately, satisfy listeners. Special guests include guitarist Guthrie Govan (The Aristocrats; Steven Wilson, Tim Garland (Chick Corea; Bill Bruford) and Danny Markovich (Marbin).

A veteran player whose career has already been marked by collaborations with a virtual "who's who" of musical luminaries, Budjana still manages to raise the stakes and elevate the level of his game on his fifth solo album.

Budjana's compositions are as detailed, finely honed and richly designed as ever, but Zentuary also features some of his most open-ended work to date. The easygoing groove and singable theme to "Uncle Jack," for example, deceptively bookends an 11-minute collective blowout, where DeJohnette puts down his drum sticks and, bolstered by Husband's equally inimitable kit work, moves to piano for the flat-out freest track of the set. Ebbing and flowing with a chemistry all the more remarkable for a core group of musicians—well-known names all—who have never played together before in any permutation or combination, it's a clear demonstration of Budjana's increasing comfort in such improv-heavy environs.

Zentuary's opener, "Dancing Tear," begins with a soundscape of plaintive vocals layered atop fretless nylon-string guitar and synth bolstered by Husband and Levin's foreboding rhythm section work. But within a mere sixty seconds everything changes as a more frenetic vibe emerges, with Levin's electric upright and Husband's effusive kit work driving a thematic, arpeggio-driven construct clearly referencing John McLaughlin's lifelong west-meets-east explorations...though this time, it's more appropriately east-meets-west.

Budjana takes the first solo, and it's a career-defining turn that still, fuzz-toned and staggeringly virtuosic as it is, never dissolves into flashy excess; instead, it's one of the most impassioned, beautifully constructed solos he's ever delivered—and it's still just Zentuary's first track. If there are any suggestions that his masterful technique is relegated solely to overdriven electric instruments, Budjana immediately follows that solo with a second, this time on nylon-string guitar, building to its own thrilling climax. Husband closes the tune with a synth solo of epic Mahavishnu Orchestra surprise, perhaps, given that Husband has been keyboardist and percussionist of choice for over a decade in MO founder John McLaughlin's current 4th Dimension group—which is, coincidentally, in preparation to revisit the Mahavishnu Orchestra's legacy for an upcoming North American tour.

Knotty contrapuntal ideas mesh with the complex polyrhythms that drive Zentuary's largely episodic writing. Zentuary may shine a strong spotlight on Budjana, but it also provides plenty of space for Husband—a musician who first garnered a reputation for his unrelenting virtuosity behind the drum kit, but who has increasingly proven just as impressive on keyboards, whether it's contributing a motif-driven acoustic piano solo to the ferocious "Solas PM" (also featuring fellow Moonjune label mate/soprano saxophonist Danny Markovitch) or mind-bending synthesizer work on the following "Lake Takengon," where DeJohnette assumes Zentuary's drum chair for the first time on the record, demonstrating that as stylistically far-reaching as his reputation has long been considered, at nearly 75 he still has the capacity to surprise in the best of ways.

The album's more aggressive stance finally takes a breather on "Sunikala," with its more ambling groove driven as much by Levin's muscular but spare bass lines as it is Husband's similarly spartan backbeat. Introducing the first of two appearances by the Czech Symphony Orchestra, its lush textures lean more towards a progressive rock surprise, given Levin's long association with the genre as a member, in addition to his tenure with Peter Gabriel, of all but one King Crimson lineup since 1980. The tune's progressive ambience is further supported by guest guitarist Guthrie Govan, who contributes a solo as viscerally soaring as any of his existing work as a member of the power trio Aristocrats and as a former member of progressive singer/songwriter Steven Wilson's band from 2012-2015, heard on the ex-Porcupine Tree founder's The Raven That Refused to Sing (And Other Stories) (Kscope, 2013) and 2015 follow-up concept album, Hand. Cannot. Erase (Kscope), amongst others.

Beyond contributing a wonderfully finger-picked acoustic guitar solo that follows Govan on "Sunikala," the idea that Budjana would recruit such a highly regarded, masterful and evocative guitarist—truly a guitarist's guitarist—into his own project only speaks to the Indonesian's innate humility and desire to do everything possible to serve the music. By this time in his relatively short career on the international jazz scene, he's already well past the need to prove himself, but recruiting a guitarist of Govan's repute is as much a reflection of Budjana the man as it is Budjana the musician.

Levin's reputation has, for the past four decades, been largely in the progressive rock sphere, so it's easy to forget that he first emerged as a jazz bassist in the mid-to-late '60s, with an early career résumé filled with impressive names ranging from Mike Mainieri, Buddy Rich and Deodato to Herbie Mann, Ben Sidran and Gary Burton. Driven by DeJohnette's signature cymbal work and coming before Budjana's own searing, linguistically rich work on "Dear Yulman," the bassist takes a commanding electric upright solo whose lyrical touches, deep-in-the-gut resonance, personal idiosyncrasies and reverence to the heart of the song would be unmistakably identifiable, even if his name wasn't listed in the credits.

If it's true that we are all the confluence of our own lives' experiences, then Levin is but one of Zentuary's many examples of how these exceptional players prove not just capable of bringing any and all of their extant career work to bear, but are equally adept at meeting new contexts head on, in this case Budjana's infusion of Gamelan—though, in Levin's case, his early days in Crimson were informed by this specifically Javanese and Balinese music—and other musical concepts unique to Indonesia.

Track Listing:

CD 1:
1. Dancing Tears;
2. Solas PM;
3. Lake Takengon;
4. Sunikala;
5. Dear Yulman;
6. Rerengat Langit (Crack in the Sky).

CD 2:
1. Pancaroba;
2. Manhattan People;
3. Dedariku;
4. Ujung Galuh;
5. Uncle Jack;
6. Zentuary.


Dewa Budjana: all guitars, soundscapes;
Tony Levin: electric upright NS Design bass (CD1#1-5, CD2#1-5), Chapman Stick (CD1#6);
Gary Husband: drums (CD1#1-2, CD1#4, CD1#6, CD2#1, CD2#4-5); keyboards and acoustic piano (CD1, CD2#1-4);
Jack DeJohnette: drums (CD1#3, CD1#5, CD2#2-3), acoustic piano (CD2#5);
Danny Markovitch: curved soprano saxophone (CD1#2, CD2#4);
Tim Garland: tenor saxophone (CD2#2);
Guthrie Govan: guitar solo (CD1#4);
Saat Syah: custom-made Indonesian suling flute (CD1#6, CD2#3);
Ubiet: vocals (CD1#3);
Risa Saraswati: vocals (CD1#6);
Czech Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michaela Růžičková: orchestra (CD1#4, CD2#6).

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Weather Report - 1974 [1985] "Mysterious Traveller"

Mysterious Traveller is the fourth studio album of Weather Report and was released in 1974. This album marked the end of bassist Miroslav Vitouš's tenure with the band. Vitouš was replaced by Alphonso Johnson. Another addition to the line-up is drummer Ishmael Wilburn. Greg Errico was the drummer for the tour between the previously released Sweetnighter and this album, but declined an invitation to be a permanent member of the band.

The record is the band's first that predominantly uses electric bass and incorporates liberal uses of funk, R&B grooves, and rock that would later be hallmarked as the band's "signature" sound. Also, the more restricted compositional format became evident on this album, replacing the more "open improvisation" formats used on the first three albums. It was voted as the album of the year by the readers of Down Beat for 1974, garnering their 2nd overall win in that category, also garnering a five-star review from that publication along the way.

Weather Report's fourth recording finds Wayne Shorter (on soprano and tenor) taking a lesser role as Joe Zawinul begins to really dominate the group's sound. Most selections also include bassist Alphonso Johnson and drummer Ishmael Wilburn although the personnel shifts from track to track. "Nubian Sundance" adds several vocalists while "Blackthorn Rose" is a Shorter-Zawinul duet. Overall the music is pretty stimulating and sometimes adventurous; high-quality fusion from 1974.

In 1974, three years after the band's inception, Weather Report became one of the world's most popular jazz groups due to their uncompromising originality and musicianship. This was the year that founding member Miroslav Vitous was replaced by Alphonso Johnson, who became a critical asset as both a fluid, creative bassist and a composer. Drummer Ishmael Wilburn and Brazilian percussionist Dom Um Romao, with a shifting cast of supporting players, laid the foundation for the band's most exciting incarnation yet. The overdue reissue of Mysterious Traveller is a welcome acknowledgement of this mid-period lineup's importance in the evolution of fusion.

This album contains some of the Report's most popular works, chiefly the long opener "Nubian Sundance." The sound of cheering crowds (apparently tacked on in the studio to simulate a live performance) still seems a bit presumptuous today, but the overall performance is certainly worth cheering. Zawinul's weirdly nonsensical vocals seem a precursor to Pat Metheny's wordless singing, and they add a witty flavor to the tune. "Cucumber Slumber" is another perennial favorite which gives Johnson the chance to work out the funk via slides and double-stops. The skulking title track brings much fun as well, with Shorter squeaking out alarums in the alley. The bass and sax take a coffee break on "Jungle Book," leaving Zawinul with two percussionists to carve out an inarguable masterpiece. His ability to program the synthesizers to suit his vision was always key to the WR sound, and this track was the ultimate realization of his artistry.

The disc is admittedly uneven at times, a risk run by any ensemble that chews at boundaries as much as the Report. "American Tango," for example, is rather inconsequential in the big picture despite its interesting textures. It's an ironic farewell for Vitous as his bandmates had bigger fish to fry. "Scarlet Woman" is disconcerting on the first few listens, as Shorter and Zawinul cough out sinuous lines sporadically over a net of near-silence. On the other hand, the sax/piano duet "Blackthorn Rose" is both gorgeous and rejuvenating as a change of pace from the electronic effluvium.

Zawinul's motto for the group was "We always solo, we never solo." The special combination of freedom and composition that Weather Report consistently achieved on record amply testifies to that philosophy, and Mysterious Traveller is a quintessential piece of evidence.

Mysterious Traveller was Weather Report's fourth studio album and the successor to Sweetnighter, I Sing The Body Electric and the eponymous first album (Live In Tokyo was only recently released in full outside Japan).

"Nubian Sundance" kicks in hard with two drummers and a percussionist, but there's a curious feeling of suspension, akin to watching Muybridge's horse forever galloping but never moving forward. On top of this, bass, a lot of Rhodes, synthesizers, crowd sounds and vocals create a wonderful impression of a neon-lit rainforest peopled by Rio carnival celebrants.

After the festival comes "American Tango"; a more reflective pace like wandering in the shadows of a Mediterranean sidestreet, the keyboard melody languorous as sleepy sex in morning sunlight. "Cucumber Slumber" (what great titles they had!) is all electric bass, sax, Rhodes and chugging drums.

"Mysterious Traveller" slips in spookily then revs up to a rhythmic workout that recalls Sweetnighter. After all the colour and wonderful grandstanding of the previous four tracks, the acoustic duet of "Blackthorn Rose" between Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinul arrives like a welcome, meditative oasis.

"Scarlet Woman" steals in with a plangent sax call, muted desert drum and synthesized wind and slowly steals away again. The album closes with the reflective "Jungle Book", as if recalling the events of a long hot day after the sun has set.

On Mysterious Traveller Weather Report were clearly growing, employing a wider palette of sounds, conjuring different moods: the music is sunnier, more upbeat, colourful and funky than its predecessors.

Early copies of the album do not list "Cucumber Slumber" on the back cover or inner sleeve, and list "Jungle Book" as the final track of side one rather than side two. However, most known copies of the album include the seven tracks in the order listed above. One exception is the cassette release, with "Blackthorn Rose" as the second track of side one and "American Tango" as the second track of side two.

The Mastersound SBM edition of Mysterious Traveller includes a previously unreleased song, "Miroslav's Tune", as a bonus track at the end of the album.

The album peaked at #2 in the Billboard Jazz album chart, #31 in the R&B album chart, and #46 in the Billboard 200 chart.

Track listing:

1. "Nubian Sundance" (Zawinul) – 10:40
2. "American Tango" (Vitouš, Zawinul) – 3:40
3. "Cucumber Slumber" (Johnson, Zawinul) – 8:22
4. "Mysterious Traveller" (Shorter) – 7:21
5. "Blackthorn Rose" (Shorter) – 5:03
6. "Scarlet Woman" (Johnson, Shorter, Zawinul) – 5:46
7. "Jungle Book" (Zawinul) – 7:25


Josef Zawinul - Electric and acoustic piano, synthesizer, guitar, kalimba, organ, tamboura, clay drum, tack piano, melodica
Wayne Shorter - Soprano and tenor saxophone, tack piano
Miroslav Vitouš - Upright bass (track 2 only)
Alphonso Johnson - Bass guitar
Ishmael Wilburn - Drums
Skip Hadden - Drums (tracks 1 and 4 only)
Dom Um Romão - Percussion, drums

Guest musicians:

Ray Barretto - Percussion (track 3)
Meruga Booker aka Muruga Booker - Percussion (track 1)
Steve Little - Timpani (track 6)
Don Ashworth - Ocarinas and woodwinds (track 7)
Isacoff - Tabla, finger cymbals (track 7)
Edna Wright - Vocalists (track 1)
Marti McCall - Vocalists (track 1)
Jessica Smith - Vocalists (track 1)
James Gilstrap - Vocalists (track 1)
Billie Barnum - Vocalists (track 1)

Chris Potter - 2007 "Follow the Red Line" - Live at Village Vanguard

In a rare move, saxophonist Chris Potter has released two CDs on the same day, and on the same label—Song For Anyone, his first album for a large ensemble; and Follow the Red Line: Live at the Village Vanguard, featuring the Underground band that's been touring for the past couple of years. Risky, perhaps, but Potter's significance—the clear torch-carrier for the recently departed Michael Brecker— continues to grow, and is one of a limited number of artists who can actually pull it off.

Potter's discography has been getting better with each passing year, but Underground (Sunnyside, 2006) was a true watershed, where conception, composition and performance came together for the most distinctive and fully realized album of his career. Follow the Red Line is even better, featuring the same group but with guitarist Adam Rogers in place of Wayne Krantz, whose sharp attack and oblique lines were amongst Underground's defining points. Those only familiar with Rogers' largely acoustic Criss Cross discs, including 2005's Apparitions, may be surprised to hear him kick such serious butt here, but those who've heard his mid-1990s work with Lost Tribe know that he's undeniably capable of this kind of electrified, rock-and funk-edged music.

The gentle opening fanfare of "Train" starts the set on a lyrical and subdued note, but it's not long before drummer Nate Smith kicks in with a visceral funk groove, bolstered by Craig Taborn's uncannily dichotomous Fender Rhodes. Potter takes the first solo, building from ground zero to the stratosphere and demonstrating the kind of paradoxical blend of restraint and reckless abandon that makes his extended solos not just consistently captivating, but exhilarating. The same goes for Rogers, whose solo begins in melodic simplicity, but quickly takes off with a raucous energy and linear invention that's the main reason why he, along with Ben Monder, are two of New York's most in-demand guitarists across a wide swatch of styles. His tone is dense and sustaining, with a punchy attack and, like Potter, has an ability to milk the simplest of vamps for all it's worth.

Taborn gets to do the same thing during the unrelenting, single-chord vamp that's at the core of "Arjuna," with Rogers soul-drenched single-line anchoring hand-in- glove with Smith's loose and unyieldingly responsive groove. "Pop Tune #1" offers a brief respite; a countrified ballad where Roger's rich, sustaining chords support Potter's singable melody before taking a blues-drenched lead. Rogers builds dramatically, only to suddenly dissolve as Potter morphs the tune into another lengthy and funk-laden vamp where everyone raises the temperature during his blistering and idea-filled solo.

It's an exercise in futility to find a name for the music of Follow the Red Line. But as Potter blurs the lines between jazz, rock, funk and even a little afro- beat in ways that are finally being accepted again two decades after The New York Times declared the "pestilence known as fusion is dead," the best word to describe this recording is, quite simply, great.

Chris Potter's quartet Underground should be looked upon as one of the many facets in the saxophonist's prismatic view of contemporary jazz. Certainly the band is oriented toward a progressive jazz image with the electric guitar work of the brilliant Adam Rogers and Craig Taborn's witty and pungent Fender Rhodes keyboard.

Assumedly the concept of Underground harks somewhat to the fusion of Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, and Chick Corea. But Potter's vision with this combo goes beyond those static and funkier values, entering a wilder, unabashed, and fierce aggression that cannot be corralled. In live performance at the storied Village Vanguard nightclub in Greenwich Village, you expect and receive long drawn-out compositions, extended solos especially from Potter, and new music tried out as audience experiments.

"Train" is a long 16-minute trip, with mixed meters starting in 3/4 and going to 6/8, building momentum and leading to alternating beats of nine and seven and Potter's extended opening salvo solo. This is intense music -- sliced, diced, marinated, and flash-seared by Potter. "Arjuna" (not the Yusef Lateef composition) is a spectral sound analysis, lower key and illuminated, with a drum solo from Nate Smith, a Rhodes solo, choppy sax, and a workout from Potter and Rogers. Fond of interval leaps and overblown harmonic displacements, Potter's tenor is driven during "Viva Las Vilnius" over a quirky rhythmic idea meshed with a funky bottom end and Latin or ethnic inferences.

The last two pieces of the set are decidedly settled, as Taborn's soulful electric piano on the sparse ballad "Zea" places the group in a calmer place and Potter plays delicate bass clarinet in an upper register atypical of its usual throaty sound. The finale, "Togo," is a version of the great melodic composition drummer Ed Blackwell brought to the repertoire of Old and New Dreams. It's very well rendered, with Potter sticking to bass clarinet, understating the melody with reverence and respect before Taborn goes crazy, stepping up the vibe into a funky mode while Potter switches to tenor and plays the calmer final chorus.

For Potter's fans, this is a worthwhile addition to his growing discography. Considering Potter as a new music composer, this indicates how his music is changing and still flowering, and in a developmental stage. Evidently Potter and the audience were very pleased with the results, and perhaps a second volume of these sessions is in the can.

Track Listing:

1. Train
2. Arjune
3. Pop Tune #1
4. Viva Las Vilnius
5. Sea
6. Togo


Chris Potter: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet;
Adam Rogers: guitar;
Craig Taborn: Fender Rhodes;
Nate Smith: drums.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Gentle Giant - 2012 "I Lost My Head" The Chrysalis Years 1975-1980 [4CD Box]

I Lost My Head, The Chrysalis Years (1975-1980) is a 4CD set rounding up all the albums Gentle Giant recorded for the Chrysalis label after they departed from WWA Records. This release features the last official recordings from the band, namely Free Hand (1975), Interview (1976), The Missing Piece (1977), Giant For A Day (1978) and Civilian (1980) filled up with the only live album Playing The Fool, The Official Live (1977). In addition these albums feature several bonus tracks including John Peel sessions, 7-inch mixes, live tracks and B-sides. The booklet contains quite a number of pictures taken between 1975 and 1980 and the liner notes written by some band members, provide a wonderful overview of how the albums got together.

At the time Gentle Giant's line-up consisted of Gary Green (electric guitar, acoustic guitar, 12-string guitar, alto recorder, descant recorder, vocals, percussion), Kerry Minnear (keyboards, cello, vibes, tenor recorder, vocals, percussion), Derek Shulman (vocals, alto sax, descant recorder, bass, percussion), Ray Shulman (bass, violin, acoustic guitar, descant recorder, trumpet, vocals, percussion) and John Weathers (drums, vibes, tambour, vocals, percussion). This line-up stayed together until they broke up in 1980.

The first disc starts with Free Hand. At this point, Gentle Giant were slightly simplifying their complicated music in order to reach a wider (read: American) audience, although the band's music could be regarded to be 'polished' rather than 'compromised'. Compared to other rock artists at the time, Gentle Giant's music was still very complex. However, the process itself seemed successful enough to get the album into the USA-charts. The songs were strongly influenced by the music of the Renaissance era and the Middle Ages. The album's songs reflected on lost loves and damaged relationships including the breakdown of the band's relationship with their former manager. Regardless of the issues of simplification, Free Hand became one of the band's most popular and accessible albums.

CD1 ends with six additional tracks. The first one is an intro tape of 1976 which they used to get on stage. It's a great but short instrumental piece that lasts only 1.39 minutes. Next are two tracks recorded during the John Peel sessions on the 16th of September 1975. The live versions of Just The Same and On Reflection sound more vivid than the studio versions thus having more energy. Finally you can enjoy the international 7-inch mix of Give It Back and the 7-inch mix of I Lost My Head. Both differ not that much from the original versions.

The second disc features Interview, Gentle Giant's next release. It's again a concept album based upon an imaginary interview with the band. The music pointedly poked fun at the state of the music industry and at the silly questions that rock stars are repeatedly asked in order to construct an image for marketing. Ironically, this more satirical and subversive approach ultimately proved to be a symptom of the undermining of the band's work and artistic integrity. Derek Shulman later admitted: “I think Interview was the start of the erosion. The creative juices were starting to wane a little bit... I think it was the start of the slide towards the realization that this is a business now, and that's also a part of what the business had become. I was managing the band at the time the music business became a major business.” Despite this approach, the album peaking at number 137, didn't repeat its predecessor's American chart success.

In the same year, Gentle Giant's notoriously virtuoso live act, featuring rapid-fire instrument swapping and equally demanding rearrangements of the already complex studio pieces was captured on the live album Playing The Fool. However, on the second disc you can enjoy first the complete version of The Missing Piece. For the band this album was the start of the 'pop' years. While the band's skills as performers remained undiminished, their creative peak was now behind them. Of course the music still contained enough quality featuring strong musical elements. The album was recorded in The Netherlands just like Genesis did before them with Wind & Wuthering (1976). The first side of The Missing Piece explored the different musical directions that the band was previously known for, including pop music and punk rock, while the second side was more in the vein of Gentle Giant's signature of progressive rock style. This was the last album to chart in the USA.

On the third disc you can enjoy the already mentioned live double album Playing The Fool. On this CD you can hear how the band performed on stage in full glory. The songs are much longer than the original studio versions. A good example is Excerpts From 'Octopus' on which you can hear additional parts performed on the acoustic guitars and recorders. Another good example is the strong percussion solo on So Sincere. This album can undoubtedly be considered to be one of their musical highlights.

The fourth and final disc starts with the second album that was recorded during their 'pop' years. Giant For A Day emphatically shows the evidence of aiming for a bigger audience. The music clearly tends towards pop music. The 7-inch single Thank You and its B-side Words From The Wise have been included as bonus tracks. Later on Derek Shulman described Giant For A Day as being 'real contrived'. The instrumental piece Spookie Boogie probably is the highlight on this album.

In 1979, they relocated their centre of operations to the USA in order to record their twelfth and most mainstream album Civilian, a record containing short rock songs. This album ends the fourth disc. The musical highlight on this release is Shadows On The Street, a track that takes you back to the days when they still wrote real progressive rock tunes. The rest of the material is mainly an AOR kind of music. Ray Shulman later admitted: “I hated making that last record, I hated being involved with it.” And in 2005, Derek Shulman reflected: “Civilian was done with less passion than some of the other albums. As it turns out we as a band were just not good at being rock or pop stars. We would have loved to be as popular as Genesis, Rush or Yes. In hindsight, I sometimes think that Gentle Giant was wrongfully put into the progressive rock category. Much of what we did was very clever, but we certainly didn't do these long complex tunes like Yes or Genesis did.”

After the band was put on hold three members thought about the idea of continuing with keyboard player Eddie Jobson and with another vocalist. As history tells us this never actually happened and the band never got back together in the line-up that recorded the albums for the Chrysalis label. However, some of them revived their music live on stage under the moniker of Three Friends. People who want to know more about the music Gentle Giant, but don't want to start with their complex music, this box-set is appropriate to begin with. All in all this a very good release! Especially the first three CDs are worthwhile listening to!

Albums remastered by Fred Kervorkian at Avatar Studios, NYC from the original 1/4 inch tapes through 24bit 96K hi-reolution transfer.Mastered by Peter Mew at Abbey Road Studios, London. Disc 1 tracks 8-13 and disc 4 tracks 11 & 12 previously unreleased on CD.

Courtesy: Original uploader.

Tracks Listing:

Disc 1
FREE HAND (1975)
1. Just The Same (5.34)
2. On Reflection (5.43)
3. Free Hand (6.15)
4. Time To Kill (5.09)
5. His Last Voyage (6.27)
6. Talybont (2.43)
7. Mobile (5.03)
Bonus tracks
8. 1976 Intro Tape (previously unreleased) (1.39)
9. Just The Same (John Peel session) (6.00)
10, Free Hand (John Peel session) (6.05)
11. On Reflection (John Peel session) (5.42)
12. Give It Back (International 7" mix) (3.48)
13. I Lost My Head (7" mix) (3.29)

Disc 2
1. Interview (6.51)
2. Give It Back (5.12)
3. Design (5.02)
4. Another Show (3.31)
5. Empty City (4.39)
6. Timing (4.39)
7. I Lost My Head (6.55)

8. Two Weeks In Spain (3.06)
9. I'm Turning Around (3.59)
10. Betcha Thought We Couldn't Do It (2.25)
11. Who Do You Think You Are? (3.36)
12. Mountain Time (3.23)
13. As Old As You're Young (4.21)
14. Memories Of Old Days (7.19)
15. Winning (4.17)
16. For Nobody (4.07)

Disc 3
1. (a) Just The Same/(b) Proclamation (11.17)
2. On Reflection (6.27)
3. Excerpts from 'Octopus' (15.39)
4. Funny Ways (8.31)
5. (a) The Runaway/(b) Experience (9.31)
6. So Sincere (10.19)
7. Free Hand (7.40)
8. Sweet Georgia Brown (1.22)
9 (a) Peel The Paint/(b) I Lost My Head (7.28)

Disc 4
1. Words From The Wise (4.16)
2. Thank You (4.50)
3. Giant For A Day (3.51)
4. Spookie Boogie (2.55)
5. Take Me (3.37)
6. Little Brown Bag (3.29)
7. Friends (2.01)
8. No Stranger (2.31)
9. It's Only Goodbye (4.20)
10. Rock Climber (3.53)
Bonus tracks
11. Thank You (7" single edit A) (3.50)
12. Words From The Wise (7" single edit B) (3.04)

13. Convenience (Clean And Easy) (3.13)
14. All Through The Night (4.23)
15. Shadows On The Street (3.16)
16. Number One (4.47)
17. Underground (3.49)
18. I Am A Camera (3.32)
19. Inside Out (5.52)
20 It's Not Imagination (4.04)


- Derek Shulman/ vocals, saxes, alto sax, descant recorder, bass & percussion
- Ray Shulman/ bass, violin, acoustic guitar, descant recorder, trumpet, vocals & percussion
- Kerry Minnear/ keyboards, cello, vibes, tenor recorder, vocals & percussion
- Gary Green/ electric, acoustic & 12 string guitars, alsto & descant recorder, vocals & percussion
- John Weathers/ drums, tambour, vibes, percussion & backing vocals

Monday, November 12, 2018

Jimi Hendrix - 1970 [2002] "The Rainbow Bridge Concert"

Originally released by Radioactive Records in 2002 as 2 separate LPs, this 2-CD set contains most of both of Jimi's sets as recorded at Haleakala Crater in Hawaii, the 30th of July, 1970; the first set (as only partially heard in the film, but not the LP's soundtrack Rainbow Bridge - Original Movie Soundtrack (Vinyl Record)) and most tracks of the never-released second set. This show, especially the 2nd set, was for years rather a "Holy Grail" amongst collectors. Minimally remastered, although unfortunately edited, this was Hendrix' pentultimate U.S. show; it's far from being an audiophile-grade recording, (especially the 2nd set, when the winds were blowing rather high) but Jimi's performance still shines through. According to Ultimate Hendrix: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Live Concerts & Sessions, three songs, "Midnight Lightning," "Drum Solo," and "Stone Free" finish the 2nd Set, but those tracks are nowhere to be found on this release. In 2008, the Mike Jeffrey estate put out an even more complete version with these tracks as "Complete Rainbow Bridge" on the Rock Of Ages Label.

This is more a release for a completist than a Hendrix novice: highly reccomended for Hendrix cognoscenti, but get the original live LPs/CDs "In the West (1971)," "Band Of Gypsys," and Blue Wild Angel: Jimi Hendrix Live at the Isle of Wight before even thinking about picking this one up!

Unofficial release of the July 30th 1970 concert in Maui. This is the whole show, both sets. Its missing the very first song ( Spanish Castle Magic) and the very last song (Stone Free). But what you do get is:
Lover Man, Hey Baby (New Rising Sun), In From the Storm, Message to Love, Foxy Lady, Hear My Train a Comin', Voodoo Child (Slight Return), Fire, Purple Haze, Dolly Dagger, Villanova Junction, Ezy Rider, Red House, Freedom, Jam Back at the House (a.k.a Beginnings), and an instrumental jam called Land of the New Rising Sun which incorporates parts of Hey Baby and Race With the Devil.
That is an amazing set list. Jimi played great that day. It was an outdoor show and the wind detracts from the quality of the recording, but who cares, its Jimi playing his ass off. Mitchell redid the drums for the songs used in the movie, so those sound much clearer.
Overall its a decent recording of an excellent show. Since its unofficial though, I wouldn't pay $75 collectors prices for it. Its OK to download bootlegs. But its a well made package and any Hendrix fan should own this if found at a reasonable price. There's another version called Complete Rainbow Bridge which has the two missing songs but good luck finding it.

The concert held at Haleakala Crater in Hawaii in July of 1970 was supposed to be part of the film Rainbow Bridge, but very little of the concert footage was used in the film. Stranger still, none of it was used on the soundtrack album Rainbow Bridge. The set has been bootlegged in the past, but this marks the first official release of this material. For the second set, Hendrix played new material exclusively, except for "Red House." He also played a Gibson Flying-V instead of his near-trademark Fender Stratocaster, giving him a thicker guitar tone. Hendrix starts strong on "Dolly Dagger" and goes straight into "Villanova Juction" (here simply titled "Instrumental"). This is followed by one of the better live versions of "Ezy Rider," with Billy Cox lending strong support on bass.

After an excellent version of "Red House," Hendrix loses his way a bit, drifting into "Straight Ahead" during "Jam Back at the House," but finished the tune strong with all his effect pedals working nicely together. The set ends with an up-tempo jam tacked onto the end of "New Rising Sun." This is quite an interesting live set, because the intimate venue and relative lack of commercial pressure allowed Hendrix to relax on-stage with a lot of his newer material. Sound quality is quite good, although the drums are a bit distant. Some critics have said that Hendrix's playing declined after the breakup of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, but this set shows that Hendrix was always moving forward, incorporating new tones and effects as well as Spanish scales into his playing. There were certainly some lackluster performances during that time period, but the Rainbow Bridge concerts show that Hendrix still had some excellent playing left in him. [Both sets are also available combined onto a two-CD set.]

Show took place in Maui, Hawaii on July 30, 1970. Great to have this live performance (finally) in it's entirety. Sound quality is very good - as some fans might disagree with that - just seems like the crowd is a bit quieter than one might expect. Tracks that I could not get enough of were "Hey Baby (New Sun Rising)", the rocking "Message To Love", "Foxy Lady" - being personally dedicated to someone specifically by Jimi, one of my personal Hendrix favorites "Fire", of course "Purple Haze" and [the always] ass-kicking "Dolly Dagger". Also thoroughly enjoyed the awesome "Red House", "Freedom" and "Land Of The New Rising Sun". Duration: approx. 84 minutes. Comes housed in a nifty / collectable slip-cover to forever preserve this precious audio keepsake. Also includes a twelve-page CD booklet with some exclusive Hendrix artwork and well-written liner notes. Highly recommended.

Track listing:

CD 1 - The Early Show
1-1 Lover Man 2:33
1-2 Hey Baby (New Rising Sun) 4:36
1-3 In From The Storm 4:59
1-4 Message To Love 4:52
1-5 Foxy Lady 4:45
1-6 Hear My Train A Comin’ 9:08
1-7 Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) 7:17
1-8 Fire 3:43
1-9 Purple Haze 4:35

CD 2 - The Late Show
2-1 Dolly Dagger 5:09
2-2 Instrumental 5:28
2-3 Ezy Rider 4:54
2-4 Red House 6:47
2-5 Freedom 4:21
2-6 Jam Back At The House 7:00
2-7 Land Of The New Rising Sun 4:47


Jimi Hendrix - Guitar
Mitch Mitchell - Drums
Billy Cox - Bass

Friday, November 9, 2018

Alain Caron - 1993 "Le Band"

First Alain caron solo recording after he left the legendary Band "UZEB". Lost of groove, funk, slap and fretless bass.

Widely heralded as the greatest electric bass player in the world, Montreal resident Alain Caron has put together possibly the finest band of its kind - from the musical elite of francophone Jazz - in producing his first solo album. A veteran of the legendary UZEB - the Roland Electronics endorsed super fusion group of the latter third of the last century -, Caron is an in-demand Artist around the globe for his musical, composing and arranging skills. A collection of predominantly original works revealing his own superb talents as a sideman and his awe-inspiring gifts as an improviser is joined by his tribute to Jaco Pastorious in the Charlie Parker tour de force, "Donna Lee". The grooves, originality and powerful arrangements in Caron's music reaffirm the remarkable contribution of Quebecois Artists to the world of Jazz.

Spectacular post Uzeb fusion effort by one of the best electric fusion bass player ever. Fantastic solos by Alain. He play so smooth and fluid that his instrument seems a horn. But this is not a mere bassist enthusiasts record. It contains true intelligent music not for show off. It's great music for bassist enthusiasts and for true music lovers.

Recorded and mixed at Studio Victor, Montreal in November-December 1992,  Le Band is a spectacular drive, full of fun and amazing solos compositions!

It is not only a great bass drive, but it is a work of great music for enthusiastic fans and music lovers!

“Le Band” is a very funky album and its recording was attended by Jerry De Villiers Jr. on guitar, Magella Cormier on drums and Gerry Etkins on keyboards.

A beautiful album that you should not miss: a milestone in the production of Alain Caron. Maturity and style of Caron, the precise connotations, reveals to listener a soul like few equals.

Alain Caron “Le Band” is great music, both for bass lovers and for true music lovers.

“Le Band” of Alain Caron received the Félix award as best album of the year in 1993.

Track Listing:

1. Jack Cannon (4:57)
2. S.E.C. (5:11)
3. 87 South (6:09)
4. No Way (5:22)
5. From T.O.P. (4:52)
6. Options (4:44)
7. Freedom Jazz Dance (3:36)
8. Lower East Side (7:12)
9. 3 in 4 (4:50)
10. Devil Shuffle (6:03)
11. Had to Go (4:32)

Total Time: 57:32


- Alain Caron / bass
- NMagella Cormier / drums
- Jerry De Villiers / guitars
- Gerry Etkins / keyboards

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

King Crimson - 2002 "Happy with What You Have to Be Happy With"

Happy with What You Have to Be Happy With is an EP by the band King Crimson released in 2002, a companion to the subsequent album The Power to Believe (2003).

This mini-album of mostly short tracks, including one hidden unlisted track, is more song-centered than other Crimson releases, and acts as an appetizer for the full-length studio album, THE POWER TO BELIEVE (2003). Featuring Adrian Belew, Robert Fripp, Pat Mastelotto and Trey Gunn.

EP version of "Happy with What You Have to Be Happy With" is longer by one chorus. "Eyes Wide Open" is an acoustic version. Alternative versions of these tracks can be found on The Power to Believe. "Larks' Tongues In Aspic Part IV" is from the "Live In Nashville, TN" Collectors' Club release.

The relationship between this EP and King Crimson's Power to Believe (2003) long-player mirrors that of the six-track Vrooom (1994) sampler and subsequent full-length release Thrak (1994). The music perfectly contrasts the primarily instrumental and live Level Five (2001) EP by honing in on the latest lyrical contributions from Adrian Belew (guitar/vocals).

The disc begins with "Bude," the first in a series of short spoken verses incorporating an electronically manipulated and harmonized Belew. The result is similar to the voice box effect used by Peter Frampton on "Do You Feel Like We Do?." This slams headlong into the thrashing title track, which is not too far removed from the angst-ridden alternative metal from the likes of Therapy?, Tool, and Rammstein.

In true Belew style, he incongruously twists the subject matter into a sonically aggressive backdrop, cleverly dissecting his craft as a singer/songwriter, exemplified in the lyrics: "And when I have some words/This is the way I'll sing/Through a distortion box/To make them menacing." "Mie Gakure" is a two-minute meditative soundscape interlude from Robert Fripp (guitar). While the necessitation for brevity is duly noted for this release, interested parties are emphatically encouraged to seek any of Fripp's full-length soundscapes -- such as Blessing of Tears (1995), November Suite (1996), and Gates of Paradise (1998).

She Shudders -- another of Belew's harmonized haikus -- prefaces an acoustic version of a second new tune, "Eyes Wide Open." This is without a doubt one of the most lyrically poignant and musically refined tunes in the King Crimson repertoire, taking its rightful place alongside tracks such as "One Time" or "Frame by Frame." Belew's vocals hang ethereally over the languid, inspired instrumentation. "Potato Pie" is a moody and dark blues containing angular chord structures as well as some symbiotic fretwork from Fripp and Belew. A live version of the fourth installment in the "Larks' Tongues in Aspic" saga concludes the ensemble endeavors on this disc.

These tracks are couched between the final pair of Belew's brief vocalizations. Likewise, there is a hidden and untitled cut-and-paste pastiche consisting of incidental musical and spoken-word odds and ends taken from the recording sessions. Sandwiched between rehearsal snippets of the title track and "ConstruKction of Light" there is a bit of Belew doggerel titled "Einstein's' Relatives." These sonic scraps conclude with the final strains of "In the Court of the Crimson King," performed live by an uncredited vocal chorale.

There's a little of everything here: head banging, blues, metal, and poetry represent a wide variety of styles that would simply leave less talented bands adrift far, far out at sea. Crimson pulls it off brilliantly. This eclectic mix is stitched together by short vocal and instrumental vignettes that add a dose of continuity and coherence without intruding on the whole experience. This allows each episode to stand apart without ever falling apart.

The jewel in the crown this time out is the latest installment in the "Lark's Tongues' " canon. Unlike so many imitators, Crimson is able to cut loose and stay together all at once. The compositional complexity is finally matched to a wild sense of freedom: nothing constrained, precious or small-minded about what's happening here. An incredible fury pointed right between your ears. No doubt -- hear this and you'll have the power to believe.

Track listing:

01. "Bude" (Adrian Belew) – 0:26
02. "Happy with What You Have to Be Happy With" (Belew, Fripp, Gunn, Mastelotto) – 4:12
03. "Mie Gakure" (見え隠れ Appear and Disappear) (Belew, Fripp) – 2:00
04. "She Shudders" (Belew) – 0:35
05. "Eyes Wide Open" (Belew, Fripp, Gunn, Mastelotto) – 4:08
06. "Shoganai" (しょうがない It Can't be Helped) (Belew) – 2:53
07. "I Ran" (Belew) – 0:40
08. "Potato Pie" (Belew, Fripp, Gunn, Mastelotto) – 5:03
09. "Larks' Tongues in Aspic (Part IV)" (Belew, Fripp, Gunn, Mastelotto) – 10:26
   "I Have a Dream"
 Recorded live at 328 Performance Hall, Nashville, USA, November 2001
10. "Clouds" (Belew) – 4:11
 The song "Clouds" ends at 0:30. The hidden track "Einstein's Relatives" starts at 1:00, after 30 seconds of silence.


Robert Fripp – guitar
Adrian Belew – guitar, vocals
Trey Gunn – Warr guitar, bass guitar
Pat Mastelotto – drums, electronic percussion

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson & Steve Vai - 1997 "G3: Live In Concert"

G3: Live in Concert is a live album and DVD by the G3 project, led by Joe Satriani. It was released in 1997 by Epic Records. This lineup of G3 includes Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson and Steve Vai. In 2005, a DVD of this concert was also released.

G3: Live in Concert brings Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, and Steve Vai's blockbuster 1996 tour to home video. Each of the superstar guitarists -- who had never toured or appeared together previously -- performs three of their definitive pieces, including Satriani's "Flying in a Blue Dream," Johnson's "Zap," and Vai's "The Attitude Song." The three play together in a three-song finale of "Going Down," "My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama," and "Red House" that blends technique, showmanship, and friendship into an energetic, entertaining performance that will please all of the guitarists' fans. The DVD's biographies and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound are nice extras for diehards and audiophiles.

This is the first time I ever saw these three guys playing guitar. Satriani, Johnson and Vai. Each of them play 3 songs, and at the end they all unite and play together 3 more songs. This DVD is killer. The quality of the sound is just so good that you think you're listening to the CD. I sometimes turn on my surround sound and play this DVD and makes me think WOW! This is a must for any serious fan, or for anyone who loves guitar music. If I could give it a 10 stars, I'd give 10.

Its interesting that most of the comments are about Eric Johnson, who was obviously uncomfortable in this situation (and didn't stay with the G3 tour for long). Nonetheless, its Eric who really stands out--even in this company. Satriani is impressive, while still being funky & musical; Vai is impressive but neither funky nor musical. And Eric just floats above it all, managing to make even a 335 sound fabulous!

A summit meeting of three of rock's most gifted guitarists, G3 Live in Concert: Satriani, Johnson and Vai features Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, and Steve Vai showing off their considerable chops on-stage.

Three giants of the guitar - Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Eric Johnson - deliver six-string acrobatics on G3 - Live In Concert. The first of many G3 tours organized by Satriani, this show features powerful sets from each player capped by an all-star jam.

Recorded on: October 30, 1996 at Memorial Auditorium from Columbus (Ohio), October 31, 1996 at The Palace of Auburn Hills from Auburn Hills (MI), November 1, 1996 at Aragon Ballroom from Chicago (Ill), November 2, 1996 at Northrop Auditorium from Minneapolis (Minn).

Track Listing:

01 Cool #9 – Joe Satriani
02 Flying In A Blue Dream – Joe Satriani
03 Summer Song – Joe Satriani

04 Zap – Eric Johnson
05 Manhattan – Eric Johnson
06 Camel's Night Out – Eric Johnson

07 Answers – Steve Vai
08 For The Love Of God – Steve Vai
09 The Attitude Song – Steve Vai

10 Going Down – Joe Satriani & Eric Johnson & Steve Vai
11 My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama – Joe Satriani & Eric Johnson & Steve Vai
12 Red House – Joe Satriani & Eric Johnson & Steve Vai


Guitar – Eric Johnson (tracks: 4 to 6, 10 to 12), Joe Satriani (tracks: 1 to 3, 10 to 12), Steve Vai (tracks: 7 to 12)
Bass – Philip Bynoe (tracks: 7 to 9), Roscoe Beck (tracks: 4 to 6), Stuart Hamm (tracks: 1 to 3)
Drums – Brannen Temple (tracks: 4 to 6), Jeff Campitelli (tracks: 1 to 3), Mike Mangini (2) (tracks: 7 to 9)
Keyboards – Stephen Barber (tracks: 4 to 6)
Rhythm Guitar, Sitar, Keyboards, Percussion – Mike Keneally (tracks: 7 to 9)
Vocals – Eric Johnson (tracks: 10 to 12), Joe Satriani (tracks: 10 to 12), Steve Vai (tracks: 10 to 12)


Hello friends, I also run a file sharing program called "Soulseek" where ALL these posts are shared and TONS more, tons more new stuff that I don't normally post on this blog so the artists can get their $ without someone giving it away online right away.

If you wish to seek me out on Soulseek, there's a small room I host titled "Jazz-Rock-Fusion-Guitar". I can be found there with the name "Crimhead420". It is there you can browse ALL the music, video's I have shared.

My only request is you share your music folder with me as well.

Thank you very much.

The download Soulseek page is here:

See you there :-)

Grant Green - 1964 [1995] "Solid"

Solid is an album by American jazz guitarist Grant Green featuring performances recorded in 1964 but not released on the Blue Note label until 1979.

Solid is a companion piece to the Grant Green classic Matador, recorded about a month later with the same rhythm section, and also not issued until 1979. Green is once again accompanied by the Coltrane supporting team of pianist McCoy Tyner and drummer Elvin Jones, plus bassist Bob Cranshaw; this time, however, Green is also joined on the front line by James Spaulding on alto sax and Joe Henderson on tenor. Both saxophonists really seem to light a fire under the proceedings, for in comparison with the relatively subdued Matador, Solid is a bright, hard-charging affair.

There's a little modal jazz, but Solid's repertoire is chiefly complex hard bop, full of challenging twists and turns that the players burn through with enthusiasm. Green didn't tackle this kind of material -- or play with this kind of group -- very often, and it's a treat to hear him do so on both counts. The compositions -- highlighted by Duke Pearson's "Minor League," Henderson's "The Kicker," and a storming, ten-minute exploration of George Russell's "Ezz-Thetic" -- provoke some intricate improvisations from Green, and his perfectly controlled soloing is an interesting contrast with the passionate Spaulding and Henderson. Tyner and Jones are once again telepathic in their support, elevating the whole package to one of Green's strongest jazz outings and a unique standout in his catalog. [Oddity: the CD bonus track "Wives and Lovers" seems to be the same one included on Matador, where it was a better fit.]

Grant Green's burning single-note lines out-swung most horn players. In the 1960s, Grant Green was the Blue Note guitarist. He could jam soulfully with organ combos, play bebop with the best, and dig into the most adventurous jazz on Blue Note while sounding perfectly at home. Solid, a memorable gem from 1964, remarkably went unreleased by Blue Note for 15 years because there were so many other Grant Green recordings at the time.

Green is part of a shockingly brilliant sextet (Joe Henderson, James Spaulding, McCoy Tyner, Bob Cranshaw and Elvin Jones) performing music worthy of their talents including George Russell's "Ezz-Thetic" and Henderson's "The Kicker." The playing is full of surprises, the rhythm section displays telepathic interplay, and Grant Green shows in every soulful note that he was a guitar giant.

The selection Minor League is a classic Blue Note composition, with instant recognition of the Blue Note sound. “The head gives off that really hip, quartal harmony that really rose to prominence in the 60’s. “The strong brass presence also eliminates any lingering concern it might be just a guitar album. Joe Henderson!

Green has a soul-jazz feeling on Solid, soft warm tone in unison with the brass, at times sounding more Hammond B3 than guitar, fluid  linear melodic exploration of the compositions. He has an unusual pairing of horns – Joe Henderson’s gruff tenor with James Spaulding’s bright alto. Henderson has a hard, fractious tone, his athletic figures covering the entire register of the tenor, while Spaulding does a credible job just holding his own.

Tyner contributes characteristically elegant sweeping forms, left hand chopping accents against the right hand’s fluid exploration of the upper keys.  Elvin Jones more than hints at the power below, punishing the ride cymbal to mark time. (Jones is a mixed blessing on Green albums. Here he is well controlled, but on Matador – Bedouin, he treats us to a long and out-of-place drum solo – the type which clears the auditorium and fills the bar). As always, the bass is the forgotten hero, Bob Cranshaw modestly holding everyone together.

Track listing:

1. "Minor League" (Pearson) – 7:05
2. "Ezz-Thetic" (Russell) – 10:41
3. "Grant's Tune" (Grant Green) – 7:01
4. "Solid" (Rollins) – 7:23
5. "The Kicker" (Henderson) – 6:23
6. "Wives and Lovers" (Bacharach, David) – 9:00 Bonus track on CD reissue, from Matador


Grant Green - guitar
James Spaulding - alto saxophone (tracks 1-5)
Joe Henderson - tenor saxophone (tracks 1-5)
McCoy Tyner - piano
Bob Cranshaw - bass
Elvin Jones - drums

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Steve Gadd - 1984 "Gaddabout" [Japan Import]

Stephen Kendall Gadd (born April 9, 1945) is an American drummer, percussionist, and session musician. Gadd is one of the most well-known and highly regarded session and studio drummers in the industry, recognized by his induction into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1984. Gadd's performance on Paul Simon's "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" and Steely Dan's "Aja" are examples of his style. He has worked with popular musicians from many genres, including Simon & Garfunkel, Steely Dan, James Taylor, Eric Clapton, Kate Bush, Joe Cocker, Grover Washington Jr., Chick Corea, Lee Ritenour, and Al Di Meola.

Track listing:

1. Gaddabout 6:12
2. My Little Brother 4:47
3. Montauk Moon 6:40
4. The Duke 6:35
5. Lucky 13 4:11
6. Leavin' Tomorrow 7:33


Drums, Vocals – Steve Gadd
Baritone Saxophone – Ronnie Cuber
Electric Guitar – Jeff Mironov
Bass – Neil Jason
Electric Piano, Piano, Synthesizer [Dx7] – Richard Tee
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – George Young (2)
Trumpet – Lew Soloff