Monday, November 30, 2015

Gypsy - 1970 [1979] "Gypsy"

Gypsy is the debut double album by the progressive rock band Gypsy. It was recorded at Devonshire Studios, North Hollywood, California. The album was re-released in 1979 on a K-tel label named Cognito and again in 1999 on CD by Bedrock Records. "Gypsy Queen" is the band's only charted single, peaking at #64.

Progressive rock outfit Gypsy began its existence as the Minneapolis-based pop band the Underbeats, formed in 1964 by guitarist James Johnson, bassist Doni Larson, and drummer Tom Green. With the subsequent addition of singer/guitarist Enrico Rosenbaum, the group regularly performed throughout the Twin Cities circuit, scoring a handful of local hits including "Footstompin'," "Annie Do the Dog" and "Book of Love." Keyboardist James "Owl" Walsh was recruited after Johnson was drafted for military service in 1969; upon his discharge, Johnson returned to the Underbeats lineup, and the quintet relocated to Los Angeles soon after, where they landed a gig as the house band at the famed Whiskey-a-Go-Go. Rechristened Gypsy, they began pursuing a heavier, more complex sound inspired by the rise of British progressive rock, though often compared to the music of Santana. After replacing Green with drummer Jay Epstein, the band signed to the Metromedia label, issuing their self-titled double-album debut in 1970 and earned considerable FM airplay with the tracks "Gypsy Queen" and "Dead and Gone." Larson and Epstein exited Gypsy prior to recording the follow-up, 1971's In the Garden, cut with bassist Willie Weeks -- who later resurfaced in the Doobie Brothers -- and drummer Bill Lordan. Randy Cates assumed bass duties for 1972's Antithesis, Gypsy's first album for new label RCA; however, upon releasing 1973's Unlock the Gates, the group dissolved, reforming just long enough to play the Super Jam '77 concert at St. Louis' Busch Stadium. A year later Walsh formed a new Gypsy lineup, issuing The James Walsh Gypsy Band on RCA to little notice; in 1996 -- once again the sole original member -- he assembled another Gypsy unit, releasing 20 Years Ago Today. While Lordan went on to play with Robin Trower, Rosenbaum died September 10, 1979 after a long battle with drug abuse; he was just 36 years old.  All Music.

This double-album set was just mind blowing. I remember turning all my friends on to it and they were instant fans. The flawless harmonies, the harmonic guitar work in the (I think) aeolian scale were just brilliant. The songs all told a story and the stories were all wonderful. The artwork, inspired by the great Frenchman, Alphonse Mucha, was the perfect touch. I always thought these guys were from England and only discovered a few years ago that they are from Minnesota. This is one great band with several awesome 70's albums. By Ricky Jackson.

I first obtained this album on vinyl in 1970. I was spellbound the first time I played it from start to finish. The melodies, music, and means in which the tracks are woven is something special. If you like the fullness of organ intermixed with guitars, and even some strings, you will love this disc. It remains in my TOP 10 discs of all time and never gets old. I was fortunate to find the CD about 10 years ago as my record was worn out. You will not be disappointed and the disc never gets old!!  By BurgessColorado.

The group may have wound-up on the West Coast with a "jazz-tinged" sound, but it was a Minnesota band. This first album by Gypsy is classic rock in it's finest form of utter beauty; quasi-orchestral and a la Moody Blues. Whereas, many of the tracks will take you through a medley of rich images, there is not a song on the album (now CD) that will not be played repeatedly! In fact, this is one of those rare gems you will want to hear all day, every day. By Mystic Sojourner.

I was so surprised when I found this Gypsy album on Amazon. I first heard this album on an 8-track tape my friend had purchased back in the early 70's while I was in High School. It was great from the first time I heard it, so I had to go out and purchase this 8-Track as well as the only other album by this band available in Midland Texas which was "In the Garden". I played both of these tapes until the tape became so fragile I could not patch it together anymore. Well it is over Thirty Years since I heard the wonderfully tight vocal harmonies, the wonderful whirr of the Leslie modified organ work and the stunning guitar work that I enjoyed so much from the first time I heard this album in my friend's car. What a wonderful surprise when on a whim I typed in "Gypsy" on the search bar on Amazon and found not just one but both of the albums I listened to so many years ago. The sound is ageless as it still brings the great harmonies, melodious Leslie driven organ work and the searing sounds from the guitars. It really amazes me that this group really was never appreciated enough for their extreme talent and wonderful songs. I have to say that some of the songs got this teenager from the early 70's through a lot of rough times as well as a great many pleasant times. This music can still be played today and sound just as sophisticated and wonderful as it was way back when. A bargain at twice the price for good clean tight, soft progressive, jazz, rock sound that really pleases the ear! By Old Curmudgeon.  

This is a great originally was a double album when it came out on vinyl back in the day. the songs are well put together and written very well.the musicanship is excellent. and the vocals are good too. dead and gone may be the best song on it. but the other songs are good as well. very good 70's rock.if you grew up in st.louis,mo. you know who these guys are because of k-she.not sure a lot of radio stations played these guys but they should have.  By mark.

Progressive West Coast styled jazz-tinged rock is what this band play best, and no where better than on the album's opener, the organ-led progressive pop nugget "Gypsy Queen". Originally a 2 LP set when released in 1970. Definitely worth seeking out. By Audiologicist.

"Gypsy Queen Part 1" begins this album. The vocals instantly remind me of mid 70's artists such as the Little River Band, Ambrosia, Poco or Kansas. The keyboard jams that appear throughout the album remind me of mid 70's Santana, and the guitar playing can be compared to well, I don't *know* who! "Gypsy Queen Part 2" has a nice rhythm with delicate orchestration and a strong VERY strong vocal melody.

Elsewhere you have the 11-minute "Dead and Gone" with very impressive vocal work. What makes these vocal melodies so memorable is that they have just the right sound. You can tell these guys are American and it probably wouldn't be out of the question to compare the delicate/soothing type of vocal delivery to that of the legendary Crosby, Stills & Nash. A few minutes later the song changes lounge-y with a very different type of vocal delivery here. Whether you enjoy this part is questionable perhaps- I simply adore it. Some electric guitar/keyboard alteration occurs afterwards before the main theme comes back for one last moment of awesomeness. Gotta love the line "I gotta make it home to see her one last time". Excellent song.

"Decisions" has an ominous intro with the mellotron. Reminds me of early 70's King Crimson. Paul Kantner-like vocals are quite memorable, and the REALY AWESOME and melodic guitar solo that comes after absolutely floors me. The creepiness from the intro returns, and soon soothing vocals soon follow. Meanwhile a crunchy guitar riff plays in the background. This is some really good songwriting. "The Vision" is based around a very tenderly sung vocal melody with lyrics about men being created equal while tasty, elegant piano playing occurs. In the second half orchestration comes in with faster moving piano. This is one of the best songs here in my opinion.

"Tomorrow is the Last to Be Heard" has an energetic verse melody with appropriately used orchestration making a grand appearance and a fantastic guitar solo. "More Time" begins with a dreamy melody that reminds me of the Beatles "Sun King"... er "Because" (even to this DAY I get those two Beatles songs mixed up!) before shifting into Stephen Stills-style rocking. I mean EXACTLY like Stephen Stills on all counts (vocals, keyboards and country/rock style). Nice slide guitar in the solo! "Third Eye" may be one of the weaker songs here- none of the piano, guitar or vocals ever builds to anything particularly special. Too laidback and nonchalant of a song. The only part that catches my attention is when the guitar speeds along jazzily in the middle.

"Late December" is an upbeat adventurous type of song. Setting course for adventure! This song has marvelous vocals and a great melody. I love the jazzy guitar solo and the keyboards too, and how they blend with the guitar riff soon after. "I Was So Young" has a Spanish vibe due to the excellent guitar playing, and the middle part comes across like a singer rationalizing the way he used to be which presents a cool atmosphere. I wasn't expecting "Here In My Loneliness" to be somewhat happy. I instead fully expected a very sad song but... not really! Instead this song has dreamy guitar soloing. By the way the rhythm work the entire way through the album is just *perfect*. The shorter songs are vocal melody delights as well.

I'd be hard pressed to find a more instantly likeable progressive rock album. This album fits that description and does its job amazingly well.
By Bryan. 

Track listing

All songs by Enrico Rosenbaum except as noted.

01    "Gypsy Queen Part I" – 4:21
02    "Gypsy Queen Part II" – 2:33
03    "Man of Reason" (Johnson) – 2:59
04    "Dream If You Can" (Rosenbaum, Epstein) – 2:48
05    "Late December" – 4:12
06    "The Third Eye" (Walsh) – 4:55
07    "Decisions" – 8:16
08    "I Was So Young" – 4:00
09    "Here in My Loneliness" – 3:10
10    "More Time" – 5:35
11    "The Vision" – 7:30
12    "Dead and Gone" – 11:07
13    "Tomorrow is the Last to be Heard" – 5:48


    Enrico Rosenbaum - guitar, vocals
    James Walsh - keyboards, vocals
    James Johnson - guitar, vocals
    James Epstein - drums
    Donnie Larson - bass
    Preston Epps - percussion
    Jimmie Haskell - string arrangements 

Ranjit Barot - 2010 "Bada Boom"

He was the rhythmic center of John McLaughlin's Floating Point (Abstract Logix, 2008)—an album that found the fusion guitar great exploring his decades-long interest in an east/west nexus from the electrified and harmony-centric angle of the jazz tradition, rather than the opposing angle of his longstanding and largely acoustic Shakti and Remember Shakti groups, which weighed more heavily on Indian music's linearity and polyrhythmic complexity. Now, reflecting Ranjit Barot's assimilation of the fusion and progressive rock music that he heard growing up with his inescapable roots at a similar mitochondrial level, Bada Boom further clarifies the Indian drummer's simpatico with McLaughlin. The two artists clearly share common ground, but come to it from near-diametrically opposite ends of the broadest possible spectrum of musical and cultural upbringing.

Bada Boom may be Barot's debut as a leader, but reflects his lengthy and busy career as session player, film score composer and producer in his native India. Just like Floating Point, Bada Boom brings together a group of musicians from around the world. Here, however, Barot collects a much larger international cast, including—along with well over a dozen Indian musicians—American guitarist Wayne Krantz, British saxophonist Tim Garland, Scottish pianist Gwilym Simcock, Turkish-born/American resident keyboardist Aydin Essen...and, of course, McLaughlin, who guests on "Singularity," as appropriately named a statement of intent as an album opener can be. As with much of Barot's writing, it's episodic and cinematic, covering considerable ground in its relatively brief eight minutes. Moving from visceral, 9/8, introductory riff—driven by bassist Matthew Garrison and Barot's thundering kit—to airy interlude, with Garrison delivering a brief but stunning solo, Barot's konnakol (Indian vocal percussion) shifts the song's gears, yet again, into a groove-laden middle section, where solos from veena player Punya Srinivas and pianist Harmeet Manseta suggest both polarity and commonality to be found amongst Indian musicians mining both ends of the east/west continuum. Returning to the initial theme might seem predictable, but only until a staggering closing segment, where McLaughlin engages in some incendiary free play with Barot, makes clear that nothing is as it seems.

Similarly, nylon-string guitarist Amit Heri and flautist Palakkad Sreeram turn the beginning of "T = 0" into a pastoral contrast to "Singularity"'s burning intensity, even when The Nirvana String Section, Barot's soaring vocals and Dominique di Piazza's fretless bass expand the sonic landscape. But, again, it's wonderfully deceptive, as the time then doubles and a raga-informed theme emerges, with Di Piazza magically combining pulse and high octane melodic foil. Soprano saxophonist Garland and electric mandolinist U. Rajesh solo with, respectively, fierce bebop chops and almost impossible, lightning-fast dexterity, leading to a whammy bar-driven solo from guitarist Marc Guillermont over a culminating combination of this traditional composition's two movements that illustrates Barot's astute arrangement skills.

And that's only one-third of Bada Boom's far-reaching combination of thoughtful writing, outstanding performances, and a cultural purview that goes beyond the more obvious mix of Indian tradition and western jazz interests. At once exhilaratingly cathartic and transcendentally beautiful, Bada Boom is an ambitious debut—fusion at the deepest, and truest, sense of the word.
Fusion and classical Indian rhythms merge on this spectacular confluence of styles. Drummer Ranjit Barot erupts on the opening East-meets-West salvo “Singularity,” a time-shifting number with blazing solos from electric bassist Matthew Garrison, veena master Punya Srinivas and guitar great John McLaughlin. The Nirvana String Section adds majesty to the proceedings on “T = O,” which features a staggering solo from electric mandolinist U. Srinivas. “Revolutions,” in memory of Charlie Mariano, is a modern reworking of a traditional Carnatic number, while “Supernova,” with Remember Shakti bandmates Srinivas and tabla master Zakir Hussain, is a tribute to the legendary Ustad Alla Rakha. Tim Garland’s 15-piece Underground Orchestra punctuates the ambitious “Dark Matter,” a track that also showcases Barot’s South Indian konnakol vocals. 
Ever since Shakti I have been fascinated by Carnatic fusion. It is a very rare and special type of music that takes equally rare and special musicians to play it. Many have stepped up to the plate, but the torch was passed (IMO) to Shawn Lane + Jonas Hellborg. It may be bold to say, but after Lane's passing I am now confident it lies with Barot and Hellborg.

To be fair, I resisted reviewing it immediately to help judge the album's longevity... and the bottomline is I still listen to it frequently. Overall I find the concept of the album very interesting and I love hearing how it flows and progresses to the the final conclusion. Being a fusion fan I am no stranger to listening to some of the most low quality "self produced" or "bootlegged but then later" released recordings. With that said one of the album's highlights is the production, it is astounding.

Bada Boom has Great production, songwriting, scope and originality. A serious contender for album of the year (top 5 at least). GET IT! 
Track Listing:

1. Singularity;
2. T = 0;
3. Revolutions (In memory of Charlie Mariano);
4. Supernova (in memory of "Abbaji" Ustad Allarakha);
5. Dark Matter;
6. Origin.


Ranjit Barot: drums, vocals (1, 2, 4), konnakol (1, 5), keyboard programming (1, 2), keyboards (3, 6), lead vocals (6);
John McLaughlin: guitar (1);
Matthew Garrison: bass (1);
Mattias IA Eklundh: guitar (1);
Palakkad Sreeram: VL1 physical modeling synthesizer (1, 2), flute (2), vocals (5);
Harmeet Manseta: keyboards (1-3), piano solo (1), piano (4), electric piano (5);
Sanjay Divecha: guitar (1), acoustic guitars (3);
Punya Srinivas: veena (1);
The Nirvana String Section (1, 2, 4);
Tim Garland: soprano saxophone (2), tenor saxophone (4), saxophones (5), flute (5);
Dominique Di Piazza: bass (2);
U. Rajesh: electric mandolin (2);
Marc Guillermont: guitar (2);
Amit Heri: acoustic guitar (2);
Pete Lockett: percussion (2);
Aydin Essen: keyboards (3);
 Sridhar Parthasarthy: Indian percussion (3), djembe (3), percussion arrangement (3), percussion (6); Taufique Qureshi: djembe (3), percussion (3, 4), vocal textures (4);
Suzanne D'mello: lead vocals (3), backing vocals (3);
Samantha Edwards: backing vocals (3);
Thomson Andrews: backing vocals (3);
Leon DeSouza: backing vocals (3);
Thiru Moorthy: nadaswaram (3);
Zakir Hussain; table (4);
U Srinivas: electric mandolin (4);
Elie Afif: upright bass (4);
Chandana Bala: vocal solo (4);
Paras Nath: flute (4);
Gwilym Simcock: piano (5);
Mohini Dey: bass (5);
Dhruv Ghanekar: guitar (5);
Tim Garland's Underground Orchestra Horn Section (5);
Scott Kinsey: keyboards (6);
Wayne Krantz: guitar (6);
Nicolas Fiszman: bass (6);
Kirti Sagathia: vocals (6);
Neuman Pinto: backing vocals (6);
Bianca Gomes: backing vocals (6).

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Who - 1967 [1995] "Sell Out"

The Who Sell Out is the third studio album by English rock band The Who, released in 1967 by Track Records in the UK and Decca Records in the US. It is a concept album, formatted as a collection of unrelated songs interspersed with faux commercials and public service announcements. The album purports to be a broadcast by pirate radio station Radio London. Part of the intended irony of the title was that the Who were making commercials during that period of their career, some of which are included as bonus tracks on the remastered CD.
The album's release was reportedly followed by lawsuits due to the mention of real-world commercial interests in the faux commercials and on the album covers, and by the makers of the real jingles (Radio London jingles), who claimed the Who used them without permission. (The jingles were produced by PAMS Productions of Dallas, Texas, which created thousands of station ID jingles in the 1960s and '70s). It was the deodorant company, Odorono, who took offense that Chris Stamp made a request for endorsement dollars. "I Can See for Miles" was released as a single and peaked at #10 in the UK and #9 in the US.
The Who Sell Out received widespread acclaim from critics, some of whom viewed it as the Who's best record and one of the greatest albums of all time.

The Who Sell Out's pirate-radio concept goes south in the album's second half--the Who ran out of time before they could write enough faux commercials--but it still remains in many ways their best and most entertaining album. Pete Townshend and John Entwistle supply song after great song, and along with Keith Moon play them with power and focus. The classic single "I Can See for Miles" is matched on at least a handful of tracks, including the opening psychedelic-pop blast of "Armenia City in the Sky" (written by Townshend pal Speedy Keen), the hilarious social-interaction tales "Odorono" and "Tattoo," and the majestic mini-opus "Rael." This remaster's bonus tracks are occasionally too much of a good thing, but the Tommy rough draft "Glow Girl" is brilliant.

The Whos third album was produced by Kit Lambert and released by Track Records in December 1967 (Track 612 002 [mono] & 613 002 [stereo]). The first CD version was issued by Polydor in the early 1980s (835 727-24) and a remastered version came out in 1995. The remastered version was produced by Jon Astley. In the US THE WHO SELL OUT was released in January 1968 (Decca DL 4950 [mono], DL 74950 [stereo]) followed by the CD (MCA MCAD-31332) in the 1980s and remastered CD (MCAD-11268) in 1995. Accurately predicting the modern-day trend for commercial sponsorship of rock, the songs on the first side of THE WHO SELL OUT are linked together by spoof commercials similar to those heard on contemporaneous offshore pirate radio stations. The eye-catching sleeve design also enforced the sell out concept, with the members of the group promoting some of the products referred to on the record: Roger sits in a tub of baked beans (he caught mild pneumonia sitting in the cold tub during the shoot), Pete uses an underarm deodorant, Keith applies spot cream, and John extols the virtues of a body building course. (The basic cover was sometimes altered: in Canada, legal complications initially blocked the use of Charles Atlas and the caption for John was changed to Isometrics and in Australia, Keith was given a large tube of Clearasil to hold instead of Medac.) The original sleeve design was by David King and Roger Law and photographed by David Montgomery.

Pete Townshend originally planned The Who Sell Out as a concept album of sorts that would simultaneously mock and pay tribute to pirate radio stations, complete with fake jingles and commercials linking the tracks. For reasons that remain somewhat ill defined, the concept wasn't quite driven to completion, breaking down around the middle of side two (on the original vinyl configuration). Nonetheless, on strictly musical merits, it's a terrific set of songs that ultimately stands as one of the group's greatest achievements. "I Can See for Miles" (a Top Ten hit) is the Who at their most thunderous; tinges of psychedelia add a rush to "Armenia City in the Sky" and "Relax"; "I Can't Reach You" finds Townshend beginning to stretch himself into quasi-spiritual territory; and "Tattoo" and the acoustic "Sunrise" show introspective, vulnerable sides to the singer/songwriter that had previously been hidden. "Rael" was another mini-opera, with musical motifs that reappeared in Tommy. The album is as perfect a balance between melodic mod pop and powerful instrumentation as the Who (or any other group) would achieve; psychedelic pop was never as jubilant, not to say funny (the fake commercials and jingles interspersed between the songs are a hoot). [Subsequent reissues added over half a dozen interesting outtakes from the time of the sessions, as well as unused commercials, the B-side "Someone's Coming," and an alternate version of "Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand."] 

Track Listing:

05    TATTOO
09    MEDAC
10    RELAX
13    RAEL 1
14    RAEL 2
18    JAGUAR
22    MARY ANNE WITH THE SHAKY HAND (Alternative Version)


    Roger Daltrey – lead and backing vocals, percussion
    John Entwistle – bass guitar, backing and lead vocals, horns, sound effects
    Pete Townshend – lead guitar, backing and lead vocals, keyboards, pennywhistle, banjo
    Keith Moon – drums, backing vocals, percussion, sound effects, lead vocals on "Jaguar" and "Girl's Eyes"
    Al Kooper – keyboards, organ

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Jeff Lorber Fusion - 1980 "Wizard Island"

Wizard Island is the fourth album by Keyboardist Jeff Lorber as leader of his band "The Jeff Lorber Fusion".

Keyboardist Jeff Lorber cranked out many albums similar to this one in late '70s and early '80s. Each was superbly produced, utilizing state-of-the-art technology and synthesizers. They contained clever, sometimes catchy tunes, minimal solo space, concise and tightly edited arrangements, and usually hit home with light jazz/Adult and Urban Contemporary fans. 

A classic Jazz Fusion Album from one of the genre's best bands. I have such fond memories and thoughts of this album, growing up in Oakland, California. This album really shows off all of the band member's talents especially a young Kenny G., who was then known as Kenny Gorelick. This is the type of music I wish Kenny and Jeff would return to making, remembering their roots. Originally released in 1980, if you can get your hands on a copy of this tremendous album you won't be disappointed! Maestro Jeff's musicianship and Danny Wilson's thumping and popping will have you "movin', groovin and doin' it you know!" This band was tight. A superbly crafted piece of art with flawless mastering, mixing and musicianship, every cut a delight. This album is on my personal list of "Music to perserve for all time" or "The top 10 albums you would take in exile on a deserted isle!"

Jeff Lorber adds future solo muzak man Kenny Gorelick to his musical arsenal and delivers a second Arista album!Now this is an obvious follow up to "Water Sign" whitch I think could be recommended first but 'Wizard Island" features the dancable "Fusion Juice",the funky "City" and "Lava Lands",each of which features Lorber's intriguing horn-like synthesizer phrasing.The amazing feature here is Kenny's inventive,wailing sax solo's (absolutely nothing like what he's become known for as a solo
artist) so move over Yellowjackets and Spyro Gyra!The Jeff Lorber Fusion is definitely misclassified-being actually one of the jazzier fusion groups recording in the late 1970's and early

Simply put, this is a must-have Lorber CD, period! This was back when Kenny G actually had some fire to his playing. I still have this on vinyl and now CD and still listen to it regularly.
The band is super tight, energetic, and smokin'! Lorber has such a great feel for the keys and his playing is very tasty. The track 'Lava Lands' is my favorite and it just smokes. What a groove! Dennis Bradford holds it all together with some tight, funky, jazzy drumming. I love his drumming on this disc.
Sadly Jeff Lorber seens to be overlooked by way too many music fans and that is sad as the man is extremely talented. I've seen him in concert 3 times and he never disappoints. He has quite a few excellent releases in his catalog but like I said, this one in particular is a must-have!

Track listing

1.     "Wizard Island"       4:04
2.     "Sweet"           3:54
3.     "Can't Get Enough"       3:36
4.     "Reflections"       5:15
5.     "Fusion Juice"       4:09
6.     "Lava Lands"           3:56
7.     "Shadows"           3:56
8.     "City"            4:00
9.     "Rooftops"           3:47


    Jeff Lorber - Electric Piano, Acoustic Piano, Keyboards, Synthesizer
    Danny Wilson - Bass
    Dennis Bradford - Drums
    Jay Koder - Jazz & Acoustic Guitar
    Kenny Gorelick - Flute, Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone
    Paulinho Da Costa - Percussion
    Chick Corea - Keyboards on Rooftops

Michael Shrieve - 1989 "The Big Picture"

The Big Picture is a collaborative album by Michael Shrieve and David Beal, released in 1988 through Fortuna Records.

This collaboration between Shrieve and the talented young drummer David Beal is an electronic percussion tour-de-force with epic rhythms, powerful melodies, and broad textural brushstrokes. Amazingly enough, this innovative album fell through the cracks when it was first released and didn't get nearly the attention or distribution it deserved. 

Two of the foremost drummers of rock and new age blend their exceptional talents with the latest technology to create a landmark album. On The Big Picture, Michael Shrieve and David Beal produce fully orchestrated music using electronic drum pads and digital samplings. Through this system, a drum-pad can sound like a trumpet, violin, voice, or it can create a completely new sound. Though originally composed on computer, all the music on The Big Picture was played entirely with drumsticks.

This album is a refreshing celebration of rhythm and melody. The pieces compose a dazzling menu, ranging from the exotic to the mischievous, all sharing a compelling vibrancy and excitement.

The Big Picture opens a new door for percussionists. It puts the percussionist on a plane with traditional front line soloists and it elevates him to orchestral arranger, with infinite combinations of sounds, timbres, rhythms, and instrumentations at his disposal.

Michael Shrieve was the legendary drummer for the group Santana. He appeared at Woodstock with Santana and recorded eight albums with the group. He has also recorded on three albums released by the legendary German synthesist, Klaus Schulze. He released his first solo recording entitled Transfer Station Blue (17023-2) on the Fortuna label which features Klaus Schulze and Michael's brother, Kevin Shrieve. Michael co-wrote the music for the film The Bedroom Window.

David Beal has an acute sense of discipline and boundless knowledge of percussion and electronics. He has played with a wide variety of top names in the music business including the Cleveland Philharmonic, jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan and rockers like Joe Cocker, Peter Gabriel, and Madonna.

THE BIG PICTURE, Michael Shrieve and David Beal produce fully orchestrated music using electronic drum pads and digital samplings. Through this system, a drum-pad can sound like a trumpet, violin, voice, or it can create a completely new sound. Though originally composed on computer, all the music on THE BIG PICTURE was played entirely with drumsticks. This album is a refreshing celebration of rhythm and melody. The pieces compose a dazzling menu, ranging from the exotic to the mischievous, all sharing a compelling vibrancy and excitement. THE BIG PICTURE opens a new door for percussionists. It puts the percussionist on a plane with traditional front line soloists and elevates him to orchestral arranger, with infinite combinations of sounds, timbres, rhythms, and instrumentations at his disposal.


1     The Invisible Architect     5:45
2     Mon Amie     4:08
3     Unspeakable Dawn     7:09
4     Izibongo     5:23
5     Shaman's Drum     5:30
6     The Big Picture     6:05
7     Rocked In The Cradle Of The Deep     5:24
8     Iron Voices     4:75


Michael Shrieve - Composer, Performer, Primary Artist, Producer
Andrew Aturmer - Guitar (Acoustic)
David Beal - Composer, Performer, Primary Artist, Producer

Santana, John Mclaughlin - 1973 "Love Devotion Surrender"

Love Devotion Surrender is an album released in 1973 by guitarists Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin, with the backing of their respective bands, Santana and The Mahavishnu Orchestra. The album was inspired by the teachings of Sri Chinmoy and intended as a tribute to John Coltrane. It contains two Coltrane compositions, two McLaughlin songs, and a traditional gospel song arranged by Santana and McLaughlin. It was certified Gold in 1973. In 2003, Love Devotion Surrender was released on CD with alternative versions as bonus tracks.

Both men were recent disciples of the guru Sri Chinmoy, and the title of the album echoes basic concepts of Chinmoy's philosophy, which focused on "love, devotion and surrender." Sri Chinmoy spoke about the album and the concept of surrender:

 Unfortunately, in the West surrender is misunderstood. We feel that if we surrender to someone, he will then lord it over us....But from the spiritual point of view...when the finite enters in the Infinite, it becomes the Infinite all at once. When a tiny drop enters into the ocean, we cannot trace the drop. It becomes the mighty ocean.

For both men the album came at a transitional moment spiritually and musically: Love Devotion Surrender was a "very public pursuit of their spiritual selves." Carlos Santana was moving from rock toward jazz and fusion, experiencing a "spiritual awakening," while McLaughlin was about to experience the break-up of the Mahavishnu Orchestra after being criticized by other band members. Santana had been a fan of McLaughlin, and McLaughlin had introduced Santana to Sri Chinmoy in 1971, at which time the guru bestowed the name "Devadip" on him, and the two had started playing and recording together in 1972. According to his biographer Marc Shapiro, Santana had much to learn from McLaughlin: "He would sit for hours, enthralled at the new ways to play that McLaughlin was teaching him," and his new spirituality had its effect on the music: "the feeling was that Carlos's newfound faith was present in every groove.

A hopelessly misunderstood record in its time by Santana fans -- they were still reeling from the radical direction shift toward jazz on Caravanserai and praying it was an aberration -- it was greeted by Santana devotees with hostility, contrasted with kindness from major-league critics like Robert Palmer. To hear this recording in the context of not only Carlos Santana's development as a guitarist, but as the logical extension of the music of John Coltrane and Miles Davis influencing rock musicians -- McLaughlin, of course, was a former Davis sideman -- this extension makes perfect sense in the post-Sonic Youth, post-rock era. With the exception of Coltrane's "Naima" and McLaughlin's "Meditation," this album consists of merely three extended guitar jams played on the spiritual ecstasy tip -- both men were devotees of guru Shri Chinmoy at the time. The assembled band included members of Santana's band and the Mahavishnu Orchestra in Michael Shrieve, Billy Cobham, Doug Rauch, Armando Peraza, Jan Hammer (playing drums!), and Don Alias. But it is the presence of the revolutionary jazz organist Larry Young -- a colleague of McLaughlin's in Tony Williams' Lifetime band -- that makes the entire project gel. He stands as the great communicator harmonically between the two very different guitarists whose ideas contrasted enough to complement one another in the context of Young's aggressive approach to keep the entire proceeding in the air. In the acknowledgement section of Coltrane's "A Love Supreme," which opens the album, Young creates a channel between Santana's riotous, transcendent, melodic runs and McLaughlin's rapid-fire machine-gun riffing. Young' double-handed striated chord voicings offered enough for both men to chew on, leaving free-ranging territory for percussive effects to drive the tracks from underneath. Check "Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord," which was musically inspired by Bobby Womack's "Breezing" and dynamically foreshadowed by Pharoah Sanders' read of it, or the insanely knotty yet intervallically transcendent "The Life Divine," for the manner in which Young's organ actually speaks both languages simultaneously. Young is the person who makes the room for the deep spirituality inherent in these sessions to be grasped for what it is: the interplay of two men who were not merely paying tribute to Coltrane, but trying to take his ideas about going beyond the realm of Western music to communicate with the language of the heart as it united with the cosmos. After three decades, Love Devotion Surrender still sounds completely radical and stunningly, movingly beautiful.

Quick! Name an album on which John McLaughlin plays piano and Jan Hammer plays drums. Give up? The answer: the much loved but often maligned 1973 collaboration between Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin, Love, Devotion and Surrender. (At this time John was still MAHAVISHNU and Carlos was not quite yet DEVADIP.) Now if anyone out there in musicland can determine on which cuts John McLaughlin played the piano and Hammer played the drums - you win a prize!

In 1973, Carlos Santana had become mesmerized by the music of the Mahavishnu Orchestra. His interest became so strong that he literally followed the band on tour across America. He and McLaughlin became friendly. One night John McLaughlin had a dream that the two should record an album together. He took that dream to Clive Davis, the head of Columbia Records, and Love, Devotion and Surrender was born.

LDS delivers some of the hottest playing you are ever going to hear. John McLaughlin and Carlos Santana play their respective butts off, especially on the inspirational "Let Us Go Into The House Of The Lord". The rapid-fire machine gun bursts and call and responses make for an electric guitar Nirvana. Other musicians assembled for the recording included Santana compatriots Armando Peraza, Don Alias, Doug Rauch and Mike Shrieve. John McLaughlin brought along Jan Hammer, Billy Cobham and the legendary organist Larry Young. Imagine a Latin Mahavishnu Orchestra!

At the time of this recording’s release, the patience and reverence afforded gurus was waning. This could help explain the relatively poor sales of Love, Devotion and Surrender relative to expectations. After all a smiling Sri Chinmoy, in all of his splendid grandeur, was pictured on the album cover. It may also help explain the many negative reviews. In hindsight, you will probably find that most of these reviews came from Santana fans that just couldn’t figure out what was going on with their hero.

Despite all outward appearances, the fact of the matter was that this album pointed much more in the direction of John Coltrane than it did any guru or religious movement. Santana is, like McLaughlin, a devoted Coltrane admirer. McLaughlin and Santana even make the effort of trying to pull off “A Love Supreme,” and it works very well. (Even the vocals are effective). An acoustic treatment of “Naima” does the master proud, too. The other players are strong on all tunes. Cobham, in particular, is a powerhouse.

In recent years, Love, Devotion and Surrender has begun receiving the praise it so richly deserves. (Bill Laswell has even released a well-received remix.) LDS remains a milestone in the history of fusion music. We can only hope that McLaughlin and Santana will find an opportunity to record together again soon, something both men have hinted at.

Tracks Listing

1. A Love Supreme (7:48)
2. Naima (3:09)
3. The Life Devine (9:30)
4. Let's Go Into The House of the Lord (15:45)
5. Meditation (2:45)

Total time - 38:57

Line-up / Musicians

- Carlos Santana / guitars, vocals
- John McLaughlin / Guitar, piano
- Larry Young / organ
- Doug Rauch / bass
- Billy Cobham / drums
- Don Alias / drums
- Jan Hammer / drums
- Mike Shrieve / drums
- Armando Peraza / Congas, Bongos

Friday, November 27, 2015

Stanley Jordan - 1990 "Cornucopia"

Stanley Jordan was born in Chicago, Illinois. He began his music education at age six, studying piano, then shifted his focus to guitar at age eleven. He later began playing in rock and soul bands. In 1976, Jordan won an award at the Reno, Nevada, Jazz Festival. He earned a BA in music from Princeton University in 1981, where he studied theory and composition with composer Milton Babbitt and computer music with composer Paul Lansky. While at Princeton in 1979 he played with Benny Carter and Dizzy Gillespie.
Jordan was the first artist to be signed by Bruce Lundvall when the latter became president of Blue Note Records in 1985 and, consequently, Magic Touch was the first release (not reissue) of the rejuvenated label. Magic Touch was No. 1 on Billboard's jazz chart for 51 weeks, setting a new record. Jordan also made the startup sound for the old Macintosh computers, Power Macintosh 6100, Power Macintosh 7100, and Power Macintosh 8100.
Jordan has performed in over 60 countries on 6 continents. He has performed at many jazz festivals, including: Kool Jazz Festival (1984), Concord Jazz Festival (1985), and the Montreux International Jazz Festival (1985). During the 1980s Jordan played with Quincy Jones, Michal Urbaniak, and Richie Cole. Stanley Jordan has four Grammy Nominations. His 2011 album "Friends" was nominated for an NAACP Image Award.

Normally, a guitarist uses two hands to play each note. One hand presses down a guitar string behind a chosen fret to prepare the note, and the other hand either plucks or strums the string to play that note. Jordan's touch technique is an advanced form of two-handed tapping. The guitarist produces a note using only one finger by quickly tapping (or hammering) his finger down behind the appropriate fret. The force of impact causes the string to vibrate enough to immediately sound the note, the volume can be controlled by varying the force of impact. Jordan executes tapping with both hands, and more legato than is normally associated with guitar tapping.
A helpful analogy to visualize this technique is the distinction between a harpsichord and a piano. A harpsichord produces sound by plucking its strings, and a piano produces sound by striking its strings with tiny hammers. However, while notes produced on a harpsichord or piano sustain after the pick has plucked or hammer has struck, fingers must remain on a tapped note for the sound to continue. This similarity is what led Jordan to attempt such a technique in the first place; he was a classically trained pianist before playing guitar and wanted greater freedom in voicing chords on his guitar.
Jordan's touch technique allows the guitarist to play melody and chords simultaneously. It is also possible, as Jordan has demonstrated, to play simultaneously on two different guitars, as well as guitar and piano.
He plays guitar in all-fourths tuning, from bass to treble EADGCF (all in perfect fourths as on the bass guitar) rather than the standard EADGBE. He has stated that all-fourths tuning "simplifies the fingerboard, making it logical".
Stanley Jordan's main guitar was built by Vigier Guitars in 1988: it is an Arpege model on which Vigier made a flat fingerboard, allowing it to have a very low action (0.5/0.7mm). The low action facilitates the tapping technique.

Stanley Jordan....can you call him a guitar player? I can't. He is so much more than that. He is so well above all the others that it's not even worth trying to compare him to another artist. Listen to "Fundance" and see what I mean. May I remind you it's only HIM playing. In the best of ways, I haaate hearing him. The guy is so bloody good it's unbelievable. You just can't believe it's only him playing. I know because I saw him play live. It's an outstanding experiment. Why doesn't he get much more recognition for his work? He deserves it! Not this trash we see nowadays!Thanks to media-hyped minds the good artists are being poured down the drain. Save them before it's too late.

Track listing:

1     Impressions     7:17
2     Willow Weep For Me     4:39
3     Autumn Leaves     7:55
4     Still Got The Blues     5:07
5     Fundance     6:25
6     What's Going On ?     4:32
7     Asteroids     4:44
8     Cornucopia (Short Version)     13:00


    Guitar, Bass, Drum Programming – Stanley Jordan
    Bass – Charnett Moffett, Yossi Fine
    Drums – J.T.Lewis*, Jeff Watts*, Kenwood Dennard, Michael Flythe   
    Keyboards – Bernard Wright
    Piano [Acoustic] – Kenny Kirkland
    Producer – Stanley Jordan
    Synthesizer – Robert Zantay

Thursday, November 26, 2015

California Guitar Trio - 1994 "Invitation"

California Guitar Trio (CGT) is a band of three guitar players founded in 1991. The three—Paul Richards of Salt Lake City, Utah, Bert Lams of Affligem, Belgium, and Hideyo Moriya of Tokyo, Japan—met at a 1987 Guitar Craft course, in which Robert Fripp instructed them in the New Standard Tuning (NST). After completing several of Fripp's Guitar Craft courses, the three toured as part of Robert Fripp and The League of Crafty Guitarists.
Continuing their collaboration then in Los Angeles, they founded The California Guitar Trio in 1991. They continue to play in the New Standard Tuning. Their performances and recordings include original compositions, surf covers, and classical re-workings of classical music. Their influences include European classical music, rock, blues, jazz, world music, and surf music.
The Trio's music was featured during the television coverage of the 1998 and 2000 Olympic Games. It has been featured on CBS, NBC, CNN WorldBeat, and ESPN TV programs. They performed on the 2003 Grammy Awards-nominated track "Apollo" on Tony Levin's CD Pieces of the Sun. CGT music served as wake-up music for the crew aboard NASA’s Space Shuttle Endeavour.
The California Guitar Trio performed as an opening act for King Crimson, from which bassist Tony Levin and drummer Pat Mastelotto regularly join the CGT for live shows. CGT has shared the stage with many performancers, including the following: John McLaughlin, David Sylvian, Tito Puente, Leftover Salmon, Taj Mahal, Steve Lukather, Simon Phillips, Adrian Legg, Adrian Belew, Jon Anderson.
The Trio has released 16 albums: seven studio CDs featuring original CGT songs and a variety of other works spanning numerous genres, four live releases, and a Christmas CD with Christmas music. Lams has also made a solo album of Bach preludes titled Nascent.
In August 2004 they released Whitewater, which was produced by Tony Levin. It features mainly original works of the CGT, offset by a puzzle-work arrangement of a Bach lute suite and a mashup of "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky" with The Doors' "Riders on the Storm." This was followed in 2008 by Echoes, an album composed entirely of covers, and 2010's Andromeda, the band's first release to consist entirely of original material. The 2012 release Masterworks is an all classical music compilation featuring music by Beethoven, Bach, Vivaldi, Rossini and Part. Chicago guitar virtuoso Fareed Haque played on Vivaldi's Winter, and Tony Levin played upright bass and cello on four tracks.

 The California Guitar Trio's Invitation is their follow-up to their excellent debut, Yamanashi Blues. What sets the albums apart is that there is more original material on this release, and it also contains the first appearance of electric guitar on a C.G.T. album. The opening "Train to Lamy" features distorted, buzzing electric slide guitar, which is a sharp contrast to the clean sound of the dueling acoustic guitars. The song is spread throughout the album, starting out with the first three sewn together, while its fourth and fifth sections are heard later on (with a reprise of part three closing the album). The trio again offers spirited versions of cover songs, spanning several different musical styles. Included is the spaghetti western classic "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" by Ennio Morricone, the surf-rocker "Apache" (originally done by legendary British '60s instrumentalists the Shadows), as well as two J.S. Bach compositions ("Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" and "Prelude Circulation"). Nearly as good as their debut, and highly recommended to any aficionado of instrumental music.

Tracks Listing

1. Train To Lamy Suite (Parts 1-3) (4:23)
2. Punta Patri (4:19)
3. Toccata And Fugue In D Minor (7:51)
4. Fratres (6:28)
5. Train To Lamy Part 4 (0:27)
6. Apache (3:00)
7. Train To Lamy Part 5 (2:04)
8. Above The Clouds (5:30)
9. Prelude Circulation (2:44)
10. The Good The Bad And The Ugly (2:36)
11. Train To Lamy Part 3 (Reprise) (1:24)

Total Time: 40:46

Line-up / Musicians

- Bert Lams / guitars
- Hideyo Moriya / guitars
- Paul Richards / guitars

Additional musicians:

- Trey Gunn / grand Stick
- Fernando Kabusacki / guitar
- Hernan Nunez / guitar
- Martin Schwutke / guitar
- Steve Ball / guitar

King Crimson - 1971 [1989] "Islands"

Islands is the fourth studio album by King Crimson, released December 1971. Islands would be the last King Crimson studio album before the group's trilogy of Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Starless and Bible Black and Red. It's also the last to feature the lyrics of Peter Sinfield.

The harmonic basis for the tune "The Letters" is derived from the Giles, Giles and Fripp song "Why Don't You Just Drop In," available on The Brondesbury Tapes compilation. The bridge section is also taken from the King Crimson version of the song, performed by the original line-up, titled simply "Drop In" and later released on the live-album Epitaph. The original basis for the song "Prelude: Song of the Gulls" is derived from the Giles, Giles and Fripp song "Suite No. 1". The first vinyl release of the album features a hidden track. At the end of side two there is a recording of studio chatter followed by Fripp saying, among other things, "...What we're going to do, umm... do it twice more, once with the oboe, once without it, and then... we finish." This was included on the initial CD release but was accidentally left off the first pressings of the 1989 Definitive Edition CD remaster. It was restored on all subsequent reissues.

The original United Kingdom and European cover depicts the Trifid Nebula in Sagittarius and displays neither the name of the band nor the title. The original United States and Canadian album cover (as released by Atlantic Records) was a Peter Sinfield painting of off-white with coloured "islands". This was used as an internal gatefold sleeve in the UK. When the King Crimson catalogue was re-issued by EG, they standardised on the "Trifid Nebula" cover world-wide.

I really enjoy this 1971 release by King Crimson in spite of the fact that it is neither as wildly virtuosic nor heavy as the first album and the trio of brilliant albums released during 1973-1974. In contrast, Islands is largely quiet and brooding, with dark, low tones played on reed, brass, and string instruments, woodwinds, along with moody mellotron pads here and there. With respect to the new band members, bassist Boz Burrell's lack of familiarity with the electric bass and his admittedly simplistic approach to the instrument might not have worked in any other setting but works well in this stripped down context. Fortunately, his lack of playing ability is more than compensated for by his great vocal abilities, superior acoustic bassist Harry Miller (his bowed and plucked parts are featured on the first piece), and superb drumming by Ian Wallace. Fripp of course is excellent as both a composer/arranger and guitarist, although his guitar playing is not featured prominently on this album - in fact, with the exception of a single, frenzied guitar solo on Sailor's Tale, the electric guitar is pretty much absent. Keboardist extraordinaire Keith Tippett is another person that I wish there was more of on this album. The pieces including Formentara Lady/Sailor's Tale, The Letters, and Islands are more or less similarly sullen, quiet, and acoustic, while the classically influenced instrumental Song of the Gulls is hauntingly beautiful and features a wonderful string arrangement written by Robert Fripp. In stark contrast to these five pieces is Ladies of the Road, which is a brash and vulgar song (with Beatle-esque undertones) that pays homage to groupies and is not terribly good, although Mel Collins sax solo is perfectly "brash and vulgar". Although this album may not be a fan favorite and the lineup was pretty awful live (listen to Earthbound for proof), I find great pleasure in the overall darkness and gloom of the recording. Although King Crimson would go on to greater things following this album, I consider this an excellent addition to any King Crimson collection.

When I first listened to 'Letters', back in 1971, I found myself shaking afterwards! When I listen to this song today, it has the same effect on me as back then! Nothing has changed, because this incredible album was eons ahead of its time, to begin with. It's no wonder that many Crimson fans do not place this gem where it belongs: It's too personal, too esoteric, perhaps fully accessible only to the "initiates" (let us not forget that Robert Fripp is a very spiritual person and a serious student/teacher of meditation. In fact, in his guitar school, meditation is an integral part of the student's training). This album certainly contains the best elements of King Crimson's music. The heavy (Sailor's Tale), the lyrical (Formentera Lady, Islands), the classical (Prelude..), the jazzy (Letters, Sailor's Tale), and the pop/humorous (Ladies of the Road). But most important, behind the real beauty of the music, comes a message of despair and agony: The cry of the contemporary man who tries to escape the crashing loneliness of this age. The need of us humans to escape our plightful, lonely "island" state of existence and merge into a collective consciousness (..Islands join hands 'neath heaven sea). Together with 'Red', this is not only my favourite Crimson album, but one of my five favourite albums ever!

Tracks Listing

1. Formentera Lady (10:14)
2. Sailor's Tale (7:21)
3. The Letters (4:26)
4. Ladies Of The Road (5:28)
5. Prelude: Song Of The Gulls (4:14)
6. Islands (11:51)

Total Time: 43:34

Line-up / Musicians

- Robert Fripp / guitar, Mellotron, Peter's Pedal Harmonium and sundry implements
- Mel Collins / flute, bass flute, saxes and vocals
- Boz Burrell / bass guitar, lead vocals and choreography
- Ian Wallace / drums, percussion and vocals
- Peter Sinfield / words, sounds and visions

- Keith Tippet / piano
- Paulina Lucas / soprano
- Robin Miller / oboe
- Mark Charig / cornet
- Harry Miller / string bass

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Brian Bromberg - 1990 "BASSically Speaking"

Brian Bromberg (born December 5, 1960, in Tucson, Arizona) 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.

Nova Records in the early '90s had the great distinction of having two of the world's most stunning young bass players on their roster: Byron Miller and Brian Bromberg. Bromberg, whose virtuosic mix of funk and mainstream influences have earned him comparisons to Stanley Clarke, has found a magical way to ease his brilliant chops on nine different basses into a very commercial setting. His latest, BASSically Speaking, shows him all aces not only as a consummate player, but as a producer, arranger, and composer as well. Mellow fare like "Take a Walk in the Park With Me" offsets the more up-tempo numbers, and you've never heard "My Funny Valentine" played with this much vigor. Complemented by the likes of Freddie Hubbard and the late flutist Joe Farrell, Bromberg has arrived as the first bassman of contemporary jazz's future.

Brian Bromberg "Bassically Speaking" This cd is Brian's first record "A New Day" in CD form. Some new tracks were added and some original tracks have some new additions. This disc features the likes of: Alex Acuna, Joe Farrell, Freddie Hubbard, Ernie Watts and Brian's first top 5 single "You and I" This cd has the original recording of the quasi cult classic bass solo "Bassically Speaking".

This compilation was from an album called A New Day which I have on Cassette. As far as I know this was Brian's very first album. Highly Recommend!!!

Brian Bromberg's seminal album is a classic and defies merely being a "bassist" in a jazz band; his riffs seem effortless, the beats catchy and he shows WHY he is the premier bassist of any band..


1     You And I     4:59
2     Summertime     4:38
3     A New Day     5:08
4     My Funny Valentine     4:44
5     Oriental Ho-Down     6:23
6     BASSically Speaking     2:41
7     Mushy Tushy     6:02
8     Take A Walk In The Park With Me     5:34
9     Puerto Mañana     4:54
10     Sunrise     6:24


Brian Bromberg (bass);
Doug Webb, Greg Armstrong, Ernie Watts (saxophone);
Freddie Hubbard (flugelhorn);
Joe Farrell (flute);
Kei Akagi, Mark Hugenberger, Arthur Statman, Guy Moon (keyboards);
Carl Cherry, Joel Taylor (drums);
Alex Acuna, Steve Reid (percussion).

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Camel - 1974 [1989] "Mirage"

Mirage is Camel's second album, released in 1974. It features some of their best-known songs, including "White Rider" and "Lady Fantasy". It is also a showcase for Andrew Latimer's flute, notably on "Supertwister".
There are five tracks on Mirage, two over 9 minutes. Those two are multi-part songs: "Lady Fantasy" and "Nimrodel/The Procession/The White Rider", the latter being about The Lord of the Rings. The album was released on Gama Records/Deram Records.
The album was voted no. 51 in the Top 100 Prog albums of All Time by readers of 'Prog' magazine in 2014.

With their second album, Mirage, Camel begin to develop their own distinctive sound, highlighted by the group's liquid, intricate rhythms and the wonderful, unpredictable instrumental exchanges by keyboardist Pete Bardens and guitarist Andy Latimer. Camel also distinguish themselves from their prog rock peers with the multi-part suite "Lady Fantasy," which suggests the more complex directions they would take a few albums down the line. Also, Latimer's graceful flute playing distinguishes several songs on the record, including "Supertwister," and it's clear that he has a more supple technique than such contemporaries as Ian Anderson. Camel are still ironing out some quirks in their sound on Mirage, but it's evident that they are coming into their own.

The classic Camel lineup occupied a unique niche in progressive rock, specializing in fluid, spacey ensemble workouts – rarely as flashy as Genesis, never as bombastic as Emerson Lake and Palmer. "We're considered a progressive band, by default, really," guitarist-flautist Andy Latimer told Will Romano for his 2010 book Mountains Come Out of the Sky: The Illustrated History of Prog Rock. "I always thought that people like Yes and King Crimson and ELP were much more obscure than Camel. They were probably better players and consequently got into much more complicated material, which made it even. . . less accessible." The quartet's second album, Mirage, fulfills their debut’s scattered promise, with Latimer and keyboardist Pete Bardens leading the rhythm section through breezy instrumentals (the contemplative "Supertwister") and expansive multi-part suites (the Lord of the Rings–themed "Nimrodel/The Procession/The White Rider").

Mirage is such a wonderful album from Camel, a band who was coming of age as a more "undergound" progressive rock band (not that prog was radio-ready) on their second release.  Camel excels here with a tight variety of compositions, and you can see so much potential coming off this album that their debut only showed so much of.  Even the vocals, though never the highlight of the band, are more accentuated and not as weak this time around.  From the beginning, "Freefall" displays a more challenging direction, especially in the middle break.  Again, Peter Bardens' keyboards and Andrew Latimer's guitars play off one another so well, and I cite Bardens' lead vocal as the first evidence of my case above about stronger singing, even if neither he nor Latimer are powerful singers.  "Supertwister" introduces us to Latimer's flute playing, and Doug Ferguson has a nice thick bass part to go along with this beautiful interlude-style number.  I especially like "Nimrodel," Camel's first try at true extended storytelling, with frequent time changes and musical soundscapes, ending with a guitar solo which sounds like Latimer played this from a mountain top.  The first ever Latimer/Bardens collaboration (which would become the cornerstone of the band) is "Earthrise," another instrumental featuring Andy Ward doing some excellent speed drumming portions, but the keyboard/guitar exchange continues to highlight.  However, the major piece is the 13-minute "Lady Fantasy" suite, but unlike Music Inspired By The Snow Goose, there were two lyrical sections, but the music provides that atmosphere, and Latimer has some excellent guitar that people can air out to, especially about nine minutes in.  If you have the remastered edition, the original mix of "Lady Fantasy" is even better than the studio one, complete with effects on the final guitar and keyboard solos, and Ward's drums sound slightly more live.  Even if they weren't quite as regarded or famous as Yes, Genesis, or ELP, Camel preserves the progressive roots on this album, and it's still my favorite in their catalog.  Remember that if you own this album, it's essential to try out Music Inspired By The Snow Goose and Moonmadness to complete Camel's prime trilogy.

Funny thing about Camel. I started looking into them at a friend's suggestion at the end of last summer. Then one day I was listening to a medley from THE SNOW GOOSE on YouTube and my mum walks up behind me and says, "Who is that?" I tell her it's Camel. "Oh my God, I haven't heard them in ages!" Turns out Camel were one of her favourite bands back in the 70s. She had four of their LPs on vinyl: MIRAGE, THE SNOW GOOSE, BREATHLESS, and RAIN DANCES - the very four I had decided I needed to get myself, coincidentally enough. Since she had never gotten around to upgrading her Camel albums to CD, I had never heard any of it before, but I ended up discovering it on my own anyway.

And I'm glad I did too. MIRAGE was the first disc I sought out, and I know of very few albums that conjure a more distinct, cohesive atmosphere than the dream-like mist that pervades this one. A bracing "Freefall" opens the set, a song whose multiple time and dynamic changes place the album squarely in the prog camp right from the get-go. Next comes the soporific instrumental "Supertwister", a showcase for Andy Latimer's flute playing, which acts as a delicate counterpart to the "dirtier" stylings of, say, Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson. Most of MIRAGE is instrumental really - the lyrics are few and far between, and delivered in a sleepy croon that only contributes to the hazy soundscape suggested by the cover artwork.

Side I of the original vinyl concludes with what may be my favourite single entry (not counting THE SNOW GOOSE) in the Camel canon, the Tolkien-inspired "White Rider" suite. A musical impression of Gandalf the Grey's triumphant rebirth as Gandalf the White, the tune incorporates ambient keyboard passages, martial rhythms, galloping instrumentals, and ethereal woodwinds to evoke a true vision of Middle-earth. Seldom have I heard a better piece of progressive rock.

Side II features another instrumental, "Earthrise", that continues in the mold established by Side I and gives the musicians a chance to strut their stuff - Andy Latimer's immediately recognizable guitar licks (shades of Dave Gilmour) and Pete Bardens' elegant keyboards especially stand out. And last but not least comes the other candidate for my single favourite Camel song, the twelve-minute "Lady Fantasy" suite. Opening with a suitably bombastic blast of keyboards and drum fills, "Lady Fantasy" calls to mind the Doors in its organ-tinged verses and progresses through three movements and a good half-dozen major themes, alternating some of the softest, dreamiest moments on the album with some of the loudest and most intense. Another masterpiece.

Camel were never very popular, which is a damn shame, because they deserve a much wider audience than just progheads. If you'd like to delve into their uniquely dreamy brand of musical magic, MIRAGE would be a great place to start.

Tracks Listing

1. Freefall (5:47)
2. Supertwister (3:20)
3. Nimrodel / The Procession / The White Rider (9:12)
4. Earthrise (6:42)
5. Lady Fantasy (12:46)
- a. Encounter
- b. Smiles For You
- c. Lady Fantasy

Total Time: 37:47

Line-up / Musicians

- Peter Bardens / organ, piano, celesta, Minimoog, Mellotron, vocals
- Andrew Latimer / vocals, guitars, flute
- Doug Ferguson / bass, vocals
- Andy Ward / drums

Chick Corea Elektric Band 1988 [1994] "Eye Of The Beholder"

Eye of the Beholder is a 1988 album by the Chick Corea Elektric Band. It features Chick Corea with guitarist Frank Gambale, saxophonist Eric Marienthal, drummer Dave Weckl and bassist John Patitucci.

During an era when the word "fusion" was applied to any mixture of jazz with pop or funk, Chick Corea's Elektric Band reinforced the word's original meaning: a combination of jazz improvisations with the power, rhythms and sound of rock. Eye of the Beholder, which found guitarist Frank Gambale, saxophonist Eric Marienthal and bassist John Patitucci displaying increasingly original solo voices, is one of this group's finest recordings and ranks with the best fusion of the latter half of the 1980s. 

After a highly impressive debut album and a stylistically simpler sophomore release, the Chick Corea Elektric Band proceeded to produce an album that was musically more advanced than anything they had accomplished before. The result, EYE OF THE BEHOLDER, is arguably the best record the band produced in their seven-year existence. With saxophonist Eric Marienthal and guitarist Frank Gambale on board to enhance the core trio of Corea, Dave Weckl (drums) and John Patitucci (bass), EYE is the perfect balance of the group's stunning technical chops, musical artistry and technological wizardry.

The most obvious difference on this record is the incorporation of more natural, acoustic sounds into the "electric" format. Corea's use of acoustic piano (enhanced by synthesizers), Weckl's natural drum and percussion sounds, Marienthal's sax and even Gambale's use of some acoustic guitar lend a much warmer vibe to EYE than previous efforts. What's more, many compositions, including "Home Universe," "Eternal Child," "Beauty" and "Ezinda" have a very chamber-ensemble feel with many varied textures and dynamics. Finally, the title track is a spectacular Spanish-flavored barnburner in the style of Corea's "Spain" that showcases each member's strengths to the fullest.

“Eye of the Beholder” - An appropriate title for a work that that may not appeal to all, but for those who can see past the surface and identify with Chick Corea's unique sound and creative genius, this is an absolute gem.

The third release of the Electrik Band, the album follows the original self-titled "Electrik Band" and "Light Years". One notes a clear departure from the original hard electric fusion of the first record to a more acoustic sound, a trend that continued with the release of the band's fourth album - "Inside Out".
In my opinion, "Eye of the Beholder" was undoubtedly the height of the Electric Band's existence.
The impressive thing about some of the Electric Band's earlier work is how the absolute best can be brought out of uncomplicated compositions, simply by great musicianship and improvisation. I am not a student of music, so the technical terms elude me, but my perception is that most of these works use a basic core, which gets repeated several times with small, but perceivable changes on each cycle. It is a slow but deliberate build up to the ultimate climax. I wonder if the term “Stretch” Corea used in the naming of his record company refers to this concept?

"Eye of the Beholder” is no different in this regard, but the compositions are meatier than the earlier releases. Each track has an originality of its own and takes the listener on an emotional excursion.

Of the Electrik Band releases, this record is the most timeless and sounds as good today as when I purchased it in 1991.
It is an absolute must for any respectable Fusion collection. 

I am a musician and a HUGE fan of the Elektric Band. I must say, this album has probably shaped my keyboard styles more than any other. My brother is a drummer and used to have these tapes, when he was away I would sneak in his bag and listen to his tapes (remember those!); this album blew my mind, it was unlike anything I'd ever heard. Once I got into jazz I found out where Chick draws his style from, and about the Elektric Band concept, this album stands out among the series as the most epic; to this day it contains some of the most beautiful and intricately woven counter-melodies and harmonies that I've heard, and to think: the first time I heard this album I wasn't even a teenager yet, and it was over 12 years ago. No pianist alive today matches Chick's unique combination of skill, technique, artistry, and overall musicality, and this album shines. I love all of the E. Band albums, but this one stands out because of its overall 'acoustic' feel and intertwined themes. Listen to the album straight through, and you'll hear recurring passages and themes throughout - and it will make you smile.
This album is a must have, for any fan of Chick Corea.

If you are looking for great synth sounds from the 80's, great compositions, and the best musicians, "Eye of the Beholder" won't dissapoint you. It has the well known progressive jazz of Chick Corea along with his friends: John Patitucci (basses), Dave Weckl (drums and percussion), Eric Marienthal (sax), Frank Gambale (guitar).
"Home Universe", the first song, starts with great percussion and "strings" in a march-like rhythm full of mystery. "Eternal Child" is a beautiful ballad in piano. "Cascade" has an intro which uses a synth sound that makes you feel as if you were in front of a cascade.
The album is an excellent recording with great mixing by Bernie Kirsh and Chick Corea.
Personally, this is my favorite album by Chick and his band. I have never lost the sense of satisfaction I feel each time I listen to the album. I highly recommend it, especially to Chick fans. 

Wow...I can't believe anyone would say this release was anything but perfect. This CD is what turned me on to jazz in the first place...I was 16 and a metal head at the time. Here it is, about 15 years later, and I still listen to this CD constantly. The actual music is beautiful, the transitions are genius, and the musicians...well, in my opinion there couldn't have been a better blend of members. This album completely changed me as a musician.

Track listing:

01. Home Universe (2:44)
02. Eternal Child (4:52)
03. Forgotten Past (2:58)
04. Passage (4:56)
05. Beauty (7:56)
06. Cascade, Pt. 1 (1:54)
07. Cascade, Pt. 2 (5:19)
08. Trance Dance (5:50)
09. Eye of the Beholder (6:39)
10. Ezinda (6:54)
11. Amnesia (3:28)

Vinyl Version has only tracks 1-9 (GRP-A-91053)


    Chick Corea – synthesizer, piano, arranger, keyboards, producer, engineer, liner notes, mixing
    Frank Gambale – guitar
    Eric Marienthal – saxophone
    John Novello – synthesizer (track 2 only)
    John Patitucci – bass
    Dave Weckl – drums