Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Ventures - 1992 "The Very Best Of"

The Ventures have released over two hundred albums beginning with Walk Don't Run (1960), and over 60 singles. The original US albums and singles are indicated by their catalog numbers and Billboard (BB) and Cashbox (CB) chart peak positions (Note: There were separate Cashbox charts for stereo and mono albums until 1965.)

Originally an EMI Music Australasia release in 1992, this CD included many great tunes that are not available from EMI-USA's "Legendary masters series - Walk don't run -- The best of the ventures". Including three Ventures' Classic "Walk don't run", "Perfidia" and "Hawaii Five-O" and its own rendition of "La Bamba" and "Let's go", this CD comprised mainly of "REMAKES" instrumental hits "MADE FAMOUS" by OTHER ARTISTS, including Bill Dogget's "Honky tonk", Bill Justis' "Raunchy", Tornadoes' "Telstar", Surfaris' "Wipeout", The Champs' "Tequila", The Strings-a-longs' "Wheels", Santo and Johnny's "Sleep walk", Chantay's "Pipeline", Duane Eddy's "Rebel 'Rouser", Booker T & the MGs' "Green Onion" and the Marketts' "Out of limits". Ventures added special ingredients to these songs and created a new image for them, especially the recording sound, which is much better than most of the originals. Among these "REMAKES", "Pipeline", "Wipe Out" and "Telstar" stand out as best examples showing that the cover versions by Ventures are much better than the originals.
***** THESE ARE ORIGINAL RECORDINGS BY THE VENTURES ******(updated 1st Jul 2010) By Long Distance Voyager.

"The Very Best Of The Ventures" is well worth getting - it has many of their best known hits, and for anyone not familiar with 'The Ventures', this is a great introduction to them! This album shows the great talent these guys have in playing their guitars, before everything got 'teched-out' by just pushing a few buttons to get whatever sound or effect one wants. These guys mastered it by as few effects and mostly by creatively doing it by hand effects on the guitar-strings! The best songs in my opinion on this CD album are: "Wipeout" (They do it the best), "Green Onions" (Excellent version), "Pipeline" (Another classic), and "Out Of Limits" (They do it the best). If your not sure which Venture alblum to get, and want a good introduction to them, get this album! Enjoy!  By JW.

I have always liked the Ventures. I never knew much about them, and I knew that much of their work was "covers" of other groups, but the always seemed to cover the very best and I would have to buy six or seven albums to get the tunes that could be found on one of their albums, and they really were excellent musicians. Often their version was better than the originals. I knew that when I played one of their albums, I was in for an hour of good music. By movie viewer .

Track Listings

  1. Walk Dont Run
  2. Torquay
  3. Honky Tonk
  4. Raunchy
  5. Telstar
  6. Last Night
  7. Wipeout
  8. La Bamba
  9. Tequila
  10. Lets Go
  11. Ram Bunk Shush
  12. Wheels
  13. Perfidia
  14. Sleep Walk
  15. Green Onions
  16. Hawaii Five-O
  17. Pipeline
  18. The Ninth Wave
  19. Rebel Rouser
  20. Out Of Limits

There have been relatively few personnel changes since the group’s inception.  Original drummer Howie Johnson broke his neck in a 1961 car accident and was unable to handle extensive touring.  Mel Taylor replaced him in 1962. This cemented the classic Ventures lineup of Don Wilson, Bob Bogle, Nokie Edwards and Mel Taylor.  In 1968 Edwards left to go solo and was replaced on lead guitar by Gerry McGee.  Edwards returned to the fold in 1972 and remained until late 1984.  Once again, he was replaced by McGee, who remains with the group and continues to tour with them in Japan.  Bob Bogle retired from touring in December 2004 and was replaced by Bob Spalding.

Today’s lineup comprises Don Wilson, Bob Spalding (who first appeared live with the group in 1981), Gerry McGee, and Leon Taylor (who replaced his late father Mel in 1996).  Nokie Edwards still joins them on selected dates. 

 

Various Artists - 1988 CTI - "Masters Of The Guitar"

This is probably the most widely played jazz-guitar CD in my collection. I originally got this CD in 1988. This purchase was my second copy, since my first copy got scratched. I loved it in '88, I still love it now. Timeless music.

I'm amazed at the efficiency of the market. Not enough people know about this gem. You can buy this for a buck. Wow. CTI, during the period represented by this compilation, had a stable of outstanding players, all of whom would go on to make names for themselves in the emerging world of commercial jazz.

Note, I didn't say smooth jazz. Rather, this was real jazz played to a growing, cross-over audience. Music molded by Creed Taylor (the CT in CTI) to move people deeper into the jazz mainstream. George Benson, before he became a singer. John McLauglin as a side-man on Joe Farrell's gig. Grant Green mapping the territory for jam bands which would arrive a decade and-a-half later. Joe Beck introducing a then-unknown David Sanborn, and the definitive Jim Hall collaborating with Art Farmer. And more.

Track Listing / Personnel:
 
CTI MASTERS OF THE GUITAR
Various Artists

Recorded 1971-1978. Issued 1988.


01. El Mar - George Benson (from WHITE RABBIT) - 10:47 remix
02. Black Gold - Phil Upchurch (from UPCHURCH/TENNYSON) - 3:29
03. Rock Steady - as by "Eric Gale"
     (from WILD HORSES ROCK STEADY) - 6:44
04. Brothers & Others - Joe Beck (from BECK) - 6:26
05. God Bless The Child - Kenny Burrell (from GOD BLESS THE CHILD) - 8:00
06. I Remember Wes - as by "George Benson" (from GIANT BOX) - 4:08
07. Big Blues - as by "Jim Hall" (from BIG BLUES) - 7:21
08. Creature - Grant Green (from THE MAIN ATTRACTION) - 10:18
09. It's So Hard To Say Goodbye - Gabor Szabo (from RAMBLER) - 4:41
10. Follow Your Heart - as by "John McLaughlin"
     (from JOE FARRELL QUARTET) - 6:46 remix
11. Ballad Of The Sad Young Men - Kenny Burrell
     (from GOD BLESS THE CHILD) - 2:14 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Joe Beck - 1984 "Friends"

Recorded using DMP's live to two-track digital recording process, this album features Michael Brecker (ts), Don Grolnick (p), Mark Egan (b) and is a fine collection of jazz & fusion material.

Studio and session guitarist Joe Beck was well known for hits when backing vocalist Esther Phillips on Kudu in the '70s, although his session credentials over the years also included the likes of Miles Davis, James Brown, Paul Simon, Frank Sinatra, and Gil Evans. During the '80s he made a series of competent fusion and pop-jazz recordings for DMP and had a big hit recording with Dave Sanborn on CTI in 1975. His career continued into the '90s and beyond with albums like 1991's Relaxin', 1997's Alto, and his 2000 collaboration with Jimmy Bruno, Polarity. Beck was active throughout most of the new millennium’s first decade with recordings on a variety of labels, including a number of CDs on Whaling City Sound, such as 2002's Just Friends, 2007's Tri07, 2008's Coincidence (a duo recording with John Abercrombie), and 2009's Golden Earrings. The latter album, featuring Beck and singer Laura Theodore performing music made famous by singer Peggy Lee, proved to be Beck’s final recording - the guitarist was diagnosed with lung cancer soon after work on Golden Earrings had been completed and died from complications of the disease in July 2008 at age 62.

Track listing:

01. Snow Scene (08:35)
02. Belle Touche (05:24)
03. Theres Always Time (10:28)
04. Minor Infractions (05:40)
05. Friends (06:40)
06. NYC (07:00)
07. Skating In Central Park (08:21)
08. Golf Swing (06:11)

Personnel:

Joe Beck (Guitar);
Michael Brecker (Sax Tenor);
Don Grolnick (Piano);
Jay Leonhart, Mark Egan (Bass);
Steve Gadd (Drums).

Jack Dejohnette - 1985 "Works"

Jack DeJohnette (born August 9, 1942) is an American jazz drummer, pianist, and composer.
An important figure of the fusion era of jazz, DeJohnette is one of the most influential jazz drummers of the 20th century, given his extensive work as leader and sideman for musicians including Charles Lloyd, Freddie Hubbard, Keith Jarrett, John Abercrombie, Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, Joe Henderson, and John Scofield. He was inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 2007.

Works is a series of ten albums whis is being released on the occasion of ECM's 15th anniversary. The series presents recordings of ten musicians who have been working with ECM from the beginning. The Works albums are available in a limited edition only. 

Exceptional compilation from master drummer and composer Jack DeJohnette. Six tracks - no filler. I've been playing this tape in my car all week, and loved every minute of it. From fusion, post bop and even the rather mournful "Blue" this has again sparked my interest in his work.

JDJ is the best jazz drummer ever, in my opinion, and in the opinion of many others, and since jazz drumming is the most badass & difficult kind, JDJ is probably the best drummer of any kind to ever pick up sticks.  (Andy Sells of FCS North, who is massively indebted to JDJ, is my other favorite.  The incredible Jaki Liebezeit of CAN was another JDJ disciple.)  Jack should be a household name, but for some reason he is not, and that's just criminal.  He's one of the top ten musicians of the 20th century, in my mind.  His main innovation was playing in what could be described as a heat-dazed, stuttery, somewhat "late" (straggling behind the beat) fashion, which disorients the listener in an almost hallucinogenic way, as though time is sort of melting and bending around one's ears.  As contrasted to the way that most "rock" drummers try to just pound away in a very in-your-face, authoritative, metronomic way, and how most early jazz drummers hyper actively clink-clink-clinked on their snares and cymbals without letting the music breathe.  Think about how much more unnerving it is to have someone in a car following you several blocks or miles behind you than it is to have someone tailgating you right on your bumper, if that makes any sense...  Sometimes Jack sounds like a swarm of bees, sometimes like a prowling panther, sometimes like earthquake aftershocks, sometimes like an aurora borealis creeping across the mountains, but he always brings the awesomeness.   Despite his explosive abilities, he rarely tries to Kanye the spotlight away from his bandmates, hence it's no coincidence that his photo is not on this album's cover.  Just a cool shot of a bright light at the end of some kind of alleyway.  Listen to the jaw-dropping 9-minute "To Be Continued."  The only huge drawback is that this LP omits all his groundbreaking playing with Miles Davis (e.g. Bitches Brew & On The Corner), but you should already have that stuff anyway.  In other words, this comp draws on Jack's more under-the-radar collaborations on the ECM label, not the "big-name" albums that he boggled minds on* by dudes like Miles, Herbie, Freddie, Abercrombie, etc., on big major labels like Columbia.  So I doubt there will ever be a truly comprehensive best-of collection for JDJ, since the licensing would cost so much that it'd be unfeasible to put together.  And the 29-minute "Go Ahead, John" from Miles' Big Fun, arguably JDJ's pinnacle of playing, would take up way too much space. 

Track listing:

1  Bayou Fever 8:41
2  The Gri Gri Man 4:45
3  To Be Continued 9:12
4  One for Eric 9:51
5  Unshielded Desire 4:48
6  Blue 8:14

Total length: 45:31

Personnel:


Jack DeJohnette - Drums, Congas, Organ, Timpani, Piano
John Abercrombie - Guitar, Mandolin
Dave Holland - Bass
Eddie Gomez - Bass
Lester Bowie - Trumpet
Terje Rypdal - Guitar 
Miroslav - Vitous - Bass
Dave Murry - Bass Clarinet
Arthur Blythe - Alto Sax
Peter Warren - Bass

Brian Eno - 1973 [1987] "Here Come The Warm Jets"

Here Come the Warm Jets is the debut solo album by Brian Eno, credited only as "Eno". Produced by him, it was released on Island Records in 1974. The musical style of Here Come the Warm Jets is a hybrid of glam rock and art rock, similar to Eno's previous album work with Roxy Music, although in a stronger experimental fashion. In developing the album's words and music, Eno used unusual methods such as dancing for his band members and having them play accordingly, and singing nonsense words to himself that would form the basis of subsequent lyrics. The album features various guest musicians, including members of Roxy Music, Hawkwind, Matching Mole and Pink Fairies, as well as Chris Spedding, and Robert Fripp of King Crimson, who collaborated with Eno a year before in (No Pussyfooting).
Here Come the Warm Jets peaked at number 26 on the United Kingdom album charts and number 151 on the US Billboard charts, receiving a number of positive reviews. It was re-issued on compact disc in 1990 on Island Records and in 2004 on Virgin Records, and continued to elicit praise.

Eno's solo debut, Here Come the Warm Jets, is a spirited, experimental collection of unabashed pop songs on which Eno mostly reprises his Roxy Music role as "sound manipulator," taking the lead vocals but leaving much of the instrumental work to various studio cohorts (including ex-Roxy mates Phil Manzanera and Andy Mackay, plus Robert Fripp and others). Eno's compositions are quirky, whimsical, and catchy, his lyrics bizarre and often free-associative, with a decidedly dark bent in their humor ("Baby's on Fire," "Dead Finks Don't Talk"). Yet the album wouldn't sound nearly as manic as it does without Eno's wildly unpredictable sound processing; he coaxes otherworldly noises and textures from the treated guitars and keyboards, layering them in complex arrangements or bouncing them off one another in a weird cacophony. Avant-garde yet very accessible, Here Come the Warm Jets still sounds exciting, forward-looking, and densely detailed, revealing more intricacies with every play. 

In 1973, fed up with Bryan Ferry's domineering in Roxy Music, Eno leapt into a solo career that would find him championing the "art" in "artifice." This record is a who's who of the then-burgeoning English art-rock scene, featuring Robert Wyatt, Robert Fripp, and every member of Roxy Music except its leader (thus answering the musical question, "What if Eno had helmed the third Roxy record instead of Ferry?"). Warm Jets sports a lightheartedness that was a refreshing antidote to the pomposity of Yes and ELP on the dark side of art-rock's spectrum, with nonsensical, sound-based couplets such as "Oh headless chicken / How can those teeth stand so much kicking?" This debut is a milestone not just for Eno, but for all rocking music. Listen to Fripp's furious guitars on "Baby's On Fire" and "Blank Frank." It's incredible, Velvet Underground-inspired rock in a scene that had forgotten what rocking meant.

"Here Comes the Warm Jets" announced Eno's intention from the first track; make groundbreaking, melodic music in the Roxy Music vein. The irony is that, for all intents and purposes, this was Eno's version of Roxy Music. If he were the lead vocalist, main songwriter in the band this is the material he'd be putting out there. It makes a great companion piece to Roxy's third album "Stranded". Ferry and Eno, in retrospect, compliment each other very, very well. As Ferry himself stated, he now wishes they had kept Eno and added Eddie Jobson. I couldn't agree more.

The improved sonics are the chief reason to pick this up. The detail is better, clarity is better (even on a cheap stereo) and the warmth and atmosphere of the original recording becomes evident from the first guitar chord. The packaging is another matter entirely. I like the digipak design but do wish that there were some comments from Eno and his band mates about the making of this classic album. The reproduction of the original artwork seems pretty darn close to the original vinyl version for the most part.

From the stuttering Robert Fripp guitar solo for "Baby's On Fire" to the odd chord progression of "Driving Me Backwards", every track manages to capture your attention. This is Eno's candy store and he's displaying all his sweet wares for the first time. Later albums would focus on other elements but here his talent burst forth in full flower.

Another minor complaint--where is "Seven Deadly Finns" and the material from Eno's only charting EP? It would have made a perfect addition to this album (even if it was released as a two disc set keeping the original albums intact and separate). It's a pity. Still, the DSD technique for transferring these priceless recordings captures the vibrant sound and impact of the original recordings without the sterile atmosphere of CD. Well worth picking up. 

Tracks Listing

1. Needles in the Camel's Eye (3:10)
2. The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch (3:05)
3. Baby's on Fire (5:18)
4. Cindy tells me (3:25)
5. Driving me backwards (5:11)
6. On Some Faraway Beach (4:36)
7. Blank Frank (3:35)
8. Dead Finks don't Talk (4:20)
9. Some of them are Old (5:11)
10. Here Come the Warm Jets (4:02)

Total Time 42:01

Line-up / Musicians

- Brian Eno / vocals, keyboards, guitars, synthesizers, treatments
- Simon King / drums
- Nick Kool / keyboards
- Nick Judd / keyboards
- Andy Mackay / keyboards, saxophone
- Robert Fripp / guitar
- Phil Manzanera / guitar
- Paul Rudolph / guitar, bass
- Chris Spedding / guitar
- Busta Cherry Jones / bass
- Bill McCormick / bass
- John Wetton / bass
- Marty Simon / percussion
- Paul Thompson / percussion
- Lloyd Watson / slide guitar
- Sweetfeed / backing vocals
- Chris Thomas / bass

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Rare Bird - 1969 "Rare Bird"

Rare Bird was a progressive rock band founded in 1969. They were formed in England, but had more success in other European countries than they did at home. They are mostly remembered for the haunting, organ-based track "Sympathy". It sold one million copies globally.

This debut featured an organist and an electric pianist, but no guitarist, resulting in a moody Hammond-heavy album from a band that would later become more progressive and varied in its sound. "Beautiful Scarlet" shifts easily from histrionic soul to offhanded slow-four interludes, and the instrumental "Iceberg" shows off the organist Graham Field and the rest of band's chops well. The whispered vocals and weird background noises of "God of War" achieves the kind of creepy gloom appropriate to an era of carpet bombing and napalm. Indeed, the production and instrumentation of this album makes it very much of a period piece, though certainly not in any derogatory sense.

Progressive rock band. Formed in London, England in late 1969. Rare Bird was originally formed around the principle of keyboard dominated progressive rock, shunning the use of guitars.

Their eponymous debut album achieved critical success. Releasing five albums in total, they never achieved commercial success. They dissolved in early 1975, victims of a lack of recognition in their own country.

Repress. Digitally remastered reissue of this 1969 album including previously unreleased bonus tracks. Rare Bird are perhaps best remembered for having the distinction of being the first act to be released on Tony Stratton Smith's gloriously eclectic label Charisma records (also the home of Genesis, the Nice and Van Der Graaf Generator to name a few). Like fellow future Charisma stable mates Van Der Graaf Generator, Rare Bird was formed around the principle of keyboard dominated Progressive Rock which eschewed the use of guitars. In December 1969, this eponymous debut album was released to great critical acclaim, (also becoming a US Billboard chart hit) and was followed in January 1970 by the release of "Sympathy" B&W "Devil's High Concern". The single reached the UK Top 30 and was a subsequent major hit throughout Europe.

One of the most underrated and unappreciated prog/rock bands of all time. The music is great, unbelievable drive combined with beautiful melodies, dominated by the organ and the electric piano, (no guitar). And of course there's the singers' smashing voice, one of the best front men who would make all heavy metal 'singers' sound so small! Unfortunately they only made 2 good albums, the first two, the rest you can forget .

Finally - this is the long-awaited legal re-issue of the legendary first album of "Rare Bird" (on Cherry Red Records which offers a superb connoisseur's choice) , rare and real gem of progressive rock. Founded in 1969 as a joint force of 2 keyboard players (Dave Kaffinetti and Graham Field), Mark Ashton on drums and, finally, Steve Gould - vocals, bass & rythm, it had it first international hit with minimalistic and dark "Sympathy", although "Iceberg" and "Beatiful Scarlet" had much more power. "Rare Bird" was armed with unique, manly and powerful voice of Steve Gould, and were well above more successful bands ("Yes", for a while). Great sound, bonus tracks plus superb leaflet and artwork. Really worth it (together with the re-issue of "As your mind..."As Your Mind Flies By. After these first albums, "Rare Bird" suddenly moved towards average mainstream - competent, but not inspiring. In 1971 Graham Field recorded "Fields" for Sony - together with Andrew McCulloch (featured on "Lizard" by King Crimson) and Alan Barry (of the same fame). This CD was re-issued by Sunrise in 2003 (BIEM/MCPS LC12774 30523052)* and shows excellent artwork of Colin Paynton: a golden eagle killing a hare - a collectors' item. Another attempt to re-surface from oblivion was made by Steve Gould himself in 1978 under the sign of "Runner" Runner(fortified by Alan Merrill, Mick Feat and David Dowle - an interesting piece for a true "Rare Bird" fan. Still, the first two albums are priority.

Track listing:

01 Iceberg 6:46
02 Times 4:00
03 You Went Away 4:17
04 Melanie 3:27
05 Beautiful Scarlet 5:23
06 Sympathy 2:30
07 Natures Fruit 2:32
08 Bird On A Wing 4:13
09 God Of War 5:08
10 Devil's High Concern (Bonus Track) 2:51
11 Sympathy (Mono Single Version) 2:36

Personnel:

Graham Field - Organ
Dave Kaffinetti - Electric piano
Steve Gould - Bass guitar and vocals
Mark Ashton - Drums.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Vince Guaraldi Trio - 1965 [2012] "A Charlie Brown Christmas"

A Charlie Brown Christmas is a 1965 studio album by American composer/conductor Vince Guaraldi (later credited to the jazz group the Vince Guaraldi Trio). The album was released in December 1965 in the United States by Fantasy Records. It is the soundtrack to the CBS Christmas television special of the same name. Guaraldi was contacted by television producer Lee Mendelson several years prior to compose music for a documentary on the comic strip Peanuts and its creator, Charles M. Schulz. Although the special went unaired, these selections were released in 1964 as Jazz Impressions of "A Boy Named Charlie Brown". Coca-Cola commissioned a Christmas special based on Peanuts in 1965 and Guaraldi returned to score the special.
A Charlie Brown Christmas features several originals ("Christmas Time Is Here", "Linus and Lucy") as well as covers of well-known Christmas songs ("The Christmas Song", "O Tannenbaum"). The score for the special was largely cut at recording sessions at Glendale, California's Whitney Studio. Much of this material was later re-recorded by Guaraldi at three sessions later in the year at Fantasy Recording Studios in San Francisco, alongside a choir of children culled from St. Paul's Episcopal Church in nearby San Rafael. The sessions ran late into the night, with the children rewarded with ice cream afterwards. Bassist Fred Marshall and drummer Jerry Granelli have been credited as performing on the album, although a host of musicians claim to have recorded the album.
Released a week prior to the broadcast premiere of the special, A Charlie Brown Christmas sold well, and became increasingly famous in the ensuing decades. It is among the most popular Christmas albums in the United States, where it has been certified Triple Platinum, having shipped at least three million copies. As of November 2014, A Charlie Brown Christmas is the tenth best-selling Christmas/holiday album in the United States during the SoundScan era of music sales tracking (March 1991 – present), having sold 3,410,000 copies according to SoundScan.
The Vince Guaraldi Trio's A Charlie Brown Christmas has been voted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and added to the Library of Congress's National Recording Registry list of "culturally, historically, or aesthetically important" sound recordings.

By the early 1960s, Charles M. Schulz's comic strip Peanuts had become a sensation worldwide. Television producer Lee Mendelson acknowledged the strip's cultural impression and produced a documentary on the subject, titled A Boy Named Charlie Brown. Mendelson, a fan of jazz, heard a song by Vince Guaraldi on the radio not long after completion of his documentary, and contacted the musician to produce music for the special. Guaraldi composed the music for the project, creating an entire piece, "Linus and Lucy," to serve as the theme. Despite the popularity of the strip and acclaim from advertisers, networks were not interested in the special.
By April 1965, Time featured the Peanuts gang on its magazine cover, and plans for an animated half-hour Peanuts Christmas special were commissioned by The Coca-Cola Company. When Coca-Cola commissioned A Charlie Brown Christmas in spring 1965, Guaraldi returned to write the music.
The first instrumentals for the special were recorded by Guaraldi at Glendale, California's Whitney Studio with bassist Monty Budwig and drummer Colin Bailey. Recycling "Linus and Lucy" from the earlier special, Guaraldi completed two new originals for the special, "Skating", and "Christmas Time Is Here". In the weeks preceding the premiere, Mendelson encountered trouble finding a lyricist for Guaraldi's instrumental intro, and penned "Christmas Time is Here" in "about 15 minutes" on the backside of an envelope.
The special opens and closes with a choir of children, culled from St. Paul's Episcopal Church in San Rafael, performing "Christmas Time Is Here" and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing". One of the singers, Candace Hackett Shively, went on to become an elementary school teacher, and sent a letter of gratitude to Schulz after announcing his retirement in 2000. In the letter, she recalls recording the choir at Fantasy Studios and going out for ice cream afterwards, while also noting that she tells the story to her grade-schoolers each holiday season. The recording sessions were conducted in late autumn 1965, and were cut in three separate sessions over two weeks. They often ran late into the night, resulting in angry parents, some who forbid their children from returning; as such, numerous new children were present at each session. The children were directed by Barry Mineah, who demanded perfection from the choir. Mendelson and Guaraldi disagreed, desiring the "kids to sound like kids"; they used a slightly off-key version of "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" in the final cut. Children were paid five dollars for their participation. In addition, the children recorded dialogue for the special's final scene, in which the crowd of kids shout "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!".
The soundtrack for the special was recorded during these sessions, with decisions regarding timing and phrasing determined quickly. Guaraldi brought in bassist Fred Marshall and drummer Jerry Granelli to record the music, and spent time later re-recording earlier tracks, including covers of "The Christmas Song" and "Greensleeves". The eventual LP release credited Guaraldi solely, neglecting to mention the other musicians; Guaraldi was notorious for never keeping records of his session players. Nearly three decades later, in an effort to correct the matter, Fantasy surmised that the recordings with Budwig and Bailey were employed in the special, while Marshall and Granelli recorded the album. Despite this, other individuals have come forward claiming to have recorded the special's music: bassists Eugene Firth and Al Obidinksi, and drummers Paul Distel and Benny Barth. Firth and Distil are noted as performers on a studio-session report Guaraldi filed for the American Federation of Musicians.

Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz called on pianist extraordinaire Vince Guaraldi and his trio to compose and perform music that would reflect the humor, charm, and innocence of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the entire Peanuts gang for their 1965 Christmas TV special. It was a perfect match: Guaraldi strings together elegant, enticing arrangements that reflect the spirit and mood of Schulz's work and introduce contemporary jazz to youngsters with grace, charm, and creativity. "What Child Is This" touches on cool jazz's richly textured percussive nuances, while "The Christmas Song" reflects Christmas' relaxing, mellow moments. The renowned "Linus and Lucy" gives the Peanuts characters a fresh, energetic feel with its tantalizing meter changes, brilliant percussion, and dashing, humorous piano lines. "Christmastime Is Here," perhaps the album's most endearing and eloquent moment, is six minutes of soft, lullaby-like melodic and percussive flavors. This collection of soul-soothing melodies would not be complete without the romantic gem "Skating," which blends musical references to falling snowflakes with the dashing feel of swing. Finally, the uplifting, emotionally stirring swing tune "Christmas Is Coming" really brings the listener into the joyous light of the Christmas spirit. Fred Marshall's alluring walking basslines and drummer Jerry Granelli's hauntingly beautiful brush work give most of the album a warm foundation, while Monty Budwig and Colin Bailey shine through with eminent dexterity on bass and drums on "Greensleeves." As for Guaraldi, his penetrating improvisational phrases paint pictures of the first winter snowfall, myriad glistening trees, and powdery white landscapes. With its blend of contemporary jazz and lyrical mannerisms, A Charlie Brown Christmas is a joyous and festive meditation for the holiday season. 

Track listing

    "O Tannenbaum" (Ernst Anschütz) – 5:08
    "What Child Is This" (William Chatterton Dix) – 2:25
    "My Little Drum" (Vince Guaraldi) – 3:12
    "Linus and Lucy" (Guaraldi) – 3:06
    "Christmas Time Is Here" (Instrumental) (Guaraldi) – 6:05
    "Christmas Time Is Here" (Vocal) (Guaraldi) – 2:47
    "Skating" (Guaraldi) – 2:27
    "Hark, The Herald Angels Sing" (Charles Wesley) – 1:55
    "Christmas Is Coming" (Guaraldi) – 3:25
    "Für Elise" (Ludwig van Beethoven) – 1:06
    "The Christmas Song" (Mel Tormé, Robert Wells) – 3:17

bonus tracks

    "Greensleeves" (Traditional) – 5:25
    "Christmas Is Coming" (Alternate Take 1) (Guaraldi) – 4:37
    "The Christmas Song" (Alternate Take 3) (Tormé, Wells) – 3:53
    "Greensleeves" (Alternate Take 6) (Traditional) – 5:05
    "Christmas Time Is Here" (Alternate Vocal Take) (Guaraldi) – 1:34

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Miles Davis - 1970 [1987] "Bitches Brew"

Bitches Brew is a studio double album by jazz musician Miles Davis, released on March 30, 1970 on Columbia Records. The album continued his experimentation with electric instruments previously featured on his critically acclaimed In a Silent Way album. With the use of these instruments, such as the electric piano and guitar, Davis rejected traditional jazz rhythms in favor of a looser, rock-influenced improvisational style.
Bitches Brew was Davis's first gold record; it sold more than half a million copies. Upon release, it received a mixed response, due to the album's unconventional style and experimental sound. Later, Bitches Brew gained recognition as one of jazz's greatest albums and a progenitor of the jazz rock genre, as well as a major influence on rock and funk musicians. The album won a Grammy Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album in 1971. In 1998, Columbia Records released The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions, a four-disc box set that included the original album as well as the studio sessions through February 1970.

Recording sessions took place at Columbia's 30th Street Studio over the course of three days in August 1969. Davis called the musicians to the recording studio on very short notice. A few pieces on Bitches Brew were rehearsed before the recording sessions, but at other times the musicians had little or no idea what they were to record. Once in the recording studio, the players were typically given only a few instructions: a tempo count, a few chords or a hint of melody, and suggestions as to mood or tone. Davis liked to work this way; he thought it forced musicians to pay close attention to one another, to their own performances, or to Davis's cues, which could change at any moment. On the quieter moments of "Bitches Brew", for example, Davis's voice is audible, giving instructions to the musicians: snapping his fingers to indicate tempo, or, in his distinctive whisper, saying, "Keep it tight" or telling individuals when to solo.
Davis composed most of the music on the album. The two important exceptions were the complex "Pharaoh's Dance" (composed by Joe Zawinul) and the ballad "Sanctuary" (composed by Wayne Shorter). The latter had been recorded as a fairly straightforward ballad early in 1968, but was given a radically different interpretation on Bitches Brew. It begins with Davis and Chick Corea improvising on the standard "I Fall in Love Too Easily" before Davis plays the "Sanctuary" theme. Then, not unlike Davis's recording of Shorter's "Nefertiti" two years earlier, the horns repeat the melody over and over while the rhythm section builds up the intensity. The issued "Sanctuary" is actually two consecutive takes of the piece.
Despite his reputation as a "cool", melodic improviser, much of Davis's playing on this album is aggressive and explosive, often playing fast runs and venturing into the upper register of the trumpet. His closing solo on "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down" is particularly noteworthy in this regard. Davis did not perform on the short piece "John McLaughlin"

Thought by many to be among the most revolutionary albums in jazz history, Miles Davis' Bitches Brew solidified the genre known as jazz-rock fusion. The original double LP included only six cuts and featured up to 12 musicians at any given time, some of whom were already established while others would become high-profile players later, Joe Zawinul, Wayne Shorter, Airto, John McLaughlin, Chick Corea, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland, Don Alias, Bennie Maupin, Larry Young, and Lenny White among them. Originally thought to be a series of long jams locked into grooves around keyboard, bass, or guitar vamps, Bitches Brew is actually a recording that producer Teo Macero assembled from various jams and takes by razor blade, splice to splice, section to section. "Pharaoh's Dance" opens the set with its slippery trumpet lines, McLaughlin's snaky guitar figures skirting the edge of the rhythm section and Don Alias' conga slipping through the middle. Corea and Zawinul's keyboards create a haunted, riffing modal groove, echoed and accented by the basses of Harvey Brooks and Holland. The title cut was originally composed as a five-part suite, though only three were used. Here the keyboards punch through the mix and big chords ring up distorted harmonics for Davis to solo rhythmically over, outside the mode. McLaughlin's comping creates a vamp, and the bass and drums carry the rest. It's a small taste of the deep voodoo funk to appear on Davis' later records. Side three opens with McLaughlin and Davis trading fours and eights over a lockstep hypnotic vamp on "Spanish Key." Zawinul's lyric sensibility provides a near chorus for Corea to flit around in; the congas and drummers juxtapose themselves against the basslines. It nearly segues into the brief "John McLaughlin," featuring an organ playing modes below arpeggiated blues guitar runs. The end of Bitches Brew, signified by the stellar "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down," reflects the influence of Jimi Hendrix with its chunky, slipped chords and Davis playing a ghostly melody through the funkiness of the rhythm section. It seemingly dances, becoming increasingly more chaotic until it nearly disintegrates before shimmering into a loose foggy nadir. The disc closes with "Sanctuary," completely redone here as a moody electric ballad that was reworked for this band while keeping enough of its integrity to be recognizable. Bitches Brew is so forward-thinking that it retains its freshness and mystery in the 21st century. [Some reissues add "Feio," recorded in early 1970 with much of the same band.]

The revolution was recorded: in 1969 Bitches Brew sent a shiver through a country already quaking. It was a recording whose very sound, production methods, album-cover art, and two-LP length all signaled that jazz could never be the same. Over three days anger, confusion, and exhilaration had reigned in the studio, and the sonic themes, scraps, grooves, and sheer will and emotion that resulted were percolated and edited into an astonishingly organic work. This Miles Davis wasn't merely presenting a simple hybrid like jazz-rock, but a new way of thinking about improvisation and the studio. And with this two-CD reissue (actually, this set is a reissue of the original set plus one track, perfect for the fan who's not so overwhelmed as to need the four-CD Complete Bitches Brew box), the murk of the original recording is lifted. The instruments newly defined and brightened, the dark energy of the original comes through as if it were all fresh. Joe Zawinul and Bennie Maupin's roles in the mix have been especially clarified. With a bonus track of "Feio"--a Wayne Shorter composition recorded five months later that serves both as a warm-down for Bitches Brew and a promise of Weather Report to come--this is crucial listening.

The sound of this album is very hard to describe. The instruments include trumpet (of course), up to three electric pianos (one in the left channel, one in the right, and one in the center), two drummers (one in the left channel and one in the right), upright bass, up to two electric bass player, electric guitar, soprano saxophone, congas, shakers, and bass clarinet. The music is very experimental. The sound is very layered, so much so that there is never a dull movement in any of the songs, there is always a pulse, moving the song forward. The opening song "Pharaoh's Dance" to be experienced fully needs to be listened to with headphones so you can hear the different instruments in each channel. The two drummers and three electric pianos drive the rhythm of the song while Miles Davis' trumpet soars overhead with th other instruments providing a sonic collage. This layering continues in other songs on the album. To say that speaker placement is key in these songs would be an understatement. The production quality is very good for having been recorded 40 years ago. The thing is even though the album was recorded 40 years ago it still sounds ahead of it's time. If you listen to this without any distractions it will take you for a ride.

Often regarded as one of Miles Davis' best albums only surpassed by "Kind of Blue." To compare these two albums is hard considering the huge difference in sound between the two, where "Kind of Blue" has a very traditional classic jazz sound, "Bitches Brew" is an experimental jazz roller coaster propelled by layered instrumentation and studio manipulation. "Bitches Brew" marked a radical change for Davis ushering in elements of rock and avant-garde into his Jazz sound, appropriately this album is often credited with inventing the Jazz-Rock or Jazz Fusion genres, that would continue to be popularized in the early '70s by artists such as Chicago, Steely Dan, Frank Zappa and Santana. To me the most impressive songs are first two tracks "Pharaoh's Dance" and "Bitches Brew." But I really like all of the songs on this album because they are distinct yet fit together as an album well. Personally I don't have any complaints about this album. The only complaint I could see anyone having with this album is the length of the tracks. With only one song below the 10 minute mark, "John McLaughlin," the tracks can drag on to non experienced of instrumental music or jazz. For rock music fans looking to get into Jazz, I highly recommend this album. Progressive rock fans will also appreciate this album. If it were stolen I would definitely have it replaced, not only for the music, but the beautiful album art which reminds me of a Dali painting. 

Miles' music continues to grow in its beauty, subtlety and sheer magnificence. Bitches' Brew is a further extension of the basic idea he investigated in his two previous albums, Filles De Kilimanjaro and In A Silent Way. In a larger sense, however, the record is yet another step in the unceasing process of evolution Miles has undergone since the Forties. The man never stops to rest on his accomplishments. Driven forward by a creative elan unequaled in the history of American music, he incorporates each successive triumph into the next leap forward.
The wonderful thing about Miles' progress is that he encourages others to grow with him. Within the context of his sound there is more than enough room for both his musicians and his listeners to pursue their own special visions. Looking back on the history of Miles' ensemble, we find the likes of John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Bill Evans, Tony Williams, Ron Carter, and Wayne Shorter. He always seems to select the best young jazzmen in the country and then gives them the freedom to develop their own unique modes of playing. Miles is known to be a stern disciplinarian, but never a tyrant. When a man has performed with the group long enough to gain a firm footing, he leaves as a recognized giant on his instrument.
The present Miles Davis organization is certainly no exception to this tradition. There is more pure talent here than in any group of any kind currently performing. Chick Corea's piano is so full of technical and conceptual innovations that one is caught between a feeling of wonderment and the gnawing question, "I wonder how he does all those things?" It was about a year ago that a Downbeat reviewer went totally ga-ga trying to understand Chick's playing (he gave it "no stars" and complained about how far out it was), so rather than risk the record reviewer's funny farm I'll just ask you to listen to it.
Dave Holland's bass and Jack DeJonette's drums lay down the amorphous rhythmic patterns for Miles' electrified sound. To put it briefly, these chaps have discovered a new way to cook, a way that seems just as natural and just as swinging as anything jazz has ever known. The soloists on the album — Wayne Shorter on soprano sax, Bennie Maupin on bass clarinet and John McLaughlin on electric guitar — are fully accustomed to this new groove and take one solid solo after another.
The freedom which Miles makes available to his musicians is also there for the listener. If you haven't discovered it yet, all I can say is that Bitches' Brew is a marvelous place to start. This music is so rich in its form and substance that it permits and even encourages soaring flights of imagination by anyone who listens. If you want, you can experience it directly as a vast tapestry of sounds which envelop your whole being. You'll discover why fully one third of the audience at Miles' recent Fillmore West appearances left the hall in stunned silence, too deeply moved to want to stay for the other groups on the bill. As a personal matter, I also enjoy Miles' music as a soft background context for when I want to read or think deeply. In its current form, Miles' music bubbles and boils like some gigantic cauldron. As the musical ideas rise to the surface, the listener also finds his thoughts rising from the depths with a new clarity and precision. Miles is an invaluable companion for those long journeys you take into your imagination.
But don't let my cerebral bent influence your listening. Whatever your temperament, Bitches' Brew will reward in direct proportion to the depth of your own involvement.
 
Tracklist

Disc 1
1 Pharaoh's Dance - 20:00
2 Bitches Brew - 26:59

Disc 2
1 Spanish Key - 17:29
2 John McLaughlin - 4:26
3 Miles Runs The Voodoo Down - 14:04
4 Sanctuary - 10:52

Personnel:

- Miles Davis / trumpet
- Wayne Shorter / soprano saxophone
- Bennie Maupin / bass clarinet
- Chick Corea / electric piano
- John McLaughlin / guitar
- Dave Holland / bass
- Harvey Brooks / electric bass
- Lenny White / drum set
- Jack DeJohnette / drum set
- Don Alias / congas, drum set
- Juma Santos (credited as "Jim Riley") / shaker, congas
- Larry Young / electric piano
- Joe Zawinul / electric piano
- Billy Cobham / drum set
- Airto Moreira / percussion 

Carl Verheyen - 1998 "Slingshot"

Carl William Verheyen (born 1954), is an American guitarist, known for his work in Supertramp and also for being a session guitarist. He is an adjunct instructor of studio jazz guitar for the Thornton School of Music of the University of Southern California.

Intriguing musical alchemical solution of blues, fusion, and adult-oriented rock, varying from tune to tune as to which genre is in the forefront. "Slingshot" and "Under Saturn's Rings" use the wonders of the universe as a metaphor for relationship dilemmas. "No Walkin' Blues" does not negate the Robert Johnson tune, but is a traveling musician's plight of missing his loved ones back home.

I admit that although I’ve seen Carl’s name a lot, I’ve never become familiar with his playing. But after hearing this great CD, that’ll change. He’s a fabulous player whose style falls somewhere between Eric Johnson, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and the band Squeeze. Yeah I know, an enormous range there, but he really does touch all those bases.

The songs – all originals – are excellent, the vocals distinctive and the playing…well, check out the melody and pure chops of the title cut. Massive speed played with marvelous agility and a lot of soul. If that one doesn’t do it for you, go for the pop-rock of “Misunderstood.” It sounds a bit like Johnson or Vaughan playing with a pop band like Squeeze and fitting in perfectly. The drum-and-guitar shuffle of “Piece of You” will have you holding your breath and wanting more. And there’s excellent acoustic work, too. “Mercury Rain” offers a mixture of country blues and European chamber music.

I can’t recommend this enough. It’s got something for everybody. Great tunes, great playing, and everything in between. It drives me nuts people think they need to keep looking for “guitar heroes,” instead of great musicians. But if you really need to look for one, this might be the place. Great stuff.

Verheyen has authored instructional books, including Improvising Without Scales, as well as Studio City, a collection of articles written for the magazine Guitar for the Practicing Musician from 1996–1999. In 1996 Carl won the LA Music Awards category of Best Guitarist.

His first solo album was entitled No Borders; his follow up, Garage Sale, features his own vocals. 1998’s Slang Justice, Verheyen's third release, was the first time he toured to support one of his records. His tour bandmates included bassist Cliff Hugo, drummers Chad Wackerman, Steve DiStanislao and Bernie Dresel. Slingshot, released in 1998, included drummer Gregg Bissonette and keyboard legend Jim Cox. Verheyen continued to play as a session player on other artists’ records, for acts such as the Bee Gees and Cher, as well as for movie soundtracks including The Crow and The Usual Suspects. In January 2000, he released the CD Atlas Overload, followed in 2001 by a solo guitar album titled Solo Guitar Improvisations.

Verheyen has produced instructional DVDs and online lessons. He has produced a book and CD combination which profiles his “intervallic” style called Improvising Without Scales; as well as a book entitled Studio City, a compilation of all the columns written by him for Guitar Magazine between 1996 and 1999. He writes a monthly column for Chitarre, an Italian guitar publication.

In 2001, Verheyen released a collaborative work entitled Reel to Real with Karl Ratzer, an Austrian jazz guitarist. Recorded in two days, it consisted of extended “jams” and interactive musical exchanges between the two guitarists and the assembled rhythm section. Shortly afterwards, he released a collection of past songs entitled Six, featuring a cover of Lennon–McCartney’s "Yes It Is". The band toured extensively behind this record, playing in 14 countries over the course of two years.

Track list:

1     Opening Above   
2     Slingshot   
3     No Walkin' Blues   
4     Misunderstood   
5     Diamonds   
6     Piece Of You   
7     Wandering Away   
8     Mercury Rain   
9     Under Saturn's Rings   
10     Moody Rudy   
11     Carried West

Personnel:

    Guitar – Carl Verheyen
    Bass – Cliff Hugo (tracks: 3, 7), Dave Marotta (tracks: 1,2,4,5,6,8,9,10,11)
    Drums – Greg Bissonette* (tracks: 6,9), John Ferarro* (tracks: 4,5,10,11), Steve DiStanislao (tracks: 1,2,3,7)
    Keyboards [Hammond B-3] – Jim Cox
    Keyboards [Wurlitzer] – Mark LeVang
    Lead Vocals – Carl Verheyen
    Backing Vocals – Craig Copeland, Liz Myers, Mark Hart, Mark LeVang
    Piano – Mark LeVang
    Voice [Laugh Track] – Geoff Verheyen

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Tony Williams - 1975 [2004] "Believe It"

Believe It is the first album by The New Tony Williams Lifetime, released in 1975 on Columbia Records. The New Lifetime was a jazz fusion band formed by the drummer Tony Williams with Allan Holdsworth on guitar, Alan Pasqua on keyboards and Tony Newton on bass.

The compositions Fred, Proto Cosmos and Red Alert are also featured on the Allan Holdsworth DVD Live at Yoshi's, released in 2007. Holdsworth has often stated that his time with the drummer was the most influential formative stage of his career.

By the time drummer Tony Williams left Miles Davis in '69, he had moved even farther away from the acoustic tradition than his former employer. His first recordings with his new band, Lifetime, were characterized by the sleeve instructions: "Play it Loud!" While the energy level was high and the music was infused with a rock and roll philosophy, it was nevertheless uncompromising and continued to push the boundaries; intense, daring and sometimes a little terrifying, the early incarnation of Lifetime was a literal barrage on the senses.

By '75, Williams had signed with a new label, pieced together a New Tony Williams Lifetime, and moved in a little more conventional jazz-rock direction. But unlike so many fusion records of the time, Believe It managed to be powerful without the bombastic pyrotechnics of bands like Return to Forever. Originally available on a CD that combined it with the far less successful follow-up, Million Dollar Legs , this long out-of-print title has finally been reissued by Columbia, remastered and with two bonus tracks.
Believe It features former Motown bassist Tony Newton, keyboard player Alan Pasqua and, most notably, British guitarist Allan Holdsworth, who, while already somewhat of an underground legend in his own country, had yet to make an impression in North America. Believe It changed all that, demonstrating that not only was Holdsworth a fresh new voice on his instrument, but a fine writer as well. "Fred," later re-titled "Kinder" by Holdsworth, and a staple in his repertoire for some years to come, introduces Holdsworth's unique harmonic language, with a lyrical bent that manages to be completely distinctive. And his playing style is quite simply like no other; influenced heavily by Coltrane, Holdsworth, even at this early stage in his career, is capable of sheets of sound that, punctuated by held notes and legato runs, are visceral in their impact.
No less visceral, of course, is Williams himself. While peers including Billy Cobham and Lenny White gravitated towards more overblown displays of virtuosity, Williams overpowers both with his stronger sense of groove and sheer muscularity. And while he is every bit as capable of extravagant displays of technique, he always sounds more musical. Even on intense burners like the Holdsworth-penned bonus track "Letsby," he is less concerned with how many beats he can throw into a fill; and his solo over Holdsworth's power chord ostinato is the epitome of construction.
For someone who moved the concept of rhythmic freedom so far forward as part of Miles' second quintet, Williams may have been the most overtly rock and roll-informed drummer of the mid-'70s fusion era. With an inherent sense of groove and honest energy that comes from compositions that are less contrived and more direct vehicles for improvisational flight, Believe It is one of the most compelling arguments for the validity of jazz-rock fusion, before the term became such a dirty word.

They just don't make 'em like this anymore! 28 years after its original release, this album STILL sounds as invigorating as the day it was released. Tony Williams, much like his mentor Miles Davis had a knack for picking great talent for his bands, especialy young upstart British guitar virtuosos.

As if John McLaughlin wasn't enough, he went and found the soft-spoken and ridiculoulsy innovative Allan Holdsworth, who spun melodic and fluid solos with the ease of a saxophonist. Already having stints with Tempest and Soft Machine under his belt, Holdsworth's style was jumping to the next level already, and Tony Williams did nothing to stand in the way, in fact, Allan was heavily encouraged and cheered on in his explorations by his bandmates here. Allan did things that just sounded absolutely impossible on a guitar at the time, and I remember so vivdly hearing this album at age 16 and having my jaw scraping the ground in amazement!

Armed with nothing more than a Gibson SG and a Marshall amp, Allan H just roared in an destroyed the place with his emotionally charged soloing and exploratory compositions, and a finely tuned musical sense to make te compostions of his bandmates come alive! Marrying this to William's inventive powerhouse drumming, Tony Newton's funky slithering bass and Alan Pasqua's glassy keyboards, this version of the Tony Williams Lifetime was a force to be reckoned with.

The other thing that still grabs me about this album is the open. raw live sound with minimal overdubbing, as honest and accurate in capturing this band's power in the studio as you could hope for. There's not one weak cut on here, ranging from the stomping funk of "Snake Oil" to the ghostly chord melody of "Fred" and the rip snorting brilliance of "Mr. Spock" (especially with the section where Williams and Holdsworth switch roles, Tony putting forth the solo of his life and Holdsworth bashing out angry Black Sabbath-like power chords underneath before roaring to a great close). The bonus tracks are a VERY worthwhile addition as well, "Letsby" is a slightly different take on "Mr. Spock" and "Celebration" get's more funky while still snarling like a panther (thanks again to Allan Holdsworth's raging guitar).

A serious fusion classic if ever there was and definitely worth adding to your library. Turn it up to 11 and let your jaw drop again!

Track listing

01 "Snake Oil" (Tony Newton) — 6:30
02 "Fred" (Allan Holdsworth) — 6:48
03 "Proto-Cosmos" (Alan Pasqua) — 4:02
04 "Red Alert" (Newton) — 4:39
05 "Wildlife" (Tony Williams) — 5:22
06 "Mr Spock" (Holdsworth) — 6:15
Bonus Tracks
07 "Celebration" (Williams) — 4:01
08 "Letsby" (Holdsworth) — 6:34

Personnel

    Allan Holdsworth – guitar
    Alan Pasqua – keyboards
    Tony Newton – bass
    Tony Williams – drums

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Trey Gunn - 2000 "The Joy Of Molybdenum"

Once a student of guitarist Robert Fripp's, Trey Gunn has since graduated to become a longtime member of Fripp's group King Crimson and a bandleader in his own right. Playing what he calls a "touch guitar" (an eight-to-14-string tapping instrument custom-made by California designer Mark Warr), Gunn functions as both rhythm section member (with drummer/percussionist Bob Muller) and melodic partner (with guitarist Tony Geballe) on his fourth CD, The Joy of Molybdenum. Hard to define even by King Crimson's genre-defiant standards, the disc blends Eastern styles (Muller plays tablas and dumbeks as well as a drum kit) with occasionally metallic guitar and off-timed jazz/fusion rhythms. The opening title track is a 9/8 romp featuring staggered harmonic patterns by Gunn and Geballe, while "The Glove" showcases the guitarists' metal sensibilities over Muller's John Bonham-like drum pattern. Gunn and Geballe's accessories -- from acoustic 12-string guitar and mellotron to theremin, Leslie cabinet, and shortwave radio -- keep the psychedelia quotient high on "Hard Winds Redux" and "Rune Song," while Muller's arsenal of hand drums on "Untune the Sky" and "Gate of Dreams" make this trio approximate an acidic version of John McLaughlin's Shakti.

King Crimson's Trey Gunn co-produces this combination of world music and progressive rock with percussionist Bob Muller. Muller pumps out John Bonham-esque grooves while simultaneously playing tabla and hand drums. The psychedelic quotient runs high with the additions of guitar and Turkish saz, by Tony Geballe. Combined with Gunn's metal sensibilities, the trio culminates into an acidic version of John McLaughlin's Shakti.

"Big, bad bass ostinatos, slinky odd-time signatures, and percussion from every corner of the globe are the basis for this collection of other worldly soundscapes." - Bass Player magazine.

Gunn, the Warr Touch Guitar playing virtuoso of King Crimson and The Trey Gunn Band, continues to amaze his audiences time and time again with his lulling melodies and furious deep grooves. Gunn and company fuse their individual sounds into brilliantly textured masterpieces, where tranquilizing melodies and primal madness dance effortlessly together. -- from the House of Blues review.

Robert Fripp disciple Trey Gunn has taken some time out from his King Crimson day job to produce his new release, the strangely titled The Joy of Molybdenum. The album relies heavily on Gunn's groundbreaking work on 8, 10, and 12 string touch guitars, and also features guitarist Tony Geballe and percussionist Bob Muller. Upon first listen, you will SWEAR that you've found a lost King Crimson disc or are listening to another one of Fripp's "ProjeKcts; however, upon further listening you'll realize that... well... actually you'll still think you're listening to Fripp or Crimson. If anything is to be gathered from The Joy of Molybdenum, it is that while you can take the boy out of King Crimson, you can't take the Crimson out of the boy. And that's both good and bad...
The CD kicks off very impressively with the title track, which features some killer low-end touch playing by Gunn and a funky groove laid down by drummer Muller. As a matter of fact, the first four tracks on the CD continue with the groove assault - "The Glove" features some amazing Hendrix-style jams emanating from Gunn's touch guitar, "Hard Winds Redux" sounds like an updated and more danceable version of 80's Crimson classic "Disclipline," and "Rune Song: The Origin of Water" succeeds with some breezy drumming and Gunn and Gaballe's tandem "math rock" guitar runs. While Gunn is obviously meant to be the main attraction on these cuts, it is actually Muller's drumming that drives the tracks and keeps the rhythm moving along. It's quite obvious that this band can pretty much throw down a funky groove at a moment's notice, and it is the tracks that take advantage of this asset that are the most successful on the album. Which is exactly why I was totally stunned that the band decided to devote the last two-thirds of the album to a non-descript string of repetitive and uninspired ambient compositions...
Where the first few songs on The Joy of Molybdenum were examples of well executed future-rock tunes, the last batch of songs on the album are examples of plodding and uneventful experiments in noise. By taking Muller's effective drumming out of the mix, the songs lose a lot of their power, and instead become a string of bland trance-like cuts one right after the other. The album's closer, "Tehlikeli Madde" picks up the pace a little bit - but by this point the listener will probably have given up on Gunn and Co. or fallen asleep altogether.
In short, The Joy of Molybdenum is a very uneven release. The faster and more rhythmic tracks that start off the CD are excellent showcases for the band's instrumental prowess, but the ambient compositions that round out the CD are musical wastelands that simply suck all the life out of the listening experience. Hopefully Gunn's future efforts will focus less on background ambient music and more on in-your-face funk grooves. Unforunately, with Joy, this Gunn misses his mark.

Track listing:

1.The Joy of Molybdenum 05:27
2.The Glove 03:57
3.Hard Winds Redux 04:08
4.Rune Song: The Origin Of Water 06:13
5.Untune The Sky 07:17
6.Sozzle 04:53
7.Gate of Dreams 05:22
8.Brief Encounter 05:57
9.Tehlikeli Madde 03:41

Personnel:

Trey Gunn: 8, 10, and 12 string touch guitars, mellotron, theremin, shortwave, smokey guitar;
Tony Geballe: electric guitar, saz, acoustic 12-string guitar, leslie guitars, UPS guitars;
Bob Muller: drum kit, tabla, bandir, darbouka, bodhran, dumbek, gamelan drum, rik, metals, shakers 

Allan Holdsworth - 1986 "Atavachron"

Atavachron is the fourth studio album by guitarist Allan Holdsworth, released in 1986 through Enigma Records (United States) and JMS–Cream Records (Europe). The album's title and seventh track, as well as the cover art, are references to the "Atavachron" alien time travel device from the Star Trek episode "All Our Yesterdays". This marks Holdsworth's first recorded use of the SynthAxe, an instrument which would be featured prominently on many of his future albums.

John W. Patterson of AllMusic gave Atavachron four stars out of five, describing it as "semi-progressive" with a "symphonic element" and praising it as "clear evidence of the genius Holdsworth was demonstrating release after release". He also highlighted the use of the SynthAxe, as well as praising the "beautiful female vocals" of Rowanne Mark, who makes her first of two appearances on a Holdsworth album.

For a little background, back in the '80s the SynthAxe was invented. It looked like something that fell out of a UFO. It was guitar-like with sets of strings and other onboard controls that allowed the triggering (playing) of synthesizers. What was unique was that guitarists could therefore play a synthesizer without needing a great amount of keyboard expertise. The SynthAxe was the interface that very uniquely interpreted a guitarist's skill into synth sounds. For guitarist Allan Holdsworth, it was yet a whole new way to achieve the sounds unvoiced in his soul in ways he just couldn't do with a standard guitar. Holdsworth has always sought a horn-like voicing with the ability to manipulate a note in a myriad of ways. He is known for being one of the most unique stylists on guitar, but it is the SynthAxe that allows him to go places a guitar can't reach. This release was special in that it marks Holdsworth's first use of the SynthAxe alongside electric guitar. The SynthAxe sounds more like a keyboard than a guitar. It has a wider sound spectrum than keyboards and in this release you will hear a myriad of synthscapes and effects. This release offered a semi-progressive symphonic element and served to ever stretch the boundaries of jazz fusion. Beautiful female vocals in one song framed by surrealistic visual musicks of the SynthAxe and keyboardy leads by Holdsworth may have turned guitar fans off, but this effort is clear evidence of the genius Holdsworth was demonstrating release after release. And as expected, Holdsworth continued to strive for that reed voicing and phrasing on his guitar solos, which merely pushed him to his best. 

Atavachron is the most enlightening, coherent piece of musical thought ever committed to record. Compositionally outstanding, instrumentally unsurpassable, theoretically impossible (!), technically outrageous, expressively devastating, and technologically cutting edge even by 2007 standards, Holdsworth and his assembled gents take us on a visionquest, a catharsis of epic proportions. The moody, yet cheery opening track, Non-Brewed Condiment, is the weeder track: if the Synthaxe puts you off you'll pull the needle right here. Unfortunate if you do, though, when you realize what he's doing harmonically. After having listened to this track for at least 20 years, I find it's a part of my life now. When I'm in my imaginary world where life is perfect, this song is the soundtrack of my expanding mindscape. Then the major-chordy Funnels, originally written for saxophone, show what technique can coax out of a mere electric guitar. Wonderful keyboards, amazing accompaniment. Bass is killer throughout, as is percussion. His old boss Tony Williams steps in on the ridiculously interesting Looking Glass, elevating the experience. I love the funky Dominant Plague, and Chad Wackerman moves me to foul language every time...what a guy. Atavachron really feels like some sort of science fiction journey; you can hear the time when you're in the time machine if you use your imagination, that sort of pedal-tone part. Mr. Berwell is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written post-Home, and the backward echo effect always makes the resolved tone almost heard, but not stated directly until the end. Must be heard to be appreciated. Finally, All Our Yesterdays is the place where even his staunchest fans might wish to part company, until they realize the operatic/song-like bit is just an introduction to the band free-improvisation cycle that characterized many of Holdsworth's recordings of this period. I personally like this part, but it's sort of a mood-breaker as well. If you like moody albums with some cheer, like that REM Automatic for the People, check this out. If you are interested in the future of composition, harmony, and physical technique on instruments stringed or otherwise, you need this record. Hold out for the CD if you can, but I was happy with my cassette for 15 years. Thank you Allan Holdsworth.

I listen to music because I love the elements and the moods of it...although my initial interest usually sparks from technical ability and musical intellectuality, (as was the case with holdsworth) sometimes musicians break things down to more then it needs to be. You can talk about how his voicings are unheard of, his interesting use of octave displacement in chord voicings, or his unbelievable technical ability...but it all comes down to the way the music feels for me. Holdsworth is like no other; he can really take you to places you'll take years to fully comprehend, and be moved in different ways for a long time. You can close your eyes and see the notes bouncing and flowing and enter complete musical bliss, encompass sadness, confusion, happiness, anger...it is all on this record.

He also loves a good beer...and that's the final reason that one of my favorites!